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jedipartner1967
22 January 2017 @ 04:01 pm

Lou and I joined the congregation of Trinity Cathedral a couple weeks before Christmas 2014. Lou, feeling directionless after my cancer diagnosis, decided to see what our neighbour's church was all about, so off we went one Sunday morning. Lou had been actively searching for a new church for a few years and I just found church in my heart and out in the world, but I was open to going and I'm glad that I did. On that morning, Reverend Tracey Lind, the dean of the cathedral, talked about how she liked to get to know people who were interested in the church as a way of finding ways that she could attend to their spiritual needs. We soon found ourselves with an appointment to chat with her on a grey Cleveland evening after work.

Tracey asked a few questions about us, giving us the chance to let her know how we came to our decision to attend Trinity. I started to speak about my diagnosis and she listened. She asked a few more questions and then said, "I noticed that as you spoke about your condition and diagnosis, you smiled. Why is that?" My response was, "Well, I know that whatever happens in the short- and long-term will be what it is meant to be and no matter what, it will be OK." She smiled and nodded. And then I decided to stop being deep and somehow moved on to the fact that I was a giant Star Wars geek, which delighted her.

I continued attending the 9:00 "Mostly Jazz Mass" every Sunday despite my mobility issues. I moved to the music when I could, gathered for communion around the table on the altar, and smiled during every moment of it. I was happy and I felt loved and cared about. And cared for! Reverend Tracey even introduced me to a fellow parishioner who was also a Multiple Myeloma soldier. There she was, connecting me with the community and I was grateful.

As things happen in typical fashion at our house, Lou was diagnosed with colon cancer in late April. Lou had a rough time dealing with my illness and was now having to deal with his. I remained calm and kept my humour. We went to an "emergency" mid-day mass since one was scheduled on the day of his diagnosis. Lou called Tracey and Reverend Kay Rackley to let them know of the news and we were able to sit with them for a while after mass ended. Tracey used some particularly honest language about the unfairness of life and I appreciated how real she was. It made me know that she was not above us in any way and that she was just one of us, but one of us with a special job.

Lou got through his illness and I continued to address mine. In January of 2016, after my “cancer vacation”, I found myself working for Suburban Temple-Kol Ami as the new administrative assistant. In the loveliest of coincidences, the Very Reverend Tracey Lind was scheduled as the guest speaker at the Kol Nashim Women's Shabbat, a service I attended on the Friday before I started work. She took a moment before she delivered her sermon and introduced me to the congregation as "the bravest, and happiest person I know." Now that was an introduction!

Flash forward to November of the same year... Tracey announced that she was suffering from a degenerative frontal lobe condition and would be retiring from Trinity. It struck a massive blow to the congregation because we would be losing her leadership and the amazing things that she taught us--taught me in the time that I knew her. I experienced her dedication to social justice, her commitment to reducing gun violence, her willingness to tackle the difficult things as she led us into battle by providing us with an example of what it means to be a true Christian. She told us that we must use our heads as much as our hearts, but that we are to love all and to not judge, for we all come from different experiences and we must do all that we can to understand one another and not put up walls to separate ourselves from each other.

Tracey Lind is probably the bravest person I've ever met. And probably one of the smartest, too, which is why I find this brain condition particularly cruel when I think about it. But no, we don't stop because she stops. We keep going and we take her teachings and her ability to love and we put these things into practice every day because what she taught us is good and true and it is, I believe, as God wants us to be. And this is why I feel so honoured to have known her and to have made that impression on her. It makes me feel stronger than I thought I could be and that's a mighty good thing.
 
 
Current Mood: Reflective
 
 
jedipartner1967
19 January 2017 @ 05:41 pm

One of our congregants stopped by yesterday and we had a nice little chat. She said that she was worried about the direction of the country as there was so much anger and division on the eve of Trump's inauguration. Now, as most of you may (or may not) know, I am famously not a fan of Donald Trump and president or not, I have always found him to be a foul excuse of a human being. That being said, I have managed to maintain a sense of humour and a general air of positivity on the impending doom next four years.

I reassured her that this division is something that has always existed, but was not quite as vocal. I also told her that there was no way that our values, morals and acts of inclusivity would disappear if we kept these things in practice. We would need to stand together and be more visible and more active in what we do. If we are afraid that the things we hold dear would not survive this presidency, we need to make sure that they do survive no matter what opposition we may face. We are not selfish--we are always thinking about the benefit to the greater good.

She agreed with that and then said that she didn't think we've ever had such a time of division in our country's history. I pointed out to her that we've not had such a time of division in our lifetimes. We were too young to remember the division that the Viet Nam War brought to our country. We were not alive during the time of McCarthyism and therefore don't know what it felt like. This is new... to us.

Memories fade into the past and even our parents forget the violence and immediate anxiety that they and the country experienced 40 years ago. This is not new in the scheme of things and we just have to organise and hold fast to our beliefs. We need to see both sides in order to understand what we need to do to win. We must be smart and start taking action on how we can win the midterm elections in 2018 before we can even begin to tackle 2020. I hope to be alive that long!

This is on all of us and we can't just complain about it. If complaining helps you cope the way making fun of Trump helps me cope, that's fine, but you need to act. I have been making calls to elected officials and sending them e-mails. I don't know what good it will do, but I am doing something. This country matters to me and the people in it matter to me.

Don't be afraid.

 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: Emboldened
 
 
jedipartner1967
27 December 2016 @ 06:25 pm


Today we lost another legend. In a year where we've lost David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey and George Michael amongst other notables, 2016 decided to send Carrie Fisher to the afterworld on its last Tuesday in December.

While I was sad about the losses of so many others, none touched me in a personal way as this one did. If you haven't heard me tell the story in person or read the story elsewhere, and even if you have, here it is again in all of its glory...

I met Carrie on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at Celebration in Orlando, Florida. It was the weekend after my 45th birthday and my meeting with her was a surprise birthday present from my then partner (now husband), Lou. Lou had secretly contacted my friend, Marjorie, and arranged for her to deliver this birthday surprise on the first day of the convention, which happened to also be my birthday. The special package, delivered by an equally special friend, contained a pass to get Carrie's autograph and a voucher to have a photo taken with her. As if I didn't already have a thing for her, I certainly was about to!

Anyhow, I had a fast pass and managed to bypass the long queue to get the autograph. In typical fashion, her sarcastic wit greeted each fan ahead of me. What do you say to someone like her? I smiled in my anticipation and she noticed even though I was a still a couple fans away from her. The first words out of her mouth were about my smile and how she was glad to see it so late in the afternoon. She commented on how the endless queue of people who didn't look excited and seemed tired was wearing her down. I told her I was glad she liked my smile ‘cos she was going to be seeing it again at the photo op, which I mentioned, like the autograph, was a surprise birthday present from my partner, Lou. She laughed and said, “well… you have an amazing partner and equally amazing smile. I guess I will see you shortly when I get my picture taken with you!” I think I giggled.


I waited in the photo queue for about an hour and I made friends, as I do. Once the line started to move, it really moved. I was stopped just before I was permitted entry into the makeshift photo studio because Carrie was futzing with and kvetching about her sweater top. She said "fuck" and turned sheepishly to see who was around to hear her. She rolled her eyes and said, "oh, thank God it's only you and not some family with kids I'd have to apologise to for being foul." She motioned for me to come in and the photographer visibly wanted to move things along, but she wasn't ready. She asked me, "top on or top off? This thing isn't working with my tits." I told her her wardrobe choice was entirely up to her and I was only there to be a prop. She laughed, flashed the cameraman, smiled at me and said, “Look, I’m going to put my head on that strong shoulder. My head’s heavy and I'm fucking exhausted, so hold it up… and now snuggle with me. On the count of three, let's yell 'tits!', okay? One, two... three.” *click* I yelled "tits!" and she did not. She laughed a hearty laugh and squeezed my hand before letting go. I thanked her for the fun and she winked at me as I headed out of the fabric photo box.


I was lucky and I had an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. This might've been my all-time favourite celebrity encounter and I have my husband and Marjorie to thank for this moment.

Many thanks to Debbie Reynolds for creating such an incredible and unique world for Carrie to grow up in and for giving birth to a creature who brought such great joy to so many and saw life in such a curious way. We are sad for your loss as it is our loss, too.

Godspeed, Carrie...

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.

Until we meet again...

 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: sadsad
 
 
jedipartner1967
28 November 2016 @ 08:23 am

Here's a little conversation I had this morning at the gym. I was getting dressed and I heard two familiar voices talking about Trump, Clinton and the recount of the votes. The one guy was being quite logical about it all while the other guy was not. I just couldn't resist myself, so I dropped in to participate and it went something like this...

Me: I couldn't help but overhear your conversation about the recounts.

Guy: Hilary is showing just how power-hungry she is by asking for for the recount!

Me: I'm not Clinton's biggest fan, but she just said that she would aid in the already in-progress recount, which she didn't call for, by supplying some people from her team.

Guy: Well, she just wants to win.

Me: I guess... but Trump really could just send in a couple people in from his team to assist in the process rather than going on Twitter and being a whinging idiot about it.

Guy: Well, Middle America voted for him and that's all that matters. He won that.

Me: Wait, so you're saying that the only votes that matter are the ones from Middle Americans? 'Cos... he still lost the popular vote.

Guy: Well, those are the most morally just people!

Me: Hmmmm... OK.

Guy: (muttering)I wish California would just fall in the ocean.

Me: Really? You think it's OK for a state that really contributes quite a lot to our national and world economy should just fall into the ocean?

Guy: We can relocate and rebuild those businesses elsewhere!

Me: I think if we had the ability to grow avocadoes and oranges in Oklahoma, we would've by now. (meanwhile, I have been looking through my phone to find a picture of my friend's adorable 4-year old daughter)

Guy: Those people are freaks!

Me: (I hold my phone up to him) So, you are totally OK if the little girl in this photo dies?

Guy: I didn't say that!

Me: You kinda did, man. You said that you wish California would fall into the ocean. If it did, it would take this lovable child-- who lives in San Francisco, which is a part of California.

Guy: That's not what I meant.

Me: That's what would happen, though. So, let's circle back to this "Middle America thing". You feel that Middle Americans are morally righteous and that you identify with that and you feel they identify with you?

Guy: Yeah.

Me: (nods) OK... so morally just people feel it's OK to wish death on other people and that it is easy to replace our industries and natural resources that could be lost in a major catastrophe?

Guy: Well... no. That's not what I said!

Me: Again, you pretty much did. So, let's recap--Clinton is power-hungry even though she didn't call for the recounts, Trump sits on the sidelines and tweets like a deranged idiot rather than contributing to the process, you're OK with people dying and throwing off our national economy and that only Middle American opinions count.

Guy: ( stunned silence)

Me: Well... that's about it. My work here is done. You guys have a great day!

Guy #2: (grinning broadly) You too man. You too!

I think the thing that did him in was the fact that I stayed calm the whole time and never became emotional. That's the way to take 'em down kids. That's the way.

 
 
Current Mood: Triumphant
 
 
jedipartner1967
18 November 2016 @ 06:00 pm

I left work today and it was a beautiful 72°. The sun was shining and most of the leaves had fallen from the trees. There was a sweet smell that filled the air-- the smell that leaves which have turned colour have when the sun shines on them. I was immediately transported back to the age of nine and roaming the fields behind Allen K's apartment over the Novelty, Ohio post office. The fields occupied a vast parcel of land that would eventually become the neighbourhoods of Belle Vernon Drive, the Fox Hills Drive extension and Fox Den Drive. There were ponds, hills and little gulleys where we would set up forts out of discarded pieces of wood and other appropriated building materials to which we were granted access. We would have adventures against unseen enemies (usually alien) and we would hide from the older kids who would occasionally ride their dirtbikes through the area.

It was there that I discovered milkweeds and touch-me-nots for the first time. I got close to hawks, geese, ducks, deer, rabbits and foxes and came to appreciate the simple beauty of these animals. I felt safe as I walked through these fields with the tall, dry grasses that gently brushed against my arms and left burrs on my trouser legs. I took in that smell of the turning leaves and wondered if anyone else noticed it or if it was just I who had taken a moment to drink it all in.

These days felt like they would last forever, but the autumn turned into winter, which eventually became the spring and summer. I faced another October and the cycle would start again and again until the earth movers came and started carving out the new roads the summer before Allen K. moved away. I wouldn't have the occasion to play in those fields again. Even though there were other fields, they just didn't seem as magical as this one.

The memory of the land and the adventures lives in my heart and every now and then, on days like today when the weather is just right, I remember... and I am young again.
 
 
Current Mood: Nostalgic
 
 
 
jedipartner1967
I spent most of the night putting all of this together, so I hope you will read it. Yes, it’s really long, but I am thinking this is my final word on this.

“THE CAT CAME BACK IN”: A CODA FOR THIS INTERESTING WEEK
We have a new president and we need to make sure that we cooperate with him to make sure all our needs are met. Similarly, we need to be a giant pain in the ass to the government in general because this whole “Republicans in all three branches” thing doesn’t work. It also doesn’t work if it’s all Democrats in those branches, just so you know. We also need to make sure to keep on all our elected officials to do the right thing and not be obstructionists when it comes to getting legislation passed. We should also not be doormats and let the Republicans get their way. That nonsense is why things don’t work. I am going to be a massive pain in the ass for the next four years because I do want change. I get that we all needed a big change (and don’t start on Obama—he did a pretty admirable job considering the giant mess that Bush left behind and the fact that the Republicans kept blocking things). I don’t necessarily think that we went about it the right way.

A little history…
I’ve never liked Donald Trump and I’ve never had any respect for him. I haven’t liked him for 35 years, so he needs to earn my respect. Why? He’s conducted himself without any dignity and he’s spent those years coming off as a bully, an idiot and an asshole. I’m not apologising for that ‘cos he really does. I’m pretty sure the guys I know who supported Trump wouldn’t appreciate it if I spoke of their wives or mothers using some of the pearls from Trump’s phrasebook. Maybe I should try as an experiment… or not.

Like I said, we have a new president. While I don’t think that we should completely worry about President Trump at this particular moment, we need to be concerned about the stuff that he brought in with him. Not into the government per se, but what he brought in during his campaign and is now starting to take hold after his election.

I’d like to equate it to this scenario:
The family cat got out and the kids were worried that something bad happened to him. Mom and dad waited and waited for the cat to come to the door so they could let him back in and all would be right in the world. Unfortunately, mom and dad got tired and maybe weren’t thinking their plan through 100%. They left the door open all night so when the cat came back to the house, it would come back in and didn’t run away again. Hurrah! The next morning kitty cat was back in the house and everyone was happy. They were happy until they realised that the open door let in a skunk, a couple raccoons, a bunch of leaves and maybe some pieces of garbage. We are so lucky that it didn’t let in a thief or a murderer! Sure, we got something we wanted, but inadvertently we also got a few things we didn’t want so much. I hope we didn’t want those things.

President Trump is a wait-and-see situation and I am willing to wait and see what happens. I can be OK with that. What I can’t be OK with is the fact that his tone and his language managed to tap into the worst of the worst in our society and gave them an implied call to arms. The reason we marginalised people are afraid of this presidency is because of hateful groups that intend to do them harm if given the opportunity. This isn’t just speculation, you see. On Twitter, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was simultaneously orgasming and losing control of his bowels because of the Trump win—saying that it was time to take America back. I don’t think that’s a good sign. Do you? This is kind of scary if you are not white. Or heterosexual. I was treated to some really neat words from a woman I identified in a conversation as “white”, “straight”, “married”, “having a husband and children”. She was offended by this and then said that I was pervert, an abomination and that my marriage was a joke. I didn't think that the things I said about her were name-calling, but simply a statement of fact. So, thank you for illustrating my point so beautifully. Really, “thank you.”

Another thing that troubles me is that there are a great number of Trump supporters who are calling Trump non-supporters “whiners.” I seem to recall a lot of “whining” when Obama was elected in 2008. They are also telling them to shut up and respect him and help him do his job. It doesn’t appear that a lot of people did that for President Obama was in office. Maybe they already forgot. You really cannot have it one way, kids.

Since I already went with a cat analogy, I have a one last thing to add in a roundabout way: One of the most startling things that I encountered this week are the large number of females who have referred to Trump non-supporters as “pussies” and that they are sick of the “pussification” of America. These women, who say that they are strong, independent and intelligent are using a gender identifying part of their anatomy to say that something / someone is weak. Does that seem like an empowering choice of words? I’m not answering that for them, but I’m just drawing your attention to it and asking the question.

OK… I think that’s it.

Let’s all make sure the cat doesn’t get out again and the family works to get rid of all the refuse and undesirable critters out of the house so that we can all have a bit of peace and happiness. There is a reason for sadness and there is a reason for fear—do not dismiss these things or try to minimise them; they exist and we need to make sure we address this correctly and with grace and sensitivity.
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Star Wars Oxygen , Volume 36
 
 
jedipartner1967
15 August 2016 @ 07:52 pm

Kenny Baker (August 24, 1934~August 13, 2016)


I was sad to learn of actor Kenny Baker's passing the other day. He died just short of his 83rd birthday after having been ill for quite some time. For those of you who don't know who he is, Mr. Baker was the man who quite literally brought life to Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) in the original Star Wars films from 1977-1983. He did a little work in the prequels, but it was his contribution to the original films that made a lasting impression on me and many others.

Though I never knew him personally, our paths would cross every now and again at various convention centres around the United States. He was always friendly and we would wave at each other and exchange hellos as we made our respective ways down the concourses. Though standing only 3'8" tall, he had a personality so big that you could see and feel it despite the fact that he was completely sealed up inside that metal suit. His gift allowed you to understand just what that little robot was feeling or thinking even though it never spoke a lick of English or any other Earthly language. Because of this, I was inspired to find my own big personality and to let it shine.

Mr. Baker also inspired me through the character of Artoo-Detoo. While I think most people would consider their heroes to be of the more human sort, I loved Artoo's "can do" spirit and his desire to use his abilities to help in any way that he could. He succeeded in many cases, but occasionally, despite his best efforts, he was unable to save the day or successfully complete his task. Still, he tried and he never gave up and did it cheerfully and with appropriate levity. Through the years, as I worked at a variety of jobs, I never felt that there was much I couldn't accomplish if I put my mind to it. There might be limits to what I could do, but I never would stop trying. I often picture a little Artoo in me as things get stressful at work and when the tasks start mounting. It's always best to keep my cool, do what I can to get as much done as I can and to not give up or get derailed.

Mr. Baker was more than just an actor to me; he set a standard for me because he was a lovely human being and he created a character that continues to inspire me to be my best every day. I am grateful for that. I'm grateful that he was.


Goodbye, dear man.

 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH 44107
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
jedipartner1967
30 May 2016 @ 03:44 pm


This weekend, Memorial Day weekend 2016, was a pretty big one for me. I finally submitted myself to the needle and got tattooed. It wasn't a particularly easy decision. The decision was almost 30 years in the making. I had dabbled with the idea of getting one about once every 2-3 years since 1990. There really hadn't been anything that I wanted so badly put on me for forever, so the idea kept passing.

Last year, as I was approaching my stem cell transplant, I started to get that urge again and this time I had something to say about my life; something that completely represented who I am and who I will continue to be until I am gone. Anyone with a head knows I identify more with being a Star Wars geek more than I identify with being a gay man. Along my cancer adventure, I kept joking about how my cloned cells were attempting to kill me the way the clone troopers turned on their Jedi generals as they executed the Emperor's Order 66. This cancer seemingly came out of nowhere and tried to do me in.

Once I was in remission, I felt like I had survived Order 66. I felt that was an appropriate thing to put on myself and so I have.

I regard it as something that sums up a life... my life. It's not an epitaph on a tombstone. No, it's nothing that final; it's more like a declaration that there is still more for me to do, but that this is where I am at this place and time. It's a reminder of the days when it was physically difficult for me to get out of bed, but I did. It also calls to mind the days where I braced myself to not collapse onto the floor because the mere act of going to the bathroom set in motion a series of severe pains that knocked the wind out of me and felt like someone was stabbing me in the shoulder blade and trying to twist it out of me. It brings back the images of the mornings where Lou had to dress me because I was incapable of dressing myself before I boldly left the house and off to work in the dead of winter-- and the nights where the act of laying in bed was painful and brought no comfort. Despite all of this, I still made it and I didn't die. It didn't break me; it only showed me that I was a lot stronger than people probably would've guessed... or that I might've guessed.

So there it is-- right there on my right shoulder: "I survived Order 66" in Aurebesh. I considered a ton of designs, but the one that I ultimely went with was one where the words rested between a set of uneven brackets. The brackets represent the physical container of life and the uneven lines coming from them show how if is often out of balance. The words are my statement that I'm still here and there's more for me to do and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon; that I'm ready for the next battle because this cancer will come back and we will dance this dance again whether I like it or not. Also, I used the variant, rarely used capital "S", which symbolises me being a rare bird of sorts.

Some have joked about it being misspelt (because they were just being silly)-- and it's not. I checked it at least 50 times and even ran it past someone of some import in the Star Wars community before I committed it to my skin. Some have even asked why I would want to "destroy" my body with it. Honestly, if the Myeloma didn't destroy me, nothing will. And of course, I can appreciate the humour the friends were expressing, but I don't really feel that my statement of surviving something this huge is exactly something I am comfortable joking about. I hope they understand.

 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: triumphant
Current Music: Teagan and Sara
 
 
jedipartner1967
02 May 2016 @ 08:35 pm
I attended our monthly Multiple Myeloma support meeting this evening and it was a good one. Our guest speaker was a guy named James Bond. No lie. He is a 24-year survivor of the disease and was one of the first people on whom they tested the drug that became Velcade. His doctor revealed to him, years later, that he was the seventh person who signed up for the Velcade trial and he coincidentally (and appropriately) given the test subject number "007". He's had several setbacks (including treatment-related leukemia and squamous cell cancers), but he's had a lot of successes and a really long life after diagnosis!

He confirmed the things that have felt since my diagnosis-- that excercise and motion is key (even on the worst days), a good attitude is your best defence, keeping things normal is important, and don't stop doing the things you love to do or quit making plans because you "might get sick again". I look at James as sort of the "Lewis and Clark" of my Myeloma journey: he was there in the early days of modern treatment and explored the frontier or new medicines and could tell us why to expect.

That leads me to my little story...

Back at our December meeting, one older gentleman and his wife were hoping for someone to give them information about the whole stem cell transplant procedure. He was going into the Cleveland Clinic and I, having recently gone through that process, was able to provide him with details about the blood cancer floor and so forth. He asked for any advice I could give him that might make the whole thing easier. I always have a lot to say, so they were in luck!

I told him that everyone there was super nice and they would do everything they could to make his stay as effortless as possible. I advised him to drink a lot of water and to bring Mio or some other flavouring to make the water less boring; that if they said to drink 8 mugs of water each day, he should drink 10 to 12 even though he might need to pee all the time. I said that he should stay on top of his nausea by getting the anti-nausea meds even if he wasn't really feeling neauseated because once you started to feel that way, it would be a while before the meds kicked in. I also urged him to take those walks and even better, get down to the exercise room and spend 15-30 minutes on the recumbent bike in the morning and in the evening.

Anyhow, he had his stem cell transplant in January and this was his first meeting post-treatment. He was hoping that I would be at the meeting because he and his wife wanted to thank me for all the advice and the support I gave them beforehand. I was grateful that it helped him. He told me that the staff said that he was doing all the right things to get through the ordeal. He mentioned that I had advised him on what to do and expect before he went in and let them know that I had been there at the end of the summer for my own transplant. As it turned out, the doctors and nurses all remembered me and nicknamed me "the overachiever". They said that I was always happy and welcoming and that they looked forward to doing vitals, blood draws and whatnot because I always made them laugh no matter what time of the day or night they came to see me. I was stunned that I had let such an impression on them, but was glad that I did.

And so it was a night that went from Bond to a Jedi as those who gave hope and encouragement to our fellow "Myelomans".
 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: accomplished
 
 
jedipartner1967
23 March 2016 @ 11:43 am
The summer of 1986 was a bit of a turbulent one for me. There were a number of things that were going on in my life and in the world. I recorded some tracks with my first band at a real recording studio in Detroit, Michagan. I had taken a trip to Japan with my mother and I knew that it would probably be the last time I saw my grandfather. Upon returning home, I started rehearsals with the aforementioned band and my father announced that he was divorcing my mother. About a week later, I turned 19 and two weeks after that I was off to Europe with the band on my first tour.

During all of this personal stuff, the Libyans had decided to excercise their right to insanity by blowing stuff up all over Europe. For a while, I wasn't sure that leaving school after only one year under my belt was such a great idea-- not because I was leaving school after only one year, but because no soon Berlin. While we weren't going to Berlin, we were going to start things up in France, which is a lot closer to Berlin than Ohio is. The United States pointed the finger at the Libyans and despite the fact that it was actually some of their people who set off the bomb, they were pretty pissed off at us. These things happen.

Much to at least my mother's dismay, more things were being blown up around the continent and Americans were targeted for just being where the Libyans could get to them. So right then was a really good time for us to be flying off to France.

So we did.

There were tons of television appearances, radio interviews, club dates and festivals. It was all really pretty exciting despite the fact that my mother was still a mess from the recent divorce news and I was upset over how my mother was coping on her own back home. All in all, it was a good trip and I wish I had been able to keep my head focused, but there was a lot for a 19-year old to process. One of the concerns was "how do you deal with groupies?" No one prepared me for that.

During most of our time in Paris, we stayed at the apartment of Alain and Claudine Dupré and their young daughters, Aurelie and Caroline. There was always chaos going on in that place, so the commotion of multiple phone calls on that one October morning didn't really faze me. When I got to the dining room, I was grimly informed that the concert hall where we were headlining had received a bomb threat and the promoter was waiting for our decision on whether or not we should play that evening.

Call it "stupidity", "the bravado of youth" or "foolishness", but I immediately piped up and said, "I didn't come here to let some idiots prevent me from doing what I want to do. I think we should play tonight!" I was unwavering in my position and eventually everyone agreed to let the show go on. We played to a packed house and nothing happened to any of us. Nothing.

It was then that I learnt that most threats are idle threats and unfortunate events that happen usually aren't advertised in a big way. Mind you, I take all threats seriously, but I won't allow others to derail me or my desire to live my life as normally as possible. You still have to be aware of the things going on around you (you always should, really), but you just need to keep moving forward.

The attacks in Paris a few months ago and the attacks on Brussels really hit home because I was in these places. I walked on those streets and I was with those people. The idiocy of aggression and war hasn't changed in the past 30 years and none of this is remarkably new. Maybe the way that all of it is being reported is new, but that's about it. For as long as we regard ourselves as separate and different, we will have to expect these attacks.

I encourage everyone to keep the world in their thoughts and prayers. I especially encourage everyone to keep pushing forward and to stay defiant-- to risk enjoyment in the midst of danger. We don't get many spins on this planet and we need to make the most of the ones we get.
 
 
Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: defiant