Co-inky-dink... I swear.

Okay, I’ve recently discovered the webcomic Questionable Content, and have really been enjoying it. (I found it through XKCD, another one I read often)

As it’s a very character-driven comic, I’ve gone back to the beginning to catch up (as it’s now up to about 1600+ strips… it’s taken awhile)… and when I came across #600… well, give a read for yourself.

For those that have read my older posts, you might notice the last panel sounds remarkably similar to the beginning of an old post of mine from 2008, the internet classic (or not) Bedroom Communism.

Well… *I* was sure surprised.

I’d like to say that “Great minds think alike” (or “Feeble minds seldom differ”), and the author, J. Jacques, and I are just both ahead of our time… except that I wrote mine in 2008, and he wrote that strip in 2006. So even if we are, I’m still 2 years behind him.

Damn it!

I got the same feeling when I found out there is an NFL player named Victor Riley, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. Of course, that became a very different feeling when I discovered that he was charged with felony assault by ramming his SUV into his wife’s car. With her and their kid in it.

With this “nom de plume” holding a long-standing meaning for me of heroism… that just makes me feel icky. But… I’ve been using this since 1994… and he got drafted in 1998. So *nyah*! I’m going to keep using it… and even despite all the other real-life people that are legitimately named that.

If you do a Google search for “Victor Riley”… you’ll get the NFL guy and several of the real people… but if you search for “Victor Riley HERO”… you get this blog. Hells yeah. Sure, maybe not a lot of people are doing that… but the potential is there.

So anyway… a shout to Questionable Content: Sorry for the unintentional similarity. It’s a great strip! (And I’d like to see Hanners find some happiness/love… even if only temporary. Just sayin’)

Back to your irregularly scheduled Blog.


I'm a Twit...

You may have noticed that since I’ve started to get back to my bloggin’ ways… that there is a new addition to the page. The not-so-latest in a long line of 21st century trends that I’m finally giving a try to:

The Twitter Feed.

Have I given in? Succumbed to the brain-washing of “the Man”? Have I sold out?

Well, seeing as how Twitter is free… not to mention they don’t hire people to write those “tweets”… technically, no. I haven’t sold out.

When it first came out… it didn’t really interest me, to tell the truth. Having a social network where all you do is answer, “What are you doing right now?”, is kind of pointless. At least MySpace and Facebook had other things going on. Thankfully… I think the majority of people thought that it too… was pointless. Not that it would dissuade them from using it… just not in such an inane manner. No, they started using it for other things.

Even though they say the “concept” of Twitter is still: What are you doing?... it’s more like “Texting to the World”. You can have conversations with specific people, by “tagging” them with @username… but they’re just conversations that you allow everyone to see. In essence… how different is it from having a blog? Only with a Twitter… you have to do it in 140 characters or less.

Structure-wise… it makes an interesting challenge.

I was asked to research Twitter for my job by my boss… to see if using it could benefit the company. But I figured the best way to do that was to actually set-up an account for myself and play with it. So I did… went poking around. To be honest… it’s not very complicated. The whole thing is pretty straightforward… and I think that simplicity is a big factor to its popularity.

And for me… there’s an intriguing element to it. When you pull up your twitter homepage, where it shows all the latest posts from the people you’re following, in chronological order (newest shown first). This includes not only your friends… but the celebrities, too. And it’s all in real-time. As soon as they type it and hit “Enter”… it’s on the web. So when you see one of your favorite celebrities… posting something at the exact same time as a friend, or even yourself… that’s kind of cool. It’s one of those elements of Globalization that actually makes you smile… instead of freaking out in a “Big Brother is coming to get me” kind of way.

One of the things that actually got me a tad intrigued… was a bit from an article in Wired magazine, from about a year ago. It was a feature on promoting yourself as an internet celebrity. One of the pieces of advice it gave said:

"Every single Twitter post you write should be something that could get you laid, ruin a marriage, or bring a tear to a fat little kid's eye." — Joshua Allen

Well, I don’t know who Josh Allen is, but I don’t think I agree with C… and doing B would make me feel too guilty… but A sounds like a good guideline to follow. I mean, if you’re going to do something that’s pretty pointless in the first place… at least try to make it interesting. Then it won’t *seem* so pointless, you know?

So, that’s what I’m trying to go by… using it as a supplement to the regular blog, really. Any short epiphanies, observations or witty quips that come across my brain… I’ll throw them up there. I’m not accepting any pressure to do it all the time… but when I think of it, I’ll do it.

I tend not to do the “retweets”, which is just re-posting something that someone else posted themselves. There were a few times I did a “reply”… which really just tagging them with the “@username” I mentioned above… but I don’t really keep them there. I’ll let them sit for an hour or two, and if the person its referencing sees it in that time, cool. I try not to expect another reply from them (looking to expect things like that from regular people or celebrities, major or pseudo-, tends to lead to disappointment) and just continue on with my day. If they haven’t seen them after 2 hours… chances are there’s already 200 other tweets in their “most-recent” queue, and they won’t see it. So, I’ll delete it to keep my page fairly clean-looking and accessible.

I’m going for “Quality” over “Quantity”.

The same thing goes for those Twitterers (okay, that’s too many syllables… and sadly, “Twits” feels *too* accurate). I’m being picky who I follow.

I’m currently (as of this writing) following 18 people. Among them are:

The cast of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog (Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day)
Postsecret… one of my favorite blogs, of which I’ve professed my love of before. Twice.
Violet Blue… I’ve mentioned her website tinynibbles.com before also.
Penn Jillette… of Penn & Teller fame. If you don’t know of them… your life is incomplete.
Weird Al Yankovic… and why not?
Simon Pegg… one of my favorite British comedic actors.
Will Wheaton… more famous due to the Inter-Web then any Star Trek appearance.
And my personal favorite Twittererererer…
Valancy Jane… she’s a real-life friend of mine, and she’s also over on the blogroll on the side of this page. She’s the epitome of quality over quantity, and she’s also the *only* person who’s updates are sent directly to my phone. She’s awesome. Love her, for you must.

As for those following ME… I have but 6 at the moment. But hey, those are 6 *really* cool people. I do have one other person that “listed” me… but I don’t really know how different that is from following. Maybe it’s like “following without actually being a follower”… I think I feel used. Should I demand a commitment? Or would that just make me look like a Twit?

Then again, I think I already am… in more ways than one.

But we already knew that, right?


Putting the Harm in eHarmony...

A few days after I flew back from the funeral, I signed up on eHarmony.

Yes, there’s a connection.

And yes, I know… I had sworn off the internet dating due to such lovely examples of here and here, not to mention other lovely experiences that I hope never to repeat, both in experience or verbally. What made me fold?

Well, whenever I’ve experienced a time in my life where I lost someone I cared about… I get a bit of a glimpse of my own mortality. I get the urge to pull other people that I feel close to…even closer, so that I don’t feel like I’m taking them for granted, and really hold onto them and not want to let go. In missing the one I’ve lost, I become more protective of the others. Personally, I think it’s actually a normal (or at least normal-sounding) reaction.

Thing is… whenever that’s happened in my life… it’s never been at a point where I’m in a relationship at the time. (It just worked out that way) And loneliness kicks in a little harder then usual… because I don’t have anyone that I can literally pull closer and hold on to.

As an individual that tends to have a hard time meeting people, and for whom the bar-scene and normal people-meeting methods don’t work… I tend to feel like my options are limited. (Oftentimes, into the low single-digits.) So, I had a moment of weakness… and I signed up on eHarmony.

I picked that particular site, because it seemed to be a little more serious-minded then the other dating sites I’ve tried. As you have to answer about 900 screening questions and give up a good few hours of your life just to get it set-up… not to mention its one of the more expensive dating sites out there… it seemed logical that the only people that would actually go through all that crap… would be ones that are actually serious about finding a healthy relationship.

Well, it *sounded* like a good theory.

I purchased a full 1-year subscription, in advance. It was the most economical (you essentially pay for 3 months, get 9 free)… and I also wanted to give myself plenty of time to get to know someone, and not rush into anything. (Even amidst my insane dry spell, I have no desire to jump into anything… be it relationship, bed, pile of mud, or otherwise) Since it was mid-November when I signed up, and knowing the upcoming holiday craziness would be… well, crazy... I made a personal resolution not to physically meet anyone until after the New Year. I made it fairly clear on my profile and in the e-mails of those I was matched up with, and they seemed totally cool with it. They said they liked the idea of getting to know me first, without any pressure… and taking our time. Great! Maybe this whole “matching” thing they had going on… actually had something to it.

Now, in terms of matches… while I was given a hefty list, I didn’t go trying to write to all of them (even though the site actually suggests you do). For one, there’s no way I’d be able to keep track of everyone and the different conversations. That’s too much like being a “playa” in the real-world, at least to me. No, I tried to keep the numbers small. While I prefer to focus solely on one person at a time… I knew that probably wouldn’t be smart here, and I should at least try to chat up more then one at a time. Face it, chances are any particular one person isn’t going to work out, but a small percentage would be worth pursuing… so the odds would increase with at least trying to talk to a few more. (Yes, I was starting to “play the numbers”. Hey, I was trying something different… Go me!)

One gal I was chatting with apparently lived in Los Angeles for a few years… during the same time *I* was out there. And then she moved back to New England, like me. That coincidence was a bit weird… but also cool. Because we had dual-coast-knowledge in common. We had nice talks on the phone… but then the calls and e-mails got further and further apart, and then stopped… having never met in person. It started to sound like she was getting too busy in life and work… and then disappeared.

One of first ones I *did* meet in person, however… I really liked. Our phone conversations were really nice, and we soon made plans to meet face-to-face. When I did… I actually thought she looked *much* better than her picture (and her picture was really attractive). She also had a bit of fire in her… during a conversation about skee-ball, a carnie game I at one time had near-mastered, she seemed to have no problem saying how she would “kick my butt” at it. I loved the fact that she openly challenged me to it… and I was definitely up to taking her on. We ended our first date… with the promise of a second. No kiss, no moves… just a smile and a promise.

Now, I tend to gauge the success of dates on one thing: If I call her afterwards and hear back from her… it was good. And I actually did heard back from her. That would make this the first “good date” I’ve had in a LONG time… and since she actually made good on the promise of a second date… which was not only the first 2nd date from an online connection I’ve ever had, but the flat-out first 2nd date I’ve had in a long time… She seemed like she was genuinely interested in me. I was definitely interested in her.

Our second date, we got dinner and a movie. The conversation during dinner was once again really nice… lots of smiling, lots of eye contact, laughing, etc. I really didn’t feel like I was “trying”… it was feeling right.

We went and saw the movie Taken (it was in the theatre at the time). Sure, maybe people would think an action-movie isn’t the best date-movie… but they weren’t on this date. And none of the other movies seemed to appeal to either of us. We both enjoyed the movie, and walked out of the theater… into a surprise snow-storm. Everything was completely coated with snow (and we had no idea that it was even supposed to). She had driven us over to the movie theater, so we had to go back to the restaurant where my car was.

I would not have thought that any part of this date was going badly. There were no really awkward moments… no clashes. Just smiles, laughs and the good kind of eye-contact (as opposed to the psycho-stalker-kind of eye contact). The end of the second date… had the promise of a third.

I started to get out of the car… and you know what? Looking at her… it felt right. I then leaned back in… going for our first kiss.

Then she turned her head.

It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t like she didn’t see me coming towards her… she very consciously turned away.

I had COMPLETELY mis-read that situation. In the span of a half-second, I then felt like the biggest idiot I’ve ever known. (You’d think I be used to it)

I just said, “…okay, then.” And backed out, closing the door. She was still smiling, waved good-bye, and drove off. I cleaned the snow off my car, started it up, and started to head home… mentally (and occasionally physically) kicking myself all the while. I could not believe that happened… the first real time I put myself out there since *COUGH COUGH*, and I was 100% sure that the moment was right. And it wasn’t.

I am absolutely atrocious at reading body language. If I had any doubts on that statement prior, it was confirmed then and there.

And I had nice long time to think about it… because my car broke down on the way home. In the snowstorm. (Was I Hitler in a previous life or something? Seriously! WTF???) I got to sit there in the cold… and stew in my thoughts of my own stupidity, for an hour and a half, while waiting for AAA to get there.

And you know… I did call her. I told her I would (before the ill-fated attempt), and hoped that the third-date interest was still there like she said (again, before the ill-fated attempt). I make good on my promises.

I didn’t hear back from her.

The few friends I talked to about it… some of them said, “Well, maybe it was too soon for her”, while the majority of others said, “No kiss? On the SECOND date???” Looks like the minority was right on that one. While just about everyone thought it a bit odd that if the other 99% of the date was great… why she still just disappeared. But that’s neither here nor there. It was over and done with.

I licked my Pride-Wounds for about 2 weeks, then got back into eHarmony. (Who knew I even had Pride to get wounded?)

That was probably the start of everything going downhill. Because over the next several months… I had a lot more first dates. But no second-dates. Not for about another 8 months.

I had a lot of lovely times… met some really nice women. Just about all of them were ones that I *wanted* to see again. But no matter how good of a time they seemed to have, no matter how much laughing, good-eye-contact, blah blah blah there was… I never got my calls returned afterwards. It was going directly back to the old pattern it seems I’ve always known: Have a great time; I say I’d like to see them; They say “Yes”; I call; Nothing.

And before you suggest it… I was always trying different things. Trying different approaches, different jokes, different methods, asking different kinds of questions of them, sometimes a more tame conversational approach, and sometimes with just a touch of flirtation. I’d make resolutions of “Okay, I’m not going to tell THAT particular story on the first date, because even though they all want to know it, and love the telling… it never gets anywhere.” I was ALWAYS trying to vary it up. And all these women that eHarmony was telling me were “good matches for my personality”… all disappear after 1 date. 95% do so without any explanation… they just disappear. (Even the ones that had said, “That’s so rude of those other girls!”… they went ahead and did it, too. Seriously… it’s been incredibly frustrating.)

I don’t know why, but why do the majority of women I seem to meet… quit so soon? I can NOT come to a full conclusion about someone after a brief 1-2 hour first date. (You’d think I’d have an advantage from all the e-mails and phone calls prior to meeting…) I need time to suss someone out. Too much “guarding” on a first date when meeting someone completely new. Hell, I do it! And it’s because I’m so guarded, that I don’t want to give everything about me on a first meeting. I doubt anyone does.

It seems like that if they don’t get “Romantic-Movie-Style-Attraction-Sparks/Chemistry” with someone from the instant get-go… then they might as well cut it off now and continue on. Because isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

Life doesn’t have a screenwriter. Sorry if this is a surprise to anyone.

I’ve read several articles that claim that Romantic Comedies and movies of the ilk do more to hurt real relationships then help them… and I’m inclined to agree with them these days. (Must we once again go over the concepts of Fantasy and Reality?) If you honestly think that real life can and should be like those sappy pieces of crap, then stop being so surprised when I put on a 13-foot-long-scarf and claim a big blue box is “my ship”.

I say Garry Marshall should be the first to go. Set phasers to “puree”.

There were a few women that I did hear from afterwards… to tell me that they “didn’t feel any sparks.” Which frankly, only feeds into my frustration-rant above. Same reasons… blah blah… why are you expecting them so soon?

One actually told me that she had “too much going on right now” to devote to a new relationship. Sorry to ask… but why the hell are you on there in the first place? Oh, a friend put you up to it? You let your friends throw away your money? (Like I said… eHarmony isn’t cheap. I thought that’s what would weed out the “not serious” ones) Furthermore, you let your friends push you into things you don’t want? Oh, please. Frankly, it screams “lame excuse” to me.

Oh, sure… but in *this* case you really are “too busy”, not like those other liars. Here’s the thing about being “too busy”; And I’m not trying to sit on a high horse here… I’ve been insanely busy before, myself. But you know something? If I want to spend time with someone… or pursue a relationship… I *make* the time. I rush around a lot, oftentimes like a chicken with my head cut off… maybe lose a little sleep here and there… but I make it. Especially if I think someone is worth it. A relationship would definitely qualify for that.

And thing is… I’m a patient guy. I’m willing to wait for a little time to open up in someone else’s schedule. Sure, long pauses suck… but if they at least make an effort, it means a lot to me, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Love will find a way… but *we* have to do the actual looking.

So… my time on eHarmony. I’ve had a LOT of first dates… and 3 second dates, total. Of those other 2 second-dates… both just disappeared afterwards. One mysteriously just stopped calling/writing/texting soon after said 2nd date… and the other, I started to get the impression that she wasn’t as attracted to me as I was to her, and that’s when I stopped hearing from her. (But since I’m horrible at the body language, what do I know? Maybe she never was.) eHarmony is officially a complete bust. If I ever see Dr. Warren, I’m going to tell him where to shove his 753 questions and “personality match-ups”… because I don’t think he knows squat.

And it occurred to me… I don’t actually know anyone that’s met their sweetie online. Not even an acquaintance. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that say THEY have friends/relatives/etc that met the Significant Other online… but I don’t actually know anyone myself that it’s worked for. So… from my point of view… they could all be making it up.

There is one person, whom I met online, that I’m in contact with currently. We’ve had a first date… and a second… and even a third. We met during a free weekend on Chemistry.com. (I’ll be darned if I’m paying for ANOTHER site. That one weekend was it for me on that.) I haven’t tried for a kiss… or even a hug. I’m wanting to go so insanely slow here, my previous pace is blowing past. But we have a nice time, and I actually do hear from her… albeit sporadically. I know she is busy right now, but unlike the other “busy ones”, I do actually hear from her, and we find a little time to meet up. (Like I said… the effort means a lot to me.) Hell, just the fact that she’s an attractive woman, who’s single and *my age* gives huge brownie points… and while I’m not totally sure of her level of interest (take nothing for granted!), I am. So I’m hoping I get to see her again, and fairly soon.

If it doesn’t work out… that’s okay. But I’ve given the online method enough chances, and this is the last one. More power to you if it works, but it’ll mean it doesn’t for me.

If it DOES work out? Then that is a-okay by me, and I’ll sing the praises of online dating.

But I’m going to need a neon sign with arrows to signal the time for that first kiss. You’re high if you think I’m going through that embarrassment again.



Just after my last post of 2008, a good friend of mine passed away.

That was the start of my hiatus.

I found out, quite literally, about 5 minutes before I was leaving to go to a memorial service. (I don’t know if that’s ironic or appropriate) I was… a mess the entire day. The Memorial service was for the father of my cousin’s husband (we were there showing him support as he’s done for us), but I obviously had something else on my mind.

I don’t know if I’d consider myself good or bad at dealing with Death. I suppose it’s something that no one is either “good” or “bad” at. Frankly, I’m curious to know exactly how a “good dealing of Death” would go. Does it involve a lot of crying? No crying? A zen-like calmness and a “c’est la vie”? Crying and getting drunk *until* you get to a zen-state of c’est la vie?

My earliest memory of anything involving death was my brother waking me up one dark morning and telling me our Bampi (My Mom’s Father) had died. I was really young… probably no more then 6. I have vague recollections of the man, mostly just sitting in the background of family gatherings from that side. My brothers and I were deemed “too young” to go to the funeral.

The first wake I went to… I don’t remember who it was for. It was for a distant relative, one I don’t think I had any recollection of… we either saw them rarely or not at all. I was probably 10 or 11. The only thing I could think of was how I really didn’t think I wanted to see a dead body (yes, despite all the violence on TV, I was hip enough to know the difference between that and reality. Go figure.)… and I was actually relieved to find it was a Closed-Casket. That relief was short-lived however. After getting a drink of water, I saw my dad standing in the middle of the foyer of the funeral home. He motioned me over, so I went… and he pointed into one of the other wings (where there was another wake going on), and while I was turning my head and saw what he was pointing at, said, “That’s what an Open-Casket is like.” And I was looking at my first dead body. It was from a distance, but I could still see it was an elderly gentleman (and I recall he had a big nose). I quickly turned away, because I was still not ready for it… nor had I been ready for the all-too-sudden fashion my dad thrust upon me without warning. (He has a habit of that.)

I remember when the mother of one of my Aunts passed away. I had met her when I was really young… meaning, I don’t remember. But here, I was in High School, and we went to the Wake one evening. I spent the entire time just thinking… I felt like I should say something to my Aunt, but I didn’t know what that would be, because I didn’t remember her mother… and I didn’t want to lie and say “oh yeah, I remember her.” (If you knew my childhood, you’d probably wonder where I got this idea of “honesty” from… sometimes, I don’t even know.) When my parents told us to gather up our things to go, we all went up to her one last time to pay respects and say goodbye. When I got to my Aunt, I said, “I don’t remember her… but if she’s important to you, she’s important to me.” Then I hugged her, and we left.

My mom told me the next day, after my parents came back from the funeral (They didn’t want to take my brothers and I out of school for it), that my Aunt really appreciated what I said to her, and it made her feel better. (I guess I did something right.)

In High School, when I was a Senior, I was at the after-hours rehearsal for the school play (on a break) when I looked over down the hall and saw a few people gathered around standing still and listening to this one woman who was crying. My concern and curiosity got the better of me, and I walked over to see what was going on. When the woman finished (of which I didn’t know the context of what she was saying), and the group started to break up a little, I asked one of my other cast members what happened… and he told me that a kid in his class (the one just behind mine) had just killed himself.

It was not a guy I knew… but his sister was in my class (she apparently found him), and I would come to learn that he and I apparently knew a LOT of the same people. For awhile, I was wondering how it was I *didn’t* know him. But it seemed that just about everyone else in the school seemed to. (Though, he was part of the “jock” crowd, if I recall, so maybe that at least gave him some notice or popularity) Seeing the fallout the next morning was pretty surreal.

My first class was Physics, and our teacher was reading a prepared statement from the Principal’s Office… and everyone else was just quiet. Except for our Class President, Joe… who was balling his eyes out. Apparently, he was really good friends with the kid. When the teacher was about halfway through the statement, Joe got up and ran out suddenly. The teacher didn’t look up, just paused for a second, and then continued. Once he finished… there was complete silence… broken by me. Because I had gotten up and quickly headed for the door. I said to the teacher, “I’m going to check on Joe” and kept going. As I was going through the door, he said, “Thank you”… and I was off down the hall.

The first place I checked was the bathroom. I had the worst thoughts running through my mind, that *he* was going to try and kill himself too, or something. I dropped down to look under all the stalls at once, saw nothing, and checked the next closest one. I did see someone else in the hall, and asked if they had seen Joe, and they told me he went to the Guidance Counselor’s office. So that’s where I went. Joe was in with our Guidance Counselor (who was actually pretty useless in all of my interactions with him over the years… though he did try, I admit), and I just went in and sat down in another seat. I didn’t think I should say anything, I just felt that maybe having someone else there for him would be worth something.

For the next few hours, I pretty much stuck by Joe. Maybe it was part of my inner Super-Hero complex coming out, but I just felt like I had to stick by him and look after him. Logically, maybe I shouldn’t have done that… because I wasn’t even good friends with Joe, but I was going on gut feeling and instinct (despite my gut having steered me wrong in the past). I even escorted him to the local church, where an impromptu sermon was being given… that almost everyone in the school showed up to. I stuck by Joe, sitting next to him. I stuck by him until the sermon was over… I think he and a lot of other kids ended up going home by mid-day… I went back to the school to the scheduled classes, even though no one actually did anything in any of them. Each class ended up being an extra-quiet study hall.

I did go to the funeral services… mainly to “pay my respects”. Again, maybe logically, I shouldn’t have. But he was a kid from my school… we knew a lot of the same people (though for me they were acquaintances, and for him they were actual friends)… and his sister was in my class (again, despite not knowing her very well). That made me think I should be there for some reason or other. But I left after the church services… I didn’t follow the casket to the graveyard across the street. I just walked home.

In 1995, when I was in Undergrad, my Nana (Mom’s Mom) passed away. It was near the beginning of the Spring semester, and it was still a lot of snow on the ground. A few days before I had headed back there, I went with my Mom to the Nursing Home where Nana was living, bed-ridden. She recently had one of her legs amputated due to gangrene… and she didn’t seem to remember it. She also didn’t seem to remember my name. She looked at me with a big smile, then turned to my Mom and mumbled, “Which one is this?” Her tongue was majorly swollen and couldn’t drink normally. She had to have her mouth re-hydrated with a cotton swab that was dunked in a glass of water. It was… a bit painful to see her like that. There was also this awful stench that I had never experienced before. Later, when I asked my Mom about it, she told me that was the “rotting flesh from her bedsores”.

My Grandmother was rotting alive, and there was nothing I could do about that. That really hurt to think about.

Out of myself and my brothers, I think I was the last one to see her alive.

So, about a week later, I got the call at my dorm room from my Mom. I still wasn’t prepared for it, even though I knew it was inevitable. After I got the news, I put on my Coat and winter stuff… and just went walking. I think I circled the campus twice, when I finally ran into a friend of mine (the one whom I considered my long-lost twin, actually)… who could see that something was wrong. I managed to get it out, but was crying pretty much throughout while actually saying it aloud. (Prior to that, it was just silent, stoic contemplation) She then stuck with me to keep me company for the next few hours… which I’ve always been grateful for.

(At one point, she did say, “Um, listen… I have to say that if you’re thinking of trying to kiss me… please don’t.” To which, I turned and looked at her like she had 4 heads, with two of them singing Lithuanian Opera, and the other two licking their own eyeballs. I’d say that Sex was the *last* thing I was thinking about… except that to be honest, it wasn’t anywhere even on the list. So yeah, there’s no danger of that from me. And the thought that some guys *would* try to take advantage of that situation… dude, there’s a reason I hate my own gender.)

By the time I had gotten home for the Wake, I had pretty much cried myself out. I remember telling another one of my Aunts about my reactions, and she was surprised that I did so much crying… she had thought I was “taking it quite well.”

Still wasn’t sure what that meant.

In my next-to-last semester there, I was heading into a Tech rehearsal for the current show one Saturday morning. I ran into one of the other cast members, and I noticed he looked a bit down. So I asked him what happened, and he said how a girl in his dorm died in a car accident the night before. I said, “Oh God, I’m so sorry… may I ask who it was?” Then he told me… it was Carol Soucie.

Yes, I know this breaks the anonymity rule I have by naming her… but she deserves to be known and remembered. Carol was one of the absolute sweetest girls there was… and yes, I knew her.

When my friend told me it was her, my jaw dropped, and I was in shock.

Carol had been a neighbor of mine in our dorm the previous year, and I got to know her a decent bit from that. She also came to a lot of the department shows, and at one point I was told that “she was a fan of mine”. (No idea how true that was, but it made me smile… she had that effect on you, regardless.) This was the epitome of the unfair death. She was on her way home for the weekend and got hit by a milk truck (the driver of whom I believe I heard was drunk.)

A group of us carpooled up to Maine so we could go to the funeral. While it was a nice roadtrip… I wish we didn’t have to lose such a jewel of a young lady to do it. (Yet, she was worth driving 20 times the distance) It’s hard to say goodbye when, cosmically, you’re just saying hello. I think everyone felt cheated to not have had more time with her… because the little that we did was so good.

When I moved to California for Grad School, I was getting ready to fly back east to see one of my best friends get married. It was about a week and a half off, when one afternoon, at about 3:30 or so… I had this sudden flash in my head. A passing thought, a question, really… “What if Dzia-Dzia passed away?” (That’s my Grandfather on my Dad’s side. It’s a Polish thing.) I don’t know why… but I quickly and purposefully pushed it out of my head. It was a depressing thought, and there was no reason to have it.

When I got back to my apartment later that evening, I had a message on my answering machine. It was my Mom, asking me to call her “no matter the time”. As it was about 10pm when I got this, it was 1am where she was… so if I had to call, no matter the time… it can’t be good. I called her instantly… and she told me that Dzia-Dzia passed away suddenly that day. Recalling my earlier thought… I nervously asked her what time it happened. She said about 6:30pm… which would be 3:30 in the afternoon, my time. (I don’t really believe in psychic stuff… but that really disturbed me.) It was very sudden. He just fell over… no pain or anything. But completely unexpected.

Like when I heard about my Nana… I went walking. Trying to process it.

My parents had said to “not bother” flying back early for the funeral… it wasn’t worth it. (So nice of them to make that decision for me, wasn’t it?) As I believe I was the only one out of state at the time… I think I was the only one that missed the funeral. And it kinda pissed me off… I didn’t get to say my Goodbyes. I didn’t get the hugs I wanted or needed from my family WHEN they were wanted and needed! And timewise, I missed this all… by one week. I felt so incredibly cheated.

And it wasn’t the last time. A couple years later, just a few weeks before Christmas, the mother of another one of my Aunts passed away. This one was almost always at our family gatherings… we knew her and remembered her very well. She had gone into the hospital, and word hadn’t been good. Being the one so far away, and in another time zone, I had to rely on my cell phone for all information and staying in the loop. (Made more difficult by the fact that where I was staying, didn’t have any reception… I had to drive 8 miles into town to get my messages or make a call.) So, once I got into range of a tower, I called my parents… and my Dad answered. I asked what the news was… he said, “What?” I said, “Is there any change in her condition?”

And my Dad, in his infinite sensitivity… said, “No there’s no change. She’s dead.”

And he even said it with the tone of voice that just says, “What are you, a complete moron?”

I was shocked… not only at the news, but the complete assholishness of my own father at that moment. “Okay… when was someone going to tell ME???”

Then he goes on the offensive and starts getting mad about how my oldest brother was supposed to have told me, blah blah blah… Okay, if you want to throw blame at someone, fine… but how the hell can you hear those words from me: “Is there any change in her condition?” and actually believe that I had that information? How can you NOT say, “Oh… he doesn’t know.”?

But once again… they said not to fly back early. “It wasn’t worth it.” So, just being a few weeks away from flying back for Christmas… I had to miss another family funeral. And not say my goodbyes. Once again, feeling cheated.

And now my friend.

Now, I was living on the East Coast, and the funeral was on the West. Well, I wasn’t going to miss this one. His partner, one of my best friends, needed me… and if there was any way I could make it… I was going to be there. I lucked out, and got a decent last-minute flight into San Francisco, where I rented a car and drove the 5 hours north (the services were back in the area I went to Grad School, where we all met him)… and I was in town less then 24 hours, before I had to drive back down to San Fran to get my flight back. Travel-wise, it was a hellish weekend. But I’ll do it for my friends. Every time.

The funeral… felt a little off to me. Really for one reason. You see, I knew that he was going to be cremated… but what I didn’t know was that he had ALREADY been cremated. So, it was just a little urn there, no casket, no body.

That seems odd to me. I always saw cremation as simply the “alternative” to burying. They’re both just ways to dispose of a body, in the end. And the funeral and wake… are all supposed to be BEFORE the actual disposal. So people can say the goodbyes, look at the person one last time, remark how they look “so peaceful”… etc. But having the cremation BEFORE the funeral… is like having the wake over an already-buried grave. Makes no sense.

Once again… I felt cheated.

Funerals are for the living… this is about closure. Personally, I thought it was a bit selfish of his family to deny other people that opportunity for closure. Sure, there are different views on it, and they don’t look at it like that… but I do. And I think it’s cheating.

Sure, you can say, “But he’s still right there. That’s the ashes… that’s him. Right there! Literally!” And you’d be right, technically... he's just been converted to carbonized form. But you can’t look at the eyes of a pile of ashes. You can’t comfort yourself and say that they look so peaceful and happy lying there. Ashes don’t look happy. Or sad. They don’t look anything. It’s really hard to say goodbye to a pile of ashes, because you want to say it to a face, even if it’s not moving. And trying to say that to a picture is even harder… because that’s how they were THEN… at a frozen moment in time, when they were a different individual then. You want to say it to them as they are NOW. And now, if they’ve been converted to an unrecognizable form… and just as your brain could feel “they look so happy”, when the body is there… it is also easy to feel, “this really didn’t happen”, because it’s NOT there.

When I caught up with my friend (the partner) I asked him, “Is this a funeral or a *memorial service*?” He said, “It’s sort of both.”

It wasn’t fair. Not just losing him… but losing the chance to say goodbye.

So is that a good way to deal with it? Feeling like you’ve been able to say goodbye? Or does it come back down to the whole “crying/not-crying debate”?

Either way, the only answer or epiphany I can come up with is this:

I don’t think you can actually cheat Death… because Death doesn’t exactly play fair, either.