Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Typical Morning

A typical day begins like every other day.

I wake up and try to go back to sleep thinking it's too early to wake up. But I'm not like other people in that once I'm awake I can't go back to never never land, tho I try. It's game on and out of bed I go. I say," Good Morning," to my Lola and kiss her a bunch. She's such a dear girl.

My wife always says she wants Lola's life.

Imagine all day every day being told you're special (she is), told you're a good girl (she is), with a life full of kisses, treats, walks, and love. That's a pretty good life and she deserves every bit. Did I mention car rides with her head out the window and being on the bed or the couch whenever she wants? Speaking for her (cause dogs can't talk silly) I always say, "I'm kind of a big deal around here," and she is.

So where was I? Oh yeah, a typical morning.

I put on my shorts and a tee shirt and head out to the kitchen to make coffee. At first it's only me and Lola up but my wife and twins are sounder sleepers so I don't have to be real quiet. But I am anyway. New grounds new water. While that's brewing I go to my computer, turn it on, and begin the morning ritual of reading the newspapers. See, I've always been a reader, I've always liked it. Still do.

When the coffee is done I pour a cup and add that to the mix. Man, I do love a cup of coffee and a newspaper in the morning.

The news has been scary and awful and scary and you know why, but I still take it in. All the time looking for good news, hope. Along with the grave news of this pandemic are easy recipes, books to read, a tv series to binge, stories of people doing things that will make you cry.

In the midst of this horrible rain storm there are rays of sunshine.

Woke up to watching Mick, Keef, and the boys doing You Can't Always Get What You Want on Facebookand when's the last time you saw that? How about Stevie Wonder singing Bill Withers? Magic. In the midst of all this you see folks doing things you never thought you'd see and I mean that in a very good way.


I saw the head of CBS News, my dear friend Susan Zirinsky, saying smart and wonderful and thoughtful things on a podcast. Zee is simply great.

I read the memories that my dear friend Holly Gleason wrote in Variety ( after the death of her friend the legendary John Prine. Thoughts that came from the heart and boy she sure can write.

 I see songs that my dear friend Gary DeLena plays and sings that make me think and laugh out loud. I see people saying thank you over and over to our first responders, our doctors, our nurses.
Amanda very pretty.
Here very tired.

I'm looking at you my dear Amanda Martinez. She's a nurse and I personally say thank you.

Videos of all kinds, some funny, some sad. Dogs singing songs, women crazy that they can't go to their hair salons. Videos of wine chess where when you jump an opponent's glass you have to drink it.

And the announcing, way too much, of people no longer here.

I guess what I'm trying to say is it looks typical but it's not. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the caffeine is beginning to take hold, everything looks normal but everything is not. This staying at home thing? Every day feels like Sunday or to put it another way I sometimes forget what day it is.

They announced my son's school is closed for the rest of the semester, it's online classes from here on. He said he's okay with that but he added he misses the ritual of getting up, getting dressed, and heading out to Winter Springs High to see his friends. I feel bad for him and especially feel bad for seniors who were scheduled to graduate.

A new time a new day. Can't wait for this time to be over.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be well.

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Monday, April 13, 2020

The West Wing

So I'm home self quarantining and I recall what a good friend of mine, Bob Kotek, had told me a while back. He and his wife, Martha, were binge watching The West Wing, he said it was that good. I stored that info for later. I always had heard nothing but wonderful things about it and this seemed like a perfect time to go forward. Boy am I glad I did. It's like ice cream for me. At the end of every episode I say out loud, "This is a great show."

If you were lucky enough to see it when it first came out you know. But if you're like me and didn't see it then here's a bit of a recap. It's about the inner workings of the White House, the inner workings of the presidency. If you're thinking ho-hum you couldn't be more wrong. I recommend it whole heartedly. It's smart, funny, poignant, its good heart firmly in the right place, with great characters. You learn the quirks of the characters and you fall for the characters. It sets the bar pretty gosh darn high and meets it every time.

Just a great show.

A side turn as it were.

Way back when I lived in an apartment building in Manhattan and I had just begun at CBS. In the lobby of this building it had a room for all the mailboxes and I stopped in to check mine. I looked up and saw A Few Good Men letter jacket. I saw it on a guy and the guy had his back to me. I had just seen that play on Broadway, this was before they made the movie. On the Great White Way Timothy Busfield played the Tom Cruise part that was in the movie and Ron Perlman played the Jack Nicholson role.

It was so good, the kind of thing that stays with you long after it's over.

I say to the back,"I just saw that on Broadway, it was great! How'd you get that jacket?" Without missing a beat he turns around and says, "I wrote it."

And that's how I met Aaron Sorkin.

And of course he wrote The West Wing.

With what's going on outside your window you need something to divert you, something to take your mind off of reality. The pain of the news, the pain of everything.

If you're looking for something to do all that, if just for a few moments, look no further.

The West Wing does that for me and will do that for you.

Trust me.

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Staying Home

We've all been staying home and we all know a new phrase that we hadn't heard before. At least I hadn't.

Social distancing.

This is awful. Coronavirus, Covid-19, whatever you want to call it, is terrible. People dying, dying I say, is just awful. And just so sad. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, people you don't even know, people you do know.  I worry about my father. He is 91 and smack dab in the bullseye of this pandemic.

I talk to him everyday. I worry about him everyday.

Another word I'd never heard of--pandemic. Learning things I never wanted to learn. And being rich and famous means nothing to this juggernaut.  Do you remember where you were when you first heard of Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson? I do. And now down this sinister road goes John Prine?

So sad.

It’s hard watching the news on television, it just wears me out. I read four newspapers everyday and that wears me out, too. Everyday bad news, everyday another "Run Forrest Run!" moment or two or ten. I've learned the phrase, 'Those on the frontlines', I know the importance of ventilators, the importance of not shaking hands, the importance of self quarantining.  And thank you doctors, nurses, volunteers.  Every time I go out shopping for food I wear a mask and gloves.

When I go to the grocery store everyone in there has a mask on and we all look like bank robbers. If you had told me six months ago this would be the new normal I would have laughed and thought you had a great imagination.

Nobody's laughing now.

And while I'm at it thank you to all the people working in there too.

I've learned to wipe counters and door handles and light switches and, well, everything with anti-bacterial wipes. I've washed my hands ten thousand times. Maybe twenty thousand.

It's like the Twilight Zone.

They closed down my YMCA weeks ago so I walk a mile or two everyday for exercise and our streets are full of people doing the same. There's just one thing, as people are coming down the sidewalk toward you, you head towards the bike lane on the road so you can keep your distance.

My Lola can't believe her good fortune. She goes on more walks now than ever before.

Like most everyone I'm home binge watching shows, face timing friends and laughing at junk on Facebook. Trying to keep a smile on my face in these troubling times. And trying not to drink too much red wine.

It may just be me but I think some good may come from this.

We're in the age of snark, of saying nasty things, of not seeing someone else's point of view. Whenever Real Housewives comes on I always think, "They're supposed to be friends?" I think shows like that, plus people shouting at each other on news programs instead of listening and then making your point, and on and on, will change. Oh, you'll still have stuff like that but it will be a dull roar as opposed to a roaring bonfire.

It sounds naive but I was always taught to treat people like you want to be treated.

I think we'll come out of this changed and I think it will be for the better. Think more CBS Sunday Morning and less TMZ. After all we're all Americans, right? We're all decent human beings, right?

In the meantime I've been clinging to a phrase like a life boat in rough seas. I'm not alone in clinging to it.

The phrase?

And this too shall pass.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

My Autistic Brother Sean

It was 1963.

July 24th to be exact, the day of my brother Sean's birth.

I was eight on my way to being nine.

We later had a sign on our front door that said 'Welcome Home Sean!' I pronounced it Scene, I had never seen Sean spelled before. He was coming home from the hospital and a new brother was big news.

 I was so excited.

Sean was very cute and very sweet. My mother was busy with bottles, naps, and diapers, and she handled it all with grace and aplomb. It was when he was a bit older my parents noticed he was different.

At first Mom and Dad thought it might be just a passing phase but when it didn't change, they took him to a doctor, and that's when I first heard the word autistic.

You want to hear something funny? I thought they said artistic. I thought my brother was going to be a painter or a musician. It's hard enough grasping autism as an adult, try grasping it as a child.

Keep in mind, also, it was the mid 60's. Autism back then was a dark room.

I have to hand it to my parents, they never put Sean in a back room or hid him in any way. When our friends would come over, there he'd be, off in his own world but out front, a part of our family.

Talk about brave. And loving.

It seemed Sean was in and out of a thousand places as my parents tried to find the best care for him. I remember a time in Maryland, a time in Rhode Island.

My father, on one of his visits to see Sean, couldn't wait to tell me he had met Johnny Winter in the Providence airport. He told me he said to him, "I really like your song "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." He said Johnny hesitated a bit and then said, "Thank you."

I didn't have the heart to tell my Dad that song was by Johnny Rivers.

Sean got older and settled into a wonderful organization, CSAAC. Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children, located in Rockville, Maryland.

I don't say wonderful lightly but they truly are. It's people like them who helped turn the light on in that dark room.

The more you know the more you know.

Sean lives there now and to be able to live his life with dignity...

I thank you CSAAC.

An epilogue.

Having an autistic brother has helped me to accept more readily people with handicaps. The next time you see someone battling be kind.

As the saying goes, there but for the grace of God....

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