Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Scar Tissue



No longer writing something to fill this space every day has given me time to glance backwards through the pieces that have appeared here in search of (an often-desperate one I assure you) something that I had written that actually expressed a sentiment worthy of repetition.  I believe what follows here to be such a something.  Not because of the words themselves but, rather, because of the person about whom they were written.

Without ado, further or otherwise... 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

The Rose of Belmar



Saturday evening I walked home from Mom Fest.  My friend, Loku, and I walked home on the Boardwalk from Taylor Pavilion.  I took note of when we passed 14th Avenue.  I have a very good friend, Tom, who lives on 14th.

Today marks a sad anniversary for Tom, his fellow 14th Avenue residents, and everyone who knew Mark Oberschewen or his father, Bill.  On August 15, 2016, Mark and Bill (as well as Mark's dog, Tickles) were killed in a fast-moving fire that gutted their 14th Avenue home. Mark was just forty-nine.   He doted on his two kids, Michael and Gina.  A good man, he deserved a better fate than Life bestowed upon him. 

-AK 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Still-Tolling Bell

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful late summer Tuesday.  Well, for a little while at least.  Shortly before 9:00 a.m. Eastern time, it turned into something decidedly different.  

In 2018, September 11 is a Tuesday.  It is exactly four weeks from today.  Twenty-eight days to the seventeenth anniversary of the worst day that these United States had experienced before or since in my lifetime.  A day whose equal or better is something I hope that neither my grandchildren nor their grandchildren shall ever experience. 

Twenty-eight days from today, we the people of these United States will gather in public places all across this nation and pay tribute to those who died on that terrible day, including those first responders who gave their lives attempting to save the lives of people they did not know and, in all likelihood, had never met.  

The loss of life on that day was horrific.  Worse yet, I submit, is the fact that in the almost seventeen years since that terrible, murderous Tuesday morning, lives have continued to be lost.  On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote a piece that is - for me at least - equal parts heartbreaking and infuriating.  Her piece illustrated the point that in the seventeen years since the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan earned its unfortunate sobriquet, Ground Zero, almost ten thousand New York City residents have developed a cancer or cancers linked to the dust and the smoke that permeated Lower Manhattan in the weeks and months following September 11, 2001. 

According to Ms. Edelman's piece, "the Federal World Trade Center Health Program has counted 9,795 first responders, downtown workers, residents, students, and others with cancer deemed 09/11-related."  Of those stricken, more than 1,700 have died.  If you, like me, sometimes find "big" numbers to be daunting, think of it this way.  In the seventeen years since September 11, 2001, approximately one hundred New Yorkers have died each year because of the events of that day.  

It is a day that keeps on killing.  

Never forget. 



-AK 


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Did You Think I Would Ever Forget...


Today is August 9.  Our recruiting effort is going full speed ahead.  We are eager to add as many faces as we can to our final iteration of Sue's Crew.  This year, the Franchise will be manning the pilot's seat and Pop Pop the engine room in her running stroller.  Hopefully she has as smooth a ride a she did last year with her Mommy.  




If you can join us, then we would sincerely appreciate it if you could register within the next week's time.  Every year, every member of the Crew gets a pretty happening official "Sue's Crew" shirt.  Trust me on this, I have nine of them.  Designing them, ordering them, and preparing them takes a bit of time, which is why we need to place our order not later than August 15 (a/k/a "six days from now").  Once you sign up (the link is right here), please send an e-mail either to me at akenny@weiner.law, to Margaret at kenny.marge@gmail.com, or to Sue Kizis at skizis@hoaglandlongo.com with your t-shirt size to ensure that your request is included in our order.

Pretty exciting stuff, right?  Exercise and free casual wear.  What else does one need as an incentive?  Just wait, there is more. 

This edition of Sue's Crew is the final edition.  To celebrate a decade's worth of love, camaraderie, and transforming truly shitty events into something positive, once the race has been run (or walked), every member of our Crew is invited to head over to the Fox and Hound, which is located a short drive from Roosevelt Park, which is where the race shall be run.  We are having a post-race party, celebration, hootenanny or whatever other term suits your fancy at the Fox and Hound from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  We would like as many of our Crew members as possible to join us for some food, some laughs, an adult beverage and, maybe just maybe, a live song or two, courtesy of this suave fellow.




Exercise is good for your heart.  Music and companionship are good for your soul (or so those with souls tell me).  Join us.  You will be happy you did.  

Without ado, further or otherwise...


THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2018

It's Time For Goodbye At Ten...

Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes,
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again...
-Billy Joel

The Janice Garbolino Memorial 5K Run and Walk is Saturday, September 15, 2018.  Gun time is 8:30 a.m. in beautiful Roosevelt Park in Edison, New Jersey.   You may wonder why that particular piece of information is so important that I am sharing it with you.  Fair question.  And it is one to which I have two very good answers. 

First, it is a wonderful event that honors the memory of Janice Garbolino, who died in 2002 following a battle with breast cancer. She had worked as the Health and Wellness Director of the Metuchen YMCA and her family, friends, and former colleagues have paid tribute to her annually through this race.  

Second, and (with all due deference to the good people from the YMCA) more importantly, September 15, 2018 shall mark the tenth and final edition of Sue's Crew.  Sue's Crew has been as fine an example as I have ever known of a wonderful, beautiful thing growing out of the wreckage of an awful, dreadful occurrence.  In a perfect world, cancer never would have attacked Sue Bozzomo in early 2004.  In a perfect world, cancer would not have killed her.  Yet it did..and it did.  

Rather than simply curse fate or cry, although we all did plenty of both, we decided to respond.  Sue's Crew was that response.  And every autumn since, we have laced up our running shoes in honor of Suzy B.'s memory.  As time has passed, and cancer - being the insidious fuck that it is - has hit our Crew again and again, we have taken up the fight in honor of Diana Kizis, the matriarch of the Kizis family, and in honor of Mom.  

This year, when we gather in Roosevelt Park right outside the front doors of the Lakeview School on Saturday, September 15, we shall do so as Sue's Crew for the final time.  If you have never been a part of our ragtag group, then please do not miss your final chance to be part of the experience.  And if you have - whether you are an annual participant or have done it just once - then we want you to join us for this final race.  

When you go on the race's website, you will see on the right side of the screen that there is one link for participants 12 and under and a separate link for participants 13 and over to use in order to complete registration.  I went to law school in large part to avoid mathematics so you are on your own for figuring out your age.  Once you do, you can complete the registration form in a few minutes. The form will ask you whether you are registering as a member of a team and if so that team's name.  Please fill in "SUE'S CREW X". 

As per usual, so that we may order our always super-cool team t-shirts (Gidg's brainchild every year), it is appreciated if you can register as soon as possible and hopefully by not later than August 15 so that Gidg has sufficient time to provide our t-shirt order to Doctor T-Shirt.  So, when you register, please send me an e-mail (akenny@weiner.law) with your t-shirt size.  


Sue's Crew I 
(2009)


Sue's Crew II
(2010)


Sue's Crew III
(2011)


Sue's Crew IV (Bad and Nationwide)
(2012)


Sue's Crew V
(2013) 


Sue's Crew VI
(2014)


Sue's Crew VII
(2015)


Sue's Crew VIII
(2016)


Sue's Crew IX 
(2017)


We hope very much that whether you have been part of the Crew during any of our first nine editions or shall be vying for Rookie of the Year honors in 2018, you are able to join us on Saturday, September 15, 2018.  




-AK 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Ain't No Phone Call On Sunday...

I almost was tempted to offer some sort of particularly clever rationale for this morning's trip in the WABAC Machine.  Almost.  

Then I remembered just what an irredeemable asshole I am.  

I would advise you to not hold your breath waiting on the hoped-for rationale.

Without ado, further or otherwise...


SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2017

Toasting The One Who Kept Me From Crawling Through


Joan Marie Kelly Kenny
"Mom" (06/13/28 - 06/03/17)

On the sixty-eighth day following Mom's death, which came on the three hundred and fifty-fifth day of her eighty-eighth year, her life shall be celebrated.  This afternoon, beginning at four o'clock, a Celebration of Mom's Life will happen at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.  All of the pertinent information regarding said celebration is here.  The theme is celebratory.  The dress code is casual.  Taylor Pavilion is located on the beach in Belmar between 5th and 6th Avenues so I recommend wearing shoes that can be easily removed should you desire to walk barefoot in the sand. 

Today is a day to which I have looking forward with anticipation and anxiety.  Mom is the great hero of my life.  She is the person from whom I learned that strength and volume are not inexorably linked concepts.  She is the one who taught me the importance of never panicking, an ability that can in fact save your life.  It has saved mine.  More than once.  Mom instilled in me the importance of being true to your own code of conduct and the importance of discounting the noise generated by the uninformed.  It turns out that ignorance is not only blissful, it is often loud.  

Ours was a unique relationship. Dad died at the end of the school year when I was in eighth grade. He left no life insurance (his multiple heart attacks made him a risk no carrier would insure) and no will, while taking with him roughly 80-85% of the income on which our household depended.  By the time I started eleventh grade, Mom and I were the last and the second to last of the Mohicans. I had a birds-eye view of just how tough her day-to-day was.  I lived it right along side of her. 

It was an unrelenting grind, the harshness of which we chatted about regularly over dinner, a meal that three night a week consisted of such delicacies as bologna sandwiches or scrambled eggs.  She was afraid of course.  I was too.  Yet she not only controlled her fear, she harnessed it into the energy necessary to keep on keeping on.  It never manifested itself into panic.  It was then and there that I learned - from watching her - that fear and panic are not interchangeable concepts.  Fear energizes. Panic paralyzes.  Mom spent eighty-eight-years-plus fully energized. She spent not one goddamn moment paralyzed.  

Mom is the great hero of my life.  Yesterday.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Forever...


 


...and may I honor her always by carrying with me the lessons she taught me for however long I may live. 

-AK 

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Half of a Third




Once upon what feels like a lifetime ago, I used to fill this space on a daily basis.  Now, months removed from doing so, when I do sit down to write - on the rare occasion that I do - the process is such a struggle I wonder how it is that I managed to do it every day.  Perhaps it is simply as the Poet Laureate of Freehold observed in Straight Time, "But you get used to anything.  Sooner or later, it becomes your life."  

Fourteen months ago today was the day on which Mom died.  Six months ago, today, was my fifty-first birthday.  Fifty-first in my lifetime but the very first one of those millstones that has happened in my "post-Mom" era.  To mark that particular occasion, I filled this space with the words that appear below. 

Six months after I wrote them and fourteen months after Mom died, I must continue to respectfully disagree with my fellow Jersey Boy and my musical hero.  As it turns out, there is at least one thing to which I shall never get used - even if it has in fact become my life.  




For the late, great Joanie K. and without ado, further or otherwise...

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2018

Two Thirds

Mom and I had a well-worn birthday ritual.  Each year she would call me on my birthday and once she wished me "Happy Birthday" I would extend the same wish to her, never failing to tell her that unlike me she actually had something to do with the date of my birth.  Me?  I merely showed up.  In hindsight, it is important to lower one's expectations from the beginning.  "Yea!  I am here!  Where is my participation trophy!" 

But I digress. 

One year ago on this very date, the Missus and I were sitting at Bar A when Mom called to commence our ritualistic exchange of birthday greetings.  Although I cannot remember exactly what we said to one another - and boy do I wish I could - we both laughed a bit about the fact that her youngest child was now fifty.  I smiled for many minutes afterward hearing the echo of the sound of her laugh.  

Four months later, to the day, Mom and I had a decidedly different phone call.  It was the early afternoon on Saturday, June 3.  As Kara held the phone up to Mom's ear, I said goodbye to her.  She had fought as hard as she could for as long as she could.  I told her I loved her, which I did not tell her nearly enough, and I thanked her for being Mom.  For many minutes afterward I sat on the couch in our living room in Lake Como and sobbed uncontrollably, overwhelmed by the knowledge that I would never again talk to her.

Mom died eight months ago today.  Two thirds of a year.  Two "thirds".  One in June.  One in February.




Irrevocably intertwined.

-AK 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Overcoming The Fear Of Living What You Believe

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities 
-- respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals 
-- that we come to life in God's eyes. 
It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed... 

 ...It is time to move forward. 
The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.
- Bruce Springsteen
(NewYork Times Op-Ed Piece 
"Chords for Change" 08/05/04)

I have noted often over the course of the past fourteen and one-half months that "Pop Pop" is the best job I have ever had.  On most weekday mornings, I spend anywhere from fifteen to thirty seconds talking to Maggie (a/k/a "The Franchise") courtesy of the magic of Face Time.  That snippet of time - that glimpse as it were - is far and away the best fifteen-to-thirty-seconds of my day.  I have no idea as I write this what occupies the silver medal platform for me on this topic.  I do know that the gap between the two is incalculable.

With the recent additions of the members of the Class of '18 to the family, I spend a fair amount of time contemplating the world that my grandchildren have entered and in which I hope each of them lives a gloriously long life.  Much of what I see disheartens me.   

This past weekend I began reading Jon Meacham's The Soul of America:  The Battle for Our Better Angels.  Truth be told, I am not very far into it.  I have enjoyed what I have read thus far and was struck by any number of things that Meacham wrote in its first few pages.  Included among them was this: 

The war between the ideal and the real, 
between what's right and what's convenient,
between the larger good and personal interest
is the contest that unfolds in the soul of every American...

...That is a decision that must come from the soul - 
and sometimes the soul's darker forces win out over its nobler ones.
The message of Martin Luther King, Jr. - that we should be judged
on the content of our character, not on the color of our skin - 
dwells in the American soul; so does the menace of the Ku Klux Klan.
History hangs precariously in the balance between such extremes.
Our fate is contingent upon which element 
-that of hope or that of fear- emerges triumphant.
- Jon Meacham

Hope and Fear.  Are these two often-conjoined concepts twin sons of different mothers or are they Cain and Abel? I do not pretend to be smart enough to know that question's answer.  I am smart enough, unfortunately, to know how to take the temperature of the world around me and discern the direction of the blowing wind.  To borrow a phrase from the Poet Laureate of Freehold, there's  gonna be a twister to blow everything down that ain't got the faith to stand its ground.  

When we allow fear to rule our day-to-day, we quickly deplete our reservoir of faith.  To say this is a bad practice is, one might think, self-evident.  Yet we have allowed it to happen.  And we continue to allow it to happen every day.  We not only tolerate, but encourage and invite, the people we have elected to trade upon the lowest common denominator, which is stoking the fires of all of the things of which we are afraid.  Here's the thing:   You either live your life paralyzed by the thought of the monster living in your closet or freed from it by simply shutting the closet door on it as you head out the door to start your day.    




In the words of the late, great Tom Petty, "Don't be afraid to live what you believe." And to do that, you have to keep the faith...and a little soul. 




-AK 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Two Close Bands of Happy Thieves

The endorphin high of birth will fade, 
but its trace remains with you forever,
its fingerprints indelible proof of
love's presence and daily grandeur.
You have offered up your prayer.
You have vowed service to a new world
and laid a bedrock of earthly faith. 
You have chosen your sword, your shield,
and where you will fall.  Whatever the morrow brings,
these things, these people, will be with you always.
The power of choice, of a life, a lover, a place to stand,
will be there to be called upon and to make fresh 
sense of your tangled history.  More important, 
it will also be there when you waver, when you're lost,
providing you with elements of a new compass,
encased within your heart. 
- "Living Proof" (Chapter Fifty-Three)
Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen

As you may be aware - unless you live under a sizable rock - the Missus and I approach July's end with three times as many grandchildren as we had at this time last month.  The New Jersey Branch, Watchung Division of the family business added Callum Ryan to its roster where he shall ride shotgun to the Franchise.  Almost immediately thereafter, the Colorado Branch, Fort Collins Division of the family business expanded from a duo to a trio with the birth of Abigail River.  

The other afternoon, Rob (a/k/a "Abby's Joy-Filled Daddy") posted a photograph of my youngest grandchild on Instagram, which photograph was accompanied by an extended excerpt of Bruce Springsteen's "Living Proof".  It used to be fashionable (and it probably still is) for Springsteen fans to bash Human Touch and Lucky Town, the two albums he made (and released simultaneously) with "the other band" following his decision to fire the E Street Band after completing the world tour in support of the Tunnel of Love album.  Truth be told, he might have been better served had he been able to cull a single album's worth of songs from those two efforts

"Living Proof" is the song that Springsteen wrote to celebrate the birth of his first child.  In fact, it was on this very date in 1990 that Patti brought their son, Evan, into the world.  I smiled when I read Rob's post - and not solely because my granddaughter Abigail is gorgeous, which she is - but because of his use of the lyrics from "Living Proof", which has always been one of my favorite Springsteen songs.  It has been so in significant part because it speaks so beautifully to the power of the parent/child relationship and the bond that forms immediately...even if as in my case, you were not present at the moment of birth but, instead, joined the program already in progress several years later...




...for as it turns out, the one clear moment of love and truth can happen at any time.  And when it does, it provides all you with all the proof you shall ever need.  

Today.  

Tomorrow. 

Always...




-AK