Thursday, January 20, 2011

1 Dead. 1 Acquitted. 1 Euphoric.

It's been 18 months since I've "published" anything here on my blog. Work gets hectic, life gets strange, family issues weigh you down. Everyone knows these feelings. But last Thursday morning, something clicked. And I need to reinstate a creative outlet to my life. I need to write. And so, I write.

1 Dead. 1 Acquitted. 1 Euphoric.

A couple weeks ago, I found out an old acquaintance of mine from high school commited suicide. 1 handgun and 1 lost soul later, there's a dead young man. And alot of questions. And a much more sordid history to his family. Greg Marchese and I played drums together back in high school, but probably hadn't seen each other in 20 years, basically since graduation. I saw Greg's Dad, Carl, a little over 5 years ago at the funeral of one of my close friend's Dad. I asked Mr. Marchese how Greg was doing. He humbly stated they had a falling out years before and had not spoken to nor seen each other in that time. Wow, I was speechless.

During high school, I remember Greg was a good guy. Involved in theater and music, he was a "fringe" guy in the stereotypical world of the Long Island mainstream (eg - high school sports and academia). But a good guy. While we were in high school together 20+ years ago, his older brother Chris also took his own life (or so it was speculated). Within a year or so of Chris' death, they lost their Mother to cancer. All this is horrific in its own right, but Greg's Dad is still alive, back in Mineola. He has to deal with all of this. Might I add to this that Mr. Marchese remarried many years ago, so he did have someone close to spend his time with and share life's ups and downs. Tragically, his second wife passed a year or so ago from illness. And now his youngest son has taken his own life. The timing is eerie - his first wife and oldest son pass within a year or so of each other. More than a score later, his second wife and youngest son pass within a year or so of each other.

Life is short, but not worthless. We all have our troubles and tribulations. And we all have someone out there to listen to us and lean on. And those are the ones that are left alive after you senselessly take your own life. Mr. Marchese - you are very much on my mind and in my thoughts. May you find peace and calm in this tumultuous, horrific time.

1 Dead. 1 Acquitted. 1 Euphoric.

So, last Thursday was my first day back at work since Monday (MLK Day). Why? Jury Duty!!! I had been called thrice before - once in NY and twice out here in CO and always managed a postponement. Not this time. The dreaded Courts summons served via the almost-outdated USPS with no fanfare, just wrapped in with all the junkmail and unsolicited solicitations in the soon-to-be-antiquated physical mailbox. YOU have been selected!! Woo-HOO!! How comes it's never the winning Publisher's Clearinghouse entry? Anyway, I showed up at the Courthouse in Boulder as instructed last Tuesday morning. I'd guess there were about 75 of us. I brought one of my favorite re-reads of all time, A Walk In the Woods from Bill Bryson. I figured I'd get through about 3 or 4 chapters, questioned, dismissed as another long-haired idealist from hippieville, and that's it. The Clerk brought us up to speed on the day's fun: 3 new trials (one criminal, two civil) needing a total of 25 jurors. "Cool, odds are with me today." Or so I thought.

First up, the criminal case - Christian, the law clerk for Judge Gwyneth Whalen called 35 names. And up I stood along with 34 other lucky Boulder County residents. After some instructions, a background on the case, a little legal song-and-dance, and a strange, almost old-fashioned "passing-of-the-list-of-names-on-not-so-old-parchment" by each of the lawyers, they had their list of 13. By now, I'd say there were 25 or so of us left. I still have a 50-50 shot to be outta here by lunchtime I thought. The Judge read off the names..... Mr. Butler..... huh, WHAT?!? But this is a gun case! I have cousins who are lawmen and police officers, judges and lawyers! I told them that. I have long hair and a pseudo-goatee and an earring! I didn't have to tell them that. Isn't the defense counsel afraid of what someone like me means for him and his soon-to-be-convicted client?!?!?! Well, apparently I was deemed impartial. And so it went. We sat for just shy of 2 days listenting to the courts, the defense, the prosecutor, 4 witnesses, looked at a gun and a rough sketch of apartment life, listened to the 911 call. Mom has 16-year old son, mom remarries, stepdad is a gun "enthusiast." Less than 6 months after the vows and the empty promise of "till death do us part," stepdad is accused of pointing his .45 at his new stepson. Cops are called, lives are forever changed on both sides. Thankfully, no shot was fired, no one was physically injured or killed. All lives were left on this Earth in this instance, but lives were changed and a different outlook will be had by those involved.

Ultimately, the burden of proof proved to be too burdensome, in this humble juror's opinion. As it did also in my 11 other temporary peers. But it was not lost on me that as I sat there with 11 other strangers-from-yesterday, we discussed a man's fate. Seriously?!? We could send this guy down the river or we could disappoint societal norms and send him on his not-so-merry way. And we talked. And we argued. And we discussed again. After a little under 2 hours we unanimously agreed - this guy ain't gonna win stepfather-of-the-year award, nor model citizen, nor was he exactly a role model to the new teenager in his life. But by our legal standards and the instructions of the honorable Judge Whalen, we found him not guilty. Acquitted.

1 Dead. 1 Acquitted. 1 Euphoric.

And so it was less than 12 hours after I was 1/12 of the entity that acquitted a man who allegedly pointed his pistol at his stepson b/c he loved to tote guns around with him (including from his bedroom to his living room, just in case), and so it was a week after I found out about Greg's premature and violent death at his own hand, that I was lying awake at 2:30 in the morning, snow had just stopped falling peacefully outside, and the fucking snow removal company scraping and plowing our deck and sidewalks waking me out of a sound fucking sleep. Morons. You need an ATV with a plow to clear our 3-foot wide sidewalk. Really?!? Lazy asses. At least wait until 5 am or so, just so I'm not losing half my night's sleep. As I started wasting time playing on-line Texas Hold 'Em at no-man's-hour, I thought to myself, WTF am I doing here?!? Death, guns, war here and there, and a fake online card game. Fuck this. Stop the self-pity you monkey! There's a full moon out there being wasted.

Checked the temperature - 14 degrees.

Hmmmm...... donned my running pants (a rarity for those that have run with me, usually with me wearing shorts, regardless of temps), two base layers and an outershirt, and my fave green Windstopper jacket scored at TransRockies 2010. Grabbed by Brooks Cascadia 5s, checked the clock - 4:55am, and stepped out into the frigid late night/early morning air. I figured to go out for 30-40 minute to wake myself up - a brief jaunt around Wonderland Lake, perhaps out towards Mt. Sanitas. And I started running.

Then something happened.

All of the shit that goes through one's mind and builds and builds and builds over time, came out. Maybe it was the crisp temps, maybe the jury thing, maybe Greg's suicide, maybe the early hour, maybe the full moon. I thought of many of the people I've known and lost - lost to cancer, lost to their jobs, lost to drugs, lost to inner conflict and battle, lost to life. And it came out. And I howled at the moon. And I kept running, all over the snow-covered trails and landscape. It was practically as bright as day outside and my inner being was lit up from here to somewhere far, far away. It was magnificent. No, it was FUCKING magnificent. And as I was heading back in 45 minutes or so later, I bumped into Jamie and Terry out for their early Thursday morning romp. So, I turned around and ran with them for a few more minutes. But them bastards were too fast for me this fine morning, so I turned around to head back in. And as I approached the Old Kiln Trail, there were no tracks on the way up it. None. Not a human, not an animal, not any spirit known to this world. So, I did what any self-respecting runner would do. I made them first tracks for my own benefit. And I kept running. Up and Up and Up. In and out of the moon falling behind the foothills. Bright, dark, bright, dark. And I kept running. And I got to the top overlooking Lee Hill Rd. And I howled at the moon again, and again, and again. All that emotion and realization coming out in many magnificent bursts on this finest of mornings.

It was getting bright in the eastern sky. Back to the real world I thought. So, I headed back down, crossed Lee Hill Rd.......... but I didn't make the turn back to our place. I headed back into the foothills for more and howled some more.

Eventually, of course, I did go back home. A little shy of 6:30 at that point. But time is irrelevant. Mileage definitely irrelevant. Heart rate? Absolutely irrelevant. Sense of place and spirit and experience? And complete euphoria? Relevant.

1 Dead. 1 Acquitted. 1 Euphoric.

Yup, that's why I do this thing called trail-running - to get a grasp on life. Attempt to keep it within my realm of reality. For that once-in-awhile glance SO deep into your inner self and soul that euphoria overtakes you. And your outlook on life is changed forever. But it is still life.

VERY happy trails to you all - thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

San Juan Solstice weekend is upon thee

The wife and I leave tomorrow morning for Lake City, CO. Yup, the time has come the walrus said. Thankfully, it is to run, to challenge thyself physically more so than I ever have before. It is the weekend of the San Juan Solstice. (almost anyway). Here is a snapshot of what I am up against:

My fears and anxiety have gracefully and thankfully given way to hope, excitement, and understanding. A clear picture of what I should do, but not necessarily what I will do. Always the dilemma to what is and what should be. The weather looks normal and reasonable for this time of year. The support and inquiries I've been receiving have been great and MOST welcome. All that's left is to execute.

And that's all I ask of myself. Try hard, run easy, execute properly. I will have an Experience Report up next week sometime (I shan't dare say a Race Report for this one). I expect to be quite humbled, somewhat dizzy, always amazed, and absolutely accomplished. I look forward to what greets me, no matter the ease or difficulty of the situation.

BTW, looks like they'll have live results available starting Saturday afternoon, HERE.

I'm off to the races.........

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A New Beginning, to Prevail

So, I've been a work in progress the last several months, not to mention this little blog thing I got going here. Hence, no time, no energy for this kind of thing. But there should be, right?!? There has to be. Work and life can be all-consuming, so what happens when an example for a creative outlet (this) also tends to become all work and life? I dunno. Perhaps it's a question that shouldn't even be posed.

Regardless, I have decided to ditch all the "works-in-progress" - save a few for potential future consumption and revision - and simply not stress about them. But more race reports, adventures, and soapbox-y type are to follow.

Over the last many months since I have seriously written anything, many things have happened. Only some are worth mentioning. And without belittling life's lessons and many curve balls, I shall attempt to bring you up to speed on me, and hopefully this boring, but truthful, outpouring may inspire my brain to spew some stuff over the next few months and years. Unfortunately, it will only cover one topic, OK 2 - death and cancer.

Cancer, cancer, cancer. The word alone never agreed with me, but now it's personal. As many of you know, I lost my father to cancer just over 5 years ago, in May 2004. He was on the wrong side of 70 years young. I wrote about him earlier on, many times, and you can find one here. But love prevailed. We lost our dear, sweet feline Stink, last October 2008. She was on the wrong side of 10 years young. We found out she had lymphoma last August and she did not even make it three months. Watching a poor defenseless, sweet creature like a house cat suffer for even three months is brutal. It made me wonder, over and over again, how my mother took such incredible care of my Dad. And love prevailed. My dear friend Stuart Kent, who I used to work with at may last job at Earth Tech, passed in late January after a 5+ year battle with renal cancer. He was on the wrong side of 50 years young. He was the kindest, gentlest soul imaginable. He was also a Baltimore Orioles fan, which I will never hold against him :) In fact that was a basis for our friendship, baseball. He will be missed by all that knew and loved him. So, love prevailed.

Cancer has now taken my Dad, one of my first 2 cats, a dear friend, my paternal grandpa, aunts, uncles, other friends and neighbors, and countless others who I never knew, nor ever will. But should we get mad or angry? It seems as if we can be more constructive working with passion as opposed to anger or frustration. Donate, volunteer, work with others, take care of yourself, and let love prevail.

And lastly, thankfully not a death, or a cancer, but a life and a tribute to a good, long, healthy life: 109 years ago today, my maternal grandfather was born. Joe Sheehan was born on May 14, 1900 and what a dude he was. When he passed away in March 1996, many, many lives - young and old - were affected. Family, friends, neighbors, etc. But it comes down to good people and good healthy, fulfilling lives. Can we all strive for more? Perhaps. But have that good effect on your human cohorts at the very least.

While I mainly speak of cancer here, do what you can to combat anything that can have a negative or detrimental, a stressful or dire impact, on your life. Do it now, take a stand, be one of the good ones, let a new beginning, and life, to prevail.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Perhaps a new year brings a renewed interest? I dunno. I'm still here, just been a bit too busy and genuine lack of creativity. I know, blogs don't have to be creative. But at the same time, I'd rather not throw simple statements and general trash up all over the internet.

For now, just enjoying the weather and looking forward to getting into serious training for my first 50-mile trail race. Details here:

In the meantime, I have about a half-dozen threads/stories to finish up (or trash) from last year.


Cheers everyone,

Saturday, August 30, 2008

the (over) 2-month hiatus

So........ all's OK. Not great, not terrible. But all-in-all, it's all too busy and too much. Lots of work and related travel, a bit of fun travel, running and biking, etc. Due to a whole crapload of obligations, I simply have made no time over the last couple months for this creative outlet. I hope before the end of September I will be back in action.

In the meantime, apologies for the hiatus. Hope all's well with everyone.


Friday, June 27, 2008

On the eve of our MS-150 (or 173) Ride

Hey all--so the wife and I are getting ready for our big weekend with the Left Hand Brewing Team riding in the MS-150 (or the MS-173 with the Century Option on Sunday. Please keep all the folks out there suffering from MS in your thoughts this weekend and in the future. I'll have some semblance of an account up about the ride by next week. Cheers!