Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Christmas Prayer

Come sit around the fire and enjoy some cabbage rolls.  I made them for the potluck this year.  Used Gramma/Mom's recipe and as evidenced by the large empty crock pot, they were pretty well received.  Don't worry though, I made a massive amount and have extras. 

And before we break this bread amongst friends I offer this prayer.

I thank the grandfathers for what they provide, from the ground we find beneath the fresh snow, to the knowledge we now share from the beginning of time.  I offer them a sacrifice of myself to honour their spirit.

I honour the spirits of joy, the gifts of the soul, and the selflessness that is the heart of this time.  No matter your background, your spiritual belief, your religion, we all keep this time together to recognize the promise of life through death. 

I say a blessing to my family and friends, those that already know my love, but even more so I make a promise of generosity to those I do not know, to those who may not know that even those without a personal stake care for them simply because they exist.

I extend my love to all those members of my world who may not always be seen, who may not even have been human.  I honour their individual nations, and give thanks to the sacrifices they have made so my feeble existence may continue.

And to you who may read, I love you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time for the Happy Music!

Come on in, and sit down. One of the horrible parts of getting older is that the people you looked up to, the folks who helped shape your life start to die. And this is one of those moments.

Unfortunately I didn't find out until now, but apparently one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away in July. Ms. Brenda McAlpine was one of those crazy teachers they make movies about. Someone who inspires their students to bigger and better things, and she always gave everything she possible could. Her students are in the thousands and I doubt there's a single one who doesn't love and respect what she taught.

What I remember most about her was the intense belief she inspired in the people around her. She just wouldn't say no, or never, or can't. Instead she would push everyone through her own belief in them to be that much better.

I ran into her when I was working at the Casino after my first daughter was born. She was still teaching at Martin, and had a class that essentially boiled down to a life skills class for kids that were in trouble, or danger of getting kicked out of school. She invited me as a former student who didn't have an easy life to come talk to the kids. I was thrilled to be invited and went. Mostly because I truly loved Ms. McAlpine as a teacher, but also because she wanted me to, and if Brenda wanted me to, damn straight I would.

So I go. And spend an hour getting questions tossed at me and talking honestly with these kids. About what turned my life around about the goals I had, where I was working and mainly speaking about the idea that your life is never over, you always have a chance to come back. And it was awesome. But the lesson wasn't over.

After the class, Ms. McAlpine asked me what my plans for my life was. I was pretty tapped out at that point, figured, work at the casino, enjoy my married life and raise kids. She said 'I always thought you would've made a good lawyer. I'm surprised you didn't do well in school.' And that was the seed that started the thought of going back to school. Because if Ms. McAlpine thought I would do good then damn straight I would.

She was going to be one of the people from my life, there's a long list of them, who I was going to phone or find after I graduated next semester to say thank you. To thank them for believing I could do it. And now. Well I guess a prayer for her will have to get those words to her. So in advance, thank you Ms. McAlpine.

Now talent? This was one gifted woman. She took the rock quartet arrangement for Little Shop of Horrors, and made a full band arrangement. We were the Skid Row Orchestra. And we were allowed to shout up at the stage, and make comments, and help get the crowd into the show. And during one performance, before this real bouncy happy song I shout out, 'It's Time for the Happy Music!' and the whole orchestra loses it, the cast lose it, and the crowd starts howling with laughter, almost falling over themselves with the hilarity. And after the performance, Ms. McAlpine says, 'That was great Rich. Never do it again!' Not just because it disrupted the show for about 5 minutes, because no one in the Skid Row Orchestra could get enough breath to play our instruments, but because it would never be as spontaneous or perfect as it was that moment. She recognized the beauty of that one shining moment and wanted it to stand on its own.

So to pay tribute to that genius, I give you some music from that fantastic musical.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh what a feelin'

Come on inside, I'm just working on a paper and in a fit of impromptu frustration I've decided to ditch out of work for a few minutes and write this little rant.

I love my kids.  My Little Bear and Little Crow are the most important things to me and make every day just that much better.  They are so incredible, just looking at pictures of them as they grow up makes my heart swell and I can be reduced to tears by happy memories. 

And then comes this little worm of guilt.  This little horrible dark stain that seems to want to intrude on a lot of my life at times.  Sometimes it likes to peek out and help make things seem more detached than they should be and it gets me angry.  Because really, the only reaction I have to negativity seems to be anger.  I'm good at it, and it can masquerade as righteous indignation, as moral outrage, or as justified defense of those I love, but what it comes down is being a generally ornery person.

And the one person I'm usually angry with is myself.  Because I'm the asshole that has created the situations that mean I can't be with my girls all the time.  I'm the one that has made it so they can't be together and grow up as sisters under the same roof.  I'm the asshole that has cost myself love and happiness with a family that is all together and united.  Because I'm a generally ornery person.

Now I'm not saying I should or could change.  I mean sure, from what I used to be I'm a pretty mellow guy, but I can still fly off the handle at a moments notice.  Like the experience with wannabe tough biker dude.  But that's a story for another day.  And it's not to say that the anger hasn't been useful at times.  I make a great person to have on your side when someone is trying to screw you over.  Once I get rolling, very few things stop me from getting what I want.  Unless what I want is a healthy long term relationship and a life where my girls grow up together.  That I pretty much have fucked up, cuz I'm a generally ornery person.

I think I'm making progress.  I mean, sure I still get angry, but I'm able to hold it in check and release it in adequate ways, like writing, or video games, or singing, or ... welll shit, there's no one to have some hard angry sex with so that one isn't an option.  Probably because I'm a generally ornery person.

I don't think I ever had a point with this, and really, it may come across as a little whiney but I prefer to see it as self-exploration.  I'm happy I can at least say to myself, 'You stupid fuck, look what you did.  Dummy up!'