Archive for December, 2010


Friday, December 31st, 2010

“Each day’s a gift but not a given.”


Every once in a while I’ll stumble on something, stopping dead in my tracks. Like a few years ago, one evening at Park. “We wait too long…” the poem read.

“….To do what must be done today, in a world which gives us only one day at a time without any assurance of tomorrow…”

The words, even then, struck a chord.

“…Lamenting that our days are few, we procrastinate as though we had an endless supply of time…”


The ensuing morning I shot back to temple, copied the page and deftly tucked it in the rubber bands of my wallet. Frayed by time, it remains my mobile reminder that time is but a gift.

“We wait too long to discipline ourselves…to show love that may not be needed tomorrow…”

Do others get what I get: that all we have is today? Do others know how precious our time is, how vulnerable we ALL are. Don’t they see? I’m dying to scream “What the F#!* are you waiting for?” but think better, keeping to “my side of the street.”

What about me, then? It was a good year, but have I totally ceased waiting? Sure, my spirit soars and yes, my faith is strong. Is that enough? There’s weight to lose, friendship to forge and, OK, once again…can I please try to be nicer to my aunt?

“…To work at self-renewal…To read the books, listen to the music, see the art…”

I grow or I go. Fair question, then: What do I still delay? With the much I do right, the query remains: are there yet things for which I wait too long?

Clinging to family, cherishing friends, I read, write, pray and play. I am “low-maintenance,” content and open. Is that enough?

The new year, as each before, holds promise. Hal is mending, the babies are growing and I am reaching… Answers will come, I sense, if my house is in order.

It is.

So let the hours count down in gratitude. When midnight comes I’ll make my calls: to the kids, the brother, the aunt…and I’ll recall again the poem’s last line: “God too is waiting…for us to stop waiting….”


Monday, December 27th, 2010

When I first heard the news I was angry. How could they? Six players from MY school? Selling memorabilia? How dare they!

Suspensions didn’t disturb me. Hardly. Games, I reasoned, were only games. Further, players— all players— are replaceable.

Nor was I upset, frankly, by infractions. Perhaps it was a notion that the rules themselves were stupid; perhaps it was natural tuition that indeed, the things sold belonged to the players. Still, that’s not what bothered me.

I was ired…annoyed…even tormented….because, when those guys peddled their memories they tarnished mine as well. When they placed a price tag on their glory, they demeaned my school, our alma mater—the flagship of the Big Ten. And they sold off a piece of me.

Anger turned melancholy; I wondered: All the Sol’s Boys iron, the two batting titles, the ‘60 White Sox trophy—each boxed carefully, stored at home in perpetuity. Should I put them on Ebay? Would scrap dealer friends give me $50 bucks for the lot? Would I even take a thousand? I know I’m talking apples to oranges, but am I?

How sad it was, I sensed, how sad for the players—the young men bartering remnants of their glory years.

There’s that clump of grass, sandwiched in plastic and taped to my scrapbook. It’s from the end zone of the ’68 Michigan game. And a swizzle stick from the Jai Lai…and stubs from a Mershon concert. I would no more market these than I would Michael’s SAT scores, Jamie’s senior project, or Stacy’s Kent State treatise.

But then I turned to MY campus days, MY recklessness: from money wasted to a car destroyed to that scholarship I forgot to renew. And I recalled my Dad, each and every time putting his arm around me, kissing me atop the head, urging “Learn from your mistakes Little Boy and I promise some day we’ll laugh at this.” (God, how many times did I hear that?)

So I thought again of the players—no longer judging, but relating. Apples, oranges, it matters not. Some day—I promise them—they’ll laugh at this.


Friday, December 24th, 2010

For many of us, life in four square miles continues to yield dividends.

Growing up, our Mom’d cut colored paper into strips, make rings and, chaining them together, hang Chanukah decor on drapes. 50’s-Jewish-chic— every link, every hue conjoined. So it was too on Tuesday, as five score or so laughed, smiled, and welcomed week-old Chase Miller to our world.

11 AM: The proud father stood before us. Robert is not so much my friend as the husband of a friend. No matter! Baby in one hand, Hebrew in another, speaking to a confluence of veteran Clevelanders—we were, each of us…connected.

“You know a lot of people,” the Little One says often. My response is steadfast: “Lived here my whole life, that’s all.” (Not sure she gets it; others do).

Ask the survivors: the “boomers” from Shaker, Brush or Heights High…the ones still calling their home their home. Bonded, we speak with reverence of ”The Heights” recalling when (do I sound like my father?) neighborhoods were neighborhoods. Reveling, we interact with friends to this day over coffee NOT Facebook. And when, as this week, “nice Jewish children” of life-long Clevelanders bear nice Jewish babies….it’s Hands Across America.

And then some.

The ever/growing bris got moved: from a party room in Lyndhurst to a municipal center in Solon. (Side note: When I was growing up they shot Jews in Solon). Still, the venue, from mohel to meat tray was not only a cavalcade of stars, but a magic melding of family and friends…and love.

There were the grandfathers: Howard was my lodge brother way back. And Arnie? Two years my senior at Brush, truth is he never really talked to me…until last year. Then, when H and I drove to Jersey for breakfast with Fromin…well, that put us on the map. We made our bones on Pennsylvania’s Turnpike.

And the grandmothers, both Rochelles. Dated neither, so I’m told, but one’s sister was Hal’s first girlfriend, (circa 1959) and walking with her last May, we brought up the rear at the Jack Roth Run.

The hits just kept on coming: Herzog, who graduated with Arnies’ sister Roz and Diane (Stilmore by marriage)…and Gail, (a “Roosevelt” girl) from Jeans West and Stacy (who used to play football with me halftimes in Scooters’ parking lot) and even Park’s Ritual Director, (there as a civilian).

And Uncle Sonny. He once sold me shoes that Tammy, when eyeing them, made me remove on the spot.

“Who sold you those?” she asked, (not long ago, as if to a third-grader). “They’re hideous!”
“Uncle Sonny,” I mumbled.
“Take them off now! You need to be barefoot.” (Did she forget he was actually HER uncle, not mine?)

Tammy was there, of course, with the kids and Matthew. He asked me to join him for dinner with our friend Treg (a Newark transplant with a sister that married a guy we met in Columbus the night before the race…) Six degrees?

Then there was Betty. Her father was a gambler like ours. Were all men on Bayard? She grew up right of Mulberg by Matejka next to Davidson aside from Gelfand—neighbors all. Had “Sonny Boy,” the ugliest dog in South Euclid. Wed a Sammy from Ohio State—kids went to school with ours. Still, as I told her just last week, forty years later her dog was still ugly.

It was Cedar & Warrensville redoux, with a touch of High Street. Decades later nothing had changed: in a sea of women for each lady I’d dated there were two Bob hit on. (Life Lesson Number 3: With Bobby, always bet the over).

Handshakes take time. Soon, gobbling lox, eyeing the clock…in this middle of the work day, I HAD to get going. Why, then, the gnawing sense of leaving a wedding early?

Goodbye to Alan, I said. …and Diane…and the Rochelles. Should I do the complete lap? Put on my coat—the long, black one. (Thought I looked good, actually).

So long to Tammy and kids: “Have fun in Florida.”
“I put a sweater aside for you at Nordstrom,” she offered.

Heading to the door I passed Larry, patriarch to the clan and, may I add…another Lodge Brother. When I was younger he would scare me—always. He’s different now: kinder, gentler—even approachable.

“Mazel Tov,” I told the great-grandfather. “It was a wonderful bris…you have a great family, a lot of friends…”
“I know each and every one of them,” he boasted, warmly.
(“We all do,” I thought, by didn’t say. “We all do.”)

Just ask my Little One.


Monday, December 20th, 2010

     “I have these moments
     All steady and strong
     I’m feeling so holy and humble
     The next thing I know
     I’m all worried and weak
     And I feel myself
     Starting to crumble.”

When I got sober they told me “Get a sponsor, shut up and listen. Your life,” they said, “will improve.” Thirteen years later I honor the process that, one day at a time, has made each year, including this, better than the previous. There are no bad times—just bad moments.

John is middle-aged, married and Manhattan-savvy. Me? I’m…(ouch), 61, a divorced Clevelander and seek Zen watching Seinfeld. Still, on the last day of December, 2009, I sat at his dining room table.

“Would you sponsor me?” (I’d wondered if he saw it coming. Did he know David moved? How would he? What’s the difference? Why is asking someone to sponsor you so much like asking a girl out on a first date?)

Sans animation, (is it wisdom or just maturity?), he assented.
“Call me every day.”
“OK,” I said thinking “Gee, I didn’t do that with David.”
Twelve months later, like so much in hindsight, it was the greatest of blessings.

The last day of April—a Friday, like when they shot JFK. I was smiling long-distance into the phone, marveling at the imminent birth of my granddaughter. There, without warning, swiftly, emphatically and inexplicably…the bat was taken out of my hands.

     ”The meanings get lost
     And the teachings get tossed
     And you don’t know what you’re
     Going to do next.”

The greatest promise achieved through recovery has been my ability to look the world in the eye. I can. Still, I knew on that day, in that moment of infamy, that my first call was to John. It wasn’t about drinking—hell no.
The easiest thing I do each day is not drink. My concern, though, was my thinking…my actions. I get a daily reprieve based on spiritual condition.
John, I knew, would point my in that direction. And he did.

We talk most days, John and I—but not all. IT comes up here and there, usually not. I share the phone calls, tell of pictures and he knows well that I’ve asked and asked, but stand rejected. His counsel, though, from Day One, has been constant:

“Your job is make sure she knows you love her.”
“I do,” I tell him. “She does.”
“Then you’re doing what you’re supposed to.”

     “You wait for the sun
     But it never quite comes
     Some kind of message comes
     Through to you.
     Some kind of message comes through.”

Some times I cope better than others. Fact is, five—maybe six days a week I don’t think of it. I’m fine. Still, with all the joy that is Max…knowing but ten miles away crawls another jewel, Haley…

“Fly Rabbi Skoff to New York!” shries Helen bi-weekly. “Keep doing what you’re doing, ” says John.

Let’s see…whom should I listen to?

In a crisp shirt and blue jeans I sit at the office: Monday in an ever-quiet last two weeks of the year. Snow falls outside and by mid-week the airlines will post weekend specials. I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.

And smiling.

     “Love when you can
     Cry when you have to…
     Be who you must
     That’s a part of the plan
     Await your arrival
     With simple survival
     And one day we’ll all understand...”

                                 D. Fogelberg


Friday, December 17th, 2010

Two women with nothing in common…well, almost:

Cousin Sheila, a free spirit, left home after high school, never to return. At 67, she sits in “wheelchair without portfolio” (i.e. no doctor says she can’t walk). Still, she drives daily leading a somewhat normal life. Aunt Helen is older—96. In her mother’s house to this day, she belongs in a museum. Moreover, she drives not, preferring merely to direct traffic.

It was nearly 1 last Sunday. The midwest blizzard mandated an early flight and I arrived in cold, snowy Cleveland to face Sophie’s Choice: do I take her shopping Monday (as planned), or knock it down now, and get it out of the way? I was, as my brother says, “on the clock.”

“Aunt Helen…it’s Bruce. I’m home. Do you want to go shopping today? It’s supposed to be worse tomorrow.”
“I don’t care—just tell me when to be ready,” she said (suspiciously accommodating).
“OK,” I sighed leaving the airport, “See you in an hour.”
“Make it later,” she exclaimed. “Why do you rush me?”

I was dying to get home, to get warm. So be it. I read office mail, filled my tank, and otherwise pissed away time. At 2:30 I picked her up as ordered. The wind was howling; it was bitter cold—and the weather was that way too.

Her questions shot like staccato pellets. Starting slowly, she picked up steam:

“Did you sleep on the plane?”
“Who does the baby look like?”
“Why don’t your children return my calls?” (absolutely no segue).
“I don’t know.”
“Do you ask them?”
“Surely you must know.”
“Aunt Helen…they’re wrong. But they’re adults.”
“Why do you feel the need to defend everyone?”
“I’m not defending them. But I can’t control them.”
“You’re always making excuses.”
“Aunt Helen, please.” (she was getting to me). “I’m not making excuses. I just don’t want to hear it. They’re adults. Call them directly and ask them!”
“They won’t pick up the phone!”

There was silence. Her sulk brought a break to the McCarthy hearings. Then, me the schmuck, I couldn’t stand prosperity:

“Let me ask you…do you hound Harold about his kids too? They don’t call you.”

Shrugging slightly, she nodded “No,” emitting smoke through her dark round goggles. She wasn’t quite done.

“Do what you want. But please talk to Meredith.” It was an option not unlike the time my father said I could quit Hebrew School if I REALLY wanted to.

I was spent, though…all in. Exhausted. Nothing left. Fartik! How does she do this to me? Everytime!

“You’re right.” I said.

By 4 we were done. En route home I called Hal, exultant the clock was now his.

“It’s a blizzard out here,” I opened, “But I’m off for two weeks!”
He was laughing.
“You’ll never guess where I’m going,” he said. “Take a guess.”
I was blank.
“Sheila called. She needs a VHS converted to a DVD.”
“Today?” I asked. “In this weather?”
My brother was roaring with laughter. So was I.

You should have seen it outside. Across Greater Cleveland streets were blanketed by snow; everyone was home. Except for two clowns.

Our aunt is legendary—our cousin, an heir to the throne. Neither lets us breathe. Mid-afternoon, perhaps a year ago, Sheila, reluctant to take her wheel chair out in the rain, called my office. Would I pick her up and run her a block to Ohio Savings. Said she had to do it that day. Me, (like a putz) I obliged. (What did I know? I figured she had to cover a check, avoid a shutoff or something).

We stood in the bank, side-by-side. There was no deposit…no withdrawal…no
utility payment. Sheila had but one question for the teller: “How much are your Travellers Cheques? “

This would be a funny story if it weren’t true. Why do they always pick on us?
Perhaps ‘cause we’re the only ones left standing.

Helen had Cousin Norm. At 80 he’d schlep from Chagrin Falls to University Heights, just to get her fresh air. She wore HIM down: “Norman, must you open the window? …Norman, put your elbow inside…Norman, turn your cell phone off.” This venerable man, the proud father to a chain of 40 retail stores,
brought to his knees… “No mas!” And Sheila? Where are her contemporaries? Her cousins? They can’t all be hiding.

The fact is Hal and I share great joy laughing at the nerve of these ladies. We know they love us but simply can’t get their arms around the fact that we have
lives outside our courier service.

Like the very next day—just this Monday: The weather did get worse but my phone still rang:

“Bruce, I need chicken.”
“Aunt Helen, the Courts are closed! It’s really bad out.” I implored.
She didn’t blink; she didn’t take a beat:
“Well if the courts are closed, you have nothing to do.”


Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

       “What day is it? And in what month
       This clock never seemed so alive….”

Dear Max,

It was Saturday night, moments after the ritual Pidyan Haben. Holding you on the couch, lost in thought, it occurred to me that while time had frozen, the weekend kept flying by.

Arrived Friday. Grandpa Stuart scooped me up at JFK and we shot straight to Spruce Street. No passing Go; no $200. Right to you. By the way, when he picked me up—you know what his first words were? “Wait ‘till you see Max!’ he exclaimed. “You’re not going to recognize him!” (I did). Let the record reflect that on the tenth day of December, 2010, about 3:30 PM we entered the home to find your mother, Cousin Brittany, and…(tympany…) a replica of little Michael Bogart, circa 1977. I’d know that face anywhere.

“Change your shirt so you can hold Max.” urged your Mom. I reminded her of my clothes in the downtown laundry. “Let’s get them,” she said, kindly offering to drive. It was only after clean apparel and AGAIN scrubbing my hands, that I held you.

—-So there I was…there we were, sitting on the couch Saturday night. Moments earlier, in bilingual ceremony the family sought for you the blessings of Manasseh and Efraim, and health. Now, clad in your long-sleeved, collared white shirt and black pants, your blue eyes stared at mine as around us the room filled with women. A sea of women. The men, of course, had already evaporated. They were eating. Me? I had better things to do: holding you. Wasn’t really a rough call, you know: Let’s see: Eat or hold Max? Food or the baby? (As your father would have said, circa ‘87: “Duh…”

So we sat—the two of us—in this makeshift Hadassah meeting, surrounded by mothers, grandmothers, aunts, female cousins, and Roberta (the Kohen) who was nice but kept talking. And talking. (I stopped listening after maybe twenty minutes–did you)? My mind, alas, had wandered. I was thinking about the afternoon, and how you’d fallen asleep in my arms as I read you “Casey At The Bat.” I was chuckling, too, at your father’s frustration that evening trying to change our flights home. You should have seen his face when the guy from Delta didn’t know Cleveland was in Ohio!).

You were drooling on me…just a little. I loved it

“Bruce, are you going to eat?” came a voice. (I didn’t look up).
“No,” I responded.

More time passed. We still had the couch-the two of us—but the natives were getting restless. Others wanted to hold you and tried to sucker punch me. Rather than just ask directly, they camouflaged it:

“Bruce, are you sure you don’t want to eat?”
“No,” I said, all the while thinking: “Well, maybe when Roberta goes to commercial break.”

And then…as I knew it would be….it was time to go. Every one had gone, I suppose. All the cousins, all the Matts…everyone…

Your mother had you now, cradling your white dress shirt, black pants and smile.
It really was time to go.

I turned to the door, had to look back again, and did. Then I left.

It’s Tuesday now. Cleveland: cold, snowy Cleveland. I’m sitting inside, thinking again: of the past days and the good will engendered by a bouncing baby…and of you. And I’m smiling two smiles. Mine, (which I wear), and yours, (which I’ve memorized).

I love you,


              “It’s you and me and all of the people
               And I don’t know why I can’t take my eyes off of you…”

                                                      Wade & Cole


Saturday, December 11th, 2010

     “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom stays …swift completion of appointed rounds…” 

Great Neck’s Andrew Hotel covers each of my primal needs: hot water, proximity to family and cable TV. It offers, also (I must add), daily continental fare. In the morning, though, I’ll forego free coffee, fruit and cereal, and trudge one block right then one block left just to order oatmeal and blueberries from the menu of my newest home away from home, “The Great Neck Diner.” ‘Tis the latest chapter in my life-long love affair with breakfast.
In six decades there’ve been stretches without love, money, sex, heat, lunch and dinner; but for Yom Kippur, though, I’ve never gone without breakfast. Bet on it. I’ve had school snowed out, games rained out and a marriage cancelled. But I’ve never missed breakfast.
It’s not the food, really. You can get that anywhere. It is, as much as anything, the feel of it all…the comradery, the comfort of familiar faces…and, like so many patterns in my life, it is, (for better or worse), one sewn at the feet of my father.
As a kid, breakfast was special when our dad made it. It was always fried eggs. Only fried eggs. He’d cut a glob of butter from the stick (no soft margarine for Bogarts), slide it on the pan, and let the grease fly. We learned what “sunny side up” meant in that small Bayard kitchen but, truth be known, the old man always turned his over…burnt. (It was the only venue I ever enjoyed home breakfast. Indeed, it may have been the only place I’d ever HAD a home breakfast).
At OSU, breakfast was with my father—always. Pre-Harriet years we’d meet at Johnny’s State Restaurant on High Street. Dad wanted to be in the office by 8, so it was 7AM daily, like clockwork. (Not that I didn’t whine from time to time, urging a later start.
“Look, little boy,” he’d say, “It would be different if you were actually going to class.”
Dad knew—it was no secret—-I was just heading back to bed. Still, the daily eggs and potatoes was our special time together, and one most college kids couldn’t enjoy with their dad. (Even with Harriet, the game continued. He was living east then, so our locale changed. Still, I’d rise each morning, schlep over to Northwest Blvd, and meet him at The Explorers). Different menu, different staff…same father.
It was a wonderful morning mandate, and over four years a piece of my life’s rhythm was written…in indelible ink.
School breaks, by the way, were no different. Whether it was before Sunday morning ball with Sol’s Boys, or meeting Ted Brooker pre-Boobus Bowl on Thanksgiving, I rose earlier than the rest and the eggs got scrambled and the coffee got poured…in a restaurant.
Nor did things change in law school. I was married then and we shared a car. Not to worry! Daily I’d drop her at work on 55th Street, then shoot back uptown to Corky’s (on Cedar) or, once in a while Solomon’s.
I did then—I do now—love not so much the food but the process of breakfast. It is, with the proper table-mates….orchestral. As such, to this day, I cling to my Wednesday mornings and prioritize my Saturdays.
Breakfast is the perfect jumpstart to even my most mundane days. And don’t let the doctors fool you: it’s not about nutrition—it’s much more. It is, for me at least, a needed spiritual revival.
Morning prayers done, the boys fed, by 7:30 I’m at Corky’s. Daily. First booth on the left…facing in. Daily. Oatmeal and blueberries, coffee and more coffee. Daily.
Some times it’s Burnside; often it’s others. But the beat goes on…daily. For better or worse.
My son says I’d save a bunch of money eating at home. He’s right of course, Still, I can’t do it. I won’t do it. And he’ll never “get” it. I wasn’t in Columbus, you see, when Michael went to school. We didn’t start our days together 24/7. At Johnny’s, at The Explorer or anywhere. And even if I had been in town, my kid had better things to do: he went to class.

             “Never bet against a man who’s had breakfast.”
                     (Slogan on a napkin at First Watch Restaurant)


Monday, December 6th, 2010

Snow, methodically snow, was making the ride from Columbus endless.
The good news was that last night, trudging I-71, I had time to reflect.
The bad news: between thoughts, every other song on the radio was Taio Cruz and “Dynamite.” (My mother, bad ears and all, was clearly ahead of the game).

Three hours of therapy, I suppose— Consider: the past week, almost daily, was a cavalcade of people and circumstances thwarting even this cowboy’s rhythm.

It began Tuesday. A friend, replete with grown kids, house on a golf course and trophy wife (still)…this friend marched into the room, thrust an eight-inch knife on the table, and spewed at the world. It was not the first time he’d shared his angst, but the weapon was new. It was not the first time we’d heard the “Poor me” routine, —it was getting old. Still, the silence of a knife on a conference table makes a lot of noise. We urged him AGAIN to get help.

It continued Wednesday: news that yet another pal, equally troubled, had taken his life. What a waste! A “nice Jewish boy”, 65 and out—for no reason. It made the furnace issue at my condo seem trivial and turned the few nights on Hal’s couch into overnight camp.

At 61, I know the limits of my game and tend to honor them. Still, by mid-week I was being forced from my comfort zone…inside and out:

The HVAC guy’s diagnosis—emailed—-mandated a new furnace. I recognized the letters all right, but the language was foreign. Indeed, the only word I understood in the whole transmission was “furnace.” Oh, yeah…and “new.”

And OUTSIDE….My friend Kat The Artist had a showing on the west side. Field trip! Thirty or so college-professor types flanked me, fawning over her work, (which I sense is good). Other than Norman Rockwell’s “Three Umpires” standing, fielding the rain palms-up…what do I know from art? No matter what someone said that night, no matter what piece they asked of, my refrain was constant: “It makes a statement,” I mused.

By Thursday, even this half-full guy was out of sync. The malaise, the frustration compounded Friday with word from the east that Haley’s comet would not be sighted… again…next week.

My father would say…my friends still say…”This too will pass.” All the crap, even the unimportant crap…will pass. Keep pedaling, I told myself. Be grateful for what is.

There was a time (indeed), I wouldn’t have been asked to an art showing.
My circle of friends had grown. This (art exhibits and all), is a good thing.

Cleveland’s weather remained ugly, but the worm was beginning to turn. There were, after all, good things on the horizon:

This was a bye week—no Helen. H would get the pleasure.

And Chanukah. Saturday at Margie’s our aunt would light her 3, 420th candle— (this was Day Four. Make that an even 4,200 counting the Shamash).

And the Friedman Bar Mitzvah! Was the three year-old I’d once baby-sat really reading the Haftorah? Indeed, Saturday night, as the 40-minute Hora came to an end, I exited the dance floor again feeling inside riches.

The best, though, was yet to come. Sunday meant Magic Town: Columbus. A stop at the cemetery and talk with the old man. Time with Harriet, Denise, Dale. Dinner with Mark and Lisa. Got to hold a baby. Met a new “Person of Interest.” A day of smiles, laughter, warmth.

I was tired last night. It was a quarter past Seinfeld when I got home.
I fed the boys, read a bit…wrote a bit. Falling asleep, I was warmed by the heat of a new furnace and the thought of a new week.

And I was, once again, in my rhythm.


Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Dear Alan,

I keep thinking of this scene from Seinfeld. Kramer asks George “Do you ever yearn?” and George says No, but that he craves a lot.

I’ve changed Alan. Maybe even grown up. Can’t say when…can’t point to the time. But bank on it.

Remember that morning on the Vegas patio with Walt, “Red,” and Jack? (Rather opulent breakfast for a South Euclid crowd), but, anyway…You were sitting on my left and one of the guys ordered something exotic—

“What’d he get?” I asked (quietly).
“Well, MAYBE IF YOU WENT SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN NEW YORK OR CHICAGO YOU MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING!” you teased oh so many decibels higher. (I can still picture the moment and smiling back at you in comfort. I recall thinking, right then and there…that as similar as our roots and values are, how different our lenses are. You marvel at mountaintops in South Africa—I think of sledding down Bayard hill. I remember thinking, (but not necessarily caring), that I am the smartest shallow person I know.

You KNOW me–in 61 years, to my sheer discredit I had few goals—no burning desires. If anything, there were cravings here and there…for validation— like a hit, a win, or a date to Senior Prom. External stuff. Temporal stuff.

I’m growing, Alan…a work in progress. I’m turning into a calm Kramer.

Staying home nights, thinking more. Even writing more. (I’ve got a body of stuff— somewhat sensitive– that I don’t publish. It’s my “after-blog).

Still won’t travel, except to see the kids (primarily), but my pace is slowing (in a good way).

It’s internal these days. About family…and friends…the big picture.
I like myself today, and that’s good enough. I no longer seek validation, but do yearn: for family….and for friends…and clearly, for peace.

Hi to Joanie. Happy Chanukah,