Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago Today


Nine years ago today.

Is it really nine years already?

It seems so recent. So fresh. So current still today.

And I remember it so vividly.

I remember how my mother – just recently dubbed to be a Grandma, was up visiting from Pensacola, Florida. She was scheduled to fly home from our little house in Amherstburg back to Pensacola.

But she was delayed for a little more than a week before she could fly home..

My eldest daughter Alannah was only seven months old. Not even yet walking. Just at that mode where you sat her on the floor in the living room with her toys around and she would entertain herself while you watched television.

And my Lovely wife Darlene had taken a second job after her maternity leave working part time in the Emergency Room at a Grosse Pointe Michigan hospital – and working with an oxygen supply company in Amherstburg – making house calls to senior patients who needed oxygen as part of their medical treatments.

And I was just eight months into my new career working in downtown Windsor – getting to know the new systems I was responsible for and the new colleagues I was working with.

And on that bright Tuesday morning, I was driving into the office for work – due to begin my day at 9:00 AM. Driving in my little blue Mercury Mystique with a Tim Horton's coffee in the cup holder and listening to AM 760 out of Detroit – Paul W. Smith on the morning show talking about the day's news.

And then a weird report came into the station.

It seems that a small aircraft had gotten lost in New York and had crashed into one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

It seemed like a fluky type of story and hopes were that the pilot would be okay.

I pulled into the overflow parking lot about two blocks from our office when my future best friend at work – Pat – pulled up beside me. As we walked into the office, I told him about the odd news I had just heard.

And we joked all the way to the office about the poor bugger in the little Cessna plane who must have realized just a second before bumping into the tallest buildings in the City of New York must have been thinking.

We thought very little of this event.

Until we got to the office.

Until we got to our desks in our department.

Until the people all around us were panicking.

Until those trying to find out more information couldn't because the biggest news sites of the day like CNN.com and Google were so overwhelmed that their servers could not support the incredible infux of traffic.

And then the second tower was hit.

And then the panic turned into frenzy.

There was no work getting done. People were all huddled trying to get news.

I called home; my mother – the Grandma – was sitting on the couch in our living room watching the events unfold on television. Alannah playing on the floor in front of her feet. The Grandma was scared.

Shortly after that my lovely wife Darlene returned home. She was making her rounds and was on her way out to the southernmost tip of Ontario – wondering why she couldn't get any music on the radio – it was all news. Her cell phone rang and her boss informed her that something had happened and that Darlene should be getting back home to be with the Grandma and her seven month old daughter.

So she went home.

That morning and that afternoon, all of North America was in a panic. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon. And yet another plane – supposedly in flight to the White House was brought down by the passengers – after a heroic conflict with the terrorist hijackers on board.

Nobody knew the scope of what was unfolding.

Nobody knew what the reason for these attacks on America seemed to be about.

Not yet.

The border crossings at the bridge and Tunnel from Windsor to Detroit were closed.

And people from our downtown office kept running outside to see if the GM tower on the Detroit waterfront of the Detroit River – towering high above Windsor and named the Renaissance Center – had been hit.

You see the old saying used to be that "As GM goes, so goes America" – so for the terrorists to knock down such a symbolic building seemed to be an obvious target to all of us.

But that event – thankfully – never occurred – the symbolic reference apparently unknown to the terrorist hijackers in the sky.

All planes in the air were grounded.

All media focused solely on the events unfolding.

In our office lunch room, a TV used for playing instructional videos was rolled in and a makeshift antennae hooked up to pick up the fuzzy images from Detroit television stations .

And as the day passed to night – more and more information became available.

Who the terrorists were.

Where the President of the United States was at the time of the attack.

Rudy Giuliani – the Mayor of New York was dubbed a hero for his handling of the situation.
It seems so recent.

It still resonates as one of the darkest days of my lifetime.

More so than when John F. Kennedy was shot. Or his brother Bobby some five years later.

More so than when Martin Luther King Junior was gunned down outside a motel in Memphis.

Some three thousand people lost their lives when the Twin Towers were knocked down.

People of all races.

People of all religions.

People of all nationalities.

An incredible tragedy.

Now nine years to the morning, as I sit and remember this day, listening to the radio, I am overwhelmed by how little remembrance of this event is being broadcast. Only my favorite sports announcer in Detroit – Pat Caputo – is remembering this day offering it as a topic of discussion for the morning show – has even touched on it. And even then the callers to the show are more interested in the afternoon football game between Michigan and Notre Dame.

Thanks for trying Pat.

Next year will mark the ten year anniversary.

Next year the media will be full of remembrance of the event. It's a milestone you see. It will be a story then.

But on this ninth anniversary of 9/11, nobody wants to be bothered – so it seems.

The world has changed since the events of 9/11.

Airline travel is almost unbearable with all the security changes.

Crossing the border to neighboring Detroit to simply attend a Tigers baseball game is a nervous experience now requiring passports.

Homeland security is now used as a term to strike fear into the hearts of Americans to get them to buy into the next right wing political move made by those struggling to regain control of the White House.

Windsor has withered away to a small shadow of what it once was – the free flowing traffic from Detroit practically stopped – and impeding automotive manufacturing to the point where most significant plants have shut right down.

Not to mention the tremendous grief endured by the loved ones of those who lost their lives that day.

This needs to be remembered.

This needs to be understood.

This needs to become a significant experience for all of us to learn from.

We need to learn not to hold a whole religion responsible for the actions of its radical followers. Otherwise let us hold Christians accountable for the assassination of abortion clinic doctors

We need to learn not to hold a whole race of people under suspicion for the radical actions of a few – otherwise all white young men should be held accountable for the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City.

We need to understand each other better.

We need to not hate if we want others to not hate us.

But those lessons seem to be so poorly learned.

Talked about frequently … but not truly taken to heart.

We didn't learn a damned thing,

Instead today we have news media like Fox News that only portrays events in a way to support its political perspectives.

Instead today we have terms like patriotism and tea party evangelical ideologies pushing the envelope of trust even closer to breaking points.

At least that's how I see it. You most certainly have the right to disagree.

But in a world where Israel and Iran have massive nuclear repositories pointed at each other waiting to pull the trigger, where Osama Bin Laden is still able to evade capture, where the eastern European and Arabian nations still harbor great resentment against the United States and all western society – where North America has spent so much money in the name of avenging 9/11 – borrowed from China – that its banks are failing and manufacturing industry is but a shadow of its former self …

In such a world – it seems like the terrorists won.

And that point alone – we should not forget.

And the lesson we should learn is to never let terrorists win … ever again.

Not by hate anyway.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Beware The Ostrich And The Bear


You all know about the Ostrich.

When the Ostrich perceives danger he sticks his head in the sand – to hide – believing that nobody else can see him.

But he is still in plain sight. In open view. Visible to all around him – save his head buried beneath the ground.

He thinks he is invisible.

He thinks he is safe.

He is in his "happy place".

Often when we think of the future … we only envision our happy place. Where all is well. Where no problems can be seen.

But often when we think about the present … we think about all the obstacles facing us at the moment.

We think about the insurmountable debts we owe.

We think about the people around us who seem to be causing us problems of one type or another.

We think about our jobs and the frustrations that our daily work prevails on us.

We think about the things around the house that need repairs. And convince ourselves that our home is falling apart.

And we come to the conclusion that life – at this moment – stinks.

Very seldom do we look at the current status of our lives with the same optimism we hold for our future.

Very seldom do we take into account all the good things about the here and now.

We dwell on the bad. We swim in the pool of negativity. We embrace it and we wallow in our own self-perceived misery.

And we feel sorry for ourselves. We seem to actually enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves.

Because nobody else could possibly have it as bad as we do right now.

The grass is always greener in everyone else's yard.

We convince ourselves that times are … bad.

There is an old story told by theologian Emmet Fox . I tell this story every chance I get to anyone who I see who has convinced themselves that everything is just plain horrible at that moment.

I tell it to people who only dwell in the negative moments.

And quite often I tell it to myself.

Because I am as prone to dwelling in the negative as much as anyone else.

There once was a Bear that was foraging through the woods when he happened to stumble upon a hunter's camp.

No one was at the camp – the men were all out hunting.

But the Bear smelled something good coming from a big black kettle cooking over an open fire. The Bear grabbed that kettle in his big old bear arms to get a better smell … and perhaps to eat the stew inside … simmering in the kettle.

But the kettle was very hot, and it burned the arms of the Bear.The Bear knew only one line of defense and squeezed the pot even tighter. And the tighter he squeezed the more the kettle burned.

Until finally the Bear could stand it no more and passed out from the excruciating pain.

You are probably asking yourself "So what does this story have to do with dwelling in negative thoughts?"

Well, consider yourself to be the Bear.

And consider that burning hot black kettle to be negative thoughts in your mind.

Had the Bear simply let go of the kettle, he wouldn't have gotten so badly burned.

When we dwell on the negative – our immediate response is to think about such things harder … and harder .. and harder … until it simply burns you, scars you, possibly even destroying you.

You have to let that kettle go.

This is not to say you become the ostrich , who sticks his head in the sand to hide from his problems.

Because then you are prone to let the problems destroy you as well.

You have to change how you approach your problems.

You have to change your approach from that of how bad everything is .. to an approach of "how can I make it better?".

For example – you can make a list of all your options you can think of to make the negative to be a positive.

You have to figure out how to make lemonade from the lemons.Yes, I know – I hate that cliché too.

But the funny thing about the clichés we hate is that a cliché becomes a cliché only because it's so true.

When bad things happen, you cannot afford to be the Bear who hugs the kettle – it will burn you too badly.

But you cannot afford to be the Ostrich with his head in the sand – or the problems you are hiding from will prevail.

Instead you have to sit down and figure out a plan of attack.

A business plan if you will.

So you can open up a lemonade stand.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Just Another Statistic


Some time ago, I offered my wife Darlene the opportunity to write a series of guest posts – at varying intervals – to show our life together from her perspective.


After reading my post from last weekend – "Realizing I Am Wrong" – Darlene asked if she could respond. The following is Darlene's response – which is not enjoyable for me to read.


And for the record, I agree with every word that she has written.


*** JUST ANOTHER STATISTIC***


Am I glad you see some partial error in your ways?

Yes.

Do I like the fact that after the past two months you are FINALLY starting to 'get it' ?

Yes.

Do I know that part of the blame is mine thru the last 10 years of growing apart with being busy with the kids, going thru 4 back surgeries, and the loss of my beloved job and personal and professional identity?

Again, Yes.

Do we both need therapy together and separately?

Yes, Yes, Yes and YES.

It takes TWO to Tango, my dear.  Should 'I" and only "I"  been the one you spent your waking moments talking with, spending time with, striving for goals with, living, laughing, loving and raising two kids with?...I think u know the answer. Probably better now than you ever did. Finally, should I also be the

ONLY one you call 'luv' or 'darlin' ?

MOST emphatically...... Y E S.

I thank you for the blog.

You paint a very apologetic picture. But you cut a few corners with half-truths and omissions. And you certainly cannot put a picture in a frame to hang it on a wall without those corners.

You see, my dear readers, part of the BIGGEST problem of this whole thing is two little things called TRUST and HISTORY. And, if you are fool enough to have the first after the second??? well, u know what they say.

Now, 'history' is predominantly a good thing when you are in an ER setting trying to save a patient, or learning about past races and cultures, or even looking at stats for your favorite baseball team. But, it is NOT a good thing when you have been previously caught on the internet and lied to. We both made promises 4 years ago to never let it happen again; lest there be severe consequences.

After all, if a man hasn't got his word, what has he truly got?

Pan to Present Day

Now, I'm not saying that he deliberately went out to make alliances on TWITTER. Well, not at first. Not like that. Or did he? -- You decide my dear readers, when all is said and done.  And I do agree with him that a set of circumstances (combined of course with the printed black and white)--unfolded into a deeper, dangerous, emotional internet fascination and/or '''friendship'''.  My husband could not see it.  STILL is having trouble seeing it. Did I mention that my husband has one of those highly addictive personalities?

Upon looking into, REALLY looking into the 100's of 'TWEETS' between his 'friend' (we will call her "Miss Laurie" for all intents and purposes from here on in) both the public and the non-deleted private tweets and the reason I say this is there are timeline blocks that have been deleted, and also the little comments/replies back to her like, ''stop that'' or the fifty some odd :-) faces standing alone. The comments (TWEETS) about how he would LOVE for her to be his personal assistant, and the one he quoted of himself that he didn't get verbatim "I really can't afford to have pictures of "Miss Lauries" F*** Me Boots in my head while I have 12 screaming girls at a birthday party" L8R. Do we need examples of other such TWEETS of FMP's, especially "Miss Lauries" repetitive pink stilettos worn so that our beloved Tigers could win...and 'Could she please lace them tighter'?, and the bubblewrap plastic, and, I don't even WANT to know about the beetroots. That's all the detail you will get from me here.

And all the while I worked to try and make our house a HOME these past few months for our pending barrage of visitors, my husband was spending every waking moment with his ''friend''/friends online. NOT to better himself as a writer, or to acquire a possy of followers for Headstuffing, or followers on TWITTER, or a wide-known name for himself and ultimately be PAID for what he did but instead became a slave to TWITTER becoming closer all the while to an on-line siren; fracturing my trust and our marriage.
I mean, my husband would wake up, grab a coffee, his laptop, be on from 630-8am (and to be fair he would also look at box scores, his blog traffic first), then at work at lunch via iPhone,on breaks, even TEXTING whilst driving once he TWEETED. Then after work, come home, grab a vodka and lemonade, his laptop and be at it again....till dinner....(sometimes he'd cut the grass or swim with the girls) then after dinner till bedtime always ensuring he gave Miss Laurie 'a proper goodnight" as he once TWEETED

He even forgot to pick up his daughter at a birthday party after work one time as he TWEETED, "I can't wait to get home and read "Miss Laurie's" latest blog."

Fred, you truly, truly don't realize how far gone and fixated on her and TWITTER you truly were.  I can only hope with help you will see it.

....and it was more than just a 'few' emails.

How can you say you did NOTHING WRONG?!

Cheating is cheating. Whether you are actually ''doing the nasty'' or not. It is STILL an emotional betrayal.

You became a shell of a husband, father and person.  You were just GONE...--far gone. You even admitted it and said as much in one of your recent past blogs. (See Disconnect to Reconnect)

Sugar coat it all you want, but it is not hard to read in between the lines.

And when it all came to a head at your own daughter's birthday party? Well.

Yes.

You did come to me with your iPhone and shove it in my face to 'prove' you had nothing incriminating on there---2HRS LATER!!!!

--and U were right. There wasn't anything on it but what I have already found (save those timeline deletions)

YES.......you did email "Miss Laurie"--and ask her not to email you at your work email....which, she wouldn't have had if you had not been on a week's vacation, had no iPhone, no computer, no contact with her (see Disconnect to Reconnect blog) for a whole week; but BAM! first thing at 830 am YOU EMAILED HER! using an email I could not have access to. Hmmmmm...What a coincidence.

You are right about another thing darling. You should indeed NOT have to ask my permission as to who your ""FRIENDS"" are at 48 years old......because if this is the example of the type of 'friendships' you want then be my guest.

But you'll do it alone.

And there's another way of looking at it….

There are people out there who get their kicks out of purposely wrecking relationships, marriages, and families.  I only hope that "Miss Laurie" isn't one of those. Was she worth it Fred? Really?

And if I should ever meet her I would ask her just that. Did she not realize WHO she would ultimately be hurting? (Maybe she did?!) MY KIDS>

So Thank You So Very Much "Miss Laurie" for all the grief you have caused.  And I know that you didn't hang that picture by yourself.

Would I even get an apology? Probably not.......

Because she ALSO probably thinks she did nothing wrong.

In closing, I say this:

If there are any families, spouses,housewreckers,older children or young people just starting out in a relationship, I hope this blog and HEADSTUFFINGS, 'Realizing I am Wrong' can help you. They are from both The husband and wife's point of view.

And I hope the therapist can help us.

You see, I really do love my husband.

And I don't want to be Just Another Statistic.

Mrs. Headstuffing
aka. the Lovely Wife Darlene


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