Monday, July 26, 2010

I Cried Because Captain Phil Died

I am a big bawl baby. My daddy always said if you looked at me cross-eyed I would cry. I cry when I am sad. I cry when I am happy. I cry when I laugh too hard. If I see someone crying, I will cry. I could enter a funeral of a complete stranger, and if I see someone crying I will cry also. My movie rating system is based on how many Kleenexes I use while watching the movie. So, why was I surprised that I cried when Captain Phil died?

There are an abundance of reality shows on TV: Ice Truckers, The Real Housewives, Helicopter Loggers, Dog Town, Alaska State Troopers, The Bounty Hunter, Intervention, I Survived, and The Last American Cowboy just to name a few.  The Deadliest Catch is just one more of those reality shows that follow common ordinary folks around twenty-four, seven. It follows a group of king crab fishing boats in the Alaskan waters. Captain Phil was the captain of the Cornelia Marie. 

The Deadliest Catch is not a show I watch or even TiVo, really, it isn't. Yesterday, there was a Deadliest Catch marathon. I have always wondered who could possible have the time or patience to watch a marathon. I "accidentally" came across the marathon while I was surfing for something to "listen" to while I did some work at home. For all intent and purposes, I was planning to only listen, and then I caught myself frequently turning my head to see what was going on. Finally, I ended up planting my butt directly in front of the TV, and intently watching The Deadliest Catch marathon. I became one of those people I always wondered about.

I have always had a secret passion for two types of men. I am mad for "MacGyvers" and "bad boys". I always felt that MacGyver could fall in love with an overweight crippled kid and he would be an asset to have a round. MacGyver could build anything with three pipe cleaners and a Swiss Army knife. I have a secret desire for bad boys because I would never do anything bad. I was and still am a "goody two shoes". Bad boys send shivers down my spine. A MacGyver/Bad Boy sends shivers down my spine and makes my toes tingle. Captain Phil was a very bad boy with a heaping spoonful of MacGyver, and I think he had a dash of pirate (#3 on my secret passions list).

Captain Phil was a gravelly voiced, chain smoking, caffeine drinking, F word using, badferya food eating, face making, money spending, fortune hunting,  whiskey drinking scoundrel. Captain Phil was a family man that loved his boys. Captain Phil would take a bullet for a friend. Captain Phil admired honorable, hard-working men. Honorable, hard-working men, in return, admired Captain Phil.

Captain Phil had a debilitating stroke. After brain surgery and a sixty-five day hospital stay, Captain Phil lost his valiant fight and died. Before Captain Phil died the Alaskan waters were rumbling and his fellow captains were struggling to steer their ships through tumultuous seas. The moment Captain Phil died, the seas became calm, the sun shone, and I cried.

Last night I couldn't sleep (nothing new) and I was up at 2:18 am. I was scanning my TiVo list and I found A Tribute to Captain Phil (I had to stop watching the marathon at some point.). At 3:10 am as I watched the Deadliest Catch cameramen cry when they were informed of Captain Phil's death I cried again, and I deleted the next episode of the Deadliest Catch.

Paco's Perspective

I don't know who Captain Phil was but do you know when you cry your tears drip all over me? 

The Flip Side

Do you think I will ever catch those lizards out in the yard that I watch all day through the window? Who's crying and why?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Golf's Life Lessons

I really think golf is boring. I don't understand how anyone can get excited watching golf on TV. I would rather watch an ant farm than a TV golf match. After I think about it, I also have the same feelings about other sports on TV like baseball and basketball. Really one only needs to watch the last two minutes of any televised sport. If it is a good game, the last two minutes are the best. I enjoy watching sports up close and personal.

This summer I have "played" golf with my sister, Caren, quite a bit. Okay, I followed her around and took score. Participating in golf has taught me some life lessons:

Always be a straight shooter. The fairway is down the middle of the course, and the green is at the end of the fairway, so hit it straight. Caren tells me that is easier said than done. In life we need to be straight shooters, too. Tell the truth, even if it hurts someone's feelings. I would much rather be surrounded by straight shooters than liars.  Sometimes a liar will lie even when it isn't necessary. Remember the old cliche: Honesty is the best policy. I have got myself into some predicaments following this policy, and I have lost friends, but I will always be a straight shooter.

Sometimes you hit in the rough. The fairway is down the middle of the course and the rough on the edge of the fairway. There is short rough, tall rough, and then trees and shit. No matter how hard a golfer tries to hit on the fairway sometimes the ball will get away from the golfer and the ball lands in the rough. And then when the golfer tries to hit the ball out of the rough, it lands in even deeper rough. If the golfer hits the ball enough it will eventually make the green. In life we sometimes hit rough patches, and when we try to get out of the rough patch we get in even deeper. Don't give up! You will eventually hit the green. It takes will. It takes determination. It takes time. And it always gets better.

Everybody deserves a mulligan. In golf a mulligan is a do over. If a golfer hits a really bad shot like in the trees and shit, the golfer can have a mulligan or a do over. Now, this is not true in tournament play, but in a friendly game of golf a golfer usually gets two mulligans. In life everybody deserves a mulligan. When people mess up and get themselves in the trees and deep shit, they should be able to shout, "Do Over!" Don't get me wrong, I don't think rapists and murders deserve a mulligan, but maybe someday forgiveness. I am mainly talking about breaking hearts, hurting feelings, screwing up at work. Take your mulligan, but use it wisely because you only get two.

Today was my last golf game with Caren for sometime. I will miss the great drives and the near miss putts. I will even miss the sand shots and the hits in the trees and shit. Most of all I will miss the time spent with my dear friend and sister, Caren. In summers to come I may learn some more golf life lessons and if I do, I am sure I will share. 

Paco's Perspective

Are you saying even Flip deserves a mulligan?

The Flip Side

Does that mean when I poop in the house I can shout, "Mulligan!"?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Small Town, America

Bigfork is a small town in northwest Montana along Flathead Lake. The population is around 1500 (the school I teach at in Phoenix has a population of around 1000). Bigfork has one stoplight and that is on the main highway 35, so residence can turn onto the highway. The main street in Bigfork is about one-quarter of a mile long. Bigfork is one of those town where everyone knows you. I am only there during the summer and every summer someone I don't recognize will come up to me and say, "Hey, it is good to see you back in town." I love towns where everybody waves and calls out, "Hey!"

Bigfork, MT has a Fourth of July parade every year. Caren and I have been coming to Montana for the summer for at least fifteen years. In the past, we haven't attended the parade until a few summer's ago someone told us attendance is a must, and we were asked to assist in building a "float" for the Adopt a Soldier organization. Now it has become a Fourth of July tradition.
Caren and I go about two hours early, yep, two hours! We set up chairs for any friends and family in town. We bring books to read while we wait for the action. Lately, we haven't read the books because people watching is so much more fun. At the time of the parade I think there are at least over three thousand people lining the street of Bigfork. 

After two hours of people watching and anticipation, IT starts. Caren and I have decided that anyone can be in the Bigfork parade:

If you have a cool car, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a cool car but you decorate your car with red, white and blue, you can be in the Bigfork parade.

If you have a boat, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a boat but you have an oar, you can be in the Bigfork parade.

If you have a motorcycle, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a motorcycle but you have a bike, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you have a fire engine, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a fire engine but you have a golf cart, you can be in the Bigfork parade. 
If you dress like a clown, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't dress like a clown but you act like one, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you have a Berenese Mountain dog, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a Berenese Mountain dog but you have a dog with a flag tied to its tail, you can be in the Bigfork parade.

If you have a cheer squad, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have a cheer squad but you yell really loud, you can be in the Bigfork parade.

If you have an ice cream truck, you can be in the Bigfork parade.
If you don't have an ice cream truck but you do have ice cream, you can be in the Bigfork parade.

This year it rained for a week prior to the parade. Someone asked me if I was going to the parade this year and I replied I was only going if it didn't rain. The person who inquired about my attendance looked at me with shocked indignation and said, "God NEVER rains on the Bigfork parade!"

It was a close one this year. As we waited for the parade. The dark, gloomy thunderclouds formed off to the west. The temperature dropped about ten degrees. We were deciding whether or not to make a run for it to the car. Just before the parade started, the clouds moved north and the sun came out. It was a perfect day for the Bigfork parade because God never rains on the Bigfork parade. 

Paco's Perspective

You have put more than enough silly costumes on me, why not a tie a flag to my tail so I could be in the Bigfork parade?

The Flip Side

What's a parade?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Easy Clothes

The book, The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park, is a bittersweet account of a middle school aged boy, Jake, and his grandfather's descent into the Hell of Alzheimer's disease. Jake and his mother have lived with his grandfather, Skelly, since Jake was an infant. Skelly was even his room "mother" throughout his elementary school career. Skelly has always been there to care for Jake. Then Skelly contracts Alzheimer's disease and the tables turn. I have read this many times and I have bawled my guts out each time I read it.

When Janet and I drive to and from work I am her book on tape. I read books to her all the time. I read The Graduation of Jake Moon to her. Janet had many connections with this book because her mother suffered from Alzheimer's disease so reading this book was a catharsis for her. She bawled through just about every chapter and then I would bawl because she was bawling. It got so bad I could only read it to her on the way home because we didn't want to go into work with red, swollen eyes and our make-up dripping on our shirts. 

There is a part of the book with which I have a deep connection. Skelly has slipped into the abyss of the final stages of Alzheimer's and Jake and his mother have become Skelly's caregivers. Jake is trying to help Skelly get dressed and he discusses the progression of Skelly's clothes from well-groomed to "easy clothes". Jake explains that "easy clothes" are the ones with no buttons or zippers. Clothing someone with Alzheimer's can be a struggle so "easy clothes" (sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and slip on shoes) are the way to go. 

I too have had a progression of dress. I once wore dresses and high heals, but I couldn't drive in heals and I would have to change into sneakers every time I got in the car, so I eventually just went to wearing sneakers all the time. Sneakers don't go well with dresses so I started wearing pants. In the movie Steel Magnolias one of the characters states in her best southern drawl, "Darling, accessorizing is what separates us from the animals." I took this quote to heart. I was the Queen of Accessorizing. I am no longer able to reach my hands to my face so no more accessorizing. Just recently, I fell and broke my leg so I can no longer stand at all to get pants on, so I am at another stage of dress progression. I have had to go to stage 1 of "easy clothes". I am unable to stand to pull up pants and it is practically impossible to pull them up laying down. I am back to skirts because they are "easier". No one has designed skirts for crippled kids so they are too long. The skirts are so long I have to wear them as dresses. I use to wear tailored jackets, but those have become difficult to put on so I am wearing sweaters instead. I am thinking that skirts worn as dresses, sweaters, and opened back sneakers are not real fashion statements. There might be a picture of me on the "Glamour Don't" page in Glamour magazine.

The other day Caren and I saw the epitome of "easy clothes". We were waiting to get my hair cut and there were two women waiting, also. A mother and daughter. The daughter was dressed to the nines. She wore a skirt with a bright yellow tailored shirt with matching heals and purse. Her mother was in a wheelchair and had Alzheimer's. The daughter kept showing the mother pictures of her on her phone and would say, "See, Mom, this is a picture of you at the Japanese Gardens." And the mother would angrily reply, "I have never been to the Japanese Garden!" The mother wore very "easy clothes": dirty gray sweatpants two sizes too big, a blue Montana State sweatshirt three sizes too big and black Ugh boots, of course, too big. 

When Caren and I left the place I looked her directly in the eye and said, "Whatever you do,"

She interrupted me and said, "I know, I know, I promise your clothes will never get that easy."

"If it comes to that, you better get a big pillow," I demanded.

"What are you gonna do with a big pillow? Make a dress out of the pillowcase?" she asked.

"No, you are going to use the pillow," I said.

"I am not going to wear a pillowcase! . . . . Oh, wait I get it. Ha, funny!", she chuckled.

Paco's Perspective

I would like to say the Halloween costumes, jackets and sweater you put on me are not "easy clothes" AND I would prefer to NOT wear them. I look ridiculous!

The Flip Side

I happen to think we look jaunty in our matching argyle sweaters!