Tag Archives: Bad days

Your Number

It was the only story Dad told us about the missions he flew when he was stationed on the USS Monterey , an aircraft carrier, during WWII.

Oh boy did we have fun, Dad would say.  We’d go out on a mission, and then head back to the ship.  We flew so low, we could feel the spray of the water from below us.  We’d fly just this high over the waves!  He’d hold his hand out at the exact height of my head.  No matter how tall I got, that’s just how far above the waves Dad, Smokey (their navigator and Dad’s best wartime buddy) and their pilot flew.  Not high above them at all.

The Japs, he’d say (before there was such a thing as PC), they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t maneuver over the waves.  We could, and we lost them that way every time.  They never managed to hit us, and they couldn’t follow us back to the ship.

And we had a blast.  Cheating death, every day.


An SBD Dauntles, over Wake Island in the Pacific, 1943. My Dad was the gunner; he rode backwards. Photo credit (via Wikipedia) Lt. Charles Kerlee. USNR – General Photographic File of the Department of Navy [1] or [2]

Every time, I asked the same question:

“Dad, weren’t you scared?”

You see, I’m a total coward, I fear pain and injury.  The idea of anybody enjoying a near-death experience, riding 2-5 feet above the waves of the Pacific Ocean, with enemy planes shooting at them, well, it always seemed unbelievable to me.

When you’re number is up, it’s up, Dad would say, shrugging his shoulders, every time.  Nobody gets out alive!

That was Dad’s philosophy, learned in the ready room of the USS Monterey.


The USS Monterey, Dad’s Ship for most of his time in the Pacific.

That was where we hung out when we were off duty — the Ready Room.  That’s also where the duty roster when up — where we’d find out when we were flying out to meet the Japs.  Each squadron had a number.  When you’re number was up on the board, you went out.  And when your number was up, you never knew if you would make it back to the ship. 

We understood that “when your number was up” meant a bit more than a flight for many of Dad’s fellow service men.

I’m not sure if Dad’s philosophy became my own through osmosis or because I thought about it and realized he was right.  Maybe a little bit of both.  But I more or less agree with Dad.  When your number is up, it’s up.  And worrying about it, well, to quote Dad, won’t make a lick of difference.

I think of this as a gift from my Dad.  One that has lasted long past Dad’s own expiration date.

There is no point in worrying about dying. It’s gonna happen to all of us.

What’s important is how we live.

We need to remember who we are, recall the immigrant roots of our country, and how it was immigrants — my ancestors and likely yours — who made America what it is.

We need to remember that to our shame, we closed our borders to Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s.  Remember what happened to them?

We need to thumb our collective noses at the terrorists, and just not give in to the terror.

This cartoon, on the cover of Charlie Hebdo, the recipient of France’s previous horrible terror attack thumbs its nose at the terrorists.

Charlie Hebdo cover

Enter a caption

Charlie Hebdo cover: They have weapons. Fuck them. We have champagne.

Source:  Huffington Post.

Let’s all get our thumbs into position. Oh and get our hearts into the “open” position.  Because that is who we are as people.

Statue of Liberty - Flickr

Flicker Image

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”


Filed under 'Merica, 2016, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, Cancer on Society, Crazy family members, Dad, Do GOP Voters Actually THINK?, Elections, Elections Matter, Family, History, Huh?, Love, Memoir writing, Missing Folks, Taking Care of Each Other, WTF?

He Nailed It

In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman writes a post on the Paris tragedy and nailed it.

Again, the goal of terrorists is to inspire terror, because that’s all they’re capable of. And the most important thing our societies can do in response is to refuse to give in to fear.

I agree wholeheartedly.



Filed under 'Merica, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, Cancer on Society, Criminal Activity, Oh shit, Peace, Taking Care of Each Other

Melancholy Baby

A lot of my bloggin’ buddies suffer from depression and other emotional challenges.

Like Picasso, I just have the occasional blue period.

We all do.  In my book, it’s not always a bad thing.  And apparently I’m not alone in thinking that it’s OK to be blue from time to time.

In today’s New York Times, there is an interesting article:

The Case for Melancholy

The article discusses the fact that, in today’s life, it seems we are all always expected to be happy.  Cheerful.  Perky.

“Bullshit,” the article states.  Metaphorically, of course.

Whatever happened to experiencing the grace of melancholy, which requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea? What if all this cheerful advice only makes you feel inadequate?


I’m not, and the author is not, talking about clinical depression.  Just the fact that sometimes, quiet sad reflection is a good thing.

We don’t all have to be perky all the time.

Google Image

Google Image



Filed under Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Being an asshole, Friends, Health, Health and Medicine, Humor, Mental Health, Missing Folks, Picasso's Blue Period, Taking Care of Each Other, The Blues

Am I Too Late for the Debate Debate?

Sorry guys.  I’ve let you down.  I know that you rely on me for news.  And I failed you.

I haven’t written a single word about the GOP candidate kerfluffle on the debate and all those mean questions that the CNBC moderators asked.

So I thought I’d leave it to my spokesman to make my comments for me:

I mean, what more could I offer?  What more can be said about these clowns and their “‘First Percent’ Running For Prez” problems?  Not much.

Frankly even I, a political junkie, am getting sick of it all.

So I’ve been trying to figure out just what we can do to get a little bit of relief from it all, without, well, getting too much relief from it all.  And I have a few ideas:

  • We could restrict GOP access to one channel (Fox would do nicely).  Who wouldn’t want to listen to this:

  • We could gamble on the odds of the various GOP contenders getting the nomination (there’s actually a website that does this:  http://www.sportsbettingdime.com/news/presidential-election-super-serious-odds-and-props/.  Me, I’m planning on making a mint by betting on Scott Walker becoming the 45th President of These United States.  Nobody else will think to bet on him!  I will clean up!
  • Or we could eliminate all news of the GOP and fill the airtime with additional CSI series in different American cities!  Because, really, you just can’t have too many gun-drug-sex related crime shows set in America’s cities, now can we?

I must confess, I’m leaning towards the last one.  Because I have just the city for the show!  A city that combines crime with a Democratic Tradition!

Image Wikimedia

Image Wikimedia

The Park City — Bridgeport, Connecticut!

Wait, wait!  Don’t go.  I’m not done!  And I have good reason to suggest this location!

You see, I, personally, was born in Bridgeport– as were all of my family members whom you’ve come to know and love.  The fact that we moved away really has no bearing on the issue of whether a good crime drama could be situated in Bpt.

Equally important, one of my relatives once served as Mayor of this fine city.  I never met this cousin 238 times removed.  But still, blood is blood and that’s important in any crime drama.

Lastly, on Tuesday, the City of Bridgeport — my home town — elected an  ex-convict Mayor.

Ex-Con In Jail For Seven Years Elected Mayor of Bridgeport, CT


Image: Breitbart News (Still, it is really actually true — they DID elect an ex-con who’d gone to jail for cheating the City of Bridgeport!)


Voters in Bridgeport, Connecticut elected as their next mayor an ex-convict who spent seven years in federal prison after being convicted on 16 corruption charges.

Democrat Joe Ganim, 56, had served as mayor of Bridgeport – the state’s largest city – 12 years ago, from 1991 to 2003, when he resigned after being convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals and companies in exchange for sending city contracts in their direction, the New York Times reports.

Since he was released from prison five years ago, Ganim has worked as a legal assistant at his family’s law firm in Bridgeport, though he has not been able to have his law license restored.

Now tell me, which would you choose?  To watch the GOP or to watch a colorful Democrat?


Filed under 'Merica, 2016, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Bat-shit crazy, Beating that Dead Horse, Bridgeport, Campaigning, Cancer on Society, Crazy Folks Running, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Do GOP Voters Actually THINK?, Political Corruption, Roots, WTF?

We Are Not Alone!

Last week, I read Bloggess Jenny Lawson’s new book Furiously Happy.

Image from Amazon.com

Image from Amazon.com

Furiously Happy deals with Jenny’s mental health issues, how she copes with them, and, importantly how they help make her the person she is.  It is truly a gift to folks with anxiety, depression, other mental health issues (and to those who care about them).  It shows them that they’re not alone.

The blurb on the flap sums it up pretty well:

This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny’s mom says, “Maybe ‘crazy’ isn’t so bad after all.” Sometimes crazy is just right.

While Furiously Happy is geared towards folks with mental illness, I came away from the book feeling comforted about my physical illness, Crohn’s Disease.  Because Furiously Happy reminded me that other people — probably everyone, in fact — struggles through life with something.   And that’s why we all — every one of use — need each other. 

Because no matter what each of us is facing, we’re not alone.

Plus, the book is hilarious.  You will rarely enjoy mental illness quite this much.

Oh, and go read her most recent blog post, which had me laughing for hours last night.  It is a compendium of awkward moments sent to the Bloggess via Twitter.



Filed under Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Chronic Disease, Crazy family members, Crohn's Disease, Family, Farts, Friends, Good Deed Doers, Health, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, Illness, laughter, Love, Mental Health, Oh shit, Seriously funny, Shit, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts, Writing, WTF?

You Can Shake On It!

It was a month ago, and I can still feel Tracy’s hand against mine. Actually I can still feel her limp fingers brushing up against the tips of mine in the creepiest handshake ever. Ewwwww.

*     *     *

I didn’t do it to be a jerk, although I absolutely was. I just thought it was funny.

You see, I had a neighbor when I was growing up who gave me the secret to success.  Repeatedly.  Captain Leavitt would explain to me, again and again, the proper way to shake hands.

“Leasie!” he’d say. “You gotta understand this!  It’s the key to success. You’ve got to know how to shake hands properly if you want to make something of yourself.”

Captain Levitt * actually knew what he was talking about. Because he had gone from being a poor kid in Brooklyn – a high school dropout – into the owner of a posh string of shops (Custom Shop Shirtmakers) that sold, well, custom made shirts. By the time I knew him in the 1960s and early 70s, he was a millionaire several times over. He lived in New York City, but he had a weekend house down the road from mine.

He never failed to stop when he saw me to teach me the secret of success.

And I never failed to do it wrong, each and every time.

“Leasie!” he’d say, in his thick Brooklyn accent. “No, no, no!  You’re not doing it right!”

Google Image. What a smile he had!

Google Image.
What a smile he had!

He must have thought I was a moron. I’m sure he recalled the 4,396 times he’d already taught me just how to shake hands.

“You need to pay attention, Leasie!” he’d say, reaching his hand out to shake mine.

Of course I’d do it wrong.  Just so he could show me again.

“Now reach your whole hand towards mine – put the webbed part between your thumb and pointer right up against the webbed bit of mine. Wrap your fingers around mine and grasp it firmly – firmly but not too hard. Then shake it twice — three times is OK. Four times? That’s too many.”

Each time, I was a good student. By the time he walked or drove away, I was shaking his hand properly.

The next time? I’d screw it up again, just so he’d teach me again. I’m pretty sure that he thought I would likely need a lot more than a firm handshake to become successful. But Captain Levitt did what he could for me.

*     *     *

Now back to Tracy.

John and I are looking to replace my car, so I went into a car dealer one Sunday afternoon, sans husband. It’ll be my car, so I want to figure out what car I like before John insists I buy something else. So there I was, by myself in the car dealer. s

As I sat in a car that was conveniently $10K over budget, a voice came from nowhere.

“hello” it whispered.

A woman’s voice. It seemed to have no body attached to it. When I eventually saw the body that went with the disembodied voice, I quickly figured out the problem. She was hiding in my blind spot.

“I’m Elyse,” I said, reaching out to shake her hand.

“I’m Tracy,” she said in a whiny, barely audible voice.  And she grabbed the very bottoms of my fingers in her cold hand and massaged them.  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Tracy tapped into my inner Captain Levitt. I forgot about the car, and could think of nothing except how to pass on Captain Levitt’s lesson to Tracy.  After a good handwashing, that is.

But that’s harder to give words of wisdom than you’d think, you know. Tracy is an adult! And you can’t just go around teaching adults things, you know. They don’t appreciate it.

Besides, I didn’t like Tracy. At all. The fact that she had previously been a disembodied voice AND that she shook hands like a limp lobster was only part of it. She was really creepy, like that person in the horror movie who nobody notices until she picks up the axe.

More importantly, she wasn’t helpful at all.

What on earth was she doing selling cars? It was like the car dealership version of a reality show where the contestants are assessed for the job they would be worst at. And somehow, I was written into the pilot.

Tracy couldn’t answer any of my questions about the car. She didn’t care about cars, in fact. I’m not even sure if she had driven one ever before. She explained to me that she was really a fashion designer.

“Well, you’ll look great when you get on Top Gear!” I said to her, the only nice fashion/car thing I could think to say.

“What’s Top Gear?” she asked.


So Tracy came with me on the test drive of one car she didn’t know the first thing about.

While she went to get the keys to a second car I wanted to drive, I decided. I had to do it.  Yes, I steeled myself to teach Tracy how to shake hands properly. I was pretty sure that some day, her next meal might just depend on it.  The entire future of this pathetic woman might actually depend on ME.  I couldn’t stand the pressure.

Because as Captain Levitt told me many, many times, “The key to success is in a good, firm handshake.”

I waited for Tracy to come back, trying to figure out just how to break the news to her. That her wimpy handshake was a problem in sales. In other jobs.  Hell, a shitty handshake was a problem in life itself.

So I decided to tell her about Captain Levitt, the rags to riches story of a very successful man.  And to teach her what he had taught me so many times before.

In fact, in the 30 minutes I waited for her to bring the keys to the second car I wanted to drive, I had it all figured out.

At least I did until Tracy blew me off in favor of another customer.  Yup.  The bitch walked by me with a young couple who wanted to test drive the car I was looking at. She looked up at me and waved as she got into the back of the car. WITH THEM.

So Tracy will never learn that the key to success is in a good firm handshake.

Oh, and not being an asshole. That’s on the top ten keys to success, too.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Being an asshole, Childhood Traumas, Growing up, keys to success, Shake, Wimpy handshakes

World Polio Day

Dad always described it as the most terrifying day of his life.  Mom almost never spoke of it.

June 1949.

“We had a toddler — Beth was just beginning to walk.  Mom was expecting another baby in December.  It should have been time to celebrate.  Instead, suddenly, I was rushing my wife to the hospital.  I didn’t know what would happen.  I feared the worst.”

Dad had every reason to fear the worst.  Polio can cause death or total paralysis in a matter of hours.

In the U.S. in 1949, more than 40,000 cases of polio were reported, and nearly 3,000 deaths occurred from the horribly contagious, devastating disease.

My mother spent the end of her first trimester and much of the second in the hospital, encapsulated in an iron lung.  An iron lung enables the patient to breathe by using vacuums to force air into and out of the lungs.

Wikipedia Image

Wikipedia Image

Poor mom also received constant electric shock therapy, up and down her body to stimulate the muscles and keep them from atrophy.  Thankfully, the treatments worked.  Not only did my Mom survive, but the combination of treatments she received enabled her to live a normal life — without the paralysis that impacted so many of the disease’s victims..  In fact, to look at Mom, you couldn’t tell that she was a polio survivor.

It was only in photographs that anything appeared amiss.  Mom had always been a beautiful woman — but she was unwilling to have photos taken of her right side — because the camera picked up the remnants of polio’s paralysis.

Mom at my wedding.

Mom at my wedding.

You can bet that as soon as the Salk Polio vaccine was available, Mom and Dad lined up the five of us kids, including my brother Bob, who was in that iron lung with Mom, for those shots.  Because the old adage is true:  An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure.

Saturday, October 24 is World Polio Day.  It is a day that celebrates the incredible progress scientists have made against this horrible, debilitating, deadly disease.

In recent years, many folks have forgotten the devastating effects of these diseases.  Forgotten just what the costs of these disease are — to the individuals infected with them, and to society.

Vaccines are developed to prevent — TO PREVENT! — devastating diseases.  Polio.  Rubella.  Mumps.  Measles.  The safety profiles of the vaccines is excellent.  Far better in fact, than the safety profiles of the most common OTC meds we all pop at the drop of a hat, or the hint of a headache.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Crazy family members, GET VACCINATED, Health, Mom, Mom Stories, Vaccines