Monthly Archives: June 2008


We made it to Dublin. Dawn was able to sleep a bit on the plane; I couldn’t, no, not at all. Got through passport control and customs at Dublin airport without incident. Took the 748 bus from the airport to Heuston train station, where now we sit waiting for a train in a couple of hours to Westport.

I’m a tad cranky about my useless cell phone here. Seems like it’ll work just fine as a phone. But all of the work I did setting up Facebook status updates and blog posts by phone was all for naught. The Facebook status is an SMS to like 34567 or somesuch. Doesn’t work in Ireland. And the blog posts are picture message sent to Flickr, and, wouldn’t you know it, I can’t send picture messages in Ireland either.

So I’m standing at an Internet kiosk in the train station. Costs €1 for ten minutes. Some kid just bumped into me. I’ll try to find similar Internet chances for updates. But, just so you know, we’re here and alive and happy.

First Post-Recital Ballet Class

I’m awfully late to arrive, so they’re already done with the pliés and tendus. I’m just in time for dégagés, however, not a bad way to start, except that Ms. Jessica is feeling ambitious and throws some sort of novel combination of dégagés at us. No mere en croix this time. Something decidedly more complex involving changing to the inside leg on the third beat front and back but not sides. I offer that it’s based on some sort of factors of the square root of two, which joke the old hands have heard too many times by now, I’m maybe starting to realize. But, when confused, just throw out whatever you’re doing, in this case dégagés, pretty much randomly and hope for the best. Then for some weird reason on side two I suddenly grok the pattern and am wickedly pleased when Ms. J out in the center screws it up and still I confidently continue doing it right.

What with my late arrival I’m not in my usual spot by the window, but rather with Renee over at the tall girl bar. You know, the one where Karen and Ayanna would be if they were here. For the stretch I’m sorely out of luck, since there’s only the high bar and no low whatsoever. Is why it’s the tall girl bar. I scurry over to the other side of the studio, where there’s sensibly both the high and low bars. I squeeze in front of Jessica R., and for the first time I notice that she has some sort of wild reverse jujitsu move on the switch from second to arabesque. Apparently twisting her foot around in contact with the bar gives her the willies, so she prefers to twist the rest of her whole being around instead. It’s a nifty trick.

Out center it feels very strange not to be rehearsing the recital piece after so many months. Instead Ms. J’s got even more tricks up her sleeve. For the waltz pattern, we begin with a pas de cheval into a pas de bourrée. Okay, cool. But then after a balancé one way, we definitely do not balance the balancé with a balancé to the other side; rather, it’s a chassé. It feels positively alien. We’re supposed to follow the chassé with another pas de bourrée into fourth for the pirouette. I’ve been getting pretty good pirouette action lately, holding up in relevé coupé much better lately for some reason, even if my turnout is still for shit. But that’s hitching up from a static fourth in my own good damn time. Coming at it from a crazy unbalanced chassé throws me right the hell off and I’m useless.

Similar too is the entrechat quatre that she wants us to start doing on a more regular basis. I’ve had two (later made into three) in my pas de deux with Dawn that I’d been working on for some months now, so I’m initially pleased that I’m going to be ahead of the curve for once. But again, I don’t get to just go right into it, or even start from a nice solid assemblé like from the piece. It’s instead mixed in between two changements and an échappé. I can’t get my brain and feet to work together to save my life. Help!

Finally, going into the corners, we go across the floor in piqué turns. Puke-y turns I declare them. Ms. Jessica tells me to not shoot my tendu out as far, as I’m then never getting straight up over the leg in relevé in the turn. I try going smaller and it works fairly well, as I faintly hear Dawn calling out to me to spot with each turn. It’s something of a wife’s prerogative, I suppose. I still complain about it though.

Need I Know More? No.

Years ago I saw a news headline:

Bjork’s mother ends hunger strike

And I really didn’t want to know anymore. Just felt like that was enough. Sure, it could have been some other Bjork, but I assumed it was the weird Icelandik music chick. Many reasons why her mother would have started a hunger strike, and more reason that she could have gone off same. But, really, why dig any deeper? Just bound to disappoint. So I didn’t click through and read the story. Never did. Still don’t know really.

Saw another one today:

Eldest child in Austrian incest case wakes from coma

Let me ask you, did you know that there was some sort of Austrian incest case? (Austrian, mind you. Let’s try to keep them straight, shall we?) And that said Austrian incest case involved a minimum of three children? (If there were only two, then there’d be an elder and a younger. No eldest involved.) And of those three or more children, at least one was in a coma? (I’d think that if it were only the one child in a coma, the headline could simply have declared Child wakes from coma rather than Eldest child wakes from coma.)

Did you know all this? Me neither. What the fuck kind of freaky shit is going on in Austria?

It occurs to me now that there are similarities between these two headlines. Both describe events occurring in Europe. Both as well describe some condition that a European individual was in, but is now no longer in said condition. I wonder why these catch my attention so.

The Big Day, pt. 4 – Recap

Our biggest fan, Mother Dillon, flies from hundreds of miles away to see us. She comes every year, except the one year where our recital conflicted with our niece Elizabeth’s ballet recital. In the hierarchy of these things, the grandchild takes precedence, we understand. Second biggest fan Dr. Bob attends, of course, but this year he is accompanied by Sharon, who doesn’t always get to come.

And special guest stars Aida and Helena really make it such a treat for us. Goodness, we’ve been practicing all year.

Afterward we repair to the traditional locale, Tortilla Coast, for margaritas. And we are devastatingly disappointed when we arrive and discover that they are closed for a private party. So we trudge back, almost all the way back to St. Mark’s, and go to La Lomita instead. At first I’m worried that they’re not even open yet. They don’t look especially open. But they are, and in fact they’re surprisingly full. We have a party of 7, (the above-mentioned fans, plus Dawn, me, and Jessica R.), so then I’m worried they won’t have room for us. Apparently I worry too much, because they have a whole ‘nother room downstairs, which we get all to ourselves.

The food is not all that memorable, but that kinda fits since our dancing isn’t all that memorable either. But the tequila does its magic, and it’s good to have old company and new company. And did I mention the tequila?

See you next year.

She Quits. Mostly.

Mother Dillon flies up from GA, so we pick her up at National. We get home just in time for lunch and Hillary Clinton’s speech at the National Building Museum. Sarah thinks it’s a funny place to give a speech, but we point out that it’s an awesome space. It’s a great place to give a speech.

The speech itself is billed as a concession speech, and likely will be remembered as such. But, in point of fact, not one time does Senator Clinton utter the word concede; rather, as she puts it, she suspends her campaign.

Parts of the speech are actually gracious, and uplifting. There are some good touches. But she has been so many things this primary season, presented so many faces and moods and personalities. So it’s hard for me to take her at completely face value.

Maybe I think this also because of the strange section in the body of the speech, where she’s supposed to be throwing her support behind Senator Obama, but in doing so she uses such an oddly tortured construction. Because said construction is so utterly un-poetic, because it’s so literally hard to say, it almost reinforces the idea that it’s figuratively hard to say.

The basic structure is:

We’ll have to work hard for [such and such]. But on the day we live in an America [where such and such happens], we will live in a stronger America. And that is why we must help elect Barack Obama our president.

The point of this part of the speech is to tell her supporters that they have to come together as a party and work for him now. She explicitly says it earlier: I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me. So then why in this section does she put as many words and concepts as possible between the hard work and the mention of Senator Obama’s name?

The only thing that I can think is that she wants to end each paragraph with, and repeat, the phrase Barack Obama, Our President, get us used to hearing that. Like creative visualization, you know? If you can imagine it, then you can do it. Otherwise, it’s just weird.


Oh, yes. Finally. After what seems like years since Iowa, decades since they first announced, Barack Obama collects enough delegates to sew up the nomination. I watch Hillary Clinton speak around nine-thiry, Senator Obama around ten.

Her speech is as graceless and classless as ever. She has lost. Her job is to concede. But, she famously declares, she will be making no decisions tonight.

Apparently John McCain speaks tonight as well. His speech before literally hundreds of supporters is universally panned, even by the talking heads at Fox.

Senator Obama packs the joint in St. Paul, in the hockey arena where the Republicans will convene later in the summer. Tens of thousands in the place, with tens of thousands more outside. The earth rumbles as great tectonic plates are shifting, as he’s changed the party and the game and the nation, no matter what happens in the fall.

I notice and especially enjoy the little moment with his wife Michelle when they bump fists as she glides off, gives way for him to speak. I think it’s so cute. Others apparently don’t.

Happy 50th, Cardinal McCarrick

I was born and raised a Catholic, but I never did the confirmation thing as a teenager like I should have. With Dad being in the Army, we moved every year or two, certainly never more than three years in one place, so we didn’t ever really put down much in the way of roots in any one parish anywhere. And it was the seventies, when a lot of people were drifting away from the Church. And I was a typical teenagers, much more interested in girls and drugs and AOR music than some dumb old God and Jesus stuff.

So fast forward twenty-five years and part of my initial attraction to Dawn was not just that she was Catholic, but she actually went to Mass. And she invited me to go to Ash Wednesday with her. This was before we started dating proper even. And when we got engaged I wanted to go ahead and actually get confirmed, even though there wasn’t like any rule or anything that said I had to do it. But I wanted to do it.

And the whole RCIA process was incredible and great. Chris McCullough was the faith coordinator at the Cathedral at the time, and I loved him. And Michael and Barbara and Will and Bridget. And Barbara Reck, my sponsor. And the cool kids in the class of ’03 with me, Dori and James and Sam and Heather. And so come the big day, the Easter Vigil Mass, April 19, 2003, it’s Elvis himself, Cardinal McCarrick who presides and traces the cross on my forehead with the oil.

And today he celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination as a priest. Happy Fiftieth, your Eminence. Or, as Rocco Palmo says everyone calls you, Uncle Ted.

scan0013We got to meet him in a more personal setting an hour or so before the Mass that day we got confirmed, down in the East Conference Room. We lined up, each of us with our sponsors, and Chris presented each of us to and introduced us to the Cardinal, who gave us each an icon of St. Matthew, appropriately enough. It sits to this day on my dresser, gazing at me every morning as I get ready for work. He was a civil servant, St. Matthew was, and is the patron saint of same.

I had had a rather more personal encounter with his Eminence two days before that, actually, when I was one of the dozen whose feet he washed at the Holy Thursday Mass. It was really scary, actually, before hand. But then so very moving at the actual moment. For him and for us, it seemed to me.

And the other picture of him that I always carry with me is at the Vigil Mass on April 2, 2005, which otherwise would have been a pretty ordinary Saturday, except that His Holiness John Paul II had passed away that afternoon, a couple of hours before the Vigil Mass. So Cardinal McCarrick came to celebrate, and President Bush and the First Lady arrived as well. I certainly never expected to be in the same room, albeit a pretty big room, with the President of the United States ever in my life. Oh, hey, and certainly not this President. Not by choice by a long shot. But there I was. Praying so very hard: Thy will be done, and As we forgive those. Thy will be done. As we forgive those. Thy will be done. As we forgive those. The Cardinal was very warm and generous that day, much nicer than I’ll ever be.

Aimless Rambling About My First Job

I started my first job in August of 1980. My mother worked at this doctors office as a secretary, and they needed an office boy. That’s how I thought of it, office boy. I don’t know if I even had a job title, and I don’t suppose there’s such a thing as office boy anymore. But back then there was. And I became one.

I started right after I was finished with some sort of summer school thing with Tom and Kevin. I think we were helping Mr. Windt with classes of like elementary school kids or something. I don’t really remember much except the kids and the Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue” on the radio. Minimum wage was $3.15 at the time, but I got hired at the princely sum of $3.50 per hour. I think Tom was making $3.15 at Bell at the mall. I don’t know if Kevin was working yet.

I seem to remember that there was some thought at first that I would do some courier work as well as be office boy. I rode around like maybe my first day with the office courier, between the Alexandria office and the Springfield office. A few years later I became the actual courier and drove the Mercury Lynx that the office owned, but this one day I rode around in this guy’s own car. Was some sort of old Falcon or Dart, some sixties vintage thing. It was pretty awesome, now that I think about it. At the time I probably thought it was just old.

And this guy, I can’t remember his name, was pure eschatologically nuts. Told me all sorts of things about the Book of Revelation, about how the U.S. government was going to tattoo all of us on our necks with like our social security numbers and how this represented the Biblical mark of the beast. Dude was probably in his mid-twenties or something, but I was all of sixteen and he was an adult and I took him pretty seriously. He freaked me the fuck out is what he did.

I told my mother about it and she just kinda laughed and scoffed and told me to ignore him. Whew.

But I didn’t do much in the way of courier stuff after that. Mostly I made copies. The office had a copier, but there weren’t really such things as document feeders or sorters or collators or anything back then. That was what office boys were there to do. So that’s what I did. Made copies one page at a time. Copies of thick folders of medical records.

There was a computer system that printed out a big fat list of all charges every month. I guess this computer didn’t have enough memory to store these charges, because there was a book of these charges for every month going back a few years, and if anyone wanted an itemized bill of their charges then I would go down into the basement to where these books were stored and hand copy the charges out of them for each month. Then one of the secretaries would type up the list and we’d send it to whoever had asked for it.

The computer was an IBM System 34 mainframe. It was about the size of a pickup truck. There were dumb terminals scattered around the billing office, maybe half a dozen. I suppose Shirley would have definitely had one. Mrs. Lyles too. Then Candy and Vicky probably. Maybe Mr. Brossette and Mrs. Higgison would have had them too, but maybe not.

I guess hard disks were a few years away. The system used like this cassette pack of floppy disks, like the old five-and-a-quarter-inch floppies, except that they were bigger, eight or ten inches. The cassette held maybe six or eight of them. They couldn’t have held much more than 512 kilobytes probably. Is why everything had to be printed out every month. Is why I had a job, I guess.

The place was called Northern Virginia Orthopaedic & Allied Specialty Clinics, Inc. (or maybe Clinic was singular). Abbreviated as NOVOC. Later it became like Orthopedic Group or something like that, and it was NOVOG. When I started there were eight orthopaedic surgeons and four radiologists. They were somehow affiliated with National Hospital for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, because I used to work there sometimes too. Again in the billing office. There was no computer system there at all. Each patient’s information was saved on a paper form, a half-sheet of letter-sized paper, thinner than regular copy paper stock, though not quite like onion skin paper. There were tens of thousands of these forms, and I had a stack of them to file every day.

We used the doctors’ initials in a lot of things we wrote down. Dr. Bigley was ECB, for Elmer Clarence Bigley. Dr. Rosenthal was SJR, and while I knew his first name was Sheldon, I always thought of him as Sammy J. Rosenthal. There was Dr. Leabhart, but I don’t remember his initials. Same with Dr. Kaye, who used to be a GP before he became an orthopaedic guy. I used to get him to write me a prescription every time I got conjunctivitis. I used to get that a lot, for some reason. I remember MCR was Marion Restivo. Later when I was the courier he used to make me go deposit his paycheck. We got paid once a month, and his paycheck was generally somewhere around $10,000. It was almost too much money for me to comprehend back then.

Later Mr. Brossette left and Mrs. Higgison took his job as office administrator and my mother took her job as office manager. Years after that Mrs. Higgison left and my mother became administrator. I think I was long gone by then.

Through the magic of the web, I find out that Mrs. Higgison apparently moved to Florida. Does good work down there still, as of a few years ago anyway. Mr. Brossette apparently left the healthcare field and opened some restaurants in Rehoboth. I used to go to Rehoboth in the late eighties when he maybe was there, but I didn’t run into him. He died in 1997 at the young age of 41. Funny to think that he was only 24 when I worked for him. He was the boss, so I remember him as older.