Sunday, July 12, 2009

Braum's Milk and other Adam tidbits

I bought milk at Brahm's today, just like I do every time I buy milk. However, it might shock you to know that I have not always bought my milk at Braum's. Let me explain . . .

Adam and I had a conversation one day about milk (doesn't everbody?) and he challenged me to try Braum's milk. Adam claimed Braum's milk is cheaper, tastes better, and stays fresh longer than milk from the grocery store. But the idea of changing my grocery store milk routine was difficult for me . . .

But now I only buy my milk from Braum's . . . because he was right.

Every time I stop by the Braum's there on the corner of Nantucket (we shared a mutual Braum's location . . .), I am reminded that Adam introduced me to better milk, and that I've probably saved upwards of $17 in the years since I took him up on his milk wisdom . . .

This is just one of many things that makes me appreciate my friend Adam. He passed away a few days ago after a long and brave battle with Cystic Fibrosis.

I met Adam at work about five years ago and we worked together for almost four years. As I've thought about Adam these past few days, so many things come to mind. One Adam memory leads to another . . .

  • I remember not long after the Campisi's opened near the office, he excitedly came to chat with me one day after lunch. He'd eaten a WHOLE small Campisi's pizza, by himself, and he was very excited about this, had to tell me about it. I, too, was excited for him because 1) his illness kept him very thin and not prone to scarf down entire pizzas, and 2) I am well-known for never leaving a scrap of my own Campisi's pizza, quite capable of eating the whole thing in one sitting. Skinny people eating whole pizzas . . . we shared a bond.
  • Adam was the first to notice that one pair of my pants had random buttons intended for suspenders . . . even though I never wore suspenders.
  • The Lokey duo elevated our company softball to a whole new level. Think about frail Adam out there knocking balls OUT OF THE PARK, catching balls in the outfield left and right. And as if that wasn't enough, he brings in his amazing wife Jen who OWNED the mound as our secret weapon pitcher. A one-two Lokey punch on the field. It was greatness.
  • And that makes me think of our team shirts for the Ad Hawks. Adam sought out my geniusery to collaborate on the shirt design . . . "We bring a fowl game" was all me, folks. Thanks to Adam, that line will go down in history on those shirts. Forever . . .
  • You never knew what pattern Adam's facial hair would follow from day to day. But, I have to hand it to the man that he was a master at facial hair creativity.
Adam always surprised me. More times than I like to remember, we'd get the calls or e-mails at the office that he was back in the hospital. It always scared the bajeezus out of us. But in a couple of weeks, he'd be back at the office, glad to be there and seeming like his old self, like nothing happened. He always had a smile, and he always made the time and the point to catch up with everyone when he got back. The thing about Adam is that HE wanted to know how WE were while he was out. Dude was in a hospital, and he was more interested in how we were.

My grandmother died last year and I remember that was around a time when Adam was in and out of the office. When I made it back in to the office after my grandma's funeral, he came over and sat in the chair by my desk and asked me about it. You never had to wonder if Adam cared about you. He always seemed to keep up with everyone with a geniune sense of compassion.

Not long after that, I left that job. Again, Adam was in and out of the office around that time. But he called to check on me and to encourage me. I'll never forget that.

A few months ago, late at night the phone rang . . . and it was Adam. I hadn't heard from him in awhile. I pick up the phone and I hear a very excited Adam checking up on me, apologizing for the late night call (I'm sorry, but when Lokey calls . . . who cares what time it is?!?! I'll gladly take the call . . .).

THEN he got to the real reason for his call. He had come up with a plan and was so excited about it, he had to call me because Jen wasn't home yet so he could tell her . . . Silly Adam wanted to set me up with a friend of his. He went on and on about it, and had me rolling with laughter . . . but also so touched that even though we hadn't seen each other or talked in awhile, he was thinking of me and his friends and how to make us happy. Apparently by playing matchmaker . . .

Some time went by and he called me again with his plan. It was SUPER late at night and he had the set-up all arranged . . . except I was in NYC for work . . . But it was great to hear his voice and hear him still excited. Truth me told, I would have let him set me up with a stinky, smelly jerk if it gave something Adam to be excited about for awhile . . .

When I think of men of integrity, men that I respect, Adam is most definitely one of those men. I don't know that I told him how much it meant that he thought well enough of me to want to set me up with a friend of his. But, that was cool, Lokey.

Adam was our designated emcee for the company white elephant party each year at Christmas. The year I got to emcee in his place will always stand out for me. Had I been given more than about 30 minutes to understand what I was about to do and what it meant, I might have chickened out. I knew Adam wasn't up to it and I would have to dig deep into my wealth of snark and wit to successfully step up.

But this was "his" thing and it was a little bittersweet for me. Not to mention, NO ONE can compete with Adam and the Elf t-shirt. Big pointy shoes to fill . . . Afterwards, I went back to the office and went straight to Adam and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity and bowed to his emcee geniusery.

One of my favorite things about Adam (other than the hilarity) was how people rallied around him. When we would find out he wasn't doing well, Paula would round up the troops at the office and we would send a care package to Adam of his favorite things. We bought him an ipod one time. Anything we could think of to make his hospital visits more bearable, the office pulled through for him.

One of my favorite Adam moments didn't even really involve him. But the garage sale we held to help offset some of Adam and Jen's medical costs will go down as one of my favorite things ever.

He wasn't there for any of the time I helped at the sale, although he came out the night before for his rockstar appearance. But the spirit of the whole thing made it clear that this was a Lokey event from start to finish. It was great to spend that day with people who love Adam, and it was certainly fantastic to get to spend that time with Jen wheeling and dealing at the sale. She is truly amazing and a blessing to watch with anything regarding Adam.

Knowing we could do something tangible to help him, so many people rallied with tons of stuff for the sale, plenty of help. We raised a good chunk of change, and of course . . . hilarity ensued.

For Adam (of course) I may or may not have donned a wedding dress to help increase our sales.

But, he did it first.

That event is something I'll never forget for a friend I'll never forget.

Adam is at rest now, no more pain. For that, I am thankful. But even more than that, I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to know him, even a just little bit, for awhile.

I'll never understand why amazing people have to die so young. I have to remind myself that they are only too young to us. But to God, they have lived the life they were intended to live and their work here is done. We have to trust Him in that.

Adam touched a lot of lives in his short time here, and I have no doubt the Adam stories will continue for a long, long time. He is missed. But he is home and whole.

Thank you, Adam . . . for everything. Including the milk.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Michael Jackson: I'm not convinced that "This Is It"

Yes, I have been caught up in the Michael Jackson whirlwind since he reportedly died last week. I've been shocked and saddened, just like the rest of the world.

I've watched all of the coverage (who knew it was possible to watch so much Michael Jackson programming and still want more?!?!?). I've read all of the online news coverage, as much as my eyeballs could take. Even my Entertainment Weekly arrived yesterday with MJ on the cover, and I'm convinced there is more info in it that I simply must read, lest I miss something important.

However, WHAT IF this is all a hoax? Think about it . . .

I've read and watched SO MUCH about all of this, I'm beginning to see (or perhaps make up in my MJ-overloaded brain) some holes in the story. And I've become suspicious that Michael Jackson's reported death last week could be the greatest piece of showmanship the world has ever seen . . . to set up the greatest comeback the world has ever witnessed.

Think about it . . .

Let's examine the facts, shall we?

  • The most obvious clue is that MJ's memorial service is set to take place at the Staples Center . . . where he was rehearsing for his big comeback. And his "death" happened just two weeks before his comeback tour was set to begin. What better way to publicize a comeback than to attract the world's media coverage to the star? The sets are there at the Staples Center. In a sense, the stage is already set. And . . . with the media coverage of his death, the whole world will be watching on Tuesday. What better set-up to live up to the promise he made to the world that this would be the biggest comeback ever?
  • And, why would AEG (the concert promotion company) release footage of his last rehearsal . . . if not to tease the world and make his apparent death more dramatic? Making the case that MJ was in good health, well enough to rehearse, so how could he be suddenly dead?
  • Think about what we have NOT seen. Isn't it somewhat suspicious that we've seen NO rogue cell phone picks from a money-hungry EMT, or from someone at the hospital, or from MJ's staff . . . of Michael's body? Could this mean that . . . there is no body? We've barely seen anything from the scene, and very little details have emerged from his time at the hospital. Then a moving van shows up a day or so later and began removing items from the mansion. To cover up? Think about it . . .
  • The L.A. Police are under speculation for not following proper procedures. They didn't seal the mansion right away, they didn't get a search warrant right away . . . could this have been because they were in on the hoax? Why rush things or follow protocol details when there's no real crime . . . or death . . .
  • AEG is offering a full refund for the 50 London concerts. Could this really be because they know Michael only intended to do the ONE comeback show at the Staples Center after his "death?" Most fans are keeping their tickets anyway. AEG probably knew this would happen, so they aren't really losing any money even though they are playing the part of the responsible concert promoters.
  • Mis-direction is a must when trying to create the most elaborate and shocking comeback ever. So sure, the media has been mislead with "discoveries" of drugs in his mansion, sketchy doctors to interview, all kinds of crazy "details" and "revelations" about his last days, relationships, what will happen to the kids, etc. plus talks of holding the memorial at Neverland that fell through . . . all the while finalizing the "memorial" at the Staples Center.
  • Is it beyond MJ's influence and capability to coordinate friends, family, staff, associates, to go along with the story? He has a family of performers. He wanted to be the world's greatest entertainer. Clearly, the most recent spotlight on him (prior to the recent weeks) was less than favorable. And in recent years, did anyone really care about a Michael Jackson comeback tour with 50 dates in London? Since when is his biggest audience the UK? Think about it . . .
I could be full of crap. And yes, I'm naturally paranoid and suspicious of just about everything.

BUT, if Tuesday comes and Michael Jackson's "memorial" turns out to be the ultimate, most elaborate hoax and comeback ever?


I'm just sayin'.... Don't underestimate the King of Pop.

But if I'm wrong, rest in peace . . . you will always rock my world.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Attempting to embrace change

In the past few months, I've done some growing as a human being and I've embraced the possibility of change in my ordered world. The changes didn't actually happen, but the fact that I was open to change is a pretty big deal.

For those of you who don't know me, I don't like change.

One change was the possibility of a roommate. I don't need a roommate, but I was willing to help out a friend for awhile. I've lived alone for pretty much....ever. So, considering having someone else all up in my space was a big moment of growth for me.

She decided to move out of the country instead. And no, it had nothing to do with the idea of living with me....

The second possibility for change happened just in the past few days.... a puppy. A need came up to rescue some puppies from a house that had too many dogs, and I considered that maybe this is the time to get a dog. I have the time, the space. Seriously, a dog living here with me is pretty much the perfect situation for a dog. All of my attention, I'm around plenty. House, yard. My dog would be spoiled and loved, no question.

The particular pups in question are small dogs, something that I could tuck away in a little nook and probably not even notice until I needed to snuggle with a furry creature, at which point I would demand to snuggle. Perfect for me, too.

I considered this thoroughly over the weekend. I decided that yes, if not the roommate then a pup would be the next obvious thing to bring into my world. Today I was able to go see the puppies. If you know me even a little bit, you will know that once I go LOOK at the puppies, I'm pretty much coming home with one. The mistake is in seeing their faces. I've made the mistake before of thinking a puppy was a good idea, seeing the pup and taking it home....then finding out it was NOT a good idea after all. If I had not SEEN the pup, I would have had no problem saying no.

I love dogs, I've just never wanted one that I'm in charge of, all up in my space, dependent on me for every little thing.... But it's a responsibility that I decided I'm finally ready for. And I know now not to SEE the pups unless I am fully prepared to take one home.

Bring on the pup.

So, I arrive at the house that I knew contained a multitude of dogs. As I am getting out of the car, another girl is leaving.... NO, FLEEING the house. Running for her life. I ask her if she was there to look at the pups and she says this: "Yes, and good luck in there..."


I should have heeded her warning and made a run for it. But I'd already been spotted by the house/dog people and I had to go in. I realized as I went up to the door that I had not let anyone know I was there or to call 911 and report me as missing if they had not heard from me in a few days.... sinking... feeling....

There were dogs EVERYWHERE. Millions of them. Coming out from every nook and cranny and crack and hole, from under couches, from under OTHER dogs, and I'm pretty sure right out of thin air. Just if from nowhere...

Now, before I go any further, I am only reporting on this situation because as a storyteller and an attractor of ridiculous situations, I am required to do so. However, know that these were very nice people with an overabundance of dogs that just needed to go to good homes. I mean them no harm. I write because hilarity ensued (for me) and I found the humor (for me) in what is obviously a stressful situation with too many dogs needing too many homes.... quickly.

That said, I walked into a house with the mixed aroma of cigarette, cigar, incense (burning, I assume, to cover the next smell), and dog. A LOT of dog. All told, I was probably in the house maybe 20 minutes or so, and I came out smelling like the house. I might have to get used to it. I'm not sure it's leaving me any time soon.

Now, I've been to houses where dogs are aplenty, and to houses where folks are in the dog business. Breeding, selling, adopting.... whatever you want to call it. I expect a certain level of unkempt doginess from these situation, so I was not surprised at what I found there.... except for the millions of dogs that just kept coming.

I don't think I ever saw the same dog twice. At one point I could hear more dogs but could not see them. I finally figured out they were pressed against a door that I assume led to the out of doors... but they were trying to get IN. Why? It's just really not clear. "In" would seem much less desirable than "out" in this situation. Fresh air, presumably less dogs.... stay OUT and embrace your freedom.

So, the precious pup I'd had my eye on from the pictures I'd seen beforehand (see? It's the pics that get me every time) had already been adopted. But I was so into this save-the-dogs and embrace-more-change thing that I was willing to check out the other pups to help the situation. However, the dogs were not willing to cooperate with this. They freaked out, nonstop, and would not come near me. Clearly they had run off the poor girl who was fleeing when I arrived and they were attempting to do the same to me.

There was a even whole pack of dogs that were not-for-adoption, but that were apparently trained by the other dogs to create disruption and run people off. And I believe it was one (or more) of this pack of dogs that PEED right on my shoe and my pants as I tried to lure a possible adoptee closer to me for a look-see. Following the pee on me, this conversation took place:

" which one did that? Was it Bruce? Nah... it couldn't have been Bruce. That's not like him. Was it Lulu? I bet it was Pookey. Or maybe Blabbity Blah or Schmoopy or well, Hoppity Hop might have done it. But really, that's more like Binky. Where is Binky? I haven't seen her all week.... I am so sorry! They never do that..."
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH ONE DID IT?!?! There are 37 dogs surrounding me, all of them brown. And, might I add, they are all standing in at least two or three puddles of pee.... so are you saying they never pee in here? Or just not on strangers.... And how do you remember all of their names?!?!? Or are you just making up names as you go...

Shortly after I arrived at the house, the woman arrived back home from the vet....because yet another dog had puppies.... this very day. In she came with a purse full of pups and a mama dog who looked like she'd lost the will to live. Seriously, MORE PUPS?!?!? I quickly noticed that a few of the dogs in the pack also looked ready to pop out more puppies at any second.

It was then that I realized that I was in the one place on earth where ALL dogs are born. EVER. All dogs come from here. It must be so.

Finally we were able to get one small potential adoptee to settle down enough for me to attempt to hold her. I had her for almost 22 seconds.... when she decided she'd had enough of being calm and decided to freak out again.... leaving me with another round of pee all over me.

Yep. Peed on TWICE within about 5 minutes. And not just a little bit of pee, mind you. Think waterfalls of dog pee raining down. Who knew such a little dog had so much pee in there?

I had really only stayed past the first 60 seconds to be a good sport, and because these dogs really did need help and this couple did need help finding good homes for the dogs. So I wanted to give them some time to calm down and see if we couldn't pick a winner for me.

But after Pee #2, I finally had to say that this just wasn't going to work out for me and make my escape. I felt bad because I really wanted to help, but I don't think I would be the best help to take a dog that I would not be able to bond with because it would just pee on me and freak out all the time.

So, I apologized that I couldn't help and assured them to have no worries about the pee incidents. They are traumatized dogs and, well, pee happens. No biggie.

Sadly, my attempt to embrace change #2 didn't work out today. But... at least I know I was prepared for a little bundle of furry joy to come co-habitate with me in my ordered world, bringing a little disorder but more furriness. That's a good thing, right?

A dog will come. Preferably one that doesn't burn incense and pee on me so much.


P.S. And yes, I immediately showered and burned my shoes and clothes when I got home..... TWICE. One for each pee.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

No critters were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

It's been a recurring theme throughout the years while living in my house. Critters in my yard seem to have a death wish.

They get injured, some have died. Frogs, snakes, birds, a squirrel, maybe a bear. But let it be understood: I live here with no intent to harm critters of any kind.

It. Just. Happens.

This week has been a double whammy. Earlier this week, I apparently watered this sad little bird with the yard sprinklers for about 30 minutes before I noticed him.

He was completely water logged. At first I thought he was dead. But then I realized I had knocked him over the head with the water hose while moving the hose, which is when I figured I had probably watered him thoroughly. Unintentionally, of course.

So, not only had he fallen out of a nest that I couldn't find, I probably knocked him unconcious for awhile with the hose.

I proceeded NOT to water anymore until he moved out of the way. But, he didn't move. He just watched me. Was he drowning? I don't know. Are birds immobilized by excessive water? Again.... I don't know.

Then he began to hop. So, I figured this was a good sign. He hopped aimlessly for a few minutes. There really was no purpose or direction to his hop. I didn't know what to do. He hopped without meaning. I didn't understand. I talked to him, encouraged him to hop over to the neighbor's yard, or under the car, out of water's way.

He just hopped. Nowhere in particular.

It was getting dark, but I felt like I needed to stay with him and make sure he lived a long life. Maybe after he dried out for awhile, he'd be able to hop away to his bird family. I decided I needed to make up for all of the other lost critters over the years. I would not let this bird down.

But then I distinctly heard him squeak out a "mama" and he began to hop TOWARD me. So . . . rather than lead him on to a life of disappointment because he was abandoned by TWO mothers (the one who tossed him out of a nest, clearly before he was ready . . . and me - I mean, seriously . . . what would I do with a wild bird?), I bolted before he could get too attached.

I was hungry anyway.

Next morning, I found no sign of him . . . until I looked closer and found what I'm pretty sure was a tiny bird carcass near where I last saw him. Probably the result of a cat. And that would be the SECOND bird I've seen gotten by that cat since I've lived here.

The first one was a massacre . . . bird body parts and feathers everywhere . . .

Anyway, R.I.P. sad, tiny bird.

THEN, today. I finish weed-whacking the yard and I'm heading back to the garage when I notice what looks like a frog hanging out in an odd place in the middle of the grass.

It was, in fact, a frog. I picked it up so that I wouldn't MOW it (see? I mean well . . .), at which time I discovered that I had apparently already WEED-WHACKED it. He looked at me with sadness in his eyes.

The three bloody stumps that used to be his legs are probably why he was sad. And his blood was literally on my hands . . .

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? What are the odds that in my few years in this house, I would weed-whack not one but TWO frogs while doing routine yard work.

Flashbacks to the first frog a few years ago immediately came to mind. He and I had been friends. He hung out by my water spigot. And then one day . . . he decided to go on vacation near the air conditioner WITHOUT TELLING ME. It was there, by the a/c, that I saw the trail of blood. And my friend, the frog, was one leg short of all the legs he used to know and love.

We never spoke again. He survived. I would see him, dragging himself along with his three good legs . . . anger in his heart . . .

I have never gotten over it.

So . . . back to today's frog. I wasn't going to let this frog go the way of the other frog. And I wasn't going to lose two yard critters in one week.

I gently put him in a safe place where I would not mow him. I watched him. He watched me. My heart broke a little . . . maybe he was the son of my former frog friend? And now the same thing had happened to him.

I swear, I really love frogs. I mean them no harm.

I needed time to think. So, I finished mowing the front yard. I planned out that I would put him in a box or a container, rigged with a water dish that he could hop (or well . . . drag himself) around in. There would be rocks, some vegetation for shade. And I would put him in a place where he could still catch bugs for food. Although in case the bugs did not come to his frog habitat, I made plans to Google "what do frogs eat" later.

I would nurse him back to health and teach him how to live, love, and prosper with only one good leg and three stumps. It would be a beautiful story that I would someday write a book about, then sell the movie rights for a feature film in which Ellen Page would play me as the kindly, yet sarcastic girl who owns the house and tries to keep the yard critters from succeeding with their death wishes, then forms a special bond with a special frog and they grow old together, dying of old age . . . on the very same day so that neither one has to live a day without the other one.

I know, right? It's good.

All of this planning took 10 minutes (including the yard mowing). And after 10 minutes, I returned to where I had safely left the poor legless frog . . . AND HE WAS GONE.

I have to believe he is a survivor. That he was able to drag himself away, being brave, and protecting me from seeing him suffer anymore. He will nurse himself back to health and learn how to cope with three less legs than he had this morning.

One day he will come back to me, tell me that all is forgiven. That his life is richer because of overcoming this struggle and that he owes it all to my unfortunate tendency to weed-whack frogs.

Unintentionally, of course.

He will thank me, and then I will write the book . . . NO. WE will write the book, then sell the movie rights. Ellen Page will turn down another role to play me. And no less than 108 frogs will be used to play my very special frog, all of which will be rescued from unfortunate frog accidents that leave them but with one leg and three stumps, to be given a new life in the movie/stunt frog business.

It will be called Froggy and Me.

Oh yeah. I have a VERY vivid imagination.

Unintentionally, of course.


Monday, May 18, 2009

It's okay.....

I keep my bedroom behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment, too.

It's not a bunker. It's just a precaution . . .