Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

Christ the Redeemer…and Gold Medal Winner!

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Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer

He rises 125 feet into the sky, arms outstretched, welcoming the world to the Rio Olympics.

But after standing up there on Corcovado for the past 85 years, watching all the glowing bodies swarming the sands below, Jesus decided to spend a few days on Ipanema beach, catching a few rays and going for a few practice swims.

Later on, at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, he got ready for the big event. Donning rather unique-looking bathing trunks, he stood on the 3-meter platform, tanned and buff.

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I captured this moment just before he bounced off the springboard, performing his signature move, a 4 ½ somersault pike with a twist, with a slight hover at the end.

Announcer #1: “Wow! Jesus really nailed it! I’ve never seen anything like it! It…it’s almost as if he was defying gravity.”

Announcer #2: “Or deifying gravity, as some would say.”

I managed to ask him a question at the end, as he slipped out of the pool.

“Your entry was otherworldly. How do you account for your extraordinary skills?”

“Well, I’d like to thank Father, for all my dad-given talents. Without his support, I’d probably still be a carpenter. I love ya, Dad!” And then he walked away beaming, as though a halo surrounded his hirsute visage.

Every morning, after my early walk with my dog Andi (will he soon have a female companion? More on that later) I go for a bike ride and end up at St. Annes church. There, in the quietude of trees and birdsong, I come to this statue of Christ. He resides atop a stairwell and this is where I begin a second work-out, to the consternation of rosary-beaded worriers below and a priest who drives by in his golf cart, wondering just what in tarnation this long-haired guy is doing, running up and down the stairs beneath the gaze of Christ.

There are 68 steps to the top, and I go up and down them five times, 680 steps in all. It’s quite a workout. And then I pedal home, past the worshippers sitting quietly in the outdoor pavilion, past the votive chapel where, for $5 you can light a large candle, and down the hill to home.

Christ, fresh from his victory, with gold medal around his neck, returned to the pedestal high on the hill.

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Trust me, you’ll just have to go there and see for yourself, to witness the brilliance of sunlight reflecting off his hard-earned medal.

 

 

 

 

 

Car Buying Made Simple…

If you go back to a recent post, I mentioned my surprise of owning a new car, courtesy of my lovely bride, who worked in tandem with a wonderful fellow named Dave Brown.

He is an auto advisor, and please do check out his site here, CUautoadvisor, a company he founded.

I recommend him and his services, as it provided both Julie and me a most pleasant, stress-free car buying experience.

Mr. Brown was courteous, professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and made the vehicle purchases a simple and seamless transaction.

Why bother to peck and hunt on line to search for your car when you can go to CUautoadvisor.com and chat with Dave or his associates about buying your next car.

It would be well worth your effort to talk to him. As you can see by the photos below, I remain a happy customer.

The photo on the left is us standing in front of Julie’s new car. At that point I had no idea she was working behind the scenes getting me a vehicle as well. The photo on the right is us standing in front of my 2012 Nissan Frontier. Notice the difference in my visage. She’s a beauty, isn’t she? And the truck’s not bad looking, either.

Make your next car buying experience enjoyable. Give Dave a call and know you are in good hands.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2016, All Rights Reserved.

A Therouxly good read…

My favorite author just released a new book, his tenth travel tome. I just picked it up from the local library and cannot wait to relish his words.

I wholly recommend any book by Paul Theroux, be it one of his travels or his fiction, it doesn’t matter. He IS that good.

The book in question is ‘Deep South’, all about spending four seasons in various parts of the southern United States. The jacket blurb alone welcomes the reader into Theroux’s special insights into the traveling world.

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A note on other fine books I have recently read and recommend:

Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, an astounding apocalyptic novel and spare in its prose. I am currently reading it for the 5th time, gleaning insights into his particular writing style, lean and tight. It helps me as I edit my own MS, an erotic dystopian love story set in the very near future. Reading McCarthy’s book makes one pause, to linger over his sentences, to embrace his choice of words.

Anything by Annie Proulx, another of my favorite authors. She has a writing style all her own, and her word play is astonishing. Just grab any book of hers off the shelf and immerse yourself in her world.

Any book by Russell Banks. I’ve read ‘Continental Drift’ and ‘Affliction’four times each, and his style and nuance never ceases to amaze, allowing me to pluck nuggets from his paragraphs.

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Getting back to Paul Theroux, though, do purchase or borrow a few of his books. From ‘Dark Star Safari’, to ‘The Lower River’, to ‘Hotel Honolulu’, all exceptional reads.

Please do let me know what authors you enjoy as well. One can never tire of reading worthy prose, and I am certainly open to welcome another author into my library.

Thank you.

 

Rendered Speechless…

Sometimes I have to travel more than thirty miles in my car, for my other part-time job. Usually I deign to take back roads as I’m never quite sure if my car will explode.

I had bought this car, a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am from a colleague at work, for $375. She had inherited a newer car and graciously allowed me to pay such a paltry sum for the vehicle. I was grateful to have it.

But soon a few problems became apparent; the car would suddenly red-line, the temperature gauge rocketing into the red zone, and it began to leak copious amounts of coolant. For some unfathomable reason, these two problems ‘sometimes’ presented themselves and other times, nothing. Perplexing to say the least.

So that was why I fretted whether it would simply disintegrate en route to wherever I was heading. In fact, the car was old enough that when I went shopping anywhere, I could remove the key while it was still running, get out, lock the door, and go shopping. Sometimes I’d go to several stores, performing the exact scenario. It consumed a lot of gas, but I didn’t want to chance the car venturing into the red zone after starting it

This went on for months, never quite sure what to expect when I turned the well-worn key. It became nerve-racking. Which brings me to the speechless part.

My wife, Julie, totaled her car, a Pontiac Torrent (maybe that’s why they don’t make Pontiacs any more) and needed a new car. She had been driving a rental but found a good deal on a Toyota Rav 4; 2011 with 64,000 miles. Not bad at all.

She opted to sign the papers herself and said that I did not have to go. Why didn’t I just stay home and write instead, she said? And that’s what I did.

Hours later she called me, saying that I needed to come in to sign a few papers, sorry that she had to bother me, especially when I was wary of my own quirky car. Reluctantly I drove to the dealership, parked my car—left it still running, mind you—and found Julie. We walked to her car, with the dealer in tow, and a wonderful man named Dave Brown, Julie’s ‘auto advisor’.

I looked at the Rav, impressed by it’s clean, sharp design. The dealer, Tomi, I think his name was, then turned to me and said, “And that is for you.” He was pointing at a sparkling white Nissan Frontier, a beautiful little pickup.

As any reasonably incredulous person would say I said, “What?!”

He replied, “It’s yours, here’s the keys.”

I was astonished, unbelieving. “Come on,” I said. “This is a joke, right?” Julie and Dave were laughing nearby. Tomi again said, “No joke. It’s yours. Take it for a ride.”

I looked from him to Julie to Dave and back at the Frontier. I was, indeed, rendered speechless. Julie had, for the past week or so, been dealing with Dave, not only for her car but to find me something that was safe and reliable.

I could not believe it. “How? What? How can we afford it?”

But Julie said she had worked out all the financing with Dave and yes, it was true, that that was to be my next vehicle.

I remained stunned, unmoving, astounded by this sudden, unexpected, wonderful gift.

“Happy birthday and Valentine’s,” she said.

I am a very lucky man. It was an incredible act of kindness and concern and love, and that is why I am truly married to the most amazing woman I have ever known. Besides having the gift of my Beloved, the Frontier was the second best gift I have ever received.

It has been two days now since we both have the newer cars parked in the back lot. I am still dumbfounded by the whole affair; her traveling for miles to different destinations, working in tandem with Mr. Brown to hammer out the details, all the while it was eating her up, finding it distasteful to keep this subterfuge in play. It worked. I was clueless

I remain speechless by the incredible selflessness of both Julie and Dave, the latter working tirelessly to put the deals together, for going above and beyond his duties, and presenting us with the best possible solution to our vexing transportation problems. I salute you, Mr. Brown!

I am still rendered speechless by the magnanimity of my Beloved, of her immensely beautiful heart, her love and support for me. I am one incredibly lucky man. Julie is…is a gift to me from the universe, a wonderful soul who gives me so much love, comfort, and happiness.

This is just one (albeit huge!) example of her generosity and genuine spirit.  For that am I exceedingly grateful and continue to marvel at my good fortune in life.

I am truly blessed to have Julie as my bride, to wake every morning with her by my side, and gaze into the visage of heaven.

Thank you so much, Julie. You are truly my Beloved, and I love you..infinitely.

©Paul Grignon, 2016, All Rights Reserved.

 

Gypped at Geno’s…

There comes a day of reckoning, when Karma presents itself in all its hindsight beauty to the recipient, when all who have screwed you over, or cheated you, or have taken advantage of you, manifests and brings justice to all the wrongs perpetrated.

May Karma at some point reveal itself to Geno’s.

My wife called me at work the other day. She had been in an accident. All the airbags went off and, as she sat there, bewildered and in a daze, some kind Samaritan yanked open her passenger side door and said, “Jesus, Lady! You have to get out! You can’t breathe in that dust!”

Luckily my wife was able to exit the crumpled car. The police soon came, and her car was towed to Geno’s. And this is where one hopes Karma will eventually pay a visit to Chicopee.

I immediately left work, took the Pike to the Chicopee exit, picked up my wife where she worked, and traveled back to our house. She complained of chest pains, from the full frontal assault of the airbag, and she applied an ice pack to alleviate the pain. I was relieved to know that that was the only pain she had suffered in the accident.

I then called Triple A (if you do not have the premium service, I recommend it. It is well worth the money) and told them of the situation. Unfortunately, they could not transport her vehicle to the auto shop we chose until we drove back out to Chicopee, signed a few release papers, and paid a preposterous some of money for said privileges.

$276.21 to be exact. I was flabbergasted.

“How can it cost so much to have our car taken out of your business?” I inquired, immediately perturbed and flummoxed by such a sum.

“Well, for towing it was $90. And then there’s the $1.70 per mile charge. We also have a clean-up fee of such-and-such, and then to release the car from our yard for Triple A is another $75.00,” the woman said on the phone. (They do not allow AAA to take the car from the yard; for the $75, they have a driver take it out onto the street, where AAA can then deal with it.)

I responded, “How can you possibly justify such expenses? It’s absolutely ludicrous! How about I just pay you the towing fee of $90 and call it even?”

“I’m sorry, sir. You’ll have to come here and sign the papers and pay the full amount.”

Two hundred and seventy-six dollars and twenty-one cents. Ridiculous! For what? So the police could get a cut of the money, for hiring Geno’s to tow the car to their garage? For $35 a day for storage…for sitting in their lot and, if we didn’t arrive before 2:30pm, they would tack on another $35!

Needless to say, I was irate. No, I was livid. It was nothing more than sheer thievery; towing, storage, clean-up fees (What is that, anyway? My wife told me the Good Samaritan cleaned up the debris from the accident), fluid disposal…and the ridiculous list went on.

We drove down there, paid the extortion, and waited for AAA. In the meantime, my wife asked if I could see the car, to witness the damage. The woman behind the plexiglass informed us that we would have to wait for Triple A, that it was in the yard. She basically treated my wife as though she were a criminal. There were no comments of “Geez, I hope you’re okay,” or “Are you all right? That must have been a bad accident!” No, nothing of that ilk. Strictly business. Pay up, or no release of your car.

Triple A arrived and Walter, the driver, was exceedingly polite and concerned. He bid us safe travels and wished my wife good health, comments far removed from the employees of Geno’s. There only concern was that our credit card went through.

My wife took the day off to recuperate. Her chest still hurts, and her doctor told her to rest, that she probably had a bruised sternum. I sit here composing this post, as my wife fitfully slumbers, and ponder the nature of such people, such businesses that feel the need to wring wallets dry of citizens, tacking on unfathomable fees, all to pad the almighty goddamn bottom line.

I try, on a daily basis, to embrace the wisdom and beauty of Buddhism. Yet when something like this enters your life, when your Beloved is hurt and is shaken from such an ordeal, when you actually witness the devastation of such an accident, you have to wonder about the callousness of such business entities.

It was the epitome of insult to injury—quite literally.

May Karma, in all its infinite guises, pay a quiet yet profound visit to Geno’s.

Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing more than a mere triviality. But no one—no one— should have to suffer such injustices.

 

©Paul Grignon, 2016, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Eliminating Isolation…

Yeah, it has been a while since last I posted something. No excuses, though. There never are excuses when it comes to your passions. Mine? Writing and painting. Have I done a ton of either over the past four months? That would be a resounding No.

Why? No time? Too busy? Caught up in other things? All utter codswallop. What I have been doing, though, is wasting time doing…nothing. I have allowed the Big Suck of inertia to rest comfortably on my heavy shoulders, a presence foul with indecision and fetid whispers, draining my creative juices into the putrid cesspool of procrastination and fear.

But recently I joined this site. It’s a beginning. It has given me a foothold into the sphere of writing once again. Please do stop by this site and say hi to Marcy and all the other fine writers out there. It’s not too late to add your own unique approach to these exercises.

And as such, this has allowed me to slowly eliminate my self-imposed exile and isolation. My fingers have begun to thaw, and once again am I pecking at those white-lettered keys, composing passages here and there, and I have returned to my fledgling novel, one that has sat tucked away, mouldering in a folder on my lapop, patiently waiting for me to open it up and finish my first book.

In the aforementioned site, the challenges speak of welcoming Fear, not to conquer or vanquish it but to realize it exists, that it will always reside near you, within you, waiting to see what you will do with it.

Will you allow the negativity to flow freely, stunting your writing, relegating your hapless soul into a quivering mass of indecision, or will you welcome it as a friend, to keep it close and quiet, where as you begin to write, more and more, it will behave and sit silent. But know that it will always search for a chink, a way back in.

Fear (isolation) is synonymous with the great wide and wild Unknown, the vast landscape of uncertainty, where nothing more than a daunting white rectangle and a nagging cursor stares back at you. The fear with the unknown is like some malformed ragged beast, haunting the periphery, lurking in dark shadows, waiting for the chance to pounce and shred your Muse.

But, to paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert from her fine new book, Big Magic, if we do not embrace such thoughts, such stories, such welcome ideas into our head they will, eventually, disappear and seek refuge in someone elses cerebellum, where those ideas–your ideas!–will be fashioned into prose.

Do not allow that to happen. Nay, best to treat your fear as your friend. Only then will the hesitation blues pass on by.

If you, like me, have recently suffered from isolation, of self-distrust in your abilities, go join a writing site. Or an artists site. Or musicians group. Eliminating isolation and self-doubt will allow you to plunge your spirit, your artistic Muse, back into all that you find passionate.

I am working on it. I have composed this post. It has been a while, yes, but damn does it feel good writing once again!

And as soon as I let you go with these last few words, I will go back to my desktop, open that folder and begin anew with editing my work in progress.

My parting words and advice?

Just sit tight…and write.

Take care, and thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Copyright, 2016, Paul Grignon, all rights reserved.