Tag Archive: nostalgia

From the hearts

Today has been a non-stop ride. Both figuratively and literally. This post is going to try in vain to not be entirely stream of consciousness as it was the result of a series of realizations. The realization was the result of what was a split second of panic that lasted about 10 minutes.

Today I am flying from Pittsburgh to San Jose. Tomorrow I visit “[NICKNAME]”, “[NICKNAME]”, “[NICKNAME]”, “[OLD-NICKNAME]. I am traveling to [REDACTED]. Before you wonder if I’ve already said too much…[REDACTED]. However, that’s all I’m saying about that. The trip however, is one of those trips you only get when trying to get the cheapest flight on short notice. This is a THREE leg flight. I started in Pgh, Flew to DC. Had a 3 hour layover. Discovered my flight from DC to Phoenix would be late. And then knew I had a VERY SHORT change between Phoenix and San Jose. As it turned out; the way things were supposed to play out was that I would be landing at A2 in Phoenix. Would have 20 minutes to get to A28, which was one terminal corridor over. It wouldn’t be fun; but I’d make it.

The DC-Phoenix flight was the long leg. 4hrs. At first my single serving friend was a mid to late 20’s woman named Justine. She was interviewing in DC and had flown out yesterday from SF and was flying back today. And I thought my 3 day flight was bad. We commented that she had the window, I had the aisle and maybe we’d luck out. Justine and I chatted a little. i’m an extravert; she was very nice and I hate spending 4 hrs staring at an iDevice. The Chris arrived. Chris was a 25 yr old Korean grad student. T-Shirt, Jeans, Sandals. I commented to Justine that inevitably someone would have to come between us. You can fly 10-15 times. A Single-Serving-Friend like Chris is about 1 in 100. There was endless talking, accidental footsies only one or two awkward moments. (I was 18 when she was born, and my limit is 28) But she was great fun to kill 4 hrs with and I hope to chat again at sometime.

4 hours later… It was obvious my delayed flight was not making up time. I set a timer for 10 minutes before the flight time. That’s when US Airways closes the door unless there’s been an actual delay. We hit the tarmac with 12 minutes on my timer. I checked my flight tracker. We were pulling into gate A29 not A2. Hey that’s the next gate over! Yay. And my flight… has been.. moved… to … B28. Picture 4 equally spaced columns. Each of those is a terminal hallway. Picture a line connecting the base of those columns and each column is one column height apart. I now had to run down the length of column 1, across to column 4 and up its length. I had 7 minutes to do this. I pushed thru first class saying, “Sorry, 6 minute connection far end of the airport.” One guy in 1st class blocked my exit and said, “So, what?” I pushed by him saying, “Really?” and then “You know first class isn’t supposed to turn you into an asshole” and started my run.

I am out of shape. I will be honest about this. I think I could stand to lose 50#. In my graduate school years (circa age 25) I was 141 pounds. (Not healthy).. nearly 20 years later I am 240. That’s about 5 pounds a year of not fit. I often feel like the shame of my company. We work in fitness and I look like I don’t even use the product. (Mind you.. I do. Just not as well as I could)… in the airport…Yes.. there was moving walkways. I had several out of breath conversations with them. The gate staff where I got off my late flight tried to call ahead to the gate staff at my departing flight. I hit B16 (The last column) and heard that my flight had been moved… to B-24. Okay… 1/4 corridor closer. A 43 year old, nigh 250# man, with a backpack and a CPAP running up a hallway. At B18 I heard. Flight 285 for San Jose, Gate B24 – Final Boarding call” My timer clicked off and played the “Amen Break” I asked a worker if he could run and tell them I was coming and he just sort of looked at me and walked on. I hit B20 and stopped. In probably my strongest Radio voice (which was amazing considering the wheezing by this point) I boomed, “Attention: B24, Passenger currently running at B20, HOLD THE DOOR.” The looks from everyone at the B20 Gordon Biersch will be long remembered. 5 minutes after the doors should have been closed. I was on the jetway.

I felt like I was going to die. My legs were on fire. Every breath was pained. I was dizzy and stumbling in the jetway. I think my knees almost buckled once. The Flight attendant looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” I looked at him and honestly said, “No” He made me stay at the front of the plane while he got me water. He said, “We really don’t want you passing out.” I said, “Too much paperwork.” He said, “No, I really would hate to see someone pass out.” They helped me to my seat. I was so shaky that I spilled some of my water on the nice English woman in the seat in front of me and her iPad. She was very gracious. (We’re English. That’s what we do) The other flight attendant brought me a wet paper town and a dry one. I just sat there trying to get my breath.

The occasional uncomfortable cough, the tightness of the lungs. The legs wanting to be removed. I logged in long enough to tell the universe I made the flight and comment that I wanted to die. (Figurative) There was a message from the person I know in Phoenix who I’d put a “If I don’t make my flight can you help” message out to. She wasn’t going to be able to help. Fortunately, I didn’t need to call on her. My mind swam around that. I really thought about this person and our history. How our lives had been, the friendship/relationship we’d had. The way our lives drifted apart. I found myself really missing her as a friend in my life. I hope at some point I can sit down even by phone and just have a good long talk with her. I hope that time and some of the unfortunate things that have happened in our past have not ruined what was a great friendship.

I gasped some more thinking about the things I would change in my history. Not necessarily with this friend but in general. I got myself thinking about the idea of one phone call that could completely change my life. And that was easy. Calling my dad in 1973. He’d left the army, was a prominent doctor at a hospital, clinic, prison, and private practice. If I could call him and tell him everything he would lose within 5 years when he’d have a stroke before the age of 40. Everything he’d worked for would be lost. Entirely. I thought about telling him how I was his 5 yr old son, calling from the future. Telling him how he’d never be able to play the banjo again, or do card and coin magic. How his job and license would be lost. Because he didn’t prepare. He didn’t think ahead.

And the more I thought about change. The more a voice said to me… what would you change? And I saw my family. The people I see everyday now. I thought of my wife who I love more every day. I thought of my girlfriend who I care for more deeply than I’ve been able to show of late. Several long and short term lovers around the country. Being Poly (in my mind) means you don’t just kick feelings away. I realize that I still love the people I’ve loved; Even the unrequited ones who never loved me back. They are my feelings and they don’t lessen just because you don’t reciprocate. I just don’t act on them. It doesn’t make me love the people close to me any less. And there was one person who stood above the rest. The only person of my own gender that I’ve ever truly loved.

My five year old. Aiden. He drives me insane, He makes me laugh, He makes me want to put my head thru a wall. He makes me proud. He makes me feel like I’ve already failed as a father and I’ve screwed him up for life. And I would not change one bad moment in my history at all if it had any chance of undoing the cosmic miracle that my wife and I created by making him.

I was still on the imaginary time-traveling phone with my father when the voice changed. It wasn’t me saying Dad anymore. It was Aiden. “All these things you’re saying to him. It’s me. I’m saying them to you. Don’t make the same mistake. There’s still time.” I was still trying to catch my breath. I’m sitting here contemplating my history, my future, and I’m feeling like I’m looking at my life. “I am not dying.” I don’t want to die. I don’t want to get sick. I want to be healthy. I want to see my great-grandchildren the same way my wife’s grandmother has.

I’ve had this thought many times. I have to get healthy. I got a membership to a gym about 7 months ago. Which I have yet to actually go to. I try exercises in the morning for a day or two about once every year and a half. I need to make it right. I have no clue how. I haven’t had a lot of success trying. But I can’t keep living like this waiting to get to unhealthy that it is too late. I choose to believe that my future-Aiden’s voice in my head is right and it ‘s not too late.

I have been touched by so many lives. I hope to have touched many lives (hopefully it was a good touch)…

I made my flight. I want to make my life again.

The best words in a film from the past 5 years are from “Wall-E”

“I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”

Dedicated to (In order)
My wonderful “K” and my loving partner Heather and the most important thing in the world to me: Aiden.

Andrei Greg and his two closest friends from grade school

Not quite 6 years; yet change is a constant.

On October 7th, 2010, I will celebrate an anniversary. Tangentially, it is related to my most amazing and loving wife with whom I share the dubious and Facebook-foisted dishonour of being labeled merely as “In an open relationship with.” I call it a dishonour because it’s not accurate. I’m assuredly married. If anyone were to try to mess with my marriage to Heather I’d assuredly take great offense. I don’t think open relationship is accurate either despite the fact that we are theoretically poly. I use the term theoretically because while we are in practice polyamourous and have carried on secondary relationships beyond our marriage, raising a child really does not give you much of a chance to date or form relationships. (I do not know how single parents do it!)

But as I said, this anniversary is only tangentially related to my wife and actually started 3, 5, 15, 43 years earlier. The anniversary is that on Oct 7, 2004. The California State Court issued my official decree of name change. This was the day that I laid Greg A. Tapolow to rest. Or so I thought at the time. Over the past year there have been some very interesting changes that once again cause me to look on the decisions and changes I’ve been through. And dear reader, less you panic, I have no intentions of changing it again… or back. Though as they say, “Never say never.”

The post was actually inspired by a letter I received this evening (of the writing of this post) from someone I knew briefly but not well in High School. “The marvels of Facebook.” People over 35 are no longer afraid of computers and everyone can find almost everyone. Everyone, of course, except for the one of two individualists who wish to hold out from the revolution much like Knox Overstreet merely to prove a point or by those who wish to blame Facebook for the loss of privacy that was in fact stolen away decades if not centuries ago. But I digress.

No really, a quick digression: I couldn’t remember the name of the character so I went to IMDB. There was a huge article on the casting of Carol Burnett in a show I really enjoy (Glee) and one thing led to another, and 45 minutes later and several web searches later, I closed my browser, saw this post and thought… Oh yeah… That’s why I opened a browser… Damned net. End digressions.

The E-mail talked to me about change and the estrangement from family; both of which I know all too well. Normally, when someone asks about my name change I have a simple link on LiveJournal that I send to him or her. (Ahh, LiveJournal… Remember when… No, no… not going there.) However, first I read over the 6-7 year old posts. This time they read very much as an incomplete book; it reads more like the early chapters alone. I suppose the change over the last year has definitely affected my views. At this point, I strongly suggest that if you haven’t read this link that you do so before continuing. Note: It reads best if you do so from the bottom post up to the top post.

Until about 6-9 months ago. Greg was a remnant to be discarded. He was someone that I paid lip service to as being my foundation but me being a changed person different from him. Up until 6-9 months I couldn’t or more properly wouldn’t speak his name. For a long time it was mental discipline. Thinking as an Andrei. Not thinking as an ex-Greg. I remember this time very much as I went through my own personal Liber Jugorum. Cursing myself everytime I turned and looked when someone called the name ‘Greg.’ Personally, I think the mental discipline can be done without self-mutilation.

I’m saying 6-9 months because there was a weekend where much changed in my life. It was very Dickensesque. In one weekend, my wife suffered her worst migraine, writhed in pain a lot, got introduced to the wonder that is vicodin and then I was contacted by my best friend from elementary school. And that weekend happened about a year in advance of the change 6-9 months ago. That however opened the floodgates.

I changed from Greg to Andrei to escape a very painful time in my memory. My father had a stroke when I was 11 years old. From that point forwards things in my household were never quite right again. For 11 years I’d been raised to be a spoiled rich kid with manners. I was the son of a prominent doctor in a small sub-suburb of Philadelphia. For the next 11 years things didn’t go as well. I would explain to folks that I’d spent a good bit of my late 20s and early 30s fixing the damage that had been done.

But what I failed to consider was those first 11 years. “Greg” to me had come to symbolise the damage of a decade or so and the repair that followed. It was also the closest thing. I’d moved to the West Coast, changed my name, and abandoned my estranged family (which for sanity reasons, has been an amazingly correct choice). I grew up. I felt I’d become a better person. But there was still the Greg who led a fairly well adjusted life as a child. And one person had called me on it.

My friend had found me on FB through a posting I made to a group for our rather small and private elementary school. He looked at the picture and instantly recognised me. For about 3 months there was a rush of enthusiasm to contact as many of the old group as possible. (I believe there’s got to be a slang term or sniglet for this phase) Over this time, I was reminded of who I was close to, who I didn’t know as well or specifically didn’t like. And of course the girl I (foolishly) adored who made my life miserable. There was also the girl that had I not been thick, would have realised from day one was absolutely the coolest person ever and potentially ended up dating her. (Too many stories there… long one short… she’s the one I got to see most recently and I’m thrilled to have her back in my life as a friend after 25 years)

These people knew a Greg that was a good person; a person who was taught to honestly say please and thank-you by age 4. By 4 I could read, spell, write very sloppily, and do simple math. (My son at three has far better penmanship than I ever will) So what was the magickal thing that happened within the last 12 months? Well, I think it was the last 12 months. I can’t for the life of me find a blog post on the topic. I really thought I wrote about it. Well… here it is.

With a wife living in Chronic Pain, A toddler, and a major layoff in 2009. (Eventually 2)… I was under a little bit of stress. Even before the layoff there was stress. I had a little bit of a crumble during this time and decided it was time to go back for counseling. Ironically the counseling started the Monday after the weekend of the migraine, vicodin, and FB contact.

Through most of my sessions, my name really never came up. Then at one point we talked about it. I inferred the name, I dodged the name, but in short, I refused to say the name and there was no good reason not to. I told her my full name. It was the first time I think I’d said the name aloud in about 8 years. (I could name the last time I’d said it aloud, but if I told you why, I’d have to kill you 😉 It was admittedly the death of me to do so.) It was odd saying the name. It was even odder talking not merely about Greg as another person, but taking the good parts of him back into me. The analyst suggest that I have a chat with Greg and find out what he’s been up to and how he feels about the whole thing. (Ah, just what I need Dissociative Identity Disorder… which some might say I already have)

I went home. Heather asked me how my session went. I looked at her and told her we’d been chatting about “Greg Tapolow.” Her jaw dropped. She’d never heard me speak the name in our entire relationship. It was a positive thing. It was the start of a new phase of my life. This phase, however, would ironically put me back in the den of the worst years of my life (early 20s) back in Pittsburgh.

Recently, I’ve taken more steps to … I guess the term would be ‘integrate.’ My FB profile now lists my “Maiden Name” (I really hate that term) I also especially hate government forms that ask for my wife’s maiden name but refuse mine. “Do you need mine?” No. “Well, why do you need hers?” Also, I’ve finally acquiesced to putting my birth name into my genealogy software. Users are supposed to be listed by their birth names (Which is REALLY going to piss of my cousins who changed their names when they were kids)

So now I talk about Greg. I’m still Andrei and really not planning a return. I will still correct people who call me Greg. I will still slack people who’ve known me since way before my marriage. It is however an interesting feeling to look back at the change I created and the motivation behind it. And how that’s changed from its original change.

I suppose no story is ever really complete until the last page.

P.S. Caleb – Does that answer your question or just create more? Feel free to send a friend request through FB for more chat.

I got this video from a link on one of my news feeds (not where I originally posted)

It took me a few minutes to find it on YouTube. Then about 30-45 to caption it for people.

A shot of impressive Nostalgia. And an admission by the Fonz that he was Wr – r – r

Yesterday, I mentioned news that a gentleman I respected had passed. The full details have now been posted.

Saturday I made a post concerning coming to terms the changes and evolution of Sesame Street by using the Kübler-Ross stages of grief.

The post was spawned on after getting to a point where you can only see the sardonic and subversive, politically incorrect humour potential in the show. That comprised the second half of the post. I note that it was the second half of the post because the first half of the post got posted to LJ’s metaquotes

As of this posting it now has 212 comments. Making it the 3rd most popular thread of the month.

Granted most of the thread is (as Robin Williams put it so well in “Dead Poet’s Society”) a trip down ‘Amnesia Lane’

Nostalgia is running rampant on the threads discussing what sections and pieces of Sesame Street that they miss the most.

I am so happily amused at this. When I tuned into Sesame Street in my early 20s (let’s say late 80’s into the early 90’s) it felt NOTHING like the show I’d grown up on. I hated it. Grover had been replaced with Elmo (who so sorely needed to die), Kermit and Ernie were gone. The show just felt wrong.

Now the beauty right now is not just seeing the number of posts on the metaquote thread who happily support my views. What makes me giddy is the number of them from people who are currently about 24-28. Let’s do the math. 24 years ago is 1984. Peak age for Sesame Street is 4-8.. So that’d be about 1988-1992.

That’s right.. the people who absolute agree with me today about how much the show isn’t Sesame Street (and let me tell you I’ve had two declarations of love for me for my post)… are making their judgement based on the airings of the show that were not my Sesame Street.

It’s amazing to contemplate that the importance of my post wasn’t so much the anathema and anger towards the changes but towards the path to accepting why the show must inevitably change and it’s okay.

Well, not that I mind becoming the target of affection for disliking the show at one time.

At Least Doctor Who has been improving with age 🙂