Dreaming About The Love Of My Life

holding handsI fell in love last night. Again.

I couldn’t help it. There she was, sitting next to me, holding my hand, letting me touch her leg. She would look at me with those eyes, twinkling and perfect, her smile lighting up the darkness of my world. I forgot how things looked in the light until she came along. I forgot how things felt.

I had accepted a new job and my company was putting me up in a house. It was my first tour of the new place where I would hang my hat, and she was with me, exploring all the nooks and crannies of a home that felt like a mansion. I couldn’t have asked for more. I couldn’t have been any happier.

Her brothers were there with us — Why? I have no idea — but I didn’t care. She was there. That’s all that mattered.

We decided to take the dog for a walk — wait, I don’t have a dog; was it hers? — and together we left the house, walking hand in hand. I could almost feel both of our heartbeats through the clench of our fingers. This was love. I felt it. I knew it. I recognized it.

We met my new neighbor — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? — and he greeted me warmly and welcomed me to the neighborhood. I mentioned to her that the Governor seemed not just friendly, but quite Presidential. She agreed and flashed me that smile.

Across the street another couple walked with their dog and when the two canines caught a whiff of each other, they began their playful rough-housing. We smiled. They smiled.

None of us saw the car coming. It was silent, stealth-like, as it came up the street, a four-wheel missile ready to change everything. Before anybody could react, it ran over the other couple’s dog and continued up the road.

I raced after it, trying to get a license plate. I saw two numbers — 20? — but I couldn’t make out the rest.

As the car disappeared into the distance, I didn’t realize she had, as well.

I had let go of her hand.

I turned around and nobody was there.

Just like that, she was gone.

And I was alone. Again.

It wasn’t long after that I woke up and realized it had all been a dream; just another random thought pattern bouncing throughout the synapses of my brain.

I love it when I have such vivid dreams, almost as much as I hate it.

Despite the bizarre nature of everything going in my head, she felt real. The feelings felt so right, so pure and so true that I wanted her to be there when I woke up.

She wasn’t, of course. She never is.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I often have dreams so vivid and so real that I wake up thrown for a loop when I realize it all had been conjured up in the deepest back corners of my mind.

Every time she comes to me, she’s somebody different. Sometimes, she’s somebody I know. Other times she is somebody I once knew and I still miss tremendously.

Then there are other times when she’s a total stranger to me — at least to the me that wakes up, momentarily mourning my loss of her.

In the real world, the awake world, I have nobody there beside me and this is by choice. When I’m going through my day-to-day activities, I never reach one of those moments where I pause and say, “Gee, I wish I had somebody to share this with.” It just doesn’t happen. Maybe I did once, but that’s a long gone emotion, buried deep inside another person’s past.

When things die, they don’t come back. That’s a part of me that is gone.

Yet when she comes to me in my dreams, in whatever form she takes, I want her there more than anything in the world. She is my angel, she is my muse. She is all I have, even if it’s just a fleeting moment, ready to be snatched away from me when the real world jolts me awake.

There are times I wish I could just go back to sleep and see her again, but I know the world doesn’t work like that.

I know I fell in love in last night, but that it is over. It is gone.

I’m awake.

And, once again, I’m alone.

On This Prom Day, The Smiles Were Once Again Snatched Away From Us

Maren Sanchez shows off the dress she was going to wear to prom today.

Maren Sanchez shows off the dress she was going to wear to prom today.

The boy asked the girl to go to prom. She said no, so he slashed her throat.

It sounds like a terrible horror movie, one of those story lines that’s so ridiculous and asinine that it’s laughable. Who would believe it, except those who love such tales of horror and all the blood and the gore that goes with it?

But this wasn’t a movie. This was real life and real blood was spilled inside of the hallways of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn., on a Friday morning before school.

And 16-year-old Maren Sanchez is dead on a day that was meant to be so special.

It was the morning of her Junior Prom.

My God, what a world we’ve created.

Part of me wants to hop up on the proverbial soapbox and decry the violence that once again has invaded the once-safe sanctuary of our public schools. But why bother? What good is it going to do? We have proven as a collective society that we are failing miserably in all aspects of keeping things safe for our children. And nobody is going to do anything about it.

Not that anything could be done.

It’s the act of a madman, a despicable decision of cowardice by a boy who refused to hear the word, “No.”

The Connecticut Post, citing sources at the school, has reported Sanchez was stabbed in the neck because she wouldn’t go to prom with him.

Milford Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser said Sanchez “was very well respected and liked. Academically, she did extremely well. She was just a wonderful young woman.”

And now she is gone.

She went to school on the morning of her prom and now she’s dead. Her family is shattered. Her friends are heartbroken.

The rest of us are just numb because it’s happened again.

All it takes is a quick online search to find a Facebook group titled, “JLHS Prom Dresses – 2014.”

In one of the posted photos Maren stands outside a store’s dressing room, looking as pretty as can be in a long teal dress with green striping, a small smile on her face. In the comment that she posted alongside the photo she wrote, “Yay so excited.” A smiley-face emoticon was placed after the first three letters.

Nobody at JLHS is smiling today.

How can they?

How can any of us?

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Draft Day’ proves to be a middle round choice

MV5BMjAyOTMxMjA3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTMwNjQ4MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_If the movie “Draft Day” were an NFL draft pick, like the trio of players it builds its main storyline around, it would be lucky to be taken in the third or fourth round.

In other words, it’s good … but not great.

“Draft Day” is the story of Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (played by Kevin Costner) and the 12 hours leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. It weaves its main story around  three prospective picks — Bo Callahan, the consensus No. 1 pick and dream boat quarterback; Vontae Mack, the outstanding linebacker that nobody wants to build a team around; and Ray Jennings, the running back who had gotten himself into just enough trouble to have a red flag posted next to his name.

The question is, “Who will the Browns take in the NFL Draft?”

Right off the bat, Weaver is forced into a trade he doesn’t really want to make in order to get the No. 1 pick in the  entire draft. For the next 12 hours, he struggles with what decisions he needs to make, both professionally and personally. After all, he also has an at-work girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) who is pregnant, and he is dealing with the recent death of his dad, Sonny Weaver Sr., and a Draft Day visit from his mom and ex-wife.

In other words, Weaver is having a rough day, and being the GM of the lowly Cleveland Browns is just a part of it.

Costner, as Weaver, is … well, he’s Kevin Costner. That’s my beef with him. He’s the same person in every single movie he’s ever been and that’s what annoys me about him as an actor.

Marcus Summers (American Flyers), Bull Durham (Crash Davis), Ran Kinsella (Field of Dreams), or Roy McAvoy (Tin Cup)? They’re all Kevin Costner in a sports movie, just like Costner is Costner in all his non-sports movies, too.

Costner’s greatest acting role might have been Alex, the dead friend at the start of the classic movie, “The Big Chill.” While you might remember the film and the character, you probably don’t remember Costner’s performance, only because he ended up on the cutting room floor.

“Draft Day” is certainly adequately acted, though nobody will be making Oscar-night plans for this film.

Highlights include:

• Chadwick Bozeman as Mack. Bozeman is one of Hollywood’s hottest actors right now. He has been since bursting onto the scene in another sports movie, portraying Jackie Robinson in “42.” He’s also got a film coming out in which he channels his inner James Brown in “Get On Up.” He portrays all the emotions Mack goes through, capturing the highs and lows of a true draft day perfectly.

• Dennis Leary as Coach Penn, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach who is hired by the Browns. When Leary was first introduced on screen as the team’s coach, my believe-ability factor was way down. I just didn’t see him as a coach at all. Fireman, maybe. Coach? No go. By the end of the film, though, when Leary makes one final important phone call, you know it’s a coach calling a perspective player.

• Griffin Newman as Rick the Intern. You might wonder who the heck Griffin Newman is. I know I did. He’s primarily one of the supporting actors who supplies a bit of comic relief to the film, but he plays the part with such emotion that he becomes one of the characters who really jumps of the screen. After his computer is broken, Rick the Intern and Weaver have a nice moment that leaves you with a smile.

Again, all the actors are solid and decent — all middle round draft picks, if you will. Even Sean Combs — AKA rap star Puffy Daddy — is decent in his role as Bo Callahan’s agent.

The film is also full of cameos, mostly sports figures from the television world (Chris Berman and Jon Gruden from ESPN, Rich Eisen from the NFL Network, etc.) and some former NFL stars (James Brown, Bernie Kosar), and it does help bring an air of reality to the movie.

Parts of the movie were actually filmed during the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall, bringing an especially fluid feel to the tone down the stretch.

One other interesting aspect of the film was the rather unique way they filmed split screens during phone conversations between Weaver and his NFL counterparts throughout the league. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the technical jargon for the technique is called, but it was easy on the eyes.

The ending is rather predictable, but it’s an interesting journey on how Weaver gets to his final decision. And how he turns the tables on some of his earlier draft day decisions certainly lead to a Hollywood ending that won’t surprise anybody.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason why “Draft Day” was just good.

 

 

 

 

The People That We Know

This is the story of Ivan, Chuck and Donny; three people that I don’t really know, yet they’ve been a part of my life for the past six years.

Today, as of this writing, all three are in the hospital, battling different ailments in order to get on with their respective lives.

I know Ivan, Chuck and Donny because the three of them frequent the same deli that I do every morning. All three occasionally hang out in the coffee room, which is where I, more often than not, come across them multiple times a week.

They are regulars as am I and all of us are creatures of habit.

These three men are all so vastly different from each that it’s almost comical in the comparisons.

Ivan is the oldest of them all, pushing 90, in fact. A frail old man, he still has his quick wit, both personal (“I remember when God invented golf. I was there”) and perverted (“I still don’t any problem getting up in the morning” is one of his regular lines). He is always talking with a twinkle in his eye. He loves talking about what our town was like when he was younger and how much it has all changed around him. He’s a good guy and I enjoy seeing him. And, I’m always impressed with the fact that he still gets out to golf from time to time.

Chuck stands perhaps 6-foot-4 and weighs in at maybe 250 pounds or so. He’s a solid man. He’s in his 50s, perhaps the upper end of it, and he’s mostly bald, but a pretty good looking guy. He’s married to Annie, who is a sweetheart of a woman and she always says hello to me every morning. I don’t know Chuck very well at all, though. He doesn’t really talk to me, which is fine. As a voyeur of the world that happens around me, Chuck tends to come off as rather egotistical. I picture him being the star quarterback from yesteryear, the studly type who always felt he was holier than thou. I don’t dislike the man, but he’s never made an effort to talk to me the way Ivan does, so I’m usually indifferent to his presence. I do know he always calls Ivan “Irish” — though I have no clue where the nickname was coined from.

Donny is … well … different. He talks. And he talks. And he goes on and on. He never stops. I mean he just won’t shut up, no matter where I see him; if it’s at the deli, or on the sidewalk up the street. He’s friendly enough, but he’s obviously a bit dim-witted and just far too annoying to tolerate for very long. I feel bad saying that, but I don’t know how else to describe him. He talks so much and rubs so many people the wrong way that he will disappear from the deli at times just because he’ll push so far that people will tell him not to show up in the mornings. Chuck literally did that one day, threatening Donny to the point where nobody saw him for almost a month. Did I mention that he talks a lot? Donny’s mother died shortly after I moved to our town and I’d always see him out walking her dog around the neighborhood. Years later, I learned that the dog had died as well and Donny now lives in the house alone.

This morning, after making the daily two-block walk up the short little hill to the deli, I saw one of the regulars there, a man whose name I don’t even know, sitting against the window on a stool. I asked him if he was the first one there that day, or hanging around as the last straggler.

He shrugged and said he wasn’t sure.

Then he told me Ivan was in the hospital.

He didn’t know why, but at age 90, the reasons could be many, which is kind of scary when you think about it. We both agreed that we hoped he was OK and then it dawned on us that neither one knew his last name. Even if either one of us wanted to go visit him in the hospital, there was no way we could.

That’s when I learned that Chuck, too, was in the hospital for open heart surgery. Three of his valves were almost blocked, I was told. One was at 100 percent blockage, the other two between 50 and 75. He had scarring from a heart attack he never knew he had, as well. Chuck was a golfer and a skier and looked to be in great shape for his age. He was active, always out in his yard working on his property. Once again, the cover doesn’t really tell you the story of what’s going on inside, does it?

I felt bad hearing both stories, but I had my coffee filled and went up front to pay. Standing there by the cash register, Nelson, the deli owner, and I rehashed what I was just told.

That’s when I learned about Donny.

Nelson told me Donny had called him the day before and told him he was in the hospital, and he was OK, but was going to be kept there overnight. Donny never said why he was in the hospital, nor why he even called Nelson to tell him. With no mother and no dog, it became fairly obvious that Donny likely doesn’t have anybody so he had to tell somebody. So he called the place where he was a “regular” just to tell somebody that he was doing OK.

Three men, all of whom I know, yet I don’t really know at all.

I just hope they’re OK and I hope I get to see them soon, back in our little coffee room. I’ll shake Ivan’s hand again, maybe say hello to Chuck first instead of waiting on him to say hello to me. And maybe I’ll even tolerate Donny for another moment or two before I can’t take it anymore.

Get well soon, guys.