Wednesday, December 31, 2014

That Amazingly Eventful Second Half

The usual yearly recap for ya.....

2014 was relatively quiet. Until July. My wife complained of nonstop abdominal pain one evening, resulting in a trip to the ER and an appendectomy the next morning.  Laproscopic surgery. Two night hospital stay. Went very well, praise the Lord. One of her nurses became a hearing aid patient of mine, by chance.

For a very fun Labor Day weekend, we travelled to Cincinnati to visit family. I'd never been. We took one trip downtown, by the Reds stadium and looked across the water at Kentucky, where I was told one can still smoke in restaurants. We also had dinner in an Italian joint owned by a bald Joisey guy who'd been featured on one of those "let's fix your failing restaurant" shows.  He slapped many patrons on the back and squinted for a second when my wife requested anchovies on the side of her chicken breast. We were mainly in the 'burbs, but our lone urban trek, as enjoyable as it was, revealed a certain unexplainable poignancy. Like its battered landscape wanted to sigh out many sad stories. Alexander Payne, you reading this?

At work, it was revealed that one physician would be striking out on his/her own at the dawn of the New Year.  As you may have read in previous entries, I am staying put.  After the official announcement, things got awkward in my hallowed halls.  As I write, those who were to depart have done so, so things are quieter. We'll see what happens next.

My mother continues her stagnancy in the rehab center.  There is nothing new to add, and it is painful to write this same thing year after year.  Prayers are appreciated.

Her mother, my grandmother, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15th. We are having the funeral on Jan. 2.  I will recount this somber event next month, all the while rejoicing that she lived a very long, fruitful life and is now with her Savior.

Late this year I got in touch with a childhood friend I hadn't communicated with in over thirty years. No, not on Facebook. Through a series of interesting twists I discovered that he works with one of my old college mates.  Mike lived down the street from me, and there were many days and nights of swimming, football on front lawns, KISS, AC/DC, Rush, cap guns, walkie talkies, Intellivision, a forbidden beer swig, and my first viewing (at his house) of THE SHINING, which scarred me for good. We were close, so when a misunderstanding ended our (and our mothers') friendships when I was thirteen it was fairly devastating. I moved just before high school, though only a few blocks away. Somehow, we never encountered each other. His mom did mend fences about seven or eight years later when she visited me at the drug store in which I toiled during college.  But I never saw my friend again. Until next month, when we'll meet for a very long overdue drink and what will certainly be a lot of catching up.  There will be an entry, count on it.

This Christmas was extra special as we traveled North to see my and my wife's extended families. We began in Queens, then to Merrick, Long Island, and on to northern Jersey (Waldwick, Chatham, etc.). It wasn't that cold, even reaching near 60 a few days. Got to wear my new pea coat.  Didn't get to break out that long underwear I finally bought. There was much celebration, food, laughter, and love.  I wish I could detail more, invisible audience.

But I can say that we hit Manhattan on two separate nights, the first of which climaxed at the Village Vanguard, an eighty year old jazz venue where Rollins and Monk often played. The place seats about 125, very intimate. We were very close to the stage, upon which there were about twenty guys, a weekly house band, creating some smokin' jams. Unfortunately, I missed the last five or so minutes of the set as I became very dizzy, nauseous, and sweaty and had to make my way over to the stairs leading out of the place. I even lost my vision for several seconds. That was frightening. The staff was concerned and obliged several glasses of water and a cold towel until I could stand again. I did not puke. What to blame?  Was it the multiple drinks of the evening (which began at a bar called Rattle & Hum) and/or the mammoth chicken and rice dish at that swell Asian spot called Momoya?

The second trip was on our final night, with visits to Zero Otto Nove, a fine Italian place with amazing wait staff, and around the corner from 21st, a dandy Belgian bar/restaurant called Markt. Yes, I had a brew, the Gulden Draaken.  I did not sample the bar bites, which included bone marrow, apparently a popular thing in the city these days. Prior to that, we visited Rockefeller Center to see the big tree. It was packed, but great fun. But at the end of the night we made the mistake of trying to get back to Jersey from Penn Station on the NJ Transit after the Ranger hockey game let out. THAT was a madhouse, the likes of which I don't believe I've seen before.  There were many drunk fans, but they weren't obnoxious. Our intended train was so crammed the conductors wouldn't let us aboard. Then there was confusion about which track the next train was to depart from - even the employees couldn't agree.  I got frustrated and we took a taxi to the Secaucus NJT station (about ten miles away) for the transfer home. 

BTW - Open containers are allowed on the NJT. This night, seems the party had gone full tilt; I accidentally kicked an empty Stella Artois bottle and a full can of PBR down the aisle.

Celebrity sightings? Rudy Giuliani was on the plane ride home.  First class, of course.  He looked happy. This year I also encountered Jimmy Buffet and even Donald Trump.  Again, can't elaborate.  Sorry.

So here we are at the close of another year. I've said this before: I may be composing this from another location a year from now.  This time, though, things seem to be pointing in that direction even moreso.  As always, stay tuned. 

May you have a richly blessed 2015!
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