Monday, November 19, 2012

Lending... aka "I'm never going to see that thing again".

Today I find myself making a list of items I have lent out to people that it would appear I am never going to see again.  For years I had a strict policy of not lending anything I owned to anyone ever.  And it would seem that I was right to do so.

What is it about people that makes them not return stuff?  Is it forgetfulness? Spite?  A subconscious need to take other people's toys that stems from childhood?  I couldn't tell you.  And don't think that I'm not guilty.  I totally am.  As I type this, I have a set of books that are not mine that are just gathering dust while I don't read them.  But turn about is fair play I suppose.  The people I borrowed them from have a set of my books that are no doubt doing the very same thing (Maybe, they are likely very much using those books at the moment).  It's a mutual thieving at this point and we both know where the other lives.  Hell,  they have a key to my house. They could come get their stuff any time, just as I could do the same.  But in that particular situation,  I trust that they are taking care of my stuff and would give it back to me should I simply ask.

However, there are others.  Others who begged me for the thing they borrowed and have had said thing for two years, maybe more.  These same others also no longer have a day to day relationship with me. I haven't seen them in months.   I've asked for my stuff back and haven't gotten it.  It is extremely frustrating.

But what can I do?  It is not as though I'm going to get a lawyer to make someone return a book.  I suppose I could start naming names and inventory and defaming them on Facebook,  but even this post feels a bit juvenile to me so I doubt I would go to that extreme.

So I suppose my only recourse would be to replace the items with new ones and tell myself that the things those people borrowed were not borrowed at all,  but gifts given in a sort of aggressive style on the part of the giftee.

I assume that everyone else on the planet has this issue.  Unless they are quite wise and a bit stingy and refuse to lend out their stuff.  Ever.  Which I think I will return to doing.

Some people would say "It's just stuff, it's not important",  but really it is more than that.  The act of ignoring a request to return someone's belongings denotes that you have no respect for that person and intend to just keep whatever it is you've borrowed.  Which, for all intents and purposes is theft.

So yeah,  that's my rant.

Gimmie back my stuff.

Except you people that I've mutually thieved with, you know who you are, you're cool.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Art of the Playlist.

I am somewhat of an audiophile.  I have a very large stash of music that moves me.  Now, that does not mean that I have all the hits of today.  Frankly, I'm a little disappointed in the vast majority of popular music these days.  I like complicated, intricate composition that makes goosebumps appear on my skin or tears to well up in my eyes the music is that good.  I feel like music should invoke an emotion when you hear it.  If Bieber does that for you, more power to you, but then this post is probably not something you'll understand.

Witty lyrics are a big thing for me.  Their lyrics made me an instant fan of Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco.

But what I really love is instrumental music.  About half of the music I own is either classical or movie scores.  It is the music in a movie or show that has a major hand in setting the tone.  I would love to have a feature where I could turn off the music in the background of any move so I could demonstrate this point.   I like that when I hear certain parts of music, my imagination just runs wild. It helps me tell stories. I am a storyteller after all, all be it, not a very successful one monetarily speaking.

The storyteller thing brings me to my quirks about playlists.  I am NOT a fan of the shuffle. Especially when it comes to movie scores.  They're in an order for a reason. Leave them that way.  When I find myself making a list that goes with a story in my head or a tabletop RPG I'm playing in or, on the rare occasion, running, you will find me sitting at Titan (my desktop), pouring through music I know will fit the genre.  Husband the Great gets it, but at the same time, does not understand how I can remember hundreds or pieces of music to know which ones will work and which ones won't.  It's as simple as: Truly wonderful music sticks with you. Stuff that gets my attention always gets filed away in the back of my brain.  I imagine this would be the mark of a good movie trailer producer.

Anyhow, here's how it works for me:

1. What genre are you going for?

There are some obvious ones like Star Wars where you already know there are plenty of songs for it.  But it all depends on the mood you're going for.  Something supposed to be scary?  Look for haunting music that would make you sorry to venture into a dark room alone.  Running a Superhero game? Go for the epic music full of horn section that makes you want to pose like superman.  Try and think of movies or tv shows that make you think of the genre and see if you can't hunt down the music from it. I do a lot of hunting. I've even gotten into finding the music from trailer production companies.

2. Get a nice large selection

If you only have about 10 songs on your playlist,  you will tire of it quickly.

3. Check for a good transition.

Once I've pulled all the music I think I'm going to use for the playlist,  I put them in an order I think will go well, will tell its own story, and then I hit play.  BUT,  I only listen to the first 15 seconds of the start song before I fast forward to the last 20 seconds or so and listen as it rolls on into the next song on the list.  If the transition is to jarring,  I do some rearranging.  This is the most time consuming part for me, and perhaps seems the most crazy to the outsider looking in.  I started doing this because more than once I would be listing to just a pile of songs I knew I liked and I would be working along on whatever I was writing or talking about and then BAM, the next song was so off from the last one that I would lose concentration.

4. Stay away from shuffle or random.

Again, this is a little bit of the jarring transition thing in number three, but it also speaks to the idea that no computer or mp3 player has figured out that random does not mean play the same ten songs out of the entire play list over and over again in a random order. Once I find the device that will actually shuffle the songs and not play the same song over until every other song on the list has been play, then I will finally use the shuffle button.*

That's really all I have to say on it.  And, this is all just my way of doing it.  You're not wrong for doing it your way, this is just my insight for having done it quite a bit.

Though, if you're just getting into movie/tv scores,  here are some of my favorite composers right now.

Bear McCreary - He composed everything for the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Human Target, The Walking Dead, The Cape, several video games, and I'm sure plenty of other stuff I can't think of.

Two Steps From Hell - They are a commercial music production company, they do a lot of the epic music you hear in movie trailers (fun little fact, most of the music you hear in the trailers for movies aren't actually in the movies at all). They only started selling to the public a few years ago, but they are amazing. You can find their stuff on

Hans Zimmer - Inception, the Nolan run of Batman movies, some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Danny Elfman - Excellent for anything haunting.  Batman and Batman Returns.  Just about anything Tim Burton puts his hands on.

John Williams - Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the first two Harry Potter films.  He's a master, however, he can be quite repetitive.

Alexandre Desplat - The final two Harry Potter films.

And there are many, many more. As I said, half my collection is instrumental.  Go forth and enjoy!

*I do use shuffle for my jukebox mixes. Like all 40's or 50's standards.  That's about the only time I find it useful and I generally only listen to those lists when I'm cleaning house.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Isolation and Frustration

So, roughly three months ago, I was laid off from my job.  This has lead to many interesting and not so interesting things.  In the interesting column: I've started college.  In the not-so-interesting: I don't go anywhere in an effort to spend less money.  I'm receiving unemployment,  but it is roughly $100 less a week than I was making.  Which means we can't afford the gas to two cars driving about all week doing things. And since Joe has the job that makes the money,  he gets to go places (mostly just work).

All this not going anywhere business is making me a little batty.  And cranky.  And a bit resentful of a great many things.  I know this means that I'm still fairly wound up about being laid off even though my reviews had  always been spectacular.  I mean, come on, if you're gonna pretend to lay people off by way of eliminating their position, they least you could do is let go the people who didn't do their job well.  Not to mention, you could wait a few months (not a few days) before listing my position on all the hiring sites.  If you were eliminating it, why would you be hiring for it?  A part of me thinks that I would have a solid case for wrongful termination.

And then, there's the valiant attempt at starting a business. Everyone who sees our stuff sure does like to look at it.  But that's about it.  I know none of this happens over night, and I keep telling myself just to keep at it. It's frustrating.  And other influences outside of the business aren't helping.  Like seeing work the equivalent of art projects I did in elementary school selling like hotcakes on Etsy.  Or a lack of support.  Or being talked down to by people who have no idea how to do what me and my partners are doing; as if they were experts.

I see slights where there are none.  And I'm sort of turning into a hermit.  Luckily, before I was laid off,  we paid for a Disney trip.  So, that will be nice.  I'm very much looking forward to it.  In the mean time,  I know I just need to keep breathing, and everything will be just fine.

Friday, June 8, 2012

No Wrong Choices?

So, a bit over a month ago,  I got laid off.  To which I posted a somewhat cynical view of the corporate world. In all honesty, that view has not at all changed.  It is a game I am playing to provide a good life for Husband the Great and myself.  But, as is true with any situation in your life; there are steps you can take to make it better.  There are good corporate situations.  There are ways to improve your life.  

After applying to handful of jobs,  I quickly came to the conclusion that no one's going to consider me for a decent job without a college degree. (Irony on this comes later).  So,  I do some research and decide to enroll at Western Governor's University for HR Management.  It's a work at my own pace sort of deal, which means,  if I'm jobless for six months, I'm confident that I can have my bachelor's degree by the end of those six months. I know that sounds a bit impossible, or that perhaps this school isn't on the up and up, but anyone who knows me knows that it is very possible and I made sure this place was accredited.  

As a result of this six month plan,  I had resigned myself to living on unemployment for the next six months and busting my ass to get this degree so I could get a better paying, more fulfilling job.  Queue the company that had just laid me off.  A friend of mine in a different division of said company handed my resume to her boss and  it resulted in an interview earlier this week.  The job sounds engaging, the money sounds like it's going to be right.  And I would have nothing to do with the boss that laid me off.  So,  while some might consider me insane for going back to this company a third time,  I feel like it would be wholly irresponsible of me NOT to take it if I get the offer.  But if I take the offer,  that's going to slow down my plan for school considerably.  

I don't want to bail on school again. But this job is the job I've been trying to maneuver into since day one at this company.  I'm going to have no life for the forseeable future,  but I'm oddly okay with that.  I guess I'm just a little terrified that while it seems like there's no way for me to make a wrong choice,  that I will somehow manage to do just that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Simple Concepts in an Overly Complicated World

I am not overly fond of talking on the touchy subjects like politics, religion, education, etc.  The reason for this is not that I don't have an opinion,  I assure you, I do.  The problem is,  I will debate an issue to the end of time if I have knowledge of the subject, and unfortunately the few times I have spoken up, it has cost me friends (and in one case a few family members).  I tend to not speak on things of which I have no information.  And I do that because I do not like to look the fool,  which is exactly what happens when one spits out whatever they want to win the day.  And, as one of my very good and extremely logical friends recently said, the art of a good debate is dying a painful death.  Name-calling used as smoke and mirrors is commonplace in any argument these days.

All that aside,  I have some thoughts.

I am not Christian.  I honestly couldn't tell you what I am.  I feel that the religious texts of the world (the Christian bible,  the Koran, the Torah, and so on) are not word for word true,  but more along the lines of Aesop's Fables; meant for guidance, not strict rules by which all should be judged.  I have wonderful friends who believe in God and put their faith in Him and I am happy that it makes them happy.  I also know that these same friends would feel the same for me.  As long as I'm happy, they're happy.  What I dislike are those that would hide their personal fears and hatred behind their religion.

Marriage. What a highly debated concept.  For me, it is incredibly simple.  You wanna be married?  Go right ahead.  Doesn't matter who you are.  Get married.  Two consenting adults should be allowed to get married.  No one's business but their own.  You know who stands to lose by letting anyone and everyone getting married to whomever they want? Insurance companies. Maybe.  Quiet a few will now allow you to claim a partner,  married or not.  Other than that,  no one gets hurt.  And if by some chance this good and caring God is actually offended by the thought of two men or two women getting married,  He'll handle it.  Not our job to regulate it.

Women's health choices.  Simple.  It's HER choice.  We are one appallingly small step away from Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale".  If you have not read it,  I recommend that you do.  Might give you an insight into the future of women's rights in the United States. Which scares the hell out of me.

College and Financial Aid.

First, a little history.  I do not have a degree.  It was my choice not to attend college directly after high school because I just knew that I would not go the distance.  A couple of years later,  I was accepted to University of New Orleans.  I even went to orientation.  However,  when I got home and did the FASFA application,  I was still young enough that my Mother's income counted and thus,  I qualified for nothing.  So,  I didn't go.  About a year after that,  I was old enough to be counted on my own and enrolled at ITT,  only discover after one semester that ITT is kind of a joke. (I literally missed half of my classes and still had a 4.0)  I did not return to ITT.   I still feel to this day that college is a bit of a racket.  Tuition prices are ridiculous, and the requirement credits to many degrees are needlessly packed with electives. Financial Aid is a bit of a joke, since they base your qualifications and need on previous year's taxes,  not a real time assessment of your family income (i.e. I was employed last year,  but currently I am not and without a degree it is unlikely I will be in the near future)  It all leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

That being said,  I'm being a total hypocrite and have applied to an online university.  I do this because even though I have over a decade of work experience, employers don't care.  They want to see a college degree on my resume.  They don't even care what it's in.  To me,  this is requiring college for all the wrong reasons.  One should go to college in search of higher learning.  College should produce doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers and true scholars; not masses of call center customer service reps only getting paid a few dollars an hour more than minimum wage.    If that's what we're turning college into,  might as well make it as required as high school.  You can attend a public college for no more than book rental fees or you can pay for a private one,  just like all the other levels of education.  But then we get into the mental ramifications of forcing people to remain students until 22 years old.  Though some might argue that the maturity level of an 18 year old ten years ago is likely the equivalent level of a 22 year old today.

So to review:
Marriage - Should be fair game for all
Women's Health - No one's business but her own
College and Financial Aid - Make it as available as public school since it is apparently becoming required for everyone.

Simple, right?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Corporate Loyalty.... and other Oxymoron.

It is absurdly early on a Monday morning.  No,  I am not up early to go to work.  I have not been to bed yet.  "Why, Toni, haven't you gone to bed on the eve of a Monday?" you ask.  The simple answer to that is:  Monday doesn't matter because I no longer have a job.

I'm not looking for sympathy. It was a rather downplayed affair for me really.  It was eleven-ish in the morning last Thursday when one of the supervisors came and asked me to come talk to them for a moment.  I stood,  thinking this was no big deal,  I'm always being pulled off to help for one thing or another.  But then,  as we're walking,  and she takes me to an office,  realization starts to sink in.  When she opened the door and I see not only my absentee Boss,  but my HR rep,  my fears were confirmed; I was being let go.

I was not the only one to be let go, there were several.  The official position was in the midst of restructure, my position was eliminated.

Before I go further,  let me state that this the second time this company has "eliminated my position".  I probably should have been smart and not come back to them in the first place.  At least the first time,  I had a couple of months notice that my job was going away and I had time to prepare.  That was not the case last Thursday.  I was,  for all it felt,  treated like a criminal.  While the HR guy detailed out the separation package,  another supervisor had brought my purse,  keys, and the backpack I had bought to occasionally take my work laptop home to just outside the office.  I was not allowed to go get the rest of my personal items from my desk.  I turned in my corporate credit card,  and I had to wait while they went back and retrieved my company cell phone from my desk.  I was then shown out of the building.

I can't tell you how pissed I was that I couldn't hold it together until they couldn't see me anymore.

My Absentee Boss said he would like for me to call him so he can talk to me about his decision.  My voice cracked as I told him it would be a few days before I would feel up to that.  They also told me that I can arrange a time to come get the rest of my things outside of business hours.  I understand the need to not cause an issue, but frankly,  I have more class than that.  You'd think after knowing me for nearly four years, they would have known that too.  I plan to go this evening to go get my stuff.

In all honesty.  I should have seen this coming.  The atmosphere bred high school behavior,  I wasn't popular in high school, and low and behold, I wasn't popular here.  For the last few months,  I've just been putting in my headphones and getting my job done and my hours in.  Any hope I had of getting the supervisory or project manager positions the Absentee Boss had been promising me all these years had actually dwindled away about a year ago.  I was miserable and angry that I was constantly asked to help others out, but was not allowed to ask for help myself.  Despite what it may seem, I have limits,  I know them,  and I am unafraid to ask for help.  I know the things I know because I asked someone to teach me.  I wasn't born with all this stuff in my head.

But.. I didn't predict that I would be pushed out the door before some others.  So, it kinda hit me hard.  For about 12 hours.  In that time, I drank tequila,  did a bit of crying, then took a shower and a nap.  Naps solve a lot for me, honestly.  It's like a mood reset for me.  After that first 12 hours, I decided it was a sign from the universe that I was wasting my time there.

Here are the things I would like to state for the record:

Nearly four years in one job was unheard of for me.  I was ready to go the long haul with this company.  So much so that I came back to them after being laid off once.  I will never put my loyalty or trust in another boss or company (that isn't my own) ever again.

Working hard means nothing in corporate land.  Neither does efficiency.  Neither does knowing your shit.  All that matters is that you know someone.  Or that you can socialize with the best of them.  Or you can have meltdowns of epic proportions so that they'll want to give you an easier time of it before you run screaming to HR.

Being dumb doesn't get you fired in corporate land.  That just gets you shuffled around until you're doing something so easy there's no way you can screw it up.  However, being smart doesn't get you anything but made fun of, ostracized,  and then shown the door.

I don't know about the rest of you,  but I don't go to work to make friends.  I go to work to work.  And I know all you corporate guys don't like to hear this,  but I go to work to get a paycheck.  I am NOT invested in the company.  I do NOT view the company as one big happy family.  I will NOT forsake my life  for the company.

I have some time to find a job that will support us and not drive me insane.  If I could,  I would forsake working for anyone else ever again.  But we are not quite financially ready for that.  In the meantime,  I'm going to write, make jewelry, sew,  finish all the little projects in my house, read the STACK of books that have been piling up over the years.  And once I have my belongings, I will not think on that job or those people ever again. They don't deserve my attention.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wait, What Was I Doing Again?

One of the reasons I don't write on here often is that I have too many ways to entertain myself away from the computer.  I have a day job (while not entertaining most of the time, quite time consuming).  I am working with several people to start a new business (very entertaining, but easily the second biggest time suck I have).  I have a pile books I want to read. I have at least three solid story ideas I'm tinkering on from time to time.  I have a DVR full of pretty good TV to catch up on.  We recently bought the first three seasons of The Clone Wars on blu-ray.  My cat(s) demanded my attention, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The business, while I will not normally bring it up here because that is not what this blog is for,  is getting going with a weird rhythm.  I wouldn't call it speed,  I wouldn't call it standing still.  But we're chugging along.  The ideas in my head are flying so fast I forget some of them before I can write them down.  I've drawn three new outfit designs.  I have a pile of jewelry projects lined up.  I wish I had the money to hire minions,  but we're not there yet.  Ah, the adventures of starting a small business.

On the funny side,  we have purchased one male mannequin and two french dress forms for display purposes.  We call the mannequin  No Face Charlie, I hope my average reader is smart enough to figure that one out.  And the dress forms are called the OohLaLa Girls.   There is also my mother's adjustable dress form which has been dubbed Madame Antoinette (I believe it is because we have padded it to my measurements.  No,  my name is not Antoinette.  It's just Toni.  Please refer back to my very first post about names). I'm not sure why I felt the need to name them,  but it is what it is and now I'm trying to think of ways to scare Husband the Great with them when he least expects it.

The stories are really exploding in my head. I've been plugging along on one that is sheer entertainment value because it takes place in someone else's well-established world.  But it was there and I wanted to write it, so there it is.  The other two,  I'm constantly writing little notes to myself about things that need to happen or bits of a character's past that no one other than myself (and in the case of one story my collaborator Megan of Who's the Minion Here? ) will ever know.

The bonus of being this busy is that I'm so creatively happy that it does not matter what happens at my Day Job.  Even that is going really well I think.  However, I've never been good at reading the corporate temperature,  so for all I know I could have no day job next week.

But while all this creativity is good,  it also gives me the attention span of a peanut.  Like just now,  I was typing this journal entry,  my cat meowed at me and I noticed an unfinished canvas in my studio closet that I started studying intensely for about five minutes while I decided what I needed to do to finish it and what I would do with it once it was done.  And I could be in the middle of making a pair of earrings and I will just stop and pick up a string of beads that have no purpose yet and start planning a purpose for them.  I have to get a bit more discipline if I'm going to get the amount of stuff done I want to get done.

However now is not the time.  Husband the Great will be home soon,  with food, and I will stop to eat that. I'm a big girl. Food wins. I'm not too proud to admit it. Oh wait, maybe if I had the same discipline for getting work done as I do for eating meals,  I would rule the world.  Yes. Eat more. Get discipline. Rule the World.  Now I just need Han Solo in carbonite. Someone make that happen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The End of an Era

As a fickle story teller, it occurred to me that when I actually get around to posting something to this blog, it should probably be something worth reading. I assume there's no need to go over the warning I gave in my very first post.... again.

My childhood was filled with going to my parents many activities.  This included, but was not limited to bowling, golfing,  family cook outs, poker games and Dad's bar band gigs (yes, in a bar,  it was a different time then and frankly,  it gave me a healthy appreciation for drinking in moderation).  Most of the time, these activities were with my dad's five siblings; Ronnie, Doug, Clovie (CJ), Tovie and Patsy.  There was a time in my life that I just assumed I was related to every new person I met.  All my friends were also my cousins.  I think the only ones that weren't were Twyla and the Batiato girls.  Every adult I knew had "Aunt" or "Uncle" before their name.  The Grow boys were infamous on the south side of Indianapolis.  Over the years they've owned a few different bars, all of them were Free Masons, it was odd to be cool in the 70's and 80's in Indy (setting aside the handicaps of it being the 70's, 80's and in Indy) and NOT know the Grow family.  My sister and I used to tell our school friends that they were the Indy Mafia.  They knew people, they had connections.

I see movies like Casino and mash it up with the bowling alley scenes of Pleasantville and somehow that's how I've always viewed the Grow side of family.  (Though I should note that if my Dad and Uncles were 'whacking' people,  I never heard about it nor saw any evidence.)  But I do have this great picture of the lot of them with Frank Sinatra (save Patsy),  signed by the man himself.

There were all kind of ladies' men as well.  For one,  my Dad was married five times, I am the youngest of seven siblings, only two of which are whole siblings, not half (My oldest half-brother, Richard, is two years younger than my mother).  Patsy I think is the only one who wasn't married multiple times.

Ronnie was the first of the bunch to pass away.  He was also the smallest.  I would show you a picture,  but I don't need to,  go google Notre Dame's mascot.  He looked exactly like that.  He's been gone since I was 11 or so,  unfortunately,  I remember very little of him at this point other than he liked to shove his bottom dentures out of his mouth to scare the crap out of us kids.  And his last wife, Betty,  I was not a big fan of and last I checked, she never put a tombstone on Ronnie's grave.

The next, and of course the most shocking for me,  was my dad, Harvey.  It was sudden and hit my sister and I like a ton of bricks.  My dad was like the PR guy of the Grow Boys.  Everybody loved him (even if they wouldn't stay married to him).  He was the one who organized the annual family reunion.  After he was gone,  I know it went on for at least one more year (because I actually attended), but who knows after that.

Here is where I lose contact with that side of the family.  By the time of my high school graduation (two years later),  not a one of them attended and only two even sent a card.  Sad to say, I'm the type of person who holds a grudge, and have fairly well done so over the years.

Dougie was next,  and arguably,  my favorite of my dad's siblings.  I went to his viewing and took my then boyfriend (now Husband the Great) with me.  This was the first time Joe had met this side of my family and all he could say was "These guys are humongous."  (Speaking of CJ and Tovie, which they were,  they were huge.  This is especially funny when you realize that the only family of mine that Joe has met is my mom's family and we're all fairly short save my sister, my cousin David, my Aunt Diane and cousin Danielle).  Dougie was simply hilarious,  very quick witted,  tall and lanky,  my sister and I were very close with Jessica and Brandy, his girls. (they might have been step-daughters, but I never really wondered nor cared, they'd been there for as long as I could remember and so it didn't matter).

Tovie went next,  and I'd heard nothing of it.  Tovie was just cool.  He'd spent some years as a body guard at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas,  was body guard for Sinatra (that's how they ended up with the picture) and when he was in town,  he was always nice to my and my sister.  I'm not even sure how he died.

Then Patsy,  which was only three or four months ago.  She was the glue that held the boys together.  She was a matriarch and her house was always one of my favorite places to visit. She had excellent taste and had this really cool rec room complete with a Ms. Pac Man arcade console.  I'm sorry I missed her funeral,  but I only found out about her death perhaps a month ago.

Then finally,  CJ.  CJ was the smooth-talker. He was the wheeler and dealer.  Growing up,  I was always sure he was working some sort of angle.  But that didn't stop him from being awesome.  As I said,  I'd pretty much lost touch with my dad's side of the family after he died.  But since my mom was still friends with some of the people they were all friends with,  we kept running into CJ over the last few years.  And I was simply shocked at the change in him.  It was good change.  It was the same kind of change my dad went through when he finally realized that my sister and I weren't going to just ignore him after he divorced my mom.  I was glad to see it.  I was glad his current and final wife Joyce was able to inspire that change in him.

 So, at his viewing yesterday,  I got to meet a cousin I never knew I had, as she was born after the last time we'd spent any real time at all with him.  The viewing was bittersweet, to say the least.  I saw people I haven't seen in fifteen years. And all we could talk about was how an era had ended now that all six siblings were gone.  I assume the five boys have the best bowling team of the afterlife now and Patsy will be there to keep them from getting kicked out.