Sunday, January 17, 2016

A man called Christopher Todd

Yes, that's his name.  Yes, this is a true story.  I wonder where to start with this story.  I guess I'm going to have to start with myself.  Most people think I'm an extrovert but I really am an introvert.  I do not like meeting new people very much.  I don't mind it, but it takes me time to warm up to a person. I would need to have done my personal research (either by observation or by getting more information about the person) before I am comfortable meeting them. I'm pretty private, or at least, I try to be.  It's hard to explain.  I guess, I like to reveal myself by my terms.  I need time.

Anyway, when I was going out with my future husband, Brad, he would talk about his best friend from high school - Christopher.  It was Chris this or Chris that.  I listened, but kinda listened, if you get my drift.  Well, then one day, Brad says to me, "Christopher is in town."  See, Chris lives in the Keys, in Florida.  So, I guess he made his way up to see his family who still lives in the St. Louis area.  Brad wanted to spend some time with Chris and I said, "Sure!  No problem.  Of course.  Go hang out."  That would have been great except the next thing Brad says is, "You should come!  I want you to meet Chris!"  At this point, I'm panicking and shaking my head, no!  "I'm scared!  I don't want to meet him!  You go!"  Brad says, "Christopher?  You are scared of Christopher?  He's my best friend and he's really nice.  He will love you.  It'll be fine."  I'm still hesitating on the fence and wasn't sure what to say.  What should have I said?  "I need time to investigate him?"  What?  I didn't know.  I don't remember, but I told Brad that I would meet the two of them a bit later.  After they had gotten to hang out a bit.  I might have had something to do or made up something to do.

So, Chris and Brad are hanging out at the Barnes and Noble and I'm trepidatious.  I got to the mall and called and apparently they were just hanging out there and I had to go and look for them.  I told Brad I had to use the rest room so I'll be there soon.  Well, as luck would have it I had to use the rest room in Barnes and Noble because the other rest room was out of the way.  So, I enter B&N, made a quick scan around the room and dash into the rest room before I am seen by Brad.  When I get out of the rest room, I'm in a semi-good spot to observe.  I look around slowly coming in, trying to duck and hide behind shelves.  I'm in a corner and I see Brad, looking for me and he's looking towards the door.   I'm looking for his friend to evaluate from a distance. When Brad looked away, I would step closer to another shelf and another position.  I needed, a few more minutes, but as I stepped to the next spot when I thought Brad was not looking, Brad turned around, saw me and waved.  Oh the heart break!  No.  I couldn't hide for longer.  Now I had to meet this man without any more investigation.  So, I do and squeamishly smile and try to talk but then something happened.  I didn't need to talk at all.  Chris was a talker.  You couldn't get a word in edge wise if you wanted.  Brad, who's also a talker was trying to keep up with Chris and I was just "there".  In a sense, I got to observe up close, without being intimidated or interrogated.

I usually do not like a lot of people.  I'm quite picky about the people I value and truly care about.  Brad has introduced me to a few people and I'm quick to be judgmental and point out what I dislike about them.  Funny thing.  When it comes to Chris, there was nothing.  I am happy to know Chris.  I tell Brad that of all the people he has introduced me to, Chris is the only man that I respect whole heartedly.  Why?  I can't explain it.  This man has a heart of gold and I have learned a lot just hanging out with him.  Now, when I find out that Chris is coming to town, I'm the one telling Brad, "We have to go meet Chris.  He's coming to town!"  I find out before him!  It's been a blessing in my life to know this man.  We visited them in the Keys a couple of years back and Chris' wife is a fabulous baker and I have learned a lot of baking skills from her.  You know when they say, "good wholesome people", I would think of Chris and his wife.

Last week, I'm at a Subway with Brad, doing dinner just before our show started.  I got a text from his brother Dan.  It said, "Jamie told me that Chris was in a head on collision on the Hwy.  He is being airlifted to the hospital now.  Too early to call them.  I'll let you know, when I hear anything."

That was a week ago.  Last night, Brad and I were at a Steak and Shake for a late night dinner and I got this text from Dan, who was with Chris this weekend.  "Good and bad times today.  On a good time he told the story of how you two met.  He will be very happy to see you!  While speaking so long and so well about you and Brad, Julie and Beth looked at each other and said he is much better.  In that way, you made them happy. :-)"

I looked up from the text and read it to Brad and we laughed about the time when I was hiding like a child.  I told Brad, "I got out of that rest room and I was sneaking around those book shelves and looking and you saw me too soon and I was like, darn it!"  And we laughed.

You all know I'm a Muslim.  I wish I was a better Muslim and wish I prayed more, but let's just say that when I heard about Chris, there was no way I was going to bed without saying my prayers and praying in all sincerity for a man who has truly shown me the meaning of respect, love and acceptance despite your race, religion, socio-economic status or other things.  He's just a good guy.  6 broken ribs, a broken sternum, a pneumothorax, a shredded diaphragm, a broken left femur, a broken right knee, tibia and fibula later, I'm just really thankful to God that Chris is still with us today.  We weren't sure last week...

Please keep Christopher Todd and his family in your prayers and remember to appreciate every moment and every gift God has given you.

Best wishes,

Muny Magic - An evening with Beth Leavel

This blog was pending from I think I'll post this one first...

Muny has become a part of my life.  I remember the first time a few years ago.  One of my favorite shows as a child, Sound of Music was playing.  I decided to take my 3 nieces and I still remember that we walked along one of the fountains in Forest Park and my nieces were singing, "so long, farewell" as we were all walking towards the Island garden gazebo, in front of the Muny, it felt magical. That was it.  I was hooked and the Muny has become a part of my life since.  That day we had caramel popcorn.  These days when I go, I take strawberries and cucumbers.  It has all become a part of me.  If you follow my blog, you would have read about my first time watching Oklahoma, or my luck with My Fair Lady this year (I did write about it, didn't I?).  What I have not talked about are the memories that the Muny have created for me.  Every year, as a subscriber now, I take a different person to each show.  Although I must admit that my husband has gotten more shows in one season, just because, but this post is about something more than that.

When I talk about memories, what am I talking about?  I'm talking about eating strawberries and cucumbers with my cousin.  Of course, my nieces first Muny.  I still remember watching Chicago for the first time with a dental friend of mine.  The image of the two of us in an appalling giggle when the song "they had it coming" is forever etched in my brain.  Last year, my good friend bought me ice-cream and introduced me to a new tradition.  The Muny means so much.  Getting there early and watching the Muny kids or the Muny teens was always a fun time.  I remember a few years ago, I got together with 2 of my cousins, my aunt, family friends and we just picnicked before the show.  We ate and then we played a card game and then we watched Shrek.  The next year, it was my husband, family friends and my mom watching Tarzan.  Still remember that opening scene.  Did they have real chimpanzees on the stage?  How?  When you figure the answer, you also figure that the Magic of the Muny had just blown you a kiss.

Is it an obsession?  I can't get enough?  Or is it the memories that I think about - the people I go with. Is it the power of the shows and the music?  Is it myself talking in the office about what shows have been selected and who I'm going with?  Is it about receiving my subscription notice?  I don't know.  Every part of it excites me.  It's a fabulous feeling.  This year, like every year, I waited like a child in anticipation of Santa Claus, for the announcement of the next season.

The Muny was doing something different this year, however.  They were having a show.  "Muny Magic" where they were going to announce the Muny Season.  Myself and all at the audience (with the exception of the Muny board) would be the first to hear what 2016 will bring.  Oh!  What a beautiful feeling!  Guess who got tickets?  I cannot begin to tell you what it felt like being there when Mike Isaacson announced one show at a time...  Wizard of Oz ...42nd Street...Music Man...Young Frankenstein....Mamma Mia...Fiddler on the Roof...Aida.

There was history and a briefing about each show.  I have watched Mamma Mia live several times at the Fox.  This will be their Muny premiere.  I've never seen Aida but have always wanted to and have always voted for that show every year.  So this year's line up was great.  So I'm with the audience and am having a wonderful time.  Then it hits me.  I wasn't just there only for the announcement of the shows, there was also going to be a live musical performance.  So, after Mike Issacson left, Beth Leavel took the stage.
She was the voice in Hello Dolly.  What a voice!  I was there enjoying a wonderful evening of music.  My husband who's a trained singer himself said to me, "what a set of pipes!" and then I remembered a concert in LA that I had been to a month ago.  Yes, that blog is coming too, but for now, I'll just say I don't like loud head banging screaming music.  Maybe it's a generational thing, but here I am and, she's singing all these songs that I've never heard and yet, I'm having a marvelous time.  When she belts out the song "don't let the parade pass you by", the O'Fallon marching band came in on both sides of the isle, and that was it!  I needed no more affirmation.  I thought about the Concert in LA and this cozy evening.  Ya.  No comparison.  Every incident in ones life defines you.  That concert defined who I was not.  This one, defined who I was.

Yes, I'll work on my blog posts of my LA trip.  The concert one is a draft.  The trip blog has not been written yet.  So, hang tight.  More to come... eventually...


Several pending and yet...

Hello everyone,

It has been a long hiatus.  Interesting enough, not really.  I would come home several times and write a quick blog, save it and move on.  I figured I would get back to it all and then post.  Well, so here I am.  I log on today after a few months and see about 5 drafts.  I can work on those blogs and finish and publish, but then I feel I would lose my continuity and everything would seem random.  Yes, my blogs are random, but I would like to think there's some sort of a time arc and connection.

So, this past week I went to Columbia, MO for a dental conference.  I have begun to make the mistake that I was warned about when I started writing my blog.  "You will have all these ideas for a blog.  Write them down or you'll forget!"  Well, this weekend I felt that was true.  I unfortunately did not write any of my thoughts down.  The good news is that I feel it's an on going topic.  It will return. Why?  It's embedded within my soul.  The topic of gratitude for everything I have in life.  The topic of perhaps feeling like I'm making something of myself.  I don't know.  I know it's along those lines and I could lead this blog in that direction and pull my brain there, but for now, I'll leave those words out in the air.  Out like a boomerang.  Out to return to me.  I am trying to get some focus and order in my blog.  Then I fight within myself.  Why do I need that?  Isn't a blog a form of a creative outlet; to relentlessly let go of all your thoughts with wild abandon and see what happens?  I guess writing can be that, but I am beginning to remember advise from years ago.  This is a friend who's a prolific writer and one who can knit words into a magical garment.  She told me that the difference between someone who's written a book and someone who's a writer is just that.  The person who has written a book, wrote everyday and completed it.  It's called completion.  It doesn't have to be great.  There's always someone who might think so; I shudder at that thought and celebrate it at the same time.  It's coming back to me.  To finish something, I just need to sit and do it.  Period.

If I want this blog to go anywhere and if I want to post all my blogs that are drafts and pending, well, there's only one way to do it - To sit on my computer and post the darn thing.  So, here I am, making a start but giving you all a perspective on myself and my blogs and why things have been kinda out there.  I have been pulled in several directions lately.  I know it's nothing new, but I'm trying.  We'll see where this goes.

I won't make any promises, because I don't want to say that I'll post a blog a week or a blog a month and fail you.  The only thing I'll say is that I'll try.  I once told someone that I write because I don't have a choice.  That is the truth.  I cannot stay away from this medium.  I haven't made an active effort to, but the one thing I know for surety is that when I wake up every morning, I feel like I have to write.  All these thoughts and topics just come at me and they come in the form of full sentences and paragraphs. I just need to put them on my computer.  That feeling lasts for several minutes and then I poison it by opening my eyes and reaching out for my cell phone and Facebook.  I'll admit it.  It's a pathetic habit.  Pathetic.  Maybe I'll find motivation within myself to be better than that.  Maybe, like today, I'll make the effort to sit down and write.

I'm going to leave you all with that for now.  I will try to work on more blogs, either thoughts from this weekend or today, or my trips in the past.  I really need to finish the one about my trip to LA and there's my trip of a lifetime where I found God.  Yes, but all in good time.  I will get there.

So, a very late Happy New Year to all.  Wishing you all health, happiness and peace.

Best always,