Category: Uncategorized

My Mom’s First Birthday, Without My Mom

I’m struggling through the firsts. First day. First week. First month. First year. First holiday. First time talking about her in the past tense. Breakfasts. Lunches. Dinners. First family milestones. First cry. Second cry. Third cry.

First birthday.

My mom died on April 2nd and tomorrow (April 29th) is her birthday. She would have been 84 and I cannot begin to explain how difficult, painful, sorrowful, awful it is to look at the words would have been.

In the weeks since my mom’s passing, friends have tried to comfort me, many saying, “may her memory be a blessing.” Not yet… Unfortunately, when I think of my mom – every moment, minute, hour – any memory I have is interrupted by the horrific images of my mom in the ICU and later in hospice. Me, holding her hand, rubbing her feet, kissing her forehead and telling her how much we love her and how it was okay for her to rest.

And you were expecting something happy go lucky?

erev-thanksgiving

As I try to move forward, I find myself guilty and feeling disrespectful at the times I do laugh at something, enjoy a moment with my family and friends or immerse myself with work. I can’t post or comment on social media and when I wish someone Happy Birthday on Facebook, I can’t bring myself to using an exclamation point because that joy isn’t what I’m feeling. I understand that – with time – things will get better. They will. But they will never be the same. I understand there will be a time that my mom’s memory will be a blessing. Just not there yet.

I focus much of my attention on my dad. My dad. What an unbelievably terrific person. He always tells me that I’m the best. No day, you are. I am so proud of him. I speak with him twice a day, every day and Aki, Lily and I went to Florida for Passover. He is doing…okay…fine…as good as could be expected.

Mom was…is dad’s everything. Sixty-four years. Think about it. Sixty-four years. Wherever Harvey was, Sheila was beside him. Best of friends. The best. They laughed together. Drank together. Loved their children and grandchildren together. Hugged Edgar and later monkey together (don’t ask). I don’t know how my dad is doing it, but he is; and I am so grateful.

Grateful. Gratitude. Believe it or not, I am. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with my mom and I cherish every moment. Mom, I love you and you will always be with me. As with each of your children, heck every person you touched, you and I had a special relationship. A special bond.

Mom, you were always there for me when I needed and wanted you most. We endured my cerebral palsy together. You were there for my therapy as I learned how to walk and better my motor skills. You withstood my tantrums. You were there when I cried about being picked on in elementary school and chosen last at everything. You comforted me. You were there when I went to biofeedback so I could better control my tremors in high school. So damn supportive.

And the funny thing is (who am I kidding, there’s nothing funny about this)… the funny thing is, I now know you kept all that worry, pain and guilt that you had about the CP to yourself (check that; shared with dad). Never once burdening me with your sorrow. As a parent myself I now know, when your child cries, you cry. When your child is in pain, you are in pain.

Mom, our relationship was so much more than that. One of things that is abundantly clear to me, is I cannot succinctly define what our complete relationship was or meant. Doing so would be an injustice and I would fail to capture the essence or nuances.

What I can say is everything you did; you did with grace and love. You were the heart and soul of this family. You were the smile, The laugh. The hug. You made me a better person.

I love you mom. Happy birthday.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Misadventures of a Nice Boy from Long Island

th

I was in fourth grade. Mr. Herman had stepped outside and Mevan (names will be changed to protect the innocent) was about to repeat some information that I apparently made the mistake of telling him in confidence.

“I know who loves Seather…I know who loves Seather… (again, names changed…) I know who loves Seather.”

“Play it cool,” I remember saying to myself. Seather might not know; I mean I am a smooth dude (did we say ‘dude’ back in fourth grade? Not important, focus on the story). Just let it go and everything will be fine.

“I know who loves Seather…I know who loves Seather… I know who loves Seather.”

Really?!? Mevan, be quiet! And where the heck is Mr. Herman?

“I know who loves Seather…I know who loves Seather… I know who loves Seather.”

Seather isn’t happy. Who can blame her? Note to self, no more ‘in-confidence’ conversations with Mevan. Everyone is looking at Seather. She looks uncomfortable… I have to do something…

“I DON’T LOVE SEATHER, I JUST LIKE HER,” I exclaimed as I emphatically stood up from my desk.

***

I never was what you would call a lady’s man. I tended to act more from my heart than my mind. Just didn’t really serve me well.

Also in fourth grade, Mevan and I decided we would see if any of the girls in our class liked us. I know what you are thinking. Why, would I still be hanging in with Mevan after the Seather debacle? Who knows, it was fourth grade and I guess I was loyal.

My note to Telly was fine-crafted and well-thought out.

“Do you like me?”

Box – Yes

Box – No

Please check one – Andy

Carefully, folded with ‘Telly’ written on the front.

I finally mustered the nerve to pass the note which made its way to Telly.

She opened it. Looked at me. Raised her hand, asked Mr. Herman if she could go to the bathroom and motioned for me to come outside.

Excellent! This is good! If she’s asking me to go outside, that means she’s not going to the bathroom to throw up. I’d say progress.

I asked Mr. Herman if I could go to the bathroom and made my way outside. In my mind, Telly would grab me a give me a peck on the cheek and say, “that is my answer.”

The reality was, Telly did grab me, threw me against the wall and said, “If you write anything like this again, I will kill you.”

***

My prowess with the opposite sex continued throughout middle school, high school and college. While in college, I was on – what I thought to be – a very nice date with Folly. At the end of the date, Folly said – – “Andy, I think you are great, but you know why we can’t go out.”

“I do,” I said.

No clue. To this day, clueless.

After college, I was working at a boutique agency in New York and was about to go out on a first date at the Met. I knew the girl (I don’t have to make up a name because I don’t recall her name) I was going with was a fan of the art world, so I wanted to prepare myself. A friend of mine from work prepped me, and I was confident I could speak intelligently about some of the exhibits.

When we walked into the Met, I was ready. “Wow, look at that piece over there. I love how the branches flow outward, asking to be touched.”

“Um, Andy – that’s the headset station to pick up headphones and recorders so you can follow along with the tour of the artwork.”

No second date.

***

Then there was the time when I was working at a different agency in New York where we used to reach out to reporters, producers and talk show hosts to promote authors. A colleague of mine suggested I contact a radio producer in Dallas for my first phone call. She might not take my pitch, but she’ll take your call and listen to you.

In September that radio producer and I will be married 19 years.

Mic. Drop.

 

 

What Does ‘Outstanding Citizenship with Suitable Academic Merit’ Really Mean?

Dictionary

As the Presidential Election enters prime time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of words. Not just how one word can change the context of a speech – – inciting some while motivating others – – but how pundits, mavens and the self-proclaimed well-informed, describe the political candidates.

Even if you subscribe to the “sticks and stones” theory, it is safe to say we have all been mesmerized, engulfed, exasperated and dumbfounded by the power of words.

For me, words have had always had an impact in my life. As an example, let me take you back to my sixth grade graduation…

I know where it is. Florida. Parent’s bookshelf. One of hundreds.

I’m not sure if I questioned it immediately or not. Either way, it made an impact.

During my sixth grade graduation, I was “awarded” a dictionary. In it, the following was written – – “Awarded to Andrew Shane for outstanding citizenship with suitable academic merit.”

Suitable?

Really?

Now, if I received this in high school or college, I wouldn’t have much of an issue, but in sixth grade I’m pretty sure I was rockin’ some more than suitable grades. Even if I wasn’t recording stellar grades, don’t you think we could have come up with a better word than suitable? If only, the person who wrote this had some resource that could be used to come up with a better word…

Speaking of the person who wrote this, I’ve pondered trying to reach out to him or her (I know…). Ask what were they thinking. Was this the first award they ever presented? Did they scar others?

Couple of foreseeable roadblocks: Good chance the person who wrote it is either dead or has absolutely no recollection. Asking my parents to get the dictionary and tell me the name of the person would end up as an Abbott and Costello routine.

Me: Can you get the dictionary I got during my sixth grade graduation?

Dad: Why?

Mom: What? (hearing is not a strength these days)

Me: I want to see who wrote the inscription.

Dad: Why?

Mom: What?

I actually thought this could be the basis of a movie. Not saying a good movie necessarily, but a movie where our hero (hey, I’m a hero) realizes what he has, what is important and who he is, as he tries to track down who wrote (and why) “with suitable academic merit.”

***

In high school, I ended up managing the wrestling team. I had always wanted to wrestle – – my older brother was an outstanding wrestler (don’t know about his academic merit) and I tried to follow in his footsteps. I wrestled in junior high and was actually captain of my eighth grade team. Not because I was the best wrestler, but because I wrestled the right way – – always trying my best and being an excellent teammate.

In tenth grade, just prior to the start of the season, I dislocated my knee screwing around with friends. My coach wasn’t happy, but when I asked if I could manage the team instead, he agreed. Once my knee heeled, I would work out with the team and – if I do say so myself – could’ve beaten most of the managers on the other teams (okay, truth be told, many of them were girls, but I still could’ve taken them…most of them…).

I ended up managing the team throughout high school and my coach, who also coached the football team, asked if I would manage football as well. During the different end of season banquets, coach awarded me with several plaques for my efforts and attitude – – something I’m sure he didn’t present to other managers.

No mention of academic merit; just good guy. Good heart.

***

So, what’s really wrong with the word ‘suitable’ anyway? According to Webster (the dictionary, not the little kid from the 80s TV show), the definition of suitable is, “having the qualities that are right, needed, or appropriate for something.”

Not awful. Have I been making too much of this? Webster lists synonyms as able, capable, equal, fit, good, qualified, competent.

Outstanding citizenship with competent academic merit… No, still doesn’t feel right.

***

Odds are, whoever wrote the words didn’t think twice about it. It’s just that suitable isn’t an everyday word. Probably not one you would associate with an award or achievement.

  • Most Suitable Player.
  • Academy Award for Suitable Actress is a Supporting Role.
  • Grammy for Suitable New Artist.

Just doesn’t have the same ring to it. But am I falling into the trap of the “woosification of America” where every kiddo gets a participation ribbon?

Don’t think so. Like I said, words are powerful. And for some reason, suitable just doesn’t feel like the right word. Feels like a dig of sorts. Great kid. Not super smart. Here’s a dictionary.

***

What is my point?

A. Think before you speak or post? Sure…

B. There’s a difference between free speech and well-thought-out speech? Yes, just look at social sites, candidate speeches, etc.…

C. Words matter? You bet…

D. I haven’t written anything in a while and just wanted to do a little free-flow writing?

E. All of the Above

And the answer is: E – All of the Above. Thanks for reading.

Facebook Waits to See if New ‘Trending Topics Look’ Trends Positive

 

Facebook Trending
New Facebook Trending Topics Look

8.26 UPDATE – According to Facebook’s Newsroom: “Today, we’re making some changes to the Trending feature on Facebook that will make the product more automated and will no longer require people to write descriptions for trending topics.”

Astute Facebook users (and who amongst us isn’t an astute Facebook user) may have noticed something over to the right of the page design. According to The Huffington Post (and my own eyes), “Facebook is apparently testing a new version of its controversial “Trending” module that removes editorialized blurbs written by staffers of the social network.”

HPost (is that an authorized nickname) goes onto say, “In this version of the Trending module, topics are sorted in a simple list with a number indicating how many people are talking about them. Previously, each of those lines would have been accompanied by a short description written by a Facebook employee ― and no numbers indicating how popular each topic is.”

Not sure why the trending module was ever controversial, but it looks like Facebook is following the Twitter model – – providing the number of Tweets associated with a trending # topic. On Facebook, you can still scroll over the trending term to get a preview/associated video of the story.

Let the outrage, name calling and general disdain begin…  

Brent Coralli’s Goal Scores With Me

By Andy Shane

Image

When I first met with Brent Coralli, I didn’t know what he was about or what to expect. My kids play soccer, but certainly wasn’t a fan of the sport, hadn’t heard anything about Sting Soccer and didn’t quite understand the passion surrounding the sport.

The thing is (there is always a thing), Brent Coralli isn’t about soccer. Sure, as CEO of Sting Soccer, Brent represents Sting – – the oldest, and arguably, the most decorated girls club soccer group in the United States. However, Brent Coralli is less about X’s and O’s on the field and more about showing young girls that it is okay to take care of themselves, to be confident and leaders off the field.

And that is something I both understand and am passionate about.

My “assignment” was/is to promote Brent Coralli and Sting Soccer.  When we first spoke, he told me one of the main reasons he got involved with Sting is to encourage young girls to believe in and love themselves and; that it’s okay to be strong and not have to rely on men.

As the father of two daughters (and a son) it was important that his daughters’ embrace that they can do anything they want to if they set their mind to it. At Sting, they believe in ‘The Education of Life Through Soccer’ and teach their girls the importance of Pride, Tradition, Character, Commitment and Leadership. These attributes can be seen on and off the field.

Sting girls have a rigorous schedule – – whether it is practicing two to three times a week, traveling to games throughout the country, keeping up their grades and participating in community service – – they are still netting real results. This year alone, Sting girls received scholarships – – many of them full-rides – – to colleges like Notre Dame, Kentucky, A&M and many, many others.

I recently pitched the “Bossy Girls” idea to media here in Dallas. For those uninitiated – – earlier this year, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, grabbed headlines with her ‘Ban Boss’ Campaign. According to Sandberg: When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood.

The campaign generated positive interest and – as so often happens when national attention is given to a particular topic – its share of detractors.

Image

The local Dallas CBS-TV affiliate bit, and KTVT-TV – aired a story in which they spoke with Brent. His feelings made sense to me – – “We don’t have time for name calling or labels. Honestly, we really don’t put much thought to it. I’m very proud and humbled to say our girls do the right thing on and off the field and have the confidence and self-awareness within themselves to embrace and love who they are – – we know we cannot control what others say or do toward us,” Brent said (now this didn’t make it on air, but that is a story for another day).

If you still doubt or question the method behind Brent Coralli’s madness, check out Brent Coralli’s Sting Soccer Highlight Reel.  It’s long so start at the 11:22 mark – Sting Lifers – and tell me Brent isn’t making a huge, positive impact on the lives of many young girls.

For me, Brent Coralli is an MVP to hundreds of young women. Every day, he shoots and scores.