Category Archives: Friends

Miss Manners’ Guide to Mourning

For all the well-meaning people of the world who have been so extremely lucky as to not have ever lost someone they unconditionally love, this is for you. Not because you’re asshats, no, it’s because you’re paving the road to hell with some fantastically insane good intentions by opening your mouths. I would like to point out two things before we get too far into this:

  1. You aren’t being attacked, you’re being counseled, with humor and wit (because grace and patience have failed), and;
  2. If you truly are hurt by something in this post, you are extremely guilty of being a bad friend. You aren’t thinking about what Janna needs, you’re thinking about what you want out of her suffering. She’s not a diamond mine, so stop digging!

I have to put it this way, it’s the truth, and some of you out there need to hear it. AGAIN. And so… without further ado, here’s what Miss Manners’ Springtime Substitute had to say:

Hey there. Just an FYI, Janna called me yesterday and I went over there and then to the cemetery with her. Spent the evening with her. There is nothing for us to worry about…she is going to cope…just gonna take a while. However, we discussed some things and I did clarify that SHE….

  1. does NOT like pop-ins (people just showing up unannounced…if you didn’t do it before, don’t do it now).
  2. prefers emails (so she can answer and read at her leisure…or not)
  3. may or may not return voice mails (depends on how many she gets)
  4. usually leaves her cell phone off or on vibrate cuz just too many calls…her bill is outrageous!!
  5. is eating…McD’s everyday all day…and looks the same to me…great
  6. does not like making plans, but if she does, please give her the right to cancel and/or forget about them at any time
  7. does not like people telling her she will be OK, it will get better, he is in a better place, GOD needed him, or asking her how she feels….how do they think she feels?, SHE needs him more than God does, he is not in a better place…his place is with her…and she will not be OK, only surviving day by day.
  8. will go to therapy when she is ready, but I did see several books on her coffee table about grief
  9. knows we are here and she loves us
  10. needs people to understand that if you didn’t do something before (like pop in, or baby her, or call 10x per day) that doing that now only makes her realize something is wrong and different. Act like you used to with her.
  11. hates people smothering her or being “needy” with her.
  12. needs people to realize that YES she is depressed, she is a widow for goodness sake!!
  13. HATES people saying were, was, should have, anything in the past. Just because he is in “escrow” doesn’t mean they aren’t still an incredible couple!

I believe she really is going to manage and cope, she just needs time…and then 5 years from now…she WILL STILL need time…

I have first-hand knowledge of this conversation as I was also there, with Janna & Alicia, and I don’t know what was harder – hearing about all the foolish things people had said, or finding out that I like and know most of the fools.

But wait, there’s more!

Alicia sent this email out to a group of friends, many of whom were not sure what to do and needed the guidance, but couldn’t ‘hear’ the wit that came with it. And then Julie sent the email out as well, and I know of even more people who got all flamed up about it! Apparently some people have a guilty conscious because some of the most bent weren’t doing any of the aforementioned idiocy.

So, that’s why I’m posting this on my blog. I want to see how many more ass clowns there are out there.

Kidding. I wanted to post this for clarification – if you have done any of the list above, just stop and it’s all good. Don’t worry too much about the past right now, just ease off a bit and let her seek you out when it’s the right time for her – and that’s the hardest part of friendship: knowing when to just stand ready, off to the side, without making a noise, so that when you’re needed, you’re there, but not a moment too soon.

However, if you continue doing these foolish activities, you risk getting a lashing by a verbally adept and editorially challenged woman whom you love – and believe me, bad idea. I’ve known her since 4th grade, I know what she’s capable of, and we’re talking ‘Hiroshima’ here – but she’ll do it with love, of course.

Since the responses to the emails have been less than stellar, I have a few suggestions of my own to add, too:

  • Don’t think that this list is a generalized ‘how-to’ for friendship, it’s a ‘how Janna needs you to be’ list, a very specific thing.
  • Don’t think that Alicia or I came up with this, it was the result of a conversation that Alicia and I had with Janna as we drove from her house out to visit Richard. The list is very neatly distilled from that conversation, and given that it was a 4 hour chat, I’m exceedingly impressed by Alicia’s memory and articulateness.
  • Don’t be hurt if a friend calls you on your own insanity – learn from it. After all, enemies may call you on it, but they suck as people, that’s why you don’t like them, so why would you listen to them?
  • Don’t get needy, greedy, or bent out of shape if you aren’t ‘invited’ to something by her. Most of the time any ‘something’ that she’s at is impromptu and invitations weren’t sent out. Deal. We are supposed to support her, and that includes being patient and not always up in her grill.
  • There will be times she won’t want to talk to you – specifically you. Cope.
  • If you are ‘disappointed in her’ for any reason, you need to check yourself right fucking quick. I can’t imagine what sort of fool would say something like that, but it’s a very good way to end a friendship. I would suggest getting a card with a big fuck-all “sorry” on the front sent to her house by you before you chat with her again. You know who you are.

There are times she doesn’t want to talk to me. Yeah, yeah, shut it. It’s usually when I’m out of booze, weepy, working and can’t focus for shit, or when she’s just had it and needs one of her Other Gays instead. It’s not easier for me to have to back off, not call, not email, not text, not pop-in, not drive-by, not string soup cans to her house for us to chitchat over, but I have to be patient. Because it’s Janna, and she needs me near or just available, and that’s her call, not mine.

Realize that the entire situation sucks. We all have to grow up a bit and be those people we admire for their quiet wisdom and serenity while facing the emotional wreckage heaped upon loved ones. They are wise because they are silent. People say things in an attempt to magically heal a wound. People cling so they can be the hero who catches them the next time they fall. People do new things, like drop in unannounced or call 1,000 times a day, because they want to change the world, and it wasn’t like this before, so it’s change.

We’re all wise enough to shut the hell up, back off, sit down, and just be. Trust that she’ll get you when she’s ready to just be.

Much love!

Studio 54 at Rich’s

Perhaps the best part of the night was seeing so many people having such a great time because the music rocked, the dance floor was packed, the people were crazy brilliant and the night was a HUGE FUCKING PARTY!

Studio 54 Party at Rich's Houston

I don’t always know what it takes to get people out to the club, which is a hard thing to admit since it’s my job to market and promote the damn place, so it’s really nice when it all works. I suspect that people just want ‘something’ instead of ‘just a night at the club’ which means some themes will have to be planned.

But that also means every party from here on out will be simply amazing. You gonna be there? I thought so…

Yeah, I write too much. Cope.

First off, I’m talking about the comment spam that ran my hosted server through the roof today. I got home and had a message stating that I had used nearly 100 times my normal daily server cycles, and while that doesn’t put me anywhere near my limit, it does make me want to find out why. I did some searching and it turns out that a new, sneakier, more annoying version of blog comment spam has hit the net, and it attacked several of the sites that I maintain. More on this in a minute. It’s been a day, and I’d like to post about it, if only for me. Feel free to skip bits.

Today was a really long day, even though I really didn’t get going until 10 am. I spent most of it with The Cheerleader as she combed through the wreckage of her dreams – which I have to tell you, is exhausting. I love her with all my heart, and today was really hard to watch. I will miss Richard deeply, but mine is the depth of a tablespoon next to the ocean compared to her. She’s been amazing, really, because while everyone else is either falling apart (like me) or becoming automatons (those who stare blank-faced asking what they should do, which is also sometimes me), she’s chugging along, arranging everything as best she can, and only stopping to break-down when there is no other option. I, however, am a complete mess. I’m supposed to be there for her, to be strong, to be supportive and anchor-like for her, but I haven’t been able to get my wits about me enough to stand for myself, let alone be there for her as much as I’d like.

Hell, today I was scared of my phone, not because it might include a bill that could wipe me out, although that’s always a possibility. No, today my fear came from a phrase that I kept hearing in my head, over and over and over again. A phrase that the so-called ‘helpful’ around me had offered up as a sort of verbal talisman, when instead it was almost an invitation for the universe to stop on by and take another friend. I kept hearing “these things always happen in threes” and, I’m sorry for saying it this way, but SHUT. YOUR. PIEHOLE! Three I cannot take, and I know this because the thought of a third tragedy shut me down for a good portion of the day, and continues to make me dread answering the phone.

Unless I don’t recognize the number, them I’m all sorts of chipper. Like that’s some sort of safety? Yeah, I never said I was sane. Truly.

Anyway, so I have one real task to accomplish and that’s make the DVD of all the pictures of Richard. So I’ve been going through the incredibly-deep-yet-thankfully-digital stack of photographs that I have, some of which I deliberately swiped from The Cheerleader. In doing so, I realized that about 99% of the rest of the world will not have seen these yet, and there is a good portion of you who won’t be able to make it to the funeral to see them there.

So I did two things. I removed the ability for content spam to affect my sites, which didn’t take long, but still was a hateful thing to have to deal with. Spammers suck.

The other thing I did is place a slide show at Richard & Janna’s site, of all the pictures I have of Richard. I figure that even if you get to see the DVD presentation that you might want to see more, maybe pause and really get a good long view of a particular pic. I haven’t really gone through them, so there may be duplicates or blurry ones, but I’ll update the slideshow when I’ve edited down the pics for the DVD. If you have any questions or the slideshow isn’t working for you, please let me know in the comments here.

Honored, again, by those who matter most

I hate writing something like this, but I can’t go into details because it’s not my secret to give away. However, I’ve found out that I was honored in an amazing and profound way by some friends. They waited for my approval, they wanted my blessing, and they never outright asked, and had I not given it, who knows if they might have done it anyway, but regardless, they wanted it. They got it, and then magic things happened. I know of no other honor that could mean as much to me, and I have no way of returning the favor, and never really did anyway. But I guess it’s not so much about me, but it’s about how much they think of me — which, for some reason, is higher than I could ever deserve.

Richard – that’s 2 in 3 days, dammit!

I can’t believe this. It’s so surreal and strange to me, and the only word to describe it is “fuck”. First, Robinson Loder dies of a heart failure on Thursday at work, and then Richard, the husband of my best friend Janna, a.k.a. The Cheerleader, dies in a car wreck late Saturday night. I keep thinking it’s some cruel-and-late April Fool’s joke, but it’s not. I really can’t quite believe it, and I’m having very little luck keeping it together.

I met Richard in on September 4, 2004 in Tucson, Arizona. He was at the local Army base getting training, and The Cheerleader happened to be visiting him there the same time I was in Phoenix to visit other friends, so I drove down to have dinner and meet the new man in her life. She finally met someone who treated her like the goddess she is, and who seemed to have his shit together. He still had to pass the Inspection by the Friends, which as you all know is the hardest thing for any potential mate.

He not only passed, he surpassed everything. Richard was, honestly, the most charming and wonderful man you could imagine.

Eventually they got married, and while Richard was still deployed to Iraq, and I was still living at The Cheerleader’s house, he became part of my family. When he returned from the war we had a few times of stress, and things weren’t perfect, but they never got worse. It takes time to readjust to civilian life after a year in a warzone, but he’d done it. It was very amazing to see the two of them together.

During the readjustment period, which is also when I moved out of their house, it was very telling to find out that Richard was worried that my opinion of him had soured. He wanted to make sure that I approved of him and liked him and didn’t feel that he was in some way wrong. I’ve never had any doubts about him, and I’ve never been so honored in my life as when I found out that my opinion meant so much to him. He honored all of us with his service in Iraq, as he was the first and perhaps only person who could and did make some semblance of sense out of that mess. He was loving, kind, careful and strong, and in many ways the best you can ask of any person to be.

Richard and Janna the night I met him, Tucson, AZ, 9.4.04The picture here is one I took the night that I met Richard. I remember it well enough to say I knew that they’d be married soon, and that it was a good thing for both of them. I knew then that he was a wonderful guy, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better for my best friend’s husband.

I can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t quite believe that this week has happened.

Richard, I know you’re looking over us and will be watching to keep her safe. I didn’t tell you enough how much you meant to me, and how much I love you – for your strength, your courage, your honor, your humor and your love for Janna and everyone you surrounded yourself with. You are the best, my friend, and you will be remembered that way by all of us. But fuck, you shouldn’t be a memory, you should still be here. Safe journeys, my friend.

Robbed of Rob

Robinson Loder Ah, I probably shouldn’t be clever with the title, but he would have enjoyed it as he was just as clever, and just as likely to say something funny, brilliant, profound or warm. I guess that’s the best way to remember Robinson Loder, a good friend to everyone he met. I worked with Rob on several projects while at ATX, and he is basically the antithesis of my personality. He was quiet, calm, polite, humble, caring, giving and dedicated. He was cool enough to hang with anyone and strong enough in himself to not need to hang with everyone. He was very much one of the cornerstone people for my time at ATX and in Maine. We started right at the same time, although we didn’t meet for a few months because we worked in different buildings. Having chronological employee numbers that are visible to everyone makes it easy to notice that someone you thought just started has been there as long as you. That was a fun lunch, finding out that we’d been toiling away on various projects and just hadn’t crossed paths yet.

Rob was always welcome at my lovely apartment across the street from the main ATX building. My apartment was called Conference Room 6, and although Rob was an almost rare addition to the, *ahem*, meetings, he joined us enough to be a regular regardless. Several of his visits are some of the more memorable CR6 moments for me, and perhaps that’s what sucks the most – knowing that there won’t be another meeting that becomes a night of laughing and hanging out with some of the most amazing people around. Rob was one of those, and we are all better for having known him.

Rob, I wish you safe travels to heaven. And I really wish you were still here, dammit!