JB (Thoughts On A Friend)

So, I don’t remember when, though it’s been quite some time now as working together goes back six years away to when I unintentionally left our common radio spot, but she told me her Mom called her Jilly Bean, possibly the sweetest, most genuine love felt nickname from a parent to a child that I’ve ever heard (and it’s a pun JB!)

From whenever that was, and it was way before the last six years apart, I’ve called her JB. She’s called me FB.

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She always thought of me and gave me first dibs on her Mom’s cookies and pastries and whatever baked wonderousness Mom would occasionally gift our way.

“FB?”

“Yeah?”

“Lemon squares”

“!!!!!!!! Loves me the Mom’s!!!”

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I kind of recall her first days at the station, group of stations, as an intern, though I couldn’t possibly tell you any specifics. I just know she was a daily welcome given, just knew she filled a room, just knew we did gigs together and I would always feel a relief when finding out she was on that remote’s ticket. Just knowing, no matter what the gig was or how it might go, that if she were there things would be done right at her insistence and laughter would happen, a lot of laughter and I looked forward to them because of.

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After my Benny passed away, my best of friend of 16 years, back in 2011, she was a one who gave me a kind word’s shoulder and hug to help me through. She knew. She also knew I had no intentions of searching out a replacement, at least not anytime soon. I mean how can ya? But a couple of months later, during one of my Pet of the Week segments on Mix 97 there came to be a kitten as that day’s star, the tiniest of things. Now some folks in the building might make their way down to the studio to meet that week’s puppy or dog, kitten or cat, sometimes rabbit or even a one time guinea pig (she gave me quite bit of laughing shit when it was discovered that I was allergic to said one time guinea pig as the right side of my face blew up like I had lost a fight, badly) but she was an always.

In traffic:

“Hey, we got stuff to do”

“It can wait. It’s Tuesday, FB’s got his Pet of the Week”.

She was always there first, damning whatever work needed to be done to hang with that week’s furry, even if only for a couple of moments.

I hold dear the fondest of memory of her stepping into the studio to stand in the back while I interviewed whoever it was from the Ulster County SPCA that had brought my latest guest, this tiny kitten on my chest, just underneath my microphone.

Mic off.

“Oh, you’re F****d”

“I know huh?”

She knew, without even thinking about my consulting my better half at the time, she knew that this tinyness on my chest was coming home with me. She knew my empty of a Benny being gone.

She smiled a “good luck” to the explaining with a wink.

Bella, that’s her name, outlasted the relationship with that better half and is still with me, 10 years later, and really, it was that exclamation of me, as JB said, being blanked, that helped me cement the notion that this little one had found a new spot in her littleness world, no matter the possible objections.

She knew.

I can never think about my years with Bella without thinking of her.

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I stayed on her good side, no matter what, even if there were a disagreement on something I deferred. You weren’t going to win an argument and not because there might be louder talk, and she could be an in your face when she wanted to be, but because she was always right, aaarrrggghhh, she was always right. She always had her points down and even if she didn’t there was no one better to fake it.

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She mentioned to me one time, about my blog and my writings, which she would read and I was so glad that she did as there are those whose opinion you value, about how I tended to start a good number of my posts with a “So” or a “Well” or a “Now”, a kind of pause followed with a comma, a comma’s breath before diving in and how this seemed a bit of a crutch. I then found myself noting this, this using of a “So” or a “Well” or a “Now” or something similar and my things got better simply from being more self aware now and not just for that one crutch (thank you JB) or sometimes I noted the use and left it in, purposely, with a thought of her and that was well before now.   

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I will miss you JB, Jill, you were light and lord knows that the world can ill afford to lose such light and that makes me angry, angering at the universe and its random and its always picking lights to dim that don’t deserve to be dimmed, especially now and you being gone isn’t fair, not just to you or your family or to friends but to the world itself.  

I don’t know where you’ve gone, none of us really know where you’ve gone but … well … it’s just not here JB, it’s just not freakin’ here.

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“That’s kinda funny”

“What’s that?”

“That a small guinea pig has your face looking all beaten up”

“Funny? Really? That’s your take on my boxer’s face?”

“Yeah (giggles)”

 “Oh sure, that’s funny lady? Very funny JB.”

Light Bulb Day

So yesterday was light bulb day here at the station (s) as our maintenance guy made his way around the building with new fluorescent bulbs, evil things that they are, to replace any that had died and gone to whatever Dante’s hell circle it is that is lit by dead fluorescent bulbs. Probably a place with IMAX sized Hieronymus Bosch paintings, except intentionally more perverse and disturbing, where the bright starkness of the light brings out even more explicit and unsettling detail than you would ever want to see but now can never be UNseen.   

I hate light bulb day.

When one or two of the devil’s light sticks go out around the building here it’s kind of a relief and makes for a much softer setting that doesn’t feel that as much of your soul is being sucked out of you (my studio, at least, is lamp-lit). But then comes Dennis, accompanied by some dark, foreboding deep bass soundtrack that makes time with his slow steps, he even seems to laugh for no reason (or he’s joking with Jimmy around the corner) as he enters the worst of spots in the building to make sure all the demonic lighting eye javelins are working at once … the Men’s room.

Stepping in there the first time after Satan’s assistant has ironically said “let there be light” when done I realize exactly why it is that of the three light bulb possibility I have in the lighting fixture in my bathroom at home that I use only one … and just a 60 watter.

No one needs to see themselves in this kind of light when looking in the mirror while washing hands, ever, especially not a guy who, as he gets older, has hair he forgets needs trimming coming from places you only noticed when you were younger in uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” stares at some other old but back then guy. When you wondered exactly how eyebrows could unintentionally form points over each eye like horns (damn you Devil and your lights AND eyebrows!) how an ear could appear to be a planter of some sort of stringy exotic bush, how a nose could … no, I ain’t even going there.

And you wondered then how that some other old but back then guy didn’t notice these things and do a bit of trimming of the hedges unless, of course, he also used only one 60 watt bulb in his bathroom, or unless, of course, maybe you had somehow become him and now that younger you, on the other side of the mirror, is fixed with an uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” YOU stare.   

I hate light bulb day.

Birthdays, 4th’s Of July And Small Stories

My Sis and my Mom came down from Albany this weekend to Buck’s place in Wallkill (Buck is Beck’s guy) for a little July 4th get together. Just a few folks, Buck’s son and daughter in-law, Scotty, a cousin of sorts and some friends, two other couples one of which I hadn’t met before but am so glad that I did as they were a too cool. Funny, relaxed, easy to join in conversation and share a silly story or two, especially Angie I think was her name, though I would need a few more get togethers to really remember it, newly introduced names can get lost sometimes in a just almost there kind of way, like car keys in your other hand. We, and Beck, talked of being crazy cat ladies (guys) among many other things.

And there was also Victor, Buck’s grandson, his daughter’s talkety talkety talkety 8 year old who regaled us with an 8 year old’s stories and brought us nothing but smiles while he held court on Buck’s patio pushing his baseball hat back and forth around his head. He even read us the story he wrote for Buck, who the kids call “Choppy” (don’t know where that comes from but certainly much better for Buck’s not old feeling piece of mind I’m sure, much better than Grandad or Grandpa) a one Victor bound with stapled pages about how Buck was 61 years old and was named “Choppy”, and maybe how that was even his given name if I remember the story correctly, like a Mom and a Dad would actually name their kid Choppy and how he bought what he thought was a house from three “sale guys” named Bob, Hazmat and Fart who actually tricked him into buying a spaceship instead that Choppy jumped out of after screaming “NOOOOOO!!!” when he realized he’d been had.

It was quite gripping, edge of your seat kinda stuff and reminded us of the wonders of 8 and the talkety, talkety, talkety that comes with that 8 especially from Victor who is fabulously good at the tellings. It was also illustrated by the author himself by the way, who made sure to note that on the title page, and of the reading of that page twice to us for emphasis.

Now I’ve mentioned this before, many times, but I don’t go out much, even less than the nothing that the last year and half forced us into if that is possible, perfectly happy to ignore the world if I can with only my furry girls, a few words here in the Attic, a Bucco game or some Sci-Fi on the tube, but I do truly enjoy going to Buck’s place and hanging with the gang, good food at the offering, MY gang and just sitting spinning stories and laughing sometimes at the stupidest of shit once I do decide it’s Ok to get my ass out of the house and relax in a bit of something people call being social.

Actually, when I got home tonight I saw Celie in her kitchen and when I told her of my day she said …

Celie: “You mean you weren’t here?”

Me: “No”

Celie: “All day?”

Me: “Well, not since 1p when I left”

Celie: “You mean you left the house?”

Me: “Yes”

Celie: “Oh, good. Glad you weren’t dead up there.”

Me: “Thanks, glad I wasn’t dead up there too”

This today also included a bit of celebration of my birthday, which was a couple of days ago on the first, a celebration that just involved some ice cream cake, candles, Victor making sure to remind me not to spit on it when I blew the candles out which I assured him I wouldn’t, discussions of Fudgie the Whale and whether Carvel still made such and a few presents.

Mom seemed excited to give me hers. Now keep in mind that she is only an in the moment anymore, I’m not really sure she even remembers where this gift came from, it’s heartbreaking, but you just try to live in that moment with her.

It was a box inside one of those cool little pouches with a pretty ribbon for the sinch squeeze at the top and I’ll tell ya, in a million years, if anyone had asked me to guess what was in that box inside that cool little pouch with a pretty ribbon for the sinch squeeze I wouldn’t have guessed this. It was probably something that Beck bought for her to give to me. A Day of the Dead Sugar Skull. I kinda knew what that was, but I still had to look it up just to be sure. It was a Pittsburgh Steeler one. Yeah, apparently there are those but there ain’t no guessing that is ever going to bring you to a Pittsburgh Steeler Day of the Dead Sugar Skull birthday present from a Mom. I would have only, at best, gotten to socks or a Pirates T-shirt or maybe some underwear in the guessing.

I did though try to make sure that it fended off any unwanted spirits from around Mimi’s butt … just in case of course.

Beck also gave me a present of meat, something from her and my nephews. Yes, It was a bit of a different day when it came to the pressies. A couple of steaks and some higher end hotdogs (I do love hotdogs so that one was well received) and they weren’t actually hotdogs but were “Wieners”.

I know huh? Fancy.

Victor giggling: “Wieners”

With ya Victor. If I’m 8, “wieners” is some pretty funny stuff, hell I’m 57 now and “wieners” still makes me laugh.

Victor: That’s funny that they’re called wieners. Hey Ms Becca (what he calls my Sis) where did we buy these?

Beck: At BJ’s.

We all erupted in laughter, with a quizzical Victor wondering why the hell that was so funny.

Other Victor’s from the day?

He had gone fishing with Scotty, that Buck cousin of sorts I mentioned earlier, cousin through marriage kind of thing I think, though that stuff, extended family ties and the labeling of such eventually just confuses me.

Me: How’d ya do guys?

Scotty: He was the man! Just kept catching ’em.

Beck: How many Victor?

Victor: Somewhere around more than 9.

He and his Uncle Neil braved the pool, I say braved as today was a bit on the chilly side for July. When they got out, Victor came to the blue-lipped realization that wearing a T-Shirt always seems like a good idea at first until you get out of the pool to a breeze.

Neil’s wife Siobhan (the coolest of names): How was it?

Neil: (cavalierly) It was fine. Not too bad.

Victor: No words just a cold askance wet shirt raised eyebrow look that shiveringly said Uncle Neil you’re a freakin’ nut job! That was cold!!

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Victor: I’m gonna wrap a potato with potato eyes in some paper and give it to my Dad like a present.

Me: Why?

Victor: Potato eyes freak him out.

Me: Really?

Victor: Yeah.

Me: I love this kid

While he was head down in the ice cream cake he made sure I didn’t spit on in the candle blowing?

Victor: Thank you for having a birthday.

Me: Ummm … well you’re welcome my friend. I’m thankful of having a birthday as well.

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Yes, I’m thankful of birthdays Victor even if they add a new number every year that I’d prefer not to think about but sometimes they come with good days of actually getting out of the house, Pittsburgh Steeler sugar skulls, unexpected meat, new friends and funny small stories.

Cheers all,