TWITTER: @sirbacon123

31 March 2010

Sweet Chocolatee

I consider myself a fairly bright person.  For the most part.
I’m pretty good with money.   I’ve got a handful of street smarts and you don’t have to tell me ten times how to get something done.
Ok, maybe eight.

However when it comes to movies or magic, I am the greatest (and most clueless) audience of all-time.
I am amazed by everything, while figuring out nothing.
The big reveal in The Crying Game.... I wouldn’t have seen it coming if it had slapped me in the face.
I’ve been writing this blog for exactly three months, posted more than 60 entries and it wasn’t until tonight that I figured out that I am part of a cult.
A good cult, but a cult.
My cult is called, THE BLOGOSPHERE.
It’s a group, a large group, of people who have decided that it is time for their voice to be heard, even if you don’t really know who is listening.
In my case, I decided to write a blog about my new career -- unemployment.
I really didn’t expect anybody to read it, except for the handful of friends that I bombarded with links.
That was until Henry & Nicolas jumped in.
Thanks to them, my story was told at and La Presse Newspaper in Canada.
Since then, I have had more than 50,000 hits.  Fif-tee Thou-sand hits! 

I realize to some of my blogging brethren, that number is just a blip, but to me, it’s a miracle.
I can’t even count the number of supportive notes that I have received.  
Actually, I can count them, since I saved them all, but you get the cliche.
Well, here’s the real point.
There is a wonderful person named Anne-Marie, who writes a French blog titled Montreal Chocolatee (
I believe I have already properly documented the extent of my extremely limited French vocabulary, but thanks to the amazing Google Translate feature, I was able to read her beautiful blog today.
What I wasn’t able to do was read it without tearing up.
The subject was moi.   I mean, me.
She even posted her version of the “I Believe In Bacon” t-shirt.   Due in stores in 2015.
Anne-Marie and I have never met and probably never will, but thanks to this beautiful cult of ours, we are now able to follow each other on Twitter.
That’s what us cult members do, we follow.
I hope you are able to read her entire blog, which can be found at the link listed above, but if not, here are the Cliff Notes.

  • I must say it is a blog as we do not read every day. Sir Bacon has a feather of truth sometimes unsettling. His adventures are told in a captivating, touching, and sincere way, whether with his professional approaches, with his children or his mother, whose condition worsens.
  • I suggest everyone to go for a ride on the blog, be it for a minute or an hour, as was the case for me. The writing of Sir Bacon hung me from the beginning, I could not stick to reading a single ticket. 

Now I’m guessing the translation was not perfect, but thanks to Google Translate, you get the point.

And to me the point is this...
Honestly, between my unemployment and problems with my mom, I am going through the worst stretch of my life.  
It really doesn’t take a whole lot of support to give me a boost.
But what I got today from Anne-Marie was a whole lot of support.
And it feels great.
In any language.
Now if I can only figure out what Montreal Chocolatee means. 

30 March 2010

Paper Trails

The morning newspaper is not what it once was.
I am so old that I actually remember when you had to read the paper to find out what was going on the world.
If you wanted to see a movie, that’s where you got the show times.
If you were looking for a sports score, go to section C.
If you wanted to give your opinion, write a letter to the editor.
Was there really life before blogs?
I’ve always enjoyed the feel of the newspaper and the ink that it leaves on your hands.
I still try to read a hard copy of the local paper every day, in addition to a bunch more online, but there is one paper I won’t miss.
The Sunday Paper.
The great Joe Jackson sang all about it on his debut album in 1979:
  Brothers heading that way now I guess
  He just read something made his face turn blue
  Well I got nothing against the press
  They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true

  If you want to know about the gay politician
  If you want to know how to drive your car
  If you want to know about the new sex position
  You can read it in the Sunday Papers
Yep, it’s all there.
Well last Sunday, like every Sunday, I walked out to the front of the house early in the morning, bent my knees and lifted up the 45-pound package.
Maybe not 45, but it always feels like it.
I took it inside, removed the plastic wrap and separated the junk from the good stuff.
Recipes.   Good stuff.
Department Store ads.   Junk.
Sports.  Good stuff.
Real Estate.   Junk.
Entertainment.  Good stuff.
At the end of the process, I’ve got two stacks, one to be recycled and one to be read.
This past weekend there was a section that immediately grabbed my attention.
Actually it grabbed me by the throat.
It was the business section and on the cover, taking up more than half of the page was a picture of the President/CEO of the company that let me go.
And ruined my life.
What I should’ve done was throw it in the trash.   Like they did to me.
What I did was read every word.
Words like million -- the $12.2 million he made the year that I got fired.
Words like happy and challenged -- two things he feels in his job every day and two things I haven’t felt since they let me go.
Words like employee-friendly programs -- referring to the fitness classes he has added to keep the staff stress free.   
I remember the hamster wheel they had me running on, but no yoga or pilates.
I have really tried very hard to fight every bitter feeling that comes my way these days and for the most part it has worked.
I don’t spend a lot of my time being miserable, but I am definitely noticing it happening on a more frequent basis.
There are things that NEEDED to be done last Sunday, like laundry, grocery shopping and eating lunch.
I definitely didn’t NEED to read a huge article on how the President of the company that destroyed my career is happy and challenged.
Maybe I should have just stuck with the department store ads.

29 March 2010

Loosening My Religion

The Jewish holiday of Passover begins tomorrow.
Growing up that was a biggie for me.  Well actually, it was a biggie for my family.  We used to have a bunch of people over for the Seder dinners.
That’s when we had a big feast celebrating how the Hebrews escaped from enslavement in Egypt.
If you don’t believe, check Wikipedia.
My dad was a part-time Orthodox Jew, who made sure that we had all kosher foods in the house, separate plates for milk and meat and no shellfish of any kind.
Unless he was visiting Baltimore, where he loved the crab cakes.
That part always confused me.
I was raised with religion being a big part of our existence, just one line below sports on the list of priorities.
If you don’t believe me, maybe this will help.
October 2, 1978 – the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, one of the High Holidays.
The High Holidays are when you spend all day in the synagogue counting the minutes until the service ends.   
I mean you spend all day praying.
October 2, 1978 was also the day when the Yankees and Red Sox met in a one-game playoff to see who would advance to the real post-season and who would go home.
Of course staying home and watching the game was not an option.  The holiday was too important.
But so was the game.
These days you would probably see an iPhone strategically planted inside EVERY prayer book, but that was 1978 and Steve Jobs had not been invented yet.
So my dad did the next best thing.
He snuck a transistor radio into the synagogue and used a wired earphone, running up the front of his shirt to listen to the game as he prayed for forgiveness.
If you think that the people around him were embarrassed, guess again.
They were jealous.
And he was popular.
He must’ve been asked every couple of outs for an update.
I was only 11 at the time, so I don’t remember all the details, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rabbi even asked him the score at one point.
My father’s prayers were answered with Bucky Dent’s homer, leading his beloved Yankees to a 5-4 win.
So where was I?.... Oh yeah, Passover.
Well, despite my religious upbringing, religion is not a big part of my life anymore.
I definitely believe in God and definitely believe in most of that other stuff, but to be perfectly honest I don’t believe in spending my day in synagogue and I definitely don’t believe in keeping kosher.
Are you telling me that Moses would’ve passed on bacon if he would’ve woken up to the smell of it?
No way!
I have total respect for any religious person in ANY religion.
Whatever works for you is good by me.
But for me, I chose a different road to travel.
I married a woman who was raised Catholic, but like me she doesn’t have any interest in attending her church.
We have chosen to raise our kids with the religion of love.  
Deep down, I think that I care just enough about Judaism to not want to have my kids raised Catholic and my wife cares just enough about Catholicism to not want to raise the kids Jewish.
So we met in the middle.
We celebrate all of the holidays, especially the ones that have food as the centerpiece.
My favorite holiday is on December 26 each year.   I call it the Jewish Christmas.
That’s when we get all the best deals in the department stores.   Every Jew likes a good deal.
Even though my wife hasn’t really bought into the religious aspect of Judaism, she certainly has learned how to cook.
Her matzo ball soup is better than my mom’s.   She can cook a brisket like my Uncle Leo (if I had an Uncle Leo).  And the Hanukkah latkes…
…to die for.
I do my part as well.   You should hear me sing Jingle Bell Rock.
Passover kinda snuck up on me this year.  In fact, had I not almost run into a big box of Matzah Crackers at the grocery store this afternoon, I might’ve missed the holiday altogether.
If that near collision at the market doesn’t sound like a sign from up above, what does?
I brought up the upcoming holiday at dinner tonight, while we were enjoying a honey baked ham, and without any hesitation, my wife said that she would like to host a Passover Seder next weekend.
I’ll eat to that.

27 March 2010

Emotions in Motion

Each time I write a new blog, one of my top priorities is making it entertaining for you.

I truly appreciate you taking time out of your life to read about mine.

I must warn you, this blog is different.

This time I am writing it for me and I have a feeling it will be a long one.

If you can't take it and you need to leave, I totally understand. All I ask is that you give me another chance next time.

Writing my blog has been one of the most therapeutic experiences of my life and considering the stressful recipe that my life is cooking up these days, it is great to have an outlet.

I am writing this blog in the computer room at my 80-year old mother’s assisted living facility. It is currently 12:07am and it will be much later when I finish.

As I unfortunately predicted a few weeks ago, she was on the verge of another bipolar episode.

Well, it is here. Loud and clear.

We’ve been trying to head this one off by adjusting her medication, but unfortunately it isn't working.

My wake-up call this morning was from two managers at her residence. They informed me that her behavior in the last few days was quite abnormal.

So abnormal that I really don’t feel comfortable sharing what I was told.

She has been living there for seven months and fortunately this was the first time this call came my way.

After living on her own for the last 20+ years, 1000 miles away, she moved in with me and my family about a year ago.

But after two different episodes landed her in the hospital, we made the painful, but necessary move.

We found a place, about 15 minutes from my home, that was not only acceptable, but actually fantastic.

They cook all her meals, deliver all medications, do her laundry, clean her room....

We should all have it that good.

All was well until a couple of weeks ago, about the same time that I shared with her that I was headed to New York for a job interview.

Nobody else will validate my thoughts, but I have no other answer for what may caused her latest episode.

I have been told by people much older and wiser than me that it is a waste of my time to try and figure out what set her off, this time.

But if there is one thing that I have plenty of these days it’s time.

Well no matter what caused it, the bottom line is she is currently knee deep into a manic phase.

Among the traditional issues that take place during one of those episodes is spending money.

And it's usually on some unusual purchases.

This time was no different.

These days she doesn’t have many financial resources at her fingertips, but she is a resourceful one, that mother of mine.

Last week when the snack man made his monthly visit, she bought $94 in nuts, charging it to her room. We have since cancelled that option.

Then she convinced an employee from the building to take her to WalMart to buy things that she desperately needed.

That trip cost another $134.

In case you were wondering, among those critical items were nine new bras.

When I asked her why nine, she told me there were seven days in a week.

Of course there are.

When I got the call this morning, it was not a surprise. Unfortunately I saw it coming, I just didn't know when.

I picked her up and took her to the hospital where I was hoping a medication adjustment and a couple of days of R&R would get her back on track.

I don’t think she has slept in weeks. That’s another one of the usual suspects.

As I am writing this, in the middle of the night, she is in the lobby of the building sleeping in a rocking chair.

At least she's sleeping.

Perhaps the first sign I notice when things are not right is her rambling. It goes something like this.

She does all the talking, you do none.

Today at the hospital, when they were looking to admit her, they asked her why she was there.

You would’ve thought the question was – take me back 25 years and tell me every thing that has happened.

And I mean EVERY thing.

About 45 seconds into her answer, the nurse turned to me and I said, “Pyschosis.”

I must’ve answered correctly, because that one word got us a room.

Once we got settled, I asked her that same question again to see if the answer had changed.

“Do you know why we are here?”

She quickly answered, “a lot of people think I’m going through a nervous breakdown.”

I’m afraid that was the correct answer.

While mental illness may still be looked at as the disease of the crazy, I have noticed that more people are willing to open up about it.

In the last few months I have had conversations with three of my closest friends who have told me, without me asking, that are using anti-depressant medications.

I don’t know that they would’ve admitted that ten years ago.

Just today on the radio, I heard the manager of a major league baseball team say that one of his pitchers is trying to come back this year from arm surgery......... and clinical depression.

When did that become ok to talk about?

Even as I write this, anonymously, I am still not totally comfortable talking about this topic.

But as they say, if even one person can learn from my mom’s situation, I guess we will all be better off.

I can honestly say that I didn’t understand death until my father died. I was 35 years old.

And I can honestly say that I didn’t understand mental illness until my mom moved in with me. A year ago.

Why can’t she just control herself? Doesn’t she realize what she is doing?

What do you mean her chemicals are imbalanced? Just sleep already and you’ll be fine!

It took me a LONG time to comprehend that her behavior is not her fault.

But as hard as I try to pass the sensitivity test, I keep failing.

The entire time we were in the ER today my mom was talking. I didn’t say a word, not one.

The two nurses in the room heard every word she was saying.

And that was a lot of words.

At one point, I caught one of the nurses staring at me from across the room as if to say either I feel for you or wow, you have given up.

It breaks my heart to think that I have given up, but I’m afraid the nurse might be right.

I realize I don’t have a whole lot of emotional strength or compassion left in me these days, but I have got to keep reminding myself that the person in my mom’s body right now is not my mom.

It is the product of a woman who has endured several tragedies in her life, perhaps none more devastating than being born with a bipolar disorder.

It’s not her fault! It’s not her fault! It’s not her fault!

That's me talking to myself.

The hospital did an evaluation of her, both medically and emotionally, and to my absolute surprise and tremendous frustration, they found nothing that would validate admitting her to the hospital.



Her primary doctor called. The assisted living folks called. I expressed my deepest concern.

But the hospital said there was nothing they witnessed first hand that would change their opinion.

They asked me to sign her discharge papers, which I would not.

I told them that their decision was wrong.

Even with that protest, moments later we left to go back to her home.

She started talking from the moment my car started. I literally did not say one word.

Not one.

Until she asked me about 40 minutes in, are you tired of listening to me?

“Yes,” I said.

She paused for about ten seconds, then went into another story.

I was asked by the assisted living facility to spend the night tonight to be there in case there was a problem.

It’s now 2:24 in the morning and she's still sleeping.

In the lobby.

26 March 2010

No Deal

Poker has never been my game of choice.

I am much more of a Blackjack man.

I don’t gamble much and certainly less than ever without a weekly paycheck coming in.

But I definitely enjoy a long night at the $5 table with friends, winning a few hands and drinking free watered down cocktails.

I know all the rules of Blackjack -- when to hit, when to stay -- but for some reason I usually play by my own guidelines.

I can still remember the dirty stares fired at me from around the table about 23 years, 7 months, 12 days and 16 hours ago when I split a pair of kings.

I think I lost both hands and I haven’t done that since.

I don’t know if I qualify as a simple person, but I do love the simple aspect of Blackjack.


Hit or Stay.

Bust or Don’t Bust.

Win or Lose.

Deal again.

It’s that simple.

Poker has more scenarios than a Rubik’s cube.

Just when you think you’ve got a winning hand, somebody flops a nut straight on you.

Ok, I don’t have any idea what that means, but I thought it would sound cool.

Perhaps the biggest reason I have stayed away from Poker is I don’t know when to go all in.

Pretty much the same feeling I have regarding my next move in the working world.

The bottom line is for the last 25 years, I have worked in one industry, building experience and a good reputation.

Two things that don’t mean squat right now.

I’m definitely not afraid to try something new, but I just can’t get comfortable with throwing away everything I have done.

But I’m getting closer every day.

I just got a very nice note from a loyal reader named Zoe who said that she believes that “you’re at the point when you finally realize that going back to your old life just isn’t an option.”

“Run to that place -- it’s liberating, then go and do what you want, just not that old stuff. Lots of us have started over and your big story will be how you got there and what you did.”

First of all, THANK YOU. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Second of all, easier said than done.

As I told her, the hardest part for me is going all in -- a 100% departure from my old life and old career.

A big part of me has definitely moved on, but all it takes is a call from a possible employer in my old industry (insert joke here) and emotionally I’m back in the game.

Now if we’ve learned anything from Lady Gaga, it’s that a true Poker Face has no emotion.

And of course, when that call doesn’t come, day after day, week after week, it can be devastating.

Seventeen months ago, when my job went away, I made a list (in my head) of all the things that I hoped to accomplish before heading back to the working world.

From family goals, like re-introducing myself to my wife and kids, to personal goals, like working out each day, I’m pretty proud of what I have done.

I’ve also learned how to use my home computer to edit video, to the point where I recently helped a friend by producing and editing a video for youtube.

I have NO doubt that there are a lot of jobs out there that I can do.

I have NO doubt that many companies would be lucky to have me.

But I have A LOT of doubt that I can really walk away from a profession I have called home for more than half of my life.

I may get there. Someday. I may not.

But what I do know is that either way, for now, I’m still motivated.

And I guess that’s my ace in the hole.