Tag Archives: Zach

James Gleick again

I’ve been trying to read James Gleick’s latest book Time Travel: A History. I say trying because I’ve had great difficulty in recent months focusing on books. (I’ve had great difficulty focusing on almost everything since the lockdown, but that’s another story. Pandemic brain.)

I take a book from the library and then don’t read it. Sometimes I read a few pages and put it down and never come back to it. I’ve done better with Gleick for some reason but I still haven’t finished it and I am afraid the library is going to repossess it soon.

One problem is that Gleick, like Stephenson, is such a deep thinker that he requires good concentration to extract value from the book. with

Stephenson’s novels it’s a lot easier because there is a plot. Gleick is a science writer. One reason I liked his book Chaos so much was that it had a narrative. Time Travel, perhaps deliberately, does not.

Gleick shows that time is a concept that humans both understand and do not understand. Even the measurement of time, which we in Western civilization like to think is straightforward, is dependent on consciousness, which leads to memory, which for me today leads to Zach. Nowadays, I think of Zach as being in the past but his memory is with me in the present. In a way he is as alive in my memory as he ever was before when I was not in his presence.

The future we tend to take on faith. After Zach was killed I remember telling people in grief sessions that I had to rewrite my future without him. There was a hole where I had expected him to be. So the future we expect is not assured. This is hardly profound but Gleick presents it engagingly.

I haven’t finished the book yet but I think there is some humor in reviewing a book about time before finishing it. Gleick even comments on how books are time machines themselves in that the reader can go back and forth through the pages if s/he desires.

Of course, the memory of Zach is not the same as having Zach alive in our now world. I can experience Zach by reading his journals and getting wisdom from them, but experiencing his living presence would generate different wisdom. So, I am sad to not be able to experience Zach’s different wisdom in my now. I take comfort in doing my little part in transmitting his now static wisdom into the future.

Rec league basketball

We watched a movie last night.

This is not about the movie.

I watched the credits, as I always do, and saw a name from Zach’s past. The character was a minor one – really just a cameo – so I really didn’t remember what he looked like. The movie was from 2014 and I hadn’t seen James since about 20 years ago when he and Zach were in rec league basketball together. They were pals at 12 years old but it didn’t last into high school.

Still, it was a good memory. The basketball team had their moments but they weren’t overpowering. They went into the championship tournament hoping to win one game but things started working for them and they got to the championship game against the hot shots.

It seemed like there was always one team in rec league that was put together by an ambitious dad who thought his kid was NBA material. Typically they steamrolled everyone else. It always pissed me off when they ran the score up against gawky kids who didn’t spend every free moment practicing basketball.

These were the guys Zach and James’ team were playing for the championship. I don’t remember it well enough to narrate the details but I remember that they played smart and tough against the hot shots. James’ dad was not the official coach but he was a savvy basketball guy who participated in the huddles and helped the kids believe in themselves. Jeremy was there too, providing support.

Well, they won, and were joyous.

In the big picture it would seem meaningless but our personalities are built from many small things. It was a fun moment. Rec league basketball was usually so frustrating. Zach was tall but not the tallest on the team. Soon after this, he really started growing and went on to play on high school and college basketball teams.

The actor turned out to have been born in 1965. Not even close!

Here are James and Zach in their championship shirts:

two deaths

Whenever there are two deaths, I always seem to hear people say these things happen in threes, who will be next. I don’t buy that. Things happen. Period. Humans being the supreme rationalizers that they (we) are, look for patterns in everything. Most of the time we find them. Are they really there? No comment.

The brother of a friend was found dead a couple of days ago. My friend asked that I not tell anyone just yet so I am camouflaging his identity. I’m also pretty sure that no one who might know them reads this blog. Anyway, the death was not related to Covid-19, as far as I know. I think alcohol was the main culprit but I may be rationalizing.

Both deaths were men in their 70s. I could argue that they both had lived decent lives and thus neither death is a tragedy. When my friend called me with the news he was pretty upset. I told him that even when we can see something coming, it can still be a shock when it actually happens.

Bud Oakley had had some serious health problems over the past few years. I hadn’t been as close to him as I had been in the ’90s and early 2000s. That’s when Sarah and Zach were most active in Villa Sinfonia, the violin studio he ran with his wife, Lynn. Over the years, there were rehearsals and concerts and trips to Europe. For a while I created the concert programs for them. I never went on any of the tours but I did go to the summer workshop at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe several times.

View from conference center

Other times Bud and Lynn let us stay in their house in South Lake Tahoe for weekend getaways. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones they were so generous to.

It is a cliché that an organization is like a family. I heard a lot of this rhetoric from Symphony leadership this past three months. I was not convinced. Bud and Lynn’s organization was like a family. They did a lot of smart things from a business perspective but it was all grounded in a love for music and teaching. I always felt that the growth of the studio was due not to some hard nosed business plan but from the organic needs of the people they served.

Bud was a demanding leader but he gave of himself without reserve.

This picture is from a Christmas concert at Ghirardelli Square in 1995. It was a regular thing for a few years. Bud was surely thinking about the music that they were about to play but there were probably kids not yet there he was thinking about. A good man. He will be missed.

Zach recipe

One more thing from the box. Zach had given me a recipe for a ‘breakfast casserole’ once. I had written it on a scrap of paper.

Here’s what I wrote:

  • baking dish 3″ x 14 x 8
  • frozen hashbrowns
  • turkey sausage/chorizo
  • yellow onions
  • 12-8 eggs – scramble
  • garlic & spices
  • cheese (cheddar) bag + 1/2
  • layer
  • 325° 1 hr 10′
  • remove foil cover
  • return to oven 10-15 mins to brown

I ate it once at his house but, sad to say, I never made it myself.

Tschotskes

‘A small bauble or miscellaneous item‘ says Wikipedia. Websters has ‘knickknack, trinket’. The word always had a connotation to me of ‘worthless except to one person’.

I did some cleaning in the garage the other day and unearthed a box filled with stuff that I had had on display on my apartment. There really isn’t a place for it here but I brought the box up to look through carefully. It’s mostly pictures in frames, which I am loath to get rid of. Sepi has lots of paintings, many of which are still in the garage, but paintings and guitars, not family pictures, are our principal wall adornments.

The other things in the box I would definitely call tschotsckes. A little clay wind chime that wouldn’t survive being put out of doors here. Little souvenirs from Germany, Zanesville, Paraguay and other places: plates, ashtrays, trivets.

And some things that remind me of Zach: a button with the picture from his first year in Little League. A ceramic hand print labelled December 1991 when he would have just turned 3. A ‘Panik 12′ button, referring to the Giants’ second baseman Joe Panik, that was on his backpack. A ceramic ‘Z’ that Rosalie made a couple of years ago.

And something I picked up on the side of the street across from his house less than 36 hours after his death:

It’s the lens from his sunglasses that he was wearing that day.

It caught me by surprise. I hadn’t thought about it for a long time. I suppose I would see it occasionally on the table as I went in and out of my apartment. Realistically, I should just toss it. I’ve got all the pictures. I even went back and watched the video I made that day walking along the street with the cars zipping by only about ten feet from me at 40 or 50 miles an hour. In the video, I see the lens in the grass alongside the road and bend down to pick it up. I was not sure it was his, but it all hangs together and I choose to think that it was his.

The ‘Z’ is now up on my dresser where I will see it every day along with Hobbes. I will offer the hand print to other members of the family. The buttons . . .  I’ll guess I’ll ask if anyone else wants them. I don’t expect anyone will. Jeremy might want the Panik button.

the last time I saw Zach

I don’t know why, but I woke up this morning thinking about the last time I saw Zach. It wasn’t really Zach at that point. It was just his body.

We were at the funeral home on the Tuesday afternoon of that week in Baton Rouge. For some reason, I don’t remember Sarah but I remember Jeremy being there. Zach was lying up at the front of the little chapel and there was a railing with a kneeler in front of it. I didn’t kneel, but I touched Zach’s lower leg and I remember thinking that it felt like him: solid and muscular. I don’t know anything about rigor mortis and I certainly wasn’t thinking about it then. Maybe it was just rigor mortis.

Of course, I looked at his face and I thought it was odd that they had put a bunch of pancake makeup on him. It was much later that I saw the police photos of the accident scene and I realized how horrific the injury to his head had been.

I didn’t feel any need to pray over his body or ‘say goodbye’ or anything like that. I wanted to touch him to convince myself it was all real. Emily was towards the back of the chapel with her mother and sisters. We would have been meeting in California in about a month’s time but I went back there and introduced myself and we all talked quietly.

At one point, I remember looking up to the front and saw Jeremy kneeling there and I thought maybe I should go and do that too. But I didn’t want to interrupt him and later people starting moving to leave. I don’t remember where we were going. We certainly weren’t rushed by the funeral home but a consensus seemed to develop that we were done.

The next day we went back and got the ashes.

I had them at my apartment for a long time. I believe I wrote about that. It wasn’t Zach – neither was the body – but it was the closest I had. Now ‘he’ is here:

In the end it’s all memories, which is why I write here. Our oral tradition is pretty much gone unless you count videos. There’s a chance these memories will survive for Rosalie and Noah and maybe their children to read and know a little bit about their ancestors. I know I would have eagerly read stories from my grandparents and great-grandparents. Eventually, their world recedes but their personalities would have shone through, I believe.

 

memories

Day 54 yesterday. Sepi and I went to Santa Clara yesterday. We saw Mom for the first time since early March. No touching, but we sat in the patio and chatted for a while. I brought some salt for the water softener.

After we got home I was spinning through FaceBook and saw that it was Noah’s birthday . . .

11 years old and he’s still the spitting image of Zach, at least to my eyes.

And once again, I am so pleased that he has a stable home environment to grow up in. Ally and Dave are terrific parents.

Well, the whole thing prompted some pillow talk with Sepi. She didn’t remember the story of how we found out about Noah and how Ally and Dave brought him up to Michigan to meet the family. What a tremendous thing that was! I believe I’ve documented here how difficult it was for me to accept him for what he was.

I still love Dave’s simple comment: ‘I’m the Dad.’

So this morning the power went out and I couldn’t work on the big computer as I had been planning so I picked up the iPad. This is the one that had belonged to Zach and still has some foibles related to his ownership. It still has access to his Google Drive even though I do not have the password.

It isn’t his regular Google Drive account. I got all the stuff off of that early on. This one – I think – was for his research into gender roles in intramural sports. It has videos of some IM flag football games. When I looked at them this morning I thought, these have no value to anyone any more. I deleted a couple, then noticed the date: November 10. Aiee!

Now I’m not sure – still, after all this time! – that I should be deleting anything. Then, when I went to crop the photo, I noticed that the dates were 2014. You probably can’t tell on this tiny photo but they’re all October and November 2014. Oh well. I haven’t heard from his thesis advisor since about six months after Zach’s death. He was going through some pretty serious changes then. I’m going to go ahead and delete them.

It’s even possible that I already sent this stuff to Alex and I don’t even remember doing it.

The only other thing of interest is Zach’s account name. He actually made two of them, both named Tom Brady with emails of woodrowreasearch and woodrowreasearch1@gmail.com. I haven’t tried to get into those accounts. I spent a lot of time in the first year going through Zach’s real emails and cleaning up things there. Whatever is in that inbox is way out of date. If someone else knows how to get into it and finds something of value, please let me know.

Or not.

Day 55.

Shakespeare Notes

I haven’t written about Zach in a long time. Today I was cleaning up my Google Drive and looked at this file called ‘Shakespeare Notes’. I knew it was Zach’s but I didn’t know why I was saving this one file. Maybe it was so I could write this post! Actually, I had two others but they are little video files that I will not share at this time. They are not really significant but poignant. Jake, if you ever read this, you are in them with Zach!

Zach, if I haven’t mentioned this before, used misdirection in many of his file names, particularly those which were personal. I knew the content had nothing to do with old Will but I couldn’t remember what was in there or why I was saving it there. I’ve had a folder on my desktop computer with all my Zach related stuff for a long time. Not just stuff related to the aftermath of his death but everything I could get off of his computer, iPad and phone. Voice mails, texts, pictures. It’s a lot of stuff.

I don’t have a lot to say about the ‘Shakespeare’ file. The system date is December 4, 2015, which means I modified it slightly a couple of weeks after Zach died.There is no internal date but his one reference to getting his Masters puts it in the 2013-2014 time frame.

Here’s the whole thing:

January 1- May/Juneish (or longer?)

        • Physical/Health

          • Tighten up body. Maintain a body weight in the 190-200 range, but focus on cutting body fat.

          • Create a balance between core workouts and cardio. Indulge in basketball but don’t default.

          • Diet: Maintain what I’m doing.

            • Focus on salads and vegetables where possible

        • Personal Development

          • Make my reading list more visible and not out of sight out of mind.

            • Balance the intellectual books with pleasure reading. Don’t forget how much fun it is to read a book.

          • Focus on current events and news, if not religiously.

            • Don’t act arrogant about the world around you just because you think you have some of the systems figured out.

            • Listen to NPR podcasts once a day

            • Keep reading and writing on what is happening around you

            • Check Facebook max three times/day

          • Less thinking and more doing. Don’t feel good just because you mentally processed something. Take knowledge to the next level.

          • Conversely, don’t default to critical. Take time to think and process before being arrogant, especially in social situations.

        • Emotional Sustenance

          • 1 meaningful phone conversation or letter a week. Just a quick note goes a long way. Do not backburner, considering it only takes 5-10 minutes.

            • Relationships always need nurturing.

          • Take advantage of time away from work to forget about work. Whether it is short vacations or enhanced personal retreats, don’t let work consume your thoughts or give you a fresh perspective. Remember how beneficial this is.

          • Remember a lot of people look up to you or believe in you and want you to succeed.

July 1-December 31

          • Physical/Health:

            • Lose the gut.  Focus on consistent core workouts as well as general exercise, to strengthen the lower back, heart, and abdominal region. Explore yoga options(ADD MORE DEVELOPMENT)

            • Focus on posture, sitting up straight and walking with shoulders pushed back

            • Diet: reduced sweets.  No alcohol.  Portion control (make the appetite smaller).  

              • Focus on salads/vegetables, diversify entrees.  

              • Look into blender (for fruits) and George Foreman (for chicken mainly).  Smaller appetite means money saved.  

              • No red meat except special occasions.

              • At least 90 oz. water a day.  No Gatorade except with exercise.

              • Vitamins?  Consider later once budget is more stable

          • Personal Development:

            • Make a visible reading list ( a la the queue).  15 minutes of a book/magazine a day (or 3 hours a week).  Dedicate time to reading

            • Current events—either at work or at home, must stay up on what is going on—focus on the morning coffee.  Spend an equal amount of time on the coffee as I do with ESPN/FB.

            • Maintain reflection/journal, make notes on a daily basis and weekly put 30-60 minutes aside for a “things I learned this week.”  Stay focused and don’t let yourself get caught on little tangents

            • Once settled, starting making connections on my options for masters programs at LSU and begin to develop my plan and vision for the future as they relate to those options.

            • Eye on the prize: University President.  The time has come for me to become who I say I am.

          • Emotional Sustenance

            • Be very intentional by staying in contact—utilize emails and Facebook, send out the form letters at proper times.  Remember that people love you and there can never be too much dialogue—especially focus on Troy, Dave, Josh, Molly—look at their development on both personal and professional.  Second tier: Deb/Karl, Amy, Rae, the bros, Joey, Ola, more

              • Write one meaningful letter/note each week

            • Explore the culture, keep making close connections but don’t force it

            • Remember to take vacations and take advantage of being in 20’s—Atlanta, Midwest, East Coast.  Getting away for a day or two can be very valuable.

            • Keep updating or maintaining a bucket list and Socratic appendices.  A little materialism can sometimes make a big impact.

 

changes

It feels like months since I’ve posted here. It turns out it’s only – only! – about 5 weeks. But it was 5 or 6 weeks since the one before that so in nearly three months only one post. Lame.

Yes, there has been a lot going on in my life. It’s mostly work related. My new job has been rather all consuming.

For reasons too complicated to go into today, I think I turned a corner this week. Running shows the last couple of days, I finally am feeling confident that I am not forgetting things. There are so many details and so many distractions.

The big push at the start of the season with MTT is now almost a month in the past. I had a week long vacation in which Sepi and I and Mom! drove up to Washington to visit Jeremy’s family. We also swung through Spokane for a quick visit with Dan and Nettie and Peter and Nanci. All went well. The shows after we got back were generally easy to stage. Last week the production team had a long meeting looking at the December shows and came up with some plans.

So, I’m breathing easier.

Meanwhile, the 4th anniversary of Zach’s death has been looming. For a long time, that number was more significant because it was the end of the statute of limitations for criminal charges. I held out hope for a long time, despite clear statements from the Baton Rouge DA’s office, that I could marshal enough evidence to revisit the actions of the drivers who killed Zach.

I say drivers because I believe that both drivers were negligent in that they were racing to be first out of the merge and did not watch the road as they should have. Zach was in the road and was hit by one of them.

The world moves on. Those of us who loved Zach have mostly come to terms with life without him. I haven’t had a big crying jag in a while but I think I may let go sometime this week. Especially in the last three months I’ve often wished I could consult with Zach over my work difficulties. He had the ability to step back emotionally that I envied.

Now I just muddle through.

view from my bed

It’s been a hectic month. Almost six weeks, in fact, since I was offered the Symphony stage manager job. Incredibly, I officially started less than a week later. Partly because of that accelerated schedule, I had leftover commitments to JJ so I worked several nights and weekends for him after that.

At the Symphony, during the regular work week, I had personnel issues, new computers, new computer systems, new (to me) software. I had to plan for six orchestra moves in the first ten days of the season. Almost like being on tour!

I haven’t toured with the Symphony yet so that’s a little cheeky to say. At least I’ll be sleeping in my own bed each night.

Speaking of bed, I slept in this morning, seemingly for the first time in weeks. As I was waking up, I saw this view:

For months I had kept Hobbes in a box, along with many other personal things that there just wasn’t room for in the new house. One day a couple of months ago I happened to see him and thought that this little spot behind the lamp would be good for him. To be completely honest, I hadn’t noticed him or thought about him very much but today I did.

I have thought of Zach a lot during this past month of stress. He would have given me valuable insight into strategies for organizations and people. I’ve been thinking of the 4th anniversary of his death upcoming this fall. That seems important because it is supposedly the end of the statute of limitations on criminal charges surrounding his death. For a long time I wanted to beat on the Baton Rouge DA to reopen the case and charge Shawn Allen with vehicular manslaughter. Or something more than speeding. Or implicate the other driver, who I believe was complicit in the whole thing and got away with nothing. This post tells more about my feelings.

Anyway, I think I’ve let go of the whole idea. As I’ve said before, nothing will bring Zach back and the Baton Rouge authorities are not interested. My plate is full with this new job so I’ll just go on hoping Mr Allen still has nightmares and try to think of good things.