Tag Archives: Zach

this year

It’s not even the end of the year yet but I saw something tonight that gave me a little shock of time passing.

I have a folder in my photos folder titled 2017 miscellany. I use it for things that aren’t easily categorized. Kind of like miscellany. You know, you just can’t get this kind of insight anywhere! Seriously, I think I started on a manic phase this afternoon when I got off work. I don’t have to go back until Saturday!

Any time I go somewhere and take pictures, I save them in a folder titled with the date and where I was. 2017 August Germany is a good example. Often there are subfolders. Miscellany usually turns out to contain pictures of relatives that have been posted on Facebook. Tonight I was looking at Noah’s 3rd grade photo Ally posted. Along with it in my miscellany folder is this one:

It’s from January. It seems like ages ago but I remember well the shock I felt when I first saw it. What a cool thing! Thank you, Laurie, for your efforts to have Zach remembered in this way. May it never fade!

Just him

Tidying up files today I found this quote from Rosalie, written up by Ashley in January of this year:

A friend stopped by this afternoon to give Rosalie a memory box to keep special things that remind her of Zach. After she left, I asked R some questions thinking I would write down her answers for the box.
“What do you remember about Uncle Zach?”
“Bad news bananas!!!” (Smiles and giggles )
“What was your favorite memory, or something that you remember, about Uncle Zach?”
“Just him.”
“Your favorite part was just all of him?”
“Yeah. Just him.”

tea

I had to look it up. It was Christmas 2011. Zach had moved from Oregon to Louisiana the summer before. Sarah had started her doctorate program in Colorado. Jeremy and Ashley had moved into their own home. I was starting to get back on my feet after the economic disaster of 2008 and 2009.

I don’t remember if I helped to finance, or if I suggested it, but with all five of us in one place at the same time, I wanted to get a nice picture of all of us. Ashley’s brother Ryan had a nice camera and generously agreed to take some pictures. there are a bunch of good ones, but this is the one I picked today:

But back to tea. For a Christmas present, my children got together and gave me a teapot and some tea. I don’t know why exactly. I had not been a tea drinker. I didn’t (still don’t) drink coffee. I had become a fan of caffeine over the years when I discovered it helped with my headaches but I had never thought about getting it via liquids.

OK, I have a teapot now. When I got home, I started trying out the teas that had come with the teapot. Eventually, I developed some knowledge of what I liked. The next year for Christmas, Zach sent me a huge assortment of teas. Here’s my kitchen cabinet after they arrived:

I’ve got some nice glass containers now but otherwise the cabinet looks much the same. I keep lots of different teas and drink whatever feels right at the moment. I have some loose leaf teas but use tea bags most of the time.

I thought of all of this last night when I was at the grocery store getting milk. I always go down the tea aisle, even when I have plenty of tea. I guess I look for stuff on sale. At this point I know what stores have what teas so there aren’t many surprises.

What struck me last night was that the Stash tea was about the cheapest tea there. Stash was the brand of the assortment that Zach had sent me and I thought it was pretty good. It’s an Oregon company so I thought there was some angle for him there. They have lots of teas so I was able to try lots of different flavors.

Today was Oolong. Thinking of you, Zach.

that awful night

‘That awful night’ has been my code phrase for the night two years ago when Zach was killed. I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last couple of months. Actually, not about the night itself, but the anniversary of it. I’ve been thinking that while I certainly won’t forget what happened on this date, I want to focus on celebrating Zach on his birthday rather than his death day.

The group I was going to in Santa Clara, Compassionate Friends, begins each monthly meeting with a reading of the names of those who died in that month. They also read the names of those who were born. I was never comfortable with that, though. I really wanted – and I still want – to focus on moving forward rather than looking back.

This blog, which began as a tribute to Zach, has become a chronicle of my activities and thoughts. Sometimes they are looking backwards, but more often they are in the moment and with a positive outlook. This, I believe, is how Zach would prefer that he be remembered. In the words of his grandfather Clark Ewing, ‘Pick up the slack for Zach.’ Do something positive, push yourself a little.

I’ve been staying since Monday in Spokane with my friends Peter and Nanci. Peter had a stroke three years ago and has limited speech ability and his right side is paralyzed. The three of us have had discussions about trauma, about change in our lives, and even some good talk about people we knew in high school. In some ways, Peter’s condition reminds me of my father’s. In both cases, their intellect is intact but the mechanism for connecting that intellect to the rest of the world doesn’t work properly. For Peter, there have been some positive signs: he can walk a little with a cane; he has been able to speak a few new words. For my father, I fear there will be no return.

For both men, those who love them have to treasure what we have and not get wrapped up in what we don’t have,

Yesterday was a good day. I helped Nanci hang some cabinets and fixed a broken door. The wind blew the hot water heater pilot out in the afternoon and I helped relight it. But we didn’t go anywhere, we just stayed near each other and talked and treasured the moments.

PTSD

Despite all my blowback from Zach’s death, I really hadn’t thought about my reactions in anything like the terms usually used to describe PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is most commonly referenced, in my experience, to soldiers after having been in a shooting war. Nowadays, Iraq and Afghanistan are the poster children, but many people came home from Vietnam with it. No doubt many came home from Korea and World War II with it as well, although the syndrome wasn’t recognized in the same way then.

Some of these countries have ongoing trauma, but out of the remaining ones, I’m sure German, Japanese, Russian soldiers came home with PTSD. Vietnamese and Koreans never had to leave home to get it.

So I don’t want to equate my feelings with those of soldiers – of any nation – who have spent months or years in war zones, killing people, seeing their friends killed, and nearly being killed themselves. But the other day, as I was driving on a two lane road at dusk with oncoming traffic going 50 or 60 miles an hour, as I was, I had a little twitch. And that image of Zach’s broken body flashed before my eyes again and I for some reason thought,’ PTSD.’

I haven’t been to a therapy session since last spring. I haven’t been to a good therapy session since Dr Perry left in January. I had a phone session with Linda S that was not satisfying and inconclusive. See my posts on ‘Goals’. I don’t think I will start up again with either although I have had ideas of trying to contact Dr Perry and do some kind of long distance therapy. So far, no action on that.

During the last month, as I was often going to work during regular rush hour, there were times when I felt myself getting extra twitchy while driving, while watching other people do really stupid things on the road. Except for the other day, all the driving I’ve done here in Washington has been fear free. I picked up my rental car today and drove up to a music store about an hour north of Duvall, then came home on a state highway that was mostly two lane. Perhaps I was distracted by having a new car to drive, or by the scenery, but I had no flashbacks. I do often take note when I am driving at 50 – 55 miles an hour of how fast the trees are going by. Sometimes I think of someone hitting my car at that speed.

I think the day will come when I will go back to Baton Rouge and stand along that road and time the cars leaving that intersection. Jake sold the house and lives in Las Vegas now. Micah and Julie are still down there so I will no doubt ask them about it again. The second anniversary of that awful night is next week but I’ve already decided that I will only celebrate Zach’s birthday any more, not his death day.

the theatre

Yesterday, after getting the news of Robin’s death, I did fairly normal things which you can read about in yesterday’s blog post. Even before getting the news, I had been determined to get out of the apartment and go for a walk somewhere, so I did that. Just south of Half Moon Bay is a parking lot for a trail that leads 1/2 mile straight through some fields to bluffs overlooking the ocean. On one end are stairs that go down to a beach; on the other a couple of benches where you can sit and look at another beach that is protected for the seals.

There were no seals, and very few people. In two hours there, I saw five people (and one dog, which wasn’t supposed to be there, but that’s another story).

On the way back, I walked down Main Street and looked in the cute little shops. There is a nice card store there where I bought some cards, including a sympathy one for Kris. I was going to have lunch there but the cuteness of the street was bugging me. For that, I went back north of town to the Cafe 3-0 at the airport. Just your basic, no bullshit, greasy spoon.

I got home about 1 and was pretty pooped so I laid down and picked up a book I had gotten at the library last week. I’m not sure why I got it because I didn’t recognize the name of the actor who wrote it, even though he was evidently successful. He had grown up in San Francisco. I think that’s why I picked it up.

I never did sleep. I read that book from cover to cover. It’s called Are You Anybody? by Jeffery Tambor. When I was done, I just started sobbing. For Robin, for Zach, I don’t know, but it hit me somewhere deep.

I got involved in the theatre at DeAnza College when I was 18. I don’t know why I insist on spelling it that way. The spell checker says it’s wrong. I think I do it to differentiate between live theatre and the movie theater. Live theatre is just the best. Sort of like live music. It’s an activity that a group of humans take on for the purpose of presenting something to other humans in a communal setting. I’m sure there were aspects of theatre in caves thousands of years ago. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things that a human can do.

Anyway, I was at DeAnza, my local community college, because I had quit being a math major at UC Santa Cruz in favor of playing in my rock band in Cupertino. After six months of flailing around, my parents said that if I wanted to live at home I had to go to school. So, I went to DeAnza as a music major.

Literally my first quarter there I was just looking for a class to fill out my schedule and my eye fell on Stagecraft. I thought, ‘I’m going to be on stages for the rest of my life, I’ll take a class in stagecraft.’ I had never been particularly interested in theatre. I don’t think I’d ever even been to a play. I had no idea what stagecraft really meant.

The purpose of the class was basically to build sets and run the technical end of the play which the department was doing. My first theatre job was taking care of props for the play that fall. It was called Marathon 33, about marathon dancing during the 1930s depression.

Theatre at DeAnza was done in a facility then called the Box Theatre. It was a room roughly 60′ square which included the shop area. The was a grid for hanging lighting instruments over most of it at 16′ high and a lighting and sound booth overlooking the whole thing. Seating risers got pushed around to suit the configurations of what ever performance was being done.

Abutting the Box Theatre, touching but not really connected, was a 2,500 seat auditorium called The Flint Center for the Performing Arts. Actually, the Calvin C. Flint Center, named after the man who who had been the first Superintendent of the school district. After being in the school theatre for a while, I got to know the people running it and discovered they had student help for setting up community shows. Pushing the shell towers around and setting up risers and chairs, mostly. Incredibly (in my mind), rather than look to the drama department for workers, they had felt that strength was more important so they had football players working there. Oh, and the football players’ girlfriends . . .

Long story short, I eventually got on their list and joined the crew doing risers and chairs. That eventually led to a staff position and, later, getting overhire jobs with the union for the professional shows and, still later, joining the union and making theatre my career.

In all this time, I’ve done relatively little in what I would call real theatre. Plays. I worked at SF Opera for 13 years. I worked on lots of traveling musicals in Sacramento for ten years. The last five or six years I’ve been working pretty steadily for the SF Symphony. All worthy communal human activities. Just not really theatre.

In the relatively few times I’ve gotten involved in actual plays, it always felt like home. There is a certain kind of bonding that takes place with theatre people that I really enjoy.

Robin and Kris are theatre people to the bone. And Jeffery Tambor’s book is about theatre people. And maybe I have some regrets that I took the jobs that paid better and didn’t get so much of real theatre. And I thought of Robin being dead and how vibrant she had been, and how dedicated she was to real theatre, and how she was gone too soon, and Zach was gone too soon. So I was crying.

I eventually calmed down enough to go over and sit with Rose for a few minutes. She doesn’t get the theatre stuff but she gets everything else better than anyone. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment three years ago. We cried a little together, then I came home and ate some dinner and went to bed. I was beat but I ended up laying there reading posts on the guitar and bass forums until midnight.

Susie texted me last night that Kris is in assisted living because the left side of her body doesn’t work any more. Susie is another real theatre person. Today I hope to be making a call to Susie and perhaps to Kris. I couldn’t face it last night.

voice mail

My nephew Danny is planning a family get together this weekend at his house in Lincoln. Us Bay Area folks are planning on going but there are questions about who is staying overnight, how we can car pool, etc. Mom sent me an email yesterday with a bunch of things on it so rather than responding in kind, I called her. They didn’t answer, so I left a message.

I got no response until I checked my email this morning. She said she tried to call but my email was full. Full? What have I got stored . . .? Oh.

So, here’s my story. I save certain voice mails from my kids. The ones that seem indicative of milestones. I usually transfer them to my hard drive and take them off my phone to avoid just the problem that I now have but the last one I got from Zach and the anguished calls from Jeremy and Mom that awful night are still there. I just checked and I did transfer them but I didn’t erase them from my phone. There are a few other, more recent ones, saved.

It’s funny, I only had to hear the first couple of seconds of each one of those to bring it all back this morning. I didn’t get much work done for a while after that. Luckily, the theatre was dark and hardly anyone was around.

For months I was sure I had a early November voice mail message from Zach talking about his upcoming trip to California with Emily. When I finally went through them carefully, it wasn’t there. I guess I erased it by mistake somewhere along the line. Here’s the last one I have, from the summer before.

Zach’s journals follow up

I think it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted about reading Zach’s journals and teased that I would possibly post excerpts. Honestly, some of the things he put in them made me uncomfortable and I had to stop. Also, I was going through in chronological order and the closer I got to the end, the harder it was to read.

And I wasn’t even really reading them! I was just going through and writing down the dates of each entry. Things would catch my eye and of course I would read further but I wasn’t reading top to bottom.

My next couple of weeks are pretty open so I may get back to it. Stay tuned!

‘the Wood’

I don’t know why it’s been on my mind lately, but I wanted to write about the way Zach shook hands with people. More specifically, when he met someone for the first time, there was a particular way he shook hands.

He told me once that he read how if you grasped the arm of the person you were meeting, you would create a strong positive impression. He was very interested in creating a strong first impression so that’s what he did. As he grasped your right hand in his, he would reach out with his left hand and grasp your right forearm.

When he told me about this, I said, ok, whatever, but I think it was at one of the ‘celebrations’ that someone told me that, amongst his friends, the handshake was known as ‘The Wood.’ Zach was also know for his hugs but I think that was for people he had already met before.

God dammit, I miss that guy.

Zach’s journals

I had this idea the other day that I could go through Zach’s journals and make list of all the dates he wrote in them. Then on a particular date, I could put his writing for that day on the blog. I was feeling that perhaps enough time has passed that I could read them somewhat dispassionately.

I forgot how much he wrote.

I just spent almost two hours going through two years of journals – his so-called Statistical Appendices from 2012 and 2013. He had another set of journals under a folder called Corleone. I believe the Corleone files are more work related while the SAs are more personal. basically, all I did tonight was go through each month’s file and make notes of the dates he wrote. I wasn’t trying to read but a few things caught my attention and I did read them.

My current thinking is that if I do something like this, I will only publish excerpts. There are two reasons. One is the sheer volume of material. It’s not uncommon for him to write 3 or 4 pages on a particular day. I’ve done my best to keep the original files unchanged in case someone, someday wants to get a look at Zach unfiltered but for the purposes of this blog I’ll probably do a lot of cutting.

The other reason is that he’s pretty unsparing of feelings. He’s not writing for publication, he’s writing to, well, I don’t know if he even knows. I did see some comments about why he writes as I was blasting through tonight but my goal was to collect dates, not to read critically.

I have two more years of SAs that I will try to get to this week. Then I will compile all the dates into one list. Then, one day when I am thinking about writing, I may look up his entry for that day and work on that instead. I will still write about other things that are on my mind that may or may not be about Zach.

As luck would have it, neither the 2012 nor the 2013 journals have any entries for the 10th or 11th of September. I’ll wait until I’m done then review.