Monthly Archives: June 2016


My job tonight was running the house electrics at Davies Symphony Hall. I’m filling in for JJ who is on vacation. I’ve been doing this on and off for over a year now and I’m still not completely confident that I will remember all the little details.

Anyway, the Symphony is playing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with a huge orchestra and chorus & I’m a little tense. MTT is conducting. I have a couple of internal cues so I have to hang in the light booth more than I might ordinarily. I can hear but only through speakers in the booth. About 30 minutes in I notice that the audience is unusually rapt and quiet during the very quiet parts. By the last 20 minutes – now over an hour into the piece –  when the chorus stands up to sing, I can see that the audience is hardly moving they’re so intent. A couple sitting right in front of the booth just look at each other briefly as if to say, ‘Can you believe this?’

MTT is a man possessed and yet not. He’s in complete control. Sometimes I look at the monitor that shows the face that the orchestra sees and he is seemingly relaxed. From the audience he is willowy yet taut. Once again I have to reflect on the treasure we have here in San Francisco. Now that I’ve been here with the Symphony for a while, I know more of his story. He’s a living link to great artists of the 20th Century like Gershwin and Bernstein. He often seems mercurial when shows are in development such as what I’ve witnessed in SoundBox but the results are almost always astounding. He is a treasure.

Edit after (sort of) seeing this show two more times. The band is pretty good too! It was hard to quantify my own take the second and third hearings. Actually none of them were true experiences of the music. I saw Lolly Lewis at the Friday show and I expect she will put a review up on her blog. It’s not there yet but check out her writing anyway:


I did my dishes this morning. 6 breakfast cereal bowls, one small plate, a couple of plastic containers, a couple of water glasses, and some silverware. That represents all the meals I’ve eaten at home for the last week. I worked through the dinner hour 5 of the last six days. The sixth, Monday, I drove up to Sacramento to record a part for Tom’s album & stayed up there for dinner.

I didn’t really work through the dinner hour. All I mean is that I wasn’t home for dinner for six days in a row.

I counted up my work days per month for the year this morning. 15, 13, 13, 16, 21, & June will have 13 after tomorrow. Except for May, that’s not too bad. I’m certainly grateful to have the work but given that many of those days are longer than 8 hours, it can be tough. Heading home last night I was whipped. Even though I felt I hadn’t done a lot, I was at work from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. That was pretty much the story for the last week and will be the story for the next three days.

The maintenance needed light came on in my car Monday and I haven’t done anything about it. (Just realized it might just be the oil change timer which is bogus.) I was going to call the garage yesterday and arrange to get in in this morning but I didn’t. Today I have physical therapy followed by mental therapy in San Mateo this afternoon so leaving it somewhere for the day was never an option. This morning I’m engaged in the mental therapy of writing in this blog.

Whine, whine, whine.  I’m still happy to have reduced my use of ibuprofen. Whether that’s because of the exercises or something else is impossible to say. Maybe next week I’ll have fierce headaches every day. It does happen.

Finally, Zach. Pretty soon everyone will converge here in California to release his ashes to the earth. Not really everyone; perhaps not even those he was closest to, but a largely self-chosen group of relatives. After some contentious moments, it looks like we have a plan and everyone is on board.

Physical therapy & exercise

I had to look it up: I started physical therapy on June 3rd, not even a month ago. Why was I in PT? I had noticed for some months how my right foot was dragging a little more than it had before. I was concerned because that was the leg that had the numbness stemming from the herniated discs. More to the point, it was my right big toe that had no feeling. Kind of important for walking, I think. I mentioned it to my regular doctor who sent me to PT. She didn’t feel there was any need for MRIs or the like to check the discs.

OK, whatever. PT was one of the first things suggested (by a different doctor) back in those dark days of 2011. I dutifully went to several sessions but never felt it was doing much good. Of course I was in quite a bit of pain at that time, to the extent that I was off work for two months.

In the end, massive doses of ibuprofen smoothed things out & ever since, ibuprofen has been my drug of choice for back pain. I’ve mentioned my ibuprofen use to every doctor I’ve seen since then and they all said the amounts I am taking are no problem. (I’m not taking anywhere close to the maximum any more.)

So what do I do in physical therapy? The sessions at the clinic are mostly review. I have simple exercises to do at home every day that take about 5 minutes. A couple of stretches, some leg lifts; that’s it. Oh, I’m supposed to do some simple stretches throughout my day if I think of it.

Why is this all newsworthy? Because for some reason I have needed much less ibuprofen in the last two weeks than any two week period since 2011. I don’t imagine it’s a miracle cure; I have to keep up with the exercises, I’m sure, and no one is saying my herniated discs will go away.

But it’s heartening. My relationship with exercise has been interesting over the years. As a teen and young adult, I was very active riding my bike and playing sports. I never felt the need to do exercise for exercise sake.

As work became more time consuming and I got married and started a family, biking and playing baseball fell away from my common activities. I remember at one point rationalizing that I got enough exercise on the job so I didn’t have to do it any other time. In the last 15 or 20 years it’s just been habit.

I think Zach was still at OSU when he told me he was doing yoga. He was never judgmental, but I thought I would try it and bought a starter kit. It’s still in its box. One of these days . . .

Cubby’s grief; my grief

I called Cubby today & talked to him on the phone. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to do that ever since his wife died on Easter Sunday morning. I sent him a text that morning but every time since when I thought I had a few minutes to call him I found a way to not do it.

I called him earlier in the year when Ronata took a turn for the worse. I had to leave a message and I almost couldn’t get any coherent words out. He’d been struggling with her being seriously ill since her stroke in 2010 & the thought of another death close to me knotted me up completely.

Cubby told me he had to quit his job at the union because he was basically going crazy. He had thought it would be better for him to go back to work but it wasn’t. Now he’s on partial disability while he tries to make sense of his life. He’s in therapy as I am. I told him about the Bereavement Support Group that Kaiser sponsors that has been very helpful to me. He said he would check out their East Bay schedule.

For those who don’t know, the night Zach was killed I was mixing audio for a show at the Herbst and had turned my phone off. Jeremy was frantically trying to reach me and all he could think of was that he had Cubby’s phone number from 3 1/2 years ago when he came out to work out of the hall for a couple of weeks during the busy season. Cubby called Stacey, who was stage managing that night & got her to have me turn my phone on. Cubby told me to call Jeremy immediately. I knew it was bad but I thought something had happened to Rosalie. Never in a million years would I have guessed what actually did happen.

After I talked to Jeremy and started putting the show stuff in order so I could leave – in a daze, thank you Stacey & Smitty –  I talked to Cubby again about some other jobs I had scheduled for the next two days.. He told me very forcefully that I needed to get with my family and not worry – indeed, not to even think about – any work issues. He said over and over, ‘Whatever you need, I’ll be there for you.’ And I knew he wasn’t bullshitting because he doesn’t bullshit. He stuck with me on the phone as I was driving to Teresa’s.

So we’re talking today about grief and how it manifests – mostly crying jags. I told him I had been pretty good for several weeks but yesterday out of nowhere I started sobbing and couldn’t stop for about ten minutes. He said yeah that’s weird, the same thing happened to him about the same time.

There’s a lot more to the story of that awful night but for now all I want to do is say I talked to Cubby today & I didn’t start bawling. I guess that’s good.

Zach’s texts update

Update: The phone is disconnected but the texts are still in there. Can I go through and screenshot all of them a month from now; six months from now? I don’t know. Maybe someone will come forward with a technique to dump the texts directly into a computer. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Comments are open!

Zach’s texts

I have Zach’s phone. Zach’s phone has a lot of texts on it. I’ve kept it active – at no small expense to Noah, ultimately, since it comes out of the account that is now his – because I wanted to keep all those texts just as I am keeping all of Zach’s journal files.

Unfortunately, Apple’s security is such that I have been unable to get Zach’s AppleID password. This would allow me to download a text to email app. I’ve been reduced to taking screenshots one screen at a time and then putting them in a special foder that I was able to share and then access on my own ipad. Actually, I’m not sure this is really it because it’s been a couple of months since I did that. I lost heart when I came up to Zach’s text correspondence with Micah & Jake going back two years. I kept going back and more texts kept getting loaded.

Some of it is banal. Arguably, none of it was meant to be remembered but I have it and I want to be able to access it without paying $75/month to keep Zach’s phone active.

Now I also have Zach’s ipad. I can use it to access Zach’s email but not his texts, as far as I know. If anyone reads this and knows how to easily get texts off of an Apple phone, please get in touch with me.

If you think I am nuts and should just let it go, you can tell me that too. Comments are open.


Franz Hangauer was my cousin. The story of how we met is very cool, but for another day. When I went to Holland to visit Sarah in January 2013, we went on the train to Franz’ brother Wilfried’s house in Rastatt.

To get to Rastatt from Amsterdam, we took an InterCity train to Frankfurt, then transferred to a local for Baden Baden, where Wilfried was to meet us. I knew Franz was coming and that he lived in Mainz, which was on the way for the train, but I didn’t expect at all what happened.

Franz knew our schedule, boarded our train in Mainz, started at the front and walked through the train until he found us. I was slumped in my seat next to Sarah, just waiting for the train ride to end, when I heard a voice say, ‘Hello, Chris!’

I stared at the speaker and my first thought was ‘Johannes has come back to life.’ Johannes was Franz’ father. I hadn’t seen Franz in 30 years so naturally he looked older and not surprisingly he looked like his father.

Once I came to my senses we had a happy reunion and continued on to Wilfried’s in high spirits. We spent a day and a half there filled with gemutlichkeit.

It was to be the last time I saw him. Franz died of a sudden heart attack on April 7 of this year.

But not the last time I spoke to him. He had been in the habit, over the years, of calling periodically. Not often, maybe once every couple of years.

He was one of the very few that called me after Zach’s death, though. Our conversation was strained, as were all my conversations in those days, but I heard the emotion and sympathy in his voice and I loved him for it.

I wrote a note to Wilfried & Marlies, his brother and sister, afterwards and recently got a card back with a Thornton Wilder quote on it. It took a minute or two to realize that the quote was originally written in English so I looked it up. Here it is:

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Rest in Peace, Franz Anton Hangauer 1957-2016

Father’s Day

Since this page is a confessional, I’m going to confess: I don’t think I’ll call my father today. Some of the reasons are in the previous post, but also it’s the knowledge that Dad called this a ‘Hallmark holiday’. That is, a fake holiday ginned up to sell stuff. I know, that’s what made America great, but I’m hoping we can find another paradigm.

When we were kids and Father’s Day rolled around, we would ask him, ‘Why isn’t there a Children’s Day?’ He would always reply, eyes twinkling, ‘Every day is Children’s Day.’ And it was for him. He loved us unconditionally, every day.

For me, every day is Father’s Day. He’s a treasure & I value him every day.

Besides, Dad doesn’t do too well on the phone these days and I’m going down to visit him tomorrow. That’ll have to do.

Mom & Dad

When I moved back to the Bay Area in 2010, I naturally visited Mom & Dad more but I didn’t think too much about it. I went when I had time but I didn’t make time for it.

Until one day. The day was nothing special; we might have watched golf on TV. We didn’t talk about anything heavy or important. But as I was leaving, they were effusive in how nice it had been for them to have had me there. It hit me like a ton of bricks: they’re your parents! They worked hard and raised you and allowed you to become who you are. And they’re in their 80s and aren’t going to last forever. Many of my friends my age have lost one or both of their parents – I need to treasure them!

So I made vow to visit them more frequently, which I have largely done. If two weeks pass without my getting down to Santa Clara it’s unusual. I’ve helped them with some things but mostly I just hang out with them. In fact, a common pattern for a visit is arrive for lunch, eat lunch, sit around and talk, take a nap, eat dinner, go home. Pretty sweet for me!

This past week I went down for the specific reason of meeting the Kaiser nurse who had given Dad a memory test. She had done the same test on him 4 years ago and now wanted to meet with another family member (besides Mom). As it happened, Mom had a bad cold & couldn’t go to the meeting so it was just Dad & me with Elaine the nurse & Grace the social worker.

They delivered the news: Alzheimers. It felt like they said Cancer. As in a death sentence. However, they said the disease is slow moving and Dad could still be happy for a long time. We discussed a lot of things and they gave me a huge packet of stuff to take back. At home, Mom wanted to know the bottom line, which I had trouble saying, but when I finally did she didn’t seem surprised.

Nothing is changed, really. He’s not going to take any drugs; he’s not going to die in a month. We, the family, are all determined to do what we can to keep him engaged and active and in his own home.

My own insight was in being there for two days with Mom being sick, I learned how much she does to keep things running. I couldn’t just sit back and wait for dinner to appear! I had to acknowledge that although she is in generally good health she is only a year younger than Dad and shouldn’t have to bear so much burden.

This story will be continued . . . .


For a while the 14th of each month was a major anniversary for me. I thought about Zach every day but on the anniversary I wanted others to think of him too. At first it was posts on FaceBook: for those first two months, FaceBook was fantastic. We were able to disseminate information about events and other news and many people responded in a very supportive way.

Months three through five I remember posting on the 14th about issues related to Zach’s death that I thought people should be reminded of. One month I talked about bad driving practices. The driver who killed Zach was not drunk; he was just driving too fast and probably distracted. Sad to say, we all do that, so let’s all try to do less of it. Etc.

So last month I was thinking about a post but I didn’t feel preachy and I had no news I wanted to share so I skipped it. This month I have my shiny new blog!

I’m not going to say anything more, preachy or otherwise. I’m just noting that the really sharp pain that had characterized the 14th of each month has subsided into the general pain. And this blog is my long term response to that.