Blame Canada

Yeah, I know…I know… Here I am, should be working. Lord knows I am not as far on my project as I’d hoped I would be be now. Yet, I end up here once again. A junky getting just a little fix, man, just a little to get me through the rest of the week and then I’ll be okay I promise man okay I’ll stop buggin you.

Blame the damned comfy bed I slept in last night.

Blame no alarm clock this morning.

Blame the peaceful winter view (it’s Canada, remember?): the snow-covered river, the (what I believe to be a) bald eagle circling overhead.

Blame the unexpected presence of wi-fi here.

Blame our friends for their overt display of hospitality.

Blame Canada! For our visit here has moved me to commentary in spite of myself.

Help me! I’m an American stuck in a foreign land where everyone’s nice and things are quiet and pleasant and peaceful! What am I to do..?

Wear Your Clothes, Chew Your Rice

I know it’s driving Stew crazy that I don’t make some definitive statement regarding the The Devout Order of the Kamikaze Cowboy. I don’t know why I don’t, Stew. I think about it every day…no kidding. It always feels too big. I wonder whether I’ll do it justice–capture the essence, the proper proportions of wry humor and deep profundity and sage wisdom.

Truth is, my Kamikaze Cowboy brother, it was never about the book or the Cylons or the Richard Hatch jokes, it was all about being a Kamikaze Cowboy with you. In the face of the various dragons that their huffed flames upon us, in the belly of the beast with seemingly no way out…it was never about the external concept, not about the light we made of the whole thing that eventually (and appropriately) transformed itself and us by the treasure trove we found hidden within the context we created around the whole Dirk Benedict/Richard Hatch business. It was about the two guys on the phone and the context they created. This is what made it special…this is what has countless times saved me.

I can only tell you this: everyday I wear my clothes and chew my rice. And because I do this, and largely because of two guys yucking it up on the phone one day and (courtesy of Madame h2oMan) decided life could be largely encapsulated in a little mantra, “a little more Dirk and a little less Dick” I continue to function and to even move forward–albeit a little slower–during these difficult days when I often don’t feel like dragging me sorry ass out of bed much less taking up my sword. And as I do, I keep repeating these words over and over as a litany.

Someday, my friend, I will tell the whole story. Someday. People will laugh; people will cry. People will re-evaulate their lives. It’s too funny, it’s too touching, and it’s too cool to let die a quiet death. For now, I must let it rest–no, I must let it percolate a little more. For the implications of being a chosen as a member of this great order is something I wrestle with on a daily basis. I feel yet honored and scared to death all at the same time, for honesty, zen-like discipline, and those pesky Cylons are weighty things. Such as they are, they can never be taken lightly. And yet, they can never be taken too lightly.

In the meantime, one and all, might I suggest reading the venerable Mr. Benedict’s book.

BILL: What did you think, man?

STEW (over phone): Thanks! It’s great.

BILL: Yeah. I thought it would be a great gag gift for you.

STEW: No, man…I mean I started reading this book last night and…I finished it. Do you know when the last time I did that was?

BILL: Really?

STEW: Yeah, man. You really need to read this book.

BILL: Really? We’re talking about Dirk Benedict’s book, right?

STEW: One and the same, my Kamikaze Cowboy friend.

Finnegan begin again

My great-grandfather, God bless his eternal soul, was a man named Austin Walsh. He came to America by way of steam ship and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. He got a job at the St. Paul hotel as a doorman, and it is there that he met my great-grandmother. She was eleven (having come over to America on her own at age 10).

She was Irish, too.

And they were both Catholic.

By all accounts, they were married when she was eleven (he was somthing like 20), and she had her first live birth at age 12. She had 25 more kids, all of whom lived into adulthood.

My grandpa, Gene, was the fourth oldest. He married my grandmother, the daughter of a MN country doctor who had fled England because apparently it was illegal to do exploratory research on cadavers at the time. The had nine girls and one boy. My mom, Mary Lou, is their third oldest.

I am my mom’s youngest…the youngest of seven.

My one regret in the entire scheme is that my mom lost her Catholicism along the way. Through my wife, I have joined a Lutheran church–Catholic lite, as my friend Mike calls it. Three weeks ago, I attended my Aunt Dolores’ funeral at St. Patrick’s church in the still Irish and still Catholic Phalen area of St. Paul. And for those two hours, I pretended that, like my cousins, I hadn’t lost my Irish Catholic roots.

It felt good. For those two hours, I felt like I had returned home. I was the prodigal son, and though no one else could see it, I was quietly embraced by the place–the environment. And when I wept, it wasn’t for my aunt. Heck, she went onto a better place. In fact, the whole tone of the morning was more celebratory than anything else–she was that kind of person. I wept for me, for years gone by, for missing all of it, for…I don’t know.

I am not certain what I am going to do. I mean, I’m not one who’s really hung up on religion, per se. The bottom line, however, is that I am pretty integrated into my current church community. I love St. Stephen, and the folks there have done so much for us. I won’t throw that away. I can’t. I don’t want to.

But something needs to…happen.

Perhaps I need to pull a Paul (a good friend who is also a member at St. Stephen) and do both. Be Catholic AND be Lutheran. Apparently he does it. I don’t know how. I didn’t think you could BE BOTH.

I am seeing him tomorrow. I will ask him then.

Then, I need to stop back at St. Patrick’s, for that is where I am drawn.

How unexpected.

Hmmm…this post was supposed to be about how I started working out again after laying off for a few weeks. I got injured at the end of February, and…ah…who cares? Now all that shit seems insignificant. Strange thing this extemporaneous writing. You never know exactly where it’s going to take you.

I am glad, though, that it took me here.

Today I honor the memory of my Irish forefathers. I raise a glass to them.

I am Irish.

I am Catholic.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Amazing grace

Okayokay…I’m done griping about the 3Day thing. Hey! Whaddya expect! It’s called TRUE LIFE! You gotta expect me to throw a little tanturm every once in awhile. I mean, the people who know me….think about it… So all I’ll say today is Happy St. Paddy’s day t’ya!

St. Urho’s Day treated the TRUEs very kindly. I won’t spoil Lynn’s news because she will, I am guessing, want to post it on her CaringBridge site sometime today. Let’s simply suffice here to say that we had an appointment with her oncologist yesterday, and it was a good one. Not out of the woods yet, but we can see the hint of a clearing up ahead.

The other thing that happened was that Syd had her cheerleading banquet last night. I have to tell you in all honestly that after sitting on my butt for nearly seven hours at the hospital, I looked forward to going to this thing about as much as I look forward to the possibility of plague. I had already gotten absolutely nothing done, except nodding off all day, and STILL I was tired. Man, I just hate that place.

ANYWAY, back to our story… So, we went: Lynn, Syd, and I. Us getting there, by the way, was something of a minor miracle because we had neither RSVP’d nor paid for the dinner as of Monday. Last Sunday, our friend Julie (who happens to also be the cheerleader booster club treasurer), approached me between services and asked me whether we were planning to attend the cheerleader dinner.

“Uh…” Was my intelligent response. “What cheerleader dinner?”

She clued me in, as no one had mentioned to me anything about any stinkin’ cheerleader dinner. Then she told me we needed to pay up BEFORE the dinner, or Lynn and I couldn’t attend. No..she didn’t get it either, but rules was rules, and all. Well, as luck would have it, I didn’t have my checkbook on me, so it was “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” I told her I’d stop by her house on Monday night after I picked up Lynn from the airport.

When I talked to Lynn on the phone that night, she was all, “That’s this Tuesday?”


To make a long story short, we got the money in and we went. …And it was about what I expected it would be. Will someone, someone PUL-EEEEAZE clue all these award banquet people about how to present awards, et al., without absolutely boring people in the process?

Then…came the JV cheerleader awards.

Syd had already gotten kind of brushed over during the mock awards. Her fall squad leader has obviously forgotten about her, and she gave her some lame-ass award like the “you’re really nice” award or something. I could tell that Syd was a little disappointed about that. Heck, I would be, too.

“Mister cellophane
“Should have been my name
“Mister cellophane
“’cause you can look right through me
“Walk right by me
“And never know I’m there!”
–from the musical “Chicago”

Know what I mean?

There were three JV awards given out. The first one was the Spirit Award, given to the girl who showed the most excitement and dedication througout the year. That award went to Syd’s pal Nicole, and rightly so. The next award, Rookie of the Year, was a little more controversial, at least in our eyes.

That award went to Tiffany, who by all accounts has been the queen bee-otch of the hive all year. She has been the yin to Sydney’s yang, her arch-nemesis, her Lex Luthor, her Dr. Doom, her… Well, you get the point. Needless to say that when Tiffany’s name was called, I could see Sydney’s shoulders slump.

See, Sydney, Nicole, and Tiffany were all three chosen as JV squad leaders. Whereas Syd and Nicole worked very well together, the third leg of the table did not want to hold up her end. Or rather, she thought that she could (and should) hold up the table by herself. She wanted to by the boss. I mean, who not? She’s a sophmore, and the other girls were mere freshmen. As a result, Sydney and I had many a conversation pertaining to the Tiffany sitation…what to do, how to handle it, whom to go to. It was, in the end, a good object lesson for Syd–how to be an effective leader in a difficult situation. Yet, it took a toll on her, as well. And when Tiff’s name was called…

Then, it came time for the final award: the Coach’s Award. This was the biggie–the girl chosen by the coach, herself, as the most valuable assest to the team, the girl who showed the most leadership throughout the year. I don’t need to build it up any more than I already have. Of course, it went to my little girl–well, my not-so-little girl, I should say.

Her eyes almost bugged out of her head, she was so surprised. She looked back at Lynn and me, lit up like a lightbulb. We had to shoo her up to retrieve her award, a big honker of a trophy, nearly double the size of the other ones.

My daughter is the embodiment of the word “grace”. She is a gentle and just soul. She is fair and is always senstive of others’ feelings, sometimes to her own detriment. She doesn’t like to make waves, and when she does, they are gentle ones. And I love her for it.

She has often been frustrated, though, because she has definitely gotten bitten by the “nice guys finish last” syndrome in the past. She’s gotten lost in the shuffle because she is neither flashy nor bitchy enough to get the notice that other girls get. Further, she’s not an attention grabber in the first place. She’s one of those people who do the work for the sake of the work. I mean, yes…she craves attention and notice. Who doesn’t? But she is satisfied with knowing in her own heart–and, I imagine, in our hearts (her mom’s and mine)–that she has done well. And done good.

It is, however, nice that just this once, she got to see that nice guys sometimes finish first.

The picture at the top is my beautiful daughter on her first birthday. Our friend Lisa and I dragged her halfway around the state of New Mexico that day on a quest for the perfect Monte Cristo sandwich. This photo was taken at the City of Rocks in the middle of the high desert country somewhere between Deming and Silver City.

She has come so far since then…yet one thing hasn’t changed: that grace. I often tell people that Sydney is the moral compass for our family. And it’s TRUE…all TRUE. Every day I get to spend with her, I am amazed and awed. I wrote it here before, but I’ll say it again…I say that I am her teacher, but in reality I am the student. Everyday she teaches me something new and wonderful. Every day I am saved by her amazing grace.

I love ya, kiddo. And I am proud of you. My baby girl.

Nothing fails like failure

Well, my strategy failed. I thought that by keeping the “Walk the Walk” post up for a few days, it might generate some 3 Day heat. To no avail.

I did get one “I’m gonna,” but that’s about it. As it stands, I am no closer to my goal than I was before.


Come on, TRUE LIFERS! I mean, heck, Wil Wheaton’s readers netted him over $12,000 for his upcoming cancer marathon. All I need is about $1,200 more!

Okay…okay. I’m going to drop it. I still love all of you. And even though I provide all of you with my interesting and often poignant musings (humble, aren’t I?) FREE OF CHARGE, I am not bitter in the least. Not in the least. No sirree. Not me.

(Is the MN Public Radio approach working yet? If so, hurry now! Click over to the donate page! You can do it! Good job!)

Are you still here? Well, now you’re gonna be a tough nut to crack, I see. Well, in that case, I guess I have no choice but to do what I do best: be a ho.

Now, I am not getting all high and mighty on myself. I don’t pretend to be anyone of significance or consequence. I do know, however, that my original screenplay, RUNAWAY BOYS, could very likely be in production this year. That’s right! A real movie. And though I don’t claim that it will achieve me any measure of celebrity status, here’s the deal…

As an enticement to anyone who donates $100 or more to the 3 Day, I will give him or her a signed and personalized copy of the RUNAWAY BOYS script AND the original short story from whence it came, MICHAEL’S LETTERS. The only thing I ask in return (other than the donation) is for you to keep quiet about the story (at least the ending) until the movie comes out.

Anyone who donates $200 or more? Well, I will also give you a crack at the screenplay I am working on now (based on a best-selling novel–the author’s signature novel) once I get to a point where we’re ready to market the thing (hopefully in mid-to-late spring, if all goes the way I envision…famous last words).

So…you will have that AND my eternal gratitude.

And yes…folks who have already donated that amount (you know who you are) will be grandfathered in. Expect an e-mail or a package from me soon.

Again…not that I am hot snot. But a lot of people have been interested in what’s going on with the movie stuff. If sharing a little of that will help find a cure, well ho, ho, ho!

NOW…click over, please.

[Bill smiles…his cutest and most disarming smile possible]

Walk the walk

I am going to make this one simple and plain. It’s too important to gork up with clever quips and narrative.

On September 10-12 of this year, about 15 other people and I will walk 60 miles for the Breast Cancer 3 Day. This event, which is sponsored by the VERY reputable Susan G. Komen Foundation, is a part of a nationwide campaign to raise money for breast cancer research.

If you know me in the least little bit, you know how close this cause is to my heart. And it should it should be to everyone’s. Statistics tell us that one in eight women will come down with breast cancer in some form or another. Chances are that you know someone (or at least know someone who knows someone) that is affacted by this disease even now.

I did the math last night. There are just over 216.5 million adults in the US. For our purposes (though I know this percentage is a little higher), we will say half of them are women: 108 million. One out of 8 translates to 12.5%. That means 13,500,000 women will be affected by this disease sometime during their lives.

Well, I may be a simple country doctor, Jim, but that sounds to me like an epidemic.

Just last year, over 213,000 new cases of breast cancer were discovered, and nearly 40,000 women died.

In my mind…that’s too damn many.

My beautiful wife has struggled valiantly against this disease for seven years. Hell, Action Jackson’s mom has done the same thing for nearly 25 years! And, I am not here to cry in my beer or his (on his behalf), but you can imagine the toll that this type of struggle takes on one’s entire family.

You know what, though? That’s not the thing that really gets me. I mean, Jack’s family made it through, and we’re making it through. We’re going to be okay come what may.

You know what slays me?

Last night, we held our first meeting for our newly formed walking club. We’re all trying to get in shape for the big walk (it was cookl, by the way, folks from their 20s to the 70s! Cool, huh?). There were about 15-16 folks there, and our friend Jean, who had put together the evening, went around the room and asked us to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about why we were walking. Lynn wasn’t there yet–the start of the meeting conflicted with her nightly qigong healings–and so I felt I, being her dutiful husband, should say something on her behalf, which I did.

As I spoke, I made certain to look around the room and into the eyes of the people around me. My gaze, however, kept coming back to this one woman. She was very pretty. A great, warm, fresh face–terrific smile. Eyes that were at once vulnerable, yet disarming. And cute blond hair wisped back in some sassy little doo. No…I wasn’t checkin’ her out… In fact, her cuteness wasn’t the reason why I kept looking back at her.

It was what I saw behind her eyes.

There was something there. I thought it might be empathy of some sort. Or was it a sadness..? I wondered whether her mother or an older sister might have struggled with breast cancer, and that’s why she was there. I mean, the woman looked quite young–mid-to-late 20s at best. No way she could have gone through it herself.

When it came for her to speak, she quietly told everyone her name, and then she nodded to me, saying, “And I’m…a breast cancer survivor, too. I just finished chemo about 9 months ago. Over a year’s worth. And I’m just now trying to get my life back.”

Ohmigod…there it was. It WAS her. But…how could that be? People, I wanted to cry. I remembered back to what it was like seven years ago, when Lynn was a mere 33 years old–in the prime of life!–and we got the news. I remember how we were devestated because Lynn was so young. Yet, this girl…

Later, Lynn and this girl were talking. She was very philisophical about the whole ordeal, which is to her credit. When Lynn mentioned forced menopause (one of the intended side effects of chemo and other treatments), the girl rolled her eyes…and then almost–ALMOST–got a little misty-eyed. Lynn was complaining about the trials and tribulations of going through menopause, and the girl was laughing about it along with her. When Lynn remarked, “Thank God we already had kids.” That was when the girl got quiet.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “You’re lucky. I’ve been having a little bit of trouble accepting the fact that I won’t have children now.”

That was the moment, my friends, when I had to walk away from the discussion.

Talk about grace. Talk about courage. And talk about tragedy.

I mourn for that young woman, and I mourn even more for the children she will probably never have. Because I only talked to her for 30 minutes, and I already knew she would have made a stellar mom.

That’s what slays me, folks.

So…this is what I am asking you today…no…I am making a plea.

I am walking the 3 Day in September with my wife and 15 other people. Please do me one of two favors:

1. If you can, walk with us. it’s easy to sign up! Just go to the 3 Day web site and follow the directions. When it asks whether you want ot join a specific team, choose TRUE LOVE. Each walker is asked to come up with $2000 in donations. 85% of all the donations go directly to breast cancer research (the other 15% covers the expense of the event and administrative costs). Do this because, well…the more the merrier! Do it also because the more people we get walking, the more potential we have to raise money to help stop this disease in its tracks.

2. If you can’t walk or don’t want to walk, please consider donating. It’s easy to do it! Just click here to donate to TEAM TRUE LOVE. You can donate as little or as much as you can afford. I know…I know… I hate asking as much as I am guessing you hate to be asked. It’s gotta happen, though. I am 25% to my goal, and I am hoping that I can not only meet it, but exceed it. Help me help them stomp out breast cancer. Help my wife, help Jack’s mom, help that girl, help–insert the name of someone you love here.

Anyway…I rambled on way longer than I intended. But it’s a great cause, and a great way to make a REAL difference in peoples’ lives.

Thanks for reading, and please give generously. Here’s to WALKING THE WALK!


P.S. If you’ve already donated (and you know who you are!), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you are about to donate, thank you, too. I really appreciate all your support. B

Z-man post script

Well, they fought hard. Zach had a couple of great plays and a couple of assists. In the final seconds, however, with the score tied 12 all, the Rumble (Zach’s team) got a foul. The kid who shot the free throws..? Nothing but net. One. Two. Suddenly, it’s 14 to 12, their favor, with something like 15 seconds on the clock.

We got the ball and took it to (Jonathan will be proud of me) the rack. One of our kids, Austin, went for the lay-up, but it tipped off the rim. The other team snatched up the ball on the rebound, and the ref blew the whistle signalling the end of the game.

Zach will have at least one more game to play this week, on Thursday. His team and he are now aiming for the consolation match, which will determine third and fourth places (his team took fourth last year).

My main man is philosophical about the whole thing. I mean, he was in a great mood, anyway, because Andrew, his teacher, showed up to watch the game (what a great guy, huh?). Nothing could dampen Zach’s enthusiasm for having his teacher there to watch him, certain not something as insignificant as a little scoring discrepancy. What I mean, however, is that tonight, as he wolfed down him BBQ salmon, he said, “Maybe if we lose next game, then I’ll just get a medal.”

“What do you mean, buddy?”

I was scratchin’ my head at that one.

“Everyone that loses gets a medal. I’m kind of hoping that’s what happens for us. I mean, we got a trophy last year. I…you know…somehow I want a medal this year.”

“Huh. So you can wear it around your neck like in the Olympics.”

“Yeah,” he said, shrugging. “I suppose.”

Then, he suddenly shifts gears.

“Hey, Dad. In Halo, when you’re on the library level…”

Man, I love that kid.