Parked on Pavement

Other Thoughts

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December 19th. 4pm. Traffic court. 36 Degrees outside. Got to the courthouse early to try to sweet-talk the prosecutor out of a speeding ticket, and to get a non-points ticket instead.

85 in a 65. The cop  had given me a break. It didn’t feel like one, but he had assured me on that hot summer day, that he had.

After returning my cell phone to the car and going through the metal detector (“Miss, I didn’t ask you to put your hands up,”) I took my seat.

A girl in her mid-20s, in hot pink pajama pants with yellow suns, and black and white stars, tucked into combat boots stood at the bench with her hands clasped in front of her. Two policemen flanked her. Her arraignment.

December 19th. Less than a week before Christmas.  I was thinking about how, at sunset, the courthouse sure did look pretty with its giant, lit wreath on the door, and how it was just chilly enough outside to feel festive without feeling uncomfortable. Did she have an address that mail could be sent to? After a pause of thinking, yes. She and her fiancé stay there. Did she normally have any business in this town? No, she and her fiancé were just staying at Rich’s the past couple days. Who is Rich? The guy we are staying with. Do you have any kids? Yes, sir, I have 4. The oldest is 6 and the youngest is a little over 1. No, I haven’t seen them in a very long time, almost a year. They live with their dad who was in the army.

God, I hoped I didn’t get any points on my license.

She stood before them, in handcuffs, because 1.) she stole a 1000 piece puzzle, and a bottle of women’s multivitamins, and 2.) she was in possession of said puzzle and vitamins.

Would she have a problem staying 1000 feet away from the address she stole from? No, your honor. Good, because there will be an order of protection keeping you 1000 feet from such. Can I expect you not to contact, in any way, shape or form, those that you stole from? Yes, your honor. Do you have anything you’d like to say? I- Remember, don’t say anything that would further incriminate you. 

Soft crying.

I realized I didn’t have my wallet on me. What if I had to pay a huge fine for my speeding ticket right here, right now? What if someone is texting me right now?

You are going to have to come back here. If you live in (muffled) how are you going to get back here? Assertively: I will find a way I promise. Are you working? I mean now. Are you working now? No, ok.

She craned her neck wildly around the room, in the first time that I saw her full face, as the judge told her her bail. $1000 cash. $2500 bond. Remember- you have to get yourself back here on January 3, or there will be a warrant out for your arrest. However, if you cannot pay bail, and you are still in jail on January third, you will be escorted back to this courthouse. 

Head down. More soft crying. $1000 might as well be $999,999. It was clear that she would be spending the holidays in jail, a building likely less cheerful than this courthouse. The court officer called my number to come into another room to meet the prosecutor. It all went very quickly after that, (except for the part where the court officer decided to tell me how stupid some of the people here really are, and how we shouldn’t let immigrants in.)

I drove home, bathed in Christmas lights, listening to a podcast, making a mental note to send a money order for $175 for my reduced ticket- Parking on Concrete- no points, impatient to get home to my warm house, my soft cats, my tasty dinner, my smart-ass human. Each colorfully lit up house I passed, Whether decorated in geometric, lines of lights or sloppy, half blinking jumbles, I wondered if the girl in the pink pants was passing them, if the holiday season would be passing her by, in jail, with no lights, no cheer.

Driving over 20 miles over the speed limit, I could have killed someone. I got to go home and eat Bibimbap with a puny cat crammed into the back of my knee, purring, with a relatively small fee and a silly ticket, while the girl in the pink pants would be spending time indefinitely in jail for stealing a puzzle and some vitamins.

 

 

Forty

Other Thoughts

401To be honest, I have been terrible about writing, and not for lack of inspiration. There are so many things in my head that I want to write down and don’t.

The last year or so has been full of change, love, loss, purpose, cat hair, travel, adventure, and learning. I’ve made it to 40, well aware of those who haven’t.

i hope to do some writing soon.

His life was gentle, and the elements So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, This was a man.

Other Thoughts

Fred Blohm was born to Fred and Daisy Blohm during a thunderstorm on June 12th, 1933, at 93 Erie Street in Dumont. The youngest of 5 children, the doctor took one look at his red hair and declared that he would be trouble. The family moved around several times throughout Dumont, eventually settling at 390 Milford Ave.

 

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His childhood was not the happiest- Fred’s father had a drinking problem, and a kind word was never passed between mother and father. Still, it wasn’t all bad. There were happy memories of all of the family kids playing on a giant see-saw that his father had build in the backyard, tales of sleighriding and playing “chickie” with the neighbors across Kinderkamack Road, and lots of music and performing. His parents both were very musical, Frederick playing all of the stringed instruments in a band and Daisy singing in her low, husky voice.  Its no surprise, that with his familial talent, his introduction into the world of entertaining others via a grade school play where he played a jester, and the guitar and guitar lessons he recieved around age 12-14, that Fred would use his musical talents to entertain others for the rest of his life.

 

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Fred’s first public performance was as a blackfaced yodeling cowboy* in a minstral show at Dumont High School. Soon after, he met George Edwards, his musical partner for many years. They played the talent show circuit, appearing on “The Ted Mack Show” where they yodeled and played guitars. After High School, they tried their hand at entertaining in the Catskills,  getting paid in room and board and the occasional tip.  Eventually, Fred got a job with his brother at the St. Joe Paper company, where he worked for the next 18 years. He and George continued to play together until George went into the Air Force. At that point, Fred played with a few other acts, but his heart wasn’t as into it.

*Yes, I agree this would be problematic nowadays, but nobody was thinking about it then.

In 1948, still in High School, Fred was introduced to the aunt of a friend of his, at a carnival. Betty. They hit it off, and in 1953, before he left for the Air Force himself, Fred asked for Betty’s hand in marriage; they were engaged. At Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, he joined the entertainment troupe, where he washed out of electronic school, and was soon sent to Turner Air Force Base in Albany. Here he was a member of the Service Club at the 811th Air Base Group. And then, on one of the hottest days of the year in 1954, he and Betty got married and honeymooned in Atlantic City. Fred returned to Georgia, alone, but soon enough Betty joined him.

 

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In 1956, Timothy Paul was born. When Fred’s stint in the Air Force was through, the family moved back to the northeast, where Fred’s job at the paper company was waiting for him. They stayed with Betty’s mother for awhile, but then eventually bought a house in Garnerville, NY. Meanwhile, they had a daughter, Eileen Marie, and Fred began picking up more musical work. In 1961, their second son Eric was born, and by 1965, they moved to a brand new house in Oakland, NJ, to be closer to Fred’s job.

 

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Here in Oakland, Fred got involved in coaching baseball for his son Tim’s Team. He was also still travelling back to Rockland County to play with the band. In 1971, he finally quit his job at the paper company and took a job as a salesman at Mark/Trece, a company that made rubber printing plates. He also started getting involved with some local musicians, often playing weddings locally. He did this for quite some time, and enjoyed it.

 

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Later, as an “older’ adult, he joined a softball league in town and enjoyed many successful seasons. In August, 1999, Fred came inside from riding his lawnmower. He was having pains in his arm. He had a heart attack, and it was a fairly life-changing event. He then dropped 60 lbs and began trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Eventually he went back to work part time, but it proved to be stressful and eventually he retired.

 

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Having spent the last many years near his oldest son’s family, watching his first grandchild grow up and graduate high school and go off to college, Fred and Betty decided to retire to Wilmington, North Carolina where their other two grandchildren were still growing up. In June of 1998, they sold the house in Oakland and moved to Wilmington-  Just a few blocks from Eileen and her family.

 

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In Wilmington, Fred was very active musically with most of the local Nursing and Retirement Homes. He played with a group called “Music of Yesteryear” and got involved with many other retirees from New Jersey, as well as with the local Senior Center.  He had a decent amount of local friends, and at least once a year, he and Betty would travel to New Jersey to see friends and family there. Likewise, his family would visit him in North Carolina. He often looked forward to performing with his sons at the Retirement Home.

 

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In his late 70’s, Fred was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, which he attributed, in part, to playing in smoky venues before good ventilation was really thought about by the people who design such things. He began relying on oxygen. As his physical abilities lessened, his wit, sense of humor, and ability to tell a good story did not wane.

 

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Fred, the man who could not pass a graveyard without telling you the “all of them” joke no matter how many times you heard it before, my grandfather,  passed away peacefully in October of 2014, just a couple months after he attended his grandson Adam’s wedding- a wonderful event where he got to spend precious quality time with many family members, including his brother Bill, whom he hadn’t seen in awhile. Although it was rough, he had a great time.

 

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At his service, Minister and family and friends spoke, telling wonderful stories, anecdotes, and jokes from his life. He left behind a legacy of music, stories, and morality that those who knew him will treasure forever.

 

“His life was gentle, and the elements So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, This was a man.”

                                              -W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

2010.

The Last Road

Other Thoughts

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In the third grade I embarked on an adventure from Hobbiton straight through the Misty Mountains, Rivendell, the House of Beorn, through Mirkwood, to the Lonely Mountain. I rode barrels, told riddles in the dark, and fought in the Battle of Five Armies. Months later I went to an eleventy-first birthday party, fought deadly Shelob, and eventually experienced the destruction of the One rRing.

My dad was (is) a big Tolkien fan and I was an advanced reader for my age. those two things combined with a nerdy streak set me off on my adventure. My reading teacher encouraged me, even if her true stories were about now she faked reading The Hobbit for a class. Soon, I was making cloaks out of blankets and rings out of bottle caps.

In 1999 or 2000, at the movies with my long-time beau, I saw a preview for the first Lord of the Rings movie. It was more than a year out, but we bustled with excitement after the feature ended, about how we couldn’t wait to see the movie together. We had a lot of things in common, and a lot of individual geekery, but Middle Earth was our only geek common ground. I vowed that I would read each of the books again so that I could imagine each character and place one more time, from my mind, rather than recall what was fed to me in the movie. Although the idea of seeing the movie brought me joy, the idea of being robbed of my own mental creations saddened me.

Just a couple days before the movie came out, longtime beau and I split up. It was a really rough time for me. We saw the movie together anyway, and I remember a weird, sad, and nerdy moment involving a tear that just wouldn’t fall. It was a moment we both caught and a moment I tried to assign more meaning to, when we came together in its long, wavering, eternity on my lower lashes in front of the bright screen. It was a tear for the relationship, sure. But it was a tear for the fact that, while we could make promises all we wanted, we knew in our hearts that we wouldn’t nerd out to The Two Towers, Return of the King, or The Hobbit. Not together, anyway. It was the last nerdy road for us.

Life went on, and I went on many adventures-some solo, and some with accomplices, although never with burglars or dwarves, and with the exception of a few bad dates and some not so great friends, there were almost never trolls, goblins, or orcs. There may have been some mountains, and maybe even a charming dragon with a jewel-crusted belly. I can recall conversations with men that certainly felt like riddles in the dark. There were indeed times in my life where I wanted to put a ring on my finger and disappear, and thankfully plenty of more times where I metaphorically pulled the ring off of my finger and emerged, standing out there for the world to see.

Like a Baggins in his hole, I love the life I have built around me. Like a Took, sometimes I get excited by adventure.

But I am not a hobbit. My life, as pleasant as it is, is busy with obligations and jobs and the occasional adventure, and one of the things that has sadly slipped to low priority is reading. I spend my days with a librarian these days; the irony is not lost on my there. reading 900 pages on the beach was not unusual for me as a teen, reading 300 pages in months as an adult, is. So when the thought crossed my mind to read The Hobbit before the film came out, I knew it would be one of those things that I never crossed off my list.

Tonight, however, after less than a week, I finished rereading The Hobbit after almost 27 years since the last time. It was better than I remember. When I close my eyes tonight I will see Smaug, as I imagine him, with big marble eyes, Thorin’s beard, as yellow and stained as I want it to be, and the eagles, as big as an airplane. Bilbo himself will be cute and pleasant looking, only vaguely human, and elves will all be pasty and pretty, and Gollum will be kind of a walking booger and not made of cgi. And then over the weekend I will see the movie (unless I can’t wait and Download it tomorrow!) and all of those images in my head will likely be replaced by those in the film, forever.