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Head’s Up 2010/04/20

Posted by sayencrowolf in Uncategorized.
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Just so you know, I am no longer maintaining this website.  This was my original blog, and for the time being I am going to keep it up until I fully understand how WordPress handles deleting websites.

I have since moved.  Everything I have to post is being housed at SayenCroWolf.net.  That site will remain active, up and running until I run out of things to say.

If you know me, then you’ll know I don’t EVER run out of things to say.  Please stop over there to get caught up – thanks!!

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A Domestic Life 2010/02/20

Posted by sayencrowolf in Happiness, Love, Relationships.
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In the span of a few short days, Simon and I have made leaps and bounds toward securing our life of domesticity that we crave so badly.  Just prior to returning to Chicago, I received word from my tenants they were done with the house, moving out, and gave me a forwarding address for their security deposit.  Well, I couldn’t have asked for better news!  No transient corporate housing for us.  Talk about a total score!

The house was left in less-than-pristine condition.  I was expecting that there was some work that would have to be done.  When they initially told me they were leaving, I asked for permission to enter so I could do an inspection.  I really was looking at structural needs, not whether or not I’d have to have the hardwood floors refinished because they were yucky.  The short version is that they aren’t getting their security deposit back, but I will be sending them in itemization of exactly how I spent it.  Every bit of it, in fact.  Right down to the last nickel.

So, completing that little task, the movers brought all our things I packed in London from the docks.  Talk about a brilliant idea:  They worked hard; they worked fast, and get this: every time they brought something in the house they went out of their way to kick off their work boots so they wouldn’t muddy-up the floors.  Seriously: how freaking impressive is that?  I know that might not seem like much of anything but to me that’s attention to detail.  I think I’m going to adopt one of their hardest working employees – Jason.  He’s 16, MRDD, a major sweetheart, and when you ask this company to send you assistance in unpacking and putting things away he’s the Executive In charge of Restoring Order to your Household.  He did a better job putting things away than I could have.  And his sense of logic as to what went where and why it went there was far superior to anything I could have come up with.  I was just bowled over with how Jason did his job, and I was really touched too.  I could see in every box he unpacked that he wasn’t just doing a job, his sense of ownership was what was driving him.  Overall, they did such a great job and treated our house with such a sense of respect and ownership that I’d recommend them to anybody that asked.  Simon and I took them out for pizza and beer (for them) last night as a thank you.  They earned a lot more than what I paid.

We met with Simon’s parents before we left London to say goodbyes and they laid a few housewarming “presents” on us.  When I think of a housewarming present, I think of a well thought out Bundt cake or a pan of lasagna.  Their idea of a little present changes your net worth.  They both have done well for themselves in life and believe in sharing it with their kids (and spouses).  Initially, the size of what they offered kind of creeped me out a bit and I told Simon as much.  While he understands my reluctance at accepting their generosity he did make it crystal clear to me:   this is simply how they are, and to refuse would be insulting them.  There are no strings, no expectations – just here you go sport, enjoy.  So I am deferring to Simon’s judgment on this one.  It looks like we’re opening up an Ikea outlet store, I have boxes absolutely everywhere and a squadron of friends and their partners coming over later to help us put it all together.  I’m feeding them all, they’re assembling.  I haven’t seen a lot of these people in ages, and I’ve missed them so much.

Last night was our first night in the house and I’ll tell you something: Simon and I can both tell Richard is still here.  It’s not wishful thinking; it’s not my memories superimposing his presence back into a house where we built our lives.  All of us felt it the strongest in the garden, Richard’s favorite place of all.  I had a friend here last night to help me bless the house and he felt it too.  More on this later.

So, there you have it.  We’re that much closer to obtaining that normal life we’ve both been craving.  We’re very happy – even if the house is buried in boxes at the moment

Love as a Holiday 2010/02/14

Posted by sayencrowolf in Holidays, Love.
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As long as I can remember, Valentine’s Day seemed to be rather a hypocritical holiday to me.  What was Pope Gelasius thinking when he decreed this one?  I mean seriously:  One day a year, we will express our love and devotion to that special person in our life on a day named after Christian martyrs.  Just gives you the warm fuzzies reading that one doesn’t it?  Add to that, it’s been around since 496 A.D.  Seriously.  I looked it up.

So, once a year we fall all over ourselves to make sure we show our love for our partners.  A pound of chocolates, flowers, a romantic dinner- you name it.  I admit I’m guilty of this as well.  Right now, Simon and I are in Paris for a romantic holiday.  It’s the most romantic city in the world (not so much…), and love is in the air (if that’s true, love smells like bacon).  In all honesty, I wanted to come here and make out with my man under the Eiffel Tower.  Just so I could say we had.  Well, mission accomplished on this one.  Everything else we see or do is gravy.

Whatever happened to doing special things for your partner just because?  Why does romance need to be marked off on a calendar?

Wanna know a secret?  Simon and I have been carrying on since May 1st of last year when we went to dispose of the ashes of my deceased partner (and his best friend).  I know: that’s just the sort of thing that couples have founded their relationship on since time began isn’t it?  Our romance started there in Italy, and once a week I receive a rose from Simon.  He’s never handed them to me directly – not once.  I have received them from gate attendants at the airport, two pilots, waiters, cello players, taxi drivers, two government officials, one person who I’m pretty sure was royalty, the girl behind the counter as Quizno’s, my auto mechanic, two homeless guys, the hottie I drool over in the lighting section of Lowe’s, my gym partner and one celebrity.  He hasn’t missed a week – not once. Even when we were separated by thousands of miles, I still got them.  I have no clue how he does it either and he’s not talking.  They’re never delivered to me – someone hands them to me with a message.  1-800-Flowers is completely amateur in comparison to these endeavours.  I get a rose with the message “from someone who’s just mad for you”.   The best one was while I was getting my oil changed.  My auto mechanic is 7’2”, weighs over 300 lbs and is nicknamed “horse collar” because that’s just about the size of his neck.  It was simultaneously the most romantic and hysterical moment of my life.

That’s romance to me.  That’s love.  And it doesn’t need a holiday.

So, when today is over and tomorrow simply becomes February 15th, think about what you’re going to do to keep the romance alive in your relationship.   There are 364 more days to go until next Valentine’s Day.

If it bleeds, it leads.. 2010/02/13

Posted by sayencrowolf in Current Events, Journalism, Loss, Social Media.
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WARNING:  both these links below will send you to incredibly tasteless and graphic photos.  Click at your own peril.

Yesterday, at approximately 8am local time, a 21 year old Olympic athlete named Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a luge accident.  His death came during a trial run for the first time competitor; he never even saw a live time trial in Vancouver.  By the time the opening ceremonies had started last night he had already been dead for approximately 10 hours.

In the course of the coverage that has followed, normally reputable journalistic sources have sunk to a shock-and-awe tactic of covering his death. The NY times, normally regarded as a journalistic icon has included a 3-d flash diagram of his deadly luge run, complete with pictures that coincide with the point of impact.

The Huffington Post, whom I used to regard as a decent alternative source of news reporting, included stills from the cam grab of his accident, complete with on-scene medics attending to his lifeless body.  Oh, and they made sure the pictures were close ups.

WARNING:  both these links will send you to incredibly tasteless and graphic photos.  Click at your own peril.

My message to the H-Post and the Times?  You need to be ashamed of yourselves.  Seriously…

There is absolutely ZERO journalistic purpose to running this sort of coverage other than to climb on the shoulders of your competitors to ensure you’re getting web hits and readership.  The man is dead, and what should have been the world journalists documenting his moments of triumph has turned into a cesspool of competition to ensure the most graphic of images is displayed.  I’m sure if I took the time to search the internet, I’d find quite a few other news sources taking the lead from the two that I have named here.

I have been a professional in the field since 1990, and I have covered events that were some of the most graphic in world history.  With every picture I took there was something employed called integrity.  Some things are better left NOT printed (or pictures posted), out of respect for the subject I’m covering and those that they leave behind.  It becomes more valuable to be a human being with a conscience – not a journalist trying to make sure they’ve gotten their space above the fold.

Both the H-Post and Times should be careful.  With reporting like this, they’re nothing more than a step ahead of being a tabloid with higher paid reporters.  And it’s a baby step at that.

The man is dead, how about leaving it there?  If you want to impress me as a professional journalist (and a soon to be former reader of yours) run coverage on the long, hard road it took Nodar to get to Vancouver.  Not the tragic and unexpected twist of fate that made sure he was at the end of that road for the rest of his life.

Daniel J. MacDonald

Twice in a Lifetime 2010/02/09

Posted by sayencrowolf in Happiness, Love, Relationships.
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Today was just one of those days…

As I am responsible to work on Saturday and especially Sunday (due to the paper’s content in the weekend edition), today was an off day for me.  No work for the job that pays, and a little work for my passion.  The rest of the day I spent catching up with Simon.  I caught a boatload of hell on earth for not telling Simon about the surgery I had while he was away, and he filled me in on the last three weeks of his life in Haiti.  True confessions aside, we had an early breakfast, worked out, hung out, and really had some quality time together.

This afternoon, I had two friends coming over.  As I won’t be in London too much longer, how about I perform at the sober club we hang out at?  One last set, my big-ass swan song before I go wheels up.  They never can get anybody in there to play on a Monday, I can say a goodbye to the place that’s been so good to Simon and I.  Sure:  I’m in.

I picked two songs we had performed before: “Jezebel” by Sade and “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.  Two of my favorites, and I don’t care how much I just dated myself in admitting that I like Kansas.  That song means more to me than you’ll probably ever know.  So, for us there were no new arrangements to sweat and we all knew how each other performed in them.  It usually is a well-oiled machine.  The first song went fine, but “Dust..” tanked in rehearsing.  Miserably.  Over and over and over I could not get my shit together.  Worse is that I’ve done this song 100 times.  I couldn’t have fucked up worse if I made a concerted effort to do so.  I couldn’t stay in key, completed hosed the violin segment of the song – you name it.  My friends were understanding and patient and the more I fucked things up the more frustrated I became.  Eventually, after a lot of swearing and temper tantrums I got my act together.  Our set at the club tonight went off without a hitch.

Simon is out cold on the couch, and I have taken my position as his footstool.  I don’t mind, so don’t misinterpret that.  This quiet time (and a phone call I received from a good friend) puts things in perspective for me.  For the second time in my life, I have a wonderful man that loves me. I have my health, when every logical source you could ever listen to expected me to be dead.  I’m going through some radical changes very soon, new job, new house, living with the man I love and there’s probably 100 people who would kill for one tenth of that.  Simon is a wide-eyed kid on a new adventure.  No complaints, no hesitations.  He can’t wait to see what’s around every corner.

With all that in perspective, I didn’t have such a bad day after all.

Hail the Conquering Hero 2010/02/02

Posted by sayencrowolf in Current Events, Family, Happiness, Travelling.
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I just finished a phone call with Simon who informs me that he’s being rotated out of Port-au-Prince and returning to London within the next few days.  The call itself was extraordinarily long by our standards; a full thirty minutes.  A normal phone call for us lasts all of ten minutes; if we take our time.  A half-hour is unprecedented, but given the fact that we haven’t laid eyes on each other in weeks and talked even less we had some catching up to do.

He was his usual smart-assed self, and we had a few laughs.  Simon is one of the few men that attempts to give me a hard time and actually does a good job at it.  To be honest, I’d be worried something was wrong if he weren’t trying to make fun of me in some fashion.  Despite all of that, I could hear the fatigue in his voice.  You can’t work those types of hours, in that kind of nonstop pressure without it taking its toll.  Physically and mentally you just run out; the end of your tour is completed on fumes and out of rote memorization.   To prove the point to myself I asked him to tell me about the patients he helped this morning.  He didn’t have anything to share; couldn’t tell me a single detail.  Oh yeah, you’re done buddy.  Time to clock out.

So, Friday at end of day he’ll try to work his way the hell out of there.  Given that the Haitian infrastructure is virtually nonexistent at this point I doubt it’s going to be a smooth ride to the airport and on to the plane.  We’re thinking that he’s probably got a full day of travelling before he gets to London with an unknown number of stops along the way.  The smart money would say that he’ll sleep as soon as his butt hits the airplane seat but that’s not quite how it all works.  Having been in more than one disaster environment I can attest to this firsthand.  After enough time, your body adjusts to functioning on little to no sleep.  Your metabolism works wonders in providing extra boosts of adrenaline to keep you standing (and conscious), and you keep taking care of what’s in front of you.   Your body is also smart enough to know when the internal RedBull is no longer needs and eventually returns to BAU and that’s when you crash.  In general, that takes about 48 hours after you’re extracted.  Estimated time of Simon’s coma?  I got five bucks that says Tuesday at midnight with an eight hour over/under.  Email me to place your bets.

In short order, we will be leaving London.  It’ll be a bit of a process for Simon to exit his current duties so that he can start new ones.  I am sure it’s going to take a few days.  I’ve spent the last week or so packing up our individual flats.  Everything is packed, double packed, handed off to the shippers.  I’ve filled out enough custom’s forms at this point that I can do them with my eyes closed.  The short version of their forms should go something like this:  No, I’m not shipping any explosives, combustibles, contraband, Irish whiskey or the Queen’s jewels.  Don’t believe me?  Pop the crate and have a look for yourself.

It’ll be tough for both of us to leave London.  This is my adoptive home and Simon’s birthplace.  It’s hard to walk away from that, even if what’s on the end of the journey is a new adventure, a different future, and your time to start a family of your own.  I’m sure there will be a few tears when we take off from us both.  Jus the same, we won’t be gone forever.  We’re just leaving for right now.

Dear Simon 2010/01/23

Posted by sayencrowolf in Family, Happiness, Journalism, Travelling.
6 comments

Dear Simon:

We got invited to go play billiards tonight; and understandably I had to decline the invitation.  Well, in all truthfulness, we didn’t get specifically invited so much as a friend of mine put a feeler out for joiners on his Facebook page.  He and his boyfriend are going, and with the four of us being in three separate countries I ended up taking a pass on the event.

It really did get me thinking and if you can believe it that’s a good thing in this instance.  All during our Christmas holiday together we had scores of people just marveling at the life we lead: all the travel and our jobs are so exciting, etc., etc.,   To a large degree, we know they’re right: we get to travel the world at the drop of a hat.  We’ve seen more in our careers first hand than some people watch unfold on the television.  The work we’ve done separately (but together) has saved and changed lives – your work more so than mine..  But we kept the truth to ourselves for the entire trip.  We didn’t blurt it out at a single Christmas party we’d gone to, did we?  Our lives are an existence that, without a doubt, I wouldn’t change for anything.  It’s a “glamorous” existence that comes at a cost and over time that becomes harder and harder to pay when the bill comes due.  It’s a lonely existence, where it’s hard to put down roots, make close friends and achieve some sense of balance and serenity, isn’t it?  I would kill to be able to sleep in the same house night after night.  Some people might think a night of shooting pool as a boring outing; I know you would have jumped at it faster than I would.

Our experience over the holidays really pointed us in the right direction.  Get jobs with a lot less travel.  Settle down.  Start looking for those things we feel are missing.  My spending four days wondering if you were even alive in Haiti just underlined that even more.  I’m sure it’s a thought that went through your head while you were recuperating:  we’re too old for this shit.  It’s time to get out of the game before we’re asked to leave – or we’re thrown out entirely.  Time to settle down and leave the globe-hopping to those that think it’s all flash and fun.  Our retiring to a reasonably sedate existence is what we’re meant to do.  We need to do this.

Odd how a one-line post on Facebook can get my mind to wandering isn’t it?  I’m already wondering if my pool table at home has to be balanced before it can be used J

I love you – hurry home,

Daniel

This was an email I sent to Simon’s phone.  His reply?  “Amen, baby.  Amen”

Simon's Back on the Grid 2010/01/22

Posted by sayencrowolf in Uncategorized.
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To All: Simon is alive and well. A combination of injuries and technical problems kept him from establishing contact. He is in one piece and none of his injuries were life threatening. I will post more as I can.

Thank you all for the well wishes and prayers. You made the last few days alot more bearable knowing I had your support.

Daniel

Simon’s Back on the Grid 2010/01/22

Posted by sayencrowolf in Uncategorized.
4 comments

To All: Simon is alive and well. A combination of injuries and technical problems kept him from establishing contact. He is in one piece and none of his injuries were life threatening. I will post more as I can.

Thank you all for the well wishes and prayers. You made the last few days alot more bearable knowing I had your support.

Daniel

Haiti – Patience 2010/01/21

Posted by sayencrowolf in Current Events, Journalism, Love, Relationships, Social Media, Travelling.
5 comments

Well, it’s time to come clean here: I have shortcomings.

I know that’s a startling revelation for those of you that know me.  I know that’s impossible to even conceptualize.  I mean, I present this aura of impenetrable perfection, right?  Everything I say is a pearl of wisdom that should be transcribed as soon as it falls from my lips.  My touch is from Midas himself; I leave a trail of gold in my wake.  You should consider it the highpoint of your life to be associated with me.  If you could only see how hard I’m laughing right now; there was no way I could type that with a straight face.  I was hoping that I could psyche myself into believing it.  Alas, no soap.  It’s not working this time.

I’m writing this to confess that the glaring imperfection in my body armour is patience.  I suck at practicing it, largely because I don’t have much of it.  This is the test I’m facing right now, and truth be told if I received a report card on my performance over the last two days I would receive a big honkin’ “F”.  In all honesty, I’m not exactly OK with that either.  Simon has been off the grid for more than twenty four hours, and try as I might I’m not having a lot of success in keeping my mind from assuming something has happened.  In case you haven’t read my other posts, he’s currently in Haiti providing aid.  Since yesterday’s major aftershock I haven’t heard anything.

It’s not like he and I haven’t done this before: we’re both experienced professionals when it comes down to walking into hell on earth and doing our best to not wind up dead.  It’s been our stock-and-trade for the last few years.  Our paths have crossed in a situation or two but based on our individual expertise we end up working separately together.  There was something clawing at me when I put Simon on the plane for this trip.  Initially, I thought it was me and I wrote a post about that very subject.  Now I’m not entirely sure that epiphany was accurate.

So, I wait for word from him.  Tick, tock….

Erring on the side of caution, when I was on my layover in New York and heard of the aftershock I decided to camp out here for a few days until I heard from him.  The idea of being in the air for eight hours and out of communication didn’t sit with me well, so I took advantage of the fact that I have an ex-boyfriend who lives in the city and I have a key to his place.  I’ve never been more grateful for the fact that even after we separated we maintained a wonderful friendship.  One phone call later I have full access to his place.

Several months ago, we had a long discussion about our jobs and how they don’t exactly lend themselves to a being able to communicate at will.  We can’t just pick up the phone or drop an email; the job at hand can put a bullet in that one.  So, I wrote a program for our phones that starts up once a day; you’re required to key in a pass code and once you do that, it will report the GPS location to the other phone on Google Maps.  You can’t clear it off your screen – the phone is a brick until you input the code which is the correct pattern of the dots lock on the Droid.  Trace the right pattern, and you’re golden.  That’s your once-a-day check-in.  If we can’t call or email, it’s our own “hey – I’m all good” that doesn’t require a working cell tower to function. There’s also an emergency unlock code that, when used boils down to “I can’t communicate, but I’m in fucking trouble here, dude..”   It’s also handy if the phone is lost or stolen.  After 3 mistakes on the code, it completely wipes the memory on the phone and it’s 100% useless.  It’s a long technical story on how it works, but the short version is that I used to write code for RIM to pay the bills.  There could very well be a program on your blackberry that I’ve had a hand in.  Some of the chaperone software that parents put on their kids cell phone is based on this very program.  What I have on our phones is one of a kind; I have no intentions of marketing this one.

He’s 18 hours overdue on check in at this point.  Neither code sent at all.  Tick, tock….

Do I have the single slightest shred of proof something has happened to Simon?  Nope; I got nothing.  Even faced with that irrefutable dose of logic, it doesn’t do anything to diminish the feeling I have in my gut.  To that end, there have also been no reports of aid workers hurt, missing, or killed as of today.  Good News, but I can’t pin all my hopes on that one.  In 2004 while I was in Indonesia I was reported as killed (when I was technically missing and unable to establish communication), and two days after that I was listed as missing when in fact I had established my presence with local officials.  My parents and partner had no clue if I needed rescue or to claim my remains.  So, not a lot of comfort in this report, and I base that on my personal experience in the field.  There’s far too much chaos on the ground to accept this as concrete fact.

Tick, tock…

So, I meditate – a lot.  I work out – a lot.  I sleep – not so much.  I pray for some diversion to get out of my own head, pray for a good message when I do receive one, and pray for a little bit more patience.

Tick, tock….