Everyone who has a mom is probably worrying about gifts, or visits, or dinners they're preparing for the occasion. For them, it's about things, stuff that means they love their mother. What I'm worrying about is the possibility of making someone uncomfortable by saying, "my mom passed away."
I look around the house, and I see all of the presents I got my mom for Mother's Day over the years. Wreathes with dried flowers, figurines, framed poems. Stuff that was supposed to prove I loved my mom, to make sure she knew how much.
Now, that measurement of love is the span of years I've been grieving since her passing. It's been 6 years, and I still miss her. I don't know if I'll ever stop. This leads me to believe that there is Mother's Day in heaven just as there is on Earth. I know that she's been watching over me for the last 6 years, and now I don't have to worry about stuff that means love. I just love. She knows it. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!
I am in the midst of making plans to visit New York City this spring after having stumbled across The High Line Park website earlier today. Few things catch my interest as much as this incredible idea for a park built on an abandoned rail line elevated to pass over city streets full of traffic below. What a brilliant solution to a tough problem.
As the city takes the shape of the needs of the current residents, there are bound to be problems that arise. Instead of investing good money into tearing down the elevated rail, it was thought that this could be the site of a public park in a locale where real estate is a commodity few can afford, and where green space is scarce.
Here is a history of the High Line as it is posted on their website:
1847 The City of New York authorizes street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side.
1851 – 1929 So many accidents occur between freight trains and street-level traffic that 10th Avenue becomes known as Death Avenue. For safety, men on horses, called the West Side Cowboys, ride in front of trains waving red flags.
1929 After years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New York and the New York Central Railroad agree on the West Side Improvement Project, which includes the High Line. The entire project is 13 miles long, eliminates 105 street-level railroad crossings, and adds 32 acres to Riverside Park. It costs over $150 million in 1930 dollars—more than $2 billion today.
1934 The High Line opens to trains. It runs from 34th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It is designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connects directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods come and go without causing street-level traffic.
1950s Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic, nationally and on the High Line.
1960s The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.
1980 The last train runs on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.
Mid-1980s A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.
1999 Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.
2001 - 2002 The Design Trust for Public Space provides a fellowship for architect Casey Jones to conduct research and outreach for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study jointly produced by the Design Trust and Friends of the High Line, which lays out planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse.
March 2002 Friends of the High Line gains first City support—a City Council resolution advocating for the High Line's reuse.
October 2002 A study done by Friends of the High Line finds that the High Line project is economically rational: New tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.
December 2002 The City files with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line.
January – July 2003 An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter. Hundreds of design entries are displayed at Grand Central Terminal. (View Competition Entries)
July 2003 Friends of the High Line and the City jointly testify before the Surface Transportation Board in support of High Line reuse.
March – September 2004 Mayor Bloomberg announces City funding for the High Line. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conduct a process to select a design team for the High Line. The selected team is James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines. (View the High Line Design)
September 2004 The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad company), and the City of New York jointly file with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line.
April 2005 An exhibition showcasing the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens at the Museum of Modern Art.
June 2005 The Surface Transportation Board issues a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.
November 2005 The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donates the structure), and the City and CSX sign a Trail Use Agreement. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserve the High Line south of 30th Street.
April 2006 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line with the lifting of a rail track. The first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line begins. Construction begins on Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street). Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the tracks are mapped, tagged, and stored (some will be reinstalled in the park landscape). This is followed sandblasting of steel, repairs to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line. (View Construction Photos)
2008 Landscape Construction begins on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting.
June 2008 Final designs are released for the High Line's transformation to a public park. (View the Final Designs)
June 9, 2009 Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opens to the public.
June 8, 2011 Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opens to the public.
April 25, 2012 The New York City Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve a zoning text amendment that secures the eastern portion of the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the 10th Avenue Spur, as public open space.
July 25, 2012 The High Line at the Rail Yards is saved. The City of New York acquires the title to the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., which donated the final portion of the structure to the City.
September 20, 2012 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line at the Rail Yards. Construction proceeds in three phases, with the first phase projected to open in 2014.
Spring 2014 Nick's first visit to The High Line. (Hopefully Mike will join me--I haven't asked him yet!)
I really can't wait to visit. Spring can't come soon enough! The main images above and below this entry link to The High Line Organization website. All the information you need can be found there.
This is a difficult subject for me because the pursuit of knowledge and eventual (possible) wisdom, at least in the scientific world, contradicts faith in mystical, spiritual things. I am constantly undercutting my faith and spirituality by saying I believe in all the laws of science and reason. There's nothing scientific or reasonable about pearly gates, an omnipotent being who lives in the sky, angels playing harps, or a fiery pit called hell that's home to a red man called the devil.
So, when my mom passed away in January of 2008, where did she go? Did her energy burn out like a pilot light that loses its source of fuel? Or did her spirit float up to Heaven, stop to check in with Saint Peter at the gates, and proceed to meet God while angels heralded her arrival? The bottom line is I don't want to think the person I love most in the world met a terrifying demise consisting of blackness, emptiness, and loneliness. The latter option called Heaven is much more comforting. When I suffered such great loss, I wanted to be comforted like a child, and told stories of happiness and positivity. While I do think the version of Heaven I just talked about is a fairy tale designed to be told for consolation, I've settled on a nice balance between the two theories of eternal light and eternal darkness: an enlightened spiritual afterlife.
If you think about it, there's got to be a reason for this very visceral, sinewy life. Everyone, no matter how intelligent and privileged, experiences some form of great pain and suffering at least once. Some experience more than most. I believe the reason for this is to prepare us for something better later, and if we're let in on the secret, it will just blow our minds and ruin the plan entirely. Who is the master of this plan? I believe it to be God.
I use the term God loosely because I believe there is a force that is all-knowing and all-powerful, but even though the word "omnipotent" exists, there's no way we could possibly know what that entails or what it looks like in action. What does something look like when it creates, knows, watches, and orchestrates everything that exists in the known universe? There's no way to know, so faith is required to be humble enough to get through this gritty, dirty, and often mundane life. To think that we are the be-all end-all is just ridiculous. While I am a proponent of reason and logic, I believe they are faculties gifted to us by our creator. I don't think that we are equipped to understand or explain the force that created the universe, the sun, the moon, Earth, and its inhabitants; nor do I believe we can begin to grasp how it is controlled.
No matter how skewed or evil some forces in the world may be, how relentless nature can be, everything returns to a semi-peaceful balance at some point--a stasis. The fact that we haven't annihilated our species and blown up the planet is a miracle, and proof that equilibrium exists. I don't think all this happens by chance, or if it does, chance is controlled by a greater force disguised to look like what we call "chance", leading us to believe that we have "free will."
What's the reason for believing? Just as I think it's excessive to believe in the gilded gates and harps of a kingdom in the clouds, I believe it's obtusely selfish, narrow minded, and down right depressing to believe that there's nothing beyond what we can see in this life. Since the beginning of recorded history, people have imagined fantastic things about Heaven, various gods, and afterlives with good reason. Why do we decorate and put up lights for holidays and festive occasions? Why do we celebrate anything? Because without these beliefs and celebrations, our imaginations would be starved, and our lives would be dark, cold, purposeless, and pointless.
I'm in a good mood today. If you want to read more of what I think about a bleak life under the supervision of an unforgiving God whose existence I question, catch me on a bad day.
Ugh, my brain hurts. I know that this is a controversial topic, and my views change regularly. They've centered on optimism lately, though, because I'd rather try to be happy than sad and depressed. I've traveled the path of a skeptic, and it's not pleasant. I turned around midway and took the path of faith instead. I just keep my hand on the railing in case. Please don't be offended by any of this. I'm just a nobody who thinks he has a decent opinion...but you know what they say about opinions.
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
Shane and Tom had a love that I am envious of. Both come from small towns with closed minded townspeople, and both have a similar history of being closeted gay men before coming out and embracing their sexuality. When they found each other, they began a love story that ended in tragedy. Bridegroom - The Movie documents their adventures together, spreading love and a message of hope to all those who felt their sexuality was wrong. What happens in the end is truly unfair, but the way Shane handles the situation is inspiring. Everyone, not just gay people, should watch this movie.
From the Bridegroom movie website:
"BRIDEGROOM is a documentary directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship — a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will.
The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food.
The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute.
Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries:
“I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn't going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.”
And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was:
“[It's] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’"
Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right:
“To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.”
But Officer Thomas did have one request:
“The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.”
And guess what? The story gets even better.
After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store.
And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep.
She started crying when he told her:
“There's no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.”
And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”.
Courtesy of WSVN Miami
My friend Andy posted a link to this obituary (to follow) which appeared earlier this evening on Gawker. Having grown up with a wonderful mother and grandmother, I can't say I relate to it much, but I can appreciate the lack of sentiment for a woman who must have been pure hell to live with. This obituary says so much in three short paragraphs. Take a look:
Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.
Thank God I don't live a life that would warrant an obituary like this. As awful as she was to her kids, imagine what she must've felt like inside to be able to treat human beings as objects of torture. I believe she deserves to pay for her crimes, but I also hope she gets to feel love as well. It doesn't seem as though she ever felt it on earth.
UPDATE 09/12/13: The back story behind this scathing obituary came to light on the Huffington Post website yesterday afternoon. Apparently Marianne Reddick was either the foster or adoptive mother of these 8 children, 6 of whom are still alive. According to the story, the children's case was taken to court and resulted in legislation allowing children of abusive parents to terminate their parental rights. These kids aren't martyrs, they actually took action, and I admire them.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.