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Evolution, not Revolution.

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Lost Hope

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It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but today seems like the day to scratch out a few words. I’ve had a huge lump in my throat for the last few days, and I’ve found myself frequently wiping my eyes as I read the news.

Jacob Wetterling disappeared about two months before Jen and I were married in 1989. It had such large coverage in the papers and on TV. As the story played out, it transitioned from a rescue, to a recovery, to an advocacy movement. Patti’s face was everywhere. She was fierce and persistent. I don’t know if she knew that her son’s disappearance would forever changed how we deal with child predators, not only in Minnesota, but across the nation. Even if she did, she would not have cared. This was personal.

And now the monster has been arrested, told his story, and been sentenced, all in the short span of five short days. As a parent – a dad – I am brokenhearted. I feel ill, angry, and so sad. I think about the family and the distraught state they are in. I think about the community, still stunned and in disbelief over what happened in their backyard. Most of all, I think of Jacob.

I read the testimony that came out of the hearing today, and it took me to a new depth of horror and sadness. I think about an eleven-year-old boy – I’ve had two of them – and how he must have been feeling at the time, in a state of shock – scared, confused, and alone with no one to protect him. How, with a bit of guilt in my heart, I feel relief that he died quickly, that he did not suffer over an extended period of time as so many other kids do. Beginning to end, it was all over in just a few hours.

For the family though it has gone on much longer. I’ve read many comments on the case since Thursday that say similar things.

Now the family can start the healing process.

Now there is closure.

Now we know the truth.

It is over, and there is solace in knowing that.

Now we can move forward.

These comments are well-intended – I understand that – but they are such bullshit. Knowing the truth does not make it better because the truth is horrifying. Knowing what happened to Jacob does not make it better. It makes it far worse. It amplifies the horror. It changes it from a series of hypothetical scenarios to actual, fact-based storyline that you can play back in your mind over and over and imagine what your child must have been living and feeling in those final moments.

I grieve for Jacob, but my heart is with mom and dad tonight. They’ve lived 27 years keeping a glimmer of light that things would turn out ok, and that was crushed last Thursday and made vivid today. The family is getting this new and real today, after 27 years of hope. There is no closure. There is no moving forward. The only hope left is that you can get up and put your feet on the floor again tomorrow.

The most hopeless part of this is that realization that there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent any of this from happening. These were just ordinary folks living their lives. This is the sad fact that we must all accept: While we can hope not to accidentally stumble onto a monster’s path, the truth is: The Monsters live among us.

To Jacob, I hope you knew much much you were loved. To the rest of the Wetterlings, I am so sorry. May you find whatever peace you can.

Written by Rick

September 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Posted in News, Personal

In Memoriam: A Note From Bob

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Now that I have passed on to the great beyond and possess otherworldly superpowers, I have written my own obituary.

I passed away peacefully in my sleep, in the early hours of November 7, 2015. I will be remembered mostly for my barking, my big body on skinny legs (I am NOT a Whippet, for God’s sake), and barking. I enjoyed warm places to sleep, food, and incessantly warning my humans of their impending doom, by barking. I was named for famous television personality Bob Barker. Even though I never met him, I heard he is very fertile – much more than me – particularly since the whole neutering thing happened (thanks a lot for that, by the way). The humans called me Bobby, except when they were too tired or lazy to say the whole thing, and then it was just Bob.

I was preceded in death by the mean/bitchy meow-thing (Penny), wussy/boring meow-thing (Critter), teeny/frail meow-thing (Sally), and nice/weirdo meow-thing (Harriman). To all of my long-gone frenemies, it makes me very happy to know that I outlived you all. That fact puts a smile on my face, and now that I am once again fully-abled, a happy wag to my tail. My smile is even better now that I have all of my teeth back. Wherever it is that we all are right now, please don’t look me up.

To the surviving red menace, The Ginger, the orange meow-thing, I say sayonara and good riddance, even though you didn’t completely suck. I forgive you for all of the times you randomly bitch-slapped me for no reason other than I was a dog. I forgive you for all of the times you entered my bubble and tried to snuggle with me. It was terrible. And ok. Sometimes. Not really. Most of all, I ask that you take care of the humans now that I am gone. I can no longer bark at things on their behalf, and you seem to have their confidence. I know you are worthless because you cannot bark, but the least you can do is to grimace menacingly at things with your snotty, mangled, deformed face. It just might be scary enough to ward off evil. It’s all on you now. Soldier on, you disgusting beast.

To my humans, I say thanks for giving me a good life, enough to eat, a soft place to lie down, and a forum to do what I did best: Bark. I’m sorry for all of times I pooped on your floor, pissed on your rug, or inconveniently barfed on something that you value. I understand why sometimes you had to yell at me, and there are no hard feelings. You handled all of that with incomparable grace, and I thank you.

To Young The He, thank you for being exceedingly kind and nice to me. I knew you less time than the others, but in our almost 13 years together, I grew quite fond of you. I liked how you talked nice to me and petted me, even though I know you like the orange meow-thing a little bit more than me, for reasons I’ll never completely fathom. You are a sweet, kind boy. I will miss seeing who you will grow up to be, but whoever that is, I know you will be extraordinary.

To Older The He, I knew you my whole life. You were only 4 when we met. You were a little, blond touslely-haired thingy, and now you are a big hairy thingy. I’m sorry I was never much for fetching the ball, but I appreciate you playing with me nonetheless. I loved all the naps we took together, especially when we were both little. I have watched you grow up to be a fine, decent, kind young man. I know my leaving is hard for you, but both of us are going to be ok. I’m very proud of you. You are at the beginning of an amazing adventure. Go out and be great.

To Other The He, I know you loved me even though you were frequently crabby with me. Thanks for paying for all of the things. Thanks for putting food in my bowl. Thanks for loving my people and taking good care of them. Thanks for doing your best to help me here at the end when I was a hot mess. And that time at the PetSmart when I unloaded a quart of Bob’s Finest on your favorite pair of Sebagos? Do you remember that time? I do, and I would totally do that again if I had another chance. That was the best. What a great day. May you live a long life with dry shoes, mon frère.

To The She, I don’t know where to start. We have been constant companions for 17 years. You let me follow you from room-to-room for all of that time. I’m sure it was annoying sometimes, but you never once complained. You let me sit next to you wherever you were, even when I smelled very bad because I snacked from the meow-thing box. You always talked nice to me, always put a blanket on me (we both get cold, don’t we?), even when I was a pain-in-the-ass, or put my bodily fluids on something, or was just inconvenient. I never felt more loved than when I was with you. You were my whole world. Thanks for being my person. I know this is all very hard for you, and that you are terribly sad, but don’t be that way for too long. You gave me a great life, and that is what you should be thinking about. I love you.

To everyone else, thanks for letting me bark at you so hard and so loud and so long that I nearly passed out. I cherish those memories. If I was annoying, I’m sorry not sorry. If I pooped on or near you, or peed, or barfed in your general vicinity, I’m actually am really sorry. These things happen. Thanks for understanding.

I guess that’s it. It was a good ride. Thanks for all of it.

Always be good to one another, and Bark On.

Bobby

Written by Rick

November 8, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Personal

Until Next Time…

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This is the eulogy I wrote for my friend John McLaughlin, which I read at his memorial service at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, on December 12, 2014.

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I met John about 14 years ago. He and Barb wandered into this place not long after Jen and I did, and we hit it off right away. As friends, the four of us clicked. Ryan was maybe 6 at the time, and Evan would come along a couple of years later, and the kindness Jen and I enjoyed was extended to our boys too. We loved the old house, the yard, and that big old swing in the back. We connected.

When I joined the Cedar Lake Seven in the fall of 2000, we were between guitar players. The previous guy has moved to Hawaii, and while we didn’t have too many guitar numbers back then, when he left, we were all a cappella. Our lead tenor had recently left the group too, so we were a little undermanned. After John strolled in to this place, he was quickly recruited by Greg – He was a twofer — he could play guitar, and he had a lovely high tenor voice, both things that we needed badly. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Rick

December 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

Posted in Personal

Road Trip

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I write in bursts, and now seems like a good time to pick it up again.

My friend John McLaughlin died yesterday, and it is weighing heavily on me today.  John was a friend of mine for 15 years.  We started going to same little church right around the same time, and we hit it off right away.  He was 17 years older than me, but that didn’t matter.  It just worked.  I feel sadness and loss, but a busy day at work mostly kept me from thinking about it.  Now that I’m home, I need to get this out.

John died because of a disease called PSP, which gradually robbed him of his charm and dignity, year after year, bit by bit.  It was a terrible thing to watch an intelligent, vibrant man slowly deteriorate in such a way.  At first, many years ago, we didn’t know what was going on.  In hindsight, it all makes sense. I don’t want to talk too much about this though, so I’m going to tell a story instead.

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Written by Rick

December 1, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Personal

Don’t Be Stupid

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I have something I need to confess.  I share this so that I may unburden myself, to submit my actions for your collective consideration, and ultimately, your judgment.  Here we go.

I helped my son build a beer pong table for his dorm room.

Now I’m sure you can now see why I needed to confess that.  It’s something I’ve been wearing as a yoke around my neck for the last week or so, I need some spiritual relief.

Beer pong, for the uninitiated, is a game frequently played by college students. It involves a pool-rack configuration – a triangle – of cups at each end of the table.  Contestants try to throw or bounce ping-pong balls into the cups, which contain various types of beverages. If your ball lands in an opponent’s cup, they must consume said beverage. All your cups are gone?  You lose. House rules vary, but that is the general idea.

You may be asking yourself, why would Rick do such a thing?  Why?!  Doesn’t he know that this is only going to encourage the kind of ill-conceived shenanigans that we warn our college kids to stay away from? Doesn’t he know what a bad example he is setting for his son, that he is providing tacit permission for his kid to carry on, to indulge in Animal House-like behaviors, ultimately at the expense of his college success?  Doesn’t he know that he has made the path to debauched excess that much easier to navigate?  Haven’t you thought of these things?  Good grief, man.

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Written by Rick

September 7, 2014 at 10:30 am

Posted in Dad, Personal

Gooyash

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I found this while cleaning up some files on my hard drive.  It is something I wrote for our second Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church cookbook.  I am a member of a gospel choir called the Cedar Lake Seven, which is based out of BMPC, and this story chronicles some of the adventure we had when touring Hungary in early 2002. It also provides my take on Hungarian Goulash, one of the more memorable meals we had on our trip.

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In the early 2000’s, the Cedar Lake Seven had an opportunity to visit Hungary.  They was the result of an exchange, a partnership with the Reformed Church of Hungary.  The Hungarians had been to Minnesota a few years earlier, and made the gesture of inviting the Americans to come and see them.  It took a few years for it all to come together, but we made a plan to go in the fall of 2001.  After September 2001, the world changed, and we had to alter our plans.  We would up delaying our trip by a few months, and it moved forward in the spring of 2002.

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Written by Rick

August 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Food, Personal

Tagged with , , ,

Good Knight

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Robin Williams died this week. When I saw the news, I started to cry.

Three days ago, I sat sniffling in front of my computer, wiping my eyes, trying to absorb what I was reading — that he was dead, and how it was that he had died. I was in shock and deep sadness for this man that I’d never met, and in the last couple of days I have been trying to understand why. We’ve all been witness to the passing of other significant people. Why does this feel different? I’ve never cried for anyone else.

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Written by Rick

August 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Personal

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