Monthly Archives: April 2014

April 21st – The Accident

To many people, this date is not that significant. To me and to a select few individuals that attended Central Bucks High School East, it’s a big deal. It’s the day of the car crash.

We weren’t really good friends, more acquaintances if anything. I knew your names; I think you might have known mine. We said hello in passing. We knew each other well enough to have casual conversations. I don’t think we ever hung out outside of school though. Except Brandon, he was in my karate class and I saw him there. I didn’t usually get teamed up to spar with him since he was so much bigger than me. The Older Brother usually got paired up with him. But I knew who he was.

It was terrible. There were many people who volunteered over the coming weeks to help raise money. I participated in one at the hair salon I used to go to, I volunteered my time because I didn’t really have any money to donate. Time I did have. Helicopters are expensive and that’s what they had to use to get the guys out. The others that were in the crash, some I knew and some I didn’t. They were Alex Bailey, Adam Serio, Kyle McCann, and Eric Trawinski. But it was Brandon that was injured the most. It was him that was in a coma for almost a year. It was him who died.  

There is a website. On this website, there is a quote from Brandon, an excerpt from a homework assignment. “Brandon is one who hates giving up and does not like to fail at what he does. He expects a lot of others, but even more from himself. However, before we get too dramatic, let it be known that he has a great sense of humor. You would be hard pressed to find another person with such a love of life.” (Brandon Boger, www.brandonsrun.com/about-brandon.html).

I cried for you. Writing this, I am getting choked up thinking about the life you lived, the life you could have gone on to have. The life you missed out on because of a stupid car wreck. We weren’t good friends, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t teach me things. I never before thought about just how mortal we are. I cried for you, I cried for me. I cried with the knowledge that you were gone.

Brandon Boger was not a big part of my life by any stretch of the imagination, but his death affected me in many ways. This day is always a reminder of just how short life is. On this day, your family is always in my prayers. I hope you are at peace.

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What’s the Rush?

I’ll admit it. I am not the most patient person in the world. In fact, I’m one of the more impatient people that I know. This is usually a problem because the rest of the world just doesn’t move as quickly as I expect and desire it to.

I work in the city. Walking around the city can be, well, frustrating. It drives me crazy when I try to get from point A to point B and get stuck behind the slow walkers. This drives me insane, especially when there is a group of people that are clearly together and they are all walking next to each other. You shouldn’t be taking up the entire sidewalk, it’s rude and you’re interfering with my ability to pass you.

Do I always want to move extremely fast? No, there are some times when I think it is perfectly acceptable to take your time. One of these things would be in regards to public transportation. Every morning and every afternoon I can be found on the train. I like the train for the most part. It’s a lot easier than driving into the office, plus it gives me the opportunity to read and/or write. Where do you think I am right now? There is also a fair amount of people watching that one can accomplish when riding the train. I love to people watch.

So when it comes to the train, I don’t mind taking my time getting on and getting off. When the train pulls up and people start shoving their way in I just shake my head in wonderment. Why is it so important to be the first person on? It really irks me when people that haven’t been waiting for the train walk up and push in front of me. Is there a reason that you do not need to wait? I didn’t realize that this was your train and that you are the one who gets to go on first. Just a few minutes ago I had a guy shove his way to the front of the line, practically rubbing against my back in an effort to get on the train before me. Not cool dude, I’m not letting you in. Wait your fucking turn.

It also drives me up a wall when people insist on getting up before the train has stopped. ESPECIALLY when I am getting off the train at the same place you are. I want to sit until the train stops. Why? Well, first of all I do not like having to play that balancing game where you need to distribute your weight between your feet, moving one more forward and another back, trying to grab onto the seat handles because the train is still moving and you are not stable. It isn’t any fun for me. Let me sit. I also happen to wear heels sometimes to work. When I’m wearing some heels you better believe I want to sit down. Girl shoes suck (although they are pretty and make your legs look great). When my knee hurts, which has been for most of the winter, I want to sit until the car has stopped. There are mere seconds that you shred off your commute by pushing yourself to get up before the train has stopped. Is it really worth it? It’s gotten to the point where when my stop is coming up I will start packing up my things. There is always something in my lap, a computer, a book, a notebook, my phone…there is something. I put my stuff away and start putting bags on my shoulder. Then I turn my whole body like I’m about to get up but I stay seated. This is a very clear message. My body language says, ‘I’m getting off next but I’m waiting for the train to stop.’ If I go through these motions and still have someone tell me this is their stop, I now say, “Mine too.” And I don’t move. I want to sit until the train stops. It’s common fucking sense.

In regards to getting a seat on the train…this is another delight that you get to experience taking public transportation. When I get on the train and sit down, do you know what I do? I shift all the way over to the window and put my bags on my lap or the floor. This way I’m not the asshole with one bag, which I left on the seat. Not cool. There are other people trying to sit down and some of them are on the timid side. They may not want to ask you to move your stuff. I know I was like that once, at the beginning of my public transportation communing career. If you sit down with your bag on the seat it is basically saying ‘Fuck you’ to anyone that would want to sit down. Knock it off. Put your shit on the floor or in your lap.

What happens if you are unlucky enough to get on the train and it is full? Now that I have been taking a different train I almost always can find a seat. This is very nice. But I will not stay in my seat if I see certain individuals going without a seat. This includes pregnant women, people with young children, and the elderly. I will offer my seat to these individuals because that is how I was raised. It is the decent thing to do. Why do I feel so alone in this regard? Maybe some more people can learn how to behave properly on public transportation and help to make the world a better place. Maybe.

 

A Celebration of 99 Years

Today marks the 99th year of Doris Ester Bentrim’s life. It is her birthday. On this day, 99 years ago, my Grandma was born. It feels like I have lived through a lot sometimes but it is nothing compared with what Grandma has lived through.

When Grandma was born, women didn’t have the right to vote. There were 48 states and the Ottoman Empire was still a strong power in the world. In 1915, the first coast to coast phone call was made. She lived through WWI (victory in 1918), the Great Depression in 1929, WWII (victory in 1945), the Korean War in 1953, Vietnam in the 60’s, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (which happened on 4/4/1968 – Grandma was just turning 53), the Space Race and landing on the moon in 1969, the Cold War in the 70’s, the Berlin Wall coming down, and the War in the Middle East. When Grandma was born, Woodrow Wilson was the president. There was no Internet, no cell phones, no computers…it was a different world.

Grandma has outlived her parents, seven siblings, and a husband. She gave birth to three kids and in turn, been responsible for ten grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren (and two step-grandchildren). She has attended many weddings and many funerals. She celebrated fifty years of marriage. She has had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to her at least 99 times. (I made sure to call her up and sing to her this morning, to ensure my numbers were right).

She has witnessed four companies be build from her kids and grandkids, Buckingham Computers, Diamond Case Design, Cyber-Stop, and John D. Bentrim Consulting. She is indirectly responsible for at least twelve U.S. Patents (the fastener engineer of the family showing off again). A large variety of professions have developed from Grandma. There are computer geniuses, a 911 operator, a retired guidance counselor, an internal auditor (that’s what you do, right Jon?), a fastener engineer, and a writer of blog post and murder mysteries to list a few. There are a minimum of sixteen high school graduates and at least eight college graduates.

She remembers meeting Civil War veterans. She remembers talk of the Titanic when she was a child. She lived through the Great Depression. I’ve never asked her where she was when Kennedy was shot. I don’t know where she was when the twin towers came down.

She has fought cancer and won. She has had hip replacements. She has fallen and each time been dragged back to her feet by my stubborn Dad. Sometimes, I think he is more stubborn than she is. No, I think she wins – Grandma is very stubborn.

She has played more games of Black Mama than anyone else I know. (Sometimes I wonder if anyone outside our family plays that game). She has knit afghans in a variety of colors (including one in maroon, light pink, and purple – clearly the best one and therefore I am her favorite). She has made more meals than anyone else I know. She has eaten a lot of cookies. She has a sweet tooth and she likes her coffee HOT. Her favorite dessert used to be spice cake and she would meticulously make it from scratch. It’s not a small task.

For a while, my family held the record of being Dr. Carver’s oldest and youngest patients. My nieces keep getting older, so the youngest part doesn’t last but Grandma is still his oldest patient. According to him, she has the heart of a sixteen year old.

One of my most vivid memories of Grandma was the day after Grandpa died. She was a wreck and I remember how fragile she seemed, a bottle of Pepto-Bismol on the table on the sun porch, Grandma sitting there in shorts, at a loss for what to do without her soul mate. A lot of the family feared that she would follow in his footsteps, that she would lose her will to live. She didn’t. He died when I was in seventh grade – 1999 – and now, fifteen years later she is still chugging away and celebrating her 99th birthday.

I write this post to celebrate her life and to take some time to reflect back on all the things she has seen, been a part of, and caused. My Grandma has watched the world change before her eyes. She is a wonderful person and I wish I had more time to spend with her. I can tell you the last time I saw her, less than a week ago, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. I hope that when you read this, you will realize what a gift a grandparent can be and not take it for granted. Maybe you still have a grandparent around that you can spend more time with. Maybe you and I share Grandma and you’ll come visit her soon. Everything else can wait.

 

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Pokes Themselves with a Bean

You know what is no fun? Having oral surgery. You know what’s even worse? Having oral surgery and then getting a violent stomach bug. This has been my life for the past couple of days. I have never before been so sick that I don’t even want to watch ‘The Little Mermaid’. Yes, I was so sick I didn’t want Disney. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to do anything but sleep. Of course it isn’t very easy to sleep when your stomach is full of sharp pains and you have to wake up every few hours to go get sick again. Originally, this post was about the oral surgery, so let’s start there.

I’ve never had surgery below the neck. I had my wisdom teeth taken out (for which I was knocked out) and that was a breeze because I had my tonsils taken out before that and it was one of the worst things ever. I had a gum graft done before which is no picnic, but not really a big deal. Then, last Tuesday, I decided to get my second (and hopefully final) gum graft done. The way that a gum graft is performed is you go to the dentist, they numb you up, they cut out part of the roof of your mouth, and then they put that piece of gum in the spot where the gum has receded. (I grind my teeth at night, which is why I needed the procedure done in the first place).

There are certain rules that you need to follow when you get a gum graft done. First of all, you need to avoid certain foods including anything overly spicy, hot, or sharp. There is no alcohol allowed for the first two days. There are also certain precautions that you need to take like not brushing your teeth where the graft was. This is the worst one in my opinion especially because I recently have gotten into very good habits with my teeth. Every night I was flossing and using mouthwash. I was very proud of myself but then the stupid graft made it so I couldn’t brush, let alone floss, the upper part of my mouth on the left side. Gross and frustrating.

While trying to heal from this I also had promised to take care of Grandma (who will be 99 years old in two days) and Baron (a Plott Hound/Mastiff mix who is still quite the puppy and therefore not so well behaved) so that my parents could attend ‘Parent’s Weekend’ at Penn State where my lil sister goes. Now, being as old as she is, Grandma doesn’t particularly like sharp foods. For dinner on Friday I made mashed potatoes, meatloaf (ok, Mom made it but I reheated it like a pro), and green beans. We sat down to enjoy this dinner and I made it most of the way through before I took an exceptionally large bite of a green bean. The edge of it poked me right in the roof of my mouth where the gum had been removed to make a graft. It hurt SO much. And of course, I had seasoned the green beans with some butter and salt. Salt doesn’t feel good in a wound. But I got over it.

That was Friday. On Saturday, we made the rather unfortunate mistake of inviting over my nieces. They are the cutest little girls, but they infected us with the plague/violent stomach bug and we have been miserable ever since. But before they came over I had spent some time staring at my wounds in the mirror. The stiches were coming lose and so I went to pull them out. The ones in the roof of my mouth came out very easily and were definitely ready, the ones on the side…not so much. I started to bleed profusely and haven’t touched the stiches since.

There is another thing that is painful when you have had oral surgery – laughing. The Older Brother has an uncanny ability to make me laugh for no good reason. Sometimes he just laughs to make me laugh more. Then there are the three daughters who are so adorable and do so many cute things that you can’t help but laugh at them. And The Slightly Older Sister (Older Brother’s wife) makes me laugh too. So I kept laughing while making dinner for the gang and kept holding the side of my face. It gave me the illusion that laughing hurt less. At one point my potatoes were not going well and I asked The Slightly Older Sister for help. She made them mashed for me and I didn’t see her do it. I looked over and saw her with a spoon and asked how she mashed the potatoes so well with just a spoon. Her response? “I’m Irish”. Laughter ensued and gullible me was shown the obviously used potato masher on the counter.

We had a great dinner (The Older Brother had four helpings of my chicken) and I got a pretty entertaining video of The Mischievous Niece refusing her last bite of chicken. There were definitely some hiccups in caring for Grandma and Baron but things went pretty well. On Sunday we went home and everything seemed fine. Monday we woke up to a new kind of hell that neither of us had experienced before. The Boyfriend didn’t get it quite as bad as I did, but we have both been very unhappy this week. I even missed my work anniversary, which was rather disappointing. Maybe the lesson here should be that when The Older Brother and The Slightly Older Sister warn me that their children have been sick, I should listen to them. Perhaps I should just avoid eating food off of the plates of the recently sick. Or, I could follow both pieces of advice and not spend the majority of my week feeling like I’m dying. Because it’s all fun and games…