Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Praying for dear friends and the rest of my week...

Much of the early part of the week was spent playing phone and e-mail tag with various representatives of the Barbershop Harmony Society, dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's to get the quartet properly registered for the upcoming contest a week from Friday – mostly done while I was at work. I spent a lot of time on the phone and computer talking with judges, officials, and other knowledgeable people making sure the all four of us are properly registered and dues paid with the society, that our repertoire is appropriate and legal, and that our application to the contest went through and was processed properly. This is the first time ANY of us have competed with a quartet in the Society, so we want to be sure we got everything right. Mission accomplished thus far. No red flags have gone up, so I'm assuming we're good to go.

Thankfully, there was no contest entry fee, just our convention registration we all had to pay to get in with the chorus, so I won't be riddled with guilt over owing our baritone more money for fronting money for us. The other three of us are usually dead broke, so he has a propensity for picking up the tab for unexpected expenses. Dave Beamer has really become an anchor for the quartet. Between his knowledge of vocal performance techniques, his attention to detail, and his generous nature, he's been a HELLUVA find for us. I'm glad we swooped down like musical vultures and snatched him up before any other quartets got to him.

Deciding on our wardrobe for contest has been a bit tricky. We have several outfits, but nothing very formal. After a couple weeks of searching, I finally found a great fabric for vests and bow ties for us: satin with a hint of glittery sparkle. It's has a classy, subtle sparkle in each of our colors, and not too gawdy. Sonya and my sister, Val, have agreed to work on them so we can have them ready for contest. Both are wizards with a sewing machine. They're gonna look great. The only trick is, do we wear them with our tuxes or just on their own? I'd hate to cover them up. Regardless – tuxes or no – we'll be wearing our trademark High-top Chucks with them.

One little thing they've added to the convention this year is a moustache contest. I generally have neatly trimmed goatee, with occasional forays into the full beard realm, but I'm not big on having a full-on "crumb catcher" under my nose. For the past month or so, however, I decided to give it a try in anticipation of this contest. Thus far, I have a pretty full mustache that has been driving me absolutely nuts! Eating anything with a condiment leads to a sloppy lip, hairs make the occasional journey into my mouth, and forget about drinking anything! I look like a rabid St. Bernard after a glass of milk. I actually purchased mustache wax, which I've used a couple times, in an attempt to "train" the stray hairs, to little avail. It feels like wearing Elmer's glue on my upper lip! On the upside, it's long enough to get the effect of the turn-of-the-century handlebar curl on the ends. I had planned on trimming it back to my standard short length immediately after the contest, but after seeing the cover of the Sunday Free Press and it's headlining story about upcoming video games for the holidays, I found myself twisting the ends of my moustache like Snidley Whiplash as I looked at a picture of Nintendo's Mario. Maybe I'll wait till after Halloween after all.

Brava to Jenn Edwards and her quartet, Moxie Ladies for an ASTOUNDING performance at Sweet Adelines Internation convention this past week in Calgary! I missed the webcast on Wednesday night of their prelims performance, but apparently underestimated their talent as they made 7th going into finals. I did manage to catch and record their finals set, which earned them 4th place in the world!! I fully expect they will get a medal of some kind next year. In my opinion, they were gyped and should have at LEAST gotten the bronze this year! Keep at it, ladies! Ya sounded AWESOME!

The other big part of my week has been spent worrying about a good friend of mine. Jason Bradley was rushed to the hospital late last week after what appears to have been a pulmonary embolism. His heart stopped and the docs performed CPR on him for about 40 minutes. He is currently in the ICU at Beaumont in Royal Oak. The prognosis isn't good, but not certain.

Jason and I have never been particularly close. More than a casual friend, I consider him a good friend that I just don't get much opportunity to see. I met him his freshman year while hanging out with a gaggle of my sister's friends. He was familiar with my work with the choir and Dondero's Pop Concert and looked up to me a bit. I've always like being a mentor, so he and I hit it off well. Jason's a big-hearted, talented guy with a great, though occasionally twisted sense of humor. He loves to have fun, but, like me, derives much of his joy from helping others and bringing smiles to people's faces. We need more like him these days.

I went to visit him last Friday before I went to work at Blockbuster. He was about as I had expected: unconscious, hooked up to every machine in the place, intubation tube down his throat, I.V.s plugged up and down his arms and in every orifice, and monitors beeping and whirring. This didn't shock or surprise me. My mother suffered congestive heart failure a few years back and she was in the exact same place. She was unconscious for several days and in the ICU for about 2 weeks. She's fine now, recovering well, and working on regaining some of the mobility she had lost prior to the event.

This is what I have been focusing on for Jason. Several of his family and friends have been visiting and eulogizing him while they're there, referring to him in that past tense. This infuriates me. If we had done that for my mom, I have no doubt that she wouldn't be with us today. The human spirit thrives on positive thinking and energy. If my mom can come back from this at age 60, my good friend can do the same at 29.

I have always been the perky, chipper, optimistic rock in situations like this. I'm not sure if it's a matter of perspective or emotionally distancing myself from unpleasantness, but rather than spend my time worrying and weeping about what MIGHT happen, I find it more helpful to be a shoulder to cry on and a voice of hope for tentative situations. There is no point in expecting the worst. It's not only torture for the family and friends while awaiting the final outcome; it's counter-productive to the situation. It breeds negativity, and that's not what Jason needs right now.

I'm not a particularly religious man. I have a faith in God and try to live by a moral principal set forth primarily by the teachings of Jesus, but I'm not big on religious platitudes, doctrine, or ceremony. I do, however, believe in the power of prayer. Not in so much as asking God for what you want will grant your every wish. I believe that God has a divine plan and purpose for us all and that our OWN decisions make it so. But I do believe that prayer provides an air of positive energy and love that has the power to heal. God will do what he will with Jason, but surrounding him with positive thoughts and prayers will give him the strength to do as God wills.

Personally, I can't believe that He is done with Jason. Jason is only 29, and while he doesn't take very good care of himself and has a tendency to neglect his own health and well being, it's often for the benefit of those he loves. While he is most CERTAINLY a lazy guy with an unhealthy taste for bad food and other vices, I believe God is planning this as a wake-up call for him to start taking better care of himself so he can continue to be the bright shining light of hope, happiness and fun for those around him.

I've visited him twice so far: Friday before work and Sunday morning. Sunday, I spent mostly taking with his family and giving his mom a sounding board, positive perspective, and shoulder to cry on. He had a parade of friends and family going through, so I just breezed in for a minute to crack a joke or two at his expense, and tell him to "wake the fuck up! We got concerts to go to and stuff!"

I talk to him, not at or about him. I don't pretend he can't hear me. I don't talk like he's not in the room. As long as there's the faintest glimmer of hope that he'll be back again, espousing his latest plan to make it rich and/or change the world and ask how he can help, I'll be COUNTING on the fact that he will. There's no point in thinking otherwise.

If you're the praying type, please say a few prayers for Jason.

If you're not, just think positively about him and look forward to meeting him or seeing him again at your next party.

Above all, think positive, happy thoughts about him and assume he'll be getting out of the ICU soon and hangin' with us again.

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