Tuesday, July 21, 2009

3 Degrees of Separation

My mom sent me an email recently that I found quite interesting. This is my one lone, distant connection with a superstar... Michael Jackson. Before I relate the story that was passed along to me I have to say that despite the great musical talent he had, I find it very disturbing that the society we live in found the passing of Michael Jackson more news worthy than the changes President Obama is trying to make for our nation. I'm not sure there isn't a soul who can't tell you where they were when they heard that MJ died. But how many people can tell you about Obama's energy bill or his universal health care plan? The man was a disturbed pedophile and I find it morally repugnant that he has been so revered. Don't get me wrong. He was somebody's son, brother, father or friend and their loss is great. I just feel there are more important things going on in this world than a musician who should have been put in jail. OK, OK. I'll get off my soap box. This is just my opinion so if anyone reads this blog and is offended by what I had to say on the matter, oh well. This is my blog and I am entitled to my opinions.

Anyway, apparently I have a second cousin who who knew MJ and with his passing was reminded of his brief encounters with the superstar. My second cousin's name is Kel. I don't believe I've ever met him, nor do I ever remember meeting his father, my mother's cousin. But I do have fond memories of his grandmother, my mother's Aunt Gladys. We used to visit her during the summers when we went to visit my grandparent's. I just remember her kindness and how much she enjoyed our visits. She has since passed away.

So, my 2nd cousin, Kel, went to college in Ohio and spent his summers with his mother in Southern California. He was athletic all his life beginning with little league when he was an all-star short stop. He is about the same age as Michael Jackson as he will be celebrating his 52nd birthday this year. So please enjoy Kel's story about his encounter with Michael Jackson.

"The unfortunate passing of Michael Jackson makes me recall my brief encounters with the superstar. During one of my summers home in California, we'd play lots of basketball. Driving into the gym parking lot, someone mentioned, 'the Jacksons are here; that's their green Rolls'. Sure enough, they were in there playing ball and we ended up playing four or five games together. Michael and I were paired up against each other and had some tough games. The Jackson 5 were terrific athletes and like all good Indiana boys, b-ball was their game. Michael was a strongpoint guard with good hands and, as he displayed with his dance moves, he had incredibly quick feet. He was also a very good leaper and although always on the thin side, he could bang around when going for a rebound. He had a better than average shot, but made the most of his shooting talent because he could leap over most defenders under 6'3". After the first couple of games, though, I realized he had a distinctive rhythm in his shot and by the latter games, I could time it right and blocked a few of his shots (back in the day, I, too, was a better than average leaper and did some high jump, long jump, & triple jump when I ran track & field).

"Several weeks later when I was at the gym, the Jacksons came in again to play ball. This time, when teams were being picked, Jermaine selected me over brother Michael, which made him mad. Mike demanded to know why, to which Jermaine said that I'd played him really tough a few weeks back and that I was as good or better of a player than he was. As one might guess, both Michael and I had to bring our A-game against each other since it had now spun into a semi-feud with a public figure. Maybe this was what was in Jermaine's mind all along. We squared off again one more time a few weeks later before I headed back to Ohio in August.

"Fast forward several years and I am working the night shift in an ER in Encino. This big burly white guy comes stumbling through the lobby door. He looks like he'd been wrestling with a mountain lion because he was all bloody and scratched up. As he got closer, we could see all of these human bite marks on the guy and he was escorted by Marlon Jackson. We got the guy over to a gurney and they started to clean him up. Marlon told us they had just gotten back to the Encino family compound aftersome awards show where Michael (now the world's most popular entertainer) had been honored. There were 3 or 4 dozen fans, mostly teenage girls, at the gate of their home. Michael somehow exited the limo on the side that the fans were on, not the door where his bodyguards were expecting him to get out. As the crowd surged towards him, this bodyguard pushed his way through and got in-between the fans and shoved Michael back into the car. The crowd was literally ravenous and went ape on this poor guy.

"As Marlon is telling us what happened, he kept looking over at me. He also said that Michael was outside in the car and was really upset at what had happened and since the ER wasn't too busy, he wanted to bring his brother in for a few minutes to see the bodyguard was OK then he'd drive Michael home and come back to pick up the bodyguard. Then, after staring a me, Marlon asked where he knew me from. I told him it was playing basketball at the Newbury Park Community Center back when they lived in Westlake Village. Then Marlon remembered and told me, 'Michael is still mad at you. Every so often, he keeps peppering Jermaine as to why he chose you over him in those pick-up games.' I said that was four or five years ago. Marlon said his brother is upset over tonight's incident and seeing me would add insult to injury. So, as he brought Michael into the ER, I quietly slipped out the back hallway and made myself scarce until after he left."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Cinderella Moment

I survived my first week of unemployment... barely. Despite what some people may think, I worked hard at my job, even during the slow periods when things were quiet. Granted, the last few weeks I didn't have much to do since the new management took my projects away from me one by one. But I always managed to find something to occupy my time. So when I woke up the morning of July 10th with no laptop, no email and no phone I felt helpless in a way with nothing to do. So I took back control of the situation and made a list of chores to keep me busy and help me feel productive and useful. And believe me, there is plenty to do around this house and yard to keep me busy. Monday I found myself scrubbing my bathroom from top to bottom and vacuuming and dusting all the nooks and crannies of my bedroom. Tuesday I worked in the yard until the heat became almost unbearable. Then I moved inside and continued with the laundry and scrubbing down the kitchen. Wednesday I tackled the kitchen and dinning room floors. I swept and vacuumed until every speck of dirt and dust was gone. By then the manic need for complete spotlessness had settled in and I pulled out the buckets, the sponges and scrubbers, the towels and gloves and got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed and cleaned those floors until they looked brand spanking new. Three and a half hours later my knees were red and raw, my back and elbows ached, I was exhausted and dripping with sweat. But the kitchen and dinning room floors are so clean you could eat off them. I felt like Cinderella, minus the talking mice and chirping birds. Oh, and the handsome prince who sweeps me off my feet.

Needless to say, Thursday I woke up with a new plan for my days of unemployment. I'm going to sleep in and relax. I'm going to go to the movies and have lunch with friends. I will still make a list of things I'd like to accomplish each day, but my lists will be much shorter and a little less ambitious, but still allow me to feel productive at the end of the day. The guilty feeling of having so much free time is passing. I think I could get used to this forced vacation of mine!