Archive for the Stuff Category

Dog Days

Posted in Stuff, Uncategorized on January 13, 2012 by bigdaddygouda

After two and a half years of living with Andy he puggle it’s safe to say I know him as well as I know anyone. A few days ago I sensed a slight change in him. His eating and bathroom habits were the same as always. He didn’t seem sick in anyway yet there was something about him that just seemed off.

I wrote it off to stress. We are two weeks into a new apartment and I just wrote it off as part of the adjustment period. That theory, however, went out the window when I woke up Wednesday morning. I made my way into the living room and found it odd that Andy, who sleeps at the end of my bed, had not followed me. As he had always done for two years.

I went back into the bedroom and Andy was standing near the edge of the bed whimpering. He reminded me of a castaway on a sinking ship – wanting to get off but afraid to jump. I called to him a few times yet he would not come down. When he didn’t respond to, “Wanna go for a walk?” I knew something was wrong.

I grabbed him by the collar and attempted to pull him down but he resisted. So I wrapped my arms around him, lifted and set him on the ground. As soon as his legs hit the floor he crumbled to the ground in a heap. He grunted a few times and lifted himself up and began to limp toward me.

The life was immediately sucked out of me. My heart began to pound and I felt sick to my stomach. Something was seriously wrong with my dog.

It appeared that his legs hurt and he couldn’t walk because of it. So, like anyone who needs immediate answers I went to Google. All signs pointed to Lyme disease. Apparently a dog’s joints become inflamed as a result of the disease and it impacts their ability to walk. I then called Keely, his former owner. She explained how Andy has suffered from the disease when he was two and he was showing the same symptoms.

We contacted the vet who said it sounded like Lyme Disease but wanted to see him to be sure. Unfortunately we couldn’t get an appointment until the next day.

I carried Andy outside so he could go to the bathroom. He couldn’t even lift his leg to pee. I brought him back inside and set him on the couch. I brought his food to him and thankfully he ate.

I explained the situation to my mother who agreed to check on him periodically through out the day while I was at work. She would later tell me that each time she arrived at my apartment to check on him he seemed happy but would not leave the couch. She covered him with his favorite blanket and let him be.

I arrived home 8 hours later and for the first time in the two years of owning Andy, the trusted Puggle was not there to greet me when I opened the door.

I instantly walked over to the couch where he was still laying where I left him earlier in the day. He was alert and seemed happy to see me. He was barely moving but his tail was thumping madly against the couch cushions. The sight was just too much for me to take. I sat down beside him as a wave of emotion splashed over me. I buried my face in my hands and began to sob as Andy struggled to put his head in my lap.

I eventually composed myself and made some calls to fellow dog owners who I know have dealt with Lyme disease before. They all spoke of similar symptoms and the agony of seeing their pet in pain. In made me feel a bit better knowing that although Lyme Disease is a serious thing, it is in fact common and more importantly, treatable.

At 9 a.m. this morning Andy and I were off to the vet. After a short examination we were on our way home with a prescription for doxycycline, aka, the Lyme Disease antibiotic. As I type this Andy is already showing improvement. He can walk again and his old wild self is starting to shine through.

Thanks to Sherry, Ashlie and Jamie for their doggie advice. Thanks to Mom and Keely for help with the vet stuff.

Andy is a pain in my ass but I don’t know what I’d do without him.

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The Ballad of Jay & Jamie

Posted in Stuff on September 15, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

Now that I’ve had time to decompress from what can only be summed up as The Wedding of The Millenium I’d just like to share a few things I was too nervous to say in front of the hundreds in attendance and the millions watching at home Saturday.

I met Jamie when I was 16. I had a super-duper crush on her friend Becca Clock. Adam and Tai were my best friends at the time and Jamie would invite us to her home on Wilson Road to swim and hangout while I tried to get Jamie to put in a good word for me with Becca.

Years passed, but we remained friends. Spending time together at parties, mostly in Tai’s crowded room or Jamie’s backyard when her parents went away. “Dude, someone better take that bottle away from that kid…Chug! Chug! Chug!”

Our friendship endured into our twenties and then one day I met Jay. He had always been friends with my sis and she vouched for him as ” a cool kid.”

One night, like many nights, I was drinking at the Tavern. Jamie, naturally was there, and that night, instead of leaving with the group, she left with Jay, their arms were  wrapped around each other as they walked to Jamie’s Jeep and my jaw was on the floor. Mostly I was just perturbed that something like this was going on and I knew nothing about it.

“You didn’t know about that,” Tai would say. “They’ve been hooking up for a while.”

Many years later Jay would remark, “I spent my first few years out of college getting blackout drunk at the tavern…somewhere in that haze I met Jamie.” She would later remark that she took an interest in Jay because he was the only one who would do Jack Daniels shots with her.

It was no surprise that Jay and I became fast friends. We shared a love for movies, wrestling and most importantly, The New York Yankees.

To paint a clear picture of my friendship with those two I have to look no further than Valentines Day 2003. I was sitting home alone feeling sorry for myself because the girl I loved, loved someone else. My phone rang and it was Jamie. She asked if I wanted to go to the bar with her and Jay. I declined. It was Valentines Day and not a time for a depressed third wheel. That’s when Jay grabbed the phone from Jamie.

“You’re coming out with us,” he said. “We’re not in to Valentines day!”

Eight years later, that is definetly the best Valentines Day I ever had. I don’t think I paid for one drink that night and every time I turned my head there was suddenly a shot or a Redbull/Vodka in front of me. If I never thanked them for that day I’m doing it now.

A few years ago we celebrated Cooters 30 Birthday with a surprise party at The Village. It was planned by his girlfriend and future wife, Erin. In the middle of the festivities I turned to Jamie and said, “Since I don’t have a girlfriend it’s up to you to plan MY 30th.”

I was only half telling the truth, but sure enough, 5 months later Jamie threw me a rager at her home, preceded by a surprise birthday dinner at Fuji. To this day the best birthday I’ve had in my 34 years on this planet.

Through all the parties, Yankee games, movie nights,  wrestling pay per views, U2 concerts, mutual love for TV shows, and laughing and laughing and falling apart, I must say being a part of Jamie and Jay’s wedding was very emotional for me. I was there from the beginning when they stumbled out of the bar, arms intertwined just starting out on their grand adventure and I was there, front row Saturday, with a lump in my throat as The Imperial March gave way to the wedding march and Jamie, flanked by her father, came walking down the isle looking beautiful as Jay stood at the altar with a goofy grin on his face.

I’m never giving up my front row seat to your life guys. I can’t wait to see where you go next.

All the Best, Enjoy You’re honeymoon because when you get back, we have a Halloween Party to plan.

“Nobody on the road…Nobody on the beach”

Posted in Stuff on September 2, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

Ah, Labor Day Weekend, the official close of the Summer. Here is a brief rundown of my summer.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the summer in style. I traveled to Mass. to spend the day camping with some friends and had a great time watching the kids play. Later that weekend I caught The Hangover 2 with a big group of friends and laughed my ass off.

Aidan, Grayson and Ollie celebrated their respective birthdays in June with a great party. They also received a swimming pool as a gift and this summer with all the heatwaves I definitely took advantage of that gift through out the past few months.

My mother had a Fourth of July party which also doubled as my niece Bella’s first Birthday party. What a difference a year makes. Last year she was two days old on the fourth of july and barely moved. This year we had to take turns chasing her around the backyard.

Speaking of my mom she gave me a great 34th birthday gift by cleaning my apartment and filling my cabinets with some much needed groceries.

A much needed gift landed in my lap in late July. I was in the process of searching for a second job when out of the blue my cell phone rang. It was my old boss from Nicholas Pizza who offered me a few shifts a week because someone had quit out of the blue and he didn’t want to go through the hiring process. It feels good to be back there, if only for a few nights each week. I REALLY need the extra money and don’t think I could survive financially without it.

But it was the month of August where things really got rolling.

The month kicked off at Infinity Hall in Norfolk sitting in the third row with four of my best friends watching Toad The Wet Sprocket. I believe I stated before, if they ever made a movie about my teen years the music of Toad would provide the soundtrack. (and yes Bub, I know I still owe you for the ticket)

The following weekend I had one of the greatest nights in the last 10 years as we hit up NYC for Jay Marcoux’s Bachelor Party. The festivities kicked off with a Yankee win at the stadium and we pretty much went dark after that. Im sure I could write a great book about that night. The cockroach, Tullock’s front row seats, Bank of America with Chop and the bum, walking the streets in the pouring rain at 4 am searching for a deck of cards….etc etc etc.

Speaking of Jay Marcoux, he and Jamie and a great Jack & Jill with excellent food from Salerno’s in Torrington. We raised the happy couple about $1,500 and that’s not even counting the money I embezzled out of the money box or the booze Copeland drank from the prize table.

Andy and I weathered Hurricane Irene in style. We had plenty of snack food and watched movies all day. That is until Aidan and Grayson came to visit because they lost power in Morris. I introduced the boys to some great Simpsons episodes on DVD and then ate a tasty spaghetti dinner courtesy of my generous landlord.

And that about sums up The Summer of 2011. While I could have used a bit of a summer romance, it was still an above average couple of months…

Maybe I’ll see some of you this weekend, if not… See most everyone next Saturday at, what is sure to be the Wedding of  The Century, where not only are two of my favorite people in the world tying the knot but Ash and I are going to make a baby that very same night.

The Tragic Life of Karen Eckhart

Posted in Stuff on August 3, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

Karen Eckhart worked as a cook at Nicholas Pizza for 20 years. She came to work everyday. She only called out sick once in her two decades of employment and that was to bury her mother 10 years ago. If you were a customer of Nicholas Pizza in the last 20 years then you know Karen. She was the short lady with the short haircut and glasses. . If you didn’t know her by looks then you may have recognized her voice; a high-pitched southern twang. Karen was famous for asking customers if they want “extra cheese, something to drink?” after they had placed their order.

She didn’t talk much to her co-workers, unless of course she was telling them how they screwed something up. She was feisty but fair. Moody and loyal. She rarely smiled but she rarely complained. She was both sweet and sour. She was an odd duck too.

One time she entered the walk-in cooler. I was by the sink doing dishes. She didn’t see me. Karen stopped in the middle of the cooler, put her hands on her hips, looked down at her feet and said, “Hello feet…..what did I come in here for?”

She liked Danny, the restaurant manager. Although she only really asked him two things on a daily basis: “Are the Yankees playing tonight?” and “Did you order this lovely weather we’re having,” the latter question was usually asked during a snowstorm or heat wave.

Karen lived above the pizza place and for the most part she kept to herself. As far as we knew she had no family. If she had friends we never saw them. She was, in all honesty, fiercely private. On her days off she could be seen driving her big old Cadillac to Price Right to shop, to the laundromat and then to the smoke shop to buy a carton of cigarettes. At nights, as she sat in her tiny apartment with her pets, a cat named Silly and a dog named Baby, she often watched Animal Planet.

About six months ago Karen became ill and was forced to retire from Nicholas Pizza. Her apartment above the business was too big and expensive and she was set to move in to Torrington Towers at the end of this month. About 10 years ago when I was a delivery driver for the pizza place Karen would always shoot me a sarcastic smile when I had to take a delivery to the Towers. The elderly residents rarely tipped and they usually complained about the service. Danny used to say to Karen, “Be careful, you may end up there someday.”

Her reply was always the same, “I’d rather be dead.”

Since leaving Nicholas Pizza, the owner, as a sign of loyalty would do Karen’s laundry for her on Monday morning. Sunday night’s the delivery driver would walk up to her apartment, grab her laundry and return it to her the next day.

I worked two Sundays ago and was tasked with retrieving the old lady’s clothes. She hadn’t seen me in about 3 years and seemed generally happy to see me. We made small talk and she told me it felt strange not to be working anymore. It was the most honest thing she had ever said to me.

This past Sunday the employees and Nicholas Pizza found it odd that Karen didn’t call to have her laundry picked up. When they called her she didn’t answer the phone.  The next day when she didn’t answer the door when the meals on wheels arrived the owner of Nicholas Pizza called her landlord. He, along with her long-time boss at Nicholas Pizza entered her apartment.

Karen was dead. It appeared she died of natural causes. She was 65 years old. The ambulance came and took her away. Animal Control came and took away her beloved cat. There was no family to call. And if there is, no one knows about them. There will be no funeral. I don’t even know what the city does with dead people who have no kin.

As I stated, Karen was a private person. It seemed she liked to be alone. That’s how she lived her life and that’s how it ended. Alone.

I knew Karen for 10 years but I didn’t know much about her. She kept everyone at bay. I’m sure she had hopes and dreams and fears but she never shared them with anybody and that’s okay. It was her life and of course, she could live it how ever she chose.

To me though, it just seems wrong in some way that the woman died in her tiny apartment with only her cat for company. But my boss at the pizza place summed it up best when I saw him tonight.

“She did everything for herself and made it on her own,” he said. “I respected her for that.”

I did too. Rest In Peace.

Oh the places you will go

Posted in Stuff on June 24, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

This year, as part of my job, I covered two graduations. Last year I covered three and the year before that I think I set some sort of record by writing about six commencements over the span of two weeks. I really don’t mind covering graduations ceremonies for the newspaper. They are easy. Sit in he audience, listen to the speeches, talk to a few grads, get a few quotes and they are done.

I do take umbrage with the speeches made my the adults at the ceremonies. The quotes and words of advice from the “grown-ups” are phony. Speeches from students are mostly filled with humor and optimism and they should be since the weight of the world has yet to crush their noble spirit. The adults, however, those of us who’ve been there should stop quoting Dr. Seuss and tell it like it really is.

Here’s what I’d say if  I was chosen to give the commencement address:

Good evening graduates. Let me start by saying, if I hear one more student come up here and say how happy they are that it’s over and how they are so glad to be done, I may have to slap them and slap them hard. I’ll leave a red imprint on your face and Ill make you cry.

More than one person has spoken tonight about how exciting it will be in the ‘real world.’ Let me tell you something. I’m going to say it clear and I’m going to say it slow: That, my friends, is a crock of shit.

Agreed, life as you know it is over.  No more teachers no more books no more homework and dirty looks, indeed. But here is what you have to look forward to.

College, yes. But that will end to. Turning 21 and being able to get into bars is fun but it gets old quick. Eventually, the novelty of growing up will wear off. It will be replaced with routine. A job that you must go to everyday. And if you mouth off or skip out you wont get sent to the principal’s office. You’ll get fired.

When you were younger you wanted to be a doctor, or a movie star or a rockstar. Instead, you work at a job you hate. A job that when you were younger you used to laugh at people who had it and say you would never end up here. But it could even be worse than that. Maybe you are relying on Obama for a weekly unemployment check and dreading bumping into someone you know who will almost certainly ask you, “What are you doing for work?”

Bills will start to pile up. A letter will come and say they are turning off your heat. Your stomach will get bigger while your bank account will shrink.

Your parents, who once seemed so powerful and “with it” will get old.  They once had all the answers but now their hair is turning gray and when you turn to them for help, try as they might, the best advice they can give you is: “You’re on your own now, kiddo.”

Still glad it’s all over?

Since I know you little shits love quotes, allow me to quote a line from Diane Cord’s Valedictorian speech in ‘Say Anything’.

“I’ve seen our future and all I can say is, Go Back!”

Happy Graduation Fuckers!

Existing vs Living

Posted in Stuff on May 13, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

About 10 years ago my father said something to me that I never forgot.

He came into my room to inquire why I had slept so late. It was obvious. I was hungover. Like most nights in my early 20s, I spent them drinking into the wee hours of the morning, then sleeping till noon. He told me I had to get my act together, which was nothing new. Then he said something that sorta stung.

“You’re not living,” he said. “You’re just existing.”

It was the deepest thing I’ve ever heard my father say. I brushed it off at the time but it stayed with me. In the years that followed I like to think I stopped “existing” and started living. Partying became less frequent. Aidan came into my life. Gram died. I got a job as a journalist. I bought a jeep. I moved out on my own. I inherited a dog. I sold my jeep. I became an Uncle. I’d say I’ve been living my life, not just existing.

But sometimes I can’t help but feel complacent.  When I was “existing”, granted, life was simple, but it was a hell of lot more fun. “Living” can be boring. Monday through Friday my routine has been the same for years. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Walk dog. Watch Tv. Play on computer. Go to bed. Repeat.

Weekend used to be filled with endless possibilities. Now a great weekend is watching two good movies instead of one. Parties are far and few between and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was drunk. I almost want to say Road Race, TWO YEARS AGO.

I used to think that having a wife and kids was the missing element. The link between the mundane and exciting. The fuel that will restart a stagnant existence. Maybe it is. But I’m not so sure anymore. Many of my friends who are married with children often complain about the same things I do. Being bored. Being complacent. Existing instead of living. I bumped into an old friend a few weeks back who was holding his daughter while his other kid pestered him for candy. “This is my life now,” he said with a pained look on his face. I’m sure he was happy for the most part but there’s a lot of stress there too.

Half the problem is I had it really good, better than most I’d wager, for a really long time. Things didn’t really slow down until my late 20s and I suppose a life filled with zip and zazz takes more than a few years to get used to when things inevitably slow down.

The best part of the film Hot Tub Time Machine, besides the bear giving the black dude a blow job, was a quote from John Cusack’s character when he spoke so fondly of his past.

“We were young. We had momentum. We were winning,” he said.

Amen brother. Amen.

Well, it’s 11 p.m. Time to take the dog out then go to bed.

I’m Still Here

Posted in Stuff on April 12, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

A friend recently pointed out that this blog has spiderwebs on it. Meaning that I haven’t updated in quite some time. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just easier to do a Facebook status than to think of something to write about, log in, write it, spell check it, proof read it, blah blah blah. No, seriously blogging is fun and I wish I did it more.

That being said, here’s what’s been going on lately.

What a magnificent run by the UCONN Huskies mens basketball team. I had an odd feeling about the team way back in December when they beat Michigan State and then blew out Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational. A week later they were ranked 7 in the country and really never looked back. Sure, they wavered a bit towards the end of the regular season but then, with the start of the Big East Tournament, put together a marvelous run that I don’t think we’ll ever witness again. 11 wins in a row and they are suddenly National Champions. From Maui to Manhattan to Monday night. What a year!!

I spent a month watching some of the greatest TV I’ve ever witnessed. Thanks to Netflix and Amazon.com I blew through 3 seasons of Sons of Anarchy and 4 seasons of Mad Men. They are my two new favorite shows. And if you haven’t checked out Mad Men, believe it! The shows lives up to the hype and is worth of all the awards it has received since its premiere in 2007. Don Draper is the best character on TV since Tony Soprano. Nuff said!

Six years ago I took Aidan to his first movie, Shrek 2. Last month, at three years old, I took Grayson to his first, Gnomeo and Juliet. I think it definitely went over his head. He didn’t really know what a Gnome was and the whole idea of talking lawn ornaments was just bizarre to him. Aidan on the other hand was bored silly and thought the film was too “kiddie” for a 9-year-old.

It’s baseball season again and to me, the off season went by in the blink of an eye. The pain of watching the Yankees get blown out of the water by The Rangers is still fresh. As for the Red Sox, I really don’t know what to make of it. They lost 8 outta thier first 10 games and the only team they can beat is the Yankees. Go figure.

I have a new work-related blog. It’s all about Top 10 Lists, which readers of this site over the years know, I’m a big fan of. I’m yet to do my first post but when I do, here’s where you can check it out: http://top10middlesex.blogspot.com/

Okay, that’s enough for now I suppose. I promise to make it a point to blog more but then again, what do you care?