Posts Tagged ‘John McCormick’

Letter From Claverack 06 19 2017 An Attitude of Gratitude

June 19, 2017

It is the evening of June 19th; Father’s Day is beginning to fade as is Pride Weekend in Hudson.

Pride

An on again, off again rain falls and an hour or two ago the sky was nighttime dark.  Cosseted in the cottage, a martini by my side, I watch the raindrops splatter on the Claverack Creek.

It’s interesting.  I was very sensitive over the weekend, a little raw.  When I woke Saturday, I was in an unexpectedly foul mood and at the end of the day I took myself home and had a talk with myself.

I felt raw because it was Pride weekend and I woke acutely aware that I am not part of a unit and that I haven’t been very good at dating.  The last one felt like I had entered a reality version of Sartre’s “No Exit.”

I am alone and normally it doesn’t bother me and over the weekend it did.  Hudson is a town of couples and I am not coupled, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. You’re the odd one at the dinner party.

And, then, Sunday, it was Father’s Day.  Always a hard day for me.  I did not have a great relationship with my father.  He was good to me the first few years and then, he wasn’t.  The last seven years of his life he had almost nothing to say to me.  The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve-year-old and he angrily sent me to my room.

It was the last exchange I had with him.  The next morning, he had a stroke and died.  So, I have spent my life trying to read the runes of the little time I had with him.

Okay, so it’s problematic.  Parental relationships are problematic.  Maybe mine a little more than others and mine probably a lot less than others, too.

It’s just it pops up on Father’s Day.

And I know so many good fathers; I sent text messages to them today.  My godson, Paul, among them.  He has two children, a girl, Sophia, and a boy, Noah.  I don’t know them well and know enough to know they are interesting children and that’s because they have wonderfully invested parents.

And then there is Tom Fudali, who is Paul’s father, who made me Paul’s godfather and I am eternally grateful for that because Paul is not my son and he is my godson and our relationship is something I had hoped for and didn’t think would happen and has.

And there is my friend, Robert Murray, father of five, who exchanged texts with me while watching his son, Colin, play soccer in New Windsor.  Robert reminds me of my oldest friend, Sarah’s, father, John McCormick, who had six children and made their home the place to be.  On bitter Minnesota winter nights, the neighborhood would gather and skate on the rink in John’s backyard.  They are some of my most magical childhood memories.

And then there is Kevin Malone, Sarah’s son, who has always thought of me as his uncle even though I am not actually his uncle but we have an avuncular relationship that is so effing wonderful!  He is not a father and he is wonderful and is a jewel in my life.

So, I was being self-indulgently depressed, and I need to focus in on all the wonderful things which go on in my life and all the wonderful people who are in it.

In the craziness that has been in my mind this weekend, I am so glad I wrote this as it reminds me of all the things for which I need to remind myself that I need to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

In Memoriam:

I read today that Stephen Furst had died.  He gained fame in “Animal House” as Flounder, went on to “St. Elsewhere” and “Babylon Five” and directed movies and television shows.  For a time, in the 1990’s, we were friendly.  He was a gracious, gentle soul, doing his very best in life.  RIP. I remember you fondly.

Otto Warmbier, the young student returned from North Korea in a coma, has passed away.  It is heartbreaking. At least he was at home, with family.

 

Letter From Claverack 11 03 2016 Crowing proud…

November 4, 2016

Kevin James Malone is not my nephew.  He is the child of my oldest friend, Sarah McCormick Malone, whom I have known since we were three.  There is a picture of the two of us on her parents’ couch in our rain gear on our first day of kindergarten.  [We were adorable.] We were already fast friends then and have been ever since.

From the time he was born, I was around about as much as any of his maternal uncles as the Malones lived in New Mexico and Michael, Bill and John, her three brothers, lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast, where her parents had settled.

On one wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, Sarah and Kevin came to visit “Uncle Mat” when I lived in Santa Monica.  We flew kites on the beach and road around in my convertible, watched movies late into the night, Kevin outlasting both his mother and me.  Kevin was maybe three years old.

When the eldest McCormick daughter, Mary Clare, celebrated her 25th anniversary to her husband Jim Eros [I had brunch with them last weekend], her parents threw a dinner at their country club on Long Island.

It seems to me that I was still living in California but was in New York at that moment and John and Eileen, Sarah’s parents, told everyone there would be a surprise guest.  [Me.]

Kevin was then about eight or nine then.  At some point in the evening Kevin went to his grandmother and asked her why Uncle Mat had a different last name than her other brothers, leaving Eileen to awkwardly attempt to explain.

Forever captured in the photo album of my brain is Kevin Malone walking up to me at that dinner, dressed in a suit and tie, putting his hands on his hips and looking up at me and demanding to know:  what do you mean you’re not one of my mother’s brothers?

It was a hiccup in our relationship we survived.

Years later, when he and his father and I were visiting him at work, we met his boss.  Kevin introduced his father and then me and said, this is my Uncle Mat.

When he was married to Michelle, I gave a toast at the Rehearsal Dinner.  We shopped for a shirt for him that day, together.

Kevin is not my nephew by blood but he is my nephew by choice.  His and mine.  I refer to him as my nephew when I talk about him to other people.  There is no other way to describe my relationship with him or his to me.

When he emailed me yesterday, along with others in his family, to announce he had passed the Bar in the District of Columbia, I felt so proud and glad.  Today I learned he has also passed the Bar in Massachusetts and I felt another swell of pride.

You see, I have no words to describe how wonderful a young man Kevin is.  He is one of the most unique individuals I have ever encountered.  Caring, thoughtful, whip smart without being arrogant about it, determined to be the best Kevin James Malone he can be.

I don’t remember how I met Sarah McCormick Malone but I did and our childhood friendship has endured and I am blessed to have been included in her family as a member of choice and they in mine, as family of choice.

Because of logistics we will not be able to do it this year but we have spent many a Christmas together over this last decade.

In the Strum und Drang of these last days before the election, I am comforted by the presence in this world of a man like my nephew Kevin, now a member of the Bar, a lawyer for real, who will do extraordinary things in his life.

Kevin, I am so proud of you.  Congratulations.

Kevin and his mother the weekend of his wedding to Michelle Melton…

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Letter From Claverack 09 06 2016

September 7, 2016

The day painted itself grey this morning, from the moment light crept into my bedroom, it was grey, the kind of day that promises rain and provides none, save a few drops when I was running an errand on Warren Street.

Fresh from what I thought was a successful first day in the classroom, I stopped at the Post Office and picked up my mail and sat on my deck, opening it, and just staring out at the day.  The air was lightly water touched by not too much.  But for the grey, it was a perfect sort of day.

At the college, I talked with one of my colleagues for whom there is terminal election fatigue.  She knows for whom she is voting, nothing in the shouting is going to change her position and so she feels no need to participate more.  It simply makes her crazy.

As it has for many people in this oddest of election seasons.  A few months ago, a commentator I was listening to said something like:  Who knows?  It’s 2016.

And that remains true.  It’s the wild and wooly 2016, an election season they will be talking about as long as politics is discussed, which is a very long time.  We are still discussing the politics of the Athenian democracy 2500 years later.  Countless tomes have been written about the Romans, their Republic and their Empire.  A thousand years from now some crepe skinned academic will be dissecting one small sliver of this campaign in a form of media we probably can’t conceive of but it will be happening.

Me?  I generally wake up happy and go to bed happy and know there is only so much I can do to shape events but what I can do, I do.

Tonight, I am writing earlier than I did last night and the verdant green in its grey frame fills my window.

Directly in front of me are two Adirondack chairs made for me by John McCormick, father of my oldest friend, Sarah.  He had made some for his daughter, Mary Clare, for her home in West Virginia.  When I bought the cottage, he asked me if he could make anything for it.  Adirondack chairs I said and there they are, in front of me, a wonderful bonding to a man now gone and a testament to all he and his family mean to me.

In this calm and quiet, I feel celebratory to have made it alive through the first day of class.  As I was preparing to head over to the college, I played music that pleased me, from the Great American Songbook.  Tonight there is no music.  The only sound is the ticking of an old clock that has been in my family for more than 125 years.  I think of it as the heart of the house.  But it drives some people crazy.  It just makes me smile.

The EpiPen conversation goes on.  Some say it actually costs only $30.00; some say it’s only about a dollar that goes into the actual medicine.

Isabelle Dinoire, the world’s first face transplant recipient has died, aged 49.  She was transplanted when her face was mauled by a dog.  RIP.

Obama cancelled a visit with the Philippines President after he called Obama “the son of a whore.”  Later President Duarte regretted his comment.

There was an incident when Obama arrived in China.  No one seemed to have agreed upon the protocol.  Everyone looked bad.

Kim Jung Un, the little paunchy, pudgy dictator of North Korea, celebrated Labor Day by sending off ballistic missiles that landed within 300 kilometers of Japan.  No one is happy except for the pudgy dictator who is now facing a new set of sanctions which he doesn’t care about.  He will let millions die because of them as long as he keeps his power, his toys and the instability he creates.

One can only imagine what this man’s childhood was like…

Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift have broken up after three months. This is HUGE news.  OMG!

Fox has settled with Gretchen Carlson in her lawsuit with them and Roger Ailes.  Twenty million dollars.  At the same time Greta Van Susteren has left the network under cloudy circumstances but then what is not cloudy in the world of Fox News these days?

And now it is dark.  I will turn on my floodlights and enjoy the creek at night.

It is a good day.  I survived the first day of a new class and felt good about it.

Today I woke up happy and I go to bed tonight happy.  May all of you who read me do the same.

 

 

 

Letter From New York 06 26 15 Ruminating on Supreme Court Decisions…

June 26, 2015

It is about 11:30 AM as I begin to write today’s blog. Yesterday, I simply ran out of time and had to let it go though it niggled at me through the night. Yesterday saw Obamacare upheld by the Supreme Court, something that I was unsure would happen. The decision was 6 to 3 to uphold the law.

I was glad the law was upheld. I think it is a flawed law and that we should have something that more resembles universal health care but it is far better than the nothing we had before it. The victory in the Supreme Court has not squelched Republican’s desire to repeal the law, which they might get to do if a Republican is elected President. If they do, I hope they will have something in the wings to replace it. Right now, I don’t think they do.

This morning, as I was sitting doing emails, I received one from the Democratic Party announcing that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay marriage by a vote of 5 to 4. As it was a notice that came from someone other than a news organization, I went online to find that, indeed, it was true. Gay marriage is now the law of the land.

My friend Lionel texted me, crying as he wrote the text, rejoicing and a bit unbelieving. My oldest friend in the world, Sarah Malone, phoned me and we discussed the ruling. She told me that Texas is already trying to wiggle out some way though I haven’t seen that anywhere but it doesn’t surprise me if they were.

I am unbelieving. I did not actually think, until the last few years, that this would ever happen in my lifetime. I grew up and began to deal with the fact I was gay about the time Gay Lib was beginning to form as a movement. I was not active in the movement; I was working on building some sort of career.

In 1983, a senior executive in the company I was working for told me that I would be fired if it were discovered I was gay. In another company in the 80’s, I was under pressure to get married. It was clear that unless I was, I would not progress up management’s ranks. The President and CEO was very conservative. He was generous to a gay employee who contracted AIDS, and seemed to think it was fine in the creative divisions of the company but I was on the business side. It was never articulated directly but there are ways of communicating that do not include direct conversation.

When I was at Discovery in the 1990’s, I commented to the President of the time, Ruth Otte, that Discovery seemed very homophobic. She agreed but nothing changed until the very late 1990’s or early 2000’s, under then CEO Judith McHale.

I never lied but never admitted I was gay. I cleverly skirted the topic. Not necessarily appearing gay, I had female friends who accompanied me when it was expected I would appear with a date. When asked, I acknowledged but never volunteered. That was probably cowardly.

I grew up in a Midwestern Catholic family and it was clear to me that the worse thing a man could be was gay. It may be that as I grew into childhood, my father sensed I was different and that accelerated his emotional withdrawal from me.

When I was in high school, I was very lucky. I was never bullied and called names. No one ever called me “fag” or any derogative. Looking back, I find it amazing. Fragile as I was in high school, I’m not sure I would have survived the bullying that seems to occur so regularly today.

In the late 1990’s, in a long-term relationship, I became more comfortable with my place in the world. When accepting the job at the Internet start-up, Sabela, I made it clear to James Green, the CEO, I was gay. He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said he already knew.

Telling my friend Jeffrey was difficult but he responded generously, as did most of my friends.

John McCormick, Sarah’s father, and I were having dinner with his grandson, Joe Eros, the night before Joe was entering the military, shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Joe left to celebrate with some friends and I got up to go but John motioned me down and ordered us another round of drinks. John was a deeply conservative Catholic, or so I thought. He told me that night he had know for a long time and that he needed to know that I knew he loved me, regardless of my sexuality.

It was a tremendous blessing. I cried a little on the train back into New York City.

My brother and I came to peace with it. My sister is uncomfortable but we still talk regularly and have a better relationship than ever. When I was telling my family, my mother was in a multi-level health crisis and so we never discussed it. When she uttered homophobic comments, I repudiated them but never told her I was gay.

Less emotional than many today, I acknowledge that we have crossed a milestone but it will not immediately eliminate homophobia. It may even strengthen it in places. Bu it seems more and more are accepting; going into today, a poll indicated that 57% of Americans believed the Supreme Court should rule the way it did.

It has been a huge journey and the journey isn’t over. But it is so much better than it was.