Friday, May 24, 2013

My Back Pages: Memorial Day 2013

My Back Pages: Memorial Day 2013:              Thoughts On Memorial Day, 2013  Monday,  May 27 2013,  will be the 43rd Memorial day since my release from active duty in ...

Memorial Day 2013

             Thoughts On Memorial Day, 2013

 Monday,  May 27 2013,  will be the 43rd Memorial day since my release from active duty in the Marine Corps way back in 1970.  So many things have happened since that day of hope and optimism. I've had three children by two wives, raised 5 children. I've had one failed marriage and one successful. I had a good career with Verizon. I've been through hard times and good times and back to hard times again. I've seen politicians come and go. Some good, some downright awful... none great. I've lost friends through war and disease. I saw my father, who served this country with honor, die an early death. What I have not seen, in all these years, is one day when we were not at war somewhere. Oh, I know we have not been in 43 years of declared warfare, but our troops have been somewhere for as long as I can remember. It's a sad statement on the affairs of the world, and on mankind in general. We cannot seem to just get on with the business of living with out trying to kill one another. I will never understand why we cannot all just get along with each other. 
  The loved ones, friends and family, lost in these wars can never be replaced. The horrors that they witnessed cannot be imagined. The families combined grief is almost unfathomable. Why do we do this to each other? What is so important that we must kill thousands to resolve? It just makes no sense. Neither does he fact that the people who beat the drums the loudest for war are those who have never served a single second in defense of their country. In fact, many of them, most of them, actively avoided serving in any capacity; yet they will yell the loudest for the blood of the enemy. They will chant the slogans of patriotism and  wrap themselves in the flag and call themselves "Real Patriots"while pushing others to the front lines when,  if the real truth be known, they are nothing but loudmouthed cowards who quivered and hid when the nation called for them to serve. They all make me sick and angry.
 I have never regretted, for one moment, having given my time in service to my country and my fellow citizens. I am proud of being a Marine. It was an honor to serve my country. This is something that these pseudo-Patriots could never know.


This weekend, as we all enjoy the gathering of friends and family, I wish you all a very Happy Memorial Day, and I urge you all to take a few moments to remember those who served in all wars so that we could enjoy moments like these, and especially remember those who gave their lives so that this country could continue to be free and we can all continue to breathe the free air enjoy all the comforts of this great country, this free United States Of America. Put aside your differences and give thanks to those who served and those who sacrificed for you. After all, when all is said and done, we are all Americans, regardless of politics, or religion, or ethnic origins. We are one people.

Happy Memorial Day

John Zaffino, May 25, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Back Pages: Fat Man

My Back Pages: Fat Man: Papa John and Baby John, Father's Day, 2010 I'm Fat!  There's no other way to put it... I'm not 'A bit overweight...

Fat Man

Papa John and Baby John, Father's Day, 2010
I'm Fat!
 There's no other way to put it... I'm not 'A bit overweight', I'm not a 'Burly Man', I'm not 'Robust'... I'm fat, overweight, sloppy....  if you can find a more disgusting word for it, then that's what I am. I look like Jaba The Hutt with clothes and legs.  I look like a small planet. I cannot stand the way I look. I disgust myself, and that is sad. If you cannot like yourself, then how can you expect others to like you or look at you in any other way then 'That little fat guy'... it's disgusting!

Papa John May 21, 2013
 I wasn't always like this. As a matter of fact, up until two and a half years ago, I was in decent shape, for someone with arthritis and two torn rotator cuffs and a history of back problems. I didn't take pain medication, I walked every day, I ate normal meals and drank a lot of coffee. That was my only vice... oh, wait.... I forgot... I also smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes every day. I didn't have a smokers cough, or problems breathing, even though I had smoked for 52 years, but I did have have heart problems, high blood pressure, and vascular problems.  I quit smoking in July of 2010, not because I wanted to, but because cigarettes went to over ten dollars a pack and, more importantly, my wife was diagnosed with COPD and had to quit, and the only way that she would quit was if I did too. So, we made a pact and we both quit. It was difficult.. I won't lie to you.. it was perhaps the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life, but we both did it, and I am proud of that fact. There was one, small, problem: It decreased my metabolism. It decreased it to the point where I put on 65 pounds between July and November. I didn't start eating more. I didn't start drinking sugared drinks. I didn't do anything to gain the weight aside from quitting smoking. That did it to me. 
  I discussed this with my Internist, who I have know for about thirty years and who is also my friend. He told me that a weight gain was normal, but he would rather see me healthy and overweight, rather then thinner and smoking. "Your weight will eventually level off, and return to around what it was." OK, I decided, I'll live with it for a bit. 
 I also discussed it with my Cardiologist, and he said the same thing, basically. The only difference was that he told me that the metabolism slows way down, and I might not go back to the weight that I was. This is not what I wanted to hear. I had a very physical job, before I retired; telephone work, contrary to popular opinion, is not always easy, and if you worked outside, as I did for the last 15 years of my career, it was very seldom easy. So, I am not used to being overweight and out of shape.
 So, here I am, almost three years later. I have a hard time moving around because my knees, as well as my back, are shot. I have sleep apnea because of the weight gain and I have to sleep with a mask on and a machine forcing my airway open at night. I'm always short of breath, not because there is anything wrong with my lungs (there is not), but because I have this barrel for a belly that is putting pressure on all of my internal organs, especially my heart and my lungs. I don't have clothes that fit, and I just cannot get around like I used to. I'm 66 years old, and if the weight does not come down, I may not see 70.
 Now, I do not overeat. I very seldom eat between meals, and I do not eat very much when I do eat. I am in a quandary over what to do about it. Today, I am going to a seminar about lapband surgery, but I don't see how this will help since I don't eat very much anyway. Something has to give, and I hope that it's not my heart.
 I see articles all the time about people who are not bothered by their weight and just want to continue on as they are. I am not one of them. I want to look good, and be able to get around like I once did, without pain and exertion.  So, wish me luck on my quest. I don't know if I will be successful, but I am going to try. That is all that I can do.
 John Zaffino May 21, 2013


Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Back Pages: Mothers Day

My Back Pages: Mothers Day: Mother Your mother is the first one to take you in her loving arms and brings you to her warm breast. She cradled you when you cried, an...

Mothers Day


Your mother is the first one to take you in her loving arms and brings you to her warm breast. She cradled you when you cried, and suckled you when you were hungry. She chased away the bad dreams with a kiss and a caress, whispering reassuring words into your ear as you slowly drifted back off to sleep. When you were ill, she worried over you and nursed you back to health. When you hurt yourself, she would kiss the minor scrapes and sooth you, as she doctored the wounds. She was there to encourage you when you were in school, even though she may not have understood the work that you were doing, she would help you to learn, just by being there and telling you that you could do it. If you failed, she would dust you off and encourage you to keep trying.
 As you grew taller and stronger, she cooked your meals to ensure that you continued grow straight and strong. She clothed you, and made sure that you were washed and ready to face the world. She corrected you when you needed it, and disciplined you when you deserved it, not with anger, but with love. The tree can only grow tall through loving care.
  If times were hard, she never let you know it. She managed to keep everything together, even as the walls were closing in, and the bill collectors were at the door; somehow, she managed to make it all work and keep the roof over your head, where it had always been. 
 Birthdays were always special, even through hard times. Mommy would bake your cake and make a fuss over you. The Winter Holidays were always special, whatever you celebrated. Even when the family was broke, she made sure that there were presents underneath the Christmas tree, or given each of the Eight days. It was always a special time, because Mom made it that way.
 Mom did not have to be your birth mom. Mom was the one who raised you and loved you and guided you through those perilous school years. She advised you when you were in love for the first time and uncertain how to what to do, she was there all of the times that your heart was broken. When you married, she fretted and worried, and then cried, because she wished for the best for her baby. She was there, for some of us, through the birth of our children. She's there to dote on and spoil the grandchildren. 
 She's always just 'Mom'. I wish that mine was still here with me, but she will always be here in spirit, through my memories of her. I cherish them all, each and every one.
  Today, we honor her with he special day with cards and flowers and gifts.  It's her Special Day; but there is not a day that we don't remember her and thank her for helping us grow up strong and for doing all the things that she did to help us succeed in this uncertain, troubled world. 
  So, to all of the Mothers out there: Happy Mother's Day, and thank you for all that you have done. None of us would be here today, if not for your special love and guidance.

 John Zaffino, May 12, 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Back Pages: Break Time

My Back Pages: Break Time: Spring has finally come to the Great Northeast, in all it's glory. The days are still getting longer, the air over the ...

Break Time

Spring has finally come to the Great Northeast, in all it's glory. The days are still getting longer, the air over the last couple of days has turned sultry and is filled with all the different scents of Spring. Early in the morning, I can hear the birds calling to each other and watch the squirrels as they make their way through the tree branches as they do every morning. I love this time of the year, the Spring Renewal. The trees take on a light green hue, as their leaves slowly unfold.. it's one of the most beautiful colors in all of nature. Flowers are pushing their heads towards the heavens, in search of the sun. The bees help in their pollination to help them regenerate and spread their beauty through the gardens and roadsides. There isn't a thing not to love in the days of Spring and Summer. I love the sound of the mowers on the weekends, and I miss the shouts and the laughter of the children in this neighborhood who have all grown up and left to raise their own families. Nevertheless, I can sit in the sun with my coffee and read, or close my eyes and recall the sounds of their voices echoing off of the mountainside. A good memory for an old man.
 I decided to get away from Facebook for a while. A week, maybe more, to sit and just enjoy the fact that I am still alive and kicking and able to soak up the sun. I chose this time because I am about burned out. The murders at Sandy Hook, the reaction of some people afterwards have really shaken my long held belief that most people are good and care about others. When I saw the first reaction of some of the people that I have know from my younger years, I was very shocked. It wasn't sorrow for the loss of those children and their caretakers. It wasn't grief. It was "Oh, hell... now they're going to come and get my guns!" Really? Then came the hate mongers, and they directed their venom at anyone who did not agree with them. Bob Davis, a so-called Conservative Radio host said, and I quote: “I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown, or any other shooting,” namely that the gun reforms they’ve been lobbying for “force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss.” Really? Your right to bear arms trumps the right of those children and their caretakers to their right to live, as laid out in the Declaration Of Independence : 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'
 Now, I'm not against the 2nd Amendment. I believe that it is a citizens right to bear arms. But to say something so callous just boggles my mind. This is , unfortunately, the attitude of so many in this country.
  As if that isn't enough, there is the daily hatred posted on facebook.  Look, I don't give a damn what party you are for, these constant conspiracy theories and call for the overthrow of the government are crazy. You don't like the president? That's your right. You can dislike him all that you want. I don't like Romney or Ryan and hated their plans for dismantling Social Security and Medicare. I didn't much care for the way that the Bush administration ran the country, but I have no hatred of Dubya, and believe that he thought that he was doing the right thing by the country. That was my opinion. Yet, I never called for his overthrow. I cast my ballot like a good citizen should. My vote did not matter. President Bush was elected, and then re-elected. Fine. It was the will of the people. I voted for McCain in '08, because I didn't feel that Mr. Obama had enough experience, and I really admired Senator McCain. McCain lost, and Mr. Obama became President. I supported him and wished him well, especially in the face of the financial meltdown that he faced coming into office. His first term was rocky, not helped by all these nonsense hate theories that continue to this day. The birther nonsense (The Carl Rove machine did the same thing to McCain in the 2000 elections because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.) The Muslim thing... all of it that continues. When the Seals got Bin Laden, instead of congratulating the whole operation, all of these people said "Obama had nothing to do with it!" He did. he gave the order to commit. Reagan got the credit for freeing the hostages, when, in fact, he had nothing to do with it. Then there's Bengazi. All I hear is "Impeach! It was his fault!"  Really? Tell me something... where were you all when they blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983? 241 Marines lost their lives, and nothing was ever done to avenge them. I don't recall hearing one call for impeachment. There are other things, but the long and the short of it is that I just cannot take the hatred. You don't like Obama? Live with it. I can't recall one election where everyone was happy with the outcome.
  There are other things, such as the constant posts on religion, that bother me. This is because I have Jewish and Christian children, and my Jewish children and wife are constantly being shortchanged. Religion should be a private thing, in my opinion. I would not tell you my feelings on it in a public forum, because they are my private feelings. Enough said about that subject.
  So, there you have it. I hope everyone has a good Spring and Summer. If you chose to cut me from your friends list after reading this, like a few have done already, that's up to you. I hold no animosity to anyone. I just wish that we could just get along, and disagree without the hatred.
 John Zaffino May4, 2013