I absolutely don’t remember any details whatsoever about this picture except that it was taken sometime between the period slightly before Christmas 2013 and somewhat before Easter 2014. I can say that much with absolute certitude for exactly two reasons. One is because that was when I had a beard. For some reason I chose to take a chance on trying to grow as full a beard as possible last autumn. The other reason is because I’m wearing Steve’s sweatshirt from St. Peter’s Prep. It’s a Jesuit high school in New Jersey. He’s on the music faculty and he’s in charge of the band . I only started wearing it around the end of last year when it started getting very cold. There were only two occasions I can remember during that time frame when we took pictures. One was Christmas. The other was for the Polar Bear Club fund raiser on Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately I can’t even try to remember what I was wearing either day. The picture was taken in the living room, where I am right now. I can tell that I was standing right in front of the couch I’m now sitting on because I can see the air conditioner and light bulb in the picture directly over my left shoulder. This picture has been getting quite a lot of mileage as a profile picture. It’s quite a lot nicer than very many other pictures of me. Besides that it’s an interesting change of pace since I’m most certainly not known for wearing a beard. Unlike many men I have quite a nasty time with facial hair. If I let my beard go for only a short time it looks atrocious and I have to shave. This time I really exercised quite a lot of patience and tried to leave it alone for a significant length of time. After a while I got bored and annoyed with it.
One weekend last month Steve, Mary Anne and I made two consecutive trips to Manhattan, one on Friday and one on Saturday. On Friday at around noon, Mary Anne and I took the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station. After a brief subway ride we met Joel. We three got something to eat at a small local diner. After we finished I, always having been such a compulsive bookworm, went over to N.Y.U.’s nearby college bookstore to hang around while they had an important meeting with someone they were supposed to see. Later we met Steve who joined us after his having gotten out of work. Then there was yet another meeting with an architect and his friend, a Jewish woman from Canada, who owns the company that’s in charge of the circumstances they were involved with. After it was all over we visited Joel and his wife Andy at their apartment. After a while Mary Anne, Steve and I went to Lincoln Center to see a production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly”. I have several opera C.D’s but unfortunately I can’t even remember the last time I saw an opera. Steve got the tickets from his friend, Father John Mullen, S.J., whom I accidentally met while on line at Lincoln Center’s men’s room, when he asked about my St. Peter’s Prep sweatshirt. Because I’ve never felt comfortable among strangers I sort of expected to have a hard time getting used to having to deal with all the new people but it didn’t bother me so much. I was entirely worn out by the end of the night though because of all the trains and subways, combined with the seemingly incessant walking. Because it had been quite a long time since my last subway ride, I had forgotten how nightmarishly cramped and uncomfortable they are. By the time the night finally ended, we had been subjected to a full thirteen hours worth of all this activity. On top of everything else, on our way back to Long Beach, a woman on the train threw up in the car we were in. The next day there was yet another trip to Manhattan and we all went to a play in Greenwich Village. That time we drove. We left at around 6:00 p.m. We saw “East Towards Home”, Billy Yalowitz’ story of the life and times of folk singer and musician Woody Guthrie, told from the point of view of a young man growing up in a radical left wing Jewish socialist environment. It’s set in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Of course we all know about my notoriously intense lifelong opposition to both liberalism and socialism. I thoroughly enjoyed the music though. Mark and Laura, and Mary Anne’s friend Lisa, were there with us. After the play we all went to a really nice Indian restaurant. As with Friday’s trip I was yet again forced to deal with many strangers and a lot of walking but I somehow made it. At least on Saturday the day started much later and we didn’thave to be bothered with public transportation.
Unfortunately I got out of the habit, for a while, of making entries into my blog. A lot has happened since November. The first Christmas since my parents’ deaths turned out fairly well. Steve and I drove Michael here from Long Island City and Sam was here from Hofstra. A while before that Steve and I went to Union Square in Manhattan where, among other things, we got some of the Christmas presents. It was an especially harrowing day for me because we first went to St. Peter’s Prep, where Steve is on the faculty. It’s a Jesuit high school. As soon as we first got there I went to 7:30 a.m. Mass in their chapel. After Mass I met some really interesting people, most of whom were on the faculty. None of the bathrooms in that entire section of New Jersey was functional that day so we were all sent home early. Ultimately, though, I really enjoyed the trip to Manhattan. I’ve always really been interested in that type of environment. We went to a big outdoor market where they were selling all sorts of funky esoteric things. We got much of our Christmas shopping done there and stopped to get something to eat. On Christmas morning we all went to Mass at St. Mary of the Isle Church on Park Avenue in Long Beach. Micheal, Sam and Bridget all wanted to open their presents that day instead of Christmas Eve. Late that afternoon we all went to Mark’s and Laura’s house in East Setauket for a Christmas party. I finally got a chance to meet Laura’s brother Harold. Mark has always told me about Harold’s being as much of a Beatlemaniac as I’ve always been. Harold and I did quite a lot of talking about the Fab Four. Frank and Autilia were there with their kids and I saw a lot of other familiar faces too. Because I didn’t have to drive I even drank some bourbon. I got both my annual Christmas cards too, one from Carole and one from Grace. Unfortunately Carole’s husband Bob died on October 2. I also got a lot of Christmas cards this year which my parents would have gotten. A while before Christmas I first started growing my beard, the first time I’ve ever really let it go for significant length of time. Alas the highlights that were once such a nice shade of red have since turned grey.
My mother has been home from the hospital for a while by now. She has lots of trouble with pain but she’s been keeping up with her therapy & doctor appointments. Because we couldn’t have an eightieth birthday party for her on her birthday we had one for her this past Saturday night, combined with a St. Patrick’s Day party. Mary Anne & Steve were here with Michael & Erin, Sam & Bridget. They brought the dog. Uncle Frankie & Fran showed up. Aunt Lauren, Uncle Jim & Elaine were also here. All went well but as always it was entirely too fattening. Alas Michael & I never got our traditional cigars. He bought some fancy beer instead. He gave me a Dell laptop computer that they no longer need at work. I met Robert F. Kennedy at his last St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The morning of the party I went to my monthly lay Carmelite meeting at the Little Flower Manor on South Meade Street in Wilkes~Barre. The papal conclave that started on March 12 was filled with suspense but all worked out so exceptionally well. The cardinals only took a fairly short time to elect Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, from Argentina, as Pope Francis I. He’s the first South American pope, though his parents were both from Italy. He’s also the first Jesuit & the first one named Francis. Eight years ago, when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Bergoglio was in second place. Spring is only two days away but unfortunately we still have snow. I went to Frank Gubbiotti’s Auto Lodge in Plains this morning to get an oil change & my annual inspection. I don’t usually get to keep in touch with my New York cousins but I called up Gary on his birthday, February 27. It was nice being able to talk to him for a while.