Inspiration Within The Sadness

Today, April 13th,  would have been my dad’s 81st birthday.  As many know, he passed away right before this last Christmas.  It was unexpected, but not a complete shock.  My dad lived with Parkinson’s Disease for 18 yrs and had various other ailments.  I will not rehash my eulogy for him but would be lying if i said i wasn’t revisiting what he meant to me on this day.  I think of him often as i also do my Uncle Stuie, who passed a couple months later.  Both were huge influences in my life and both were staples in my upbringing.

However, for my dad, i feel we should still celebrate this day.  It is tinged with sadness but beyond that sadness, lies the preference to remember him with happiness and an appreciation of life. Even in the worst of times we go through, there is always some inspiration to be found. My dad and this feeling, most came to my mind in the wake of three recent passings. Passings of three people I never knew personally, but still had a profound affect on me.

The first is Lily Larue Anderson, a 6 yr old girl who i only knew through a friend and on Facebook.  She passed away after a fight with a terrible disease.  There is nothing fair about that.  Nothing right about that.  Yet i look at pictures of her and see that she had a loving family. She still had time to be silly, to have fun, to have dreams.  Not nearly enough time but every moment DOES count.  You also see all the people she touched, all the people that fought for her, donated for her and prayed for her (whether you believe in that or not) and it strengthens your belief in the good of humanity. With all the sh*t going on in this world, there is nothing stronger then having your friends and family (hell, even kind strangers) there to support you and love you.  There is no GOOD in the tragedy of this girl dying so young, but she AFFECTED so many lives positively in such a short time, and there is tremendous value in that and she will never be forgotten by the many thousands she reached.

In that same vain, the world learned the story of Lauren Hill, the 19 yr old who was told at 17, she only had 2 yrs to live because of inoperable brain cancer.  She however, did not let that stop her dream of stepping onto a college court and playing basketball and scoring a layup ( more then ONE in fact).  What seems like a simple obstacle instead speaks VOLUMES.  I cant imagine what being stricken with something like this would do to me, which only makes me burst with admiration for people like Lauren.  Not only did she raise a ton of money, and a ton of awareness but who knows how many people stricken, took a spark from her story and climbed a mountain they never thought possible.  19 yrs is also way too young but she f**king made them count.

Speaking of which, the last person I speak of is the epitome of a role model to me.  Sam Simon passed away at 59 yrs old but couldn’t have lived life better.  First off, personally for me, he helped created The Simpsons and make it into the golden standard (and my favorite show) it was in those early years.  For any fans, look at what aspects he had a hand in its creation and realize he was the rock that made that show what it is/was.  More importantly though, he then spent the rest of his life giving away his vast fortune to the underprivileged, both human and animal.  None of us are ALONE here on earth, and Simon’s efforts and acts were a true example of realizing that and doing something about it.  First he made us laugh and feel good with entertainment (I quote Simpsons 17 times a day and still makes me LOL as the kids say), and then went further then that and used that philosophy to make others feel better in “real life”  Amazing.

If you do not know one or some of these names, please take a quick look about them and you will see there are smiles through the tears.

You can only have so much success and so much wealth.  It is what you do with it…how you affect others that truly defines you.  I am single and am independent and happy on my own for the most part, but nothing gives me the natural high of making other people i know happy, making them laugh or just being around them.  My family and friends are what make my world go round, even those times  I’m standing alone in the center of it. There are aspects of this in everyone’s journey above.

Its for those reasons, when all these occurred, i thought back to my dad.  He blessedly lived a long life, however he might not have reached as great an audience and he didn’t have vast fortunes to give away (although that never stopped him from providing). What he did do was live by and instill core values in Debbie and I that were echoed by these 3 special people.  Be silly sometimes, laugh ALOT, affect others positively, BE THERE for them when they need you, make them laugh ALOT and help others that might not be as fortunate as you.

Seems like a damn good credo to me and my Dad stuck to it for 80+ years.  We should all be so lucky.  Happy Birthday, Dad.  I love you and miss you.dad

Eulogy For My Dad.

Writing this eulogy was the hardest and easiest thing ive ever had to do. Easy because there are so many things to draw on but incredibly hard because of the overwhelming emotion of the moment. Also how do you sum up a lifetime of how much a person that you admire so much, means to you in just a short speech?

So ill say this. I could tell you about how he was there at almost every event that my sister and I participated in. Whether it be sports, recitals, plays, parties or anything we were involved in, my dad was always there as our biggest fan. It didn’t matter what was going on at his job or in his life, he lived for and focused on one main goal: To see his kids succeed and flourish and be happy

And as awesome as that was, it was probably when the exact opposite happened that made him such an incredible father and the person that he was. My dad always believed, and I adopted this wholeheartedly, is that you see the true character of a person when things are at their worst. No one exemplified that kind of strong character in those times more then my dad. His greatest gift to me and to Deb, was when we had those moments in your life, when you might think the sky was falling and you were reticent to deal with your problems. He had this innate ability to calm your fears, make you realize that things weren’t so bad so you could just face the day. “Whats the worst that can happen?” he would say and you would say “I might strike out to lose the game” (Never happened..i was amazing but still…) “And??” he would say “There’s always gonna be another game, Marc” And that might sound like a cliche but its because the core behind his attitude was just as simple as that. “No matter what happens..you move on to the next day. You’re going to be ok.”

I think this is what drew so many people to him from all walks of life. He always made sure that OTHERS were in a good place or taken care of before he was. A simple gift of making sure the people in the room were now happier and better off from the time he walked in to the time he left. Ive gotten countless tributes from countless friends touching on several times and moments he did something for them in their lives. Even if it wasn’t a specific thing, just these positive feelings they carry about him. I don’t think its just because of what’s happened, I feel it’s a genuine respect for my dad, who was someone who spent their life trying to make an impact on people..without even really trying.

I know this is a sad day for everyone here. Its inevitable when you lose someone close. However Ill repeat the feeling I had just a short 2 weeks ago when I spoke for my 40th bday and it still stands true today. My sadness is dwarfed by a feeling of being extremely lucky. Lucky to have gotten this long and these many memories with a father of this magnitude.

Here’s what else I believe and this goes for everyone. This life is not about the final day..the final moment…its about ALL the days..and all the moments you had..and that they all live with you. Forever. And we had too many amazing ones to count to be eclipsed by this.

Im not overly religious and I cant speak definitively about what happens “next” but what I do know for a bonafide fact is that my dad will always live on in US..his family. He will live on in his grandkids. And I mean that LITERALLY. I hear it in my voice when i speak, I know it in my heart and ive seen it in Jake and Jesse, with my own eyes. In that regard, I also hope that some of those feelings you have for him have in some way become part of who you all are….and I think that’s true because I know from experience, how much greatness is sitting out there today in both you and your families.  Its in abundance and I hope my dad played some small role in contributing to that.

Lastly, I was toying with ending this eulogy with a slightly dirty joke that was my dad’s favorite but in the end I didn’t think was appropriate for this venue. However..the point being is, I know this for a fact, as well. My dad’s wish, would be for you to eventually dry your eyes and laugh as often as you can, no matter the situation. To just BE happy. And I intend too. Thanks Dad.

HEY CHANUKAH, CUT THE SHIT!

CHANUKAH: A DEEPER LOOK

Besides this Saturday night being my next stand-up show, it is also the first night of Chanukah.  I thought id take this time to break down what Chanukah is all about.  Some fears and questions you might have.  And I don’t mean in a religious way, I mean like “Hey Marc, ive been hearing bout this Chanukah for years and have questions…REAL questions.  Give me the straight dope, yo”  And that was from a PRIEST..so I could imagine what the layman must think.  But seriously..its a great celebration but it’s also the most ambigious of the Jewish holidays.  Maybe you know this, and maybe some of this has been covered but has it ever been covered for free??  On a blog?!?!  (Um..yeah..probably)  Oh..i see.  Well here it is anyway.  Just be warned, after this, you’ll never look at Chaunkah the same way again and your life will changed irrevocably!  Or maybe not.  This is just a blog.

THE SPELLING

“How is it supposed to be spelled?  Ive seen it spelled 14 different ways.  I haven’t seen this many spellings since that thanksgiving special on Tori and Dean!!”

Look..im right there with you.  And im here to tell you..there IS no right way to spell it.  I’ve seen it spelled with an H (Hanukah)..seen it with TWO h’s (Hanukahh)  Even with two K’s (Hanukkah)  Of course. my favorite way..with a C.  Hell…ive even seen it spelled with a “Y” and 4 F’s but that was by my great Uncle Saul at a dinner in 1983 and it turns out he was suffering at the time from salmonella he got from a bad batch of Gefilte Fish.  (Serves him right, really..i mean..quick aside..but gefilte fish?  Really?  Is this not the most disgusting food in the history of man..or fish..or gefiltes?  Seriously..it smells like a rotting yak and has the texture of a slimy, dwarf brain.  It looks like Purina wanted to make cat food but thought “No..cats would never eat something so grotesque..lets give it to those weird jews”.  But no, chosen people…let’s EAT this.  Great idea.  No thanks.)

So..the point is..there is no RIGHT way..spell it how you want.  Its freestyle.  However, i still think we should get together and vote on one uniform way and stick with it.  Its kinda embarrassing we cant get our stories straight.  I know there are abbreviations in other faiths but you would never see a card that says “MERRY KRYSSMIS!!!”

WHY IS IT 8 NIGHTS? 

“Seriously, we get it..you like gifts.  Stop rubbing it in.”

Well..the real abridged story is the Maccabees only had one day of oil in their temple..but it miraculously lasted for 8 days…and that’s why we celebrate with the Menorah.  (A close second to this story is the time in college when my friend had one bud of weed left that should have lasted us one more go-around and it somehow kept burning throughout the night.  This wont be remembered in history but for all those who were there, we’ve never forgotten it.  To commemorate it, on that day every year, we all burn our thumbs with a lighter to relive that miracle.)  So..its a long holiday and its kinda lost its cache a bit as an adult.  As a kid though…8 nights of gifts!  What a sweet setup!  Times have changed obviously but my mom STILL tries to get a gift for me EVERY night.  No matter how small, G-d bless her.  The greatest example was one year, she knew I liked the show Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Screw you..it was a really good show)  “Happy 3rd night of Chanukah ” she exclaimed!  And folks, I kid you not, she got me..no joke..a Buffy The Vampire Slayer locker mirror!!  Now, the thought was there behind it, of course..but no way in hell was I putting up a Buffy The Vampire Slayer mirror in my locker.  Also, I was 27 at the time and hadn’t had a locker in 10 yrs…ya know..cause..I wasn’t in high school anymore.  And again..i was 27 yrs old.  I was also a guy.  It was awkward.  If the Maccabees knew this type of thing would happen..they probably would have snuffed out the oil/lights after the 2nd day and been like “ya know what, we’re good.  Let’s just sit in the dark a while”

But here we are…8 long days…which leads to the next question…and possibly one of the most perplexing..

WHEN THE HELL IS CHANUKAH AND HOW COME IT CHANGES EVERY YEAR?

“Are you guys making this up as you go along?”

Well actually NO, smarty pants…Chanukah runs on the JEWISH calendar which is much much older and a little different.  (we have to deal with that lousy SMARCH weather.  I hate that month) so that’s what accounts for the way it shows up differently every year.  And look..i admit it..its frustrating.  That’s why I booked my show on the 8th.  I didn’t KNOW that was the first night of Chanukah.  It makes scheduling difficult for sure.  I wish it was like Christmas where you KNOW it’s ALWAYS the 25th and can plan accordingly.  But nooooo…it slides all over the place.  I think it hurts Chanukah..i really do.  I think if it had its set place on the calendar..people would respect it more.  Instead people balk at it..ESPECIALLY when it overlaps with Christmas.  I feel the most apt analogy is this.  You know those cute Youtube videos that people post where they’ll have this giant Rottweiller and then they’ll also have this little beagle puppy and they film the puppy attacking/playing with the Rottweiller with reckless abandon.  And the Rottweiller is playing too but has that look on its face like “look..this is fun..I like you, puppy but you know I can kill you if I wanted to, right?  Settle down and we’ll eventually get along fine.”  That’s how I see it with these two holidays.  Chanukah is the puppy, fun and great but all wacky and all over the place…and the Christmas Rottweiller is like “Hey Chanukah..cut the shit!  I like you as a holiday but stop moving around like a maniac so we can get an understanding between us, ya dig?.” (Note: Marc thinks Rotweillers talk like freaky beatniks)  And that brings us to..

CHRISTMAS AND CHANUKAH 

“Is there a happy medium?”

The answer is..OF COURSE there is.  Im not even going to get into the religious aspect cause Xmas has more significance in that area.  Our holy days hit more in the fall.  Im talking about from the KIDS angle.  Growing up.  Some of the best people I know are in interfaith marriages and frankly..for the kids…cant you see an upside??  Get the best of BOTH worlds.  Look I loved/love Chanukah…but oh man..would I have loved the feeling of running down the stairs to see presents under the tree on Xmas morning?  Of course!  Did I miss out on believing in Santa and then having my innocence crushed by seeing my dad delivering my presents dressed as a Santa with no pants at 1am in the morning?  You betcha!  Those emotional scars can never be mimicked in the Jewish faith. 

But would I trade it?  No way.  Like I said..EIGHT nights of presents.  I got some of my seminal and historical favorite material things of ALL TIME for Chanukah.  Wrestling figures, my first Nintendo, my first Big Wheel, numerous electric racetracks that lasted AT least 3 hours before breaking, my first pencil holder (which was really my first bong until my mom realized it wasn’t a pencil holder and returned it.  Needless to say, my 2nd grade teacher still thinks i was high for every storytime.  “Mrs Perrich..this story is boring..when is it time for cookies?”  “Pipe down, Johnny AppleWEED”.),   No..i would never have traded that incredible anticipation of a gift every night.  No way.  

What else?  Well..Christmas has the Christmas tree..but we have the menorah which mainly was my first introduction to FIRE..and damnit if I havent been burning things ever since!  Yes..it was MENORAHS that were the cause of my borderline dark obsession with fire.  So thanks, Jewish Fire Torch.  Lets not forget the Dreidel.  Not only does it spin like a political news channel, but did you know its REALLY the equivalent of jewish dice for a gambling game?  Im dead serious.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  (What a breakthrough this post has been.  I just realized that Chanukah and my faith has turned me into the cynical, degenerate, gambling arsonist ive grown up to become and that I LOVE that it has. Moses must be turning over in his ark.  (Note:  Marc flunked Hebrew School)

So there ya have it..an in-depth look at Chanukah.  The stuff they don’t tell you about in your fancy textbooks…and fancy..uh…tea parties.  (I have no idea what people of today DO)

Hope that helps.  Either way…whatever you celebrate..have a great one!   And who knows, maybe ill see you at my next AA meeting.  (Arsonists Anonymous)

What I Want For My Birthday.

Well..its that time of year again. In about 2 weeks, i will be 38 years old. And thanks to Facebook and Causes.com, I’m able to celebrate it by raising money for a special purpose. This is a very long story you may or may not know but please read cause what I’m about to write means a lot to me.

When i was about 17 or so, i came back from a long weekend with a lump and pain under my arm. The pain went away but the lump did not so with doctor’s consultation, it was determined i have a biopsy to see what was going on. The general consensus was that it was going to say i had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. i would be “fine” but most likely have to go through treatment. So there is the teaser..but this story is not really all about me. As it turns out, the biopsy proved that the lump was benign and i was ok..and still am. The story here is during that time, i went through numerous blood tests in and out of hospitals. One visit there is and will forever be vividly imprinted in my mind. There was a little boy, who couldn’t have been more then 2-3 yrs old going through the same battery of tests as me. And although he took it like a champ, he was crying, scared, and in obvious pain as his parents looked on, feeling the exact same pain. The impact on me was immeasurable. It affected me deeply and swore i would try to do anything i can to try to help kids in any way i could. I was too stupid and not school oriented enough to become a doctor, but knew i could do other things with my time to help.

Unfortunately, college, immaturity and laziness delayed my ambition for a while. That and a brief foray into porn, drugs and a failed attempt at a music career (Editor’s Note: That didn’t happen, Marc is describing Boogie Nights which he watched last night)

And i hated myself for that..and eventually, finally, did something about it. Donating money and ESPECIALLY volunteering my time has been the most rewarding experience i could ever imagine. And hopefully in some small way, gave some help, laughs and comfort to those I’ve come in contact with. To be honest, though..i always wish i can do MORE. Im sure it is frustrating to many, as it is to me, you donate time and money and while it absolutely is necessary and helpful, no matter what we do..people, kids..seem to be affected by cancer and these diseases year after year. Ive seen a lot of greatness and strides in the fight but still..too much sadness as well. We all need to know that there is some hope.

Perhaps it is why i was and still am drawn to Sophia’s Cure Foundation. I will continue to try to help kids with cancer and always will, but the work that Catherine and Vincent have done with Sophia and her foundation to combat Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is truly AMAZING. To see how far they’ve come, how far the adorable Sophia has come…and how far they are going to GO is the most inspiring initiative i think I’ve ever seen. Their dedication to Sophia alone is incredible but what they’ve done to fight towards a cure is above and beyond.

Enough money has been raised to fund the first trials of the gene therapy that is being done to combat this disease. And this isn’t a shot in the dark. As I’ve stated before..SMA has been noted as the #1 neurological disease closest to a cure by the National Health Institute. They are soooo close but the disease and its fight is STILL under the radar. They need money and exposure to put this drive over the top and use this rolling momentum to FIND A CURE AND END THIS DISEASE!!

I don’t say that lightly..that helplessness i alluded to earlier…Here is our chance to see RESULTS!! An actual CURE in our lifetimes to a disease affecting THOUSANDS of children! Can you think of a better birthday wish? Cant you just imagine what that day would be like when they find it? And to know you played some sort of role in it?

So look..that is my long winded pitch to say please donate to my birthday wish to go towards Sophia’s Cure Foundation. You guys are AWESOME. Amazing!! We raised 750 dollars last year and this year i want to break $1000!!!! Even if you can’t donate, please read up on SMA at sophiascure.org and learn about it. Or volunteer for a cause YOU are passionate about. Thats all i ever wanted.

Lastly..to show I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Im going to donate 1/4 of the final tally MYSELF of whatever you guys donate. So..if you all hit 1000 bucks..ill donate 250 bucks etc. So..more you donate..the poorer i get…so have at it you wonderfully, vindictive SOB’s!!!!

Please go here to donate or see my FB page

http://wishes.causes.com/wishes/492609?bws=fb_stream_wish
Thanks for listening and thanks for everything. :)