How an adult with a busy brain… paints 

Mothers Day weekend is upon us.  Anyone in the hospitality industry knows the horrors of this weekend.   

Let’s do this. 


Mom and The Struggle Within

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I wanted to take a second to speak about my own mother.

The story of my mom is really a story about mental illness.

I have two sets of memories when it comes to my mom.

One memory is of still images devoid of color and motion. …I had a mom that threw me birthday parties, made dinner, and watched my games.   She had a good job as a food service director at a nursing home.

The other memories came post – divorce.  When my mother became trapped by bipolar disorders and bouts of paranoia and anxiety.

I guess it all started much earlier.  When My Grandfather died.

I spoke about my fond memories of him but what I never remembered was there was many times where I was not allowed to go with him.  If he were to pull up to the house wearing his ten gallon cowboy hat my grandmother refused to let me leave.  This was a sign that he was in a “manic” stage because he too suffered from Bi-polar disorder.

After my parents split when I was in 8th grade my mother’s behavior started to become very erratic.

She would disappear for hours, forget to pick me up or be there to let me in the house, she was starting to bounce from menial job to menial job.  She even worked besides me at a nursing home and later in restaurant kitchens.  I never stopped to wonder why.  All I know is that I was angry with her all time and that didn’t help matters much.  

She became detached from reality and after a long string of back injuries was disabled   in 2009.

Things only got worse from there.  Now with no job all she had were her thoughts…thoughts she couldn’t control.  She became very paranoid, convinced that microphones were listening in her conversations, that she was being followed.

I’m writing about this because for the longest time as a teenager and early adult I was very angry with my mother.  Why did she make such terrible decisions?  Why couldn’t she do what she needed to do.

It wasn’t until I grew up that I understood …she wasn’t lazy.  She wasn’t a bad parent.  She was just lost in her own mind.  She might not be the mother I grew up with.  But I am still the son that she raised.   This year I promised myself that I would try to be there for her.

It breaks my heart to think that she will be spending Mother’s Day in the hospital.

I might not have been happy with her at times.  But I was never embarrassed of her.  She did the best that she could.

I love you Mom.

Subject To Change Without Notice

As I left the hospital today, Liam and I took a ride around my hometown of Utica.  

A strange realization came over me as I the panaroma of my previous years flew past my car windows, that I won’t be spending very much time here now that Grandma has passed and my other grandma moved closer to my mom.  

“All my joys all my sorrow’s”

I spent 15 years here and a lot of my memories  have not with stood the test of time.  

The Piano workshop where I spent 10 years learning to play…now I pizza shop. 

The dentist office where Dr. Haddad practiced…now Utica Paint Company

The Video to Roll, now a Chinese Restaurant.  

Remember DZ Discovery Zone?…Sumo Hibachi.  

“Like at the bottom of the restaurant menu states, ‘Subject to change without notice'” Last Night at The Lobster.  

It’s all a distraction anyway.  It avoid  what I should be talking about.  

For another day perhaps.

Gino’s Steak and Beaver Lake.  

Just completed week 5 of the C25K program so I decided to reward myself from Extreme Dieting with a Cheese steak covered in Utica Greens and Gino’s Steak and Onion in Fayetteville.   My boss took us there for lunch after our meeting.  

This place is amazing with their high quality sandwiches and hoagie rolls trucked in from Philly. 

After spending some time painting the wood railings on my porch, Liam and I took off to Baldwinsville and the Beaver Lake Nature Center. 

I try to go here once a year.  It holds alot of memories for me.  I had many camping trips and retreats out there growing up.  

Usually, I walk the 3 mile Lake Loop Trail  but that was flooded due to all the rain.  

So this was an opportunity to check out some of the other trails like the Lake view, pine Meadows, Bog, and Hemlock Trails.  

If you’re a novice hiker this is a great place to start.  

“Daddy wook, a pime cone”

Tried to get closer

The Snooze Button – A Chapter From the Franchise Years.

I’ve recently been having an dysfunctional relationship with my snooze button.  Mainly from all the work I been putting in and my unrealistic wake up time expectations.  It reminds me of another time in my life where I would be hitting the snooze button more times than I should.  That time for different reasons.

It’s late 2010,  I’m working as a District Manager of Dunkin Donuts putting in at least 80 hours a week for the last 12 months also going through two break ups that year which both ended very badly.  I was coming to the end of my rope.

The hiring practices where very strange at this franchise, where as, I didn’t have anything to do with the hiring of my direct report store managers, that was the Director of Ops job.  But I was responsible for recruiting, hiring, and firing of all hourly crew members.  I was also called upon to fire managers more often than I care to remember.

If you read my article Leaving the Franchise, you learned that I was getting paid peanuts.  So you can imagine what we had to offer  store managers…let alone hourly employees.  When it came to quality employees I didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to through it out of.   I did have a few hard working, trustworthy individuals but  they  soon were corrupted or would leave for green pasture.

You could say I was a glorified babysitter…unable in any case to get my manager to uphold any kind of standards.  I spent the day running around  putting out fires, firing employees for theft, trying to keep the trains on the tracks.  Then when my bakers failed to show up I would spend the night filling and frosting then driving the racks of donuts to all the locations.  “Time to Make the Donuts”.  I could feel my relationship with my boss and owner quickly souring.

This is where the snooze button came in.  I dreaded getting up in the morning.  I would just lie there paralyzed.  Eerily reminiscent of what  Anthony Bourdain wrote in Kitchen Confidential, when is was used as a rachet man. “I hoped that if I stayed in bed a little later, showed up a little later.  Maybe, just maybe, it would be me that got fired this time.  That I wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  That his whole terrible business would end.”. 

I had not yet learned good organizational or management skills.  

Like in Bourdain’s case.  This would soon pass.  I would take a part time job back in full service in the beginning of 2011.  Now with middle management experience under my belt and a little luck.    My life would soon change forever.

The Power of Nice and the “MOST”

“You have to treat everyone you meet as if they are the most important in the world, because they are.  If not to you, then to someone.  If not today, then perhaps tomorrow.”.  The Power of Nice : How to conquer the Business World with Kindness.  

I’m sitting in Breuggers Bagels this morning in between running and hitting the gym enjoying a breakfast sandwich when a gentleman man comes in to pick up, I kid you not 50 full bags of bagels that are set out on the tables next to me.  

The dude starts to carry the bags while the two girls working the counter stand there and watch him and don’t offer to lend a hand.

Normally I wouldn’t bat an eye… it’s not my business nor my problem.    But I knew what I needed to do.  “5,4,3,2,1” apply the 5 second rule and started grabbing the bags.  

The man was so greatful.   And it felt so good to help him.   I learned that he was getting bagels to feed the racers of a 10 mile race today near downtown.   I was wearing a jacket with my company logo so hopefully he will think favorably of my establishment in the future.  

If anything else…I know I did a my good deed for the day.   

Later in the day we took Liam to the MOST.  (Museum Of Science and Technology).   

I highly prefer the more modern, Wonderworks Museum but I figured there was more for my toddler to do.  

He had a great time… definitely obsessed of the models trains and then got a little overwhelmed by the loud noises and commotion in the main exhibit.  

If you’re on a budget this place is a good choice on a rainy day.  It’s a little behind the times on their exhibits, but they have a very nice planetarium and Imax theater for an extra price.   

Yep..he’s done