Saturday, June 28, 2008

misc comments

It was so great to see Grover and Katie and their 2 cute kids, Julie Anne and William. Wasn't that a great picture of them in the previous post??? Loved it! It was such a wonderful visit and I hope to do that again. Good friends are hard to come by and they are truly great friends. I served with Grover twice on the mission. He is a man of faith and guts. That makes for a very unstoppable combination. I hope that Megan and I get to meet them often.

This morning I rode the motorcycle back to Mom's house. It was a nice trip.
I must admit that I have been branded. It's true. It's a rite-of-passage. It's initiation. My right leg rubbed up against the hot muffler and i have a huge pipe tattoo. It's a bad one; the skin has already blistered and is ready to peel off. Oh well. Now it won't happen anymore; I'd say I've learned my lesson!

Mom and I met with her lawyer this morning, John Mcelyea. We find him to be a good man, of good character. I am sure Dad would approve of him. One thing I really liked about him was that he wouldn't even venture a guess or opinion regarding some questions I asked him that were outside his realm of specific legal niche. I think most egotistical lawyers or people in general, would take those questions and start sounding really intelligent by throwing out their opinions. I wonder if I do that sometimes, probably more than I should. He didn't- and I like that about him. I was a bit scared when I was selecting a lawyer, because we had options and were not sure whom to choose. He was recommended to me and then I did some research on him. Anyway, this was our first meeting with him and we were impressed. His staff has been exceptional so far and we hope all things continue to go as well. He made some very interesting discoveries about my Father's accident during his on-going investigation. I don't want to share them all here on this blog but those of you who are close to us, or care to call, I will share them with you. Suffice to say, the original police report drafted at the scene was not all that accurate. But I have great understanding. I know that the man that hit my Father had absolutely no intention to do so. While I am saddened by my Father's passing I am grateful that I feel no anger or animosity towards the man driving the car that struck him.

Dad's number was up. An accident happened. End of story. I wish it were different. But it isn't. The past is a lifeless, indestructible brick wall that is deaf, blind, and numb to all screaming, head-banging, and pleading. It travels on at 1041 miles per hour, mowing down the present with impunity. No helmet, no roll-bar, no seatbelt is going to save or secure you from it. See that? Here it comes....Did you see it? Did it blow your hair in your face?

The Parhams

Last night I rode the motorcycle over to my old companion's house (Elder Parham). He was an awesome companion when we served together in Salt Lake City. Dad knew him, too.

He and his wife, Katie, live in Titusville. They have 2 really cute kids! We stayed up all night talking about mission experiences and playing Pass The Pigs (which I totally won).

Then I crashed on their couch. It was a great night.
Katie wass in the Army and is now in the ready reserves. She served in Kuwait and is now keeping her husband in line.

Friday, June 27, 2008

mom, elbows, artillery, and other things that go bump in the night

This is a typical morning.
I walk in to check on mom and she is sleeping on the floor.
I had placed a picture of it on this blog but she has since made me remove it. She doesn't want any incriminating evidence posted.
It makes me want to cry. I mean really- the bed cost almost $2,000 and it is rarely used!
Chances are she fell out of bed from spasms and then slept on the floor for the rest of the night.
Can you blame me for wanting her to live down the street?
To her it is just a typical morning and she tries to be positive; she might say something like she prefers to sleep on the floor.

Megan is probably having the best sleep of her life right now. I have this habit of elbowing her in the head during the night. We had to get the largest bed possible so we could have more distance between her head and my elbow. But I can't seem to help it. I scoot over in the middle of the night so I be close to her and then BLAMO. Maybe it's a Disanza thing that we have problems in our sleep. Mom falls out of bed and sleeps on the floor. Dad wouldn't sleep unless a movie was on, and I elbow my wife like she's a punching bag. What is wrong with us???? I need to either get nerf elbow pads or some wrestling head gear for Megan.

Dad was very funny to watch at night. He always wanted you to watch a movie with him. It would be one of his favorite movies, like Dirty Dancing, or The Cutting Edge, or some western flick. And he would sit there on the couch for the first 5 minutes and then his eyes would close, and then his head would start to fade backwards, and then SMACK! His head would hit the wall behind him, which would wake him up, which would enable him to watch the movie for another 5 minutes before the whole process would repeat. It was a vicious cycle- really. And there were these grease spots on the wall from where his bald head would hit it. They never did repaint those spots in Jersey before they moved. I wonder if they are still there today. Dad could sleep anywhere. He was a tanker.

If he could can sleep on the back of a Main Battle Tank on a tank range with main guns firing less than 100 yards away, flares shooting up every 5 minutes, and the 50 cal whizzing down range like a red laser then you can understand how he could sleep anywhere...and why he was half deaf. I remember one day he snuck me and Sergeant Rambolo's son onto the range at Fort Indian Town Gap. What a memory. I can never forget it. Yeah- some kids go to Great Adventure, some kids go to Disneyland, my Dad took me to a tank range. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time and Dad had me completely dressed in camouflage just like him- but I wouldn't know why until later. Dad was my hero. He was Company Commander at the time and his company had all their tanks on the range and his men had to practice and qualify. Later in life Dad would run the whole battalion and the range but that’s another story.... The tanks I saw were before the Abrams came out. They were the older M60 model tanks with the big luggage rack on top. But the guns were still powerful and still loud. The bolt on the main gun tube, inside the tank, was bigger than I was. It looked just like the one of my dad's hunting rifle, only a heck of a lot bigger and a heck of a lot louder. The tank commander would yell commands like "gunner target!" and the other fuy would yell something back and Dad wuold yell "fire!" and then round would go off and the end of the main gun tube would explode with a fiery blast like in the movies and the force of the round was so fierce that it would literally cause the tank to jump backwards by one track tread. I remember studying it because I was fascinated by it. A little while later that tank would be many feet behind the line from where it started. But what was even more fun was the 50 cal on the top of the tank. The gunner would be perched on top of the tank, just his helmeted head and biceps exposed and he would hold the gun with 2 hands, there was a grip on each side of the gun and one grip had a trigger. There was an endless string of thick bullets that had these clips on them that connected them together. And every 5th bullet in the chain had a red tip on it. Dad explained that as these red-tipped bullets went down range that their red tips glowed from the heat. Since the gun fired so fast it looked like a constant red laser so the gunner knew exactly where he was shooting. The gun fired so fast that the clips from the bullets going into the chamber would fly off and it seemed like a torrential rainstorm of clips flying off the top of the tank. And amid it all there would be these parachute flares that someone kept shooting up in the sky. A parachute flare is a glowing piece of magnesium that is shot up into the sky and it burns so hot and bright that it light up the whole range. As it descends from the sky it has a rip-stop nylon parachute bove it so it slows the descent and allows for maximum time aloft to provide light for as long as possible. You could probably read a newspaper under it. A year later our neighbor had invited us to his 4th of July party and was bragging about his huge stockpile of fireworks. He was really laying it on thick. Finally Dad went into the house and emerged with the silver tube. I knew exactly what he was doing. And with a pop of his first he sent a parachute flare over South Bound Brook. It didn’t take long for the neighbor to drop his cigarette...or for the sirens to start blaring either! In hindsight, it probably wasn't that smart to send a burning piece of magnesium over a heavily populated town but hey- I just like to think Dad was being patriotic! Of course, if anyone in town wanted to wash their car, rad the paper, or do anything else for 5 minutes, they sure didn't need a flashlight! And a few years after that Dad let off an artillery simulator in the Bradshaws front lawn on New Years Eve. Lets just say your banging pots and pans can't hold a candle to an artillery simulator. And it was probably helpful for Ralph Bradshaw, you know, in case if he needed a big hole in his front yard and was too tired to dig one himself. I could go on and on about my father's little "treats" for us. I mean- try playing capture the flag in the boy scouts when Dad pops red smoke in the middle of the field. Sure, it was a heck of a lot of fun for us; I'm sure the people trying to drive down the road nearby who couldn't see more than 3 feet in front of them through this red fog weren't too happy but it sure was fun for us!

Oh the memories...... I sure miss him. He was slightly irreverent, slightly off kilter, you never knew what he was going to do next but you knew it was going to be fun!

Then I remember some high ranking official was coming by in his jeep and Dad yelled at me to head into the trees! I realized why he had me wear camoflauge. Thinking back, I am pretty sure 9 or 10 year olds were not allowed on military tank ranges. Maybe it was something about liability? But really, what was it all that dangerous?


The incessant commercials are one thing.
But this is going TOO FAR!
I use USAA for my car insurance.
I've been a member for 16 years.
I'm NOT going to switch to Geico!

So leave me alone you English psycho lizard freak!

...They're everwhere! ...They're following me! Its like they're a plague of Egypt or something!

...I think maybe I forgot to take my pills this morning.

note to Megan- look above the dryer

The flaming O

Question: What do 2 flamingos do as soon as they get married???
Answer: They put 2 plastic Italians on their front lawn.

I had placed a pink flamingo on my front lawn once....and Megan made me take it down. She just doesn't understand my heritage. She doesn't understand us Italians. She must not have spent enough time on the East Coast. I mean really, I just had ONE flamingo on the lawn. That’s nothing. Mom’s house has THREE. And here is a picture of the neighbor’s house down the street. Can you count how many flamingos grace their beautiful yard??? How fun!!!

So perhaps my problem was that I only placed one flamingo on my lawn; I didn't provide any room for negotiation. When I come home I will bring 20 and we can negotiate from there.

They are so wonderful.
I want to name them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The motorcycle hospital

Dad's bike is sick. Sad but true. The left turn signal has not worked for a while now. Dad did not get it fixed but meant to. I don't want to mess around with it not working, since I am not as experienced as my Dad at riding. I took it to the bike shop he uses.

Quick Draw Motorcycles
728 Ballough Rd Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 253-0900

It took me a while to find the place. It is a hole-in-the-wall. It is locate just past the fancy, modern, well-decorated Harley Davidson dealership and then just after the big motorcycle repair shops. As I pulled up to it it made me smile. I remember as a kid Nicole and I would go get pizza at this place where they actually threw the pizza dough with one hand and a smoked a cigarette with the other. I think the name of the shop may have been tattooed on the guy's forearm. Led Zeppelin music was so loud you had to shout your order and the grease that came off the pizza was 10 weight 40. It was not pretty. It was not comfortable. But the pizza was the best in town! And so I pull up to this place....One bay door, small operation. Two large dogs in the shop, motorcycle parts everywhere, the air was filled with grease and smelled of WD40. The owner, Mike, wore a ripped muscle shirt baring his biceps and tattoos, and greeted me with a stiff handshake and a smile, remembered my father vividly, and remembered his bike exactly. This was my father’s kind of bike shop. I can totally see why he would bring his bike here. It made perfect sense. If I have any other issues with the bike I am sure I will be bringing it back here. This is my Dad's kind of shop.

They are working on it right now. I am sitting acorss the street at Captains Jacks Restaurant. It's located at the marina. I am sitting at a window watching the sailboats go by.

Somewhere in my stomach there is a plate of fried shrimp and onion rings trying to get out. Thanks, Captain. From now on the only Captain I am dealing with is Captain Crunch.
...I wish Mike owned a pizzeria as well as a motorcycle shop.
Later- ;-)

Scooters vs. the man card

Okay. So there I am in the Motorcycle Riding Class a months ago at the Honda Riding Center. My good buddy, and motorcycle police officer, Nathan recommended I go there. The whole group of us in class is sitting around tables during our break and we are looking at some of Honda's motorcycle brochures. Call me a moron but I like the scooters. The Silver Wing is this really big scooter, goes on the highway, is pretty fast, etc. I like it. And so I blurt out, "This Silverwing is really cool, I would like one of THOSE!" The multiple conversions that were scattering around the room seemed to come to a decrescendo. Heads turned in my direction until all was quiet. I was the center of attention. All eyes were on my as I held the Silverwing scooter page open in the brochure. I quietly asked the question, "I would have to surrender my man card if I get one of these, huh?" It was like I asked the most obvious question imaginable. They all quickly affirmed, "YES" and then turned back to their conversations. And the women in the room looked at me like I just became infected with some horrible contagious virus. Haven't felt that way since high school.

Please place a comment and make your oppinion kown if a guy would have to surrender his "man card" or at least forfeit some "man points" if he rides a highway-legal scooter.

And so today, I'm riding down International Speedway Blvd, about a half mile north of the Daytona Speedway. Dad's pipes are loud, the bike is smooooth, I'm wearing black leather boots, black leather jacket, Oakley shades, I'm doing pretty good (the only thing I'm missing is a pair of large biceps and some tattoos). Whenever other bikers pass you or you pass other bikers they extend their hand in polite wave. It's like you are in a brotherhood. But this guy comes up to a stop light. He is on a......on a......a Honda Silverwing Scooter. My first reaction was to smile and check it out because I think it looks so cool but then I remembered I must suppress such urges and feelings. I went to extend my hand to wave but we wave to those people? The guy was wearing a half open Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and sandals on that clutchless wonder. Maybe he was from another country? Maybe he didn't get the memo? And so I was stuck at my stoplight. What should I do? Pretend I don't see him. Purposely look the other way? Look down on him? Rev my throttle so any thoughts he might even have in that scooterish brain of his is drowned out by the sound of pure awesomeness?

Then I thought of my dad. Hmmm.... What would he do?

And I realized that it takes a very secure male individual to be the first one on the dance floor to do the Electric slide, the Macarena, admit that he still listens to his Milli Vanilla tape, and frequently watches Dirty Dancing like it is part of his monthly schedule.

My thoughts seemed in sync with the glug glug BLAST glug glug COUGH of the low-idling Harley underneath me. Brotherhood is something that was far more general than specific for my old man. The only thing that would keep you out of it were violating 3 simple rules: He wouldn't tolerate rudeness, he would never tolerate a bully, and he would never tolerate anything that encroached upon the rights of others. So long as you didn't violate any of those rules you were in the good graces of Jim Disanza. You could be black, white, yellow, red, purple, gay, straight, crazy, or a complete nerd and Jim Disanza would extend his hand.

Dad would surely wave to Mr. Hawaiian Tropic on the scooter. And so I popped the peg a half click up to neutral, I slowly removed my left hand from the clutch, lowered it along my leg, and slowly extended it in a sign of peace. And with that the light turned green, I stomped on first, and thundered on to the rest of my life.

note to Megan: it's in a large pot.

Monday, June 23, 2008

These boots are made for walkin'

I purchased a pair of boots for this trip. They are made by a brand that makes motorcycle gear because they are perfect for wearing on a motorcycle- they have great tread, hard nose, and they cover my ankles. These are the boots in the picture (Cee Cee insisted on modeling in the photo-shoot, too). I am not used to wearing boots or any kind of shoe that is not a “croc”. As a real estate appraiser I wear crocs every day because they are easy to slip off when I go into people’s homes and they are dang comfortable to wear everywhere. Oh, and I can throw them in the dishwasher when they get dirty. And so I find myself trying to get used to these boots. …And that brings me to a story….. My Dad has worn all sorts of boots over the years. I vividly remember him lacing up his combat boots, even as a child. He had this way of “speed lacing” them so that at the very end of threading them he would yank on the laces hard and they would all tighten. It was a procedure that I found it really interesting as a kid. He ALWAYS polished his boots to a liquid shine before leaving. He also had tanker boots that did not have laces. He had hiking boots. He had snow boots. He was fastidious about footwear; I won’t even go into stories about his sneakers or church shoes! And then he had ski boots, which is what this story is about. When I was in 5th grade (and Nicole in 6th) Dad volunteered to chaperone his school’s ski trips. By doing this he received free ski lift tickets to “Shawnee Mountain” in the Poconos. We loved going up there. Now having been to Uncle Peter’s “Sierra Summit” in the Sierra Nevadas of California I know that Shawnee Mountain was a mere bunny slope of a ski resort but it was all we had at the time. It was our world of skiing and it contained some of the coolest experiences of my youth including, which makes it real special to me, some positive memories of my sister and I. My father skiied more than Nicole and I because he would go with the school as well. He felt he should get his own equipment since he was skiing so often. And so he went to the local ski store, where we had been renting equipment, and purchased skis and boots. They were very fond of Dad, as you can imagine. Dad had formed a great relationship with them there and may have even taught the owner how to work-out (I don’t remember exactly). But I do remember that Dad got a red pair of Dolomite ski boots. Not too long thereafter we were on the slopes and Dad had a problem with one of his boots. It broke! A rivet had completely come out of the boot. Rats! We had to call the night short and head home. Dad went to the ski shop and showed them the boot, requesting a full refund. They don’t give refunds for boots and it looked like there must have been some foul play on Dad’s part. The guy who inspected the boot went over it again and again in disbelief. He’d look at the boot and then look at Dad and then look at the boot again. He had Dad pull up his pants and flex his calves. He gave Dad a full refund. Dad’s calves muscles get so huge when he flexes them that he literally blew the rivets out the side of the boot! When Dad realized this he was no longer angry or upset in any way; he was proud of the boots destruction. …Another casualty of Jim Disanza’s morning calf lifts.

Note to Megan: behind a pillow

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Change of Plans

Here is a good example of the position I find myself in:

You come home from work and run upstairs to take a shower from a hard day’s labor and you soon find that you are dizzy, your eyes are burning and everything is blurry, and you feel like you are hyperventilating. Which problem do you address first??? Neither. You need to run out of there as fast as you can because your house is on fire.

I have come out here with the express purpose of completing this road trip in an effort to deal with my father’s passing and sort of “regroup” myself. But what I have discovered since my arrival is more akin to “the house being on fire”. Despite how badly I want to go on this tribute ride I cannot help but think that my father would much rather me stay here for a week and put this fire out. The bike trip is only what I want do, but not necessarily what I need to do. I suppose I ought to follow the words of the great primary song “Do what is right” when it sings, “Do what is right, let the consequence follow”.

I suppose I can ride to the beach and around town with John and Kevin and some of Dad’s buddies during the week while tending to matters of greater importance at home here and ship the bike out to California at the end of the week. Perhaps I can reflect on Dad as we do paperwork…and fix he spigot ….and fix the sprinklers….and deal with insurance companies…..and take mom to her doctor’s appointments…. and snake the tub in the bathroom…..etc

I hope that you will all continue to read this blog despite the changes in plans. I will continue to blog each day and event, with pictures of his local friends and places of interest.

The story of this post is not about Dad- it is about Mom. I just can’t help it. Mom just came up to me a few minutes ago as I was typing and I read some of the previous posts to her. What happened after I finished the last story explained A LOT. The following dialogue ensued:

Mom: (half asleep and tapping on my laptop) I need to get one of these.
Vinny: Why?
Mom: So that I can take it with me and communicate.
Vinny: ??????? (she has a desktop computer)
Mom: You know so I can take it with me doctor’s offices and things and email. I want to keep up with the 20th century.
Vinny: Yeah- it’s actually the 21st century now, mom.
Mom: Oh.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Tonight I learned that my mother and I are no longer welcome in one of our relative’s homes. It is sad. It is the third member of my father's family to disown us since my father's passing. It is very difficult to bear. I have spent hours wearing out the front walk outside and consoling my mother, who was already disowned from her own family about 30 years ago. This particular member of the family has not even spoken to us or let us know of any shortcomings- they simply sent a note. My mom and I are heartbroken. I can't help but wonder what I have done to cause such a problem. I don't know if I am the cause of this or not. I feel sick. The kind of sick that doesn't go away with pepto. The kind that eats at you and is like a parasitic thought that takes over all your other thoughts. The kind that keeps you up at night and makes you second guess everything you have ever done.
It is amazing how absolute decisions can easily stem from hurtful comments made in anger or indignation which stem from misunderstandings. My friend John said it is like squeezing toothpaste; it is so easy to squeeze it out of the tube, but so hard to get it back in. While I hope for remediation and reconciliation from the problems that beset this person, I wonder if that toothpaste will ever get back in the tube. I know I have said some hurtful things in the past, at various times in my life to various people. Most of the things I regret saying were said in my anger and when I wasn’t being very rational. But all of my regret can't put that toothpaste back into the tube, can't take those words back, and, in the end, I had to deal with the consequences of my actions. While some relationships can be repaired well enough through quick remediation, tender care, and maintenance, others wither and die from years of neglect and desertion that can be caused by those hurtful comments. We have probably all seen that in some form or another throughout our lives. I know my father was always an advocate for unity. I can recall many feuds in my family, some pretty severe, where my father refused to take a side. He was an advocate for peace and unity and believed cool heads could prevail and misunderstandings could be rectified through well-intended and focused conversation. He was very wise in that regard. He kept his cool. He has made many unpopular decisions in his life, some of which caused rifts, but none which caused any significant destruction. Other people could have made the same decisions and met with severe conflict, but dad just had a way of communicating with others that seemed to be an art. He kept a cool head. He believed everyone was reasonable and just needed to understand, and if they didn't agree with him, they could agree that he believed it and they could still be friends. That’s why he had one of the greatest leadership traits of all- he could tell someone to go to hell and make them want to go. He was that good at handling conflict and dealing with people. He liked many people and was liked by many people. It was hard not to like him. Even people, who didn’t agree with him, still liked him! I think he could have been an excellent hostage negotiator if he ever wanted to pursue law enforcement.

I remember his negotiation of “forkfuls” of vegetables with Nicole at the dinner table when she was very young. They would negotiate! It was a very emotional matter for Nicole. Dad understood that she hated to eat them and she understood that he had to insist on it. They had an understanding between them. They met in the middle and I think those negotiations created a type of trust bond between the two of them that continued for the rest of their lives. It was about respect for each other. The negotiations and understandings between them started with "forkfuls" at the dinner table but later on in life it was about how late she could stay up, dating rules, driving, etc. But it really was no different.

Let me share another, much larger and grandier story along similar lines-

I recall one story which my father had told me. I asked him to put it on tape for me about ten years ago, and he did. I have since lost the tape (nice, huh?). I will tell it to you as best I can remember. My father had recently joined the National Guard (within 5 years). I don't recall how long he had been in or what his rank was at the time but he was stationed in a barrack as the leader of a platoon. Each man had a bunk and footlocker. There was one soldier in the group who was from the back woods. His name was ____ Wolf (I know his first name but won't say it). He didn't bathe or have any form of acceptable hygiene. He was not liked by the men at all. He kept to himself most of the time. He was very unpopular. The men treated him badly. They gave him a GI shower which involved using a firehose and a painful scrub-brush. It was not something that would probably be tolerated in the Army today (or would it?). Suddenly Mr. Wolf started volunteering for ammo detail- which was one of the worst details you could get and involved scrounging around the ammo dump. The last night of their training the men were to go out on maneuvers. They only use blank ammunition when they are on maneuvers. One of the men mentioned to my Dad that he thought Mr. Wolf was hoarding live ammunition in his foot locker. Dad didn't have much time to figure this out as the men were leaving. Dad went and confronted Mr Wolf at his footlocker. Mr Wolf refused to let Dad look in his footlocker. (Invading a soldiers footlocker is a serious breach of privacy and carries significant penalties). But my father had an entire platoon of men under his command, for which he was responsible. He weighed his options. Despite the penalties, my father insisted on searching the footlocker. Mr. Wolf refused and blocked the locker with his body and called for my Dad's C/O. My Dad physically removed Mr. Wolf from the foot-locker (my father was a competing power-lifter at the time) and opened it up to reveal strings of live ammunition that Mr. Wolf was planning on using that evening to exact revenge on his fellow soldiers. Can you believe that? I don't think my father was reprimanded for his actions but I know he wasn't hailed for them, either. I learned a lot from that story, the least of which is that psychological disorders and live ammunition make for a vicious cocktail. My Dad found himself in a position where he had to make a decision, however unpopular it may be. He made it, he stuck to it. I wonder if people would have felt differently about him if he had found nothing out of the ordinary in that foot locker. Would that have made any difference at all?? So many people in life I think are quick to accuse, to send hurtful remarks, or to cast judgment, but how many of them are the ones standing in front of the footlocker? It is pretty hard to understand why people feel the way they feel and do the things they do without being in their shoes. Likewise how can we really comprehend what was going through Mr. Wolf's mind???? Understanding is one of the most important aspects of communication.

Drastic actions cause drastic consequences and they are not easily undone. Can you imagine what would have happened if Dad did not intercede? If he just figured no one was crazy enough to do that? If he figured he didn't want to get on the C/O's radar and just decided to cower away and leave the whole thing alone? If he had, it would have been understood and he would not have been faulted. Obviously we are all glad for what he did. He saved his own life and the life of his men. He probably also saved Mr. Wolf's life and I am sure he got the help he needed after that encounter. I think a lot of these types of actions must go unadvertised through the media. I think the Military takes care of its own problems. I have heard other stories from my father as he was on tank ranges and in drills that would have been excellent fodder for CNN primetime but instead it only received only casual conversation at the dinner table over a large cheese pizza and rootbeer.
The moral of this post:
We should not be so quick to create a tear bigger than we can mend.

Note to Megan: look in your old desk- the one Alex scratched his name in (and ruined it forever)

IHOP....Dad's favorite breakfast place

This morning Mom, Cecil (mom's friend and close neighbor) and I returned my super-fast Dodge Caliber rental car and then went to breakfast at IHOP. Dad loved IHOP. IF you ever asked him where he wanted to eat, he would always say "IHOP", and then make funny quips, grunts, and cliché comments expressing his love for their breakfasts. His love for IHOP stems from his younger years, and I know this because he shared these experiences with us each time we went out to eat at IHOP. It was great because each time we got a different story, a different experience. Dad was the oldest of 5. His siblings were: Dorothy, Wayne, Johnny, and Michael. Every Sunday Grandpa (aka: "Chief") and Grandpa would take the kids out for breakfast/brunch AFTER church. The deal was that if you went to church then you got a big breakfast. And whomever they brought were included in the bunch. I can only imagine the Disanza CLAN taking over a local diner or restaurant. Surely it was loud, significantly irreverent, and I am sure there was a LOT of food. I know Dad had such fond memories of these Sunday gatherings because he talked about it so much. He even talked about how he would drive all the way from college on Sunday mornings, with a girl by his side (hopefully my mom) and sneak in at the end of mass so they could join the group for breakfast. He loved getting together with the family. He loved his parents and brothers and sisters. It was a very diverse group, and they were all somehow related to or good friends of a DISANZA. Anyone who knew anything about the family knew that The Chief buys breakfast after church. And so here we were today, at IHOP, chowing down on Dad's favorite grub. I inhaled the strawberry stuffed french toast.

I swear they must put crack in it...because it is highly addictive!

The fastest car in the world

As I strolled up to my black Dodge Caliber rental car at the Orlando Airport and fiddled with the single key on the key ring, my mind wandered back to a distant and funny memory. I remember some years ago my friends Tony and Bri Litster pulling up in front of me in a blue convertible PT cruiser. It was a homecoming reunion at the college we all attended (and where we all met our spouses- Tony+Bri, Me+Megan). Tony looks at me and says "what's the fastest, most maneuverable car in the world?". I thought for a moment about various Ferrari's and Lamborghini's and Tony, seeing me taking him seriously, shakes his head and says "a rental" and then slammed his foot into the accelerator. I saw things happen in that PT cruiser that should never happen....ever.

Anyway, I was a bit more tame with the Caliber but it was a fun memory.

I recall when I was about 15 years old my Dad, Nicole, and I were in his Honda Civic. It was a very boxey civic- and I eventually was given it as a gift when I got off the mission. Megan mocks me for ever having driven it- I won't say here what she referred to it as- but suffice to say she takes great pleasure in mocking me incessantly whenever we see that type model civic on the road. Ha Ha. Back to the story- so we were in the civic in the church parking lot one evening after our youth group met. Dad was going to give Nicole some driving lessons. Dad, who could hardly drive worth beans, was going to teach my sister, who had the hand eye coordination of a rock, how to drive a car- at night- using a car that was a stickshift. Nicole couldn't even shift a bicycle and that's no lie. But that’s not what was really stupid, what was really stupid was that I sat in the backseat during this comedy of errors! Nicole, and most people, should obviously learn to drive on an automatic an then graduate to a stickshift. And so Nicole attempted to do a whole lot of things at once and I saw this tree coming at me very very fast....the tree wasn't slowing, in fact, the tree was accelerating at a very fast rate, almost like the civic was a rental or something. Dad did the only thing he could do, he yanked on the emergency brake so hard he nearly pulled it out of the floor (which he has done previously mind you- back in his power lifting days). For the next 4 weeks the members of our church could see these long skid marks in the parking lot leading right up to a birch tree. They were baffled. Nicole did eventually learn to drive a stickshift and she became a very good driver but I think she learned more from Mom than she ever learned from Dad. And I laugh about that because I went through the same thing with the same car! Mom was the real driver instructor. But it sure was funny trying to learn from Dad.

sidenote: It took me all of about 3 minutes to teach my wife how to drive a stickshift and after 3 minutes she drove it better than me (and still does).

note to Megan: look by the wrapping paper.

Alien at Orlando

Is it just me or does the ceiling of the Orlando airport look like it was taken from the movie "Alien"? I keep waiting for snot to drip from the ceiling and some wicked black creature to jump out and eat me or worse yet- jump out of my stomach. Dad and I loved the Alien series. They are usually on TV sometime every month. I think Dad had a closet crush on Sigorney... Then again, didn't we all?? And before you women judge us, remember- we guys know about your secret crushes on Patrick Swayze when you saw Dirty Dancing for the first out of 50 times.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bored in an airport

Here I am. In the airport. You know- in those tiny seats all lined up in a row. They are like training seats for the airplane. They are "getting you ready" for how it is really going to be. Is that my armrest... or yours?

When I got here I stood in line waiting for the "check in" lady to call me. I stood there for 5 minutes knowing I was the next in line. Finally the lady came over to me and invited my to the counter where she told me I could use the self-check-in kiosk. It was like being in a grocery store and a checker coming up to you and saying I am ready for you to check yourself out now! It didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't not have to have waited in line at all and there were plenty available. I guess I am a bit of an old fashioned traveler.
As the kiosk sent me through the screens I finally got to a point where I could select my seat. I picked a window seat. Then the screen asked me if I wanted a seat upgrade. Hmmmm. So I looked into it. They are offering me "economy plus" and advertising 5 more inches of leg room for $40.00 per flight (I have 2 flights to get to Orlando). That's 80 bucks for 5 inches! That's $16 per inch. I was glad I am not tall. I am amazed at how we have reduced ourselves to adding surplus prices on seats with 5 more inches of leg room. Just ask for the exit row!

I went through security. As I walked through the metal detectors the TSA agent informed me that "I had been selected by my airline for a more thorough screening". Great, I thought. Why couldn't they select me for first class? Why could they select me to come to the front of the lines, why couldn't they select me to get free flyer miles? No, instead I got the full screening treatment. You know the drill.

My father in an airport is very interesting. Airports are full of escalators and moving-walkways, and these items are the antithesis of Jim Disanza. Using an escalator showed weakness and laziness! He thought they were horrible. I do remember him showing me in a mall how he could go up the down escalator and get a good "burn" in his quads by the time he got up it. I, of course, had to follow. I was accepted by my father but was surely mocked by any peer that saw me. Dad in an airport. He was amazed at how fast he could run or climb when he was on a people-mover or escalator. You couldn't stand there! You had to move! move move move. That was my old man. He had to be in motion, had to be going somewhere, had to be on his way, and it rarely mattered where he was going so long as he did it very fast and got a good burn out of it.

The Jim Disanza Tribute Ride

For the next 10 days this blog will be pretty much dedicated the my wanderings in the wilderness. I am flying to Florida, picking up Dad's Harley and some of his ashes, and riding them accross the country. It is sure to be an adventure! I have invited a lot of friends and family members to read this blog. I hope to not dissapoint. Please feel free to leave any comments you want. Go ahead and post comments for all to see!