I'll be looking at the moon… but I'll be seeing you….

The time has come, and I am facing the music with dignity.  

This is my last post at The Launching Pad.

For the past month, I have essentially ignored my blog.  I had great ideas in my head, but none of them ever came to life on “paper.”  And then things got busy.  Really busy.  And I decided that I had to start cutting things out.  And this was one of the cuts.  

There are a lot of things happening with me that are going to keep me very busy for the next year or so.  I need to free up the time and resources to fit those things in.  Blogging no longer figures into that equation.  Besides, let’s face it, folks… blogging isn’t what it used to be.  The community that I knew back when I started in 2004 has moved on to other things as well.  Most of them are on Facebook, so I am still in touch with them there.  I can communicate my thoughts there for free, and even blog if I want to.  Who needs all this fancy schmancy stuff?

Yep… it’s time.  And this time it’s for real.

So what’s going on that’s going to keep me so busy?

Well first… I am moving.

Not to a new city… just to a new apartment.  My lease is up May 1 and I am gaining a roommate again.  First time in 7 years.  I’m excited and a little nervous about that… but it will all be for the best.  I’ve come to the realization that I can no longer afford to live alone… at least for the time being.  Living with a roommate will be better finanically, and also spiritually.  It’ll be nice to have someone around to talk to that isn’t furry and walks on four legs– not that my cats aren’t sweet and lovable, mind you.

So for the past few weeks I’ve been talking to my future roommate about what we’re looking for, and he’s been talking to a realtor friend of his to help us find the perfect place.  I’m staying in Andersonville (if I can), and hopefully we’ll find something nicer that will still cost me less than what I’m paying right now.

The other big event has to do with the chorus.

I was recently re-elected to CGMC’s Membership Council for another TWO-year term.  In addition, I was chosen by the new council to be their Council President.  I’ll be involved in every aspect of administering to, recruiting, and retaining members of the chorus.  It’s going to keep me pretty busy, but I’m looking forwad to the challenge.

And of course, I still want to be there for my family as much as I can.  My nieces just turned one, and I’m looking forward to possibly being a bigger part of their lives in the next year.  

Most of you who read this blog are on Facebook, and I see you and chat with you and exchange messages with you there.  The others who aren’t there, I still have your blogs.  I will see you around there, and around the blogging community.  

I’m not disappearing.  I’m just moving on to new opportunities.

So this is not goodbye.  It’s just… 

I’ll be seeing you.  


Happy Birthday, Abby and Emily!!!

I can hardly believe that one year ago, my twin nieces were born.  The year has gone by so quickly, and they have brought us so much joy.  

Looking back on that day, when I got the call (at 3 in the morning!) that they were coming, it was the end of a long, difficult and scary road for my sister.  She had gone through so much just to have these babies, and the journey to actually having them was marked with a lot of frightening moments.  But on that day, two beautiful little girls were born, and our lives were changed forever.

So happy birthday to Abigail Grace and Emily Michele.  Your Uncle Rick loves you, and can’t wait for the many wonderful years to come!

Here’s a retrospective of each girls’ first year in pictures.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve grown up!

Emily Michele

Emily, a year ago today!


Emily in the Hospital at 2 Weeks

Emily at 3 Weeks.  She was the first of the twins I got to hold.


Emily at Easter, April 2008.


Emily and Uncle Rick, Mother’s Day 2008

Me with Emily

Emily at her Baby Shower, June 2008


Emily at Grandma’s, July 2008

Emily at Grandma’s again, October 2008

Emily on Thanksgiving Day 2008

Emily, Christmas Day 2008


Abigail Grace

Abby, on her birthday a year ago


Abby at two weeks

Abby, three weeks

Abby at Easter, April 2008

Abby on Mother’s Day, May 2008

Abby with Grandma Aiello

Abby at her Baby Shower, June 2008


Abby at Grandma’s, July 2008

Giggly Abby 

Abby at Grandma’s, October 2008

Toys are fun! 

Abby at Thanksgiving, November 2008

Abby playing 

Abby at Christmas, December 2008

Abby is all smiles!

Abby (left) and Emily (right) on Halloween

Abby and Emily ready for Trick or Treating

The Twins with Mommy at Christmas

Mommy and her girls

Re-Launch: The Horror of the Pinewood Derby

Originally posted August 30, 2005

“Hey Rick,” my co-worker asked me as we I was stirring my coffee this morning in the break room. “Were you in the Cub Scouts as a kid?”

“Yeah,” I replied, throwing away my stirrer and popping in a slice of toast. “I spent some time as a Cub Scout, years ago.”

“Did you ever do the Pinewood Derby?”

I shuddered. Memories flew back into my brain that I’d tried to shut out for years. I took a swig of the acid-based coffee in my hand and composed myself. This was no time for a display of cowardice. I could handle it.

“Oh yeah. I remember it well,” I replied. “And thank you so very much for bringing up a horrible chapter of my childhood.”

I tried to feign a sense of disdain for the subject in front of my co-worker, but I couldn’t escape the reality that the subject did evoke a moment of terror in my heart, just as it had over 25 years ago.

“Oh I’m sorry,” he said, pouring himself a cup of coffee, only to find that I had drained the last few drops from the pot. I didn’t mean to do it, but that’s just how his luck was running. Serves him right for bringing up that wretched subject anyway.

“I didn’t mean to bring up a sore subject,” he continued, not seeming to care that I probably didn’t want to talk about it, “But I have a friend that somehow got his hands on a Pinewood Derby racetrack, and I was thinking it would be fun to have a Pinewood Derby race, you know, like we did when we were kids.”

“Really,” I replied. “Well don’t get that track anywhere near me, or I’ll be likely to burn it,” I said.

The Pinewood Derby, in case you are not familiar with the term, is this insipid contest that Boy Scouts hold where each boy is given a block of wood and is expected to build a car out of it. I assume the wood was pine, but whether it was elm, birch, maple or cherry, I didn’t care then, and I still don’t care today. Unless of course it was lining the floors in my home. And even then I might not care that much.

So we all set out to build our dream cars. I forget if we were given wheels for the cars or not, but apparently we had to design our cars so that it would go down this stupid track faster than anyone else’s. And apparently there were a bunch of tricks that one could employ to ensure that one’s car ran faster, but I had no idea what those tricks were, and surely nobody was ever going to tell me, so that I could then, in turn, tell my Dad, and have him build me that fastest, meanest Pinewood Derby car ever. Oh no. I wasn’t that fortunate at all.

The thing that makes me wonder about these races anyway is, do they really think these 7, 8, and 9-year old kids are going to build these cars themselves? Do they really think their parents are going to let them use the saws, planes, sanders, and other big, manly power tools necessary to accomplish such a feat as building a small car out of a chunk of a 2×4? Of course not. So who do these kids turn to in order to accomplish this feat?


Now I love my dad. I did then, and I do now. My dad could do a lot of things. He built our garage, three fences, and various other boxes, storage units, and shelving units for our home. He could make repairs fairly well, and get things running again as well as the next dad. He was handy. And that was good. And we loved him no matter what he could or couldn’t do.

But this tortuous event not only proved to me how inept I was at designing the fastest, meanest Pinewood car in all of Cub Scout Troop 507, but it also proved how inept my dad was at doing it as well. He never had to do any sort of Pinewood Derby racing when he was a kid. They didn’t have such means of torture back then. Lucky bastard.

Of course, lucky as he was, my father also had a son that wanted to win if he could, even though he knew that the other kids would probably have a much better chance than he did, no matter how hard he tried.

So Dad and I set out to make my Pinewood Derby car. It was all my Dad’s design. And for what it was, it was sleek and sexy. He painted it black with a glossy paint and put numbers on the sides. By all normal standards, it was a damn nice little car.

But getting it to move was another story. It just didn’t have much “go” to it. We greased the wheels as best we could, but it just didn’t seem to move.

I think we just figured that maybe this is how these cars are supposed to run, so we just let it be. That’s the Aiello way– let it be.

I knew we were doomed right from the start on the night of the Pinewood Derby when we walked into the school gymnasium. Other kids were showing off their cars. They were hot. They were flashy. They were sexy. And they were fast.

When the kids saw my car, they laughed. It was primitive in comparison to the souped-up contraptions they had. Their cars looked like they had bought them at a department store. My car looked like something fashioned out of mud after a rainy day.

In my defense, I did the only thing I could think of to deal with the embarrassment. I cried. And when I would cry, the kids would only tease me more. And when the kids would tease me, I would lose my temper. And when I lost my temper, my dad would get angry with me. You see where this is going, don’t you?

So they set up the cars to race. My pithy little hunk of junk against the fast and the furious. The cap gun blew, and they were off.

It would be too easy, too cliche’, and too uplifting to say that I won the race. It would also be a lie. Because I didn’t win the race… I lost. I lost badly. My little car just moseyed down the ramp while the others actually raced. I don’t think my car even got to the finish line. It probably stopped mid-way down, they just pulled it off the track. I was humiliated.

So I did the one thing I could do to defend myself against my feelings of humiliation. I blamed my father.

In a fit of rage, I cried, yelled and screamed at him. In front of everyone.

And my father– himself humiliated– took me by the arm and led me out of the gymnasium where the event was being held. And he let me have it, but good.

At the time, I despised him for doing it, but in hindsight, I probably deserved it. What kind of example was I setting by throwing a fit in front of parents, friends and family? A horrible one. I was being a brat, and I deserved to be treated like a brat.

To this day, the Pinewood Derby debacle (also known as the “Blue & Gold Banquet” Fight, which is the name of the event where the Pinewood Derby took place) is a sore subject between my father and me. It represented a very low point in our relationship, and neither one of us is proud of how we handled it.

But it is a moment in time. One that try not to think about, except for when some smart-alecky co-worker decides to bring it up and dredge all these painful memories from out of my past.

I forgive him that, though. He doesn’t know the pain I went through. All at the expense of a little chunk of wood.

But through that pain came a few life-long lessons. And an interesting story to tell.