Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, June 16, 2022, or: Reveries, Regrets, and Reminiscences

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Hi there, Dear Reader. It is late afternoon in Lithia, Florida, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. It is a hot early summer day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 91°F (33°C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 70% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 7 MPH (12 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 104°F (40°C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 97°F (36°C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 76°F (24°C).

 I am having a hard time choosing a topic for today’s blog post. When I went to bed last night I thought that I’d write a review of The Peacemaker, a 1997 action-thriller directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact, Pay It Forward) and starring George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. A technothriller with a Tom Clancy-like plot about stolen nukes in a chaotic post-Communist Russia, The Peacemaker was the first movie released by the fledgling studio Dreamworks SKG.

While The Peacemaker is not a “great” film a la The Hunt for Red October or Dawn’s Early Light, it is a decent action movie, and I liked the fact that screenwriter Michael Schiffer (Crimson Tide) avoids some of the usual action-adventure tropes (such as having the two main characters having a romantic liaison in mid-film) while sticking to others – like most films involving stolen nukes, we get a variation of the old “countdown to detonation/ticking time bomb” trope in The Peacemaker.

Well, that was the plan when I went to bed. But after I woke up, had a meager breakfast of café con leche and biscuits, and booted up my desktop computer, I opened a NEW Word document, and – nothing happened.

For four hours.

This is one of the not-so-nice facts about writing, at least for folks like me who take the craft seriously. It is a hard, lonely, and sometimes all-consuming task. It’s also a strangely narcissistic one, in a way, because not only am I thinking that my thoughts, my perceptions of the world, and my experiences are important enough to put down on paper – or, more accurately, in bits of digital data on a word processor – but I am also posting it on a blog where anyone anywhere in the world can read it.

Most of the time, writing posts for A Certain Point of View, Too doesn’t seem like it’s a daunting task. I usually have at least some idea of what I will write about before I boot up my Lenovo IdeaCentre – say, like a Star Wars The Black Series action figure review here or topical commentary about politics or world events there.

Other times, of course, either calendar dates – such as June 6 – or even the day’s weather serve as touchstones or memory joggers that inspire that day’s blog post.

When I started this blog post nearly four hours ago – it feels more like four years – I thought today would be another day to reminisce about the past. It’s the 39th anniversary of my high school graduation, which also took place on a hot Thursday in Florida, only in a place that’s some 255 miles or so away to the south-southeast as the car drives.

And for about 15 minutes or so, I started writing a post about how, by a quirk of the placement of days on a calendar, June 16, 2022, happens to fall on a Thursday, just as June 16, 1983, did. I also remarked that the weather on that Commencement Day 39 years ago was sunny and hot like today, only not as high in the 90s/30s as it is today.

But that’s as far as I got, Dear Reader, before something in my brain snapped and said, Fuck no. I don’t want to revisit my Graduation Day from nearly 40 years ago, and I deleted the paragraph that I had just spent 15 or so minutes writing and rewriting.

The author’s senior year photo, circa summer of 1982. Photo by Bryn Alan Studio, Miami, FL

Maybe I stopped writing about my graduation because, in retrospect, my high school years were not particularly happy ones. They were not dismally unhappy ones, either, but they also coincided with the last years of my mom’s ill-considered relationship with an alcoholic and abusive ex-pilot who was a contemporary of my father’s. His name was Joe Bubenik, and he was one of the few persons on this Earth that I hated with a passion.

In 2016, I wrote several posts about my adolescence for the blog in the Cerebral Palsy Guidance website, and my stormy relationship with Joe was a topic that I covered in some detail, and I don’t want to delve into that page of my past here. Suffice it to say that I was happier when I was on campus, going to my classes, working on the high school paper for two school years and yearbook for one, and singing in the school choral groups than when I was at home and Joe happened to be in Miami.

Because Joe did not – thankfully – move in with us at our Miami-area townhouse and divided his time between a house he bought in Sebring, Florida and the rented townhouse next door to ours, there were times between the fall of 1979 and the summer of 1985 when Joe’s shadow did not darken our doorstep nor mar my day-to-day life. But whenever he was in town, he had drinking binges that brought out his frustration, his resentments, and his anger toward his four or five ex-wives with every sip of vodka that he swallowed. And as is the case with many alcoholics who are also veterans with PTSD (Joe was a Army Air Forces pilot in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II), he had a Dr.Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde duality. Sober and in command of his emotions, Joe was affable, generous, and even hilarious.

But when he was drunk? Forget about it!

I don’t recall much about Commencement Day ’83 after I turned in my cap and gown at the tables set up by South Miami High School staff next to the South Campus’ Theodore R. Gibson Health Center (Building 7). I remember how hot the day was, how awkward it felt to sit in the gymnasium of my future college alma mater wearing a suit and the aforementioned cap and gown, and listening to the South Miami High School band playing Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance march – or rather, just the famous “Hope and Glory” motif – over and over whilst the 450 or so members of the Class of 1983 marched, in alphabetical order, up to the podium to receive our empty diploma cases – we’d get the diplomas at the same place where we turned in the caps and gowns – from our principal, Dr. Warren G. Burchell.

(For me, my march up to the podium was bittersweet; I remember getting a standing ovation from my classmates, although I wasn’t exactly sure why. I also remember feeling sad and lost because I had not applied to attend Miami-Dade yet, and I suspected that if I applied for jobs at the nearby International Mall, I would not get hired because I have cerebral palsy.)

As I said, my memories of June 16, 1983, are clear up until 1 PM or so. I am sure that Mom made a special dinner for me that night, and I do remember that I drank one glass of Scotch whiskey (Cutty Sark) diluted with water and ice. But I don’t recall feeling especially joyful or hopeful for the future.

(I do remember that after I collected my diploma and turned in my white cap and gown, my friend Bruce Shulman and I broke away from everyone and drove to Tropical Elementary, which I had “graduated” from six years earlier so I could say “Thank you” to Mr. Back (pronounced like “Bach”), the music teacher who accepted me into the school chorus in sixth grade. Then we went to Coral Park Elementary School, which I attended for three months in the 1972-73 school year to see my first U.S. third-grade teacher, Ms. Cynthia Turtletaub. I don’t recall now if she remembered me or that I had left Coral Park under less-than-ideal circumstances, but I told her I had just graduated from high school and that I had dropped by to say “hello.” She was touched by this gesture and got up and gave me a hug.)

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I don’t think Joe got drunk and ruined my graduation dinner, but there would be other days and nights over the next two years when he did drink far too much and get mean and even violent.[1]

I also don’t recall if I had any arguments with my half-sister Vicky on my graduation; probably not, because even though I do not have total recall of every occasion in which she and I argued, I do not remember feeling like I was her enemy or vice versa.  The slow undoing of our fraternal bond, so to speak, would not be apparent to me until four years later.

Anyway, I’m feeling a bit melancholic, maybe even depressed today. Next year the Class of 1983 will have its 40-year reunion, but I will not attend because I heard it on the grapevine that it is going to be expensive and might even involve a cruise or some other uber-pricy shindig. I can’t afford to travel to Miami, book a room in a hotel there, and go on a cruise or spend hundreds of dollars on whatever the “shindig” is that the Reunion Committee has in its collective mind.

I also don’t want to go because I’m single, unattached, and don’t have the self-confidence that’s needed to even seek an online relationship, much less find a romantic partner to go to the reunion with. When I attended the first night of our 30th Class reunion, I went solo – and I hated that aspect of it. The 20-year-old high school senior that I was in 1983 still resides somewhere in my 59-year-old blogger/screenwriter self, and when I was at the reunion in a Miami Beach hotel almost 9 years ago, that part of my personality emerged. I felt awkward and shy, and terribly aware that I had not really accomplished a hell of a lot at the time, even though I was running my household and caring for my ailing mother at the time.[2]

So, Dear Reader, if you’re wondering why I am posting this so late in the afternoon, here’s the reason. My thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I’m tired, cranky, disappointed in myself for many, many reasons, and wish I had made better choices over the past few years. Most of all, though, I miss South Florida and my old life there, even though I know I could not afford to live in the townhouse my mom left me as my inheritance, nor was that house in a livable condition due to its age and maintenance issues that I did not have the resources to deal with at the time.

I’ll close for now, Dear Reader. I don’t have much to report about my “here and now” life, and I have been writing for four hours. So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] That’s why I never liked it when my most recent ex-girlfriend – aka “The Caregiver” – overindulged with alcoholic beverages. She’s really a nice and sweet person when she is sober, but she has weird extremes when she drinks. Either she wants to party like it’s 1999 and listen to loud 1970s music all night, or she will find your emotional weak points and exploit them or just act mean and insulting.  It’s another Dr. Jekyll-and-Ms. Hyde thing when it happens.

[2] In one of those freak twists that sound fake and out of the imagination of a hack writer, my high school class reunion took place on July 19, 2013. Two years later, to the day, my mother died.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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