Sunday, May 22, 2016

Conquer Cancer, One Step at a Time

The annual Lowell General Hospital Team Walk for Cancer Care - I'm proud to say we've been logging the miles at this incredibly inspirational fund-raiser for more than a dozen years.
This year, perhaps more than ever, we needed to be there to help kick cancer's ass.
The extended E Streeters family has lost some loved ones to the insidious disease since last year's May outing, and we're damn tired of it taking its toll on our loved ones.
While our garb for the day features the annual march of Annie's Army in tribute to Jackie's sister Annie, who's currently on the mend at Spaulding Rehab in Cambridge, this year, Barry's sister Susan Bradley, and our friend Martin Brewer were at the forefront of our minds as we saw the thousands of other walkers also out there wearing shirts to honor their loved ones.
As always, the E Streeters took to the 6.2 mile course for a warm-up run.
But before we took our first step, after years of arduous searching, we finally found the sponsors that E Streeter Nation has been looking for! Turns out the E Streeters Run on Dunkin' Donuts!
Who knew?!?!
Author's note: this is probably the closest Carlos has ever come to a donut in his life.
And with that endorsement under our belts, we're off!
Coming across the Rourke Bridge, the rain started to fall, but thankfully, didn't last too long
It was as we were running past the historic Pawtucket Falls that the run went sideways.  Since what happens on E Streeter runs stays on E Streeter runs, I'm not at liberty to go into great detail.  Let's just say the conversation involved, among other topics of debate, the 1986 Boston Celtics, Ray Allen and Jennifer Aniston, none of whom are overrated. 
(note the growing distance between Carlos and Andrew here)
After the 10K was done, we continued out onto the 5K course and connected with the woman who, with her sister, Annie, got everyone started on these walks in the first place way back in the beginning, me lovely wife, Jackie.
The rose among the thorns, I'm not sure she could have put up with our inappropriate humor and innuendos for many more miles than she did.  There's only so many references to best scenes from the 40-Year-Old Virgin that one can take.
Annie's Army on their forced march
Finally, after miles of introspective contemplation, Andrew decided it was time to bury the hatchet with Carlos.  Perhaps he saw the light.
Either way, Andrew felt it was time to move on.  Although judging by his face, this dispute may not be in the rear view mirror after all!
Jack with her two bodyguards
Proper hydration is always important
At the end, I wish we could say we could actually FINISH cancer once and for all, but I know there's still a long, long road ahead.  In the meantime, it's incumbent on all of us to continue to support causes like Lowell General Hospital who are looking to defeat this miserable affliction. 
Afterwards, I reconnected with one of my best friends.  Decaf, of course, preferably with mocha. 
And yes, for all of you who've continued reading to this point and are understandably concerned as to Andrew's well-being, he did manage to regain some nourishment when all was said and done.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to make a donation to support Lowell General's battle on behalf of all of us, you can visit their giving page here:
Please give and never forget those we've lost and those who continue to fight on!

This one's for you, Annie!  Keep on making forward progress!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Amethyst Story in the Making

Ahh, the glory that is Free Comic Book Day!
That wonderful day that comes once a year, every May, to celebrate all the delicious greatness of the wonderful world of comic books, a global fraternity of which I've been a card-carrying member since the tender age of 4.
It's considered the premiere event of the year to bring new and young readers into the comic shops and introduce them to the gamut of comic companies that put forth promotional products featuring their headline characters.
Marvel Comics has the marketing event down to a science, tying their release to their annual foray into the movie world.  This year's tie-in?  The new Captain America: Civil War flick.
At Larry's Comics on Lakeview Avenue in Lowell, as in other comic shops nationwide, the day becomes a celebration of all things geekdom, and it's a special day to snag some of the best back issue deals of the entire year. (A perennial bonus is the steamed hot dog with special sauce giveaway)
But this year at Larry's, the creator spotlight shifted to the literary world, to celebrate a local author making some big waves in the world of fiction.  Specifically, vampire fiction.
Stephanie M. Jandreau is a Lowell-area native, who spent part of her life on Litchfield Drive in Dracut.  It was there she began writing her Amethyst novel.
She began writing in 2010 after an impromptu request by her oldest son, Coy.  He asked her to write him a short, 15-page screenplay for him to enter into a 48-Hour LA Film Project he was working on.  A week later, she had written over 60 pages, with still more ideas to come.  Her son helped her realize that her short story was well on its way to becoming a book.
In October of 2015, she published the first novel, the Platinum Series: Amethyst, which has netted several five-star reviews on Amazon.
During her recent visit to Larry's, the Amethyst books were quite literally selling off the wall.
Lowell PD good guy Mike Miles was one of the first customers scoring his signed copies.

Here's Amazon's encapsulation of Jandreau's novel:

Milican is a college senior majoring in biochemistry. He is trying to unravel the mysteries of his rare blood disease before time runs out. Labeled with Porphyria as an infant, he firmly believes his condition has been misdiagnosed. Not only does he have a hypersensitivity to sunlight, he is plagued by a voice, an unseen Dæmon. It tempts him to do the unthinkable—drinking the blood from his girlfriend, Vivian. Milican vehemently struggles against his horrific fate. He desperately tries to hide his secrets, the blood cravings and his Dæmon. This concealment complicates his relationships with his family, friends, and Vivian. Milican and the Dæmon are in a power struggle for dominance. Can Milican survive his internal conflict?

Ready to sink your teeth into a new read? 
Try Amethyst.  It's a gem.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Running in their NECC of the Woods

Team MCC took to some new footpaths recently a bit up-river in Haverhill at our sister campus, Northern Essex Community College, for a charity 5K road race organized to help support student scholarships at the college.
The extended MCC family was there to represent as best we could, with a couple of stalwart runners joining the team for the outing.
With Northern Essex Prez Lane Glenn and the college's mascot alongside us, we were proud to show off the MCC Health and Wellness logo.
Off to a quick start, Andrew (who ran 8 miles the day before) was one of the anchors of our team.  As in one of our fastest runners out there.  Up front is another, Dan Martin's son, Zach.
Finish line pics credit goes to Mike Dean photography (Mike Dean)
Our Ace in the Hole, Rick Sobey - he of this year's Boston Marathon and Ragnar Cape Cod Relay glory, not to mention a plethora of other road races.
Rick, who kicked but at this year's 26.2 jaunt at the Boston Marathon, was in for a foot race to the finish, as you can tell from the sprinter dogging his heels.  Rick finished 5th overall

Andrew, invoking John's fundamental rule of running, always knows where the camera is.
It was a walk in the park for Jonathan Crockett, MCC's Fitness Fiend
Tommy Hickey is all smiles, because he knows he's done with this run
Doesn't matter what race she's in, Donna Corbin is always upbeat.  But especially when it's over. 
Afterwards, another group shot with President Glenn, with everyone a little sweatier for their efforts
At the medals ceremony, Team MCC more than held its own, capturing seven of the coveted prizes.  ALL THREE members of our grant-writing team - Lisa Doucett, Daniel Kehoe and Susan Anderson - took home some age group winning hardware!
For Rick, he just adds it to his vast collection
Not satisfied with representing on the medal front, Donna also took home one of the raffle prizes, a gift certificate from a local butcher.  She's having all of us over for celebratory steaks,
Happy to support a great cause at Northern Essex, helping students get some support so they can attend a great college and get a degree!
Where is the team off to next?  Time to check the local race calendar....

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Sun Also Rises on Washington, D.C.

As previously declared in an earlier post on this blog, the run along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. ranks among my all-time favorite courses EVAH.  For a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the majesty of the monuments.
But it's also a great place to clear one's head and let history put things into perspective, especially when passing by the monuments dedicated to the men and women who've served our country and lost their lives in one of our nation's wars.  It always boggles my mind that every time I pass by the Vietnam memorial, there is, without fail, some token or memento left behind for one of the fallen - sometimes a pack of cigarettes, sometimes a medal.
So that being said, what could possibly make that particular run better?  How about being up at the ass-crack of dawn and being there to catch the sun rising and casting its early morning orange blanket over  the nation's monuments?
Began the run from a different starting point than usual but ended up on the Mall around mile one.
First up for pics: the U.S. Capitol, still under construction.
Continuing down the mall past the Washington Monument.  Weren't many others out and about yet.
Took a minor detour over toward the Jefferson Memorial.  Didn't make the whole loop around the Tidal Basin.  Not for lack of want or ability, but time.
Got my first glimpse of the somewhat-new (2011) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial
The aforementioned Tidal Basin
Mostly in tribute to my father, James, a Korean Conflict veteran, I always make a point of passing through the Korean memorial.  Not running, mind you, just a slow and solemn walk through for an always-guaranteed moment of inspiration.
Over to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with a gaze down the Reflecting Pool
Abe gets ready to greet the day from his post
The Army training academy was there doing laps up and down the steps while I was there.
It doesn't matter what time of day you catch the monuments, they're always majestic and awe-inspiring.  A trip to our nation's capital is always a fun-filled take, but even more so when experienced on foot, regardless of your pace.
And with that, I'm ready to face what D.C. holds in store for the day!

"Never be daunted." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.
But mama, that's where the fun is. - Bruce Springsteen, Blinded by the Light