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Archive for the ‘Thank You’ Category

Team JP Rocks Again

Every time we get to telling old stories,  my friend John always seems to remind me of my career aspirations from way back in the day when I was an eighth grader with a fondness for wearing black concert t-shirts.  As a representative from the percussion section of the Mighty Mustang Marching Band of Capuchino High School,  John was visiting our junior high school on a sort of recruiting mission to get drummers to join the band.  When John inquired as to whether or not I was interested in becoming a member,  apparently my response was roughly equivalent to a snooty hell no because I said, “I want to be a concert pianist.”   As fate would have it,  I never quite made it to Carnegie Hall but I did however join the band during my sophomore year.  I had a great three year run in the percussion section.

Springtime of my junior year,  my friend Traci asked me to play the piano for the vocal tryouts for our high school’s upcoming musical production of Grease.  I told her that I was good for the tryouts and no more but I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to quit once the auditions were over.  In fact I ended up playing keyboards for the show and I would indisputably rank the entire Grease experience as my most cherished high school memory.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that my life has been enriched by my friendship with John and Traci.  A lot of who I am today is directly attributable to their influence and good taste — case in point being my bookshelf and dvd collection that is peppered with their picks.

However,  the best thing about being friends with John and Traci is being granted a veritable backstage pass to their unbelievable energy and creativity as well as their boundless generosity.  Not only do they have a social schedule that would make the most active teenager envious,  they always seem to find time to get involved.  For the past three years this affable couple has captained Team JP Rocks in the Walk to Defeat ALS.  It was through their efforts, as well as those of every single member of the team, that the group was able to exceed the stated goal in terms of fundraising.

So on behalf of Emma, Fehmeen, and even the exceedingly charismatic Italian American Man Servant, I would like to thank everyone who made it out to the walk or who contributed to the cause on my behalf.  Much love to Traci and John for their tireless efforts in the fight to bring an end to this disease and thank you both for being my  friend for all these years.

Concert pianist.  What the heck was I thinking?

Thanks to Karen's friend Gina for taking the picture.

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Feeling the Love

On behalf of my father,  John Picetti,  my wife,  Fehmeen,  my daughter,  Emma,  and myself,  I would like to thank everybody who has been there for us this past week.   We appreciate every e-mail,  phone call, text message,  blog comment,  Facebook wall post,  hospital and home visit, prayer, well wish, and  good vibe that we have received from all of you.  It is so comforting to feel the warm embrace of family, friend and stranger alike during this difficult chapter in our lives.   The words to express my gratitude may be forever unspoken from my lips, tongue and mouth,  but as long as I can form thoughts in my head and write sentences with the blink of my eyes,  I will always have the voice to say thank you.

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The universe works in strange and mysterious ways sometimes.

All I wanted was to get a few more comments.   Just a sign from my readers to let me know that you are out there and that you hear what it is that I am saying.   I wasn’t asking for much,  just a middle name and the name of the street you grew up on.   That’s all.

I could sense that something was going on about a minute after I pressed the publish button.   Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that my blog was getting an awful lot of hits compared to the usual amount.   As I began to investigate how and why this was happening,  I could see that they were all coming from The Happiness Project.   Apparently,  Gretchen Rubin — author of both The Happiness Project book and blog — had mentioned my blog on her July 25th post and provided a link to an entry I had written about being able to walk again.

When I checked in on my site this morning,  not only had I received about forty comments on Name Game — thank you all, btw — the Adventures of ALS Boy has gotten more hits these past two days than people who know the name of the reigning American Idol.

So now that you are here,  I would like to introduce you to the most important two ladies in my life: my beautiful wife Fehmeen and our two year old daughter Emma.

Thank you very much for stopping by.   I hope that you will find things around here interesting enough to stay awhile.   See you tomorrow.

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A humongous Team ALS Boy thank you and accompanying group hug goes out to Chris, Gayle, and Michael Wilhelm for their limitless compassion and thoughtfulness.   For the second consecutive year,  the Wilhelms have completed the seventy-two mile fundraising bike ride around Lake Tahoe on my behalf.  I know I speak for Fehmeen and Emma when I say that it is because of the kindness and generosity of people like Chris,  Gayle,  and Michael that our family is never really alone in this fight against ALS.   Many thanks to everyone who contributed both monetarily and — brace yourselves for a brand new word — spirit-lifting-ly.   We are humbled by your selfless actions.

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Three Cheers for Team Steamy

I will take with me the following memories of the 2009 East Bay Walk to Defeat ALS at the Berkeley Marina this past Sunday:

  • The frigid wind-chilled air blowing off of the bay wasn’t nearly enough of a deterrent to prevent us from completing our appointed rounds once around the track.
  • Too bad the course was supposed to be twice around the track.
  • In our defense, we did have two babies and a shivering cripple to look after.
  • Oh yeah, we almost got lapped, too.
  • Did I mention the babies? And me, the shiv crip?
  • Speaking of the baby, Emma saw her first seagull. So what if it happened to be feasting on the innards of a gutted fish in the parking lot. “Birda, birda.”
  • And speaking of me, I was recognized by a regional director of the ALSA organization. It was my first ever ALS Boy shout out. Awesome.
  • Even though our time together at the walk was short, it was definitely sweet. Thank you to Captain Steamy, Donna, Connor, Beusch, and the absent Hairy Matt Berry from Fehmeen, Emma, and me.
  • And Andy, sorry about that fantasy football beatdown.

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We may not have been the team with the most members in attendance this past Sunday and we may not have raised the most moolah for the cause but we were the Walk-wide leader in sporting the coolest t-shirts. And we had the cutest baby there, by far.

The most majorist of props to my lifelong friends Traci and John for spearheading the effort and outfitting the team. Thank you to JP Rocks! team members John P, Judy P, Fehmeen P, Emma P, Mike B, Nancy B, Su L, Diane G, Leanne C, Dee B, Nummers, and the Hen for joining us out on the trail. And thank you to Marci S for choosing to walk at home with the flu.

team1

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jp rocks emma

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Anatomy of a Rejection

When I initially sat down to compose my “This I Believe” entry about a month and a half ago, I had no idea that it would turn out the way it did. I originally intended to include only the bit about how the removal of my two rotten teeth resulted in the eradication of a major source of poison from my body but by the time I had finished writing the piece a few hours later, it had morphed into what it ended up being.

Judging by the number of hits the page has received and also by the host of complimentary comments posted by readers, a lot of people not only read, but enjoyed, the article. Two people in particular, Dan and Julie, even suggested that I submit the essay to thisibelieve.org . After nosing around the site for a few minutes, I realized that, as a concept and as an entity, This I Believe was a pretty big deal. Here was a place where everyday people could write about what they believed in with the possibility that some of the better essays could be read over the airwaves on npr.

I allowed myself a moment or two (or ten) to immerse myself in the calm, cool waters of the outside chance that my piece could be featured on the radio across the United States and Canada. In my mind I had already convinced myself that I was a shoe in, given my personal back story with the terminal disease and the new baby and everything. I felt like my writing was strong enough and my recent history was compelling enough to at least warrant some serious consideration from the essay evaluators.

In addition to all that jazz, I had a secret weapon in my arsenal as well. You see, at the time I wrote my blog entry and titled it, “This I Believe”, I had absolutely no idea that the radio readings on npr or that the essay archive website even existed, I swear on my life. As far as I was concerned, the fact that I had created something on my own that had matched the exact template of a concept as cool as the This I Believe project, it was my destiny to be chosen.

So I filled out the online form, reformatted my essay as a .txt file (per their instructions), and confidently submitted my work. I was told via a follow up email that their decision would be forthcoming in the next six to eight weeks so I promptly forgot about the whole matter.

Exactly six weeks later I received the email equivalent of the small college application response envelope that you receive when you don’t get in. It read as such:

Dear Jason Picetti:

Thank you for submitting an essay to This I Believe. Your essay has now completed our review process. Though your essay was not chosen for broadcast on NPR, the larger goal of our project is to open a community conversation about belief–one essay at a time. To that end, we have placed your essay in the This I Believe online database.

If you go to our website at www.thisibelieve.org, then click on “Advanced Essay Search,” fill in only your last name in the “Last Name” field. You can also find your essay by searching all essays from your city or state. You will notice that only your first name will be seen on the web page with your essay. We do not publish last names or other personal information on our website.

Please don’t consider this in any way a “rejection.” Our criteria for broadcast consider many factors beyond subjective notions of quality. We air only a fraction of one percent of those submitted, and we must balance our few selections across themes, perspectives, diversity of sources, and so on.

Though your essay has not been selected for NPR, we are working to find other venues to publish some of the many thousands of essays we have received, including newspapers, podcasts, and local public radio stations. Should we find a venue to print or broadcast your essay, one of our staff will be in touch with you.

We are honored by your having shared your most closely held convictions with us. Thank you, sincerely, for participating in our project.

— The staff of This I Believe

I share this information with you all not for the purpose of hoping to solicit a grassroots groundswell of support for my cause but rather to let you know that I value your readership and participation on my blogsite. I love reading your comments and perspectives whenever they come in. And although I may not have formally (or informally) responded to them in kind, I have carefully considered your words to me and I am flattered that you have chosen to take the time and effort to join in the discussion.

Thank you for your support.

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