Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Memories

Yesterday ... Came across all these pics of the kids when they were little. Nikki, being the first born, posed in most of them for me. I think I ruined her for life. She now takes pictures of her two kids every ten minutes. 

She was a beautiful baby and now is a beautiful woman. By the way... there are pictures of my other two kids Alissa and Josh who are equally beautiful and handsome. 


But Nikki was around for 6 years before they arrived so she got all the attention. 

I found a series of drawings that I did when she was still in diapers (This was 40 years ago).

Note: Anybody old enough to remember Didee Diapers? We used them until disposables were sold.

The plan was to paint these images on her bedroom walls ... things she could be when she grew up ... musician, teacher, painter, zookeeper ... plumber. Good thing I didn’t do that. Nikki is now a successful doctor (one image I didn’t draw) and we had lived in at least five houses by the time she was 13. 

Oh well ...  time marched on. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

We ALL See Him!

 


This guy is my new favorite actor in my new favorite commercials. Bill Glass plays Dr. Rick in Progressive Insurance’s series of ads that are brilliantly written and brilliantly portrayed by Glass and others. 

They are hysterical in their simplicity. 

He is a Parents-Life Coach who works with adult children to correct habits they have picked up from their parents. They go on field trips to places like the hardware store where Dr  Rick reminds them to not talk on their speaker phones in public and when they pass a customer with blue hair and the class all stares, Dr  Rick says, “We ALL see him  We ALL See him.”



Look for Dr  Rick. He’s the best. Kudos to Progressive. There are SO MANY dumb commercials out there. 

I am so happy there are still some smart people in advertising. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 ... The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

We say goodbye to a year that was probably not high on anyone’s top ten list. But one that definitely created introspection. 

The GOOD: We slowed down. We thought long and hard about how we live. We had a new appreciation for our families. We focused less on how we looked and more on what we did. 

The BAD: We lost friends and loved ones. We found hatred and jealousy where we weren’t looking. We lost our way for a period of time. 

The UGLY: We rediscovered politics and watched it play out everyday ... no matter which side we were on  

So welcome 2021! Here’s hoping we can use valuable lessons from 2020 to make each day important in our lives and the lives of others we know and love.

Let’s celebrate the new year with a renewed sense of hope. 

Aw hell ... just grab a beer and hold on!

Have a Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 19, 2020

Family night with the sibs

Finally went to dinner with our family in a safe secure (I hope) environment at Paul’s Landing last night. It was chilly outside but we had a couple of heaters and alcohol to keep everyone warm and cozy. 

The conversation among the sisters is always interesting and last night didn’t disappoint. You see, to us brothers the sisters speak in tongues. They understand each other but I am not sure anyone else could follow without a translator. 

Keli, who has always provided rich material for my blog, told a story about a recent trip to a nail salon. As the story goes ... she was getting her nails painted when she noticed the signs in the shop. 

“So,” she asked. “I see you have Polish (as in belonging to Poland) nail colors. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

The nail tech looked at her and smiled. “Oh no. Not Polish ... that is nail polish!”

Keli laughed. “I can’t believe I said that. I get confused with words that are spelled the same. Like message and massage. You know?”

“Those are spelled differently. “

“They are? Well ... Whatever.”

                         ********************

Families are the best, aren’t they? Deb and I have a Tuesday lunch get together with our kids and the grands. Can’t wait!

Happy holidays to all of you. Coming up on a New Year ... with renewed hope, peace and love!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I Thought I Taught You Better Than That

It’s been forty years since I’ve stepped into a classroom. 

Some of my former students are now parents and  grandparents. I know this because they send me messages on Facebook and other social media sites. 
They are almost as old as me! 

Ever since I finished my latest book , FOR THOSE WHO CAN I’ve thought about the huge impact that teachers have on their students. 

Every so often I see one of my former students and they remind me of things that I may or may not remember. For example ... about twelve years ago when I worked at All Children’s Hospital I noticed a physician who was eyeing me as I toured a group of women through the Units. 


She looked familiar but I just couldn’t place her. As we walked through the halls, she approached me. “Mr. Momberg. You might not remember me. I’m Christina ... you taught me in sixth grade.”

It came back to me. “Of course. Christina. How have you been?”

“Fine. I now have a busy surgical practice. And I have two daughters both in college.”

“Wow. That’s terrific. Good for you. “

She paused and looked at her feet for a minute. “I ummm ...”

“Is everything okay?”

She hesitated. “Well. I just wanted to tell you something that’s been on my mind since I was in sixth grade.”

I was a little nervous ... thinking she wanted to tell something awful about her sixth grade experience. “Sure. What’s up?”

“Do you remember when you thought I was cheating and getting answers to the math test from Catherine that day?”

Not a clue ... I thought ... but I just listened. 

“Well. I told you I didn’t cheat but I did that day. I felt SO guilty all these years for lying to you!” She looked at me. “I’m so sorry.“

I smiled. “I forgive you.”

Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

In March, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder and half my liver (on which a sizable melanoma resided). I didn't have a history of melanomas. In fact I never had one that I know of. So I was in a 5% category (of course) where there's no known primary origin.  

This all took place right after the COVID crisis began and visitors and the general public were not allowed into the hospital.  I spent many nights without my family. Pain killers were my best friends. They kept my mind off of the tube that was inserted through my nose into my stomach to drain the fluid. 

In April, I started immunotherapy treatments at Moffitt to boost my immune system and help prevent my cancer from coming back. I visit every month for infusions that have numerous side effects that make me feel like I'm on a rollercoaster at times. I'm in my eighth month of infusions and have four more to go. I'll finish in March.

So what am I thankful for?

All of this!

That's right. I'm thankful for all of this.

You see, if the doctors didn't pick up on my melanoma when they did, it would have been too late for surgery. But they did ... they found it and removed all of it.

Secondly, if I had developed this five years ago, I would have had less than a 10% chance of survival even if they could have operated on me. Melanomas are notorious for reappearing and spreading. Immunotherapy has been developed in the last couple of years as a very successful treatment of just what I have ... so much so that I now have very good chance of survival. Moffitt happens to be the leading institution in the world in the treatment of melanomas. 

Third, I happen to have the greatest family and the greatest friends a guy could ever ask for. As my brother in law Tom used to say "Better than I deserve." My wife Debbie is and always has been a saint. She comes to every treatment session, every surgery and every doctors appointment and waits patiently in the car for me because she still is not allowed in the hospital. (I told her to behave!) She actually was able to come in to my last session finally when they lifted the visitor restrictions at Moffitt.

So as 2020 comes to an end and my life is just beginning again, I want to thank everyone ... doctors, nurses, family and friends ... for being there for me. 

I love you all.   

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Coming Soon: For Those Who Can


FOR THOSE WHO CAN ... SUMMARY

The journey begins with a somber graveside service as the skies above New Orleans burst forth with a hard rain, punctuated by the mystery of an incomplete manuscript delivered to a grieving son by an unexpected guest. From that starting point, author Joel Momberg takes readers on an unforgettable and engaging ride in his third novel, For Those Who Can – following the path through the mid-1970s of a young college prep teacher, Alan Handler, in an adventure filled with laughs, love, and a lingering sense that something is amiss.

Traveling the country for an education services company, Alan learns he has a knack for connecting with the widely diverse groups of students he encounters along the way. Yet he cannot quite understand the beautiful blond-haired woman from Mississippi – fellow teacher Karol Rae Ballard – who captivates him from the moment he lays eyes on her.

Their romance propels them through various stops at high schools in the South and Midwest, as Alan finds himself irresistibly drawn to the strong and stunning Karol Rae. At the same time, he grows increasingly aware of something she seems to be running from – setting in motion a narrative that eventually weaves its way to Europe and back to the States, and in a handful of emotion-packed revelations that ensue.

On another level, For Those Who Can is a lively period piece that unfolds to the soundtrack of the ’70s – Randy Newman, James Taylor, John Denver, and even satiric Texas troubadour Kinky Friedman. It takes humorous detours to a surprise, wrongful drug arrest and surreal trip to Indiana’s state prison. And it winds its way to the cold-hearted killing of a private school headmaster that causes Alan to question whether he should go forward as a teacher.

But then comes a phone call that will change everything, pulling Alan and the novel’s storyline in a new direction – all the while with Karol Rae keeping her hold on his heart. The book’s title is drawn from the phrase, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” As you will come to discover, Alan Handler can both teach and do in his life. The proof lives in the pages of that unfinished manuscript passed along at the gravesite – and in the trademark Momberg twist of the gripping finale. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Bad News Is Everywhere


 I have to temper my TV watching. My blood pressure has been off the charts lately when I watch the news with Debbie. 

I find myself screaming at the TV set.

"What the hell is the matter with people  these days. Killing each other ... insulting each other ...  this country is falling apart!!!"

Debbie will calmly say, "It's going to be okay. We have made it before."

"YEAH? Not with a pandemic, riots around the country, people getting shot ..."

"I don't know why you get yourself so worked up lately."

"Because we are not going to have a country soon if things don't change."

"Go and get yourself something to drink and relax."

So, I do that. 

I head to the kitchen and feel better just not looking at TV, when all of a sudden I hear Debbie screaming at the set. 

"OH NO. I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!!

I run back in. "What's going on. Is it worse?"

YES! STEINMART IS CLOSING!!!!"  

Thursday, August 27, 2020

For Those Who Can

Excited to announce ... Just finished the manuscript for my third novel!

For Those Who Can is a love story.

It’s about a teacher’s love for his students, love between a man and a woman, love of friends and family and love of the legacies that others have left for us to follow. It’s love in the truest form … wonderful, scary, dangerous and messy. 

I was a teacher for six years, three as a college preparatory teacher and three as a classroom teacher. Some of the experiences that I detailed (admittedly) closely followed my early career.

The title of the book is one that most teachers have unfortunately heard as a derogatory opening line of a quote that sometimes is used as a reference by others who scoff at what teachers do: 

Those who can … do / Those who can’t … teach. 

For years, I had a coffee mug on my desk in response to that remark which simply read: Those who can … TEACH.

This book was written For Those Who Can


I truly loved teaching. The students were incredible, I learned so much from them! Many still contact me on social media and I love hearing from them. 

This was a difficult year (2020). COVID 19 was the great interrupter which we all dealt with. I was also battling the effects of stage four melanoma of the liver and undergoing immunotherapy. There were days that I just didn’t feel like writing but by persisting, I feel that it was truly part of my healing process. 

Special thanks to all those mentioned in the book that are real characters (you know who you are) who had such an impact on my life and to my great friend Dave Scheiber who helped me every step of the way editing, advising, and supporting. He is and always will be one of the best writers I know. 

And to my wife Debbie. I would not let her see any pages until I was through. She allowed me to again be selfish in the time I spent holed up on the beach or in my office at home writing this novel. She is such a tremendous support to me.

Thanks to friends and family who were always there.

I hope you enjoy For Those Who Can when it is published next month. STAY TUNED. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Lotteries and All That Jazz

I was listening in my car to the latest blog entry from Malcolm Gladwell this morning. He does a series on Revisionist History and this one was called "The Powerball Revolution".

The premise for this segment was how we choose our leaders and how a lottery might just be as good or even a better way than a popular election.

Crazy idea huh?

Made me think of the time I first joined the staff of USF some eleven or so years ago. One of my fondest memories was meeting Dr. Stu Silverman, Dean of the Honors College.

When Stu found out I played the piano, he invited me to sit in with (his pride and joy), The Honors College Jazz Band: group of students from the Honors College that all played instruments in high school. None were music majors and the only prerequisite was that to play you have to bring your instrument. The band mix changed each year as the students graduated. Some years, Stu had 4 trumpet players or three clarinet players or four drummers. Didn't matter because he was happy to have all comers. One of the faculty members at the school of music served as our band leader.

Stu introduced me as "Not a REAL piano player. A member of the staff who plays piano for fun." I always thanked Stu for that kind introduction and mentioned his questionable drum skills in the process.

Actually, it was all a brilliant idea.

The Honors students were the best of the best. They were the smartest students at the university and represented a variety of disciplines of study. They were also typically shy, introverted and hadn't developed the social skills that some of their other contemporaries had. How could they? They were always studying. The Jazz Band became their outlet. Each year we practiced jazz pieces once a week under the tutelage of a faculty member from the College of Music and at the end of the semester ... we had a concert on the main stage of the theater.

I saw students who started out shy and tentative slowly develop into soloists that really rocked (kind of like the movie School of Rock) ... It was a wonderful experience.

So what does this have to do with Malcolm Gladwell's lottery premise?

I thought about the potential leadership that we all overlook every day. There are so many people that have so much talent and shy away from the election process because it requires a totally different skill set ... much of which is sales and "kissing babies"...  that our best and brightest would rather not even attempt. The shame is ... none of those skills deal with real leadership and management and we have so many that could provide SO much more than we have had in the past.

Lotteries aren't necessarily the answer to it all ... but worth a REAL discussion.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

All That Matters


I've had a few heated conversations lately about politics, the state of the world and how bad things are. I really think it's time for everyone to reread my favorite book ... "All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. I used to remind my staff of the guiding principles (when I was a working man)

Here they are:

1. Share

2. Play fair

3. Don't hit people.

4. Put things back where you found them.

5. Clean up your own mess.

6. Don't take things that aren't yours.

7. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.

Memories

Yesterday ... Came across all these pics of the kids when they were little. Nikki, being the first born, posed in most of them for me. I thi...