Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ringin' in the New Year.

The year is about to come to and end and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I watched a webcast regarding a poll on what people felt about the upcoming year and was sort of confused that less than 20% felt that 2007 would be a better year (overall) while 80% felt that it would be PERSONALLY a better year. Either that means that folks were going to learn to suck it up in the bitterness of a horrible world...or what I've always suspected in that polls, and with most statistical things, are pointless and contradictory. The jury's still out on that in my book.

What do I think about the transition coming in less than eight hours? I guess The Emperor said it best when he said "So be it, Jedi" (that's more fun to quote than "whatever will be will be." There's no lie...2006 was a rough year, personally. I struggled with issues at my place of employment (some of which have been remedied, Thank God) and most notably had a series of bad luck with my health this Fall. I guess in light of that, I'm most hopeful for a HEALTHY 2007.

But in retrospect, I need to remain thankful for the good stuff of 06. Lindsay and I still have our modest, but lovely home. The dogs are healthy and doing well and keeping us laughing and busy. We had a couple of nice trips under our belt; my catching a Tigers' game at Comerica Park for the first time was most exciting. And as funny as it sounds (I'll deny it to anyone), it was nice to see the in laws move within a five hour opposed to 12 or more. It's nice to know that there's someone relatively close in case anything major happens.

Sadly, though...I'll miss Grandma...who passed in October. She was an amazing woman and truly a unique treasure and sometimes I wish that I was a "closer" grandson to her (though communicating with her since her stroke almost two years ago made things difficult). I truly believe that God's will was accomplished in her life (and what a long and amazing one she had!) and I hope that I can say the same when it's my time to go.

So...I guess it's time to soldier forth into a new year. Funny how they just seem to go by faster as you get older (celebrating 2004-to-'5 didn't seem that long ago...nor did 1996-to-97 either). I guess I can't say that I have any other predictions...other than..."it's a new year." Let's hope it's a good one.

Hoping for "Most Dropped Calls"

Okay. I hate to admit it, but I do own a cellphone.

I hate the things...have for many years. I think when I got my first one somewhere back soon after we were married, I thought it was pretty cool. Well, actually playing the game "Snake" on the phone was cool (very reminiscent of a fondly remembered game called "Snafu" on my ancient Intellivision system). Anyway, we burned out that contract and got another one...carrying those down with us to North Carolina. Didn't have a load of problems with the phones in the apartment, but the reception at our house was essentially nil (unless you enjoyed going outside for every long distance call you'd ever make).

So our contracts lapsed and we opted to not resign. A year or two passed and Lindsay was going to do some traveling out of state without me and we considered getting a cellphone for safety's sake. As we looked into prepaid dealies and the like, we figured we might as well get two of them for us to have at all times. My major accident this past January was a big proponent for me coming around...that was sort of rough having to use the other person's phone to track down Lindsay and whomever else I needed to contact on MY behalf of the situation.

I was still a little hesitant, remembering what I DO not like about cellphones. I've never enjoyed the image...mainly unimportant people yapping about unimportant pap in the most public of places. Frankly if your Aunt Betty is having diarrhea issues, I don't need to know about it while I'm ordering my cafe' mocha, thank you very much. The second thing that bothers me (almost more than the first) is what HAPPENS TO PEOPLE when they have a cellphone at their disposal. I'm talking about what I call "talking to talk." My wife hates it when I refer to it as that...but that's about the nicest way I can put it.

You may or may not know what I mean. Someone calls you up and just sort of "is there" on the phone. "Calling to say 'Hi'" they say but then they don't carry on the conversation...usually deferring the weight of it to you by asking "so...what are you doing?" This is the point at which I feel like I should be doing something fantastic like "rewiring the house" or "using a kayak to get down the river here" because, if I don't, the response is generally little more than "oh." "Oh" is a hard line to build a conversation on.

Generally about this time the other person sort of drifts off and the two of us sit there, kind of wondering where the call should be going at this point. This drives me crazy...I've always been of the mind that if you're going to call, have a good point. If you're calling to tell me that you'll "be home in five minutes"...that's awesome, I love you, and we'll see you then. It's not that I don't love you, but I really don't know to make "I just folded the towels" exciting. The person that I'm referring to, ahem, is not alone in this...(hopefully that'll save me). I know for a fact that she's gotten calls from someone that have essentially equated to "I met the third cousin of a girl that you went to third grade with at Walmart last week."

So...despite us having Cingular with the "fewest dropped calls" (I can personally vouch for can't even get a call THROUGH first, so a chance of it being dropped is null and void, it's such a lousy service), maybe that idea isn't that bad off, after all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Seven weird habits/things about me.

7 weird habits/things about me (taken from my submission to another blogging/social site):

1) I go through "phases." My phases generally are periods of time where I collect things of a specific nature, although they also be phases of things that I do for entertainment...and even sometimes what food or drinks that I will consume. Items that I've collected during these phases (in the last six or seven years) have included gargoyle/dragons, memorabilia from the late great band Faith No More (including subway posters from the UK and a picture signed by the band during their "The Real Thing" era), Star Wars figures (mostly from the revival in the mid 90s through the "Attack of the Clones" offerings), hockey jerseys (personalized, preferred, with a player's name on the back), and most recently, hockey pucks. Drink-wise, I'm currently on a "triple venti nonfat cappuccino with one pump of peppermint syrup" kick. I recently dropped the "slightly dry" modification because I've found that Starbucks never seems to know what I mean by "slightly dry." I'm currently NOT on a Panera Bread sesame seed bagel, not toasted, with tomato basil cream cheese kick...but that was the last one (and before that it was an asiago bagel with veggie cheese) I guess my current "food phase" is NOT stopping at least three times a week at Panera for a bagel. And lastly, I'm currently not on a "reading" kick...but I'm sure I will be once I get some book money after the holidays. I've often been curious why I am this way, but I really don't have any solid leads. The "buying and collecting" things I suspect has to do with my childhood relationship with my father. I would often try to convince him into buying some kind of trinket when I'd visit him and we be out doing something. My mother used to speculate that it was because I knew that he WOULD buy me what I wanted, but I speculate that a lot of it was that I was trying to fill that empty spot of not having him around in my daily life...thus I'd have an "object" with me everyday that somehow was a reflection of our time together. Deep huh?

2) I refuse to turn left onto a busy road where there is no stoplight. I will go out of my way to avoid having to do this...sometimes circumventing an entire city block JUST to avoid having to do so. Lindsay will back me up on this as it drives her crazy. I have no real reason for why I DON'T do this, other than I just don't enjoy doing it. Just one of those things I get paranoid about, I guess.

3) My dream vacation would be to drive across America and do it at a leisurely pace. I honestly would not want to do it in an RV or anything like that, preferring to keep to a comfortable but economical car. I also would not want to do the camping thing, because personally I'd like to have at least SOME comfort along the trip...preferring to stay at a motel each night. I would try to spread it out as best as I could, visiting nooks and crannies along the way, but with the "Mother Road" of Route 66 bridging the two coasts (well, Chicago's SORT of a coast) along the way. I'd bring along a camera (nothing fancy and frankly I wouldn't try to get all artsy during and afterward) and take a lot of pictures...but frankly I think it would be cool to just see how people LIVE across this country. You know, see what it'd be like to stay in a remote farmhouse in Kansas or see what it would be like to stay in the French Quarter of New Orleans and NOT take part in the touristy stuff. So many "road purists" seem to focus on the natural beauty of this country (which is all well and good....), but I think it would be a rewarding experience to just see how people "live." Not sure why I feel that way, but I do. I'd love to have Lindsay and the dogs come along...but I'm not sure that the wife would be as keen on that one.

4) I struggle a lot with my identity as a Christian "by Faith"...but not "by membership." I'm not a churchgoer. I don't know that I've been to one since the spring (and even then it was spotty). It would be easy to cop-out and say that it's because I was made to go as a kid or something along those lines, but that would be a lie. A lot of it, when I think about it, has to do with the things that I've seen and witnessed going on in the church that has made me skeptical about "church" itself. An example would be the church that I just made mention to...we've gotten letters asking us to pitch in for "staff appreciation" but we've never gotten one call about why we don't go there any more. The church before that was even worse...sending offering envelopes in MY name when I wasn't even a member there (Lindsay joined), and they did so for years after we hadn't gone there. Again, no Pastor called to ask why we weren't attending or to see if there had been any crises had arisen. However, despite all of that, I have an unwavering Faith that goes beyond all rationality (I pride myself on thinking too much...therefore I'm amazed at how resolute my Faith has remained despite much in my life that I've personally experienced or witnessed). But, being a Christian by Faith and not by Membership isn't always an easy thing and I hope that at some point I will find a church that I can feel comfortable being a part of and I do feel that if it's God's will that I will indeed find that church. That's probably a very controversial look on things, but it's something I believe truly.

5) Like Ed, I'd probably surprise some folks by admitting that I'm actually fairly shy. I get fired up about a lot of things and often put my foot in my mouth...but more often than not after one of those episodes, I end up ruing something I said and feel guilty about it for a long time afterward. I guess I just struggle with foot-in-mouth disease that comes with the side effect of guilt. There have been several instances in my life that I can think back on even now and be both proud that I stood up for myself...but also still feel a little ashamed that I hurt the other person's feelings in the process.

6) I'm not sure what I would say if given the chance to live "anywhere" in world. Lindsay told me the other day that I wouldn't be happy if we lived in a nice house right on Palm Beach...and I wonder if there's some truth to it. I know I'd like to live somewhere where it's warm a lot...but I don't know that that would be "enough." It's funny, but I struggle with that a lot even living here in North Carolina. I miss the heck out of a lot of things in Michigan, but I would never move back now that I've escape the harsh winters. On the other hand, I really enjoy living here in NC, but I often feel truly "displaced" in terms of how I was brought up and lived for most of my life. There truly IS a difference in living in the North as opposed to the South...and much of it is subtle.

7) I have a weird aversion to talking on the phone. I always have had this. I can talk for hours with maybe on or two friends, but that's about it. Order a pizza? Is Lindsay around to do it? Complain about an error on a bill? Again...see if Lindsay will do it. My mom once said that my dad was the same way...maybe it's a thing of nature. But I really don't enjoy talking on the phone. I don't know if it's because I can't see the person face to face to read body language or what, but it just gives me the heebie-jeebies. Now, if you've gotten me on a platitude about what I think about health care coverage for the disabled in the United States, then you've got me screaming into the phone for a good 60 minutes at minimum....

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Holidays, health, and happiness.

I realized, which much chagrin, that the holidays just aren't what they used to be. The "magic" seems to be dwindling to the point that it's teetering on the brink of nonexistence. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the IMPORTANCE of the holidays...and I refer to the importance of the REAL reason we (well, at least those of us that believe that Christ is King) celebrate Christmas. No, I don't mean the fluffy, pseudo-spiritual, "kindness, sharing, and helping your fellow man/woman." That's awesome stuff...but it shouldn't be regulated to only during the holidays, should it? No...I'm referring to the birth of Christ and the significance of God's gift in Him.

But I'm getting sidetracked down a path of ministry here (I'll leave that to my's literally his job). I suppose the idea of Ol' St. Nick was a large part of the charge of Christmas when you're a kid. I mean, c'mon...there's no denying it's pretty awesome to wake up and just be GIVEN a bunch of stuff that you want, right? And you can't deny that the ideas of flying reindeer, magical slips up and down chimneys, and sleighs that somehow regret space and time isn't cool.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Friday night reflections.

Another work week is over. Seemed like a long one, too. Could be because it was the first "full week" in about a month. Could also be because I had been to yet another doctor's appointment that I came out feeling just WEIRD about. Could also be because I'm about sick of the medical field.

How come it seems that these days you go to the doctor, speak with them for five minutes, they throw some samples at you, schedule you to see a specialist, and throw you out the door? Wasn't there a time when doctor's actually took the TIME to care for you? Don't get me wrong...I actually like my doctor very much, but I'm just blown away how things have seem to become DIFFERENT since I was a young kid dealing with Spina Bifida and all its wonderful glories. It just seems odd that I go in about a pressure sore on my knee...and the doctor schedules me to go to a wound clinic at a hospital. I sort of felt like saying "okay, so you can't take care of it...that means no charge for the appointment, right?" I mean, come on... The other real beef of mine is that I'm informed that someone "from (their) office" would be scheduling the appointment. I thought immediately to myself "'s going to be totally in the middle of the day and I'm going to have to miss at least a half day of work...after an already trying semester at school where I missed a lot of work for two separate illnesses." Sure enough, I get the call that it's in the middle of the morning on a workday. Apparently I'm not intelligent enough to make appointments.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday reflections.

Sunday morning once again. Lindsay's out working her second job and making a rough go at it. I'm struggling, too, but for a different reason. I'm a few more days "clean" and feeling just sort of strange, but better. Feel like I'm breathing better...but I could be tricky myself into believing that hogwash. Yesterday was most definitely a struggle with the feeling of being lightheaded. Today's more of a struggle with trying to occupy myself...hence, here I am. Just wanting "one smoke" seems more enticing as the day goes on.

Ugh...a nice small break is now over...well, in about 18 hours or so. It was a good one...had some time to myself (and the dogs), although it was tough having Lindsay gone for a couple of days. You really realize how much you miss someone being around when you're gone and have become a hermit of sorts. Trips to Starbucks with dog in tow aren't really "adventures out into the real world."

Anyway, the holiday stretch begins. What...3 1/2 weeks until break? That'll be a nice thing. Not sure if we're making the "big haul" north or south this year, but hopefully we'll get some mad lounging in...whatever we do. Of course, in the meantime we can be frantic and worried about the "joys" of shopping for others with a tight budget. Isn't there a way we could convince all our family and friends to revert to the "real" meaning of Christmas?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"I quit"

Here I go again...quitting the wicked (legal) weed. I'm about 42 hours "sober" on this, my latest attempt, at quitting.

Feeling good about it, more or less. Yesterday was a struggle...even tried to get "just one" smoke from the neighbor across the street (for some reason, that was more "okay" in my mind that going out to buy a pack). I'm feeling a little bit more cool with everything, although it was a little rough letting the dogs out and not having my usual "greet the morning" smoke.

I think that is what will be the hardest...the habitual stuff. It was the hardest stuff to overcome before. That early monrning smoke....that first smoke while driving to work...those chain-smoking spurts on the long hauls up north. Those are where it'll be killer. Which is actually kind of ironic (or maybe not so) in the fact that many of those situations are what got me smoking in the FIRST place. When you work crappy jobs that you despise, a smoke break becomes a respite...even if you aren't a smoker (per se). You find the more you hate that job, the more you don't mind becoming a smoker. A ten minute break outside your workplace during a fierce Michigan blizzard while smoking a bummed Virginia Slim MENTHOL cigarrette is a nice diversion compared to being inside and selling your soul for a lousy paycheck. Hence, smoking becomes a comfort. ..just as it can be a traveling companion during late night trips from the heart of Corn Country Illinois to Chicago's Sterile Suburbia.

It's weird that as I write this, I really come to grips with that fact that smoking really was associated with many of the hardest times in my life. Thus maybe quitting isn't just a physical health move--maybe it's an emotionally beneficial one as well.