Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Growth and Acceptance in 2008

Its been a strange year. My 30th year. Can’t say it was the best. Probably one of the most personally challenging years of my life. All while two of my closest friends went through the greatest challenges of their lives. My problems seem to pale in comparison to what they went through, but I feel like we have all grown exponentially… at least for me, finding strength and inspiration in them. It was a year of growth and acceptance…

This year I awoke from a passive state of existence. How I got there is really no mystery but digging out has been a challenge. Nothing has ever been good enough in my life; at least in my mind… and in all reality there wasn’t really a lot to be unhappy about, but there seemed to be this discontentment pulsing through my veins. Always looking for something better. I can’t say I’ve changed a lot but I am definitely on my way to contentment… It’s hard because the path that led you astray typically will not lead you out… and it took a trip to the bottom for me to realize this for myself.

My Five Things:

Well it’s interesting how this came up, but no longer important. Earlier this year I was asked what my five favorite things in life were. Embarrassingly, I really struggled with this. Not so much because there aren’t things that I enjoy, but because I started to realize that the things I valued so much in life had been absent from my life for a very long time. There wasn’t much I would get excited about. “Fun stuff” became something to break the monotony, or something to past the time, not something joyful.… I knew that I had been just going through the motions for quite sometime. That I was no longer striving to create joy in my life. That my spirit had dimmed and I was not excited by anything anymore.

I guess the wake up call, or the bottom, came when I slipped into severe depression after I coming off oxycodone. I had surgery in spring that I had been putting off for several years. I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant but I don’t think I really thought about how hard it was going to be… and drug withdrawals were really never on the radar. Of course, the withdrawal was not the sole source of my depression but it certainly had my mind in a weird place. I even got prescribed antidepressants, however because of an insurance snafu I didn’t receive them until 10 days after they were prescribed… in the mean time a friend gave me a book that opened my eyes a bit. By the time I finally got the antidepressants, I was ready climb out of the hole on my own. I never took the pills.

Rebuilding:

It is not easy to pick yourself up, especially when you have been sliding for years. I guess I just realized that I didn’t want to live a lackluster life and that only I could do something about it. It is a struggle everyday and I am not out of the woods yet, in fact the woods may always be in site. Depression is a self defeating disease, because only you can drag yourself out of it. Pills and counseling can help, but the onus is on you to find a real solution, not just a remedy for the symptoms.

That is what I set out to do. I made the list of my five favorite things, and as I mentioned, some of the things on that list I hadn’t done or experienced in a long, long time… and some of those things are not everyday things. So I forced myself to do things that I used to enjoy, things that I could do everyday, like playing basketball. I joined the Y. Shot hoops just about everyday. Shooting hoops has always been therapeutic for me; I blogged about this earlier in the year. I also hit the beach every weekend to read and think. Slowly I began to loosen up. Changed my diet and with the combination of diet and exercise I got super healthy. I lost just over 30 pounds and as of 12-30-2008 my resting heart rate was 47. I started blogging. It has been a claiming activity that seems to mitigate the loneliness of living in this one horse town.

Forgiveness:

I let go of a lot things this year that I had been carrying around on my shoulders. While some baggage never goes away, I’ve been better about not letting it weigh me down. I found forgiveness in others, in life, and most of all in myself this year. I didn’t do anything or say anything to anybody… just loosened the grip.

Heroes:

There was this guy that wrote an editorial column for the local newspaper when I was in high school and he had written a story about one of my friends from MDA camp. It was such a nice article that my grandma and I became instant fans. She would save the paper for me whenever he had a column. It turned out that he was good friends with one of my high school teachers and word got back to him that my grandma and I were fans. So one year in his end of the year article he put a special thank you in the column to me and my grandma for reading his column every Sunday. I will never forget how special that made us feel… so in keeping with that here are my heroes of 2008:

Thanks in every way.

Marion
Rose and Jo
Big Guns
Mom
Ytram
Eric
Casey
Sarah
Jess
Mike
Jim
Stan
Wayne
Nancy
Larae
The Avett Brothers
The Two J Whaley’s

Christina & Anna. The randomness of the circumstances that brought us all together are fascinating to me… the experience can never be choreographed or duplicated again. We will never forget you, and may you never know or understand what you did for us.

I don’t believe in fate, destiny or a higher power (in the religous sense), but I am intrigued by those ideas, especially when something random happens to me. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but I can’t really clarify either. I believe in energy. I believe opportunities present themselves all the time, you just have to be open to them… and to be open you have to be in control of yourself. I believe in universal checks and balances. This was a turbid year, but the waves have calmed and balance is returning. In the last part of the year I feel like the universe has paid up on some debts it owed… or maybe I just reached my hand out to accept.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Somebody Please Get me this for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is Flame by BK - the new meat-scented body spray

Convergence of Goodbyes

Aside from Whitney leaving LC and Co. to move to NYC on The Hills this week, there have been a plethora of goodbyes in my life recently. Some forever, some long term, some short term, all sad. Life is not easy sometimes...

You never really leave a place or person you love, part of them you take with you, leaving a part of yourself behind. - Unknown

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mundane Mixed with the Marvelous

We had our holiday party for work this last weekend at the Lake Buena Vista Hilton Resort. Despite current times this was the largest party ECT has ever had. There were over 300 people there.

The turnout might have had something to do with the fact that ECT paid for everyone and their guests to see Cirque Du Soleil La Nouba before the party. I had heard so many great things about the show, even from people that I never would have guessed would have seen it in the first place... and they were right it was nothing short of spectacular.

Dinner was good and the drinks were flowing. Good weekend. Short and sweet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Structured Love

Love is like a building... Brick by brick you construct this elaborate masterpiece. It is resilient, but time has a way of wearing it down... With maintenance it can last, but if neglected the problems snowball, eroding the foundation...

Love, like a building, will linger after the storm, but once the foundation has been damaged beyond repair its only a matter of time before it all comes crumbing down... And there is definitely a point when there is nothing left to save, and you must abandon it to save yourself from the fallout.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hoop ...umm...la? Not So Much

So I've been "running" with the "ballers" more and more lately at the Y (aka Young Mens Christian Association--the perfect place for me). I shoot around pretty much everyday, and for the first few months I shied away from getting in on any games. I am not a bad shot, some (i.e., me) would say I am sweet, but when you put me in the fast pace of a game I can't keep up with the kids.

Over time I started getting picked up as the last player and would get completely schooled out of my skin-tight cotton tank top. But recently I have been getting some "cred" and have been brought into more games (still the last player). Now that I am getting used to the pace of running I am scoring quite a bit more.

At this point I would consider myself a regular. I know all the other guys and they know me, not by name, though, of course. Part of me (actually the dominant, self-critical part of me) thinks the others are taking it easy on the crippled kid. They say nice things after the games, but, come on, I suck... I just say thanks... On one hand I appreciate the recognition but on the other, I am embarrassed. My biggest thing is not being pitied. This goes way back to childhood; ashamed of the breaks I received, thinking I was overcoming, when actually I was being helped along... boat loads of shame, day after day, more of the same... competitive male that can't physically compete... ay-yai. need to stop this.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nothing Short of Thankful

The older I get the more Thanksgiving emerges as my favorite holiday. I pretty much had the whole week off because I suffered through the worst training course of my life last weekend in Tampa. So I had plenty of time to get my life in order and enjoy the holiday.

Folks came here this year. Since it is my favorite holiday I have somewhat elevated expectations. There are certain things that I want to eat/have/do on Thanksgiving and I know if I don't make them happen I am not going to get them (i.e., fried turkey, green bean casserole, listen to Alice's Resturant on the WRIF at noon, the Lions, and of course being surrounded by fellow lost souls). I have a few new things to add to my list of Thanksgiving musts after this year - pre-dinner hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (reminds me of tailgating at MSU) and rock shrimp appetizers, corn bread salad and ridiculous brownies from Something Sweet (brownies with Snickers and chocolate chips mixed in, topped with ~18 inches of chocolate frosting, topped with more chunks of snickers and chocolate chips). Casey came through with the GB casserole this year along with some delicious twice baked sweet potatoes and corn bread stuffing... Thats right, the men did all the cooking... Just making sure my expectations are met....

We went out to the Refuge Friday morn and saw lots of ducks including a Eurasian Wigeon and a Ross's Goose. We also saw a bobcat sunbathing about 25' away. He didn't have a care in the world, just bathin'.

Grateful... good company, good food, new begins, the hot tub ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Go Yo

I am so sick of driving. Jacksonville last week. Just got back from my second trip to Gainesville this week. Ormond Beach tomorrow. Tampa this weekend. The reward - all of next week off (probably more driving though).

The change of scenery is definitely nice... I guess it's also nice to finally be busy. Things were slow for a while. I have often said that I would rather be swamped than bored out of my mind trying to find something to do. Well I should probably be careful what I wish for. I am pretty disciplined about not working more than forty-ish hours, but I can see how that might be a problem in the near future...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vandals, Scandals, and Talent to Leave Your Mind in Shambles

What a weekend. I waited for the shuttle to launch Friday night before I headed to Hogtown. It was my first real look at a night launch. I saw one from Tampa a couple years ago and there was one a couple months ago at 2:00 in the morning, but it immediately disappeared into the clouds so I never really saw it. I am glad I didn't go down to the Lagoon for that one. This one was spectacular; full moon, mostly clear... special stuff.

Got to G-ville in time to make the rounds. Took Gunner out after we got back from the bar and somebody had slashed three of my tires. That was sweet. Apparently I just missed the guy too. Two guys were on the phone with the cops, and they told me what happened. I guess he was just randomly picking cars and I was one of the lucky ones. He also got a couple luxury cars and an older van. The cops didn't show til around 7:00 am. Luckily, Emily has AAA, so she got my car towed for free. For being such a shitty situation everything went relatively smoothly; The Trixster was ready to roll by noonish.

Marty and I hung out with Casey and Jen and the new pup in the afternoon before CL smooth and LB-L cooked up some mullet, trout and redfish for din... one word: mulletastic.

Then the main event... The 1st Annual Backyard Talent Show... Basically, Kevin put on probably the coolest party I have ever been to. The turnout was incredible. One stage, fifteen acts, three judges, a cool DJ, and an amazing atmosphere on a crisp Nov. night. It was such a great time, so many friends, so many brave performers... Kevin already has a warehouse secured for next year. Based on how awesome this year went, next year is going to be off the hook.

And the ultimate... After the show we danced the night away. They say all is right in the world when Casey dances... Well all was right in the world. Welcome back buddy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Heartache... and Optimism

My heart sunk when I saw that Joe D. dealt Chauncy and Antonio to Denver... Although, in return??? A.I.! He is one of my favs. While loyalty and good character are admirable, sometimes they are not as sexy or exciting as an outlaw... Whenever overcoming adversity is in the storyline, it makes the victory soooo much sweeter... Redemption--the villain becomes the hero (i.e. Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage, Sawyer on LOST, Hillary, Kenny Rogers (Tigs Pitcher), T. Boone Pickens, and someday...me).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devil's Night Demon

How appropriate for tonight... but a sad reality of this world. Opossums are demonic looking things anyway, but tonight what I saw topped them all. Just as I was coming to the top of a hill my headlights illuminated the eye of a bloody opossum sitting in the middle of the road like a dog would sit waiting for treats. His face was covered in blood and his hind end had been rolled over. The scene would give most people the creeps. He was just sitting there waiting to be finished off. Erie, yet sad. I didn't have the spine to finish him off...but I hope somebody did. I don't adore opossums, but I don't like to see anything suffer. This life can be cruel sometimes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buoy-ya!

So I've been collecting buoys for probably over a year now. Not exactly sure why I started, but after a while it became a quest, seeking the strangest, furtherest traveled, weirdest, ugliest, whateverest. I am sorta intrigued or maybe envious of the journey some of them have been on. Each one has its own story. Each one driftin', maybe landing on a beach for a couple days, maybe setting sail again. Or maybe it spent most of its life tied to a crab trap waiting for that rogue boater to set it free with his prop. Some are colorful, some are plastic, some have barnacles, some are not whole, some have a tether... and somehow they seem to make their way to me.

I selfishly snag them, or maybe I rescue them, and put them on display in my back yard. I have about 70-80ish now. They are not all mine though. Some days I would come into my office and find a buoy laying on my desk... Sometimes they ended up in my truck... semi-anonymously... Other times people have just given me ones they have found. I kind of prefer these actually...

Lately the isolation of this place has... See our lives are much like buoys. Sometimes in life we can get tied down to a cause, compromising self and losing sight of purpose. Then things can be shaken up, we lose our tether, bob in the current. We drift, sometimes too far, until we can't see what was, and may never be again. We become victims of circumstance, at the mercy of our surroundings. But we also have to know that things have a way of coming back around, that what was, doesn't always have to be. We just have to keep our heads above the water and float on. Look out on the horizon, there is a new day, there is a new place, new opportunities, a new smile ;). One day circumstances will land you on that new beach. The waves will wash away your tracks and you will find meaning again... And I will pick you up and put you on my fence!

This is why I am launching my Paint a Buoy for El Jefe Campaign. Tapping into your creativity is soothing and meaningful. Expressing and giving is rewarding...

So here is what I want... I have a bunch of plain white buoys, I want my peps to paint, draw on, carve, defile, write a poem on, etc. them, however you see fit. Make it as abstract, personal, lite, or profound as you want. While I originally wanted these as mementos of my friendships, and would definitely appreciate and cherish those, I think it would be just as appropriate to personalize them however you see fit... You can do this anonymously, but I want them on my fence!

So please send me your personalized buoys. Get in touch with me, even if we don't know each other...

Now don't you worry, we'll all float on...
Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on...
Bad news comes, don't you worry even when it lands...

Good news will work its way into all them plans...

We'll float on, GOOD NEWS IS ON THE WAY!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grays In The East, Pastels In The West

Me and Big Guns took the Triz out to watch the sunset tonight. Just like old times. We ended up in our favorite spot, perched up in the tower along the Lagoon. The full moon was rising off-shore like a sunrise, chasing the sun down behind the clouds in the west. A sweet and stiff breeze was blowing in off the Lagoon. A osprey hovered over the tree tops and did a fly by to check us out. I watched the moon glow off the Lagoon and the turned to see the sun reflect off the ponds. We used to go out there a lot around sunset. Big Guns is more interested in running than he is in pondering near the tree tops, but he waits patiently for me. You can see for miles up there; and like magic thoughts congeal into the big picture.

I haven't talked much since I left the Refuge. My last couple of days there were weird. I was crazy busy so there wasn't a lot of time to reminisce. The bridge was out so I had to drive the 35 miles around. I drove in silence wondering where the last two and a half years of my life went. One of the astronaut jets circled around and disappeared below the tree line, once more merging science and nature before my eyes. The memories played like a slide show in my mind. I learned a lot. A lot of things that will help me professionally, but more importantly, a lot about life; humility, forgiveness, the underlying good in people.

I did the right thing but I realize that everything about me here is somehow connected to the Refuge. The first day at my new job was the same day as the MIWA fund raiser. It is a pretty big event held at the Debus Center at KSC. I had only been away a day but it felt like coming home when I walked in. So many people I knew... but instead of a homecoming it was more like a goodbye.

I've been pretty lonely lately. Trapped. Shaking my head at the lessons I have learned in the last couple of years. How I have grown. If only... I was then what I am now. I guess I got what was coming to me... there's nothing left to run from... only places and things to go to, or go back to. Just serving my time... working on acceptance and being content. Wish life wasn't so short.

As the daylight sinks, as I fail to stop and think, once I cursed the things I've done, won't you please forgive me, won't you please forgive me

In the morning the pastels will be in the east and the grays will be in the west.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Hero

This makes me giddy. Watch Robert Gibbs smack down Sean "waste of space" Hannity. Gibbs flips the guilt by association argument on Hannity, declaring that based on his own logic it is fair to assume that Hannity is anti-semitic because his show on Sunday was centered around an anti-semite. Brilliantly done. Leaves Hannity squirming in his seat. Even gives Gibbs a little chest poke at the end.

Hannity has a way of making even O'Reilly look like a saint.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

RS Eagle Soar

Man, I can’t believe it’s been three years. How time flies, and how we have a way of putting some things out of our minds…maybe some things are better there, though, at least for a while.

I got a call around 8:00 am or something. For some reason I feel like it was a Tuesday. I was still sleeping. I had been spending endless hours working on my thesis. I would go to bed and stare at the wall across the room, mind spinning about a billion things, mostly though, looking back on it, it was fear of finishing my thesis. Anyway, I would be up late and when I would finally get to sleep I wouldn’t set my alarm unless I had to… Well one was set for me that morning; and I knew why she was calling as soon as I saw that it was Wendy.

I met Ramon at MDA camp when we were probably about 6… well I was, he was about 8 or 9. Mexican, slicked back hair and a rat tail. He had a chair but would still try to walk and stand. Ramon and I weren’t friends at first. My friend/rival was Ray, and Ray and Ramon were camp veterans and they often let me know it. Ramon was in cabin #1 and Ray, Bobby aka “Jellyfish”, and I were in cabin #2. We shared a lobby with cabin #1. Often times we would play hockey in the lobby during “rest period”; Ramon and Ray against me and Bobby. It was often very competitive, in fact, there were never any winners because we would often end up yelling at each other. When you are a kid sometimes loyalty runs thin. There was some issue that arose during one of the hockey games and all of a sudden the tides changed and it became me and Ramon against Ray and Bobby… and the friendship was born.

Years passed, and I watched my friend gradually decline. Every year, Ramon was not able to do something he had done the year before. It progressed from him not being about to walk or stand anymore, to him not being able to move his chair, to him not needing braces anymore because they were of no use, to him not being able to hold the hockey stick or swing the bat, to him not being able to feed himself, to him not being able to drive his chair unless his finger was placed on the joystick by someone else, to him not being able to breath without a vent.

But to know Ramon, you knew that it didn’t faze him. He wasn’t proud, he wasn’t insecure, he wasn’t worried or down on himself. It was as if somebody forgot to tell Ramon that he had a death sentence. His optimism was remarkable.

Me, being the unfortunate realist and vector of pessimism that I am would often wonder how he could be so optimistic… of course my pessimism and thoughts were firmly stowed away in my head until now. I remember one time in our teens, just the guys, talking big, and I remember Ramon saying something about kicking somebody’s ass. And I remember how sobering that was to me. How physically impossible that was, but yet I realized that Ramon had found a way to live a life without limits through others… For some reason that moment sticks in my mind.

As we grew into our late teens camp started to mean something different to me. I have talked about this in another blog. Reality was starting to sink in. I think I was about 17 or 18. It was summer and camp was just around the corner. I had heard that Ramon was in the hospital and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it to camp. Well, going to camp is about the best cure for anything, and I knew Moner would be there. But, the first day of camp rolls around and no Moner. The word was that he was still trying to come but not sure when. Tuesday, Wednesday, no Moner. The word was that he was going to make it to prom on Thursday. Being the sly guy that he was, he had already arranged a date for prom before he even made it to camp.

The week was weird for me. My partner in crime was not there. I was worried about him. I knew that he had a trach put in and that he was on a ventilator. This was very unsettling for me because it was such a step in the wrong direction. I had such mixed emotions about seeing him.

It was Thursday and he wasn’t there yet. Noon rolls around, afternoon activities wrap up, everybody is getting ready for prom, we have dinner; and no Moner. Everybody had made their way to the dance. I am anxious. Was he going to make it?… Finally the van pulls in. He made it.

But, to add to the frustration, there was one more hurdle to cross. As the van tried to turn around it bottomed out on a rock and got stuck in a precarious spot. There was no way to get Ramon out because it was bottomed out on the side that the lift was on. I remember the frustration and even anger. My long time friend Stan and I walked down to try and get help moving the van. The frustration boiled over and I remember Stan saying “all the kid wants to do is to go to fucking prom”. It was obvious that he too, was unsettled about whole situation…

Finally he it made to the dance floor… He was having a great time. But I was having a hard time seeing my friend attached to a ventilator. It was really, really hard for me to put that aside, knowing that this was pretty much the last step for him… But once again, somebody forgot to tell him…

Years passed and Moner and I stopped going to camp. He had finished school and worked at Camp Fish Tales, a camp started by former MDA campers that were too old to go to MDA camp. He seemed to be doing well. He had a lot of pride in Fish Tales. To some extent it gave him a purpose. I saw Ramon for the last time in 2003 at Fish Tales before I moved to Florida.

We talked once in a while by phone over the next couple of years. I had heard that he had been in and out of the hospital. In August of 2005, I was in the lab and I got a call from him. His voice was barely audible; “I am getting married” he said “and I want you to come”. Well it turned out that I had been debating whether to go home for another wedding the same weekend that he was suppose to get married. So hearing that news made my decision for me.

Well it turned out that she got cold feet. I went home for the other wedding and I missed out on meeting up with him while I was there. Two weeks later Wendy called; “Ramon passed away”. I said ok… but still haven’t processed it…

You go where I go…

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all.

- Thoreau

Monday, September 29, 2008

Purpose

This story is based on real events. Parts of the story may be incomplete, dramatized, or completely made up to emphasize the tragedy (also due to my limited knowledge of the facts; probably better that way). This is the Cliff’s Notes version:

This summer, an old man, we’ll call him Arie, watched with sadness as the last orange was picked from the groves that his family had operated since the 1800’s. It wasn’t just the end of the harvest; it was the end of an era.

Arie’s family had settled on this barrier island along Florida’s east coast back in the 1800’s. They were subsistence hunters and farmers. They hunted gator in the wetlands and hooked redfish in the estuary. They planted citrus groves. Over time they planted more citrus; several hundred acres more. There were hard times, the occasional freeze or a long drought, but they made it… farming was a way of life for them.

By the 1960’s things began to change. Word spread that the government was moving in. They were buying everybody’s land and moving the houses, even the homes and land that weren’t for sale. The government bought up over 140,000 acres of land, including Arie’s groves. The groves, the homestead, gone.

Once word got out that the government ousted farmers from their livelihood people were outraged. The agriculture lobby was not having it. So a compromise was reached and the government rented the land back to Arie so he could grow his citrus.

This agreement went on for over forty years. Over time the aging groves became susceptible to citrus canker and citrus greening. Yields dropped, and the agency was becoming increasing annoyed with this seemingly sentimental exception that had been repeatedly grandfathered in over the years as part of the agencies responsibilities.

Arie was getting up there in age. He was diagnosed with cancer, probably the result of a life-time working in the groves. He kept working though. Citrus was his life.

A decision was made by the government to not renew the citrus contract. Arie and his crew had until July 31st to pull out. They harvested their last batch of oranges in June. July rolled around and the government hadn’t changed their mind. Arie had to once again say goodbye to his family’s legacy, his life’s work, the only thing he knew how to do. By the time the barns were emptied, the weeds had already swallowed the once thriving grove. Without a purpose, Arie gave up the fight. The cancer took over; he died six weeks later…

Existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything. The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose ~ William Cowper

Now listen to this song. (thanks Emily)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Otis

Or at least that is what I call him. He is an adowable wittle puppy dog.... well not too little. He is all white with a big black left eye, floppy ears, and a long tail that is fixed between his legs. He wanders the streets at night; probably because he is too afraid of his own shadow to come out during the day. I think he has been wandering around all summer. It breaks my heart every time I see him. He shamefully scurries away whenever we get close. Tonight he showed some interest in us, but not enough to take a chance. If we ever catch him he is coming home with us.

I don't know his story and that really doesn't matter. Sometimes all we need is a fresh start. He could just be lost, lonely, and afraid of being vulnerable...

I understand its hard to trust, but you have to be willing to try...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Perspective Restoration

Ahh the stress has lifted. I re-read my blog from Monday and can't believe how flustered I was. Its crazy how I can get so worked up, thinking my world is caving in, feeling hopeless, like somebody dumped out a filing cabinet in my head; then with time and focus I pick up the pieces one at a time and perspective is restored... maintaining that perspective is the challenge.

Once again:

"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw anyone out" - Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Week Left

So my stress has lightened a bit from my mindless Monday. I think the anxiety of the changes that are about to come kind of set my head spinning. I still have a lot of work to do before I leave, but I think I can get it all done. Its been somewhat rewarding to finally wrap all this stuff up... I have done a lot in the two and a half years I have been here. Its funny last week I moved all my projects to the server and it was like a journey down memory lane. Its probably going to get more chaotic before I settle in to my other job, but for now I just need to take one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rare Occurance

Right now there are two shuttles on the pads. This usually doesn't happen, but since the next mission is to repair the Hubble they need a rescue ship ready in case something goes wrong.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slippery Slope

The climb is steep and slippery... and I have fallen and slide back to the bottom. There is a lot of stuff down here that I had dropped along the climb. I had hoped I would never see some of these things again but here they are.

I have been losing my footing for a couple weeks and I knew I was going to collapse like house build of cards. I envy people that can roll with the punches. It seems that the slightest bit of anxiety or stress disorients me and I lose myself and spin into a funk. I hate living like this. There are things to be happy about but they seem overshadowed by the stresses of life... I guess more appropriately-I let them overshadow the lighter side of life.

Its so lonely in this one horse town. I am a regular in the geographical fix category, even though I know that is never the answer to what I am looking for. But I feel like I am in prison here. And unless I want to eat 30k on my house I am trapped. I can't stand this. I am wasting my life. I am grateful for my friends here, but none of them know me, I don't feel comfortable talking to them, and there always seems to be more compromise on my part.

Its so hard to get excited about anything. Even external things like getting a new car and new job don't even register on the "something to look forward to" scale. I think anxiety about the new job and tying things up with my current job may have a little bit to do with my stress level. I guess I look forward recognizing that once the excitement of the new wears off, I will settle backing into an equilibrium of unhappiness.

I know wallowing doesn't help and I know that I have to do this myself. It is embarrassing that I have to try to be happy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Puppy Dog

I can't really describe how much I love my Big Guns. Yesterday I ran into this amazing artist lady that I used to work with a couple years ago. She does amazing animal paintings and once she saw a picture of G on my desk she became obsessed with him. She wanted the picture so she could paint him and use his portrait as a sample of her work. I got extremely possessive and told her no because he is mine and I didn't want him to be used as an advertisement (seems like an odd response looking back on it). I was actually kind of paranoid that she was going to copy the picture when I wasn't there... anyway.

So yesterday as we were talking I told her yes. She could paint him. I would hope I could at least get a copy of his portrait because I can't afford her work... it's definitely worth the money, I just can't afford it.

We had a lot of dogs growing up, but I have to say I have never had one that commands (and demands) so much attention. He is a special boy. I am afraid that if I move, losing Gunner would break my neighbors' hearts. They come and get him everyday and take him over to their house... he is getting fat from all the treats.

Oh puppy dog what would I do without you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Didn't Forget

Enjoy YOUR day.

Our existence changes everyone and everything. The world will never be the same. Its all a matter of scale.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obsession? -- Indeed

I received my DVD in the mail yesterday "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West"... and I will be returning it to the sender.

The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today. But it's a topic that neither the presidential candidates, nor the media are discussing openly. It's our responsibility to ensure we can all make an informed vote in November.

Umm, its not the most important issue to me. Now I am confused, because they obviously watch FOX Noise or the elephants' convention, but yet they don't think the media is discussing it openly?... Are they suggesting that FOX Noise is not a creditable news source? It is sad that people really live in fear like this... Take a risk assessment course or basic statistics...

How can you help fight Radical Islam?
- Get informed
- Get involved
- Take action
- Contribute

Fuck that! I am informed. This is a waste of time and money. These are the same people that go to the Anthony to house protest... what are they protesting again?

Racist, trigger-happy, alarmists. Obsession-yes indeed. You are obsessed with promoting fear.

UPDATED - 9-29-08.

Check this out http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/9/28/203016/697/536/613742

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bland Potpourri

Spent most of the day at the beach yesterday. I even went back at sunset… but that was part of a personal tour of Titusville I gave for my friend and her mom. I was planning on going to Publix yesterday, but I didn’t want to expel all my fun activities in one day, so I am saving that special event for this week.

For the past week I have been in miserable pain. I did something to my back last weekend and it is still lingering. I had a massage Wednesday and it just made it worse. Rose and Jo gave me a concoction of drugs yesterday that actually helped. My problem is that I have not been taking it easy. It started to dull last week, but then I played basketball. The pain intensified and moved lower. I feel like such a little bitch… but back and neck problems just fuck up your whole life. Can’t wait for this to go away.

Speaking of concoctions of drugs and alcohol, I saw Burn After Reading this weekend. I found myself laughing at things that nobody else found funny…

The countdown is on, just over two weeks left at the refuge. Hmmm. Talked with my homies at ECT. Sounds like I am going to be in the field a lot for the first couple months. I think there is a good chance I will get to go to Maryland, Mississippi or Ar-kansas.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Roll Out

So last week I got to see the shuttle roll out to the pad. I have been here two years and this is the first time I have seen it. I was able to get super close because one of my projects is right across the canal from the crawler way... check it out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It Happened to ME

Like OMG! I never imaged it would happen to me. I know I am almost 30, but still, I like to think I am somewhat hip… But last night I caught some of the VMA’s and it became blatantly clear that I am out of touch with what is cool in pop culture. What the fuck has happened to MTV? I was never a huge fan, but now I think you are required to have ADHD to follow the shit on that station. I am no accomplished pop culture critic, but it seems MTV has transformed B-listers and mediocrity into mainstream icons and the social norm.

I am not really disappointed with the realization that I am no longer “cool” to teenagers but I guess I was somewhat surprised when I found out…

I do see the value of the platform MTV has to promote awareness, regardless of how superficial and trendy they make it seem… but for issues like politics and global warming I think the “talent” have a way of almost diluting what it means to be liberal or green.

For instance, Paramore (a teenage rock group) showed up to the VMA’s in Smart Cars. When asked why, they said they were just trying to be different… Now I think a better explanation could have included words like “better for the environment”, “more efficient” , or “reduces our dependence on foreign oil” (for you conservatives)… But no, Haley said something like “I used a lot of hairspray and showing up in these offsets that” … I guess their half-assed effort to be sexy-green was far better than Tokio Hotel showing up in a monster truck…

P.S. I am addicted to The Hills. It is my guilty pleasure.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Bit the Bullet

So I finally bit the bullet and bought a car yesterday. Its a Matrix like a couple friends of mine have. I am not super pumped though... and I am not really sure why. Maybe its the money or maybe I am just not completely in love with the car, but I really can't think of another car that I would rather have (that I can afford). For a while I wanted to do the noble thing for the D and buy a Ford or GM, but when it came right down to it, the Matrix and Vibe are made on the same assembly line in Canada. So at this point I put aside my ambition to support my home and went with functionality.

Since the name "Trixy" was already taken, I named him "Trixster".

I left Trizzy at the dealer yesterday and drove Trixster home. Needless to say I had some explaining to do when I picked him up today. I honestly felt like I was cheating on Trizzy as I was driving him home today.

It was a hard decision to make. Trizzy and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary together. Its funny how attached I have become to this inanimate object. Yes, you need to be up to date on your tetanus before you ride in it, yes, it has not been detailed...ever, yes, the wipers turn on automatically when you make a turn, yes, the floor is covered with dog hair, yes, it leaks like a sieve when it rains, yes, I have to put water in the radiator twice a week, yes, yes, yes! I hear you haters! But, Trizzy has been there for me for ten years... hauled dirt, mulch, trees, trash, couches, desks, chairs, a section of boardwalk, six kayaks at once, worm bins, you name it. Five years ago, I set off on my own with everything I could fit in a U-haul trailer... and who made it happen; Trizzy did... 23 hours on the road. So how, after 10 years could I throw him away?

Well I can't. You see, its not that my needs have changed, its just that some needs that weren't being met have surfaced and they need attention... Thats all... Never throw anyone out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Famous Flower From Canaveral

For you... but don't touch it, it loves you not.



Mr. Clean

I have discovered that there is a direct correlation between my clarity of thought and the cleanliness of the floors in my house... interesting.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jerry

By The Numbers:
82 - Years old
58 - Years as the National Chairmen of MDA
43 - Telethons
65 Million - Dollars raised on this year's telethon
2 Billion - Dollars raised for MDA in 43 years

We had these mandatory online discussion boards for this humanities class I had at MSU. One of the questions was about social icons... I put it off til the last minute like I do everything. I couldn't really think of a social icon... well I ended up writing this thing about Jerry Lewis and it turned out to be the thread of the week. The teacher used it as a example in class.

I wonder if I would even watch the telethon if I wasn't one of Jerry's kids. I wonder if I would be as empathetic or sympathetic if I was normal. Maybe I would be, but probably not to the people that deserve it...

I have been saying for years that it would be a dream come true to go to the national telethon to see Jerry. Every year after telethon I say that I am going to go the next year... but never do... I made a half-assed attempt to inquire about going this summer. I did find out how to find out though... so maybe next year if...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prediction:

As Gustav gets ready to unload on New Orleans all I can think about is how this hurricane is going to launch Bobby Jindal into the national spot light where a love affair between Fox Noise, the GOP, and all of their ignorant minions will ensue. This will set up a show down between Barack and Bobby in 2012.... and I don't think it will be pretty.

I despise elephants.

A normal person would probably be more concerned about the safety of all the people that are about to lose everything... I am not normal but I am concerned, thats why I am voting for Barack...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Twilight on the Lagoon

Mike and I took the airboat out on Mosquito Lagoon last night. We were doing clapper rail surveys but we didn't hear a single one... probably because the water is so high. One of the mags on the engine came loose and sprayed oil everywhere... Miles from anywhere, all I could think about was missing Barack's speech... but we were able to tighten it back up with our leathermans and limp back to the ramp.

I was kind of hoping we would get back after dark because I really wanted to see the bioluminescence that an airboat would stir up... although I think the lagoon might be too diluted with all the rain to see anything spectacular anyway.

I am doing the turtle surveys this weekend for the last time. I am going to try to get out there super early... maybe I can catch some hatchlings heading out to sea to begin their lives. These are the things I will miss about this place... Mother earth you are special.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Gainesville--Come to Me

Reset, renewal--that's what you do-al. Why do I have to come to you though? Its nice to refresh the mind. Never seems to happen without some unresolvable stress... you can't do anything about it, but you can't let it go. And this drives you crazy because you are a fixer and nothing drives a fixer nuts like not being able to fix. The fun occupies 90% of the air but that itch distracts you just enough that you put an asterisk by that funness.

Maybe what's bothering me is that I have to do a speech tomorrow and I haven't started it yet. I even had an extra week, because I was suppose to do it last week but Fay saved me. Or maybe its the fact that I return to T-ville and all of my gadgets are malfunctioning. The Triz is being all weird again. My home computer is not willing to go online anymore, and I am pretty sure it is the computer and not the modem. And all of my data in every single GIS project I have done in the last two years is mysteriously undefined now... I needed to move it all to the server anyway, which would require that I redefine them, but now all my work is inaccessible for the time being.

Whatever. One month left. Need a new car. Need to fix my computer. Need to fix my life. But right now I need to write that speech... One step at time...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Opps!

So we are getting the worst of the storm right now and Mr. Barky Von Schnauzer has not been out since yesterday afternoon. So he finally sucked it up and went out this morning. It was early, I was tired. I was just going to eat something and let him back in. Like I said, it was early, I was tired... I forgot about him. I ate, took a shower, got dressed, looked at the radar... Oh no! I ran out back and my poor puppy dog was drenched! I couldn't help but laugh... Know wonder he hates me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay Day

Ahh. What a nice morning. I woke up before Jesus. The drive in was black and white. The sky and water were dark gray, and the trees were still just silhouettes. An isolated shower was coming in as I was going out over the bridge. I watched the marsh disappear as the crying cloud moved off shore. I stayed dry though. Hopefully that cloud had some tears left for my yard. Been playing in the flower beds lately. Tearing stuff out, moving stuff around, buying new stuff--the quest for all natives. Yet the storm water system drains just behind my house, so naturally there is an arboretum of exotics just over the fence. I can't wait for the storm to get here. I love storms. And of course everybody is freaking out. I had a bunch of routine errands to run when I was sucked in to the mad rush for storm supplies. I almost felt it necessary to tell everybody that I was not at the store for storm supplies, that I just needed some staples, but I didn't, I just contributed to the congestion and consumption. At least I can't be accused of being unpatriotic.

So I asked Rose and Jo if they would come get Gunner if the weather got too bad while I was still at work... They were like "sure... yea we have pretty much been getting him everyday while you are work". hmmm... he didn't tell me that. No wonder he hates my guts, thinks I am boring, and stares at me hoping I die... it's because the neighbor ladies spoil him rottener than I do.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Story Told Through Random Lyrics

I know you’re lonely for the words I ain’t spoken… but You made it clear, it was strictly a deal, of spring time love, and that’s how I should feel You said ‘like it or not that’s the way it’s got to be, you got to love yourself before you can ever love me’… Down the street, I watched you go, like there's no tomorrow, where we knowAll those simple thoughts, all those peaceful dreams, share the space with a hard worked day, but it's the little things, not expectation, that make life worth living…Sometimes we forget who we got, who they are, who they are not, there is so much more in love, than black and whiteI don’t know why I have to but this man must move on… So tonight I’ll burn the lyrics cause every chorus was your name… Can’t have it. My road it may be lonely just because it's not paved, it's good for drifting, drifting away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mass-ah-ge

I got a massage tonight. I found this school in Merritt Island that has 1 hour massages for $25... They also have $6.50 haircuts, but given my track record with cheap cuts, I should probably pass on this one (see blog entry "High Maintenance"). Although, maybe the price would ease the annoyance... Anyway, so yea the massage was good... It is pretty hard to complain about a massage though. I used to get them all the time at the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville; same deal, cheap student labor. But I guess it has been about three years.... I am a huge advocate of massage vs. chiropractors. It just makes more sense... work at the root of the problem, not just on the symptoms. They can tell so much about your body just by feeling you. Being touched is a basic human need... I think that's pretty much why I have never had a bad massage.

News Flash: Global Warming is Real!

I am so fucking sick of upper management talking about global warming as if it is some new idea... As if they are fucking informing us... Have you been living under a fucking rock? It is blatantly obvious that they know less about it than elementary school children. They talk about in such general terms as if it not yet an accepted phenomenon. It is like somebody telling a joke that you heard in high school thinking that it is going to launch their career in comedy. How do these people get in these positions? Seriously, the last three staff meetings they talked about global warming as if we had no clue... That we should start using these new spiral lights... News flash, that shit's been out for years. Stop insulting my intelligence and wake the fuck up. It is infuriating that these people have the power.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A City Girl Can't Be Made Out of Anybody Here

Last night I went out paddling on the lagoon to see the bioluminescence. The wake of the boat, every stroke of the paddle, and the spooked fish light up the water like little Ms. Tinkerbell's wand. We got devoured by mosquitoes and the moonlight diluted the glow but the stars were out, the water was calm, the mood was peaceful and the beer was cold. All in all it was a fabulous time. I think I am going to give a presentation on bioluninescence and lead a tour for MIWA members around the next new moon.
So this morning I was at the beach and somebody had dug a huge hole the day before and didn't fill it in... Well I was laying about twenty feet away from it and I noticed a couple people looking down in the hole. Then a young father was fetching an overthrown football when he yelled for his kids to come over. So curiosity finally got to me and I went to see what they were doing. Well it turns out that a nest of loggerhead turtles had hatched the night before up by the dune and as they were heading for the sea nine of them fell into the hole. It was about 11:00 am so they had been baking in the sun for a few hours. I assumed they were dead until I picked them up. They were alive, all nine of them! I took four of them and let the kids take the rest down to the water to release them... Basically I am a hero... But I guess somebody has to be the hero... Baby turtles are so adowable!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Two Men and A Truck

I sorta love helping people move. You always end up with new stuff. Like new and improved clothes lines, dishes, swings, books, coffee tables, free lunch, free dinner, and free beer to ease a sore back. And that natural no-brainer feeling that we get when we make sacrifices for others. Moving sucks but its always nice to have friends willing to help. Nothing is ever that bad when others are willing to help ease the burden.

Friday, August 8, 2008

High Maintenance

Seems like every time I pay to get my hair cut I hate it. Why can't anybody cut my hair like mama? Maybe I am overly critical of the haircuts I pay for because they cost money. Or maybe mama is just too good. Torn. Torn between doing it myself and paying for it. Usually my frugal ways sabotage any chance I might have of getting a decent cut. If I do it myself I have to wait three weeks for it to grow to the length i like it. If I pay to have it cut, it is usually too long in two weeks anyway. Maybe I have always been this picky and I am just too shy to tell the lady exactly what I want... Puppy dog still loves me know matter what my hair looks like...thanks buddy I love you too.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

B in T

Mr. Obama will never disappoint. This was a once in a life time opportunity to see the next president at a town hall meeting. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have been in attendance. I took a billion pictures and not a single one of them turned out. This is the best one.

For You

Adapt the pace of nature, her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Golden Ticket

So I got my ticket to see Barack tomorrow. I left work and stood in line in a scorching parking lot for 2 hours. They were giving out two per person and I was probably #400 in line a line of like 2000... well with two people left in front of me the security guard came out and said "attention everyone, we appreciate your patience but as of right now.....(pause) we are only giving out one ticket per person". Huge sigh of relief. I thought he was going to say they were all gone with only two people left in front of me.

Anywho... I have a date with Barack tomorrow morn! Can wait. Truly a once in a lifetime chance to see him in such a small town.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

HOW COULD I FORGET!

I can't believe I forgot to mention this.. So get this. Barack is coming to BCC Saturday which is a mile from my house!!! It is sold out (only 72 tix, wtf?) but I have "connections" working on it... I am not relying on these "connections" but I am not counting them out either... I have benefited from them before. Regardless, I will be loitering as close as I can get. Hopefully, close enough to feel the aura. I am so pumped.

So maybe I confused my excitement for Barack with my excitement for the aardvark environmentally friendly straws. Both are extremely exciting... I hope I can sleep tonight!

ELITISTS FOR OBAMA!

Suck It Without the Guilt

Ok for everybody I have given a guilt trip to about using straws that destroy the environment here is an alternative... Aardvark Environmentally Friendly Paper Straws. www.aardvarkstraws.com They feel kind of funny on the lips but they are totally cool... This made my day! (It doesn't take much sometimes). Awesome.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Roll on Trizzy (Again)

Well Trizzy had a snafu on our first day back together. I was coming back from the Y last night and I heard a loud noise under the hood. For a moment I felt relief... finally Trizzy had died and I could move on without feeling guilty... ummm wait we are still moving... it was just the serpentine belt; an easy fix. Damn! So I raced home before the battery died... Tonight I brought home a new $30 belt and put it on. Started it up and the brand new belt bound up again. $30 gone in a instant. Now what?

Scrap it! No! Scrap it! No! No! No! Upon closer examination I realized that a pulley had seized. I could fix this...Damn! I was having problems getting the pulley off when my neighbors came over to see if they could help. Then another neighbor. With tools from here and muscles from there we got it off. I used Rose and Jo's car to go to the parts store. Got the new pulley and another belt and in no time Trizzy was whole again. It was like a street party to resurrect the Triz.

It is obvious that none of my neighbors wanted to see me get rid of the Triz... Why else would they rush over to help me fix it? They must think he is pretty special... Well he says thanks and thinks you are pretty special too.

It takes a village to keep Trizzzy and me rolling.

Monday, July 28, 2008

All the Redemption Was Beneath That Dirty Hood

I am back. My back yard is a hay field! Stayed in Asheville last night. I have been wanting to stop there for quite some time. It is a great little town; art, music, culture, mountains, hippy-girls…

But everything must come to an end.

Ahh the post-trip woes. It’s kind of sad to be back even though just a few hours ago I was looking forward to it. It is so hard to assess my feelings after visiting home. I don’t know. I guess the one thing that every trip home validates is the fact that I am where I need to be…It is sad and scary to know that there is nothing back home for me… I could never go back and be happy as the person I am now. I feel fortunate in some respects but also guilty that I am turning my back on my roots. I outgrew my pot a long time ago, and have been transplanted into the wild. I am grateful for my roots though. Going home kind of hits the reset button. It’s affirmation that I am doing the right thing… but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.

I definitely needed this break. Friends and their little ones, the family, cities, music, fish, golf, mountains, the farm, the pond, the fireflies, daylight until 10:00pm, and the road.

Still chasing the hole-in-one though.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm No Hero, That's Understood

I feel helpless. I can't rescue you. I want to. I feel obligated to. You have to do it yourself. You can do it. You are doing it. Keep pushing forward. I am here for you when you need me... Most things come full circle. I have to leave you to your life and escape to mine, knowing that no matter what there will always be acceptance for persons we have grown in to. so long for now...

On to Asheville. Then back to the home I lead.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Know You're Lonely For Words That I Ain't Spoken

Thankful: That I escaped. That I grew out of my planter. That I spread my wings. That I am smart. That things weren't perfect. That I listen. That I have courage. That I don't lie. That I feel guilt. That I want more. That I challenge the status quot. That I don't fake anything. That I am real, real all the time. That, in time, I am loyal. That my roots are not certified organic. That I have earned everything that has come my way. That I have secrets. That I think differently than most. That I am perceptive. That I can make it on my own.

Lonely: That I escaped. That I grew out of my planter. That I spread my wings. That I am smart. That things weren't perfect. That I listen. That I have courage. That I don't lie. That I feel guilt. That I want more. That I challenge the status quot. That I don't fake anything. That I am real, real all the time. That, in time, I am loyal. That my roots are not certified organic. That I have earned everything that has come my way. That I have secrets. That I think differently than most. That I am perceptive. That I can make it on my own.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Maybe We Ain't That Young Anymore

Slept in yesterday then went on an architectural tour of the city by boat. Forgot sunscreen again... Then met up with Jess for dinner at Lou Malnati's in Lincoln park. Got up this morning to set off on the last leg of this part of my journey. Four hours away in rural Michigan the corn has tasseled out, the trees are bushy, tons and tons of wild flowers are in bloom, the bull frogs are barking, and the fire flies flickering. I finally caught some fish on my fly rod. Gunner kept swimming across my fly line though...goof!

Home. It's what it used to be... and will always be what it used to be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tonight We'll be Free All the Promises'll be Broken

So I made it to Chi-town. The drive was much longer than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was only going to take four and a half hours to get here but I was looking at the wrong directions. Anyway, I made it. Met Eric’s little girl Alice for the first time. They have a pretty nice place really close to Lake Mich. We headed downtown to meet up with Jess and Eric’s sisters. Had dinner in Lincoln Park and went to the Whiskey Sky lounge at the top of the W Hotel in downtown. It is a small, ritzy bar on the top floor of the hotel overlooking Navy Pier. As luck would have it a friend of Jessica’s was having her birthday party up there so we got to tag along. It just so happens that they had fireworks at Navy Pier tonight so we had an amazing view. Good times, interesting folks.

Interesting notes from the road: driving through Gary Indiana I see a sign - “The People of Gary Welcome You” - it was painted on a huge sewage tank at the water treatment plant… no better way to welcome somebody to your town… it might have even been painted with raw sewage… Well, it is sort of sad, nothing says the Midwest like the crippled manufacturing plants. Gary and Flint are the poster children for the fading era when unskilled labor could make a good living in this country. The fallout of the exportation of manufacturing jobs is literally littering the communities that surround these cities that were once hotbeds for good jobs. What can be done?… how about a mid-course correction… go green.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Show a Little Faith There's Magic in the Night

Awesome show… Although, the sound guys kept screwing up the mics and plugs on every song… every single one! I couldn’t believe it. Scott Avett was funny as shit tonight; mocking dudes and how they can’t cry or be sensitive... NA. The guy next to me had this elaborate recording set up and he is going to cut it up and post it for me. They played a couple songs from their new album that is set to release next week (maybe?) and they were awesome. The one song was about his family… like so many of their other songs; how important and special their family is. I envy that tight bond that some people have with their family… but I guess we all do the best we can... They didn’t play my song but I hear it anyway.

...I don’t know why I have to, but this man must move on...

So one little footnote about the show, the town, the county. I noticed a sign discouraging the use of alcohol, but everybody was bringing in coolers… so I asked my chauffer (they were taxiing us back to the stage area on golf carts) what the situation was; blah, blah you can bring it if you put it in a coozy or cup. So I asked to be taken back to my car so I could make a beer run and she informed me that I would have to drive 45 minutes to find anything. Umm yea. It’s a dry county. No booze at the show, no booze at the party store, no booze anywhere in this county unless you order it with a meal at a restaurant. So I drank lemonade and remained sober. And it all worked out great.

These Two Lanes will Take us Anywhere

Sheesh! I was in a daze for most of the 431 miles but I made it to Somerset. Less than an hour til the first act goes on…

So last night we went to Dante’s Down the Hatch in Buckhead. It was a pretty sweet place; fondue and stew, a replica pirate ship with a jazz band on board surrounded by water crawling with live caymans and crocs… Morbidly obese caymans and crocs I might add… very strange, but very, very cool. We just sat at the bar and had some stew and brew. Then headed back to a place in Jenn’s hood called “the local”.

Big Guns is so high maintenance, but also soooo adowable when he gets cranky in the car…. The drive was boring until we got off the highway… from then on it was beautiful. Two lane winding road through the foot hills of Kentucky. We stopped at Cumberland Falls for a while and took some pix. Went for a little hike. Gunner got tired... Well I gots to yank out some teeth and tear off my sleeves before I roll.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Casing the Promised Land

Well me and G pulled out of T-ville yesterday morn with my day-off-staple BLT on an everything bagel from Bagel World in hand; stylin’ and profilin’ in our flaming yellow rented Chevy Cobalt… Got to G-ville around lunch time. Met up with a now-walking Cass-dog, Jen, Bill, Marty, and Jim for lunch. Left around 3:00 and got to ATL around 7:30. Jenn got called out to Cali on a fire so she left us the key to her crib. Coincidently, I arrived at almost the same time as another one of her friends who was also staying at her place. So the two of us are using her place as a hostile. G proceeded to tear up a couple of Angus’s toys… Erik had just finished up a long day of protecting the environment when he swung bye and took us out-of-towners on the Erik Spalvins’ hospitality tour… I got tanked…

Went to Georgia Aquarium this morning. Cool, cool. Saw the whale sharks, beluga whales, the sea
otters, which were adowable, and tons of other cool creatures. It was packed…It was hard to walk and look at stuff without plowing over knee high mini persons. Going to take a cat nap to rejuvenate for another night on the town…

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Ball's in My Court

I've been playing a lot of basketball lately. I have always found sanctuary in shooting hoops. It has definitely been a mental escape for me my entire life. I used to shoot a lot growing up. I can't say that I have ever had a great idea or an epiphany on the court but I usually put the ball down more mellow than when I picked it up. The last couple days I have been trying to figure out why it has always been so therapeutic for me. I am afraid I use it to numb my feelings... Thinking back there were some unpleasant times on the court...

When I was in eighth grade a girl in seventh grade committed suicide. I didn't know her that well but I had talked with her on what I think was the day she died. That next day everybody was crying, but I didn't even find out why until 2nd or 3rd hour. I remember not really knowing how I felt or how to react. I don't think I cried. But I remember going out to shoot hoops as soon as I got home. I shot for a long time. I remember my Dad coming home and instead of going inside he sat on the tailgate of his truck trying to figure out what to say. I think at that point I realized what parents fear most... I just kept shooting.

The court has also been a place of utter embarrassment. I was always the basketball team's manager; never played. But toward the end of our freshmen year the coach and the players were really pushing for me to play in a game. So it was set, I was going to play in the last home game of the year against Durand. As the game neared the pressure was building. People were coming just to see me play. I started to feel like Rudy; like I was drawing all this attention out of pity. My parents questioned whether I really wanted to play, because at the time I had gaudy, Forest Gump-like metal braces that went up to my knees. So just before the game I cracked under the pressure and told the coach I wasn't going to play. We went in the locker room and he calmed me down, and talked me back into playing. So as we were warming up before the game the refs came up to me and were concerned about the metal on my braces. Much to my relief they said I could not play with those braces. Well Mr. Butcher wasn't going to let that happen, so he took me in the locker room, tore up a gym mat and taped foam around every piece of metal on the braces. At that point gaudiness had just been redefined and my anxiety rose to a new level. So I sat the entire first quarter on the comfort and safety of the pine, but during a foul shot in the second quarter Mr. Butcher looked my way. The crowd erupted with cheers of pity, anticipating a miracle. Striken with the worst case of cotton mouth in my life, I was cherry-picking when Ryan Jones got the rebound from a missed free throw and immediately hurled the ball to the handicap kid carrying everybody's desire to witness a miracle. I caught the ball, turned and dribbled toward the basket for my wide open lay-up... The deflating gasp from the crowd echoed in the silence that followed. I failed to inspire. I finished the game with zero points feeling more embarrassed by the attention than by missing the wide open layup... But such is life. I had another shot at our final away game. I had four points in that game... I stopped being the manager after that.

Then a couple years ago, the most inspiring moment in basketball that I have ever seen happened with striking similarity to my story, only this time the outcome was much different...

Talk about inspiring. I remember seeing this as I was getting ready for school a couple years ago. I was moved to tears... Now I have followed college and pro basketball for a long time; been to two finals fours, both colleges I graduated from won national championships while I was a student, my pro team has won the championship 3 times in my lifetime.... but none of those moments even compare to this. It is so intriguing to me what the mind is capable of.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

T. Boone Pickens--the Warren Buffet of Alt Energy?

I got several emails about this yesterday and glanced over them all. I wasn't really sure who he was until I saw his TV commercial just a few minutes ago... It gave me chills. Finally, a villain with a HUGE voice becomes an ally... Its the start of a movement.

Check it out:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/25582244/site/14081545/

Listen to his NPR interview:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92306239

He is suppose to unveil the details of his plan over the next few weeks. Finally! Action that is practical!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Interesting Tidbit about Amos Lee's "Better Days"

So about a year and a half ago I was introduced to Amos Lee for the first time on Prairie Home Companion. He sang Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight, and a new song titled Better Days, which I couldn't get out of my head. I was hooked, and since I couldn't find it anywhere I repeatedly scrolled through the show to hear that song. For the last year and a half I have been trying to find it, then about 6 months ago a poor-quality live video of the song showed up on youtube. Then last month he released his latest cd Last Days at the Lodge and on it was Better Days. But it didn't sound like I remembered... and sure enough, he changed the second verse... turning it into more of a love song. The second verse of original version that he sang on PHC had a subtle political undertone, while the new second verse talks of love lost... Interesting. He must have had his heart broken.

Check out the original version here: http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2007/01/27/. Better Days is about 44:30 into the show. In the following video he dedicates the newer version of the song to the passing of Tim Russert: http://youtube.com/watch?v=e-TKQuABFB8.

I would say that Amos Lee could be the love child of James Taylor and Jack Johnson. Amos is coming to central FL in the next few weeks but I don't think I will be around to see him.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Your Sunday Flower


I didn't pick it because it is fragile, and it doesn't last past the morning.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy F-ing B-day America

blah, blah. spent most of the day on the beach. blah, blah, moved green turtle nests this morning. blah, blah, chilled on the NPS beach. blah, blah, brakes seized on the triz. blah, blah, wasted afternoon fixing it. blah, blah, went to irish. blah, blah, thought about you. busy day... i am tired.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wash Your Worries Away

I love rain... there is comfort in its renewal... wiping the slate clean; rejuvenating; invigorating. i love walking in it, but i also love the safe feeling of shelter when you are hiding from it. I love the mesmerizing clouds. i love the sound; like plugging your ears in the shower and letting the water run on your head. i love how it smells after it rains. I love the puddles and the track you get up your back when you ride your bike through one. i love that showers bring flowers...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Special Place

Seventeen weeks of my life I spent in a secret place; a magical place. It was a place where dreams really did come true. Though those that knew me in my everyday life didn’t know about this place, nor did they, or could they understand the profound influence it had on my life. Growing up, the highlight of my year was going to MDA camp.

As a child MDA camp was a place to go to be normal; a place without limits. A place where the impossible became possible. A place where kids confined to wheelchairs could go swimming in the lake, boating, fishing. A place to dance... The memories play in slow motion like a slideshow set to the song “love can build a bridge”.

As I grew into my late teens I switched from being a camper to a volunteer. I didn’t need camp to break down any physical barriers for me anymore… but it was important that I be there to help break down those barriers for my friends. We started going to camp at the age of 6… we grew up together. I always felt a sense of guilt that I never got worse… but my friends did. Some of the long-time volunteers used to tell me how important it was that I be there… that seeing me seemingly beating the disease was inspiring to my friends that were losing their fight. I never felt that way. I didn’t want to be inspiring, I, like the others wanted to be normal; not an all-star athlete or a guitar hero, just normal. I was almost normal, but not. I vividly remember one friend, Robert, asking me out of the blue why the disease hadn’t progressed in me; as if I was stronger than him, or if there was something that I was doing that he wasn’t…not that I was just lucky… He died the next year just before camp; his sister wrote a note to us telling us how much he loved camp and how it lifted his spirits every year. One of the older volunteers read the note to the newer volunteers in the cabin so that they could hopefully realize how important this week was to the campers. I never went to his funeral, never acknowledge his passing until the first words of the letter were being read. Then it poured out. We know the fate of most of the campers at camp years ahead of time... But it doesn’t make it any easier.

The older I got, the more I was able to control my emotions. Camp is an emotional place and leaving every year was hard. I remember the first year that didn’t cry when I left camp. I actually felt more upset that I didn’t cry. What did it mean? Was camp not special anymore? Camp was still special. But for me it had lost its innocence. As my generation of campers grew older the harsh reality of life could not be avoided. While it took the letter to come to terms with the loss of Robert, I still haven’t acknowledged the loss of my longtime partner in crime Ramon… The time has come though... in a couple weeks I will tell Ramon’s story, with the much needed closure.

For years at camp we referred to the real world as the other 51 weeks of the year. But for many campers MDA camp is their only chance to experience the real world, to feel normal, to come off the sidelines and be in the game. Camp is the real world. Camp is what is good in the world. In one special week everybody at camp—volunteers and campers alike--are exposed the deepest depths of humanity. You find in you the compassion, love, and spirit of life.

Today I experience camp through my mom. For about 6 or 7 years she has closed her beauty shop for the day and taken her employees to camp to cut hair for the camp prom. Prom is probably the most important night at camp. Most of the kids don’t get to go to their high school prom. So this is their opportunity to get dressed up, get their hair done, and dance. I am proud of my mom for doing this. I think she understands the importance of camp to everybody, and I think she recognizes how important it was in my life. I think this is her way of giving back and being close to me.

So tonight my thoughts are with the campers cuttin’ up rugs on the shore of Lake Huron.