31 October 2008

Happy Halloween

While my friends and family are either busy handing out candy, wrangling kids to houses to collect treats, or whoop'n it up at a party with friends or a companion, I am still in North Carolina. It's late on Friday of All Hallows Eve and I'm getting ready to play the role of support wagon for Ryan's first full Iron-distance triathlon. We are getting up early to hike it up to race start so sleep is of the essence. Despite the myriad of things running through my brain I will not be picking one of the many deep thoughts bouncing around in my skull to pontificate about. Instead, I'll be focusing on getting a good night's rest in an effort to get up early and get the crew out the door in time for the big race. It's been a long day of dropping off bikes, picking up packets and staging supplies. I'm tired, and I'm not even the one covering 140 miles tomorrow by my own locomotion.

In the last 24 hours I've learned a thing or two about my situation. I would like to say that the lessons are good and that I've come away for the better armed with more knowledge and a bit of hope that things will turn out the way they are suppose to. Instead, I'm more uncertain and unsure that it will turn out good for anyone. It's okay to be unsure though as life can mimic a blind rollercoaster ride where you don't get to see when the next up, down or loop is going to hit you. So, it's okay to be uncertain. You have to wrap your brain around the idea that just because you don’t know the outcome of a situation, it doesn’t mean that you have to consume all of your emotional energy trying to figure it out. You need to have a little faith and hope for the best, at least that’s I’ve been told. The hard part is losing hope or harboring the feeling that the situation is hopeless. Hope is something that every human being holds on to when things get sketchy in their lives. It’s a defense mechanism to deal with the current hardship in an effort to make you believe that the hurt will go away soon. This is suppose to get you through the tough times, but it takes effort to do so. You can hope you do well on a race, but in the end, it will be up to how much training you did and how mentally prepared you are to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. The only thing worse than losing hope is having false hope. Focusing your mind on the idea that something will turn out the way you want when you know good and well it will never happen will not only expend your energy, it will psychologically crush you that day when you know you’ve held out for a false dream. I guess the question is, how long do you hold out? Is the time frame three weeks? Is it six months? Is it forever? And how do you know that the hope you have isn’t false? Is it a matter of faith rather than hope?

The answers to these questions really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. In the end, you have to put one foot in front of the other and move forward in life because you can’t stop time and you can’t get back the time you’ve spent. You can only learn from yesterday, live today, and try to make the most of tomorrow before you find yourself under a dirt blanket wondering what in the heck happened to the time you spent wanting something you never even had a chance to get in the first place.

Not to end this entry on a down note, let me tell you a story of my first Halloween in America. My brother and I, new to the concept of begging for candy at stranger’s houses, were taken by my folks to a neighborhood to experience our first “trick or treat” outing. We were properly briefed on what to do and thought we had the plan figured out. We walked up to the first house, which was decorated pretty scary, especially to a 4 and 5 year old, and surveyed the scene cautiously. Like a good older sibling, I sent my little brother forward to scout out the situation. Well, it was more like I was a little freaked out about the place and I assumed that if Gary got eaten by the flaming orange squash on the steps then it would give me a head start to run away. He returned with a treat and with my safety concerns satisfied, I marched up to repeat his actions to receive my just reward. Upon returning to the parental units, we approached with very disgusting looks on our faces. When asked what was wrong, we stated that we didn’t like the treats and proceeded to spit out the fowl candy into the parent’s hands. To their surprise, they found that they were holding what looked like a mixture of chocolate, caramel, and foil. Apparently they failed to brief us that you had to remove the wrapper of the candy before you could eat it.

So, have a Happy Halloween everyone and wish Team Ryan good luck tomorrow.

30 October 2008

Where's the beach?


North Carolina. I’ve never spent any significant time here having only driven through this state on my way from Virginia to Myrtle Beach a few years back. If it wasn’t for the race that my buddy Ryan is doing in Wilmington, I probably would not have a real reason to be here. We are staying at his folk’s beach house about a half hour away from the race and let me say, wow. I kind of like this beach life. I could get use to this whole waking up to the sound of waves. It’s a real beautiful place that I’ve been given permission to come back and visit (or should I say encouraged to with the threat of bodily harm if I don’t). I’m looking forward to taking them up on that offer and witnessing the warm sunsets, but for some reason, watching sunsets alone seems to take some of the beauty out of them.




NC

Soon I'll be leaving on a jet plane (don't know when I'll be back again). I am North Carolina bound to help support a buddy doing a full Ironman distance triathlon. Why people do these things is beyond me, but I'll be there to encourage him and to help bring his exhausted carcass home after the event.

29 October 2008

Yes...I am the muffin man



So watching Charlie Brown last night wasn’t as magical as I remember it, but I suspect that you lose something as you get older and become a little more jaded. I too saw how the kids were a little mean to Charlie Brown and I have to say that I don’t remember the whole school election segment that followed the original show. I’m sure it was done to fill in the one hour time gap created by filling a half hour cartoon with commercials, but it sort of turned me off as it was a little campy. In my state of disinterest I found myself longing for something warm to eat as the hot chocolate just didn’t do it for me. Wandering into the kitchen in search of a toasty treat, I had this sudden desire to make muffins. I scoured the cabinets to see if I had purchased any pre-made mix (you know the kind that you just add milk to and pop in the oven) but alas, the cupboard contained no packages of prepared powdered pastries. One thing I don’t have a shortage of is baking supplies (left over from the mass cookie bake a month back) so I decided to whip up a batch of my grandmother’s bran muffins. That’s right, I said bran muffins. Usually when you hear people mention “bran” in anything, it brings up visions of Metamucil, dentures, and coffin dodgers. Believe me when I say that they are a lot better then you think, and when you warm them up, slather some butter on them and pair them with a nice cold glass of milk, they will make your taste buds happy (not to mention they are pretty healthy for you). My grandmother’s recipes are not small by any means, and I ended up making enough for about 2 dozen with batter left over to make about 2 dozen more. Now, with a giant container full of colon scrubbers, I should have treats for the next week or so. Who would have thought that a bad cartoon would drive me into a baking frenzy AND stir a desire to be pretty regular?

Although I was slightly disappointed in the Great Pumpkin, I still enjoyed it for the good memories it drummed up. Despite my current state of not looking forward to the holidays, I will be looking forward to Mr. Brown’s Christmas Special where Mr. Van Pelt will recite Luke 2:8-14 for the true meaning of Christmas. Not sure why it makes me feel good, but there 's just something about hearing it from a child that makes me take pause during the busy season. Their innocence hasn't been lost yet and I think we all could benefit from that point of view now and then.


In my head

I’ve done my best to avoid the radio and most forms of music lately, but somehow there is a tune in my head that feels like the audible equivalent of hammering needles under my finger nails. If I could just get a Ms. O’conner from bellowing out periods of times (7 hours, 15 days), I would be most gracious.

28 October 2008

The Great Pumpkin



Brrrr.

When the weather gets cold, I am thankful that my truck has seat warmers. It might be a silly option to have, especially living in Texas, but I’m here to say that on mornings like this when the outside temperature gauge reads 38 degrees, it’s nice to hit the switch that will quickly turn my heat robbing leather seats into a toasty bum warmer. I usually keep it in the low setting because it does a pretty good job (probably from lack of use). Plus, the high setting is enough to scortch your boxers.

I’m not sure if this cold snap means that autumn has officially arrived in Texas but I know that I’m kinda enjoying the weather. It reminds me of Michigan and New York in the fall, well, early fall at least as there would be frost on the ground as early as September. These brisk temps were good for carving pumpkins as you could leave your Jack-o-Lantern out on the porch for almost 2 weeks with no fear of the heat turning it into a rotten mess of orange goo. Speaking of pumpkins, tonight is the annual airing of “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”. I’m sort of a sucker for those old seasonal cartoons on prime time TV because they signaled the start of the next holiday. I guess it’s not as exciting as it use to be with the advent of TiVO and DVDs when you can watch that stuff whenever you want, but I still plan on curling up on the couch to watch it tonight even though I’ve seen Linus Van Pelt's disappointment a hundred times. When the weather gets nippy like this, it’s nice to sit and watch those nostalgic shows curled up under a blanket with someone, but I’m guessing that a cup of hot chocolate will have to do. Just as long as it has Cool Whip in it. Mmmmm... Cool Whip.

In the big scheme of things, the temperature hasn’t been that cold but I’ve spent the last two weeks a bit chilled. Maybe it’s my time in the desert that has made me this way. Yeah. That’s probably it. I feel like a wimp, but I’m not going worry too much about it. I just can’t wait for it to go away as it is a deep chill that not even the highest setting on the seat warmers can seem to shake loose.


26 October 2008

Two days of fun...not!

In an effort to occupy my mind and stay busy, I’ve spent the better part of this weekend assaulting my very large “to do” list of projects around the house. Nothing major like tearing down a wall or installing a bidet, but they are things that I’ve wanted to get to but never seemed to have the time for. From sun up to sun down I’ve unpacked straggler boxes that escaped the initial move, I rearranged furniture a few times, hung fixtures here and there, and transformed my garage from a junkyard into a room with some semblance of order (enough to actually access my tools in order to complete the other major projects on the house). In my frenzy of work, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I’ve misplaced the hardware to my bookshelves and can’t find the nuts and bolts to my futon. Guess my guest will be sleeping on the pullout.

Since man cannot live on cleaning alone, I spent some serious time in the kitchen making food as if I was preparing to feed an army. The culinary creations included a nice big pot of chicken noodle soup. With the exception of actually raising the chicken from an egg and growing the veggies, I made it all from scratch and it tasted pretty darn good. Also on the menu was a batch of “test chili” in preparation for the upcoming chili cook-off at work that someone signed me up for. And I rounded out the cook-a-thon by whipping up a massive bowl of fresh guacamole that I’ve been eating on for two meals (and could probably sustain a small Mexican village for a season).

Unfortunately, there is no point to this rambling. I normally try to throw in a deep thought or a witty revelation, but not today. Sunday is a day of rest, and after two days of not using my brain, I’m just not able to pull out anything worth writing about.

24 October 2008

Friday is here

Today marks the end of the work week. Most people who work the usual Monday to Friday shift will be patiently waiting for the five o’clock whistle to start their weekend (except for people employed in retail, food service, hospitals and correctional facilities). So what do you do with those two days free with no obligations to that job that pays your bills? Well the possibilities are endless and are limited only by your imagination and money. I throw money in there because if we all had an unlimited amount of it, most of us wouldn’t have to work a nine to five job thus making every day a “Friday”. Anyway, today is the day that springboards you into the weekend and I fear that most folks, like me, will have their mind not on the tasks they are getting paid to do today. Instead they will ponder what crazy events they want to cram into the next two days. Keep this in mind the next time you keep a Friday dental appointment and the dentist is rooting around your mouth with a high speed drill.

Every weekend can’t be a vacation. Projects that you’ve put off all week because you were just too tired to mess with after a day of work will need to be done. Those of us with lawns that are still growing will need a bit of upkeep so that the neighbors don’t think you are attempting to grow wheat in your front yard. Laundry that has piled up all week will require some attention unless you want to do the whole “wear your underwear inside out” to get a few more days use out of them. And the weekend is a perfect time to find out what is causing that smell in the fridge as it hasn’t “gone away” like you had hoped it would. But all work and no play makes you a boring person. Let’s not forget to fill the weekend with some fun things to do. Go visit a pumpkin patch and pick out some gourds to carve up. Meet a friend for fondue because those meals take like forever! Taunt a friend who is training for an IronMan triathlon and challenge him to a Buffalo Wing eating contest! Better yet, enjoy the benefits of the season and do some leaf peeping (unless you live in Texas where leaves quickly transform from green to brown in the blink of an eye and it usually happens some time in December).

I found that when I returned from Iraq, I learned to appreciate the weekends a lot more than I did before the deployment. Because the mission over there only allowed us half a day off per week (and sometimes not even that), we learned quickly to prioritize our free time in order to maximize its benefit to our sanity. This usually meant more sleep, or as much as you could get as the sun tried to bake you in the tin can of your hooch. Regardless, I try not to take the weekends for granted.

Unfortunately the deployment didn’t change the fact that I am a busy-body and don’t like to be sedentary for very long. My weekends start as early as my weekdays, much to the dismay of the people around me who enjoy the pleasures of sleeping in. I try to respect their need for rest as I too hold rack in high reverence. It’s just that I can’t sleep in so I might as well do something constructive. This use to involve some sort of physical activity like running, bike riding, or squirrel chasing, but I’ve recently found more time to do that during the week which frees up my weekends to do... well, to do anything else except physical activity. I’ve got plenty of tasks at the house to work on as it is always in need for some sort of tweak or repair. Plus, with the cost of gas coming down, I am no longer bound by the distance I can go without selling a kidney to pay for the fuel required to take a long road trip.

So go out and spend the next two days doing something fun. It will make valuable deposits into your bank of experiences that makes the difference between living and existing. As for me, I’m not sure what the weekend will hold for me, but I know that I’d much rather be doing a lot of other things, like trying to stay in bed just a little longer in order to keep it warm, traveling by plane to see old friends or taking a hay ride someplace in Virginia.

23 October 2008

Quote

I found this quote today:

"Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness." ~ Max Ehrmann

It evoked memories of times in my life when I let fear get the better of me. This in turn motivated me to get a little more information about this quote (thank goodness for the internet).

Mr. Ehrmann was a lawyer turned writer and whose most notable achievement was the poem “Desiderata”, Latin for "things desired as essential". The quote was actually part of the poem and I thought it was interesting enough to post it.


Desiderata
By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

22 October 2008

Routine

I woke up this morning at 5:00am, like I have for as long as I can remember, and I laid there contemplating the day ahead of me. The alarm on my watch is set for 5:20am in case I get too wrapped up in my meandering crack of dawn thoughts, but for the most part, I’m off the couch, turn off my brain, and put my body on autopilot to begin my weekday pre-work custom. I went to the bathroom, shaved, dressed, and packed my meals for the day. With the exception of missing one very important thing, this morning was the same routine I do every day before I head out the door to become a productive member of society.

For as long as I can remember I have been tied to some sort of schedule. From dragging my butt out of bed to attend kindergarten to making sure I was at the paper station on time to pick up the news for my paper route, I learned early on that life operated around routines. You could either accept that fact or expend a lot of energy trying to fight it. Resistance is futile because it is hardwired into us. We are creatures of habit and this lesson begins at an early age. I remember loathing nap time as a wee lad because it usually interrupted a game of tag with my brother or caused massive scheduling delays on a very important Lincoln Log construction project. But each day I was given my daily dose of a well needed nap, even if I didn’t know I needed it. Even today I see examples of people in my own life with children who are kept on schedules in their developing years. Although often difficult for the parents to maintain while juggling their own busy schedules, the children with routines tend to get through the rough spots in their childhoods quicker than those without a schedule, not to mention that the parents of scheduled kids normally retain most of their hair and a bit more sanity. Coincidence? I think not.

If I didn’t have a good sense of what a routine was before I went to college, one was hammered into me after my stint at a military school in upstate New York. Imagine four years of your life where you did the same thing every day to the point where every day ran together in a blur of gray on gray. The clothing was the same, the schedule was the same, and the slop they were serving in the mess hall was the only way one could differentiate what day of the week it was. I think this regimented lifestyle is one that only members of the military and prisoners can relate to.

Most of the time, routine gets a bad rap. How would it make you feel if someone told you that you were routine? And most terrible of all, how would it make you feel if you overheard your significant other telling someone that their love life was routine? If that’s not reason to go out and invest in some fancy underwear or educational literature, I’m not sure what is. I guess I’m trying to point out that routine doesn’t have to drum up mental images of people in drab clothes clambering through a monotonous factory job in some Communist country as their will to live is slowly leached from them on a daily basis. Schedules are like taxes; everyone might not like them, but they serve a purpose and they help make the wheels of civilized life go round.

There also exists some level of comfort in knowing that the same thing will happen every day; that you will come home from school and mom will have a glass of milk and cookies waiting for you, that you will share dinner each night with someone you love, or that after every dinner you have a tradition of taking a walk with that special person to talk about your day. Imagine a life where the sun rose and set in the arms of the one you loved and you might appreciate it. Now imagine that same life where that simple event didn’t happen and tell me that you don't miss it.

Succumbing to the idea that your life will have some sort of customary routine does not mean that you have to accept the “in and out” of the same thing as your eternal plight. You might be bound to a schedule of showing up for work every morning and punching a time clock, or picking up the kids or dog from daycare the exact time each afternoon, but that doesn’t prevent you from finding ways to put excitement in your existence. Simple things such as taking the long scenic way to work instead of the quickest route or taking the dog to PetSmart to buy a bone instead of straight home to watch TV can break the “same old” repetition that can mean the difference between living life and just existing. There are hours and days that you do control and while it is necessary to fill the cup of your life with water to sustain you, it’s nice to add something different every now and then...like something fizzy, or alcoholic, possibly with an umbrella.

Have I bought into the belief that routine is the best thing for everyone? No. I believe that in order to achieve a healthy balance of purpose and happiness in your life that you must understand that routine and impulsiveness can coexist. Spontaneity is totted as the spice of life and it’s important to fit something tangy or sweet into your daily recipe as much as possible. In fact, I highly recommend setting aside at least one weekend a month that you leave open; no dates, no appointments, no scheduled trips. Take that time to wake up, read the paper, and find something that is happening that will only take no more than a tank of gas and a packed lunch to experience. I think you’ll find that it will help keep you sane, or at least impede the onset of insanity for a little while.

So, as I sit here working for “the Man”, I have a little more clarity on the pitfalls of routine and a lot more appreciation for the customs and habits of my life. I will complete my 10 hours of work, fight the traffic to the house, find some vittles to eat, go for a run, and maybe even do something spontaneous with the few remaining hours I have, like go early vote or ride my bike to the local Dairy Queen for a Butterfinger Blizzard. I’m crazy like that! And after all is said and done, I will end my day the way I’ve done for the past few months, minus the same thing I missed when I started out the day. It is then that I will miss the routine more than ever.

21 October 2008

Time

I ran my first marathon over 10 years ago when I was but a young lieutenant in the Army. I don’t exactly recall why I made the decision to abuse my body for the 4 months leading up to the event and the race itself. It may have been the pressure exerted on me by my commander at the time who was a hard core runner himself, all 5 feet of him. It may have been a way for me to get in better shape. It could also be that I was repressing a little bit of self masochism and needed a constructive outlet. Regardless of the motivation, I spent many an early morning dodging road kill and pounding the pavement of Fort Hood preparing my body to endure the 26 miles and 385 yards I pledged to conquer.

I wasn’t the only sucker that the commander got to run. He drafted other unsuspecting officers to join in the misery and even pressured some NCO’s to participate. Our final group was small and the daily training runs started early so we could start the day with the rest of the unit. We usually ran together for the first few miles, but as the blood started pumping and we shook the blankets of sleep from our muscles, we thinned out as we settled into our own individual paces. Not as fast as most of the folks, I spent a lot of time running alone. It frustrated me. I ran track for 6 years before college, but rarely had to run more than a 5k. Back then, all my runs were over in less than half an hour, yet there I was trying to cover the scheduled 10 miles without thinking about how long the run would take. How long had I been running for? How long until the next water stop? When does the sun come up? I viewed time as my enemy, but not in the same sense that professional athletes interpret it. I was not trying to beat the clock or achieve a personal record. Instead, time was part of this intricate plot to make the agony of the run last for as long as possible and I loathed it for that reason. Now I’m an educated person and I know about the theory of relativity. That didn’t mean I appreciated how sluggish my watch moved when I wanted nothing more than to stop all this running business.

This was by no means my first run in with the troublesome clock. On long trips across country, time between rest stops was long and painful, especially when your dad only stopped when he needed to fuel up and you just got done gulping down half a pitcher of Kool-Aid. “Oh Yeaaaaah” quickly turned into “Oh Nooooo!” combined with a modified sitting position of the pee-pee dance. Every Christmas Eve lasted forever and the acceptable hour to wake up the parents (required before tearing into the gifts) mocked me from afar. The 4 years of college were brutal and the hands on the clock moved as if they were double tasked with telling time and pulling farm equipment. The days spent in Iraq were longer than normal and time moved at glacial speed keeping home so far away. In retrospect, time has never been a good friend of mine. In fact, it’s not even cordial or polite. It just there, unknowingly torturing the souls that are bound to it and leaving us wondering why it moves so damn slow, or too fast. That’s right. Time is a fickle fiend. Not only will it prolong your pain, it has no qualms with prematurely stealing your joy. Recess is never long enough, weekends and vacations too short, and I swear that alarm clocks were invented by Beelzebub himself to rob you of those extra few minutes of deep and cozy sleep (which is why the snooze button is consider by some as a heavenly blessing). We are controlled by time and there is always a shortage of it when you want it most, like spending time with a loved one, and a surplus of time when you need it least, like when that loved one is far away.

I’m sure there are proponents out there for time, probably in the form of lobbying organizations or a large corporation like Timex and Seiko. They are the ones who push age old clich├ęs like “better late than never” and “time heals all wounds”. Well, I say “bah” to those promoters of seconds, and minutes, and hours, and days, and months and years. Time has given me nothing but heartache and sorrow and while I consent to the logic that cuts will turn into scabs and eventually into scars with the passing of time, I won’t succumb to the idea that time is always a beneficial thing. It is still my enemy, especially now. Especially today.

Despite my illogical hatred of time, I still run, but I’ve given up running marathons. It’s too much on the knees and the time you need to invest to train properly is too much to juggle with everything else that saps my days. Getting old sucks. But still I run, and this chapter in my life is just another leg of the long race that is my life. The difference is, of all the other legs I’ve ran before I knew that the pain in my joints and the burning in my chest would only last for a little while because I was armed with the knowledge of the distance to that next rest stop. I had one year to endure in Iraq before I could returned safely, had to suffer through 4 years before I eventually graduated college, and Christmas morning finally came after a few hours. There were, in fact, definitive stopping points in my life that I mentally and emotionally prepared myself to hold out for. Only this time, I don’t know where that next rest stop is or how long I have to go before I can take a break from this internal aching (and it is a far worse feeling than the modified sitting pee-pee dance).

Curse you time.

19 October 2008

Madi




Madison the Wonder Mutt has made many an appearance here on the blog. From my battles with her chewing my stuff to her peeing on my leg when she didn’t want to listen, I have spent more time with her than I originally thought I would. I remember sitting in Iraq wondering how I was going to accept this new addition to my life. For starters, I’m allergic to animals and new puppies take a lot of time to train and take care of and I was unsure how she would be included in my transition to civilian life.

Potty training took what seemed like forever and her constant chewing was hard to deal with. Spontaneous adventures were curtailed because you had to make sure you weren’t away from the apartment for more than 8 hours. The freedom to take off for the weekend was now complicated by finding a dog-sitter. If it was anything, I guess it was good training if you were thinking about having a kid and I thought her owner and I were getting pretty good at juggling our schedules to accomodate the puppy. It was complicated to have her around, but as she grew from a puppy to a dog, she got rid of some of her mischievous ways while still retaining her sweetness. We started to overlook the hicups in our lives because we had a wonderful dog that was willing to give us slobbery kisses and affection.

When I moved to the house, she was given the luxury of having a yard to play in. She spent hours running around, chasing squirrels, eating sticks, and digging to China. When she wasn't pooping all over the place, she was protecting us from the evil geckos and lizards that roamed near the doorway. Her cat upbringing put any bug or flying insect at risk of a series of sloppery chomps. But most of all, she loved the convenience of going outside to play as it was just a whine away, far better than having to get her on the leash and walk her down two flights of stairs. When she turned into devil dog at night, she had 4 bedrooms to run around and explore until she got tired. When you weren’t paying enough attention to her, or when you were on the phone, she would proceed to chomp on her favorite squeaky toy to ensure you didn’t forget about her. She also learned that if she brought you a toy and beat you enough with it that you had no choice but to succumb to her sweet face and play a quick game of fetch.

Madi has grown to be a great dog and I am happy that I got to spend as much time with her as I did. I miss her more than I thought I would, but she is in good hands and has a lot of love to give.

Madison's favorite squeaky toy that "somehow" lost it's squeaker device.

18 October 2008

Fair

Life is not fair.

When you are brought into this world, there is no written guarantee stapled to your birth certificate that states the world will treat you justly. Live your life by helping people and doing good deeds and you are bound to step in dog crap every now and then. Conversely, subside your days doing wicked or evil things and you will become a politician. This is by no means a new revelation or sudden epiphany. It’s just how it is.

I guess my point is that just when you think the path that meanders through the woods of your life is well paved, relatively free of potholes and is going where you think it should go, that’s when the bridge gives way and you find yourself at the bottom of a deep, cold river. Did you end up in this most uncomfortable position because you were a bad person? Realistically, bad things happen to everyone regardless of age, gender, race, financial status or how your picture was rated on “Hot or Not”. You just have to roll with the punches that life dishes out because it’s not a question of whether or not something bad will happen, it’s just a matter of when, and I’m prepared to put that in writing. It won’t happen when you are emotionally stable and have the overflowing support of your family and friends either. Instead, it will happen after a long day of work as you slog your way through traffic and prepare to sit down to eat your frozen homemade burrito.

I’m sure the granola hippies and the “My Name is Earl” devotees will claim that it’s not chance that bad things happen because it is not, in fact, by chance. It’s karma; that you must have done something bad and this is just the way life gets back at you for your past sins. The rational person in me says this is a bunch of phooey, but recently this concept has me wondering if there isn’t some truth to the theory that you will “reap what you sow”. The good Lord knows I have plenty of past sins that have affected others very deeply, which could be the reason why I’ve come to this juncture in my life where I’m on the receiving end of the pain, not to mention on the verge of a catastrophic emotional breakdown. This lends credence to this idea that the pain you dish out will one day be returned to you twofold, or in my case, in the form of a 12 gauge slug through the blood pumper in the chest.

It does no good to complain about it because the last thing the world needs is another blog about loss or heartache. It helps not to curse the heavens or cry in your beer as the shouting to the sky does little more than disturb the wildlife and nobody likes a watered down beer. Instead, you just accept the hurt while trying to convince yourself that the pain will not last forever.

I happen to look at the calendar and noticed that I returned from Iraq a little over 6 months ago. I survived the mortars, rockets, explosions and boredom with a fresh outlook on life. Through a lot of soul searching (and near death experiences) I put to bed a lot of old demons over there and brought back some new ones along with a healthy dose of renewed hope in my big green duffle bag. I clung to the concept that life is too short and I developed this urgent need to live my remaining days pursuing my hopes and dreams. The kick in the nuts realization that those hopes and dreams will not come true leaves a hollow space inside, or maybe that’s just the hole from the shotgun blast.

Life is not fair.

01 October 2008

Ride and Wedding

The weekend was busy. In the span of two days, we not only managed to squeeze in a lot of people into spandex, but we also squeezed in a 75 mile bike ride through less than favorable conditions (thank you Tropical Depression Kyle) and have a backward wedding. I should explain... the wedding itself was not backwards in the sense that the bride wore a tux and the groom wore a dress. In fact, the wedding went off very nicely and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite the weather. The events of the wedding were not traditional in that the reception was held the night before the wedding and the rehearsal meal was actually held after the wedding. This was mainly done to incorporate the MS Bike Ride into the weekend, but it was also the wishes of the bride and groom to make this event unique, which they did successfully.






Okay, so the groom did wear a kilt, but it was still a nice wedding.