Monday, December 29, 2008

Last rant for '08

As you can tell, no xmas post. If you follow my tweets [cause I'm so ridiculously important] you knew I was at my in-laws who live so far out in south Virginia country even the cable company won't go there. It's about the one place Verizon isn't reliable, and I wasn't going to wrestle with her dial-up connection. Love blogging and all but it took my wife an hour to buy tix online 'cause the page kept timing out [I swear it was two tins cans and string technology]. But it was good family time. Lots of table-top foosball with Joy [I shoulda done the Dad thing and let her win every time but what's so character building about that?] and I made out like a bandit with the gifts. [Click here for my fav-thanks hon] Then it was back to the never-ending unboxing of the house that's still not done. But after a week I'm feeling blog-withdrawal, so here I am, the junkie getting his fix. 

It occurred to me as I was unpacking that I never vented about the wonderful chaos the Mayflower company referred to as my moving experience. Let me uncharacteristically start on a good note: nothing was lost. Every last bit of everything we owned made it safely halfway across the country. Well everything except some shelf they have on their list that no-one can remember or misses right now. But considering how it all got here, that in itself is a pretty freakin' HUGE xmas miracle. 

It started with a tragic underestimation of how many treasures [read:crap] we had crammed into our little split level in Kansas City. We aren't pack-rats by any stretch of the imagination, but we know how to cram. So when the moving truck showed up, there was only enough space for about 90% of our treasures [again:crap]. The driver was all full of swagger and bravado when he first walked in:"Oh yeah, we'll get it all on. Not a problem." Well it became a problem when his truck was bursting at the seams and there was still half a garage to pack. Driver with a lot less swagger: "Seems like you had more boxes than I thought you would." 

And here was problem number two: the lovely ladies who boxed up our treasures [you-know-what by now]. I knew I should've been worried when they huddled in their truck with the heater on for a smoke break every couple hours, but I try not to judge [I said I try...nobody's perfect]. A friend of mine told me if I don't want it packed either get it out of the house or sit on it. They weren't kidding. These gals packed EVERYTHING! Even the stuff they said they couldn't pack, like cleaning fluids. Even the empty broken trash can. Even the empty [and evidently precious] beer bottle sitting by the back door found its way back to me. I wouldn't have been so flabbergasted if the day hadn't started with a walk-through and a "tell us what you don't want packed." Obviously a wasted moment as I gingerly unpacked my slightly mouldy loofa sponge [now who's judging?] which I said to leave because I planned to shower the next day [soap got packed too!]. And they really wondered why they had so many boxes? Did they really believe I had a strong emotional attachment to three empty plastic bags?

Then I became intimately acquainted with the 'overflow routine': a second smaller truck; a trip to the warehouse for an undetermined length of time; a hunt for a new driver with room heading in the same direction; maybe a thrid-party shipper. Again I sing a small hymn of praise: this costed us nothing extra since it was their fuster-cluck to begin with. Five days later and against all odds [what with it being xmas] the second truck arrives with the rest of our boxes to fill the space we had just cleared [...*sigh*].

Unboxing has been qutie the adventure in itself. Unwrapping memories I forgot I had saved was sweet. Disagreeing on where to put things not so much. It's been contributing to the re-entry process Jen and I go through when we've been apart for a while. Even though we spoke every day, and even though we saw each other via the techie wonder of Google Video Chat [Skype sucks on Vista] almost every day, we still had to do our Space Shuttle routine: we enjoyed our time in space, there's no place like home, but those first few minutes in the atmosphere are bumpy and hot-things have to be approached at exactly the right angle or KABLOOM!! No more shuttle. The last couple weeks have been constant adjustments. But after a singed wing-tip or two, it looks like there'll be a safe landing.

Jen announced what I thought was an ambitious goal of a house-warming party in six weeks. I'm certain we'll be unpacking well into April, but by February the house should be in decent enough shape to entertain. One thing is absolutely clear: all things considered, we're never packing a u-haul ourselves again.

Monday, December 22, 2008


[Spoiler alert: this is gonna be a sappy post.]

Over the last four days I encountered the kind of love that simply tore my heart a new one. They had nothing to do with Christmas [thankfully...I'm already burning out] yet couldn't have turned up in my life at a better time.

The first came on the form of a novel: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I downloaded the audiobook [plug:emusic.com] for the road-trip here and was not disappointed by this Pulitzer prize winner. If you read only one book next year, let this be the one. The author Junot Diaz weaves a story of three generations, which takes a while so hang in there-I think it's so worth it. The depth of pure love and heartbreak he ascribes to the main characters was almost too much to handle while driving. And as the title suggests, it wasn't about happy endings. Love often isn't about happy endings.

Last night I had the honor of being invited to the 50th anniversary and re-commitment celebration of Al & Edith Henderson. They are an elder couple here at the church in Raleigh and they , Al especially, have taken a liking to Jennifer. Al was just the dapper romantic: reading poetry to his new-again bride, pulling out her chair, soft guiding touches. I had thought it strange the Edith seemed a little underwhelmed by the event until Jen told me that a few years ago she had a massive stroke and was in a coma. The doctors had been pessimistic. Her very existence was somewhat of a miracle. Al took care of her through it all. I'm about to hit the 10 year mark and it's wigging me out a little [ok...a lot, don't ask me why...working on it]. I can't begin to wrap my mind around what it would take to make a relationship last that long. That level of commitment and compromise seems beyond me right now [to be clear, I can see myself with Jen forever, I'm just not able to quantify what I'll need to do to get there]. They left us with some clues. My favorite: "Yesterday ended at midnight."

And if that wasn't enough, we left the party to go see Seven Pounds. We were forewarned [so heed the warning] that this was a heavy movie. Critics said it was too heavy for the holidays, but I disagree. Granted, I had to engage in a round of deep breathing to control my heart which felt like it jump out of my chest and go save the world. This was a story about love, loss, redemption, and giving on a level reserved for those who are emotionally imbalanced to unspeakable degrees. Perfect for the season! And on a side note, Rosario Dawson, even in that sickly pallor, never looked hotter. Wow is all I gotta say [to the movie...and to Rosario too].

I acknowledge that two of the three examples were fictional. Yet the fact that such levels of love can exist at the very least in someone's mind gives me the hope and inspiration that they can exist in reality. And they do. People make unfathomable sacrifices for others every minute in every corner of the world. The economy may be causing some of us to lament about the smaller piles under the tree this year. But the best gifts are usually not the material ones. Just give of your heart.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's not how big you are...

I'm here in Raleigh, NC now, reunited with my wife and daughter, and all the joys and drama family brings...wouldn't have it any other way. On the drive from Kansas City I promised myself I wouldn't make any unwarranted detours because I was in a time crunch. I was only slightly amused when I saw the sign METROPOLIS 20 MILES. How cute... only in the good old USA would the name of a fictional city be lifted from the pages of a comic book and plastered onto a real town [or is it the other way around? will hit up wikipedia after this]. But when I saw the GIANT SUPERMAN STATUE NEXT EXIT sign about 15 miles later... no detours be damned-I'm going to Metropolis. And sure enough, in front of the court house in a town more resembling Smallville....

And with a Santa hat to boot! I was suddenly eleven years old again thinking this was freakin' awesome! The Official Superman Museum on the opposite corner was cool too. Any and every Superman relic had a home there. There were at least eight of us awed and befuddled tourists snapping pics and no doubt revisiting our childhood. But this little town apparently had a thing for big men and on my way out I found the true hero to errand-running housewives in this southern tip of Illinois...

It was BIG JACK the giant grocery-toting mascot. I'm not often at a loss for words [not a good place to be for a blogger] but I was fairly silenced by Big Jack. Seriously... what can you say when you see this?

I'm thinking this town holds the record for giant statues per square mile. A worthy detour indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thank Ye!!

It's moving day. It's the first time we're using a moving company. We've come to the point where I'm huddled in the "safe corner" with things that won't be packed, trying not to get packed myself. I'm clearly in the way and these guys haulin' ass trying to do in one day what they had scheduled for two. The driver said something about wanting to be back in time for Xmas but I was busy thinking that under no circumstances am I ever moving myself again. This is friggin' great!

So since I got nothing to do right now, I want to take this opportunity to thank the three (3) [tres] [now four 4 cuatro since first posting] wonderful souls brave enough to admit they read this drivel through subscribing. Their only reward, besides my perplexed and humbled gratitude [and more drivel] is to be proudly displayed in the side-bar. Now I know more people read this thing. They've started conversations with things like, "Hey, I saw on your blog the other day..." or "I liked your last post about..." or "Do you know anything about blogging?" [I think maybe the last group might not be actually reading my blog].

So here's my invitation: if you read this or any of the other fine blogs I have listed [most of which are funnier and more insightful than this drivel] please subscribe. Why? 'Cause my ego says so! No seriously, as I discover how far down the rabbit hole the blog world goes, I realize I'm still at ground level. We could all use the support as we honor whatever inexplicable reason draws us to do this. Plus, if you subscribe, my eloquently verbose postings will be delivered straight to a reader of your choice or your inbox [I think-ground level, remember?] saving you the few precious seconds it would take to pull up this page. What you do with those seconds is up to you [I recommned coming back to post a comment but that just destroyed my time-saving rationale-oh well]. That reminds me... post a comment! If subscribing isn't your thing, posting comments are a great way to let bloggers know their efforts aren't for nil.

I've rambled on enough about this. Read. Subsribe. Comment.

And once again, a big THANK YE!! to my three (3) [tres] [four 4 ...you get the idea] subscribers [ok...all my closet readers too] for taking a few seconds out of your life [which you're not getting back by the way...sorry] to check in on mine.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Play it again Sam

We decided to give our piano to family friends who've always wanted one. They've got a six-year-old who is the 2nd [duh!] most amazingly adorable little girl I've ever met and they have visions of piano lessons and Christmas sing-alongs. I didn't have the heart to tell them that it's a pipe dream...it's good to have something to grasp onto no matter how fleeting.

My friend showed up with movers and the piano is gone...and I'm sad.

We made some good memories with that cheap never-stayed-in-tune studio upright. I wrote some great music on that thing. We did have our share of sing-alongs with family and friends. It's gotten me laid quite a lot 'cause the wife loves it when I play & sing to her, especially original stuff. I've used it for venting, processing, sorting out my thoughts, catharting, meditating. There'd be times when I was in some kind of mental or emotional vortex and couldn't see a way out. I'd sit, play the first chords that came to me, next thing I know an hour's disappeared and all's right with the world again.

So why are we, two music-therapists-turned-ministers and still occasional song-writers getting rid of it? Simple. We're tired of hauling that thing around the country. Pianos are friggin' heavy! Ten years, four houses, two states, and one child later, we're just tired of hauling it around. It was gifted to us by our former [and pretty much still present] minister who hauled it to Virginia from the mid-west. We hauled it back here to Missouri and figured it didn't need an east coast sequel.

Yes, I used the word 'haul' in some form repeatedly because it is a haul; there ain't nothing easy about moving a piano. Unles you're professional movers who strap it on a dolly which they strap to themselves and lift it down icy steps in under 5 minutes. I don't feel they suffered enough to have hauled off a bunch of my favorite memories.

I guess I still got the memories.

I just don't have a piano.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Crying Shame

So I read two articles about guilt that had me stupified with disbelief. Wait...Stupify is a Harry Potter spell isn't it? Damn! I've been using that word in real life! Thanks a lot J. K. Rowling-stupid-words-into-our-vocabulary. But I digress. I was reading about Tivo Guilt and Luxury Shame.

Tivo Guilt is the phenomenon of feeling bad about all the TV shows you've got piled up on your DVR that you know you won't find the time to watch but can't bring yourself to erase because you have some strange attachment to having them on your DVR. What?! Anybody else old enough to remember when the VCR came out and the fact you could actually watch something other than what was on TV anytime you wanted was the greatest technological miracle EVER!! And now we're feeling guilty because we can horde retarded programming at the lazy touch of a button? C'mon folks....IT'S JUST TV! ENTER-FRIGGIN'-TAINMENT!! NOT REAL LIFE!!!! And don't get me wrong, I'm a big TV fan-boy myself (was bawling my eyes out today at this week's Private Practice...yes, I'm a sensitive guy, love me anyways), and I looooooove my DVR, but if I miss something, it's ok. If I can't find time to watch it, it's ok. My standing rule is this: If it's a series I'm dedicated to (Grey's, Private Practice, Eli Stone, Terminator:SCC, Daily show, Colbert Report, Sunny in Philly) I'll hold an episode for up to 3 weeks. If I haven't watched it by then, it proobably ain't gonna happen. Learn to let go...make room for something better (Chocolate News anyone?).

But Luxury Shame really had me at a loss. Apparently some richer-than-God folks feel bad about spending their money on useless crap-as-usual because us poor folk aren't doing so well. How messed up is that?! I don't want your pity. You feel bad? Buy me some crap-as-usual and we'll all feel better! The irony here is, as I best understand it (which ain't saying much), lack of spending is one of the biggest reasons the economy is in the toilet. And the rich folk are feeling bad and not spending because I can't? Don't they get they're actually making things worse! GIVE YOUR MONEY AWAY IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT HAVING IT ALREADY!!!!! I got a mortgage you could take care of, and some credit card bills, and my daughter's only 8 but next thing you know it's college time.

I can guarantee you that I will never feel shame when I have too much money to spend. Why? Because I'mgoing to give away BOATLOADS of it. I believe in the principle of flow; give and receive; universal reciprocity, if you will. I believe Bill Gates continues to be one of richest men in the world because of how much he gives away through his foundation. Yeah, Microsoft can suck it (love my Zune tho!) but his foundation has done worlds of good.

The only thing I'm ashamed about right now is eating waaaay too much sausage for breakfast.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Try a little harder...PLEASE!!

Despite if the word RANT in my blog title, I don't complain a lot (do I?). But I gotta vent a little here. Let me start by saying that I have all kind of sympathies for people who work in the food service industry...my parents owned a restaurant (read free child labor) and I even did a stint as a Starbucks Barista (not coffee maker if you please!). None of the folks who work in fast food chains look happy to be there, and I can't say I blame them, but I think they can put in a little more effort.

So I had a hankering for some yummy Orange Chicken from our favorite fast-food-disguised-as-gourmet Chinese joint Panda Express. I wanted some noodles but there were only a few scraps in the pan. The cute server asked if I was willing to wait a couple minutes for a fresh update. I was going to downgrade to the rice but a saw the chef (and trust me when I say I'm using the title 'chef' sparingly and generously) stirring a wok as big as my SUV with fresh steamy noodles and thought 'What the heck...no rush'

I was literally drooling when they brought up the fresh noodles and fresh Orange Chicken too!! Oh baby! Then my joy turned to horror as not-cute-anymore server scraped the old crusty noodles on top of the fresh batch! And to add insult to injury she scooped up those scraps and dumped them onto my plate!

HELLS NO!! I had to say something to avoid misery dinner. "Excuse me, but you asked me to wait then give me the same old noodles? At least stir 'em up a bit!" She looked at me as though I was at Burger King trying to have it my way, and then asked for a second opinion from one of her workmates. At least that woman had the good sense not to care to make it an issue and gave me fresh noodles from the bottom. Dinner saved.

So what's my point? We all find ourselves in situations we may not want be in. We sometimes gotta do what we gotta do. But I say do it to the best of your abilities and do it in excellence. Why bother? 'Cause everyone involved will feel better. Customers will feel honored and workers will feel that coming back to them.

No one wants a slacker on duty...and I've done some slacker time, so I'm not taking a holier-than-thou position...just a been-there-done-that position.