Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Far Should You Go?

What do you do when a close friend is both excited and conflicted about something, tells you about it in a way that invites opinion but doesn’t actually ask for an opinion? What if you’re male and the friend is female? You’re just friends but very good friends who frequently confide in each other.

How far do you go in addressing the situation? Do you say everything that’s on your mind, exactly as you’re thinking it, with respect but also directly and bluntly? Or do you sugar-coat it, second-guess it, qualify every point in some way?

Relationship guides often point out that women want men to listen but don’t especially want the man’s opinion. My scenario, however, does not involve a relationship with me and her but her update does involve a relationship she has with a man. She brought me up to date, telling me good stuff as well as a few conflicting feelings. She didn’t ask for my opinion, but we do have a friendship that includes telling each other how we feel about stuff.

In the past I would have sugar-coated the hell out of my response. My apologies to any friend reading this who may have been on the receiving end of my former tendency to say what I think you want to hear and not what I really think.

Now, for good or bad, I’ll tell you what I think. I’ll respect you and try not to rain on your parade if I think some parts of your story need a differing point of view. If I think you’re full of shit, I’ll probably tell you that and maybe even using those words. I am also willing to get as good as I give.

Maybe my previous sugar-coating was the result of some fear that I might lose a friend by saying exactly what I think. Now I believe that I am more likely to lose a friend by masking the truth. I’ll take the risk and tell it how I see it.

It's Not Just a Boat

Nothing especially new to write about tonight, other than to say I have some great friends.  And I'm still floating on the emotional high of having a pleasant weekend.

By the way, that "boat" I mentioned yesterday ... it's a 46-foot yacht!  But the owner really does refer to it as 'just a boat'.  You decide ...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Test Driving a New Life

As my self-discovery journey continues I realize that I am just a little bit closer to living the life I want. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that I believed a couple of years ago that I had let myself lose big parts of my identity by spending too much time and effort living on other people’s agendas … work, spouse, societal expectations. I even found myself buying into some misguided assumptions of aging. The destination of my journey was and is to re-discover the real me and design my life around that. Along the way I’ve picked up a couple of awesome new passengers and dropped off a few others. At times the journey is painfully slow, covering mere inches per month, but when I look at where I was two years ago and where I am now, I see I have made great progress.

Socializing and breaking patterns are two characteristics of the ‘real me’ that I have focused on and two weekends during the past two month stand out as markers for making progress. In both cases I test drove parts of my new life.

One was my four day mini trip to Asheville. People who hear me talk about that trip and the friend I visited think something is going on that is not. She and I have become great friends who really dig each other as people. In some aspects of our lives we connect with each other in ways we do not connect with anyone else. Time we spend together celebrates that. She is on her own discovery journey, has suddenly reached some of her goals and I am one of the people in her life who encouraged her to keep trying. She has done the same for me.

The current holiday weekend is another stand out for me because I did some things I like to do that I don’t usually make time for and I socialized in a pattern-breaking way. Saturday I saw a local band I like at a local festival I had never been to. A co-worker who likes that band was going to meet me there but she and her friends ran late and didn’t get there in time to see the band. But her Dad, an even bigger fan of this band, did show up and we spent time together watching the band and talking about music. We had never met prior to that day. A good example of pattern-changing for me.

Yesterday I spent eight hours on a boat, something I enjoy but have rarely done for decades. There were eight or nine different people on and off the boat during the day but I only knew one of them, another work friend. Her boyfriend owns the boat and the other guests were friends of one or the other of them. Great socializing and I was outside of my normal pattern of spending time with people I already know doing the same things I always do.

This might seem like little things to you but they are huge steps to me. This is the life I want and have denied myself for many years. I’ll point out that I also like spending time alone and I have absolutely no problem repeating patterns; I do not have to change all my patterns to get where I’m going. I am a complicated mix of personality traits and part of my self-discovery is gaining the confidence and comfort level to just be me, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Using a book analogy, I’m on the last page of the current chapter and I’m about to start the next one. Continuing my test drive metaphor, I’ve taken my new life for a spin, picked out the options and I anxiously await delivery. Thanks for sharing the ride. Stick with me … more adventures to come.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Little Music Randomness

Blues is my favorite music; mostly contemporary blues rooted in the masters but with a modern twist, some electric guitar, a hot horn section and funky stories.

I also love country, rock, Motown-style R&B and songs that borrow from and combine unrelated genres.

If you try to learn something about me by setting my iPod to shuffle mode, you might encourage me to get a psyche evaluation; unless you are also able to make sense of Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Brad Paisley, B.B. King, Dave Matthews and Otis Redding back to back.

Some of my closest friends would be there with me, not just in the waiting room for support but also getting their own psyche evaluation. Eclectic music tastes unite us.

I also like classical music, mostly Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Handel, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.

I usually skip the ARTS channel when channel surfing. That’s the one that often shows classical music “videos”. I stopped on it this morning for the first time ever; and listened to and enjoyed Chopin, Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Expanding one’s musical horizons is a good thing. This summer I’ll be seeing Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and U2. I’m also trying to score tickets to Earth, Wind & Fire and Sade. One or two blues festivals are also on the horizon. I’m on the Kennedy Center email list too.

Watch this one … rockin soul with steel guitar and a message….

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Weekend Randomness

Here are a few of my usual disconnected observations and thoughts going into the holiday weekend:

- Many people use Memorial Day and Veterans Day interchangeably. Each holiday does have a military connection but they’re not the same. Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of our country. Veterans Day primarily honors living veterans of military service. Either way, they are important holidays.

- Traffic sucks on Interstate highways at 5pm Friday going into a holiday weekend. I always expect it but it still sucks.

- My original weekend plans completely changed but I think I like the new ones even better.

- My regular gas station that was selling regular for $4.09/gallon two or three weeks ago now has it for $3.89. Going in the right direction!

- My gas grill is telepathic and is transmitting brain waves to me. The message is something like “free me from this shed and light me up.”

- Facebook seems to be experiencing difficulties as I’m writing this. Let me guess: 50 million Americans hit the “(name) is currently at (place)” feature at the same time. They’re probably all in the same traffic jam heading to the beach or Grandma’s house.

- You should listen to this song, even if you’ve heard it a hundred times. At one point in the 1990s, Miley Cyrus’s dad actually recorded an amazing song.

Enjoy the “first weekend of summer” but spend at least a few minutes thinking about the holiday’s original meaning.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Great Quote

Smile... you look better... and it holds the drool in.
- Anon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Awesome Access Randomness

Today I had the opportunity to experience something few people ever will … six hours inside the Pentagon. I am not gloating about this; I am sharing what I can with you. That is an awesome and unbelievable place, a structure containing the greatest amount of military might on the planet.

We were just four radio guys doing our jobs and telling listeners about the incredible jobs and activity within that building, activities that keep our whole country safe.

The Pentagon is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. More than 23,000 military and civilian people work there, including the top people in each military service branch. I was there to help with my radio station’s Morning Show broadcast and to record a few interviews with people who work there. During the show we were told that our radio station was the first ever to do a live show broadcast inside the building. Wow! We had no idea. Sure, there are radio news organizations with offices there, but we’re a country music radio station. It turns out we’re very popular there.

A couple of us were given two separate tours that took us through areas that are not on the public tours. We saw things I probably can’t really talk about on this blog. I’ll err on the side of caution. I’m sure somebody inside the building can read this blog just because I mention Pentagon in it. Scary!

Some random information and observations:

- The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, with more than 6 million square feet of office space.

- It was built during World War Two and, ironically, construction started on September 11th (1941).

- On September 11, 2001, as you know, one of the terrorist planes was intentionally crashed into the building, killing 59 people on board and 125 more in the building. (The five hijackers were killed too, but I don’t call them people).

- Part of the public tour as well as our tour includes a walk down the rebuilt section of the building destroyed in the attack. There is a diagram showing where each person was that morning, indicating who died, who was injured, who survived.

- The building includes several food courts. Our broadcast table was next to a Starbucks (awesome placement, in my opinion).

- There was a continuous line at the Starbucks from the moment it opened till when we left three hours later.

- At one point two of the four of us weren’t paying attention as we walked into a hallway and nearly ran over, uhhh, this is embarrassing, someone who looked very familiar, like maybe we’ve seen him on TV before. Yes, that really was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

- Security checkpoints to get in are very strict and meticulous. It is almost as difficult to leave.

- Even though this is a serious place, we had the opportunity to take goody pictures in the press briefing room.

- This was one of only two place in the building where we could photograph anything. Hold a camera up anywhere else and big guys in uniforms show up out of nowhere to check you out (and possibly escort you out).

We are fortunate to live in this country and today I and four co-workers were lucky to have a few hours of access in a place that helps keep this country free and safe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 Random Things About Me

I saw a version of this on Facebook recently and used to see it a lot in the blogosphere. I did one two years ago but not since. Here are my answers (mostly different and longer than the last time). Post yours and tell me where I can see them.

- I love to laugh buy I rarely watch comedy TV shows

- I once met Gavin McLeod, the actor who played the Captain on Love Boat. I have a picture of him singing the Love Boat theme live on the radio with the DJs who were interviewing him.

- The older I get the more confident I get about every aspect of my life. I did not expect that to happen.

- I’ve played three musical instruments in my life, bass guitar, trombone and saxophone. Trombone was the only one I learned to play well and is the only one I no longer own.

- The musical instrument I really wanted to play, but never have, is piano.

- I have a borderline fear of flying. It began with a turbulent final approach once in the 1990s and got worse after 9/11. I’ve only flown three round trips since then. Back in the 80s I was on a plane 15 or 20 times a year.

- I love airplanes. Go figure. I go to air shows regularly, went to the First Flight Centennial Celebration at Kitty Hawk in 2003 and I often visit the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

- I make pretty good omelettes.

- I have an insatiable curiosity about the personal thoughts, feelings and actions of the lives of my closest friends, especially females. I think and sometimes ask inappropriate questions relating to gaining that knowledge. I can be trusted to keep their answers confidential. I’d answer those same questions about myself but I’m rarely asked.

- I remember how, where and when I met most of my closest friends, sometimes in scary great detail.

OK, your turn.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo Therapy

When I'm feeling blue the best thing I can do is take pictures. Went through a blue mood for a little while Sunday, grabbed the camera and walked around my yard and found this ...

Hmm, does that mean I now feel yellow? I definitely felt better.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My New Favorite Quote

Tough times never last, tough people do.

~Robert Schuller

Some Rockin' Country

That festival I mentioned in Friday's post starred some of the hottest acts in country music right now: Jason Aldean, Eric Church, the JaneDear Girls, Steel Magnolia, Sunny Sweeney and Eden's Edge. All six put on awesome performances and for this event each set aside some time to sign autographs for numerous fans. Each has at least one hit song to their name; Aldean and Church have many each.

Jason Aldean

the JaneDear Girls

Funny insider note: every music artist's management sets the rules on things like meet-n-greets, media interviews and photographer access. Country artists are by far the friendliest and easiest to work with of any popular music genre, but sometimes their "people" act like the artists are in the superstar league, even when they are not there yet. And they seem to forget that radio stations play a big role in the performer's success, even in the digital age. So there are restrictions on photography, even when the photographer (in this case me) works for the radio station and is willing to promise to NOT sell the shots and to not get in the way of the artists. The good news for this show: I was allowed to shoot with my "almost pro" camera that would otherwise not be allowed in the venue. The bad news: my shooting spot for the two biggest headliners was behind the mixing board, halfway back in the venue. I was up close for the 1st of the 3 main stage acts, as you can see from these pictures. The learning op for me: any time I have any access, bring EVERY piece of photo gear I own rather than leaving my long lenses home because I thought I'd be up close for every act. Whine, whine, whine, I know.

I should also point out that even though it really is necessary to control access to artists, for the safety and sanity of the artist, the ones who remember where they came from are the ones most likely to have long careers. My best examples include some I have met at my radio station numerous times, even though they are already superstars and don't really have to do this stuff any more: Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Montgomery Gentry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Music Weekend

My radio station's annual music festival is tomorrow (Saturday May 21st), assuming the world doesn't end tomorrow. Here is one the headliner's hit songs:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Between Now and Saturday

Some say Saturday is the end of the world. I’m counting on that NOT happening, but the persistent media coverage of it has led me to think about what I would do if it was true. Have you ever considered something like this? Let’s say you knew for sure a week ago that this Saturday was the end, what would you have been doing?

I’m certain I wouldn’t have worried much about whether or not I got the phone number right in a car commercial I produced. Probably wouldn’t have care much if I hit any deadlines at work. Hell, I would have quit my job; I love it but who needs a job if the world is ending? I’m not cleaning the bathroom or washing my car.

I would have blown my 401k on first class airfare to New Orleans, Asheville, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Raleigh, Seattle, Corvalis, Kona, Colorado Springs and London, all places where important people in my life live. I would have spent whatever time I could in each, talking, hugging and loving. Conversations would include questions like Where did the past twenty years go? What did you really think that day? Why did we wait so long? Why are your clothes still on?

What would you be doing? Or saying? What would you say to an old girlfriend who dumped you for a more “interesting” man she had been seeing behind your back for six months? What would you say to an old boyfriend who left you because he didn’t like some physical characteristic about you, one you had no control over anyway? How would you greet the boss who fired you or the bully who hit you?

So here we are on Thursday, less than two days from the end. NOW what do we do? Think about that?

Would you really want to know the end was coming and when? Forget the end of the world, do you ever think what you’d do if you knew exactly when and how your own life would end?

I’m pretty sure Planet Earth still be around this Sunday. So I have a meeting on Monday, dinner with a friend on Thursday, more friend time next weekend, a 5k charity walk on Memorial Day, etc. But maybe all this thinking about how short and unpredictable life is will help me remove a few less important things from my calendar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Questions

Does your heart sometimes get ahead of the rest of you?

Do you sometimes have so much on your plate that there isn’t room for a fork?

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

Have you ever been at a point in your life where your paths are clear but virtually every choice has some kind of obstacle, some kind of delay, disappointment, connection to five related roadblocks, any one of which could be easily circumvented but when combined present a brick wall that seems at first glance to be impenetrable?

Don’t you hate when that happens?

Have you ever experienced a lightning strike so close it made the hairs on your arm stand up?

Do you sometimes wish the heart’s only job was to pump blood?

Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway? (borrowed from George Carlin)

If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work? (borrowed from Steven Wright)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Choices and Travel

Today was a very odd day for me. I’ll share, knowing in advance that most of this won’t make a bit of sense to you.

I only worked for three hours today, partly because I worked a 15-hour day yesterday. I think I got a lot of work done yesterday because my day began at 3am and nobody bothered me with an email till after 10am. I should do that more often.

Outside of work issues, today I’m focused on the upcoming summer. Virtually everything in my original plan has changed. It’s one of those “one door closes, another opens” situations and, as you might expect, I can’t spell out all of the details. But here is some of it.

A friend who I was hoping would visit decided not to. I’m very sad about that but I accept the decision. Another friend who was possibly going to visit won’t but I might visit her instead, or at least have a dinner with her as part of another road trip. I have the opportunity to go to a convention in Seattle this summer but I’ll have to pay for it all myself. I might do that because I have a cousin in the Seattle area and another in Oregon and it would be great to visit them while I’m out there, if I go there. And I’ve been trying to organize a reunion of sorts in Milwaukee, with a target date in August. I don’t know it that will happen and if it does, I’m not sure I can go because I hope to be moving in either July or August.

Confused yet? Me too.

Sometimes I actually celebrate how odd my life can be. I haven’t decided if this is all cause for celebration yet. Sometimes I think my life is pretty boring but when I write/read this I realize I lead a pretty interesting life. I should never complain. I have opportunities most people never have. If I ever win one of those huge lottery jackpots, I will spend at least part of it helping other people to have interesting lives.

Anyway, I have choices and I am lucky and grateful for that. Just wanted to share.

He Did It Out Of Patriotism

Good ole Newt has decided to run for President. This is the same Newt who played the ‘family values’ card as a Congressman, blasting then President Clinton for marital infidelities, while secretly carrying on his own affair. His affair doesn’t bother me so much as the ‘holier than thou’ hypocrisy.

So now he gets to answer reporter questions about his own past … the marriages, the affairs and the occasional misrepresenting of facts during speeches. His responses already provide some great campaign humor. My favorite so far is what he told the Christian Broadcasting Network … he engaged in his affairs because he was overworked and overcome with patriotism for America. Wow, that is original. He “did it” for his country.

The scary part for me is that someone might actually vote for this guy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo Therapy

Sometimes the best way to feel better on a cloudy, gloomy day is to walk around with a camera.  I did that yesterday.  Here is one of the pictures I took.  Visit my photo blog for others.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quotes on Friendship and Today

As my self-discovery journey continues and the confidence to just be me grows, I try to celebrate these two things every day: my friendships and the present. Here are a few quotes that fit that feeling. Enjoy and share.

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
~ Ruth Ann Schabacker

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
- Anais Nin

A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.
-Walter Winchell

A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend."
- John Leonard

Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet; and two others at first speech are old friends.
- Mary Catherwood

I can't wait all my life
On a street of broken dreams.
~Journey, "It Could Have Been You"

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
~Cherokee Indian Proverb

The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.
~L. Thomas Holdcroft

It's not what if, it's what now.
~Author Unknown

Friday, May 13, 2011

Up Again

Remember back in the day when gasoline was “only” $3.99/gallon? Actually that day was last Thursday. Yesterday my regular place was suddenly $4.09/gallon.

And the oddest thing happened as a result. I posted a short quip about this price on my Facebook page and got more than 20 responses, a record for me. Actually most of them were a vicious political debate between two friends of mine, one very left and one very right. It reinforced my belief that politics is over-influencing our lives right now. Both of these friends are well-spoken and intelligent but both were quoting “facts” that, in my opinion, are based more on political banter than on actual fact. I don’t like to discredit people, especially people I know, but facts are a hard thing to come by these days, despite the incredible number of possible sources for facts.

I seek balance in most aspects of my life, including political debate. Sometimes that makes it seem that I have no opinion or belief myself. Hah! They’d/you’d be surprised. Someday soon I may spell it all out here. I’m usually on the left side of center but not on everything. More to follow.

Aristotle Quote

"In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action." 

(By the way, it looks like Blogger was down mostr of yesterday and a few posts might be missing).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Different Meanings

Sometimes song lyrics can take on a meaning that differs from the original intent of the writer. “Where the Streets Have No Name” is a U2 song that according to Wikipedia was written “in response to the notion that it is possible to identify a person's religion and income based on the street on which they lived, particularly in Belfast.” But I identify with the first six lines on a completely different and personal level.

I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame

That song came out in 1987, I didn’t become a fan of the band till ten years later and these particular lyrics did not connect with me till a month ago. Better late than never.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interesting Life Quote

"Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet."
- Bob Marley

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interesting Odd Day Randomness

I had a pretty good day today. It might seem a bit odd to some, but those close to me know it was rather normal.

I wore a suit, which is not the norm for me. I would dress up for work every day if it was required, but it isn’t. My day started with me taking a picture of myself making a goofy face while dressed in the suit. I like the disparate combination and the friend I texted totally got it.

The meeting that led to the dress up was good on its own merits. I listened to representatives of numerous local non-profit organizations talk about their causes and how media organizations like mine can help them. This is the part of my job I do from the heart.

I returned to work earlier than expected and chose to keep my Out of Office turned on so nobody would add to my workload and I proceeded to begin a slow catch up on projects I’m behind on. People who needed to know knew I was in, but to everyone else I was unavailable. I actually made a dent in my “to do” list.

My homeward commute was less stressful than usual, except for two specific bikers I encounter around this time every year. I’ll talk about them in another post and explain why I won’t get on a motorcycle again and how disappointed I am that these particular bikers survive their bad driving behavior without serious injuries.

Dinner consisted of an awesome omelet. My omelet cooking has become very consistent. This tasty one included Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach and two cheeses.

Tonight’s wine selection was the zinfandel I purchased during my Sunday adventure (see the earlier post). It was one of the tastiest wines I’ve ever had and only cost a couple of dollars more than my usual wine choices. It was so tasty that I had three glasses of it. Then I wrote emails to two female friends but wisely chose to not hit “send”. It is so easy to misinterpret wine-infused emails.

And now I realize how tired I am, so I will post this then go to sleep. Have a good night. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Totally Random 6.0

Nothing very exciting tonight; just a few random observations.

Work out – I’m back down to my second-lowest weight since starting my fitness plan two years ago. It is still a struggle to get to the next level but I’m happy to report that the exercise part of the plan is great. I’m regularly going to the gym three times a week and working with heavier weights. My shape is still nothing to brag about but I can see the results and that’s all I need for now.

Gas prices – My usual Sonoco station is still holding onto $3.99/gallon.

Sun in eyes – Drivers on nearly every east-west road in latitudes more than 10 or 15 degrees north or south of the equator experience a few weeks twice a year during which the sun is in their eyes. That means while looking to see if the light is green or red you risk burning your retina from looking into the sun as it looks back from behind the traffic light. That choice sucks.

National Lost Sock Day – Did you know today was National Lost Sock Day? Who comes up with this stuff? And have you seen my other brown sock?

A suit – There is no dress code in my department at work, so I usually look like an ad for Eddie Bauer or Dockers. Tomorrow I am going to a meeting, however, and will be wearing a suit. Hmm, I wonder if I have matching black socks?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Nice Change In Routine

My original plan for today was quite boring ... laundry, coffee, straighten my home office, argue (don't ask), MAYBE take some pictures.  Last night I got an email reply from a friend I hadn't seen in a year.  She said some day soon we should do something we talked about a year ago: visit Middleburg, Virginia, which is about an hour from our respective towns (and about an hour outside of DC).  Soon hell, how about tomorrow?

So we spent a pleasant afternoon of food, wine, touristy stuff and conversation.  And I took a few pictures.

By the way, Middleburg is where the rich people live, including actor Robert Duvall.  There are massive horse farms in the area and several wineries.  We had lunch at an ourdoor restaurant in the middle of town, right before the Mother's Day rush, then walked around, stopped at a wine-tasting.

Later we stopped at another wine place on the way back.  Definitely a better afternoon than I had originally planned. 

I need more days like this.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Random ‘Live For Today and Be Unique’ Quote

Jack Kerouac was a famous writer who in many ways chronicled the generation just ahead of mine. I am not all that familiar with his writing, but I saw this on Facebook recently and the sentiment and attitude are very appealing to me. And the irony is this: the FB friend who posted it is 25 years old; the quote is older.

they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "awww!"
- kerouac

I want to be one of those people  How do I do that?  Suggestions?  I have the potential for it, as we all do, but I tend to be subtle.  I should be more obviously about my passions, shouldn't I?  Food for thought.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother’s Day 2011

As you may know, my parents died several years ago (Dad almost 10 years, Mom almost 6). This was the first year I didn’t wake up thinking about them on their birthdays, but it is nearly impossible to forget about them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

I’ve written about Mom many times on this blog and I don’t really have anything new to say about her. However, the best short summary of her life and how she influenced mine was what I said at her funeral. I’m in media so making a speech is no big thing for me, but that was probably the most difficult and emotional three minutes I’ve ever had. I know I held it together till the last line.

Here is what I said (family names were removed here for privacy reasons):

When we met with Father Ralph a few days ago, he pointed us in a wonderful direction for today. He said this should be a celebration of your Mother’s life.

My sister and I are so lucky to have had her as our mother, and there are so many things we could say about her. But in my mind, four things stand out above the rest:

1) She had a great sense of humor …. She loved a good laugh. One of my sister’s last memories of her was a few days before Katrina. Mom was sitting there at the nursing home laughing. My sister doesn’t really know what she was laughing at, but she was having a good ole laugh.

2) Mom loved to travel. And with the evacuation to north Louisiana and her return here in this casket, she traveled more during her last three days of life and the weeks since her death than she had traveled in decades. She is probably having a good laugh about that right now.

3) Mom paid me and my sister the greatest compliment a mother could pay a child … many times. She married late in life, especially for her generation, at age 39. She told us many times, including at her 94th birthday party, that her life really didn’t begin till she was in her 40s, when she had us.

4) One of the most important things in life is family. Up until the last year or so, she kept up with what was going on in your lives … the cousins, your kids, your grandkids. The Mary Kay sisters, the red car ... she even got to ride in the red Mary Kay car and she was aware of things that day.

And it means a lot to my sister and I that you are here sharing this day with us.

Mom, we love you.

I know I choked up a little on that last line and I’m pretty sure I heard a little bit of crying in the church after we sat down. We were surprised and blessed by the presence of some of the people who took time out of their on-going Katrina damage cleanup to attend the funeral. We saw old neighbors and even some cousins we hadn’t seen since childhood. Mom had a much bigger impact on their lives than I realized and I know that while she was alive I didn’t sufficiently acknowledge the positive impact she had on mine. My obsessiveness, my curiosity and my story-telling are three things I got from her.

She used to read the daily newspaper cover to cover nearly every day well into her 80s. If heaven has wi-fi, maybe she’s reading this blog.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Totally Random 5.6

Interesting dilemma … there are personal things I want to write about but, well, they’re personal so I won’t. And I’m having a pretty good week but I anticipate it turning bad by Friday. I don’t want to write about that either; I’ve already written my annual ‘depression’ post.

Soooo, what to write about?

- I had an awesome dinner tonight. Great food (grilled salmon on sautéed spinach with basmati rice and two glasses of tasty wine) and great company (a friend/former co-worker I meet for dinner every few months; she and I chat about the ups and downs of careers and life). My friends are a diverse collection but three things they seem to have in common with each other are me, music and talk. When this particular friend and I meet for dinner, it usually goes on for three hours. I’m happy for the wait staff that the place wasn’t crowded tonight.

- Gasoline is up to $4.05/gallon at my usual station and $3.97 at my two backups. I shouldn’t complain too much because the further you get into DC the higher the price gets – around $5/gallon at a couple of stations.

- This is going to be a great summer of music for me. Several country music shows (I get those tickets free but I have to work at two of them), a U2 concert in June (expensive but I bet it’ll be worth it), a blues festival in August (hot weather, hot blues – I’m in) and hopefully a few music adventures to a couple of smaller local blues/rock joints I go to sometimes.

- I have a doctor appointment this week and there are two more that I should have soon but keep putting off. I love doctors; I hate doctors. I never get sick so why do I now have a couple of medical issues? In my whole adult life I have probably taken less than a month’s worth of sick days and half of that was the result of a tumble down a flight of stairs.

- I order the same thing at the same Starbucks several days a week and now two of the baristas pour it for me as soon as they see me. I should learn their names.

OK, that’s enough randomness for tonight. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feeling Better Randomness

Taking action, changing patterns and accepting support from friends can ease depression and sadness. Here are a few random things from today that helped me feel better than I did when I posted my ‘depression’ post yesterday morning.

- Successful creativity puts a smile on my face. My actual job title is Creative Services Director and, as the name implies, it involves being creative. In my case, the creativity is found in commercials, promotional announcements and those sometimes-fun-sometimes-annoying short things that play between songs on music radio stations. I produced some pretty good ones today and gave myself a high-five over a couple of them.

- Yes I’m a geek. Didn’t you know that?

- Emotional support from two good friends goes a long way!

- Working out at the gym was helpful tonight. I used to avoid Mondays because it’s usually so crowded then, but I put on my take-no-shit attitude and plunged right in there. Had a great workout.

- Two nights of social activities in a row are coming up this week and I’m actually looking forward to them. One is a business meeting but awesome Italian food and OK wine are involved. The other is a regular every-couple-of-months dinner with a friend/former co-worker during which we chat about career stuff and, yes, food and wine are involved.

- The next three weeks will be an interesting mix of great stuff and crap. Fortunately tonight I am focusing on the great stuff, which includes insider access to two places I can’t really talk about yet, another food-and-wine adventure with a friend I don’t get to see nearly enough and an all-day music thing that involves both work and play.

The situations that led to my all-day depression meltdown yesterday are far from resolved, but something I learned a long time ago and re-learned with the help of a great email is this: “the chaos will settle down at some point. This too shall pass.” Great advice. I’m sure I’ve given it before and now I get to accept it too.

He’s Dead, Finally

I didn’t hear the news till this morning: Osama bin Laden, the guy behind the September 11th terrorist attacks and other unspeakable crimes against humanity, was killed by U.S. Navy Seals during a 40-minute raid on his compound. The news broke last night and within minutes there were celebrations in front of the White House. Had I known, I would have been there myself, camera in hand.

I don’t usually celebrate killing but here is a guy that deserved to die.

A few random quotes that fit today:

"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

- Mark Twain

“May 1st, 1945... Hitler confirmed dead... May 1st, 2011... bin Laden confirmed dead.”

- Historic fact noted by a Facebook friend

"I'll see your birth certificate, and raise you a terrorist warlord."

- Unknown Facebook person (hah! Take THAT, Donald)

“Ding dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Somewhat Inspirational Lyrics

And I must be an acrobat
To talk like this and act like that
And you can dream so dream out loud
And you can find your own way out

I know that the tide is turning round
Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

- U2

Depression, Procrastination and Creativity

It is interesting how procrastination and depression sometimes leads to creativity. I am going through a fairly depressing time at the moment. Last time I wrote a whole post about this I took some good-natured criticism from a couple of friends. They were concerned, of course, but also pointed out that I was having a public pity party. The term ‘poophead’ was included in one email (private joke).

Depression and my natural desire to avoid conflict have led to some procrastination in certain areas of my life. Every time I take a serious move forward I get trapped into taking another step back. People who know me over the long run know I make things happen, although usually on my own timetable. I often appear to be making no progress, then suddenly everyone involved realizes I’ve made the progress, hit the goal, accomplished what I set out to do and then some.

The current situation, which I can only talk about in circles for now, is dragging on. Part of that is my own procrastination and part of it is a big reason the situation exists at all. I made a decision about this situation more than five years ago but was waiting till I saw a clear path. Twenty months ago the path became clear but at this point I’m still only a few steps toward fixing the situation. Perhaps you can understand my frustration and, well, my depression.

My coping mechanism, however, has led to great strides in personal creativity. Some of it involves developing creative solutions to the situation and some is displayed in my writing and photography. I haven’t had writer’s block in a long time, for example; I keep finding things to say and share on this blog. My photo blogs are full of new and recent posts and even my poetry blog has a couple of new items.

Writing and photography have served as therapy for me going all the way back to high school. I still have original drafts of nearly everything I’ve ever written, all stuffed into a box on the floor next to my desk. Every few years I dig through the box and read parts of the collection, although it would be pretty depressing to go back and read all that stuff today.

Creative travel has helped me a bit this year too. I found ways to visit the two friends who I count on the most for my sanity, even though neither lives anywhere near me, and I am told I often provide the same for them. Fortunately I have other friends near and far who also provide support and diversion. I am a lucky man.

I usually try to end these posts with some uplifting conclusion. Won’t happen this time. I will get out of my personal mess and will be taking another big step in that direction this week. But at this exact moment all the friendship, writing and photography in the world can’t stop the sadness and frustration I feel right now. This is not a pity party, it is just me being totally honest and sharing that with anyone who cares to read it. I’ll feel much better by tonight or tomorrow but this morning I am swimming upstream in shit. Acknowledging it is the first step toward reaching the shore.