Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happiness Is ...

Happiness Is ...

... Talking to a friend and learning I'm more depressed about her breakup than she is. Sometimes, it works out better for both parties involved. I may not agree, but I can be happy that she isn't distraught or floundering for sanity, like I would be.

... A long, sweaty, challenging spin class. Soaked down to my knees. 150BPM. And in this moment, I am happy.

... the fine fine Irish singing voice of my bride.

... My beautiful daughter running for 3rd Grade Class President.

... My dashing son rocking all A's at school. (Though the villain and his friends have recently been disrupting the class.)

Happiness is not "stuff." Happiness is not drama. Or worry. Or regret.

Happiness is enjoying "the now." Being thankful for what you have. And loving your friends and family, while you can.

Me? I'm happy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unwelcome News

Mondays are never the high point of my week. Deluge of issues. Picking up projects. Angry phone calls. Double-so, today. Coming off a four-day weekend, I had nearly five hundred emails sulking in Ye Ol' Inbox. And some unwelcome news that friends of mine had split up. I knew it was likely, but I thought perhaps they'd patch things up. I never understood the rift between them. Obviously they never did, either. Even knowing the possible end game, the news still left me grim and fatigued. I skipped the gym (shame on me) and waded unexpectedly into a new maelstrom at home. No relief to be found.

But there's always tomorrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Surrounded By Heroes

Work was cheerfully interrupted by a humbling and emotionally moving Veteran's Day ceremony. Gerald N (NE Manager) was the Master Of Ceremonies. Jeff P (NE Tech) was a Color Guard. I was proud to have them representing not only IT but also our entire property and our community. Their amazingly diverse military experience (Gerald as a SpecOps sniper, Jeff in his sixteenth year as a National Guardsman) made my Country Mouse life feel sheltered and insignificant.

Also gave thanks and praise to several other employees such as a Player's Club executive who served in 320 combat missions in Baghdad, Iraq. His toursconcluded when an IED went off near him, taking most of his hearing and earning him a Bronze Star. Another employee, served in Cambodia in 1959. He and 220 other soldiers were captured then held as POWs until 1964. Only he and 39 other soldiers returned home safely. One of the final employees recognized during the ceremony had fought in the Battle of Normandy! I think he was on a bomber that was shot down, crashed, and he survived, earning FIVE purple hearts and a Silver Star.

I live in a small town. It is a small community. We're fairly simple folks. And yet I'm surrounded on all sides by heroes.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Being Able To See

When you're used to being blind for six months, there's something magical about suddenly being able to see. Swimming with my new goggles was surreal. So many new factors to absorb: seeing the other side of the pool, seeing the bottom so clearly, watching the form of my own shadow, noticing the bubbles in my wake as I turn, the slower pace of each lap since I'm able to focus on the bottom moving below me. Weirdest of all, the length of the pool seemed insanely shorter. As if being able to see had suddenly compressed the space.

In my excitement, I set a new personal record: swimming 600 meters non-stop. That was my third set. The first two were 500 meters each. Previously I was doing 4 x 400 meters. The new goggles inspired me. At least in the pool. Hopefully they inspire a similar improvement in open water.

Three Dreams

I usually do not remember my dreams. Did when I was younger. Seems like twenty years without. And last night, I have three. Remembered each:
  • Wading through my silly assortment of daily sites and links and RSS feeds, when the pieces start to snap together. I stumble across a quixotic, ghostly trail leading (remember this is a damn dream!) ultimately to the Holy Grail. Cobble my limited cash together. Draw some maps. Conceive some silly plans to snatch this thing and share it with the world. Ended up writing a note to Cindy. And fleeing for the road. On my quest to get the grail. 
  • Meg finding a new pet. Like a grimy black civet. Turns out to be some escaped test subject from a government-funded bio weapons experiment. It starts spewing ichor. Meg gets caught by a stray drop. Ghastly transformation. Followed by black helicopters and agents. And I'm raging outside an unmarked hospital demanding to see my child. 
  • Geekiest of the three dreams, I find myself in possession of an Iron Man-esque suit of high tech men's ware. But rather than zipping around the globe rescuing kittens & widows, I sit at home, eyeballing the neighbor, who has a black set of armor. I spent my time eyeballing this guy, to see if he'd be a villain or a hero. He was neither. And my time in my suit was for naught.
Anyway. I slept. And I had dreams. Both rare treats. Figured I'd capture the details before they are written in the water of my mind.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

In Forty Degrees

I like sleeping late on the weekend. I do not like rising before the sun. Or layering on a pile of clothes while sliding into shorts. Frost on the car windows. No coffee. And I'm in Ocean Springs, MS, getting ready to ride in forty degrees. Small price to pay for health, I suppose. The day did heat up. We rode about fifteen miles. Talking and cruising through the harbor and park and the Visitor's Center. A tough couple of hills. Then back again. Nothing too difficult. But a good ride. Meeting folks and talking. And planning for a longer, harder ride next week. 

Home by lunch time. Dinner at Juan Tequila's. Left the leftovers on the table. Bryce stayed the night. Cindy in bed early. I can't sleep. Nothing new under the sun.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pooling Alone

Another Friday. Another night pooling alone. Instead of a night listening to local bands, eating fine local cuisine, nursing a nearly-frozen cider, and contemplating a dance or three once the booze takes hold, I wander to the gym. Core and forearms routines in a nearly empty hangar. Then climb into my Mexican wrestling uniform and grind through 1200 meters. Strangely, all the other lanes were full. Though I was the youngest and slimmest (whoa!) occupant. Why is a seventy six degree room warm but a seventy six degree pool is cold?

I'm thankful for my health. And the solace of the gym. Under water my thoughts can breathe. Dance and drink are over-rate, anyway. I'll take sweat and toil. I like the way they hurt.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hat Champ

Second time in a row, Meg wins the craziest hat contest for her grade. Only five kids in the whole school, and she was one each of the last two times the contest was held. I think Liam's "Tower Of Leaning Hats" (complete with supporting blue monkey) should have at least won an honorable mention. But a victory for dearest Meg is a victory for all of us. Even when she doesn't win she is a bright, blazing star streaking across our skies. Never a dull moment in these parts. Never.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Typical Lunch

Part of this self-inflicted and self-described "lifestyle change" of mine is a divergence away from tasty, filling, and enjoyable foods towards something healthy, quite bland, and boring. I usually skip anything fried or drowning in fat or bad carbs, like white bread, white pasta, pizza, etc.

Take today's lunch, for example. Extremely typical of what I've been eating for months. Grilled turkey & swiss on whole wheat. Veggies. (Red potatoes and whole kernel corn today.) Small salad. And some fruit for dessert. (A quartered pear this time.)

This style of eating may be better for me, but it rapidly grows boring. Especially when the cravings hit. Fierce, prolonged cravings for things like chili cheese dogs, or burgers with blue cheese and butter-sauteed onions. Well-marbled steaks paired with a fully-loaded potato. French fries fresh from the oil, covered in cheese and bacon and gingerly dipped in full-fat Ranch dressing. Those kinds of cravings whisper to me. Endlessly. Even now I hear their distant voices. Calling me to indulge. To grow fat and old with them. They'll make me happier, they say.  Oh so much happier than any salad or soup could.

Each day those voices grow louder. Harder to resist..

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Join Or Die

Old Ben Franklin drew his Join Or Die political cartoon in 1754. During Franklin's day, folks believed that you could cut a snake into pieces but somehow magically restore it if you put the pieces together before sunset. Franklin was making a point about the importance of a unified country.

256 years later, we've  forgotten that point. Left versus Right. North versus South versus East versus West. Rich versus Middle class versus the growing masses of Poor. And don't try to fathom the unmentioned racial collisions.

Need an example? Look at our modern election cycles. They are no longer about finding and voting for a candidate we can support. We've degraded to the point where our officials are elected simply because we hate them less than we hate their opponent.

I'm not even paying attention to tonight's results. Doesn't matter who won. Nobody won. We are all going to lose. The illusionary changing of the guard will produce none of the results we're being promised. By either side.

Here are some predictions for our Disunited States:

  • Government won't get any smaller
  • Spending won't get controlled
  • Rights won't be returned
  • No entitlements will be diminished
  • and taxes for the Middle Class won't be substantially lowered

I'll check in again next year to verify, but I don't see anything getting better. The best we can do is hope it doesn't get worse. And we've seen what happens when we put faith in Hope or Change.