Yesterday was supposed to be one of those grand and glorious half-marathon days. I’d run the summer out and planned to enter fall with a PR for the half. It never happened. Two weeks ago arthritis and age kicked me to the curb to the point that I called it a season. Whiffed and missed. I awoke to the sound of crappy weather and thought about all of those times that I’d relished running in rain and muck. As I got up and started moving, my swollen knees told me “Thanks, you old fart. Let’s go have some eggs and toast.”
I brooded for a few minutes by watching some TV. ESPN’s 30 for 30: Jordan Rides The Bus was playing. I continued to mope until I caught the message within the short film depicting Michael Jordan’s early retirement in 1994 from the Chicago Bulls, and his brief stint as a minor league baseball player. One of the central tenants of his decision to leave basketball and play for the White Sox farm club was that he wanted to live the life of no regrets. Had he not taken the opportunity to pursue baseball, Jordan might have forever regretted what might have been. Life is full of might of “might have beens.” I am at least temporarily sidelined from running, but now is the time to live without regrets. I don’t regret running marathons. I want to see what else there is to pursue and conquer in life. The possibilities are varied and endless. Jordan read a great statement in a 1997 Nike advertisement, which I wrote in my journal as I waited for a plane in Charlotte, North Carolina after my left knee failed me during Marine boot camp that same year. I don’t ever regret going to boot camp, but consider it one of life’s great adventures. The statement from the commercial?
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
No regrets. Life is good. If I can’t run, I’ll find a new way to challenge myself. Success is in getting up when you’re not able to run and walking to the next challenge.
Those who know and love me, or at least friends and relatives who tolerate me, all learned long ago that they can’t take me anywhere. Scratch that. Friends and those stuck with me can take me lots of places, but leaving me behind proves to be the difficult part. Usually I show up at home or work within a day or two (or twelve. When people stop counting days is a great time to return). As I’ve often mentioned on this blog, there is a lot of embarrassing behavior that travels within my person. Since the behavior entertains me..it entertains someone. An indulgent loon, at least unto myself. One behavior that falls into this “can’t take him anywhere and drive off” pattern is my penchant for falling over. I just do it for no reason, other than for the pure joy of toppling sideways. Church is a fun place for this. Yesterday morning I was keeling over mid-service, because it’s become my go-to, poor man’s yoga. The sideways leaning shoulder flop, would be a fabulous name for this move, if only I had the desire to name it.
How I ended up married is one of the great mysteries of the universe (along with why geezers walk around beach towns wearing Speedos ). My wife was the first woman to not be fooled by the shoulder flop. During the less than magical years in which I dated, falling dead over like a tree being cut down was a way out of many awkward conversations. Sure, I got pretty bruised up falling out of restaurant booths and off of couches, but it worked. No more threatening conversation and only a little kicking from the beleaguered girl’s father. My wife Lori saw through this and would politely tell me to get my Bill Laimbeer flopping butt off the floor. The stable life is mine. All for the price of staying upright.
Sometimes within these blog posts, I’ll reference where I live. This is to give color and background to my life as a wandering mope. The town I live in is picturesque, which often prompts people to take pictures. Strange how that works. Visitors will just get out of their cars as if possessed by something that only exists in J.J. Abrams movies and take pictures of random people. And things. “Look honey! They got them weird birds that flap around on the sidewalk!” Never mind that the cameras are pointed at manhole covers. Who am I to correct tourists? It is with this welcoming spirit in mind that I don’t venture near downtown. I’ve had my picture take with enough manhole covers.
I had to sneak into town to visit our ancient music store and it’s equally ancient owner today. This isn’t ageist, but a fact based on several observations. His Social Security number is 3, and he only received that number after the Ark dropped him off on our fair shores. My daughter needed a gig bag for her guitar and the big box stores in our area don’t carry them anymore. So, after finding a parking spot (or, more accurately, running over a Smart Car with my own vehicle), I purposefully marched down to the old music pro’s lair. Sure, I had to pose for a couple of photos with lamp posts and fire hydrants, but eventually I got to the store. The wise old guru saw me from his desk in back but debated whether to get up. “Whadaya want, kid?” I explained my dilemma and the gentleman (puzzled) asked me “Fender? You mean electrified? Naw, we don’t carry that stuff ya’ hippie. Whadaya been sniffin? Glue? Ahbahahh.” I backed slowly out and onto the tourist filled sidewalk. The ancient is for real musicians, which explains the Stradivarius holding up one load bearing wall. Defeated, I called my wife who’d been smart enough to use Amazon. Then, walking a little slower, I stopped to have my picture taken with a park bench.
Over the past year, boxing’s former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has repeated to reporters variations on a story involving his ex-wife Robin Givens and actor Brad Pitt. Apparently, he arrived home one day in 1988 to find Ms. Givens and the soon-to-be world-famous actor in bed together. Moment of pause here while I stop to ponder how Mr. Pitt lived through that situation and managed to stave off the wrath of Iron Mike. Tyson was, after all, the undisputed king of the ring at that time. If there exists a modern ten commandments, this would be right at the top of them:1.) Thou Shalt Not Sleep With Mrs. Mike Tyson. The fact that the boxing legend is still lisping out angry regrets over the affair signals that he is not completely over his grudge with Brad Pitt. I’d love to have a time machine and take some updated commandments back to Pitt and Givens in 1988 so that they’d have been warned about Mike Tyson and his penchant for holding a grudge for 24 years. This is (unfortunately) not possible, so Mr. Pitt will just have to keep looking over his shoulder for aging, face-tattooed boxers. I’ve thought of nine other commandments that rank right up there with staying out of Mrs. Tyson’s bed if you enjoy living:
2.)Thou shalt not appear in advertisements in which you demonstrate the self-lubricating pocket catheter. No matter how much money Satan and Liberty Medical offer you to do the commercials.
3.) Do not make false promises to move out of your parent’s basement while dressed as a Hobbit.
4.)Your team shalt not pay Alex Rodriguez to sit on the bench and pass notes to girls in the stands next season (unless your team is in the public school recreational league, where players are paid in gum).
5.)Thou shalt not marry any stars of Head of The Class ( except for Arvid, from whom all knowledge of good and evil came).
6.)Thou shalt (okay, I shalt) stop using Thou shalt which was lame at least five references ago. Also: stop referring to Head of The Class (because nobody remembers it).
7.) No person should take a time machine back to the 80’s. For starters, the 80’s were boring, and there are over-the-hill bloggers to fill you in on the details, anyway.
8.)Do not speak French to the servers at the International House of Pancakes. Use of multiple languages only makes them more determined microwave your waffles and bring you coffee made from scalding restroom water and gym socks.
9.)Drinking Molson does not make you a hockey player. Actually, these days neither does being signed by an NHL team. After a few Molson’s we could all be professional hockey players. Gotta go. I see a tattooed face in the shadows.
There are times when I realize the only thing worse than being a moron is living as an excitable moron. Tonight’s thing I was all geeked up to do was download a book, something I’ve never done. For weeks I’d pushed the on/off button on my record player, but no e-books came out. No, apparently books come from the magical thing that lives in the iPad. I wanted to read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, so I went to download it. Several choices appeared. I could read Crazy Love, or Crazy Love*. * was five dollars cheaper, and despite my electronic naiveté, I know that I could buy a decent sandwich with a fiver. What exactly did I lose by saving the bucks? Well, the first line of the book went “C’est avec beaucoup de joie et d’honneur que je vous presente mon ami Francis Chan.” Hmmm…cheaper and French. At least I think it’s French, but I’ve been wrong a lot lately.
I should have studied the language when I had the chance. During culinary school, I took French courses. My academic counselor thought it was a bad idea, and pointed out my grades in the course as a reference. To me it made sense, for I didn’t know my Nicoise from my Nicorette, my a la Russe from Alan Alda. What sold French was the instructor. I used to stand out on the sidewalk and watch her smoke Gauloises. She wore high leather boots, and would sort of look down on my fat little peasant self with a mixture of disdain and pity. Not that it mattered. She could browbeat me in her mother tongue for hours and I’d just nod and gibber in my made up language which was about as French as yellow mustard. She might have been giving me electronics instruction. Now that I have the *Francis Chan book, I might actually have to learn some French. Bon Appetit!
I am a man committed to the written word. Once, while taking a painting course, the instructor pleaded with me to commit to the canvas. “I’m a word man.” I said before turning on my heel and never returning to the class. Nice stand to take for one’s own natural form of artistic expression, but that was a really expensive point to try making. I love to read as much as I do write. To read a book is to get inside someone else’s skull and walk around for a while looking through their eyes. The one form of writing I neither participate in, much less choose to read is the printed instruction set. I don’t like to be instructed on anything. The Bible is a solid, divinely inspired instruction book. I take instruction from God’s word. Every other insipid set of instructions can get bent (I need to read the Bible, because I think there’s something in there about not telling people or instruction manuals to get bent).
Our basement drain backed up, just as it does every spring. No amount of plunging coupled with suckage (sounds more fun than it is) helped. Draino didn’t budge the plug. I went to the hardware store to find muriatic acid, but ended up with a product that was said to be professional grade clog killer. Professionals use it. The jug had skulls on it. Skulls usually indicate that death is involved. The package came with 9 instructions followed by 9 sub instructions. I got several wrong in the process of dumping the gallon of smoking sulfur death juice down the drain. The other problem, I was wearing my homemade haz mat suit. My personal protective equipment consists of a stocking cap, rubber gloves, cotton gloves, a fishing sweater, a flu mask and my birth control glasses from Marine boot camp. I did read the instruction that said
Throw a bowl over the drain and run like hell!
Good advice, really sound. As soon as the drain started smoking I poured the Halloween candy out of the bowl, tossed it over the hole and got out. Bubble, gurgle and…nothing. A smoky, stinky nothing. I am reconsidering reading instructions. They were meant for people like me. Stinky, smoking, bubbling, gurgling people like me. At least I can finish the Halloween candy while I dial a plumber.
On the way to becoming a thirty something (something something) year old hypochondriac and curmudgeon, I also became a father. Well not became. Babies don’t just get handed out like cheese samples. There’s a whole back story about my lovely wife seeing fatherhood potential despite the constant babbling coming from me. Now, years later, the child and I babble away at the poor woman steadily. Our daughter Anna is 9 years old we couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s been having a great time performing with a local children’s theater group in The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley this past week. Mom and dad are in tow, volunteering to run concessions while she’s performing. Anna’s got no idea what goes on at the candy table in the lobby on show day and I’m not telling her. As long as the kid has fun and learns life lessons from the theater, I’m pleased.
Several times during Flat Stanley performances, I’ve had to make a mad drive to the local wholesale outlet for candy and drinks, hustling back by intermission. While not breaking any laws with my driving, I’ve bent the laws of physics. The immutable rule that says a Honda launched into the air off of a curb will eventually plummet earthward is always in effect. I pray that a Mary Poppins effect takes hold of my car and it just Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs over solid objects, consoling myself while waiting for traffic to part that Anna is doing great at the show. That’s really what it’s all about. Skeptics might say that we have children to care for of us in old age, but I look at it as a challenge given in order to make us think about someone else. Anna greets us at the concession stand after shows and I just smile, ever the proud daddy.
I don’t eat a lot of barbecue these days. Something about having a migraine induced by beef brisket and the Technicolor painting of downtown trash cans that followed scared me away from going back to barbecue. Sigh. This is a shame because I consider pork shoulder or ribs slathered in a deep red sauce proof that God loves humans and wants them to be happy. Obviously, He has some other higher (and headache free) purpose for my life. Barbecue recipes and techniques perfected over a lifetime and carefully handed down to ensuing generations are among the great gifts that bind a family together. I can’t even commit barbecue infidelity anymore and cheat with a McRib sandwich. The venerable McDonald’s special pork sandwich doesn’t qualify as barbecue any more than Manwich does, but McRib holds its own strange appeal. McRib is just…McRib. Today, I read that most Americans probably won’t get to enjoy another tasty pork mushlet before human history ends in December. Bummer.
According to the legend of the Mayan Calendar, the world will end in some sort of cataclysmic ball of death on December 21, 2012. Conservative pundits will blame this on the 47% of Americans who are left-wing freeloaders. I am not so much worried about the end of time, as I am the fact that McDonald’s Corporation is getting set to announce that the McRib sandwich will not make a return appearance in stores until after the purported apocalypse (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mcrib-saved-christmas-mcdonalds-delays-173538794.html). I wish this wasn’t so. My only request is to ring out this old existence with a fiery, blinding McRib migraine. There are numerous reasons to choose the McPatty as my final meal. Most self-respecting barbecue joints will probably be closed, but McDonald’s will probably stay open at least three days after the end of the world. There is also just something deeply comforting about McRib sandwiches. Maybe it’s the preservative/smoke mix used in the pork, which is composed of TBHQ, BHA, TLC, BYOB and BOGO. Mmmm…pre-embalmed by a pork sandwich. How reassuring. If you compliment the sandwich with a quart of Dr. Pepper, than you’ve also taken on the blessing of something slightly medical sounding. If the Mayan alarm is a false one, I’ll take up vegetarianism. Maybe I can perfect the McVeggie sandwich. Nah. I’ll take my chances with the mystery patty.
The thought of reaching age forty never crossed my mind until the last year. I’d always made certain vague assumptions about how life would progress. As a child, I (wrongly) figured that at 23 years old, vegetarianism would take hold of my lifestyle. It was for that reason I explained to my mother how wrong eating vegetables was. There’d be plenty of time, I reasoned, for vegetable consumption as an adult. In college, I worried about a life of wandering the streets if I failed my classes and never became employable. Of course, I still regularly failed courses. Fear should have probably made me somewhat more fearful.
On the first Thursday in August, I’ll turn forty. A mid-summer, mid-week birthday is usually calm sort of fun. There will be work, followed by the possibility of pie and a walk on the beach. The air is usually pretty heavy at that time of year, but the nights are long and meant for sitting outside doing talking about nothing in particular. I thought of all the things that might be a fun way to exact revenge on a life lived in fits and fights. Maybe some ice cream, dancing monkeys, or some combination of the two. Then I thought about what would make a good memory. I decided to run a marathon at Lake Superior. The idea of running 26.2 miles is a strange way to celebrate any milestone. The body tends to shut down and function on inertia after about the 23, or 24th mile. I start to think about nothing so complicated as dancing primates and quiescent frozen dessert foods. I can only concentrate on “right foot up, right foot down. Left foot up, left foot down. Symbolic of life really. One foot forward. Then the next one. One day you wind up forty just by running and then running some more. I plan to celebrate my last weekend as a 39.99 year-old by running in Michigan’s beautiful “up north” for suicide prevention charities and depression awareness. Now I’m glad I came this far. There’s still even time to become a vegetarian.
My 10-year-old daughter Anna is possessed with a bit of self-awareness beyond her age. She’s known that strangers stare at her for too long and speak slower in her presence than is necessary. Anna’s always shrugged this behavior off as just being another part of her daily routine. Tonight was the first time she ever sat down and talked to us about the uncomfortable feeling of having people she interacts with treat her differently. To her credit, Anna maintains herself with the two traits that I always asked God to grant her: dignity and aplomb.
Anna, as I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, lives with the lingering effects of Crouzon Syndrome, a genetic malformation of the cranium and face. She has a beautiful face, made by the Lord Himself and coaxed into its current shape with the help of surgeons. Annabanana has dual hearing aids, in colors and designs she chose herself. Often, she’ll wear her hair up and let them stand out like any other accoutrement of rebellious pre-teenage fashion. The child acts in plays, sings and is comfortable in her own skin. Maybe it’s a generalization, but a lot of adults aren’t comfortable in the body, or the life, they’ve been given. Part of her dignity and aplomb comes from that level of assurance she maintains, part from the sarcasm and sharpness she inherited from her family (hey, I never said that I was the sharpest guy in the shed. Maybe it skipped my generation). There is a quick assumption when people first meet Anna that she can’t talk. The truth is that she won’t talk to people who make her feel less than all that she already knows she is.
I often tell Anna about how her grandmother went to school with Stevie Wonder. The example is a good one, because it reminds Anna that she has several paths in life. She can choose the wide, straight highway of self-pity, or take the little road of living out all of the promise God put in front of her. I play a good old song like I Was Made To Love Her or Superstition and ask her to consider the path over obstacles that Stevie chose. Anna will. Anna knows what to do. With lots of love from us, she can stare right back at pity, shrug and ask “What are you looking at?”
I hold a bizarre hatred for Sunday nights. Each one is the end of a dream, the last glowing embers of a weekend that may ( or may not have) been the greatest ever. Try as I might, there just isn’t any way to extend time. I find myself each Sunday evening, parked on the end of the couch, glancing at the wall clock and remarking that it must be wrong. “10:23? Nah. I must have set it too far ahead.” Friday afternoon always holds so much hope, but Sunday night is like going through the wardrobe into the Narnia that is a new week. If, as Douglas Adams put it, Sunday afternoon is the long dark tea time of the soul, then the evening of the day is the end of tea altogether. Never mind the soul.
Eventually, I sleep it all off and wake up to start a new week. The dream begins anew. The hope that I can get to spend time with my family, sit for a few minutes and talk, and enjoy the strange, sweet blessing of sleeping in. The embers are stoked and kindled back into a fire that burns true. I can plan for the next time I have away from work and dream about a little time to do the things that make up my personality. In the meantime, I’ll work as hard as I can and put away pennies for weekends to come. This is a good life, despite the creeping presence of Sunday nights. Being able to work all week to get to that point is proof of how good life really is.
My 10-year-old daughter Anna brought home a permission slip this week asking me to sign off on her enrollment in family life classes at school. I wondered what in the world she needed to take a family life course for. She knows how life works in her household. She’s expected to complete all of her homework, treat others with respect, watch Spongebob without repeating anything he says, and…oh, sweet Lord! Family Life. AKA, “How to keep Anna from creating a family of her own until at least the time she’s completed her doctorate in astrophysics.” By calling early sex education courses Family Life, the schools have tried to break it to parents gently that their babies are maturing rapidly. This year the classes take place in the cocoon of the elementary school, but next year the kids will have a field trip to South Bend, Indiana for further study. Something to do with either corn reproduction or Notre Dame football. As long as both aren’t involved, I guess that signing the permission slip will be okay. Maybe.
Growing up, I don’t recall having to have a slip signed permitting me to take sex education courses. Permission slips were meant for really dangerous subjects. I had to have permission to take driver’s ed. My dad dragged his feet for several years about signing that slip. With good reason, too. No sane citizen should sign off on having a high school kid drive two tons of steel and glass over flower beds and through the marble lobbies of downtown hotels. Sex? Well, there was no parental permission given to learn how exactly to make a baby. Plenty of my friends had already done so and professed to how easy the process was. I didn’t feel as a teenager that I needed a class for sex. The knowledge that I gleaned from several neighborhood girls, my mom’s copies of Psychology Today and After School Specials with Helen Hunt and Scott Baio gave me what I felt was a well-rounded education. The actual classes were a bit of a shock. My sex ed class (or health, as they termed it. Health, as in “don’t use somebody else’s gym towel, or you’ll go blind.”) was taught by a former Soviet scientist. She’d designed truth serum in her former homeland. Mother Russia would bark commands at us and boy, did we do what she said. She started the semester by handing out crude anatomical sketches resembling eggplants with arms and legs. Sort of like the Operation man, only not as pleasant. “Draw the ovaries!” Mother Russia would shout, and I’d quickly approximate organs. On my girl eggplant, the one with odd thoracic radar beacons, I drew a hat. Surely, the over-ease must be on top of her head? What did I care about all of these details? These weren’t the eggplants of my dreams! I felt that I could draw a more complete woman from my study of Sports Illustrated and my imagination. This talk of “fall-open” tubes seemed frivolous. Oh, but then we moved on to venereal diseases. You didn’t get STD’s back in the day. No, VD was the great black death. Every instruction against catching gonorrhea or syphilis was punctuated with
…and you’ll die!
as in “Hang around with neighborhood girls while reading psychology magazines pilfered from mom… and you’ll die!” Sometimes, even as a reasonably educated adult, I still fear the hand of lingering death from old school diseases. Death was always right around the corner. Driving was a lot easier. I got my license after taking the driver’s test just five times. My education about women, eggplants and reproductive “health” continues to this day.
Each day I write my blog, but sometimes I forget about it. There are times when I need to be reminded that the writing is fun and can be taken away as easily it was started. Last night was an old school migraine night. One of those nights when I couldn’t possibly write a blog post. I couldn’t write a check to the Grim Reaper so that he’d take me away. At one point during the evening I got off of my face and out of the bed long enough to say something to my wife. She was watching American Idol, which apparently is a program about Nikki Minaj. The Minaj Mahol was telling some hapless singer about her waffle eating habits. Nikki wasn’t just drunk, she was f-unk. The migraine, along with AI, pierced my eyeballs and sent me back between tossing my own waffles and the bed.
Somewhere in the early hours of morning, long about two o’clock in the morning, I woke up with slightly less of a headache. The headache was momentarily kicking my butt rather than my head (although, they’re eerily similar). The first thing I thought about was writing this weird little blog. Then I fell back asleep. When I got up for the day, the thought of putting some electronic ink down was still with me, though. I kind of missed putting the blog together on a day when I couldn’t do it. Making up Mostly Teachable as I go along is cathartic. Writing the blog is a way of scribbling out the good and bad events of each day and making sense out of them. Sometimes the blog works, many times it doesn’t. Quality and quantity are beside the point. Writing is fun for me, because it’s a way of sorting out life. Nasty migraines, obnoxious reality singing show judges and the rest of life.
The tiny, non-starter irritations in life are always the ones I get stuck on. The other morning, I awoke and turned on the TV in time to see some unctuous spokes-models wandering through a wheat field touting the virtues of a brand of breakfast cereal. The beautiful people rattled and prattled for thirty seconds about this wonderful, natural sort of cereal. The food is supposedly natural because it’s shaped like something once found in nature and healthy because of some purported relationship with the earth. Blah, Blah, Blah. Never mind that the product is doused in malt syrup and makes its own gravy when covered in milk. The commercials used to employ a preachy testimonial from some world-famous chef, but models meandering through wheat fields dreamily expounding on the blessings of cereal must have seemed more relatable to advertising executives. Poor, hunky, famous chef. He’s probably gone back to slinging oatmeal in a hotel dungeon somewhere.
There isn’t much natural about breakfast cereal. If there was, we’d all be eating bowls of fertilizer (“All the best to you each morning!”). Rice grains impregnated with superheated air, rolled oats covered in sugar and stuck together with dyed and dried cranberries. I actually enjoy the completely unnatural. Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. At least when I eat PBCC, I know that it’s not even an imitation of real food, the same as I know that it hasn’t travelled with actual pirates.
Arrr…we’ll forgo the booty and take the peanut butter crap food with us. Sure beats cow manure…
I’d love to make a new kind of cereal that embodies the all-American breakfast. Coffee, cigarettes and resentment. The new breakfast treat might be called Smoldering Java Anger Flakes. The advertising would feature combat boot wearing lunchroom cooks wandering through Walmart shouting the virtues of eating compost. Every box would feature a hairnet at the bottom as a sort of prize. You know, I might change course and start eating some of that unctuous, whole grain cereal. It might regenerate the brain cells killed off by years of Cap’n Crunch.
Blogging for me Writing is all about the content, the nuance, the meaning of what the author is trying to say. In the case of this particular blog, I try to get at least some of that right. So, when friends who read this regularly started to mention that the audio player was hinky and not functional, I got motivated to blow up the blog with the bath water. This new…thing has a better player for the podcast episodes, plus some different features and menus. The thing is, if I’m committed to putting up a new, decidedly weird post each day, the place I post them better be cool. Hence this new work in progress. The best is yet to come ( or some related cliché).
This is a response to Michelle W.'s Daily prompt question for 2/12/13 at The Daily post. In this podcast, I talk about how my blog came by it's name, how I became (Mostly) Teachable and the nature of the blog.
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This is an audio podcast response to Michelle W.’s Daily prompt question for 2/12/13 at The Daily post. In this podcast, I talk about how my blog came by it’s name, how I became (Mostly) Teachable and the nature of the blog. Below is a link to Michelle’s original piece:
Yesterday I posted a bit of verbal nonsense about what its like to find ways to kindle (and rekindle) romance in the midst of marriage. My wife didn’t really let me off the hook. She hasn’t heard the podcast yet (shhh). Date nights are a wonderful, cherished occasion rarely enjoyed during our workaday lives. The times we get to go out and have a laugh (or three) are a relief and a reminder of the days when we were going out. In those days, I either cut out early for home, or pretended that I didn’t notice her father’s quizzical looks if I was still hanging out when he was going off to bed. Nowadays, Lori and I both enjoy our laughs, check on our daughter and then fall asleep, because the sheer excitement of being alone together wears us out.
This week, I helped put together nearly 400 date night kits. Despite my caveman ways (“I’m a simple caveman. I don’t understand your modern romance), I try to help out with encouraging and helping local married couples. We put in three suggested dates, along with a lot of incentives to try local restaurants. The idea seems both absurd and novel at the same time. Many couples, when they find out what’s included in the date night boxes, ask why they need any such motivation. The argument we get is that they’re already married, so there really isn’t any need for our box of goodies. What gets forgotten in the business of being married, and the business of raising kids while working, is that we need to make time to date our spouses. After all, we didn’t marry each other and forfeit our souls. Sometimes, it takes a box full of funny sounding, old-fashioned suggestions to remind us that being alone with our marriage partners was (and is) fun. We live and breathe every moment in support of our families, yet often forget to communicate with our own partners. I’m a little proud of having worked on the date night kits. We distributed, by the Grace of God, nearly 300 of them today. Older couples told us things like “We’ve been married 45 years, and it’s been a long time since we dated.” Which is exactly the point. The idea of the date isn’t just time alone. It’s about time alone together.
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This is podcast episode 19(ish). In this week’s episode, I goof on all things Valentine’s day including gift buying, romance and sex. This podcast also snapshots a little bit more about depression. For information on “stuff” heard on the podcast, please feel free to ask away. Also, check out our car and travel friendly i-tunes podcast (which is absolutely free).
I can’t wrap my brain around the idea of being reincarnated. Earth is a nice place to visit, but returning to it repeatedly in various forms seems like a buzzkill. To be reincarnated is like watching a rerun of a show you were mildly amused by over and over again. Sure, you might notice little details that were missed the first time around (“Ooh! Colors!), but essentially the show will always be a repeat. Heaven is a much simpler concept, which is imperative for the feeble-minded man such as myself. I love God and accept His gift of Grace for all of eternity. He will then allow me to live in his home forever. The streets are gold, the music is soothing and I’ll have forgotten the things about all of my loved ones that were so annoying. To be reincarnated is to work. Work is nice, at least in theory. Having to do it over many lifetimes is a hard road. I’m not a really good person. Certainly not good enough to be reincarnated as anyone cool. More than likely, I’ll come back as Alex Rodriguez’ left butt cheek and will be repeatedly stabbed with a hypodermic needle for years. With any luck, I won’t return as some sort of infected monkey, Lindsey Lohan, a doorknob , or some combination of the three. Yep, that will be me. A body carrying the spirit of monkeypox Lohanknob.
We are born. We die. Then we aren’t. At least not on earth. Part of the joy of living is knowing that one day we won’t have to exist amongst the problems of earth. No more worrying about money, laundry, or money laundering. Our spirits won’t be crushed any longer by bad relationships, or left to wonder when the bottom is going to fall out of good ones. I believe my spirit will go on in the heavenly realm. My body won’t be a concern any longer, though. The addled brain that inhabits my repeatedly cracked skull will no longer plague me with stupid questions. I’ll be one with God and His universe. Though there will no longer be a need to, I’ll kick back and enjoy shaky jokes and way too many Cokes. Heaven is real and I can’t wait to be united with God there.
There is a part of me that revels in simplicity. There are only a handful of possessions in life that I care about, and the concern for them is mostly sentimental. In a 9″ x 6″ box that sits atop my dresser rest most of my so-called “important” things. The box means a lot, because my wife’s grandparents gave matching ones to all of the men in the family one Christmas. Inside are photos of my wife Lori from when we were dating, baby pictures of our daughter Anna and assorted ones of my nephews. There are watches that Lori gave me, including one from St. Thomas, as well as the Beatles watch my parents gave me when I turned 17. Near the top is the first Valentine’s card Anna ever made for me. Rounding out the assortment are “attaboys” from various jobs, including a 5-year anniversary pen from my present job and lots of lapel pins. The one featuring the World Trade Center buildings still means a lot to me, and every time I wear it the fear is that the pin will get lost. Alas, things are just things. I try to keep the main thing the main thing and care more about people than stuff and trifling bits of material. All that said, I do have one oddly emotional attachment to a possession though, and that is my raggedy old automobile. The car is so me, and I am so that car.
This morning I was summoned away from work to run an errand in my old Honda CR-V. There are a number or recurring characters that appear at Mostly Teachable. Lori, Anna, and our dog Grace are the most notable. The Honda appeared in these pages long before any of them did, however. According to the car’s birth certificate, it will turn 15 in March. Nevertheless, I’m still running errands in the car, which is fine by me. Last night, I drove my wife’s sensible automobile of a more recent vintage across town and nearly bit the farm (or some applicable cliché). As I almost slammed into the back of a stopped car while skidding on a snow-covered street, I really thought very highly of my old Honda. This morning, driving my fussy Honda around town and feeling the car adjust to the road conditions, I felt slightly more reassured. Sure, the Honda doesn’t have creature comforts. It takes 20 minutes for the interior to warm up, but I don’t need to be warm. The back hatch doesn’t close, which isn’t a big issue. If I happen start hauling immigrants across the border, I’ll spring for duct tape to keep the hatch closed. There are unidentified smells and never-mind stains, but I don’t drive the Honda for looks. Bumper stickers cover most of life’s inadequacies and that goes double for my car. So, happy Valentine’s day old, clunky friend. I’ll always keep your grill ornament on my dresser. I’m just a little sentimental that way.