I am not a social person. For all of the bubbly, fun spirited, networky crap I put on the internet, my social skills are appallingly crude. To meet the real Andy, the one not hiding behind the keyboard and the Cookie Monster, is to meet a cave dwelling troglodyte of epically awkward proportions. Most of the time, I won’t look at you when speaking, and hugging is definitely verboten. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s that I do. I’m not sure which is worse. The only thing I have a harder time with than polite human interaction and the genial hug is playing board games. Board games are the ultimate in socially awkward interaction. Part of my mojo derives from a strange aloofness born of not knowing what the blazes to say to you. My social coping mechanisms are completely broken down by having to spend two hours playing a board game with other people. Games mean eye contact and actively taking an interest in the mechanisms that separate humans from birds, or cattle. Games require cooperation and speaking in more than monosyllabic mumbles. Games require being able to gracefully lose, and to learn how to win without…I don’t know. Game playing never reaches that point with me.
When my daughter was little, she developed gamesmanship during family bonding times. Anna had a mechanized, magnetic fishing game, which I actually loved watching her play. At two years old, she developed a knack for clubbing the revolving, yap mouthed fish with a plastic pole until they bent to her will. This to me was a relatable game. Smackafish was great fun. In time, Anna adapted to the contraints of civilized society. She plays by the rules, because it preserves the entertainment value and integrity of the time together. I’m not there yet, although taping the Uno cards together in order to win has finally left my repertoire. The fun will eventually be in enjoying the closeness of friends and loved ones, and not poking them with magnetic fishing poles. We’ll see.
Lately, I’ve been downright well behaved. Lots of hours worked, followed by sitting quietly waiting until I can again get back in the car to go clock in for another day. Sometimes I enjoy a Creamsicle, or some cheap beer while sitting quietly. Sometimes both. Mmmm…cheapsicle. Once in a while, usually after my wife tells me stop sitting around drooling like a gibbering file clerk on a cheapsicle break, I look at words and colorful pictures on the magical blog writing box. Someone told me once that I was staring at a Coke machine, and come to think of it, there a lot of quarters under it. Anyway, the magical flashing blog writing box has featured lots of stories on the internets about new reality TV shows debuting this summer. Reality shows are a treat, because other people’s versions of reality tend to suck more than mine. This summer, there are new programs featuring most of the Palin family (Sarah, not Michael), General Wesley Clark, Puck Rainey, the remains of James Brown and a talking replica of Britney Spears’ lower torso (or it might just be her). Instead of writing letters to cable networks that begin with
Dear TV Land,
Can you please just re-run episodes of What’s Happening? The theme song is the only thing that helps my cheapsicles digest…
I’d rather suggest some new reality TV shows of my own. Here are a few:
Osmonds VS. Steamrollers. The concept is simple: A death match between Donnie, Marie and construction equipment.
B-List Reenactment. Hollywood’s “sort of” stars spend a half hour recreating their most famous (only famous) movie moments. Episode 1 would involve something about Denise Richards. What was she famous for? Oh, yeah. Champagne. Got it.
James Lipton Stunt Interviews. Why not ratchet up the old actor interviews with Jimmy and have the host ask his note card questions while wearing a loincloth and wrestling a bear? Danger Shmanger.
Are You Smarter Than an Inbred Comedian?
Swamp Blogger. My story, played by loincloth clad James Lipton.
Last Wednesday I posted about being a solitary person and having a need at times to step back from life and just think. Over the days that followed, I drove deep into the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, far past Mackinaw and the pasties, fudge and smoked fish that are meant to lure in us southern dwellers. Even though I am a Michigander by birth, my trips over the bridge to the U.P. have been few. The world of the Yoopers is different. Towns are few and far between and most consist of small grocery stores, or gas and bait shops that cater to hunters and fisherman on their way to lodges. Over a seventy mile stretch of two lane highway, a driver might only encounter five passing lanes. For the most part, if you get stuck driving behind tourists, there will be a grinding wait before being able to pass the slow vehicle in front of your bumper.
Each morning on my visit to the U.P., I made a habit of waking up at six a.m. and then watching through the window for the first “barely there” strains of dawn. At half past, I’d lace up my running shoes and head out into the woods. After a half mile, I’d reach a paved road that wound its way through the Hiawatha National Forest. There are few times in life when I’ve felt so absolutely alone. The further I’d traipse away from the cabin, the more isolated I began to feel. The trees seemed to grow around and over me, only allowing the sunrise to break just a bit over their tops. I smelled nothing but the cool scent of piney woods wafting on the breeze mingled with the fish smell rolling off of the lakes. Alone in the woods, I wondered what would happen if I ran across a bear. After twenty minutes went by on the road without seeing a car or any dwellings, there arose a flutter of panic in me. Then it vanished. For the first time since living in Grand Teton as a young man, or the year spent roaming the Delaware Water Gap, did I feel truly at home. In emptiness, as well as in quiet, did I find peace and the realization that I am infinitely small in the vastness of God’s world. The world is and will continue to be and my small footprint is just…small.
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.H.W. Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha.
A few months back I wrote a blog post offering some reasons for not getting naked, climbing into a fire truck and running over strangers (Naked, posted 2/25/12). Any time you can include a naked individual driving a stolen fire truck, Angelina Jolie and the end times in one tidy little blog, it’s a fun day. This week, most of the major papers and Time magazine picked up on a story from Miami involving a naked individual gnawing the face off of another equally unclothed person near a freeway on-ramp. The man, who could not be swayed from his cannibalistic ritual until fatally shot, was said to be under the influence of Bath Salts. This is a horrible, despicable story and the victim is barely alive as of this writing, but I did want to comment on the whole idea of calling whatever form of LSD/household cleaners the assailant was taking “Bath Salts.” Is there any reason for calling a powerful hallucinogenic agent “Bath Salts”?
When I think of bath salts, I’m reminded of some miserable housewife (of a bygone era. Miserability is really unfashionable these days) throwing up her hands and begging Calgon to take her away. Bath Salts seemed like a nice, quaint product. Of course, as kids we were told not to ingest any bathing products. “Don’t drinkMr. Bubble! For Heavens sake, child! You’ll hear colors!” Why even take a chance on imbibing a substance named after a tub time relaxant? What’s with the zombie apocalypse craze, anyway? Why are people getting naked and biting strangers? Is it because of TV shows like The Walking Dead? If Mad Men gets too popular, are people going to put on wool knit suits and hit secretaries with umbrellas? Are we going to become a nation in which Once Upon ATime is so popular that people dress as Pinocchio and lie to each other for fun? Oh, joy! Siri? Remind me to dress as Pinocchio on Saturday night!
Are people defined by their “isms?” As much as the look on our faces shows the world the way to our souls, it might be the little idio(t)syncrasies that are the real indicators of just who we are. Take for instance the tuneless tunes we choose to sing, or hum when happy. Sure, some people don’t ever have a go-to song. Many of those same people are generally unhappy tools, or they’re mannequins. When I’m truly at peace with the world, I become more annoying than usual. One of my little tells is that I sing the closing sting from ESPN’s Sports Center theme. The tune is literally just “duh na na duh na na Sports Center.” ESPN ( The Exaggerated Sports Pimping Network) has been using variations of the theme for over twenty years and it’s one of those ubiquitous riffs that just gets lodged in one’s gray matter. In our house, at least on most sunny Saturday mornings, every question asked of me is answered with this ism sliver. If someone asks for scrambled eggs, they get them served with “duh na na…” For some reason, I always end by announcing Sports Center like one of the public address announcers from Half Life. The nonsensical use of my musical ism became so out of control that I caught myself mindlessly duh na na-ing at work one day. “What that your humming? Maybe you should go back and sit in your cubicle and have some time alone to hum the batman theme.”
Leave it to the intuitively designed iPhone to be the buzz killer. The Sports Center app for iOS plays the show’s beloved sting at certain user ordained times. I set the app up to notify me during key points in baseball and football games as well as at their start and end times. The phone did so much “duh na na” over the first few months that I now keep it silent for the majority of the time. Certain moments in life don’t need the Sports Center theme, either from me or the phone. So, I have to break the ESPNism and find new ways to enjoy my happiness. The other night I found that I could “duh nuh” the entire Monday Night Football theme. Thus, a new ism was born.
Like many failed bloggers, I aspire to be a novelist. Some persistent voice in my mind shouts at me to write as if my life depends on it. No, I’m not actually hearing voices and the persistent encouragement may be the result of too much Sudafed (mmm…cold medicine). Every now and then one of the creative mash-ups that appear on these pages shows promise. A reader from Argentina mentioned that I’m funny (looking). During my college days, I imagined myself as a poet. One girl I gave original poetry to stopped taking my pizza order long enough to go and show my work to her manager. Sure, I’m banned from Pizza Hut in every state (except Alabama), but that just prompted me to learn to make pizza. While mowing the lawn, I thought of a list of life experiences that would be beneficial to my future career as a novelist. The neighbors were kind enough to give the mower back after it propelled itself through their roses. Qualifications:
I’ve previously worked naked (not in the film industry. I was a dish washer).
Good with titles. For instance, if the novel involved lawn care, I’d call it 5o Shades of Brown.
knowledgeable about romancelove cheeses of the world.
Formerly a dashing man of international intrigue. Well, I’ve been to Canada.
Great at putting words together in a way that simultaneously inspires rage and boredom.
I enjoy books. My favorite is the comic book version of Burn Baby Burn.
Wrote speeches for previous President George W. Bush. Needless to say, he never used them. Who can tell the difference, though?
Have flair for describing gritty, realistic life situations. Once such situation might involve a dark, stormy night on which my dog went pee in my shoe. Then again, maybe not.
I write in the same way I speak. Oh, wait. Neither of those are strong selling points. I may have to return to washing dishes.
The only thing wrong with dying is that the deceased has no control over choice of obituary photograph used. I can say without any trace of guilt that the sadness I feel when reading about the passing of some stranger is usually related to the picture accompanying that person’s death notice. I was struck by this yesterday while reading about a locally famous soul who’d parted ways with his breathing related obligations. While the column dedicated to the done-living was of interest, it was the terrifically bad picture that was upsetting. Had this individual made a miraculous recovery and then decided to purchase a newspaper (because defeating death naturally leads to the question “Well? What now? I guess I could see what’s in today’s paper…”) he would have been upset himself. The poor guy would have had to recall when in life he dressed like a rodeo clown and then posed for photos while smiling like a lobotomy recipient.
I’m opposed to the “In happier times” photo. There will be instructions for my family not to send the paper any pictures of what I looked like when happy. Not that I’ve spent life unhappy. Most of my existence has been quite amusing, but that could have just been indigestion. In my happier times, though, I never possessed the look of someone surprised by a giant-sized Publisher’s Clearinghouse check shortly after eating pizza from a restaurant on the health department’s watch list. There’s happy, and then there’s unbearably diarrhea stricken. I believe in happiness, but only to a point. When I go to McDonald’s, for instance, I always ask for a Pleasantly Subdued meal, because a Happy Meal is just overkill. Obit photos tend to look like the dearly dead has just eaten the happiest meal of all. Ah, well. Be wary of relatives with cameras and continue living as though you were alive.
One of the nice things about the era you grew up in is that it’s all yours. I went through the over-glorified attic of my memories and came up with 10 dusty memories of childhood in the polyester wasteland:
Wacky Packages. The lazy child’s form of graffiti. When they took our pens and paint away, we covered every available source of material with these creepy stickers.
The Muppet Show. The Muppet Show was better than any so-called variety show. You got to see borscht belt comedians, top music acts and puppets
telling corny jokes all on TV that was beamed into your house for free.
My daughter insisted a few minutes ago that Santa Claus won’t bring me anything this year due to my poor attitude. She said this in response to having a cartoon about moronic sea creatures turned off. For sea animals the characters on Sponge Bob are intelligent. Relative to humans they’re…still pretty smart. Maybe I should turn the show back on. The part about Santa not gifting me this year, however, isn’t worrisome. The modern* Saint Nick story has so many holes in it that it’s a wonder today’s tech savvy kids buy into it.
The story goes that each year a morbidly obese separatist who lives in a northern commune with his wife and followers makes lavish gifts for the world’s children. Santa and his height challenged minions track which children are deserving of baubles. One night a year Santa dons a costume and sets out to distribute the toys in a sled that flies because of specially trained petting zoo mule deer hitched to it. The deers’ ability to fly may be due to substance abuse, hence Santa lives so far north. Santa lands his deer team atop the homes of his chosen children and proceeds down chimneys. Although severely burned by fireplace embers, he forces his way into homes to leave gifts. Children are urged to leave sweets for the gentleman, despite his signs of diabetes (which isn’t checked, because he’s opposed to government health care). He then climbs through fireplace ashes and alights up the chimney and to his waiting sleigh. Riding in the sled behind eight deer who subsist on carbohydrates and emit ozone depleting methane, Santa finds his way to all of the world’s young people. The morning after Santa has visited is disheartening for parents, because he gets credit for gifts which they worked all year to purchase. This is of no concern to Father Christmas, who is already planning a vacation at Zucotti Park. Who am I kidding? I hope the jolly old guy brings me Sketches of Spain on L.P.
*The real Saint Nicolas is famous for burning heretics, circa 325 A.D.
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.
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.