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.
My grandmother, Mrs. Dorothy Robinson, passed away a little over a year ago. She died after a lengthy bout with Alzheimer’s disease, the intense care for which led indirectly to the deaths of my grandfather and their eldest daughter. This is not a sad post, however. I rejoice in the fact that my grandparents led an honorable life and taught future generations to do likewise. Grandma wanted me to go into Christian ministry, but I broke her heart in that regard. I am, for what it’s worth a screw-up. One who was seduced by the dark side of food service work while in the pursuit of a life offered to God. Dort was partially to blame for this, without ever realizing it.
Grandma had a plate in her kitchen featuring a graphic of two rural children kissing and emblazoned with the saying “Kissin’ Don’t Last, Cookery Do.” I accepted the wisdom of this plaque in stages. As a little kid I had no use for kissing or cooking. It was puzzling to look at this chachki, because I knew that the most important thing in life was to run around in circles. During grade school, when I began to eat enough to stock the training table of a football team, the kissing bit sounded lame to me. Kissing seemed irrelevant, because I really just needed Grandma to keep cooking. It was only later that I began to see the value of both. Grandma’s cooking is one of the many reasons I chose to romance the stove burners. I’ve eaten in all kinds of unique venues and learned to make plausible replicas of real food items over the years, but Dort’s cooking is what I relish most about my life in food. Nothing overly complicated, nothing out of the realm of comforting. The food was always just…perfect. The kissing part is trickier. I figured out shortly after developing a passion for simple, quality food that cooking holds a direct link to kissing. More importantly, good cooking often goes hand in hand with relationship building. When you meet the right person, one of the most sincere forms of affection is cooking for them. You might burn the food, but memories are often built over time spent eating things like scorched biscuits together. The food is not necessarily the binding agent, but the time spent at meals is. Grandma, I suspect, was on to this. She grew up during the Depression and would probably tell me to not be so frivolously emotional about the whole kissing and cooking idea. The plaque was, after all, just a plaque. Honestly, though, it was the only thing from her estate that I can imagine hanging onto. The estate was long ago sold off by a Luthern service organization, but I can still picture her kitchen in my mind. Everyone gets their start with an idea and I became a lousy kisser, amateur philosopher and culinary lifer in that kitchen. Sorry about the ministry, Grandma.
Last year I wrote something about the local bikini mom brigade and the sub-suburban bathing suit top dress code. There seemed, at that time, to be something distinctly un-sexy about the fortysomething middle school chauffeur crowd sporting bathing suits as everyday casual wear in every situation. Times change, and with changes come different and more unique modes of dress. This year, possibly due to the miserably cold Spring in Southern Michigan, muumuus seem to be the local fashion. In a weird way, the muumuu is kind of a turn-on. When a woman wears a giant, formless article of clothing in public, it leaves everything to the imagination. I know that nine times out of ten there is a person under that ginormous house dress and I’m curious about who they are. A man doesn’t have anything in his wardrobe like a muumuu. We have hunting gear, but don’t normally wear that around town. There isn’t any great, big sack we can wear/hide in.
Other industries ought to defer to the muumuu dress, because it will one day be the prevalent fashion for American women. The auto companies should make muumuu friendly cars with seats designed so one’s over-sized canvas dresses don’t ride up. They might also be considerate enough to make pedals in cars sensitive to flip-flops, or fuzzy slippers, because these seem to be the most often paired footwear with muumuus. Wal-Mart needs to be considerate enough to make muumuu-wide isles. A narrow corridor, a muumuu mamma and an unsuspecting male shopper is a recipe for trouble. If a man is unlucky enough to be caught in this situation, he’s going to be blinded by unnaturally colored cotton fabric and the acrid smell of old French fries caught in the folds. I don’t have any really good stories about my life experiences, but I know about old fries and impossibly enormous, all-too-thin dresses. On the occasions when this has happened to me, I’ve managed to greet the ladies with a hearty
How you doin’?
What else could I say? Rather than be smothered by a giant dress while shopping for spark plugs or sink parts, I give a friendly nod and then get the heck out the way. Sure, the Michigan no-tan bikini fashion isn’t exactly appropriate for running errands, but at least innocent bystanders aren’t often suffocated by waves of excess material.
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!
There are certain things that woman can’t stand about men, behaviors that anger them even more than mere philandering or ignorance of the heart. It’s my theory that men careening around stores during the act of male pattern shopping is what really causes the rift between the sexes. I noticed this when I was out this morning procuring the goods for a batch of cheese bisque. My cooking life began at 11 years old and I have no problem finding what I need in supermarkets after years of shopping. Still, sometimes it’s better to go on a sleepy, early Sunday morning. The chance that I’ll get into a cart battle with another shopper is less likely at that hour.
This following isn’t a sexist statement, but merely an observation on the different ways shopping is affected by chromosomal differences. I observe that many woman in supermarkets shop with care and in an orderly way, cruising their carts close to the shelves. I shop in a kamikaze fashion, which I suspect many of my kind do as well. The items I want are someplace in the store and I position the cart in death dive when those items come into view. All or nothing! Other shoppers get out-of-the-way when the scream of basket wheels rushes toward them. It’s not selfishness, but a way of getting the heck out of the store faster. Modern stores, I fear, were designed by the same rocket surgeons responsible for clover leaf freeway interchanges and Banquet pot pies. What you want is always in the middle, but once you get there you realize that the middle isn’t that great either.
A grocery clerk once walked up to my mom with a handwritten list he found on the floor and asked my mom if she’d dropped it. “No, I’m too screwed up for lists.” she replied and wandered off. I’m not that bad off, but I see her point. Sometimes you just aim the cart and go. Thanks mom (maybe it’s not a male thing 🙂 ).
When I was a young guy (not when I was a young girl. We don’t talk about that part of my life) I received a magical sort of self-help book (more than one. I was really screwed up) which contained some sage advice on self-worth. My worth, said magical, sage helpy-book, was not tied to job, or marriage partner or any sort of “thing.” Things, book pointed out, were just things. I know now, in my wise, older state of being, that this is not true. Self worth, I’ve learned, has a lot to do with the way my lawn looks. When my yard is having a bad year, I’m having a bad year. The wife I love and adore may speak of how fond she is of me, but if my grass has withered and turned brown I’m inconsolable.
My front lawn is on a pronounced slope. I find myself jogging behind the mower as it takes off down toward the neighbor’s house. The people who inhabit my little street, hobbit-like in the way they poke their heads out to see what I’m doing, all think I mow three sheets to the wind. I end up with crooked crop circles in the grass. If M. Night Shyamalan ever saw my freshly mown yard he’d make movie in which some kid sees dead people just before he gets abducted by aliens. This year the yard looks very presentable. I used Scotts Insecure Homeowner 12-Step Program on it. The green won’t last, but the hope of spring remains eternal. I put cooking whiskey in the mole’s holes so they’ll hibernate longer and I sit up at night waiting for people to walk over the grass so I can go all Clint Eastwood on them (“Get off my lawn”). I forgive those who trespass as they would forgive me my trespassing. As long as they say something nice about the yard.
The life and times of an unabashedly stupid blogger are never easy. The pattern leading to posts on this blog is one in which I either commit an act of genuinely asinine, reckless behavior, or am about to, and then follow-up by writing about it. I’m thinking of changing the name of the site to “Unteachable”, or “Don’t Try This At Home Kids.” Soooo…remember that bit from about a week ago about not reading instructions? Yeah. Read package instructions. They’re neat. Not only do the warning instructions that come with heavy machinery and industrial chemicals make great coasters, they are full of tips on how to accomplish tasks without bodily injury. I managed to burn the skin off of my hands using chemicals designed to eat anything in their path. Which is probably why their called solvents. They solve problems by eating them.
This post, of course, is not a sermon on the virtues of proper chemical handling, or reading MSDS sheets. Nah. I am about as unrepentant as a person can be. Despite the obvious lesson learned here (i.e., don’t stick my hand in an acid bath), I’ll probably find something purposefully dangerous to occupy myself with next week. Not to generalize and lump all men into one category, but I know as a man that there is always something to be conquered in life. It starts when we’re young. Yesterday, I spent an hour with my three-year old nephew. In the space of that hour he kept extremely busy and conquered many jobs. He put marshmallows through the floorboards on his porch, went through the dog door to put a flashlight in the backyard and then came back the same way, Beat down Buzz Lightyear with a wiffle ball bat, taunted monsters in the floor registers with the dog’s rope, and scrubbed the walls with the dog’s brush. I’m not making fun of the little guy, because he’s actually pretty well-behaved compared to many kids his age. In fact, I’m probably good compared to many 39 year olds. Just reckless. The doctor prescribed some nice antibiotics and my hands don’t look so “Cabbage Patchy” any more. I’ll tackle more home projects in the coming week, I’m sure. None with chemicals, or course. Actually, the couch looks off-balance and I may have to test it out and work on some fixes.
One of the gray areas of my depression that I’ve never understood has to be letting other people get away with rotten social behavior and poor manners. People often behave badly for no other reason than the fact that they can and I’d let them because I’m a mere can’t-do. In the new world Beatitudes, the fastest have the unshaken belief that they’ll inherit the earth. It was always easier to quit than fight, to let jackassery have its way. I am starting to see light and not just shade with depression. Bits of sunlight get through the mental curtains now. In the brightness of day, I’ve begun to not accept the whims of others, or bend to the will of stupidity. There is a feeling that I haven’t had for a long time. It starts when somebody does something that even chimps would find repulsive. I hear drums like Jim Carey’s character in Me, Myself and Irene. Stupidity doesn’t stand in the way anymore. Today was a case in point. I was sitting in a parking lot when another driver pulled up over the line into my space, slammed my car with her door and schlumphed off. I got out and said my peace. She mumbled that I should be more careful. I said more and went away. In a way I was wrong, but there is a righteousness in giving up false humility and dealing with piss-poor judgment. In these cases, the car door isn’t the part that bothers me. The cut off in traffic doesn’t make the difference. Even the occasional line jumper is not at issue. No, what is it stake is the perpetuation of humanity. Future generations of clueless hordes making emotionally stunted offspring who have no idea how to behave around others. Worse is the fact that future generations will be indifferent to the preposterous idea that other people even exist in the world. I feel like I’m finding my voice after it had been silent for years and my heart which was lost along with it. My heart beats like a drum against indifference.
In the dreams of my sordid youth, I believed that one day the campuses of the University of Michigan would feel like home to me because I’d attended classes there. Never did I think that familiarity would have come from travelling a quarter of the way to the moon while driving back and forth to doctor’s appointments with my daughter over the years. Anna, the daughter whom I’ve been driving with to U of M since she was a baby, actually pointed out this distance the other day in an essay she was writing. She’s 10 now and working to process her life and place in the world. Anna is very shrug-ish when it comes to visits to the university. People and places are so familiar she shrugs them off as the common occurrences of an uncommon life. Anna visits various clinics in order to deal with the vagaries of Crouzon Syndrome, which means she might travel to the dental clinic one week, hearing specialists another and then the Big Kahuna: the pediatric craniofacial surgeon. This past week she saw her cranial surgeon and was, for what might have been the first time, given a chance to voice her own opinions on her surgical future. Heavy stuff for a 10-year-old, but Anna handled it with shrugs and appropriate questions. She didn’t freak out, she simply spoke her wishes, stood for pictures that will be entered into her progressive chart, and then got back into the car. After all, no matter how attuned and mature a kid is about her health care directives, the immediacy of going to Burger King is a bigger deal.
As we walked through the clinic, it was like old home week. One of the nurses joke with Anna about how she used to get so mad when several people had to hold her down to treat her wounds in the aftermath of having had a titanium halo bolted to her skull. “You like me now? Hmmm…you used to not want anything to do with me.” When the surgeon came in, he laid out what might eventually be done, but that the procedures could wait until after she’d finished growing. He also talked about the invasive nature of the surgery, and was straight about it being lengthy and that it would be the last in the course of major operations. The doctor asked Anna several times whether she was unhappy with her life now and if there were surgical concerns that need to be addressed now. Shrug. We asked her to verballize beyond the shrug and she stated that things are fine. That settled it. Unless anything drastically changes during over the next few years, surgery can wait. Anna, in talking to us later, did not want to entertain the idea of major surgery. She hates the stares of strangers and the “pity gifts” she receives from well-meaning people, but skull surgery is worse. When the doctor started mentioning opening up her brain case, that sealed the deal. I get it. Life is good for her now. She’s got school and plays and enough pre-adolescent stress. Why invite the old surgical recovery demons back in? Not to mention the fact that Anna much more enjoys the familiarity of home, school and church life to that of U of M. The kid has spoken.
Thanks for reading and listening to Mostly Teachable. This week’s podcast is a nugget of joy about the end of the world through health care, the end of Camelot with Tom and Katie, and (hopefully) the end of people eating strangers. Have a great weekend, and have a peaceful and joyous whatever it is that you do!
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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.