(Due to recent bouts of human sensitivity and empathy for the plight of mankind, Mostly Teachable was temporarily postponed. We now return you to our previously scheduled obnoxious, immature blog. Thanks.)
There are two places in the United States that I enjoy driving through for no reason other than the fact that I suffer from stunted brain development. The first is Emlenton, Pennsylvania. The Emelenton Truck Plaza boasts serving the world’s worst apple pie. Pretty much true, but I appreciate the fact that they’ve turned crappiness into a long running tourist gimmick. I plan to change the Mostly Teachable slogan to “World’s Worst Blog.” That would somehow imply that I care, though. My other favorite destination is Effingham, Illinois. No reason. I just really like spending the thirty miles of nothingness before and after the town shouting about effinham. Which brings me to the completely irrelevant, and yet satisfyingly…irrelevant subject of Spam.
I read an article yesterday by some esteemed culinary schmuck about the rebirth of Spam canned meat products as a result of the ongoing economic downturn. The author provided recipes by renowned chefs who’ve created solid entrée offerings using venerable old Spam products. My memories of Spam are vivid, but not entirely sepia-toned and fuzzy with warm feelings. There were no culinary offerings that came from Spam that made it a worthwhile product to continue consuming as an adult. Spam was best fried. It came with its own weird, gelatinous meat sauce and invariably curled up in the skillet, as if to die from meat shame. I enjoyed eating Spam, especially on winter nights when it was accompanied by pancakes. I put Spam into the same category as Patrick Swayze movies and Foreigner albums. Hot at the time, yet best enjoyed on the sly as years pass.
Spam will never be the economic savior rising from grocery shelves to put money back into our pockets. For starters, it’s not a reasonably priced product. A 12 oz. can currently retails for $2.48. My cursory glance at local grocery advertisements revealed chicken breast fillets at $1.87 a pound. Even after trimming as purchased fat/waste, the consumer still saves money on fresh meat. The other, less telling reason is that the calories in Spam are nearly all from fat (a 2 oz. portion is 180 calories, 140 of which are from fat.). Mmm…Crisco. I still live by the old Police line that
When the world is running down/make the best of what’s still around.
Why Spam is still around is beyond me. The economics of fear, or the misty, water colored memories America shares of childhoods spent eating effin ham, I suppose.
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’ve been watching The Bible on The History Channel over the past few weekends. I enjoy the program on its own level. The writers have taken some creative liberties with God’s word, but overall the series is very entertaining. The folks in the basic cable version of the Bible are a handsome nation of clean-shaven people. Good Englishmen and well spoken, one and all. The point is made, however, that God used all kinds of people to build His kingdom.
There is one small issue I take, but not with the show itself. No, my issue is with the moronic advertisements for one of the principle sponsors of The Bible, ChristianMingle.com. The ads feature a snippet of an old Jars of Clay song called “Love Song For A Savior.” The song refers to wanting to fall in love with “you.” The “you” was written as God. The love song was always about falling completely in love with God. ChristianMingle has thrown the images of doves and hand-holding together with the very temporary, infatuated feeling of falling in love. Falling in love makes the heart sing and the eyes well up with tears. Compared to the act of falling in love with eternal God Almighty, though, infatuation is just desire floating up and down with the breeze for a moment. Like many people, I’m easily duped by anything with Christian attached to it. A Christian dating service sounds wonderful because it’s got the Christ seal of approval attached to it. A Christian song, or bookstore holds the same place of honor. A Christian coffee-house is seemingly better, because the owners have deemed it Christian. The truth is that patronizing a business, watching a show or using a product doesn’t make a person a Christian. Pasting “Christian” onto a dating service doesn’t mean that two people can forge love a lasts for a lifetime and honors God any more the relationship formed by meeting each other in some less structured way. I want to fall in love with God, too. Over and over again. He takes me back. He alone lifts me up. The companionship I’ve found with my wife is amazing, but doesn’t have the same eternal ramifications.
If I’m a dupe for the Christian cottage industry, then so be it. I’ll get the shirt and the Bible with the inspirational bookmark. What means the most and gets me away from dupe-dom is the knowledge that I’ll be able to go share the words in that Bible with others and meet people where they’re at. For all the ideas the sales arm of Christianity has put forward, I still managed to meet my wife in a sinful world without the help of the name-of-Jesus dating service. God made it possible for me to find a Christian in this weird world, just as he’s done throughout history. Now, there’s a History Channel mini-series if I’ve ever heard of one.
Grace is kind of a zen savant. She sits stock still, focused on some distant point, trying to figure out it’s deeper meaning. She’s can’t form the words for fried chicken, but she’s laser focused on the good smelling food that occupies my plate. Grace is our addle brained, ancient beagle. She is definitely my dog in that she’s perpetually nervous, smelly, and runs around in circles most of the time, grunting all the while. My daughter named her Grace, and I realized the first time that I chased her off the kitchen counter that the name is fitting. It is but for grace that she has made it this far in life.
There has been an undercurrent of gossip during the last few days about Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s late dog Seamus and a 12 hour car trip he took on the roof of the family vehicle in 1983. Conventional wisdom would say that the stories are being kept alive by opponents, but this is the kind of story that bites back because it’s true and terrible. Seamus was ill in his carrier and Romney has defended his decision to keep the animal up there by pointing out that the car was too crowded. This becomes less political and more human failing the more that it comes up.
A few years ago I got called about a blog mentioning Grace’s penchant for sitting under the dryer vent in back of the house. My defense was that I get a good smelling dog and she has a warm zen moment in the lavender breeze. It’s the same as Seamus, though. We really do have to consider the animal’s needs before our own, because they can’t do it themselves. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but my doctor hasn’t mentioned heart defect. I’m just developing the heart of a smelly old soul dog. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lanny-davis/-romneys-dog-on-car-roof-_b_1202883.html
The strangest social gesture in all of humanity has to be the hug. Today, I received several hugs. For the most part, they were to wish me well, or were reminders that everything is going to be okay. The random-ish squeeze of another person’s torso accompanied by a hard slap on the back seems to signal only good will on the part of the hugger. I never understood hugging much until this week. My dad, as I’ve probably mentioned too many times on this blog, used to say “Well…we ain’t very huggy people.” True, we are from a race of non-demonstrative people. You know where you stand with me and I know where you stand with me, so why squeeze each other?
In a strange way, all of the hugging this week has done me some good. A good embrace given by someone who cares roots a person to the earth and lessons the feeling of being one step from floating away. The hug is a way of other humans saying
“You’re alive! Would hugging you prove it? So be it!
I’ve started to actually enjoy returning the weird, human hugging gesture. Most of the time I even remember to say “thank you.” Not that all of this huggy behavior has gone to my head. I have to be careful. There is no reason to become a random hugger, also known as a weirdo. When I meet other non-huggers, we just slap each other, or kick one another’s shins. My bruised ankles are a testament to the value of knowing who really embraces hugging behavior and those that don’t. Ah, well. This too shall pass. As soon as people figure out how much Old Spice I wear, they don’t usually offer a second hug. I may initiate the hugs, myself. Everybody needs a little Old Spice love.
I took two weeks off from writing this blog. In fact, I didn’t go near the WordPress world for a while. Sometimes, you have to do that to gain a little perspective. Did I learn anything new, or gain some insight that can only be found outside of writing Mostly Teachable? Not really. I prayed, read and wrote for other projects. Most days I ran, only pausing long enough to stare boggle-eyed at the new issue of Runner’s World, and then…ran some more. When the sun (finally) comes out in Michigan, we don’t take its presence for granted, after all.
Yesterday afternoon, I was having the traditional Sunday dinner with my wife’s family. Well, traditional as far as her deep roots are concerned. Sunday dinner in my house growing had a lot to do with how willing one of us was to open a can of tuna. As we were finishing dinner, my 10-year-old daughter Anna began to expound on her career and life plans. This, apparently is what young girls do to prepare for the future. They lay out, in detail, the hopes and aspirations of their lives for everyone to hear. Not once did she mention growing up to start a family and open cans of tuna. Sitting next to Anna, and with unusual patience, was her 3-year-old cousin. As Anna dreamed out loud of becoming a movie star, the pre-schooler very matter of fact-ly announced that he was going to be Captain America. There was no excitement, no carrying-on about the idea. I affirmed the plan with “You go, man! Captain America sounds like a good job.” My nephew just nodded with his serious expression. “Yeah.” He later went on to tell us something about Captain America being one of the “Vengers” as he ran off. I like the black and white, no-nonsense world of pre-school thinking. The captain is good, the monsters in the closet are bad. Therefore, a good career would be that of a comic book super hero. By the time kids reach my daughter’s age, doubt has crept in. Even if someone older sets his or her sites on being one of the Avengers, there are myriad worries that keep them from making it happen. How does one break into the super-hero business? What’s the competition like? Is the post-college job market flooded with Marvel super heroes? In a post-recession economy, how soft is the job market for comic book characters. Do bad guys have better retirement plans? As a good-at-heart hero, how hard is it to roll over your DC Comics 401K into a Marvel Universe IRA? Did Captain America fare better in the job market as an armed forces combat veteran? What kind of disability rating did the defense department give him since they nuclear radiated his khakis off in order to bulk him up? Oh, the considerations. My nephew just knows the basics. Captain America is good. That, and when the dog eats his action figures we can go to the dollar store and get more.
I had an interview of sorts this past week for an additional on-call job to be added to my current work. The interview was the best one I’d ever experienced for something that I didn’t have any shot at getting. The interviewer and I had a long talk about crossing the line into vocational ministry and the seriousness of taking steps to do so. The advice was sound. So, rather than worry and fuss over what might have been, or what might never be, I simply leave the process in God’s hands. He may not make me Captain America, but if I check worry at the door and carry the shield of faith, the result will be unique and surprising. Sometimes you just have to put the shield to your chest and step into life.
I whine about migraines a lot on this particular blog. At some point in the last year headaches became a lifestyle rather than an occurrence. After going a few weeks without much beyond the whimper of a migraine, the specialist signed off for six months and wished me luck. I spent much of my free time in the weeks that followed upside down, waiting for the inevitable rainbow express to spew forth from me. Running got put on hold, as did every fun thing in life (like staring at my computer, waiting for a blog to come out). At work, I’m like Milton Waddams, and can hide a migraine. I work in a basement office, and am pretty much in
the dark, anyway. I’ve got my Swingline stapler and as long as nobody moves my desk, can type quietly. After a while, losing weekends to headaches became unacceptable. In the most non-Milton way, I set out down the path of enlightenment.
Seeking out witch doctors, shamans and Canadians, I went about finding remedies on my own. One day I found myself all turned around looking for a little medicine shop and wandered down a back alley. The mean streets of Saint Joseph, Michigan can get rough at 3:00 in the afternoon. Shady types will try to sell you Crocs or get you hooked on homemade fudge. After a week of reading, searching and living on crackers, I found myself armed with an arsenal of knowledge and old school remedies. Some of them have unwanted side effects, but within weeks are supposed to alleviate migraines. Sure, I have glowing, fluorescent green skin and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, but it’s a good trade for being headache free. The supplements are clearing my system of unwanted toxins,
along with those pesky organs I never used. Oh, well. Where there’s hope there’s (hopefully) no headache.
Sunday morning brought me a milkshake migraine. Really the best kind. The only kind that are worth getting, if indeed a migraine headache is ever worth enduring. An epic champion of a hangover and yet I remember exactly how and where the hangover came from. It was the white chocolate milkshake with red sprinkles and a maraschino cherry on top. Swirls of red dye#40 leeching into a mass of chilled ice cream and flavored syrup. To you it’s just a milkshake, but to me it was the conscious decision to indulge in a headache inducer. And savor every second of the bender. As a person who lives on the steady diet of Grape Nuts and Imitrex, this was a party. Now, I’m in Sunday morning repentance. Sipping coffee slowly and watching Face The Nation. Caffeine and Bob Schieffer will sober a wayward soul right up.
I told the doctor a month ago that my headache had been active since 1978, which is mostly true. When you’ve had the issue that long, an MRI isn’t indicated because the doctors figure if the headache hasn’t killed you by now, it won’t ever. During the headache age I’ve learned some truths that serve me well. The first insight is that if I’m going to indulge, do it fully and with great gusto. Take milkshakes, for example. No cheating with fake shakes. I go to the establishment that has milkshake happy hour. There, I find the hardcore, lifetime shakers. People who represent the 80% addiction relapse statistics. We cower at the counter over a frothy drink. They don’t get migraines, those hearty drinkers. Me, I know that I’ll go home to my supportive wife, a headache and more Grape Nuts. I count the Imitrex tabs carefully, timing the hangover. Smiling after the best shake ever.
One of the little bonding moments between my daughter and I took place this week while watching the Olympic Beach Volleyball gold medal match. At the end of the final set, after Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had defeated fellow Americans April Ross and Jen Kessy, Treanor began to stomp around the sand as LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem played. My little girl, being all of ten and still struggling to develop good judgement, was really enthused about this. Despite the fact that the song is so old and played-out that it qualifies for Social Security, little kids seem to still enjoy it. Not that I let her listen to the tired piece of song, but I know she’s heard the track a lot. As she bopped along with Misty, I pointed out that Party Rock is just re-heated Wang Chung. “What? Dad,what’s Wang Chung?” I started to explain to her some nugget of wisdom about how music existed long before she was born, but then an actual 80’s song began to play, and I was reminded that we didn’t have it much better.
The song that followed our LAME-O LMFAO moment was by Spandau Ballet. True was featured in a car commercial depicting a bunch of adults my age driving around in a shiny, new automobile, happily singing along with the tune. Poor True. The song is one of those tracks locked in our collective memories, better enhanced by storage in brain cells than in actuality. Party Rock Anthem will be one of those songs for my kid. As a guy, it was downright embarrassing to be riding around in some guy’s car when Spandau Ballet came on. In my case, my car only had an AM radio and the ability to pick up one station. If True began to play, all the guys rolled down their windows and hocked loogies out until the radio was hastily shut off. Spandau Ballet was always a deejay closer at dances, but I was too dumb to understand the signal. I liked to pretend I knew how do swooping, romantic dances, and would end up dropping some girl on the floor. ‘Lot of head injured women in my home town. I can only happily think that my child will one day grow up and turn off the radio when Party Rock starts. In the meantime, I’ll just spit out the window.
One of the parts about parenting that I never really get used to is the amount of structure required in children’s lives. My pre-teenage daughter is starting a second week of musical theatre camp tomorrow, an activity that follows a summer of other meaningful childhood activity. This is the case with many of my friends kids. We pay to keep them on the road, year-round, like a worn out rock band. This may have been common when I was a kid, but I have no recollection of much wholesome activity. I was a fairly unsophisticated kid. My friends and I would go outdoors and play something called “Funny People” for hours on end. The object of the game was…well there wasn’t an object, because the game was just stupid. One participant would punch the other. The puncher would fall down and writhe on the ground while the punchee would stand and laugh, while showing no effects of having been hit. There were several aspects of Funny People that puzzle me to this day:
Parents and educators would encourage us to go outdoors and punch each other in the head (“Why don’t you go find your friends and punch each other in the head?”)
For all of the blows to the skull, many of us managed to grow into responsible, caring adults. There are those in every group of friends who wind up in jail, or with uncontrollable twitching, I imagine. I’d speculate more, but my left leg keeps independently kicking the right one.
My parents would tire of all the whining about skull fractures toward mid-summer and shell out $15 dollars to send me for a week at sleep-away camp. This was about as structured as life got, because my friends and I would spend our daylight hours making wallets and license plates in a makeshift compound, deep in the north woods of Michigan. My favorite project was making knife holsters. What 8-year old boy doesn’t want a carrier for his homemade shank? Each morning started with some old geezer sidling up to me in the chow line, asking “der yer warnt ah wiskerr ruub?” My love of the marathon began right there, because I learned to run from unshaven camp geezers. Yeah, now that I’ve purged those memories, maybe driving my child around to her sophisticated activities is a good thing. Let me go get my camp wallet so I can pay whatever amount structure requires.
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.