Thursday, December 29, 2011

Remember, Be Here Now


Finally feeling better, and so much has happened. Life can spin around so fast sometimes.

The big news is that my offer on the house has been accepted. The paperwork might take longer than normal, so the closing date is set for February 8th.  I am very excited about this house.


I am having a New Year’s Eve party at my apartment this year, and I had previously planned to get the place organized and put up some artwork on the walls, and shop for snacks and beverages… but this ugly sick spell that has a hold of me is keeping me down. I just now am starting to catch up on normal housework like laundry so the extra spiffing up probably won’t happen.

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I am starting to waffle and be indecisive again. With the holidays, B.D. has been out of town for a while and we have not talked. The distance has been nice and has me thinking this whole relationship thing with her isn’t too bad.

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Work has been extremely busy and the days have been flying by fast. I like it.

With busy work and a sick body, not much inner exploration happens, and it is a rather nice respite. Sometimes it’s good to remember to “just be”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

waiting for the healthy part

Still waiting to hear if my offer has been accepted on the house.

I was intending to boycott Christmas, and my body decided to make it official. I have been ugly sick since Friday morning. I went home from work Friday about 9 am and barely moved from bed until late Sunday afternoon. I missed the ugly sweater party, the Christmas Eve gathering of the clan, and small family gatherings as well.  Whew! I’m still not healthy though. In fact, I feel downright crappy.

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This quote has been my mantra for the last few days:
Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change.  - Jesse Jackson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unexpected House Hunting

I was just getting ready for bed last night, and checked my email and noticed an email from my realtor. She was excitedly describing a home that had just gone on the market mere hours earlier.

I looked the house up and wouldn’t you know it, the house fits 99% of my wish with a few extras that make it darn near perfect!

I took a couple hours off work today to walk through the house with my realtor and LOVE the house!

It is a modest 2 bedroom 1 bath home with a full basement. The kicker is in the basement….. there is another bathroom and a FULL kitchen!

I have a busy day submitting an offer and gathering appropriate paperwork.  This could be a very nice Christmas gift to myself!

There wasn’t an offer on the house yet, so I may be the first one!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Xmas Funk

I think my downer attitude is just the basic holiday blues.

I talked with my in-laws last night and they have invited me to their home for Christmas again. I don’t think I will go over there this year. My father-in-law and I talked again about a remembrance gathering for my wife on her birthday. It was a tear-filled phone call for me as I sat in the parking lot of a restaurant on my way to a Christmas dinner with my co-workers.

The last few days I have been looking at large vans/small RV’s again.  I am seeing some really sweet setups for about $20,000. I’ve been thinking of forced motivation if I had a small RV. I would still work at my current job.  I would want to join a gym for the nice showers. Hopefully a gym with a decent yoga instructor and frequent classes with multiple locations.  It might force me to want to socialize more. God forbid, I call my friends every once in a while.

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I will be going to an ugly sweater party on Friday night.  Should be lots of fun, and hopefully will get the funk out of my face.



JAMES BROWN Soulful Christmas  Santa's Got a Brand New Bag

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giving Yourself Permission to Forgive Yourself

I’m not feeling 100% healthy today and I have a company dinner tonight I should attend.  I don’t NEED to attend, but I’m a cheapskate and can’t turn down a free meal. Besides, it will force me to stay on this side of town after work and get some grocery shopping done.

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There is another wonderful post by Becky over at InterstellarOrchard  about Giving Yourself Permission. So very hard for me!  I would also add Forgiving Yourself for Past Mistakes to the list of difficult things for me to do.

So very often I am held back for lack of self-permission or guilt over past experiences.  A great example of this was last Sunday night. I went to a singer/songwriter event at a private residence. A bunch of people sharing poems, writings, songs….a wonderful exchange of non-judgmental  expression.

I just sat there and listened. I had a great time. But what would have happened if I stood up in front of my peers and sang a little song  “a cappella” ? I have so much fear of standing alone and expressing myself! All eyes directed on me!

These people don’t care if I can sing well, or if I sound like Oscar the Grouch. Lord knows there were plenty of people there that night that couldn’t carry a tune… but they got up anyway. .I know I can sing.  I can sing Karaoke like nobody’s business. I sing in a garage band with a bunch of other middle aged Tech guys. I’m not a great singer, but I can carry a tune.

So why can’t I give myself permission to stand up in front of a warm and caring group of friends that support and encourage me every day? What past failure might be keeping me in my seat?

How often does this lack of permission and forgiveness affect my daily routine? What else in life am I missing out on? Am I blocking off entire possible life paths because of a lack of permission? How high could I soar with permission and forgiveness? How open towards life could I become?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Passing in the Night.

My mother’s husband died over the weekend. He was sick for a very long time and my mother has been caregiving for him.  Apparently hospice came to the house, told her he would only last a few more hours, handed her a slip of paper with some basic instructions and then said to call them if anything changes. And then the hospice worker left.

At least that is my mother’s interpretation of the events.

Apparently he did not have a peaceful passing.  My mother was alone with him, and she said he had a lot of pain and emotional torment at the end. She has been telling everyone that he died peacefully in his sleep. She told me this thinking I would understand since I was there alone with my wife when she died. I tried to reassure her that she shared this very private experience alone with her husband, and it was perfectly acceptable to keep that shared moment close to her heart and not feel obligated to share it with others, other than a counselor or shrink.

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Went to my company holiday party with B.D. on Saturday night. She is a great dinner party companion.  Beautiful, engaged, smart and articulate….she can quietly impress with her strength and empowerment without being boastful. A true catch by anyone’s standards.

But it isn’t enough for me.

I am mostly drawn to her stability. She has a clear path and patient persistence towards her goals. She has a strong voice and carefully thought out opinions.

She also has a rigid and extremely quiet demeanor.  

Yes, she is opening up, and yes, I finally heard her give a hearty laugh…. But is there a strong enough connection for me?

No.  There just isn’t enough of a spark for me to be happy in the long term.

She is leaving for the holidays this week, and will return the first week of January She is drawing me closer into her life and while she has an extremely strong sense of self-preservation I don’t really want to be that guy that breaks things off right as she is stepping onto the plane to visit family. But maybe it would be better to talk now, so she can process while on a break from work and school?

Rod Stewart- Sailing

Friday, December 16, 2011

What do you do?

I went to B.D.’s party last night. It was a bit overwhelming and definitely not the kind of crowd I normally move in. There were fancy haircuts, fancy shoes, and plenty of turned up noses. If I had to guess what most of the attendee’s favorite pastime was, I would guess “making more money”.

B.D. is comfortable in this crowd. I am not. I made the most of it, and tried to be engaging and talkative. Didn’t work out so much. I was pretty darn quiet. Especially when the first question on people’s lips is “what do you do?”. 
 
Hrmm…. What do I do?

And of course my over-active mind didn’t hear the question of “What do you do so you can eat”, but rather, “What do you do to make you, you?”

Great question. Difficult answer.

What is it that I do, that makes me, me? Sure, I do yoga, hike, karaoke, hippie dance church…..but what else? What do I do to nurture my soul? I’ve done more gentle holding of my soul than nurturing the last 3 years.  What do I do? I see a shrink every week. I used to see a hospice grief support group twice a month. I go to a young widows and widowers support dinner once a month.   

Is that who I am? When my wife was alive, it never seemed to be a question that needed answered. I was Husband, Best Friend, Confidant, Lover. Part of a Team. There was no need to ask “what do you do?”

The question of “Who Am I Now?”  is so very difficult for me to answer.

What makes you, you?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Widowed People United in a Boycott of Christmas

Christmas is coming, and I feel like running away.

I’ve boycotted Christmas for the last three years since my wife died. My in-laws were actually leaving the country the first 2 holiday seasons .  Like many people, my wife loved the holidays and bringing family together. We would have all of the big holidays at our house. My wife was very happy on those days.

These days, I let the holidays slide by, or I create new traditions like the four-day no-family Thanksgiving extravaganza I attended.
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I’m meeting B.D. tonight after work at a dinner event for a friend of hers. Apparently this friend has rented an entire bar for the event. I’m not sure what I’m getting myself into, but it should be fun. I guess I better wear something a bit fancier than those 501’s with the knee holes, and the T-shirt from 1997 with the pizza stains.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Pirate Life for me, Spending Loot and Drinking Wine Spodie-Odie

Really? For the time being, Google thinks I am the best search result for “Spending Loot” ??? 

The post that it references is more of a nod towards a great Chicago band The Tossers more than anything else.

Spending Loot?  Top SEO rankings? Hey! Buy my program for $19.99 and I’ll show YOU how to retire early with only 2 hours of work a day!

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Yesterday there was another great post by the folks over at The Good Luck Duck . In the post they mentioned finding space for spreading ashes for a loved one.  You would think my own intimate relationship with death and grief would have me thinking warm and loving thoughts towards the nature of the post. My reaction was to laugh. Not out of anything funny (although the Duck Folks quack me up) but rather trying to make it lighter and not such a heavy feeling within myself.   I wanted to post irreverent comments. Things like “Hey, it’s great to get the guy out on the town, my wife has been stuck in a closet for years!” 

I belong to a widow and widowers support group that meets for dinner once a month and sometimes we make jokes that others would be horrified to hear. They would think we were being cold and calloused. We are actually trying to hold ourselves in a normal space, and trying to lift ourselves from the depression of grief. Should I feel guilt that I have kept my wife’s ashes hidden away in a closet for the last 2 years? NO! Should I subject friends and potential new partners in my life to a barrage of pictures and memories of my wife when they enter my house? NO! Should I find whatever way possible for my brain to move forward in accepting that my wife is gone? YES! Does that include making stupid and inappropriate jokes about sensitive subject matter? YES!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Generating Passive Income in the midsection

People seem obsessed about generating passive income.  I spent last night talking with a friend that wants to buy another rental property so he can have income in 15 years when the house is paid off. I’m all about delayed gratification, but that sure does seem a gamble. As I look for a house to buy for myself, I see how many homes have “deferred maintenance” that are selling dirt cheap. As I research these homes, I realize most of these have been rental properties.

I see landlords that didn’t spend a dime on any upkeep whatsoever, allowing their tenants to live in homes falling apart. Why replace the windows at a cost to the landlord, when the tenant can increase their cost by turning up the heat? I’m not so sure I could be that type of landlord.

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I don’t seem to have much to say about anything lately. Work is getting very busy and I am very tired.
I stood in line for over an hour last night at the local Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my drivers license. Easy Breazy, just like that, I had a new license. With a fat picture. Seriously…. Not phat, but fat.

Monday, December 12, 2011

illegal and flaunting it.

So I have been without a valid drivers license for almost 30 days. I had just given notice at the old apartment when I received the notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles informing me of my impending doom by way of an expired laminated notice of vehicular competency. I didn’t want the new license to have my old address , so I just waited and let it expire until I moved into the new pad and having received the appropriately required mail, indicating I am a Real American because I have utilities provided to me by a big business corporate conglomerate subsidized by the tax payers dollars.

Now I’m hoping I didn’t make a horrible mistake in letting it lapse…… My fear is they will require me to re-take the drivers test! Ha! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sailboats and Vans

I had dinner last night with a woman who lives by her own rules. I was enthralled. She wants to live on a sailboat. We compared notes of sail boats and small RV’s. The difference is, she has the courage and self-empowerment to actually go through with it.  She has done similar things in her past. She lived in a 10ft trailer for over 5 years, living off-grid in the middle of the woods on her own piece of property.

Why can’t I find that courage within myself? I have already found a rather easy path to try it out. I buy a fully self-contained small RV \ large Van and still keep my current job. Moving around the city that I know so well, parking in neighborhoods with busy on-street parking and staying at various friends driveways.  Rotating the overnight stays to once a month so there was at least 1-2 per week. If it was something I could handle, I could move forward with true independence and travel. If the small space and lack of possessions didn’t work for me, I sell the Van/RV and move back into an apartment.  The only loss would be furniture and knick-knacks.

I feel like I’ve written that same exact paragraph many times before. Ugh.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits in my mind

Skipped my first week day post yesterday.  It was just so darn busy there was no time.

My mother’s husband is out of the hospital. With the help of Hospice, she took him home yesterday.

I went to a hospice grief bereavement support group on Tuesday night. First time I’ve been back to the group in months.  It felt good to talk a little bit.  I tend to ramble on (much like my writing) and meander back to tie things together at these meetings.  After the meeting the facilitator and I were catching up a bit and she good-naturedly chided me for having this image of myself as rambling. It was quite nice of her to say that I bring a depth and openness to the meeting, and that when I share it doesn’t ramble, but rather brings multiple aspects together. HA!
And to keep with the death and dying theme, I saw my shrink yesterday. She is really starting to kick my rear-end and have me look at myself more critically. She is moving me past the counseling of my grief and moving me towards looking at my other “Stuff” that affects me, and that has always been with me.
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My Father worked very hard all his life in a very physical manual labor job. He worked a lot of swing and graveyard shifts. He slept a lot in the day time. My mother would constantly try to keep my brother and I quiet. Her simple request of “Shhh, be quiet, your dad is sleeping” somehow added together with other stuff to transform in my mind to “Shhh, don’t speak up and be noticed” which of course then added up with my other insecurities of a lack of education to turn into “Shhh, don’t talk, and they won’t notice you have nothing worthwhile to say”

All of this is crazy talk, and my rational brain knows this. But the 12 year old hiding inside doesn’t like talking to my 44 year old brain. 
Bjork- It's oh so Quiet

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reality Hits You Hard

Got a call on my way home from work last night. My mother’s husband is in the hospital again
This guy is really working hard to use all of his allotted nine cat lives. They took him off the feeding tube and life support stuff, gave him a bit of morphine, and he spent the night relatively alert and talking and completely cognizant of the situation. As of this morning, he is still going strong. Not sure if he is eating or drinking though.

I still have a hard time entering hospitals. I paused at the doorway and felt the grief wash over me again. It passed fairly quickly and with just a tear or two. I met my mother and brother in the waiting room outside of the Intensive Care Unit. I won’t go into the room. I can’t look at anyone hooked up to the machines.
I won't go into the private "little room" where the doctor can give you updates. The little room is not for positive updates. I can't go in there.

I let my mother’s grief explode in her, giving her my shoulder and a warm hug. It’s quite hard for me to hear her speak words and phrases like “You know” and “You are the only one that knows how I feel”. No Mom, I don’t know how it feels. I know how I feel, and each of us feels differently. I just hug her tighter and say yes and nod my head.  I got her to drink some water and then I got some food from the cafeteria for her.

When my wife died, my vocabulary diminished down to one phrase: OK.

I said OK to everything asked of me. It was an answer, a question and expression of pain. I said OK as a statement when no one else was talking. I said OK to myself. I said OK to the wall.

My mother was saying OK a lot last night.

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I had canceled a date with B.D. last night, and she was very supportive. Tonight I will be going to my Widows and Widowers Support Group for the first time in months. This event seems to have triggered the need.

I expect a phone call today though, telling me he has passed on, and I will spend the evening with my Mother.  I don’t know if I have the emotional strength.

As the famous philosopher George Lindell once said. "Reality hits you hard, bro"


Monday, December 5, 2011

skidding on the Plateau, slamming into the Wall

When life is in turmoil, my first reaction is to curl up on the couch and escape into television or mindless web surfing. I am currently in that mode, and am having a difficult time finding the motivation to do the daily tasks and chores.

Oh, don’t get me wrong… if there is some social activity to engage in I am happy as can be. I’m just at another plateau and the next hurdle is slamming me in the forehead.

My dating life is taking the hit. The relationship with my wife was such a deep connection, with lively and fun interaction...our wants and needs blending so well together….and that type of connection is something we worked on strengthening all of the time.  So now I feel if I don’t have that strong connection right away with someone, it’s not worth pursuing. I realize the fallacy of that, but I still can’t seem to get over it. Why expend all that energy and emotion on someone if I don’t “feel it” right away? Ahhh…. My brain tells me I should spend that energy and emotion on strengthening myself and everything will fall into place. I need to be my own favorite person. My Passion and Purpose should be within myself, and not wrapped up in someone else.

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Friday night I went to the home of a friend for a singer/songwriter jam fest. I have had the biggest physical attraction to this woman for over 2 years. But I know it isn’t worth pursuing. At least I think so. We are going to hang out together alone on Thursday. We have always been in a group when we meet, so the interaction will be interesting.
Saturday morning found me lazy and unmotivated. I literally lounged around feeling sorry for myself and surfed the web all day until late in the afternoon. Saturday night found me listening to a friend sing Christmas carols at a wine bar. It was a great time, and my friend was very well received by the customers. I met a friend of hers that is a doctor in Canada, but only works 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, and has a house here in town.  Wow, what a life!
Sunday morning was incredibly lazy again. I forced myself up and to at least get out of the house. I had plans in the early afternoon to meet some dear friends from out of town. This couple was very close to my wife, and were considered family. They have been extremely supportive and encouraging to me these past 3 years. We ended up having dinner and I invited B.D along.  This was a huge big step. It felt surprisingly ok. 

Can I move forward? Maybe the question is…. Do I want to?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Music Non-Stop

I get the mini-van back today. Went ahead and did a bunch of other repairs I have been putting off. Total repair bill: over $600. Ouch.  Hopefully the repair to the electrical system is good.

On the plus side, it has been nice taking the bus to work this week. When the weather turns a bit warmer, I may even purchase a monthly bus pass. I could save over $175 a month if I took the bus every day.

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It’s a music filled weekend.
Tonight I will be stretching my boundaries again. I will be going to a singer/songwriter musician jam fest.  Quite funny since I have no talent in any of those artistic endeavors. Sure, I sing karaoke, and play with a bunch of guys in a garage band, but that isn’t really talent. But it will be nice to be with a new group of people, with a few faces that I know. And Saturday night I will be travelling about 1 hour out of the city to a little town that a friend is singing at. This is her first paid singing gig and I am very excited for her. Hopefully her next paying gig will be a bit closer to home.

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I will be seeing B.D on Sunday night, she’s back in town after a presentation for her graduate studies. I feel like she is sucking me into a relationship. I will be joining her for Happy Hour on Monday with some of her friends from out of town, we are going to accompany each other to our respective company holiday parties this month, and it all seems easy and comfortable…..
Kraftwerk - Music Non Stop

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On The Bus

Mass transit is a wonderful thing. I took the bus home last night from work to get my minivan that had died that morning. I got the van jump started and then headed across town to my mechanic  (in rush hour traffic) and then took the bus back to my apartment.  I missed a few connecting transfers, watching the connecting bus pull away from the curb as my bus was still rolling to a stop, and that added at least an hour’s worth of travel time to my night. I started my bus ride home at 3:00 pm and finally got home about 7:30 pm.

The people on the bus were quite funny. It is amazing how loud some of the people listen to music in their earbuds!  Everyone has a head down, stuck in some book, or playing a game on their phone. Except for the one lady that was on the phone. I knew we were in for some fun when she first stepped on the bus and while talking loudly to the person on the other end of her phone, that she was happy to be moving so she didn’t have to step on cockroaches at night anymore. Her conversation got more colorful as the trip went on. Apparently her roommate leaves intimate things in the bathroom, including her used monthly items. This seems to occur more frequently as she has been “smoking crack in her bedroom” and stinking up the whole apartment and not even sharing it! The young woman was then arguing with the person on the other end of the phone about moving some furniture out of a storage space. Apparently this whole conversation had been with her mother, as the young woman finally exclaimed  “I’m not going to argue with you mom, I stored a ****load of your **** when you were homeless, so I’m hanging up the phone now” 

On the bright side, I stopped at a Starbucks and had a Hell Dog Latte..... tis the season!


Kiss me on the Bus - The Replacements - from the Album 'Tim'
"C D E made a boat, C D E made it float"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Van Camping remembered

I have a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan that has been a wonderful vehicle for over 100,000 miles. It has the flip down Stow-N-Go seats that fold flat in the back to create a huge sleeping area. We put a couple of Thermarest mattresses down and then a full double size 2 inch memory foam mattress topper over the pads. It is more comfortable than our regular bed, and very cozy. There is still plenty of room in the back area for a very large cooler and multiple duffle bags. There is a Thule roof box on top for more equipment storage. I covered the windows with black fabric stuck to the windows with sticky Velcro.Throw on a bicycle rack on the back, and we were set for multiple week-long vacations.  Seriously. We didn’t need to re-stock food or supplies for weeks on end.

Camped in the middle of the woods on old forest service roads was our favorite escape, but we could also sleep in any urban area that had on-street parking. It is a great stealth vehicle for sleeping anywhere.  Although we sometimes slept in a Walmart parking lot, we rarely felt the need.

To be honest, the only thing that would drive us back to civilization was the urge for an indulgent shower using way too much water than was necessary. We had the standard camp shower bags so it wasn’t like we were dirty, it was just the perceived notion that it was somehow a “better” shower than the ones we took in the woods.

And food? We actually ate better on the road than we did at home. We found ourselves eating more fresh fruit and veggies. More grains and rice cooked in the campfire kettle in stews.
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I have had an electrical problem with the minivan for the last six months. The running lights and fog lights stay on for 30 minutes after the engine is turned off. The battery gets drained and I have to jump start the vehicle. I have removed the bulbs from the fog lights,  tuned off all the inside dome lights, turned off the dash lights except when the vehicle is on… and the battery still drains down and leaves me stuck in inopportune moments.

This morning, the battery was dead again. I was already running late for work, and now I had to take public transit. I made it into work only 1 hour late. I will need to leave an hour early today to get it into the shop. I’ve had it looked at by two different shops now. Neither could find the solution to the electrical problem. We will try again.
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And if we can’t find a permanent solution to the problem, I may just trade it in for another vehicle. And there is the dilemma. My first thought is to get a smaller fuel efficient vehicle like the Toyota Prius. The back area folds down, and in a pinch, I could sleep in the back, but with very little room, and probably not with company. 

Or I could go the other way, and find a Dodge Sprinter Van and create a wonderful weekend warrior escape vehicle.

This would be my daily driver car though, and driving 15 miles each way to work is a significant expense.

No need for me to stress too much though, as I am hopeful we can get the problem fixed in the mini-van.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be true to your school and Respect Yourself

These are just plain old darn busy days lately.  The workload will continue to increase through the end of the year. No complaints, just trying to adjust to the different pace.

And while things are still going on in my personal life, I seem to have lost the oomph to continue to write about it. I’m sure it will come back though. Part of the problem may be the recent urge to actually learn to write properly and have something worthwhile to say. I read some fantastic blogs  that are so thoughtful and insightful, they give me pause to think about all the wonders of life…..and then I read one of my scattershot blurbs ……
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Thanksgiving really was a wonderful time with probably 75 people rolling through the house over 5 days.  I felt a part of the clan for the first time. That feeling of finally belonging would probably be laughed at by the clan, as it has been over 2 years I have been able to hang around them. They accepted me long ago and I have finally allowed their acceptance. My homework is to now expand that feeling, and continue to reach out to them individually and as a group. I have never actively fostered my friendships before, and it is time to start.
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Dinner with B.D. last night was really good. I stayed a bit too late, but it was well worth it. Good conversation and re-statement of keeping things light.  I also have noticed some of my hesitation with her is my own feelings of inadequacy. She is so smart and serious, and I can be so upbeat and frivolous that I don’t want to end up sounding stupid. Ugh! That is just my own crappy thinking. She is most likely enjoying my company precisely because I am so upbeat and frivolous. She is surrounded by smart and serious brainiacs all day long and lightness is probably what she enjoys about our dinners. If I am not being myself when I am around her, I am lying to both of us.

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Getting a massage tonight! Maybe put myself to sleep early!  I have been going to the same massage therapist for over 5 years. My wife also went to her. She is like a second shrink for me. I am very vocal on the table, and I tend to just let everything spew out as it enters my brain.  I am hoping to return the favor after all of these years. She just willingly left a long-term relationship as her partner wanted children and she does not. The guy was ok with this for the first few years, but he really would not feel complete without offspring. It has been a problem topic for a few years, so she moved out of their  house they bought together, and is now living in a small apartment. 
Marla Staples 

The Staple Singers Respect Yourself Live Filmed Performance 1972

 The Beach Boys - Be True to Your School

Monday, November 28, 2011

pounding

My head is pounding, and way too busy to write anything today, but I don’t want to start skipping days.

Thanksgiving with my new adopted clan was absolutely amazing, it enforced my resolve to let some friendships go, so that I can strengthen others that are healthier. 

Having dinner with B.D. tonight, and I am going to try to solidify our earlier talk of keeping things light. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You Dropped the Bomb On Me

I feel like the biggest Beavis and Butthead in the world today. 

Last Saturday night I went to a dinner party hosted by a close friend and I crossed a line. Long story short, I hurt her feelings and she sent me a scathing email yesterday lambasting me. What had started out as good-natured ribbing turned ugly at the end of the night. This is from a woman who admits she loves to repeatedly poke at people to try and push buttons. And then poke again. The story is a bit deeper, as we actually dated for a few years back in the 90’s and we had a volatile history.

This was the same dinner party that H.S. attended and we had such a good time at. I had invited her to the huge Thanksgiving weekend party and she seemed eager to go. Yesterday brought an email politely declining the invite.

And then I had dinner last night with the woman I dated for 6 months about 2 years after my wife died. We are trying to be friends, as we still really like each other. And admittedly, the reason we are not together is my doing. She is just too familiar to me. She resembles my late wife in too many ways and that creeps my brain out. So as we were both acknowledging the difficulty of trying to maintain a friendship, we part ways at the end of the night with her literally telling me to “Pull my head out of my ass” as to whether we should either be in a relationship or completely fall out of each other’s lives and let the friendship go.

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So what does all this mean? I know I have been struggling with who to keep in my life lately. Some friends that I hang out with are friends just because of time and history, not out of actual emotional connections. Or at least I tell myself that. Since my wife died, I don’t seem to know how to connect emotionally to anyone anymore.  And if people start to get too close, I push away. Maybe I’m still not ready to enter real life.

My brain is acting like a junior high school spazmatic.

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This is the last post for a while. I will be out of town for the thanksgiving holiday. 
Hank Snow - Let me go Lover
You Dropped the Bomb On Me- The Gap Band

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Raincoats and the Not Ready For Prime Time Players

For Thanksgiving the last two years, I have gone to the home of my mentor along with about 100+ other people. My mentor has an acre lot on a river with a large home. People come from all over the world and we sleep on the floor, in cars, in tents… anywhere we can find space. People wander in and out over the course of a 5 day period. Live music, good food, reconnection, and community strengthen our little clan. I feel very blessed to be part of it.

I have invited H.S. to come along, as I think she would really thrive in this setting. I sent her some more information yesterday but have not heard back from her. She might have decided not to go after all, but it would be nice for her to let me know either way.
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Dinner with B.D. last night was interesting. I had thought it was rather out of character for her to want to see me so quickly after our last encounter on Friday night. Seems she had gone to her doctor for a regular checkup, and had inquired about reproduction health. Without going into too much detail, B.D. needed to make a decision whether to start taking The Pill this month or next.

So we had another talk.

We are still both on the same page that this dating thing is great, but that word “Relationship” and all that word entails is not something either of us can handle.

I’m not sure what all that means, but I do feel better about it. The funny thing is, we technically haven’t had the need for this, but even if things progress in that we do need it, we (I) would still be using the old standby prophylactic Jimmy Hat.  Yeah, Too much information.
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And to make my dating situation even more absurd, I am having dinner tonight with the woman I dated 6 months ago that resembled my wife…. I have no idea what I am doing having dinner with her.
Roxy Music- Bryan Ferry - Love is the drug I was thinking of

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crazy Train at the Isherwood pad

Wild weekend.

B.D. came over Friday night and we had some great Sushi for dinner. Walked back to the apartment and didn’t come up for air until Saturday morning, when she left for her Graduate Studies conference. I spent Saturday afternoon with my mentor shopping at the local farmers market/craft booths.  A dinner party event that night found me sitting next to the 28-year old hottie ( I need to name her for this blog…. how about H.S. for Hot Stuff ?) and again we had an incredibly good time, with easy laughter and quick banter. A stark contrast with B.D’s seriousness.

Sunday was  a fun afternoon birthday party for a new friend and then the dinner group for young widows and widowers in the evening.  For the first time in months, there were no newcomers to the dinner group this time around.  I chose not to try and “lead” the group as I usually do. It was a challenge for me. I didn’t start off the dinner with introductions like normal, and nobody else suggested we do it. I usually let the normal banter go on until we order drinks and appetizers, and then I start talking about broad grief topics to bring us talking about issues relevant to widows and widowers. I chose to keep relatively quiet throughout the dinner and only participate in conversations that other people bring up.  Not so surprisingly, we talked about all kinds of topics, but nothing a normal dinner group wouldn’t bring up. I was watching the two newest members (only their second dinner, and they both sat near me last time) and I could see they weren’t as engaged with the group as last time. The dinner even ended about 30 minutes earlier than normal.There was zero talk that was relevant to the subject of the group.   This gave me all the more reason to stop going to these dinners. I have become the catalyst (at least in my eyes) to start the conversations toward the touchy-feely topics of death and widowhood. I am trying to move forward with my life, and having to almost force myself to bring up grief topics that I no longer am feeling naturally seems counterintuitive to my path.

Having dinner with B.D tonight, and there is some potentially exciting news with H.S. for the thanksgiving weekend that I will post about tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Drafty, with a chance for warmth

My new apartment is in a wonderful location, with great old built-ins and full of character. It also is drafty with poor plumbing and wiring. This morning I tripped the circuit breaker by using a hair dryer when the space heater decided to kick on. Great. I fumbled for a flashlight, threw on some clothes and walked ….outside… to the basement side door to reset the breaker. It was only 36 degrees outside…..

This is all great news though. It will force me to be active in looking for a place of my own. I won’t be complacent in mediocrity like my last apartment.  This will force me to look at what I really want in a home. Previously I was looking for someplace big enough to have two roommates help pay for a huge mortgage and maybe generate a little income. My new thoughts are to go very small with a minimal mortgage and keep the space just for myself with no roommates. This would also leave a bit of a nest egg of funds. With any luck, the space would have room to park a van or RV for future travels.
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B.D. is coming over tonight, and will probably stay until Saturday morning, when she needs to leave for an out-of-town trip. It will be interesting to see what my brain does. This is a new living space with no memories (except for the bed itself, with brand new sheets and mattress pad!) and we have no plans for the night…

I’m glad that she has to leave early though, as tomorrow is my only day to clean the old apartment. I hope to be completely out, and hand over the keys.  Should be easy as everything is out of the place and I just need to clean and scrub. I don’t know why I’m working so hard on it, as I seriously doubt the landlord will give me back my cleaning deposit anyway.
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I see my shrink today, and she will be happy to hear that I have a date with B.D tonight, but I will also be attending a dinner party Saturday night with the 28 year-old hottie, and then on Tuesday I have plans to have dinner with the woman I dated for 6 months that reminded me way too much of my wife. My shrink is encouraging me to see other people in social settings. Not necessarily a dating setting, but just getting myself out there talking with women that are desirable. I suppose she is trying to get my self –esteem back up to previous levels.

Sunday is an early afternoon 40th Birthday party for one of my hiking partners.  This should be fun. She is a naturopathic doctor and the afternoon should be filled with interesting people. The late afternoon finds me once again going to the monthly young widows/widowers group. I told myself I was going to skip this month, but they went and scheduled it for a restaurant within walking distance of the new apartment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday!

My company took me out for a birthday lunch today.  Since I got to pick the place, I chose an East Indian restaurant. This was not well received by anyone in my department. There are 14 people in my department and there was maybe 2 other people that had even tried Indian food in the past. I made it easy for them, and picked an all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant so they didn’t have to decipher a menu. It was quite fun watching my coworkers ooh and ahh over the “strange” food.  In the end, everyone liked it, and they all went back for a second round at the buffet. Success!  We usually go to big chain restaurants filled with overpriced tasteless food. It was nice to shake things up a bit and get them to expand some taste buds.  And the small, local, family-owned business was very appreciative of our patronage.

Altered Images Happy Birthday Clare Grogan

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Missing She & Him

Some days are easier than others.

There is absolutely no reason why the darkness settled down on me last night.

Yesterday was a roller coaster in the housing department. There is a Short Sale home I have been looking at for over 8 months that I am in second position for. The banks finally agreed to sell at a set price, and the buyer in first position indicated he no longer wanted it. My realtor pounced and we gathered up the appropriate paperwork and sent it in. At the eleventh hour, the first buyer changed his mind and decided to purchase the property a scant hour before the deadline.  Frustration.

Went home to a freezing cold apartment with drafty 100 year old windows and promptly started popping the circuit breakers when I turned on some space heaters. Apparently every outlet and every light switch is on one line. Wonderful. There is very little water pressure in the house, so the shower just barely gives out enough water to rinse my hair. The bathroom sink U-pipe is almost completely plugged.  I love my new apartment.

But I am able to walk just a few blocks to a wonderfully vibrant street filled with activities. I met some friends for Happy Hour drinks and the bar was sponsoring a “Trivia Night” so we joined in and held our own and came in 4th place.

Maybe it was the two whiskey drinks, but as I walked home the grief started to settle down on me. I crawled into bed and wept. My life used to be so simple and filled with constant joy with tenderness and love.  Now, I don’t see the need to try and heat the apartment just for myself. The blocked drain is fine, it’s only me using it. Heck, even the shower isn’t a big deal since I don’t really need to be that clean for anyone. Why unpack everything? …………….I need to break out of this dip of negative emotion and get myself positive again!

Tonight I will start the final cleaning up the old apartment for an hour or so, and then I should get myself to the Wednesday night Hippie Dance. Push my body and sweat it out.
She & Him are Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You may be wrong but you may be right.


Well, I knew it wouldn't last. A number of subscribers have left my little blogging world in the last 24 hours. I wonder if it was the tiny bit of religious talk in yesterday’s post?  Most likely it was just my boring ramblings!  
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My mother’s husband is out of the hospital, and doing ok. I didn’t ask for any particulars.  I had called her earlier and left a message and when she called back, I was out walking with B.D. on our way to dinner.  Dinner was great, and the conversation is starting to pick up and flow a little easier now.  B.D. is really quite a charming woman.  I am going to continue seeing her and push all my previous reservations aside.

There have been a few personal internal revelations that have brought me to this decision.  I have recently gotten back in contact with a few women I dated years ago before met my wife. These women were all incredibly energetic beyond the average of the bell curve. They are all successful in their own right, with a tenacious driving force that bowls over any and all obstacles. They are also outwardly focused, with precious few moments of self-reflection on how their actions interact with others. Their partners are usually hanging on for the exciting roller coaster ride for as long as they can. This pattern of being attracted to this type of woman has not served me well in the past.  It was just dumb luck that I stumbled into the path of my wife. My wife was focused, and driven, but with the knowledge of a potentially short life span, she was also very introspective and interested in how others interact. Active and spontaneous, but able to make a “to-do” list of intertwining difficult situations.

So my struggle with B.D. is mostly that she is not this hyper-active bundle of unrestrained chaos. Crazy, eh? She is downright normal in her ebb and flow of energy.  I am going to go forward with this. I will be the energetic one in this endeavor. I owe it to myself to explore this.
And yes, You may be right, I may be crazy, but it might just be a lunatic B.D. is looking for.

Billy Joel -Glass Houses- You May Be Right

Monday, November 14, 2011

Peace, Love, and Understanding


What a long strange weekend.


I took Friday off work and spent the day moving load after load of items from the old apartment to the new apartment. It felt great. A positive move all around. I even had a session with my shrink in the afternoon. My shrink psychologist and I don’t spend as much time talking about my late wife nowadays. We mostly talk about other stuff. The stuff I’ve been carrying around my entire life. Things I don’t really like about myself.

I find it rather sad that this openness I have towards looking inward to myself has only become possible through the death of my wife.  I have guilty thoughts of not being this communicative and open when my wife was alive. I try to keep those thoughts to a minimum though.

After my shrink session, I had dinner with B.D. at her place.  She is opening up more and laughing frequently. I am really enjoying her company.  I also like that she is insanely busy so it keeps a bit of distance between us.  Things progressed after dinner and I stayed the night. A nice breakfast at a local cafĂ© and I was back to the task of moving belongings. I was still a bit unsure and freaked out about staying over, but seem to be warming up to the idea.

Some friends arrived at 10:00 am to help move all the big stuff. We only needed two trips to move everything. The new apartment has a steep stairwell with a tight 90 degree landing at the top. Everything was able to get squeezed in with minimal damage, but some of the nicer furniture pieces have some pretty ugly markings now. No complaints though, as I can hopefully buff it out. As the great poet Jeff Spicoli once said, “My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.”
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Got a call from my brother on Saturday night. Seems my mother’s new husband is in the hospital again. He is working on the 5th of his 9 lives, so I didn’t head to the hospital. They were taking him out of the emergency room and into ICU.  I have mixed feeling about this guy. He was my father's fishing buddy. Mom decided after 40 years of marriage that this dirt poor guy 20 years her senior and already 2 major hospitalizations into it, that he could provide more that she was currently getting. The guy is no catch. His emotional connectedness to reality is non-existent. He is really strong in his faith, to the point of being overly literal with his particular style of a bible. Hard core conservative values that are completely different than the values my mother instilled in me. My mother has now adopted all of his beliefs and is no longer recognizable as the person that raised me.  The universe provides though… the last time he was in the hospital his nurse was a young black woman.  She was attentive and encouraging and genuinely compassionate towards both him and my mother. On the last day when they discharged him, they both questioned this young black woman to see if she knew the way to Jesus. She politely let them know that she too, was very strong in her faith. She let them know she was Muslim, and a follower of the Islamic religion. So my shrink has plenty of grist for the mill with my relationship with my mother.

I have no qualms with anyone’s personal beliefs, only when those beliefs become bedrock for hatred.  When a religious belief can justify mass killings, directly against a straightforward commandment like “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is it wrong that I question?

Dad, on the other hand, has remarried to a fun and free-spirited hippie mamma and he is actually happier in this new marriage.
(What's So Funny 'Bout) PeaceLove, and Understanding  Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Thursday, November 10, 2011

C'est la vie

Again I am humbled by the recent uptick in readers. Thank you.
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As I pack up my belongings to move to the new apartment, I realize how much “stuff” I have that I never use. This draws me back to the dream of scaling down to the bare essentials and moving into an RV or Van. Have I abandoned this dream? I hope not. Perhaps my goal for the next several months is to put out a “free box” on the corner every week. I live in the type of inner urban area that “free boxes” are a common sight.
Perhaps I could take note of the 100 Thing Challenge  and try to get myself down to maybe 500 things first. I wonder how many items the typical Van or RV fulltimer owns?  How do you count a “Thing” anyway? Would a bed count as one? Or does it count as multiple items with the mattress, box spring, headboard, rails, etc……  bah,  why get hung up on the details! I’ll count it as one and move on!

I purged once before, about a year ago when I sold the house in the suburbs but that was with a different mindset. I was pushing through the darkness trying to force myself into a healthier space. This time around, it would be with a much clearer head. Besides, I kept some of the oddest things that my wife used.  I don’t know why I thought they were important to keep back then. Things like 3 different sets of table cloth settings, multiple plastic baskets she had in the bathroom drawers, kitchen utensils I don’t even know how to use… the list goes on. I don’t need to carry these things around. There isn’t any attachment to them.
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So I’m taking tomorrow off work to pack up, and Saturday I have friends helping me move the big stuff. Hopefully I can get everything out of the old apartment by Sunday and then spend the day deep cleaning. Should be fun.
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B.D. has invited me to dinner at her place Friday night. I’m a bit apprehensive as there might be some pressure to stay over, and I am not sure I have the willpower to say no. I miss being touched. I don’t mean sex, I mean touch. A gentle hand on my shoulder, an arm around my waist. The quietness of tenderness.  I fear that my physical attentiveness will be misinterpreted as emotional connection. We have had several “talks” and I think we are both on the same page, but this new interaction puts a twist on it. I suppose it is time to re-state our positions over dinner, before we tumble into dessert.


Jacques Dutronc ET MOI, ET MOI, ET MOI  60's French 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just a mellow day

My in-laws are unexpectedly coming to visit tomorrow. I am so thankful for them. This visit gives me time to once again bring up the topic of a memorial stone or ceremony to spread my wife’s ashes. More closure for all of us.

The move to the new apartment is starting to freak me out. I’m taking Friday off work (so no blog post) to really get the packing in gear. I have some friends scheduled to help on Saturday with the heavy stuff.

My Grandfathers birthday last night was very nice, although I once again started talking politics with my cousins. It amazes me that some people don’t see anything wrong with corporations and people pumping huge amounts of money into politics. I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you are on, nobody should be able to buy political policy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

But all i got is a photograph

I started moving some framed pictures, photo albums, and other mementos into the new apartment last night. I was making good time packing things away until I got to our wedding photo album. It seems like a lifetime ago, and a bit surreal as if those wonderful times were really just a dream and never happened.  The reality of life came crushing back as I picked up the urn containing her ashes. That darkness from the early days came rushing back as I sat on the floor staring at most of what was physically left of my marriage.  A few photo albums, several CD’s filled with travel photos, some paperwork, and a box with her name on it.

I gathered myself up off the floor and continued on. I got the items packed into the car and drove down the street with tears still in my eyes. One grows accustomed to driving with watery eyes after a few years.  As I carried my wife’s ashes up the stairs to the new apartment, I was reminded of my intention to have some type of memorial created for my wife’s birthday in the spring.

Ev'ry time I see your face,
It reminds me of the places we used to go.
But all I've got is a photograph,
And I realise you're not coming back anymore.
I can't get used to living here,
While my heart is broke, my tears I cried for you.
I want you here to have and hold,
As the years go by and we grow old and grey

Ringo Starr - Photograph - co-written by that other Beatles guy George Harrison

Monday, November 7, 2011

Naked Emotions & Raw Yearning

I left my quiet little blog on Friday afternoon and returned today to find some incredibly kind words from Teresa Evangeline.  I have been following Teresa for a short time, and have grown to admire her insightful and thoughtful posts. She’s a great writer.  Her writings flow smoothly and gracefully over a large pendulum of topics. 

I am humbled that people have been taking the time to read my scattershot crazy ramblings. Thank You.
We are all stumbling through life and it is nice to know that we are not alone, and that there are some people with sturdier footing that we can lean on every once in a while.

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I painted the bedroom in the new apartment on Saturday. It looks great. The room is bright and cheery. I picked a gray with a very slight tint of blue and once I put up some artwork on the walls, it should be a very welcoming space.
I also made a few more trips with the minivan, bringing over more items. The poor minivan has had an electrical problem for months now. The running lights, interior lights, and fog lights all stay on for up to 30 minutes after the engine is turned off, or the doors are opened. Since the doors were being opened and closed all day long, the battery went dead. Great. I finally got a jump and drove it back to my old apartment and parked it for the night.
I went out with some friends that night and since I wasn’t driving, I had a few more Adult Beverages than necessary. Between the hangover, the time change, and the potential for a dead battery on the minivan, I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Imagine my surprise when I finally motivated and got myself up and tried to start the car. It turned over on the first time and seemed happy. I went ahead and disconnected the fog lights, hoping not to repeat the dead battery.

B.D. came over to the new apartment on Sunday night, and we walked the 3 blocks to a really nice dinner (braised pork, greens gratin, and mashed taters). I actually heard a few belly laughs from her!  She is still quiet, but that is not for a lack of brain activity. She is super smart, and sometimes I wonder if she is trying to bring it down a notch to communicate with me.

We ended up back at my new apartment and things got a little hot and heavy. My mind was racing with crazy thoughts of my late wife. My heart was screaming “Stop!, you are being unfaithful!” and my brain was trying to calm myself down with “ You are just moving forward”. My body didn’t know what to do and chose not to respond.

And that’s ok. In fact, it’s best that things were kept light and breezy.

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I am now in a mad rush to empty out the old apartment. I have friends coming over Saturday to help move the big stuff. I want to have everything out before then. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Satisfied Mind

Did some Karaoke last night. Only sang two songs, neither were fun, nor  did I sing them very well.

I really like the song “A Satisfied Mind” by Red Foley. The karaoke bar had a version by Porter Wagoner that was a bit slower and rather boring. It was a real groaner for the audience.

My second song was “Photograph” by Ringo Starr. Upbeat song tempo, depressing lyrics. My friends were looking at me curiously as I sang this, looking for deeper meaning from me as a widower. There wasn’t any deeper meaning, I just like to sing new songs but this one didn’t translate well into karaoke and it was the second groaner of the night.

I took some tchotchke’s  to the new apartment last night. My first load of many.
The carpets were cleaned and there is way too much moisture in the house now. I tried to open some windows to let the moisture out but none of the windows would open. The house was painted a few weeks ago, and every single window has been painted shut on the outside. Joy. I was finally able to open one small window. The landlord says she will get the windows opened soon.

Tonight I will be hitting the Paint store for some supplies.

I plan to get the room ready to paint tonight, with painting on Saturday and dancing that evening with some friends. I think we are going to an 80’s night. Sunday will have me moving more items and then a date with B.D. in the evening. Maybe I should bring my camping bed over  and set it up in the front room….

Once again, as my activity level remains high, my mental outlook remains positive. My self-esteem seems to be slowly creeping upwards as well. I am encouraged with this move. More closure and one more step towards living life again. 
I feel satisfied right now.
Porter Wagoner- A satisfied mind - grand ole opry

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Meat and no potatoes.

I finally dragged myself to a yoga class last night. It felt GREAT. Yoga is such a wonderful way for me to keep in shape. If I could do yoga twice a week, and do Hippie Dance Church twice a week, I would be much healthier, in both mind and spirit. But who has the time for that? Motivation kicks in and I will stick with a schedule for a month, but then something will throw me off, and I won’t get back into the groove.
Stick-to-it-ness…. Definitely lacking in my life.  I must look inward with that.

After yoga, I had dinner with a group of guys. We ate meat. Lots of it. Way too much of it. We started with Ohama Pork and ended with Tenderloin. On the BBQ. In the rain. With beer.  

I don’t eat much pork or red meat anymore. I eat chicken once or twice a week still.  Not out of any religious or ethical reasons, but rather the boring financial one. It’s just seems cheaper for me to eat more veggies. And Quinoa.  I eat a lot of quinoa. Every other day it seems. Lentils seem to be creeping into my diet more often lately also.

So I have the keys to the apartment. The carpet was cleaned and looks great. The windows have arrived and need to be installed. I’m only going to re-paint one room. I told the landlord I won’t be doing any repair work on the walls, just painting them. I won’t paint the trim though. I need to get my butt in gear in moving my stuff. If I paint this weekend, that only leaves two weekends before the Thanksgiving holiday and I want to be completely in by then. I can do it. Overcome Procrastination! 

And to balance out the carnage of meat, here is The Smiths telling me how horrible I am.

The Smiths- Meat is Murder- Steven Patrick Morrissey