Saturday, November 29, 2008

Straight From My Brow

Sweat.

It's not something people inspire to do unless they happen to be exercising at the moment.

Sweat stinks. It's nasty, and even if you are at the gym working, covered in your own sheen of perspiration the last thing you want is to find some stranger's sweat pooled on a piece of equipment you wish to use. Outside of the gym sweat is rarely looked upon with favor.

Heck, we spend countless dollars on deodorant and antiperspirant just so we won't draw flies.

Sure, men can get away with sweating on occasion, yet in true double-standard fashion proper ladies are not allowed perspire.

Trust me, I think this is all going somewhere, but just for clarification here is my summary thus far ...

sweat =bad

Do we all agree on that?

Okay good. Let's move on.

So why do we name countless articles of clothing after something society frowns upon? Sweat socks, sweat pants, sweat suits, sweat shirts ... and my least favorite -- the sweater.

My wife has this sweater fetish where she has to buy all these holiday sweaters. She has Halloween ones with ghosts, goblins, and witches. Fall ones chocked full of colorful leaves, cornucopias, and such. Christmas ones with elves, twinkling lights, and dancing penguins. Heck, I won't be at all surprised when she comes home on February second wearing a sweater adorned with a smiling groundhog.

To me the whole holiday sweater phenomenon is goofy. I prefer clothes that I can wear all year, or the very least all season long. Not some tiny little window of time that coincides with a particular selection of Hallmark cards. And besides that, I consider sweater to be an asinine name of the utmost in bad marketing. Call them warmers or toasties or something to convey the snuggle not chilly way theya re suppsoed to make you feel. But not SWEATers. Who wants something that produces an unwanted bodily function?

Do we have pants called gassers? Cosmetics called pimplers? Bran cereal called Poo-poo Puffs?

No we do not, and nobody would buy them if we did. So why do you women ooh and aah over SWEATers?

Sure back in the days when girls didn't wear thin, see-through t-shirts everyday of the week the tight sweater was a thing all us guys could appreciate, but even then the name was stupid. I am officially adding sweaters, especially cutesy holiday sweaters, to my list of things I do not approve of including (but not limited to) things such as ...


All forms of lettuce
Fluffy toilet seat covers
Sarah Jessica Parker
PETA
Precooked Bacon
Form Rejection letters on a requested full manuscript
The BeeGees
Patchouli
Vegetarian anything
Those who shun reading

William Shatner


However, I will make a concession and offer my approval of the vintage tight sweater of yesteryear because who am I to knock history. Also I will say the sweater inspired one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Every Christmas, I at least once, mimic this great clip from the fine cinematic masterpiece, The Three Amigos.


Watch more Three Amigos! videos on AOL Video






Thursday, November 27, 2008

To You and Yours

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Of course I am thankful for my family and while I enjoy the day with them let me also say I am thankful for my readers and commentors.

I love the fact that one week I can get nearly 50 comments on a goofy post about animal buttcracks and then the very next week get close to 200 comments on an emotional four part series about the birth of my oldest son.

So thanks to all of you for joining me here. Hope the day is great for your and yours.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Widgety Wodgety, Woo

Over on the right hand side of this blog there are several little including a link to one of my published short stories, matter of fact, my personal favorite among the things I've had published thus far in my writing endeavors.

There is also a VOTE NOW button for a site called BLOG4REEL who is holding a competition to turn a blog into a reality TV type of movie. I was invited to join, but truthfully I think anyone can sign up to compete. Anyway, registered users can vote once per day, so if you are so inclined, click away.

There is also the rotating list of fellow bloggers that I affectionately call, ME HARDY'S. I'm guilty of not updating the list often enough, but I just did so if you post a new blog an do not show up amongst the 25 most recent posters let me know so I can add you and your blog.

But the creepiest of all widgets in the one Blogger recently brought out. The one with the Little pictures and the caption MY FOLLOWERS. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that as of right now there are 46 people out there who are willing to publicly declare they read my words. But am I the only one that associates tainted Kool-Aid and Jonestown with the words MY FOLLOWERS? Come on blogger is that the best you could do? I challenge you to come up with a better term instead of painting us all with a coat of Cappuccino Cult. Least that is what they would call it at the paint store where they have to have a fanciful name for 8 bazillion shades they stock.

But don't worry, I don't serve Kool-Aid here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Early Tunes

A good writer knows the importance of the five senses.

You have to make you reader see the world your characters inhabit. A reader needs to hear the pinched nasal wine of you protagonist's ex-wife to sympathize when she nags him for some long ago sin. They should taste your characters blood when that same ex-wife goes beyond nagging and hires a fat guy named Bruno to teach him lesson. They want to feel that jagged broken tooth scrape against a fat lip. They need to smell the damped oil stained concrete when said characters is left in a crumpled heap an eerie parking garage. (Does anything good ever happen in a parking garage?)

Anyway, a good song not only uses these same techniques but what I find fascinating about music, is that I often, years later, hear a song and have it instantly take me back in time to another time and place. Given that fact, I'm going to from time to time talk about a few songs and where they take me.

First I'm going to talk about the ten songs that take me back to early childhood. The songs that make me think of the days when I traipsed the halls of Oakdale Elementary.

#10 We Got The Beat -- The Go-Gos -- Okay, this song makes me think of one of the great movies of all time, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And thinking of that movie brings about memories of Phoebe Cates illustrious dive sequence which is film making at its best and perhaps the catalyst for the onset of puberty for me as well as all preadolescent boys in the early 80s.

We Got The Beat - Go-Gos

#9 Good Ol' Boys -- Waylon Jennings -- Back in the day me and my buddies thought Dukes of Hazard was the greatest television show ever created. We used to write our own episodes and fashion all kinds of crap into bows and arrows to pretend we were like Bo and Luke Duke trying to evade Roscoe P Coltrane by shooting dynamite arrows.

The Dukes of Hazzard - Waylon Jennings

#8 Jack and Diane -- John Cougar Mellancamp - Yeah I know he's cougarless these days but back then I thought a mellancamp was a bunch of tenters eating watermelons. Also the first time I saw the video (Why doesn't MTV show music videos anymore?) for this one I was so young that I found it disgusting when Jack french kissed Diane.

Jack and Diane - John Mellencamp

#7 Anything by Ray Stevens -- Okay I'll admit there was once a time I thought Ray Stevens was the most clever and witty fellow in the world. The Streak, Three Legged Man, Ahab the Arab. I loved that stuff when I was a grade schooler.

The Pirate Song - Ray Stevens

#6 Gonna Hire a Wino -- David Frizzell - Sadly this song was pretty much my mother's theme song. and while it is a cleverly written tale about a woman who is married to a man who drinks too much, it still makes me a little sad to hear it.

Im Gonna Hire A Wino - Lefty Frizzell

#5 The Trooper -- Iron Maiden - This is the song that propelled me into the metal phase of my youth. the imagery in the song still impresses me but the mullet it spawned was not a pretty sight.

The Trooper - Iron Maiden

#4 King of the Road -- Roger Miller - Sure this song is way older than I am but I remember my dad singing it's lyrics over and over. I actually hated it because of that same reason. an while I can appreciate the song now it still makes me feel like a little kid. I have included R.E.M's version of the song because it most differs from my dad's.

King Of The Road - R.E.M.

#3 Big Balls -- AC/DC - Okay I'm not proud of it, but me and one of my buddies stole this cassette from my older brother and blared it for the sole purpose of traumatizing the little Jehovah's Witness girl that lived across the street.

big balls.....AC/DC

#2 A Boy Named Sue -- Johnny Cash - My name is Sue! How do you do? Man did I love that song. And you can't go wrong with Johnny.

A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash

#1 Footloose -- Kenny Loggins - I'm going to share my exact imagery for this one. With one note this song makes me think of my friend's butt stuck in a bucket. Here's the scene. I'm twelve, he's twelve. We are locked out of my house and he's gotta go the bathroom REALLY bad. I'm talking serious sit down kind of go not a simple leak. But we can't get in and we are too far from his house for him to make it. So he fins this empty bucket in my backyard and for whatever reason decides it will make a fine toilet. As he sits and does his business he sings these lyrics ...

Loose, footloose,
Kick off your Sunday shoes

The movie was brand new but his sister had taken him. I hadn't even heard of it yet. I asked him about it and he told me about the movie. Then he discovered that his butt was stuck in the bucket. So anytime I hear Footloose I remember him screaming and yelling for me to help while I laughed until tears came and my side hurt. Yeah, he finally got the bucket off and yeah he wanted to kill me for laughing. But not nearly as bad as he would want to kill me if I named him here in my blog.





So give me a song that harkens up images of your school days.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wrong Side of the Tracks -- A My Town Monday Post

Along with learning about various places around the globe one of the cool things about My Town Monday's is the different ways people present their town. Last week, Jenny Jill did a little pictorial slide show set to music. This week I am copying her with one of my own, with shots of Amarillo that are from what most would consider the wrong side of the tracks. Thought I's give you some images of things not likely to be found in the Chamber of Commerce pamphlets. Every single image is from inside the city of Amarillo. All were taken by me within the last few days and it's all set to the musical stylings of some fine looking Texas boys ... ZZ Top.



video

Links to other MY TOWN MONDAYERS

J.L. Kreuger -- Kabul, Afghanistan
Cloudia Charter -- Waikiki, Hawaii
Chris -- Blogtown
Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Jenny Jill -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Terrie Farley Moran -- Far Rockaway, New York
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Junosmom -- Kentucky
Jim Winter -- Cincinnati, Ohio
Chuck -- Kentucky
Barrie Summy -- Palm Springs, California

Friday, November 21, 2008

Parenthood -- The Conclusion

Okay, here it is. The final installment of my saga into parenthood. Again let me say thanks to all of you have taken the time to read and comment on these long very personal posts. They have been tough to write and this last one was by far the hardest. Until now I have shared very few of the this details even with my friends. If you missed them you can read part1, part 2, and part 3 here. I promise future stories will be less tear inducing than this one has been.


Parenthood ... the conclusion.


Doctor #1, the cardiologist that had treated my son when we first arrived in Dallas, began running tests to confirm the original diagnosis. She made special note that under no circumstances was Versed to be administered and after being in Dallas for so long we were right back where we started ... with a diagnosis ofcoarctation of the aorta.

In the meanwhile, I continued staying at night in my son's room. Sleep was tough anyway so I ended up staying up deep into the night listening to the medical chopper take off and land and watching CNN. This was during the time of hanging chads and Florida and each night I watched the drama between Al Gore and George Bush play out.

One night I'd finally drifted off to sleep when a nurse shook me awake and said it was time to feed my son. I shuffled off to the little kitchen where the milk my wife had tortured herself over was stored. Each baggie of milk had a hospital provided label with the parent's last name and so forth. I'd noticed that among the collection of baggies there were several that bore the nameLangenbrunner.

An unusual sir name to say the least and unless you are a sports fan, and in particular a NHL hockey fan the name probably means nothing to you. But I am a hockey fan and a fairly rabid Dallas Stars fan at that, so I knew they had a winger by the name of JamieLangenbrunner.

Still, I never expected to walk into that little kitchen at 3 gawdawful in the morning and run into an NHL all-star. And guess what? He was warming up a little baggie of breast milk just like me. Between the sleep, my shock at seeing him, and not wanting to come across like a mindlessdoofus I merely nodded and said hello. He responded in kind and then shuffled out the door.

The next day Mr. Langenbrunner sat at the end of the hospital wing and signed autographs for hours. Much as I would have loved to talk to him, I didn't get in line as I didn't want to take any of the time he was giving to all the sick kids who really needed a pick me up. Besides, how stupid would I have look standing there like a big 6'5" overgrown kid amongst all those ill children with shaved heads and roll-around IV carts?

Once the initial diagnosis of coarctation was confirmed, the cardiologist sat down to talk over what should be done next. She said surgery was the least appealing, but probably necessary. However, she first wanted to try medicating the problem. She said it was possible that the troubled area would widenout on its own as he aged or that surgery could be postponed until he was older.

And to give us a break from living in the hospital she said we could take our son home for the weekend. Problem was we were nearly four hundred miles from home. So we checked out of the hospital and set up camp in the hotel room Jennifer and my mom had been staying in. Her parents and her sister's family had an adjoining room.

Truth is that weekend was far from restful. Without trained medical staff around I felt uneasy the entire time. I watched him breath. Sleep. Eat. All with a worried eye. Over the course of that weekend I slept worse than I had in the hospital. That may have been the longest weekend of my life as I left that room only to fetch food for the rest of us.

Monday morning we went back to the hospital with the understanding that if our son's blood pressures were near equal in both his feet and arms that we could go back to Amarillo. And if not -- surgery would be required. The disparaging blood pressures were a result of the narrow passage.

Monday morning dawned and we headed off hoping that maybe we would get to go home.

It wasn't meant to be.

The differences in the blood pressures were as stark as they'd ever been and we met with the surgeon that very afternoon. I remember staring at his hands as he talked. He explained the procedure, how they would go in from the back just below the shoulder blade and cut the narrowed portion out and then sew the two ends together. The concern would then be if that surgically joined portion would grow with the rest of our son. If not subsequent surgeries or procedures could be needed. Through it all I kept looking at this man's giant hands and wondering how on earth they could fix something tiny and delicate inside my baby.

The surgeon went on to say he did this particular surgery all the time. Matter of fact, he stated, "I did this very surgery today on the newborn of a professional athlete."

Of course I knew what athlete he was talking about and the knowledge comforted me. Money might not buy happiness but it does buy things such as top notch medical care and I figured that an athlete, that made hundred of thousands of dollars a year, possibly even a million would seek out the very best to help his son. I didn't have that kind of bank account, yet the exact same surgeon would be performing the same surgery on my son as had his.

The surgery itself was a slow torturous affair. I don't remember breathing much less talking. We sat in a tiny room and stared at each other -- waiting, wondering, and praying. At his time in my life I was very anti organized religion and bordering on being a non-believer, but spinning the common saying away from foxholes let me say, there are no atheist parents in a children's hospital.

Then word came. The surgery was over. The procedure had gone as well as possible and according to the surgeon, our son lost no more than a thimble of blood.

We breathed a sigh of relief, but there was one draw back. It was back to the NICU unit.

The Intensive Care unit was somewhat easier this time around as the uncertainty was gone. It felt as though we'd reached bottom and were not heading back up. That was partially true, our son had reached bottom, however I myself, still had a ways to fall.

During that second stint in the ICU, Jennifer and I befriended another couple. Their daughter was older, four I think and she was in recovery from something like her seventh or eight surgery. They were pros at the whole they and using theirexperience they guided us along making life much easier.

A few days later my son got to go to move to regular room. So did our new friends' daughter.

Things were looking up, but then word came from Amarillo that my grandfather had taken a turn for the worse. My uncle told me mom she needed to come home, as it didn't look good. Knowing that her first grandchild was fast improving, my mom caught a plane and flew back to Amarillo to be with her dad during his last days.

Early the next morning friends drove down from Amarillo and surprised Jennifer and I with their visit. While they were there my son made a soft cooing noise and smiled. "Ooh look he's smiling," our friend said.

A nurse in the room said "Babies do that when they pass gas."

Our friend shook her head and said, "He's still smiling. Look at his face. You'd think someone had just whispered a joke in his ear."

Ten minutes later the phone rang. I answered and received word that my grandfather had passed away and in that instant I knew that someone had indeed whispered in my son's ear.

The writer in me wants to end there. To say my grandfather had one private conversation with my son. That would be a fitting ending to this story, but I'd be leaving out a big part of how this event changed me. I'd be leaving out my nervous breakdown.

That night as my son continued to improve, I thought about my grandpa and all he'd meant to me, and the fact I never got to tell him good bye, or tell him about my son. As I wallowed in regret for the things I hadn't done, and pity for the things I'd never get to do, I broke inside.

I shattered, and the shards of my sanity were jagged like a smashed piece of pottery.

I felt the darkness taking hold so I left my son's room and found a dark waiting area where I could be alone. I stared out the fourth story window that overlooked the lights of Dallas. I stared outside and cried. I cried, my body shook, and when Jennifer came looking, she found me curled on the floor in the fetal position. She tried to console me, but in that instant I couldn't be reached. She cried and brought a nurse who tried to pull me back out of the murky depths, but again, I was unresponsive.

They sent for the hospital clergyman, but he was unavailable. On some level, I knew everyone was concerned for me. and even though I wanted to get it together, I simply could not find the strength to do so.

Then he showed up. My new friend. The father of the little girl who'd had heart surgeries every few months for her entire life. He sat with me an talked, low and steady. His voice, his words, his sharing of his experiences, wrapped around me and pulled me back.

He'd been in the same position I was. He'd broke down after the third or fourth surgery. He's crumbled under the pressure of feeling he had to do it all and yet not be able to. Like me he'd slept by his babies bed, tried to be strong for his wife and child far longer than either his body or mind was able. Like me, he'd finally hit bottom and realized parenthood was not something you had to do alone. He talked me back from the abyss I put myself in and I am sad to say, I never got to thank him.

Given the circumstances, the doctors and nurses allowed us to leave early. The very next morning we checked out and drove home to Amarillo.

We buried my grandfather the very next day and it still saddens me that he never got to spend anytime with either of my boys.

I am very blessed to say my son has not had one iota of heart trouble since the surgery.

He is the same boy that took not one, but two years of tap and ballet classes, and just finished his first season of flag football. He is a very vivacious and happy child and I owe the cardiologist and surgeon from Children's hospital more than I could ever repay. As I do my angel of mercy. Deep into that long night in Dallas he talked and slowly brought me back. He gave me back my sanity and sadly I never got any contact information. I could not find him that morning we were sent home, but I can only hope his story has turned out as well as mine. I think of him often and I pray that his little girl's smile is ever bit as bright as my son's.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parenthood III

Click here to read part 1 and part 2.

Parenthood Continued


An ambulance waited for us we we landed at Luv Field in Dallas. Darkness had set in and the weather was just as miserable only it wasn't quite cold enough for the moisture leaking from the sky to be ice. In a cold drizzle, I watched them move my son from the plane to the waiting ambulance.

There wasn't enough room in the back for me so I rode shotgun with the driver as we made our way across Dallas's rain slick streets.

Only a few minutes later we pulled up and unloaded beneath a dripping canopy. I was not prepared for the scene once we got inside.

My son was wheeled into a small room. One of Children's Hospital's neo-natal ICU's. For the first time that day I counted my blessings. All of the babies in that room were hooked to machines. Most were tiny, underdeveloped preemies. The few that looked older had obvious maladies. My son was by far the biggest infant in the room and despite the diagnosis, looked robust and healthy.

Gathered around most of the cribs was one or two haggard looking parents. I'm sure I looked no better to them, but at that moment I selfishly thanked God that my situation was better than theirs. I watched while the staff hooked my son up to various monitors and a new IV. All looked good and stable and I relaxed the tiniest of bits knowing that nothing too crazy was going on.

I was instructed to leave the room and go fill out registration papers. As I signed my name to what seemed like a thousand sheets of paper my wife and her sister arrived . I could tell Jennifer was hurting, but she wanted to see our son so I quickly finished and asked the receptionist to let us go back.

She called back to the nurses desk to make certain it was okay. It wasn't. according to the ICU nurse our son was in the throes of another seizure. They wouldn't let us back to see him, so we sat in the waiting area and held our breath staring anxiously at the door to the back.

A solid half hour passed by. Other parents went in and out. At that point we didn't know any of them well enough to ask what they'd seen or overheard. That would change in the coming days as we all became spy like. Anytime the nurses or doctors were examining or talking about your child you were not allowed back, but as I said the room was small maybe 12 by 24 so things were easily overheard. Over time we parents bonded, and at times it felt like us against them with the doctors and nurses being them, an odd feeling given the fact we were depending on this same individuals to safe guard the life of our precious babies.

A nurse finally came and got us. She explained that they were administering medicine when all of a sudden our son began to twitch and jerk involuntarily. As the nurse talked a very dim light flickered in my brain. The nurse said "It was almost like an allergic reaction to the medicine, but the medication we used is very common and according to his chart it was the same thing they administered in Amarillo."

But before I could digest the information and come to a conclusion the nurse pointed to our son and exclaimed, "Look he has Harlequin Phenomenon!"

My heart sank. All we needed was one more problem to go along with the defective aorta and the seizures.

Jennifer and I looked at our son. Straight down the middle of his face there was a line. On one side his face was flushed and bright red. The other side was pale white. I guess our faces where lined with worry because the nurse quickly explained that Harlequin Phenomenon is rare but nothing to get concerned about. There is also a horrible skin disease that bears the name of harlequin but here is a brief medical description of the condition my son had.

Harlequin phenomenon is a striking reddening of one side of the body and blanching of the other half with a sharp line of demarcation in between.

Each episode may last from seconds to minutes occasionally longer and the episodes may recur. Such episodes occur most often during the first few days of life. They are thought to be a vascular manifestation of the changes that are occurring in the autonomic system in the newborn.

This event occurred a few times in the coming days and then stopped all together. What didn't stop in the coming days was the uncertainty.

The first doctor we had knew and trusted the the pediatric cardiologist from Amarillo, but she went out of town after that first night. The second doctor expressed serious doubts that our son had coarctation because he said it was too difficult to diagnose through the tests the doctors in Amarillo had done. His primary concern was the seizures so he brought in a neurologist who began testing our son's brain. Meanwhile our son continued to demonstrate all the classic symptoms of a coarctation yet that idiot second doctor refused to acknowledge that the rubes from Amarillo might have called it right. My words not the doctors, but our meanings are the same. Yeah, I'm still a bit bitter of this time frame.

My most vivid memories of these days are the people that surrounded us. not our family who were there to provide support but the strangers that we were suddenly tossed in together with. There were parents who cared and hurt every second for their child, there were babies there that the parents never showed up to check on, there were parents who were angry, delusional, and parents that seemed annoyed that their child had inconvenienced their life by entering this world less than perfect.

I spent much of my time angry and fighting the urge to confront some of these fools but knew it would do no good. Sadly, several babies that shared a room with my son that first few days did not make it. Some from the caring loving parents and some from the other side of the spectrum. It was just as heartbreaking either way.

And sobering. To this day I feel as though I aged ten years with each death and I grieve for those parents.

Since doctor #2 decided my son's most serious problem was not his heart we were moved on the fifth or sixth day up to a regular room where the staff would continue neurological testing. For the first time I wandered around the hospital. Troy Aikman had sponsored a wing on the oncology floor. A ton of athletes had donated memorabilia and when i needed a break I often strolled up their to check things out. Along the way I stopped and talked to older kids punching around IV's and again I counted my blessings as I met these kids who were battling the cancer demon. Very few had hair but surprisingly most had bright smiles.

Jennifer was hurting far more than she'd admit even know so each night I insisted she go back to the motel with her family while I stayed and slept in our son's room.

This post is really discombobulated, but I am simply typing things as I remember. And during this time period I felt discombobulated, so it's only fitting I write it that way.

One such remembrance is of the milking room. Okay, so it's real name was the lactation room. Jennifer wanted to breast feed but of course our son was in no condition to nurse, so every few hours she would go in this room and use a machine to pump her milk. This milk was then frozen and stored for later use. I often sat with her while she endured this torture and often times this was the only alone time we had.

Life when on like this for a week or so. Tests all day, restless sporadic sleep for me all night. Our son's room overlooked the helicopter landing pad and the noise from that along with the fact they buffed the hall floors every night and the frequent visits from the nurse, and the waking up to warm the previously stored breast milk so I could bottle feed my son all left me very tired. I spent much of my time in a daze and my emotions were as scrambled as the previous sentence.

Back dropping all of that my grandfather continued to worsen. We also received news that Bart, the bloodhound Jennifer had owned when we married had finally succumbed to emphysema. That news would have hit her hard had we not already been on emotional overload.

This routine went on for days and then the neurologist scheduled a test which my son would have to be sedated for. Jennifer and I went to the lab with him. They administered the sedative and ... he had a seizure.

The medicine they'd given him was called Versed, the same thing they'd used in Amarillo and upon our arrival in Dallas. Three doses, three seizures. He'd had a grand total of 0 seizures any other time but guess what the neurologist refused to admit that their was a correlation. She claimed Versed never caused that kind of reaction and her recommendation was we put our son on some kind of serious seizure medication.

I asked for information on the medicine and a nurse brought me some literature. i do not recall the name of the stuff but the side affects scared me to death. And if he started taking it he would be on it for years as it caused problems to simply stop taking it. Jennifer and I discussed things over and decided not to put him on the medicine.

That very afternoon, the neurologist came into my son's room with a group of students in tow. When I told her we'd decided against the medicine, she very angrily told me, "I was putting my son's life in danger."

I asked her if any of the tests they'd ran on him had came back abnormal.

She said no.

I asked her if he'd ever had a seizure except when he'd been given Versed.

She said not that she was aware of.

I asked her if she could prove to me without a doubt that the versed was not the cause of his seizures.

She said nothing is impossible, but that she found that very unlikely.

So then I asked her if the roles were reversed and it was her child would she put him on such a serious medication without any real proof he needed it.

And she said the proof is my word. I am a doctor and you are not.

And I told her to get out because I needed more.

On her way out the neurologist said I was being naive and that she only hoped it wouldn't be too late before I came to my senses. To this day I've never been madder than I was then but guess what. My son has never had Versed again and he has yet to have another seizure.

A nurse that witnessed the entire thing said I'd done the right thing and that the neurologist was simply ticked off because I'd challenged her authority in front of students.

I never saw the neurologist again as the very next day our original doctors came back. She was quite put off that no one had done anything to correct my son's aorta.

And just like that the scariness of heart surgery, loomed back over us.

To Be Continued ...

Sorry, but this story seems to grow as I remember it. Maybe I can finish next time, or at least have a little more focus to my rambling remembrances.

The Conclusion of this story can be read here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parenthood -- Part II

This is a continuation of my next to last post about the biggest life-changing experience of my life. You can read part one here.


Parenthood Part II

The pediatrician's words penetrated my chest. The pain, the shiver, that coursed through me would not have been more pronounced had some stabbed me through the heart with an icicle.



The doctor tried to reassure my wife and I. "It could be nothing. Lots of babies have murmur's. I'm sure the pediatric cardiologist will be able to tell us more after he runs a few tests."



Waiting for those tests, Jennifer and I held hands, but said very little. I wanted to offer her some type of reassurance but how could I -- when the situation was beyond my control? Already I'd promised myself to teach and protect my son and within the first few days of being a father I'd failed at the latter.



At the age of twenty I'd been diagnosed with a genetic heart condition called Wolfe, Parkinson-White, and my assumption was that I'd passed on my shoddy heart gene onto my son. For the first time in my life I truly knew what guilt felt like.



The tests confirmed that something was wrong. That is all I remember. I do not recall the exact words the cardiologist used to deliver the news. I do not even remember mine or my wife's reaction. I probably should but I do not.



I do know it was said that our son would need surgery and that the hospital in Amarillo was not equipped or staffed to perform such a procedure. Houston and Dallas were discussed, as was the official medical term for our son's condition. --Coarctation of the Aorta.



Basically, the main vein that leaves the heart supplies blood to the lower half of his body had a narrow spot which prevent his legs from getting the blood he needed. this condition was very severe came him a slew of other problems if not corrected. I am not capable of writing the worst of them.



Soon after the harrowing news was delivered, we were told that Children's Hospital in Dallas was sending a plane up to pick up our son and fly him to Dallas. The plane had room for only one parent to ride along.



Jennifer still had staples in her stomach from the c-section and really she was in no shape to be traveling, and I couldn't bear not to be with my son, so I told the hospital staff that I would be going along.



The plane was supposed to arrive in a few hours so as my son was moved into the Neonatal ICU at Northwest Texas Hospital, I made a mad dash for home to gather a few things to take along to Dallas. Jennifer called her OB/GYN and talked him into removing her stitches early, so that she could catch a commercial flight along with her sister and meet me in Dallas. Her parents, my mom, and her sister's family made plans to make the six hour drive south the Dallas so as to provide us some much needed support.



I left the hospital where my wife and son was and headed for home. Outside the sky was dark grey, and the clouds hung low in the sky. I passed the VA hospital where my grandfather was, and wished I had time to stop. I'd been to visit him once since my son was born, but he'd been asleep so I still had not talked to him. My mom and grandmother had told him the news that we'd had a baby boy and that we'd given him my grandfather's name (Lee) for a middle name.



Tears streamed down my face as I drove by the facility. I looked to the building and spoke to my grandfather as if could hear me, even though I knew he could not.



At home, I hastily packed a bag, made arrangements for the care of our dogs, and hurried back to the hospital. A freezing drizzle began to fall as I sped back to my family.



My heart shattered when I arrived and found my tiny son in the throes of a seizure. The doctor and nurses frantically worked to end his violent shaking. Jennifer was there, but again, I do not remember the details of what was said between us. No one had answers as to why our baby was having a seizure, other than to say seizures were not a normal symptom of his heart condition.



After what seemed like an eternity, but what was probably less than five minutes, his body ceased it's frantic movements. Then he lay still. Too still, but the doctors said that was the result of the medication they had given him so that he would rest for the flight.



Delayed by the adverse weather the place finally arrived three or four hours later than expected. My son and I rode by ambulance out the the airport where a small twin engine plane with multicolor balloons and the words Children's Hospital of Dallas were painted on the side.



I stood on the icy tarmac while the paramedics lifted the plastic enclosed incubator inside. A thin sheen of ice now covered the ground and the sides of the plane. The crew made room for me and closed the door. As we sped down the runway for takeoff I watched my son, comforted a slight degree by the rise and fall of his chest, and the fact I was with him. I hurt that Jennifer was not there with us.



I tried to imagine the scene on the other end. I wondered how long it would be before he went into surgery. I wondered how long he would be out. How long the recovery would take. How long before we got to all go home and live the life we'd dreamed these past nine months. I did not allow myself to ponder the other question that lurked at the back of my brain, but as we lifted off and cut through the low hanging clouds I, for the first time in years, prayed to a God I wasn't sure I believed in.


To be continued ...

Part 3 can be read here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Those Living The Dream -- A My Town Monday Post

It's that time of week again which means another My Town Monday post about Amarillo, but before I get to that let me say a few things.

***************
I really appreciate all the kind words and encouraging comments on my last post. That first installment was the easy part to write. The rest of the story is only going to get tougher but I'll be posting more of the story on Tuesday or Wednesday and even then I may not finish as it could take three installments.

***************

Also I have many readers who live in and around Orange County, California. I hope they are all safe and sound and not caught up in those terrible fires. The loss of homes and property is bad, but those things can be replaced so here's hoping those of you in the danger areas have safely evacuated.

***************

Now to MTM. I have strayed from blogging about writing lately and I'm going to try and get more of those types of posts up, so today's post is about the writing community here in Amarillo. Amarillo has one of the oldest writing organizations (Panhandle Professional Writers) in the country, but today I'm going to talk about individual authors.

One of my original ideas with My Town Monday was to do interviews with various local authors and post them once a month or so, but unfortunately, time constraints have prevented me from accomplishing that goal. I still hope to do that very thing eventually, but for now I'm going to do very brief little snippets on the local authors that have sold and placed novel length fiction with traditional royalty paying publishers. this list may not be complete, so if any of my readers know of others please let me know ASAP so I can add them to the list. The authors are in alphabetical order.

Jennifer Archer -- Jennifer is a multi-published author of contemporary romance, women's fiction, and just recently announced a deal for a young adult book on her blog. She is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Her books have great emotion and a sense of humor as well as very real characters. You can find here website here, her blog here, and her books listed on Amazon here. If you've never read her work, I recommend you start with this one.


Terry Burns -- Terry writes Inspirational Westerns. He is also a literary agent with the Hartline Agency. I would describe Terry as a relentless self-promoter and a man that has given a ton of his time and services to the local writing community. You can find his blog and website here and his many books at Amazon here. He has a new release coming out in January of 2009, but for now I'd recommend you read book 1 in his Mysterious Ways series.

Linda Castillo -- Linda writes Romantic Suspense. I have only met Linda once at a library event and I have yet to read her work, but I hope to remedy that soon. To visit her websit, go here. To buy her books here.



Britta Coleman -- Okay, so Britta doesn't live in Amarillo anymore. So she deserted us up here in the Panhandle and moved to the big city of Fort Worth. So what? It's my blog and I'll include her if I want. I first met Britta when I signed up for my very first writing class at Amarillo College. Needless to say she quickly left me behind and published her first novel Potter Springs which is a contemporary women's fiction. Buy it, read it, visit her blog and website. You won't be disappointed.


Harry
Haines -- On the surface me and Harry have very little in common other than where we live. Yet, I feel a great kinship with Harry. Harry, or should I say Dr. Haines, is a retired music professor from West Texas A&M. He wrote for a good long while before catching his big break by winning the Mayhaven Award for Fiction which came with publication. His first novel, Orphan came out earlier this year. His website can be found here and Orphan can be purchased here.


Kimberly Willis Holt -- Kimberly is the author of children's and young adult books. She won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature with her story, When Zachary Beaver came to town which is one of my favorite books and is a must read for books fans young or old. She is also the author of My Louisiana Sky among many others. Visit her website here, or her blog here. Her books can be found on Amazon here.

Dewanna Pace -- Dewanna writes historical romance under both her name and the pen name of Dia Hunter. Book under her own name can be found here and her website is here.





Jodi Thomas -- Jodi is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of historical romance and women's fiction. She has published something in the neighborhood of thirty novels and is a Romance Writers of America Hall of Famer based on her many RITA awards. I owe my start to her teaching and guidance as do many other writers in the Amarillo area. Jodi's latest release is titled, Tall, Dark, And Texan. For her website click here, or see the list of her many books available on Amazon here.

Ronda Thompson -- I'm sad to say I never met Ronda Thompson. I've even sadder to say that Ronda lost her battle with cancer in 2007. Ronda wrote romance, her last series was paranormal in nature and a fellow author Jennifer Archer wrote a touching tribute which can be found here. Ronda's work lives on and can be bought here.





There are many more talented and published authors in Amarillo. From poetry to short stories and novellas in anthologies, to non-fiction, but I'll have to introduce you to those folks later. And if I've missed someone I apologize.

Do me a favor and check these authors out. They are all talented and diverse in their writing styles so I am sure there is a book there for everyone who reads my blog.

As always, I will be adding links to post about other towns, so if you are inclined, join in and leave me a comment letting me know you did. And maybe one of these days I'll get caught up and have a chance to interview some of these talented authors and share their wisdom with y'all.


OTHER MY TOWN MONDAYERS

Linda McLaughlin reports in about those fires in Orange County, California.
Cloudia Charters takes us walking in Waikiki, Hawaii.
Junosmom turns over her blog to Kentucky Chuck.
Debra says goodbye to an old friend in Village of Peninsula, Ohio.
Sepiru Chris gives us a taste of life in Hong Kong.
David Cranmer offers up a hot post from Avery Island, Louisiana.
Patti Abbott relaxes on Mackinac Island, Michigan this week.
Nan Higginson takes us to Old Town Alexandria over on the Women of Mystery blog.
Mary Nix gives us a rocking post about Olmsted Falls, Ohio.
Barrie Summy leads the way to San Jose, California.
Lyzzydee takes around Welwyn Garden City, England.
Jenny Jill gives us a sign of the times in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.
Barbara Martin gives it the old college try from Toronto, Canada.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It Changed Everything

Time to tell another story. I still haven't settled upon a name for these weekly stories about things that have happened in my life, so if any of y'all have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Today's story is going to be long. I may have to break it down into multiple parts, we'll see how it goes. As always, I am typing this as I recall things and there will be very little editing for content, grammatical mistakes, or typos. This story is not of the funny variety, but it has shaped and changed my life like no other. There are many detail in this story that I've never shared with anyone outside of my wife and only with her encouragement, am I now feeling capable of sharing them.

Parenthood

The time was late October 2000. Jennifer and I had just celebrated our third anniversary and we were expecting our first child in a few weeks. We already knew we were having a boy and his due date was November 7th, but her doctor was a little concerned that the baby was growing too large so he sent us for another sonogram. Sure enough the technician took measurements and said we had a big one on our hands.

In response the doctor decided to induce Jennifer the very next day -- Halloween.

At the time my grandfather was in the VA hospital here in Amarillo and though I meant to go see him after Jennifer's appointment, I didn't make it that day because we know had a ton of things to get done before we became parents and now we had less than one day to get them all done.

That night I lay in bed -- tired from the hectic preparation, excited that the day was finally upon us, and extremely scared at the prospect of being responsible for another human being. Lying in bed, I made myself promises. I pledged to be there for my son. To guide him, to teach him, to be a part of his life on every level. My own father's involvement in my life had been sporadic at best and no way would I expose my own child to a lifetime of the same broken promises and absentee parenting.

My grandfather was the most influential male in my life and as I lay in bed that night before the big event, I not only thought about my unborn child whose life was just beginning, but also of my grandpa, whose time I knew was short.

Jennifer and I arrived at the hospital at O'dark-thirty the next morning and within half an hour the nurses had an IV started in her arm. Through it they injected the labor inducing medication and we were off.

Or so we thought.

Minutes ticked by. Hours slipped behind us and not much happened. Morning became afternoon. Afternoon gave way to evening and still we waited for our reluctant child to get properly motivated. Outside the weather turned nasty as a fog and drizzle set in ruining the night for trick or treaters. Inside, the hospital it was mostly trick and very little treat.

By far the most nerve wracking experiences of my life have been the times Jennifer was in labor, and that first time was the worst.

By seven P.M. things had progressed to the point where Jennifer was supposed to push, and push she did -- for two solid hours. But turns out our son had a head the size of a hot air balloon and that sucker wedged in her pelvis and refused to pass through. Jennifer pushed hard, but to no avail.

Then things started to go wrong. The babies heart beat grew weak and Jennifer's blood pressure dropped to dangerous level and the doctor said a C-section was in order.

Within seconds Jennifer, the doctor, a slew of nurse and myself headed at breakneck speed for the surgical delivery room. When we got there it was discovered that Jennifer's epidural had stopped working.

The doctor turned to me. "We can't do the surgery when she can feel her entire right side. Do you want us to try and redo the epidural or knock her out?"

By this time Jennifer was in lots of pain and her vitals were still crazy. As were the babies. So I asked, "Which is faster?"

"Knocking her out, but she won't be awake to see the baby right after he's born."

As the machines beeped and chimed and nurses scurried about, and Jennifer lay hurting on the table, I made the decision to do the fastest thing possible, even though I knew how bad she wanted to hold our son the minute he was born.

I was surprised how quick it took. The anesthesia knocked her out. The doctor made his slice, and within minutes he reached into the bloody goo and pulled out my son.

Some will say that witnessing the birth of their child is the most beautiful thing they've ever witnessed. I'm not one of them. The way he lifted my son up an out reminded me of the way a bass fisherman hoists his catch over the side of the boat. Only bass are not covered in nastiness. And this is coming from a guy who has gutted and cleaned hundred of animals. I have caught or shot critters cleaned them, cooked them, and sat down to dine on their flesh all within a half hours time, yet seeing the innards of the woman I love affected me in ways I never imagined.

The pediatrician took my son and went to work checking him out, while the OB/Gyn sewed my wife back up. With my concern and worry now split I rushed back and forth between the two trying to make certain both were going to be okay.

An hour later, Jennifer was awake though groggy. As she sat holding our fair-haired little boy I tried to relax, but I felt as though I'd been dragged down ten miles of cobblestone road.

But it was all over. Or so I thought. Little did I know that neither myself or Jennifer had any idea of what true worry felt like. In fact, we wouldn't know for several more days.

Two days later, on the morning we were scheduled to go home our pediatrician came in and said the words that all parent's fear the most, "Something is wrong." Those words destroyed nine months of our utopian dreams.

Our baby had a problem with his heart. Suddenly, we had a fight on our hands.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

Part 2 can be read here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Evolution At It's Finest

All parents get strange questions from their kids, but Sunday I got the craziest one yet in my 8 years of parenthood.


"Dad, why don't animals have buttcracks? They have holes but no cracks."


The query came from my six yer old son while we were sitting in a hunting blind watching a young doe. Yes, she happened to lighten her load while we were spying on her, which is what provoked the question.

Summoning all of my worldly wisdom, I said, "Humans have complex brains, opposable thumbs, and butt cracks. That's what makes us special."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saddle Up -- A My Town Monday Post

The world's fastest athlete.


Nope, I'm not talking about Usain Bolt. After all this is a My Town Monday post and as far as I know, the Jamaican sprinter has absolutely no connection to Amarillo.

But the world's fastest athlete did participate in the Olympics. No, not in a track and field event, but rather the equestrian events. And I'm not talking about the dudes or dudettes in the squirrelly little hats. I'm talking about the horses, and a particular breed of horse at that.




The American Quarter Horse is an American horse breed that has been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph. The name derives from the Quarter Horse's ability to outrun all other breeds in races of a quarter mile or less.

The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with over 3 million American Quarter Horses registered worldwide.

And the headquarters for the AQHA ... just happens to be right here in Amarillo, Texas.





The All-American Futurity, held each year at Ruidoso downs in Ruidoso, New Mexico, is the Super Bowl of Quarter Horse races. With a purse slighter over two million dollars this past year the All-American had richer stakes than Thoroughbred's top event .. The Kentucky Derby.

Here is a video of the exciting 2007 race.






Don't think the Quarter Horse is a one-dimensional athlete only suitable for racing. Far from it, the breed excels in the rodeo arena, on the ranch, at horse shows, as well as cutting and reining events, and just about any other equestrian event. It truly is a multisport athlete.




Sitting alongside the large three story building that house the registry and inner working of the association is a American Quarter Horse Museum and Hall Of Fame. I will be doing an entire post along with pictures from that facility sometime on the coming weeks. I even have an inside source that may provide a bit of inside knowledge about the museum.

The MY TOWN MONDAY BRETHREN

Cloudia Charters -- Waikiki, Hawaii

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm A Bit Prickly Right Now

My hunting buddy, coworker and all-around friend, Len, hails from Pennsylvania. Blogworld pals Jenster, Bubblewench, and WordVixen call the Keystone state home. There may be more of you that live within the states boundaries, but those three are the ones that come to mind.

That being said, right now Pennsylvania is my least favorite state. Let me explain.

Thursday I'm sitting in a local coffee shop doing a bit of writing when my cell phone rings.

"Is this Travis Erwin?" The woman asks.
"Yes it is," I answer.
"You're not in Pennsylvania are you?"
"What?" Imagine me with a an expression of sheer confusion.

"This is Samantha from the Credit Union. Unless you are in Pennsylvania going from Walmart to Walmart, is appears someone has forged your ATM card and is making fraudulent charges."
"I've never even been to Pennsylvania, " I stammer.

"So far the charges add up to a little over seventeen hundred dollars. Are you still in possession of your ATM card?"
"I think so." I reach for my wallet to double check. Sure enough it's there.

"If so we need you to bring it in to the office. I've already canceled it and I'm marking it stolen right now. We'll also need you to sign an affidavit that these charges are not yours. And you'll need to file a police report."

This is the point where I hung up and uttered a string of obscenities. The other patrons of the coffee shop shot me incredulous looks. Sure I was cussing, but at that moment I didn't give once Colombian bean about the sanctity of their cappuccino induced calm. I was pissed. Anytime I get ripped off my first reaction is one of violence. No it's not right or healthy, but my primal urge is to grab hold of the perpetrators neck, seize their windpipe and expose it to fresh air and sunlight.

Realizing I was now the crazy guy at the coffee shop I gathered up my laptop and left. Still angry about my nearly two grand worth of "charitable contribution to Pennsylvania's needy" I headed for the bank.

I hadn't signed that many papers since I bought my house, but finally I had everything I needed in order to file a police report.

My experience at the police station is worthy of a whole other blog post, but in short I'll say they treated me like the guy who stops in everyday to file a report about the black helicopters circling his house. The desk clerk made it plain that my mere presence annoyed her and the detective all but said only idiots who fail to protect their assets get ripped off. Never mind that my bank had already said this was a nationwide scam in which someone compromised the debit card company.

So sometime in the next 7-10 business days my cash is supposed to be credited back and I am supposed to have a new debit/ATM card. until then look for me on a corner near you. I'll be the one with the witty cardboard sign.

And if you happen to be in Pennsylvania sitting around surrounded by a lot of recently purchased things from Walmart ... may Karma shove a ravenous and rabid porcupine up your rectum.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Jeep Story

I've said it before , but I'm gonna say it again. I consider myself a storyteller first an a writer second. I've had to fight and struggle to learn the nuts, bolts, and mechanics of putting words on the page, but for as long as I can remember I've enjoyed sitting around, telling a good tale over a few beers or leaned up against the tailgate of a pickup. Or God forbid I corner you at some writer's conference. I'm liable to talk your ear off.

I feel like I have strayed a bit from my story-telling tendencies here on this blog, and while I don't know how long my commitment will lat for the time being I'm going to try and devote one post a week to the telling of a story. Most will be funny, others could be sad or ironic, -- but I'm hoping that they will all be entertaining. I haven't decided what this new weekly feature will be titled and I'll make no commitment to post the tales on any particular day of the week. They will be the tales of my life and knowing my tendencies they will be 95% true but I am declaring artistic freedom to tweak and embellish as necessary for the sake of entertainment value. I might even repeat a few of the tales I wrote in the early stage of this blog when less people read this blog than.

Here is the first installment.


Jeepity Do Dah

1977. That's the year my father in law bought a brand new Levi addition Jeep CJ-5.

Fast forward to 1992. That's when I first met my wife Jennifer. In true Texas fashion we met amidst the dirt floor of a rodeo arena. Not even the stench of bullshit could deter the attraction between us. The story of our meeting i one I've told before and may do again. But not today.

Back to the Jeep. By 1992 the deep rich blue denim seat had faded, The 8 track radio no longer worked and the fenders had began to rust. Nevertheless, Jennifer drove the Jeep. But soon after we met, the motor went out and it sat abandoned in her parent's backyard. A year or so later, her dad had the motor replaced, but then the transmission went out a few months later. Another couple of years went by and the transmission was replaced, but time had not been kind. The brake lines had corroded, the tires had rotted and the cloth top had been reduced to tattered shreds.

Jennifer tried to drive it but gave up once it became apparent that there were too many things wrong. The jeep once again took up residence in the back yard and for the better part of a decade it's sole purpose in life was to shelter the weeds that flourished beneath the fenders.

My wife and I married and one day my father-in-law asked if we wanted the Jeep. I said yes and immediately began ordering parts from Ebay. About six weeks and lots of dollars alter the Jeep was back up running. Not running well but running.

At the time we only had one other vehicle besides the Jeep, and work was sending me to Norman, Oklahoma for technical training. My wife had to have the one car, so unless I wanted to be trapped in Norman, Oklahoma for three weeks without wheels I had to take the Jeep.

Friends, family, and my mechanic ridiculed me for thinking the vehicle could make the 300 mile trip. But I had faith.

I was more worried about learning how to drive a standard transmission than I was with the Jeep making the journey.

With my wife as my instructor I managed to learn a herky-jerky stule of shifting in time so I loaded all of my tools in the jeep as well as my suitcase and headed for Okie land.

The gas gage didn't work and my wife had warned me that the jeep had only gotten six or seven miles to the gallon in the best of times. So I stopped twice to top off the tank.

But as I neared the training center I had to smile I'd made it despite the naysayers predictions.

Just as I was feeling cocky and pulling into a parking spot the Jeep shuddered and died. It refused to start so I pushed it five or six feet so it would be within the confines of the parking space.

It would start and run again until my last week there. Bumming rides back and forth to the parts store, I worked on it every afternoon after class. Many of my fellow students helped out and pretty soon the Jeep had become a class project.

When it was time to come home it was running better than it had when I left Amarillo. At the end of my three week I drove back home thinking I would keep my little mechanical setback from all those doubting Thomas's.

I can proudly say I made it home without incidence.

Monday morning I was once again feeling cocky as I drove into work. I was looking forward to bragging that both me an the Jeep had made it back in one piece.

I was tooling along in the northbound lane at 65 when all hell broke loose. The jeep screeched and suddenly began spinning to the left. One. Twice. Nearly three times I spun in jerky circles before coming to a shuddering stop in the opposite bar ditch. Facing the way I''d just came from I waited for my ass to unpucker, as slowly, the vehicles behind me proceeded forward.

Morning traffic as heavy and a good dozen cars had gathered behind my vehicular acrobatics. One after the other they shot me dirty looks or vulgar hand gestures.

I gathered my wits in time to smile and wave at the last couple. I should have gotten out and taken a bow since they apparently thought I'd nearly shit my pants and become a stunt driver for the sole purpose of screwing up their morning commute.

Fours years after that event the CJ-5 now sits in my driveway gathering dust. The transfer case needs replaced and having survived once I'm hesitant to tackle the Jeep from hell a second time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Good Reminder

As a Republocratitarian I have mixed feeling with yesterday's results both on a national and local level, so when I got this email from my lovely wife today, it reminded of a few things. Thought I'd share and post it here.

I AM THANKFUL:


FOR THE WIFE
WHO SAYS IT'S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME,
AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.


FOR THE HUSBAND
WHO IS ON THE SOFA
BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME
AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.


FOR THE TEENAGER
WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME,
NOT ON THE STREETS.


FOR THE TAXES I PAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED .


FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.


FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
ENOUGH TO EAT.


FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE


FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME


FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING
I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH. .


FOR THE PARKING SPOT
I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE
OF WALKING AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION .


FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.


FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH
WHO SINGS OFF KEY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I CAN HEAR.


FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.


FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES
AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.


FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF
IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.

AND I AM THANKFUL:
FOR THE crazy people I work with
BECAUSE they make work interesting and fun!


AND FINALLY, FOR TOO MUCH E-MAIL


BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE
THINKING OF ME.

Seems really appropriate on this the day after the election when we all need to get back to simply being people, not followers of a particular political creed or club.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Freaky Diki Tiki

Blogging makes the world seem like a smaller place. Unless you are a blogger it may seem weird to say you have friends that you've never actually met, but in some ways the readers of my blog know me better than the people I interact with on a regular basis. Those of us who spill forth our notions here on the blogosphere tend to share our hopes, dreams, fears, and inner thoughts. Way i see it sharing that kind of info makes a better basis of friendship than sharing a cubicle next to someone, or being forced to make small talk with you wife's college roommate's husband, or listening to some soccer mom brag about her life and family while Junior practices kicking the ball.

Through this blog I have befriended numerous like-minded masochists, though most prefer the term writers. I have "met"a handful of agents and editors and many others who entertain me in a variety of ways. there are literally hundred of people from all around the world that I would love to sit down and share a beer with, or even a simple conversation. I would have more to say to any of these people than half of my relatives or 99% of those I went to school with. I know them, they know me.

That last line sounded like a new verse to Barney theme song. I love you, you love me, we're a happy family so before I make myself sick let me get back to the original statement that blogging makes the world smaller.

I now know people in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada(too many from both to link to), Spain, and Mexico. As well as somebody from dang near all fifty states. But let me tell you a crazy story in pictures to illustrate just how small the world really is.


This is my friend Arlene posing as a tourist alongside her husband Rob at our recent Halloween party. I've talked about Rob and Arlene a few times on this blog.

Most weekends my wife and I find ourselves hanging out, drinking a few beers and playing games with Rob and Arlene. They are the godparents of our oldest son.

Arlene spent a great deal of time in Hawaii as a child. Her mother's side of the family is from there and she still has lots of family there including an older brother named Steven. I've never met Steven but I've seen him in pictures and what not.

This is the cover of blogworld pal Cloudia W. Charters' novel, ALOHA Where You Like To Go? (click on the link to order your copy via Amazon?)


Okay, so I have this good real world friend who was raised in Hawaii and this blogworld friend who now lives in and writes about Hawaii.

According to my research there are slightly more that 1,000,000 million people living in Hawaii. So what are the odds that out of those one million people Cloudia would snap a picture of this fellow leaning on a concrete dragon?


And what are the odds that I would see her post with this fellow's picture and recognize him as Arlene's brother, Steven?


I wasn't sure at first so I asked Arlene to confirm and she did. Then I asked Cloudia if she knew Steven since Arlene informed me that he was a part time photographer and I already knew that Cloudia did some writing for the Waikiki News. But Cloudia did not know him. She took the shot because it captured the three ages of man. It truly was a random happening that brought home just how connected we really are.


So what's the weridest or most incredible thing that's happened to you via the blogosphere?