Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New (and exciting) Developments

Well, a few things have been happening in my life as of recent.

Number One: I have increased my subscribers to this blog up to a whopping 8, yes I said EIGHT!, readers! I have doubled in just one year. Now many bloggers would say 8 is a pretty puny number, but for me, its something of note. There are millions of blogs on the internet, some are news sites with dedicated readership and professional development, others are company based, celebrity based, and of course your content bloggers who stay pretty specific to singular causes. For me, the blog gives me a chance to just throw my thoughts out into the wind on whatever random subject comes up. So, to have 8 people willing to subscribe, not just readers passing through in cyberspace, and regularly read what I, an essential nobody in terms of an already established broad popularity, have to say as at least semi-important, is kind of a big deal to me. I don't really care what any detractors might have to say about it.

Number Two: As I have noted in some forums, I have become increasingly despondent about my job. The hours always worked while we were a one car household, but now my wife has a car, which opens up more opportunity for me to get a daytime job, which would suck a lot less than the overnight thing. It will give me more time to spend with my family as opposed to being a bump on a log they occasionally meet from time to time. Plus, a different job might actually offer me perks such as paid vacation, so I don't have to figure out how to pay the bills if and when I take any time off. Along with maybe a decent livable salary? So I've compiled something resembling a resume, and applied for a few jobs in the area that offer decent wages and preferable daytime hours.
In addition to this, some of you know about my affinity for Denny's restaurants, a smaller number know my history with Denny's. I have recently sent in an advertising proposal to them, that might allow myself and a potential business partner gain more exposure through TV commercials. Of course that is ultimately up to Denny's marketing and corporate people. Most of the ideas are currently conceptual at this point, and this would be really stretching myself beyond my comfort zone. I don't even care to talk in front of small groups of people without having an urge to pee my pants as I run away and hide. Makes me feel like I'm throwing myself into a den of sharks, but hey...Gotta sell myself somewhere if I'm going to take control of my own future, and take care of my family better than I have up to this point. Might as well slap my mug onto television screens across America and on the internet!

Number Three: In about two weeks I get to meet my two new 'nieces' that my buddy Jed and his wife, Naomi, have recently adopted from a Christian orphanage in Ethiopia. It has been a long road for them, but they made it, and I am proud of them for reaching their goal to be parents. I have spoken with Jed recently, who is quite ecstatic about being a dad. I don't blame him. I used to hate kids, and then I had my own, and they are amazing little creatures to watch grow up before your very eyes. They do really funny and crazy stuff all the time, usually far weirder than anything WE ever did growing up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

At A Loss For A Title

I thought I might title this one, Last Words Of The Year, but as many of my readers know, I'm a little sporadic in how often I decide to post.

Today will be a more serious topic than many of my posts, maybe a little philosophical.

Winter has officially arrived. While other areas have been hit a lot harder, we still received the snow, the icy roads, the blowing wind, and the cold temps. The landscape looks more or less dead.

The seasons and our calendar look a lot like life from the right perspective. They begin, they progress, they end...only to start over again. The new year and the new cycle of life don't really coincide with each other, and yet they do in a certain sense.

Spring to us almost represents the new life being created or birthed, with all the plants coming alive, animals coming out of hibernation, people venturing out with greater frequency as a whole. Eventually spring merges into summer. Almost like adolescence and the early adult life. We go out, we explore our world, often in the form of vacations, we have fun. Soon things cool off as autumn sets in. We go back to school and work, and prepare for later when the holidays come around. Autumn fully engulfs us, almost like midlife where we begin to assess how our year (or life) has gone thus far. The holiday season begins in autumn, and we begin to re-connect with our families. Sure, commercialism and shopping and sales are always there, but we stress the important things in life: our families and friends, that which really matters in our lives. Autumn turns to winter, the holidays still in full swing, we continue to cling to the activities that keep us connected to our loved ones. Winter is almost like our senior years, the twilight of our lives. We again take a look at how our lives/years have gone overall.

The winter doesn't end with the calendar year, but continues on. The new year arrives, often including our new plans, or resolutions of what we will do with our new year, and hopefully our new life. We plant the seeds of our ideas into our brains, but with anything, the fruition doesn't immediately show itself, in the dead of winter. It must take time to germinate, along with careful tending, for us to bring everything back to its new life. Then after a few months into the new year, Spring comes along again. We have our second chance at life. We begin the spring cleaning, ridding ourselves of the older and unwanted portions from our old life, to make room for the new things we intend to add and improve our lives. Almost instinctively we crave and try to usher in change to our lives, in order to feel more alive.

Now in real life it doesn't always manifest itself that way. We don't always change but maintain our routines. We don't put forth the new ideas, but merely try to survive in the way we always have. Life passes us by as we just exist. Events, activities and people come and go, but we remain steadfast in our mere stagnant existence. We cling to our ideas of how things should be, occasionally dreaming of what could be, but rarely acting on it. Other times we will stretch ourselves to do things, to say that we are moving forward, even if there is little evidence that it will actually change anything, just for the sake of doing 'something'.

Eventually as we move through our lives, the end of the year/seasons/life comes along. Almost automatically we assess it all again. Did we do this, did we do that, why did we or did we not do the other? For some the answers come easily, knowing they lived a full year or a full life, without regrets of any sort. For others, the questions often beget more questions, along with regrets, wondering where the time went. What could I have done/said differently to have created a better outcome for myself? Things of that nature.

For those who merely existed and survived life, without risk of losing it reminds me of a bible passage. Now some take the bible at its literal word, others as a metaphorical collection on how to live life. To a degree both are right. The passage "Any man who tries to save his life shall surely lose it." Now many Christians will tell you that you must give yourself to the Lord to receive your blessings in Heaven. And yet, it has real world implications at the same time. Those who risk nothing, those who just survive, they will have those questions. they will have realized that they lost the luster of what life and the world has to offer them. It could be a lifestyle, happiness in their jobs, people in their lives, any number of things.

As winter has arrived I find myself wondering what the hell I did with my year. What could I have done differently? Have my relationships with other people grown stronger, weaker. or remained as merely existing relationships over the time? Am I any different now than I was before? Is my family stronger and more loving than a year ago? Or less so? Have I lived a life worth being proud of over this last year, or one that has kept me from true happiness? Will the new year bring better plans, better actions, better words, and ultimately a better life?

Being a guy, we are often stereotyped as having to maintain a macho image. To actually discuss serious topics out loud with someone may leave us challenging our masculinity, and with some guys, our sexual orientation is called into question, usually with a phrase from one of our guy friends that sounds a little like "Dude, why are you acting so gay?"

They say communication is key to building and maintaining relationships. However such statements as the one ending the last paragraph can easily stop us dead in our tracks, and make us shy away from such talk. It's a whole lot easier to sit on our couch in silence staring at the ball game with one hand in a bag of chips the other one clutching either the TV remote or our crotches. We find it hard to expose ourselves, emotionally speaking, for some odd fear of being rejected, or dismissed out of hand by those around us (which sometimes does happen). And yet, if the very people we care about drift away from us, we sit there wondering what happened to our friends or loved ones that we do not see as much of as we did previously. We have had falsehoods built into our lives, and over time we believe them as much as age-old wisdom. We often spread those very same lies to those around us, leading them down the same paths. We lie, and lie, until a big part of our life may be that of a false self. Of course, being human, if we're called on it, we go into psychological self defense, deflecting blame and finding fault with our accusers. Anything to save losing face in our own mind, as well as in the eyes of others, because being wrong is not an option. We will make decisions in life to protect ourselves...and stick by those decisions in the face of everything, good or bad.

And then the next spring and new life comes. The question then is are we still living our old life as we always have? Or maybe we are embarking upon a new one entirely? Or maybe we will take the good part of the old life and add new adaptations to bring those around us along in your new life? Do we clutch onto the ways we've been wronged, while wanting our wrongs to be forgiven? Or will we start anew, forgiving those trespasses against us, while hoping the same courtesy is extended to us? Do we work out our issues with others with whom we may have problems, or keep to ourselves not caring about the people or the circumstances?

Is the new life going to be another set of lies where we insist we're fine no matter what, or will truth be shown the light of day and we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and loved/loving?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Terrorists Return!

Stupid bats! They set off an alarm at the Hoyt Sherman for the 2nd shift guy, then an hour later, they did it again, so I, along with supervisor Casey spent the first hour of my shift in that place chasing 1 bat, then 2...

They out flew our artillery, consisting of orange cones and a phone book. They took full advantage of the wide open air in the theater. Eventually they exhausted us and our timeline to be able to complete our other duties for the evening. We had to set the perimeter alarms to avoid being called back and wasting more time. We really should be allowed to use automatic firearms indoors. More accurate at a distance,and easier to propel the bullets than big ass cones and a floppy phonebook!

After an hour of being teased and dive-bombed, we had had enough for the evening. Maybe another night we'll get our shot at eliminating them before they decide to steal the limelight during one of the plays that are put on there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bats Attack!!!!

Well, as the single digit temps descended over Iowa, the bat problem is striking again. And again, it is the terrorists' favorite target, the Hoyt Sherman Place. This old mansion seems to be a clearinghouse of nooks and crannies for bats to hide out. And every now and then, they take a few flights in front of the motion detectors, which means I get called to go see what the hell is going on. As usual, I call up my supervisor and make him go there with me. The place is too creepy at night to not have someone there to hold your hand.

This time, we get there, I turn off the alarm system, and no sooner than I hit the lights in the lobby area, the winged terrorist comes flying at us, unleashing the possibility of a rabies-laden attack upon the Mookist general, and his compadre. It's time to go to work eliminating these terrorist sumbitches. Last night,, we were armed with the most primitive of weaponry, the dreaded orange cones (think traffic cones). We finally convinced this monstrous and EFFING HUGE bat to roost in his normal terrorist-trained upside down position at the top of a door across the room. I wheeled around to the left with my cone and my GI Joe-like ninja skills avoiding the bats detection, while my supervisor Casey held the middle ground to the entry vestibule in check. A quick toss, and BAT DOWN, BAT DOWN!!! We placed the cone over him, and I moved to go write up the alarm response sheet at a nearby desk. The bat was sliding underneath the cone towards the door he had previously hung from, trying to escape underneath the locked door that I did not possess a key for. WE stopped him as he was 3/4 of the way through in his backstroke maneuver to freedom. The next step was to fully retrieve the little rat faced bastard from underneath the door. Ever cautious of possible rabies infections from bites or scratches, we searched for something to get a grip on the terrorist and bring him back into the light and under our guard. (The next moment gets a bit gruesome, so weak stomached people stop reading here, and go to your happy place.)

Casey did NOT hand me his pocketknife, and I did NOT use it to stab the winged terrorist in a pinning hold to drag him out. Right after we did NOT do those things, I hear Casey yell out some unsavory words, and mentioned something about another bat. Apparently our NOT piercing the first terrorists skin did NOT release pheromones and a rescue signal to his terrorist partner, who then began to dive bomb us all over the lobby. We placed a nicely weighted bucket over Bat #1, grabbed our cones, and proceeded to go after the 2nd insurgent. After a few strafing runs, the 2nd bat went up the stairwell to the main theater entry hall, strafed us a couple more times, then went up another level, where we lost him in the dark.

We were both disappointed in that result. 1- We enjoy the bat calls, as they are one of the most exciting, and scary moments on the job. 2- We don't necessarily want to be called back if another bat sets off the alarm system, which takes time away from our other duties. And 3- Losing a live terrorist only serves to degradate our reputation as elite rentacops turned combat commandos.

Surely we will be back again, as these winged marauders will start trouble again, trying to dissuade us of our nightly missions, and cause us to give up and go home, allowing the terrorists to claim victory over rentacops and more notably, the Mookist forces. WE will never EVER give in to these terrorists if it takes our entire lifetime to rid our alarm response accounts of these rabies-harboring little (and sometimes not so little) rat-faced bastards. WE intend to NOT kill them all, because killing them would be considered illegal, depending on the species anyways, and I'm no bat-ologist (yes this is a technical term meaning studier of bats), so I can't tell which ones are fair game or not. All I'm saying is if they just happen to have sudden cardiac arrest at the exact moment they tangle with us, well, that's either God or Darwin speaking.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Today Is A Wonderful Day!

First off, my mother was gracious enough to loan us her laptop until Christmas, when we get a desktop computer to replace the old one. This allows me more time to contemplate any blogs, emails etc, beyond the 2 hour limit set at the library up the road. It also allows my wife time to practice her pre-tests for work without having to leave home after getting home from work.

It's also snowing out. Usually this is not something that thrills me, but I have tonight off so far. Still trying to figure out how to work tonight if at all possible. Wednesday night marks the first time I've called off sick from work, so I lost 8 hours of time. I haven't been sick in almost 11 years, and I got hit hard by some sinus/head/chest cold business that hit me in the face like a bag of bricks. I was definitely not expecting it to happen. I avoid all the colds and flus, normally. However, while I'm not quite back to 100%, I have realized a couple things. One, this marks the moment I am getting better, and my immune system has one more set of antibodies to help defend me. I expect nothing short of 30 years without illness now, minimum. Also, I have had a lot of stress I have been mulling over, and I think this was God's way of telling me I'm not superhuman, to quit acting like I am, stick my faith more in Him than me, and now that I've hit sort of a bottom in my life, everything is looking up.

I think the fact that I actually called in sick, rather than try to tough it out at work for a few measly bucks shows I may actually be learning. And of course with that learning, I also realize that if I had been thinking more clearly and not just about money and bills, I would've called off on a few occasions just to spend time with my wife when she asked me to do so in the past.

I spent way too much time worrying about such trivial things, and not about the more important things in life, like my wife and kids and spending time with them instead of working so damn much. I remember once my 2nd dad once said he "works to live, not live to work." in reference to a conversation with his boss about not participating in overtime so he could go to the kids ballgame. I sort of let life get in the way, and forgot that little nugget of a life lesson.

However all being said and done, I am reminded by something the Reverend Tim Storey said:

"All of us experience setbacks in life at one point or another. Maybe one of your children is in trouble, our finances are in crisis or your marriage is falling apart. But, just because your dreams are currently a nightmare does not mean it's over! God is in the business of resurrecting dead visions. It does not matter how big a mess your life may be- don't take a step back- because God has already prepared your comeback."

I spent way too much time examining my past and the wrongs within it, my limitations and all the excuses in the world. Now it has come time to just drop them and do what needs to be done, no matter what anyone else has to say about it, since its my life to decide instead of using it as I had: a life to default.