Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Drink, drank, drunk, well not really....

Unfortunately the title of this post, isn't going to have anything to do with it. It's just a phrase that's been popping in my head lately, so I thought I would use it for the title, since I couldn't think of one. Besides I couldn't figure out, how it would apply to the word "write" in utilizing the same tenses. Write, wrote, written?

Not much going on it seems, my 36th birthday passed yesterday and it felt like any other. What I mean by that is I don't really know how someone can feel a year older. Birthdays have really never meant much to me, they are nice, but it's just another day. It just seems weird to have anxiety over a particular day or to celebrate one in particular (which seems to be the way most people approach them). For me, I'd much rather celebrate life everyday and would prefer not to be the direct focus of it. In respect to the anxiety, getting older doesn't cause my anxiety as I can't do anything about it; however where I'm at mentally in relation to getting older is a whole other story. (as anyone who has read some of the my other blog posts would probably know)

I maybe making progress though, this workout routine feels right and while it's too early to see any results, I'm confident they'll happen soon. I don't know if I mentioned it but I have no plans to weigh myself or track results. My goal is to re-incorporate a workout routine into my regularly scheduled life. I think if my goal was to just lose 10 pounds, I'd be worried that I'd accomplish that goal and miss the opportunity to incorporating the workout. I know I've mentioned that one of my goals was to look good for pool season, but in truth it's only a secondary goal at best. Routine, feeling good, and not being overwhelmed about fitting in the workouts to everyday life are the primary ones.

From a mental standpoint, getting a routine in place to workout is helpful in that there is a large part of me that has despised myself lately from a physical standpoint. I never want to be fat again. I don't mind being a bit overweight , but when I feel like it's all slipping away, I become unbelievably depressed and angry. The problem is that when I get to a point of experiencing this much anxiety, I just want to completely isolate the problem and resolve it. If there are obstacles in the way, I want to remove them in the quickest and most efficient way possible, regardless of the consequences. It's this focus/obsession that is my strength and weakness. It enables me to accomplish what I want, but can leave a path of destruction in it's wake. It's only become more difficult to manage as life has become more complicated.

I did have a positive experience this weekend, first thing Sunday morning, I woke up and the first thought in my head was, "I feel a little better today". It's an interesting phrase to wake up to, for me at least, in that I was conscious of a feeling and the word little seemed to be underlined in my head. Plus it wasn't that I got a great night sleep feeling, it was deeper and didn't run away 2 hours into the morning, I've been able to hold onto it for a day or so. Who knows sometimes that little spark is all that's needed.

So what's the reason for the feeling? A variety of things I'm sure. I had went out with the wife the night before for a birthday night, and even though it didn't go as I had planned, I think it was a productive night. I had also accomplished a ton of stuff from my 'to do list' on that Saturday. (I had woke up at 5:30am to begin cleaning and get things done, that was after going to sleep at about 1am, don't ask me why, as I couldn't tell you, I just woke up and knew I had to get started). Crossing stuff of my 'to do' list always seems to be a positive for me. The sense of accomplishment that comes with simple tasks can definitely make the large looming ones seem less insurmountable. Plus I got to spend another Saturday with Bronwyn, as the wife was finishing up her last Saturday class. So those are some of the factors. We'll see what happens, I'm at a point, where I'm trying not to get to high or low from an emotional standpoint. There are still things to work out, but it's nice to have a bit of positive momentum.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Random Thoughts II

I guess that will be the title for now on the Friday posts. The creative muse just hasn't been there this week to get into any deeper topics, so while I'm sure you are fascinated by my posts on the commitment to getting back in shape, deep down I know they are probably a bit lacking.

It does seem to be the topic of the week though, so here's the update. I made it through 2 a days through Wednesday. Had the opportunity to go Thurs. and Fri. morning, but some late nights prevented that. Not to mention the fact that I'm sore as shit and have been all week. The good news is that it's a really good schedule for me and the next two weeks it appears there won't be any interference, giving me a chance to get into a really good pattern with it. The other positive is that even though I'm sore, it's a good sore, nothing pulled or debilitating that would cause a delay in getting on track. Definitely a positive week, although it took some swallowing my pride in some of the weight levels I chose for the machines. Embarrassingly low, but I have to keep reminding myself it's not a competition.

I'm afraid my drinking abstinence isn't going to make it through this weekend. Going out tomorrow night for my birthday (next Monday). And my wife has agreed to be the designated driver for the night. Plan is to go see a band at the Boneyard in Mayfield, that covers a bunch of 80's and 90's tunes. I'm hopeful that it will be a fun night out, in truth I've struggled to come up with something I want to do. It's a function of being in a funk, I keep looking for the perfect night out to help lift me out of it, and unfortunately nothing seems to fit the bill. I suppose it's like the weight lifting in that I need to remind myself I need to take small steps. The band by the way is Run Avril Run, there website is here: http://www.runavrilrun.com/ . Lately I've had a desire to see more live music (with a particular interest in cover bands or bands playing covers). Unfortunately this is the first one we'll be going to see since New Years 2008, 15 months seems like too long a period of time for that, but it just hasn't fit the schedule of things to do, it will be nice to see if it's actually something I want to do more often.

I ran into a bit of a jealous moment this week. I saw my brothers new hobby car. A 1977(year might be wrong) corvette stingray. I'm not a big car fan, as a matter of fact, besides the look of the car I have little interest in the 'under the hood'. But if I was going to buy a corvette, it's the type of car I would have got, most of the other models are boring to me. On top of that, he's shown restraint for this one, picked it up on the cheap with some minimal work needed on it, which is how I would approach it as well. Good for him though, my jealous moment only lasted a second or two. I just have to figure out what type of project car I want to get. Unfortunately I think the stingray is now out though, as I'd prefer something different since he has one unless I find one that I just can't refuse. Is it a mid-life crisis thing to want a sports car?

IBM laid off another 5,000 employees this week (yesterday). Didn't find about that until Wednesday night, the good thing is if I hadn't heard about it, it likely meant it wasn't affecting my group and it wasn't. And while Hewlett Packard is laying off 25,000, it still sucks. I constantly wonder what the future is going to bring with it in relation to my job. While I keep building skills, at the same time I keep raising my salary, which means less types of jobs available, if I want to stay at that salary level. I know that if I was laid off, being at IBM for 10 years (next month, holy crap that's a long time) looks pretty damn good for looking for a new position. It's just a matter of finding a new job that works with what I want outside of it. I really should just say the hell with balancing work/life and start shooting for career path that leads to the director level or vp level. They are essentially protected from 'resource actions' but I just don't know how to focus myself and keep my family self relevant. I fear I become a bit too focused at times, which causes me to neglect all sorts of things. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in the future.

Fun thing of the week, Drink recipe: Watermelon Margaritas:

With warmer weather coming, this is one of my favorite warm weather drinks, take left over watermelon, cut it up to pieces that fit in a blender and freeze them until needed. When fully frozen, throw them in the blender (this is your ice cubes), add some nice tequila, a little bit of lemon juice and some grand mariner or triple sec to the blender. Blend it up and enjoy, sugar rimmed glasses optional. (the frozen fruit as ice cubes options works well with pineapple too, but that's another recipe).

Hope everyone has a good weekend, try something new, it keeps you young!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rainy Wednesday

Yay, it's finally raining, not only is it raining but it has warmed up some too. I know I'm weird about the rain thing. I like it, what can I say, especially when I see it starting to fall (where the ground is dry). That's how it was this morning, and it was warm enough to not wear a coat, but just a heavy sweatshirt. Very good start to the day.

So I'm 3 for 3 in the workout category for mornings this week and have made my 2 lunch appointments so far as well. I'm pretty much at the point though where I can't move my arms. Thankfully I haven't pushed to far and the pain is just my aching muscles and not some type of pull. Should be no issue going 3 for 3 on lunch appointments today, and then it's a crapshoot for the rest of the week. I likely have Bronwyn to watch for the rest of the week and on Saturday, so that rules out lunch and early morning. So if I get anything in it will be after work. I'll probably do a mix of cardio/strength on at least one of those days, which would satisfy my 4 day requirement. And then get a head start on Sunday for the new week.

The wife has an interview today over the phone with a school district down in Kentucky, so keep your fingers crossed out there.

Otherwise, there isn't much going on this week, it's moving much quicker then last week, which is a very good thing. I think the combination of exercise and getting back in my work routine has helped that along.

Hopefully I'll have a more in depth topic here over the next day or so.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New week, new outlook

I don't suppose there is ever a good time to say, "I'm going to start doing x next week." I know that planning to make changes always make us feel a bit better, but unless we put the action behind them, they do no good and in many cases make us feel worse as we weren't able to accomplish our goals.

I've been slowly building the momentum to make changes in my day to day life. Trying to understand where I have time to fit in workouts and maintain the work/family/self things that I want. In this process I've lined up a tool that's critical to accomplishing my next steps: a gym membership. Luckily, I discovered that this gym that I like opened a couple months ago, that's 5 minutes from my house, it's so important in the scheme of things to find a tool that you can use, but isn't going to add extra burden to your workload. So while I've had some start and stops on getting into a continuous practice pursuing my new goals, I feel pretty good that I've been laying the foundation, albeit slowly.

So today, I'm kicking my own ass into gear. I'm rededicating myself to getting back into the shape I want to be in, I've outlined a schedule for myself and have a timeframe that I'm looking at for it. So far so good , as I actually woke up earlyt his morning and made it to the gym for a full hour workout.

Here's my new plan and some of the background for the choices.

1. I need to drop 15-20lbs. The actual amount doesn't really matter to me, I know what I look like when I'm weighing good, and my guess is I'm about 15-20 away from it, although 10 might get there too. So some good cardio workouts in the morning are on tap at the gym, until it warms up enough to start doing my 10 mile bike riding path in the morning.

2. Eating habits need to change. Again, I'm not overly concerned with my eating habits, getting back to a solid 4-5 day a week cardio workout, will take care of a lot of my weight, as while my eating habits aren't great, I still do a pretty good job of adjusting if I indulge. Besides one thing I learned through the years in keeping the weight off having a pizza night isn't going to kill you. It's the pizza night, 5 days a week, or eating a whole pie in one setting that's counter-productive.

3. Muscles: This one's been bugging me, as I've been working to try and figure out a time for a good strength workout. It's frustrated me that I've felt like I have no time to utilize the weight equipment at the gym. Part of that has been laziness though, I've always known, early mornings are where most of my time are, but staying up late, makes that more difficult. So in moving the cardio to morning, rather then lunch or evening. I'm going to make 2 trips a day to the gym, the second trip will be a shorter one for some weight work. The plan is for it to be a lunch trip, which if it works is really going to make me feel good, as I'll have the entire evenings free for family time and self. My biggest concern here is I need to start real slow with this, too many times when trying to get back to building some firmness, muscle, definition or whatever, I've pulled something from the start and lost momentum. If things work out with this, the cardio in the morning is out of the way quickly, the lunch workouts are very easy for me to head up to the gym, because I don't hate them quite like I hate the cardio stuff.

4. Smoking: I'm not quitting yet, but I definitely need to reduce the amount, by going to the gym twice a day at the very least it reduces the time I have available to smoke.

5. Drinking: None for the next couple months. I need a break from it anyway, but even a night of drinking with friends is horrible from a weight perspective. In truth I get far more rewards from the exercise then I get from drinking anyway. So drinking is out for now, completely. This really shouldn't be a problem, as it's always been something I can pretty much take or leave. Although lately I've found myself having more drinks on a regular basis then ever before, so I'm interested in seeing whether this will be an issue.

6. The goal. Well I've gotten the wife to agree to head out for a couple days vacation for the first week of July. (Yes, it's Vegas again, but the rooms are free for the whole trip, so how can I say no, plus I'm going out there anyway for some work the week after, so the airfare only costs for her). Anyway, July is prime pool time in Vegas and the wife and I are planning for some R&R by the pool. So, there's my goal, I want to feel good in wearing a bathing suit, or at least not feel too bad with it. I really hate putting that sentence down, because it sounds like every woman I've ever known. Oh well, it's the truth.

This is the plan. I think the important thing here is these are all accomplishable changes to my lifestyle. The biggest change will be getting up in the morning, or on days where the wife is working and I'm working and watching the little one, figuring out how to get to the gym later in the day and then figuring out where I put the gym time in where I was going to focus on strength training. But I'll make that work, it looks like schedule wise, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are all going to be in my control, as those are the day my parents watch the little one if Laurie's working, so if I can just get to the gym for those three days (2 times a day) fitting in one extra cardio shouldn't be an issue. If I can get in a good three weeks of this, I'm confident I can keep this schedule going, besides by that point, the weather should be very warm, and getting out for a bike ride after work in nice weather isn't so hard to do.

Update** 2 for 2 today, I made it out at 6:30 for the cardio and then back at 1 for the weight training. One day in the books, always good to get off to a good start.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday random thoughts

Hmm, still don't have a name for a regular Friday post. On top of that, it's probably been 3 weeks since I did a post similar to the first one.

Anyway, here are some random thoughts for t a Friday.

nk I know why advertisers cater to the 20-35 crowd. By the time you hit 35 there messages seem so retarded that it's difficult to even listen. I keep recalling a bit I saw from Dave Attell live at the Cleveland improv on advertising, "It gets worse and worse, at some point, I'm expecting to turn on the TV and here them say Lay's Potato chips, fucking eat it"

2. The state of radio quality music today absolutely sucks in my opinion. While I'm not a fan of country, R&B, or Rap for the most part. The music industry in my opinion has a severe case of artistic block. It's the late 2000's already and at the very least, I'd expect a nostalgic repeat of 80's sounds and theatrics. Not to mention, we probably could use a bit of the levity that the 80's music scene brought. I suppose there are some decent new bands out there, I'm digging the Killers lately, but it's not enough.

3. I seriously can't wait for warmer weather, what's funny is I'm looking forward to a good dreary, rainy day as much as the warmth and sun. There's a beauty in Ggrey that I find quite soothing.

4. Cigarettes went up again through taxes on the Ohio budget. About $5.70 a pack now, absolutely unbelieveable, but mind you, you can't smoke them anywhere. The price is reason enough to quit, maybe here in the new future I'll figure out how to do that.

5. Bronwyn has a new fascination lately, hot wheel cars. I bought her a pack last week after watching her take some random plastic car and drive it around. I forgot how cool hot wheel cars are, they each have an individual name on the bottom and when they are new they look great. I'm betting that they won't wind up caked in mud and sand as much as mine did, but who knows. The wife thinks her masculine interests are coming out lately, as she's been wanting to play baseball too.

6. I think I'm heading to the tatoo parlor tomorrow. I need to talk with an artist and start trying to narrow down my thoughts on the one that I want. Don't know if I've said this before on my blog, but I don't have one and only want one, over the left shoulder. I expect it to be fairly intricate too, so I'm proceeding cautiously. It's one of those situations that I'll know it when I see it or think it.

That's it for today, hope everyone has a good weekend, listen to some music, you never know how it may help.

On being a 'nice guy'

Just a quick thought before I get into the title of this post, I seriously can't believe how horribly I've ate today. Donuts and Pizza, that's it. Unbelievable, I'm going to blame it on the being the first week back at work and having been exhausted every night, so we finally decided that we just weren't going to cook tonight or drive out anywhere for food. Ok, that admission of indulgence is off my chest.

I hear the phrase 'you are such a nice guy' fairly often, multiple situations, too many to list. I'm a bit perplexed by this as on some levels I'm the exact opposite of a nice guy. But I guess it's a casualty of language. It's just interesting to me that people can make such assumptions based on little data.

I had an experience in Vegas that reminds me of my thoughts on this; I was playing video poker at one of the casino bars and definitely had finished off my fair share of cocktails. Night was approaching morning and more and more people start congregating at the bars. It's a unique way to sort of be a fly on the wall and observe people. Hookers looking for John's, two buddy’s from Minnesota partying on their first night, new brides drinking it up in full wedding attire and a vast assortment of others. Needless to say it's not a mix you would normally find anywhere else and if you look up your likely to get caught in a conversation with someone.

I happened to look up next to me and started talking with a guy who was celebrating his 39th birthday. He was with a buddy and they were tilting them back pretty heavily throughout the night. As time went on you could tell birthday boy was definitely starting to feel it. At some point his buddy disappeared and in random conversations he'd talk with me in sort of a depressed mode. I don't remember the contents of what the conversation was, but I've seen that drunken state before, the alcohol's taken hold as a depressant and magnify one's own thoughts, it wasn't horrible but he was definitely starting to spiral down. At that point the two Minnesota guys bought Patron shots for 10 people at the bar next to them, which B-day boy and I wound up being part of the random group of 10 he bought the shots for, a bride showed up at the bar, announcing she had just gotten married that day and was also fully in process of getting her drink on, and a couple of other random people were around drinking too. At that point the conversation becomes something of a round robin, moving from a one on one with the bday boy to an all inclusive mix of people just hanging out. For some odd reason, it turned out that I wound up being at the center of this conversation, by that I mean physically, not by participation and active observer would more classify my engagement. It's one of the things I love about Vegas, at any given point you can stumble upon a large mix of people that under ordinary circumstances would likely not even engage with one another, but for brief moments in time get together like they were old friends. Fascinating on so many levels and I'm doing a poor job of describing it. I was talking with the Minnesota guys some, one looked like a Vegas veteran and his buddy was pretty much in the tank and appeared to be relatively new to the Vegas experience. So veteran was in the process of trying to keep tabs on his buddy, who kept buying shots for pretty much everyone in vicinity, needless to say his buddy was fairly drunk and was a bit of a handful for the Vegas veteran. So this goes on for an hour or so, and Bay boy is falling into a deeper drunken state and he falls out of his chair around everyone. So I jump up and pick him up and put him back on his chair. Of course for the next 10 minutes until that small circle broke up I heard how nice a guy I was and things like, I wouldn't have done that. Now granted some of this was drunken talk, but it fascinated me, why in the world wouldn't you try and help someone in that situation. At the worst it's uncomfortable not too, not to mention if you were the one who was falling, wouldn't you want someone to pick you up? I know it's a meaningless comment for the most part, but it did perplex me a bit. In actuality the 'nice thing' I did after everyone moved on was ask the bartenders about the possibility of getting security to help bday boy back to his room. (bday boy was becoming a bit on edge at this point and definitely incoherent, not a state you want to be in Vegas late, late at night), as it turned out one of the bartenders recognized a guy bday boy was with and pointed him out to me, so I went and grabbed him to let him know his friend might need some assistance at that point to go up to the room. So it worked out for him. I just found it sort of funny that simply picking someone up from falling down seemed like a heroic effort even to a bunch of drunks.

This brings me to the point about being a nice guy. I certainly can be, as I believe everyone can, but in many respects I'm not, I can be elitist, guarded, introverted, selfish, and tend to not suffer fools. As I said in some respects I'm the exact opposite of nice. But I suppose it's just a function of the fact that people have different criteria for utilizing the word 'nice' then I do.

I do consider myself responsible and in many ways I take this trait very seriously, regardless of whether it's true or not, I take responsibility for those I care about. I care about them, I work to manipulate things around them where I can and I can be fiercely protective of them. The one thing I can't deal with though, is those that can't work within the boundaries of what I try to establish. I expect people to respect each other, be able to control their own actions, and to make good choices. I understand people go through a lot and put a lot on themselves and I work to understand it. People sometimes get pushed to the brink with issues and they act out based on that, but I have an expectation on behavior even in these cases.

The reason I bring this up is I wanted to write about some experiences in my life where either I've shut the door on people in my association with them. In these situations they went past the line of what I can tolerate. I don't know if it's right and in the whole scale of things it probably doesn't matter, but it's just a bit more insight into me.

1. I had a friend who was going through a rough period. He was either about to finish college or already done with it and he was finding out much to his chagrin that the work he had dreamed of doing he wasn't qualified for with the degree he had attained. In addition to this, his parents were getting a divorce. This appeared to be a difficult thing for him, as his parents had been married his entire life. It was a rough spot for him and while we weren't real close we began to talk more during this period and hang out more. We'd go play pool or go to a bar. My friend wasn't the most socially acquainted person, so if you added in alcohol you could run into some interesting situations with his interaction with others. For the most part it was harmless, although at times frustrating, he'd drink and go into a shell, or start yelling at random people, sideways emotions flowing out, without a way to channel it.

While it wasn't my favorite situation or person to go out with, I related to his plight with being frustrated about finishing school and understood him from a social sense, see we were similar in high school, intelligent people with severely underdeveloped social skills and while I struggled with my social skills in college it wasn't long before I adapted. This person though older, hadn't really adapted in college, I didn't really know him that well in high school, he was 3 or 4 years older then me and we only shared one or two classes, but I remember him from that time, as he was in one of my first classes at Streetsboro, and I got to know him a bit. Years later during college, he was actually brought into our little group by another friend who was about his same age. My point is that I felt I could help and was more then prepared to try, and even though the times we went out then could be difficult and uncomfortable, I understood that it was just a person struggling through a rough stage. Even with those uncomfortable moments (usually times when he would try and socialize himself with random people at the bar while drunk) it was within the limitations of what I was willing to accept. Now there are people that will say this behavior is unacceptable (and some did during that time) there reasons for it would range from his behavior was unacceptable or the issues facing him weren't so bad. Those are excellent points, but I believe we all go through rough periods and while the problems themselves are important, who we are is just as important because we all deal with things differently.

Anyway, we did run into a final straw, one night playing pool at the student center, my friend went over and got drunk at the bar and came back (to the two of us playing pool), we decided to leave the student center and were driving to someplace else. I was in the passenger seat, my friend, who's the topic of this discussion, in the back seat and another friend driving. Perhaps the driver and I made a mistake in trying to talk to him, to get him to open up about what was on his mind. But he did start talking some and became severely agitated and then decided to open the door and jump out of the car at about 35mph. We looked for an hour or so for him and had no luck finding him, and eventually we drove to his house, which happened to be about a mile away. It turned out, he had just made it home after running through the woods to get into his house, he was staying with his mom at the time and she told us he had just came home out of breath. But he was there and a bit bruised but seemed to be ok from the dive out of the car.

That was the final straw in my opinion and at that point, I could never go out with that person again. I'd accept if he was out with a common group from someone else's invite, but I would not take any interest, responsibility, or have anything more then a casual conversation with him going forward. I struggle with this sometimes, is it wrong that when a person got to perhaps one of their worst moments, I cut off any contact, what type of person can do that? Perhaps it's just me being cowardly or selfish. I truly don't know, but I can say this, I don't believe it was cowardly or selfish, under the right circumstances I'd stand by a person through thick and thin, but at the same time I have expectations on how someone needs to behave in those situations. Is it right of me to demand that, probably not, but ultimately I need to set boundaries otherwise I fear that I'll lose the ability to assist when it's needed.

2. This one ended rather quickly. A friend started going out with us during a breakup he was experiencing. It was mostly to go out and drink and hang out. I didn't know the person very well, but try to be accepting when new people are brought into our group dynamic. Within the second night out, he showed me he couldn't handle his alcohol (licking people's faces, biting people in a bar). On top of that when we got him home that night and carried him inside, he decided to swing for my head with an old rotary phone. In my mind, that's all I needed to ensure I didn't need to be around this person when we went out. Again, it's about boundaries. Breakups can be rough, there is no doubt, but even when drunk we need to have a reasonable control of our actions/emotions or at least that's my belief.

3. I was starting to see this girl, who played softball with us and some of us worked with. She was recently divorced and a good friend of mine had a bit of a crush on her, so I was proceeding cautiously. My friend had just been through a rough breakup with one of her friends, where for lack of a better term, the girl that dumped him did it in a pretty rough way. So this girl that I'm starting to see shows up one night and wants to take the relationship further, we talk some and I tell her that I'm struggling with it, as while I know she's not into my friend, I know he's into her, and I want to be respectful of those feelings and our friendship especially since he was going through a bit of a rough time. So she asks me to take a ride, we get in the car and she goes to my friend's work. She walks and announces loud enough for the whole store to hear, but directed at my friend, Mike and I slept together, get over it. Um, she couldn't have been more wrong in how to proceed. Respect is a big one for me, while we always don't have to like situations, how we deal with them and other people during those situations is telling. I could go on and on here about why this was probably the worst thing to do in a situation like this with me. It's just a matter of respecting people's feelings, especially the ones close to you, we can't always balance it, but we sure as hell shouldn't stomp on them, just because we aren't getting our way. Anyway, I got back in the car, had her take me home and didn't speak to her again.

Side note, my friend who had the crush on her, wound up helping her out when she had knee surgery a couple weeks later. He helped her a lot as she was incapacitated and needed a good deal of help, heck I believe he might even have provided some financial support during that time for her. He's got a heart bigger then mine, as she could rot for all I care, but he's also someone I consider a 'nice guy'.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Man in the mirror

I got halfway through a new post last night and it spiraled out of control into an incoherent mess. Which tells me there were to many things I was trying to work out in writing it, so I'm going to try and start a bit smaller.

It's been hard to look in the mirror lately, while I've never liked pictures of myself my dislike of pictures was always different then looking in the mirror, not so much lately. It's not a great feeling, but I think I know where it comes from, in struggling with who I am, I don't recognize the person looking back. Acknowledging the person looking back at me means acknowledging all of the things facing me in life. I don't think I'm scared of who's looking back at me, it's more a procrastination of trying to understand who I really am and figuring out how to proceed in the future. Balancing my true self with my one I show to the world and want to be.

There are multiple things in my life now that I'm struggling with, here are some of them:

1. Emotional emptiness (a loss of feeling and sensitivity)

2. Dealing with a potential move due to my wife finding a new job out of state

3. Supporting my wife in her pursuit of her chosen career, which I know has been a huge struggle for her

4. Understanding who I want to be in the next 10 or 15 years

5. Trying to understand where in my career I want to go, it's the new 3 year window, time to move up or go stale

It's not a comprehensive list, but it's a pretty good start. And while this exercise in self exploration is supposed to help with those, none of them are going to be solved today, tomorrow, or 6 weeks from now. My goal through this self exploration is to identify and understand the biggest stresses that I'm facing, why those are affecting me, and who I want to be after dealing with them. This way as I encounter situations where I need to make a decision based on these things I have a plan on how to deal with them and I'm able to factor in the larger picture of what I want. At least that's the plan, whether it's going to work or not remains to be seen.

Where to start then, I think I'll take it easy from here, and write down some thoughts on how I perceive myself today or for lack of a better term what I see in the mirror.

I'm:

1. Selfish

2. Compassionate at times

3. Intelligent

4. Competitive

5. Confident in many of my abilities

6. Vain

7. Thoughtful

8. Responsible

9. Manipulative

10. Sensitive

11. Guarded

12. Insightful

13. Perceptive

14. Patient


Characteristics about me:

1. I look at as many solutions as possible when examining a problem and weigh all scenarios, on first analysis emotion doesn't factor in at all, it's farther down on the pros and cons of a solution. At times it feels very cold and calculating, but it's the only way I know to come to a solution of a problem.

2. I'm very perceptive and conscious of other's perceptions, I build some pretty strong scenarios based on a minimal amount of data, estimating reactions and pressures of those involved. It's not a perfect science but it serves me well when I need it.

3. I compartmentalize my life, even my close relationships are built on levels of what I feel is the necessary amount of self to share during that relationship. In looking at it historically there has been very few relationships where I was completely vulnerable. I despise this compartmentalization at times as it's exhausting, but I'm not entirely sure how to change this, I'm not even sure that I have the ability to do it.

4. I'm the type of person that doesn't crave the spotlight, but ultimately I want the ball at the end of the game (for lack of a better term). I don't feel comfortable giving up control of decision making and I'd much rather lead and be wrong then let someone else lead. I'm not afraid of making decisions or even mistakes, although lately I have become a bit hesitant which is one of the issues concerning me. I believe momentum is critical to resolution, which doesn't always mean you need to react to a situation as timing plays a big role in problem resolutions.

5. I'm capable of lying when I feel it is necessary, there are times when compartmentalizing things I find it necessary, I don't look at it as something bad, but rather a tool in managing life. It's probably not the best characteristic, but whether or not it's a good one I'd debate, much like the definition of good and evil.

6. I'm pretty good in understanding other's emotions, but I do a horrible job with managing my own. My guarded persona doesn't help and it's easy at times to utilize compassion as a cover for being sensitive to others so I can appear emotionally normal. It's easy when you are the one listening, or trying to help someone for them not to realize that the focus is on them. It's a diversion technique, a more elaborate guard that I've developed over the years. The truth is much of my emotion is bundled up and I'm not very good about letting it out nor do I seem to have been able to create an environment that enables me to do release it.

7. I crave stimulation, other's would say that I enjoy drama/brooding. I think I know why I crave this, it gives my mind something to occupy itself with. Stimulation is a distraction of sorts, but in many instances it's functional. Out of all types of stimulations, brooding is like a drug for me and I'm an addict. In my current life, I'm trying to be very conscious of this, years ago I may brooded for a variety of reasons, today I believe it's a necessary evil in trying to regain my balance.

8. I'm protective of those close to me, but at the same time I expect a lot from them, I also have no interest in making it known in how I mend relationships and soothe feelings at times between those that are close to me.

9. I'm forgiving of faults, mistakes, and the past when dealing with others, but I only have so much capacity to do so, it's not never ending. When I get to my breaking point, I try and make it known. This can be difficult for me as I can't always express myself in the best way possible, but I'm conscious of that and realize that I need to have patience in these types of situations where I've reached my capacity.

10. I think I'm selfish, at least I'm feeling that way lately. Maybe it's a natural reaction to having given out for so long without taking care of myself emotionally. Maybe it's something deeper. Currently it's the driving force in my self exploration.

So that's my first look in the mirror, well at least the first in a long period of time, and certainly the first time I've ever decided to lay out in one spot. I'd love to think that by doing this I'm opening myself up and am going to heal, feel better, and every other new age cliche is going to come true. It's possible I suppose, but deep down I suspect that this period is more an evolution rather then a deconstruction. The words needed to come out, and it helps me focus. At the beginning of this new journey I think I was naive enough to believe that I could erase all of this and become simpler. I'm pretty sure that's not possible. Many of these characteristics aren't habits they are traits. I do need to bring them under control and try and understand what's causing some of them to surface in the manner in which they are. At the end of this I anticipate that I'll incorporate this type of outpouring into my new self and build new defenses and tools to deal with the next period in life. I never said I was perfect.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Still not feeling it

I'm still not up to the task of writing down a long post and then editing it due to my wonderful grammatical nature. I do feel it's important though to try and get something out, so here are the random doings and thoughts for today/this week.

1. St. Patty's day - I'm not a big fan, maybe it's my Scottish blood, but it feels like a Hallmark holiday for beer companies. Hey, come celebrate, drink beer, yada, yada. Seriously I've done the whole 6am green eggs and beer thing and it terrified me to see so many stumbling fools at that time of the morning packed into some tiny bar. I get it that people want to drink and I have no leg to stand on criticizing others drinking (just ask my liver from my vegas trips). I guess the issue I have is I don't mind a celebration or debauchery for the sake of debauchery. But when getting drunk is the focal point of the celebration or the antics, I guess it rubs me the wrong way. In truth it's just semantics or principals of the issue, but this one has always sort of bugged me.

2. Going back to work always sucks after having been away for a week or so. I think it's even worse working from home, you become so used to the freedom that vacation/out of the office time brings, that coming home and re-focusing on working from home just is very hard to do. It's even worse when the first days back are slow, as that first week back then drags on way too long.

3. I'm amazed at the changes I see in Bronwyn when I'm gone for a week, I can hear the pitch of her voice change and see her articulate more clearly. It's fascinating and sad at times, as whil I'm very proud, I also realize that time passes by way to quickly.

4. I'm very happy it's starting to warm up. I felt like I was going to ignore the depressing effects of winter this year, but I think they may have just contributed even more to my disposition by trying to ignore them.

That's all for now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quitting smoking

I'm going to try and quit smoking. (Again!) I know, I know, save the sermons, it's a shitty habit, it will kill you, blah, blah, blah. I'm not unaware of that, but the truth is, I really love to smoke. My mood is better, I definitely am less stressed, and while I haven't quite kept the weight off I want, I know it contributes to curving the hunger.

I'm sure this is going to be an interesting ride, last year, I think I managed to quit for about 3 weeks. That was far and away my best effort in attempting to quit I think I have enough nicotine in my system from the last 7 days to last me a good month, before I get the shakes.

I constantly come back to this line from the movie "Dead Again" Robin Williams tells Kenneth Brannaugh, "You're either a smoker or you're not, the trick is to find out which one you are and be it" Problem is, I know I'm a smoker (think philisophically), I'm just going to have to figure out how to be a smoker that doesn't smoke.

*Update* Might have to rethink the timing on this one, as the first day it's supposed to happen, you aren't supposed to go above 50% of your normal amount, although a variety of factors contributed to that. With all thats going on now, perhaps it might be more prudent to wait awhile to try and embark on this change.

Now arriving at CLE

Arrived home late on Wednesday night from Vegas. It's good to be home. Getting to the car tonight, I realized that it might have been a good idea to bring a winter coat or at least have one in the car, because it was freakin' cold. Wish I could say there was some luck gambling, but it wasn't the case this time.

I was only gone for 7 days but it feels much longer. Being disconnected from the grid is an amazing experience, no news, internet, email, or constant barrage of daily life. There's a lesson to be learned there, but I'm not entirely sure of how to incorporate it. I guess that's something to work on.

I have some new thoughts on posts that I'm hoping to draft over the next week or so. Until then, keep trying to figure out whether it's really just a banana peel in front of you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Donuts: Uniter of past and present

Not much to say today, I'm striving to reduce the length of my posts. I'm finding that I want to cover every perspective or include huge amounts of detail in a post. I'm sure some of that is good, but I need to focus it a bit more. I never realized how difficult that could be.

So, what am I thinking about today? Donuts; I know, delicious aren't they? I know you've got a favorite type. Just think of all the ways that simple piece of dough can be partnered. Glazed, frosted, jelly filled, powdered sugar, sprinkles, nuts, candy; you name it and they have a type. You have to like a pastry that is so versatile.

I find myself getting donuts at least once a month, you'll do that when you have a little girl that seems to continually ask and negotiate for them. (If you already didn't know, trust me I'm going to be in trouble from her charms). I love getting up early and driving to get them and then coming home before Laurie and Bronwyn get up. Laurie's favorite is chocolate covered eclairs with white cream (not custard). Bronwyn seems to love any type but definitely prefers chocolate frosted with sprinkles.

My dad used to bring donuts home to my mom, brother and I. He'd either get them the night before or early in the morning on the weekends before we got up. I don't think it's a coincidence that days that started with donuts always seemed better.

When we were going through some lean times, my Dad took a paper route for extra cash; we'd help him sometimes on weekends. While he didn't get to take us often, every once in a while he'd reward us with a trip to the donut shop after we finished the route. I remember those visits. The donut shop seemed so alive, brightly lit, and radiating with warmth and energy. It stood in contrast to the bitter cold, snow, and darkness of the morning. I think about those times quite often on my morning drives to the donut shop. I wonder if this is how he felt. I'll have to ask him the next time I talk to him.

I have no idea if Bronwyn will remember donuts as fondly as I do when she becomes an adult, but I do see her eyes light up when you mention them, and she glows when she gets one. This gives me hope that I'm on the right track.

I probably get them too often for her; I know they aren't the healthiest treat. Maybe that's how I'll get to determine whether I'm truly an adult or not; by measuring my ability to model the balancing of something special and unhealthy to her. So while teaching her to eat healthy is high on my list, I also feel it's important to teach her to do things that feel right. Donuts feel right.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It costs how much????


$2600 for a 20 minute ride in the cha-ching bulance! That's the bill my brother received yesterday for his daughter's ride in the medical bus last week.
His daughter, Erica came down with the flu (roto virus) a pretty nasty virus, especially for a 2 year old. For those that haven't experienced it, it's not something you'd wish on most enemies. It affects little ones bad the first time they get it. Bronwyn was laid up for for one of the worst weeks we've ever dealt with when she got it. So after a long day where Erica wasn't able to keep anything down and they were worried about her hydration they took her into an Urgent care center.
After measuring her vitals, they determined that she was beginning to show signs of dehydration and that she had an elevated blood pressure. So they loaded her into the cha-ching bulance and drove her to the hospital for a 4 night stay. Their explanation was they admitted her due to the hydration issues and that they needed the cha-ching bulance due to her elevated heart rate. So based on this explanation and the type of vehicle, you might expect them to be blazing through traffic, lights and sirens blaring, right? After all, the care that could be provided was only available at the hospital on the other side of town. And getting there seemed to be of paramount concern. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case, it was a calm, peaceful ride with the parking lot speed bumps causing the most anxiety provoking situations.
So the bill shows up yesterday, $2,600. $600 for mileage and $2,000 for services. What gold laden fuel is this bus running on? What life saving techniques were done to her during this transportation that could possibly justify this type of bill/expense?
Let's go back to the justification on why they decided they needed to use an ambulance: Her heart rate was elevated. An understandable reason on the surface, but have you ever seen what a highly stressed, foreign place does to a 2 year old? Or how they react when see their parents worried? The sensitivity of a 2yr old to their environment is much higher then any adults. I'm not claiming that the elevated heart rate wasn't a serious concern, and it's easy to sit post-illness and play Monday morning quarterback. I just think there has to be a better way to handle these kinds of situations.
I recognize that medical care, isn't like talking to the mechanic. I know that telling me how much a procedure or test costs, does me no good in the long run. After all, the loved one comes first, but we all have limited financial means. There has to be a better way. I don't expect the urgent care staff to say, well Mr. X your child has an elevated heart rate and because of the dehydration we'd like to have her admitted to the hospital. By the way, do you want to take her there or would you like a $2,600 bus ride? Let's not forget, that if you don't take the bus ride, the insinuation is that you are criminally neglecting your child. So even if they offered the choice, wouldn't it just be medical blackmail? I'm not even sure where we begin to find a better way on this issue. After all medical professionals are working without the ability to pause and think a situation through, our care is left up to humans who are educated and experienced, but their abilities like all humans can vary greatly. Perhaps the best case scenario here is to try and find a family doctor that you get to understand how they operate and that fits your needs.
Since I can't come up with any suggestions to the other problem, let's look at the price tag issue, $2,600 for a bus ride. Please, someone, anyone, justify how the hell a bus ride costs $2600. I could fly first class to London, with one month planning for $2,200 round trip. While I don't expect them to provide medical procedures during that trip. I'm trying to find something that is comparable from the equipment and labor cost associated with it. Planes come close but there are too many variables. I know it's an apples to oranges comparison, but it has to start somewhere in trying to rationalize this cost. After all, driving 15 miles to the hospital costs me maybe $5 if you figure gas, and the wear on my car. Let's add in my driver's training, my salary per hour (times 3 for number of people), factor in down time, add some further value based on the higher price of the ambulance (and equipment) and I still don't know how you get to $2,600. If there costs are $2,600, how well are these hospitals running their businesses? Or is this a way to accrue revenue? This is going to bother me for a bit and I'm going to have to dig more to see if I can find more information on it. It doesn't pass the smell test though, (smell it and if it stinks it's probably rotten).
My instincts say this is just lousy administration, in trying to balancing the books they haven't measured the price with the service. It seems stupid and extremely short sighted and instead of trying to benefit their patients care and costs, they are too lazy to do anything about it. The hospitals will argue that they have to make up costs for people that don't pay and that the evil insurance companies that complicate their ability to do business. The insurance companies will say that hospitals prices are ridiculous and treatment should only cost x, which is what they'll pay.
I'm wise enough today to know that the issue is completely lost in the middle. It's been a discussion point for so long, the hope of solving it is absent from the conversation. It's more about pointing fingers and assigning blame. I hate that I see this in so many issues of our society. All I know is that a family concerned about their daughter's flu, wound up with a $2,600 bill yesterday for a bus ride.

Monday, March 2, 2009

On being 'Daddy'





Yep, that's my little one Bronwyn, as you can see from the picture she has no fear of the camera.

I still think the main reason for this blog is for her. Whether someday she ever comes across it or not, is irrelevant. Just having an avenue to try and organize my thoughts and express my views helps my own mental health, which allows me to be better equipped to help raise her.

We are 3 years in now to being 'daddy'. It's a special word/title and I'm amazed how differently it can sound depending on her mood, or when she's scheming to get what she wants. At a store or out shopping, I probably hear that word 10-100 times in a day by other children and their parents, but I don't even notice, until it's said by Bronwyn, it's much like her cry or laugh, it's amazing to me the way her sound resonates with me.

I'm lucky in that I do get to spend a lot of time with her, when I think about working from home, I think about long commutes and all the stress working away from home can cause. So when the end of my day comes and I can just leave the upstairs office and start playing with her, I know I'm lucky. I remember my father and mother leaving before sunrise and coming home after sunset. Exhausted from work, traffic, and everything else. They did a wonderful job but I know they would have enjoyed spending more time with my brother and I. So an hour or two a workday, means about 250 hours a year, 10 full days, and I've got three years of them. Not to mention when your having a really rough day, you can run down at lunch or in between calls and grab a hug.

Of course like any busy parent, I constantly worry whether I'm doing enough for her, am I giving her enough attention, trying to teach her enough, letting her watch too much TV, helping her eat right, etc. etc. I suppose it's natural you want to provide your best to the little one, but there motor has a lot more gas in it, then mine does at 35. It helps greatly that Laurie is such a wonderful mother for her. Bronwyn couldn't have wound up with a better mother.

I love watching her learn, I see her paying attention so deeply at times and she reflects so much of her mother and I in her moods, personalities, thoughts, and sense of humor. They truly are like a sponge at this age.

Around her mother, she's an outgoing Diva; chatter boxing away to anyone and everyone in a store, a starlet loving the center of attention. When I take her out though, she reflects cautious reserve, quiet and thoughtful in her responses. Her demeanor is truly fascinating, as while I'm reserved, I do encourage her to engage with people when she's spoken too, but she turns a bit shy when she's out with Daddy. I know she can be engaging though, so her actions are calculated in my opinion. I don't know whether it's from a cue she's picked up from me or it's based on how she wants me to appear before me. Even at three, it's funny how those things work.

Laurie is always telling me how people (mostly women) are just constantly complimenting her on Bronwyn, commenting out of the blue on how sweet, pretty, and adorable she is and how they just talk with her for these long conversations, complimenting and remarking. She asks me if they do the same for me, and while I've had a cashier or two say something complimentary, they certainly seem like normal, everyday compliments, that people give to other's with children.

I know women approach other women with children much easier then they do a man with a child. Plus my wife truly loves how much attention her daughter gets and isn't afraid to put her out there for the world to see. I know my wife takes great pride into how Bronwyn is developing and rightfully so, it's no surprise to me that Bronwyn gets so many compliments when they are out, as Laurie has worked so hard with her on so many things.

I could go on and on about Bronwyn and will over time. At the very least, I've got a post planned for some of the background on how we chose her name and the nickname I gave her, which seemed to stick "Boof". I also know there are ton of concerns and thoughts on how well I'm doing over the coming years, to literally write a book.

So while I don't get the same level of compliments that Laurie might receive, I did have a very proud moment last Saturday at Wal-mart, Bronwyn was with me riding along in the cart, and an older woman came up and said "Excuse me sir, sorry to interrupt you, I just wanted to tell you that you have the most beautiful daughter." I thanked her and got back to spending time with Bronwyn. This is not going to help my daughter's modesty some day, oh the teenage years are going to be so much fun.