Old House Heart

It was in the early hours of this morning when it hit me. Yesterday, when I first heard that it was a worse day than I thought, I drove angry. I wasn’t angry, but rage is often the first thing I reach for when I feel something unpleasant in the pit of me. I was able to push it down and move forward, busying myself with making some delicious chili to bring down to visit our friends in Springville. I put a lot of effort in to that chili, putting my mind on doubling, or tripling the recipe. As it turns out, doubling the recipe is as much as my instapot can handle.

I worked at it, and forgot about my heartache. For a time. Miraculously, when we went down to visit, I was somehow able to keep positive. I feel like this is a marathon, so the heartbreak is going to have to last. I think my experiences with loss have educated me. I lost a friend last year, suddenly. This is not really the place to delve in to it, but that loss was jarring, and I had to deal very suddenly with it. The worst part of that loss is over, but I feel it every day. This loss is on-going. It’s like if somebody was robbing you of your most valuable thing and you were just helpless to do anything but watch.

Helpless and heartache. I learned some time in my adulthood that heartache is when you want something to be better but are absolutely powerless to make it better. Really better. If you have ever had a sick toddler, and can’t do anything to help their misery but hold them and wait. Especially if you’ve had a sick child, you would take their illness if you could. I wish I could take the sadness and pain. Children, though their carry our genes in to the future, sometimes highlight in sharp contrast, how completely helpless we are.

I have been crying. In my youth I used to really hold these things back, because crying makes you feel less like a man. I don’t think I have any illusions of being manly at this point.

I feel guilt and anger. I try to handle these by attempting to be reasonable. My emotional state is like a house in a storm. There are things getting banged about. There is creaking. Many parts of the house that are empty and dormant are frustrated at the agitation. You can’t reason with the house, or the storm. You just have to wait it out and see what shape the house is in after. I feel like this is a really bad, shake-the-house-kind-of-storm, where things will never be the same.

I am an optimist. I hope that when the storm clears we have enough of a house left. I wish for the brightest possible outcome, and I care about people. I care about your story and how you got where you are and where you hope to go. These are the things that matter.

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I had an amazing weekend! I am now 33 years old. My birthday was last Saturday, so on Friday night Amy surprised me with a trip to Wendover. What I didn’t count on was that she surprised me by also having my regular poker buddies show up and play in a tournament with me! The tournament itself was actually pretty tough. I went all in with a pocket pair and lost to a guy with a pocket pair … that turned out to be 4 of a kind. The statistics of this hand coming up are almost completely negligible, but I clearly lost to a great hand and I could live with that. Then I played a $10-limit cash game and I did well. We drove home that night and were very tired / sleepy for Saturday, which was rough because Pepper was having asthma complications. She’s on the mend, though.

On Saturday night I went out to Red Iguana with family. I would never in a million years want to attempt to eat there on a weekend night, but somehow we only ended up waiting 35 minutes to be seated! Inconceivable! I also got a sweet waffle maker from David and Sarah (and Isaac too!)

On Sunday I broke in the waffle maker, and at night I made 2 of the best ribeyes I’ve ever grilled.

[This was sitting in my drafts folder so I thought I’d finally publish it. – don’t worry, I’ve been 33 since last June.]

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I Love My Family

I just spent last last 24+ hours with a sick daughter who was starting to have little patience with her hospital stay. She has Rhino virus infections in her lungs and it was causing her to wheeze.

She would have these fits of just wanting to leave, to just pick up and get out of the hospital, that broke my heart. I couldn’t take her out though I did consider asking for discharge. The doctors urged us to keep her there, so she’s there tonight with my wife.

I was determined not to leave her side but I too was becoming emotionally unraveled. Sukie offered to stay in a ‘you should probably get out of this situation’ kind of way.

My children and my wife are the most valuable things to me. I’m trying to describe how valuable these people are to me, but I guess the closest I could come to is this: I would not be who I am without them. I place a high value on their support and being able to support them.

I’m so wrecked right now but I wanted to put it down. Being in the situation is harder than we have words to describe it. I feel like if I tried it wouldn’t come out right.

I will be glad when all my family is at home again.

I greatly appreciate all the kind words, support, and acts of love we have received. Thank you all.

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The Accident

Over a week ago Sukie and I were in a car accident. Sukie was driving, and I was in the passenger seat.

As we approached an intersection, maybe 15 feet from the intersection, the light turned yellow. We were going about 40mph, so we started to go through the intersection. It was one of those nervous moments when you notice the vehicle on the other side of the intersection is turning left and you hope they see that you are coming and they don’t pull out. I remember thinking this to myself, there’s no way they aren’t pulling out, and then they were …

The timing on that truck pulling out in front of us was like somebody jumping in front of a train – they do it right as the train comes in, so they don’t break their legs on the tracks and get ran over – they want to hit the train, so they do it at the last second. It was bizarre, because I went from, “Oh, they aren’t pulling out, that’s good” to “Oh Craaaaap!” really fast.

It was over, before I could even truly grasp that it was happening. That’s what I kept on thinking afterwards – that there was no real avoiding it, there was no real calculating it away. You have this urge to say, “Well, X Y or Z would have made a totally different situation, right?”

Well, I’m here to say that there’s such a thing as bad luck. And that’s really all it was. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the other driver was trying to cause a wreck, or they simply were thinking of other things, saw the light turn yellow maybe a little after it did, and panicked. I think the only reasons someone wouldn’t be paying attention to the intersection is if they were distracted by something else (thinking of Text Messaging or the bajillion other things a cell phone can do) or they just didn’t check to make sure the coast was clear.

That moment after impact is one I keep replaying. In movies you always get to see the full impact, but I blinked, and the next thing I knew it was over. The airbags had deployed, nasty smoke filled the car, things were hurting. It’s incredibly disorienting. It would be like if you were sitting in your living room and everything is fine and instantly all the furniture is turned over and it feels like you got beat up. ‘Instantly’ still sounds too slow.

So I started to do a POST (Power On Self Test) which is what computers do, but I think people do it too. I start moving my arms and I keep having this horrible anxiety that something really bad has happened to me or Sukie. My legs hurt, but not broken, arms not broken, lots of little cuts and pain on my right arm thought … I feel like I click my seatbelt and try to open my door, and I’m turning my head to look at Sukie and I hear myself talking to her and I sound like I’m drunk or something (lots of Adrenaline pumping at this point) and I’m like, “are you ok” and “there’s smoke in the car” and it feels like I’m saying and doing all of these things in fast motion and slow motion all at the same time. Sukie says to me “are you ok” and I say “I think so” and we both are looking around like “there’s smoke in the car … not good” so we get out of the car, or try to, I push my car door open, and this time it gives enough, while making bad sounds, and this is the first time that I’m realizing that I have really been in something unpleasant, there’s stuff ALL OVER the ground and I stumble and catch myself on the car. I make my way to the same corner as Sukie and turn to survey the damage.

The view of the car right after impact

Things are hurting and Sukie’s telling me my face is cut. She looks fine except her chest and neck are all burnt up by the airbag.

We declined a trip in the ambulance, which the EMT says afterwards, is good because the ambulance ride is “just for show”. I guess if I was unconscious it would be different. My father comes to get us and we wait for a while. We get a few things out of the car and get shuttled to InstaCare, and waited for 1-2 hours to be seen.

All in all, everything that swelled up, went down. I got some cool X-Rays that I’d like to post sometime, but luckily, nothing crazy showed up.

I feel fortunate, overall, for two things. The first one, is a selfish one – I am glad that I was hurt worse than Sukie. She got some scratches, I got a few more and a good lump around my left eye. I figure that’s where the airbag hit. Older airbags like that pack a wallop. I’m told newer airbags do a better job of cushioning the impact, but I have no intention of trying this out firsthand.

The second one, as you’ve noticed from reading this, is that the most interesting thing about the accident is that it happened. People must really like a good story because I get asked a lot, are you ok? I don’t really have an interesting response. I’m feeling a lot better than I thought I would. Yes, moving my neck hurts a little bit (by little I do mean it does not bother me at all.)

I do have an appreciation for car safety, and I’m actually less afraid to drive now.

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Game Completed: Skyrim

There’s not a lot of games you can get a Platinum Trophy for in one play-through, and there’s even fewer games that would take me 3 months to play through. Skyrim is one of those games.

The problem is, about a month ago, I started getting really sick of playing Skyrim. My character was powerful, but occasionally I’d come across a challenging enemy, or an enemy that seemed to get a ‘lucky hit’ in on me. I read reviews early on that said I’d eventually find the combat tedious – I balked at these reviews since I was having a blast.

Was. Having a blast.

Eventually the game devolved to that game outside of a game (and yet inside …) – TROPHY HUNTING. Trophies are not real. Trophies are not real. But having a little badge that says I did something, especially once I’ve conceived of a plan for obtaining it, is just me being obsessive-compulsive. On the one hand, 50 trophies per game is a lot (I’ve done it for a few other titles, like Resident Evil 5, and Assassin’s Creed II) – but for Skyrim, 50 trophies doesn’t approach what you can do in this game. I still don’t have all those Stones of Berenzia (sp) or all the Dragon Masks.

But what I do have is a Platinum Trophy. And no desire to jump back in to this game.

There’s some really good parts to this game, but then there’s some really ‘meh’ parts to it as well. A lot of ‘meh’.

I do admire that they put so much in to the game though – but it’s also probably the most buggy game I’ve played on my PS3. It crashed only half a dozen times (which is better than the XBOX version, I hear) and at one point near the end of the game I had to load from an earlier save because the critical person in my quest storyline was dead. Can’t talk to a dead person to advance the story, can you?

Overall, the game did something unique: it suffered from too much content, too many extra storylines – the world is too goddamned big. I used to explore EVERYTHING. That went on for the first month and a half I was playing the game. Big mistake.

Glad I played it? Sure. Would I play it again? Surprisingly, maybe, if only to find more stuff and try out different skills. I won’t be trying it again for a long while …

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Food for Thought #2

Художникикони цениI guess what I was ranting about last time is ‘the power of positive thinking’. But when you hear it like that, it makes it sound like one of those things you discuss in health class, like good body image or self-esteem. It seems like something you leave behind at some point, because things get real.

They do, don’t they?

Or do they? Remember when I asked you to close your eyes and try to capture something about that moment? Our minds tend to take in negative impressions and hold them very dearly. This is likely because our brains are wired to remember negative things easier – at one point in history, remembering a negative fact (like what plants to avoid, or setting oneself on fire) was important to survival. Now that we’re civilized, being happy is a focus, but our brains aren’t very good at storing and recalling a good thought as they are at remembering a bad thought. However, I asked you to capture a moment with your eyes closed. I’m trying to trick you in to capturing a happy thought because your instinct is to close your eyes only when you are safe, and often when you are safe you are among friends or family or doing an activity that you enjoy, which is what I was trying to go after. By capturing that moment, by marking it as a comfortable moment by closing your eyes, you’ll recall it as such.

Sometimes, it’s just good to close your eyes for a minute.

I hope you understand what I mean.

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Food for Thought #1

I’d like to think I live in an imaginary world where the only person who gets shot walking through a bad neighborhood is the person who felt like they might get shot. That somehow, putting that negative thought out to the universe, that negative burst of energy, would somehow attract the wrong sort of attention.

What I’m talking about, of course, are self-fulfilling prophesies. We live in a world of victims, because we plan for being victimized, and in a sense, we encourage it. Ever found yourself, standing in the middle of a train-wreck, saying to yourself, I predicted this? If you already think situation (A) will result in outcome (B), the outcome is a foregone conclusion. The train was wrecked before it left the situation. I think we’re conditioned to see ourselves as victims. Expecting a specific result from a specific action is a rational way of looking at things, isn’t it?

I have a homework assignment for you. Sometime, this weekend, close your eyes and try to ‘capture’ something about that moment. Take that moment for you, and ignore all the outcomes from your ventures. Yes, you’ve got ships out there. Let’s ignore them. Let’s just have a moment where things are not a foregone conclusion. We’ll revisit this in our next session.

Til next time, stop thinking so rationally. Stop being so real. Start being surreal.

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A Well Deserved Weekend

After 12 days of working I finally got a weekend. I got some sun, got to visit with family, got dunked in the water, inhaled the water (got dunked so fast I didn’t get to take a breath, so I was very panicky.) But I made it out ok, just a few scratches and a sad reminder of how out-of-shape I’ve gotten.

Anyways, it’s been a long time and I haven’t posted. Pepper’s doing great, taking a step or two here and there, but she’s not committing to walking because she’s such a speedy crawler.

The boy’s been doing great, he’s had a very busy summer and I think that has helped him enjoy it. He finally has taken swimming lessons (yay!) and I think he liked it a lot.

I had taken up some serious trophy hunting for Red Dead Redemption (a video game set in the early 20th century West) and I’m at an impasse. The boy and I had played through Dead Rising 2 but I think we’ve settled on starting the game over so that we’ll be better prepared for the final boss fights.

All in all, a good weekend. While we were out (sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning) someone got in my car and rifled through the garbage in there, I’m guessing it was kids looking for a spare key so they could take my car for a joyride. Kind of disconcerting, feels like my personal space was violated, but I’m glad nothing was taken. If I had to guess a culprit it would be the next door neighbor’s gangsta friends, which is annoying since there’s no real course of action to take. No cop is going to care since nothing was taken, but it seems like it should be against some kind of law to go in to a person’s car and dump everything out of the glove box and center console.

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Wudan, the Breadmaker

Ok, I made some bread. It’s not terrific or anything, except that it is ROUND. Sukie got this rad bread-making Pyrex dish that makes round loaves. So how did it go?

It cuts nice enough

Yes, you get to look at all the stuff on top of my stove.

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Thanksgiving Post

There was a Twitter-Meme a few weeks ago that got me thinking.

It was basically where you tweet at your 16-year old self. In browsing through these tweets there was a universal theme; that people had regret about the pain they had experiences, but that it would be worth it.

Ok, this is true. I think I’ve mentioned before the merits of a life where you get knocked around a bit. It makes you stronger, but I’m certain that the negative needs to get tempered with positive. Enough to keep you sustained and pressing forward.

Back to the meme. I was a pretty angsty teenager, trying to mete some sensibility from my meager middle-class upbringing. I was, as we all do (in an ironic way), trying to figure out who *I* was. In thinking about this, I came up with the lyric:

When I was young \ I wanted a better world \ Where better words \ Were spoken by better people

This really perfectly describes my worldview as a teenager who believed the whole world needed to bend to my will. The world was messed up, and I just wanted to rule it. This lyric also rang true for me, because I recognize there is a duality to my nature, nature herself has multiple facets, but that is a post for another time.

It also did not ring true, because a world where better people speak better words is not a world where I would be speaking; you and I are imperfect and perfectly so. Time might yet find us upon golden shores and with fancy meals and good company; this is the dream, it is true, but it is not the reality, at least, not right now for me (though the company is top-shelf.) I believe that as each new improvement upon my situation is achieved, new ones will arise to challenge me, and the day when challenges are scarce and foes are fiew might never come, but the journey is the destination.

I am, to this day, just as full of angst, and just as full of a need for self-discovery.

I do not believe in regret, either, because I am committed to enjoying my life, and if there were mistakes that were made, they were mine to make. The imperfection is manifest in the result: if I can live with it, and not let it take me over, I am the victor and the mistake is null.

So what did I tweet to my 16-year old self? “They’ll never find the bodies”

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