One Screwy Year Later

29 01 2010

I’m no blog expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s poor blog management when you “disappear” and pen nothing new in three months, six months, nine months, or (choking gasp) nearly one full year.  I have been charged with the following offenses:  Blog abandonment, neglect of a diary-like webspace, and being a blog-block.  I am here to readily admit to being guilty of these crimes, which are considered felonies in the justice system of the blogosphere.  Unsure of the punishment I deserve, I face you, the jury and give the following defense:

A conglomeration of events occurred, causing my creative energy to be squelched.  Some of you may remember that I was chronicling the mystery swelling that was wrecking my physical health.  (Unfortunately, it is still undiagnosed and is not improved, but I am dealing with it and currently trying some extreme dieting ideas to try to pinpoint the problem myself).  At some point, there simply were no more words to say about it and no good news to report.  I didn’t want the blog to be a wallowing pity party, and it was becoming clear that there was not a solution coming any time soon.  That was event number one.

Around a year ago, my then wife decided that she could not handle my illness any longer and informed me she had filed for a divorce.  There were some signs (big ones, actually), but it was still a shock.  I certainly felt betrayed.  That was event number two, which actually counts as about one million events rolled into one since I was worried about what this would do to my daughter, custody issues, quickly finding a new house, selling ours, figuring out how to afford health insurance, etc.

I’ve certainly thought about my blog since then, but I just didn’t know what to do with it.  I considered deleting it.  I considered moving some of the past entries into a brand new blog.  Most of all, I just couldn’t stomach coming to it.  Until now.  I am ready.  I love my new house.  My daughter is incredibly inspiring (I do have co-custody and have her half the time), and I am a happy person at peace (except for the health issue, of course).  My faith is strongly intact.  I decided to keep the blog the way it was, sans a couple of “couple” pictures and some obvious updates that were needed “about me” in light of the situation.  I could go back and delete any entries where I praised my wife or that sort of thing, but the reality is that whatever I wrote at that time was the truth in my world at that moment so I’m leaving it alone.

So I guess I’m back in case there are two or three people out there who give a crap whether this blog exists or not and are willing to forgive my neglect instead of tossing me in blog solitary confinement.  By the way, this will not be a blog to rip my ex.  She’s a good mother; that’s all that matters to me about her anymore.  We’re on friendly terms.  I’ve chosen for the sake of my daughter and my own peace of mind not to be bitter.  That will be the last said about that by me.

My daughter, nearing kindergarten age, seems to be taking everything in stride.  I am very thankful for this.  She is the light of my being, and I never want to see her hurt.  She is currently obsessed with the idea of me marrying Trish from the television show “Clean House.”  At least she seems to have good taste!  Oh, and my daughter just asked me to be her Valentine.  Life is beautiful.

It’s good to be here and to get reacquainted with you.  Hi, I’m Matt.





A Swell(ing) Journey: Part VIII No Resolution

1 05 2008

I had hoped to be posting a “resolution” by now. Sorry for the delay: 1. I’ve been in a waiting game to see if medication changes would help or even solve the swelling situation. 2. Unfortunately, there is no resolution to post because it’s not better.

Some of the swollen skin is turning more reddish colors than the azaleas that are blooming around here. The local doctor today stated: “This is the most unusual thing I’ve seen. We can’t let it go on like this.” He suggested I head to Nashville and Vanderbilt University to see a specialist. I whole-heartedly agreed. I won’t know for a day or so when that will be. I’m starting to think I need a tour bus. Then again, I don’t think ghastly swollen guys traveling around to see doctors would draw groupies like rock bands do.

In the meantime, Doc took a skin biopsy today, and the results will hopefully come Monday. That may at least give a hint as to what might be going on, and was an interesting little process. It was sort of like when lawn care guys aerate your yard by taking little plugs out of the yard/soil, except this time, it was a small circle of flesh being removed from my leg! It really didn’t hurt much and was quick, but the sucker sure took its sweet time before it stopped bleeding! There is still some hope that it could simply be some sort of weird medication reaction, but he mentioned the possibility of a few scarier things today. No need to speculate or go into those at this point.

On a positive note, he again spent a great deal of time with me and seemed optimistic about the people at Vanderbilt. He said they’ve pretty much seen every odd sort of ailment there is and very well could identify the problem. For those of you out West or East, Vanderbilt is kind of the “Harvard of the Midwest.” Also, he was adamant that he would send all the required documentation to the insurance company that runs my short-term disability policy (they had gotten a bit pickier, shall we say, about extending my benefit a while longer, but his documentation should solve that little stressor.)

Anyway, I wish I had some funny, upbeat, silly things to write regarding this situation. Basically, it’s getting really old, and I’m sure it is for anyone who reads this as well, but I thought it was time to post an update. I truly appreciate your thoughts, prayers, chants, candlelight vigils, voodoo rituals, tarot card readings, potato chips that look like presidents’ heads, and any magical jumping beans that might be able to predict the future. Hmm, I may have jumped the shark there. One thing’s for sure; about half my body has.





A Swell(ing) Journey

20 02 2008

When they stick someone else’s kidney in you so that you can go on living, you get used to seeing doctors and having lab work done, a LOT of lab work. Terms like creatinine, BUN, and urinalysis become common in your language. This is par for the course, and I gladly accept it. I have enjoyed nearly five healthy, fun-filled years since my generous sister readily agreed to let them cut her open and steal a kidney to give to me. (I have other amazing siblings who were willing as well.)

My doctors, nurses and lab technicians have been great. (I give my highest recommendation to the kidney clinic at the University Of Louisville.) I really can’t even complain about my health insurance. There were tense, frustrating times with them, but for the most part the amounts that have been covered have been reasonable. Without health insurance, I’m not sure I’d be alive to see the radiant smiles of my wife and daughter.

One interesting and somewhat annoying aspect of being a transplant recipient (besides the big pile of pills taken morning and night) is that you have to watch your health very closely. If you sneeze funny, you’re supposed to let someone know about it. The risk of kidney rejection never goes away, and the medications’ side effects can adversely affect the rest of your body.

When I recently woke up with some strange swelling in a part of the body that a guy really doesn’t want strange swelling, little did I know that a whirlwind of doctor’s visits, tests, labs and a mystery that Dr. House would appreciate was about to begin. In the past week, I’ve lived a life of health care. (The following is not a complaint, as my care has been excellent. It is more a journal of a strange journey.)

Day 1: I visit my family doctor’s office about the initial swelling. Besides the swelling, I’m feeling fine. They set me up with a specialist in that area, but the next available appointment is more than a week away.

Day 2: The swelling increases, enough that it affects the way I can move. I’m also feeling a littler weaker. I call to see if my appointment with the specialist can be moved up. It does get moved up a couple of days due to a cancellation. However, it’s still about a week away.

Day 3: I just don’t feel right. I still have the swelling. I also have some unexplainable weight gain (more than just a couple pounds). I call the Louisville kidney clinic to let them know what’s going on. They order the standard labs to check kidney function to make sure I’m not going into rejection.

Day 4: I get the kidney results, which are fine. That is great news, but the swelling has spread to most of the lower half of my body. It’s getting difficult to continue working. It’s actually getting difficult to walk more than a few seconds at a time. The specialist appointment is still off in the distance, but I will be seeing my local kidney doctor (a regular check-up appointment) the next day.

Day 5: I see the local kidney doctor. The swelling is bad and all over from my abdomen down. I now have gained over 15 pounds in just a few days. The doctor expresses extreme concern. While this could be a sign of kidney rejection, the recent labs show otherwise. The labs also seem to indicate that it’s not the liver. The doctor orders emergency tests be done right away at the hospital. I go and spend the evening at the hospital and, after drinking a bunch of goop, I have a CT scan, a doppler ultrasound test on both legs, and a chest X-ray. (Think lots of bills coming in the mail; gone are the days of a $250 deductible!) They are checking for blood clots and a couple of other possibilities that would explain the swelling. My local kidney doctor is great and is waiting for the results via his cell phone, even though it’s well into the night at this point. The results come back as normal. The doctor talks to me by phone and admits to being somewhat baffled. A water pill is prescribed to try to give some relief from the swelling. The doctor decides to consult with the Louisville kidney clinic doctors tomorrow morning and also instructs that I get the kidney lab work done again in the a.m since kidney rejection is still a possibility, though this doesn’t seem to exactly fit the situation.

Day 6: I start the water pill and go and have blood drawn again for the kidney check. I also give my urine sample to the lucky lady at the lab who always seems excited to get it. Let’s just say it’s good to be near a bathroom when taking the water pill. I speak to my local doctor in the morning. After the consult with the Louisville doctors (who are also somewhat puzzled), the next course of action is that I get an echocardiogram to check for heart problems. (This wasn’t one of the first tests ordered because my heart sounded fine at the appointment with my doctor and because I wasn’t having any other heart-type symptoms.) The test is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Day 7 (Today): I have the heart test done in the morning (after some frustrating confusion in which the heart place thought I was coming next week. I had to call my doctor’s office, and they straightened this out). Just ten days ago, I was doing a daily cardio workout and looking longingly at my new tennis racquet, counting the days until spring arrived. Now I’m feeling like I have the legs and feet of an 80-year-old, and I’m counting the minutes until the next results come in. I’m praying and staying positive and determined to overcome whatever this thing is. I hope to hear something like: “The problem is ______, and we can fix that with a temporary medication or a simple surgery.” I don’t want to hear, “Your body is rejecting your kidney” or “You need open heart surgery” or “You have ______ disease, and it’s not treatable” or “You have ____, and you need to take a bunch more pills for the rest of your life.”

Regardless of the outcome, three things are certain. I am ever grateful to live in a place where medical advances have allowed me to overcome polycystic diseased kidneys that stopped working. I have an incredible family (some of whom I still hope to be beating at tennis in the coming weeks). I have enjoyed every second of the good things in life since my transplant. It’s kind of funny how much prettier green grassy fields along the highway look when you’re really appreciating being alive.





Ties Suck (Not the Kind You Wear…Well, Those Do Too)

8 01 2008

I really enjoy working with kids sometimes. Today, after a session of chess with a young teen, we were discussing the strategy involved and how it exercises the brain. We talked about how some professional chess players have matches that last a very long time. The kid said, “I think they can last a week!” After I agreed, we talked about the matches sometimes ending in a “tie.” At this point, the kid said, “That would suck. Playing chess for a week and ending in a tie is like working out for a week and finding out you’re getting fatter instead of stronger.” I whole-heartedly agreed. Man, they keep you young.





How Well-Rounded Are You?

6 01 2008

Don’t misunderstand the title. This is not a ploy disguised as a blog to get women to post their measurements (if you feel you must, I guess I won’t stop you. No guy measurements, please, though my wife might enjoy). Instead, this is a survey. How many of the following 40 things have you done? I’d like to see the answers of others, and feel free to copy this survey.

Have you:

1. Been to a play: Yes, many. This is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy professional plays, but I also enjoy seeing a high school play once or twice per year at my wife’s alma mater.

2. Bungee jumped or something similar: Only if climbing up on a garage roof is “something similar.” I’m more of mental thrill seeker than a physical one. Sports is probably the closest I ever got to “danger.”

3. Been a mentor/big brother/big sister: Sort of. I do this in my work, but I don’t think I ever did this on a volunteer basis. It’s an awesome thing, though.

4. Read at least one of the classics (War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, Beowulf, Crime and Punishment, etc): Yes. Off the top of my head: Beowulf, Wuthering Heights, Gulliver’s Travels, and Macbeth.

5. Stood up for someone publicly: Yes. I remember coming to the aid of a kid who was being bullied a couple of times.

6. Been on a major roller coaster: No thank you.

7. Been to a drive-in movie: Yes, quite a few times. This is one of the best things to do on a nice summer night. They are really dying out so if you have one near it, give it some business.

8. Done something at a drive-in movie other than watch the movie: Sadly, I don’t think so. I guess I like movies too much!

9. Done volunteer work: Yes, but I am ashamed to say that I haven’t really done that much. A few things for church and once delivered Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

10. Given at toast a wedding, a eulogy at a funeral, or some similar, meaningful speech: Yes on the toast, and I think a yes on the eulogy. It wasn’t officially the eulogy, but that’s basically what it was.

11. Been to a major sports playoff game: Yes. St. Louis Cardinals game 1 of NLCS against the Mets (in 2000, I believe.) My Cardinals lost that game and the series :( Also some time in the early 90s, I think, I was at the sweet sixteen regional in St. Louis. I believe the teams involved were Kansas, Indiana, California (Jason Kidd), and Louisville.

12. Thrown a costume or theme party: Yes, my wife and I had a blast hosting several couples for a murder mystery party that had a 50s theme. I recommend this!

13. Been on or near the set of a major motion picture: Nope. I missed my chance in the 80s. A good portion of A League of Their Own was filmed where I grew up. Tom Hanks, etc were there for quite awhile. I never got in on being an extra, though.

14. Taken a compliment well: I think so at some point. This is difficult though, isn’t it?

15. Planted a tree: Yes, about a year ago (a river birch).

16. Been stung by a jellyfish or something similar in/near the ocean: Yes. Jellyfish got me several times on vacation last year. There was a major explosion of them where we were!

17. Quit a crappy job: Yes. I’m not the type to do this without some big-time planning and another job lined up, but I did in the 90s when I just could not stand to set foot in the place anymore. I’ll just generally describe it as an advertising sort of place. The morale and environment sucked there. I stayed way too long (several years). At some point later on, I got myself into grad school to try to avoid this same type of situation again.

18. Been on a blind date: Yes. Mine wasn’t great (probably mostly due to my own shyness), but it wasn’t a nightmare or anything like that.

19. Done something kind and unexpected for a stranger: My wife and I left a greeting card saying something like, “Have a great day” on a parked car one time. Hopefully whoever it was got a smile out of it. (Nowadays, it probably just freaked them out and made them look over their shoulder for the next week.)

20. Had a major surgery: Yep, kidney transplant. I plan to blog about this at some point.

21. Taken a car/truck road trip that covered at least 6 states: Yes. As a child my family drove to the Grand Canyon, which covered at least 6 (may have been 7). My wife and I just missed last year (and will again this year) when we were in 5 states on our way to Hilton Head.

22. Been in 4 or more countries: Nope, just the U.S. for me.

23. Spent New Year’s Eve somewhere special: Well, it’s obviously “special” to be anywhere with someone you love on New Year’s Eve. However, to answer what I think is the spirit of this question, I don’t think I ever have.

24. Visited an ancient landmark: If the Grand Canyon counts. I think it does.

25. Been face to face with a celebrity by chance: Yes. In St. Louis in church, we realized were were a few feet away from Steve Garvey. (For those of you under 35 or not at all into sports, he was a very famous L.A. Dodger who was charismatic and appeared on tv shows, etc). He was friendly and nodded, etc on his way out. It was a few hours before a Cardinals/Dodgers game. Come to think of it, we were in a famous, very old church at the time so maybe this sort of applies to the previous question as well.

26. Given to charity in the past two years: I’m sure we don’t give like we should, but, yes to the Humane Society and to a children’s hospital. (Let’s just say it was NOT an amount that would get anything named after us.)

27. Helped a stray animal: Yes! We possibly saved a cute stray dog and ended up finding the grateful owner a day later. Actually, it was the relative of the owner; the owner was gone on vacation, and the little guy had accidentally gotten out. We found him running down a major street.

28. Dated someone you met online: Yes, once. It didn’t end up being THE relationship, but it wasn’t a bad experience overall.

29. Won money on a long shot: I’ve done the horse races a few times, but I don’t think I ever won on a big long shot.

30. Won your office/family/friends NCAA tournament pool: Yes! That was fun.

31. Won an award/medal (even if something “small”): I received recognition for a short story I wrote in college (it was accepted to a national conference), and I won “Best Sports Writing” award at my small college paper once!

32. Driven a foreign sports car: No. The closest to that for me is riding in (not driving) my brother-in-law’s classic Corvette.

33. Been in the front row for a concert: I think I was for Joan Jett when she played at my college.

34. Attended a symphony orchestra performance: Yes. I enjoy that even though it isn’t the type of music you’d generally find in my cd player.

35. Caught a criminal in the act and did something about it (reported it, smacked them in the head, etc): Other than traffic violations, I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like this.

36. Sung solo on a stage: Nope. Just school plays as a kid, but I wasn’t solo (thank goodness!)

37. Witnessed something supernatural: I don’t think so. I have a brother who saw a UFO or something weird like it one time a long time ago.

38. Covered for someone (who deserved it) at work: Yes, a great co-worker (and a hard worker) who needed a little nap one time on a third shift job.

39. Overcome a major fear: Sure. See my last blog about the spider.

40. Mailed a surprise care package to a loved one: Yep, my wife has gotten a candy care package in the mail at work a time or two. She has returned the favor as well.

Anyone else care to post answers? I’m curious!

Regarding question 33:





Face to Face with a Wolf Spider: Not Good

2 01 2008

The following is a true story. I wish it were not, and I am risking my very manhood making it public, but it is true. When we moved into our house, we discovered it to be the shelter for a plethora of spiders. I believe this to be the result of two main factors: 1. It was a relatively new neighborhood and had previously been a field. 2. Our particular house was only about a year old when we bought it and had been vacant for a month or so due to the previous owner having to move for her job.

Many a spider had been enjoying the human-free environment, and when we moved in, it became a daily occurrence to have a standoff with one of the eight-leggers. Let me make this clear: I do not like seeing, hearing about, reading about, or having nightmares about spiders. I realize they do good things for us, such as kill unwanted pests, but I prefer they do that just outside of the house or in the crawlspace. Having said this, the majority of the spiders we came across were small and looked pretty harmless. Yeah, “most” but not “all.”

For those of you who are not aware of the wolf spider, think tarantula but smaller (not THAT much smaller, though). We had the misfortune of finding a couple of these suckers in our house the first couple of months. The story below is about the dark, early morning that we had our closest call with one of these things. (I’ll say this right now. I’m the type of person that does not really like to kill things, even flies, but…sorry PETA…I’m not letting large spiders run around in our house, nor am I likely to be able to stand trapping it and putting it outside).

My wife likes to work out. She does not often miss a day, not even on a holiday, not even when she has to get up in the extreme a.m. during the overtime hours of tax season (she’s an accountant). One dark, early morning, as I no doubt lay snoozing in bed, possibly having a dream that involved a deserted island and that main woman from Lost, I was startled awake by a frantic wife jumping into bed and yelling something about a big hairy spider on the floor of the closet. Upon gaining full comprehension, I learned that it was a wolf spider “the size of Texas” and that it was actually on top of her workout shirt, which was on the floor.

At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “That’s it. We have to move away. NOW.” It soon became clear that my beautiful wife expected me to do something about the spider. Subsequently, it became clear to her that I had no intention of going anywhere near our closet in the next 24 hours or so.

If you are a guy, or you know any guy, you’ll understand how brilliant her next move was. She calmly stated, “I can call my dad to come over and get it.” It took only seconds for the following thoughts to enter my mind: For the rest of my life, I’ll have to hear the story of how my wife had to wake her dad at 5 a.m. to come kill a spider while her husband hid under the covers. This is the dad who works a real man’s job and hunts. I’m the husband who likes to write and works in psychology. (I do play sports…I felt a real need to throw that in here).

At this point, I had no choice. I was going to have to face one of my worst fears. I slowly got up out of bed and peeked into the closet. There it was. It was big; it was gross; it was staring at me in a mocking fashion, it was basically saying, “I’m huge, and you’re a loser.” My pulse quickened, and I began to sweat. I started thinking maybe we SHOULD call her dad. Maybe we could just avoid all extended family functions in the future. No, that wouldn’t work. I knew I had to take care of the situation. With my wife clutching my back and looking over my shoulder, I picked up a shoe. I was suddenly wishing I had much bigger feet, maybe a size 50, but alas, I was stuck with a size 10. I approached the spider about as fast as a turtle approaches a rock. I walked (or was it that my wife pushed me) closer and closer. I was within a couple feet of the thing when my wife felt it prudent to scream, “It’s a wolf spider. They jump!” Adrenaline pumping, we both flew out of the closet. I nearly broke my arm on the doorway, but I didn’t care. I was sure the spider could do much worse things than that to me. Her screaming, and our running also caused the spider to take cover in the deep recesses of the closet. Once we regained the nerve to go back in, we were deeply saddened to learn that we were going to have to search for the spider.

After some tense shoe box moving, we finally found it in a corner. The whole “jumping” thing had thoroughly freaked me out, and I was no longer willing to go at the thing with a shoe. I was now armed with the extension arm of the vacuum cleaner. This way, I only had to get within a couple feet of the monster. I also was happy to avoid hearing any form of crunching sound that may have occurred if I used the shoe method. With a shaky hand, I turned on the vacuum and jabbed the extension arm toward the creature. After we sucked the thing up, (I think my wife screamed again at this point), we actually put the whole vacuum cleaner out in the garage, fearing that the thing might escape somehow. I believe it was out there for three days before I brought it back in.

So far, we have had no further (knock on wood) close encounters of the giant spider kind. I apologize in advance, but below is a picture link of one of these guys on top of someone’s hands, someone who is obviously very mentally ill.

Yuck





My Kid Saw Me Naked

30 12 2007

Isn’t it great when your child is a baby, and you don’t have to hide or close any doors when you take a shower or change clothes? The baby does not care if you have an extra arm, scars, or even whether you are anatomically correct (just for the record, I am). It’s like the Garden of Eden before the apple biting.

I’ve heard that it’s somewhere around age 2-3 that you are supposed to start being more careful around your child in the “nudity” area. I certainly am not one of those that feels the body au naturale is shameful or dirty (unless you’ve taken a mud bath, but that’s a different story). However, trying to be a good parent, I’ve started being conscious of the situation when taking a shower or changing in our walk-in closet.

A few days ago, I was coming out of the shower clad in a towel and making the trek to the walk-in. Down the hallway, I spied our daughter, who is smack dab in the middle of that 2-3 age range, happily playing on the living room floor with books and toys. Surprisingly, she had not found yet another dangerous object that we thought we had placed in an unreachable place. No, she was actually enjoying items appropriate for her age. She seemed not even to notice me. Therefore, I thought I did not need to worry about closing any doors. After grabbing boxers from a drawer, I proceeded into the closet and picked out something to wear (no doubt something stylish, like jeans and a sweatshirt).

As I let the towel drop, ready to don the boxers, I looked up, and there she stood. (If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Ring where the scary girl could transport herself quickly to a new location, well, it was like that). She was looking directly at me. She was looking DIRECTLY at me (we’re not talking eye contact here; we’re talking her eye level, my midsection level – staring with a sort of contemplative look on her face.) Did I quickly pull on the boxers? Did I turn around to give her a somewhat less offensive view? Did I push the door shut? No, I turned into a deer on a midnight, two-lane highway with an SUV speeding toward it and froze in terror.

The ball (no pun intended) was absolutely in her court now, as it usually seems to be. I could see her thinking. At this point, it’s important for you to know that she likes to watch the Disney t.v. show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This is important because they end the show with a silly song that repeatedly uses the words “hot dog.” While my daughter continued to stare at my most private part, she happily burst out into song, singing “hot dog, hot dog” repeatedly. The only thing that would have made it funnier, more embarrassing, worse would have been if she had actually pointed right at me. This, she did not do. At some point, which seemed like a LONG minute to me, she walked back toward the living room, and I was left to finally put on my clothes.

Obviously, I do NOT think she is scarred for life or anything like that. However, I wonder if maybe I am. If that song pops into my head at inopportune times in the future, I’m doomed. I’m going to do my best to keep the hot dog, buns, and beans covered around her in the future.

(Yeah, I went with a humongous large hot dog pic.)





What if Your Church Was Like High School?

25 12 2007

Remember getting your high school yearbook? We received our church directory recently, and, while it was fun to thumb through, it did not have the same impact as the day yearbooks got passed out senior year. Now that we have the church directory, what do we do with it? I think it would be interesting to handle it in a similar fashion as a yearbook.

We could go around before and after church, asking others to sign it. Now that I think of it, I just don’t know if it would be the same. What would people write? “I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other. Stay Sweet! Stay Christian!” How about, “You always make me laugh during sermons! Man, that preacher is boooooring sometimes. Good luck in the afterlife. LYLAB” I don’t think us guys would get the kind of comments from fellow churchgoers that we used to get from male high school buddies. I just can’t see someone at church writing, “You’re OK except for being such a douche. Your friend, (insert name here),” or the ever popular, “Hey nutbag, how about I beat your face in? Sincerely, (name).”

Also, would there be the same pressure in getting certain signatures at church? In high school (at least for guys), there was a sort of unwritten competition regarding whom you could get to sign your yearbook. We all tried to get the really pretty girls, of course. It was sort of like you got 2 points for every cheerleader…3 points for a homecoming queen…4 points for signage from any girl who had “blossomed” early in the chest department, etc. Bonus points if they signed it “Love, (name)” or drew a heart, especially if done in pink or red or purple ink. Bonus points if it said, “I really want to get to know you better.” On the other hand, you would lose points if they wrote anything remotely like, “Thanks for writing that history paper for me” or worse yet, “You didn’t go to this school all four years, did you?” (especially if you had).

I’m thinking the bonus points in the church directory would come from signatures from the attractive, well-off, BMW-driving couples who go on ski weekends. Bonus points if they write, “We should get together some time.” Points would be lost if they simply signed their names, and illegibly at that. I wonder if a church directory filled with signatures, witty comments, social invitations, and even pink hearts could possibly do some good if, on judgment day, one was considered “borderline.” Is it feasible that St. Peter could browse the directory and be swayed by something like, “Matt, you seem like a really nice guy. It’s been great having you at our church. LYLAS” (meaning: Love Ya Like a Saint)? Could this make up for a certain number of episodes of having lust in one’s heart, for example? It’s all so confusing, but not nearly as confusing as being in high school. That could be punishment enough in the afterlife…sentenced to eternity in HHS (Hell High School) repeatedly taking classes like “Advanced Impossible Calculus” with a guy named Mr. Brimstoner. Plus, I don’t even want to think about the cafeteria food at HHS. I’m guessing everything would be overcooked.





The Life and Death of My Father, a WWII Veteran and a Great Dad

24 12 2007

There are relatively few of the noble people who fought the Nazis left in this world. This past year, my father died, and he was one of them. I am lucky that I have never been in the position to make the sacrifices he and so many others made. This is my first Christmas with no parents here on earth (my mother died a few years ago). I miss them both. I decided to post something I wrote the night before my father died along with a wedding picture of my parents.

August 30, 2007

A Man, My Father

As I contemplate the impending passing of my dad, many thoughts pass through my mind. He was a man who loved God, loved his wife, loved his children, and loved golf (not necessarily in that order).

Born on May 13, 1924, many of Dad’s formative years were spent during the great depression. Consequently, he was a man wise with money and willing to find many ways to make an income. He caddied, worked as a delivery man, owned restaurants with my mother, and eventually retired from Prudential, where he worked the insurance game.

He was also known to occasionally take money from the poor saps who made wagers against him on the golf course. Dad was not averse to following the ponies or checking on an over/under on a college basketball game. I took special pride in being the only 2nd grader at my elementary school who had a working knowledge of point spreads, pools, and daily doubles.

Despite this vice, as some would call it, my dad was a consummately moral man. He was serious about teaching right and wrong to his children, and he passed on the importance of being a good, God-fearing person. My rear end was going to be in church every Sunday; that was NOT something that was up for debate.

I admired my Dad more than he ever knew for his religious conviction. I remember when I was a child, and he could no longer kneel in church due to the growing severity of his arthritis. I always worried that people in the surrounding pews would mistakenly think Dad was just being lazy or lacked devotion. Now I am sure no one at that church ever thought that about him.

Dad was blessed with a keen wit. I will never forget, many years ago when Dad answered what was obviously a call from a telemarketer. The caller was trying to convince Dad that a “special deal” could be had if Dad could correctly answer a trivia question. The caller then asked Dad if he could name the “Bluegrass State.” Dad quickly answered “Utah.” After the surprised telemarketer hemmed and hawed a bit, he asked Dad if Dad wanted another guess. Dad dryly stated, “No, that wouldn’t be fair” and hung up.

One of the most incredible parts of Dad’s life was his service to the country he loved whole-heartedly during World War II. Dad saw friends demolished by bombs and even experienced a shell land in his foxhole. Luckily for us all, it was a dud. Dad was held prisoner of war by the Nazis and survived interrogation from a German commandant despite not telling him what he wanted to know. Tom Brokaw said of the men and women from this time, “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” I concede that I am a little biased, but I would tend to agree.

Nearly forgotten memories are returning to me like a flash flood: Dad working in his garden – Dad poring over a racing form at the local horse race track – Dad making his famous chili – Dad watching MASH or Barney Miller on TV and laughing that contagious laugh of his – Dad making the day of his grandchildren as they raced around the house while Dad called out the race-horse nicknames he had given each one of them (“Little Scratch” was one) – Dad giving me heck about the brown spot in the back yard where my wiffleball home plate and batter’s box were located – Dad requesting my assistance with resetting the clock on the VCR (I felt important back then as I was the only thing standing between my parents and a migraine-inducing digital clock blinking 12:00 for infinity).

Easily the most lasting memory I will have of this man will be a simple, yet magical one. He was a true father, and nothing was ever going to change that. He will be missed greatly, but I know that he has a nearing tee time on the most beautiful golf course he has ever seen, and he will be playing pain free for the first time in decades. Enjoy it, Dad.





2008 New Year’s Survey: Avoid Ex-Girlfriends and Broken Cell Phones

22 12 2007

It’s time for an original New Year’s survey for 2008 that My wife and I had fun creating. (Feel free to use if you so desire). Happy New Year!

1. How many times will you break and/or lose your cell phone in 2008? Between my work and personal cell, I’m going to say 1 time. I’m TRYING to be careful with them.

2. If for one year (2008) you could choose to be any age, what age would you be and why? I’ll go with 23. Old enough to have some knowledge gained, but young enough to still have some “stupid” fun as well. (p.s. I still want my wife with me even though I hadn’t met her yet.)

3. In past years, what New Year’s resolution did you break the fastest? Probably trying to quit drinking soft drinks. I used to be the king of Mountain Dew (and Ski, a local drink). Now it’s caffeine free, Diet Mt. Dew.

4. Who do you NOT want to see in 2008? A couple of particular ex-girlfriends. Probably wouldn’t be pleasant. I’d rather not see any “news” about Rosie O’Donnell, either.

5. On New Year’s Eve, do you:

a) Fall asleep at 9:00 p.m. (like you do any other night.)

b) Barely make it to midnight with your significant other/family.

c) Hit the town like a party animal until at least 1:00 a.m.

I’m a b. sort of guy the past few years. I look forward to banging some pots and pans at midnight with my daughter when she’s old enough (a few years to go).

6. What word or phrase will you hear your significant other or best friend say most often in 2008? My Wife: It’s going to be great to have another baby!”

7. What 2008 movie or book are you most looking forward to? Well, it’s definitely NOT the new Rambo. However, I’ll go with Harrison Ford in the new Indiana Jones movie. Haven’t heard a bunch about it yet, but I’m optimistic at this point. I’m also a big Agent Pendergast fan in the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child books, but I do not know of one to be published in ’08.

8. Are you more likely to get fired from a job or get a big promotion in 2008? Big promotion. (Unless I get fired for focusing too much on my blogs! Just kidding, this is strictly a night/weekend thing for me)

9. What new thing would you mix with chocolate in 2008? A kiss from my wife after she’s just had hot cocoa.

10. What celebrity headline do you foresee in 2008? I predict Anne Heche will be romantically linked in tabloids to both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney within a one-week period (just before the season finale of Men in Trees). Like Brangelina, I can already see magazines nicknaming the couples Cliche and Miche.

11. How many people will you romantically kiss in 2008? The perfect number: 1








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.