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Work has been very interesting lately. And when I say interesting, I really mean a great deal of time is spent cranking through the increasingly overwhelming volume of work. I currently have 30 projects assigned, and am dealing with many things outside of projects as well. To top it off, August is my month to cover for the the team for many different topics – collecting and reporting the weekly metrics, attending the weekly Monday morning meeting to discuss those metrics, and both preparing for and attending the project “triage” meetings. I’m simply not sure how I can get this done.

To add icing to the cake, life at home has been somewhat challenging as well. Because of the number of hours I’m working, I come home stressed every single day. Knowing I have more than I can possibly accomplish at work means that I’m really thinking about work almost 24×7. Sue has been managing everything around the house – all cleaning, cooking, and kid duty. She has been doing a fantastic job as what has basically turned into being a single Mom. Sure, I’m there occasionally and do mow the law on weekends, but she’s really the captain of the household ship. I don’t give her nearly enough credit for all that she does.

To help keep my sanity, I continue to run and train for the two fall half marathons. Perhaps this is the one area that I am doing okay. The running actually does clear my head (even though it hurts the body), and has allowed me to continue my 5 – 6 hours of sleep most days. The problem is that I need to be up at 4:15 many mornings to get in my run and get to my desk by 7:15 – 7:30. So, when I stop at night, I drop. If I sit in front of the TV for a few minutes, I am asleep in minutes. I have to get my work clothes out for the next day, so I have things to do. While I know that the running / training takes a good amount of time, I understand that this is the only real way to keep my brain from just exploding.

Is it September yet?

thought for the day

Mushrooms are members of the mycelium family, at least that’s what I say to sound smart.

I heard a TED speaker (Paul Stamets) speak about mycelium (fungi) and how they are being studied for ways to help the environment. If you don’t subscribe to the TEDtalks podcast in iTunes, you are doing yourself a disservice. While a few of the talks are really “out there,” most have a good speaker talking about something (event, person, happening) that is evoking change in the world. The premise behind TED is to evoke thought, and this talk certainly did! Here is a link to the talk:

Jake has completed his required observed belay sessions, so is ready to take his final belay test at the local indoor climbing gym. He has really enjoyed the challenge, as he does with most outdoor activities. I will try to see if there is an outdoor club that he can join, on his own to continue the climbing. He’s very athletic, and enjoys all of the time spent recreating outdoors.

After spending more than a month over the past two years outside, he’s anxious to spend more time outside. I do believe that he needs someone to push him to continue to stretch his climbing, camping, and hiking. While you believe that your children can do whatever they want when they grow up, I can firmly believe that Jake will be happiest outside. He is not driven by money, so being a park ranger is certainly not out of the question – even if not directly after college (or high school). At least I know he’ll have a job to fall back on if he wants!

jake pic, originally uploaded by sealexander2010.

Here is my son’s metropolitan police call box rocket – before having a pseudo successful flight. There was a bit of damage after yesterday’s flight due to a shock cord that burned through (so the parachute and top landed safely but the bottom didn’t). With some loving care, it will fly again! You can graciously ignore my thumb in the bottom right – I’m still not used to my phone’s camera capabilities!

Get your tissues out:

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It is actually still the Christmas season, since yesterday was only the start of the 12 days of Christmas. In standard form, we put up our tree just a few days before Christmas, and Sue decorated it Christmas Eve (during the day). Sue’s Mom was here to visit, and left on the 26th. Having her here created the only stress of the holiday.

Connie has always been a highly opinionated person, never afraid to speak what is on her mind. This visit was no exception. While most of the visit was nice, she had some blood sugar issues, mixed with some bull-headed behavior. When her blood sugar dropped quite a bit (the first time), she and Sue got into the first real argument in years. It was not until later that Sue realized that she was talking to a sugar-deprived person, who is very much like a drunk in action. Irrational in thought, with slurred speech to boot. A discussion with my sister later in the day gave Sue better ammunition for fighting the physical side of low blood sugar for the rest of the trip.

In any case, I was very proud of my wife for standing up to her mother. The fact that Sue is approaching 50 means that she doesn’t have to put up with anyone telling her that she is a bad mother or that she has made bad choices. The fact that we’ve been together for 20+ years and that we have two wonderful children (who, granted, have their own problems), is proof enough that she has led a wonderfully fulfilling life, at least thus far. Having her own mother see her as a failure is not something that I will ever put up with. I’ll simply separate her from that irritant to the degree possible. Sue is more wonderful than her mother will ever know – which, ironically, means that kudos need to go to her mother for allowing the base of her child to be so strong.

Cindy was a friend of a friend, with an introduction coming sometime after I took a long drive. I remember that because I went to our mutual friend’s house and remember thinking that this was one of the furthest trips I had taken with just friends – no parents involved. The friend and I knew each other well, but later grew apart. Cindy and I were instant friends & more – the attraction was very quick to develop since the trip was short. We started to call and write each other as this was in the day before email, IM, and Skype. We only saw each other a few times each year, but I spent many hours thinking about her. Okay, so why the discussion about Cindy? Well, it’s Trish’s fault…

There is a song by Trish Yearwood called The Song Remembers When. It is so accurate with my memories of Cindy.

There are a couple of songs by Fleetwood Mac that bring back instant memories of her and our time together. She and I sitting and holding each other on her basement couch, doing thing that adolescents do, getting closer by the hour. I am sitting here smiling as I write this, thinking nothing but pleasant thoughts about those times.

Cindy is an only child – at least from what I remember. Her dad was a mailman – and actually treated me with respect. He knew that Cindy was happy with me, and that was really all that he cared about. I don’t remember her mom much, but knew that it was a loving home. Many years later, I ran into someone from that small town who knew her Dad – and they related the warm kindness that I always felt in their home.

I don’t recall why we broke up, but have no bad memories from that time. I believe that it was a logistical issue – we lived an hour apart and really had to work hard to get to see each other. Oh yes, we were young, car-less and poor. It’s the sucky part about growing up.

We lost touch.

Times changed and the Internet was created by Al Gore and people-search engines were created. Cindy was located.

We’ve chatted via email a few times since then, always leaving me with a smile. I heard that she was divorced from an awful man, and is now married to a wonderful one. How someone could treat this woman poorly just amazes me. When asked if she remembered me, she said, “Yes, you’re the one that got away.”

I hope you’re happy now – God knows you deserve it!

For some reason, I couldn’t sleep past about 3:30 this morning. I had a great deal of thought running around in my head, so decided to listen to music. I was listening to many different bands, from several different genres. Yes, Genesis, 3 Doors Down, and so on. I have quite the eclectic collection on my iPod shuffle. As several of the artists came on, I was reminded of many of my former friends. I say former only because I have lost touch with them. A blanket of emotions overcame me in thinking about these friends and how they each touched me. None of these take away from my life today. For the most part, I love my life today. However, that life that I love is in part to the history that brought me to today.

Marybeth, Martie, Cindy, and a few others seem to have made the deepest impressions in the tracks of my brain. The tracks of my brain – the wondering of my mind…

We met when working together in a restaurant; I was a manager and she, a waitress. I was struggling as a manager, as it was certainly not my life calling. It was allowing me to get around the money needed to head back to school so I could get on with my life. I was working many hours each week, working my tail off each day – enough that I didn’t have much life outside of work. Marybeth (MB) came to my restaurant when I made the “confession” that I was dating another head waitress – completely against the rules. The other waitress moved to another store in our chain so I could continue my “career” untarnished. Marybeth was a head waitress at the other location and agreed to come to our store as a “trade” so that she could get more experience in a busier location. From early on, she and I got along very well. She and I started joking around from the first day, although our shifts didn’t often match. She was the head waitress for the 3 – 11 shift, and I managed mostly the night (11 – 7 AM) shift. This, of course, meant that she was still there when I came on site. We got to know each other much better when my management skills improved and I started working second shift with her. We were quite the team. She was a very strong waitress who could always make me laugh. She had such a warm personality and a killer smile. I was falling for her in ways that I wouldn’t know for quite a while.

With the exception of spurts of business during the weekday breakfast shift, these were the busiest and the most profitable shifts for the restaurant. Sundays were particular busy and on the rare occasion that I was managing and she was head waitress, we carried off the shifts with near perfection. While I don’t remember all of the details, I do know that we had that “wow, what a day” feeling at the end of it all. Success at a full shift was rare, but always with the two of us together. Later in life, those days helped me remember that adversity can be overcome, if only in short bursts.