Monthly Archives: January 2011

S.A.D.

I love winter.  I love a fresh coating of snow.  I love ice skating on the lake near us and sledding with the kids.  I love firing up our wood stove and sitting near it on cold wintry nights.  Yeah, I love winter… for the first couple months.  I start hating winter right about now, at the end of January, early February, when I know there’s still two to three months to go.  In our part of Michigan, probably all of Michigan, this time of year, it’s horribly gloomy all the time.  It snows a little bit (or a lot) almost every single day, the sun is rarely shining, everything is gray and depressing.  It seems like during the last week or so, every day there has been this mix of snow and freezing rain that covers all the cars in a thick layer of ice that has to be scraped off the windows.  Driving around is treacherous. It’s always cold.  Ugh!

Supposedly there’s a disorder that people, primarily in Northern Climates, can get called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  It’s depression caused basically by being in a gray, depressing, shitty, sunless place for months on end.  I never really believed that this was a real problem for people.  In fact, it sounds like a crock of shit to me, but I looked it up in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association) and apparently it is a documented condition.  The DSM-IV reports the Clinical Features as:

Characteristic symptoms of SAD are those of depression, which include dysphoria, feeling low, decreased in energy and activity, increased irritability, concentration difficulties, anxiety, decreased libido and social withdrawal. Unlike classically depressed patients, most SAD patients develop ‘atypical’ symptoms of increased fatigue, increased sleep duration and increased appetite and weight. Not only do SAD patients crave carbohydrates, but also they actually report eating more carbohydrate-rich foods in the winter.

Wow, that’s some serious shit… and just from the weather?  I don’t know…I might have some of those symptoms but I still question whether it isn’t just some crazy-concocted disease for people to use as an excuse to sit on their ass all winter.  I mean sure, sometimes I feel a little down when it’s cold and gloomy and gray outside, but the way I figure it I’ll just write my way through it!

 So, let me tell you about my day today.

When I got up for work this morning I was Sick As a Dog.  I probably should have just stayed home, but I felt obligated to get up and go to work.  I got out of bed, Showered And Did my usual morning routine, Swallowed A Dose of cold medicine before leaving and then got on the road.  I Saw A few Deer on the way to work which cheered me up a bit.  The drive was Slow And Dangerous.  With all the Snow And Drizzly rain, the roads were icy but I made it on time.  I don’t think I am sick enough to go See A Doctor, but all I really want to do today is Sleep And Drink tea.  My throat is Scratchy And Dry and my body is achy.  If I could only just go somewhere where there is Sand And Drinks and where it’s Sunny And Dry.  That sounds so Satisfying And Delightful.  But instead I am here Slaving Away Diligently at work, Sitting At my Desk and dealing with Stupid, Arrogant, Dumbass customers.  Boy, I guess I am feeling kind of Solemn And Down today.  Maybe this whole Seasonal Affective Disorder is real.  Maybe when the Sun Ain’t Doing its job, people really do get Sad And Depressed. I Sure As hell Don’t know.  I’m just looking forward to this Shitty Ass Day ending.  I can’t wait to get home and see my wife.  She’s so Sexy And Dreamy, that should cheer me up.  If I do have it, I just hope this Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t start to affect my writing.  I’m just starting to feel so Successful At Delivering great blog posts.  And when you can’t do that anymore, well that sure Sucks Ass, Doesn’t it?

Nah, I still don’t believe it… Seasonal Affective Disorder… there’s no way I have that Silly Absurd Disease.

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Do you know where you’re going?

“Once you know where you’re going, it’s a lot easier to get there.”

That was a post by one of my Facebook friends this morning.  I like that… I even clicked the little “Like” button to tell the world that I like it, which I don’t often do.  When I read that statement it really hit me hard, like a slap in the face. It made me realize I am going somewhere.  I am on some kind of a journey, a quest in search of something that at this point I can only sense is out there, but not yet see or hear or touch or know.  I just haven’t figured out yet where I am going… how profound is that?

I’m not talking about a physical journey or about traveling somewhere. I’m not talking about packing our stuff up and moving my family to a new destination. I’m not a person who thinks, if I could only just live in Florida where it’s warm, or Paris where it’s romantic, or Alaska where it’s wild… or wherever… then everything would be perfect.  No, I am happy where I live, I enjoy the community we’ve chosen, I feel like I have found a place that my wife and I can raise happy, well-adjusted kids and live a peaceful, meaningful life together.  It’s not a place that is always warm or romantic or wild, it’s just a place, but it’s one that for now I am happy to call my home.

Instead I find myself on, for lack of a better word, a kind of spiritual journey. I don’t mean that in a religious sense.  In fact, I’ve never been a religious person.  I’m not sure I even mean that in a philosophical sense.  Just in a sense of finding myself, figuring out what makes me tick, what makes me

Which path are you following?

happy on a day-to-day basis, whether that be through work or play or lifestyle or even through writing this blog. I would guess a lot of people are on or have been on a similar journey and that many have just decided to put finding the conclusions on the back-burner, to bury it all somewhere into their sub-conscious, to hide it from the “viewing public”.  On the other hand, I know there are a lot of people who find it easy, that discovery of what drives them.  For some it’s as simple as having a few favorite TV shows, or rooting for a favorite sports team.  For others it’s doing things that give back to the community. For many it’s strictly based on earning money. There is nothing right or wrong about any of those motivations and maybe, ultimately I will focus in on something similar. But right now, it’s not clear to me. I know it’s out there, but I haven’t figured out yet where I am going.

My wife and I watched a movie last night called The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid.  I liked that, to be able to watch a movie together. We weren’t snuggled on the couch… well, actually I was, but she was sitting at the table doing some work on her laptop. But we were together and the kids were in bed and that’s a rare moment these days. Anyhow, if you’re not familiar with the film, Google it, or watch it even. Just know that it was a pretty good movie about a guy reliving his dream of playing in the major leagues and although it was based on a true story, it was also Hollywood at its best… a feel good story, a follow your dreams story, a happy ending story.  Was it realistic?  Well… it did happen… but no, in reality, the odds of a dream like that coming to fruition are slim to none.  Did it add fuel to the fire that is driving my journey?  Yes, I think it did. Lots of things do these days, movies, songs, people that cross my path during the day.  When you are unsettled, you look at every detail differently and the seemingly un-important events that fill your days suddenly become more meaningful and significant.  Those are the clues that give people the courage to make crucial life changes and to move forward into those places where they believe they are meant to be.

There is a moment in the film where the lead character’s father says to him, “its okay to think about what you want to do… until it’s time to start doing what you were meant to do.”  That’s an important distinction and something we should all think about.  Seriously, think about that!  Now THAT is profound, and from a Hollywood movie, no less!  Imagine truly and honestly believing you were MEANT to be doing something, whether it be a career or a volunteer activity or a hobby.  I do know there is a whole list of things that I could say I think I might WANT to be doing, most of them silly and impractical or involving laying on the beach with a margarita in my hand.  So, I guess what I need to be trying to figure out is “what was I meant to be doing?”  That’s a terribly difficult challenge for most of us to figure out, and if someone asked me that question right this minute I wouldn’t have a clue how to answer.  In fact, I’m not sure I have ever known, or even thought I have ever known, the answer to that question.  Is there realistically even an answer to that question? I don’t know, but apparently it is one of the crossroads on this journey that I am on.  If I could just figure out where I am going, it would sure be a lot easier to get there!

How about you?  Are you doing what you were MEANT to be doing?  Do you know what you were MEANT to be doing? Do you know where you are going?

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Dear Deer

Dear Deer,

Hello, you’ve probably seen me around the neighborhood but you don’t know me personally so I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Steve and my family and I live in the house on Brown Road.  You live around me and I see you and your deer friend’s everyday around the area.  Sometimes I see dozens of you, hundreds even, standing gracefully in the farm fields around us, just eating, and sticking your little white-tailed deer butts perkily into the air.  Sometimes I see you in my yard, especially in the summertime when you and your deer friends like to come and eat the apples out of our apples trees. I enjoy watching you rear-up on your hind legs to reach those apples that are on the upper branches.  You are very beautiful, Deer, and I still remember the first time my wife and I drove down to look at our house, coming around a curve in the road, to find you and a deer friend standing in the road staring at us.  It was a very peaceful and idyllic scene and we knew at that time that we wanted to live in this place we now call our home. I will always remember the time, just recently, that I navigated a turn in the road to come face to face with a huge deer friend of yours, an elusive buck with a large set of full-grown antlers, worthy of royalty, standing face to face with me and blocking the road.  As I pulled out my blackberry to try to snap a photo, he ran into the woods.  I will especially never forget your young deer friend that used to come right up onto our property and play with our dog Clio.  They would jump around and frolic together right in our gravel driveway.  I suspect that deer friend of yours, being a little too comfortable around people and probably not on the top of Darwin’s survival list, may have been sacrificed during this latest hunting season.  Sad… we enjoyed her company.

Even though living in unity with you, Deer, can be very peaceful and rewarding, sometimes it can also be very challenging.  Even so, Deer, we still appreciate you choosing to reside near us.  I have learned not to get angry when I get stuck driving 5 mph behind the cars full of little old ladies and they’re white-haired husbands who are puttering around and staring at you, as if you are some kind of rare creature on an African Safari.  I remember when we used to plant a garden and how you would, under cover of night, eat and destroy all of the vegetables that we had worked so hard to cultivate and although it made us frustrated we were happy we were helping to feed you.  I was told by someone that I should urinate around the garden and that the smell would keep you away, but I thought that was weird and I didn’t want the neighbors to call the police so I decided not to do that.  I distinctly remember the winter, about ten years ago that was so frigidly cold, with so many days of temperatures dipping below zero degrees, and months of heavily snow-covered ground, that you and your deer friends came up all the way to our house and stripped our shrubbery completely clean of every single green needle.  Although that made us angry also, we knew, Deer, that you were hungry and that all of the food sources you usually ate from were covered and frozen.  So we were happy to sacrifice our shrubs for you.  We never liked those shrubs much anyhow.  And I will always remember the first time I heard you snorting at me on a pitch black night as I was traversing the yard.  I couldn’t see you, I could only hear the loud snorting noises you were making, and although it literally almost scared the crap out of me, I understood that you were a gentle creature and we’re only trying to stake out your territory and frighten me away.

I have also come to understand, Deer, that you don’t come from the brightest lot and I have learned to work around that shortfall of yours.  I remember the day, many years ago, that one of your deer friends jumped out into the road as I was driving briskly by and hit the back-end of my truck.  I think that deer friend was okay that day because she just brushed up against the area where my tail-lights are and only left a small trace of deer hair sticking out from the corner of my bumper.  It made me realize, at that point, that maybe you and your deer friends are not that smart and that, as responsible neighbors, maybe we should be more concerned about your safety.  Then just a few years later, one of your younger deer friends literally jumped right in front of my truck.  I remember hitting the poor fellow head on and his little body just flying right up in the air and over onto the side of the road.  I stopped to try to find him, but it was dark and I wasn’t able to locate his body.  Even recently, one evening last week I had to slam my brakes and swerve, on icy roads, to avoid smashing head on into one of your large deer friends.  She, like the others, just leaped right out in front of my truck as I was driving.  In fact, Deer, that happens so frequently now that it really has just become part of my daily routine and I have adjusted to those circumstances and it has improved my driving skills. Sometimes though, Deer, I wonder if I should just keep driving straight ahead and hit your deer friends, so as to not risk myself careening off the road and crashing into a tree.  But I am an animal lover and my instinct just reacts in a way that risks my life instead of yours.  I hope you appreciate that concern that I have for you.

So, Deer, now that we have gotten the introductions and formalities out-of-the-way, I hope we can continue to live peacefully together.  Although I approve of hunting to help thin down the number of your deer friends that are all too frequently leaping in front of my truck, I personally am not a hunter.  Therefore, you don’t need to be concerned about me chasing you around the woods with a shotgun during those frightening two weeks of firearms hunting season in November.  In fact, during those days I prefer to stay in close proximity to my own home so as not to get shot myself.  I reckon that is something we have in common, not wanting to be shot by a guy in an orange camo jumpsuit.  With that in mind, Deer, maybe in return for me not trying to hunt you, you could try a little harder not to run in front of my truck.  I know that sometimes I may drive a little too fast, but I believe if you could just hang tight on the side of the road for just a few extra seconds and let me pass, that we would both be better off in the long run.  If we could agree on that, Deer, I’d also be okay with you continuing to eat my apples and other things around the property, assuming there is anything left once that goats get to it all.

Thank you, Deer, for your continued partnership in living a peaceful, country life.  I look forward to many more years of our mutually beneficial relationship.

Regards,

Steve

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BOOBS

Ring, ring

WP: Hello, WordPress technical support, this is Julie, how can I help you today?

ME: Thank you for taking my call, I am terribly concerned, I think I might be developing BOOBS.

Click

Ring, ring

WP: Hello, WordPress technical support, this is Julie, how can I help you today?

ME: Hi, I just called a second ago, I think we got disconnected.

WP: Okay sir, how can I help you today?

ME: I think I’m developing BOOBS.

WP: This isn’t funny sir… is there something I can help you with?

ME: Have you seen my blog, Brown Road Chronicles?

WP: I am sorry sir, no I haven’t. WordPress has over 300,000 blogs, I can’t read all of them.

ME: It’s a great blog… about country living and other funny stuff.

WP: I am sure it is… Is there something I can assist you with today… besides your BOOBS?

ME: I think my blog is broken.

WP: You think your blog is broken?

ME: Yes, it doesn’t appear to be working properly… and I think I am developing BOOBS.

WP: Sir, please stop that or I will hang up! Can you give me some details about what doesn’t seem to be working properly.

ME: Well, it’s not tracking visitors like it should be.

WP: You mean on your stats page?

ME: Yes, yes, exactly, on the stats page. It’s not tracking visitors correctly.

WP: What makes you think it is not tracking visitors correctly?

ME: Well, I’ve checked my stats page 846 times today and it’s only showing 11 hits. I’ve been getting 60-90 hits per day.

WP: Well sir, some days are better than others, maybe it’s just a slow day.

ME: No, it can’t be a slow day, I wrote a story about Macaroni and Cheese yesterday. It was funny and I thought it would generate lots of hits today.

WP: Well sir, some days your subscribers just get busy and they don’t have the time that day to visit and read your blog… and maybe it just wasn’t as funny as you thought.

ME: No, no that’s not it… my subscribers all visited, I don’t have very many of those but it looks like they’ve all been hanging around because they’ve left comments. But I’m not getting all those extra hits that I usually get. You know, from the people that don’t leave comments.

WP: Well, sir, have you written anything new today?

ME: Can you excuse me just a second, the light on my phone is blinking. I may have some comments to read.

WP: Uh… okay?

A few minutes later

ME: Hi, I am back, sorry it was just some spam about one of those… you know… male enhancement medicines. Have you read my post about Cialis?

WP: No, I haven’t.  Now where… where were we? Oh yes, have you written anything new today?

ME: No, not yet.

WP: Well, maybe you need to write something new and post it today. One of the five ways of increasing blog readership is to write and post valuable content frequently.

ME: But I don’t have anything interesting or valuable to write today. I’ve only been at this for a month and I’m already running out of good ideas.

WP: Okay, well that happens sometimes. Have you read anyone else’s blog and left comments on their pages.

ME: No, I haven’t had time to do that today. I’ve been too busy checking my stats page.

WP: Well, maybe you just need to take a few days off and not write anything and don’t worry about your stats. I think it’s tracking properly though, I think today’s just a slow day and I am sorry that you’ve only had 11 visitors.

ME: No, I think it must be broken. My stories are really good!

WP: Yes, I am sure they are. Most bloggers think their stories are really good. Most bloggers have this delusion that they are going to be famous authors someday, when in reality the majority will just disappear eventually. I am sorry that you only have 11 hits today but I am confident that your site is not broken.

ME: But I’ve been getting 60-90 hits a day, I even got 95 one day when I wrote about my guitar and I got 91 one day when I wrote about getting Freshly Pressed.

WP: Yes, I understand, sir, but I still don’t think anything is wrong with your site.

ME: Well… can you log onto the site and see if anything looks out of place.

WP: Sir… I am sure nothing is out of place but I will take a look.

5 minutes later

WP: Hello, are you still there?

ME: Yes, I am still here. I checked my stats page 27 times while you had me on hold and I still only have 11 visitors. And I think I might be developing BOOBS.

WP: Sir, I don’t know what you are talking about with your BOOBS. But I checked the site and nothing was amiss. But I am concerned that you might be developing OBD.

ME: OBD, what is that?

WP: OBD is Obsessive Blogging Disorder. It is characterized by excessive-compulsive blogging activities like writing articles when you don’t have anything interesting to write about and constantly checking your blog stats to see how many people visited your site.

ME: Oh my, that sounds frightening, do you think I am checking it too often? I just looked at it 12 times while you were talking. Do you think I have, uh, what did you call it OBD?

WP: Yes, it sounds like you may have the onset of OBD.

ME: You think I have the onset of OBD? I think I am developing BOOBS. What can I do about this?

WP: Sir, this is not funny, stop talking about your BOOBS.

ME: Oh, sorry… I am not talking about MY boobs. BOOBS is just an acronym I made up for Badly Obsessing Over Blog Statistics. I think I am developing BOOBS.

WP: You are not developing BOOBS sir, but you are at high risk for OBD.

ME: Is there something I can do about it?

WP: Well, at present there doesn’t seem to be any cure. We recommend you just keep blogging. In fact, here at WordPress, we’ve instituted a post-a-day competition to try to help people work through the OBD condition.

ME: Oh, well maybe I could do that.

WP: But sir, you just told me you didn’t have anything interesting to write about today.

ME: Well I don’t really.

WP: So how are you going to post something today?

ME: Well, I don’t know… maybe I could post something about Obsessive Blogging Disorder or about me developing BOOBS.

WP: Sir, seriously! Stop it with the BOOBS! I think that it would be a good idea for you to start writing something. If you start typing it might help you be less concerned about your stats. Is there anything else I can help you with?

ME: No, thank you so much! You have been a big help… but now I need to get started writing.  Have a good day.

WP: You too and thank you for calling WordPress. Goodbye.

Click

ME: Okay, how do I get started… let’s see… oh, I know…

Begin typing…

Ring, ring

WP: Hello, WordPress technical support, this is Julie how can I help you today…………

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