Monthly Archives: March 2011

Job Hunting

HER:  Whatcha doing honey?

ME:  Oh, I’m just looking through the job classifieds, gotta keep the job options open you know, don’t want to miss out on any great opportunities.

HER:  Anything look good in there?

ME:  I don’t know, not much so far, I’m definitely not cut out for any of this corporate shit… lots of stuff that I don’t really understand what it is… like here’s one… Senior Marketing Associate Lead Director of Engineering Marketing and Advertising… man, that job sounds hard… what the fuck do you think that guy does?

HER:  I don’t know, probably something to do with Marketing, they used that word twice… but you’d probably have to wear a tie, it’s been a long time since you’ve had to wear a tie… whenever you have a tie on you are always yanking and pulling on it like it’s a noose or something… not sure that one is right for you.

ME:  Yeah, probably not… here’s another one… E-Commerce Senior Web Merchant Generalist Director Junior Analyst… wow, whoever gets that job must have to have like eight Degrees… and man, these poor mother-fuckers must all have seriously big business cards.

HER:  It’s not the length of the title that matters… it’s the girth of the card!

ME: Ha ha… that’s pretty funny… but c’mon… this is serious stuff here.

HER:  Okay… anyway, that last one… yeah, probably not a great fit for you either.

ME:  How about this… Vice President of Advanced Virtual Communications Media Development Relations and Essential Quality Digital Product Branding.  Holy smokes, that’s the top of the frickin’ ladder… sounds like a lot of reponsibility… wonder what that guy does?

HER:  Yeah… uhhh, I don’t know… but not sure you’re vice president material… you’re more of a small business guy.

ME:  Yeah you’re probably right… and there’s the whole tie thing.

HER:  Yeah, all those paisley ties you used to wear in the 80’s… not gonna cut it anymore.

ME:  Here’s one I think I might like… Executive Director of Analytical Java Coordination Strategy Development… shit, I’d be good at that… I fucking love coffee!

HER:  Uhhh sweetie, Java doesn’t have anything to do with coffee, it’s a programming language… pretty sure you don’t know anything about programming languages.

ME:  Oh… my bad… okay, well how about this one… Senior Interactive Strategist Creative Account Manager Coordinator… that sounds interesting…

HER:  I think you’d have to sit in a cubicle all day… not sure you’d like that.

ME:  Yeah I guess you’re probably right… man, this sure is depressing looking through all these want ads… I’ve been working all these years and I just don’t feel like I have any marketable skills.

HER:  You have plenty of great skills honey, you’re smart and handsome and charming!

ME:  That sounds like something my mother would have said.

HER:  Well, it’s true… besides, what were you hoping to find in there?

ME:  I don’t know, something like Amish Furniture Maker… Kid’s Book Writer… Doodler… Campfire Guitarist… Cave Dweller… anything like that would get me stoked!

HER:  Hmmm… well, I know what an Amish Furniture Maker does… you’d have to lose the Blackberry that’s permanently attached to your hand you know…. but… uhhh… what does a Cave Dweller do?

ME:  I don’t know, sits around in a cave all day, scratchin’ his nuts and building fires and drawing antelopes and shit on the walls.  I could do that… I’d love that.

HER:  That sounds like Cave Dweller and Doodler combined.

ME:  Yeah, right… multitasking… you know… I’d be great at that!

HER:  Is that all you want to do is sit around and scratch your nuts all day?

ME:  Well… uhhh… yeah kinda… uhhh, wait… no, no that’s not what I meant.

 HER:  So your dream job is what… Amish Furniture Maker Kid’s Book Writer Cave Dweller Campfire Guitarist?

ME:  YEAH! That would be frickin’ awesome, wouldn’t it?  Excuse me though… I’d prefer to be called Senior Executive Vice President of Amish Furniture Maker Marketing and Kid’s Book Writer Development and Cave Dweller Analyst Campfire Guitarist… anyone that’s as smart and handsome and charming as me would be a shoo-in for that job!

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Father and Son

To all of you reading this for the first time, although it sounds as if I may be referring to my father thankfully he is still around although admittedly with his share of health problems. I did lose my mother to cancer at age 60 back in 2002 so I have experienced the trauma of losing a parent early in life.  I am trying to conceptualize the lifelong relationship between a father and a son. That could be me with my father as he gets up there in age, my son and I, or anyone of us. As I was writing this I guess I was thinking more in terms of my son’s relationship with me and the events he will experience and possibly have to deal with as he grows older.  Whether this makes you smile or cry, I imagine most of you will relate at some level.  Thanks for reading.

waaaah
Da da
Daddy
Daddy read to me?
Daddy I love you!
Daddy wanna play catch?
Hey Dad, thanks for coaching my team.
Dad I’m so mad that we lost!
Dad are you coming to my game tonight?
Dad can you drive me to the movies?
Dad I have a girlfriend.
Dad can I talk to you about birth control?
Dad how did you know when you were first in love?
Dad when I’m at away at college I promise to call once a week.
Dad I got an A in my chemistry class.
Dad I met a girl that I really like.
Dad I’ve been accepted into the junior year abroad program!
Dad I’m nervous about graduating and finding a job.
Dad thanks for helping me pay for college.
Dad let’s go grab a few beers somewhere.
Dad I got a really great job offer.
Dad I’m getting married!
Dad they want to promote me but it means moving away.
Dad we finally closed on that house we love.
Dad were going to have a baby.
Dad its a boy!
Dad how’d you and Mom survive these toddler years?
Dad how about you and mom coming for Christmas this year, the boys would love to see you, its been awhile.
Dad do you think you and Mom can make it to the graduation in June?
Dad congratulations on your retirement, you deserve it.
Dad are you keeping busy?
Dad I miss you, maybe we can come visit this summer.
Dad, Mom said you haven’t been feeling too well.
Dad we’ll be on a plane tomorrow to come see you.
Dad you’ve lost a lot of weight.
Dad you look so old to me.
Dad thank you for everything you’ve done to make my life so special.
Dad you’ve lived a great life and accomplished so much.
Dad I’ll be sure that Mom’s okay.
Dad its okay to let go.
Dad I love you.
Dad everyone in attendance today is here to honor your life. You were a blessing to so many people, a wonderful husband to Mom, a caring father to your children and a friend to so many.
Dad we will miss you.

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The Hike

This post is part of the Write On Project.  Topic: Exhaustion.

We woke up in the morning to the forecast of a beautiful, sunny 85 degree day. It didn’t feel that warm to us though, as there was a nice breeze blowing and we were excited for the hike we had planned. Plus we had been sleeping in a tent and the temperature had been surprisingly cool overnight. After a quick breakfast of eggs, oatmeal and coffee that we had cooked up on our camp stove, we packed some gear, threw on shorts and t-shirts, hats to protect us from the sun, heavy socks and hiking boots. We lathered up in sunscreen and most importantly packed lots of water, in canteens and water bottles, every container we could fill and comfortably carry. The rangers had told us to be sure we were carrying plenty of water.

We were young and invincible.

We drove to the trailhead, but the rest of the day would be on foot and we knew we would start on a downward slope. The initial hike down the trail was effortless with gravity on our side. Mostly we walked, talking and enjoying the views. Red rocky cliffs and deep valleys surrounded us as well as cacti and other strange desert plants that we had never seen before. We encountered a few live creatures, mostly lizards warming themselves on the rocks and a few mules with weary travelers on board. Occasionally we ran down the trail, nothing restraining us. The path was mostly clear and straight and easily navigable but sometimes it became rocky and more difficult to maneuver. We knew our destination though, how far we had planned to hike, and nothing would stop us from getting there.

We were carefree and alive.

Several hours later we arrived at our planned stopping point and settled in for lunch. We were still full of motivation and energy, but the heat and sun was just beginning to reach its peak. We unpacked the sandwiches, fruit and energy bars we had carried with us and sat there in a peaceful, shady spot, eating and chatting and admiring the beautiful scenery around us. The stunning views, which we could only have imagined before we arrived here, gave us a feeling of profound spirituality even though neither one of us was terribly religious. It made us understand that the world was an amazing place and we had every intention of jumping right in with both feet. After about an hour had passed, it was time to begin the trek back. We knew the return trip would be more strenuous and difficult and we wanted to be back to camp before dusk. We packed up and started heading back to where we had began our adventure.

We were cautious and responsible.

We approached the uphill trail with as much stamina and determination as we had tackled the downhill. But it all quickly started to catch up with us, the steep climb, the mid-day heat, the dirt and dust, all quickly changing our perspective. Our legs burned as our muscles struggled to power us up the trail. We poured cool water down our dry throats more frequently. We stopped to catch our breath more frequently. We wondered when we would finally get to take a break and sit still for a moment and to rest our tired bodies. What started as an enjoyable, carefree hike was becoming burdensome and difficult. We were no longer interested in the spectacular scenery, no longer treasuring each other’s company, no longer enjoying each passing minute. Like horses with blinders on, we were only focused on the task at hand, getting back to the top of this trail without collapsing and while still being in one piece.

We were burned out and exhausted.

The year was 1988 and my wife and I were spending a college spring break vacationing in Arizona and hiking in the Grand Canyon. I liken this trek into the canyon to the lives that so many of us struggle with today. As children and as teenagers and even as young adults and into early parenthood, we are on that simple, carefree adventure down the trail. It’s a mostly comfortable trek, sometimes the path is straight and easy to navigate and sometimes the path is difficult but we are energized to blaze our particular trails with focus and passion and aspiration. We are able to see beauty and potential and spirituality in everything that surrounds us because the responsibilities of life have not yet overcome us. We don’t need to stop and smell the roses because they are always right there in front of us.

We are young and invincible and carefree and alive.

For so many of us, however, there comes a time when our lives turn a corner and we begin the difficult trek uphill. Work and raising kids and mortgages and financial obligations and illnesses and deaths and so many other factors hit us like the heat and the sun and the burning, fatigued muscles that plagued my wife and me on our trip back to the edge of the canyon. We lose focus on what we should be experiencing while on our hikes; the love of family and friendships and the beauty of life and nature and living as if every day was our last; and instead begin to fixate solely on getting to the end of our particular trail, whether that is putting our kids through college, or our retirement… or on so many occasions, just getting through the workday, or getting the kids to and from daycare, or trying to work from home when a child is sick. It’s different milestones and destinations and obligations for all of us, and yes…

We become cautious and responsible and burned out and ultimately… exhausted.

My wife and I, of course, made it back to the beginning of the trail that day and looking back now, it doesn’t seem nearly as difficult as it felt on that day, and I am sure that it wasn’t. Stressful moments have a way of enveloping us and masking the reality of the bigger picture, yet time has a way of editing our memories and helping us remember the positive aspects of an experience while fading the difficult parts. I suspect there will be a time down the road when I will look back on the challenging times I’ve experienced in my life and realize that they weren’t quite as bad as they seemed when I was living them. I also understand that there have been moments in the past and there will be moments in the future when my focus on the path that I am traveling on will wane and become distorted. It’s during those times that I must force myself to stop, maybe step aside and let some others pass or help me pick up the slack, and find ways to re-energize… to do whatever it takes to feel young and invincible and carefree and alive again. Yes, life can be exhausting… sometimes so exhausting that you just want to walk away from it all… but it can also be so rewarding… if we only make an effort to find ways to ensure that happens. We’ll all eventually find the end of the trail. I, for one, as age continues to creep up on me, am in no hurry to get there.

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LOST… Goat Style!

FINALLY…

After 16 years of living in our house, this past Sunday, we’ve officially become part of the neighborhood… and how exciting a milestone is that? When I say the neighborhood, of course, I don’t mean a neighborhood where the houses sit right next to each other. Our closest neighbors are about ½ mile away. I mean the ten or so square mile area where everyone seems to know each other. It’s funny how people who live in a rural community still call it a neighborhood. I don’t know how else you’d describe it, though, so I guess I don’t blame them.

So how, you ask, did we officially become part of our neighborhood?

Well the answer is simple of course… you officially become part of the neighborhood when you have a farm animal… in our case, goats… discovered wandering far from your home, and through a phone-chain, the neighbors are able to figure out who the farm animal… in our case, goats… belongs to. Yes, you heard it hear first… Naughty and Heath the now world-famous Brown Road Goats in Coats, who had not once, in five months of living with us, ever left the property, roamed away and were discovered about three miles away by a nice lady who was able to round them up, lock them in her fenced pasture, and wait until their delinquent owners came to retrieve them. Being concerned country folk, she asked her husband to start making phone calls and after several links in the phone chain it was determined that they belonged to us.

This particular Sunday was one of those lazy days when not a lot was accomplished around our house. About 5:00 p.m. after having already taken one nap during the day, I went upstairs to lie down in our room. My son was in our bed watching a movie and I figured I’d just relax there with him. Just as I was falling asleep for nap #2, my wife comes running upstairs and says “we have to go get the goats, a couple of neighbors just stopped by and they are over at a farm on the corner of Buckhorn and Cotherman Lake roads.” “What?” I replied, “how in the hell can they be all the way over there?”

We got in our van, drove over to this farm and saw Naughty and Heath grazing in one of their fields. We parked along the side of the road, got out and the moment they recognized us, they started bleating like crazy and running towards us. Yes, apparently goats are quite smart and can recognize their owners.  I suspect they were saying something like “oh, thank god you guys found us, we got lost and we couldn’t find our way back home and we thought we were going the right direction but we just kept getting more lost and then there were cars flying by us and then this lady came out of her house and locked us in this fenced area and we thought we were going to have to move again.” A frightening moment in the life of a goat for sure! We threw them in the back of the van, drove up to the beautiful old farm house on the property, knocked on the door and a very nice, sixty-ish woman answered.  We thanked her for rescuing our goats, chatted for a few minutes, then left and drove back home.

That’s the nice thing about living where we do… people are friendly and look out for each other. If we had been living in say, Chicago and our goats had roamed away from our apartment building, perhaps gotten on a subway, or started walking down Lake Shore Drive… boy, I hesitate to think what might have happened to them! Surely we would never have seen or heard from them again… and that would have been a sad day. But no, we live in a place where farm animals can roam away and neighborly folks will figure out who they belong to and how to get them back home. We have not been able to determine how exactly they were able to walk that far away. Our initial theory is that they got through a small opening in the fencing that lines the back side of our property, and not being able to figure out how to get back in they continued to roam in the opposite direction. One of our neighbors suspects maybe they followed a guy that was jogging in the area, and once they got far enough away they could no longer find their way back. Since our goats don’t speak, I guess we’ll never know.

In any case, we are happy our goats were found and safely retrieved and all is well again in the neighborhood. The shiny new I.D. tags for their collars are on the way!

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