Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Tale of Old Wives

Sadly, the title for this post has little to do with the actual content. I just liked it, and didn't know if there would ever be an opportunity to use it in a relevant manner. And so I decided to throw caution to the wind, and here we are. 

I've recently been diagnosed with, what I fear could be, a self-perpetuating affliction of my health. For several weeks now, I've experienced some discomfort in my abdominal region. It's been persistent enough that, after two months, I finally decided to see a doctor. His diagnosis: gastritis, or possibly an early ulcer. His treatment: medicine, which, I discovered sometime later, costs over $200 for a 30 day supply. 

I'm not sure if you're aware, but gastritis (and ulcers, for that matter) are largely caused by stress. That's no old wives' tale (see how I tied that in there?), it's true; I looked it up on the internet. Stress, often times, on the other hand, is money-related. In other words, spending $200 on the aforementioned medication could be a source of stress. Gastritis, once more, is caused by stress, which brings me full circle. 

I'm beginning to think the makers of Nexium are onto something. 

I've said too much. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

You're Welcome

For shame! If you've ever been slighted a proper thank you card from me, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincerest apologies. It's not at all that I didn't appreciate the gift, or the generous notion behind it. It's just that...well, you see...I'm lazy. And, sadly, I never learned to read. Everything I've told you up to this point is absolutely true (except for the reading part). 

Before you go on with your reproach and your furrowed brow of indignation, please take a moment to consider the burden I must carry knowing the hundreds of people I've never thanked in a card. It's always this time of year, after all the Christmas gifts and kind gestures, when the weight of this shortcoming seems most unbearable. 

The smiling faces of the people haunt my dreams. 

In light of my plight, I'm urging people to consider a new tradition: You're Welcome Cards. Show a little sympathy to the slouches of the world like me, and don't wait for them to send a thank you card (because it probably isn't coming). Just go ahead and let them know you know they're thankful with a heartfelt You're Welcome Card.

"You're welcome for the wonderful gifts we gave you. God bless!"

"I can't imagine how much our gift must have meant to you. You're welcome."

"We always know the right things to give you. We're wonderful friends, we know. You're welcome, and we love you too."

"Though we didn't give you anything, we felt your gratitude for our presence at the Christmas party. You're so very welcome."

"While we don't think very highly of you, it shouldn't stop you from knowing that, in spite of our differences, you're welcome."

"Mom, it was I who used the last k-cup and 'accidentally' killed your cat. You're welcome."

The important thing here is to let people know how much you care, by letting them off the hook. Now stop reading this blog...I think you have some cards to send!

Of course, I've said too much.

...and you're welcome.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Art of Dismantling a Dream

I recently developed a whole new respect for critics (or those who fancy themselves such) shortly after watching what I can only describe as pure-100-proof-face-melting-teeth-gnashing-tear-inducing-I-believe-in-unicorns-magical-awesomeness. The movie of which I speak is, of course, Les Miserables, which loosely translated means, "come and see how good your life really is, and don't you feel petty for complaining, so shut up and go be a better person" in French. The movie, in my opinion, was a masterpiece on every level.

But, of course, I'm no critic. 

What do I know?

After reading a few reviews in which the critics -- aka experts (or those who fancy themselves such) -- complained that the singers weren't to their liking, or the camera angles were too close, or the CG was "cheesy," or there was too much singing, or that the approach of having actors sing live while filming "didn't work," I realized how little I must know about movie-making and what truly defines a masterpiece. And then it occurred to me the vast capacity of cinematic prowess possessed by these fine folks must be such as the world has never seen. They know so much about movies, and what makes them so good (or so bad), and they speak (or write) so freely with such eloquence against the artists behind such films, that they themselves must have made dozens of perfect movies that were loved by billions. Thus my newfound respect for critics.

And to think a hack like Tom Hooper had the audacity to muster all the artistic and creative passion within him to produce a work of such epic proportions. Clearly, such endeavors should be left to those who would rather dismantle a work of art than actually make one.

Now I've said too much. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reflections On New York

When a friend of ours was organizing a travel group to New York City, we signed up with aggressive abandon. For a small fee we could ride a charter bus into the city, spend the day seeing the sights, and then ride back to the rural life in sweet blissful euphoria. 

A few things worth noting at this point are that the bus left from New Castle, PA--a bladder challenging four-and-a-half hour drive from our home. The bus left New Castle at midnight Saturday morning. After six-and-a-half hours of drifting in and out of sleep to the sensation of our bus careening down a mountain, we pulled up at East 42nd and Madison Avenue where we were left to fend for ourselves until 8pm that night. Of course, the same bus-ride-of-terror awaited us, but got us home safely in New Castle at just past 3:30 am Sunday morning. This experience was fueled by a passion for the city, and a zealous disregard for sleep, and several liters of Starbucks. 

To bring this trip full circle, we will drive another six-and-a-half hours to Indianapolis where our children are being boarded, then two hours home to Fort Wayne on Monday evening. 

So why did we do this? Because my wife and I love an adventure. She'd been to NYC a few times, but this was my first. And we've decided that if either of us ever say we're too old to do something, then we have permission to slap that person in the mouth and tell them "No!"

Enough with all the rhetoric; let's get down to my main observations of The Big Apple. 

1. It's really a lot like a theme park. But instead of a roller coaster at the end of the line, there's a toilet. 

2. Incidentally, Greenwich Village is a horrible place to have to pee...unless you live there, I suppose. 

3. Parts of it reminded me of other cities I'd visited, such as Taichung, Taiwan, and Belgrade, Serbia.

4. You're never more than 15 steps away from a Starbucks, or a fortune teller. We exploited the former. 

5. Did you know Central Park has mountains in it? I did not know that. But it's true. I wanted to climb them, but I had to pee--a direct correlation with number 4. 

6. Driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, I couldn't help but think about a scene from Stephen King's The Stand. Driving past several vacant lots in Manhattan, on the other hand, I couldn't help but think about several scenes in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. 

7. I'm pretty sure I saw Colin Farrell outside Rockefeller.

8. Apple earbuds are a popular hipster accessory. 

9. While we didn't see Lady Liberty, we did see several people dressed like her. 

10. The subway is pretty cool. 

I think ten is a good place to stop. All in all, it was awesome. I already can't wait to go back. I'm just hoping for a better bus driver. 

But now I've said too much. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Into the Grey

Lately I've been watching movies like I read books... in sittings of thirty to sixty minutes at a time. I find that I watch a lot more movies this way, but usually forget what's going on by the time I pick it up again. It also makes every movie feel like a franchise with multiple sequels and/or a mini series. All in all, it's a pretty brilliant strategy.

So last night I got started on a movie called The Grey with Liam Neeson. I'm thirty minutes in, and so far it's pretty intense. No, literally, they're stranded in the great outdoors, which requires them to live in tents; it's pretty wild. Actually, it's very wild; they're stranded in the Alaskan wilderness being stalked by wolves.

There were several scenes that I found pretty spine-tingling. Especially the one where a guy was cut in half. Another scene or two were pretty gut the once where a man bled to death from a puncture wound in his abdomen. And already, they're finding themselves in some pretty hairy predicaments, as most of them are rocking some pretty sweet beards.

To summarize, I find the whole plot to be pretty chilling. I already mentioned they're in Alaska. And to think I'm only thirty minutes in... it should be a pretty good movie.

I've said too much.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Unicorn Stage

Observe as I gracefully ignore my neglect to this blog.

Poof! Ignored.

All of us have special qualities that make us unique. For some, it's their amazing abilities to bend metal with their minds, or solve tricky math problems. Others can draw good, or turn their eyelids inside out. I discovered my special quality about a year ago. While this special attribute of mine had been periodically rearing its ugly head for several years, it wasn't until this time last year that I learned it was just a special part of being me. Imagine my delight. 

If only this special feature allowed me to do that Vulcan thing with my four fingers, or slurp my spit back into my mouth just before it hit the ground... that would be wonderful. But, sadly my unique quality has nothing to do with cool and useless super-human tricks. My special attribute? I grow pimples... really, really big ones... on my face.

In all fairness, they're not technically pimples; they're called Sebaceous Cysts. And boy are they ugly. Imagine the largest pimple you've ever seen. Now magnify that by about ten... and that might be close to the size of these puppies. Thankfully, I only get them once or twice a year. But when I do, the process usually goes something like this:
  1. Small red bump that feels a little tender appears on my face, followed by a sinking feeling in my gut and an intense desire to cut my face off. 
  2. The bump gradually but dramatically swells in the general area of the cyst, creating a pronounced mound that resembles a scaled down version of Mount Saint Helens.
  3. Swelling intensifies, resulting in partial paralysis to my facial expressions, evoking looks of astonishment and terror by all those who behold its horror. 
  4. Painful extraction procedure ensues, which usually leads to a grotesque eruption of "matter" that decorates the mirror, walls and ceiling of my bathroom (I know... maybe a bit too graphic, and I should have warned you. My sincerest apologies).
In the end, I look like a gun shot victim with my wife staring blankly and saying, "That was awesome!" 

When the mother of all cysts appeared on my forehead just before vacation last year, I finally sought the guidance of a venerated dermatologist to help me overcome that beast, and learn how I can prevent them from ever happening again. Her response was less than encouraging: "You just have a skin type that likes to produce cysts." 

There it is... my special quality. And I was so hoping for the ability to fly, or stretchy arms. Bummer. 

But here's another gem with this little beauty of a gift - they almost always appear when I have something major on the calendar. Like, for example, the most recent of these cysts which decided to join me a few days before Easter... with me on the schedule to play guitar in our worship band just a few days later. When I would normally want to hide my face from all of humanity, I had to stand in front of thousands of people and play my guitar. Awesome. Thankfully I made it through the weekend with 90% use of my eye brows, and relatively small amounts of swelling. 

But then today I decided to return to my friendly dermatologist and employ her cunning skill and gadgetry to destroy this monster. It was a success. All I remember from the procedure was hearing the nurse use "tootsie roll" as a size reference to that which was extracted from my face. I'll be honest, I was a little proud. 

Here I sit at my computer, forehead still swollen and aching, and thankful that another one of these atrocities is behind me. Yet, I have to be honest that there was a part of me that came to grips with the reality of these cysts through this most recent experience. Rather than get all stressed out about it, I decided that - like it or not - this is just a part of who I am. And really, it could be a lot worse. Why should I hide my face because of a bump? ... a grotesque, scream-inducing, freak-of-nature bump? Sure, it's unsightly. But it's me. Maybe the majestic unicorn felt the same way I did whilst in the presence of simple horses. Maybe it's adorning horn was seen as a monstrosity by those who lacked one. But it's the horn that makes it what it is... beautiful, dignified, and magical. Maybe these cysts are my horns, and I need to hold my head high like the mighty unicorn. 

Then again, I'm sure many a unicorn would have cut that stupid horn off if they could have... and that's what I did.

But now I've said too much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Study on Peeling an Orange

Dear Off the Record, 

Today I peeled an orange. This is what I've been reduced to. The sad truth is that I peeled three oranges. Why, you might ask? Because I wanted a snack. 

But I've decided something. Eating an orange is less of a snack, and more of a hobby. It's like whittling a unicorn from a stick. You have to sit there and carve away the peel for several minutes before you finally get to the goods. Honestly, I don't think I've ever shown that level of commitment to any single food item in my life.

And I did this not once, but three times. 

Ah, but alas, my diet only allows me one orange per diem. So I cheated yet again, it would seem. For the record, that third orange was for my wife...and for love.

Of course, I've said too much. 

Sent from my iPad