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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

What a week its been! Brian, the sit-at-home 29 days a month guy turns into Brian the social butterfly.

Patrick and Aubree return to my humble abode Friday night. I'm so excited to get them back. I talked to them both on the phone a couple of days ago and it sounded like they were having a wonderful time. My ex wife promised to send me lots of pictures. I'll share!

I plan on surprising the kids with neat, reorganized rooms when they get back. My friend Kathy gave me a computer for Aubree and I'm setting it up in her room. She's gonna be soooooo surprised and way thrilled. Internet access! A place to type her journals! I hope she doesn't make a mess when I have to scrape her off the ceiling.

Patrick also has some goodies of his own including some a new towel and throw blanket (courtesy of Kathy) and a couple of cool new posters. He likes having a clean, organized room. He also doesn't like to clean it. This one is on me.

I had several social outings/dates in the last week. All were great fun. I met a couple of new friends who I had corresponded with for a long time. I had a local date that was a lot of fun. I hung out with a local blogger. I had a lovely lunch date with a certain government employee. Fun stuff!

I know Aka Monty won't mind if I mention that she and I went to see "The Longest Yard". We went to the 5:00 show. Not a matinee. Everyone else is out eating or is too cool to go to the theater at 5:00. I felt middle age geekdom approaching fast. Still, it was a most excellent time and we had dinner at a place where you could throw your peanut shells on the floor. Don't worry Monty....the motorcyle goes unmentioned here.

I liked "The Longest Yard" a lot, but Adam Sandler just doesn't fit my image of an N.F.L. quarterback. Maybe its just that I've seen him in all those goofball movies where he farts a lot.

I already described my most excellent road trip. I really do love driving and seeing the country. I've gotta make more trips some day.

It looks like an Okie blogger roundup is being planned for this fall. Its still in the planning stages but it sounds like it is shaping up to be quite the bash. A ton of bloggers all in one place? Music and dancing? Laptops? Party? I'm so there.

This blogworld has blessed me with getting to know so many cool people. I make new friends and get to know them. Some I get to know very well. Some surprise me. Some are just great fun. Some make me laugh. Its all good.

Ok girls, please answer my burning question of the day. Which do ladies prefer in men's underwear? Tighty whities? Boxers? Boxer briefs? Bikini underwear?

So how is YOUR week going?

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Real People 

I went through several emotions when I saw that a former student of mine found my blog and commented. I was mostly just thrilled to hear from her! But a little part of me thought, "oh crap, she'll see that I'm human with faults, flaws, insecurities and all!" Oh no! Then I realized that I hoped that I taught her and the other students that all of us are just people. Just because I was the teacher doesn't mean that I'm perfect, problem-free, or without flaws. Far from it! But in case it snowed that day or I forgot to teach that lesson, I'll give it a whirl here.

I've been a "suit" in the office this past year so I may be a little rusty. Let me roll up my sleeves, grab my marker, find the board, clear my throat, and give it a try. Ready class?

I can remember seeing an elementary school teacher of mine in a grocery store. She was holding hands with her husband and perusing the aisles. I was shocked. She's a teacher. Whats she doing here? Shouldn't she be doing bulletin boards or something? Who is that guy with her? You mean she doesn't live behind that desk?

Class, sometimes people expect too much and yet not enough out of the teachers in the classroom. They often expect the wrong things altogether.

I always thought I owed certain things to my students. I owed them a well-planned and prepared lesson. I owed them an ear to listen. I owed them my best effort. I owed them the benefits of my knowledge. I owed them an honest assessment of their progress. I owed them a professional teacher who taught his heart out every single day. Every parent and student should expect these things out of their teacher.

I stood in front of my classes a couple of days after my wife told me she wanted a divorce. My heart was broken, my mind going in a million different directions. I didn't know what the future held. I did my best to teach that day and the days that followed. I walked in that building and tried to shove all those emotions over to the side. It wasn't their fault. They needed me to be me, the guy that stood in front of that class all year.

I don't know how successful I was that day. I could feel those emotions so close to the surface. I thought I had it under control. But some of the kids noticed. They always do. They are so perceptive. They didn't know what was going on, but they knew I wasn't quite "right". You know what? They took up the slack. They stood with me and helped all of us finish the year. That is the kind of kids I taught. I'm so damn proud of them.

I'll submit to you class that some of the best teachers I've ever seen have lived lives that were far from trouble-free. They've lost sons or daughters to untimely death. They've gone through wrenching divorces. They've lost all they had in a financial scam. They had injuries from fighting in Vietnam. They've suffered from mental illness. They have a family member that is causing them a great deal of grief. They broke a leg in high school and missed out on that athletic scholarship. They worked their ass off to get through college.

It is this adversity that gives them character, dimension, and depth. I hired a teacher once out of college that had absolutely perfect credentials. She'd never made anything less than an "A" in her entire life. She had a college 4.0, involved in campus activities, and married her high school quarterback sweetheart after she got out of college. We put her to work teaching 7th grade math. She probably knew that subject better than anyone else in the building. But she struggled to work with spit-ball throwing, smart alecky, troubled 7th grade boys. She didn't understand them. She had a hard time "getting" where a lot of these kids came from. It just wasn't part of her life experience. She didn't hang out with kids like that in high school or college. She didn't hang out with adults like that in real life. They didn't come running in the door super-eager to soak up the math knowledge she had? She quit after that first year.

(Hey you in the back. Yeah, you Joan! Stop writing those notes and making faces at me)

Class, I know how short attention spans can be, so I'll try and wrap this lesson up. Students? Those teachers in front of you are flawed, ordinary people. Some are incredibly gifted. Some just plug away and do the best they can. A few may not be very good at what they do. Regrettably, a few of them may not even care. Learn from all of them. Watch how they handle the frustration that comes with the job. They are just people like you. They are better educated and they know more than you do. But they've made their share of mistakes and have their warts. Understanding all of this will help you get through school and help you in life.

Here I am class. I bring to you over 40 years of reading, experiences, and knowledge. Triumphs and failures. Heartaches and ecstasy. I've been so poor that I slept in a maintenance garage on boxes, and ate pork and beans every night for a week. I've also been to the White House. I've loved and lost. Boyfriend or girlfriend dump you? I think I can understand. I've been to your houses and seen how you live. Scared of failure? I think we can talk. Someone close to you die? Me too. Feel frustrated at times? I can relate.

Lets recap today's lesson. Your teachers are like anyone else. Don't expect them to be perfect. Expect them to do their best just like they should expect from you. I love you all for who you are. Thats why I'm here. You're not perfect or you wouldn't need me. I'm not perfect or I wouldn't need you. Lets learn from each other and love each other.

Class dismissed.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More Secrets 

More secrets have rolled in and I have copied them below for your perusal. Just for the record, none of these are mine this time!


"I wish I had the courage to date women..."

"I feel uncomfortable with a man going down on me, but I know I love it, because I once let my best girlfriend do it to me..."

"I am uncomfortable receiving oral sex, but I have allowed, and very much enjoy, allowing a man to take me *elsewhere*"

"I never got my license. I know how to drive and do
fine on the road, but am afraid of it."

"I cheated on my income taxes to the tune of thousands of dollars. I lived for years in fear of being caught."

"I had always had a fantasy of enjoying sex with someone I had not seen so when I received an e-mail from a guy and we began to talk on the phone I knew this just might be the one. I asked him how he would feel about having sex with a female who would did not want to see him or meet him before she had sex with him. He got very excited about the idea so I made the arrangements......
We scheduled a day and a time and he would call me for the name of the place we would meet at. I would give him the room number and the room door would be left cracked. I would be in the bed with no cloths on wearing a blindfold.
He entered the door came over to the bed and said Hello and pulled me toward him and from there it progressed to an afternoon of very wild and wonderful sex......I did take the blindfold off before he was going to leave at his request to see my eyes when he gave me his goodbye kiss.....No we have never seen each other again even though it was some of the best sex I have ever had...it was just that sex........we are both married. He has written me and asked me if I would like to meet again but I thought it best we not for I know how I am and could not continue seeing him just for sex and would develop feelings.."

"One evening having a few drinks with my husband, one of his friends
and one of my friends. His friend keeps saying he wants to see my
boobs. I keep laughing it off (but secretly wanting to show him).
Hubby says, "Go ahead and show him." I say no way I'm gonna flip them
out right there so I lead him down the hallway to our room.
I yank off my top and flip up my bra. Friend says, "You're not gonna
let me just see them without touching them, are you?" So, I did. And
he did. With his hands, lips, teeth and tongue.
But I stopped him. And he stopped without a fight. And we walked
outta there like all he did was look.
And my husband doesn't know… still
But friend and I know… and there's this look…
And now you know…"

"I like masturbation better than having sex. Sometimes I tell my husband I'm not in the mood and then masturbate after he falls asleep"

"Back in the good old days of chocolate Exlax, I baked a big batch of
brownies and loaded them with the Exlax. Then donated the brownies to a
church bizarre. Now to the joke started out as really funny, but after I
heard how sick a lot of the people were, I felt so awful and guilty. I
never used that stuff again!"

"My friends and I (around the age of 10-12) had slumber parties almost
weekly. One of the biggest sources of entertainment was to fart and record
them. I had forgotten all about doing it, until I found one of the tapes 10
years later and laughed harder than I did when I was young. You'd here
PPPHHHHTTTT then giggle, giggle, giggle "ewwww that stunk!"

"I hate it when my single friends that have been married before try to commiserate with my loneliness... I just want to scream "But you haven't ALWAYS been alone! You don't REALLY know how I feel!"

"I drove totally nekkid, with a toy vibrating (woo!) to meet my boyfriend for
a late night rendezvous on a quiet side road. Then I got out of the car,
still nekkid and got on the hood of my car where we had fun. No need for
foreplay, he saw me like that and was instantly turned on. There was a
small indentation in my car hood after that wild night! Gave new meaning to
slam, bam, thank you ma'am. "

"When I was about 20, I was the social club treasurer at the company I
worked for then. One week I got into a difficult financial situation
and ended up "borrowing" a few hundred dollars of the club's money. I
spent the next four weeks terrified that someone would find out, but
they didn't. I paid the money back and no-one ever knew. But I felt so
guilty that the next year I gave away being treasurer."

I've had lots of conversations with women about how weird it is that
guys are so turned on by lesbian porn. I've never admitted in any of
these conversations that I actually find it a huge turn on myself,
even though I'm straight.

Thanks to all for sharing your secrets with the rest of us!

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Road Trip 

I headed out Saturday morning for my weekend trip to Kansas/Missouri. I headed north on Hwy. 169, turned the cruise control on, and cranked up the music. Sunglasses on, atlas on the seat beside me, a cold drink from Sonic, and I was rolling.

I was excited to go meet my friend Scorpy and her husband. Scorpy and I have been commenting on each other's blogs, chatting, and emailing for quite awhile now. She's just the neatest woman to talk to. I'd wanted to meet up with her in New Orleans a few months back, but was unable to make it. This was an opportunity and I didn' t want to miss it.

The directions I had involved connecting to several different highways in the KC area before heading north. My friend Kathy talked me through the loops and turns on my cell phone and I made it safely to St. Joseph, Missouri. I checked into the hotel, called Scorpy, and they picked me up. We ate at a great Cajun food restaurant, ran around town for awhile, saw the local historical sights (including the house where Jesse James was shot!) and headed to a local bar just across the street from my hotel. Her husband Ray kicked my ass played a few games of pool with me, played with her, and we all had a few drinks, talked, laughed, and enjoyed the live band. I stumbled walked back across the street to my hotel. The room was very hot, I stripped down, turned the AC on high, and crashed out on top of the blanket. I woke up to the sound of sirens and I was freezing! I had breakfast with Scorpy and headed back south to K.C.

I tired to retrace the route I'd taken. I ended up going east when I should've gone south and found myself in Kansas City running smack dab into a closed bridge. The detour took me on a scenic route through lovely North Kansas City. I think it was all Kathy's fault, but she probably disagrees!

I met Kathy at her house and we went out to lunch. The Plaza area of Kansas City is full of cool shops and we ate a restaurant there. She also took me to Union Station which is a stunning sight to see. I of course had to place my fingers in the bullet holes from a long-ago shootout. I promised Kathy I wouldn't say anything about the red lights she ran, so I think I'll just leave that part out. We had a blast just running around and touring the city.

I like to travel and I enjoy driving. Thanks to my wonderful and gracious hostesses on my Midwestern weekend tour!

A couple of other notes:

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Sometimes 

Sometimes I wish I was stronger and more decisive.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't afraid to truly love someone again.

Sometimes I can't believe these children are dependent on ME for guidance, direction, and love.

Sometimes I wonder what people would think if they knew the real me.

Sometimes I want to eat something spicy just to feel it burning in my mouth.

Sometimes I count my lucky stars for the friends I've made.

Sometimes I wish I knew which path to take.

Sometimes I stand out in the rain during thunderstorms.

Sometimes I still cry all alone in the dark. Sometimes I don't even know why.

Sometimes I drive at night, turn the music up loud, roll down the window, lean my head to the side, and sing my heart out.

Sometimes I think I don't know what the hell I'm doing when it comes to dating. Other times I know it for sure.

Sometimes I hear the train whistle blow and fantasize for a brief moment about jumping aboard.

Sometimes I turn the shower temperature so high that it leaves my skin red.

Sometimes I wish I could learn to totally trust someone again.

Sometimes I think about working out and getting in better shape.

Sometimes I absolutely crave to be touched.

Sometimes I love my kids so much that it hurts.

Sometimes I shoot baskets and feel that familiar stroke return like I was still 18.

Sometimes I meet someone for the first time and feel like I've known them forever.

Sometimes I still sleep in my recliner. Actually, thats most of the time.

Sometimes I think my answers will be revealed if I'm patient.

Sometimes I hide from my problems instead of confronting them head-on.

Sometimes I look into my kid's eyes and know that there must be a God.

Sometimes I worry about hurting people who have been very good to me.

Sometimes I start a book and finish it without stopping.

Sometimes I feel my heart is overflowing with an excess of love to give away. Other times I think its empty.

Sometimes I like it when someone calls me on my shit.

Sometimes I think of people I care about at the oddest times.

Sometimes a song is indelibly attached to a person in my head.

Sometimes I wonder why people appear in my life and just disappear.

Sometimes I'm just thankful to be alive.

Sometimes I want to have someone whisper "I love you" in my ear.

Sometimes a woman's mind can turn me on more than any other quality.

Sometimes I hear a success story and wonder how they did it.

Sometimes I think I don't know what I want.

Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I see poetry in simple things.

Sometimes.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Weekend Roundup 6/24-6/25 

I'm off to the K.C. area but I wanted to leave you with some excellent links to visit this weekend. This week's roundup has some particularly powerful posts. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

Monica is addicted to “Big Brother”. Nicole might be addicted to chocolate.

Andrea was just running in circles. Jen was just listening to her son playing the guitar.

R.D. points out bikers raising money for military families. MizKittay points out the Tall Ships Festival.

Breazy got carded. Sara is cute enough to get carded even if she just turned 40.

The Funky Cowboy shares a modern version of the “birds and the bees”. Scorpy shares a secret.

Joan dug herself into a hole. I’d happily dig a hole to plant the rose that Ellen shares with us.

Trucker Bob wants to know what you would do if you had six months to live. I want to know what you think of Laine's sexy audio post.

Momma K re-lives some “period” memories. Babs re-lives how she got started blogging.

Michelle reflects on the value of time. Karen reflects on the value of a good laugh.

Red has a new toy. Ginger does too. Check out her slick new cell phone.

Stationery Queen is so ready for her vacation. Fly Girl is always ready to go to the bookstore.

How do you relax? Ask Mona. You know how your head and your heart don’t always agree? Maddy does.

Rick interviews a special guest. If I interviewed Undergraduate I would ask about her love of pebbles.

T. Marie got her groove back. I could get a groove just reading this post by Bec. (see there Bec…I linked one of your sexy ones J)

Jazzy wonders why her moods change so quickly. Mary Lou wonders who the “Greatest American” is.

Restless Angel pays tribute to her grandfathers. Dawn pays tribute to years of marriage.

Annabel loves her new car. Splendid loves the beginning of summer.

Kim believes that happiness is overrated. Juno’s son believes that boys don’t have it so good.

Naomi Blue is thinking about setting up an art blog. Chuck is thinking that the new showMy Name is Earl” sounds pretty funny.

Vickie remembers her father. Muse remembers meeting her corruptor.

Caren is selling purses for a good cause. Check it out! Stephanie is remembering what she did last month…and last year.

Need some cash? Set Teresa up on a date. Want to know what your lurkers are doing? Walker has the goods on them.

Roselle wants to know if the human race is losing. Lisa wants to know what you would do about this moral quandary.

Kathy is swooning over her Englishman. New Wave Gurly still swoons over The Beatles.

Sallie shares her baby picture. Jack shares a letter to his children.

Sally wonders why life goes by so quickly. It sounds like Cyn’s vacation is going by nicely.

Brenda is headed off to a baseball tournament. Steph is busy planning summer activities.

Inky got a nasty sunburn. Nameless got into kitty wars at home.

Michele is setting up an imaginary fund drive. Spew some profanity? Pay up! Sounds like Wanda would owe her a few bucks.

Sleeping Mommy set up quite a debate with her thoughts about gay men. Lip Schtick did the same with her Osmonds/Sonny and Cher question.

Phyllis last got drunk 18 years ago. Janet listened to the Back Street Boys long ago.

Melanie wants her readers to know the truth. Angel wanted someone to know a blog secret.

Chosha thinks fifteen is the best age. Andie thinks adults shouldn’t be squeamish when it comes to watching and talking about sex.

Tish wondered if God would call her home if she didn’t have any comments. Jen received a lot of comments on her blogiversary.

What happens when you ingest a lot of salt water? Ask A.J. What happens when you have a thoughtful and awesome mom? That would make you John.

Diana has been running with her daughter. Shelli went to the park with her kids.

Edge could die in his sleep and be happy and content with his life. Read this post…please. Erin wasn’t happy with the people at the jury duty office

DL quit smoking. Jennifer wants to stop sitting on other people’s warm chairs.

Kristine is trying to make up for the way she treated her sister. Housing contractors aren’t treating Chaotic Serenity very nicely.

Aka Monty doesn’t think she’ll be getting the mom of the year award. Janine doesn’t think she likes a nearby house catching on fire.

Safiyyah remembers a teacher gone mad. Caitlin goes mad when people borrow her stuff.

Shirazi shares his love of birds. Rachel shares her fondness for her friend’s husband.

Jen is buying a house. Joe is submitting some of his writing to an agent. We knew you when Joe.

Satisfied Spouse shares a picture and a song. Anne shares her thoughts about the stepford wives she knows.

Faith was looking for some special shaving advice. Christine was looking for a break from blogging.

Take a few moments and spread some comments to these worthy bloggers. You'll feel better...trust me.

Reminder to those who plan to share a secret for an upcoming post. Sunday night please! Don't say you really wanted to do it but missed the deadline. Send it in! :)

Have a great weekend in this first official weekend of summer. Tell at least one person that you love them.


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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Alternative History 

My brother generously bought me a book for my birthday. He knows I love to read and he thought I would enjoy "Worlds That Weren't", a collection of four stories by alternative history writers. I like this genre of books. The authors take a look at how things might've been. What if the South had won the American Civil War? What if the British had put down the American Revolution? What if Lincoln had lost his presidential election in 1860? What if Einstein had ended up pumping gas instead of making some of the most important scientific discoveries in history? What if Hitler had not decided to open up a Russian front? What if Native American tribes had won the battles of the West? The "what ifs" are endless, and examining them helps me better understand the significance of what really DID happen.

What if you'd dropped out of school? Married your high school sweetheart instead of that bad boy that turned your head? Decided to have children? Took that year in Europe that you dreamed about? Went to law school? Used a condom that night? Had really NOT had sex with that woman? Had that threesome when you had the chance? Gotten divorced when you really wanted to? Not gotten divorced and tried to work it out? Not had that fight with your brother? Said you were sorry instead of letting pride stand in the way?

Its not unnatural to apply the same thing to our own lives is it? For fun, I thought I would write a few alternative history vignettes myself. The first part of each is true. The second part examines the alternative history that couldn't resulted with a different circumstance or situtation.

Scenario: Brian dropped out of college for a year in early 1980's. He was burnt out and tired of being broke all the time. He went to work with a friend and spent months installing a new sprinkler system on a golf course in western Oklahoma. After that year he couldn't wait to go back to school and finish his degree. What if he hadn't?

Brian has now been working in construction for over 20 years. He's smart enough to get fairly good at his trade. He can run heavy machinery and is adept in other aspects of his work. He lost one finger and part of another one in an accident some years back. His work buddies always roll their eyes when he tells them that he once wanted to be a teacher. He stimulates his intellect by reading books. He hates getting up and going to work in the mornings. Its not the hard work he minds. Its that he always knew he wasn't really cut out for this. Its honorable work, but its not for him. Now he's trapped. He has a mortgage and a family to support. He drinks too much and lashes out angrily, feeling that life is just passing him by.


Scenario: Brian and his first wife tried everything to conceive a child. Extensive medical testing revealed blocked Fallopian tubes. Surgery failed to correct the problem. They decided to adopt instead. What if the surgery had been successful?

Brian is the father of two children, both boys. Its a struggle raising Jonathan and Brian Jr., but he enjoys his children and loves both of the boys very much. If they'd had a girl they were going to name her Aubree, but it never happened and they decided to stop after two boys. The boys stayed with him after their divorce. There's this cute little girl named Cassie with beautiful eyes that is in his son's 5th grade class. She is always polite and respectful to him, is a stellar student, plays soccer, and is a talented performer. If he'd had a daughter, he would want one like her. He knows she is adopted and thinks her parents are lucky to have a girl like her. In his other son's school there is a blonde haired boy named Brett. He's also adopted, is autistic, and obviously has some problems at school. But he is so friendly, lovable, and creative. Brian is always drawn to talking to him at school events and is fascinated by the way his mind seems to work.

Scenario: Brian meets a woman on the internet in 1996. He's going through a divorce and feels lonely. He begins talking to this woman, connects with her, meets her, and marries her about a year and a half after their first chat. He quits his job in his hometown, packs up his kids, and moves out of state for the first time in his life to be with her and begin life anew.

Brian is the assistant superintendent of schools in his hometown school system. He's been a principal for years and now has a job in the central office. He misses the day-to-day contact with kids but enjoys the opportunity to influence the entire district. Its been hard, but he finally has finished his doctorate. He didn't think he'd ever get that damn dissertation done. The kids have spent their entire lives here in this town. He still lives at his little house on Hickory Street. The garage has been turned into a workshop, and he and Patrick spend hours out there working on projects. His book collection numbers in the thousands. Brian hasn't experienced hot Louisiana summers or cool Washington ones. He's never been to a Mardi Gras parade, camped on Mount Rainier, or dipped his toes in the ocean. He never remarried, is a respectable member of the community, serves on several boards, and lectures at conferences on technology, curriculum, and other school issues.

Scenario: Brian majored in math and computer science until his sophomore year of college. He'd wanted to be a teacher, but others had told him that he shouldn't. There's no money in it. A smart guy shouldn't waste his talents working in a thankless job for no money. At the end of his sophomore year he gave into that still small voice in his ear and switched his major. What if he hadn't?

Brian is a programmer working for a Fortune 500 company. He makes a very good salary, vacations in the Caribbean and hits Las Vegas a couple of times a year. He's good at what he does. He's been fascinated by computers since working on the huge mainframes at his dad's company. He loves the challenge of programming and enjoys seeing the finished product. He likes his job but something seems to be missing. He spend most of his time in front of his monitor at work. He enjoys his colleagues at work and loves working together to solve a problem. But every day on the way home he drives by a school. He sees kids on the playground or walking down the sidewalk with books in their hand. Not a day goes by when he doesn't wonder if he did the right thing.

What could've been. What wasn't. All of our lives could've had many different stories. Maybe better. Maybe worse. Who's to say? We make our choices. We deal with circumstances as they present themselves. We live with the consequences.

This is not to say that we should spend our life saying "what if?". We shouldn't, and many do too much of it. But the choices we make, why we make them, how we make them, and the consequences that fall from them? They teach us much about ourselves.

I'm writing my own history right now. I wonder what alternative histories I'll have to ponder twenty years from now?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Its midweek but it doesn't feel quite the same when I'm not working! Every day looks a lot like the day before or the day after.

The kids left for London on Saturday. We spent a lot of time making sure they were properly packed, getting the suitcase and the carry-ons organized, and we headed out for the airport Saturday morning. About halfway there Aubree realized she hadn't brought her carry-on bag. Uh oh. We made a mad dash back, grabbed the bag, and still made it to the airport in good time. We hugged and kissed, said our goodbyes, and I watched them disappear past the security checkpoint with their aunt.

I miss them. I missed them a lot sooner than I thought I would. The house is so quiet. My living room is as clean as it was yesterday. The lights are off in their rooms. I have a habit of wandering in at night just to make sure they're ok, and I'm looking at empty beds. I still do it nonetheless.

Aubree called me from England on Sunday. She wished me a happy Father's Day, we talked about the flight and the plans they had. She handed the phone to Patrick. I asked him, "were you good on the flight over for your aunt?". He said, "well, mostly Dad.". I chuckled and said, "what do you mean mostly." He replied, "well, I might've been asking her too many questions."
"So why did you ask so many questions?". He sighed and said, "Dad, you know how curious I am. I just wanted to know things."

So whats a guy to do with all this time? No kids? No work?

I've been painting a house for my mom. Thats a real blast in the hot Oklahoma sun.

I've taken the rare opportunity to get out of the house and meet some people. I've hung out some with my local blogger friend Red. She's a hoot. There's a date or two mixed into my social calendar but I wouldn't want to bore everyone with details about that.

I'm heading up to the Kansas City area this weekend. I'm not meeting Scorpy and friends just because she's promised me a really cool button. But it doesn't hurt ;). I'm looking forward to getting out of this city and state and a chance to see new friends and old.

I'm also taking this opportunity to give my house a thorough cleaning. Its easier to motivate myself to clean when I know it will actually be clean the next day. I'm going through closets and boxes, getting rid of clothes we don't wear anymore, and doing some organizing. The kids will come home to sparkling clean rooms, all neatly appointed.

Thanks once again to all those who revealed their secrets below. Its been quite a week of secrets revealed and a surprise or two. I've had quite a few requests to do it again from people who say THIS time they will participate! I'll do another secrets post next week if there is sufficient response. Open to all and of course confidential and anonymous. So you procrastinators...I'm putting you to the test! :) Except you Joan....confessing to the murder of your lesbian lover that had an affair with your dog? Try to pick another one! The deadline is Sunday night.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Secrets Revealed 

Thanks to all who participated by sending in their secrets via email. I appreciate the trust you showed in me to do so. As promised, I am publishing the secrets anonymously and even throwing one or two of my own into the mix. Here they are:

When I was younger, a doctor told me that when I delivered my first child, my "hymen" would break...because it never did during intercourse but I had three c'sections. It never has. I like that. So did my husband.

I'm a voyeur and love to watch other people have sex.

Every once in a while, I get in "a mood," and the only sexual satisfaction I can achieve is via anal penetration.

I have a huge "girlie" crush on Bec over at "Gravity"

Although I consider myself heterosexual, I was once involved in a menage a trois.

I hate it when my husband drinks and when he's not looking I pour his booze out. He doesn't even know the difference.

I once had sex with my boyfriend's brother. I married my boyfriend and he still doesn't know.

I once went to an orgy with about 70 people in attendance. It was a lot of fun.

There is another blogger I like and respect but it really bothers me a lot that they don't return my emails....ever. Comments yes. Returned emails, no. It bothers me a lot more than it should.

The movie "Embrace of the Vampire" turns me on a lot. I fantasize about some of the scenes.

We met on the internet, but most people don't know that, including my parents.
We have 'tried' to take pictures while having sex with either our camera or the camera on the cell phone seems to work better.

My brother-in-law is cheating on his wife, my sister. I haven't told her. I don't know if I will.

I lied to my spouse about how I voted in the last presidential election. I don't want to hear any of his shit.

I do love to watch porn movies.

I have a huge crush on my husband's cousin. I'd probably sleep with him if I had the chance.

I want a divorce but I'm afraid of what will happen.

My spouse thinks I'm dieting but I cheat on my diet every day and I'm not losing any weight. I pretend not to know why.


An Arabian proverb says, "A secret is like a dove: when it leaves my hand it takes wings." These secrets now have wings of their own.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Its A Family Affair 

My cousin Amy (well, she's some kind of cousin. How does that 2nd cousin, once-removed stuff, etc. work anyway?) had a wall size family tree made. It started with a Civil War soldier named Jeremiah and ended with kids like Patrick and Aubree! She also created a family website and I helped myself to a few of the pictures she scanned. What did all of us have in common on Saturday? We are descended from this guy below or married into the family.



Jeremiah could've used a little work on the hair, but with that knife
I don't think I would've told him that. After the war he came west and
began a family.



It makes you think. What kind of man was he? Was he scarred by the war? Was he a practical man or a dreamer? Did he find what he was looking for when he headed west? Was he a good father? Did he love his wife with a passion? What dreams did he achieve and which ones did he take to his grave? Did he live his life the way he wanted or did events just seize control?



Do you remember the scene early in the movie "Dead Poets Society"? Robin Williams takes his students out to look at old pictures in the trophy case and he asks questions like that. "We're all food for the worms someday lads." Carpe diem!



His great grandson, Wylie, was my great grandfather and lived well into
my teenage years. I was telling a story about him to a great aunt earlier today. He got me in the car with him and I was perhaps 12 years old. He had to be pushing 80 even then and his driving was scary. He ran a stop sign, almost got hit by another car, and came to a full stop in the middle of the street. He proceeded to shake his fist at the other driver and let out a stream of cuss words. I was looking for a hole to crawl into.



Wylie's sister was at the reunion yesterday and she is in her late 90's.



It makes you wonder doesn't it? Will people be gathered 100 years from now looking at old pictures of me and wondering like I do about Jeremiah? Will they wonder the same things that I do? They might look at a picture like the one below:



These are my grandparents and their grandchildren. My grandmother was Wylie's daughter. You can spot me with my shaggy hair in the upper left part of the picture.

Who was that guy they might ask? What did he do? What kind of legacy did he leave behind? Thats his great grandaughter sitting right over there. Maybe we should find out more about him. Think she'll remember any stories? Ah yes, there's a picture of him smiling. I wonder what he was happy about? He doesn't look so happy in that one. I wonder why? Those are his kids. Aren't they cute?

We live here on this planet for what is a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things. We live our lives. We learn from each other. We make our mark in this world. Then we pass it on to the next generation. Like Jeremiah did. Like Wylie did. Like my grandparents did. Now its our turn. The torch is in our hand. We don't have it for long. What are we going to do with it?

What am I going to do with it?

Carpe diem, my friends. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebud while ye may.

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Secrets Update 

I've received some great responses on my secrets post idea. I don't quite have enough for "critical mass" yet, so I thought I'd set a deadline of tomorrow night to submit your secret. If all goes well, I'll put the post up on Tuesday. Have you been holding back? If so, send it on in. You'll feel better!

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Father's Day 

I will celebrate Father's Day by spending some time with my dad on Sunday afternoon. This will be the first Father's Day I've spent with him in many years. I've done the cards and the phone calls, but it is wonderful to be able to be there in person. My dad is a special guy.

I wrote about dad's life in this post last year. I always thought I had a great dad while I was growing up and learned to appreciate him even more as an adult. What I love most about him is how he treats people. He is perhaps the most genuine, warm, caring man I've ever met. My dad is the real deal. He continues to amaze me to this day.

When autism was first indicated as a possibility for Patrick through the school psychologist's tests I drove by my parent's house. Fighting back tears I shared with them what I had suspected for some time. Patrick wasn't developing normally and the quirks I noticed in him could no longer be shrugged off. Now here it was in black and white. Autism. My son. I was sitting on the couch talking and my dad stood up and walked across the room. He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "Patrick may never be the star quarterback of the football team. But when you've raised kids like I have you understand whats important and things like that aren't important. What is important is that you love him and want the best for him. I just want my kids to be happy. That is what you'll want for him too."

I called my parent's house a couple of days after Lee told me that she wanted out of our marriage. I sobbed into the phone talking to my mother and after a time she handed the phone to my dad. His calming voice rang clear over the telephone wire. He said, "son, you're a good man. I'm so sorry that things aren't working out. I know you love her. I'm here and I'll help you any way I can."

Dad's health isn't the best anymore. He struggles to get around but he is determined. One of his favorite lines? "I'm 74 years old but I don't look a day over 73!" He goes to my niece's basketball games and continues to coach her in the backyard. He recently started taking an art class and is enjoying his newfound hobby, sitting in his room painting. He recently developed an interest in Incan history and culture and has spent hours doing research online. He continues to enjoy his lifelong interest in basketball and still draws plays on stray sheets of typing paper. He hasn't been on the local school board in many years but still fields calls and visits from people asking advice about what to do with problems at local schools. He still has an interest in geophysics and corresponds with old friends in the field. His interests are wide...Roman and Greek history, the Victorian era, the British royal family, and stories of the American West. He gave me a book last week.....an oral history of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

He still has an eye for a beautiful woman and doesn't hesitate to point one out to me. When I was younger we'd be driving along the highway and a beautiful woman would drive by us. He would get my attention and point her out and make a comment about how beautiful she was. My mom would just roll her eyes at us.

He has spent a lot of time with Patrick and it is touching to me to watch the two of them together. When I stopped by to pick Patrick up a few days ago, dad told me, "Patrick has been painting with me and he really seems to like it. I know you don't want him making a mess of your house but I think it would be good if you would allow him to paint under your supervision." He was even good natured when Patrick reprogrammed his remote control to switch only between cartoon channels.

One of the things that happens at my age is that you know your parent's days are numbered. My dad won't be around forever. He has already lived past the point where all the doctors thought he would. It makes me sad to think of a day where my dad won't be there. He has taught me so much. I always wanted to be just like him. He was an important man who travelled the world, but his heart was always here with his family.

One of my high school basketball games got snowed out and rescheduled. My dad had a trip to Iran that had been on the calendar for months. He changed his trip so that he could attend my game. He didn't miss a single game...not one. We would always dissect the game when I got home that night. He remembered every shot...every pass...every steal. Whether I played great or poorly, he was full of encouragement. That was my dad.

Now I see him almost every day. We talk about work, politics, history, women, sports, art, books, and many other things. I share my funny school stories with him. He tells me something funny that Patrick said that afternoon. Sometimes he'll be sitting in the backyard drawing on a sketchpad. I'll grab a basketball and shoot while we talk. He encourages me to write a book...or two.

I want to be a dad like mine for my own kids. Its the best tribute I can think of to him.

Happy Father's Day Dad! And a Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there who love your kids and do the best you can by them.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Weekend Roundup 6/17-6/18 

The weekend is here already. My kids leave for England in a few hours. All their bags are packed, they're ready to go, they're standing here outside the door, ...... Ok, I'll stop singing. I'm excited for them to have this opportunity. I'll enjoy the time. I'll miss them like crazy.

What you won't miss is this weekend's roundup. There are some fantastic posts to read. Please enjoy!

Angel talks of being woken up the right way! Erin talks about why she wants to live in Buffalo.

Michelle hurt someone and doesn’t feel good about it. Stacey’s daughter and surgery and she was worried.

Ginger has done some interesting things. Sally’s grandkids did something pretty wild.

How much attention is too much or not enough? Mystic Spirit wants to know. Would you want to go to a restaurant where you ordered from the toilet? Les Girly is curious.

Splendid wants the Waffle House burial plan. The dating service wants Annabel to sit for a photo shoot.

Joan went to a wedding reception. The Funky Cowboy is going to see Charley Pride.

Father’s Day is a tough holiday for Walker. Not drinking during summer festivities is tough for Red Head Gal but she’s hanging tough.

Lisa puts her friend’s dilemna out there and asks for advice. Leenie’s dilemna was getting her ex husband to spend some time with their son.

Red hates her husband’s mustache. Goody hates memes.

Scorpy doesn’t like her job very much. Penny doesn’t like closed-in spaces.

Karen shares pictures from her trip. Joe shares about his meeting with some fellow bloggers.

R.D. reports on the creation of a Yankees motorcycle. Molly reports on the first day of her new job.

Undergraduate “borrowed” her daughter’s perfume. Monica jumped on her daughter’s case and had to admit she was wrong.

Trick almost had a good post. Nameless plans to do some whining in future posts. Its good for her!

Mona thinks we should set aside some time to worry. Vickie set aside some time to thank the special people in her life.

Phyllis shares a picture of a happy couple. Sara shares her thoughts about internet friendships.

Stephanie is addicted to break-up songs. Amanda might be addicted to Ebay.

New Wave Gurly has finished her classes and is taking a trip. Frani has been doing some summer reading.

Sleeping Mommy pays a beautiful tribute to her dad. It’s a tribute to Jack that he reads Dr. Seuss to his kids.

Wanda climbed up on her soapbox. Stationery Queen is annoyed by friends who are “busy”.

Shirazi demonstrates the difference between male and female brains. SonSon demonstrates that all moms aren’t equal.

Roselle got hit on by a professional football player. Cyn’s daughter got her wisdom teeth yanked out.

Che wonders about smooth talkers. Satisfied Spouse wonders where her sexuality went.

Trucker Bob was thinking about paying $1000 per comment. I’m thinking about the statistic Sallie shared. 1.7 million people are having sex right now and I’m sitting at my computer.

Juno’s had a debate with her son about censorship. Guess who was in favor? Kathy took her sons fishing. No debate about whether a good time was had by all.

Andie doesn’t like whitening strips. Vince doesn’t like five things that the rest of society seems to love.

Leslie shares some pictures of her flowers. Mary Lou shares an old Mother’s Day card from her son.

Prince Charming has some blog crushes but won’t tell who they are. We know who Faith is dating. She likes him better now that he isn’t wooing her so much.

Bec wants to know what you would sell your soul for. John might’ve sold his just to get out of the Louisiana heat.

Lewis thinks they should stop putting warning labels on products. If they put warning labels on jerks, Bobbie has some candidates.

April has a new piece of jewelry. Brenda has some new ouchies. Cactus and people don’t mix well.

Restless Angel hasn’t been feeling well. Nicole doesn’t feel right when people violate her personal space.

Shelli celebrates three years of blogging. T.Marie blogs and dreams of being a writer. Aka Monty celebrates Bloggers Day.

FlyGirl wishes she could use her imagination like she did as a child. Dawn wished her day hadn’t been quite so long.

Larry has a date…on Aug. 6th. The Incurable Insomniac went to a party but pooped out early!

Susan enjoys working the graveyard shift. Chosha enjoys talking to her friend.

Cindra experienced a perfect summer morning. Alithea is experiencing the feeling of breathing normally again.

DL is a proud grandma. Janet is a birthday girl. Please go by and wish her a happy one!

Kathy remembers her wedding day. Diana remembers chaperoning a 5th grade graduation party.

Maddy wonders what your definition of honesty is. Jazzy wonders if she believes in “soul mates”.

Inky shares observations about air travel. Babs shares some thoughts on banner ads.

LilRed gets a chuckle about a search that led to her site. Laine wasn’t chuckling when she found out she had shingles.

Safiyyah ponders questions of religious tolerance. Muse ponders her marriage.

Pay these fine writers a visit and spread some comments their way please! Have a great weekend!


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Friday, June 17, 2005

Secrets 

I've got this idea for a post. Its inspired by the popular site, PostSecret. If you haven't been there before go take a look. Its quite fascinating. People send in postcards with an anonymous secret they want to share. The blogger then posts the secrets.

Suppose I did something like that here? I could request readers to email me a secret. I'll copy, paste, and post them anonymously in one large post. For fun, I'll toss a few secrets of my own into the mix. It could be entertaining, revealing, and a lot of fun.

The difference between my idea and PostSecrets is of course that I would know who sent the secret. I understand that some might not be comfortable with that. The only think I can give is my solemn pledge that I'll take the secret, post it anonymously, and never reveal to anyone whose secrets they are.

Got a secret you wanna share? Dying to share it perhaps? Get something off your chest? Trust me enough to email to me? I'm serious about protecting your secret and your privacy. Lets hear it. If I get a big enough response I'll do a post. If not...well...it was a crazy idea.

Whaddya think? If I receive a critical mass....lets say 10, then I will do the post. If not, I'll delete your email and move on to my next crazy idea.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

There Are Places I Remember 

all my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

How is it that places, buildings, geographical locations can burn themselves into your memory forever? Since moving back to my hometown I see a lot of them. Some I drive by every day. Others surprise me. I'm driving along, I take a turn, and its there. Some long ago event floods back into my head. Other places I seek out. I know they are out there and I want to see them again. They trigger memories...happy, sad, funny, sweet, and painful.

There are these and so many others. You can call me a sentimentalist and you'd be right. You know what? I don't want to be any other way. I've tried my inner cynic on for size and I don't like it. I'm me....sappy and silly, romantic and trusting, onery and playful, a little naive sometimes, not always as responsible as I should be, flawed and imperfect.

I embrace my past while looking ahead. I wouldn't trade this life for anything. All the moments. All the failures. All the triumphs. Moments of ecstasy. Moments of incredible sadness. Feeling wanted. Not feeling wanted. Feeling like a man. Feeling like a failure. Being satisfied. Wanting so much more. Friendships formed and lost. Love sworn and abandoned. They are all mine.

In my life I've loved them all.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Its the middle of the week, but it feels like Friday! Today was my last day of work until Aug. 11th. Whats a guy to do?

I turned in my keys, my walkie talkie, and my faculty handbook. All the accoutrements of my position....gone! A school administrator with no keys is like a football player without a helmet. I'll probably still reach for the walkie talkie on my waist a few times just out of habit.

The office staff went out to lunch at the Delta Cafe today. Southern food! We had a great time rehashing the year, telling funny stories, and sharing our summer plans. All of these people work so hard and are so dedicated to the kids. I'm proud to work with them...I really mean that.

Wow. I'm overwhelmed by the birthday wishes, the e-cards, the emails, and the surprise guest posts by the lovely Steph and the marvelous Caren. (they really were a surprise!) Did I ever mention that I just love y'all? Love isn't too strong of a word for what I feel.

Then there were the blog birthday posts. A.J., Kathy, April, New Wave Gurly, Sally, and Steph all made posts and sent people here. I always tell the kids at school when they are in bad spirits, "c'mon now. Aren't you feeling the love around here?" I'm feeling the love and I'm humbled and gratified by it.

Be sure and wish a happy birthday to Vickie who shares today's birthday with me.

Aubree has been gone to church camp since Monday morning. She comes home tomorrow evening and I have one day with her before she heads off to England for two weeks. Patrick and I have been doing the "guy" thing this week...just the two of us. Both of them are soooo excited about this trip.

Packing. I have to get both of them packed properly for a two week international trip. I spent last night sorting socks...must have socks! I'm trying to be one of those efficient packers. You know...the ones who don't just throw everything in the suitcase, sit on it, and lock it shut. I'm trying to be ever so methodical in all this.

Aubree asked me, "Dad, what are you going to do with yourself while we're gone?" I said, "I'm going to par-tay! (and did a little dance). She replied, "Dad, you are NOT. Are you?" I said, "I just might!". She shook her head, looked at me, and said, "you better not let ANYONE into my room, ok?" *Laugh*

When I dropped Aubree off to head to camp early Monday morning we unloaded her stuff and I got ready to leave. There were kids milling around all over the place. I said, "c'mere and give me a kiss goodbye!" She did so very reluctantly and whispered, "Dad, you should've given me a goodbye kiss before we got out of the van!"

After I drop the kids off at the airport I'll be attending my family reunion. Its my mom's side of the family and people will begin arriving tomorrow. I'm excited to see them all.

Thanks again to everyone for all of your birthday wishes. I felt special today and it feels damn good.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Birthday Boy 

I heard it was your birthday... ;)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

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ee Happy Birthday, Brian!!! ee

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Six Favorites 

New Wave Gurly has done a tag-back on me and asked me to name my current six favorite songs. Ok, this is a meme I can handle. There are the timeless songs that I'll always love. But my current six favorites? They may not be new songs, but they are what is grabbing me at this moment. Ask me next week? You’ll probably get a different answer.

"You Don't Know Me" (Ray Charles) - the master's take on an old classic. Beautiful melody, poignant lyrics, and the bitter longing that comes with unrequited love. Its all there.

No you don't know the one
Who dreams of you at night;
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
Oh I'm just a friend.
That's all I've ever been.
Cause you don't know me.

You give your hand to me,
And then you say, "Goodbye."
I watched you walk away,
Beside the lucky guy
Oh, you'll never ever know
The one who loved you so.
Well, you don't know me



"Angie" (Rolling Stones) - Whenever I hear this song I end up singing it to myself for days. I listened to it a few days ago and haven't been able to stop singing it.

Angie, angie, when will those clouds all disappear?
Angie, angie, where will it lead us from here?
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats
You can’t say we’re satisfied
But angie, angie, you can’t say we never tried
Angie, you’re beautiful, but ain’t it time we said good-bye?
Angie, I still love you, remember all those nights we cried?
All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke
Let me whisper in your ear:
Angie, angie, where will it lead us from here?
Oh, angie, don’t you weep, all your kisses still taste sweet
I hate that sadness in your eyes
But angie, angie, ain’t it time we said good-bye?


I've Got You Under My Skin
(by Michael Buble) - Buble does a great job with this timeless Sinatra great. The lyrics say it all.

I’ve got you under my skin
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart, that you’re really a part of me
I’ve got you under my skin

I’ve tried so not to give in
I’ve said to myself this affair never will go so well
But why should I try to resist, when baby will I know than well
That I’ve got you under my skin

I’d sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear

Don’t you know you fool, you never can win
Use your mentality, wake up to reality
But each time I do, just the thought of you
Makes me stop before I begin
’cause I’ve got you under my skin


"Hold The Line" (Toto) - another one of those tunes I just can't seem to get out of my head.

It's not in the way that you hold me
It's not in the way you say you care
It's not in the way you've been treating my friends
It's not in the way that you'll stay till the end
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you do

Hold the line
Love isn't always on time

It's not in the words that you told me
It's not in the way you say you're mine
It's not in the way that you came back to me
It's not in the way that your love set me free
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you do


"Last Child" (Aerosmith) - No profound lyrics, but a rockin’ good time.

Stand up, sit down
Don't do nothing
It ain't no good when boss man's
Stuffin' down their throats
For paper notes
And their babies cry
While cities lie at their feet
When you're rockin' the street

Home sweet home

Mama, take me home sweet home

I was the last child
I'm just a punk in the street


"The Kid Is Hot Tonite" (Loverboy) - When I'm feeling good about myself, I enjoy listening to songs like this. Maybe my new theme song? Hehe.

We just heard of a brand new way
and we hope it’s here to stay
We’ll have to wait and see
if it’s half of what they say
We heard he opened up a brand new door
well you know that’s what I’m lookin’ for
we’ll have to wait and see if it makes you shout for more
How do you like him so far?
How do you like his show?
How do you like the way he rocks and the way he rolls?
How do you like his image?
How do you like his style?
How do you like the way he looks and the way he smiles?
CHORUS:
The Kid is hot tonight
whoa so hot tonight
I don’t think I’ll tag anyone this time, but feel free to play!

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Monday, June 13, 2005

They Say Its Your Birthday 

My birthday is June 15th (same day as Vickies...I knew there was a reason I liked her!). Coincidentally, this also is my last day of work before I digress into summer idleness. I'm planning no celebrations, even though my mom mentioned having a combination my birthday/Dad's birthday/Father's Day shindig of some kind.

So what have I learned in the last year? Has it really been a year? My last birthday party was a bittersweet one. My life has changed so much since then. I've changed so much since then. I don't know if there has ever been a span like this in my life where so many things have changed in one year. A year can be like a lifetime when everything is changing and moving.

I was re-reading last year's birthday post. I glanced through the comments and saw some familiar names: Ellen, Dawn, Phyllis, Mary Lou, Brenda, Joel, Leslie, Shelli, Flax, Faith, Kim, Sweety and a couple of others that have since departed the blogging world. Has it really been a year? You guys made it through this year with me. They were here when I was at my very lowest and they are still hanging around today. I love y'all and all the friends I've made since then.

I'm 44 years old on that day. I remember being a young boy and wondering what the world would be like at the turn of the century. Now here I am at middle age. I drive the same streets I used to bicycle on with my friends. I drive past the schools I attended. I run into my middle aged classmates at the supermarket. I could've have imagined then the life I've led. I couldn't have foreseen the successes I've had or the bitter disappointments I've endured. I probably can't foresee the ones I'll experience in the coming years either.

A birthday is a milestone and a celebration of yet another year alive on this planet. As Elton John would croon, "I'm Still Standing". I've made it through the worst. I have a good job, a wonderful family, kids I adore, and fantastic friends. I've had many experiences in the last year that I wouldn't trade for anything. Reunions with old friends. Meetings with new ones. Priceless moments at home and work. Quiet times of lonely desperation. Tender moments that make me want more.

So what do I want for my birthday this year? An IPOD? Oh yeah. A digital camera? For sure. Some good summer reading? Absolutely. Drakkar cologne? Uh huh. Some cool new music? I wouldn't complain a bit.

But the things I really want can't be found in stores or ordered online. I want my kids to be happy, settled, and optimistic about our lives. I want to continue to improve in my professional life and live up to all of my potential. I want good health for my family and friends. I want to experience new things, meet new people, and explore new places. I want to grow as a man and become everything I can be. I want to straighten out my financial situation and remove that source of stress. I want to move out of survival mode and embrace life and all it has to offer. I want to love and be loved. I want to trust and be trusted. I want peace.

I'm optimistic. I'm looking forward. I'm ready for the next year. Line those candles up...I'm ready to blow out all 44 of those puppies!

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