Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 43 without seeing a deer (or How I'm spending my lent)

When we first moved into our new place, we were told that deer sometimes come down off the hill and eat the plants on the property. Since then, we have only seen a deer once, way up on the hill. On Sunday we saw a coyote up on the crest of the hill, but it disappeared behind the hill before we could spend a lot of time watching it. More than anything, I wanted to see if it had a deer leg dangling in it's mouth.

I have time to notice these things since Lent started. For Lent this year, I gave up Facebook Monday through Friday (I need FB on the sabbath to do my calling at church) and Amy and I attempted to give up sugar. Facebook is turning out to be the simpler of the two. Each day I find myself getting more and more stuff done and having less and less drama in my life as I spend less time with Facebook.

For sure, sugar is my hardest challenge. All day Monday my mind flashed back to our honeymoon and the time we were at Guiradelli Square in San Fran. There we had a Vanilla Sunday with chocolate and caramel; warm chocolate and warm caramel. The type that has a base of toppings, the ice cream, and then more topping drizzled on... You get the idea. As Monday passed by, my mind flashed upon that image and my mouth watered. Today as I was leaving work, my mind flashed back to Sunday as a girl sat next to me in Sunday School. She unwrapped three bite size Snickers and then ate them as the class proceeded - savoring every bite. Suddenly today, I too wanted to unwrap a whole bag of Snickers and devour them, bite by bite. To help cure some of these cravings, I've tried to fill my boy with healthy choices: fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. the first two, great choices. I actually read the ingredients on the yogurt container today: 4th one listed is Sugar. Now I have to decide whether or not I'm giving up 95% of sugar for Lent or if I'm giving up yogurt for lent as well.

This year's lent is definitely being a bit more of a change than past years. Good thing I can distract my self by looking for deer on the horizon.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A photo a day day

Some days I miss doing a daily photo. Today would have been a great day. For almost a year now, my stomach and throat have been having spasms when I eat bread, meats or if I eat rice too fast. I keep forgetting to see a doctor about it. Well today at work, the problem took an unfortunate turn. Evidently my esophagus has a shrinking problem when it comes to certain foods. Today it shrunk around a piece of chicken and blocked the passage. Nothing went down, including my saliva. I kept vomiting my saliva. So I was rushed to the ER. I first got a medicine to relax my esophagus, but that only lessened the problem. Eventually I got to go to surgery. I was sedated and had a camera shoved down my throat and had the piece of food removed. Then I woke up and was told I was on a 72 hour liquid diet.

And of course all I can think about is how cool a photo a day shot this would have made.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I want to fly

In December I saw Avatar and it had a guy who jumps on the back of a bird and flies around. This past weekend, Amy and I saw "How to train your Dragon." During the movie, a boy (with his girlfriend later on) mounts on the shoulders of a dragon. In both instances I watched in envy. I have been able to defy gravity several times. I've stripped down to my underwear and had a TSA agent approve me to board a huge metal tunnel and fly. But that flying isn't the same as the joy I watched those little cartoon faces. As I watched, I felt a need to fly. The closest feeling I can think of is riding roller coasters. But even that is attached to a track. I wonder how it would feel to just fly. I think I would love that feeling.

(Both movies also had a person or two a with a disability. Thanks be to the movie world for realizing that these are real people and can do more than they were previously given credit for.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pondering upon girlfriends past

Last Monday, Amy came over to the house to pick up some work related items from Dave. While there she gave me a hug. It wasn't a quick hug but one of those hugs that tells you "I will hug you for as long as you need this hug. I am your friend, I love you and I want you to feel loved and comforted." I did linger in my hug, because on that day, I could have used a hug.

After Amy left, I got to thinking about the qualities of girlfriends past. Five girlfriends come to mind (Disclaimer 1): Amy, Nina, Melinda, B'Shaun and KNJ-P. For various reasons, I miss a piece of each one of these girls.

Amy was always free with her affection. I have met girls that only give affection when they want it, but not Amy. If I wanted a hug or a kiss, she was glad to oblige, with no alternative motive. Additionally she used to hold me. I know it is the strong guy that is supposed to hold the girl as she is comforted through her life, but sometimes I just want to be held. She would curl up with me and wrap her arms around me and make me feel safe. Because of past experiences, I have a real hard time feeling safe, but with her, I was safe.
Anoter great aspect about Amy is her ability to see the world through a much simpler way. She enjoys the simple things in life and doesn't require a lot of complication to be happy or satisfied. Since dating her,I tend to look morefor the positive in people, seek out happy moments and enjoy more of the sun on my face than curse it.

Nina has several redeeming qualities. To start out with, she is super smart. She studies hard and knows her material well. I can ask her a slew of questons and she often knows the answer and is able to teach it to me. Another great quality of Nina is her ability to call me on my crap. I make a lot of excuses for myself and Nina has the ability to call me onmy excuses and get me to admit I'm putting out a line of bull. In other words, she knocks down my pride and humbles me. No matter how smart other people think I am, she is able to point out to me the things I'm really smart about and the things I'm just making up as I go along. Furthermore, she inspires me to go and learn more about the things I know crap about because I hate being called out on it. Lastly, Nina has taught me to love animals more. As I learn to love animals more, especially dogs, I find myself becoming more social. Just last weekend, I went hiking at a place that had maybe 60 dogs scattered through out the park. I got to meet several owners and talk to them about the park, their dogs, and other topics.

Melinda gave me a greater appreciation for the outdoors. While she still can't convince me that camping is "fun," I love going out hiking and seeing new things in nature. When we were dating in Rexburg, we went out almost every night on a walk. I learned the streets of Rexburg well and had some great adventures that I still refer to today. I learned about plants and nature and national parks and all sorts of things. In addition to the walks, Melinda gave me the gift of learning about the world I live in. Both of us actively read the National Geographic magazine and discuss the contents. Though I loved learning before, Melinda really helped me focus my learning. Melinda's enthusiasm for the National Parks System helps fuel my enthusiasm for the Parks system and my desire to wander through it. In addition to nature, Melinda keeps my passions alive in helping people with disabilities. Part of her extra ciricular activities at BYUI is to keep Adaptive Activities alive and well. Just this past weekend Melinda helped host a Goalball event. Melinda is not blind or in a wheelchair, but her continued desire to help those that are and teach those that aren't reminds me of my desire to do the same.

B'Sean has an enthusiasm for life like nothing else. This girl is excited For pretty much anything. She can go up to complete strangers and talk to them like they were in the war together. I'm a bit anti-social, but B'Sean taught me to be a little more open. She helped me figure out that I'm anti-social to groups, but that small groups or one on one is fine for me. She got me to try new things and be willing to leave my comfort zones. B'Sean is always a good ear as well. She (and the three previously mentioned) is more than willing to sit there and listen during those times when I just need someone to hear me.

KNJ-P had the ability to instill self confidence and the ability to do the one thing no one else has been able to do: teach me about me. Sure she was able to do a lot more and taught me to hold myself to a higher standard, but the one thing I always think about when it comes to her was her ability to teach me about meShe had this strange ability to look into me and interpet my actions, my words, and my past in a way that brought sanity to me. I have never felt as safe or as understood by someone as much as she did and then taught me to do. Because of her, I believed I could do so much. I took on a lot of fears head on because she told me I could handle it and then was to help support me when I faltered (it turned out she was often right too. I could handle those fears.). Another great redeeming quality was her loyalty. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I very plainly told KNJ that we should break up. She calmy told me that she loves me and that she will be with me through good and bad. And until it became very clear 18 months later that our relationship had run its course, KNJ stuck to that. She was firecly loyal to me and to our relationship. The last thing I really liked about KNJ was that she was constantly thinking and constantly planning. She probably had ten projects going on in her head at a time. One time I heart attacked her room (took construction paper,cut it up into heart shapes, tossed them around her room and on her bed.). She thought it was cute, said thank you, and I thought that was it. Two months later, she got a friend and not only heart attacked my room but put 15 different oragamy figurines through out my room with little quotes attatched to them. She was planning it the whole time, while also carrying a full load of classes and designing a 20 foot Chineese dragon puppet. Little things like that continued through our relationship as she was constantly thinking about other things to add to our relationship. It was creatively nice.

As I ponder about these past girlfriends, I'm reminded that I trully am blessed. I'm still close friends with four of them. And I have these great gifts that I have been given from dating these wonderful women. I love animals, people, nature and life. I've learned about the world I live in, new activities and about myself. 4.5 (disclaimer #2) of these women tell me that they too were given a lot through our dating and that they were blessed because of the experience and enjoy being near me.

As I look though the girls on Plentyoffish.com (rant #1), I am sadly disapointed because of the standard these previous women have given.

Disclaimer 1: Melinda and B'Shaun have never been an offical "Girlfriend of Sean" but both have been dated more times than some ex-girlfriends I have had.
Disclaimer 2: KNJ-P and I have a civil relationship now. The other four women get along fine with me. KNJ-P has said in the past that dating me was a great experience but she has no desire to be close now. I'm okay with that.
Rant 1: Okay, I realize that, to most people, getting a little buzzed sounds fun, but come on. Seriously is there that few number of people who don't smoke and don't drink alcohol that they just don't show up on online dating sites?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Social Networking becomes Social Narcissim

On Sunday I made a deal with a friend: We are both giving up Facebook for the week. So, since Sunday I have not seen the familiar blue background and nor have I been reading up and keeping up on the lives of about 300 friends. I have been coming home, checking my e-mail and watching tv or doing homework.

After just three days I find myself struggling. I'm not struggling with not knowing what's going on in other people's lives. I'm not struggling not being able to comment on the mundane in the world. I don't miss clicking the "like" button. However there is one thing I really do miss: Updating others on my status.

I use my status update both as a way to try to be creative and also a way to gather comments from friends - usually in a jealous way. Tuesday it was 70 degrees and so I bought a chocolate shake. As I was sucking it, I was really tempted to log onto Facebook and announce it. Monday night when we were moving the "new" fridge into the house, both Dave and I missed a step. He had the whole fridge fall on his leg, while I only had a corner of it fall on my knee (which still hurts today).

In addition to get sympathy or create jealousy, I use it as a way to create quick creative posts. A few weeks ago, it was "Trap set, cage built, now all I need is a purple person and I'll be able to catch my very own one eyed one horned flying purple people eater." Another week it was "Three steps to becoming a hero: 1. Live in the west. 2. Work in the east. 3. Drive off into the sunset every day. Bonus if you can tilt your hat to all of the women and children." After a week of lacking sleep and early mornings I wrote that I was "still a little punchy and feeling like taking over a small country or an ant hill."

Other days, I use my status as a way to make declarative statements. "Sean knows it is going to be a good day when it starts with Oingo Boingo." "Sean feels happy and safe here [in Vallejo]. "The radio Gods have been nice to Sean giving him Queen three times this week."

However, all of these status updates are just the beginning. What I really miss is the response. There is something cool about logging into Facebook and seeing that 4 people liked your status and 3-4 people commented on your status. It helps reinforce a personal feeling that at times - I'm awesome. No where else in life do you get that (I used to get a lot of that with the Photo A Day blog, but that died off over time which helped lead to my boredom with that project). No where else does it happen regularily that you type something that is less than 200 characters or you publish a picture or you post a link - that people decide they like it and think is cool. And that is sadly what I have been missing most this week. I got a little bit of praise this week (My friend Jill keeps telling me what a hard worker I am because of the amount of work I do at home after I get home from work) - but one voice isn't enough. Social Networking has turned me into a social narcisist and a whore for praise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Service is rarely fit to your schedule

It's 12:01 in the morning and I am no where near the bed that was beckoning me just 60 minutes prior. I am instead sitting in an ER waiting room, laptop open and fingers typing. Service never seems to come calling at 10 in the morning after a good night's rest.

On Sunday, during a testimony meeting, a friend got up and talked about learning to let himself go. He talked about the importance of that scripture "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My Sake shall find it." and the other "When you are in the service of your fellow being you are only in the service of your God." My friend was talking about giving service to me.

I live at a house that was a foreclosure and bought as an investment. The owner of the house then got transferred out to Indiana. In able to keep renters in the house, the owner is charging a very low rate, but with that low rate comes the responsibility of taking care of the house. A shed in the back yard had started to lean and was in danger of taking out the back fence if the shed leaned any more. So I sent out a desperate plea for help with the shed on Facebook. There were many conflicts for the time I chose. One big conflict for my friend was a desire to see a girl he is courting. He had commitments in the afternoon that he couldn't get out of so it was a very simple choice of seeing her or helping tearing down the shed. He read that scripture earlier in the week and felt impressed to come to my place.

My friend testified on Sunday about the joy and peace that entered him as he worked on the shed. Some things that had been frustrating him disappeared as the shed took on his anxious energy. His mind cleared as he focused on the shed and its ultimate demise.

As he left he was invigorated and felt energized. He was better at ease and was asking if there was more work to be done. His afternoon went well and he even got to see that cute girl.

The core of his testimony was how he went to provide service for me and yet when he left - he felt the service had been done to him. For the most part - I think that is how service works. I've never walked away from a service activity that I said to myself "Gosh that was a waste."

In a few minutes I will post this and start reading a new book I got in the mail today. Just in the nick of time, a book a friend recommended arrived today in the mail. A service by a friend to keep me entertained while I provide service to a friend. What a nice circle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

making it through the storm

As I sat in my office the last 2 hours of the day, it was unavoidable to hear the wind picking up the pace outside. Each time the automatic door opened bigger and bigger gusts of wind were able to force there way into the building. Whether it was predicted or not, we had a cold front and a rain storm on its way.

At 3:30 I adventured out to my truck and saw on my western horizon a dark line forming in the sky. There were no individual clouds, only a thick grey cloud. I drove west, heading right for it.

As I got closer to the dark horizon, I noticed to my right the Delta already engulfed in the suffocating clouds. Around me the wind increased and knocked my light truck bed around like I was a pinata at an Oakland Athletics' batting practice. Shortly before the hill that arose in front of me, the sky began to open up, first my spitting on my windshield, but eventually it came down in sheets and decreased the visibility of the other motorists in front of me. By the time I reached the crest of the hill, little white beads started to pepper the hood of my truck. Hail is not common in California, but this little storm didn't let that deter it. My truck's hood turned from bright red to speckled white.

I pressed on.

By the time I reached the bridge, I was on the other side. The only visibility problem I faced now was the bright sun cascading down from the baby blue sky. The wet pavement reflected the shine up, filled the truck cab with warmth and a little bit of glare. As I looked back over the darkened Delta, I thought of the near ending of the Truman Show. Truman, in the midst of his own storm, shouts up at the sky and screams "Is that the best you can do?" I too felt that way as a smile settled on my face and I thought about the other storms in my life. They might seem dark and able to toss me around. But waiting on just the other side is sunshine and an attitude of "Is that the best you can do? Because that trial - that storm - wasn't nearly enough to knock me off course.