Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The end of a long road . . . and the beginning of another.

So, I just received an e-mail from a friend today who's finally, after 5 years of writing, revising, hoping, praying, worrying, thinking, and praying some more, having his book published. What's more, he's having all three of his books published (he wrote a trilogy) and getting paid a nice advance for the work. Wow. Congrats to you, BW, and more importantly, how cool has God been throughout this whole process? He'll be the first to tell you that the process I described above resulted in success mainly because of steps four and seven.

I've been with him, albeit in a small way, on the journey, mainly through supportive e-mails and prayer. I think one of the best benefits of prayer, especially in situations like this where you're praying for something good to happen for a friend for a long time, and you wait and wait and wait for that good result to come, is that when God finally does come through, you can react to the news of His faithfulness with joy unalloyed by any hint of baser emotions.

I've found, in myself, that sometimes there's a tiny hint of jealously when a friend or relative succeeds. It's an unworthy emotion, I know, but it's there all the same. It doesn't happen in all cases, by any means, so feel free to keep telling me of your successes. What's more, I haven't narrowed down what the root cause of it is. Is there a word for jealousy at someone's success? It seems like there should be.

Anyway, when you pray with and for someone to succeed, I think that you invest a small part of yourself in that person and in their goal. Therefore, when they succeed, when God comes through in a miraculous or mundane way, it's as if you've succeeded along with them, and you can share in theire joy fully. BW, I'm proud of you, proud that you stayed faithful, and glad that I was able to come along with you, at least in a tiny way, and share in your success.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A red-letter day

In light of today's auspicious occasion, I thought I'd regale you with a tale or two from my youth.

What stands out to me most about my father is not just one occasion, but all sorts of little ones that, piled one on top of another, create a palimpsest of joy that is the hallmark of any happy childhood. One time when we were driving somewhere--I think it was on the freeway that heads south out of Riverside to Palm Springs. We were together, planning to meet my mom, sister and brother who were already at our destination. That whole ride down, my mind was alive with questions, from wondering about sharks and jellyfish to various internal organs, to astronomy and space. Dad had an answer for every one of those questions, usually one that made me think even harder, but what's more, I remember thinking how great it was that he was listening to me--not just what I was saying, but to me, his son.

Dad would always be the one to wipe off all of the counters in our house, polishing them until I could see my reflection in the surface. He never complained, and still doesn't, about working incredibly long hours at a job packed with responsibility and unhappy people. He would go out into the snow with us and toss snowballs, and he always wore that black sweater with the flourescent green chevrons on the front when we went skiing. Dad never got sick, he never got uncontrollably angry, and he was never, ever ticklish--no matter how hard Bobbi and I tried to make him laugh.

As I raise my daughter, I think back to the gift my father has given me--an example of how to be a role-model, confidante, authority figure, and friend, all in just the right proportions and at just the right times in my life. Happy birthday, Dad.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The weather feels . . . Hillsdale-y

So walking outside this morning to replace the cover on the grill from last night, I had a distinct sense of nostalgia. The rainy cold weather, the snap in the air--all of it took me back to my college days. I've probably written about this before, but the powerful associations with Hillsdale and fall in the Midwest will probably stick with me the rest of my life, at least until Evie's old enough to go back to school.

Instead of getting in the car and going to work, the weather tells me I should be waking up at 9:55, heading to a Victorian Lit. class captained by a disturbingly cheerful Sunny D. Instead of figuring out my time sheets, the cold air tells me I should be figuring out how to cut Falke's latest article by 15 words so it fits on the page. Instead of tapping away at a keyboard blogging, I should be pounding away at an N64 controller, Mario Karting.

There is one silver lining in all of this, though it does have a trailer of a black cloud attached: I'll be going up to Homecoming this year, staying with a good friend and trying hard not to let the nostalgia overwhelm me further. For those of you who can't be there, I'll be your eyes and ears, blogging about significant and less-significant events that will be taking place. And for those of you who can be there, let's get together and relive the memories together.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blogging on blogging

You know, I think I've revealed a funadamental truth about myself when it comes to blogging, and that truth is: my life is fairly regular, safe and predicatable. It's unfortunate that those words hold a perjorative sense, but hey, I'm stuck with English for now, thanks to lazing about in Japan for 9 months instead of dilligently studying kanji like my friend Tony no doubt is right now. I think that the sameness of the days contributes to the feeling that nothing is really changing, when in reality (now that I think about it a little deeper), things are changing around me all the time.

Take Evie, for instance (a subject I can't get very far away from). Just two weeks ago, she had lots of words, but rarely, if ever, said more than one at a time. Nowadays, she's stringing two and three words together, and most certainly can understand almost everything said to her, as well as, I suspect, much of what's said around her.

Or, take my work, where the crush of tasks to be done continues to pile up, as usual. Things can be going along swimmingly for awhile, creating the illusion of regularity I mentioned earlier, then Bam! People leave, new ones come, clients leave, clients sign on with us, etc. etc.

I forget the thinker who came up with the concept of "Punctuated Equilibrium," but I think that, no matter what you think about evolution, the idea can be applied to everyday life as well. The basic theory, as I understand it, comes from evolution, where instead of a slow, gradual change in a species, resulting in a fox slowly changing into a wolf, for example, evolutionary change happens very rapidly and is punctuated by a catastrophic change in conditions. Thus, you can have a fossil record of trilobytes stretching back for hundreds of thousands of years, and then, in a century or two, they're all gone--either they evolved into something else or they're extinct.

Life seems to move in the same way---lots of stability punctuated by fierce bursts of rapid change. My only wonder is, when and how will my life change in the same way?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Seeing Dr. Arrnn again

Yesterday, though a monster day at work, Megan and I made time to attend a Hillsdale reception hosted practically in my own backyard. This marked the first time I was able to attend one of these functions, although I have attended similar "Hillsdale events" back in the day, including "THE Hillsdale Event," the inauguration of Larry P. Arrrrrrrrnn and the subsequent initiation/christening of the Good Ship Hillsdale.

That was a night to remember. The College went all out, setting up a giant pavilion in the Quad, putting in A/C and false floors and transforming my humble Ultimate pitch into a rough approximation of a convention center ballroom, or the deck of a sailing ship. Drinks, both alcoholic and non-, flowed freely as the Captain doubled our daily ration of spirits for this occasion. SAGA outdid itself with bacon-wrapped filet and the biggest shrimp I've ever laid my oxymoronic eyes on. After speechifying, a band played and my girlfriend (now my wife) and I danced the night away in the soft summer evening.

The reception certainy echoed that initial inauguration--say what you will about the Captain, but at least he throws a decent shindig. Probably the high point of the evening, aside from seeing old friends and professors again (Dr. Conner is looking particularly well), was a brief conversation my wife and I had with the Captain himself. He was very complimentary, particularly of the old gang of miscreants and malcontents that I used to run around with (we called ourselves the "BackPage Staff" then). Dr. Arrrrrn even went so far as to say that he learned a lot from how we treated him, the Administration, and even the rules of the College itself, and paid us the very flattering compliment that he used our example as his model for student engagement at the College in the present day.

If that's the case, where's the Backpage? What happened to the funny?

Oh well. My wife and I both left invigorated, reminded of just how special a place Hillsdale is, and particuarly how special the people there are.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Greenish-pale thoughts

So I've been sick lately--spent most of Sunday in a chair at my wife's grandmother's trying to trick my body into sleeping so I wouldn't have to experience the feeling of losing last night's dinner, or what was left of it, again. And again. And again. Although it might seem like I only write in this blog when I'm sick or guilty, I want you to know that that's not the case. I also write in this blog when I don't have much to do at work, which lately hasn't been often.

That also contributes to why I'm writing today. Something I'm starting to realize is that I (I won't presume to speak for you, or even my fellow americans) have a slightly overblown sense of my own importance to the place where I work. Living in Japan, and talking to Europeans when there, made me realize that this is not a common attitude worldwide, though it is a common one, I've observed, in Americans. I'm at work today, despite a recent recurrence of the symptoms from Sunday, and so this sense of the importance of my work is much on my mind right now.

Is it something you've observed in yourself as well? Do you feel like you have to be at work, or at least know what's going on there, 24/7 or 24/5 as the case may be? In my case, I think it was something ingrained in me when I was little--I was the kid that always wanted to go to school, and would pretend to be better than I was in order to go. My sister had a much more sensible attitude--when my Mom took time off work, she would conveniently be "sick" until it was too late in the day for her to go to school, and then she'd pop up, cured and ready to spend the day with her mommy. Maybe this sense comes from being the first, and theoretically, most responsible child, I don't know.

I just know that I think I'm going to go home early today--right after this important meeting with my colleague.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Guilt-free writing

Sometimes I think the purpose of a blog is to be made to feel guilty by one's friends. If that's true, then it's certainly working well in my case, although I'm sure they can't complain because their snarky comments have resulted in another blog post. Seriously though, thanks for the prodding (good natured, I hope!) and pushing to keep up with this thing. It's too bad I can't make any money off of "blog posts apologizing for not writing." The problem is, they're too common.

The other difficult thing about blogging is that the big things--work, family, recreation--seem to change very slowly, or not at all, now that I'm settled into married life. Of course, as soon as I typed that sentence, I realized how false it was, as Evie's growing and changing faster than I can keep up. Didn't someone once say that one of the main benefits of children is keeping you young?

Nowadays, she's walking and talking, when she isn't running and crying, that is. She's made the full transition from " helpless bundle of needs and wants" to "bundle of needs and wants that can sometimes fulfill its own needs and wants." She's become a little person instead of a little thing, and her personality is starting to show. Luckily for us, it appears we've lucked into a very sweet, very smart person.

In terms of developmental milestones, for those of you keeping track (Hi Mom!), she can string words together--like "Too Bright!" or "Read Snowflakes!"--as well as pick up and remember new words in a jiffy. She's started to request using the potty, although this is sporadic at best, and the main reason she requests it is to use the toilet paper and throw it in the pot. She loves having "Medicine" put on her ouchies, of which there are plenty, and has started to show an aversion to bathing. Her brown eyes sparkle with intelligence, when you can see them underneath a fierce mop of light brown curls (we have yet to cut her hair).

As for me and Meg, well, that's the subject for another post. Thanks for reading, and for your patience.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Sorry for the fall off in blog production. A number of family issues, one of which I'll tell you about shortly, kept me away from the computer. That, and indolence, laziness, business, whatever you want to call it. Thanks for the encouragement, Hack, to post--I'll try not to let June go by without posting more than once.

So the other Monday (Memorial Day) we were returning home from a trip to G-ma Fouts' farm, where we had spent the weekend. A peaceful place with waving corn, country roads, and comfort food, we were returning from the trip happy, satisfied, and slightly early in the afternoon, ready to do a bit of light gardening and visiting Linda and Ed for Budnt cake before putting the babycakes to bed. Well, that was the plan, anyway.

The reality was, I found myself in bed with incredible stomach pain. My best analogy for the pain would be if a 98-lb weakling was punching me lightly and repeatedly in the stomach, and then that weakling slowly started to gain muscle mass until he was as powerful as Mike Tyson in his prime and just as crazy (he is punching me in the stomach for no reason, after all). And for the medically inclined out there, he wasn't focusing on just one area, but working the whole abdomen.

So I tried to soldier through it at first, laying on the floor while Evie played on me and Megan folded laundry. Tried to get some rest in bed while the two of them went to eat that Bundt cake. Tried to take my mind off of it by playing a video game (Puzzle Quest, an RPG-Puzzle game where Bejeweled is the main engine). Eventually, I called my parents to ask for advice, and, alarmingly enough, they recommended an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.

By this time, the 98-lb weakling had worked his way up to middleweight class. I climbed into the car, Megan zoomed off, and we were on our way to the ER at Lutheran Hospital. By this time, it was 8 p.m. and I still had an article to finish up for Play Magazine that was due that night. After the preliminaries, they took me back to a room and I proceeded to writhe and groan while a nurse with tiny eyebrows stuck me first in one arm, then the other when my right arm veins decided they didn't want to be an IV site after all. After we were left in relative peace, I dictated the rest of my article to Megan, who relayed it to Linda, who proofread and e-mailed the article to my editor. Free to suffer in peace, Megan and I spent the next 7 hours waiting to be x-rayed and CAT scanned, and for a doctor to come and examine me. Thankfully, nurses with syringes of powerful painkillers made the wait much less painful, though not less fearful.

I was semi-coherent during this time. After the first shot of morphine, the pain subsided enough to let me sleep, then after the first scan they needed me to drink some stuff that would help my internal organs show up better. That brought the pain back on again, and another shot of morphine. After the second scan, the doctor said that they had ruled out any of the emergency causes of the pain (appendix, kidney stones, gall stones, etc) and that, since I was feeling better, they were going to discharge me and give me a perscription for Vicodin. When I asked about the pain, they said that I should take the Vicodin if in pain and see my family doctor ASAP for a referral to a GI specialist.

Somewhat disheartened, but mostly just tired, we went home at 4 a.m., woke Linda up and sent her home, and I rested for two days waiting for the pain to come back, which it never did. I still have the bottle of Vicodin, and a new appreciation for what Megan went through with Evie.

Oh, and my editor decided not to use the article. Good times.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A photo

Here's Evie in her favorite sweater at the playground. She's 13 months. Notice the tiny balls on her sweater--she loves to put them in her mouth, and will carry the sweater around with her even when she's not wearing it.
She's trying to put her finger in a little hole, by the way.

Quick hits

--So I'm completely, utterly enraptured by an online game known as Warfish recently. The game itself isn't much to speak of, it's mainly the chance to interact with friends like JS, ND, and even RD and CR. An online version of RISK, Warfish lets you play Risk at a distance with your friends. Turns aren't played concurrently, and they don't have to be played while anyone else is online, but sometimes, when JS, ND and I are all on at the same time, it can almost seem live, but you have to refresh your browser window in order to be able to see if anyone has moved yet. Sometimes I have to restrict myself from hitting that refresh button, just so that I can get some actual work done.

--For those of you following along, it's been almost a month since I've posted. Along with flagging discipline comes a healthy dose of guilt--credit my wife with getting me out of this funk and back into blogging, even if it's just, in her words, a short post.

--Evie's doing well. Her number of new words increases daily. Lately, she's taken to counting, even though she's not sure what she's doing, what she's counting, or even how to say the numbers properly. It is, as you'd imagine, very very cute. I'll have to see if I can get one of her most recent pictures up here on the blog. I'll try it in a post right after this one.

--If you're a praying sort (and I know a lot of you are), please keep us in mind when you talk to the Big Fella. Nothing major going on, but we're between churches right now, and are wandering in the wilderness as we attempt to find one.

--And that's a wrap!