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Saturday Posts . . .

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What is it?

I have a photo (actually 2 of them) to share from a recent experience.  First, I should warn you that the images may be disturbing to some people.

So, what is it?

Ha, ha.  I’ll bet you thought it was my choice of Halloween Costume for this year!  Not even close.  It’s also not photographic evidence of my wife beating me up.  Such a thing has never happened. Here is another view:

Okay, I’ll spill.  Actually, that’s what I did.  I spilled off my front porch Saturday morning at around 9:30 am Central USA time zone. This is an example of why multi-tasking is such a horrendous idea that it should be outlawed.  I was heading out to the front yard to trim some more tree branches, and instead of watching where I was walking, I was thinking about where I was going to make the cuts.  Turned out, I didn’t make any!  What I did instead was a beautiful swan dive off the porch, head first into the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs.

So, I did have to go to the ER – about 10 stitches in my right eyebrow, and a broken bone in my right wrist. Other than that, there is a lot of bruising that is keeping me uncomfortable, but I’m alright.

Eckhart Tolle wrote a whole book on the importance of “NOW”  Veterans of Scientology would call it “Being in present time”.  It all boils down to this lesson:  Whatever you’re doing, make it the ONLY thing you’re doing, do it well and completely, and only then move on to the next thing.

Updates . . .

Two things we’ve done this past week have been upgrades.  The first was a new toilet, and the second was upgrading the bed my wife sleeps on.  Both require more exposition to understand.

When we bought this house 9 years ago, it came with that ugly “early ’70’s Harvest Gold” colored toilet and bathtub.  Now, the bathtub can be recolored, but not a ceramic toilet.  In addition to that, the tank on the toilet held 3.3 gallons of water, and used all of it for every flush, making it a huge water waster.  After talking to our plumber, we realized that if we replaced it now, we could pay it off in a year or two with the savings on our water bill, AND have checked off one purchase we would need for the future total bathroom remodeling project.  So we did.  The toilet we got has a dual-flush system to increase how much water we save.  When we only pass fluids, we can push one button on the tank and it only uses 1 gallon of water to flush.  When there is more material to flush, we push the other button, and it uses 1.4 gallons of water.  It looks great, and works perfectly. We’re happy with the result.

Shortly before we decided to move forward with that project, my wife made a trip to the chiropractor complaining about waking in the morning, EVERY morning, with back pain.  The chiropractor looked her over, and told her she probably needed a mattress that provided better support.  My wife took that to mean a firmer mattress my wife sleeps on. But, when she priced mattresses locally, the prices she saw ran from $250 to over $3000.  So as a compromise, I suggested we trade beds until we’d saved the money to get her new mattress.

Enter act 2 of that saga.  She had planned to go shopping for the mattress this morning.  In the interval time, I’d been having trouble sleeping on the same bed she did – to me it felt like a brick already.  I couldn’t imagine how you’d make it more firm, short of removing the mattress and putting a 4″ thick steel slab on the box spring.  But Merlin (one of our cats) decided to NOT let me sleep at all last night, and I realized it wasn’t about how FIRM the mattress was, but the unnatural way that my body had to bend to try to sleep on it at all.  The only points of my body making contact with the mattress were my shoulders, hips, and ankles – none of the area between those spots.  So, I had an idea – a Memory Foam Mattress Topper, to provide full support to all contact points of the body whether she’s on her side, back, or front.

When she got up this morning, I’d already briefly searched eBay just to prove my theory was possible, and explained to her what I’d figured out – including that the mattress topper was, at worst, half the price of the very cheapest mattress she’d intended to look at.  Also, no delivery fee, because she’d be able to put it in the car to bring it home with her.  She liked that.

Ultimately, that is what she got.  It worked so well, when she tested it after we finished installing it, she loudly exclaimed, “WOW!  This feels like one of those luxury hotel beds I always want to get lost in forever!”  Of course, the FIRST member of the family to actually sleep on it is – MERLIN.  LOL!

Updates . . .

About the whole envelope that my dad delivered yesterday, I decided to leave the decision to my wife, and she opened it.  Inside was a standard birthday card that you can buy almost anywhere, and $10 in cash.  No note, letter, or anything.  I told my wife to donate the $10 to a local charity that supports the Humane Society, and tossed the rest back in the trash.

So, nothing has changed, except that I know for certain my mom thinks money can buy her way back into my life.  Please note that she didn’t even TRY to apologize.

What I didn’t mention yesterday is that we have had storm activity here every day since Friday last week – except on the 23rd.  So, I was exhausted and not thinking my best when dad ambushed me with that card.  It would have been the perfect occasion to tell him that she (mom) should be grateful she got to finish her life outside of a prison cell.  What she did to me is, in Kansas law, called “deprogramming” and it is a felony.  Since it happened in Kansas, I could have reported her and pressed charges.  Instead I let her keep her “good name” and only wanted to never receive any form of communication from her ever again.

I should have known better . . .

As anyone who’s been following my blog for very long will realize, today completes my 57th lap around our sun.  Nothing very special about that, at least in my opinion.

Through the course of the day, I was called with birthday greetings by my dad and my daughter, at different times (of course).  When dad called, he suggested the possibility that he might be traveling into town (he lives in a very small town about 17 miles away) today, and if he did he’d stop by for a cup of coffee.  I welcomed him completely.

Please remember that I’ve not only written here several times, but I’ve also told him several times, that I do NOT in any way, shape, or form, appreciate his willingness to be a conduit for my mother’s efforts to reestablish contact with me.  I’ve told him over, and over, exactly why I discontinued talking to her, and that IMHO she’s already dead.  Mostly because she specifically stated that she wished ME dead as a preferred option to being an adult who made choices she didn’t approve of.  Still, every year when he called for my birthday, he also relayed the expressed birthday wishes of my mother.  Last year, I told him that I didn’t care what he did with her, but I did NOT want him to ever relay that message again.

This morning when he called, he wished me “Happy Birthday” just like usual, but did not attempt to relay a message from my mom.  Instead, he suggested that he might be coming to town, and would like to share a cup of coffee.  I was happy to oblige.  I very rarely get visitors.

I should have known better.  I know, I already said that.  Still, whether you call it optimistic, naive, or even dim-witted, I hoped for a good visit with my dad.

One of the first things he did when I opened the door for him was produce an envelope, addressed to me in care of him, from my mother.  He said, “I hope you’ll accept this in the spirit that I believe it is offered in.”  I immediately threw it in the trash, right in front of him.  He expressed confusion, and suggested that I might actually want to open it before tossing it away.  I had to explain, yet again, that no matter what I ever felt for her, I can’t erase the pain of hearing her say, “I’d rather you were dead than a member of (that cult).”  I was 36 years old when that happened.  The day she said that was the day she died as my mother.  IMHO, every effort she’s made since to regain a relationship with me has just been her insistence on having the last word.

Still, I’m uncertain about leaving that letter in the trash. Is there anything she could say, that I’d actually trust to be the truth, that could be a step at healing that deliberately inflicted injury?  I doubt it, but not 100%.  I don’t want to open it, but a small part of me believes that I should.

What do YOU think?

Sliding Doors . . .

There was a movie a few years ago called “Sliding Doors” about a woman who experienced several different outcomes of a single event of her life, based on whether or not she reached a set of subway car doors before or after they closed when she was on her way home.

Whether you call it imagination, or alternate reality, or parallel universes, I have the ability to see some of the alternate realities I might have had available to me, and that is what this post is about.

First, a disclaimer – there are certain realities of my life, as I’ve lived it, that I do not think it is fair to consider variable.  I do not think that anything I might have done would have changed whether or not I got a bone tumor in my left leg, or the migraine headaches that resulted from taking the pain pills after the surgery that it caused. It also is not fair to assume that any of my personal decisions would have changed whether or not I got kidney stones.  Those things likely would have happened no matter what I did.

So, with that said, let’s look at my personal “Sliding Doors” choices.

The first choice I can remember making which would fit this category would be my joining the US military.  At that time, I had the option on the table of taking a scholarship to attend college.  Based on the laws of the time, if I had made the choice to enter college right after high school, I would not have had the medical insurance to cover the surgery on my bone tumor.  The best case scenario I can think of is that I would have lost my left leg entirely when the bone tumor manifested.  If I’d been in a math or music major, it is still possible I could have completed my studies and progressed to graduate school, but I would have been in serious debt and not sure of affording the expenses attached to completion.  Thus, I can’t find it in myself to regret the choice to join the Army.

The next major “Sliding Doors” moment I remember was after my discharge from the US Army, when I was on VA Vocational Rehabilitation, and studying Computer Science at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS.  After completing one assignment in the computer lab (this was in 1983, and ironically the computer lab was in the room that is currently my wife’s office) I had some time to kill and decided to explore the computer database to see what I could access.  Within minutes, I found myself face-to-face with the Computer Science Department’s Dean’s private files, and had access to ALL of the grades of every student in the program.  Looking back, I suppose that it was an option that I could have gone to the Dean and told him about this, but at that time I just freaked out (it hadn’t been so long since Matthew Broderick’s movie “Wargames” released) and quit the program to avoid becoming an actual hacker.  Going to the Dean might have saved my career, but I’m not sorry that I quit.  I can’t imagine that I’d have done well in a career where my whole job was sitting in a cubicle typing code for computer programs that I didn’t care anything about.  Choosing that major was probably a bad choice in the first place, but the Veteran’s Administration wasn’t willing to pay for me to go to college for anything where there wasn’t “documented need for trained workers” – or, to put it another way, they were only willing to feed corporate wage-slave demands.

After that, my next crossroads was spiritual.  For a while, I entertained the possibility that my interest in all things spiritual was leading me to a vocation as a Christian Minister, and I enrolled at a Bible college in the minister’s program, still in the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation program.  2 things of note happened there.  The first was that the faculty of the school didn’t like trying to answer questions that I kept asking, and I was asked to leave.  The second, while I was a student I took a course in Radio Broadcasting, and became a minor celebrity throughout the region because of my frequent air-time on the Bible College’s radio station.  When I told the director of the radio station that I would not be continuing as a student, he asked me to stay on as a DJ anyhow.

So, either of those could have turned out differently.  I could have accepted that the questions were “above my paygrade” and stayed in the program by choosing to stop asking those questions.  If I had, I’d likely be a church minister right now.  And, yes, it does not escape me that because of the rule “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true” I’m likely still an Ordained Minister of the Church of Scientology, for no other reason than that they never sent me a copy of any orders canceling my credentials. But, I don’t use them.  The other thing is, I could have stayed at the radio station, spinning discs and playing classical music, and made a fair,  but low, income until I had the experience to move up and embark on a full-time career.  However, the job I held there was SUPPOSED to be for current students (at least when I was hired) and since I chose to leave the student body at the school, my personal ethics wouldn’t let me keep the job.

Those decisions pretty much set the stage for how my life has gone.  Of course, along the way I’ve also been a waiter in a restaurant, a dish washer in a restaurant, a lawn mower, a security guard, a taxi driver, and even been offered a chance to be an independent business owner (gifted a business that was already making $250k/year in 1982).  But, in all of my exploration of those alternative paths my life may have taken, none of them led me to marriage with the wife I have now.

It’s just my humble opinion, but I think this is better.