Volume 1 Episode 14

Volume 1 Episode 14

Bucket List

In light of the events of my last post, the title of this post sounds a bit more ominous than it really is.  I was able to complete a lifelong dream over the New Year’s holiday this year and attend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.  I witnessed the Michigan State Spartans (Go Green!, My Alma Mater) defeat the Stanford Cardinal to cap an epic 13 win season.   Some back story…

Prior to the 1975 season, I believe, the Big Ten conference sent only one team to a bowl game, its conference champion.  That was not Michigan State, most years.  If one can actually remember, in those days, we didn’t have multiple 24 hour sports networks, and seeing a game on television was a big deal.  I spent every New Years’ day as a youth watching college football bowl games from a snowy and cold southern Michigan.  California always looked magical on TV, especially the Rose Bowl.  Add in the romance of “Hollywood” (…swimming pools; movie stars…) and that day, and especially that game takes on mythical greatness on one’s mind.  I’ve been fortunate to witness MSU in several bowl games (El Paso, Orlando), as well as NCAA tournament basketball games, and other sports event through the years, but the Rose Bowl was particularly elusive.  I was in my 5th year on campus in East Lansing the last time the Spartans played in the Rose Bowl in 1987.  I couldn’t afford  to make the trip across country to attend.  I was the guy that said “…there will be other Rose Bowls.  I’ll go to the next one…”  Well, we were close a couple of times on the last couple of years, but didn’t make it.  I had high hopes for the 2012 season, and when the Spartans had a disappointing season, I had finally resigned myself to the fact that the Rose Bowl would be a dream to me.  The mythology just kept growing.

So the success of the 2013 Spartan football team kind of snuck up on me, and I think along with a number of us Spartan fans as well.  Factor in my health issue, and I wasn’t as focused as I may have been on the football team too.  It the days leading up to the conference championship game, and a Rose Bowl game within reach, it was really odd and exciting.  As a Spartan we’ve been conditioned of sorts to expect that something bad would happen and our dreams would again be dashed.  It felt different this year, but that idea was nagging in the back of our heads, well, my head at least, and I bet many more, if everyone else is being honest.  I had such an amount of joy as we took control of the championship game…just so excited.  I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t stand up, couldn’t bear to watch, couldn’t look away, just amazing.  RAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!  Go Green!!  I know I woke up my neighbors, I had to yell!  Rose Bowl Baby!!!!!!!

I had been exchanging texts and calls with a good buddy of mine Eric, also an alumnus, during the game.  I texted him “I need tickets”. His response was “Seriously??”  “Hell Yes” was my reply.  California here I come!  And thus began the trip building would consume the next few days.  A quick anecdote on how much demand there was for tickets and hotels for this game.  I was on the phone the next morning with my buddy, planning the trip, and one of the “official” bowl tours was already sold out at 10:00 and two more had sold out while we were speaking, in less than 30 minutes.   Logistics were tough, but not impossible, and well, it was the trip I had been waiting my whole life for, I was not going to miss this.

I flew to Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, I had been hearing reports of all the Spartans meeting on their planes to California, and I expected to see a few on my flight (direct from Orlando to LA), but was blown away at the numbers.  At least 1/3 of the flight was in Green and White!  (Another 1/3 was Florida State fans going out for the national championship, the balance were civilians.)  This was an indicator of the next few days.  The story out of the MSU camp was “Spartans invade Los Angeles” and that proved to be true.  Eric met me at the airport and we proceeded to meet with some friends of his, and had lunch on Manhattan Beach.  It was just about perfect.    We traveled to Pasadena where Eric’s family had brought a RV and were already at the stadium, our “home base” for a couple of days.  I got to see some of the Rose Parade floats, and just soaked it in.  I just randomly broke into incredulous laughter…I was at the Rose Bowl, and I was going to see MSU!  It was so much to take in.

I won’t take you through my memories in real time, but I was just so happy to be there, and the outcome of the game didn’t really matter.  I got to be among Spartans, see the band, Sparty, the cheerleaders, got to sing the Fight Song…everything!  The weather was perfect, the sightlines were magical, it was sensory overload.  At the end of the game, I sent the following to my friends:  “Have you ever laughed, cried and sat in stunned silence, overwhelmed all at the say time?”  I was at that moment, doing all of those things.  I didn’t want to leave.

I could write more and more about this.  My DVD copy of the game itself just arrived, and I’ll be re-watching the game very soon.  Needless to say, it was worth every penny.  I have another trip I’m working on, another “bucket list” type item that I’ll share some details of soon.  In the meantime, it’s good to be back writing.  Hopefully, you’re out there, and enjoying the words.

Go Green!  Go White!  Let’s Go State!!

Volume 1 Episode 13

Volume 1 Episode 14

Bloggers Note:  This was initially scribed in early October, and then promptly ignored for several months.  I’m editing and posting this in March, but the feelings still ring true.

Welcome Back My Friends to the show that seemed to end…

With all apologies to Emerson Lake and Palmer, I’m back after another hiatus of blogging, with some fairly significant news to report/muse about/chat about, etc.

I had a heart attack two weeks ago.  I was at home, waiting to go to bed, watching television and started having some significant chest pain.  It was accompanied with abject panic, which is what ultimately convinced me to go to the hospital.  I had a heart catheterization, angioplasty, and a stent inserted into my artery.  The fine folks that performed the procedure informed me I dodged the “widow-maker”.  So to say the least, I’m lucky to be here scribing this for you (me?)

I am feeling much better now, getting stronger each day, and enjoying that fact, frankly.  I was cleared by my cardiologist to go back to work, and I am planning on doing so in a few days.  I am in no particular hurry to go back to the grind (see all previous blog entries above).

So, some important life lessons have been learned from this, starting with don’t sweat the small stuff.  Seriously, it’s been a change.  I actually do have some patience.  Those that know me well will be surprised by that, but it is true.  More importantly, I learned that I actually do want to make something of whatever time I have on this earth.  If you were inside my head, or if I was being completely honest before this happened, I wouldn’t have said that.  I’ve known since I was a child that I was going to die young.  It’s a familial thing, but as a child I could never imagine living past 35.  Now here I am in my late 40s, and I am not done.  There is something more left for me.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I hope that there is something to be said for the fact that I am looking for it.  The act of starting this blog, and the “journey” I’ve been on for the last several months are certainly evidence of the fact that I have been here at some level for some time, but I was convinced that my health was going to cause me to die soon, and this episode is in some ways like hitting a “reset” button for me.

Volume 1 Episode 12

Volume 1 Episode 12

With apologies to the Kinks, “…back where we started…”

So I’ve been at this for a little less than 6 months, and I guess its time to take stock of where I am now, with respect to where I was when I started this blog.  I was reminded of a portion of the lyrics from the Kinks song “Do It Again”.  In many regards, my situation hasn’t changed.  I am still working for a LMNC, and still not excited about it.  In another regard, I have changed a lot, so my situation is the same, I’m not.  What really stuck me were the lyrics to the entire song, available here.  It describes to me the hamster wheel that corporate America has really become.  It seems like the harder I try, I can’t seem to get off of the wheel.  Someone used a term with me a while back that really resonated with me, golden handcuffs.  It’s apt.  I want out, off, whatever, but I am tied to the life now.  I like the fact that I make a good living.  (We’re back to the first post of this blog, aren’t we??)  I really need to re-dedicate myself to finding something else in my life.  I don’t know what that is yet.  I know that the writing is a great tool, that’s why I’m back so soon (2 days after the last post.)  Writing forces me to think about this.

Maybe it’s time to start “publicizing” the blog, and see if that leads anywhere.  I have consciously avoided doing so up to this point.

Volume 1 Episode 11

Volume 1 Episode 11

So, I haven’t written in a while.  For those of you who are following along, the last post was (is) a bit of a cheese grater for the emotions.  I was (am) a bit spent emotionally form it.  That particular post was a long time coming.  I had walked a friend of mine through that story a couple of weeks prior to writing it, and I went into a shell to recover after just talking through it.  This time, I commited it to paper, and to you, and well, I needed to just be away from this for a time.  Well, a month slipped away.  I should not go that long between writing, but I did, let’s move on.

I’ve had a number of smaller thoughts/issues/concerns that I was hoping would come together into something that I would be able to write about.  I guess I should explain that.  Up to this point, from the beginning of the blog, I would get an idea, and then mull it over, and then, the brilliant prose  (sarcasm) you’ve been reading would appear.  Well, the ideas were showing up, but after the mulling, they would just sort of fall away.  They weren’t writing themselves…So here I am now, in front of the keyboard, working it out, so to speak.

One of the ideas was brought about from a conversation I had with someone that I enjoy an occasional political discussion.  For context, the crisis in Egypt was just beginning to boil up again, and my friend stated that he had read many comments from Egypt that sounded remarkable similar to what many were saying here, with respect to the economic conditions.  There, they were rioting (pre-revolution?) here, we have institutional gridlock.  He asked for my reaction to that.  My knee jerk reaction was that we had become too lazy here to actually have a protest, or a revolution, or even participation in the political process.  That conversation stuck with me for several days, and I really re-formed my opinion, upon reflection.  I really believe that we have become far too self-important.  Revolutions are for other people, I have a tweet to send, or a status to update, or a blog to write…  Mitch Albom, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press wrote about this far better than I could in a column you can read here.

I have had this happen to me a couple of times, where I am mulling a blog post, and in my coursing about the internet, I come across someone who has shared similar thoughts or feelings better than I could.  It usually leads to me moving on to another topic.  I guess if one wishes to write something topical, one should not wait to mull, or compose.

I think that this speaks to a larger issue with me.  I’ve never really had to work at something.  I’ve either known how to do something, or I didn’t…it either came to me more or less naturally, or I avoided it.  I remember when I was a kid, I convinced my parents to enroll me in guitar lessons through our local parks and recreation department.  I never learned how to play, because I didn’t want to practice in order to learn…I wanted to be a guitar hero.  Scales, notes chords, those were for people who wanted to be musicians.  I wanted to be Pete Townsend.   It’s another of the things that this blog should be doing for me; forcing me to work on something that does and doesn’t come easily all the time.  Here’s to me keeping writing.

Volume 1 Episode 10

Two Weeks In May

Note:  I expect this will be a long an involved post, and is highly personal, and emotionally charged, so please, bear with me.

In the course of two weeks in May, 1997, I experienced the following:  My brother died, my father had a heart attack and my mother died.  This is an accounting of how that all transpired.

I moved to Central Florida in April of 1997.  I decided that my future lay somewhere other than Michigan, where I was born, raised, and lived until that point.  My parents had been spending the winters on the gulf coast for many years, so Florida was not completely foreign to me, but Central Florida certainly was.  I used the internet to find a job in the IT department at Universal Studios Florida, and started working there in April of 97.  My mother had been in failing health for some time, and immediately after returning to Michigan in mid-April, she went into the hospital.  I immediately shifted my work schedule around to allow me an opportunity to return to Michigan to see her.  During that trip, it was obvious that she was near the end of her life.  When I returned from my long weekend trip to visit her, I told my employers that it I was going to have to return home in likely short order for her funeral.  A couple of days later, I received an emergency page from Michigan, and steeled myself for the news.  I was not prepared for the news that was delivered though, as I was informed that my brother, who had just flown home from Texas to see our Mother, had died the past evening in our family home.

My brother and I were, for lack of a better term, estranged.  He was in a familial situation that for reasons I did not understand, prevented him from returning to Michigan to see our eldest sister when she was dying from cancer.  Several members of our family had begged him to come home, as our sister was asking to see her siblings when she (and all of us) were aware that she was losing her battle with cancer.  Our eldest sister and I were very close, and I had repatriated myself in our family’s eyes during her illness.  That another long story for another time, but the point of our relationship is important for what is to follow

As I mentioned, Mom was dying, and we were able to finally convince my brother that he had to come home to see her.  He flew in that evening, and by the time he got to the hospital, Mom was asleep, and they decided not to wake her, and they would see her in the morning.  Sometime during the night, my brother passed.  Chaos ensued, the likes of which I can only imagine, as I was a thousand miles away, literally.  We really don’t know what caused my brother to die.  There were numerous factual inaccuracies in the autopsy that leads all of us to question the findings.  I made arrangements to fly home to Michigan, and I joined the chaos.

My brother was very close to my youngest sister, and they both lived in Texas.  My sister did not get along with his wife, for numerous reasons.  After he died, we were making preparations for him to be buried in the family plots at the cemetery where my father had purchased plots for his family.  Its where my sister was buried, and ultimately my parents as well.  We found ourselves in a bit of a quandary now.  Since my brother was married, my father (our family really) was no longer next of kin.  My brother’s wife wanted to have him cremated.  Well, there’s no way to aptly describe this other than. My sister freaked out.  So, I can’t really imagine what my father was going through, all of us really, but it had to have been hardest on him.  The second of his children had just died, wife in the hospital, and now this.  Since I had some friends who were attorneys, and experience making things happen on the telephone, I was drafted to speak to some folks on the possibility of starting a court challenge to have custody of the body.  This went on for the better part of the day, and finally, we were able to decide that the exercise was likely futile at best, so this was dropped, and we went ahead with a memorial service for my brother.

By this point in time, we were basically taking shifts at the hospital, and home, just trying to get a chance to spin down a bit, as best we could.  I returned from a shift at the hospital where my Mom was, and only my Aunt was at home.  I then learned that my sisters had taken my father to another hospital, closer to the homestead, because he had a heart attack.  I then had to call my new employer and give them an update, basically that I couldn’t come back to work.  We had a pointed conversation, understandable so, about whether I was ever coming back to work at all.  I told them I was, just really couldn’t answer when.  They were understanding, to a point.  I really didn’t care then about the job…the world was collapsing around me.  Dad was stable, but he remained in the hospital for several days.  About mid-week (the exact days are fuzzy now) I was really feeling the pressure to return to Florida, to keep the new job I had.  I was probably also looking for the release valve too, to be honest.  I really didn’t know what to do, or even how to make this decision.  I asked everyone, my Dad, sisters, anyone, and really there was no right or wrong answer.  After another day, I decided that I needed to go back.  One of the toughest decisions I ever had to make, but I made it, and got a ride to the airport from either friends of the family, of extended family, I’m really not sure who it was as this point.

While at the airport, I had the sudden realization that I didn’t have my keys, and I knew exactly where I had left them.  They were on the top of the refrigerator at home.  I called back to the house, and told them what I had done, and the extended family went into action, and the neighbors were dispatched to bring me my keys…Crisis averted.  I had 40 minutes or so until I had to meet the folks brining my keys to me, so I went to the food court and grabbed some food.  While sitting and eating, I was paged over the airport system, that I had a call.  Mom had taken a turn for the worse, and I should not fly home.  I returned to the airline check in, and told them I needed to retrieve my bag I had checked.  Since this pre-dates 9/11, I was able to do so without issue.  When my keys got there, I had them take me back to the farm.

I got home, and was brought up to date on the situation.  I don’t remember if Mom had been released to hospice care yet, or if that happened the next morning, it’s irrelevant now.  I had to go the hospital to tell Dad that Mom had taken a turn for the worse.  My Aunt and Uncle had gone to the hospital to visit my Dad, and when I left we called the hospital, and advised the nurses of what was coming.  They told my Aunt and Uncle, who stayed with Dad until I got there.  Another fun conversation for me to have, as you can only imagine.  Fortunately, for me, they had given Dad a mild sedative before I got there.

My middle sister and I were home when Mom died.  She had been home under hospice care for a time.  I remember a short time before then. When I was home alone with her (sorry for the vague timelines here, years have passed, and this entire period is really one long blur for me) Mom woke up, and for a 30 minute window or so, it was like she was never ill.  We chatted,  I got to make her some lunch.  I felt like a little kid again.  It didn’t last long, and she went back to bed fairly quickly.  I remember after that that I was supposed to give her some meds.  There was a fairly rigorous schedule of meds; and I couldn’t wake her up.  I felt so helpless.  I wanted her to rest; wanted her to be comfortable; didn’t know what to do.  I don’t recall if I called the hospice nurse, or if they came on their regular schedule.  We were very very close to her passing at that point.

I don’t know if I am doing a good job of telling this story to you or not, but its working on me…I feel like I’m going through much of this all over again.

We got my Dad discharged from the hospital to attend the visitation at the funeral home, and the funeral.  He was more or less out of the woods at that point.  We had a second visitation/funeral/memorial service in as many weeks.  We were all just wrung out.

After a few days, I returned to Florida.  I still had a job (thankfully) and the employer was wonderful about the entire experience.  No conclusions or great meanings from this story, at least not yet in the arc of this blog.  It’s more just an illustrative piece, about me, and something that happened in my life many years ago.  I’m fairly certain the subject will come up again.

Volume 1 Episode 9

(Dis)Connections

So I was spending some time recently thinking about how and why I am the way I am.   Specifically, my connection to my living siblings.  I was born the youngest of 5 children, I have 3 sisters and a brother, my brother was the next youngest of the kids, and he was 7 years older than me.  My eldest sister was 6 years older than my brother, so there was nearly 13 years separating me and me eldest sister.  My eldest sister died in 1995, and my brother died in 1997, for those of you keeping score at home, and there will be much more about them later.

As I think is evidenced by the math above, I was the “surprise” of the family.  My experience throughout my life has been that of someone just outside, looking in, if you will.  Now, in my late 40s, seven years doesn’t really seem like a lot, but when you are 10, and your brother is 16, well, the priorities are difference for a 10 year old than a 16 year old.  Here is another interesting fact I have been pondering for a while; I am the only one of my siblings without a “J” somewhere in their name.  My sister’s first names all start with “J”, and my brother’s middle name started with “J”.  Me, not a “J” to be found anywhere.  This isn’t a new revelation, it was talked about all my life.  I never really placed any significance to it until thinking about the separation between my sisters and me.  Another memory that struck me is around my grandmother.  In her house, there was a plate hanging on the wall that had all of her grandchildren’s names painted on it.  Well, all except one.  Someone had another plate made with my name.  Again, I was on my own; outside; looking in.

I sense that my distance is a frustration for my sisters.  Maybe that’s the connection right there, the fact that I can sense the frustration.  They speak often, and I hear most family news well after the fact.  I know that they would appreciate it if I was closer, but as I get older, I find myself more alone.  Not lonely in that regard, just with less and less to connect us.  One of my sisters lives approximately 1150 miles to the north of me, and the other lives approximately that far to the west of me.    In an completely unrelated conversation, a good friend of mine, one of the members of the godAmsterdams said the following:  “We all live on the same planted, we don’t all live in the same world.”  It so succinctly summed up my feelings about all of this.

Episode 8

So I’ve been remiss lately, I’ve been ignoring my blog.  It’s partially intentional, and partially inertia (again??).  There are a couple of things at work here, and to ease myself back into writing, here they are.

First, and probably most important, is the fact that what were supposed to be the next 2 to 3 entries in my blog and deeply personal, and emotional about what has happened in my life in the past.  A friend of mine was asking me a few weeks ago what I was going to write about, so I told him.  I had shared part of the story with him previously, but not in such detail and backstory.  (Can you imagine the asides I had in that conversation?)  The point of telling you this is to illustrate how I typically come to write my entries.  I get an idea, and start to mull it over.  After an undefined period of mulling I sit down in front of the keyboard, and well, let ‘er rip.  Well, the process if telling the story was nearly the same as writing the ideas here.  I was spent after telling him.  It’s an emotional wringing out that takes a while to recover from.  I’m probably going ot commit that story to the blog later today, or this week depending on the second item below.

Next, and more excitingly, I think, is the fact that I am taking a writing course.  Michigan State University, my alma mater, is offering a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to prepare people for college level writing.  I am probably not in their target audience, but I’m taking it anyway.  It’s been a long time since I was in college, so I know my skills are rusty.  I also know that any instruction or guidance is only going to improve my writing.  So here goes…Another journey, and I promise more writing soon.

By the way, if you’re out there, I’d love to know it.  Please feel free to comment, or email me at paul@pauls-words.com

Episode 7

Home

I was listening to some music last weekend, and this idea struck me…Home isn’t a place.  It’s a state of mind, or a feeling if you will.  I know that this isn’t likely a major revelation to most folks, but it did strike me pretty significantly.  The song that sparked this is “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains.

While my parents were still alive, home was the farm where I grew up.  Once they both had passed, I remember when I went back to the farm for the first time.  There was obviously something missing.  It was palpable.   I know what you’re thinking; “…of course Paul, your parents are gone…”, but the sense was (is) something completely different than that.  I had a profound sense that this place was no longer my home.  It is still the place where I grew up.  All of the memories are still there.  It just “feels” differently to me now.  I have been struggling with this of late, the sense of home.  I really don’t feel like I have a sense of home.  I consider Central Florida to be “home” for me now.  It’s where I choose to make my life.  I have a number of great friends here, and am very happy I have finally made it back, after 6 years spent in South Florida and Atlanta.  To bring this back to the song lyric that spawned the idea for this blog entry, I believe that the sense of home is about another person.  I really don’t have that, someone to be there when everyone else goes away.  Maybe this is the central theme of all of this, my wanting to connect with other people.  Or more specifically a person.  I am trying to find me, I guess, so that I can find someone else to be in my life.  Wow, this is getting odd; sad and darker than I think it sounds in my head.  I think I’m on to something though, because it’s getting scary to write this…Like I’m working on taking the walls down.  Vulnerable.  I’ve worked hard for a long time to keep the walls intact, never being vulnerable.  More to follow.

Episode 6

Inertia

I am its bitch.  I have been fighting its effects for a long time.  When I started this blog, I came to the realization that I was going to stay in corporate America.  I was of the mind set prior to that to go and seek opportunities outside of the corporate America, but I decided I like all of the trappings.  That helped me rededicate myself to my job, for awhile.  That has really worn off.  My frustration level is high again.  I keep weighing the plusses and minuses of the current position.  I know that no matter where I go its going to ultimately be the same.  So do I leave?  Who knows.  I have had some writing to do to prepare myself, and I keep finding excusers to put it off.  I know that if I don’t do the work, I’ll end up sitting in my current position, miserable, until they no longer need me.  The entire point of hiring the career coach was to do the work before I get let go.  Look in these times, being an employee is like being a head coach of a sports team…you get hired to get fired.  In their case though, they have guaranteed contracts.  I don’t.

I am not convinced that I want to move on.  I want to be prepared to move on.  That’s where the inertia comes in.  I am trying to get better.  My coach is on board to help me.  Here goes.

I’ll save you the whining about the job.  I have a good gig.  I make good money.  I’ll be OK.  Just needed to get this off my chest, and into the ether.  Maybe it will help.

Volume 1 Episode 5

…Welcome back my friends to the show that seemed to end… <to paraphrase>

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written anything for the Cream.  I wrote a piece for the unloading zone, that I need to get posted, I spent a weekend in Atlanta, and basically, been procrastinating; from the writing anyway.   It has been an interesting time in a lot of ways, not so good in others.  So, if you’ll indulge me, let’s walk through this and I’ll try to get somewhere.

As I’ve mentioned before, the simple act of starting this was great.  I rode that high for a few weeks.  “I’m a writer!”  “I’m creative, an ‘artist’ even!”  It was great to be me.  Then I found the question as well as the answer; me.  Now, here we are a few weeks later, and well, old habits and patterns are hard to break.  My mood returned to its pre dopamine soaked highs, and the job became a lot more frustrating, as it was before I started this.  There are two things at work here, I believe.  First, I stopped writing.  A combination of other activities, and well, complacency.  Second, and certainly more important both to me, and what this blog is more or less about is the hard work that I have to do.  I learned in the glow of starting this that if I want to be happy, be happy.  If I want to be optimistic, be so.  I was always one to discount affirmations as ineffective at best until I tried it.  Well, as I have learned many times, thoughts do become things.  I need to be what it is I want to be.  It’s not anyone else’s responsibility but mine.  I know this, I’ve known this.  I just typically do a shitty job of doing it.  The writing is an exercise to help me remember that, as well as exorcise those things that I need to exorcise?  God that’s an ugly sentence.  I know.  Negative thoughts are powerful.  I need to keep them at bay.

Here’s another thing about this blog.  I may have written it before, I’ve certainly talked about it with my friends, is the fact that I am trying to connect with people.  Before I started this, I was terrified that people would see this, read it, get to know more of me (I’m going somewhere).  As soon as I wrote the first episode, it was odd…I wanted people to see this, read it, react to it.  It was a way for me to connect.  Hurray!!!  The offshoot of that was the fact that I knew that I had to continue to tear down the walls that I have crafted over all of these years to keep people away.  There are very few people that are on my “inside”  I have crafted myself to keep people away.  They can’t hurt you if you keep them at arm’s length.  I have very long arms.  The conundrum for me is that the thing that I crave in my life, connection, is what I have worked very hard to prevent from happening.  Starting this blog broke down the walls, a bit, and let some sunshine in.  It was great.  Then, I stopped.  Old habits die hard, (see above) and I was back where I started.  I have a lot of work to do.  I am committed to doing these things.  I am a better person when I’m not being my old surly self.