Sunday, October 30, 2011

That's the 'Spirit'.

We're approaching Halloween here in this year of 2011, the latter half of which has been just miserable on my end.  But stuff happens for a reason.  Mistakes are made, missteps are taken, things are said ... and time eventually puts everything in perspective.  The heat of the moment can make some pretty crazy things happen that leaves regret in its wake.

For those of you on my facebook page, you know that I've kind of taken a dive into the deep end lately.  I'm one to wear my heart on my sleeve, often publicly.  For better or worse, but that's just the kind of guy I am.  It takes a whole lot for me to go to extremes, though, like I did a couple of blogs ago.  This isn't going to be one of those blogs.

I did reach new depths in the past month or so, however.  Why not just put it out there via Ragnar Station, I say.  This requires me to shine the spotlight on myself and my own insecurities.  Since I often self-criticize anyway, especially with myself, I'll just say it out loud.

Somewhere along the line this past summer, someone did something hurtful to us.  Who did it isn't important, because I don't know for certain.  But I do know that someone said things about Janice, Alexandra and especially me that are false and were irresponsible.  Perhaps far more irresponsible was my own anger in discovering that something went down.  It was clear that something did.  What wasn't clear, and still isn't, is exactly who took part in it.  At this point it isn't even important.  That it was said is important, however.

But I reacted in a way that was quite fiery and hasty.  I can't make any apologies about my passionate defense of myself and my family, but I can admit that I may have gone to extremes in my accusations.  In hindsight I think I would have done things slightly differently, sending out e-mails to parties involved instead of making it so public.  Discussion would have ensued once again and gotten heated more than likely, but the damage may have been limited to those who were directly involved.  Nonetheless, what's done is done.  Coulda shoulda woulda.

I've allowed myself to dwell on this since it happened, right around the time of our vacation in late August.  Stuff like that makes people sick and sucks the life out of them, and my life is connected to a vacuum right now because of it.  I'm just about ready to let it go.  My biggest problem in this mess is, that I'm too worried about what others think of me.  Way too worried.  Whether it's family members or friends, it doesn't matter what someone thinks of me or what I've done.  What matters is the truth and whether or not anyone believes it.  Then the onus is on them once they've been told.  I'm at peace now with the fact that I didn't do anything wrong last summer.  If someone else thinks I did, I can not feel guilty about their way of thinking, or who they attempt to convince, or what they think as a result of their assumptions.  The bottom line is my family of my wife, daughter and myself are as tight and close as we ever were, and that won't change either.

But I got so very low about it all that I began to recently even consider things that you might consider are drastic.  Going through my head were ideas like leaving town with my family, which Janice and I had actually discussed.  Just pulling up root and planting somewhere else far away from everything and starting over.  Would anyone care if we did that?  Of course.  Several people reading this right now would.  Anyone that we matter to would be distressed to various degrees.  Why would we do that to them?  Would that be the reason we did it?  Or would running away even solve anything?  That right there is the big question.  If I were to leave, would that change me?  Not a chance.  I would still be me.  Same DNA, same person, same baggage, same insecurities.  So leaving isn't an option or an answer.  Anyone who leaves town for this purpose is going to be disappointed to discover that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Cliche, but true.

Everyone's got something wrong with them.  Some of us have a lot wrong with ourselves.  The challenge is to recognize what's wrong and work on it.  But a lot of us will refuse to acknowledge our own faults and just mask them with lies or embellishments and successfully convince ourselves that the status quo is just fine.  Thus, no growth.  I would hope that I never get to the point where I stop growing.  And I will stop growing if I think that everything I do is right and proper, or not accept when someone is telling me that I should reconsider my outlook.  Hey, I do it.  I'll tell somebody if they're wrong about something, most times as gently as possible, because no one likes harsh reality.  If you're in a snowball fight with a friend and you cork them in the head, how hard you threw it is how hard you can expect one back.  And you have to also know when to stop throwing those snowballs.

Definitely something I've come to learn through my darkest depths of the past couple of months is who your real friends are.  I've become quite annoyed at the saying that I've seen on the internet a lot, "if you can't handle me at my worst, you certainly don't deserve me at my best."  But, I've found how much I relate to it now.  Minus my inherent will of forgiveness, however.  My Mom taught me a lot about forgiveness, because I don't think I was the easiest kid to raise.  Knowing how much I did wrong when I was growing up, even into young adulthood, makes me look back now and see how forgiving and understanding my mother really was, and I feel the need to be just like her now being a father.  I'll go to church tomorrow morning and pray again, like I do week after week, for God's guidance.  I can pray for it, but it's up to me to use it.  I don't know where I'd be without God in my life.  My brain injuries have left me with permanent depression issues that I partially control with meds, but I need the Holy Spirit in my corner to tell me what to do when the bell rings for the next round of life's troubles.

Like I said, Halloween is on our doorstep, and Christmas time is quickly following.  A time for love and togetherness.  All this bullshit in the air with who's right and who's wrong is just that:  bullshit.  Acceptance must replace conflict.  I will not let the year end on a bad note.  I will not begrudge anyone or wish ill on them.  But I will wish prosperity and peace.  Lasting, unending peace.

God bless my wife, my daughter, my family, my friends, and especially one estranged friend.  I love all of you.  God bless, indeed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On 'The Road' Again

Life is difficult.

I believe those were the opening words in author M Scott Peck's renowned self-help novel, "The Road Less Traveled".  Seldom were those words as true to me as they are these days.

We are being challenged as of late by the state of our own family's finances.  We haven't mismanaged really, in fact, Janice has been looking after the household monetary issues and we're on the right track right now more than we ever were.  When I was looking after it, we didn't do quite as good.  We're not late on payments or anything or starving, but I'm a little fearful of the coming months.  The price of oil is killing little families like ours.  We fall into the lower-middle class in terms of household income, although I'd venture to say almost poor.  Taxes are crazy.  Property taxes keep inflating our house payments, insurance premiums are going up, car registration and licensing is through the roof, gas prices are just stupid, and now perhaps the worst, furnace oil is going to challenge us over the next several months.  Not to mention, our power bill is no doubt going to get worse, along with everyone else's of course.

These are the days of having a tough time making ends meet.  We're doing it, though, but it's a huge struggle.  We can't do much that requires money at all, like go to the movies or something.  That breaks Janice's and mine hearts a little bit, because we can't really buy or do much for Alexandra in terms of having real fun or making her happy in this tech-happy age.  But we are all happy and well fed, which really are the biggest things.  We love being with each other and we eat quite well in spite of our finances, but at a cost of everything else.  It makes me think of those commercials where you see a lady opening a can of food and the roof tears off, and she closes it and the roof comes back; a metaphor for choosing between shelter and food. We're not at that point and I hope to God we don't get there.

We have each other here at least.  It's a little hard watching Alexandra having to lead the kind of life that Janice and me both had, that of a kind of poor household.  But the difference is that there's a whole lot of love here.  She doesn't have an alcoholic or insensitive dad on her ass all the time.  The common denominator that she has there is that she has a loving mom like we did.  Our dads were/are awesome, but they had their own struggles that permeated themselves into their social lives, which in turn affected us.

There are other issues of course.  One of our best friends is gone away for good.  I won't mention that person's name, but that person knows who they are, lest I get raked over the coals some more as a result of what's happened previously this year.  That person was close to all three of us, and it's one of those voids that can't be filled, but coped with.  Speaking for myself, I'm still trying to get there.  I think Alexandra too.  Janice is the strongest of the three of us.

Good luck to my nephew Ryan and his now-wife Katie in their marriage together.  I don't see those two ever being apart, God willing.  Their wedding was rather refreshingly casual with lots of well-wishers, and I'm sure the reception was the same.  It was good seeing my family together one more time, albeit briefly.

I think I need to find some guys to get a band going again and occupy myself.  If our basement wasn't so crappy, I'd be down there a lot more banging away at my drums, but it's a bit dreadful down there.  Work needs to be done down there at some point with plumbing for the house.  It's got something like a $2,000 price tag.  Like we can afford that.  We'll try to find a way in the new year, before a kinked pipe by the electrical panel gives and our house gives up the ghost once and for all.  It'd be nice to get our dishwasher hooked up too, the one we've had almost a year now, still in its box!  A window needs replacing and so does our patio door.  And the entrance was compromised by ice buildup last winter.  Yup, one great piece of news after another eh?

On the bright side, we have each other.  We go to church every Sunday and bring home some measure of hope every week.  I actually look forward to going.  That's a sharp contrast to when I was younger, when I just wasn't fully taught the meaning of mass or the Bible's teachings.  And it helps to be going to a church that's so welcoming in St. Bernard's, the oldest church in the city, and best kept.

As we hurtle towards Halloween and begin the roller coaster towards Christmas, here's hoping you have a good holiday season coming up.  We will.  We'll do our best to.

One final note of thanks to my brother Rick for helping out my wife in getting started on the wine kit I bought her for her birthday.  That's a gift that'll keep on giving!  Come see us sometime and try some of the fruits of her labour.

Fire up those colortinis now and watch the pictures fly through the air.

Good night.