Nineteen years ago today, my maternal grandmother passed away. I’m reminded every year because her favorite wildflowers bloom along the creek beds here on the farm almost exactly one week prior.
…and I didn’t even watch on TV. Sometimes I do that when I’m upset about not being there in person. I had tickets to tonight’s game, but ended up not going–bit of a story there, in hindsight, I probably should have gone. Instead I stayed home waiting for my brother to arrive and packed my travel bag. I also spent almost two hours on the phone with an old friend whose voice I haven’t heard in almost five years, so that was pretty cool.
By my calculations, I have tickets for the remaining four regular-season Predators home games, but I’ll be lucky to make it to even one. Only time will tell.
Do I have hockey burnout? Maybe a little. I’m always a little conflicted when hockey is still going on when soccer, fishing and boating starts up in the spring. There’s more to it than just seasonal issues this year, of course. I’m actually looking forward to the summer break and the hockey off-season. I kind of just need to step away from the “superfan” craziness of the last year. Sorry if that offends or gets me labeled a bad fan. I want the best for the team, I really do. I’m just looking forward to shutting it all down for a little personal rest. I’ll get over it by next season and be ready to go, don’t worry.
Last night, we took the carryall and the loader off the Kubota tractor and put the finishing mower deck on. Despite my best efforts, I still got covered in grease. It’s officially spring on the farm when we convert from “deer hauler” to “lawn mower” mode. I even took my first cuts with the mower before it got dark. I’m guessing I’ll be doing my fair share of the mowing this year. Last year Dad got stuck with a lot of it simply because I wasn’t around. Sorry, Dad.
Also: I tried a new recipe for Irish Whiskey BBQ Glaze on some ribs. The recipe calls for Jameson and Baileys. It was delicious, but I was painfully reminded by one batch how sugar-containing sauces can burn quickly over direct heat. It’s great to get to cook and grill again. Life’s little pleasures make it all worth it.
I just got back from working my first soccer match since last October. This was my first time working a Tennessee high school match, and it went rather well. The field was a muddy mess, especially on the AR2 sideline I was on. I almost lost my shoes three separate times when I planted my heel and the suction from the mud almost pulled them off as I was running to keep up with play.
Speaking of running, being in shape makes a world of difference. The mud and the uneven footing made running while keeping an eye on play difficult. There were several points during the game where I took an awkward step and felt a pull or tweak—but it didn’t really bother me. I realized that had this been five months and 30 pounds ago, I would have likely been injured at some point during this game.
Excellent. Must. Keep. Running.
This was a comment from one of my facebook friends about a book called “North Toward Home.” I loved it, because it spoke to me as someone who drove back and forth to Tennessee so often last year. The part about “automatic pilot” really got me:
“It’s the title of one of my favorite books – a perennial summer read. One of my favorite passages is the one I thought of when I posted my status last night: ‘In a fast car, a man can almost make it to Tennessee on automatic pilot, driving the straight, level road in a kind of euphoria, past the cotton fields and the tenant shacks, the big plantation houses and the primitive little Negro churches, over the muddy creeks and rivers, through the counties with the forgotten Indian names – Leflore, Coahoma, Tallahatchie, Tunica.'”
After I left law school, I could not drive to Nashville without feeling terrible…nauseated, even. In fact, I only made the trip to Nashville twice in maybe six months afterward, in both cases to help Mike and Ashley with their moving process. After that, I avoided making the drive to Nashville for years, unless I had to go to the airport.
After last year, I have a lot of practice making that drive. Now, the trip to Nashville seems to fly right by–funny how that works. All it takes is the right motivation.
“Hey, you did learn some things, right?”
“Yes, I sure did, bud.”
Here’s what I learned while spending time in Nashville most of last year.
- Adding the suffix “-town” makes things more fun. Examples: “brattytown,” or “Clarkietown.”
- No one wants to be the conductor on the train to brattytown.
- St. Augustine is apparently the best summer vacation destination ever. In hindsight, I should have gone, even if it did seem way too soon and kind of crazy at the time.
- Coffee makes almost everything better.
- The Sylvan Park/Heights area of Nashville is pretty neat—almost enough to make me seriously consider city living.
- Moss makes stairs very slippery, and that moss can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
- Metro Nashville does not recycle glass, especially not Yoohoo bottles.
- The Place That Sells Insurance is a smaller operation than you would expect, and is held together by a small group of competent and under-appreciated people.
- The best stories end with all kinds of potholes. They’re even better when Ludacris shows up.
- Need late-night cookie dough? Head for the Bell Meade Kroger.
- A VW Jetta can hold three, perhaps even four dogs in the back seat.
- McKay Used Books and the Nashville Antique Mall are little hidden gems.
- It’s fun to watch the Preds practice at Centennial.
- The best shaving cream is just plain old Barbasol foam.
- The food at the Gold Rush is delicious. The brunch is awesome. I would seriously have a calorie control problem if I lived anywhere near there.
- Woofs are real.
- Tasti-D-Lite? Yeah, it’s actually pretty tasty.
- There is a difference between simply being picky and actual red flags.
- Pay attention to the red flags.
- Man panties are not sexy, but lobster boxers are.
- The International Market has some of the best Asian food around. Maybe it’s just the ambiance of the place, or maybe anything prepared and served by grandmothers always tastes better.
- Generics can save you a lot of money.
- The back way out of the Sommet is the fastest way to the car.
- When parking downhill, wheels in. When parking uphill, wheels out.
- Anything you want to get to in Nashville is probably right off Charlotte Avenue.
- Risotto is delicious comfort food.
- It’s not the “highway.” It’s the “interstate.” Get it right, country boy.
- Hanging a door by yourself is kind of hard. Some doors are beyond hope, and need extra weight to stay shut.
- Replacing a lock hasp? They have crazy cool special security-head screws for that now.
- Backyard city mosquitoes are more vicious than those in the farm country woods.
- Never leave a grill full of hamburgers unattended in the backyard with three dogs.
- Coke Zero goes off like a grenade when left in a freezer overnight. Estimated cleanup time: Whatever time it takes dinner to finish simmering.
- Trust yourself, and listen to your instincts.
- The best parking for Predators games was next to Christie’s Caberet. Alas, that lot is no longer available now that the construction of the Nashville Music City Center has begun.
- Want to lose weight? Count calories. Eat less, do more. It’s that simple. Or, you can just have some pirates that live in your belly.
- Bobbie’s Dairy Dip is a tempting summer detour. It’s hard to drive past without stopping.
- Somehow, getting a honey-do list via MMS message is so darn cute it makes even crap jobs like taking the garbage out at 6am kind of fun.
- Life without access to the Interstate is a little more challenging–and it takes longer to get there.
- You can pretty much get anything you need at a Super Target, except fence repair wire.
- A cordless sawzall can break an upholstered chair down to fit into a herbie curbie in less than 5 minutes.
- Frozen, microwaveable meals have come a long way. Some of them are downright tasty.
- Sometimes the annoying buzz from a stereo speaker can be fixed by simply pulling one of the speaker wires loose.
- Opting for the $70 full synthetic oil change is a sure-fire way to guarantee the car will die within a month.
- Waffle House is a veritable caloric bomb. One meal is all you need for the rest of the day–or next.
- Feathers can take a hairstyle to the next level and make a girl simply irresistible.
- Hearing your name sung by your love is one of the sweetest things one can hear.
- Netflix streaming is a pretty good deal–and it can make you kinda lazy if you’re not careful. There’s just so much stuff to watch!
- Jack’s Market is a friendly little place, where you can get just about everything you might need at 10pm.
- Dickson, TN is apparently a redneck vortex from hell.
- The greenway system is great for long walks with dogs while getting to know someone new.
- With some frozen vegetables, a little chicken or tofu, a wok, and a pantry full of spices, a reasonably palatable meal can be improvised on short notice.
- The Wal-Mart Best Value “brand” isn’t half bad.
- 40 MPH does not mean 25 MPH.
- The best old-school car wash around is on White Bridge.
- Starbucks makes a pretty good strawberry banana smoothie.
- If someone tells you they want to have your babies in the euphoria after you successfully jailbreak their iPhone, take them up on it immediately.
- If you beat someone to pay at the pump with your debit card, you win. This also applies at Target and Michaels.
- An $8 homemade apron can bring out a million-dollar smile.
- Star Bagel is delicious…but their breakfast stuff is a little weak. Stick with the Club or the BLT. Always get the fruit tea.
- Some dogs behave better in a two-parent home.
- Drunk on coffee can happen, and it’s pretty funny when it does.
- If someone hands you their Starbucks card to pay for coffee, don’t. Reload it instead. They’ll complain, but they will secretly be thankful.
- The Apple TV is a neat concept, but the Mac Mini trumps it. Sorry, it’s true.
- Nothing will stop you from seeing the one you love–even if you can’t risk shutting your car off until you get there.
- Always park downhill, in case you need to roll start a stubborn VW Jetta in the morning.
- Season tickets are a much easier decision when you know your partner will never say “No” to “Wanna go to the game?”
- The best Christmas presents are ones the recipient least expects, that shows the giver was paying attention. Don’t put your eye out, kid.
This morning, I read an early movie review that needed to establish when it was written, because the review was on an unfinished rough cut of the final film. The author chose to establish his time frame in a somewhat novel fashion by using a “where were you when you heard about” time reference. In this case, the occasion was Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009. That got me thinking about last summer and just where I was and what I was doing at that time, because I remember it being somewhat of a blur. I do remember I learned of MJ’s death on twitter first (thanks, iPhone!), then listened to the car radio on the way home from work that afternoon. Then, I remembered some other things, and I had to look back at my calendar to figure it all out.
Wow. Simply put: June 2009 was a crazy month. No wonder I remember it as nothing but a blur.
My relationship with the cute hockey fan girl was just a month old, and we had gone from zero to serious in no time flat. I was spending a lot of time in Nashville already, and for the most part was loving every bit of it—even if I was still a little conflicted about being away from the farm so much right as the chore season started ramping up.
Early in the month, I flew to Houston for my brothers “graduation” from his fellowship. I ended up driving one of his cars back home for him, the next day, which was a LONG day trip to make in the Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi sun. I remember hitting Birmingham and feeling drowsy around 11pm, so some caffeine was in order. When I got to Nashville, I stopped for the night—and then couldn’t sleep until after 2am. Thanks, caffeine.
I think I did father’s day with Dad at the lake. I know I skipped ARRL Field Day Weekend in favor of hanging in Nashville with the girl. In fact, I figured out I skipped a lot of things last year, which I kind of regret now. That’s not a dig at our relationship. It’s a dig at myself for sacrificing things when I really didn’t need to. I understand why I did: New girl, honeymoon phase…totally understandable, but my advice to self for next time is: Enjoy the things you love, especially those things that only happen once a year. Know the difference between compromise and sacrifice. One is good, the other not so much, if done to excess.
Ok, sorry. I know this rehashing the past makes for boring blog reading—and frankly, it makes for boring blog writing, too. I guess the whole point of this post was to describe how my thought process went from “Where was I when MJ died?” to a little life lesson and reminder that it’s good to love, but not OK to lose yourself in the process.
I’m one of those people who can take control of dreams if they start to get out of hand. I rarely have out-of-control-scary nightmares, because I never let them get that far. When things start to get really freaky, I just say to myself “This isn’t real” and I stop it. When realistic things happen in my dreams that are still uncomfortable, I can usually put an end to those, too.
For example, I might have a dream where I come back to my parked car to find it totally gutted out and stripped clean of my property. I’ll feel the pit of loss in my stomach. A voice will say: “Looks like you left the doors unlocked, with all your stuff–even your laptop–in plain sight, and you parked in a bad spot.”
Here is where I take over: “No, I would never do something like that. This is obviously a dream, and it ends now.” Then, I wake up.
Pretty nice, right? Well, sometimes that backfires on “pleasant” dreams, too.
Take last night for example. Perhaps writing last night’s blog post (not “viewable by public” just yet) right before I went to bed caused me to have a dream where I was “visited” by a ghost of girlfriend past. It was actually rather pleasant—right up until my rational mind took over to remind me it couldn’t possibly be real and woke me up suddenly.
My subconscious emotional defense mechanisms are still at work.
We traveled to my brother’s in Louisville tonight for my nephew’s big fourth birthday party, which is tomorrow. Everyone else is asleep upstairs. I’m down in the basement “man cave” watching the Predators game on TV, E-Mailing friends, and waiting for the road coffee to wear off so I can get to sleep. The setup down here is very nice: Big HDTV, wireless internet, my own bathroom, and a comfortable queen bed. I can’t complain.
However, I am reminded of the last time I was here, almost two months ago. The breakup was fresh, only two days old. That Saturday morning, on the good advice and encouragement of a friend, I left Clark in good hands and pointed the old, worn-out Jetta east to Louisville. I had to put some distance between myself and Nashville.
I arrived in time to go to dinner with some friends I hadn’t seen since Mike and Ashley’s wedding, and had a rather good time—mojitos and light chatter did wonders for keeping me distracted. That night, however, I had all kinds of trouble sleeping. In fact, I was jarred awake almost every hour on the hour.
Those were not fun times, but those times are in the past.
I’m going to bed now, and I’m going to sleep just fine, because it’s time to start living life again. It’s my nephew’s birthday tomorrow, and he deserves a great one.
“The voice mail light glows ominous red…glaring like the eye of Sauron, daring me to ignore it any longer.”