What I Learned in My Time in Nashville

“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.

Blogging My Tweets? On Second Thought, Not For Me, Thanks.

Have you seen where bloggers will publish a long list of their tweets as a blog post, perhaps as a way to capture developing thoughts as an event unfolded?  Or maybe they do it as an attempt to keep oft-neglected blogs relevant in the age of the all-too-easy 140-character random thought blast?

I will confess I was going to do the same thing and post a huge list of tweets here, but after some reflection and some time for the proverbial coke bottle to get out of the sun, I decided against it.

OK, so what is this nonsense all about?  For those who may have missed it, something happened back in January.

Remember that girl I used to talk about?  We aren’t together anymore.

I took the breakup quite hard.  I’m not sure why it hit me like a truck, and I’m still trying to figure that bit out.  Anyway, in the post-breakup aftermath, I took a hiatus from twitter, facebook, blogging and all the other “public” channels on the advice of a close friend.  I needed to retreat for a while to recover and reflect, and frankly, I didn’t need to be all crazy and bitter-sounding in public, but I still needed an outlet.  So, instead of posting I captured my thoughts privately as they came to me over the course of a month.

I started when I walked past my laptop and just randomly typed out this thought, which then set the tone for the rest:

“I knew how it would end soon after it started.”

Then I proceeded to fill no less than twelve typed pages—close to 10,000 words–with random thoughts.  Some of those thoughts might have been good twitter material, some should never have been written, and some would have made no sense to anyone, save perhaps myself and only one other.

For a while, I considered posting all those random, disjointed and neurotic thoughts in a blog post here.  Fortunately, I decided to err on the side of caution and discretion. Why would I have even considered posting those things?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps I didn’t want to all that writing effort to go to waste?  Maybe I wanted an audience to somehow validate my feelings.  I still don’t know.  I do know I’m glad I didn’t put them up for all to see.

Eventually, I came to realize that publication wouldn’t solve anything—in fact, it would just prolong the process and probably make things much worse.  Shouting from the rooftops in the hope of being heard by a sympathetic ear was not the goal.  Healing was the goal.  Writing it all out, then letting it all go…that was the healing process.

So, we finally come to the point of this post.  I am letting that material go.  I am putting those thoughts behind me.  They will not be published, except for the last few lines.  When I wrote the conclusion, I wasn’t actually done with my little writing therapy process.  However, I was still encouraged by the fact that an end was in sight–and there was perhaps even some of that elusive “closure” thing everyone always talks about.

The ending goes like this:

OK, enough. Let’s end this. Now. Time to stop dancing around the issue. Here is what is really behind all this writing:

Watching the one you love pull away from you while she is developing a crush on someone else hurts. A lot.

Realizing there is nothing you can do about it makes it worse at first, but it is also the first step in healing.

There. I finally said it.

Farewell, WivQ. I loved you.

Now, it’s time to get back to living life.

Thanks for reading all this, and thanks for being there for me as I worked through it.

So, there it is:  The elephant in the room has finally been acknowledged.  If you have been wondering what was up with me lately, now you know.  This is the last time I’m going to address this issue directly, because  as I wrote last month:  It’s time to start living life again.

Let’s go.

I’m Fine. [Not] Really.

Coworker comes into my office, singing “Chuckie’s in Love!”

Ugh. Not this. Not now, please. What crappy timing. I wince, but I try to look Ok: Straighten up, look strong, confident, in charge and in control. I am none of these at the moment.

“How’s life, Chuck? You doing Ok?”

I do my best nod and smile, but apparently what I mustered had “not so much” written all over it.

Coworker gets a little twinge of concern: “You Ok, Chuck?”

This time, with more effort, I manage to squeak a “Sure, I’m good” out of my mouth and give a much better fake smile. The coworker relaxes.

“Well, it can’t be that bad, I mean…you’re not cryin’, right?!”

I think to myself, “You should have been here yesterday.”

I say instead, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” The coworker smiles and leaves.


This is NOT a List of New Year’s Resolutions

Looking back at that post about Swatches, I am a little embarrassed about it. It’s weak. Confession time: That post’s content was actually a short off-the-cuff E-mail reply sent to Jane Q. Public, and I pretty much just cut-n-pasted it from my E-mail sent folder. I guess I was just stretching to add something—anything—here to keep from blogfading. (Is that a word? I was thinking of the term “podfading.”)

I like to say that I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think it’s funny that I end up doing them anyway even if I don’t declare them as such.

So, as they say, if you want to achieve a goal, make it specific and write it down. Here is my list of goals (not resolutions) for this year:

1. I will update this blog at least once a week. Surely something of interest will happen around here every seven days. Even though I tried to blame facebook and twitter for my lack of posting here last year, I need to post here more often. Let’s face it, 140 characters isn’t the best way to improve one’s writing skills, and facebook is mostly just a 24/7 class reunion. Sometimes this free-form blog format is the best for what I want to say. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some things happened in 2009 that helped me to get out of the house, step away and look up from the keyboard, and start to enjoy my life here. I shudder to think where I would be or what I’d look like today if I continued down the “post-grad-school come home, flop into the Lay-Z-Boy and spend hours on facebook/twitter” path I was on. Now, I’m spending more time in the real physical world, outside of the Interwebs. This gives me more material to write about instead of just posting inane status updates like “Watching the corn grow.”

2. I will get back into shape. While I’m not in terrible shape for a guy my age who does manage to keep up with play as a high school soccer referee, I could always do better. See, there’s a little something bugging me: I missed a chance at going to the FBI academy because I applied with less than three months to prepare and couldn’t get myself up to the physical standards before I ran out of time due to my age (Cue: @janeqpublic with an “Oldie Twobuckles” comment). This has always kind of bugged me. I’m not bothered that I didn’t go the FBI route.  I think it’s because I couldn’t pass the physical tests at the time. I think if I can just get to the point where I know I do meet that standard, I’ll be happy. Also, it will help with soccer and hockey work to be in better shape. Ok, I also have to admit, I want to look better, feel better, and just plain feel better about how I look. I don’t want to end up on hotchickswithdouchebags.com. Because seriously, have you seen @janeqpublic? Rawr.

3. I will lose the weight. Obviously, this is a positive side benefit of getting back in shape as described above, but diet is also a key component of the weight loss process. I’ve been inspired by some friends, some of which have lost over 35 pounds in just a year. The challenge of living in this part of the country is not only the high-calorie food; it’s the rituals that are attached to the consumption of food. Special occasion? There must be a huge spread of food! Lots of desserts! Deep fried everything! No big deal, if it’s not an everyday thing, right? Well, what makes a special occasion down here? Anything. Tuesday. My solution: Eat less, do more, and make use of the calorie counting apps on the iPhone that really help with the dietary reality checks.

4. I will get moving on the IT Certifications again. I admit I slacked off last year after I got the CISSP, but the market is more competitive than ever and certifications are in vogue again as a means to differentiate job candidates. At the very least, it’s time I knocked off the one certification in particular that I’ve started/stopped on for five years now.

5. I will start and keep up with a budget. It seems that every year I say “I’m going to use Quicken to track my expenses and I’m going to keep up with it…” and then I quit after a month. This year will be different. I’m considering some major moves this year that will simply require that I make a written budget plan and stick with it. Which finally leads me to the big one…

6. I will stop living in fear. What? Yeah, I said it. Time to stop denying that I’ve been living in fear for the last few years. I’ve come to realize that losing my job while having a mortgage over my head really did a number on me. I had mostly given up on things like owning a house and having a wife and kids because I was scared to take the leap. Not. Any. More. I’m going to get back to living life, because someone showed me it’s all worth the risks.