Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Doing the right thing

As often happens, I had a plan for today. It included going on a bike ride with the Wife. It would have worked out something like this: get out of work and have dinner, take Nicholas to karate, load up the bikes afterwards and go on a ride just me and the lady. Christopher is at wrestling camp so no problem, right?

However, we could go watch Christopher wrestle from 7 until about 9. He asked us to come yesterday (well, he asked MOM to come yesterday). But going to see him wrestle would mean no ride for me. And I really like to ride. So what to do.

Yup, I picked Nicholas up from karate and we all went out to watch the older boy wrestle. I read a really good book (two actually, QBQ: the question behind the question and Flipping the Switch) that talk about personal accountability and service. And much as I would like to do MY thing, the kid needs our support. And when it boils down to it, he needed me more than I needed a ride.

As it turns out, it was a good thing we were there. His last match did not go well. His opponent was faster and more technical than him and he couldn't seem to make anything happen. After his match, he seemed in good spirits, so I told him we had to get going but to go say goodbye to his mother before we left. He sat down and started chatting with her. He then wiped his face and seemed to be surprised there was water on it. And he suddenly burst into tears. No explanation, no reason why. Probably a combination of disappointment, frustration, tiredness, whatever. But he had both of us there to tell him not to worry about it. He calmed down pretty quick and was a little embarrassed about the episode, but again, no biggie. So I'm glad I did the right thing today. As it turns out, Christopher needed us there more than I would have realized.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What a day

Today's been a long day so far. And it didn't start out so good. This weekend has been the Hot Dog Cup tournament, a soccer tournament the boys are involved. There were 4 games yesterday (two each). Today there was originally scheduled 3 games. The first was at 8 am. Requiring me to get up a 6:30 am. On a Sunday. Which I hate.

If you ask my family what I'm like at that time of the morning, the would be very kind in saying I'm antisocial. Truthfully I'm a mean son of a bitch that wants to be left the fuck alone. If I need to get up early (like for work) I just want to get my stuff done and get to where I need to go. I don't really want to talk to anyone. I don't want any craziness, I don't want the kids arguing or complaining or giving me a hard time. Nicholas, especially, is at full speed when he gets up in the morning. He's full of energy and talkative and so on. I had to spell it out for him this morning that when I get up that early, I just don't want to talk to anyone. Surprisingly, he understood and complied and didn't talk to me until I left.

So, after getting my butt up early and getting a kid ready for soccer, we get to the game. All I wanted to do today was get through these 3 soccer games and go riding with Ellen (and maybe Nicholas) on a new bike trail by the lake. Christopher, besides having 2 games, is off the a 5 day wrestling camp today where he'll be staying on the college campus where the camp is. So my plan was 3 soccer games, lunch, drop the kid off at wrestling camp with the bikes on the back of the car, go riding, then spend the rest of the day working on school assignments. Weather forecast was for no rain after raining a lot yesterday. I'm golden, right?

So during the first game, it starts to rain. And not gently. And I'm already not in a good mood and this isn't improving it at all. All I'm thinking at that point is that if I don't get my ride in, I'm going to be really pissed. As if I wasn't already. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Can you see the common thread? I'll get back to it in a sec.

Just to fill you in on the rest of the day, Christopher (who had the early game) lost his first game. We came home and all went to the next two games as they were one after the other. Nicholas had the next one and his team won! Christopher's team then played and they lost again. As it turns out, Nicholas' team qualified for the tournament final, so we suddenly had another game for the day! I was still hoping to get a ride in. But I'm coming to that.

So we had lunch there at the field, then ran home. Ellen got Christopher ready to go to camp and I took Nicholas to the finals. Which the lost. However, while I was at the game, something dawned on me. Last year, when watching Nicholas play, I would prowl the sideline "coaching" him while he was playing. That's a polite way of saying "yelling at him to do this or that". This year, he's playing much better. And for the entire tournament, I sat and watched him play. When he came to the sideline, I gave him some pointers and let him run off again. While his team was getting murdered in the final (the lost 8-2), all the other parents and the coach were yelling this and that to get the boys in the game. Nicholas was doing what he was supposed to and playing his best, so I sat back and just watched the game. And gave him pointers when he came to the sideline. And congratulated him on playing well.

After the game, I asked Ellen if she wanted to go for a ride. I've been trying to revive the Sunday ride with family. But instead of going in a car, our Sunday ride is on the bikes! It was humid today, so she begged off and I knew Nicholas was too tired so I went for a ride on my own on my new road bike. Got about 12.75 miles in. I love the solitude of riding as I can just focus on the road and the ride. Anything else going on is purged from my brain as I concentrate on just pedaling. I got the school work complete that I wanted to get done and will have time tonight to do some reading. Not a bad end to the day.

So did you figure out my problem earlier? I was reading a friend's blog who posted a sermon he gave and it reminded me what my problem was this morning (and continues to be). Did you see how many times I used the phrase "I ...". I just went and counted. Ten times. Awfully damn selfish of me, isn't it? Which is probably one of my biggest problems. Though I'm sure Ellen will pick out a few more if you ask her. I'm not sure when in the day I finally let go of that selfishness, but luckily I did. It may have been at the second game of the day when Ellen was there. She does have a pretty good habit of smacking me on the head when I need it. Or just being a calming influence whether I know it or not. Certainly interacting with her makes me a better person. The other day I was being a bastard and she came up to me and quietly but firmly put me in my place and that did the trick. Good thing God gave her to me.

So despite all my crankiness and selfishness, we got everything done today that needs doing. And maybe I learned something too. I always say I need to let go of things and give them to the Lord. I just have to remind myself to do so often.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The women in my life

First of all, don't get used to multiple posts in a single week. I'll post whenever I damn well feel like it. Which might be more often than once in a blue moon.

A thought that occurs to me often is how blessed I am to have the women in my life that I do. Mind you, I really can't complain about knowing and hanging around with a large number of lovely ladies. But I digress.

Mostly what occurs to me is the women surrounding my that act as "faith role models". Ellen and I teach a baptism prep course and there's a section where we break into groups with just the men and just the women. We discuss faith role models and for the guys, 98% of the time it's some woman in our life; mother, grandmother, wife (such as my case). I've been lucky enough to have more than one woman in my life that shows me the way.

My wife has always been a rock for me because of her quiet faith. She was never one to make a big deal out of it, but I recall from the very beginning where she'd just gently invite me to go to Mass with her. Those invitations are what planted the seed that brought me back to the faith. She's got one of those very trusting kinds of faith. She's always just believed and never questioned the truth of her faith. I've been through periods of doubt and trial and through those times she can be my rock.

Two other women that inspire me are two of my band members. One of them is very spiritual and filled with an outgoing faith that blows my mind. She intros all of our songs and gives reflections between and it's amazing the things that she says just as the Spirit moves her. She's just so outgoing and full of life and wears her faith on her sleeve for all to see. My other band member is the strong advocate type. She's very analytical and before she could fully commit herself to her faith she had to learn everything about it and all of the "competition" besides. So she can tell you all of the "why's" but instead of beating you up with the facts, she puts it out there for you to decide. She's also very tolerant of others but since she's gone through that internal process of discerning, her faith is unshakable.

All three of these women help to pick me up when I'm down in different ways. Ellen has my back in so many ways I can't even to begin to express. My bandmates listen and support me, both in my music ministry and in my journey of faith, just by being there with their example and friendship. Hopefully, I can be there for them as well. Ellen once said something that really hit me and made me realize I'd actually had an impact on someone else. Again, during baptism prep class, we were discussing ways we respect our spouses (or "partners") faith. I mentioned what I said above, I envied Ellen's quiet, rock like faith. She said she really respected the way I seemed to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I found that very profound since I never thought of it that way. I just always believed that I didn't need any middle man, just Jesus for whatever I needed. Ellen is bigger on intercessory prayer. It made me feel good that I could inspire her in some way as she's inspired me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where have all the bloggers gone?

I was reflecting today on the drive home about what happened to blogging. This reverie was induced by the recent return of my pal Nanner to the blogsphere after a bit of an absence. It got me to thinking that only about 2 of the bloggers I used to regularly read still post on some sort of regular basis. Most of them (including myself) almost never post any more. Some have even taken down their blogs. It seems Facebook and Twitter have replaced the blogsphere.

I get how it's much easier to put up one sentence or post a quick picture and move on. Writing a blog requires writing. And it seems like we don't have time for it anymore. It's almost like the death of the much lamented letter. You remember. When you used to have to put pen to paper and then stuff the result in an envelope with a stamp? We've become an impatient culture. We need instant gratification and access to the web 24/7 via a smartphone. How many of you have one? I do (though it's not my personal device. My personal cell phone is just a PHONE.) How many of you have a smartphone with a touch screen? That's what I thought.

I must say that I miss my friends that I found via the world of blogs. A couple I got to meet in person, some I spoke to on the phone, but I got to know all of them from their writings. Tales of family triumphs and tragedies. Rants about things that annoyed and thoughts philosophic. You really got to know people. Now, I have like 70 friends on Facebook (some former bloggers) and I really don't care what they have to say. Some posts are indecipherable (such as a song lyric that means something only to the person posting) or the fact that they're going to bed now. How low did we get that we need to catalog every moment of our lives for the world to see?

Those of you that have me as a friend on Facebook know that I don't put much out there either. I must admit, it is easy, but the only reason I do is just because most of the people I care to put up content for are on facebook. I dumped my twitter account because it was dumb. And I NEVER used it. So does this mean I'll be regularly posting here again? Beats me. Perhaps when I'm in a mood such as now I'll just ramble away. After all, I'm a rocker and a guy, and I tend to ramble. But you knew that from the blog title, didn't you?

So beyond the philosophical meanderings of the current state of blogging, I'm entering into my "slow" season of the year. Meaning, instead of having a kid's activity EVERY day of the week, it's only like 4 times a week. And my graduate course is winding down. Come July 9, I'm done with school for the summer. I plan on doing some summer reading, as much biking as I can fit in, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I may post something about how I appreciate all the women in my life as it occurs to me periodically how blessed I am to have some especially wonderful women within my circle, beginning with my beloved wife (yes, I said beloved. Blame it on Shelly as I just finished reading Frankenstein). I might post something on the joys of biking in general and my new road bike specifically. My thighs are killing me since I'm using new muscles. I could post something about how Christopher managed to turn his grades around for 4th quarter and do really well, under threat of pain of death. Or I could go on about how Nicholas (formerly known as Grasshopper) makes me crazy. So much material.

So you can expect me to be around this old place more often. Or perhaps not. Time will tell. I will say that I got the most amusing notice EVER today. Blogger is set up to email me when someone comments. I got a comment from someone I didn't know concerning an old post of mine about smash sandwiches in France. For some reason, I get a lot of hits when people google it. As it turns out, this post was from 2005. Yes, someone commented on a post I wrote FIVE YEARS AGO! Which leads to the realization that I've been doing this for at least that long. Anyway, I know a couple of you stop by her on occasion so I'll gladly continue to fill you in on all things banal and exciting as the muse guides me. In the immortal words of Led Zepplin, I'm going to ramble on. Or perhaps more like Steve Martin rambling. And if you don't know what I mean, go look it up.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New toy - Updated!

Ok, for the 3 of you that still come here to read my blog, you may be aware that I've become a little obsessed with cycling. Or perhaps more than a little. You hear about those golf fanatics that spend every waking moment waiting for the next time they can hit the links or try and make that shot? Well, I get up every morning and it's either a "boy this would be a great day to go biking" day or "can't wait till the weather gets better so I can bike" day. Many of the minutes in between biking are spent dreaming about biking.

So, to that effect, I've realized I probably need a road bike. I have a very good mountain bike and it's great for riding with the family (particularly the Wife), going on trails, and generally anything that isn't dedicated road riding. I have been riding it on the road (I've got a nice 12 mile circuit I like). I can go at a pretty good clip and average about 15.5 miles per hour. There's only one problem.

I could go faster. Riding a mountain bike on the road is like driving a lifted pickup truck on the highway. It goes along well enough, but there's a lot of road noise and you need more power to keep your speed. That's why they make road bikes that are light with skinny tires and wheels that spin really easy. Basically at the same cadence (speed you're pedalling) you can go about 4 to 5 miles an hour faster on a road bike than a mountain bike. The other reason I know I need a road bike is that on some downhills, I'm in the hardest gear my bike has, and I'm pedaling too easy. Meaning I need a still harder gear to get more speed. (See a theme here?)

So, since Ellen's nephew happens to work for Jamis bikes, he got me his discount on a Jamis Ventura Race road bike. 19.75 pounds (compared to almost 30 on my mountain bike). FAST baby. And it looks ultra cool. It shipped to a local bike shop yesterday so I'm waiting for it to arrive. Here's a picture of my new baby. I anticipate many good miles together.

Update: Here's a picture of me WITH my new toy!