Two tickets from the Poe-Leece:

Actually, FOR the Police:

I'm a little bit excited.

A simple question, really...

What if I want to be a MILF???

Apparently I can with an Astin Martin for (only) $1569 per month.


Hiatus Over: Back in the Saddle

Been out of town for a little getaway to some warmer weather...

Just getting through the deluge of junk mail and unfinished tasks.

Course: Falcon Ridge
Hole: 2nd, Par 3, 130 yards
Club: Wedgie
Golfer: Compleat Dork


Not a moment wasted:

I ran out of the house this morning, forgetting to grab my most current editions of Dwell and Men's Journal. I tend to leave them at home for a few days, then bring them to work. There is a reason for this. It's very simple - 90% of the time, I tend to trundle off to the Board Room (and by board room, I mean the porcelain pony) at the office rather than at home, where I have my morning constitutional (and by constitutional, I mean my morning loaf-pinch). It's just the way it goes.

To avoid boredom while I await The Blessed Event, I take some reading material with me, because there are no pictures on the wall.

It's during this alone time that I find some interesting design-related items, some of which I will share with you now:

First up is the renewable floor made from, of all things, Peach pits:

You can find it here. Down side: you have to wait for the factory workers to eat enough peaches for your job, and then to get over the subsequent liquid runnies that will cause. Just kidding, I think.

Number next: did you know you can buy cool design items from The Museum of Modern Art? Check out this river stone bowl:

It costs $155. Here is the description: A complement to the popular stone platter, this generously sized, food-safe serving bowl features hand-picked natural river stones suspended in clear resin, replicating their native underwater appearance. Hand-wash only; not for microwave.

I like that bowl. A lot. I would marry it. I would take it out behind the Junior High and get it pregnant. A little 30 Rock humor for you there. (Is it just me, or is that show HILARIOUS??)

Just sayin.

But first this commercial message:

You should go here and load this link

That, ladies and gentlemen, is just darn good interwebbing right there.

That is all.


Coincidence? I think not.

At 5:30 this morning, I had this post all figured out. Now it seems a long way off in the distant foggy past.

Being Friday, it's a mish-mash of all things Random:

First off, today is Pi Day (π Day) . It's March 14th. Get it? 3/14 or 3.14.

Come on, you know you want to celebrate by doing some beer-pong partying with that guy right there.

It also happens to be Einstein's birthday. It appears he was more of an egotist than a scientist, and he came up with the whole π concept simply to commemorate his own birthday. Bastard. Bastard for making me learn all that Mathematical Constant crap in Junior High. Wanker. With bad hair.

On to the next random thought: Similar to my recent bender of "Phancy A Phyreplace", here is a cool range hood for you:

Buy It Here

Next thing that barely makes sense:
I was getting my hairs coiffed last night, and I often wonder why I go to a Salon, and have an Official Stylist do it. I mean really, I have so few hairs as it is... the cost per hair is HIGH.

Really. Take a look at my newly truncated locks:

Hardly seems worth it, does it? And yes, I have talented, independently controlled eyebrows. Call me The Rock - but not really. Be jealous anyway.

Anyway, part of my consternation is the 12 minute shampoo, condition, scalp massage, and ear-bleeding diatribe while under her immediate control. This diatribe typically exposes the painful yet simple fact that she is decidedly young and very naive. She has many of life's lessons yet to learn. Part of the subsequent conversation came around to her weakness, otherwise known as Teh Chocolate. Whatever. She then asked me what MY weakness was... I have to say I was a bit taken aback. I guess I don't think of things in that way, but after a moment, I answered that it was probably fast food. She looked perplexed. "As in, hamburgers," I explained. Then she got this look on her face, sheer terror, and said, "Oh my heck, you don't eat The Baconater, do you?" I said no - "more like the Jr Cheeseburger Deluxe. That's about my max." She said that wasn't much of a weakness. But it is. I LIKEY THEM.

Speaking of which - my kids will tell you that there are NO hamburgers better than the ones I make myself for them. One of them says I should open a burger joint.

Which brings up the next item. Remember that thing I called a diet? Yeah, that one. Here is an update. I wrote that I had lost 20 pounds by the middle of November. Well, with the holidays dropped in there, etc, I've only lost another five pounds, bringing me to a total of 25 pounds dumped since September. I am totally embarrassed to note that I started the diet weighing (ahem) 246.8. Not cool, is what that translates to. Pudgy, in fact. Thick.

Anyway, I feel like I am plateaued at just barely over 220. I am motivated to break below that 220 mark. It's been a VERY long time since I've seen the scale numbers began with a 21. I hope to do that this next week. In order for that to happen, the gym is going to be the answer. Now that it's light later in the day, I feel like spring is on its way, even if it is STILL snowing buckets in the mountains around here, and that motivates me to get back to the gym and do some real work. And maybe a couple less d'ambeurgeurs....

Rest assured, you'll know about it when I go below the 220 number. Next week.


A twist of fate:

Last week we heard that Dirty Dancer Patrick Swayze had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Then only yesterday, we hear that Jeff Healey has also died of cancer at age 41.

I don't have a good giveaway, but I'll give a big sloppy kiss to the first commenter who links these two events properly, without looking either up on Teh Wiki...

(the image here is probably a clue...)

ready, set, GO!


That was then, this is now: Movie Music

About a week ago I got an application that would allow me to get my DVDs onto my laptop. It's a slow and tedious process, but it's nice to be able to download a movie I already own onto my iPod Touch, etc.

I've had "300" playing in the background here at my desk for an hour or so, and when I'm not watching, I'm listening. This serves to bring the movie music to the attention. At least for me anyway.

Which got me to thinking... a century or two ago, what we call Classical Music was what they called Popular Music. And we still listen to that music today. Composers names are known across those many years. Certainly there are those who have been forgotten as well.

But here's the thing.... 2 centuries from now, what are they going to call our music? And who are the composers whose names will be engraved on busts? Who is writing that music now?

I think there are several answers to this question, but in this context, in the "Classical Music" context, I think there will be several names of those who composed movie music.

Who are YOUR favorites? Do you even think about it? How often are you watching a movie, and you say under your breath, wow, nice music.... Or does it even enter your mind. It is said that film music SHOULDN'T enter your mind, but for me it does. But it doesn't distract me either.

One of my favorites is Danny Elfman. Another is the ubiquitous John Williams, a giant in this genre. Also on my list are Hans Zimmer and John Barry.



Well, paint me orange and call me Googled...

I've been getting a large number of hits lately on one specific page, so I decided to check it out.

Seems I'm the number three hit for the words: Amor Vincit Omnia Tattoo.

Go me. If you're wondering why that is, you can click on the label below...


Get your very own Pegasus Piano

At a first glance the Schimmel Pegasus Piano doesn’t look like a piano. With those beautifully sculpted curves this piano looks more like a futuristic spaceship. The Piano has over 200 strings with a key assembly of 10000 pieces with a fully adjustable hydraulic lid. Now you can have your own Schimmel Pegasus Piano because there’s one for sale until March 15th, only 14 were made ten years ago for people like Eddie Murphy, Lenny Kravitz, and Prince.

The pianist’s touch determines the speed and energy of the hammer contacting and energizing the strings. The pianist’s touch determines the speed and energy of the hammer contacting and energizing the strings. Details in workmanship and material are paramount if the pianist is to enjoy playing the instrument and experience rich, expanded dynamic sonority. Schimmel keyboard/action systems are examples of exclusive workmanship, regulated to discriminating standards and ideally matched to the strung back assemblies. They are asking only $110,000, and their highest bit is currently at $100,000.

A Great Concept:

The Cookie Mug:

Bumper Riding:

When I was about 6-7 years old, our dad drove a red VW bug. I remember in the winter time he would take us out and do donuts in cul de sacs.... One time, and this was apparently super-common, a few kids ran out into the road, grabbed onto the back bumper, and rode along as if being dragged by a water-ski boat, as long as they possibly cold. My dad would swerve around trying to dump them off, which was all the more fun for the riders. Fun times. Lots of cold-packed snow.

But then, we also played hockey in the streets too.

I saw this painting last week, and was reminded of that all over again.

Thinking about an Eyeball Tattoo:

Since I can't even stand the thought of a contact lens in my eye, I guess I'm not a candidate.

Immigration and Assimilation:

A quote attributed to Teddy Roosevelt:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
I guess that's the point I was trying to make earlier.

The Genesis blah blah blah: Part Last

So if you're still out there, you may be wondering how this all ties up into a nice neat package. And by the emails I've had, there are some questions as well. For starters, I don't blame anyone for where I am, or how I got to where I am, because, you see, I LIKE where I am, and I don't fault anyone for me being here, except myself. I've made my decisions, and lived with their consequences. Many of those decisions have had their costs, and I've paid them. I guess what I am here to say is this: it doesn't matter to me who you are, or what you believe, as long as you are true to yourself.

These 10,000 words are fresh, they haven't been written down except for over the last 5 or 6 days. I told ThatOneWife last night that if I had written them in their entirety before posting anything, I'm not sure any of it would have been posted to my blog. Some if it has been a bit painful. Introspection isn't always rosy. Which I why I started posting them as they were written. And I didn't do so to benefit anyone but me, frankly. Because for me, writing things down serves to solidify things for me - thoughts, reasons, perhaps rationalizations, decisions, directions. These words serve me, but if they have also served to bring something to mind for someone else, then great.

Which is why I blog at all, or at least it's why I started. A little more than 2 years ago now, I started blogging to give an admittedly small voice to things I thought needed to be said. I believe our state is often run over roughshod with a majority voice. All in all, it's how democracy works, but in a lot of ways, I don't think we have a democracy here, at least not a fair one.

Two years ago I said that I thought a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was wrong and unconstitutional from a national perspective. In most other areas, a marriage consists of a civil part and a religious part. But not here. See, if two human beings choose to live their lives together in our society, and be financially and emotionally dependent upon each other, they should be allowed to do that. If the Church doesn't want them, that's fine, that's great. But they shouldn't be disqualified from the regular secular rights and privileges the rest of us enjoy, civilly. The current construct we call marriage needs to be separated from civil rights and equality for all people. It seems to me that the talk about being fair to immigrants flies in the face of being fair to others. If we are going to give civil rights, as pertains to gaining certain rights in this country, to those who aren't citizens, we also need to be right-minded enough to give those rights to all human beings, especially those who ARE citizens. To not do so is homophobic and bigoted.

I also think, while we're on the subject, that we DO have a problem with immigration. It's a hard problem. I tend to go with the republicans (nationally) on this issue, but not so much with the republicans (state-side). I take more of a hard line, in part because I got here the right way, and it offends me that some would seek to circumvent the law, and then demand rights to which they are not entitled. We need to work with the governments of the countries whose citizens are the worst offenders. This would be my opinion no matter what country that is.

It's just wrong to sneak in here, maintain your loyalty to your home country by working here, pay no taxes, use the services, and send large sums of money back to that country (for family, but benefiting the home country as a result), then demanding a path to full citizenship. It offends those who went through the process, paid the price, gave up certain things on the way. It offends those millions who waited for days and weeks at Ellis Island in the early days, who fled their own repression, looking for a better life.

Yes, this country was founded by immigrants. But now there is a right way to do it. I agree that immigration laws need to be changed, need to be made more fair. This needs to be fixed big time. But in the meantime there HAS to be some semblance of order. What we are doing now is akin to trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube, and that just gets messy. The solution needs to be as multi-faceted as the problem.

I also have a problem with the mixture of church and state, especially in this state. It irks me that there is in fact a religious test for Presidency of this country, when it is decreed that there should NOT be. It makes my stomach churn inside when a presidential candidate says that the constitution should be changed to more closely reflect God's law. It pisses me off that a candidate and his army of believers would use slanderous means to discredit another candidate's bid based on religious standards of how Christian he is or is not. And keep in mind, that I HATED the candidacy of Mitt Flop Romney.

It bothers me that there is a national wing of politics that would give Israel carte blanche political support as the result of some religious belief they have by virtue of some biblical writings. Those people are the extremists and dominionists the same way some factions of Islam are extremists.

It cranks me that a large number of people in this country want a president who is a practicer of a certain brand of Christianity, and use that as a basis for support.

All of these things really bother me. Agitate me.

I could have written and posted just this Tenth Part, but I felt like I wanted to get the other stuff off my chest too. (Because it was for me too, remember?) Not to show how difficult or easy my life is, but to say that I have earned a certain number of stripes through the meanderings of my life, and they give my thoughts a background texture. The side benefit has turned out to be that for those friends and family who read here - I know there are one or two or three - perhaps they now understand me better than before, and understand perhaps in small part, how I think and why.

The early posts of this blog contain many of these thoughts already. I've said them, and I still stand by them. Although I have laid my active religious practicings aside, I feel that I have become a true Christian through the process. In fact I'm a better Christian now than I have ever been in my life. I am way more tolerant and caring for other people now than I ever was before. I really don't know why that is, I thought I was a good person before, and really, I was, but I am a better person now, in every aspect of my life. I am so far from perfect it isn't even funny, but through the things I have lived, I know it's okay to just be me, and try to do good things for other people. I love lots of people a whole lot better than I ever have cared enough to before.

One pretty frequent commenter here noted a reference to a concept called "pay it forward". She happens to be my sister-in-law, and her thoughts are appreciated. She noted that the idea had been a blessing in the lives of her family. It has been a blessing for me too. I try to practice it in as many aspects of my life as I can fit it into. The other day I was waiting in line at the gas station to pay for my Diet Coke, and there was a guy counting out change for his purchase, and was coming up a couple of dollars short. The line was backing up with people, and some were getting impatient. I quietly said that I would cover what was needed and thanks were exchanged. I just said, try to do something nice for someone else when you can. The person was thankful, and we all went on our way.

This is really no big deal. A couple of bucks doesn't really make that big a difference to me, but it apparently made a difference to someone else. I'm not putting myself on a pedestal here at all. It's just an illustration of trying to be a good person, and doing nice things for others. And it's not about money all the time either. It as easy as lending a listening ear, or offering up a word or two of kind encouragement. These are the things that are so important. We just need to be better people. We need to be kinder to people, all kinds of people, not just those whom we know think like us. We need to be fair. Just the right thing to do. We are all together here, so we should just try to do what we can to make it a modicum easier for others when we are able. You never know when that word of encouragement will be needed in your own life.

That's all.

I now return us all to the regular goings on around here, the architecture geekery, the design comments, the music, sports, the pictures, the humor, the thought provoking (hopefully) material as well.



The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Nine

And for the record, I followed my heart, for probably the first, or second (now that I think about it), time in my life. It was the most difficult decision I've made in my life, but the one for which I am most thankful.

In an effort to be as fair as possible, I'm sure that I was not the perfect husband, church leader, or father. And I'm sure that over the years I inflicted my fair share of damage and harm in the relationship as well. I freely admit this. But on the flip side, I never spent a day where I was unfaithful or otherwise unworthy in my life before I left. I did my best, made what I am sure now are some bad decisions, and paid the price for them. On the other hand she was single-handedly responsible for a 20 year estrangement between one of my best friends and myself, forcing me to make a clear cut definitive choice.

And over those years, I was also notably absent from relationships within my own family. Both of these items have been repaired to a large extent, but there has been a lot of time that has passed by, like the waters of a river - those drops never pass by again, they are lost. Only to be replaced by new drops that bring along with them new hope and opportunity. And I now have new hope and opportunity as well.

I wouldn't say exactly that I am a son who is estranged from his father. But I would also not say we are all that close either. The relationship with my parents is better now, but it was certainly thorny for a long time, again because of choices I made, or, more appropriately, was forced to make. Those relationships always were strained to the breaking point when they came to visit their grandchildren. She was always in everybody else's business, and it was very trying for everyone involved. Since then, in the ensuing years, those friends and family members have noted that I have new life in my eyes, new spring in my life, and I happen to agree.

I am free to be my own person now, and it's got a lot to do with the angel to whom I am now married, along with my own determination to follow my heart, and be true to what I want in my own life. It's interesting, but I've learned now what it's like to be loved without conditions. Hell, my wife doesn't really NEED me, she just WANTS to be with me. What a difference THAT makes! All I have to do is be myself, do my best, be true, loving, and respectful, and the rest falls into place. I have found as well, that when you have a situation like that, it is certainly easier to give that same unconditional love back to a person. Which is how it was supposed to be all along.

I haven't reconciled myself with the religion of my fathers, however, and I doubt that will happen any time soon. There are MANY things that have not been written here - or more accurately, they WERE written here, but there was liberal use of the delete key - because at the end of the day, they are what they are, and they aren't going to be changing any time soon. For the purposes of this little jaunt, let's just say that I have been exposed to some very unsavory individuals and situations that were cloaked in a mask of righteousness. The adage that "I'll be a nice guy and wear a white shirt on Sunday, but on Monday, I'll poke you in the bum" rings so true it ceases to be funny any longer. How appropriate it is then, that this Part would be posted on the last day of the Utah Legislature, the last day that the church gets to legislate its own brand of morality from the state capital, to enshrine its own bigotry and hatred into secular law, all while talking out of the other side of their mouths to say that they don't meddle in politics, care for all people, and want the best for the world.

I have very controversial views (at least within my family) of organized religion in general. I have had such a bad experience that I now feel like organized religion is a modern construct of man for the sole purpose of inflicting guilt and moral superiority on others for the purpose of self aggrandizement in the eyes of others, and to prey upon the weak-minded who need a crutch to get through every day of their lives. They are taught not to think critically, or even question, only to blindly obey. Those who are overly aggressive and seek to impose their system of values on everyone around them are nothing more than simple egoists who need to feel morally superior.

I am not a campaigner against those who find solace in their religion - because I think that is perhaps the true purpose for associating oneself with a particular religion. And at the end of the day, what someone else does with their private life is no business of mine, or yours, and it ultimately makes no difference to me and how I live my life every day. Where I have a problem with it is when that person seeks to compel others to follow along out of some sense of guilty duty, blind trust, and the thought that "I know better than you what is good for you".

I know not all members of the church are this way, or think like this, but there are enough of them that one has to wonder what the purpose is, really. If this is what is bred there, where is the good? I have many friends, members of the church, who are good people, very good people in fact. But I have come to find out that at the end of the day, unless you're in the club, you're an outsider with no voice, no opinion, no validity, no value. There are many others whom I THOUGHT were my friends, but who are just conformists who thought I was too. They have not spoken to me since I left, and many have gone out of their way to NOT speak to me. And to those ones, I say: Fine. Swell.

So let the flame wars begin - I am prepared. You may think of me what you will, it matters not a whit to me. Because I am, for the first time in my life, at peace with my life, and where I am in the grand scheme of things. My children know what I think. I have one who is a missionary now. He knows what I think. He knows and understands that there is a difference between seeking to share your message of hope, which is exactly what he is doing, and seeking to compel others to conform to your way of thinking through the placement of guilt. They also know that, no matter WHAT they do, they could be no less loved by their father. More than one of them has said to me very specifically that they are happy for me now, and are glad that they get to see that their dad can be happy. They never saw that before - I had a constant migraine, and I was often wont to yell. I was not happy on any day.

Part Ten will tie these 10,000 words together and I'll talk about the real reasons I started this blog, and why I chose to write all of this stuff down....

The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Eight

If you're still reading this silliness, here is part eight:

Then I graduated from school and found a job. By that time, she was pregnant with twins, a circumstance having been accomplished with fertility drugs. We decided that I would go to the US, get working, and come back in time for the birth of the kids. And with that, I headed out. I had a contract in hand to be a second engineer on a project that was to start in a few days.

At this point, I'll make an observation - my parents had kindly volunteered to let my wife stay with them while I was gone, as they had just done some remodeling and had combined two bedrooms into one in their home. So that was the plan. This lasted only a few days though, as she went stir crazy and my parents drove her crazy. She bailed out and went back to live with her parents, who, you will remember lived close to where we were living, and where all of our "friends" were as well. It's odd I think that my family took her in while I was a missionary, but now she had a hard time dealing with them.

By the time I GOT to the US, she was out of there, living at her parents' home. Which is fine, but this was a harbinger of things to come. And here's what I know now: there was a history of chemical balance issues that seems plain to me now, but was not clear then. And while I don't blame her for this, it turned out out be one of the major reasons we are no longer married. This was also a major factor that contributed to a situation that manifested itself in other aspects of life that made things eventually untenable and unbearable for me.

If it were the only thing, perhaps I could have worked through it. But it was really only the tip of the iceberg. And we all know the tip of the iceberg is connected to the rest of the iceberg. Some of those iceberg things that were underwater, but no less damaging, were things like the very palpable and real guilt that resulted from the death of her younger sister at age 11 or so. She felt that in order to see her once again and be with her, she needed to be perfect. And being perfect meant that she had to have the perfect family in fact. She ruled family life in this direction through guilt, verbal abuse, and derision to an extent that it ruined family life over the long haul. She felt compelled to be perfect, and therefore sought to coerce uber-righteousness from all the rest of the family members. I don't respond well to duty-by-guilt, or coercion, so I often pushed back.

My life was miserable, both from a personal, and a church standpoint. I had been in leadership positions for several years, and in fact I've voted to excommunicate more people than I ever baptized, which is something that troubles me greatly. Who was I to judge these people's lives? There are lots of bad experiences I could share here, but suffice it to say that the combination of a bad home life, along with an over enthusiastic church leader, I was pretty much in hell.

She never worked after having kids, and I was left to earn the living for the family, which I did the best I could, my career has served me decently well, though I am not a doctor, lawyer or accountant, something I was reminded of on a surprisingly regular schedule, if even by intimation. I often think that if she had decided to get a job, she would have been happier with herself, and that would have made her happier with everyone else. Being the sole breadwinner, I was forced to seek employment with the only requirement being income, rather than job satisfaction, which led me to have a somewhat circuitous career path. There were jobs I had which I loathed. But my income has always grown year over year - for the most part. There have been difficult years, but there have been good years too.

There are so many more examples of the degradation I endured, the times I was made to feel inadequate, times I was yelled at and berated, then propped up to look like I should be the next leader of the local denomination, the times where intimations and undertones were more meaningful than the actual words spoken. I endured for perhaps a few more years than I really should have, but when there are children concerned, you do everything you can to suck it up. But it never got better, and there were times that I had thoughts of hurting myself, and certainly thoughts of hurting her. I've never hit a woman, nor will I ever, but damn, was I tempted to on more than one occasion. At the end, there was no joy in any facet of my life.

I left after having been physically abused for the third time. The Bible says we are to forgive someone 70 times 7 times. I couldn't make it past three, and perhaps that's my failing.


The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Seven

All through this time, I never forgot about Joanne. She wrote once or twice after I got home, even after we were married, I believe. She always told me to follow my heart.

I will never forget that one day though. When our oldest was less than a year old, I got a letter in the mail notifying me that Joanne had been killed in a car accident in a mountain pass in the interior of British Columbia. Her mother wrote me the letter, telling me she had died in a pretty violent accident, and stating that there was a little box filled with the things I had given her as gifts over the year we were together, and did I want that stuff back. I remember sitting on the stairs of our little 2-bedroom condo and shedding a tear for her, out of guilt and out of sadness. I had always thought that I would one day gather the brains and the courage at the same moment and get in touch with her and tell her how sorry I was for what had happened, that I treated her poorly, and would she please forgive me.

Instead I wrote a letter to her good catholic mother. I told her that if she felt okay about it, that I would be honored to have my little box of trinkets occupy a place among the things they were keeping as a remembrance of her. I also apologized to her, in place of her daughter, and asked for her forgiveness for breaking her daughter's heart and treating her so poorly. She wrote back and of course forgave me, and told me that Joanne had indeed waited for me to come back to her, but it was okay, she had decided to move on with her life, had forgiven me, and had a boyfriend at the time she died.

She said they would be happy to keep my small gifts along with her other things they had decided to keep, and she told me she loved me, and I needed to forgive myself. A wise woman indeed. My heart broke for the whole thing, and I felt absolutely terrible. Then her mother told me to just follow my heart, and everything would be okay. No kidding! She sent me the obit from the newspaper, along with some information about an endowment fund that had been established to provide a some music scholarships for the high school we attended. (That fund still operates today, 25 years later.) I wrote out a check for as much as I could afford and sent it away, guilty as hell.

Over the next several months I replayed in my mind what I would have said to her, had I been able to gather enough brains to make a call, apologize, ask for forgiveness, and move on with life. I've never forgotten the advice to follow my heart though.

From a career perspective things went well for me. Not saying it wasn't tough, but it really wasn't out of the ordinary, especially compared to other people we knew in basically the same circumstances we were in: young (very young), with a young family, basically beginning the education process, trying to figure out who we were, separately and together, and fitting into the church culture. As we were in this phase of life, we lived very close to my in-laws, and very close to everyone with whom my wife had gone to high school with. We all had little kids, school, and all that stuff.

What was weird though, was something that I have found common in lots of other geographical areas we have lived: there was open campaigning for callings (or jobs) within the church. This was true particularly the case among the wives, who were by and large ALL stay at home moms. Whenever someone was asked to do something in the church, and a position opened up by that vacancy there were always the rumors and speculation. Along with this came the inevitable call to some one, and the others were left, sometimes wondering why THEY weren't asked to be the president of this quorum, or the head of THAT organization. This bred a lot of disappointment, competition, and judgment. If you went through this process several times and weren't tapped to take a job that carried a certain amount of responsibility, you were somehow lacking. This can be a tough thing and is a microcosm of life in the corporate world. Except that it wasn't supposed to be that way in the church. Wives started whisper campaigns, the men competed for the positions, and feelings were hurt.

This was true where I was, but I am sure (because of later experience) that it is the same elsewhere.

This competition spread to career choices as well. I wanted to be a teacher, then a recording engineer, while everyone around me was in either law school, medical school, CPA school, or dentistry. And that was it - there were probably a dozen people in that little group of friends, and I was at the bottom of the pile. For the wife, she then was doubly motivated to see that I at least got a good church job. In the end however, I was teaching music to the elementary aged kids, every Sunday. This was an unspoken source of contention between my wife and I.

As far as the private life was concerned, it wasn't too much better. But I was doing well in school, and I was liking what I was doing. To hell with everybody else's expectations, let everybody else go to school to learn how to wear a suit and work a calculator for the rest of their boring lives. That wasn't for me. Shoot me in the face right now, please. I needed more. I needed more than black and white input into my life.

My wife felt a lot of pressure for me (being that she married a person who wasn't from that original med school/dental school/law school group) to get one of those positions and show that I was worthy of her, and that I could measure up to these people. My RESPONSE to this pressure was to act in such a way that she didn't like, and in a way that made it appear that I wasn't remotely interested in the job. When my first kid was 3, I pierced my ear with an ice cube, a needle, and a potato. One of my first outward acts of rebellion.

The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Six

My return from missionary life was a weird time - it went by fast, and was a swirl of new and old feelings alike, along with increased pressure and expectations. All of a sudden, I was back to being expected to do certain things. My mission president told me my next calling was to get home and get married, and it seemed my parents were standing by ready to do whatever was necessary to get that done. This was not a new posture for them though - they had been plowing that field for 18 months in my absence. I'm not going to bore you with various miscellany here, but just will say that I was engaged within four days of my return home, and was married four months later, the day after my 21st birthday in September. Looking back at the pictures, I looked like a scared 17 year old whose prom date had somehow taken a horrific turn to the left.

The year was 1984, and we served a sit-down roast beef dinner to 400 at our wedding reception. We registered for china and silverware, and got 5 settings of each for gifts, along with every other sort of household gadget one could think of. We moved into a one bedroom apartment, and got down to the realities of life.

With the accomplishment of my marriage, everyone around us felt that their jobs had been successfully accomplished and they basically stepped back and left these two idiot children to figure it out from there. My bride had contracted mono during the engagement, and our honeymoon consisted of her sleeping for 20 hours a day, being drugged for the other four, and me watching this new show on TV called Cheers. But somehow, when she was sleeping, she was also expecting that I should be wanting to ravish her sleeping body for hours at a time, and was VERY disappointed that I was trying to be the gentleman and let her rest.

She was basically unconscious the entire time. This would turn out to be a major source of contention many times in the ensuing years. She was off work for about 6 weeks as she recovered and all in all, it was a pretty rocky start to what would eventually become what it was from the outset: a doomed relationship.

As I stated previously, my parents didn't really take an active part in the education of their kids - I had never really had a job, a bank account, a sexual education, or much responsibility to speak of at all. That was pretty much all left up to the church to handle. And when I got married, that was the end of whatever interaction in these areas I would get. I entered school with the intent of being a music teacher like my dad.

You will previously remember that I had grandiose dreams of becoming the next Luciano Pavarotti, but the chilling gravity of my life's responsibilities suddenly brought several things into cruel focus, and I swallowed a bitter pill of reality. To say this was a major realization on my part would be the understatement of the year. I began to realize that I had, and would soon be expected to have more, people for whom I was now responsible, and trying to be an opera singer, which was a goal lauded by my proud parents earlier, was not going to cut the mustard in every day, actual LIFE. I toyed with the thought of becoming a musicologist (a pursuit that lands you solidly in the world of academe, not necessarily a bad thing), but decided on secondary music education.

I didn't totally finish that before I realized that while I liked to be around kids and people in general, teaching high school music wasn't going to satisfy me musically, or emotionally. I drew this conclusion from reflecting upon having watched my high school music teachers, and spending time in the classroom as a university student. While the band teachers were all very accomplished musicians, each gigged outside of school, and seemed to gain immense gratification from doing that, more-so than teaching half-interested kids in school. That was the band teachers.

The vocal teachers were simply miserable, and seemed to simply hate their lives in general. And it unfortunately showed in their teaching. It was then that I did some serious self evaluation for perhaps the first time in my life. That process yielded more questions, but also ideas, and direction. I decided that what I really wanted to be was a recording engineer. This way, I could stay musically engaged, and work with a mix of professional and hopeful musicians. I liked the idea that I could both teach AND learn from a group like this, and so I set out into another degree program.

By this time, we had a young son. Also by this time, I was starting to get used to having a wife, and being responsible for my life. I had student loan debt, I had summer jobs, a crappy car, a second apartment subsidized by a student family housing program. And the trials and tribulations that come along with being generally unprepared for life. but we went along. The birth of my first child was a pretty amazing experience, one that I won't soon forget. I remember it as if it were yesterday. But it wasn't - he turns 21 in two months. He's the one now on a mission in Fiji, and suffice it to say, his eyes are a little more open than mine were, and believe me, there will be more talks to come after he gets home. He's on a similar path to mine, but I will do everything I can to give him what I didn't have 25 years earlier.

Anyway, I auditioned to get into the music school I wanted to - one had to have a principle instrument in order to get in. I sang 8 bars, and they stopped me. I thought I had failed miserably, had done something wrong, had forgotten to follow some critical instruction, like no singers allowed. But all they said was, "stop right there, you're in."

The success of that audition was the first of many real successes while I was a student at that school and totally validated my previous misgivings with where my education had been previously. The education was intense, and I learned from great people who had forgotten more about music theory, composition, training, performance, and technology than I will ever know. As my second year took shape I was accepted to the recording major, a given as far as I was concerned, and I totally ate it up.

Having had no success in math earlier in my life, I immediately grasped the physics and math as it pertains to sound properties and production. Finally, it was logical to me. We started in the studio almost immediately and it was like a light went on for me. I was at home for the first time in my life, and was met with immediate success. As recording students we were allowed to book studio time at our leisure, and I found myself booking the last time of the day, and barricading myself in the studio for the entire night. I did this weekly.

I logged double the studio time over anyone else. I recorded and mixed everything I could put my hands on, knowing that I needed to build a portfolio of work that would land me a job as a staff engineer. Doing this was cathartic for me, because, as you know, music has a special power to move me. At the same time, I was an intern at a local recording studio as well, doing anything and everything they needed me to do, from emptying the garbage to striping tape with timecode (a new thing then...) It became clear to my fellow students that I had skills they did not have, and MANY of them came to me and paid me to do their projects for them. And I took them up on it.

Anyway, the career thing was moving along nicely. I ended up in the US as a result of my tenacity, a strong portfolio and strong recommendations from people around me. And that's not really what I am here to talk about - I've done that before. So, we'll move on to other things.


The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Five

The arrival home was certainly better than the travel, which, I'm sure, is what my parents were banking on. I am pretty certain they were in a big hurry to get me away from my previous life, and get me back into my old life. Which, to various degrees, is exactly what happened. It was the beginning of August by now, and with a month or so of "free time" I was generally left to my own devices for a while. I spent that time catching up with friends, and generally hanging out. My brother and I rejoined the old softball team we had left behind a year previous, and we entered a late summer tournament. The tournament functioned as a friend-reunion on a larger scale, as I knew MANY of the players on the other teams. One of those teams was made up of guys I knew from a particular part of town. (I had spent a good potion of my tenth grade year skipping school and hanging out at their high school with my then-girlfriend who also went to that school.) I knew many of them very well.

On the Saturday that the tournament ended, I was invited to go to a Bilbo Baggins Birthday Party, and there were many friends there. At one point several of us ended up piling into a car and heading out to a local A&W drive-in for hamburgers and frosty-mug root beer. (Remember those?? The good old days, for sure....) I ended up striking up a conversation with a girl who was next to me in the back seat of one of the cars, and she seemed fun and bubbly and we had a good time. Over the next several days we saw each other several times, and she told me that the tournament we played in was actually named after her grandfather, who was a popular local umpire.

There was lots happening for me at this time. I was getting at least one letter a week from Joanne, and I was writing about one a week as well. We talked a bit on the phone as well, but that wasn't exactly convenient as cell phones would not be invented for some time to come yet, and we didn't even have a cordless phone. So a private conversation was not to be had at all. So we wrote. Also at this time, I had dutifully submitted my application to become a Mormon missionary - again, as expected of me. And, for some reason, I was interested in seeing this other girl with whom I had had some fun with at the birthday party. So, I was a little conflicted. Joanne had told me to do my duty and that she would wait for me to get back, and I told her I would come back for her.

I received a call to serve an 18 month mission to Denmark, where my father's family is from, and my family could not have been more thrilled, for all sorts of reasons, most of which you could probably guess. I was to check into the training center on November 15th (or so - can't quite remember now...), but I do know I was to spend both American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years in the missionary training center, and would leave for Denmark in the middle of January, after having spent two months learning to speak Danish.

(A quick aside here: I was one of very few who was actually called for, and served, an 18 month mission. The 18 month call was put into place only a few months before I served, and it was rescinded only a few months after my mission began. Depending on how many months you had been out, you could choose how long to stay, either 18 or 24 months, but I didn't fall into any of those categories, and I served for 18 months.)

The day I got the letter in the mail sending me to Denmark, I called that girl I had spent some time with, and we went out that evening. Upon my return from that "date", my mother was waiting for me in the kitchen, with baited breath, wanting to tell me how thrilled she was that I was seeing a good LDS girl, and how wonderful it was that I was doing all the things a good mormon boy should be doing, and, and, and... Looking back, I can tell by my behavior from here on out that I was willing, if not eager to please my parents and do the things they wanted me to do.

We saw each other pretty much every day between then and the day I left for Salt Lake City, and then Denmark. That time period was 6 weeks.

Over that six week period, I still got letters from Joanne, and I sent some too. Every time one would arrive for me, my mother would hand it to me, giving me a lecture about what I needed to do, and when. However, doing that would require that I acknowledge the idea that I was subscribing to what they wanted me to do, and that I was a conformer to their ideas for me. That wasn't something I was particular ready to give in to.

Anyway, I got off to the missionary life, and arrived in Denmark in the middle of January. They had warned us that it would be dark and cold. But seriously, I was from Canada, and it would be no big deal. How truly wrong I was!! I remember arriving in Copenhagen along with the other four or five missionaries, and we spent our first night in the basement of the mission office, which was also where all the office missionaries lived, about 6-8 of them. The basement was reserved for new missionaries, or ones that would be going home in the next couple of days. Anyway, I remember laying there, unable to sleep, listening to the weird sirens, and lots of noise that accompanied the downtown of a big city reluctant to sleep.

After a couple of days, we were each shipped to our individual areas, and I was assigned to a nice missionary who was from Pocatello, Idaho, and our area was a suburb of Copenhagen. I won't bore you with missionary stories, except for one: I can remember waking up in the little missionary apartment, which was really just the attic of a house, early in that January, and I can remember sitting on the side of my bed, cold, dark outside (I felt like I had not seen the sun in days - in reality, it only shone for about 5 hours per day at that point in the year...), and very lonely. I remember thinking that I had made a very horrible series of very bad mistakes, and I was way out of my element. I couldn't understand a single word anyone said to me, and I felt 100% alone. It was very difficult.

Things did get better for me, as I began to understand the dialects of the cities where I was stationed, and I began to get my feet under me. The cold was this horrendous, wet cold, that, no matter what you wore, went through you and cut to the bare skin. Being from a landlocked area, I wasn't used to the humidity, and the combination of that and the cold was about all I could bear. It seemed like my feet were cold for months straight.

I was getting letters form Joanne, and now too from Kathy. Joanne had sensed that there was a distance between us that wasn't about miles. And in her letters she always said that if I would follow my heart, I would come back for her when I returned. And of course, being the stupid boy I was, I responded by stopping writing to her altogether, as opposed to just telling her I was either GOING to come and get her, or that I WASN'T. That, apparently, was too difficult for me to do - I was too cowardly to give her at least that courtesy. My parents droned on about how thrilled they were with Kathy, that she was waiting for me to come home, that they were having her out to the house, spending time with her, that she had started knitting me something, etc. She had become a part of the family, and they were totally thrilled with the entire scenario.

I suppose one would have to understand the LDS mindset in this regard to understand the pressure here: as a missionary, the last thing they tell you when they send you home from wherever you are, is that you are to get home and your next calling is to get married pronto, and have kiddies. And this is generally the situation today - I've now seen this from the other side of the fence as well, as I've previously served in church government positions before I left the church.

So there's the missionary part. Generally, it went swimmingly well, and I had moderate success, and held various leadership positions while I was there. And the letters telling me to follow my heart.

(That's it for the missionary parts, and things pick up speed from here - I promise...)

The Genesis of these Random Meanderings: Part Four

So, skipping along here... (I have wondered here if there is way too much detail here, but since we've started, we'll continue...) Spring shows up with the blooms for which the city is famous, and graduation comes and goes. By now, I am feeling the pressure of it all, and so is Joanne. We have lots of long talks about it, and like the (very) young kids we are, we each make promises to each other - her to wait for me, no matter what happens, and me to come back for her, whether it's in a few weeks/months, or 18-24 months. Things went along pretty well for several weeks, and like the true kids we were, after the serious talks, we just went along with our living our lives as we had done for the better part of the year by now.

One evening after arriving home from a date in June, my mom casually mentions that the decision has been reached that we are heading out in the middle of July, rather than the middle of August. You can imagine how well this went over. I yelled, nay (that WORD again!), screamed at her - and I believe this was the only time in my life I have done that - that this was not fair, and that I was not going, and how could they do this to me, after yanking me out of my old high school for senior year, and, and, and... it was quite the tirade.

As the years have gone on from there, I have reflected on that moment, seared into my brain, and wondered if I was justified in my outrage, or if I was selfish for saying what I said. I felt like a farmer whose arm had been caught in the combine and yanked clean off in the blink of an eye - shirt sleeve and all - no time to react or adjust. Now, I don't think ANY son has the right to yell at his mother, ever, and that's not what I wonder, but rather, if my rage was justified. Most of the time I feel like it was - I felt betrayed, disregarded, and relegated to tagalong status, not afforded a thought about how I was feeling about the whole 12 month episode, and how it would effect me. And I still feel like that.

In the end, my tantrum held no water, and we packed up in July for the drive home. I was devastated, depressed, angry, enraged in fact. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking for both of us. I wonder if somewhere down in me I knew it would be the last time I would ever see Joanne again - but at the time, my intentions were clear and so were hers. On the day we left, she told my mom that she would see her again, and that she was waiting for me to come back and get her. I don't think this made my mom very happy. She was never really thrilled about the relationship from the get-go, and this was a well known and well rehearsed conversation in my family. Seriously dating someone who was not LDS, and furthermore, who was in fact a catholic, was simply unacceptable, a notion I was reminded of whenever I came home late, or was seen as spending too much time with her.

My parents had sought to set me up with local LDS girls, even at one point overtly hoping I would take an interest in a girl whom I KNEW my brother was secretly in love with, named Theresa. There was another girl I was vaguely interested in, named Kirsten, but she didn't quite score many points with my parents either, because she was a bit of a rebel in her own way, even though she was LDS, albeit from a "broken home". (I no longer use that term, because single-parent households aren't broken, they're just different from the neo-con view of an appropriate new-cue-lar family...) Needless to say, neither Kirsten nor certainly Theresa were able to attract very much attention from me, which was a source of grave consternation on the part of my mother. Both parents, really, but certainly my mother was the most vocal about it.

The 24 hours' worth of drive time back to my home town was filled with dark clouds for me. The one hour ferry ride back to the mainland was somber indeed. Given that we were driving all of our belongings with us, including a travel trailer and a U-Haul, and I was the third driver in the family, I was tapped, thankfully, to drive the 1978 Oldsmobile NinetyEight. This car was literally a land yacht. With skirts over the back tires even with the rest of the fenders, fins, and a hood the size of a football field, it floated along. One never really drove that car as much as one simply herded it in the general direction of where you were going. Inside, with the plush interior with six-way electric seats, I got out my cassette adapter for the 8-track and played Supertramp at full blast all the way back. I was not happy at all.