Friday, February 26, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fun Facts About Yours Truly

My birth weight was 7 pounds, 10 ounces

I lived in Greece for my first three years

Foods I didn't like as an infant: Barley, Veal, Spinach

At 28 months, I was saying things like "Daddy poo-poo fart" and "I don't want it"

The first movie I went to was "Dumbo"

One of my favorite songs as a toddler was the O'Jays' "Love Train"

As a 5-year old, I enjoyed playing Yahtzee, Old Maid, and Candy Land

At the age of 7, I got lost at Milwaukee's County Stadium, even though I knew exactly where my family was sitting (for the juicy details, go here)

Monday, February 22, 2010


I woke up this morning in an extremely good mood. I dreamt that I had a conversation with a woman who I went to grade school with. It was very friendly and she wound up giving me a kiss on the cheek. Since I now had her trust, I confessed to something I did to her mother as a child (You can read about it here).

I also dreamt that I was given a lucrative job offer which involved entering statistics into a database and then having those entries printed in a nationwide newspaper. As I woke, a song I'd not heard in years was on my mind, Trisha Yearwood's "One Love".

Most mornings are like this for me; I don't have to get up early for my job. There are some who wish they could live without sleep, to be fully conscious twenty-four hours a day. I'm not one of them. Whatever hurts I experienced during the day are, in most cases, healed by morning. Any divisions, real or imagined, that may have showed up hours earlier have dissipated. This is why it's hard for me to fathom those who hold grudges for years. So much energy wasted and you're ultimately just hurting yourself.

It's not easy to stay in this meditative state upon waking. Once in the shower, thoughts come up and the rush of good feelings I'm experiencing post-sleep can quickly disappear. Because of this, it's important for one to be out of their mind as much as possible, even when making the sex. As I sit typing this, having taken a shower about 90 minutes ago, listening to some of my favorite songs on YouTube, with the sun shining in and the cat resting on a chair next to me, I am, without question, out of my mind. May it be the same with you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lordy Lordy

Next week, my beloved turns the Big 4-0; she's about 9 months older than me which means that I was conceived around the time she was born. It's nice being similar ages as we both grew up with the same music and TV shows. Course pretty much everybody born in the 70's grew up with the Brady Bunch, but still. Right now, she's watching season four of the early 70's program, "Emergency!" It was a forerunner to shows like "ER" and "Third Watch". I bought her season 5 for her birthday.

As we grow older, I wonder how long we'll live, what conditions we'll be afflicted with, what crosses we'll have to bear. It's pretty incredible when you think about it, that everybody dies. To the young, death seems a lifetime away, but eventually those lazy summers and cold winters turn into decades and you're well into middle age.

I read an article in TIME magazine recently about the Top 5 causes of death for each age group. For my age range (35-44), they are accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, and homicide. Ten years from now, when I am in my late 40's, the Top 5 things I could die from are cancer, heart disease, accidents, liver disease, and suicide. A person over 65's Top 5 is heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, and accidents a very distant fifth.

Whether I die from heart disease, cancer, or somebody twisting my balls off in a vice, it's gonna happen someday. Until then, there's not much I can do other than try to enjoy life and stay away from Industrial Arts classrooms.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How I Met My Wife

In July of 1996 (now a college graduate), I was single and not sure where to go next. Like many, I had trouble meeting people (read: eligible women). My mom suggested trying the personals. There was a public access show on TV that twice a day ran ads for singles searching for other singles. So I called their number, placed an ad, and gave my mom's phone number as a contact (I didn't have my own phone at the time).

A week later, I saw my ad on the telly. They had put my info in and titled it, "Sweet Sounds on the Radio". I checked every few days to see if I had any messages. One afternoon, I went to my mom's and noticed that I had a message. I played it back. The woman sounded nice. She left a pager number for me to call her back at. I tried the number and, after some confusion on how to do it, left a numeric page.

She called me back about 10 minutes later and explained that she was an orderly at the Gundersen Lutheran hospital in LaCrosse. Like me, she had also graduated from Winona State two months prior. We talked for a short while (she had to get back to work) and exchanged phone numbers.

We called each other several times over the next week, gradually getting to know each other. Turns out we only lived about 8 blocks from each other. We couldn't meet that first weekend because she had prior plans to see a friend in the Cities and go to a play ("Fiddler on the Roof") with her. We made tentative plans to meet at the Golden China restaurant (even though I didn't like Chinese) in Winona on Saturday, July 27th.

However, on Wednesday the 24th, I called her and asked about getting together that evening. She wasn't so sure, but did agree. We decided to meet at the Winona Information Center on Huff Street right next to Lake Winona. She told me what kind of car she would be driving, what she looked like, etc. so that I would know when I saw her. I got off the phone and rode my mountain bike to Huff.

I got there a bit early and sat down on a bench just outside of the Center. I was nervous, but definitely excited. I saw a car enter the parking lot like the one she described, a 93 Dodge Colt (which she continued to drive until late 2007). She got out of her car. I saw her. She saw me. She had a big smile on her face. She had these big Coke-bottle type glasses on her face, so it was hard to really see what she looked like. She sat down and asked if I wanted to go for a walk. We proceeded to walk around the smaller of Winona's 2 lakes.

She asked me lots of questions and when I would answer, she would say, "Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh". After our circuit around the lake, I was unsure what (if anything) we should do next. She suggested we go to the Acoustic Cafe. So she drove there while I biked. I had a lemonade while she had some type of sandwich. We continued to talk and afterwards outside, I gave her a hug. I wasn't sure what was to come with this young lady I had just met, but that meeting more than a decade ago turned out to be a major turning point in my life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Timeless Wisdom

Confucius say, a kiss is just shopping upstairs for downstairs merchandise.
Confucius say, killing two birds with one stone often ends with hate mail from the humane society.
Confucius say, to make a long story short, don't tell it.
Confucius say, a Platonic Relationship develops after two good friends get tired of screwing each other.
Confucius say, a politician is one who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.
Confucius say, a cigarette is a pinch of tobacco, wrapped in paper, fire at one end, fool at the other.
Confucius say, to get an Irishman to climb on the roof, tell him that the drinks are on the house.
Confucius say, the only thing divorce proves is whose mother was right in the first place.
Confucius say, a prostitute with a degree in psychology will blow your mind.
Confucius say, a tight dress is like a barbed fence. It protects the premises without restricting the view.
Confucius say, sex is the only activity where you start at the top and work your way to the bottom, while getting a rise.
Confucius say, marriage is like taking a bath... after you've been in it for a while, it isn't so hot.
Confucius say, man who look to stale cookie for advice probably make good busboy. Ask waitress for application.
Confucius say, girl who go on fishing trip with 6 men, come back with red snapper.
Confucius say, when TV repairman got married, the reception was excellent.
Confucius say, always yield to temptation, it may not pass your way again.
Confucius say, mother nature's best aphrodisiac is still a naked woman.
Confucius say, man who sink into woman's arms soon have arms in woman's sink.
Confucius say, basketball player who marry midget lady will be nuts over her.
Confucius say, an enemy is sometimes nothing more than a friend who got wise to you.
Confucius say, if you can't be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.
Confucius say, when a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Pills 2

After I couldn't deal with the side effects of the first two antidepressants I was put on, Dr. Smick put me on Paxil. Again, I was hopeful, but somewhat doubtful that it would work. I had read that some people do not respond to medication at all. That would suck, to be depressed indefinitely. Actually, in such cases, they would pursue something like Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).

I continued to work on reversing my negative thoughts. I spent time with friends and was able to continue working in the kitchen at Sammy's Pizza. A coworker said he heard that I was experiencing depression and told me that he had gone through the same thing. He said that it was a real "bitch". He was able to get over it, however. It was around this time that he asked a lady that worked the morning shift if she would like to go out with him. She accepted and they eventually were married.

But, anyway, back to my shit. I was also put on Trazodone. During this time, it took me quite a long time to get to sleep. I would just keep thinking about things and not be able to drift off very easily. I remember the first evening I took Trazadone. About 20 minutes after ingesting it, I started to get really tired. I wanted to think about things as I usually do, but I was just too damn tired. I could definitely get used to this.

After a couple more weeks, I did start to feel the effects of the wonder drug, Paxil. It's hard to describe, but it really gave me a kick. I did things that I was way too depressed to do before like the dishes and cleaning the house. I became, what I liked to call, "blazingly optimistic". I wanted to experience life again. Laying in bed was no longer an option. I had been reborn. My Christian friend, Dean, was a bit dubious. He would've preferred that I got better the old-fashioned way, through suffering, through prayer,

without the meds. But he wasn't the boss of me. I did as I pleased and was well rewarded.

During the height of my depression, I had gone to the movie "Mrs Doubtfire" with my mom and her girls, but left about a half hour in because I was just too depressed to laugh (or maybe the movie just wasn't funny). I mosied on over to a screening room that was playing "A Perfect World", a ponderous movie starring Clint and Kevin.

One of the main characters was shot. It definitely suited my state of mind at the time. A few months later, now cured, I returned to "Doubtfire" and was able to get a few chuckles out of it (I still don't think it's super funny, though many people think it's the shit, including my wife).

I started going to my counseling appointments in a really good mood, almost too good a mood. My support network was quite happy to see that I had recovered. I eventually stopped going to CIA (Christians in Action). There were just too many things I wanted to explore now, such as going to the sinful Aquarius club in Rochester and slow dancing with a hot mama. Still being a virgin, I looked forward to "getting my freak on". Yes, indeed, my tropical depression had passed and I believe that I am a stronger person now due to the experience. Once you've been to hell, you really appreciate all the other realms. More than a dozen years later, all is well.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

An Ounce Of You-Know-What

Two relatively young relatives of mine have cancer. Since the disease is typically thought of as something that strikes older folks, getting it at a younger age is usually viewed as tragic, something that shouldn't be happening. It will be a grand day if/when a cure is found.

In the meantime, what can one do to avoid being afflicted? If you want to limit your chances of a heart attack, get your cholesterol down and hit the treadmill while watching "Lost". Strike that, it's hard enough trying to make sense of the show while paying full attention to what's transpiring on screen. Last night's season premiere was fantastic. It dealt with a favorite subject of mine: alternate realities. It was something to see those who had spent so much time together on the island not know each other after they got off the plane which crashed in another reality, all the relationships that would never be.

Getting back to the thrust of this post, I was suprised to read a report today which says that 40 percent of cancers are preventable. Now, of course, one has a much better chance of avoiding lung cancer by not smoking, but being able to find ways to prevent breast and colon cancer from occuring? I'm in, well, at least for the colon portion.

For those who wish to reduce the likelihood of their getting the Big-C (sorry, Fay) and increase the likelihood of having a long life in this particular reality, here's what the report suggests: stop smoking (if you do), limit your alcohol consumption, avoid too much sun, and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. It's almost too simple.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy Pills

I had to chuckle this afternoon when I brought in the mail after doing some snow shoveling. The cover of the latest Newsweek had the headline, "Antidepressants Don't Work". Just over three years ago, I wrote about my experience with the buggers. For those who weren't with me back then, here's the first part:

In the late spring of 1993, I was finally coming out of my shell and making friends. The man who started this was a chap named Dean. He was a member of CIA. No, not that one, you dirty devil. Christians In Action. We both attended Winona State at the time and were business majors. I lived off-campus in a house on East 3rd. He lived at Lourdes (how appropriate for a Christian) Hall.

It was a very old building with a lot of character. From time to time, I would get lost in their halls. There was much to do there, however. We played frisbee outside, walked around the neighborhood, and I once even ate at their cafeteria, which reminded me of a monastery (not surprisingly, it once was). I also got to know a friend of Dean's named Candy and spent some time with her as well. I had friends now, but still wasn't happy. How could this be? I gradually became more and more depressed.

It's hard to describe depression to someone who hasn't experienced it. It's not something that you can "snap out of". It's like telling someone with diabetes to "get over it". No matter what I did, no matter where I went, I was in emotional agony. All I wanted to do was stay in bed, in a fetal position, no less. If I couldn't be happy, what point was there in living? Dean encouraged me to pray which I did, but I still couldn't seem to get out of the shitter. I talked to my mom about what was going on. She suggested I see a counselor. I agreed. After all, this was something I could no longer handle on my own.

I was seen at the local mental health center. They were located in downtown Winona, just a couple blocks from the mighty Mississip. I saw a nice lady there and talked about many things. My childhood, my time in college, the passing of my grandmother just a few months before. She encouraged me to get counseling regularly and that it probably wouldn't hurt to go on an antidepressant. In order to do this, I would need to see a psychiatrist. I was referred to Dr. Smick. She worked at Parkview Behavioral Health Systems (located just adjacent to the hospital). She did my intake and said there were several meds available for depression. She decided to put me on a more old-school one called Desipramine.

Smick told me it would take several weeks for me to feel the full effects. I didn't feel like waiting, but if it could improve my mood, I guess I could hold out. I started the meds, but there were problems right away. One of the main side effects of desipramine is difficulty urinating. That was something I tried to deal with, but couldn't. So a week or so later, I was put on a more recently discovered antidep, Zoloft. I lived right across the street from Goltz Pharmacy, so had no problem getting my fix, I mean, pills. My friends knew I was getting professional help and were quite supportive. I called my mom most every day to let her know how I was doing. She had recently separated from her 2nd husband and was sharing custody of their twin girls, who were just 5 years old at the time. I went to Winona's book store and found a book that helped me deal with the negative thinking that had begun to consume me.

The Zoloft was better than the Desipramine, but not by much. I seemed to constantly have headaches while on it. Smick had told me to be patient, that one of the meds should be able to give me the kick I needed, but, thus far, it just felt like I was treading water.