30 April 2012

Bottom Feeders

Not being served at your nearest Dead Lobster
There's a lot you learn when you sell a house.  No matter how many times you sell a house, there's always something new you learn. This go around of selling the house has us smack in the middle of a buyers market and it's not a fun place to be.  It's brought out a lot of what you see to the left: bottom feeders.  Like the featured creature, housing bottom feeders are equally hideous.  They seem to delight in tossing out insultingly low offers that serve only to frustrate the seller. They feed on the desperation of cash-strapped or mortgage-spanked homeowners (I am so glad we are not in the situation).  I am decidedly not a fan of the bottom feeder.

In spite of the bottom feeders that have come our way, I am pleased at the activity we are getting.  People are coming through and the feedback is good. We've had five times the number of showings in one month than we did in the entire nine months our house in SoCal sat on the market.  So, believe me, we are grateful.

This is not an easy process.  But I see that the mighty fine and stunningly patient SML and I are learning lessons, good lessons, through this process.  There's a lot of faith being exercised as we try and determine where our lives are going through this experience.  We are learning to work through the ups and downs of bottom feeder offers and believing that the right offer will come along.  Our prayers have taken on a new intensity, as has the listening for answers.  I know I've found comfort in the sense of peace that's come my way.  I don't have the answer as to when the house will sell or when we will be able to move forward on finding a new place, but I know it's going to work out.  I'm grateful for a Father in Heaven who is listening.

That said, I'm ready for this to be over.  I'm ready to get on with this next phase of life in the Den.  So say a prayer, light a candle, slaughter a goat (I mean that metaphorically as the last thing I need is a PETA protest in my front yard), do what you do....we'll take anything we can get to help us sell the house!

28 April 2012

The march into middle age isn't letting up

There are a few things in life that are certain, like death and taxes.  We'll all die and to get there, we have to age.  It doesn't matter how long you have on this earth, you'll age on your way to the check-out that is death.  For those who live long enough, you get to a time in life called middle age, and my march to middle age goes on unrelentingly.  That march was called into perfect relief earlier today.

I was at the local mall, checking it out, and much like the old man giving the mall cop (editorial aside-is there anything more oxymoronic than a mall cop?) the stink eye, I  felt like I was tossing the stink eye everywhere I went.  It started when I walked by that emporium of shattered teen-age dreams, Abercrombie & Fitch, and I was ensnared in the lethal tentacles that is the "scent" that wafts from their stores with abandon.  It's like a siren song to teens, but to those of us with the ability to think and reason, it's hideous.  As I stumbled from the A&F haze, grateful that I was still alive and that I had emerged with my chest hair still in place (because apparently chest hair is not welcome at or near there), I began to realize that there was not a single store in the mall that had anything for my demographic.  Nothing.  Unless I was buying a suit, which I was not.  As I walked around, I grew more and more disgruntled, letting the hammer of judgement fly about other shoppers clear inability to use their mirrors at home.  It was then that I realized I needed to get the heck out of there and get out I did.  From there, I went over to Trader Joe's and it was a madhouse. Again, the old man that I am becoming came out as I muttered about the crowds and the maddening need that some shoppers have to write a check (I've said it before but I think that's an offense worthy of execution).  As I left the cacophony of that place, I looked up into the amazingly beautiful blue sky and realized I needed to shake off my middle-age funk.  It was time for a run.

It's been far, far too long since I've gotten in a run, good or otherwise.  It's time to get back at it and I started today.  So I got out on a new trail and it was gorgeous.  It felt good to run again.  I was slow, ploddingly slow thanks to the weight I've gained back, but I ran a couple of miles and loved it.  The breeze was invigorating and the sun was welcome on my pasty arms and legs.  There will be no running shirtless for awhile, if at all, let me tell you.  The last thing I need to do is unleash my moobs on innocent New Englanders.  That said, the run made me feel better.  It did what I hoped.  I can't stop the oncoming train that is middle age, but I can feel better about it.  I'm going to stay out of the malls for awhile and stick to the trails.

24 April 2012

When mothering goes horribly wrong

It's a well-known fact of life in nature that, on occasion, a mother will eat her young.  Many of us learned this lesson when we had pet hamsters/gerbils/or like creatures.  Once they reproduced, you had to get the babies out fast or many of them would wind up as their mother's dinner.  Many animals face an uphill battle from the moment they are born and enemy #1 is Mom.  For most of humans, it's the complete and total opposite.  Mom is our fiercest protector and that's exactly how it should be.

However, there are times when mothers turn on their children and things like this happen:
Wire hangers?  I think not.
"Mommie Dearest" is embodied all that can go horribly, horribly wrong with mothers.  It was epic and terrifying.

Epic and terrifying explains what I've been experiencing with Mother United.  I've been loyal, fiercely loyal to Mother United for more years than I care to count.But I fear that it's all been for naught.  I feel like Mother United, who's struggled for years as a single parent, after dating some interesting characters (and you know who you are), has brought home a keeper.  There's someone new on the scene.  And that someone ain't going anywhere.  Mother United, like that giddy newly-married one, is changing fast, and the changes aren't good, aren't good at all, for her loyal children.  She's pushing aside her loyal ones in the interesting of pleasing her new partner.  She's pushing them out.  That's not always the most pleasant feeling in the world.  If you've followed my travails on Facebook, you know it's not been good at all for me.

Well, I'm a big boy.  I get it.  I'll have to give some of Mother United's friends a try. It's going to be an interesting ride.

20 April 2012

Graduation Day

Lots going on today and I'm pressed for time, but I'd be remiss if I did not mention what happened today.  It was Graduation Day for Our Lady of Awesome, our first-born child.  She graduated from BYU today.  Suffice to say, it was a good day.  Once again, as I saw her march in the processional, I got a little teary but only for a second.  When your 16 year old son is standing next to you, mocking you for getting emotional, you dial it back.

Here's the graduate with her sister and brother:
She's been degree'd!
We're thrilled.  We're proud.  Frankly, I was just delighted to be there.  If you follow me on Facebook, you saw that getting to Happy Valley was no easy task.  Suffice to say, thanks to Mother United, I now have a very clear understanding of what it means for a mother to eat her young.  More to come on that.  For now, time to spend some time with the family and celebrate our oldest.  Yeah, it's been a good day.

17 April 2012

A Conundrum

One of the definitions of the word conundrum is anything that puzzles.  It's a word I like and from time to time, I find myself facing conundrums of all sorts. When I'm on the road, I face conundrums like this:
Hotel Hot Tub

Hotel Swimming Pool
What's the issue, you ask?  It's simple really - which is grosser?  Or, even more plainly, which is less likely to leave me with an insidious and most unwelcome infection?  For anyone that's ever spent a night in a hotel and pondered the aquatic options therein, you know the conundrum.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the hot tub is the one that's more likely to give you a raging communicable disease.  Even more likely than what one might get by simply being in the same zip code as one of the Kardashian skanks sisters but I digress.  I mean I get it, the hot tub appears to be nothing more than a boiling cauldron of ick that not even the most jaded scientist from the CDC would dare enter.  But I've decided the pool is just as gross, if not more so. Think about the number of people you see jumping into the pool and using it like a shower.  Then think about the number of kids in the pool.  Think about how many of them are in some diaper-like contraption.  Think about the leak-proof quality of that material.  Better yet, don't.  And on another level, am I really going to get a work-out in a hotel pool?  Seriously.  These things are tiny.  Unless I'm going to do about 300 laps, I'm not going to be going much of a workout.

I think I know the answer to this conundrum.  I'm better off running.  Stay out the hotel pool and hot tub! Good counsel.

14 April 2012

Life in One Day

Ah, the wisdom of Mr Jones
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times here in the Den - the music of the 1980's rules.  Just rules.  I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame, and in some cases, like a dog to its vomit (I'm talking to you, Huey Lewis - we're still waiting for the apology for what you inflicted on us). Today was no exception as I was in the car for awhile and the iPod was on shuffle when it served up the wisdom of Howard Jones that is found in "Life In One Day."

Before that song played, I'd been absorbed in thought, pondering all that's going on right now.  Trying to sell the house is top of mind.  Lots of showings but still waiting for that magic offer.  Concerned about how the commuting life is impacting my family. Pondering what I'm missing while I'm commuting.  Then my thoughts jumped over to CAL - she's headed back to her own private Idaho to go back to school.  She's doing it all on her own this time.  She's moving into her place by herself, getting herself situated.  I'm so proud of her!  I was awash in thoughts about her and how she's grown up.  Then it was on to Our Lady of Awesome.  She graduates from university in six days.  She will be the second generation of Den residents to graduate from the Mother Ship that is BYU.  'It hardly seems possible that I have a child graduating from college,' I thought.  'It was just yesterday that I was holding her for the first time,' I thought and followed that with thinking, 'It's all going too fast.'  It was then that the dulcet tones of Howard Jones blew over the stereo speakers of my OMC (Old Man Car).  Ah, the wisdom of 'Life in One Day."

A couple of nuggets from the song that clicked for me again today:

Try and enjoy the here and now
The future will take care of itself somehow
Don't try and live your life in one day
Don't go speed your time away

Howard's right.  The future will take care of itself somehow.  The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I are not just sitting back, waiting for things to happen as it relates to all that's going in our world.  We've always trusted, believed, had faith that the future would take care of itself.  It has and it will this time around.

Sure, our kids are growing up, faster than we know.  And certainly faster than I'd like.  It really does feel like it's all happened in one day.  I know it hasn't.  This much I know though that it will  be good to be with all of them later this week.  I'm looking forward to standing next to my wife, holding her hand, as our oldest gets her college degree, with her husband, her sister and brother alongside us.  I'm going to do all I can to not speed that day away.

12 April 2012

Please Stand By

One would think that something had gone awry here in the Den as it's been a while since my last post.  I have not gone off the air.  I have not put the "pen" down on this blog.  I have not run out of things, appropriate or not, to say. I just don't see something like that ever happening.  I mean, Romney is now the Republican nominee, his wife's SAHM-status is under attack (it's easy to be a SAHM when you have multiple Cadillacs to choose from for that car pool - I kid, I kid!), and I've got a couple of more trips on an increasingly bitter and hostile Mother United coming up.  All this will surely be grist for the Den.

It's just been an insane week.  Nothing more, nothing less than that.  Very busy at work and because I know how to live on the edge, I have crawled into bed early each night.  I know you're jealous.

So, please stand by.  I'll be back to a normal posting schedule soon.

08 April 2012

He Is Risen!

It is Easter Sunday.  From the words of Matthew, one of the Savior's apostles:

He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. - Matthew 28:6

I know He lives and in that knowledge, we have peace.  I am humbled and grateful.  May your Easter be a blessed one.

06 April 2012

And he's down!

After a very sour introduction to how things are going to be with the newly-merged United Airlines last night (more on that drama in another post), I'm home again and hanging with my family. It's good to slide right back into the routine of things.  That routine includes the visit every eight weeks to the local blood donation center to give a pint or two of whole blood.  I did that this morning and The Boy joined me.  I want to make it clear, and this is important, that he volunteered and wanted to donate for the first time today.

I was proud of him for doing so.  I was too chicken to give blood until I was 35, which is just stupid.  Anyway, my 16 year old son stepped up this morning and went for it.  His first donation!  The staff at the center were totally on their A-game this morning and made him feel totally at ease.  He did great!  We were enjoying our post-donation snackage of highly-processed sugars and carbs, throwing back the sodas, when The Boy announced he needed to go to the bathroom.  He jumped up, made his way to the can, and soon was back at the table in his chair, ready for some more snackage.  And then this happened:

He looked at me and said, 'Dad, I don't feel right.' He got a little pale so I made my way over to him and no sooner did I do that, his head slumps back and he's out.  I said, in my best "ER" voice, "He's down!" and the staff was there at his side, STAT!  (Again, thank you years of TV medical dramas for that!) They got him out of his chair and in about three seconds, had him awake. On went the cold compresses and the blood pressure cuff.  Pretty quickly his color was back.  They kept him on the ground for awhile and then sat him up.  He quickly headed for the floor again.  It was clear his body was just a little freaked and was compensating.  So after awhile he felt good enough to try standing.  He did well.  Then he wanted to walk.  He didn't do so well and it was back on the ground.  At this point, it had been an hour and one of the staff said, 'That's it.  We have to call 9-1-1.  It's a requirement."  So they dialed away and soon the paramedics were there.  Now, I've got to say this could not have been good advertising for the blood bank to have the paramedics show up, gurney and all, storming the bank.  Again, the staff could not have been more gracious.  It was the arrival of the paramedics that seemed to do the trick.  They gave him the once over and declared him fine and that it was up to me if I wanted him transported to the hospital.  I didn't.  At that point, he gets up and he really was fine.  With our gift of blood center pajama pants in hand and thanks to the staff, we headed for home.

On the way home, The Boy announced that the sensation of passing out was awesome.  Nice.  And he'd donate again too.  I'm proud of him.  I'm even prouder that he decided to do this the day after our new insurance kicked in.  Well-timed, man, well-timed.

04 April 2012


With wins in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington DC this week for Mitt "I'm running as a serious conservative" Romney, it seems his nomination as the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is assured.

A couple of things: A) his statement above suggests that his track record of flipping will continue.  He said "...as a serious conservative."  That statement is slippery from a usage perspective.  It suggests that now he's the serious conservative, whereas before or even later, not so much.

B) Much has been made of Mitt's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Far too much.  Far too much was made of John F. Kennedy's Catholicism.  Kennedy wasn't taking orders from the Pope while in the White House, as so many feared.  They should have feared the orders from Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack but that's another issue all together.  Likewise, Mitt will not be taking orders from the Prophet.  Mitt understands the separation of church and state and I appreciate that he knows that. While it's no secret that I am an anti-Mittite, which is a fun position to hold when you are a member of the same faith as said candidate, I do appreciate his understanding of this principle.

Mitt, and I'll say it again, to his credit, has never claimed that his run for the presidency is a calling from on high. Because it's not. It's something he's doing on his own.  He's got the cash to burn, so let him go for it. But his run for the presidency is not a mission from God. Typically when someone claims that what they are doing in the name of God on a political level, it doesn't end well.  Look no further than the Crusades, most of the drama in the Middle East, or the shenanigans of Al Qaeda.  It did work for the Blues Brothers though.  Sure, their mission from God led to all manner of explosions and destruction in Chicago but Cook County got their taxes and the Penguin kept her orphanage.  That mission worked out well, as well it should have.

01 April 2012

Stop the foolishness. Step up!

It's April Fool's Day, which means there will be levels of inanity heaped upon unsuspecting people.  I've never really understood this day and what I really don't get is how or why someone would fall for a prank on the first of April every year, knowing that it's April Fool's Day.  It's not like you haven't been warned. You know the old saying, 'Burn me once, shame on you.  Burn me twice, shame on me.'  If you're falling for pranks year after year on this day, it's time to rethink things.

This weekend has been an opportunity for resetting and rethinking, so it puts the 'fool' on this day in a different light.  It just so happens that the annual worldwide general conference of my Church falls on this weekend and it's been good to take part in it, listening to the counsel, guidance, and instruction on offer.  A key tenet of our faith is the belief that the family is central to God's plan.  Fathers, then, play a key role in the family and far too many of us are not taking that responsibility as seriously as we (editorial aside - I say 'we' and 'us' because I know I'm not a perfect father and husband) should.  We are not stepping up.  It's time that we did.
"Brethren, step up." - Elder Jeffrey S. Holland
Elder Holland's counsel is powerful and it struck a chord with me.  As fathers and husbands, we have to step up.  We cannot sit idly by and allow the world to dictate how our children are to be raised and what is and isn't acceptable.  We can no longer shirk our responsibilities to our families and then complain about the choices are children make.  As men, we have to step up.  We can't expect our wives to carry the load of raising our children.  It's not right.  We must be a part of  that sacred responsibility, each and every day.

It is time to recommit ourselves fully to our wives and children.  It is time to be better - better fathers, better husbands, better friends, better men.  It really is time to step up.  God expects more us.  One thing I know, because I've seen it time and again in my own life, is that if we will do the things that God expects of us, we will be blessed, rewarded, edified - whatever you want to call it - the reward is there.  So, it's time.  Time to step up.  Just do me a favor - don't think that watching the movie 'Step Up' will provide a Cliff's Notes version of how to be better.  It won't.  Instead it will cause you to wonder how it is that Channing Tatum has a career and then it will inspire you to wish for the sweet relief of death because you'll never ever get that time you wasted watching it back.  Ever.