Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Plan D

Sometimes, life cicrumstances force you to be creative.

I'm already on Plans C, D, and E to get back home to Charleston.  This winter storm that has thrown DFW, and the southeast in general, into a slippery slidey chilly mess has already forced me to delay the return trip by a day.  But following it east (and potentially catching up with it) or getting hit by the next batch (DFW already has a Winter Storm Watch for tonight -  possibility of an additional 1-4 inches of snow) are both are concerns that need to be considered.

The most direct route back is the route I took - along I-20 thru Atlanta, Birmingham, and Shreveport.  But the farther north I go, the more likely I am to have weather issues.  So, I'm planning to head east to Shreveport and then detour south to I-10 which goes through Mobile, New Orleans, Pensicola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.  It adds a couple hundred miles to the trip but is the safer option.  I'm also going to take my time and plan to do the 1300+ miles in 3 days instead of 2 - on top of everything else I need to balance doing work into all of this.

As I type this I've got the Weather Channel on in the background.  They just mentioned that they've closed I20 west of Atlanta....I'm relieved that I'm not heading back into that mess.

I went out for a bit yesterday afternoon and the entire area was like a ghost town.  Nobody was out on the roads.  The mall parking lot was empty.  It was pretty remarkable.

So - if all goes as planned I'll be in Baton Rouge tonight. The window of opportunity is fairly short - otherwise I'll be here for another couple of days.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthdays past

I'm writing this from my mom's living room in Arlington, TX.  I had planned to be heading back on the road for Charlotte this morning but Winter Storm Quattro will be dropping freezing rain, sleet, and snow on the area all day so it's not safe to be on the roads.  I'm stuck here for at least an extra day.  I'm not complaining other than it's just one of those little money wrenches that cause plans to change from time to time.

This is a bitttersweet trip.  It serves several purposes other than provide an opportunity to spend time with my mom.  She's 85 years old and I try to make sure I get to see her in some capacity every 3 or 4 months.  She told me yesterday that she has resigned herself to the fact that she's happy and healthy enough to make it to 90 - that's a good sign.  But in reality, none of us have that power so it's important to appreciate each day as though it were the last.

The last time I was here was for Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was my birthday (56 years and counting) so it provided another reason to celebrate.  We went out to Outback for dinner and headed back to the house for some cheesecake for dessert.  I'm on a high protein/low carb diet at the moment but I allowed myself the luxury of having a small piece of cake to celebrate.  It was a very pleasant day.

On the challenging side, the other reason for the trip is that my mom will be taking one of my pups.  Her dog is getting very old and she's already dealing with some preparatory separation anxiety from the little guy.  Her dog provides wonderful company for her.  At the same time, my life is transient to the point that I feel tremendously guilty for putting my dogs through the craziness I do.  They need stability - a yard, a fixed place to be, someone who can be with them more than simply on evenings.  Cody is the more loving of the dogs so we agreed that it would be a good fit.  So - I expect to be headed home with fewer dogs than made the trip out here.

I'm good at keeping my vision focused on the most pressing tasks and keeping things that will be happing in the future from creeping in to mess things up.  I have been totally focused on the tasks that have consumed me over the past few weeks - moving out of my apartment in Charlotte and cleaning to meet the Feb. 19 deadline.  It's a delicate balancing act of keeping enough "stuff" in the apartment to live there but not too much so that you can't finish it all up relatively quickly.  By the time I checked into the hotel on Thursday night I was spent....physically, emotionally, just flat-out drained from trying to get everything done.  And I did.

Moving sucks.  And the older I get (a) the harder it is and (b) the more it sucks.  I expect that I'll need to do it at least one more time in my life but I'm hoping it won't be for a little while.  I need a break.

Well, now that that's done it's time to turn attention on this trip.  I've been dealing with the emotional separation anxiety that comes from these kinds of things but try to focus on the positive.  He's a loving guy and I'm convinced I'm doing something positive - both for Cody and for my mom.  But that doesn't make it any easier.

I went to the gym yesterday and was thinking back to Birthdays past.  I remember my birthday in 1997 where I made the decision that the life I was beginning to believe could be a reality needed some sort of tangible existence in the world and shaved my legs.  It was a symbolic gesture that was the best I could offer at the time, but was an important step towards things that would happen later.

Two years later, when I turned 40, my life was in total upheaval.  My ex and I have long planned to do something special for our 40th birthdays but by that time we were barely speaking, and when we did speak it was typically angry and hurtful.  I expected I'd have to celebrate my birthday alone and went to see Shakespeare in Love at the movies the night before.  I cried like a baby at the pain of it all, but got home to find a note wishing me a Happy Birthday.  We met for dinner that night, but she got up and left in the middle saying that she just couldn't pretend to be happy anymore.  My son was confused by it all - he wouldn't learn about what was happening for several more months.

There were some "big" birthdays - my 50th was very special thanks to a certain someone.  One year my ex- and I spent it in Acapulco and I've got a picture somewhere drinking a fruity tropical adult beverage out of a pineapple. I can remember several that included driving for all or most of the day.  But, for the most part, it's a pretty low-key day in my world.  It's a good time to reflect on things in life -  on things done and things not yet done, but the days of "celebrating" it in the typical sense have been gone for a while now.

Anyway - back to the present.  I'm hoping to get back on the road tomorrow and be back on the east coast on Wednesday before the next storm finds its way across the south.  It's these kinds of days that makes me really appreciate how much I enjoy winter in Scottsdale. 

One of the things I had hoped to do on this trip was visit a burger joint featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives.  I enjoy the various places they feature (especially the burger places) and one of them is near my mom's house.  I had hoped to go yesterday (they have free Birthday burgers) but they were closed.  I don't know if the roads will allow me to get out today, but if things clear up at all I'm planning a visit before I leave.  :)

56....and counting!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back to the Same Places

The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy.  During a moment of calm last night, walking the pups outside the hotel on a 10 degree Charlotte evening, it struck me how life flow keeps bringing us back to the same places.

I had to be out of the apartment as of yesterday so we spent last night at a La Quinta here in Charlotte.  I've stayed at this particular hotel many times before - it's near the airport so it was a natural place to stay during flights in and out of town.  When I came into town in December 2014 and it looked like I might actually be relocating back here I stayed here while scouting out the area.  When the pups and I drove across country from Nebraska with a big trailer full of stuff behind the truck it's where we spent the first few weeks of our time here.  It's only a little ironic, I suppose, that we spent our first night there after pulling up the stakes that we set during that time.

 I've written about moving here before - I'm no stranger to it.  Sad to say, I'm a veteran of it I suppose.  This one was a little different because it's the first time I've had all my stuff in the same place in a long time so it was much more labor intensive than most recent efforts.  I've been slowly moving stuff to Charleston for several weeks now, a little at a time, culminating in moving the big heavy stuff last weekend.  It's sad to admit this but there are a few things we didn't have room for at the moment so I've got another storage unit, again.  I'm hoping it's only for a month or so...

The energy I've put into this has been significant.  All the moving, the cleaning, the logistics, the driving - my world has been jumbled for quite a while now and I'll be glad when it gets simple again.

To complicate things, we had snow and freezing rain here in Charlotte earlier this week.  Behind that is frigid cold temperatures....it was 9 degrees outside this morning when I woke up.  Given the brutal winter that others are experiencing I can't complain too much.  And it's certainly not as though I haven't been through this kind of cold before.  Still -  I'll be glad when spring arrives.  I saw a robin yesterday....freezing it's little feathers off.

The next phase of this project begins today.  My mom will be watching one of my pups so I've got an 1,100 mile drive on my hands.  It's my birthday on Sunday and I typically don't make much of a fuss about it but it's be extra nice to be able to spend it with my mom.  I'm expecting to leave later this afternoon and spend the night in Birmingham, AL before doing the last 10 hours tomorrow.  I'll rest on Sunday...although I've spent several birthdays in my car all day I'd prefer to spend some quality time with mom before I head back.

I've been on a high protien diet since the beginning of the month.  I feel like a bloated fat pig - I haven't been able to find time to exersize and somehow weight just seems to happen.  Anyway, I reached my breaking point late last month so I'm on my way back down.  I can attest to the fact that it's harder to lost weight as you get older but I'm firmly dedicated at this point.  Three weeks in - so far so good.  I rarely weigh myself so I don't try to micro-manage it.  I do know where I started, tho, and the best part of the whole deal is feeling pants you've been wearing get looser and looser....

That said, several weeks ago I bought Girl Scout Cookies from some of the people at work who have daughters and were selling them.  I'm always happy to help out when it comes to those kinds of things.  They got delivered yesterday and I was surprised to learn that I bought 15 boxes of them.   Good thing they stay fresh for a long time....given my current mindset I won't be touching any of them for quite a while.

I haven't been good at keeping up with life here lately.  I realize that.  I've had half a dozen blog entries started and saved as Draft that I plan to add to later but eventually the moment passes so I just delete them.  I'll try to be better.  I find it interesting to review past entries sometimes just to revisit things I've done or said or felt so I don't like big gaps. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Hello, old friend.

I haven't posted here in over a month - since before New Year.  It's not as though there's any pressing reason for unusually large gap between entries here.  It's just that life just starts going and keeps going, and there's noting much more to say.

Lots has happened over that time, though.  I had a very pleasant Christmas and New Years here in Charleston.  As usual, I was in bed before midnight on New Years Eve so I didn't watch the ball drop - I figure those kinds of parties are a young-person's sport and it's just a more relaxing way to close out a year and begin another one with peace and quiet. 

Work has been going well - it's a very busy time of year as projects gear up for delivery throughout the year but  much of the foundational stuff happens near the beginning.  The good news is that days just fly by, and I actually look forward to going in most mornings.  I'm not sure how long the honeymoon lasts but I'm hoping it will for quite a while.  All feels good there.

That's critical.  Because that's the reason I spend my weeks in Charlotte.  That is the single-most significant complicator in my life these days and I'm trying to find ways to make it work better but no matter how I slice it - it's still complicated.

Over the course of my career - especially over the past half dozen years or so - I've found contracts based outside of Charleston, as the city just doesn't have they quality of opportunities for my skills that other, more IT focused, cities like Charlotte or Raleigh do. 

I will be leaving the apartment I've been in since I got here a year ago when the least expires mid-month.  I have been packing and moving out little by little, but I need to pick up the pace to be out in time.  It's just too expensive and too far from my work to make it worthwhile.

My birthday is in a few weeks and I'll be turning 56.  I recently asked someone where middle age ends and old age begins.  I realize that they're just numbers and you're only as old as you feel blah blah blah - but realistically, when are you past the "middle age" milestone.  Is it from 30-55?  Older? 

Regardless of the age, from time to time I just stop and put the brakes on things.  One of the most significant elements of my transition was that it forced me to re-evaluate everything, and I mean everything, in my life to determine whether or not it still fit.  The fact that we simply accept things in our lives because they've always been that way is the pathway to more and more baggage.  It's time to shed some baggage.  I will be taking active steps in an effort to Simplify over the coming weeks.

I suppose the most fun news of the past several weeks is that we bought a new Corvette Z06.  This is more than just a cool car for me....it's the first new car I've bought since before my transition and divorce.  I had one back when I was still married, in the mid 90's, but it became a victim of the divorce.  So although it's a beautiful, bad-ass car that turns heads and tears up the road wherever it goes - for me it represents something bigger.  It's recognition that I drive a lote because I have to, and although my Tundra does a great job for me it's far more a working/practical vehicle than a fun one. 

To make things more interesting - this car has a standard 7-speed manual transmission. The first manual transmission anything that I learned to drive was my motorcycle, but this is different. So now, although I've been driving for 40 years and likely have at least a million miles under my belt, I've got a high performance car that I can't comfortably drive yet.  I need to learn.

Finding a place to learn to drive a manual transmission car is harder than you'd think.  But I'm actively seeking a solution as I don't want to make all the beginner mistakes in the Z06.  I'll eventually crack this nut....

We were out on the Motorcycles for almost 100 miles yesterday. One of the things I noticed is how comfortable and natural driving it feels now. I can't help but think back to last spring when I started and couldn't imagine mastering all the elements that are involved in riding a motorcycle...shifting, getting to know your engine, working the relationship between the clutch and the gas, turns, hills, traffic....it all seemed so overwhelming at the time. But I've been doing it regularly for quite a while now and that discomfort and clumsiness has largeley given way to ability and skill. That helps when I think those same thoughts with the Corvette. 

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I've watched every one so far, and attended 4 in person.  But now begins the long stretch leading up to training camp and next year.  Sigh.  I'm already looking forward to it.

Anyway - there will be lots going on over these next few weeks and it has been good to reconnect here.  I'll try to be around more.  :)