Somewhat Personal

Everyone feels pain in a different way, and I think part of the human condition is to think that your pain is greater than what others are feeling. Then you see someone in a worse position that you are mentally, physically or financially and you are grateful for what you have. At least I am… at least I try to be that way. I used to try to entice some conversation by bringing up a topic that I thought needed exploring and further understanding. I even at times resorted to “trollin” a bit for fun, then a good friend called me out on it and made me realize that truly you don’t gain anything (not even entertainment value) from the practice. True and honest communication is more important.

I lost my dog Friday night. I have been separated from a beloved pet before by someone else taking it, or having to move to another country or just the proverbial toilet flush of a dead fish that you had for years… but this week for the first time I lost my dog. Lucy had been the first animal to give me this level of unconditional love, ever. Sure my cat Shayla is still around and it will be hard to deal with when she is not since she has been with me for now 13 years… but she is a cat. She does give a crap sometimes but most of the time she is just, well, a cat. Lucy was not like that. We lost our other dog earlier this year and he liked me… well he kind of tolerated me and was not at all cool with me being the new alpha. He accepted it but did not have to like it. Lucy even though she was the biggest dog and capable of probably ripping anything to shreds in her path was gentle. She was always happy to see me, she was always looking for a chance to lick my elbow (I think she knew I hated that) and was content with simply just laying down close to me by the couch or in the office.

We don’t know what took her away from us… the vet has theories, but no real answers. She did not whimper, she did not cry out, she just went to sleep forever very peacefully right next to my side of the bed.

There is a post that I drafted years ago and never posted. It has to do with pets and pet ownership. I probably will never post it because it is in a way a form of trying to entice people to a conversation on pet ownership.

I hate having pets. Mostly because they are a huge responsibility in a world already full of those. I am also highly allergic to them (touch a cat, then touch my eye and yea watch them puff up.) I hate getting close to them and the fact that in American life we (see I said we) value more the life of an animal right next to us than other human beings. I hate the fact that there are so many irresponsible pet owners out there. I hate the fact that we create connections with these animals and at times those are stronger bonds we have with other humans.

In the end I love Lucy because of the unconditional love she provided to me during at times some very difficult moments. Life changes, I have a lot to be happy about right now… but it truly sucks that I lost my dog.

Before the month ends!

It has been difficult to create content lately, not because there is a lack of stuff I want to talk about but because the blog format is simply not lending itself to me right now. I do have some good news though, a group of friends and I have started to work on a podcast. Episode one should be coming soon, but I think we might wait until we are in about the third one to actually start really spreading the word. Call it proof of concept for now.

Surprisingly enough I think that doing the podcast might make it so I blog more. I think being able to explore topics that I talk about in a podcast format might make me want to expand on them… maybe even blog before the podcast so that I get my ideas in order. Not sure if I am just hanging on to a dead medium or not… but hey sentimentalism is not a horrible thing now is it?

Horrible segue coming,

Not truly a dead blog, but a dead person talking to us from beyond. “A local sportswriter blogs about committing suicide.” I had heard about this story the day that it happened from a local radio station that basically figured it might be a hoax… it was not. The website he left is truly haunting in many respects. Not the least haunting is that I know people that think like the guy does. As some of you might know I have had to deal with death quite a bit lately… loss sucks… it is hard to get over, but it also gives us an opportunity to appreciate life.

I had a very informal conversation with someone after a business trip. I was not a fan of the place I had just visited for many reasons, I did not feel safe, I did not like the food, etc. The person responded with the ‘MURRICA is the greatest. I really hate that point of view, even more so when it comes from a person that has never traveled outside of ‘MURRICA. That coupled with death got me thinking more and more about retirement and getting old in this country.

I really don’t want to spend my “golden years” here. I think there are plenty of better places to retire at and I lean towards Colombia being a possible destination just because of familiarity. Trust me it is not the violence ridden nation it used to be back in the 90s, and while it is not a perfect place, no place in the world is. Getting old here in the US sucks because this society sees everything as disposable, including people.

It might sound like I am depressed but I am really not. I am not saddened by the thought of getting old, in fact I look forward to be able to do some things in my later years. Who knows I might even be in the kid making business still. I do want to be realistic about the future and about retiring. Maybe it is just wishful thinking about making it to old age.

* If you are thinking about suicide, there is help!

D.R.A.M.A.

xkcd
(If you don’t already have xkcd on your daily feed, you are missing out.)

I have talked to a shrink before, more than once. I am one of those people that very early on understood that all you can control in life is yourself… and even then it is an uphill battle because well, that croissant is just so dam tasty, even though I should not eat it. When I encounter a situation filled with drama, the first thing I try to determine, is this something I am in some way causing?

Avoiding drama is an art. The thing is that any time that you have strong views about anything drama is waiting just around the corner waiting to pounce.

I remember after a couple of failed relationships I decided to see a shrink again. One failed relationship might be bad luck, two its you for sure. I explained to the shrink what my shortcomings were, how I grew up, what I expected out of a relationship. I also explained the relationship issues I had, what I saw as not working and her prognosis was simple. “Stop dating crazy people.” A shrink said that… and it was a she.

We are all a little crazy and I can safely say that I know where my crazy comes from. I am a very logical thinker for almost everything in life, but when it comes to relationships I am extremely emotional. I can turn the emotions off completely and make compassion something that other people feel for puppies. I was that person for a long time, and it helped me deal with life as a teenager in a very dysfunctional home.

I never wanted that as an adult, and I have done everything in my power to avoid being the source of drama. I do fail miserably from time to time, because in the effort to avoid it, I seem to spin it into high gear.

Funny enough, this is probably one of my most drama free times of my life. While I had no shortage of it in the beginning of the year with my uncle passing, recently I am pretty drama free. I do have plenty of drama close to me, but I am now more of an observer than a direct participant.

The top water mark came some months ago when a bully feared by many tried to start something in a setting was bad. No, not the multicolored troll showing naked pictured of the conquest in a church in front of children, that one is a story for another time and another day. I engaged the bully, held my one and realized something. By standing up to said bully, even though I did it for the “right” reasons, I was simply perpetuating the drama.

In a conversation over lunch with coworkers recently the talk of leadership came around. The person making the statements is someone that has been around the world actually getting paid to give leadership seminars. I asked the question I always ask when people talk about leadership, is innate ability or learned skills better. He answered both, but the best are the ones that come with the innate ability, the ones that want to learn the skills are the ones that kept him employed. He also added that one of the things to learn is that you should never try to guess motivation, that it is always easier to just ask the person.

It brought me to a new understanding on a lot of things. Drama, for the most part can be just a lack of communication. I think a lot of drama start when one person tries to guess what motivates another to do something, and then people formulate things in their heads from that thought. Sometimes a person just wants to be listened to, and drama seems to be the only way to get someone’s attention.

Trying to ignore drama is not the answer. Trying to avoid it can create more of it. So at this point in my life I think that trying to just listen more is probably the best way to avoid it. I have been very good at removing people that cause drama to get attention out of my life, however it never really made me drama free. Now, it seems that trying to just understand people’s motivation by gathering information rather than guessing seems to be the best antidote to drama.

Prepared to die

We spend a lot of time in our lives getting ready for events. Expectations are always high before a big date on the calendar, a trip, a graduation even a birth. Not many know the day they are going to leave this earth, and the thought of knowing has always made me a little unease. Would it be cool to put your affairs in order and say goodbye, or would it be better to just go out with a big bang.

Today we lost another person close to us. This time was the nurse’s family. Her Aunt passed away quietly after she had her last breakfast and did a little craft work in the nursing home she had been residing in. She was a person that was always felt. In one way or another her opinions were strong and she made sure they were heard. She liked me for whatever reason she had, she did not know me very well, but she said I was a keeper.

I don’t know how to deal with the feelings and emotions of death. I spent a lot of time with my uncle before he passed. I made the decision to not fly back for the funeral because I did happen to be by his side the day he lost his life. I have always felt that putting someone in the ground is not something that should be as ceremonious as it is. Sure it is cool to see a military funeral if you never experienced it, but a funeral is just not somewhere you look forward to being.

I say that I want a happy funeral, remembering the good times and playing many of the silly dance songs I love. If I happen to outlive my friends I would want them to remember the good times and not be sad at the fact that I am gone.

Religion spends lots of time preparing us to die. The promise of heaven sounds very good on paper. To most the fact that we could see loved ones that passed away before us is also enticing. I don’t know how prepared I am to die because in all reality I love life. I love my life right now and I want to live it.

I am tired of putting my grandparent’s generation to rest, I can only dread the time when it is my parent’s generation that will be the ones taking the turn. Death is something that we don’t really know now to handle well. I know how to say I’m sorry for your loss and give condolences, but the relationship with that person is really more than the flesh is what will be missed the most.

A lot of what I have seen recently with death is that it seems to bring to the surface feelings good and bad and sometimes amplify them. Not to get to sappy about the whole thing, but I do think it is important to tell those you love just how you feel about them, often, all the time really. While our elderly passing on is not sudden or a surprise it still hurts and leaves a void.

I really hope there are no more funerals in my future.

Mi Tio Gilberto

There is a lot of pain floating around in my heart about my uncle’s passing. There is a lot of anger towards lots and lots of people. There is also the question of did I do enough. The thing is that he would not want me to remember him that way, he was the kind of guy that was never angry or annoyed, he was always laughing or trying to make others laugh.

He was one of those grown ups that always made me feel like my opinion mattered. Even from when I was really young he always asked me what I thought. That was empowering, and probably one of the reasons I have always been so self-assured. If my uncle thinks my opinion matters, then it must.

I still remember the day he got his prized car, a baby blue jaguar. What does he do? He hands the keys over to me and tells me to take it for a spin. I was young and only had my license for a couple of years at the time but he was very willing to trust me with his awesome ride. Come to think of it, any time we were together in a vehicle and I was old enough to drive I was the one taking him around.

Years passed, his sickness got a hold of him and I now had to drive the car because he could not anymore.

I remember the last time I drove the jaguar, it had been sitting for probably a couple of years with little or no use. The vehicle was in very poor condition and I had to tell him that I did not feel safe driving it unless we took it in and had it looked at. I hate the fact that I had to tell the guy that never told me no and always made me believe in the impossible, no… about his car, about him getting better, about the reality of a terminal illness.

Nothing that I say will ever convey who he was, you had to meet him to really experience his larger than life attitude. I am glad that Heather had a chance to meet him, even though it was when he was already beaten up and almost defeated he made it a point that I lifted his had for him so he could shake Heather’s hand and mouth nice to meet you because he could not say the words anymore.

I have many good memories of him and I am holding onto them very much. We spent lots of time together the last couple of years driving around to and from doctor appointment to hospitals but we had great conversations. He told me about his childhood and growing up, also about all the hell he used to raise when he was young. He always had a smile, always had a joke and most of all he loved life.

I am so sad that you got taken away so young Tio. I am glad you got to see the world and experience life. I love you, and I miss you so much.