Rants

I’m in a mood to just get a lot of things out.  They may not be clear thoughts, they may not be proper thoughts.  They are however my thoughts.  My mind destroys me at times, I’ve been told it’s a common Scorpio trait.

I’ve had 2 serious romantic relationships in my life.  In those relationships, the female was always very quick to take the lead on just about everything.  I just seemed to be there for the ride.  Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s definitely a part of the equation in the breakdown of my marriage and previous relationship.

My love affair with technology is too much for women to handle at times.  Why?  My computer never judges me for not earning enough.  My computer never makes me feel like a bad father because X, Y, or Z are doing things with their children that I do not.  If you want to make me feel judged, I will hide.  My flight instinct is the strong one.

Going back to hindsight, I should have divorced her when I discovered her secret email account containing her relationships with other men.  Of course I couldn’t though, because I loved this woman with everything of my being.  So stupidly I offered an open marriage as a choice.  Not because I wanted to but because I’m horrible with ultimatums.

I’m still paying the price for that decision.  I will be doing so for the rest of my days.

I should have never became paranoid that she was going to leave me, the present is proof of it.  This turned me into a monster of epic proportions.  Key loggers, hidden cameras, constant surveillance.  I used my IT skills for evil for the first time in my life really.  It became a cat and mouse game.  I just wanted to ensure I got the truth.  I still firmly believe I’ve only gotten half-truths since I’ve given up my ways.

That’s the other part of the equation in the break down in our marriage.  It’s hard for either of us to believe a thing the other says.

Today has been somewhat heated between her and I for some reason, and I’m not exactly sure why.  Is it the culmination of all of these things floating around my brain?  Possibly.  Is it the fact that I feel very alone in the world right now?  More than likely.  It’s come to the point where a bad interaction is better than no interaction at all.

I’d rather have a fist fight than make love.  It’s sad, but it’s what has become of me.

 

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The 5 Stages

I’ve been thinking about the Kübler-Ross model for stages of grief, it has 5 of them to be exact.  I didn’t really go through that with the loss of my father.  He lived a good life, and I was proud of him as a person.  The biggest problem I had was the loss of his presence.  He gave me comfort.

With the divorce however, I have definitely seen myself slide through those stages.

  • Denial

I was in denial for a long time.  Years to be exact.  She did many things that I was in denial about.  But did I ever think she’d actually file for divorce and be so head strong about it?  It still blows my mind.  There is nothing to deny now however, it’s all a matter of record and it’s pretty obvious that the feelings she once had for me have resided.

Sadly my candle of hope lingers on.  There is a big piece of me that wonders if she’s just checking other yards to see if the grass is greener, or has an urge to dip her toes in the pool of men in the world.  Time will tell us all.

  • Anger

The easiest of emotional states to be in.  I still get triggered from time to time.  Right now, I feel as a failure, not just to two children and to a wife but to myself.  Then to add another person to the mix who can slide right in and do all of those things we did as a family?  That’s below the belt in my book, but he’s just a “friend.”  I’ve threatened to kill people, I’ve pondered committing suicide.  It’s so easy to go there.  It’s blown me away how easy it is to think these thoughts during such a hard time.  My mind is very much like the Billy Joel song “I Go To Extremes.”  For me it’s always been a defense mechanism.  You know if I care about something if I get angry about it because I fight for it.

  • Bargaining

I still do this from time to time.  As I’ve said previously, I’ll always want her back.  I will be married to her in my soul forever.  I still tell her that too, hoping she will say something similar and justify what I have just said.  I never get direct answers however, just enough to make my addictive personality want another fix.  There really has been no real bargaining, just dealings with an emotional terrorist of sorts.

This will stop swiftly I’m sure, as her words have a way of calming me but her actions do the opposite.  There’s no reason to bargain with someone who is actively making these choices.

  • Depression

I currently reside in a state that bounces between this stage and the final stage, acceptance.  I definitely have my fair share of good days, and bad ones.  I had my first shower in 5 days today!  Why be clean when you have no one to be clean for?  Why be a good and productive person when the reasons for doing so no longer exist?  I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately, as he was about the same age as I and I was about the same age as Amelia when my own parents divorced, 5 months difference to be exact.  (That factoid REALLY hurts my soul) What would dad have done?  The only things I have to motivate me are my technology, my home and my job and the status of one of those things is questionable.  For a person whose only dream in life was to be married and have a family, it’s like being the king of a kingdom of 1.

Many have told me to seek counseling.  I actually had a few months of counseling in the spring, and stopped when she decided she wanted to “try” again.  I’ve had so many years of counseling in my life that I’m not sure how it would help at this point.  Psychological tools won’t help me.  Removing the pain and torment through any means necessary will.  I think this is a fine time to take up something I’ve had very fine control on most of my life, alcohol.

  • Acceptance

I’ve accepted the fact that my life as I’ve known it is no more.  I’ve been living it for 6 weeks at this point.  I’ve accepted the fact that the person I vowed my life to no longer loves me romantically.  I’ve accepted the fact that my 6 year old daughter will soon share something with her 16 year old half-sister that I never thought would happen, that I never wanted to happen.  A thing that scarred me so badly it caused me to try to get a vasectomy right after my eldest was born (I was refused that by 3 doctors by the way).  Something only their father genuinely understands from their perspective.  All of those previous statements depress me, and that’s why I’m in an if statement with no exit strategy at the moment.

 

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Back to the Grind

Today is my first day back at work since the procedure.  I’m tired and in some pain still.  Primarily because the chair I’m forced to sit in gives too much support in that area.  I have no options or alternatives.

Over the past few years, I’ve become addicted to something that’s really hard to let go of.  Talking to people.  It may sound odd or peculiar but it’s true.  I talk to people from the moment I wake up until the time I go to sleep.  It really has controlled my life.  So I’m really working on cutting that back.  My first step is to cut out the amount at which I speak to others.  I’ve done pretty good at that.  It’s really shown me some things about myself and where I stand in other peoples lives.  The connections I’ve made with others mattered much more to me than it mattered to others, at least their lack of action has proven that to me.

Last night I received a promising call.  A gentleman would like to rent a room in my home.  He wants to sign the lease and move in as soon as my soon to be ex wife and daughter are out.  He should be in town until April or May.  So not long term, but better than nothing.  That’s all I can expect at this point really.   I can only assume my ad on Craigslist for renting out my home will be there in perpetuity, amongst all of the high priced places for $600 a room.

I’m writing in this blog at the moment because my mind wants to get all of these thoughts out, but I’m tired of talking people just to talk.  So I shall broadcast instead.

I miss talking to my wife.  I will totally put the blame on my addiction on her.  It was with her that I would talk all day every day through instant message about our days, while we carpooled together.  It gave us closeness that I don’t think many people understood.  Now that closeness is gone, and even though we still talk there is a irrefutable *thing* in the air that keeps us distant.

I’ve tried all of the online dating sites.  Wow.  It’s appalling actually.  Most of the womens’ entries have along the lines of “I like campfires and fishing, and my kids always come first” with typically a line in there about being tired of games, lies and hookups.  Such an aggressive stance for someone reaching out, no?  It makes a guy like me run for the hills actually.  That’s just the first gate, the hurdle is even messaging most of them as many of the sites require you to pony upwards of $70 a month for the opportunity.  Not money I’m willing to spend.

So I’ve went to my past, and tried to re-forge connections.  I’ve reconnected with a girl (now woman) who I’ve had a crush on since middle school.  Come to find out, she and I are very similar.  Sometimes it’s downright scary how much.  It isn’t the right time for anything more than forging that bond though, as she and I are both badly damaged from relationships.  Which is fine for me.  I’m trying to forget the past by creating a new future.  The more things I can do with the more people, the better I am mentally.

Other than that, the world is pretty dark right now.  The uncertainties in my life are driving me insane.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to rent out enough of my home to keep it.  If I can’t keep it, I will need to get rid of most of the remaining things of the house and pare down my things until they fit in a room.

So in many ways, I’m not just losing a relationship.  I’m losing everything I’ve spent the last 14 years of my life on.  It’s a bitter pill, but I’m swallowing it because I have no other option.

 

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Vows

We all have vows we make.  To others, to ourselves and to higher powers.

To me there has only been 1 vow that meant anything in my entire life, my wedding vows.  I said them before an audience of friends and family in a church where 3 generations of my family were married.

It was an event I looked forward to my entire life, and was indeed worthy of what I had imagined.  Yes guys think of their wedding day.  They may not plan it like women do, but they certainly have ideas.

Not to turn this personal blog into a place for political discussion and opinion, but marriage as a social issue has been a big-ticket item lately.  The 1 thing you don’t hear about are those who follow through on the “til death” part, even if they do end up divorced.  My grandmother did that, and I am doing the same.

Just so it’s clear, I’m going to all caps bold proclaim it.  I AM NEVER GETTING MARRIED AGAIN*

You’ll notice the * there.  The reason you ask?  It’s simple, I vowed my life to 1 person.  She may not feel the same anymore, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  But if at any point in time she decides she wants me back into her life, I cannot do anything but welcome her back with open arms.  Why?  Because again, I vowed my life to her.  She holds a spot in my heart and soul right next to my children for the rest of my life.

Just because she doesn’t hold those words she spoke to me as in high of regard as I do, doesn’t give me the right to throw them away as she has done.

Many have said that this will cause any potential love interests to run away.  If so, they aren’t the right person for me.  If I end up alone for the rest of my life, that is how I shall be.  This is how important that vow is to me.

Right now, I feel as if I wasted my vow.  Hope is a dangerous thing however, and there is a candle of hope deep within that is burning for the memory of those vows we said to each other on August 14th, 2004.  I only hope that she feels the same.

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She’s Moved On

6 weeks ago, my partner of 14 years and my wife of 11 filed for divorce.  The reasons are varied, and according to her it’s something that must be done.  I simply see it as giving up.  Giving up on a lifelong vow, giving up on a family, giving up on a relationship and giving up on a person.

I’m not going to go on and on about how she shouldn’t do this, how I want her back, or anything like that because it won’t do me any good.  It’ll only add hurt to a soul who’s been tortured his entire life.

The big reason for the divorce is trust.  We have destroyed that in each other.  Secondly, she no longer loves me.  The why part is hard to digest and hard to explain.  She’s fallen for the charms of another man, one who has just divorced himself.  Rebound anyone?

All requirements for the divorce to be finalized are completed except for a 60 day waiting period and a judges’ signature.  There is no going back.  We have split everything up except for our home of 9 years, which I am trying to save.  Neither of us can afford it on our own.  I am trying to get a couple of room mates to help me pay for the mortgage and utilities, as well as trying to do something to lower the mortgage payment by any means necessary.

If that plan fails, our home will simply go back to the bank and I will be on the other side of that door.  I will be seeking a room to rent, as I certainly cannot afford to rent even a 1 bedroom apartment in this town anymore.  This is the reality of my life now.

People try to help, but many of their words hurt more than help.  Telling me to “love my children” does the opposite of helping me.  I see my children and I see 2 failures in my life.  I see the 2 women who loved me, but decided to love someone else instead.  I see 2 relationships and 2 families that are irrevocably damaged.  I see 2 children who will (and have) have to endure the same things I never wanted for my children, at all costs.  The moving back and forth, the split holidays, the split everything.  Because of that, I feel like I failed them.  I can’t let them know, but that’s how I feel inside.

A lot of people wonder why fathers abandon their children.  It’s just a guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a common thought with divorced and separated fathers.  No, I’m not abandoning my children.  Do I want to see them and love them?  Not really at this time, it hurts more than seeing the face of my soon to be ex.  It’s as if I have to remove those memories from my brain in order to move forward, a hard but not impossible task.

I was pretty fortunate as a child, and I believe my children are as well.  The 1 and only thing I wanted for them was to have a “nuclear” family.  The 1 thing I never got.  The 1 thing I’ll apparently never be able to provide them.

Life goes on however, and so will I.

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Baby Maker: Offline

On Thursday I underwent a procedure that eliminates my ability to have anymore children, called a vasectomy.

Sexual health and responsibility is something that is often placed on women, entirely.  I know that throughout my entire life, it has been that way.  My mother had a tubal ligation after the birth of my sister, and I’ve always relied on the women in my life for that responsibility.  I didn’t actively refuse, it just happened that way.

Children are often called a blessing in life, and I totally agree.  They however were never an “active” thought for me.  They just happened.  I never “wanted” children in my mind, I did welcome them into my life however.  Some may not like to hear that opinion from a father, but it’s how I’ve always felt.  Over the years I’ve had to, or have been asked to censor myself, but no more.

I have 2 daughters, and I’m almost 35.  I don’t want anymore children, and it’s only fair and proper that I take a stance on that.  I’m also never getting married again, but that’s another tale for another post.

I was quite nervous for the procedure.  I’ve had numerous surgeries and procedures done on me over the years, but nothing in the general vicinity.  I was prescribed a pain pill and xanax to take 30 minutes before the procedure to calm me and help.  They certainly did.  I knew a needle would be entering my scrotum to dispense a general anesthetic.  This was the part that concerned me the most, I’m not sure why because I didn’t even feel it.  The urologist then cut a small hole into my scrotum and pulled my vasa deferentia out, one at a time.  He then clamped each one individually, cleared some nerve endings off them.  He then cut them in 2 places and cauterized both of them and placed them back.  He then placed a couple of disovable stitches on the hole.  Procedure done.

I asked if I could keep the 2 inch long piece of each of my vas deferens that he had snipped, but unfortunately he had to keep them for “legal reasons.”  It would have been nice to keep that piece of myself for some interesting reason.

While I technically can no longer deliver fresh sperm to an egg, I can cause a pregnancy for 3 months, as the sperm like to hang on for dear life.  So I have to give a sample in 3 months to ensure infertility.  I have also read in some parts of the internet that a yearly test is a good idea as well.

It was literally easier as far as pain goes than getting blood drawn.  I’m surprised every man doesn’t have this done at some point their life.  With the Affordable Healthcare Act, this procedure is paid for 100% by insurance, making it even more of a no brainer.

For the first 36 hours or so, I became close friends with 3 bags of frozen peas.  As of today, I still have a little pain, but have given the peas a break.  I’ve been a bump on a log and stayed on my couch.

I look forward to not worrying about the potential of becoming a father, because I did something about it.

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The Brightest Burn Out the Quickest

My father was the person who never gave up on me in life.  Due to his own personal issues, I faced a lot of pain and mental anguish but he was always there and never questioning.  When I became an adult, I made the realization that he was doing the best he could with the tools he had and forgave any transgressions I had.

Me & Dad, Halloween 1985

From as early as I can remember, he was my buddy.  We did everything together.  I formed a lot of myself in his image.  To this day people that knew him even sometimes call me by his name.

He gave me gifts that I still treasure to this day.  The love of the open road, the beauty of music and comedy and I’m just starting to embrace his love of being a people person.

He was an amazing grandparent and loved his grand daughters more than I ever knew he could.  While he was nervous with Taylor, primarily because he never had a daughter. But when Amelia came around, he welcomed her with open arms.  It was a beautiful thing to see them love each other in the way a grandparent-grandchild should.  It was one of the things that actually gave me a deep love for having children.

Dad & Amelia

Dad grew up without a father, and very poor.  While he never spoke with me about it directly, I can only imagine that is why he was such a good father and provider for me.  He always jumped head first into anything I became excited about and would support me in any way doing so.  I often question my own parenting abilities based on his example.

He was a hard working man his entire life, working sometimes 36 hours straight while I was a child.  The last decade of his life he worked in a custodial role at IU at night, while taking film classes at IU during the day.  A passion he had and kept his entire life.  He dreamed of becoming a Stanley Kubrick.  He became a kid with the thoughts of the film making process.  He loved using his grand daughters as subjects for his films.

When I got my first full time job in 8 years, dad was so proud that he made an announcement in front of our family at Thanksgiving.  That would be the last time I saw my father alive.

My stepmother, for whom many of my struggles as a child were caused by did a complete turn and seemed genuine for the first time since I can remember.  She involved me in much of the process, and paid for everything.  She provided me with an inheritance and I am now the proud owner of dad’s truck.  Most of my memories of him were of our times in a vehicle.  So it means a lot to me.

We were never a father/son combo that said “I Love You” to each other much.  It was just always known and didn’t have to be said.  But I wanted to see it and be reminded of it for the rest of my life.  So I found a card that he wrote to me while I was at a camp as a teenager, and got the words he wrote tattooed on my left forearm.

Try to do me proud. This is ol’ Dad signing off. Love, Dad

Looking back, his death was a watershed moment in my life.  It was the moment when I decided that I no longer wanted my mother in my life.  Even though she was the only parent I had left.  It was the moment when I felt like much of the world I had built around me wasn’t as genuine as it appeared.  He was the glue that held many things in my life  together, without him those walls started falling.

Rest in peace dad.  You star was very bright, and I know it’s shining down on me.  I miss you, and will so forever.

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I’m Back!

After a very long hiatus, I’m back!

Much has happened in my life, too much to write in one post really.  So I’m going to give a summary of sorts and then expound on the issues.  Writing is therapy for me, and I need lots of therapy right now.

First of all, my wife and I of 11 years are divorcing.  The reasons are varied and many.  It’s the primary cause of the therapy I need, the things I need to get out.  She and I both did things that hurt each other, and destroyed our trust in each other.

Secondly, I got a vasectomy today.  In todays day and age, it’s important for men to take reigns in on their sexuality and responsibility for that.  After a test in 3 months to ensure of it, my baby making days are over.

Last but certainly not least, my father passed away last year in December.  To me it was the beginning of the end.  From there, as the Star Trek quote goes “chakka, and the walls fell.”  His death was really a watershed moment in my life.

I have some motivations to keep my mind off of the emotional and physical pain right now.  I’m trying to save my home.  Neither of us can afford it on our own.  I’ve put the last 9 years of blood, sweat and tears into this home and don’t want to give up on it lightly.  I’ve documented a lot of the work on this blog.  I’m currently trying to find people to rent out a couple of rooms from me.

I’m also trying to rediscover myself.  I gave my all to this marriage and lost the true meaning of me.  I’ve reconnected with my old friends and they have really helped me find the me within.  I miss that guy.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently stated, “If you can’t fly run, if you can’t run walk, if you can’t walk crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

My eyes are on just that, when they aren’t full of tears.

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New Venture

I’ve decided to quit waiting on a company to accept me for a position with them.  I’ve never been a popular person, or a person with inside connections.  It seems that in today’s rough job hunting climate that is exactly what you need in order to succeed or even get a foot in the door with a company.

I’ve decided to start a business, named Magitech.  Magitech will provide in home technology support services to people in the Monroe county, Indiana area.

I have always enjoyed giving support to people with technology, and hope to for the foreseeable future.

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1 Down

Tonight I finished the renovation of our master bathroom that I wrote about previously.  There’s still a little bit of touch up painting to do, but the real work is over.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  Here’s the highlights.

This bathroom is mainly used by my wife.  She picked basically everything, I’ve got to give it to her on her choices.  The finished room really looks nice!

The floor I installed was one of those “easy tongue and groove” systems.  It was not easy by any means.  I had to literally install it one way and then remove everything and install it another way.

I reused the toilet, but converted it to dual-flush.  It’s amazingly green.

Now it’s on to planning and preparing for “the big one.”  A complete demo and remodel of our main bathroom.  The pressure will really be on for this one as I don’t see my wife being happy with using our shower, which is located downstairs.

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Hidradenitis Supperativa

Such a strange term.  Almost impossible to pronounce.  This is the name for the condition that has dictated what is physically possible for me to do for the last 16 years of my life.

Never heard of it?  Neither had I until a random encounter with a good friend who has it as well.  I call her my ‘pain friend’ now.

Until a few years ago this painful condition was limited to my pelvic / upper thigh area.  I had my VNS device replaced in 2009 and the HS spread to my under arm area in a bad way.

The only way I have been able to control flare ups (which are horrible and debilitating) has been by shaving all areas of the body affected, using women’s anti-antiperspirant and doing as little physical labor as possible.  Now that routine is no longer effective.

My internist Dr. Bannec has helped me as far as his practice allows.  After a horrible experience with 1 of the 2 dermatologists in town (he just confirmed what I have and offered no real treatment plan), I’m looking for an expert.  No matter the distance or cost.

So far it appears that my closest options for experts in care are Detroit, MI and Cincinnati, OH.  Although it appears the guy in Ohio mainly deals with burn patients.

Once I graduate from Indiana University in December.  This will be my #1 life goal, to get this painful condition that has ruled my life for almost half of it, under control.

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testing

Just testing the functionality of something I’m trying to use.  Just keep calm and carry on.

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A Dream Come True

Ever since I was a kid I have had a huge fascination with motorcycles.  Some of it was the fact that I never had one.  My best friend had one for a while, and I rode it like it was mine.  When I was 14, my dad bought the scooter my friend had at the time.  He in turn got a brand new one.  After a few months, someone sabotaged it.  I couldn’t get it started again.  I ended up selling it for $400 and bought a Sony Discman with it.  That’s right kids, CD players (especially portable ones) used to be really expensive.

It was a worthy investment.  I had that Discman for around 10 years.  I left it doing what it did best, spinning CD’s to play for customers at Big Red Liquors.

Back to the point.  That seed that was planted in me as a child never went away.  I don’t know if it was my mind yearning for times gone by, or if I just enjoyed motorcycles that much.

Due to my epilepsy, nobody felt comfortable with the idea of me even owning one, let alone riding one.  I understood, but wasn’t happy about it.  Since I’ve had my VNS implanted, I’ve only had 1 seizure due to me not taking my medicine.

A friend of mine was selling his motorcycle, and what blew me away is that it was my wife who suggested I look at it.  Any previous attempts to bring that subject up would be presented with “the look.”  I decided to pass on his, but since I had her “on the line” I thought I would keep looking, and I ended up falling in love.

I found an 1982 Honda CB750SC, commonly known as a Nighthawk on Craigslist.  It wasn’t perfect, and it’s almost as old as me.  The owner had done some customizing to it, which really makes it stand out.  After some back and forth about hearing it run, which I finally did, I bought it.

There’s just something about newer motorcycles that I just don’t like.  I think a large part of it is the lack of chrome and character I see in affordable models.  Harley’s look nice, but I’ve already got 1 mortgage.

As of right now the motorcycle is in pieces.  I’ve had to do a complete cleaning of the carburetors, the front brakes are not working and I’m having some work done to the plastic panels on it.

I can’t wait to get out on the road with her.  I just need a good name.  I’m hoping to have it road worthy by mid summer.  Just enough time to get some riding in.

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Preparing for the Big One

Through the years I’ve wrote a lot about my on-going home renovation projects.  I’ve done so many that I’m now down to doing large projects instead of small “easy” ones.  Our bathrooms have been easily the most neglected spaces of our home.  We’ve decided to finally remodel them, they deserve it.

Our master bathroom, which is a half-bathroom needs the least work and will be done first.  It is by far the smallest room in the house.  Measuring in at 4′ x 6′, there isn’t much room for anything.


We’re adding texture to the walls as a quick fix.  Originally wallpaper was put up, but we took it down.  What remains is dried glue and many places where repair is needed.  With a little joint compound and some creativity – It’ll look beautiful.  Surprisingly there is a standard size double hung window in the room.  To give privacy the original owners installed plantation shutters.  Both of us hate them (especially in this room), so I’ll be applying some window tinting to give some privacy and save space.

The flooring is carpeted.  I would like to know what drugs people were on in the 60’s and 70’s that made them think that a type of flooring that likes to hold water was a good idea in a room with nothing but plumbing!  We haven’t decided what we are going to put in just yet, but it will probably be vinyl flooring of some type.

The only remaining items in that bathroom are the lavatory, medicine cabinet and lighting fixture.  One weekend Rachel and I went to our local home improvement stores and without an argument, agreed on almost everything we need.  We have some pieces that will be the same in both bathrooms, but each will have their own style.

The main bathroom is a completely different story than the master.  This bathroom was not built right to begin with.  When we moved into the house, the drain lines for the toilet and tub had to be replaced.  The tub surround is merely tile that has been glued onto the drywall.  Mold is in no short supply in this room.  I’ve decided that I’m going to gut this room except for the ceiling.  I expect some repair work will be needed on wall studs or joists.

 What we have decided, mainly based on our experiences is that we need to have a better tub surround system.  After searching high and low I found one.  It goes from the top of the tub to the ceiling.  There is also an optional cap component that acts as a ceiling for the shower, encapsulating that area from water infiltration.

We’re also going to install a whirlpool tub, score.

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Everything Old is New Again

It’s been way too long since my last post.  It seems as if I forget about my little corner of the world here and forget to drop in and reflect on my life, which is the main reason for this blog.

At the beginning of last summer, I accepted a position with VICOPS (Collaboration Technologies) at Indiana University.  This small department handles all of the videoconferencing/collaboration resources for the entire Indiana University system and outside affiliates.  I work for the help desk, where we take telephone and video calls for assistance with issues regarding technologies such as desktop videoconferencing, Adobe Connect, Telepresence, etc.

At the beginning of the fall I was offered and accepted a full time hourly position with them. I no longer have to worry about finding multiple jobs to fill hours.  It has been a great relief to my family as well.  I never realized how much I actually treasure steady working hours.

I’m only 10 credit hours away from graduating.  This semester I’m taking nothing but Informatics and Computer Science courses.  Most of these are just introductory courses, which are a cakewalk for someone with my knowledge in the subject.

My business has received a much needed injection of attention.  After changing the name from LML Video Services to Magic Media Services, things just died out.  I then put a request on reddit for someone to help redesign the logo for my business.  I was more than surprised at the results when someone obliged my request.  I am now working on redesigning my website, which will be located somewhere on the rox.com domain temporarily.

Rachel and I finally got “grown up” furniture for our bedroom.  With the assistance of my neighbor Bill we got a new dresser, chest of drawers, headboard, armoire and night stand.  We also purchased a new mattress and box spring, which was needed greatly.  Our old, borrowed furniture went back to my grandma who lent it to us over 10 years ago.  I can’t thank her enough for the kindness in her heart.

Over the weekend I replaced the first of three sinks in our home.  The one in our utility room (they are all exactly the same) started leaking about a gallon of water a day.  The drain was rusted out, but I couldn’t replace it as it was seized together.
The shut off valves for the water lines were seized as well.  With all of the water problems this area had previously, we knew this was going to be ugly.  Since we needed a place to give Amelia a bath while remodeling our main bathroom (which will be happening soon) we decided to purchase a utility sink for the space.  8 hours and 3 trips to Menards later, I was both finished with the project and worn our physically and mentally.

On the ROX side of life, I’m currently downloading the latest finished episode for distribution to CATS.  #96 will be on the air soon in Monroe county.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with more organized and focused posts.

 

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Flying Through Time

I wanted to do something big for my 30th birthday.  The original plan was skydiving, but I weigh too much.  My fabulous wife found something almost as good, a guy in Madison Indiana flys people in his open cockpit bi-plane.  With him you can just fly, do some aerobatics, and even take “the stick” and fly the plane.

Unfortunately with our hectic schedule, making this a reality became too much for us to handle and that idea was eventually scrapped.

Fortunately our airport often hosts airplanes that travel the country and offer flights.  These are not just cessna’s, but historical airplanes.  Last fall we checked out the WWII B17 bomber.  While I would have loved to, we could not afford the flight as the $450 price was just too much.

It’s an amazing piece of avionic history.  We actually climbed through the plane, which has very tight quarters.  It was made even more difficult by to us carrying a 1 year old through it.

Last month a Ford Tri-Motor came, and this time the price was very reasonable.

This plane was one of the planes that started commercial aviation, just to have the opportunity blew me away.  This was also the first time I had ever flown from my local airport.

Our flight path was simple and took less time than I had expected.  We flew to the south side of Bloomington, near where old 37 and new 37 meet.  We then turned north and headed to 2nd street where we flew between 2nd and 3rd street back to the airport.

Due to the proximity of my home to the airport, I got a picture of my neighborhood(if you look at the hi-res version you can see fires & tree damage from the tornado)!  We see planes take off and come in for landings all the time, but I had never got to see the plane’s perspective before.

Planes today hold hundreds of passengers, this one only held 9.  The cabin was tight, but I felt more comfortable in this plane than in our modern counterparts.  I was sitting in the very back, a seat that was reserved for the “steward” was the only thing behind me.

I was busy while we were in the air.  I had my camera and an iPhone; I was utilizing all of their capabilities.  I even tweeted mid-flight!

I say this often, and I can’t reiterate it enough.  Without the past, we have no future.  I have to give thanks to the EAA AirVenture Museum for giving me this opportunity.  I greatly appreciated it.

I’ll leave you with our landing.  If you notice when we touch down, the wheel on my side doesn’t touch for a while!

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The Tale of Two Cities

We had planned a getaway for Memorial day that was a little quirky and not like us.  Little did we know that a tornado would get in the way.  Due to said tornado, I had closed myself emotionally.  While you could say I had a “good time.”  I don’t have any emotions to go along with the trip, something I typically have.  My wife wrote a blog post from her point of view, I highly recommend reading to see the contrast in our points of view.

We left as soon as we could on the Friday after the tornado and drove about halfway to our destination, St. Joseph / Benton Harbor Michigan.  We stayed the night in Lafayette, leaving early so we could arrive at our destination early.

As soon as we arrived, we learned about these two cities the hard way.  There seems to be a strong sense of division.  While St. Joseph is a nice, quaint resort community, Benton Harbor shows all of the “what used to be” looks.  There are many homes that used to be mansions, but are now dilapidated; some even boarded up.  It’s downtown area almost looks like a ghost town from the 1950’s.  There is some new growth, but it still feels like a ghetto.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel.  It was a pretty funky Courtyard by Marriott.  We decided to find something to eat, explore, and just relax that evening.  The views from St. Joseph are absolutely amazing.  It’s a great little resort community.  The whole time I was contemplating about what was happening back home and trying to calm my nerves by smoking copious amounts of tobacco.

Sunday was a mixed bag of not great weather conditions, so the beach was not an option.  After having the best breakfast I’ve ever had at any hotel, we headed for St. Joseph.  Our first stop was downtown.  They have a charming area filled with high fashion shops, and typical small town businesses.  They have animal statues on just about every corner, decorated in many different ways.  Taylor loved the “Cash Cow,” a cow covered with REAL money.  It was of course in front of a bank.  My fave was “Vincent Van Goat,” which had a depiction of “Starry Night” on one side and “Irises” on the other.

We then went to the most interesting pizza place I’ve ever been to.  Silver Beach Pizza is a pizza place located within an Amtrak train station.  I had an ice cold beer and a very good barbecue chicken pizza.  It was most excellent!

We then went to the Curious Kids museum.  It was fun for both the girls.  Taylor enjoyed encapsulating herself in a bubble.  Amelia enjoyed the water table, and acting OCD with random items.  They’ve ran out of space in the converted brick house they are located in, so with the price of admission you can also access their addition, which is located next to the indoor carousel.  We then went there.  They have stuff even the adults can appreciate.  They have a climbing wall, water tables galore, space items.  It was quite fascinating and good stuff.  We then went and had fun with the carousel.
We were a bit nervous, as Amelia had never been on one before.  She was a trooper, and had a blast.  It was good family fun for all!

Amelia’s nap time was approaching, so we headed back to the hotel.  Which was perfect timing, as a severe storm approached.  After going through the tornado, this was the first time a storm actually scared me.

That night, we played in the pool – all of us.  This hotel has a very interesting pool, it has an indoor and outdoor section; you can swim to either section through an opening in a glass wall.  We then found an arcade was in a mall not too far away and decided to check it out.  What we discovered was a mall that was essentially dead.  There were no anchor stores at all.  While there were interior stores, there weren’t that many.  We played for an hour or so and then went back to the hotel.

The next morning, we stopped at beautiful Silver Beach.  The difference between an ocean’s beach and a large lake’s beach is pure calm.  It’s an amazing place, with an amazing view.  The girls had fun, I put Amelia’s feet in the cold water and she didn’t want to leave!  The sand was so fine and plush that we decided to bring home a bucket full.  We all have glass jars of it to help remember the experience.

As fun end to our short trip, we stopped at Fair Oak’s Farm in northern Indiana.  It’s a large dairy farm that gives tours and offers many learning opportunities for children about where our dairy products come from.  We took a bus tour, which takes you through some of their barns to see how the cows live and what they eat.  Amelia sat with me, and I told her that these are cows, they go “moo.”  She started repeating me, it was adorable.  We then saw their carousel milker.  It’s an amazing machine that lets them produce vast quantities of moo juice.

We then went to the birthing barn, and witnessed the births of two calves.  While I had seen this many times as a child, Rachel and Taylor had not.  I think it was a good experience for both of them.

Next we stopped by the kids area, where Taylor got to do something she hadn’t done in a while, jumping on trampolines while attached to bungee cords.

We then visited the store, where I sampled some cheese.  We bought some souvenirs for the girls and they had some ice cream.

I had just started to heal from this life changing event, and our vacation was over.  Coming home was almost like a nightmare coming true.  While it was nice to get away, the mental extremes that it forced me to go through were almost too much to handle.

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The Little Girl Isn’t Dead

This is a continuation of my last post, The Little Girl is Dead.

While on our short vacation, my mind refused me the opportunity to forget about what was going on at home.  Instead it kept thinking about that phrase that was etched into my mind that night.  I kept running scenarios in my head about my girls; I didn’t like to, but I had to.

I felt bad for everyone who had been affected by this storm, especially the less fortunate ones who lived in that trailer court, right next door to me.  They had lost everything, and probably didn’t have insurance.  There were many children living there, so many that the schools had 2 buses come for pickup and drop off.  We would see them all waiting for the bus in the mornings on our way to work.  I still see their faces, and imagine what they must have went through on that eventful night.

I received two phone calls that Saturday while we were in Michigan, our power had been restored!  It had been out for around 3 and 1/2 days.  We don’t know how many utility poles had to be replaced in total, but it was a large number.

Since I had Internet access, I was always keeping up on the news.  Our township trustee had organized a volunteer day, to help with tree & debris cleanup.  This made all of us happy, and was the first step in putting my heart and soul to ease.  In the end there were a total of 3 volunteer days, but the news that an IU student had disappeared shifted the focus, and the volunteers.

We returned from Michigan on Memorial day, and reality set in.  While I had no damage to my home, we had lost about 10 trees; including our beloved apple tree.  Many of these trees formed a ‘natural’ fence along my property line.  They provided large amounts of shade and oxygen, they were also wrapped in vines.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a “jack of all trades.”  I have had experience in cutting trees since I was about 12, when I helped my then step-dad do just that for a living.

We had already lost our weeping willow tree and a maple tree due to wind and ice storms that occurred earlier in the year, we purchased a chain saw so I could clean them up; I was prepared.  Little did I know how difficult the task would be when vines were involved.  This was a task I couldn’t handle, this task needed a quantity of experience people.

We decided to get estimates from tree-trimming businesses.  I called around 5 companies, only one showed up and gave me an estimate.  It was more expensive than we wanted to pay, and under our homeowners insurance deductible.  I wasn’t going to feel at ease until this was taken care of; I was literally stuck between a bunch of trees and a hard place.

I turned to our township trustee’s office.  I called them and asked for assistance, but let them know that I should be placed on the bottom of their list.  I let them know that it was simply downed trees that needed to be cleaned up, there was no damage to my home and that it shouldn’t be a priority.  While we could have paid for the cleanup; it would have presented a financial burden that we might have not recovered from.

A few days go by and as I arrived home from class an Mennonite looking fellow was at my house.  He said he was surveying what needed to be done; he was assembling a crew.  The next day when I arrived home, the trees were almost cleaned up!  It was a group of boys and a man.  At the time I presumed they were Mennonite, since they used technology.  It turns out I was wrong; it was the Worthington Amish Youth Group.  I thanked each one of them personally, and asked if they needed anything at all.  They requested some water, which I promptly fetched and then they went about their business.

With all the property damage and the trailer court in ruins, I was blown away that they decided to help ME.  My whole family is in their debt and are working on a way to pay it forward and show them how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

After they finished cleaning up the trees, a larger group, including women went over to the trailer court and assisted cleanup.

The effects of this tornado will be felt and seen for many years to come.  Not just from the people (like me) who live where it happened, but by the thousands of travellers that take that section of Highway 45.  I went through many years of emotional issues as a child, which I thought had toughened me mentally.  I learned the hard way that I was wrong.

While we are mainly healed from this event, our souls will never forget it.  That storm took something from me.  Even though I don’t exactly know what “it” is, I feel incomplete inside.  I don’t know how to move on from this experience.  Writing this has certainly helped.

 

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The Little Girl is Dead

Those are the words my mind tricked me into believing were true.  I heard a fireman say something that sounded like that on the night of May 25th, the night a EF1 tornado touched down very close to my home.

My wife, a person who is always concerned with the weather told me that the night was going to be a rough one.  I hear this on a fairly common basis, but something told me that I should stay on alert that night.  She had radar from WRTV 6 up on her computer, and we had a combination of the local weather and The Weather Channel on our TV the entire night.

I remember the exact moment when I knew we were going to be in for something.  While watching the TV, they were showing all of the tornado warning/watches in Illinois.  The state was covered in red; meaning the state was covered in tornado warnings.

Around 10:19pm our power went out, and almost instantly after that our weather radio went off; it was a tornado warning for us and we knew that this was serious.  My wife headed for our basement and told me to grab Amelia from her crib if I thought it was appropriate.  While I knew this was a serious situation, I had to see it for my own eyes.  That’s when I picked up my flashlight and looked at the large maple tree in my backyard.  It’s large canopy was swirling in a clockwise motion, something I had never seen before in that large of a tree.

I immediately ran to grab Amelia from her room and rushed to our utility room where Rachel was waiting.  Even though I had experienced a similar event when I was 12, I had never felt the urgency or threat that I felt at that moment.  It was the first time we had ‘ran for shelter’ from a storm.  While in our utility room, we could hear the intensity of the storm.  There was no sound like a train, rather the sound of a large volume of air moving at a high rate of speed.  It went away after a minute or so, but we decided to stay in our safe place for a few minutes, just to be sure.

Immediately, I went outside to inspect for damage.  The first thing I noticed was that a large limb from one of my trees had broken and fallen on my neighbor’s fence.  I called him to let him know, and that was when my mental state took a dive that it hadn’t had in a very long time.


He told me that his daughter had called him and by listening to the scanner, she had heard that the trailer court right next to our neighborhood was completely wiped out.  I felt a tremendous urge to go see what I could do to help.  I got in the Kia and discovered that a war zone now existed less than 1/4 mile away from my home; I was also trapped in our neighborhood.

I discovered another one of my neighbors outside, I asked him what he knew.  He said that there were several children trapped in one of the trailers.  He told me that he offered his assistance, but they didn’t want anyone who wasn’t trained in search & rescue to help out of the fear that they might also be hurt.

I then heard those words that I couldn’t get out of my head, “the little girl is dead.”  I had to run back home, I couldn’t help and I could barely hold my tears back.

Out of what seemed to be pure survival instinct, I started tweeting.  Besides our land line, it was my only way of communicating with the outside world at that point.  Here they are:

  • I’m a prisoner in my own neighborhood and there are people dead less than 1/4 miles away from me
  • Trailers stacked on top of trailers, it’s a sickening sight! If I only had a line to the outside world besides this
  • I can’t sleep knowing that my poor neighbor children lost everything, almost their lives tonight. I also confirmed with the fd, no death …
  • I now wish it would stay dark so I cannot see the remains of what was #didthisreallyhappen
  • I’ve only lost a few trees, which I loved -I feel bad for mentioning it, but I think it should be noted.
  • Please put the children who just lost everything in your thoughts and/or prayers. They really didn’t deserve this
  • You never realize how much you appreciate freedom until that freedom is taken – quote me

I then went back and found a larger group of my neighbors.  One of which had a friend over who is a policeman.  We went back and actually did some searching with the fire department.  I snapped some photos on my phone, but due to the atmospheric conditions, they didn’t turn out too well.

I went back home and told Rachel that I couldn’t go to sleep, and that I was going to leave as soon as I could.  I felt disconnected from what was happening, I needed information.  Around 3am, I started seeing headlights from cars driving around our neighborhood – the road must have been finally cleared.  I packed up my laptop, phone and associated cables to charge everything and headed into the unknown.  My destination was the IU Wells Library, but I wasn’t sure if I would make it.  I had to try.

The journey is only about 6 miles, but it seemed like 50.  The entire west side of Bloomington was pitch black.  No stop lights or street lights.  When I finally made it to campus it was even worse.  Trees were down everywhere, what is normally a somewhat linear route ended up to be a criss cross puzzle.

I finally felt okay.  I sat with some of my TCC co-workers and briefed them of the situation.  I logged onto a computer and started my hunt for information.  I printed every article I could find, from the Herald-Times, to the Indy Star to even MSNBC.

Once everything was charged, and my search for information was complete I headed back home.  Little did I know that the drive home would be even more treacherous than the drive in.

Still no lights or businesses open.  It was daylight now, I what I had feared was true; it had to have been a tornado that came through.  While there were spots here and there in town and on campus that had tree damage, there was a defined path of destruction starting just west of Curry Pike/Leonard Springs Road on Highway 45.  This defined path followed me on my journey home, and that’s when I encountered the sheriff’s deputy blocking the road to my home. “And where do you think you’re going?” he asked me.  “Home” I passionately stated.  He let me through.

The next day we left on a planned vacation to Michigan.  We felt it would be better to leave the sadness and destruction, than to stay and be constantly reminded of it.

I’ll continue this tale in my next post.

 

 

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