Thursday, October 27, 2005

Home, Home Again...

I like to be here, when I can - Breathe - Pink Floyd

I've been having a lot of dreams about home lately. "Home" being the house & city that I grew up in. Dreams about old friends & even my dog, Scruffy. Those dreams, & the recent homework I did trying to find out how much of a house T & I could afford out here, have made me just a wee bit depressed. Couple that with the fact that I am just plain sick, sick of living in an apartment & you've got the makings for a very somber & sullen Jay.

I have very fond memories of growing up. Unlike pretty much everyone who gets their 15 minutes of fame on a talkshow to tell about how they had it so rotten, I had a very charmed childhood. I mean, it wasn't Saturdays at the country club & school clothes shopping at Nordstrom's. Not at all. Even better than that, it was weekends spent exploring the fields & drainage ditches around town & riding bikes or skateboards with my friends (me on my bike, they on their boards; I couldn't ride a board to save my life. It does explain my tolerance & defense of boarders, though). I used to ride to the local comic shop each week with my $5 allowance to pick up the latest Spider-Man, X-Men or Batman books. A friend & I used to take off at about 6p & walk around town until about 10p, frequently hitting the local videogame trader so that I could fawn over, from a distance of course (except for one ill-fated time which I'll go into in another post), the auburn-haired object of my affection.

During the week, it was school & Wednesday night youth group meetings, which were the highlight of the week. I went to a small private school (17 in my graduating class), &, while my eighth grade year sucked, due to being bullied constantly, my junior & senior high years weren't too bad. My best friends during those years were Patrick Fisher, Suzanne Toothill (now Davis) & Brett Lamborn.

I met Patrick in 6th grade &, I don't know why, but we became the best of friends. We both loved Star Wars & GI Joes. In fact, every time one of us went to the other's house for the weekend, it looked like the Normandy invasion, with boxes of troops & armaments being unloaded. We also spent a lot of time exploring & riding our bikes in the hills. Well, I guess I should rephrase that - we spent a lot of time getting lost & carrying our bikes up hills. We were doing the "extreme mountainbiking" thing before anyone else was.

Patrick went into the Army shortly after I entered the Air Force. He went through a lot of rough training & came out as an Airborne Ranger. I always admired him for making it through that. It was shortly after that that he & his girlfriend had an unplanned visit from Mr. Stork. He did the right thing, though, & married her, which was something else that I admired about him. I know his parents were disappointed, & I kept getting the feeling that they wanted me to side up with them on the matter. But, I couldn't. I mean, Patrick was like a brother to me. And he did the right thing, given the situation.

He moved to Phoenix, near his wife's family, & joined the Phoenix police department. The last time I saw him, he was doing well & life seemed to be treating him good. As we were just passing through town on our way home from Denver, I didn't get to spend as much time there as I wanted to. I remember him saying that he wished I could stay longer.

That time, eight years ago, was the last time I saw him. I tried calling him again about seven years ago, left a message with his wife & never heard from him again, with the exception of a couple of Christmas letters. I keep trying to figure out what happened. Did I do something to make him want to sever ties with me? Did, heaven forbid, something happen to him? I don't know. As a kid, I always had this picture of us being friends as adults, getting together with our families, our kids growing up together. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

I met Suzanne in eighth grade (probably the only good thing to come out of that year) when we started carpooling together. Ours was an adversarial relationship in the beginning, with us constantly taking verbal jabs at each other. We lost contact for a bit when she left in the ninth grade. I remember running into her on day while I was out riding. She had changed a lot & I didn't recognize her at first. She called me a short while later & I filled her in on who was still at school & who wasn't & whatnot. She came back to school, I think mid-term, in tenth grade. We were inseperable after that. I remember people asking if we were an "item" all the time because we were always together. I found out later that, had I not been so stupid & blind, we could've been. That was the way I always was in school, though; I never could see what was right in front of me. Instead I was always setting my sights on the wrong person.

The thing that stood between Suzanne & I seeing each other was, strangely enough, me. I was afraid that if anything did happen between us & then fell apart, I'd lose my best friend. Ironically, because I hesitated, I ended up losing her anyway. The closest I came to taking a step in that direction happened on my 18th birthday. Suzanne had gone off to college in San Diego, but was in town visiting her family. I didn't know she was around & she showed up to say hi, not realizing it was my birthday. I remember her digging through her purse & finally finding a stick of gum to give me for a present. I think she found a rock outside & gave that to me, too. I left with her to walk her home, which was only a few blocks away. Four hours later, after walking all over town & stopping at Subway for a sandwich, we were sitting on a sidewalk across from her house, talking. I just kept looking at her & I remember thinking that all I had to do was lean in & give her a kiss - she was that close. But, my fear of losing her gripped me & I didn't follow through with it.

As the months wore on, she'd write to me, telling me about the weird adventures she was having in San Diego (she even sent her hair that she'd cut off to me in Basic Training, figuring that I'd need it). Upon later reviews of the letters, I finally saw that she'd dropped hints (& not subtle ones, either) here & there about her feelings for me. It finally took a letter from her where she told me, flat out, that she'd had a crush on me for a long time, but that she knew she wasn't good enough for me (which was completely wrong - I was just too stupid) & that she'd resigned herself to just be "one of the guys" with me.

We lost contact for a few years. Then she tried getting ahold of me. We talked a few times, but the ex, being the jealous type that she is, made things difficult. After we separated, I managed to get in touch with Suzanne again. We spent, over the span of two phone calls, about eight hours catching up with each other. I knew she had gotten married & had a child & I was happy for her. We wrote a bit to each other, as well. Then one day I called her & she told me that her talking to me was causing conflict with her husband & that she couldn't talk to me anymore. I think that hit me harder that the ex & I splitting. That was seven years ago. I found her email a year or so ago & wanted to see how she was doing & to tell her about my (then) impending nuptials with T. She wrote back, saying the same thing she had six years earlier. I don't know what happened with her husband, but...I guess all I can do is respect her request. If she ever wants to talk to me again, well...I guess it's up to her now.

I met Brett through a mutual friend. I remember that friend, also named Pat, talking about him (they went to school together). I had met Brett a couple of times, but, as he was in a different neighborhood, I didn't have much to do with him. One day, I'd gone to Pat's to see if he was home & was told that he was at Brett's. I went over to find Pat & thus began my friendship with Brett.

Brett was a skater, as was Pat & a couple of other guys on Brett's block, Josh & David. We spent many a day at Josh's parent's skate shop, watched copious amounts of eMpTeeVee, skated/biked all over town, chased girls & just plain enjoyed life. A couple years later, Pat moved, followed by David & then Josh. This left Brett & I to get in trouble on our own. When Brett was in high school (I'd already graduated), this included calling the school to get him out for the day, takin gthe bus to the mall, investigating what was behind all of the "Do Not Enter" doors, &, after we both had cars, driving to San Bernardino or the beach or wherever & doing, generally, not a lot.

Before we had wheels, we'd usually just wander around town, going up to The Wherehouse to look at what tapes (!) they had at the time, or to the aforementioned videogame store, Doc's, & blowing through $10 trying to beat an arcade game (with me trying to build up the courage to talk to the also aforementioned auburn-haired object of my affection) or scraping together enough money to by nachos at Naugle's (I guess we should've eaten before we stopped by Doc's).

The thing that I used to think was funny was that his parents thought I had this horrible influence on him. Of course, the opposite was true. I mean, I guess I could understand it at first. The first time that I met them, I had long hair, my thrashed up denim jacket & my bike chain in hand. I think they thought I was there to beat on him. You'd think after awhile they would've figured out that I wasn't there to kill him. Brett knew that I was a Christian & that I had a strong definition of right & wrong (OK, except maybe when he ditched school). He about had a coronary once when we were leaving The Wherehouse, as I'd picked up a free magazine & walked out of the store with it. He didn't know it was free & thought that I'd suddenly & without warning turned over to the Dark Side & lifted the magazine.

Brett was the Best Man at my first wedding & I was glad to have him there. Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately, given the ex's, uh...issues with fidelity), he & the ex never got along. I should've listened to him. Later, even after he'd seen how the Service was through me (which was a little biased, as I kinda hated it there), he joined up with the Air Force &, having a Master's degree, earned his commission. I lost track of him a couple years ago. I hope & pray that he didn't end up in the mess over in Iraq. And if he did, I hope & pray that he's safe.

I want to get back in touch with these people. They were like brothers & a sister to me. I mean, I don't really make "casual" friends. When I offer my friendship to someone, I try to put my all into it. These are people that I would love for T to be able to meet. I want to be able to tell them about her & have them get to know her. She has friends that she's known since junior high, that I've met & that I like & enjoy being around. When I tell her about my friends, though, it always feels like I'm talking about someone who's died, that she'll never have the opportunity to meet. I know that things will probably never be like they used to be, due to distance & time & the fact that we all have responsibilities & families & all, but I just want to be able to pick up the phone & hear them on the other end or be able to plan to see them, be it visiting them or them coming out here. I just want them back in my life again.

Suzanne Toothill (Davis), Patrick Fisher, Brett Lamborn - if you ever see this, contact me. Phone call, email, carrier pigeon, smoke signal...I don't care.

I miss you all.

Monday, October 17, 2005

An Open Letter To The Putz At Work Who Defaces All Of The Magazines

Dear Mr. Rembrandt -

Could you please find it in you to not write in, or tear pages out of, the magazines in the breakroom? Or, if you feel you must, can you please spare the "Entertainment Weekly" & maybe focus on the numerous issues of "Gourmet" strewn about the room? I know this would leave you with far fewer targets to set your black felt tip marker to, but it would sure make it easier to read the EW's. If you're honestly having trouble leaving the magazines unmolested, here's a few tips I have for you:

1) Learn how to spell. The word is "Skank," not "Scank."

2) We already know that Britney, Christina & to put this?, portray themselves in a less than wholesome light. Writing "Slut" or, as you so eloquently put it, "Scank" over all of their photos really isn't telling us anything that we don't already know. It's like writing "Catholic!" across pictures of the Pope.

3) Think about this every time you write "Loser" across a celebrity's image: who's the bigger loser - the celebrity, who probably rolls around naked in gigantic piles of money every night or the person who makes slightly above minimum wage putting software components* into a box for a living & writes "Loser" across pictures of movie stars in magazines? Don't think too hard about it. I wouldn't want you to forget how to glue boxes shut or how to count to three or anything like that.

4) Attempting to write celebrity autographs? See tip #3.

Basically, get a dictionary, get a new hobby & get a life.



*PS - "Components" is a big word meaning "stuff." Sorry, didn't mean to confuse you there.
Happy Birthapalooza To Me!

Yes, Loyal Readers, last Friday was my b-day. The Big 3-4. Another milemarker on the road of life. Another trip around the sun. Another excuse to make up some other analogies for birthdays.

So, how was it celebrated?, you may be asking. Well, I'll tell ya.

First, Birthiversary greetings were received (OK, second, as T was first in line to wish me a happy birthday) from the lovely & talented Amy & ETS. Amy played go-between for me & posted b-day greetings from John Stamos, in response to some deranged fan letter I'd apparently written to him (me? Do something like that? Perish the thought!). Unfortunately, like last year, Mr. Stamos will not be able to attend my annual "I Am Thankful For John Stamos" Thanksgiving dinner. Drat! ETS apparently got ahold of my b-day wishlist & hoped that Dave Coulier would pop out of a cake wearing little glitter pasties for me (I've really got to quit leaving that list laying around).

The intention on Friday night was to pick The Boy up from the ex & head out to the Souther California Fair (cripes, how many of these things do we have?) to see Third Day perform. But, I guess T & I are starting to get old, as neither of us particularly felt like driving twenty miles & freezing after being at work all day. So, instead we went out to eat at Jose's, were we were treated to the ramblings of loud, tattoed people. That's always fun. A couple rentals were picked up afterward & we headed for home. I opened up my gifts & scored a nifty keen USC shirt, a nice & warm fleece jacket & a mega cool Darth Vader alarm clock (yes, my wife is encouraging my almost unhealthy Star Wars addiction). The Boy & I then watched "Spirited Away" (well, I did; he crashed out. Pansy.). This proved to be the first of an Asian film doubleheader for me, as on Sunday I watched "Hero."

Anyway, Saturday was spent leisurely doing a lot of nothing after T got home. A trip to a couple of thrift stores yeilded a few CD's, including both ZZ Top & Bruce Springsteen's greatest hits compilations (Schweet!). The rest of the day was spent napping, gaming & watching movies.

Sunday started a little bumpy, as T wasn't feeling up to par, so the morning was spent surfing &, eventually, viewing the aforementioned "Hero." Since the weather had let up a bit, we decided to see what was going on outside, got ready & headed out to my most favoritest of places, the Pumpkin Patch! T & I meandered through the petting zoo area & the gift shop, went for a hayride & then walked around the patch, all the while mindful of the large stormclouds moving in from the west. Sure enough, as we made our way back, we started feeling a few sprinkles. We headed up to the local pizza place, played some pinball, consumed pizza (of course) & then did a little shopping at Ye Olde Big Lots, where a couple of The Boy's Christmas gifts were purchased as well as a couple of goodies for the pantry. Shortly after that, T & I enjoyed a nice evening walk, noticing the lightening flashing to the south of us. We also found a really sharp looking Mitsubishi Montero (we're looking at getting a bigger "family" type vehicle someday) which I totally was digging until I researched the gas mileage. I dug it a whole lot less after figuring out how much it'd be to fill the beast up.

The weekend was capped off falling asleep with T curled up behind me, being lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain & thunder raging outside. A nice end to a nice weekend.

Of course, this morning came on like a bucket of cold water, but, that's a post for another day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Weekend That Was

And what a weekend it was.

First off, my in-laws are in town for a visit, which has been nice as it's afforded me a bit more time to get to know them & for them to see the alien world that I took their daughter to live in. With the exception of nearly having a heart attack on the freeway (we warned 'em), having their eyes pop out of their heads every time they see how expensive everything is out here & the dry heat, I think they like it out here. Not enough to pull up stakes & move out here, but enough to have enjoyed their visit. They've seen that we're doing OK out here & that T hasn't been corrupted. Well, not completely, anyway.

My dad also came down to visit for a couple of weeks, which gave he & T's parents the opportunity to meet. They all got along quite well, with my dad & T's dad sharing stories of growing up poor. It was fun to listen to them comiserate.

On Saturday, T, The Boy & I went up to my sister's (where Dad is staying) to visit (T's parents had gone down to San Diego to visit family for the weekend). What would've been a pleasant day for all was a bit mucked up by The Boy's homework, which he'd neglected to bring home for five weeks. Much whip cracking was done in an attempt to get him to finish it up. On the plus side, we had some scrumptious BBQ'd chicken with all the fixin's & I whipped T & my sister at 8-Ball. (We won't talk about the games of 9-Ball in which I cleared the table, only to have my sister sink the 9-ball. And I completely deny having seen her sink the 9-ball on a break. Nope, didn't see it. Didn't happen.)

Sunday was quiet. As T had to work that morning, The Boy & I went to church, where I learned a valuable lesson: don't sit in the aisle seat of the last pew if you don't want to risk being asked to help collect the offering. Not being comfortable in the spotlight, I usually try to blend in with the crowd. Less so when T's with me, but I still don't try to draw attention to myself. At any rate, I survived that harrowing experience & helped a couple of old ladies up out of their seats & to their walkers, so, it wasn't all that bad, I suppose. I racked up a few Brownie points.

I took Monday off so that we could take T's parents up to see my sister's house & to meet Dad. The Santa Ana winds had cleared all the gunk out of the air, so it made for a beautiful day. I got to play tour guide on the way up, throwing out random tidbits about how, as we made the climb up the Cajon Pass, we were driving in the San Andreas fault & how Joshua Trees only grow in the Mojave Desert. Dumb schtuff, sure, but it was fun to imbue them with my wisdom. My sister Q'ed up some burgers & hot dogs & much consuption of said foodstuffs ensued. We topped it off with T's fruit pizza & then proceeded to roll into the living room & complain about how full we were. It was like a preview of Thanksgiving.

All in all, nothing too exciting, but nice nonetheless.

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Birthaversary Greetings

It's ETS' birthaversary! And, since she's a week older than me, I can point & snicker when she uses her senior discount card to get her Code Red.

Well, for a week at least.

Go - wish her well!