Posted in Adventures with Brad, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Empowerment, Home

Adventures with Brad – Starting out 2019 with a bang!

Hello dear readers! Happy 2019!

My apologies for being away. December was an insanely busy month – not only with the holidays and a visit to see the family, but also with an unexpected move!

That’s right, Jim and I found a house we instantly fell in love with, and jumped on the chance to take it. So, needless to say… December was a whirlwind. We were officially moved into the new house by mid-December, when we then left for the holidays. It feels like life goes fast forward so suddenly. What about you? Did you guys have an awesome Christmas? It was wonderful for us this year.

So much time has passed since I last wrote.

After moving into our new home, Jim and I decided to have our first group of friends over for dinner. We excitedly asked my coworkers (and friends) Tim and Kristen, and their adorable son Langston, over.

Jim and I carefully planned a menu. We love having people in our home and we love cooking, so this was exciting for us. Having friends check out the new place, enjoying dinner, and some wine sounds like a marvelous evening in my book.

Jim and I planned to make meatloaf, roasted Brussels sprouts, and cheesy mashed potatoes. I ran the menu by Tim and Kristen. Kristen exclaimed with a joy that transcends the English language indicating she loves Brussels sprouts. In her world, they are apparently better than sex.  Yay for us, bad for Tim.

A few days before our dinner, we made the grocery outing to prepare. This is where the Adventure begins… I always say my life should be filmed like a reality show.

We went to Safeway.  Jim has been feeling amazing lately, so we were strolling around the store picking up items we need. Going to the grocery store late in the evening with Jim is one of my favorite things to do. Yes, I know, nerd alert.

So, as we’re strolling through Safeway, and on the internal music system Whitney Houston’s (Rest in peace, Mama H!) “How Will I Know?” comes on. Before even looking at Jim’s face I started smirking, because Jim knows me so well. I finally look up at him and he just gives me his signature Jim blank stare… because he knows I will burst into song.

And, of course I do.

Best part of the night – Jim joins in. So we’re standing in the middle in the cereal and then coffee aisles just belting out “How will I know?” Some of the happiest moments happen when you least expect them. I feel so much joy in spending my life with Jim.

We swing by the produce section to get the rest of our groceries, and discover in horror that the Brussels sprouts bin is completely empty. This news is devastating. Who are we to deprive Kristen of Brussels sprouts goodness? Especially when her response to the mere idea of them was so … orgasmic.

Quickly, I offer, I’ll run to the store across the street on the way home and get them. Crisis averted.

So, we finish up the groceries and go to the check out. The cashier was fairly friendly. I’m my usual self, chatting it up with everyone I come into contact with. But here’s the weirdness… there’s a bagger at the end of the counter like usual. She was a younger woman, maybe high school aged.

She just stared blankly forward as she bagged. She had no expression, no eye contact, no human qualities whatsoever. She just blankly stared and bagged. It was staggering. It was … unsettling. Alarming. Disconcerting. And, well basically downright eerie. It’s hard to describe. I’ve never seen someone so robotic before.

I’m that person that pokes the dragon – I just can’t help it.

Picture it, this odd woman blankly bagging our groceries. I usually offer to help, but I couldn’t. All I could do is lean in and peer at her.

She didn’t even blink or respond.

I wanted to say “you sure seem to love your job” or something snarky, to at least begin a conversation… but I stopped. Just as I was about to say something, I thought, to myself “what is she’s blind, deaf, or mute?” I certainly wouldn’t want to make anyone feel bad for a limitation, so I tried to justify her unusual behavior, and then I felt supremely guilty.

I bit my tongue to force myself to say nothing.

But here’s the kicker… as we walked away, she mumbled, in the lowest volume possible without being silent, a half-assed “have a nice night”

It was weird.

Jim and I pushed our cart by her and just bust out into hysterical laughter.

The thought occurred to me, this is what would happen if Vicky from the 80’s TV show “Small Wonder” got a job.

Random side thought: Does the concept of “Small Wonder” ring off to anyone else? Inventor man creates a robot of a young girl and she sleeps in his closet? And he has to undo her dress to access her computer panel to program her? Maybe I’ve worked in prosecution for too long, but that sounds… alarming.

We leave and head across the street. To make it simple, I run into the store solo while Jim waits in the car.

And the adventure continues…

So I’m in store, it’s around 7:30 at night. The store is almost completely empty, just the way I like it. There were only 2 visible employees.

I briskly walk to the product section and horror of horrors, I step on a ketchup packet and it sprays all over the floor. If you know anything about me, you know that condiments horrify me. It’s the texture, the liquidness, the oiliness of them – the only words are blarrrggh.

Condiments – liquidy ewiness. Horrifying is the only word. Sour cream, mayonnaise, Miracle whip, ranch dressing, mustard. The concept of touching them, wading through them, it plagues me. I’d sooner die.

I’m aware that I’m in public and have to overcome  my horror,  but in my head I was screaming like the first victim to die in a horror movie.

Second crisis, there were no Brussels sprouts to be found. None. No sign, no empty bin, nothing.

I strolled to the cashier and said “so… am I just an idiot, or are there no Brussels sprouts?”

She responds with the loudest yell I’ve ever heard in a grocery store in my life. “We don’t have em? PETER! PETER! DO WE HAVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS?”

I was reacting with my eyes as if the camera from “The Office” is on me.

So, Peter appears and he walks around the produce section aimlessly and I follow him. I approach the ketchup packet murder scene and gingerly step over the spray. Suppressing a gag.

Again, I wish there was a camera crew following me sometimes.

He just stopped aimlessly searching and dryly said “I guess we have none”.

I politely thanked him for his “help” and walked out empty handed.

I walked back to the car in defeat, and the look on Jim’s face was so sad. No bag in my hand. We MUST have Brussels sprouts.

So, we stop at Walmart, the metaphorical scab on my knee.

I ninja style stealth it into the store, power walk to the produce, grab ALL of the Brussels they have, and high tail it to the self-checkout to get the f out of there.

Voila, we have Brussels sprouts.

It felt like Gulliver’s Travels. Worst part ever, when I close my eyes I envision the ketchup packet over and over again. I hope I can recover.

The dinner was a smashing success. I love my friends, and I’m looking forward to many, many more dinner and wine evenings together. Hopefully sans any more ketchup disasters. It’s a wonder I was able to eat again.

Posted in Anxiety, Deep Thoughts, Home, Reflections

A Visit to St. Louis

It’s hard to explain the emotional difficulty of traveling to visit “home” when you haven’t lived there for a number of years. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love seeing my friends, my family, and all of the people that I love. It’s not them. I’m thrilled to see them, to reminisce about old times, to catch up, tell jokes, and allow hilarity to ensue.

What I don’t love is this unsaid feeling of not belonging anymore. It’s this feeling, always floating there on the surface. You strive to get rid of the feeling, it just muddies up everything else. I equate it to skimming the fat and grease off the top of a delicious dinner that’s just about finished. It’s there, it doesn’t really ruin it, but it does successfully make it imperfect. If you’ve never moved from home, and then later visited, you’ll never understand this feeling. Everything feels different, but exactly the same, simultaneously. It’s like I’m watching a 3D movie in the theater, and enjoying it through the glasses, but I’m also peeking over the top of them and seeing the distorted not-quite-right video play.

I’m proud of my ability to make everywhere that Jim and I have moved feel like “home”. When we moved to Los Angeles, I was terrified. Terrified to leave home, to leave everything that I knew, was familiar with, and to step out into the unknown. I didn’t like change. But I adapted. I grew a lot. I found so much more strength in myself than I ever knew I had.

Later, we moved back to St. Louis, and settled back into our former life. And then when Jim’s medical disaster happened. It was a huge ordeal. It took a lot of emotional resources, a lot of patience, and a lot of energy from me. It changed me, forever. But again, I found so much more strength within me than I realized I had.

When the time came to move to South Dakota, I was ready to embrace change again. It felt good to metaphorically press the “reset” button on our life, again. It felt right to live somewhere where the “old” Brad and Jim had never existed. It’s hard to feel depressed about what happened to us, when our present situation never existed in the pre-medical disaster world. Starting over was hard. And scary. But, also, once more I found another well of strength deep within me.

So that leads up to today. We’ve lived in Rapid City for 3 years now. It feels like home. It is home.

When we visit St. Louis, though, the inevitable question is posed. By everyone. “When are you guys moving back home?” It’s hard to hear over and over again. And, trust me, I know it comes from a place of love. I understand that our friends and family want us there all the time. And I too, wish for that. That’s what makes it so hard to hear. I want it, but I also don’t. I know that we’ve established a life in South Dakota. I have a job I love that really matters, I feel really rewarded by it. My coworkers are amazing. Jim absolutely loves working at CVS – they have been so good to him. We have a small, close-knit group of wonderful friends. We live near so much natural beauty. The Black hills are natural mood enhancers. They existed long before big pharma mass marketed everything under the sun to solve the world’s emotional problems.

What sucks about moving isn’t the actual moving. While that is a challenge, it’s a finite amount of time. What sucks is that you split yourself in half, and then in half again. You establish, and grow in a new area. You find part of yourself that you didn’t know was buried within. It feels like the more easily you adapt, the more you are punished if it’s time to make a change again. I don’t want to move back to St. Louis, and leave the half of my life in South Dakota that I love. I also don’t want to live in South Dakota, and miss the half of my life that is still in St. Louis. It’s incredibly overwhelming, and I can’t please everyone. I’m at an emotional impasse. Jim and I discuss this so much, and we don’t know what to do. I can’t speak for Jim, this is obviously a personal blog, but I think he feels a lot of the same things.

I’m not looking for an answer from anyone, because there is no “right” answer. I just want to explain how overwhelming it is to feel this way.

Posted in Anxiety, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Jim

his eyes

Piercing eyes.
One day they are blue, the next grey.
Always changing, just like him.

A scar on his chest.
It’s his battle wound, a symbol.
He can handle anything. Has, and will continue to.

He’s an explorer.
Always seeking a new adventure.
He soaks up the beauty in everything,
And it shines from within his eyes.

He inspires me.
To push myself out of my comfort zone.
To be free. To do what I love.

When the darkness seeps in,
He is there.
He is always there.

He’s my best friend.
He’s my love.
He’s my everything.

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Moody Music, Music

Moody Mellow Monday Music

Moody Mellow Monday Music:

Check it out here

Bleachers – I Miss Those Days
Little Big Town – Your Side of the Bed
Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter
Scout – Day Before Yesterday
Tom Odell – Can’t Pretend
Stephen Speaks – Out of My League
Kelly Clarkson – That I Would Be Good/Use Somebody
Awolnation – Sail (Innerpartysystem Remix)
Over the Rhine – Latter Days
Keane – Somewhere Only We Know
Kendall Payne – Scratch
Matt Nathanson feat. Sugarland – Run
Our Lady Peace – Life
J. Ralph – One Million Miles Away
Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Gavin Degraw – Just Friends
Phanton Planet – Lonely Day
Void Vision – Sour (Vanzetti & Sacco Remix)
Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating in Space
Thisway – Crawl
Forest For the Trees – Dream
James Morrison – I Won’t Let You Go
Moby – In This World
Lady Gaga – Speechless
Actual Tigers – End of May
Marc Cohn – True Companion
Live – Dance With You
Kelly Clarkson – Lies
K’s Choice – Virgin State of Mind
Sarah Slean – My Invitation
Azure Ray – Displaced
Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You
Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence
Kris Allen – The Truth
Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros – Home

Posted in Anxiety, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Reflections, Spirituality

Who are we, and where will we go?

who are we, and where will we go
is this reality, or our mind’s eye’s show

are we dust & bones, mere atomic energy
or are we something more that science can’t see

are we figments of another’s imagination
some sort of outlet – an emotional creation

are we pre-destined to do great things
even if we’re crippled by the pressure that brings

who am i, why am i, and what do i matter
some days when I think of that, i only feel sadder

can’t help but wonder – do I only exist to you
or is it to you, and you, and all of you, too

if i only exist in your mind, and you in mine
then i will live my days with love; for my friends & for me, that will be fine.

Posted in Anxiety, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Reflections

He Allows Himself to Fall Apart Nightly…

The routine has become so mundane.
The process so common it’s now effortless… meaningless.

If it no longer has meaning – does he?

He allows himself to fall apart nightly, just to feel again.

// First, his fingers break off with such a familiar sound.
It reminds him of fresh popcorn cooking on the stovetop at grandma’s.
The fingers pop one by one like kernels as they break off of his hand.
Next, his arm firmly pops out of the socket with the familiar hollow popping thunk.
His knee unhinges with a squeak and then pries itself from his upper leg.
Finally, his ear un-velcros itself from the side of his head. //

Sudden movement pulls him out of his daydream.
Is that me in the mirror?

He watches himself brush the style from dark shaggy locks.
Is that my hair?

He watches himself remove his contact lenses from piercing dark eyes.
Are those my eyes?

He watches himself in the mirror as hands unbutton his shirt.
Are those my hands?

He removes everything, shyly revealing his vulnerable nakedness to himself.

There is nothing left.
He is nothing more.

Posted in Christmas, Deep Thoughts, Department 56, Reflections

Collecting Villages – What is my why?

It might be the cool rainy weather – it just seems like Christmas is coming. Ready or not! I know it’s only the first week of October – but my brain runs wild with imagination and planning, this unusual combination of whimsy and attention to detail. That fun stuff occupies such a large percentage of my brain. It’s probably the same stuff that makes many of you roll your eyes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, for my personality type, it’s a super exciting, creative, and electrically charged time. I’m on the cusp of something I LOVE to do.

[Side rant: I know it’s not time to decorate yet. I know there are holidays in between now and Christmas. Stop whining to me about it, or about the commercialization or Christmas, or that the stores already have Christmas decorations for sale. That’s not my fault, and I don’t care. This is my blog. End of mini rant 🙂 ]

Like I’ve written about before, I love planning out each year’s display. I’m a hyper-organized person when it comes to my collection, so I have a spreadsheet of which houses I have and which accessories coordinate. Am I a little crazy? Yes. But I didn’t earn the nickname “Professor Obsessor” for nothing. My Christmas village is just something I love to collect and plan down to the tiniest detail.

Besides being a collector, I’m also a “why” person. As in “Why do I love it?” I spent the weekend by myself and did some deep thinking while Jim is out of town. There was no distraction – just me, the cat, and a whole lot of quiet.

First off, I think I love collecting Christmas villages because collecting checks so many items on my list. You know what I’m talking about, right? That inner list of things you love for no apparent reason? We’ve all got one. For me, collecting satisfies and “checks off” the collector mentality (the “I’ve gotta get them all” thought process), the Christmas fan in me (obviously), the detail guy (how/where do I plug them in?, how will I hide the cords?, what scenes work well together?, etc…), the home decorator in me (I want to be the host with the warm cozy home), and lastly, collecting satisfies the unique aspect of who I am. I want to have something a little different, and a little extra special about me. It just feels good to achieve that.

When I set up my display each year, I let my inner child run wild. I’m fascinated by a made up world where the only rules are the rules I set. I imagine it’s a similar feeling to the people that collect train sets. They build train stations, have neighborhoods, bridges, tunnels, and a variety of other scenes. They became the mayor, the master developer, the rule setter, and decider of detail. In my world, I get to be all of those things. I ponder “How does this little town work?”, “Where do the elves work?” and “Is there a social hierarchy?” (haha!) I like to believe in my fictional world that all of my residents work together in harmony… composing a symphony of happiness. And happiness is something we could all use more of.

When it all boils down, I think we should all emulate these fictional characters and work on being happier people. I think, ultimately, that is the final reason I love collecting the houses. My final “why” check mark. Plainly and simply, it just provides me, and the others that view it, with unbridled child-like happiness.

Posted in Anxiety, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Reflections, Sleep

he lies awake

he lies awake
reflecting on the day

he lies awake
wondering who he is

he lies awake
examining how he was. was he good? is he?

he lies awake
anticipating tomorrow’s stress as a sense of subtle, quiet doom builds inside

he lies awake
allowing the anxiety to wash over him, replacing all that he is

he lies awake
ceasing to exist

he lies awake
staring at the ceiling as the fan gently weaves a pattern of light and dark

he lies awake
enjoying, somehow, the dance of the shadows

he lies awake
allowing the darkness to call to him. to comfort him

he lies awake
realizing the circular dance of the fan mirrors the dance of the day

he lies awake
understanding the balance, momentarily

he lies awake
accepting that without fear there is no calm

he lies awake
trusting the quiet of the night

he sleeps.

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Fall, Reflections

Thoughts on Fall

Autumn colored maple leaf

I was talking over lunch today with my friend Kristen. We discussed the feeling you get when reading a moody novel or short story – that feeling the transcends explanation. The moodiness in the air, the sense of foreboding, the subtle chills down your spine. No matter the temperature, a great book makes it feel like a rainy, cool, fall day. I crave that feeling in my reading.

I thought about fall for the rest of the day. How much I actually enjoy it. I’ve never considered myself a “fall person” before, but this year, I really am. The dampness in the air, the chill lurking just beneath the surface, the winds of change blowing in the early evenings. Fall mornings tease the fast-approaching winter, while fall afternoons have that something special, that comforting call back to the lazy days of summer that just passed. The anticipation is special – nearly palpable. It exists, just out of our conscious reach. I love feeling the crispness, the excitement, and the anticipation of the upcoming season. The faint smells of cider, cinnamon, pumpkin, clove… they all seem to signify that change in the air. Something about fall smells “warm”, not in in terms of temperature, but rather in terms of comfort. Fall is a warm comfy sweater waiting to wrap its arms around you.

This year, I’m letting it envelope me in warmth and coziness.