Listen to the Music
Yesterday I went riding with a friend and as we spent the afternoon enjoying the sights in the country we listened to some good music. Although, his range of music includes several new artists including a few Crappers, we share a love of 70's rock.
I love good music. I am not sure if music has the same affect on everyone else as it has on me so let me elaborate. I honestly get tears in my eyes when I watch an artist that honestly knows how to make music with an instrument. Be it a guitar, a piano, a banjo, a saxophone, or a kazoo, I really can care less as long as they know, "How to make it cry or sing." I am ashamed to admit that more than once watching Idol, or listening to the US Marine Marching Band, or a local High School Band, I have to take my glasses off and wipe my eyes. I say ashamed because I am supposed to be a heartless man. If I had any friends you could ask them.
The same is true about an awesome voice. If I hear an awesome voice, it brings tears to my eyes. Whitney Houston had that ability on me, especially with the Star Spangled Banner. I can't listen to anyone sing that song without tearing up, but more especially with Whitney.
I am not sure if there is a scientific explanation for it but music just seems to touch souls differently than any other form of communication I am aware of personally.
I sat here today and was listening to Freddie Mercury of Queen on Palladia and I put my computer down and really watched this guy as he entertained a group of Canadians. I looked over and asked Janit if she thought any of those guys knew just how lucky they were to be able to see this guy in person. According to Wikipedia Freddie Mercury's voice ranged 4 octaves. Does anyone that is reading this understand how truly awesome that is?
If you had to lose one of your senses, what would choose? I am not sure I could make that decision. I can only say that my sense of hearing is something that brings me more pleasure than I ever realized. Hearing a friend riding down the road singing old songs that I myself love made me think about the profound affects music has on us all. Although, I have to think he is a little tone deaf because he claims to like Crap music.
Memories in a Box
This week has been a hard week as far as health goes, Janit was very sick Monday and Tuesday and she passed it on to me on Wednesday. We have had a tough week getting over whatever this has been. Anyway, it gave me time to start looking for something to get into in my house that didn't take a lot of physical effort, mental thought, or a commitment to finish anytime soon. So I started to dig through boxes that we have not opened in YEARS.
In the first box was 1000's of memories that have been packed away for years. There were 1000's of pictures of Jan and her family, and 1000's of me and mine. We spent three days looking through hundreds of envelopes and little boxes and we are only partially through our collection.
We found pictures of grandparents we didn't know we possessed. Pictures of ex-wives, siblings, grandchildren, and deceased relatives. There were pictures of me before I lost my hair, and pictures of me when I had a 27" waist while in the Navy.
Why do we spend 100' and 1000's of dollars on pictures only to put them in boxes and never share them with our friends and family? I remember walking through an Antique store recently and I found a box of old, old photographs. I thought to myself then how sad it was that family members didn't care enough, or were not aware of the treasures someone had of their family in old photographs.
So we have been sorting through the pictures. I have some that I know old girlfriends and an ex-wife may like of their children. I have pictures my daughter may enjoy of herself and her children from 14 years ago. I plan to share these memories with the people I love before they fade away and end up in a dumpster when someone comes to clean out my house after I have left this world.
If you want to have a great weekend with your family and loved ones, get out all of the boxes full of memories that have been packed away and go through each, one at a time. Share your stories, make notes on the back of some before you forget what or who they are and give important ones to other members of the family so they can continue to share them. Just have a great time reliving memories that were at one time important enough to you or someone else to record it for posterity.
I plan to make a few collages, frame and hang them in my house. My next project is to get out all the old 8mm, and VHS tapes to copy over to DVD. Once this is done, I will be able to throw away over 1000 VHS tapes that I have been storing and lugging around for over 15 years, and
Where did it go?
When I was a child:
My earliest memories of my mother and father are in Charlotte, NC where I was born. We lived in a white house on Lombardi Circle, and around the curve on Lombardi lived my Grandfather and Grandmother. Freedom Park was my backyard.
I remember moving to Kinston, NC somewhere around the age of three, and we lived in a huge white house that sat across from the end of Greenmead Dr. on Cunningham Road. The House was a two story, complete with wasps and mice. It sat on a very busy road which also led towards my dad's place of work, DuPont Chemical Co., which was on located on Greenville Hwy. We lived in this large house for a short while until dad moved us around the corner to 907 Candlewood Drive.
This house was much smaller, probably around 1000 sq. ft. It had three bedrooms, a living room, a small bathroom, and an eat in kitchen. There was a bay window and a small porch off the living room entrance where the milk box sat which, might I add, is not big enough for your little sister to sit in without having to have the fire department and the policemen shake her out of it.
This is where my earliest childhood memories begin that are the easiest to remember in complete vivid detail. The place where life lessons were not only fun to learn at times, but life lasting as well. In this house I learned that heating grates in the floor would burn the skin off of your feet. Matches caused huge fires and bunk beds were the cause of holes and scars in your bottom lip.
In this neighborhood I learned that snakes make people run into trees, and pee in their pants. Turtles bleed and die if you drop bricks on their shells, and old ladies make the best cookies in the world.
To this day, you can Google Earth this address and see the woods behind the house. In those woods we forged bike trails the would put BXM, 30 years later, to shame. In those woods we had forts that defended America from the "Chinks, Dinks, Japs, Krauts, Red Commie bastards and most especially the Indians."
I had one older brother when we moved to Candlewood Drive and gained two younger sisters. We were basically raised by our live-in maid Lucille, and taught life lessons by my dad.
We owned a Zenith BW TV that was pale green and cream colored that sat on a silver stand. It had rabbit ears and no remote. Dad had two remote controls though, one called Mike and the other called Chris. I learned from watching this TV, on November 22, 1963 that parents cry, and on February 9, 1964 some guys from Liverpool England invaded America and wanted to hold our hands.
My next door neighbor was a big kid named Randy Gaston or Gadsden I really didn't know how to spell back then, and down the road lived the Ballentines and Garners, maybe Gardners. Around the corner lived the Wagners. There was Dick and Ann, Mary Kay, Richard, and one or two more, I just can't remember 50 years later.
My first school was a private Catholic school that was on the corner of Old Snow Hill Road and Dixon Street. I went to kindergarten there which was combined with the first grade class and the Nuns wore penguin costumes and hats with wings. They smacked your knuckles with rulers EVERY time you lifted their costumes to look underneath.
We used to walk to school everyday. If you Google Earth this address today, you can see trails leading to the back of this school that have been walked into the earth for over 50 years. There seems to be a huge apartment complex where a big cornfield use to be, right off the SW corner of the wood line that ran along Candlewood Drive.
Travel further down Old Snow Hill Road and hang a right onto E. Highland Ave and go about 4 blocks. Here on the left, I learned that when your dad throws you or babies off the 10m springboard at the Community Swimming Pool, that used to be where Emma Webb Park is today, it is necessary to kick your feet, hold your breath, and paddle your arms all at the same time, or you will inhale a lot of water. It is also advisable to curl up into a little ball when you are falling or it hurts some times when you hit the water. At this pool I also learned that moms occasionally go swimming dressed in shorts, shoes, sunglasses and watches that were not waterproof at the time.
In this town we had a Sinclair Gas station and a Rexall Drug Store. People walked on the sidewalks and kids rode bicycles everywhere. Families went to the park together and the government made us walk through lines for sugar cubes, and needles that left ugly round scars on your arm or leg.
The purpose of this reflection was brought about yesterday when I actually sat back and thought about all the changes that have occurred through the years that have in a sense destroyed the great things that made growing up in America fun, and meaningful.
Jan and I walked around our new neighborhood this past month trying to meet our neighbors. We took a Birthday Card to an 86 year old lady who spent some time talking to us but who stayed on guard the entire visit.
We introduced ourselves to people working in their yard, or walking down the street. They were friendly enough, but it was easy to see that they were wary of the strangers that just started talking to them. I apologized to a neighbor when my dogs barked at him when he walked in the yard of the house he is renting. He ignored me and even was rude when I approached him. He waved me off like I was invading some precious space that nobody was allowed to tread.
What has happened to people in America? Where did the spirit of community go? Where did the idea and principals of being kind to your neighbor, and do unto others go? I am not sure, but I have to say I do not like what I see and I do not want to give up my mental images of a community, neighborhood, neighbor, or home that becomes part of youth, and helps to shape youth into the communities that we will all live in someday.
To correct the things that are wrong in our society it has to begin at home. Expanding to the neighbors, to the neighborhood, and finally to our communities as a whole. People just need to become more involved in community affairs and stop relying on someone else to handle the problems.
Parents need to buy their children bicycles and teach them to ride them responsibly. Stop taking your kids everywhere. Make them get out and walk, ride a bike and drink water from a hose pipe. Rather than buying an XBox 360 buy them a baseball and glove. Buy them a rope so long they have to get other kids in the neighborhood to help turn the rope.
Vote out busing kids to school. Let's get rid of the ugly ass yellow school buses and go back to community schools. If diversity and quality education becomes a problem in community schools, then bus quality teaches and schools supplies to the schools instead of children. It is safer and ads to a community by making parents and children more invested in their neighborhood school and community programs.
Above all watch the kids in your neighborhoods to protect them as they explore the world around them. They have important things to discover and they need to do it in a safe environment. Invest in parks, and community centers to give them a place to hangout in their free time.
Sure some are going to get in trouble but that is called growing up. Morals are not their responsibility to seek out and learn. It is the responsibility of the adults in the community and more especially at home to teach them these so they can pass them on to their children.
Bottom line America, if you want a kinder and gentler America, it starts at home and it starts with our children. At the same time it starts with your neighbor, your neighborhood, and your community.
Pete's Country Meats
I have to take a time-out here and plug a business. When we moved here to Rogersville in November, we spent a lot of time between the different grocery stores in our area trying to decide where we would buy most of our groceries. I am big on cooking, so meats have to be fresh and good quality. Within 2 months, we had taken meat back to our local supermarket that was simply rank. While shopping in this same supermarket for some staples, I overheard a woman say that she would not buy meat in this store again. I asked her where she bought her meat and she told me about Pete's Country Meats in Loretta, TN.
Jan and I tried a few items from Pete's one week and were amazed at how different the meat tasted and how fresh it looked. I have been buying meat now from Pete's for the past month exclusively, since the local market seemed to be unconcerned about its foul smelling and rank meats. For my friends that live in the this area of the State, I want to recommend Pete's Country Meats in Loretta, TN. The prices are lower than your local supermarket, and I assure you a hell of a lot fresher. You just take Hwy 101 N and cross over the State line. It will be about 3-5 miles North of the State line. Joel Peters is the owner and he makes you feel like he appreciates your business.
For a little over a year now, I have had some of the worst nightmares and an overwhelming feeling of guilt. On Feb. 16, 2011 we had a family meeting in Wake Hospital in Raleigh, NC to decide the fate of my mother. She had experienced some discomfort in her chest and was taken to the hospital several days earlier. The night she went into the hospital I was told she was alert and talking to people before they left for the night.
I was then told that some time during the night she was put on a ventilator and a coma was induced. I remember thinking this was insane. Mother laid in a coma for a few days and the family was told she would not recover to the point of living without a ventilator or even to come home. Mother was 72, extremely obese and in relatively poor health. Mother had made it clear in writing that she did not want to be kept alive by extraordinary measures like a ventilator. Many of the family members expressed their desire to just let her die within a few days. I was very much against this decision and even pissed a couple of siblings off when I did not agree and decided to argue in favor of giving mother time to fight whatever it was that was making her sick.
A few days passed and she continued to get worse. The doctor called and wanted to meet with the family again. We all came together and it was disclosed she had H1N1. According to the doctors her lungs were scarred so badly she would never be able to breathe on her own again. It was then decided that we should just let mother die. It was hard but I stood there and watched for 10 minutes as my mother's vital signs slowed and eventually the monitors announced that her heart had stopped beating. At one point, for about 5 seconds my mother opened her eyes and looked as though she was in distress and the look of panic was written all over her face. It is a memory that haunts me to this day.
I have always been an animal lover and never, have I ever made a decision to put an animal down nor have I made a decision to kill an animal, unless the animal was in pain or posed a danger to me or mine. (As a young kid I hunted for about 3 years until I came to the realization that I was actually taking a life. I had to quit.) However, I stood in a hospital room and made a conscience decision to basically put my mother to sleep.
I have not been able to overcome this guilt, but today I may have discovered the key I need to lock this guilt away. Out of desperation, I called my brother's ex-wife whom I have always loved. Trenessa in a weird sort of way is like a female Chris Massey. She is a very talented and knowledgeable nurse, who will tell you the truth even if it hurts your feelings. If you don't want to hear the truth don't ask Trenessa. Trenessa had come to the hospital during the time mother laid there in a coma. Trenessa had worked at Wake Medical in the past and was known by some of the staff. Trenessa at one point had gone to mother's room and started shaking her hard and talking to her rather loudly. Mother woke up long enough to answer some of our questions about whether she was in pain and she asked by writing on a napkin how her boyfriend of 15 yrs Larry "Mickey" Dail was doing. It made me believe that mother was being kept in a coma unnecessarily, and it gave me false hope of her being able to recover. Needless to say, this feeling was exacerbated when I saw how upset and pissed the medical staff had become when they asked us to leave mother's room so she could rest. I felt this was wrong not to bring her out of the coma long enough to tell her to her face that she was dying. To let her process the thought and to give her the conscience thought that might make her fight to live.
I wake up at night in a cold sweat two to three times a week with two different nightmares. In one I have overwhelming guilt for participating in the decision to let her die.
The second is my fear of becoming aware I am in a hospital being able to hear what people are saying around me but I am unable to communicate that I am okay. They are making the decision to just let me die. The nightmare develops into an overwhelming panic and I have honestly fallen out of bed twice in the past few months due to the sudden surge of panic and the fight or flight response taking control of my body and mind.
I have made Janit promise that she will force the hospital to do whatever it is they have to do to be able to look me in my eyes and say, "Chris you are dying. If you want to live you have to fight to breathe. You have to make an effort to show us you want to live." Give me what I thought until today was an option my mother was denied.
You see, Trenessa told me today that Shannon, Trenessa's daughter had been with mother the morning they made the decision to put her on a ventilator. I am told the doctors discussed with mother the possibility that she was not going to live through this illness, which at that time they had no idea what it was. It was three days before a culture grew and H1N1 was confirmed. All this time, I have believed mother was unaware of anything that was happening to her. All this guilt and pain could have been avoided if my family was not as dysfunctional as it is. All it took was this one person, that I love and trust, to fill in the blanks to at least ease the guilt I have been feeling for over a year now.
I know I have come to this conclusion from this experience. I will never again be in a discussion to decide life or death of a loved one. If ever my wife Janit becomes ill I will, unless she tells me differently, do everything in my power to make sure she has the ability to live another day. When I am unsure of what to do, I will excuse myself, go into my closet and pray to my God in silence for guidance, but i will not discuss with anyone the life or death decision of another human being.
Life is Perfect...Really?
I talked to an old friend last year whom I had not talked to in years. At the peak of our friendship we considered each other best of friends. Something must have happened that over time made us lose all touch with each other. Then one day I realized I was missing my old friend and I called him at home.
We talked for about 30 mins and seemed to enjoy catching up missed time together, then he said something that cut pretty deep. He said, "For the last few years my life has been perfect. I couldn't have ask for anything in my life that could have made it any better than what it has been."
I thought about what he said after we hung up and I didn't call him again. I didn't want to be responsible for making things in his life less than perfect. He obviously had just the perfect number and selection of friends and family to complete his life.
Last week I read where he died recently and I expected he had a perfect little ceremony for his service. However, I was told no one was present at his graveside service and that to me is very sad. I've decided I would opt for a flawed life, flawed friends, and a totally dysfunctional family. At least then when I die, I am almost assured that someone will come to my funeral, if for no other reason than to piss on my grave.
Bad nights sleep continued
I already stated that I had a bad night of sleep. Funerals and friends were on my mind all night. As you may have read I vented about the funerals. Now I want to vent about friends.
I have very few close friends in my life I always said that was a good thing. I am not so sure anymore. Friends and family can and will hurt you worse than anyone or anything else in this life. I have always had this underlying current in my soul that does not let me let go of the past. On Facebook I have more friends in my friends list that I haven't seen in 30 years than I have of the people that I see on a regular basis. Is this normal? Am I fucking insane? However, these people seem to have the same sort of undercurrent. We can connect on Facebook, or call one another and we can talk about shit as though we never lost touch. There are blank spots but not uncomfortable blank spots.
Just recently, I lost a few people in my life that I felt were friends. I met everyone of them online. Several of these people I have never met in my life but our acceptance of each other and trust in each others confidence was as comfortable as any other friendship I have had. I started thinking about it in my sleep and woke up mad as hell. I have been concerned that something I said or did helped or caused the end of our friendship and it very well may have. However, this is not a bad thing. Although it hurt a little, it was not a huge loss as I honestly didn't have any investment in these relationships . They were with people I have never met personally with the exception of one, and with people that never got the chance to actually get to know me as a person.
It made me feel a little better, but it also pissed me off that I had been trying to find a way to try and make amends of some kind. That I actually cared what these people thought of me and that they caused me to lose some sleep. When I was a much younger man, I had the most awesome "I don't give a shit attitude." I could end a friendship or relationship in the blink of an eye and I never cared nor regretted my decisions. Today though I am different. I understand that everyone has feelings and tolerances, and you can hurt and destroy both.
Friendships are important and knowing the difference between friends and acquaintances is also important. If you don't understand the difference you will end up losing a hell of a lot of sleep over people that aren't worth your time getting to know in the first place. I can honestly see another round of culling the friends list on Facebook occurring. I would do this so I can focus on the true friends I do have in my life and not worry so much about the acquaintances I have accumulated over the years.
I really had a shitty night of sleep, and woke up mad as hell. I was dreaming of funerals and how families are torn apart at the death of a loved one rather than being pulled closer together. I spent/wasted $3000.00 hiring a worthless piece of shit attorney in NC, to stop my sister, whom I still love and hate, from stealing and giving away everything my mother held dearly in her life. All of this because my mother the great CEO Entrepreneur/Lousy CFO, wrote her lawyer 6 months before she died cancelling a will that put everything into a trust for her boyfriend.
The act of destroying the will and not replacing it with another bothers me. My mother always had a will and often threaten everyone at one time or another that they would get nothing, even though she had little to give other than family items that had belonged to grandparents etc. All this did, when the family decided to put her to sleep, was create a huge problem for the family to sort out and it completely destroyed the relationship mom's boyfriend had with all members of the family. Needless to say he is now in bad health and no one gives a shit.
People if you love your family make preparations for your death because you are going to die. It is the price of this awesome ride that you are on that includes a trip around the sun. If you love your family take 30 mins to write out in your handwriting, and have two people witness that you wrote the document telling people what you want done with your mess when you die. If you love your family, and you have something to leave them when you die, appoint someone outside of the family to administer your estate. If you love your family, tell everyone out loud what kind of burial or service you want, your medical wishes, and your desires of your estate when you die. Stop using your estate like a weapon. When you're dead it will belong to attorney's and the State if you don't tell people what you want done with your things. You can spend your life making a fortune but it isn't worth shit if you don't take the time to protect it when you die. You may assume your spouse will get it all and you may assume your spouse will carry out your wishes but death is a trying time and there are people out there that profit from death and the confusion it creates. Make a will. If you don't know how, write your thoughts down on a piece of paper and have others witness it is your writing. Anything a Judge in a Court of Law can use to make sure your wishes were carried out. stop fooling yourselves into thinking you have time. The second you were born you began living on borrowed time. The clock is ticking and can stop at any time day or night.
Odds and Ends
The new weather alert radio is both a God send and a pain in the ass. I spent the night going from dreams of Roman Orgies to instant adrenaline laced heart attacks only to be informed that the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning in my area. Well doh. I mean the rolling thunder was actually the background music that was building up to the climax in my dreams you dumb asses. I mean really do you guys have nothing better to alert us about than the fact that you withdrew an alert, or you extended the alert in my area. I didn't sleep for crap all night on top of the fact that someone else got my spot and left me with just a wet spot in the dream.
Well the new furniture was delivered a few weeks ago and we love it. However, two days into bliss of having a soft seat in our house, the powered reclining sofa developed a popping and jerking motion I don't remember paying for. I called the furniture company and they sent a guy out last Saturday to look at the sofa. Turns out according to him the delivery guys are not supposed to carry the sofa assembled. He showed me how it comes apart, "If you ever have to move again!! I said hold on a second man. "Hey Jan come watch this guy take the sofa apart so if and when you decide to leave you know how to get the furniture out of the house." They ordered new gear stuff and will be fixing the problem in a week or so. I still say if you need new furniture check these guys out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hickory-Park-Furniture-Galleries/202063016295 they are awesome and stand behind their products.
Lastly, the coyotes are getting closer to the house. Every night I go outside with my dogs because I am not sure how aggressive these packs are. I fear for my cats but I don't know how to protect them anymore than I do other than bringing them back inside the house. This ain't happening anytime soon. If anyone has some ideas about this I would love to hear them. I need advice on how to make coyotes avoid my property like the plague. I could hunt or trap them I suppose but I don't like killing anything unless it is absolutely necessary. Excluding: SPIDERS, Flies, and gnats.
Traveling the back roads.
We went out today just riding no where in particular, and ended up in Minor Hill, TN. We ate some lunch at a small convenience store in town and headed out towards Pulaski, TN.
On the way we did a U-turn when we passed A.J.'s Antiques & Deer Processing. I have to say I have been in 100's of Antique shops and malls throughout the US but Dennis Kimbrough has some awesome antiques and a vast collection that any collector could appreciate. Although, most pieces are priced on the high side, he said he was willing to negotiate. That is my kind of place.
We really enjoyed the drive through the country and never got lost. We found the back way out of our neighborhood and went North. The farms and scenery were awesome. Even tho it was overcast all day, it was awesome. We stopped and purchased a weather alert radio which is pretty much a necessity in our part of the state.