Thursday, July 27, 2006

From the blog that dares to ask:

"Is it okay to stare at a hot woman's heiny when she is working the Stairmaster in front of you?"

These and other hard hitting investigations to follow. Needless to say, the above rhetorical rhetoric implies that I am back in the gym. I loves me the gym. I am doing the cardio, which basically means wheezing and sweating, but also catching up on some light reading. Current book: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I read it months ago when it came out, but burned through it so quickly to find out "who died" that I remember very little of the actual book.

I start with about a half hour on the treadmill, a half hour on the elliptical and a half hour on the exercise bike. On the treadmill and the exercise bike, I can read, and be gleeful. On the elliptical, I cannot read my book, as all of my limbs are a pumping away, thus allowing my mind, and apparently my eyes, to wander.

In my efforts to not paste the young lady's derriere with my ocular focus, I started daydreaming and looking around the gym. I looked at the bank of televisions mounted just a little too far away for me to read the closed captioning, but the point of the current commercial ad was clear. The new notebooks were coming out!

Forget the notion that it is far too early for that kind of thing, as I have already seen fall fashions and Halloween supplies in the local stores. No, dearest reader, remember that we were daydreaming, and my mind immediately wandered to one of the lifelong regrets of my adolescent life. That I had never owned a Trapper Keeper notebook.

Oh, how I longed for the Trapper Keeper. Its minimal amount of paper, its multicoloured folders, its trapping and or keeping prowess would surely turn me from the disinterested unfocused geek that I was into the most amazingly smart and handsome MAMS (Man About Middle School) that I wanted to be. But alas, it was not to be.

Everyone had Nikes, we had Pumas, everybody had Levi's, we had Wranglers, everyone had these big fat plastic combs. I didn't even know where you could buy them. They were ridiculous times, but I wanted that notebook.

And then it hit me. I currently don't have the best of anything in the material, consumer arena. I do, of course, have the BEST Wyfe, and the BEST friends ever. Sorry to disappoint, but my Wyfe and friends are red-hot, and yours ain't doodly squat. Returning focus on the material, I don't drive a swanky car, live in an expansive demense or own the bleeding edge technology. I look back on my upbringing and the travesty that was visited upon me by not being able to have the Trapper Keeper and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Son of a Gun, not having those things actually BUILT CHARACTER!!!

Jerks! How dare they! It dawned on me that I didn't need multi coloured folders and binders to organize my life, that I currently don't need the latest phone, camera, printer or Mac to get things done. Maybe they taught me to be a low expectation having slacker, but maybe they taught me to be happy with what I do have. Its was tough to think the final ramifications through, as that spandex bouncing bottom before me coupled with my imminent blackout from energetic elliptical exertions kept me from doing much soul searching, but there you go. Think about this one yourselves.

Oh, and Dumbledore dies at the end of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. So there.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Chrononaught has Returned

And he is safe as houses.

The reunion was an amazing success, from this writers' perspective. Friday night found us driving the almost eleven hours to Rhode Island in relative comfort and ease, arriving at 3:30 a.m. or so. Yes, there was some snarkiness, but the Goodely and I had kind of a rough week, so there was bound to be trouble double.

With that behind us, and checking into the recently flooded but still mouldering smouldering Nicholson Suite at the The Shining hotel, I found myself awake at 7:30 am or so, no alarm necessary thank you very much, so much was my excitement. I rushed to Cousin Marc's room, where I played with his kids and tried to rush everyone out the door as soon as the Goodely Wyfe arrived, following in the trail of kicked up dust and mold that was all which was left in the wake of my rampant enthusiasm.

Well deserved, by the way! The events were wonderful, and varied. I have the feeling of Saturday being one of the longest days of my life, but long in a fun, fun way!

The main point I want to get out here today is not how swanky my college got (it got WAY swanktified) or how beautiful and underappreciated by me at the time the surrounding towne of Bristol, Rhode Island is. No, what I really want to get out is something that comes at a good time for the RobbyBlog. The reinforcement of the subtitle of this very blog.

"An ordinary life well lived."

This point was really brought home in my response to the obvious question that I really had no preparation for, but should have assumed was coming.

"So, Robert, what have you been doing for the last fifteen years?"

And I just kind of looked blankly back, all puppy style, with no answer.

No, I haven't climbed the Matterhorn or created my own earthship rammed earth tire house or have been published in any periodicals. Yes, I have seen the Grand Canyon, the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica, and went on a double date with the Pidgeon Sisters to San Francisco. I have fallen in love, the most noble of all goals, and have passed through times when I thought that love was lost. Yes, I have held the hearts and hands of many people during periods of intense mourning, the most shocking of course being the death of the three year old son of one of the aforementioned Pidgeon Sisters, and the most touching and sad being the passing of their Grandmother. I have met wonderful people, stars of stage, stars of their own personal limelight. I have performed, spectated, and lived...well.

To sum up an ordinary life well lived over the course of a decade and a half cannot happen over a hotdog and a beer at the reunion picnic. It cannot be quantified or qualified at the fancy dinner, nor can it be related to folks during barhopping to Gillary's. All one can do is kind of nod, give a wry smile, and reply with a simple,

"Oh, you know, about the usual stuff, and yourself?"

And with that, you kind of realize that this person across from you has been on their own amazing and varied journey through the ages. They have also loved, lost, explored both outside and in, connected, been disconnected and has been a part of all the life changing events that you have been through. You then form a silent connection that bonds you together again.

And guess what? On some level, this person across from you took YOU with them on their journey, just as you took them on yours. You don't travel Spacehip Earth alone, you take everyone you have ever met with you. I took some physical objects on my journey, of course...Richard's bowtie for example and the kind words written down by Chris in my final crit. I also took Mike's (Frank's) amazing and open friendship, Ron's brusque honesty and the support and kindness of my entire graduating class. I didn't realize that until I saw them all again. I feel a bit of obligation to them, as I move forward now to the next decade and a half. They have a bit of me with them now, a clearer, more updated piece of me that they will think about from time to time as they live their "ordinary" (I say extraordinary!) lives.

Remember this when you reconnect with people, and also when you meet them for the first time. On some level, they will take you, and their experience of you, with them on their journey through time and space. What kind of companion do you want to be for them? I know who I want to be, and I enter this next phase of my life with renewed vigor to be that person for you all.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time traveling Yet Again...

I have this friend, let's say for the sake of anonymity, his name is Cavid Dopeland. Cavid is a great guy, I love him to death, and he is one of the most serene and "hep cat" like characters I have ever met. He might be the last person in the world to tell you how cool he is, but that puts the cool factor up a few notches, doesn't it?

Cavid spends a lot of our time together walking down memory lane, reminiscing if you will, about things that were done, things that could have been done better, and things that were also done better but not quite as better as the other things that were done slightly better than not done at all. Kickboxing, ever heard of it?

I think about Cavid as I ponder this weekend's activities. I am going to my (gasp) 15 year College reunion. Now, like the "so hip you can hardly see his pelvis" (1) Cavid Dopeland, I also like to reminisce, but my stories are typically from the recent past, and anything referenced to college or before is coloured with "oh, one time, a thousand years ago in college, we..." and whatever comes after. Add to all of this the fact that I never go back to ANYWHERE that I have made connections for any reason, and well, you can see where I might have some bittersweet anticipation or even anxiety about this trip.

All at once, I am H.G.Wellsing it through time and place in the old gooey mass that is my brain. I see college as being SO long ago, but at the same time, the lessons I learned there (all out of the classroom, btw...I barely graduated! ssshhh..don't tell anyone) are still so vital and powerful in me that the slightest hint of association brings forth the emotions and impressions of that time so powerfully, I feel like that same young 20 somethings screwball kid that I was at the time.

Do the math, as in a few weeks I will be a 38 year old screwball kid still trying to make his way in this crazy mixed up world. Do I really want to tour the campus where I loved, laughed, cried, created and hacky sacked my way through 5 years of my life? Do I want to do all of this with the Goodley in tow? She is by far the best thing that ever happened to me, but she happened after this era of my life. I get the impression that I will be acting like a tourguide for her and for my Cousin Amy (now married to an ex college buddy) as we walk through a section of the museum of Robbyblogs' life. How much will I leave out? Those of you that know me understand I have almost no discretionary prowess, and then again, why would I leave anything out? Certainly I cannot be blamed for "grabbing two cocktail waitresses and pulling a Fredo" (2) while at college, as I didn't even know that the concept of the Goodely Wyfe existed. But we shall see what stories are told and when.

I know I never told you all about my Chicago trip (which was fabulous, thank you very much) but I will try my best to let you know how the reunion goes. I am sure, like everything else is life, it will go much better than I expect. One day, I will actually expect things to be great, and they will be, and on that day, I am buying the drinks!

(1) Douglas Adams, Zaphod Beeblebrox referring to himself. Other appropriate quotes include "I am so cool, you could store meat in me for weeks.", and "I find cooler things than you in my breakfast cereal."

(2) Was this Vince Vaughn from Swingers? Referencing of course, the character Fredo from the Godfather

Monday, July 10, 2006

Men, you really have to love us...

The Goodely Wyfe had a little party for all her young and hot coworkers this weekend, and we all sat and drank and ate and chatted on the Front Porch. I capitalize that because it deserves it. The Front Porch, or Frontizzle Pozizzle, as the kids never say, has become our favourite place in the house, and was lovely and wonderful as one could imagine.

But I am not here to talk about the Front Porch, but more about something that was said and discussed ON the Front Porch. We had just finished eating, and one of the young lovelies said to me, "Robert, the burgers were excellent, thank you!" To which I promptly replied "You are very welcomed." As my usual polite knee jerk reaction.

But then I paused, ever so slightly, before launching into the following diatribe:

"You know, we men really have got it going on. Seriously, all we do is make a big, big deal out of the easiest and most innocuous tasks imaginable. What, grilling and minor home repair and fishing are so difficult? My dear, I will have you know that my Goodely Wyfe wrote the recipe, went to the store and bought ingredients, mixed, spiced, mangled and separated each patty into precise 1/4 pound portions, each one then hand crafted, lovingly, using the finest Old World Craftsmanship before placing them on a plate, wrapping them with plastic, and chilling them until go time. Speaking of go time, she also came in, told me when it was time to light the grill and when we should eat.

For my part, I basically went into the yard, slapped them onto the grill, and played with my dog for a little while. After chasing the stick, I went back, flipped said patties, and played with the dog some more. After that, the Goodley came back out with a new plate, I scooped the patties off the grill, and she took them inside. For this, my major part in the procedure, you thank me?"

Yes, I do talk a lot, frequently all at once, and perhaps I had prepared this speech while I was playing with the dog, but the point is clear. Grilling, regardless of what has been told to any of you by anyone, is probably the easiest thing in the whole wide world. So is minor home repair, but after any "typical" male does something like wave a chicken breast at a grill or replace a light fixture, we strut and crow like we just untied the Gordian Knot or beat Stephen Hawkin(g)s in Suduko.

And you know what, ladies? You had better darned well offer up the proper level of over exaggerated praise for your mighty fire cooker and home repair barbarian. There is so little left for us "typical" men to actually conquer that should the little victories not be praised mightily, it could lead to things like Corvette convertibles and hootchie mommas. Save us all the embarrassment, would you please?

Not a sermon, just a thought.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I have joined the crew of the S.S. Weight Watcher!

Ahoy me hearties!

I have signed up with the Weight Watcher's organization in a further attempt to curtail my policy of ever increasing global expansion. The little old lady that set me on my first steps was delightful, helpful and heck, she even guaranteed success, so you can't really sneeze at that! I was going to make her sign that guarantee in blood, using her "real" name, but she seemed like such a decent sort, I will reserve such dire and arcane methods for another time.

So, dear readers, and those who know me, see if any of this sounds familiar: They gave me a rulebook, a sheet of blank lines where I have to create a resource allocation system, and we have weekly meeting to discuss how the system is working. I felt like we were gaming! It was all too familiar, and fun to try to "break" this game system of caloric intake.

Honestly, I thought at one point if I could add a helping of green beans, I could then take the third level of the Dietary Fiber Discipline, allowing me to attain the Status of "He Who Still Eats Bacon", a coveted position in the milieu, to be sure. I am fully immersed in the 24 hour / 7 Day Diet LARP with thousands of people all across the country.

The system, of course is unfamiliar to me. "Cooking" even something as simple as a smoothie resulted in our kitchen looking like the vanilla banana version of a Jackson Pollack painting, were Mr. Pollack also a speed freak. Sealing gasket? Who needs a sealing gasket? Apparently we all do, at different times, one of those times being, of course, during the creation of the smoothie. The maintenence and structure of our Kitchen is a responsibility which falls squarely on the sturdy but shapely shoulders of the Goodely Wyfe, so I hereby apologize to her for the devastation I suspect is only just beginning. Perhaps I will master the blender...perhaps not.

Bringing lunch to work is going to be awful as far as I can tell, as previously my lunch hours were wondrous culinary adventures of shopping, frivolity and spending. Obviously my waistline and bank account will benefit from restraint, but restraint has never been my long suit, and staying in the office to eat my little sandwich just doesn't seem like "me". Perhaps I can knock back my sandwich and go sit in the bookstore or something. We shall see.

I make no mention of alcohol intake at this time, as I can't bring myself, just read on, and leave me with my grief...

So there you go, the lazy days of my hummy summer with be played against the counterpoint of baseline control of fat grams and food point allocation. With any luck though, I will be raking leaves in the Fall with my shirt off, driving the neighborhood Goodleys wild with my new physique. One can only hope!