Cool Stuff

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Strange food related stuff

Not sure where this comes from but once in awhile I wake up in the morning craving Won Ton Soup?! What the Hell? Strange, I know but geez it sounds so good right now.

I also have gotten into some nasty eating habits in the last few months like having a soda in the morning after coffee and eating ice cream at least once a day.

Seems kind of ridiculous to put so much energy into physical fitness then still continue to get chunky 'round the middle because I have lousy eating habits.

It's either I'm into healthy eating and no exercise or the opposite of exercise and eating like crap. Hmmmm, I think I need to do a little bit of re-org to my lifestyle here. I just want to feel healthy again.

So we start today...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A good day for Goodwill

In my old life as an idiot, I really did not have good sense when it came to spending $$. I had a great job and did OK in the $$ department. If I wanted something, I bought it and was not really the type to do much shopping around, unless it was a major purchase like a house or car. I spent a great deal of money I could have saved if I had just taken a bit of time to do a little leg work shopping for a deal or better price but no...I had better things to drink, er do. Find me in a Goodwill store?! No fucking way.

Well, times change, 'ya know. I basically lost everything of value to drink and drugs and though I am doing well now, my sense of value has drastically changed...for the better too!

I had some time to kill tonight before at meeting so a friend and I stopped to check out the Goodwill Store in town. Lots of cool shirts for $2 and $3, clean and in really good shape. I was finding all soerts of cool stuff when Kim walked over with a leather jacket, black WWII fighter Pilot style like brand new for $29! I couldn't believe it and at first I thought it had to be fake...Nope, 100% genuine leather from Wilson's Leather. And the best part of this whole thing is it fit me perfectly.

I know, I know...I have typically gotten away from any kind of impulse buying but frankly, this was just too cool. Hey, it had to be my was right there, just like that. So that beautiful leather baby is hanging in my closet as I speak, uh type. Right next to it is one of my old leather coats, a different style but similar in type and size that I paid over $200 1993!! Now Kim says she'll buy it off me if I change my mind so shit...I win either way.

Whoa, life can really be a trip when it pulls the good kind of surprises, eh?!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I don't really know how to begin...where do I start? Friends, people I care about. Unfortunately I was one of those people who just gave lip service to the word friends. I took 'em for granted , not realizing how incredibly valuable true friendship really is. That is of course until one day I realized that I had no friends...

I chased them all away...made life so fucking unbearable that even those folks who really loved me and cared about me had to cut me loose for their own sanity and health. I resented that then of course. Traitors, bastards..assholes! How dare they turn there back on me! I'll show ' killing me. One drink and drug at a time. Until one day, life was so unbearable and I hated me so much that I couldn't be patient and wait for the booze/drugs to do it so i tried to kill myself. Spent over a week in a coma and when I woke up...I was devastated that once again I had failed.

That day my life changed forever. Slowly over the better part of four years things have come back around.I got sober/clean, healthier and my god, happier! I've learned that fewer things are more important or special then relationships...especially true friendships. I'm fortunate today to have good friends..hell I probably don't deserve 'em!

I just woke up this morning feeling very grateful for the special people that I have in my life today, I'm a very fucking fortunate human being....

Friday, March 19, 2010


I have to at least mentioned the Purdue Boilermaker Basket Ball team who won their first round game today against Sienna. After losing one of their best players near the end of the regular season to injury, nobody has given them any chance at all to win games in the tournament. Well, that's why they play the down!

Monday, March 15, 2010

NDND (New Dawn New Day)

A new dawn, a new day. Getting up really early, before first light happens to be my favorite part of the day. I realize I'm probably in the minority here. I can't really explain it but being up and aware at the very crack of a new day, experiencing that intense stillness before centers and energizes me. It always has in a way but now even more so.How can one gain energy from the quiet stillness of early morning? I'm not sure but I know that I feel so in tune with everything happening inside me as well as around me. My awareness sharpens and I enjoy experiencing life that focused in on what's happening at that moment.

That can happen for me at other times of the day as well but I seem to be more able to focus early in the morning. Perhaps just the lack of distractions but I have always found my own brain to be my biggest distraction so it really shouldn't matter what time of day it is....

Any way, now that I'm, all fired up and focused in I'm ready to begin my Monday. I'm excited because I get to attend a presentation today by one of my favorite current authors: Bich Minh Nguyen. She wrote "Stealing Buddha's Dinner" which is a wonderfully written memoir on her growing up as a young immigrant in Grand Rapids MI after her family had to flee Viet Nam after the fall of Saigon in the Mid Seventies. It's a great storie written from the perspective of a young girl who is experiencing a whole new world...she might have just as well landed on Mars.

 I was drawn to it originally because she was from Grand Rapids. I spent 25 years in Holland MI which is near by and worked with quite a few of the Vietnamese refugees who came here just as her family did. So it added a unique opportunity to see the world from their perspective coming from a Buddhist world to the world of the Christian Reformed Dutch who were the majority presence in that area then and now. It was a class to two distinctly different cultures and I found it facinating at the time and I still do today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doc said...

Forgive me if I seem a bit agitated, I am. Just spent the better part of two days in hospital, Early Friday my Heart had a bit of issue and I felt like I couldn't breathe. Oh yea, that was boat loads of fun, waking up and feeling like I am being suffocated. I could not get my breath and it felt like I had a car sitting on top of my chest. Of course I'm here by myself, out on the island through the winter.

Only a person who currently doesn't have health insurance (and just worked his ass almost to death to pay off ALL his debt) would wake up from that and go "umm, well if I don't start breathing normally in half an hour, I'll go to hospital! Ach, pretty dumb, eh?!? Well I didn't start breathing normally and I got really fucking scared so I drove the 25 minutes to town. can drive on and off it.

After 2 days of constant testing, poking and prodding, they sent me home with a hellacious headache from the Nitro they gave me to relieve the chest pressure and bring down the blood pressure.  They don't have a diagnosis but I will admit I felt better about going in. I have come too far to  die now, not when I have a choice today......

One of the Docs in the ER told me that is a huge problem with the health insurance mess, people choose to not spend the $$ or go in debt....and they die. Doc says they see it all the time where people suffer needlessly. That sucks....

I'll be honest, I'm not thrilled with the way this health care deal has been handled by the current administration but I sure wish we could find a reasonable way we all could have insurance. I worked for my last company for 24 years and lost my job. I self paid my own insurance for 3 years at $325 a month. So I'm not some guy who hasn't worked or tried to handle my own health care yet I find myself w/out insurance for's hard.

I'm not trying to get in the middle of this health care chaos, it's very emotional for a lot of people...I just wanted to share my story of someone who is w/out insurance at the moment who had really been trying to do this on his own. There is not going to be an easy answer to this question and I wish I could say I had some sort of solution. I guess my hope is that we keep a level head about what is really important, people's lives and well being and try to work it out.

Today, when I got home from the hospital I had a letter informing me that after over 4 yrs my disability came through and I will have insurance very soon. It might well be retro to October 2005 so it could help me some with this. Any way, it's been another 3 very interesting days on the planet....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm a walkin'...

I do find it funny that  as soon as we get a couple of 50 degree days here in Michigan, I've got all my shorts unpacked and the screens in already. I'm afraid I'm being just a tad bit optimistic...

Honestly, I have just become so accustomed to being outside and even though I did walk all winter it's just more pleasant w/the warmer temps.

Well, time to walk...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ghost Rider

I really like to read....a good time for me is having a spare hour to fold into a good book and let it take me away. I read non-fiction for the most part, history, biography, memoir...I enjoy all of it. Though I couldn't begin to recall how many books I have read to date or create a top ten list, there are a few that do stand out.

One book in particular has had a rather profound effect on me, especially considering this starting my life over again bit I wrote about in my last blog. Interestingly enough the book was written about 10 years ago by the drummer of the rock band, Rush...Neil Peart. It's called "Ghost Rider: Adventures on the Healing Road".

Around 1997-98 Neil lost his 19 year old daughter Serena in an auto accident as she was returning to college in Toronto from their home in Quebec. Within a year, his wife was diagnosed with and died of cancer but he is convinced that in reality, she died of a broken heart.It is a harrowing tale of the horror of losing most everyone you care about in the blink of an eye. Basically he emotionally shuts down.

For the better part of the next two years, he rode his BMW1150 motorcycle all over North, Central and South America by himself. It was his way to try and work through the devastation of his now crumbled world. He kept a journal and wrote long, expressive letters to his best friend who happened to be in an American jail for trying to bring pot over the border into Canada. These writings form the basis for this book.

I first read this book when it first came out and was quite moved by it. But it wasn't until I read it a second time in 2006 that it had a profound affect on me that continues to this day.

See I had just gotten the previous couple of years my life had crumbled as well: my wife divorced me, I was incapable of working, I had destroyed most if not all of the relationships that had been meaningful to me and in the end I had tried to take my own life. Even in that I had failed....

That was the turning point for me, at that moment I became determined to live again. That was about the time I re-read Ghost Rider. Though the specifics of our stories were quite different, Neil lost the two people who he loved the most through no fault of his own and my alcoholism/addiction destroyed everything I had come to care about or love. Still, I could totally relate to the devastating feelings of loss and loneliness he expressed in that book. The loss of faith in all that was good, the questions that eat at one's soul that can never truly be answered in this lifetime. One must just decide to push on, in my case just for the sake of pushing on.

He endured it, survived it,learned from it and came to live and to love again because of it. His story gave me hope that I too could escape this terrible darkness that had descended down on me and my life. If the Ghost Rider could find a way to live again, then hell I could too.

The Race...

I have had some things going round in my head for quite some time, heavy, personal stuff, self defining type things that I never have really been able to deal with before. As a result, those thoughts continue to haunt me and yea, trouble me to this day. I am tired of being defined by who I was or I thought I was. Jesus, all I want to the end is me. The real me (sorry borrowed that from Quadrophenia). But it does matter, I don't like pretending to be something I'm not. Problem was that for years I didn't have a clue who I was or what I wanted to be as a person.

For a long time I tried to please people at the expense of myself. I couldn't even begin to explain all the details of what I am referring to here, let's just say that I obviously did not have a positive feeling about who or what I was. I always remember, even  as a young boy feeling inadequate, somehow I just didn't measure up. No one told me these things...but the little birdie in my head did, repeatedly. Even when I was successful at something, I felt like a failure.

This low self opinion filtered into every bit of my being and certainly influenced how I related with others and with life in general. I lived a lie. I hated who I was and what I felt I represented.Yet it was impossible for me to just be myself, too risky I suppose to let that guard down. I thought others must have known how I felt but as time has passed I have realized that most of this stuff played out in between my own ears.

I many ways my life spun out of control fueled by alcoholism/addiction....a lot of the things that I had come to rely on for stability were lost. Relationships being the most important. Material things can be is much harder to rebuild destroyed relationships, to re-build trust. I realize now that no matter what my intentions were, I could not show love, compassion, understanding and affection to another if I could not have those feelings for myself. It 'tis a cliche about not being able to love another if you can't love yourself but I found that to be quite accurate in my own life.

I have joked for as long as I can remeber about being the type of person that always had to learn lessons the hard wasn't really a joke. In the end, my life was stripped to to the bare essentials....I had only myself, the man staring me back in the mirror. I started from there, looking at myself with no filter at all, I learned for the first time about who I really was and that believe it or not, I was a good guy, a decent, caring loving human being. I did not need to pretend to be anything other then what I was. The real me....

I built a new life (still building it actually, that process will end at the precise moment I die) on that foundation of honesty and trust in the belief that it is never too late to begin living again or start over. I'm enjoying the journey now, each and every day. Life? No, it's not a box of fucking chocolates, not by a long shot. It can really, really, hurt sometimes but there is a joy in being present in my own life for a change. That is a hard concept to explain to others who haven't experienced you can go through life and feel as if you are not participating in your own day to day existence. I was just surviving, day after bloody day.

I spent so much energy building walls around myself, to try and "protect" myself, never for a moment realizing that I was missing out on one of life's greatest gifts...relationships with others.  So it is a new day, everyday to build something real, to be a part of the planet, a part of the race....the human race.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Meat grinder

The sky above me reflects my pain, reminds me of my, the innocence that is no longer a part of this young lad. A wounded soldier now, crowded on a rail platform somewhere in France. As I gaze to my left and to my right, as far down the siding as I can see our wounded men, crowded on litters, just like me.

The trip away from the trenches is but a shadow, a faint dear mother talking to me all the way. Telling my I was much too handsome to was not time for that now and I must, must hold on. I held on...through the rain, the shelling, the long waits in shattered trenches for new troops to move forward so they could then bring us, the no longer useful, the burden, the wounded back out of the way of their progress. Ach, bloody fucking inch at a time and a gallon of blood per inch at's criminal.

So many lads didn't survive the journey out of the line. When they died the stretcher bearers stacked there corpses in abandoned trenches and headed back up the line for more wounded...never a shortage of wounded, no sir. The meat grinder was working over time, the shelling never really stopped, just paused for a while then picked up intensity at another spot in the line.

That journey of what, a mile total, out of the line to a rear area where we were loaded on carts to a dressing station took most of a whole day. No food, little water, no medical treatment...I wanted to die right there. But mum kept reminding me to hang on, that I would soon be home, home to Blighty...that Island I love.

My memory is still faint and that time seems so far away, though it was only days ago. I miss my are they? Are they alive....have they gotten out of the line and do they get replacements. I feel ashamed, that I've let them down by getting wounded....The doctor just left me...he said that indeed I am going back to Blighty, er England for medical treatment and convalescence.

Think of that, in a short day or two I shall board a transport for England and months of hospital and leave. I have no idea what to expect when I get there for I have been at the front for a very long time. I fear that my dear father won't recognize me now nor my sisters who have prayed for the day that I might come home. Though the thought of family makes me feel good I do feel sad for my dear mum won't be there to see me home. Seems the day I was wounded my dear mother passed away after a long bout of cancer....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Captain Thomas Hart Benton Correll

I had reason to go through some of the historical family heirlooms that have been entrusted to me by my grandmother and her sisters the other day. The most interesting piece is a Union Army Captains uniform worn by my Gr Gr Gr Grandfather Thomas Hart Benton Correll.

Thomas enlisted as a private in Co B 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Massillon Ohio on August 30, 1862. That very day, the Battle of 2nd Bull Run (or Manassas) was taking place in Virginia. It would be a great Confederate victory, Robert E Lee leading the rebels over the Army of the Potomac commanded by General John Pope. It was part of a series of Federal disasters on the eastern front of the war, finally stopping in July of the following year (1863) at a the little Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.

Of courser Thomas would have no idea this was happening as he enlisted, news traveled very slowly in those days. He was just a patriotic farmer, stood 5'11" tall and he was doing his duty. He stayed with the 104th Ohio until March of 1864 seeing action at Cumberland Gap, Knoxville and Stones River.

On March 30, 1864 he mustered out of the 104th and accepted a commission as a 1 Lt (later a captain) in the 1st US Heavy Artillery as commander of Company H. He served out the war in various assignments with the 1st US Heavy Artillery.

He was one of four known relatives that served the Union in the Civil War. Looking over that uniform today, it just blows my mind that he wore that heavy wool suit of clothing in the field during the war. The craftsmanship is remarkable and it is in wonderful condition, considering it is almost 150 yrs old. Of course they would not have worn the epaulets on the shoulders during combat, that was for formal occasions but would have worn the sash and in addition he would have carried a sword as well.

Thomas was married during a leave from the front in late 1864 and spent the years  after the war back in Ohio where he lived until 1908.

I have always been facinated with history. My journey in history began as a young boy, sitting upstairs at my grandmothers home In West Lafayette Indiana  reading The American Heritage Civil War book she had with many other books in an antique bookcase. I couldn't put those books down and with that began a life long love of books, history and an appreciation for what happened in our past and why that past is so important in understanding what is happening in the world today. My Grandma just adored the fact that I was interested and it was at her insistence that I became the keeper of the uniform that belonged to her Great Grandfather Correll who she vaguely remembered being only 8 years old when he died.

I feel as strongly today as I ever have of the importance of remembering that many people sacrificed a lot, many giving their lives so I could live in a country like ours. It is not perfect, but it is an amazing Democracy that guarantees freedom for it's citizens and that freedom was paid for in blood and sacrifice.

I think of the Civil War, it is incredible to think that we were once at war with each other. I can't imagine what those young men and boys must have thought as they signed up that August day in 1862. Thomas was 21 years old at the time and had never been away from the farm or his family. At the time he enlisted the so-called romance of war was gone, Battles like Shiloh. Bull Run and The Seven Days Campaign had been fought with horrific casualties on both sides. He knew he might never come home...the same feeling our service men and woman have felt as they were heading to France in 1917, to Europe and the Pacific in the 1940's, to Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Balkans and now the Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet they go. It blows my mind...and I for one am grateful.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Let the sunshine....

I know this just doesn't sound right but most of the time I don't like the sun. It annoys me, hurts my eyes. Give me a nice overcast day over a bright and sunny one anytime. This is not a popular view, particularly in sun starved Michigan and specifically at this time of year when people are tired of the short, dark days and snow. I do think a big part of it is physical, I'm sensitive to bright light but some of it is maybe I've come not to like extremes. Bright sun, particularly on snowy ground is extreme.

I do accept it though but I have to laugh at the reaction of so many of my friends here in MI when the sun shines...they beg for summer and whine about the cold. Hell the whining starts in October, when the world is at it's most beautiful, leaves full of color, the sky full of big, beautiful Autumn clouds. I guess that is part of the annoyance....the sun worshiping aspect of all this. So many people would rather just have it warm and sunny year round yet live in a part of the country where we experience all 4 seasons to their fullest!

Hey, I have no problem if you like warm weather...go live in Florida or Arizona then. OK I know, I'm being a bit harsh.Complaining about the weather goes back to the beginning of human existence, I'm sure. It's normal, acceptable and 'ya know, it's probably the #1 way to make small talk...bitch about the weather.

I suppose that my philosophy lately of acceptance has influenced my opinion here a bit. I try to take things as they are...not as I wish they were. I lived in a world of unrealistic expectations for so long that I've found that for me, it's important to stay in the reality of the moment and accept things as they are. Even if I don't like them that way and want to change them, I still need to start with a basic acceptance of reality in which to begin any change. This works for me and I'm not saying that anybody else has to see it this way...whatever gets you through your life and reality, go with it.

Alright, once again I write to do my own weather related bitching and I'm off on a tangent about my personal philosophy of acceptance....uh, sorry. Once again, welcome to the world between my ears, Ach.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I have a rule when it comes to visiting Harley Dealerships: No sitting on a scoot that there is no way in hell I can possibly buy.Why, you ask? Because when I do, I lose all sense of reason and "think" only with my heart. It has been a wise rule and frankly has worked effectively as of late when things have been very tight financially. I go, walk around....enjoy looking at the different bikes, dream a little bit then leave. I usually enjoy the experience though I feel a tad melancholy at not being able to seriously consider getting a Harley again.

So all was going well w/my world and plan until the other day. I accompanied a friend to the Cement City MI Harley Dealership in the beautiful Irish Hills as he went to put a deposit on his new bike, A silver 2010 Electra Glide Classic...a stunning machine.

As he took care of his business, I roamed the floor checking out all the bikes, feeling fine until I came across Red. Red is what I call the most beautiful Harley that I have ever seen. A Scarlett Red 2010 Street Glide. Typically, Street Glides were not a scoot I cared for much. Something about just didn't seem right. I don't know what happened but I was astounded by this bike. I moved on looking at the other bikes but I kept circling back to this one, like half a dozen times. My friend Chuck walked over and of course he started telling me it was the perfect scoot for me...blah, blah, blah. Just the stuff I wanted (but didn't need to) hear. His girlfriend Connie said I should sit on it, then she could tell if it was the bike for me. Of course I explained THE RULE about not sitting on a bike I couldn't by. All the time I did Chuck was rolling his eyes because he has heard this before of course and I'm sure Connie thought I'd lost my mind!

Anyway, we were headed out the door on the opposite end of the shop from Red when before I knew what happened, I walk all the way over there and before I can put up any kind of fight...I'm sitting on the most amazing scoot I've ever seen. They had to pry me off the darn thing to get me to leave...

Needless to say, I violated the rule and now I don't get a moments peace. I've spent countless hours on the Harley website looking at that bike, thinking about it all the time. I bought a lotto ticket for tomorrow night, not something I usually do but basically it would be the only way I could afford that freakin' bike!! I've completely lost my mind, thinking, dreaming talking about the motorcycle constantly. I think even my buddy Chuck now sees why I had the rule!

Well, I unleashed the beast so now I have to deal with it.....