Resolutions Revisited

As I nurse a tryptophan-induced turkey hangover, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the past year. Specifically, I thought I should check in how I have done with my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015.  Yes.  I actually remember them.

1. Start a blog

You’re reading it.  Check

2. Run a marathon in under four hours.

Read this.

3. Get off my sleep medication

For the past few years, I have struggled with insomnia.  At least five nights/week, I would go to bed at 11:00, get up at 2:00AM, go back to bed around 5:00AM and get up at 6:00.  It was brutal. In case you were wondering, there is absolutely nothing going on at 3:30AM on a Tuesday.  Even Facebook is dead.  Seriously, how am I supposed to know what coffee cups are offensive, that I am going to hell for supporting a cause, or that my belief system makes me a fascist?  With nobody trying to fix me with snarky memes, posters, or comments that they are only brave enough to make from behind a keyboard how was I to pass the time? I tried all the sleep tricks I learned in grad school and took enough OTC sleep aids that they didn’t faze me.  I finally gave up and began taking a prescription sleep aid and it worked wonders. However, after a couple years, I made it a goal to get some of my personal issues under control so that I could get off the pills.

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On top of the “Fresh Rants” journal that my wife gave me so I would shut up and leave her alone, is 1/2 of one my sleep pills.  That pill has been sitting there three weeks.  I do not wake up with my mind racing, I do not stress about stuff, when I screw something up with people I try to fix it to the best of my ability and then I let it go.  I sleep.  For the first time in 18 months, I generally sleep through the night chemical free and I am extremely excited.  Yes, apparently I am a newborn.  Check

4. Stop being a doormat in my personal and professional life.

This one is hard for me. I was raised to put others first, to treat others better than myself and to serve.  I still firmly believe that is how life should be lived.  Make no mistake.  I am no saint. I am as selfish, self-centered, and lazy as the next person, but I think I generally do a decent job prioritizing others.  The struggle for me has always been finding that line between being a selfless employee or friend and being a doormat that gets taken advantage of.  It is easy to start feeling like that tool that is thrown in the closet, forgotten about until it is needed, and then thrown right back until it is needed again. The closet is lonely. The closet is scary.  Just watch any Toy Story movie and you will know what’s up.

I have struggled with this resolution because it feels like I could rephrase it as “I am going to be more of a jerk” or “Someone else will take care of it” and I do not like that.  However a friend of mine recently said, “There is no end or limit  to serving others or submissiveness. However, if you do it to the point of self-loathing, there is a problem.”  That cleared it up for me.

I really have not changed what I actually do too much, but I have stopped to think before offering to help with something extra at work or when someone needs something.  If I can improve a situation, help a friend or generally feel good about serving, I still do it.  If my initial reaction is, “Yup, what do you know?  Erik’s going to get the extra project because he won’t complain” or “Geez, Erik, when are you going to stop being a doormat?” then I decline.   It has really helped me to strike a balance between not changing who I am and what I believe and despising who I am and what I believe.  I am going to say I made this goal. At least as much as I want to.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by good people and actually face this dilemma quite infrequently.  When you are actually sleeping it is easier to feel good about helping others and not even question their motives.

Yes. This post was unadulterated bragging. Sorry, but I honestly gave myself a 10% chance of succeeding on number three and am pretty proud of it.  Life is good.

Taking suggestions for next year’s resolutions.

 

 

 

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Things I’m thankful for

I did this series a few years ago on Facebook and thought it might be worth bringing up again.  Think of it as a blog version of a bad clip-show.  Anyway, here are some things I remain thankful for.

I’m thankful for the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Slogging into work on Mondays is hard enough. Doing it while being chased by velociraptors would have been unbearable

I am thankful for the person who invented twisty straws. One day he was drinking from a regular straw and thought, “Wow, this SUCKS! There’s got to be something better.” Thank you for making hydrating fun again

I’m thankful for automatic turn signals. As a child I thought I had to move the lever up and down to make the signal work. Oh the joy and thankfulness that followed when I discovered my error. I often take you for granted Mr. Turn Signal, but not today

I am thankful for the lack of scientific progress in the field of time travel. Lately, I’ve realized that there is SO much that I’d like to have done different, but if I had a time machine I’d probably accidentally create some really funky butterfly effects that would end up with me in a Turkish prison or something. I don’t need to deal with that. Thank you slow moving time scientist.

I am thankful for bacon. If I have to explain that any further, there is no election that will fix our world.

With a nod to Phineas and Ferb, I am thankful for the aglet. Oft overlooked in our society, I don’t know how we’d make it without our aglets. Take time to thank the aglets in your life today

I am thankful for my animalistic sex appeal. It’s the only logical reason that my wife hasn’t left years ago. That and my massive public school income

I am thankful for Riboflavin. While other nutrients grab the headlines with their miracle restorative properties and celebrity marriages, Riboflavin quietly goes about metabolizing my carbohydrates and proteins with little fanfare. Thank you riboflavin. My underrated hero

I’m thankful for my butt. Every day I callously hurtle my spinal column at benches, sofas and chairs but my butt is always there to soften the impact and prevent possible spinal injury. I could talk all day about my butt, but I’ll leave it at “Thank you.”  And “You’re Welcome” to all the ladies out there.

I am thankful for the virtually limitless number of choices men have when it comes to hair care products

I’m thankful that there have been relatively few sasquatch sightings in my neighborhood of late. Of course, I recently stopped doing shirtless Tae Bo in front of our picture window too

I’m thankful that I was never part of a gang that battled with choreographed dance. Not sure if the knives or steps would get me first. Yes, I took my wife to West Side Story last night

I’m thankful that the tattoo parlor now located a block away from my old fraternity party house didn’t exist between 1992-1996. Pretty sure my regret column would be more full. Come to think of it, I’m also thankful that digital photos weren’t really available at that time either

I am thankful that Twitter has made the # key relevant again. For years, I’ve watched and worried that # was going to go the route of the “cents symbol” key and that eventually I’d have to look at a keyboard with no #. Thanks Twitter for keeping the magic alive. #classickeyboards, #societyforkeyboardpreservation

I’m thankful that (for some reason) caffeine addiction is one of the only socially acceptable addictions. If that ever changes I could be fast tracked to skid row

I’m thankful that I did not put a lot of time into my Y2K preparation plan

I’m thankful that I no longer have to waste valuable seconds of my life rewinding VHS tapes after watching a movie.

I am thankful to discover that, in the event of some apocalyptical event, my family should be able to subside on what I found under our couch for about a month. Moving the chair next but think that should yield about a week.

My Favorite Halloween

I grew up across the street from Jerry. Jerry taught middle and high school music and choir. His family used to babysit for us until we moved away, but we stayed in touch. Eventually, Jerry was my 6th grade music teacher.

As Halloween approached, he continually told everyone that he gave out pizzas to all the students who Trick-or-Treated his house. Jerry would then give everyone a fake location on the other side of town and tell the class he would have the pizza ready. As I left the class he pulled me aside and would say, “If you tell a single kid where I live, you will sing solos in front of the class every day for the rest of the semester. Got it?” Got it, Jerry.

Being a smart-ass 6th grade kid, I of course showed up at his house, rang the door bell and said, “Trick or Treat! Where’s my pizza?” Jerry smiled and said, “I knew you’d show up. Happy Halloween” and dropped a gift certificate for two large pizzas with my name on it into my bag. He reminded me of his promise and I went on my way.

Being dumb-ass 6th grade kids, we decided to chance cutting across a dark corner. I recognized a local high-school kid about a second before a punch to the head, egg-smashed in my face, and a hard jerk on my bag separated me from my loot. I had to slink back across the neighborhood with egg on my face (literally), trying not to cry as I passed tons of kids I knew, and explain what happened to my parents. My dad made me give up the name of the kid I recognized and I called Jerry and asked him to cancel the gift certificate. I decided that I hated Halloween. I also swore I would never go down so quickly and easily again.

The next day my dad disappeared for a couple hours and returned with my bag of candy (along with several other bags). I was not allowed to eat the candy but I knew he got it back. How he got it back and what he did will not be recorded in this blog. Just do not mess with my dad.

Jerry waited until Monday when he taught at the high school. A police officer was assigned to the building for some presentation. Jerry talked to the officer and waited by the kids locker. As the kid was putting his stuff away, Jerry gave the officer an exaggerated version of the story and carefully described the student.. right down to what the kid was wearing that day in school. The officer acted like he took notes and talked a big game. For the rest of the day, Jerry and the officer would happen by the student and the officer would keep glancing back and forth from his notebook to the kid. Jerry told me later that the student switched clothes with someone else and was clearly freaked out the entire day. Jerry laughed hysterically when he told the story, gave me another gift certificate and went on his way. Every year, Jerry would remind me of that day and every year he would high-five me and say, “We got him, didn’t he?”

Jerry died a few years ago. He was failing and in a local home. I had planned on seeing him and saying goodbye the next day. As I was driving to golf with a couple co-workers, I went by the home and felt like I should stop. I texted my friends that I would be a couple minutes late. I am pretty sure that Jerry never really knew I was there but I got to sit with him a couple minutes, retell that story and thank him for giving me my favorite Halloween memory. Jerry left shortly after. Maybe, I’m wrong on the math, but I figured I was probably on the 7th tee or so. Regardless, I am glad I made my friends wait a little and stopped by.

Every Halloween I think of Jerry and smile. Absolutely my favorite Halloween. Oh, and in case you were wondering… Jerry always picked the first person for solos by dropping his pencil on the class roster and seeing whose name it stopped on. Every time, often before the pencil stopped rolling, he would look up, smile, stare right at me and say, “Well,look whose name it landed on!”