Monday, February 26, 2007

A Call To Arms

To the faithful readers, good to see you again; to the occasional passerby, greetings; to the crazy people, um…yikes; to the new visitor, welcome.
If I was a drinking man, I think this would be a hangover Monday. I’m dead tired; Sunday’s are not a day of rest for me anymore – they are flat out tiring. Yesterday, for example, I was busy with church from 9:30 to 6:30. What do you do? I’m trying to up and going this morning with some recently purchased 90’s tunes via iTunes. Inside Out (Eve 6), Santeria (Sublime), Zip-Lock (Lit), Water’s Edge (Seven Mary Three), Self-Esteem (The Offspring), Plush (STP)…just something to shake my mind loose from the cobwebs.
Fortunately I was spared this morning’s conference call with our offshore team in India. That would have been especially cruel irony to my beleaguered mind.
I was involved with my first one on Friday. Terribly brutal; Root-canal-minus-Novocain kind of brutal. There’s just something lost in translation and – this is going to be hard to believe – they don’t find me remotely funny or clever. I know; I couldn’t believe it either. Crazy but true. After it was over, I just dropped my head on to my desk, weeping in despair. (Kidding. Crying? There's no crying in Secuirty.) I said to my manager I was sorry it went so poortly and he told me not to worry about it, that most calls are straight business and humor isn’t something us and the Indians have in common.
I don’t often touch on church related items here at Cyber Commorancy; it’s not that I’m opposed, I just don’t. But I am here. And the irony is that I’m doing it in the same post I mention Santeria.
Yesterday in Elders Quorum our lesson came from a talk given by D. Todd Christofferson in the October General Conference entitled “Let Us Be Men”. It was one of my favorite talks then and I was happy to have it as a lesson; should I have sons, it will be something I will give them as they enter their teenage years. What it means to be a man has become so convoluted in today’s world that without specific direction, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find example of true manhood. Well, you can click on the link to the talk for a more inspired approach to what it means to be a man; I’m going to go on a little diatribe about what I think makes a man here below.

A man takes responsibility for his actions. No ones perfect, but a man doesn't use that as an excuse for his shortcomings. When he does falter, he fesses up and doesn’t blame society or the government for his errors. It's his bad and he'll take care of it; and if he needs help, he'll man up and ask for it. But he doesn't pass the buck.
A man sacrifices passion to principle. Today a man is measured by the number of women he’s been with or the size of his bank account or his athleticism. Right. Like it’s hard these days to have sex with strange and random women; a real man puts off impulsive, base desires for a greater good – righteousness.
A man acknowledges his weaknesses. It’s not easy to admit fault and shortcomings, which is why it really takes a man to do it. No one is perfect; no one expects us to be perfect. So don't be a poser because we all know you're lying. A man can embrace his weakness and make it a strengh. And then not make the same mistake again.
A real man is a leader because he’s a good follower. Playing off the last point, no matter who you are, there’s always someone who’s done it better; no man is going to get it all down pat in this life. That's why mortality is a probationary state, a proving ground for the eternities. A real man can admit that and learn from those who have; as he learns, he leads those who are learning.
A real man honors women. Treating women like play toys or objects not only degrades the sanctity of womanhood, it undermines the fundamental design of manhood. A woman – no matter what the feminazi movement says – is special and precious; they should be treated as such. I mean seriously, do we really want our daughters to act like boys? I hope not.

There's my diatribe. If it came across as coarse and preachy, I told you the talk by Elder Christofferson was better. Be a man and take responsibility for reading a sub-par discourse. (Ha ha ha) Let's answer the call to arms, to step up to the plate and do that which we were created to do. Man wasn't created in the image of God (the perfect Man) to be subpar. Our challenge, fellas, is that we do it. Buck up and be men in the truest sense. Let’s “rise from the dust and be men”, being “true at all times in whatsoever thing [we are] entrusted.” The last thing the world needs is men after its kind; it needs men after His kind.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Weight for it...weight for it...

This week has really been a blur; I can’t believe it’s almost been a week since the last post. Wow. What do you do?
Paula’s about to break out of her first trimester and that’s a good thing. In fact, as a manifestation of the fruition of additional motherly characteristics, she’s made me breakfast the past two mornings! (As one not prone to inundate my posts with exclamation point, note the significance.) This has happened only maybe…well, hardly ever on a weekday. I really enjoy it though, and am highly appreciative. I love getting the tap on the shoulder saying that breakfast is ready and me rolling out of bed. A great start to my day. Tuesday was cheesy scrambled eggs and toast; today was pancakes…thanks, babe. You rock.
I’ve gone to the gym twice so far this week and will go again tonight. It's a massive improvement over the past 8-10 weeks. I rolled my ankle really badly around Thanksgiving, so that kept me (or gave me an excuse) away from the gym; follow that by Christmas, NYC and shoulder/neck injury mid January…you get the picture. But I’m bouncing back, determined to stay consistent. It’s imperative I lose this office gut. I’m not the progeny of skinny people. My frame was built for one who lived 100-200 years ago, when this really wouldn’t be an issue; I’d spend all day working on the range and burn enough calories to stay fairly fit. But alas, I am consigned to spend my days with the WWW, TV, AC and NCAA, when I sit around 8-9 hours a day in addition to sleep.
If I only just sat around 8-9 hours a day...
I’ve had an epiphany of why my gut has forced me to purchase larger pants. Before I’m called a bum here, think about it. If you have an office job, how much do you move around in a day? Let me break it down for you. From the time I get into the car to drive to work and get home, it’s been 10-11 hours; I sleep 7 hours usually; on the average, I watch 1½ hrs of TV. Add eating dinner, reading, balancing the budget, pay bills online, posting on my blog, some Freecell…there are maybe 2½-3 hours a day I’m actually moving around. Seriously, I’m sedentary over 20 hours a day. I have maybe two hours when I can move around burn some extra calories.
And it takes its toll.
It’s become readily apparent my body can’t do what it used to; moreover, my body can’t recover like it used to. I can get all sorts of crazy playing football or basketball and be fine, but the next morning I’m a living ad for Icy Hot. It’s embarrassing; every time I go play basketball, Paula implores me to not get hurt. Partly because it’s churchball and you have a lot of out of shape, glory-day-warriors, wannabes and neverwere’s running around; a truly pathetic display. The other part is I’m out of shape. “I am a victim of my time, a product of my age” and bring such embarrassments upon myself. And that’s why I’m rededicating myself to the gym. Just so I can not be one of those pear-shaped guys.
And so I can keep my beard. If you aren’t aware of my beard deal, it’s in this post.
Speaking of beard, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. A picture. Drumroll please…..

Today is day 16 of growth and I gotta say, I’m proud of what has transpired; it’s coming along nicely I’d say. The general consensus is that the guys dig it, the girls and testosterone challenged don’t. But let me know what you think.
(Paula, Mom, Natalie and Julia, I already have you noted as avid fans, so you don’t need to comment.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shout Out: The Birthday Girl/Wife

It was Paula’s birthday this week and I would be remiss if I did not give her a shout out. She’s not as young as she used to be - she's gonna get all flustered when she reads this, but it's a given as it is her birthday – but like a bottle of the finest Chardonnay, she simple gets better with time.
I really don’t know what to write; I’m sure something will come to me. My M.O. doesn’t’ include mushy sentiments, poetic lines and the like...the fact that it is a Friday and a three-day weekend (y’all holla back for the no work on Monday) doesn’t help, putting me in a jovial mood. I'll try too eek out some sentimental musings for this special occasion. Rest assured there'll be a spattering of witty lines.
Let's just say I rocked the house for Valentines Day and her birthday - a day at Spa Sydell and and 2 GB iPod Nano with some of that hip-hop mess she likes to work out to. (I snuck in some OkGo and AFI for good measure.) With this 1-2 combo, I've basically solidified myself among the upper eschelons of great husbands everywhere. There have been some negative ramifications from these gifts. You know those kids always walking around with their MP3 players, oblivious to the world? Paula's regressed to a 15-year old. I've been home for like 20 minutes and I've had to answer the phone (I was in the study; the phone was in the kitchen with her) and go tap her shoulder when I need to talk to her because she's busy listening to Earth, Wind and Fire. I can tell we're going to have to set some ground rules...
Last year we went to Shout and had sushi with the gang; this year will be a lower key sans raw fish as Paula is carrying Logan, Jr. (that’s not going to be his name…just speculating). We’ll probably end up back home around 8-9 tonight and that’ll be our weekend extravaganza. And who cares? Everything I want/need is will be there with me.
I couldn’t have found a better match for me than Paula; it’s cheesy as heck and overdone (Thanks, Jerry Mac) but she really does complete me. Serious. And that’s how it should be when you find someone you want to spend eternity with – someone who pushes you to be your best, loves you in spite of your faults, makes you laugh and smile; you need someone who, when they make you mad (or vice versa), it doesn’t alter the relationship, just provides opportunities to grow. That’s what I found in Paula.
So, here’s to you, sweetheart: that dimpled smile, three Broadway shows together and your mild case of OCD; the Kids Meal at Frontera, our love of raw fish and your never-ending affection for your baby blanket; to your constant 10-2 on the steering wheel, our unforgettable first Christmas together and your road rage; to your love of reading, our standing date Thursday at 8:30pm for The Office and our common disdain for the excessive use of exclamation marks (Note: there's only one in this entire post); to you loving me at my worst and best…and back atcha…
In the words of two of the greatest poets of our time - so great they don't need first names - Brooks and Dunn, "There ain’t nothing about you that don’t do something for me."
And in the words of this poet...

To quit, break up and move in a flash;
Some might say that was a little rash
It was the best decision of my life;
Now I have a wonderful, beautiful wife.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

I thought it would be worth a post discussing the origins of this most polarizing of holidays, which produces a flurry of emotion, ranging from the height of happiness and romance to the gall of bitterness and despair. However, in researching the genesis of this holiday, it is difficult to differentiate where fact ends and fiction begins.
The earliest documentation of any celebration of the Ides of February (from the Latin term februum, meaning ‘$4.25 for a card!? You gotta be kidding me!’) is given to us by Plutarch, was in ancient Rome as a festival of purification, with young men running through the streets naked. This tradition ended abruptly when there was a street scheduling conflict and the naked young men ended up running with the bulls.
While this gives us an idea where the date comes from, it is more difficult to decipher how the holiday received its name. Some scholars maintain that Valentines Day was named after Valentine of Genoa, an early bishop who died around 307 AD. According to legend, Valentine broke up with his girlfriend the day before her birthday so he wouldn’t have to buy her a gift. He told a fellow clergyman he was going to try and get back in her good graces with chocolate and roses. His broken body was found the next day…but with no sign of the chocolate or flowers.
Early References
How the melding of the name and date came to be, as well as there reference to love, is a source of conflict. Most are from the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. In one of his first works, Parlement of Foules (1382), he pens the following in honor of the first anniversary of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
From the awful spelling, it was readily apparent Chaucer was responsible for all the wine that had disappeared the night before; Richard booted him out of the country and Chaucer ended up wandering the countryside naked until Heather Ledger found him and made him part of his possee in “A Knights Tale”.

Hopefully this has helped shed some light on this wonderful day that is never really lives up the the hype, but that we still celebrate hoping this will be the year. In the words of the drunken poet, 'Hape Seynt Volantynys Day'!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Pair Me Smug.s

Funny story. I was texting Nathan the other day and meant to text "I'm opening a pair of IRA's". Well, the SmartText on my phone obviously is a product of the public school system because Nathan's response was "What's a pair me smug.s"
Texting. What a trip. OMG. LOL. :-)
I’m trying to think of stuff that’s been going on and there’s really not much. Anything after the last point seems anticlimactic.
I’m growing a beard.
That’s news.
It’s sure to draw a mixed bag of reaction. Mom will be weeping; brothers and old roommates will be laughing; my wife just roles her eyes; others don’t/won’t care. Today marks one week since I shaved and I think it’s coming along fairly nicely. It’s not like a nasty neck beard or anything – I shave up to about a half inch under my chin line; I’m not going for the homeless man look…just mixing it up for a few weeks.
I can’t remember where we were going, but this is how I broke it to my wife that I was planning on growing the beard. A little background might be helpful.
Early in our marriage (I say early, but it’s all relatively new) Paula wouldn’t really ask me to do things around the apartment. She’d just tell me what to do. And, as a 26 year-old man, I didn’t really appreciate it. So we had a little discussion and I suggested that she let me know what needed to be done (cooking dinner, cleaning up dinner, folding clothes, vacuuming, install another lock on the door, etc…) and ask “Which would you like to do?” All in all it’s gone well; Paula gets me to help around the apartment and I don’t feel like she’s nagging me.
The other day she comes into the computer room where I’m feverishly working on a game of Free Cell and says:

“I have a proposition for you.”
Me: “What’s that?”
Her: “You can either make dinner or clean the apartment. Which one do you want?”

I laughed because it wasn’t much of a proposition, since I was stuck doing one or the other. It was funny. (I ended up concocting a delicious broccoli-cheese chowder.)
Fast forward to Saturday. We’re in the car and I say:

“I have a proposition for you.”
Her: “What’s that?”
Me: “I can either gain weight with you through your pregnancy or I can grow a beard. Which do you prefer?”

Apparently the shoe don’t fit so well on the other foot, because unlike when I am forced to pick one or face serious – and because of the hormones, often emotional – consequences, she doesn’t have to. I took her look as meaning she preferred the beard. And it continues to grow.
I’ll post pictures to track the progress of this little experiment so all you can join in the festivities. Hopefully I don't end up like this guy. It's from JK Rowling's 8th book:
Harry Potter and the Jungle Years

Monday, February 05, 2007

If you hadn't already heard

I’m going to be a dad.
Seriously; this isn’t a hypothetical, one-day-in-the-distant-future statement. Sometime around September 9th, to be precise.
Paula’s about 10 weeks along, almost out of her first trimester and in relatively good condition, we figured it’s time to let people know. Besides, it was turning into the worst kept secret ever; like trying to keep a colander from draining water. The ‘Circle of Trust’ was decimated worse than the Mountain West at the hands of the Cougars. If you only have connections to the Roberts side of the family, this might be news to you; otherwise…
It’s been an interesting January. I sort of alluded to this in my first post of 2007 as that’s when we found out that we are on our way to be parents – December 30th. And there was no degree of normalcy to our discovery.
Paula became sick two days after returning from NYC with a high fever and went into the doctor. They couldn’t find anything wrong and figured it was some type of infection, so they prescribed some random anti-biotic. Well, after she took it she started throwing up – like immediately after she took the pills – and they were never able to work.
Saturday morning her fever was up to 103 and off we went to the hospital. Her pulse was up to 113 bmp and with the temperature, they admitted her quickly. They’d taken her for a series of tests and left me chillin’, watching Rocky train in Siberia to take on Ivan Drago in Rocky IV in our room. In comes the doctor.

DR: “Where is she?”
ME: “They took her to do some tests.”
DR: “Who are you?”
ME: “The husband.”
DR: “I guess it’s okay then. Well, she’s pregnant. You can tell her when she gets back.”

That’s right – I KNEW MY WIFE WAS PREGNANT BEFORE SHE DID!!! A rare experience, to say the least; and when she got back in I told her. She was a little out of it from some medication they put in her IV, so her reaction wasn’t one of elation. It was more like “Are you serious?” I was.
It was so early in her the process the ultrasound couldn’t spot anything in her uterus; it did spot something up by the ovary and the doctor warned it might be a tubal pregnancy, which would have to be terminated or Paula would die. It was hard to get too excited with a “Congratulations, your pregnant…but here’s the caveat” revelation. All in all, the revelation was somewhat anticlimactic.
But all is well; looking at the ultrasound Paula had last week, we are the proud parents of…a little kidney bean. That’s what it looks like. Paula said that during the ultrasound that the little heart was beating like crazy, so it’s a person in embryo; additionally, with little Beckett being born and seeing pictures of the Nerf and Linds as parents, it excites us even more.
The doctors never figured out what the fever was about – personally, I really think that it was divine intervention to keep Paula from keeping down the antibiotic. According to the ER doctor, the antibiotic she had been prescribed was something she never should have been given as a pregnant woman as it could have done damage to the baby. Tender mercies of the Lord.
Thinking about being a dad has been the only time I’ve smiled while being out-of-my-mind nervous. It’s crazy and wonderful. I’ve recently re-read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and it continues to become more real. Much like when I married Paula, realizations of my weakness are magnified (in a good way) and it allows me to take a close look at myself and see how I can – and should – improve.
I’m going to be a dad.