Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day Zero Project #60: Write a list of guidelines to live by.

"Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something" - Thomas Edison

And that quote right there says why I shouldn't even be writing this list at all. I'm not entirely sure that a person should have a set of guidelines that they live by. I think each of us should do the things that make us, and the ones around us, the most happy. What works for me, might not work for you.

But, alas, it's on my list and I should do it. So here goes...

Spend way more time reading books than watching TV. But do watch some TV. Otherwise you sound like a weird hippie, hermit who is out of touch with pop culture when you are sitting around with your friends and have no clue what anyone is talking about.

Listen to music every day. And spend some time in silence, too.

Be a good person. But be bad, too. Because sometimes being bad is just more fun. Obviously don't hurt anyone or anything. I mean it more in the sense of stay out way too late with friends drinking delicious craft beers. Or spending just a little bit more than you should on vacation. Or cheating at Monopoly in order to finish the game quicker because Monopoly takes too long and is the worst game ever invented.

Treat others how you want to be treated. Just be nice to everyone.

Hang out with friends and family as much as possible. Leaving just a little bit o' time to spend on your own, too. A little bit of alone time is a good thing. A lot of alone time makes you crazy.

Never, ever, ever sleep in a separate bed than your partner if you are both in the same house. On a business trip without my wife, fine. But just because you are upset with someone, or they snore loudly, is no reason to not be in there. Also, do not have a TV in your bedroom. Someone's quote is better than mine here: "The experts agree you should only be doing two things in your bedroom: sleeping and having sex. Bills, kids, computers, TVs ... they're all kryptonite for healthy sleep and definitely for your sex life."

Along the same lines of "Married Couple Advice": Never, ever, ever go to the bathroom in front of your partner. It's weird. Seriously. I've been with my wife for 15 years and I have never once seen her go to the bathroom. I can't 100% confirm that she even does and that's okay with me.

Get outside your comfort zone from time-to-time. That's why I even do these lists. Growing up can get a bit lame. Work, go home, eat dinner, watch some TV, sleep, repeat. That's not ideal, so go ahead and mix it up a bit!

Whatever you are into, be into it. Let's say you collect stamps. That's pretty dorky in my books, but who cares!? You like stamps, be the best darn stamp collector you can be.

Support your community. The world has enough Olive Garden's and Outback's. We both know that their food there is average at best. Go eat at a local restaurant. They'll appreciate it. The food is about 90% sure to be better. Go shop at your farmer's market. Go buy a shirt at your neighborhood boutique so that you don't have the same shirt as 800,000 other people who went to Target that week. I once went a whole year without eating at a chain restaurant. Surely every one else can skip it once a week!

And mostly, Just do whatever it is that makes you happy. It's a cliche to say it, but life is too short to do anything different. Unless you believe in Heaven, then you can be happy forever, I guess. But it's a different kind of happy up there because they don't have ice cream. So, be happy while you are here, and definitely eat as much ice cream as you can.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day Zero Project #88: Find a poem that means something to me.

I don't like poetry. No offense, poetry. You're just not my style. I love reading but never once have I thought to myself, "Hey, I'd like to read a whole book of poetry tonight."

Perhaps I haven't given poetry a fair try. But I'm old and set in my ways now, so the days of learning to like poetry are most likely far behind me.

Due to my indifference towards the genre, I don't think that there is a poem that means something to me. And rather than just pick something randomly that sounds cool, I went with the next best thing: song lyrics that I love. After all, song lyrics could be considered a form of poetry, right?

And rather than just pick one. I did three. Because I'm multi-faceted. I have "Nerdy" by Poison the Well, which is me and my wife's song. I have "Rise Up, Rise Up" by Cursive, because that song (the whole album really) is exactly what it's like growing up in Nebraska. And, finally, I have "I See Everything" by La Dispute, because it's an important song and it makes me cry.

Poison The Well "Nerdy"
Why do your eyes paralyze me?
What makes me feel this way?
Carry me away with silence and heartbeats as rapid
Thinking about your embrace
And how it makes me feel
I just want to feel this way forever
Sleep on portraits painted as perfect as you
Why have I been given chance to fly?
When I'm not with you I feel lesser alone?
Why have I been given chance to fly, away?
I remember your face imprinted on angels
Your voice as beautiful as the sounds of waves
Crashing against my heart
Time slows down when you look at me
I'm infatuated with this, infatuated with you
I remember your face imprinted on angels
It's so hard for me to understand
Why I hadn't found you before?
Hold my hand
Dear preacher, thanks for making time for me today
Hope you don't mind if I hide behind the curtain
It's been fifteen years since my last confession
By your good book's standards, I've sinned like a champion
But that book seems a tad bit out-dated

Please forgive me, for questioning divinity
It's an ugly job, but I think I'm up for it
I'm not saying who's right
I'm just saying there's more than one way
To skin a religion
There's more than one way
To explain our existence

Reverend, sir, I don't want to seem malevolent
My teenage angst is far behind me
But father, certainly it's troubling to see
All these people kneeling, instead of dealing
With the fact that we are all we have

So, rise up! rise up!
There's no one to worship!
But plenty of life to lose!
I'm not saying "let's burn down the church"
But do you want to hear my confession?
It's my greatest sin..

Okay, here it is:
I wasted half my life on the thought that I'd live forever!
I wasn't raised, to seize the day, but to work and worship
'cause "he that liveth and believeth" supposedly never dies

Rise up! rise up!
And live a full life!
'cause when it's over, it's done
So rise up! rise up!
Dance and scream and love!
Like any morning of my junior year I stumble in the classroom late but this day I see
Faces, I feel an air like a funeral, like a wake, as I sit down.
My teacher speaking, somewhat somberly, but still confident and calm.
Part eulogy, her speech, and part poem, part celebration song.
Her warmth and smile, she passes photocopies out to us of entries from a journal
Kept so long ago. She starts to read and suddenly it’s 1980.

March 5-The cancer is furious but our son is resilient,
we have all the faith we’ll get through this no matter what the end.
Treatments are violent but he keeps on smiling.
It’s amazing finding joy in the little things.

April 12-Andrew’s appetites improved and we thank God everyday.
But still it’s hard sometimes to see him in that scarecrow frame.

July 9-There’s a suffering when I look in his eyes. He’s been through so much.
We’ve all been through so much but what incredible resolve our little boy shows,
only 7, standing face to face with death.
He said it’s easy to find people who have suffered worse than him.
“Like Jesus, suffered worse than anyone,” he told me last night, “when God abandoned him.”

September 20-We’ve been playing in the yard lately and spirits are high
although his blood counts aren’t.

October 14-He feels tired all the time.

November 30-At the hospital again. It feels like home when we’re here.

December 8-He’s getting worse.

January 19-We buried our son today, our youngest child,
and while his death was ugly we must not let it scare us from God.
Abundant grace has restored him. A brand new body.
And set him free from the torture, finally rid of the cancer.
Before the moment he left he briefly wrested from death, suddenly opened his eyes, said,

And I will never forget it, the peace and the comfort you displayed through a pain
that I can only imagine. The loss of a child to the torture of cancer. Help me.
Because I can only imagine how you recovered,
kept your faith and held the brightness of life inside the smile of a child you had to bury.
And I will never forget him or your steadfast faith.
No, I will never forget you. Now six or seven years later, I’m devoid of all faith.
I am empty of comfort and I am weary of waiting.
Though I’ve felt nowhere what you have, I see nothing at all.
Though I’ve felt nowhere what he did, my eyes are closed.