Monday, May 01, 2006

Blessings of new gifts, rediscovering old ones

Well, it has been a series of "opportunites for growth" here in the ol' Windy City. Lots of challenges, and a few changes for the better...

I'm not even going to bother talking about work. Suffice it to say that nothing has changed in the last two weeks, and my only change has been to accept that Monday and Tuesday nights are going to be insane; but I'm reclaiming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Which, in the greater scheme of things, is progress...

In a spate of blatant self-gratification and commercialism, I broke down and bought myself five new things:

- I had to get crowns for two crumbling teeth (not much of an option, unfortunately, as both teeth had cracked - thank God for health spending accounts);
- I finally got a desperately-needed brand-new mattress and box-spring set;
- I finally broke down and got a new ground-line phone (I'd been living by cell-phone alone for 8 months); and
- I joined the 21st century gadgeteers, and got myself an iPod as a belated birthday present.

And no, I probably couldn't afford any of it. But that's the way it goes, sometimes.

The dentist thing was a tough one - most days, given the choice between a gasoline enema and a root-canal, I'd have to sit and think about it. But, as I said, when half of one tooth breaks off, and the other one shows up cracked, there isn't any choice about "just letting it slide."

The bed was probably more money than I should have spent - but I've spent going on 4 years trying to make my SelectDisComfort adjustable-agony bed work right, and it's just never worked out. The space between the two twin air-chambers always ended up being a hollow-spot, like the old joke about the "honeymoon" mattress (where both parties roll to the center) - no matter how hard or soft I inflated it. And I got to the point where the last month, I've woke up lame from a sore back. And let me tell you, not having that is worth every penny I paid for the new mattress set...

Getting set up with a "ground-line" phone may be a $25-a-month extravagance that I'll regret, but I don't think so. God knows, my schedule has not allowed me to be doing much phone calling - but when I do get the chance to call folks, the last thing I want to do is be having lousy reception or dropped calls (which this neighborhood "in the 'hood" is known for, regardless of carrier). So that seems to be a worthwhile thing, so far (of course, it's only been in since Friday...).

But the, I'm still wondering why I held out so long.

I've always been a music freak, with widely divergent tastes. From Up, Up & Away: The Definitive Collection by the 5th Dimension, to Copland Conducts Copland including two of my favorite classical pieces, Hoedown and Fanfare for the Common Man, to Nickel Creek and Triumph and Jethro Tull and The White Album, it's pretty amazing.

I have a CD entitled Sonic Fireworks for Brass, featuring some of the most powerful classical brass music by the brass sections of several major orchestras. The back cover of the CBS Masterworks CD features a handwritten sign that shows the alternative subtitle for the CD, Up to Your Ass In Brass.) Not far away from it is The Carl Stalling Project: Music from the Warner Bros. Cartoons, 1936-1958 (an absolutely classic CD that, like Music From The Neighborhood, I heard about first on NPR). In the mix is El Debarge, Blood Sweat & Tears, a mess of Peter, Paul & Mary, Pete Seeger and Arlo's amazing. And that doesn't even begin to describe the Christian music collection that's worked in thrugh that.

One of the amazing things I rediscovered a while back was a group called Prelude. You wouldn't recognize the name - they were mostly a UK group. But back in 1974, they performed an amazing acapella cover of Neil Young's After the Gold Rush. If you go to Amazon's site here, and click on the After The Gold Rush link, you can hear a bit of it.

For years, I had been searching for this recording...I had thought it was an all-women's group that did it, which threw me off the track. But thanks to the Internet, I found the name of the group, and then found the CD on Amazon. Very, very cool stuff...This version of After The Gold Rush came out when I was a junior in high school, at the height of the Watergate hearings (yes, that long ago), and I remember it being a slice of serenity in a time of insanity.

And then the storytellers - one classic of which is Patrick Stewart doing the narration for my favorite childhood recording, Peter and the Wolf. And then Bill Harley (Monsters in the Bathroom), Gamble Rogers' Sorry Is As Sorry Does, Heather Forest's SongSpinner...

Then the next challenge will be to digitize the pile of tapes I own, including about 2 dozen classic AA speaker's recordings.

I could have easily gotten a 360-gig iPod, if they made one - but for now, I think I can live with rotating things on and off the 30 GB one. But it's making driving, riding the train, even waiting in line at the grocery store so much more relaxing...

Today was also the first day of abandoning the bus to get into work. There's 5 blocks that I walk to take the Metra Electric line from 115th St. in to Van Buren station, but then there's a ten full city block journey to the office from the train. Up to this point, I've been taking the bus, especially in the morning - but yesterday I walked it back home. It cost me waiting forty minutes for the next hourly train - I can walk, but walk fast is something I'm going to have to grow into. But at least I was out and moving.

As a friend often said, the longest part of the journey is the part from the sofa to the front door... And I'm at the point of no longer having a choice about changing that part of my life.

So that's it, boys and girls. Off to another day in the capitalist's paradise...


Ed said...

Hey Steve,

Broke down and got an iPod... I have a shuffle only because I won one somewhere.

But... since you have iTunes now, take a look at the Podcast section. More specifically, look up "LifeSpring". My buddy Steve Webb there does an awesome, Christ-lead show. Max Lucado is also putting his daily 1-minute devotionals out as a podcast (I know you're a Max Lucado fan).

Still keeping you in my prayers about the job, brother


Anonymous said...


I'm glad you decided to treat yourself. I'm glad you've found some ground of compromise regarding your work (making sure a couple of evenings a week are YOURS). And I'm SO glad you've decided to do a little walking...walking is so good for you!

All three of these are choices you've made for YOU, to benefit YOU. I'm glad it sounds like you're trying to taking care of YOU. It's a good start :)


Im A Foto Nut said...

It was good to catch up with you StevO. I can't believe this...

Copland Conducts Copland including two of my favorite classical pieces, Hoedown and Fanfare for the Common Man.... Those are my two favorites of his!!!! That Brass CD sounds awesome. I have a Christmas CD Called Carols in Brass by the Boston Philharmonic. I just put that sucker on repeat and enjoy it for hours.

I have a treat for you. But once again I must admit to bing and oofus, yes I said oofus, its a long story. I can't ever remember which email of yours is the right one. A smarter man than I would have actually went and deleted the errent one the last time I asked you to email me from your current account, but alas and alac, my brain tends to have far more frequent cases of ceribral flatulance as time goes by and I did not do it.

If you email me from your current account, one last time I will send you and invitation to my new flickr account where you will be able to see picture of this years Lenten and Easter Services, taken with my very new and ultra cool Canon 20D! Then if you like I can have any that you want printed for you, and mailed all the way up to the windy city.