Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Facebook, reunions and Paul Anka

Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember?

The laughter and the tears
The shadows of misty yesteryears
The good times and the bad you've seen
And all the others in between
Remember, do you remember
The times of your life...

Paul Anka, The Times of Your Life

I'm not really sure where "the times of my life" have gone, lately. How did it get to be the tail-end of June, already?

Life has been busy, of that there has been no doubt. And yet, I've been both full of ideas to write down, and singularly uninspired to write them down. I have found myself asking questions like, "Am I depressed? Am I done with this writing thing? What is the deal here?...."

Part of it, of course, is just living life. When I first started blogging, I felt terribly isolated and in the midst of trying to figure-it-all-out. And I am (thankfully) just not there any more.

Another part of my blogging, at one point, was a desperate need to both understand and to be understood. I wanted people to "get where I was coming from," to use the vernacular. And (for better or worse, I guess) I'm less concerned with that. As the classic song from La Cage Aux Folles says, "I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses..."

But the third reason for this - and for me, any more, the most important one - is to do some public journaling: sharing thoughts, sharing experiences, and just catching-up and reflecting on life. So, in that spirit, here's a bit of where we are (though "where we are now" will probably take a number of posts to get through).

We have been here in The Little Big 12 (11? 13?) College Town In The Corn for 14 months now. I have legitimate Illinois plates, drivers license and insurance, all paid up and all at the same address (a true sign of respectability, a friend once said). And we are settling into a bit of a routine, finally.

It took me a while to realize it, but I have moved twice in one year, and five times in six years. I even had to write it down to figure it out:

Kansas to Chicago/LSTC - Aug 2003
LSTC to S. Chicago/Pullman - July 2005
S. Chicago to Waterville, OH - Oct 2006
Waterville to Whitehouse, OH - Oct 2008
Whitehouse OH to Urbana, IL - April 2009

So the sense of "having things in their place" is a relatively new thing. And a good thing.

The Paul Anka song, however, refers to an upcoming rite-of-passage for me - my 35-year high-school class reunion. I am struck with an ambivalence about it I wouldn't previously have imagined, and to be honest, Facebook is a big part of that ambivalence.

Facebook, for me, is a way to "just check in" with friends near and far. If a group of folks from the local AA community are getting together, I hear about it; same with friends in Kansas with ailing family members, or a buddy in Toledo that's received good news. It's how I first heard about the EF3 tornado that smashed through Millbury and Lake Township, home to one of the DeMolay chapters I was involved with several years ago.

I don't play all the games, quizzes, petitions, blah blah blah. There are a select few sites I keep up with, like the ThirdSpace group that Peter Fergus-Moore led me to. But otherwise, it's just "keeping up with folks."

Just after I signed on to Facebook (or FB), I started getting pinged by folks from my high school. About 99.44% of those were the few folks (like, half-a-dozen) from choir and the theater group with whom I'd managed to stay in touch. But then the talk came about the potential date for a 35-year reunion (our class has been AWFUL about doing reunions from the 5-year on up). And activity started to pick up.

And it was the weirdest thing - dozens and dozens of people who could have cared less about me for three and a half decades now wanted to be "FB friends." But when you are a FB "friend," you get to see every post they put up: when their kid wins an award, what they're having for dinner, what the neato-coolo dance joint they went to, and whether the rain will hold off long enough to mow the yard.

I don't mind this from the people who've stayed in touch; but I really didn't care to have that level of detail from 200 or so people who I'm (at best) glad to spend a couple hours with in July. So I've been a bit of a troll, ignoring most FB friend requests. I'll see 'em at the reunion, have some laughs, and let it go.

It's strange - I'm sure I'm not the first person who's wondered about how the reunion will go. Who will show up, who won't; who's still married, and who have been serial monogamists. I wonder if I'm the only one among my class who came out as gay; statistically, it's not likely that I am, but it will be interesting if anyone else actually RSVPs to the reunion with a partner (as opposed to spouse).

And it will be interesting to play the "whatever happened to ol' what's-his-name...." game. There are days when I wonder - although, to be rigorously honest, I'd have preferred a reunion with the class of '75 (my class) and the class of '76, as well, since a number of my friends were not in the same class as I was.

It will be a time of passage - and I probably won't go to another one (in the unlikely chance that another one is held at 40 or 50 years). That's history - ancient history. And to be frank, I'm more focused in now and going-forward than going-back, these days.

To my blogging friends, if you're still listening, thanks for your patience. More to come...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Starting over, nearly five years in...

It's been 65 days since I went into St Luke's Hospital in Toledo, complaining of chest pains. In that 50 days, a lot has happened, and blogging has simply been pushed near the back of the pack, so to speak. So now, as the holiday weekend ends and a new week begins, it's time to catch up, and reboot my blog.

A scant 38 days ago, Chris got the phone call he'd come to believe wouldn't come - a call from his dream employer with an offer for his dream job: doing product support for the second-biggest remote-control hobby distributor in the country, in Champaign, IL . The call came April 3rd, as we were leaving the Weak Signals RC trade show in Toledo - it turns out one of the biggest RC product gatherings in the country happens in Toledo the first week in April every year (and I never, ever knew that - even after living in Toledo for 30 years - until I met Chris).

His phone rang, he looked at the caller ID, and just registered this "NOW what?" look. As I watched his face, I could tell - like he'd been throwing himself against a door for a year, and when he turned his back on it, it swung open all by itself. The challenge, of course, was the timing: it was after the first of the month, our landlord required 30 days notice - and the New Job wanted him there by the 27th.

Twenty one days later, on April 24th, the 26-foot Penske truck, the Camry and the F-150 were loaded to the gills and we were on our way. A couple of retired AA friends were driving the Penske truck, so we could make the trip once. We had a late start - it is a moving truism that "90% of the stuff takes 90% of the time - and the last 10% of the stuff ALSO takes 90% of the time. " And we tossed some stuff that was marginal, that we ended up replacing when we got here - just because there was simply no more room anywhere to put it.

Six hour later, we landed in Champaign-Urbana, and checked into the motel for the night (the water wouldn't be on in the duplex until the following morning!...). We had a great meal together, and then my AA buddies and I went to my first meeting in "the new world." The next morning, we sent them home in a one-way rental car, and we started the task of unpacking and settling-in to our new world.

We've had 4 weeks here. The boxes are either put away or neatly organized in garage storage. Pictures are on the wall, Chris' workshop is in perfect order, and I am trying to keep my office chaos to a minimum in my new world. It looks, and feels, like home. One of Chris' employment benefits is cheap membership for himself and one other at The Fitness Center in Champaign - so he's become "a regular" and I'm working on getting to be a "periodic." And the insanity has come way, way down.

And we've found a church home - which will be a post in itself. Suffice it to say that McKinley Presbyterian seems, at first blush, to be everything we could hope: a friendly, welcoming and accepting "More Light" congregation.

We spent the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago - Chris flew his float-plane off the water for the first time, and I showed him around some of Chicago (you can't do much in one day, obviously). That trip will be yet another post.

Whatever happens - with my health, with my job, with the two of us - it seems we are in the best place for it. My prayer is that this will be a time of restoration and renewal for both of us. So far, it seems to be just that.