You’ve Had a Birthday, Shout Oy Vey!

So, plans to keep this blog updated regularly haven’t quite gone as planned. But then that seems to be the story of my life. Nothing ever goes as planned. Last post I spoke about the fun I’d had with my last script and the cast I got to direct. It was a great time and I enjoyed it so much. Shortly after that i had the great good fortune of taking the show up to Montana to perform for a benefit with Family Promise of Helena, a great non-profit that helps families transition from homelessness to home ownership. We didn’t have the full original cast, but we had most of the same cast, and they all did a wonderful job and it was a great success.

It did, however, precipitate the ending of my current association with Salty Dinner Theater. I decided, based on several factors, that it was time for me to move in a different way, and leave the board. I wish them success in their future shows, and look forward to possibly working with them again in the future in some different capacity.

This did allow for a very different opportunity to come my way. I recently completed sound design and rrunning the sound board for a fresh production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at a unique theater company in Kaysville called The Hopebox Theater. It has only been in operation for about 3 years, but they have an amazing mission statement: Bringing hope to families battling cancer through the performing arts. They select a Wall of Hope recipient nominated from the community for each show and collect donations and give a portion of ticket sales to that person. They invite them and their family to the closing night performance and roll out the red carpet for them. It’s really something special. And throughout the rehearsals and all performances, they keep very much in mind the idea that they are doing this for that recipient. Hopebox has a very different feel from any other theater and it was an inspiring experience to work with those wonderful people. I really hope that I am asked back to help with future shows. If you have a chance, you really should check them out and see the fantastic shows at Hopebox Theater. I was really impressed with the quality and talent of all associated with this theater.

I also started a new job in the last few months. I now work for Western Governors University, and I really love it. It is a great company to work for, they offer some great benefits and I work with some really great people. I’m even looking at starting back to school to get my degree. It’s still in the early stages, but this could be a very good thing for me and my family.

The “not according to plan” part of all this is that, althoughthings are looking up, I still feel as if there is another show that is going to drop. I’ve been on edge and under so much stress for so long, I don’t know what normal is any longer. I constantly worry and stress over my job, my family, my health, my finances, etc. I will go for a few days at a time feeling okay and then one small thing can send me sprialling down in a blue funk I don’t come out for days. And my birthday is coming up and that is always a black hole that I sink into each year. I usually try to take my birthday off, but I won’t be able to do that this year. We never really celebrate birthdays in a big way in our family, and I don’t want a big party. But it gets a little frustrating when year after year, I’m lucky if my family remembers my birthday. (Really, they are good about it, but the kids do like to give me crap about how old I’m getting. Some years I can take it better than others.) Basically, I’m a mess. A big, fat mess. A big, fat mess with a rapidly balding head and a Colonel Sanders goatee.

Where’s the Ben and Jerry’s?

Quotes of the post:

(I know this is wrong on so many levels, but I just find it too funny!)Apparently, one in five people in the world are Chinese. And there are five people in my family, so it must be one of them. It’s either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother, Colin. Or my younger brother, Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it’s Colin. -Tim Vine

Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern… like bad wallpaper. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops. -Cary Grant

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I’m Not an Actor, But I Play One on TV…

It’s been a long time since my last post.  In fact, I wasn’t sure I would post again.  But a lot has happened since my last post.  Although not a lot of progress has been made on my goals, and I just felt that I needed to post an update on life.

Carmen came and went.  Lucia came and went. If you have followed this blog at all, you know that I am enamored of the opera.  I have, at various times, described myself as an opera whore.  I will do just about anything asked of me in regards to the opera.  And in Carmen and Lucia, I struggled a bit.  I have problems standing for long periods of time in one place, and staging opera is a lot of standing in one place for long periods of time.  I have to say that my opera family is very supportive.  I feel like a prima donna for some of the ways that I acted, but the other members of the chorus were very accommodating and helpful, and far kinder than they had any need to be while I searched for places to sit down and ways to make it through staging and performances.  I’m sure you’ll all find this very surprising (NOT!), but I am getting more curmudgeonly as I get older.  I try to be kind and friendly especially around people who don’t know me well.  Some of the opera people know me well, and still put up with me, but I know plenty of people in the opera who have no reason to be accommodating of me who are extremely kind to me.  I cannot express how grateful I am to the multitude of small kindnesses offered to me by these wonderful people.

I started on a journey to prepare to walk the 5K at the Ogden Marathon this year, and every step of the way, I have been fighting my own will power, apathy, and stubbornness. I did walk one Saturday for about .7 of a mile.  And I went to the gym for about 35-40 minutes one day.  I have had excuse after excuse not to go to the weekly meetings for WIM in preparation for the 5K: productions, meetings, rehearsals, etc.  While my wife has been so diligent about getting ready for the half marathon (even though she will protest that she hasn’t done enough) I have steadfastly failed to do what I need to do.  She is walking 13.1 miles.  I am supposed to walk 3.1.  The walk where I did .7 felt like I was going to die, and I had a place to sit down for long stretches of time.  I don’t think I’ll have that on the day of the 5K.  It has me scared spitless.  I have no earthly idea how I will complete this walk.  In fact, my most recent decision has been to bow out of the 5K this May, and shoot for the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk in September.  My problem has been that when I signed up for WIM, I anticipated missing about a month for the opera, but not as many as I did for directing and running the play.  I am committed to making this change, but my timing is just off from what I had hoped.  So, not really a failure, just success postponed.

I need to take a moment and say a word or two about the play.  About three years ago, I decided I wanted to relive one of my favorite shows and write a version of Cinderella for Salty Dinner Theater that cast me and my friend, Joseph Thompson, as the Ugly Stepsisters.  I have always found men playing the ugly stepsisters hilarious, and decided that I might be able to write a funny, witty show that would be fun to be in, as well.  I have posted an article about that show on my blog, but it turned out to be very successful and a real favorite, having three runs for both the regular season and two charities.  So this year when Salty had a slot for a show they called, “Who Killed Captain Hook?” I decided I’d try my hand at something wholly original, not based on any existing story.  I worked for several months trying to craft a story that would be fun and still have some twists and turns.  I’ve never written a mystery before and this one wasn’t stellar on that note, but I think I came up with a fun show, almost as good as Cinderella.

HookCast

I was lucky enough to have a great cast of Salty veterans and a great new comer to breathe life into the characters I wrote.  My talented cast was Joseph Thompson as the Big Bad Wolf, Kassandra Torres as Witch Hazel, Michelle Moore as Cruella De Vil, Ryan Bruckman as Guy Le Roque, Scott Stone as Smee, and Andrew Cole as Captain Hook.  I could not have asked for a more talented cast and was thrilled each night by what they did.  I don’t post a lot on social media, and unlike many directors, I don’t promote what I do much.  I did post a bit more than usual about this show, but not as much as I should.  I feel bad about not doing more for this show. Not because it wasn’t a success.  I think it was.  We didn’t sell every show out, and some early shows were a bit small, but more people may have seen it if I had been more vocal about it.  The audiences that did see it really seemed to enjoy it.  I had some friends from high school come to the show one night, and I could not have been happier with their reactions to the show.  This was a huge boost for me and I didn’t realize how much I needed it in my life right now.  I am not an effusive person.  I used to be much more so when I was younger, but as I’ve grown older (and larger), I tend to be less so.  I think I do a disservice to people quite often because of this.  I feel this particularly with this cast.  I don’t think I told them as often or as vociferously as I should have how much I loved their talents and abilities in these roles.  Hopefully they will see this and know how much I love and appreciate them, not only for this show, but for the wonderful people they are.  I hope to have the opportunity to actually act with them one day.

Being a director is a different beast from acting.  You get to create the world that the actors inhabit and mold the way they interact, but at some point you have to step back and let them be. At that point, you lose a connection with the actors, and it is never quite the same.  They close their circle and you are on the outside of the circle.  It’s hard to have happen, especially for me.  I like to be involved, be the center of attention, but on my terms, and I lose that connection.  I love these people and I cannot say how much happiness they have brought to me through this whole process. That is why I hope I get to act with them someday.

Well, this has gone on quite enough for one post. I leave you with these quotes of the day:

“Acting is not about being someone different.  It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” – Meryl Streep

“The way the world is, I think a sill evening in the theater is a good thing, to take our minds off terror.” – Tim Curry

“All the best performers bring to their roles something more, something different than what the author put on paper.  That’s what makes theater live.  That why it persists.” – Stephen Sondheim

This Bile Tastes Slightly Familiar…. 

After a huge break,  not knowing if I would post again,  I’m back. In the last 4 months a lot has happened.  I’m now larger than I ever have been,  having gained all my weight and more back. 

I’m sitting at staging rehearsal for the opera Carmen,  and I was thinking on my way here what an odd contradiction I have in my life.   I hate being fat.   I hate it so much. I hate it (to coin a phrase) like a fat  kids loves cake .  Life is very difficult for someone who is large. For someone who is obese, it is terrible. Shopping for clothes. Driving a car. Going up and down stairs. These are all trials that you have to deal with when you are  fat. Then you have the looks from other people. Every time you you sit down at a public gathering or in public and eat you feel judged about everything you put in your mouth. You see the looks you get as you stand in line perspiring like you’ve just run a marathon.  You suffer injuries more often and more severely.  You feel the gaze of those around you. 

And at the same time you hear other people talking about nutrition. What they  should eat. How they  should eat. What types of food to avoid. What types of food to eat more of. The ironic thing is I probably know more about nutrition than anyone would ever guess having tried for so long to lose weight. It is annoying to hear people talk about the right things and the wrong things to eat. There is very little right or wrong when it comes to eating food. It is all a question of the quantity of food you eat, not specifically the quality of the food you eat. Too often we focus on do’s and don’ts; rights and wrongs. 

At the same time it’s very hard for me to take offers of help. One of my oldest stories is of a time when I was doing a show. We were meeting the audience after the performance and this young man came up to me and told me how well I had done,  what a great job I did on the show. Then proceeded to tell me that he helps people like me who are large to lose weight. At that moment I wanted to punch his stupid face. I didn’t. I thanked him and walked away. But this is the irony. I desperately want help. Unfortunately I want the help I want,  not the help I need. I tend to reject offers of help no matter how well-meaning because I’m too proud or embarrassed to accept help. It’s foolish and stupid but it is what I do. Then I sit and complain that no one cares. And I bemoan my lot in life. It makes me a lot of fun to be around. Just ask my family.   Better yet,  don’t. 

All this leads me to where I am now: feeling like my best days are behind me,  wallowing in self-loathing, wishing I had the will power to do what I know in my bones I need to do.   It has been 5 years since my wakeup call. The surgery that almost took me from this life. Not sure to my weight, but exacerbated by it. The wakeup call I have failed to heed.  And lately it had been galling me almost beyond reason. And through it all my family,  my coworkers, the chorus members at the opera look the other way as I haul my fat ass up the stairs and find ways and places to sit during rehearsals.   They are living and accommodating and I thank them for it,  but it makes me physically ill that they need to do that.   They are to kind to me and I am clinging to the last vestiges of my dignity while they do it. 

At the end of all this,  the real question is: will this finally be the time I need the wakeup call? 

Just Like a Tempest in a Teapot…

It has been a long time since I have made a post on my blog.  The reasons for this are many, and I won’t go into all of them now.  There have been some changes in my life and my time management which have not allowed me to spend the time I would like to update this blog on a regular basis, but every once in a while I feel the need to come out of the darkness and stick my head up and make some noise.  So here goes.

This post will not be about my usual topics of weight loss, theater, or my own personal struggles.  In my life I am identified by several titles: Husband, Performer, Goofball, etc.  But one of the titles that I hold most dear is that of Father.  I am lucky enough to be the Father of four wonderful children; Children I would do anything for, take any chance for, do whatever I can to provide for them and protect them.  At times, they have gone through very harrowing trials, both physically, mentally and emotionally, and I find it hard to sit back and not be a vocal advocate for my children.  And that is what sparks my post today.

Every parent will sympathize with seeing your child do something that you yourself might not do, but of which you can understand the reasoning for them doing.  My wife and I have had many conversations with our kids in which the phrase, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it quite like that, but…” has been spoken.  And that gets a bit more weight when your kids are adults.  There are choices made that you would not do, but with which you can completely sympathize.  Several days ago, my daughter had a very difficult few days.  She has had some frustrations at work, spent several hours in the rain helping run an aide station for a marathon, and, in a final coup de grace, had played a violin solo in church in which the tremors she sometimes has affected her playing so badly that she felt it was the worst she had ever played.  I wasn’t there to witness it, but I know how this tremor can affect her, and I know how seriously she takes her music.  She came home from church in tears.  She was so mad at herself for the way it had gone.

Then she did something that I would not have done, but with which I completely sympathize.  She posted on Facebook.  She posted a short message that vented her frustrations with the day and several other things.  She did it in a way that very clearly expressed her feelings of the moment, but which I most likely would not have done.  She used a word that is not usually associated with genteel comment.  A word that can be shocking.  And, although most people expressed their understanding of her frustration and ironic verbal counterpoint, some people were quick to express dismay, shock, and disapproval of her use of hyperbole.  There was an initial worry that her account had been hacked, but once this was dismissed (apparently by my daughter’s lack of apology or dismissal of the post), they were quick to express their disapproval of this post.  And I can understand that, but what she needed at that moment was for someone to reach out to her with comfort, care, and commiseration.  Two people who DID do that were her Bishop and his wife.  While not approving of the content, they know my daughter and knew that her frustration and self-defeating feelings were at a high, and that she really needed support and love.

Now I want to be quick to say that I am not angry at those who recriminated my daughter for her post.  I understand their point of view.  I understand their shock and reactions.  I think they are overreacting.  While I might not post something like that, I completely understand my daughter’s feelings and really have no problem that she posted it.  I find that far too many people take a comment tossed aside, whether in face to face conversation or, more often, an online forum, and proceed to make a much bigger deal about it than if they just dismissed the comment and went on with their lives.  Quite frankly, that is one of my pet peeves about our new online social society.  Everyone feels like they have the privilege and even the need to comment publicly on everything that spews forth from the Facebook, the Pinterest, even the Twitter.  I’m reminded of a line from a movie, “I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought… but I can assure you, they’re not all diamonds. ‘Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof.’ Who [cares]?”  I think this also goes for the comment section.  I seldom comment on a post, even to say, “Hey, congrats!” or “Oh, so sorry!”  It all seems like so much ‘me, too’-ing.  There are those times that comments are requested, or when someone really puts a lot of thought into a comment, but most of them are just a way of saying, ‘hey, I saw this, too.’

At the end of the day, so to speak, my daughter hid the post from public view.  It was just easier to do that then to keep seeing the posts coming in about what she had posted in a moment of extreme frustration.  While I tend to dislike posts of this type, it was a bit of a cry for help, or at least support, with a bit of our family’s signature sarcasm.  It was met with attack, however gently given, instead of love and support.  That is almost sadder than the fact that she felt awfully enough to post it.

No quote of the day or witty comments.  I’m just not in the mood.

A Good Beginning Makes a Good End

Just a quick post at the end of the year 2015.  This year could be viewed as a real pisser, but I’m not going to go that way.  Last year, I did.  Not this year.  It was not great, but I have many things to be thankful for. I’m relatively healthy.   I have a good paying job.  I have wonderful friends who I enjoy being around.  I have wonderful kids who keep me young. I have the love of the best woman in the world in spite of my many failings.  I have my faith in God.  And I have the hope that 2016 will be a better year.

2015 has been a year of loss and hard times.  But even through all of that, we have come to the end of it with our head held up (if not high), a smile on our faces (in spite of being a bit rueful), and a happy, loving family.  And the end of it all, you can’t ask for much more than that.

A deep thank you to all my loved ones who have helped me get through this year.  I love you all and hope you will continue to put up with me.

May you all have a wonderful 2016!

Quotes for the day:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” — TS Eliot

“Something is going to come out of this. Something new. This can end you up in a whole new place—a better place, a much more open place” -Pema Chodron

“Drink from the well of yourself and begin again” — Charles Bukowski

You Don’t Sweat Much For a Fat Guy…

It has been 4 years since my scary brush with health concerns, and it’s frightening what little I’ve done about it in that time.  I joined Weight Watchers and did really well for a while, losing 25 pounds.  Then my mother passed away, and I lost my drive and gained almost all of that weight back.   It has been crazy.  I hate, hate, HATE being this large.  It sucks in sooo many ways.  I try to be defiant about my size, as people of size are supposed to be these days, loving the me that is and being proud of who I am, but I just keep finding myself sitting around the house ( and I really sit around the house!) feeling sorry for myself and how I can’t shop at normy (my own favorite term for the rest of you in society, the normal people) stores or have the latest fun t-shirt because they don’t make it my enormous size.  There are too many times where I feel like the largest elephant in the circus trying to climb into the clown car.  I have wonderful friends who suffer in silence as I ride in their cars, and can’t buckle the seat belt (and while I’m on the subject, what the hell is up with car makers that they can make the driver’s seat belt long enough to encompass my girth, but seem to but the Barbie seat belts on the passenger side?!?  Do they really think that there is that much disparity between the people who drive and those who ride in the car?!?  REALLY?!?!?!) and so the seat belt dings forever on the drive.  Normies will never never know what it is like to walk down a hallway and see people first give you a look of, “Oh, no!  How will we pass by each other?” and then squeeze themselves flat against the opposite wall with enough space to pass a semi between us. They will never know what it is like to have patrons at a performance make comments about how incredibly fat you are to your face.  Or how much you are sweating.  Or how they try to compliment you by saying things like, “you move pretty well for someone of your size.”  Translation: I can’t believe that a whale like you can move!

And for all of these reasons and so many, many more, I hate myself on an almost constant basis.Being large is not easy.  We are not always jolly.  I try to diffuse a lot of the hurt I feel with humor.  And to a great extent, it works.  People are not so judgmental if you can make them laugh.  I get it.  It’s stressful being around someone who is very extreme (read: tall, short, fat, thin, purple, orange or Cyclops).  You don’t generally want to say something hurtful (unless you are basically a dick to begin with) and you want to be comfortable and friendly around people.  Humor helps that.  But it still sucks to know that you need to do that.  And it is me that has to take that step.  You have no way of knowing what mood I am in, and how what you say might affect me. My making a joke of myself allows you to feel comfortable around me and diffuse the tension.  But in the end, I still have to be me and have to live with that.

And feeling sorry for yourself becomes a full-time thing.  You withdraw from social situations that you know may be difficult.  You make vows to stop doing theater until you lose weight.  You find yourself making excuses for the not participating in things because you can’t come out and say, “I can’t do social, I have the fat.”  And it is all a death spiral.  Lucky for me I have some key support people who help me to pull myself to the edge of the whirlpool every once in a while so I haven’t had my head sink under water yet.  And of course, there are good days, and there are bad days.  This is apparently one of the not so good days and I am wallowing in it just a bit.  It’s what happens to you.

Anyway, on this 4 year anniversary (of sorts) my thoughts are turning to what I need to do, what I can do to kick my butt in gear and make the changes in my life that I need.  The biggest thing is that I need to move.  I don’t exercise in the least.  I can come up with more excuses as to why I can’t get it done, and there is only one real excuse and that is I just don’t do it.  In the last two years, my wife has walked 5 half-marathons.  I committed to a 5K this past May, and crapped out on that totally.  I get winded walking up a flight of stairs.  But based on the little I lost after my surgery when I did exercise, I know that doing this would make the weight fall off me.  Yet I don’t do it.  I’m not even sure why I’m writing this all down for you all to read.  I hate those Facebook posts where you can tell someone is putting in how down they are so people will comment.  It’s click bait, nothing more.  This is not click bait.I don’t care how many like or hits my site gets.  I don’t post this stuff with any idea that anyone will really read it.  I’m always amazed when I get comments about a post I’ve made because really this is just my personal private public diary.  Someday my kids will stumble on this and see all the crap I’ve posted and ask me what was I thinking.  And I won’t have an answer for them.  I have no idea why I do this.

I had something very odd happen to me this past week.  I had the enormously wonderful chance to meet up with my first mission companion when he came to Utah for a class reunion at BYU.  It was such an incredible visit.  So wonderful to meet with him, meet his wonderful wife and two of his beautiful kids.  Just such a special day.  but he said two or three times about what a wonderful person I was and how I was so good and kind.  That is now how I see myself at all.  On another occasion, a friend of mine said how he couldn’t imagine anyone not liking me.  This is all so foreign to me because I know everyone who doesn’t like me for one reason or another (some with reason and some without) but it just really shocks me when someone says that.  I don’t see myself as a great person. I mean, I don’t think I’m bad (let’s face it, I’m probably going to hell, but that doesn’t make me really evil, does it?), but I don’t see myself as without a mean bone in my body.  I have plenty of them.  With a favorite quote of “If you can’t say something nice, come sit by me,” I’m not all sunshine and rainbows.  Maybe someday I’ll figure this all out.  Maybe I’ll see myself the way others see me (although I have to admit that the prospect of that scare the bejeesus out of me). Or maybe I’ll continue to be the flawed individual I am and have come to accept, at least on some level.

Quote of the week:

“In life, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends
You won’t have time to worry!” – Irishman’s Philosophy

Remember, as far as anyone knows we’re a nice, normal family.

Another long break, and another update on life.  Since the last post, a lot has happened.  I’ve gone through some personal trials and had some setbacks.   My job continues to be a source of some frustration.  I haven’t really talked much about this, but I just get the general sense that I’m not considered a “valued employee” as this point.  I had written a whole detailed explanation of why I feel this way, and then realized that no one cares.  It just sounded so self-serving and “oh pity poor me!” that I wanted to vomit.  My job is not everything it had been.  It has diminished in its enjoyment.  I no longer look forward to coming into work, but it pays the bills.  And while it pays the bills, I look for other opportunities.

The big news over the last few months was the passing of my mother.  Back in October she had fallen over and apparently cracked three ribs.  She was in the hospital for two weeks then  in a care center for four more before being able to go home.  Her biggest problem at this time was that her balance was completely gone, and she was so weak from having spent so much time in bed in the hospital and care center.  One Sunday she fell in the house, and my dad wasn’t able to lift her.  He called my brother and I to come help get her up, and we did.  But through the rest of that week, she just seemed to get weaker and weaker.  We didn’t know how much longer she would even be able to support herself in any way.  Finally, one day Dad got a call from the insurance company following up on the home health visits that Mom had had after the care center.  Dad was explaining to the woman what had been happening, and she suddenly asked if she could call Mom’s doctor.  Dad said she could and hung up.  Mom had become a little unresponsive, and shortly thereafter, the woman called back and advised that the doctor wanted them to get to the emergency room quickly.  My father and brother  took her out to the car, and Mom said to them as they were lifting her up the stairs in her transport chair, “Why are you doing this to me?  I feel fine.”

They got her to the ER and as they pulled in the parking lot, she stopped breathing.  The security guard there saw what was happening, and grabbed Mom and carried her back to the ER.  By the time my father and brother got in there, they were doing chest compressions on Mom to get her breathing again.  They revived her, but she was not responsive and they drugged her to help with the pain. They performed a CT scan to check for brain damage and didn’t see any, but needed to transport her because they had no room in the ICU.  She was transported from Lakeview to St. Mark’s and put in the ICU there. The next day, they started to wean her off the drugs and she woke up and was somewhat responsive to us at that time.  She wasn’t speaking, but was responding to questions with blinks and nods.

As the afternoon progressed, she was having a harder time breathing, and the oxygen monitor was having a hard time registering her saturation levels. About the time they were switching shifts for the doctor, the decision was made to put her back on the ventilator and intubate her.  At this time, my Dad and brother has gone home to clean up and were on their way back to the hospital.  I think that Mom was aware of what was happening, and just decided she didn’t want to be hooked up to any more machines, and just quit fighting. It was the hardest thing to sit there and watch her slip away.  My dad and brother got back just after she has passed, and I’ve never felt more useless or desolate in my life.

The rest of that week and the next seem like a haze to me.  The funeral was very nice, just what she had wanted.  I think both my wife and I, however, will have some words with her when we meet on the other side of the veil.  She made my wife pray (which she doesn’t do in public) and made me sing (which I barely made it through).  I miss her so much.  And it hits at the oddest times.  I remember little things here and there.  I’m not looking forward to Mother’s Day this year.  That is going to be hard.

In other news, my battle with the bulge continues apace.  The events of the last few months have caused me to have a setback of gaining back about half the weight I’d lost.  I’m just now starting to get back, little by little, the where I should be.  My emotions are right at the surface and come up in odd and unusual ways.  I find myself being annoyed by people much easier than I used to be (and if you know me at all, that means something!).  I’m seem to be slipping into the curmudgeonly role I appear to be destined for, but I had hoped to be lovingly curmudgeonly.  The lovingly part seems to be eluding me.  We have a house guest living with us for a time, and when I bring up the idea that there are people who don’t particularly like me, he finds that so hard to believe. (Is it any wonder why I keep him around?)  There are times I feel amazed that anyone finds me likeable.  I know my kids have had that same problem on occasion.  They find me hard to deal with when I’m moody.  Or as my 17-year-old told me when he as little, “Dad, don’t be such a pus-ey butt!”  (And if you wonder why I spell it like that, you try it yourself!  I think you’ll see why!)

The coming months promise to bring new and interesting things.  But you’ll just have to hope I post a little more frequently to know what is going on with me.  I will be directing a show in July, “Alice in Wonderland,” for Salty Dinner Theater.  I’m hoping to start a podcast for them, as well, but we’ll have to see how that develops.

Quote of the day:

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” –  Richard Bach

“I think the family is the place where the most ridiculous and least respectable things in the world go on.” – Ugo Betti

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” – Ellen de Generes

‘Tis pity he’s a bore…

I have kept quiet for some time now (almost 4 months) and lately I have had several people asking when I would post again.  Well, here you go.  In the past four months, things have really not changed a lot in my life.  I’ve lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers.  I try not to be too obsessive about it.  I especially don’t broadcast to the world that I am on WW, and I don’t recite point values to everyone.  I try to stay within my limits, and make smart choices when I can. 

One of the biggest things that I have noticed, and I commented on this in a previous blog, is that I don’t feel compelled to eat everything.  I used to have a coworker who would bring in a box of cookies and have them sitting on his desk.  He would eat one or two a day, but have the open package sitting on his desk.  I could never understand how he could do that.  I could never have an open box of cookies or treats on my desk and not automatically have my hands constantly going to between that box and my mouth.  It was a mindless activity, and the main reason why I ended up where I am today.  I have noticed, however, that I am no longer automatically or mindlessly eating.  I am conscious of every bite I take.  Sometimes that can be a problem.  There are times that we don’t feel like cooking, and it’s just my wife and I, and I cannot make up my mind what to get because I can only see the negative point values that we would be choosing between.  In some ways WW has made my relationship with food worse.  But maybe it is just evolving and I haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet.

Work has become a source of frustration.  I’m not loving it like I once did.  There are a lot of reasons why this is happening, I think.  This has gone downhill since we were merged with the Global help desk two years ago.  Out of the 10-12 people that came over at that time, there are two of us still here.  The whole transition was a cockup of major proportions from all sides.  We were a helpdesk that operated by our own rules.  This was good from the standpoint of the users in the field because we got things done in a timely and efficient manner.  It was bad from the Global standpoint because we didn’t fit their model.  It was a real-life example of jamming a square peg into a round hole.  And I recently discovered that I did not perform as I was expected, and didn’t provide the “leadership” and “guidance” in making the transition a smooth one.  From my perspective, whenever I tried to give input, it was dismissed, so I stopped giving it.  In their eyes, I failed to perform to my expectations.  Since that time, any strengths that I had have been discounted as poor attitude and a failure to involve.  I’m still a little bitter over this assessment, and although I am assured that this perception can change quickly, several other signs point to it being a long row to hoe before that will ever come to pass.  When you are put into a situation where your are being scrutinized for imperfections, doing your job is seen as nothing more than the calm before the storm.

However, be that as it may, life is good.  I tend to take a dim view of most things lately and that is largely due to my allowing my situation to dominate my thoughts.  If I really take into account all that is going on in my life, I can’t complain and, if I’m completely honest, my life is pretty great.  I have a beautiful wife who loves me in spite of my many failings and the trials I put her through; I have four amazing children who in spite of all the crap I put them through are cheering me on through the whole weight battle; I have a job that provides for my family and, for the most part, doesn’t suck; I have incredible health considering my weight; I have a safe and happy home; I have a wonderful ward that I live in; I have friends who, for some unknown reason, love me for who I am (or, perhaps more accurately, in spite of who I am).  I really can’t complain.  An yet I do…

That is perhaps the hardest thing for those around me, and for myself: my pig-headed insistence that despite the bright silver lining there is still a cloud in the sky.  I haven’t always been this way.  I was never this way in high school.  I had a great time in high school.  And I was that way for most of my young adulthood.  It is only as I realized what my “misspent” youth (fairly tame by all standards, but misspent, nonetheless) had given me (obesity, low tolerance to movement, flop sweat that could wash away a small Guatemalan village, etc.) that this malaise afflicted me.  I have been prone to semi-regular bouts of depression in the past, some requiring medication to control, but I have avoided that since the last spell when I decided that I would rather feel sad than feel nothing.  That has been the worst part of antidepressants to me: You don’t feel sad, but you don’t feel anything.  And it got to the point that I’d rather feel like crying than feel nothing at all.  Not to get all religiony Latter-Day-Sainty or anything, but that always struck me as how life would have been under Satan’s plan for happiness: no good or evil, no virtue or vice, no pleasure or pain.  It stinks.it_stinks_by_yagamijase1800-d53i817

Anywho, as I go through this latest little ice age it has taken me some time to come to the realization that I am the one who controls how I feel about the “little injustices” of life.  In particular, it was something that my dear wife sent me that helped me to start to turn the corner on this.  To paraphrase what she sent me, there are three main causes of unhappiness:

  1. Dissatisfaction with what is happening in your life: craving things/events/circumstances you don’t have in your life but wish you did, or that you have in your life that you wish you didn’t.
  2. Fear about either your future or your past: holding onto fear about past experiences or choosing to worry about future events
  3. Choosing to be unhappy because unhappiness benefits you in some way: unhappiness gets you love/attention/sympathy/etc.

That last one is the one that I find most troubling.  I have always hated that trait in others and one of the reasons I don’t really do much on Facebook.  I had a Facebook friend that I finally removed because all their posts were about how miserable their life was or how unfair their partner was or how unloved they were.  There were plenty of people who cooed loving words to them and gave them the attention they craved, but it just made me sick and I finally couldn’t take it anymore. The sad thing is that I saw some of that in my life after reading this.  I don’t take to Facebook, but I put my family through it.  It’s unhealthy.  This is not to say that there isn’t good in unburdening your soul, but it the sort of thing that you get out and it’s gone.  If you are constantly, incessantly “unburdening” your soul, and in a very public way, to the same people and frequently saying the same things, over and over again, you are doing no good, either to yourself or others.  And it takes a lot to get to that point.  But I think that like a lot of mental and emotional issues, if you are aware that you might be slipping into that behavior, you’re probably safe.  It’s when you can’t see that you are participating in that behavior that you are most likely up to you tits in it.  So now my challenge is to pull myself out of it and keep away from the morass that is self-pity.

And to all of you, who come to this site and care about what I have to say, I thank you.  You keep me honest and, for the most part, on track.  I try to be open and honest in my posts on this blog, although I don’t exactly lay my soul bare here.  I also try to inject a little humor, sometimes more that others.  But thank you for your love and support. And for the kind comments that I have received as this journey has progressed.  I appreciate it more than you know.

Quote of the day:

“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. – Helen Keller”

“Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. ‘How everything affects me’ is the center of all that matters – self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking. – Ezra Taft Benson”

Nothing up my sleeve…Presto!

It’s been a while since I last posted and I’m overdue for an update.

As I said in my last post, I started Weight Watchers. I’ve had some good and bad weeks, but I’m down 9.6 pounds,  and feeling good about the future.  We recently took a trip to Vegas and I spent my days walking around the Strip.  I kept my hand towel with me to mop the worst off my face, and actually had a good time.   It did get a little miserable the night we tried to see the moving statues at Caesars Palace, and it took us over an hour just to get from the Paris Hotel to the Forum Shops because of the crowds. Read the full post »

That’s a Pretext for Your Context..

It has been an interesting few weeks.  Since my last post, I obviously finished by run as Gertrude, the ugly stepsister to Cinderella, went on to play Big Louie Salino in Mafia Murder Mystery for Salty Dinner Theater to much success, and personal joy. It was a great run with very appreciative audiences.  I have always loved playing this character.  Big Louie was the first character I played in a murder mystery dinner theater.  And I loved it!  So when the opportunity came about to do it again, I jumped at the chance.  The additional perk that I got to do the show with my heterosexual life partner, with whom I had just finished playing the other ugly stepsister with, was icing on the cake!

HLP

Read the full post »

What I Learned as an Ugly Stepsister

I recently finished my role as one of the Ugly Stepsisters in Salty Dinner Theater’s production of Cinderella.  It was an eye-opening experience.  It’s not very often you get to see things from the “other side,” as it were, and so I want to offer the things I learned while an Ugly Stepsister.

1. It’s not easy being pretty.Image

Beauty is not easy!

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On a Scale of One to Ten, This Year has been a Meh….

In the grand tradition of absolutely nothing, I present my year-end review of my life.

2013 started out rather inauspiciously.  I quietly celebrated the coming new year at home with my wife and some of the kids.  They are getting older, and so are venturing out on their own adventures now.  But the new year held promise.  Promise of a new drive to a healthier lifestyle, a new drive to get life priorities in check and to generally be better in the coming new year.  And the year went about as you’d expect.  I ‘m still as large (if not larger) than I was last year.  I have additional health concerns as I get another year older, and the spectre of depression rears its ugly mug once again.

I had decided to take the year off from doing theater and stick only with the productions with Utah Opera that I had contracted to.  The first of the year was Florencia en el Amazonas, a beautiful modern opera with a lush score.  It was fun to be part of a modern opera and one in Spanish, which was a first for me.  The next production of the year was The Magic Flute, a true Mozart classic.  I love the opera, but don’t care if I ever perform on that set again.  In fact, I will never perform on that set again.  That show gave me real insight into my future if I don’t change my life.  I fell twice during that production and still had nerve damage in my elbow.  It was my fault and nothing to do with the production or the opera.  But that set is a menace. Read the full post »