Here we go

I’m back in Texas doing my whole business presentations, let’s win contracts, thing. 

While I’m flying here, there and everywhere, my Julie is having a meltdown! 

She’s knee deep in school both professionally and her own pursuits (she’s trying to get her second Ph.D.  As if I don’t feel enough like a window licker around her.) and she’s ready for us to build our house. 

We’ve looked through a lot of “cookie cutter” blueprints but none really scream out to us. 

I’m so busy looking at plan sheets of bridges and roadways that staring at foundation layouts and framing details is not my idea of fun. 

“I get that this feels like work to you but I feel like I’m looking at a human brain!”

That’s Julie’s latest mindset on the issue. 

I get it. I really do. I also know that whatever she wants is basically what I’ll be happy with. 

Today I have a presentation in Houston. Tomorrow prep in Dallas. Thursday a presentation in Amarillo and home Thursday night. 

I’m so busy that I’m making an executive decision; I’m calling an architect. Let a guy (or girl) with a seal sit down with Julie, listen to her list of must haves and have nots and then design us her dream home. 

Yes it’s going to cost considerably more than ordering a set of factory prints from “you new home.whatever” but in the end she will get exactly what she wants which means I’ll get exactly what I want. 

Julie. In case you read this before lunch….SURPRISE!! 

I love you! 

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Opinions 

This morning I got up, had some coffee and checked my Facebook. Nothing unusual to report, except that a lot of my gay and lesbian friends are posting about an article that was written about gay discrimination. 

What makes this article different is that the author openly and freely expresses his opinion that it’s perfectly acceptable to discriminate against the LGBT community. Matt Walsh’s article has folks up in arms. People are demanding that it be taken down and that this is the type of attitude that has put us back into the same mindset that the U.S. was in with regards to racial discrimination in the 50’s. 

Here’s my problem with all this hoopla. Matt Walsh is a blogger. Just like you and just like me. The difference is that he has convinced a small, independently owned network to publish his garbage. As much as I disagree with his opinions, I’m open minded and intelligent enough to know that what he is expressing is just that; opinion. 

Granted, he completely disregards and even dismisses the 14th Amendment which was written to provide protection against former slaves from discrimination but which is worded in such a way that it protects ANY and all groups from such laws being written that would allow discrimination or dismiss the legal protection afforded to those groups. 

Here’s the bottom line; this guy is an ass. He’s obviously just another bigot with an audience. We feel frustration and disgust from people like the members of The Westboro Baptist Church but we’ve come to accept that they are simple minded racists and bigots that are warping the Constitution to meet their own agenda. 

Walsh is entitled to express his opinion. A right that is protected under the First Amendment which protects his freedom of speech and freedom of the press. 

Just because he has put his thoughts down and pushes them out into the virtual world does not make them law! It does not make them valid arguments to support such laws. In fact, his openly hateful attitude would probably be something that Right Wing Conservatives would shy away from quoting because it’s so over the top! It would actually defeat their agenda to pass laws that allow business owners to deny services to members of the LGBT community. 

My point is this: As intelligent, educated individuals we are allowing ourselves to get worked up over the simple minded attitude of one hateful man. Someone who makes his living by bashing a group that he knows nothing about. A group that he is afraid of because of his ignorance about us. 

Using his words to justify outrage and dissatisfaction towards our legislators is as irresponsible as his actions. Why stoop to his level? 

I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t follow the typical “militant” attitude towards equal rights that others may have. I believe that education and thoughtful process are the only ways to prove that all groups are worthy of the same rights and responsibilities that the laws provide. 

To me, giving this man a slot on my Facebook page, even if it’s to bash him is granting him 15 minutes of fame. Something that I am happy to afford him because my faith in the ability of the majority to do what’s right will mean that his rants will disappear into the wind just as quickly as they appeared. But crying out that he is going to be the downfall of our society is giving him entirely too much credit. Credit that he is not worthy of. 

And there is C…again. 

In a previous post, I detailed how C sent me a lengthy private message and requested that I never contact her again. I also explained that she hasn’t removed me from her friends list on Facebook. 

Well, I have been busy with work and trying to make Easter travel plans with Julie. We are going to Louisiana to see James and Huey so we are getting plane tickets and hotel reservations in order. She is also dealing with her family because this is only the second Easter that she has been allowed to attend their family function and she’s choosing to spend it with me. 

Truthfully, I think it’s all a lot less dramatic than it seems. We are trying to “rotate” holidays so both sides get to see us. Except Christmas. I think our plan is to split that between both families, somehow. Anyways, I digress. 

Wednesday was Louie’s birthday. As I usually do, I posted a short status update on Facebook wishing her a happy birthday. She responded as did a lot of my friends and I went about my business. On Thursday I got a notification that C had “liked” the post. 

Ok. Whatever. I mentioned it in passing to Julie and she got pretty upset about it. “In her message to you she stated that you do not have unprecedented access to her or her family. You’ve never contacted her family but she feels it’s ok to make a gesture about yours? She batshit crazy!”

I didn’t take it that way, but I can see that Julie had been sensitive about this whole ordeal all along so I didn’t argue. To me, I saw it more as what it probably was; C is calming down and realized that her message to me was one sent in haste as a reaction to some perceived wrong doing. Or she is batshit crazy. Not sure which but it didn’t bother me. I was more amused by the “don’t ever contact me again, but I’m going to continue to participate in your life to an extent” attitude. 

Well, today I had to run some errands and finish up reports for work so I was out and about. I didn’t have my phone on me much today so I didn’t see the text from C until several hours after she had sent it. 

“The more I think about it the more I realize I wasn’t fair to you. I was an ass and I have to own that. Being a grown up sucks sometimes but I am sorry.”

Julie actually read the text before I did because she was at the house with my phone when it was received. 

She admitted that she wanted to respond but didn’t because she knew it would be her reacting to a situation that neither of us really want to be in. In essence, she would be giving C power again and that’s something we don’t really want. 

Well, as I said, I didn’t see the text for several hours. When I did get it, it had been followed up with several others. “I guess you aren’t going to talk to me? I suppose I deserve that.” And “the silent treatment isn’t like you. Lol”

I debated on if I should respond or not. I’m still pretty upset at her for the recent juvenile outbursts I’ve had to endure so I realize that I could very easily be baited into an ugly back and forth with her. Something I don’t want. On the flip side, she’s right; I don’t do the silent treatment. Even if I don’t want to engage, I always acknowledge a person. It’s a respect thing. 

“C, right now I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to have any contact with each other. You obviously have areas of your life that you need to focus on and so do I. If it seemed like I was ignoring your texts today, that wasn’t the case. Truthfully, I don’t think I could have a conversation with you without it turning hurtful and angry. I hope you understand.”

I haven’t heard back and don’t expect to unless it’s more aggression. I haven’t been on Facebook so I’m not sure if she has taken me off her friends list but that’s not really a concern of mine right now. 

As I have said in the past; I am beginning to wonder if she is suffering from a valid mental illness or if she is just a whacko! Only time will tell. 

The Big Event, Bonfire and of course…The Muster. 

I’ve never really talked much about my alma mater on here. I have readers from all over the world so the school that I once attended probably doesn’t even raise a blip on their radar. 

Today, however, I got an email from the alumni association reminding me that the annual “Aggie Muster” is approaching. 

A little back story. I attended Texas A&M University. It’s one of the oldest Universities in Texas and a common saying is that it’s the “original university of Texas”. (Our biggest rival is UT in Austin. We were founded before them so we try to get a little jab in from time to time)

Our school was originally a military institution and still has a very strong connection with the different branches of the U.S. Military. The Corps of Cadets is the largest and oldest student organizations on campus and almost half of the corps members go on to become commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. 

Because loyalty, honor and integrity are core values in the military they are also important character traits that each Aggie is expected to demonstrate. Maybe that’s one reason I have always felt such a strong sense of loyalty to my friends; it’s what I was taught to do! 

Along with these traits comes a sense of pride and tradition. To be awarded an Aggie Ring is one of the highest forms of recognition a student can receive. In my day, it was a lot harder to qualify for a ring than it is today, but there is still that sense of brotherhood when I sit down in a meeting and see that golden giant on the right hand of a fellow engineer. 

  Other traditions we celebrate are Yell Practice, (instead of having “cheers” to chant at football games we have yells that are led by the Corps. In fact, until recent years, A&M didn’t even have actual cheerleaders and those they did have were male!) Bonfire (which is now an unsanctioned event since the collapse of the one in ’99 led to the University banning the practice), The Big Event (the largest student led charity event in the U.S.) and of course, Muster. 

Muster is the one that has prompted this post. Aggie Muster is a tradition that has taken place since the 1800’s. It is a somber event and one that ends with every person in tears. 

The Muster is a “roll call” if you will, of those Aggies we have lost in the past year. Whether they are current students or Alumni that graduated 50 years ago, it doesn’t matter! Once an Aggie, always an Aggie. 

The Muster is a celebration of that Aggies life and the contribution they made to the world. The impact they had on someone! 

As the arena is filled with Aggies and their families, a list is read. As each name of a fallen Aggie is called, a family member or friend announces “HERE” and lights a candle in their honor. The response of “HERE” is to remind us that they are never truly gone. Their memory lives within us and their legacy will carry on. The candle represents the light that they have brought to our lives. 

As I said, almost half of the Corps members go on to become officers in the military and many more of us go on to serve as Non Commissioned officers, as well. Because of that, I have avoided The Muster for many years. 

Each day in the news, I would read about a fallen soldier who was stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. How a life was ended too soon in defense of a nation. I’d also open my emails to find announcements of fallen Aggies who were serving in these far off places. 

The notion of sitting in the Arena, listening to name after name of Aggies who were no longer with us was more than I could handle. 

I was talking to Julie about it. She was an Aggie, briefly, and said that she would like to go. To pay respect to those who have passed. She said that she thought I owed it to them to attend, as well. 

I never thought about it that way, but I guess she’s right. One day my name will be read aloud and one of my daughters will stand and announce “HERE” and light a candle on my behalf. An arena filled with Aggies, young and old will come together to celebrate my life and the life of others, even if it’s just for one day. 

I can’t really boast about the long standing traditions of my school without mentioning Muster, so I owe it to those who have gone before me to stand up and celebrate their lives with my fellow Aggies! 

Here’s to honor, integrity, tradition and loyalty! 

“Greater than sadness is the celebration of what they have meant to us and why we answer ‘here’.” 

– M.L. Cashion ’53

  

The People’s Republic of Texas. 

I’m back in Beaumont. We are actually building the bridge! Pounding away at piles and starting to form the footings! I’m in my element!!

I worked until 7pm today because I don’t really have a reason to go to the apartment when I have Riley at work with me, other than to bathe and sleep. The apartment is more Riley’s home than it is mine but when I’m in the field, he gets to hang out with me. 

When I lived in Austin, I never felt uncomfortable being butch. Wearing means clothes, having short hair, and carrying myself with a more masculine gait. I’ve also never been bothered when I’m called ma’am or if I’m mistaken for a male and called sir. 

However, I can’t ever recall being called “sir” when I lived in Austin. Or even in Houston for that matter. 

Beaumont, however, it’s a daily occurance. Literally. The barista at Starbucks has gotten used to me ordering my Grande Pike and seldom even refers to my gender. 

The people at work are now familiar with me in my jeans and ball cap and it doesn’t seem to phase them. 

It’s the unfamiliar. 

At the grocery store. “Sir, do you have a Kroger card…er..um…I’m sorry”

At the local fast food chain “would you like fries with that sir (and the girl behind him whispers in his ear his mistake) oh. Sorry bout that”

Maybe I’m weird. Maybe I’m actually more sensitive to it than I think I am. But, I almost would prefer they simply ignore that they’ve made a mistake. Or, at the very least just say, “I’m sorry” and move on. 

The stuttering and stammering just makes it even more awkward. For both of us. 

I had an incredibly bad day a few weeks back and needed to go to the store after work to pick up a few things. As I’m searching the signs over each aisle looking for the right one, a voice said, “can I help you find something sir?” I’m not a man so I didn’t answer because I didn’t think he was speaking to me. He said it again only this time a little aggressively. “Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?”

I finally turned around and he started that typical stutter step. 

“I am so sorry. Ma’am. Can I help you find something?”

In an uncharacteristic tone I asked him if he was really all that interested in what I was looking for. When he asked what I meant I said, “you have asked me three times if you could help me. The first two you incorrectly referred to me as a male. Did it dawn on you that regardless of my gender, when I didn’t respond, it would have been ok to just move along and leave me the hell alone?”

He was offended and left. 

I guess what gets me is that we still feel the need to identify people by their gender. Does it matter? Can’t someone be just as polite saying, “Can I help you?” without having to relate to me by my gender? 

Today I was given my itenerary for next week. I’m presenting in Houston for two large projects that we have partnered with another firm on. 

When I contacted the lead engineering (via email) to find out what task lead position I would be presenting, he responded with “Mr.”

It didn’t bother me but my boss who had been cc’d on it sent his response email and included my “bio” page, complete with the airbrushed professional photo that I had taken. His subtle way of revealing my gender without making the other guy feel like an ass. 

If it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother others? Better yet, why should their awkwardness become my problem? 

On a lighter note…this weekend was pretty stressful. I had a lot of work to get caught up on and I need to decide how I’m going to handle school this summer. I went outside and smoked a cigarette. Something I haven’t done in over a year and something julie has NEVER seen me do. When she caught me I felt as though she had just walked in on me madturbating!! Awkward!! 

Well alrighty then. 

I got a long private message from C on Sunday. The two of us haven’t had any contact with each other in weeks. 

I take that back. I did feel bad for just “abandoning” her so I sent her a text Saturday evening that said, “I hope all of you are having a good weekend.”

As Julie and I were driving to the store, my notification went off. I glanced at it and noticed it was C’s name. “Hey. C sent a message. Read it and let’s see how she’s doing.”

As soon as she opened it she stopped, looked at me and asked, “You may not want to read this now.”

I was puzzled but told her to go ahead. I mean hey. I have tried to be supportive. Giving her space when she would shut down and offering advice only when asked for. My fear was that this was her telling me that she was injured or worse, something had happened to the kids.

“Lee. I am drawing the line in the sand. I find your texts intrusive and I don’t know why you would think you have unprecedented access to me, my family or my close friends. My life is still evolving since the death of my wife and I am trying to figure out what parts of my past I should hang on to and which ones I need to let go. This is me choosing to exit our friendship. You are intelligent and capable. You have terrific friends and great kids. Please never contact me again.”

Ok. Hmm. 

Needless to say, I haven’t contacted her nor will I. I suggested in one post that I thought she might be bi polar (I am not claiming to be a medical professional) or at the least, bat shit crazy. 

Either way, Julie simply deleted the message and we went about our day. 

Later that night, I was browsing Facebook and noticed that a picture she posted was in my newsfeed. 

Odd. I assumed she would have deleted me from her friends list. Ok. Whatever. 

I didn’t delete her, I simply moved her to my “aquantence” list so I won’t see her posts. No need to react just because she was pretty snarky. 

My assumption was that she had forgotten to do that and it would be addressed later. 

Yesterday morning I got a phone call from our mutual friend, T. “Hey. Have you talked to C lately?”

I told her I hadn’t (which technically wasn’t a lie. She sent me a message and I didn’t respond) because I didn’t feel the need to drag someone else into this. 

Apparently, C removed T from her friends list and isn’t returning her calls, texts and messages asking about it. 

When I heard this, I thought that C had finally gotten around to cleaning up her Facebook. 

Out of curiosity, I looked and she is still on my friends list. She deleted T but left me. 

I don’t know if she was expecting a reaction or if she really is crazy. But, I do think her suggestion that we never communicate again was a very good one! 

Fortunes for everyone 

Ever have that “sixth sense” that tells you something you really shouldn’t know? 

Do you believe in astrology or psychics? 

Are you the type who believes that fate or karma are real? 

I am on the fence with some of these things. 

I do believe in karma. I think that everything in this world is composed of energy. Even we, human beings, can be broken down to our most fundamental core as a bundle of energy. 

As an engineer, I know that energy never “disappears” or dies. Einstein proved this theory and it has been the basis for many different experiments ever since. When a person dies (I’m speaking from a scientific perspective here) the chemical and electrical energy in their body is transferred to thermal energy. That thermal energy is then “absorbed” by their surroundings. Therefore, a person’s energy lives on. 

If you believe, as I do, that the energy moves into a higher place, there can be a certain amount of comfort. 

Back to karma…

I believe that our actions also produce energy. Think of it as a puzzle. If you lose a piece, only an identical piece can fit back into its place. 

If you send out negative energy in the form of jealousy, anger, violence, only those types of energy can replace what is missing. Make sense? 

Therefore, if you are a shit to someone else, someone will be a shit to you. Karma. 

As for astrology? I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “pre ordained” notion that because I’m a Libra, I will have more of a tendency to act in a certain way than someone who is a Leo. 

I can read the character traits of my sign and easily say, “oh. That’s so me!” because I want to believe that those positive qualities (the desire for truth and fairness for example) are alive and well inside me. If I were to focus on another sign, I’d probably want to believe that those positive qualities are also alive and well in me. We tend to look for what brings us comfort and understanding. 

Now, let’s talk about psychics. 

I am an educated person. Firmly rooted in the world of numbers and scientific theories. However, I am also a Christian. For years those two worlds collided and I still have days where I question my faith because of my knowledge of the world around us. 

But sometimes there are things that I just can’t explain. 

I’m going to tell you a story. One that I haven’t shared with many people because it happened when I was very young and everyone except a select few chose to dismiss it as an overactive imagination. 

When I was 5 years old, my mother was working two jobs. She would work at a local factory (they made sterile guaze for a large medical company) during the day and she worked as a bartender at night. 

This meant I spent a lot of time at daycare or with a babysitter keeping watch over me. 

One morning my mom had the opportunity to go to work earlier than usual. She always grab the chances to get any overtime she could so she had worked out an arrangement with the daycare I attended to drop me off two hours before their normal hours.

On this particular morning, it was around 4:30 am. It had been sleeting the night before and the weather was horrible. We went inside, my mother put me down on a couch that had been made up for me to sleep on until the other kids showed up and left. 

The room I was in was in the front of the house and we always entered and exited through the back door where the parking lot was. 

I lay there on my makeshift bed when all of a sudden I couldn’t move my arm and I saw my mother fall off the back steps. I jumped up, ran to the back of the house screaming and was intercepted by the woman who was watching me. 

I explained that I had seen my mom fall and she needed help. 

The woman gently explained that I had simply had a bad dream because there was no physical way I could have seen my mother from the room I was in. I argued and protested but eventually accepted it as truth and went back to the couch. 

That evening when my mom picked me up she was in a cast. She had slipped on a patch of ice while leaving the daycare and fell down the stairs breaking her arm. 

I told her what had happened and, I still remember the look on her face, sternly said, “don’t ever tell anyone about this”

Years later, I started having a recurring dream. I still have it now from time to time. 

In the dream I’m in a house. A house I’ve never seen in real life and one that is in poor repair. There are holes in the roof, the front is in shambles and all in all, it’s not in livable condition. 

One time I was at my moms for a visit and she began talking about how she had her house dream and she needed to call my sister to see if she was having it too. 

I perked up. “What do you mean?”

When my sister was in her late 20’s or early 30’s she mentioned to my mother that she kept having a dream about a house. It was run down and a mess. My mom confessed that she had the same dream. 

I asked my mom to describe the house. But, I asked her to describe very specific details about it. 

“What is the bathroom like?”

My mom went on to tell me how the bathroom was huge. It had 3 doors that entered into it and the tub was on a raised platform. For some reason there was no shower and the vanity only had one sink. And there wasn’t tile or linoleum but a God awful gold colored carpet in there. 

She could tell from the look on my face what I was thinking. 

“When did you start dreaming about it?”

Now, I don’t think that any of the women in my family are necessarily “pyschic” but it did give me the heebie jeebies. 

That brings me to the actual point of this very long, drawn out story. 

Yesterday Julie and I went to a casino in a neighboring town. A few friends had planned the trip and we decided it would be an interesting change of routine. I have never been a gambler and if you need to make some quick rent money, just ask me to play a game of Texas Hold Em with you and you’ll walk out with my wallet! 

While we were there, we decided to stop in and have a quick go around with a pyschic that had a shop there. It seemed like quick fun all for the low price of $10. 

We each went in individually because that was what she required. Ok. Whatever. 

I expected her to ask me a lot of questions and then make up some bogus fortune about my wonderful marriage or how I’ll be coming in to a lot of money soon. You know..the typical carney fortunes that everyone hears. 

When I walked in she smiled and asked my name and date of birth. That was it. She then started to tell me about very specific people in my life. Telling me that this one is struggling with legal problems and doesn’t know what to do, that one is actually in a depressive state because she’s worried about losing her job, etc. 

It was not what I expected. As we drove home last night, I asked Julie about it and, to my surprise, she was very aloof. She told me this morning that it was because the woman told her things she couldn’t have possibly known and it freaked her out a little. 

I explained that the same thing happened to me but we both acknowledged that our “fortunes” didn’t involve each other so we were ok with us having this one secret to ourselves. 

I called my friend that I felt was the best fit for one of the things she had told me. I chatted with her ad after about 20 minutes discovered that she did in fact have some serious legal issues. Her step father passed away and left her the house but his children from his first marriage was contesting the will because they felt the house belonged to them. 

I offered to help her find a good attorney and by the time we got off the phone, she seemed to be feeling much better. 

I’m not sure what I think about all this. If I called enough friends, I’m sure I would eventually find a few that matches with what the psychic told me. On the other hand, if I believe in karma and the possibility that the women in my family can share the same dream, why is it so hard for me to believe that this woman actually saw something in me?

For the record…Huey has had the dream but Louie never has.