Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Positives and Negatives

I have been thinking a lot lately.  For me just getting up in the morning and navigating the 1.5 mile trek to my office can be adventure on the high plains.  Thinking, well, that's just not my forte.  I like to get things done, right, the first time. " I do one thing at a time, I do it well, and then I move on" as Dr. CE Winchester put it on MASH years ago.  Riding the Harley gives me time to get those bad negative thoughts out of my head, and focus more on prayer and reinforcing those positives which seem so distant at times.  Riding a Harley gives me time to focus on me, getting my mind right, keeping those important things in focus and letting the bad vibes just float away.  Some people meditate, some knit, I ride a Harley.  Seems easy enough, right???

For instance, last month my bike broke down.  I didn't just hit a bad vibe, I almost had a massive coronary!  Check out my last post, but I was pretty panicked.  There is a sound that metal makes when banging on metal.  I have heard that sound twice before.  Both times ended in utter disaster, with connecting rods hanging out of the side of the engine block, oil and antifreeze everywhere, and no horseys making power.  The clanging I heard from Melissa sounded almost identical.  I had all sorts of engine replacement visions and nightmares, but after the repair shop picked up the bike and gave it a once over, it turned out to be just a failed compensator cover.  The negative turning into a positive.

Of course, there is also the vice versa.  At work we have had several retirements.  There are several positions that really need to be filled, and one of them is for the professional land surveyor position.  While I don't have my full license yet, in anyone else's mind, this would be a prime opportunity to finish up my licensure, right?  Not so fast says my supervisor.  In his words "...even if you DID have your license we will not hire YOU as our PLS...".  The explanation defies belief, but it seems that the higher brass want someone with years of full licensure experience now.  In effect, even when I DO pass the final exam, the department simply will not hire me as a fully licensed surveyor.  After 10 years of effort to be shot down like that  was pretty discouraging.  While I still have a job, I had hoped I would be in line to be promoted, to take on those new challenges, instead, a positive went to a negative.  In all fairness they do have a point.  Our office needs that experience now, but it certainly was demoralizing to say the least.

Then there is the up and down circus I have been playing with a certain rock concert I have been wanting to attend since puberty.  For those that don't know who I am referring to, the band is called RUSH.  A rather odd progressive rock band from Toronto, Canada who has been putting out quality music since 1974 and continue to do so with the same three members to this day.  Granted they aren't a Led Zeppelin, but Led Zeppelin isn't making new music any more.  The short of it is I have been trying since I was 16 years old to see this band.  I distinctly remember being reminded that " you aren't going downtown by yourself to see that concert" in 11th grade.  Probably had a point, but since then I could tell all sorts of tales about failed attempts to see this band.  One year my wife was giving birth to our second daughter.  One year my truck broke down and I was forced to expedite repairs.  The list goes on and on and on and on.

Their last tour, "Snakes and Arrows" tour, I actually HAD a ticket.  I was all set.  I purchased some atypical concert tshirts online just for the show.  I had a ball cap all ready.  We had made plans to stay in a hotel that night.  Everything was perfect, until.  Two days before the concert, my wife was hospitalized with an injury to the ciatic nerve.  To her credit, she actually begged me to go without her.  She knew I had looked so forward to this concert, but my duties as husband and father are simply more important than some concert.  So, I ate a ticket.  Fast forward to April of this year.  Another tour, and another chance.  Again, we purchased my ticket.  Plans were made, changed, rearranged, dropped, then re planned.  For awhile I didn't think I would go this year after repairs to the truck in Atlanta on our vacation changed our vacation plans.  I have flipped from positive to negative so many times on whether I should go because things are a bit tight.  But, I am happy to announce that Friday night I will be in attendance at their Minneapolis show.  Thank GOODNESS!

Life has its positives and negatives.  Up and down, ever changing.  Riding the Harley is a lot like that.  Last weekend, feeling a bit frustrated at life, I was riding over by the Mississippi River, and ended up finding a hot rod show.  I don't know that I could ever afford a car like the little '64 Vette I was drooling over, or the Mustang Boss 302, or maybe even the '74 Dodge Charger, but just seeing those cars reminded me that no matter what happens in life, ya gotta take the positives with the negatives.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like Screaming!

Ok ok - I know, it sounds like I may be a bit upset.  Maybe a little angry.  Ok - a lot angry.  You know those days - you go home after a day of nothing going your way and nothing working right, only to discover the dog has just crapped in your walking shoes and the cat has hacked up a hairball in your underwear drawer, the kids wont have nothing to do with you, and your spouse has this funny idea that you are now a fashion expert, no matter how thin that dress may make her look, nothing you are going to say will convince them, and you end up sleeping in the neighbors doghouse because your in laws arrived unexpectedly at your doorstep leaving YOU with nowhere else TO sleep.  We all have them, we all get frustrated tired just plain sick of those feelings, and for awhile I have been avoiding those pent up frustrations.  Until today.

Hear me out.  This is not really a life or death issue, but rather one of those "challenges" that we get dropped in our laps that will work out, at some point, but it just was not the right time for this to happen.  And, while this is not anything super critical (like an organ transplant!) or even one of those life altering things (like your wife kicking you out of the house wanting a divorce for that "magazine" on your desk) but in my world, this is one of those things that I could have just as soon done without for the next 10 years!

In a word - my Harley has died.  Yes - the one possession that I value more than some of my vital organs, more than both of my legs, heck even more than my left brain! I went to an Iowa National Guard Send Off Ride with the Patriot Guard this morning.  Everything was going smoothly, even God blessed us with cooler temps and milder weather.  Some of us decided to escort the buses loaded with soldiers partway to the edge of town.  We pulled aside, let the buses continue their journey to St Louis.  Everything was fine UNTIL.  Its always UNTIL isn't it.  I had gotten to the end of the ramp, turned right, headed towards home, and about halfway to the next light I felt the bike shudder a bit.  As I turned north, I began to hear noises I do not normally hear out of the engine.  Loud clanking banging noises of metal to metal.  The bike was still running, and I was only a mile from home, so I gingerly made my way home on the side of the street just barely cracking the throttle enough to maintain some speed.  I looked for traces of oil on the driveway, but no clues were there.

There are two thoughts that come to mind.  I am glad I was very close to home, or else getting the bike home at all would have been impossible.  Two - after spending money on vacations, dentists, and truck repairs, I have little resources left to effect a major repair of this sort.  In short - I will be making payments for a bike that won't run.  I have lost a large portion of the contract work I normally do, and have suffered thru several other lost income situations that are making things a bit tight.  Its almost as if Old Man Murphy was using me for a Beta Tester.  Anything that CAN go wrong has gone wrong and will continue to do so until morale improves or the Second Coming is at hand!

I guess I could look on the bright side - at least I was not on one of those buses with those soldiers. Sometimes though, you just feel like screaming!