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Four… Four Years… Ah, ah, ah, ahhhh

4 YearsI’ve been back now for 4 years.  I have achieved some of my goals.  Not as many as I had planned to achieve by now.  As it is, my original plan for life never did turn out the way I hoped.  Sometimes it feels like I may as well just hang it up and switch to plan B.  Trouble is, I don’t have a plan B.

I’ve admitted my mistakes.  For those, I am sorry.  I know God has forgiven me.  I’m still here when he simply could’ve let me die and be forgotten.  I am truly thankful for that.  I say a prayer every night letting him know just how thankful I am.  I also pray that he bless all the souls, worthy and unworthy in hopes they too appreciate the blessings he’s given onto all of us.

I always made the best of the situations I was presented in my life.  Even when it all fell apart completely and I had nothing left (2011 – 2012).  I didn’t give up.  I put my best foot forward, saved up enough money and got myself back to Michigan.  I’ve reconstructed my life, my credit and I’m still working to be a better man emotionally, physically and financially.  I did it on my own.  Though, I still have some work to do.

If I could go back and change it at the beginning, I would.  I still want to be the Dad I intended to be from the start.  Now also, a grandpa 🙂

I enjoy spending time with my oldest son, and I love spending time with my grandson Noah.  Who is happy to see me and plays with me.  I’m still trying to spend more time with my youngest son and grandson Judah.  I pray that changes soon before my time here is up.

Working from Home

Working from HomeI’ve been doing this for longer than I had expected.  This isn’t a bad thing.  I just find it surprising.  I keep waiting for the end to come in one form or another.  None of the outcomes are pleasant, but I’m sure it’s inevitable given enough time.  I originally got the chance to work from home when my health suddenly became an issue and was told without concern for my feelings that I would likely “live another two years”.  Sure it was followed up with, “if you work very hard, you might be able to live longer”.  That’s no fun thing to hear.  Thankfully with God’s grace, that was nearly 5 years ago.  I have been doing walks and such, just need to do more when I can.

When that all happened, I made a deal with my employer to be able to move back to Michigan and work from home.  That was just over four years ago.  Since then my hours have been reduced to only 20-25 hours a week.  Making me take on a supplemental part-time job.  As demeaning as it may be, it does make fairly decent money.  Just a bit rough on my car.  The second job gives me 18-20 hours a week plus tips.  Though I only work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights right now.  Unless I’m called in to cover someone.

What frustrates me is that after almost 2 years of doing the evening job, it’s like my day job no longer exists to certain people.  I’ve been told by a few different people that I only work 3 days a week.  So my working 5-6 days a week during the morning hours means nothing to them.  Even though it pulls a paycheck, gets me Dental insurance and money specifically for covering my Health Insurance plan.  That doesn’t qualify it as a real job.  Is there some requirement that I must leave the house in order for it to be taken seriously?  Trust me, telecommuting is only cool for about six months.  Then you get real tired of looking at your house day in and day out.  Well maybe lazy unemployed types might like doing that.  Me, I like to get out of the house daily.  I digress.

My health is having further issues.  Of course I’m frightened of what may happen.  I don’t know if I’ll need another stent put in one of my arteries.  Or if it’s something far more serious.  I won’t know until I have some doctor visits and what I’m sure will be endless expensive tests.  Which makes me worry that I won’t be able to work my second job anymore.  I really don’t relish the thought of being unable to work a physical job or some day having to be on disability.  That scares the hell out of me.  I pray it will only be a need to change or adjust dosages of my medicine.  Besides I don’t want to be locked in my house forever.  I’d like to find a full time job that fits me physically, mentally and emotionally (and pays decent).  I look frequently.  Just not a lot of choices around Smallville.

It’s been 3 Years

Clock / CalendarToday marks 3 years since I’ve returned to Michigan.  Unfortunately many of my plans haven’t gone as well as I had hoped for.  There has been plenty of obstacles to overcome, death of those I knew but thankfully who weren’t close to me and lots of changes.

On the upside, I’m still alive.  Which is a good thing.  Still have pains in my chest fairly regularly.  Haven’t had the time or the money to even bother with a cardiologist since I’ve been here.  My family doctor has been watching me, knowing I can’t afford things like stress tests and fancy fees.  I’m healthy enough to work, but can’t afford decent health coverage on my wages.  I’m so pissed at Obama and yet our current available replacements don’t look any better.  Can we vote to get new candidates?  I digress.

Sadly some of the things I wanted to really do, like get close to my sons again, hasn’t really worked like I had planned.  I had hoped to move to East Jordan, but it’s hard to find an affordable place and there really isn’t any work for me in that town.  Even if I did, I don’t know if it would help much.  With me working so much, it’s hard to find time.  Though I’m less than an hour away.  Perhaps things will progress this year.  There have been good things happening though, such as Adam and Laura’s Wedding and the birth of my 3 grandsons.  Judah Allen Fowler, Noah Allen Fowler (notice a pattern?) and Hayden LaPradd.  So far I’ve only got to meet the two Fowler’s once, other than that, I’m watching them grow up on Facebook 😐 I so hope for an invite once in a while.

I’m very happy having gotten back to being able to play the drums.  It’s been years upon years since I gave them up.  When I got back, my first tax return afforded me my new drum kit.  Sadly it’s not an acoustic kit, but I’m sure the neighbors are pleased not to hear me practice 😀  I had hoped to build up to doing an actual concert with my talented children.  Still want to do it very much.  I’m not giving up on that yet, but it’s certainly been postponed.  Just one concert though.  Not looking to make a career of it, simply fulfilling a dream.  I’m anxious to share the experience.

I had also hoped to reconnect with old friends.  In this time I haven’t been successful in making any new friends either.  All of my gamer friends have disbanded and moved on to either a game free life or console gaming.  Of which I’m still not into.  I’m still a PC gamer, but try as I may, I’m a lifer when it comes to World of Warcraft.  As before, I’m only playing by myself.  Darla has expressed an interest in playing with me, but hasn’t really put much time into it yet.  We were still working on just moving around before she ended up in surgery.  She hasn’t touched it since.  I even switched back to the Alliance so she wouldn’t have to play ugly monsters 🙂  I don’t play as much though.  Work gets in the way 😉

As it was, finding a part time job was a hell of an adventure and I’m still seeking what I want to do for a career change.  Something with less customer service stupidity would be nice for a change.  Although as of May 22, I had to finally relent not working on Sunday to help sustain our household income while Darla heals from her colectomy and removal of an ovary.  She’s healing quite well, but will be some weeks before she’s strong enough to work again.  Hopefully soon we will be able to go on the long walks we planned to get exercise in.  We have an exercise bike, but getting out of the house while it’s summer would be much nicer.  Even if the town isn’t as pretty as it used to be.

I still don’t find my town as charming and pretty as I once did.  It looks tired and worn out.  The roads are horrible and the maintenance they do is an absolute joke in town.  The interstate got a nice make over between Gaylord and Waters.  Thankfully it’s finally spring, so I have the trees and flowers to distract me from the time worn buildings and trash laden sidewalks.  Seems I’ve pretty much run the gamut on nostalgia around here already.  Didn’t think it would be so lackluster…

The best I’ve experienced since my moving back is Darla and me reconnecting.  Though that hasn’t been without it’s series of challenges and changes.  From our engagement, to the multiple changes in plans and the unfortunate postponement.  My mom seems to love her to death, which is a pleasant change in my life.

All in all it’s been an experience.  Can’t say it’s been good or bad when you add it all up.  It’s clear I still have work to do with my sons.  I just don’t want to force myself into their lives.  I’m not asking anything but forgiveness and acceptance.  I also hope to make some new friends eventually.  As well, I pray for a few more good years in health so I can spend them with Darla and my grandsons as well.  Play my concert and die fulfilled in the knowledge I made some impact in this world.  And leave some good memories for others behind.

Don’t come to my funeral to show how much you cared about me.  Show me how much you care about me now..  While I’m alive.

~ Unknown

Looking Brighter

Happy SunThings seem to be looking up for a change.  This makes me a happy panda as Bethany would say.  Working two jobs keeps me busy and active.  Sometimes more than I’d like, but better than the alternative of sitting indoors playing video games all freaking day.  Sometimes I could use more hours at the second job.  Think I’ll ask for another day to my schedule.

Scale says I’ve already lost the five pounds I gained over the winter.  So that also is good news.  Still need to drop several more.  If things keep up, that shouldn’t be a problem.  That is if mother nature can figure out what side of menopause she’s on.  I want to wear shorts every day, but she keeps me in jeans and a jacket at least 3 times a week.  The bitch.

Made some new friends over the past year or so.  Finally starting to have a bit of a social life.  A real one, not this Facecrack nonsense.  Plus I’ve finally found a girl to date steadily.  Things are going rather well.  Though she won’t let me say who she is yet.

Now all I need to do if move the hell out of the place I’m staying and get back to being in my own place again.  I really miss seeing my boys and their wives, but they don’t like coming to the place I’m at now.  I could see them at church, but that’s basically just me watching them.  No real interactions as they have family time after church.  I’d rather see them one on one.  That and none of them has had any gigs outside of church lately either.  Sadly aren’t part of Big Ticket Country this year 😐

So that’s my goal this year.  Get my own place, hang out with my kids, move forward with my relationship, keep improving my skills on the drums, hang out with my friends rather than sit at home and lose more weight.

Miss My Apartment

HomeI wished I had renewed my lease at my apartment.  Sure it was tiny.  But this short stay has become several months too long where I am now.  I was only wanting to be here a couple of months until I found a new place in a different town closer to my kids.  Shortly after I moved out, I got the news that the company was being sold and that I was not to be a part of it when the deal closed.  A few weeks after that, my hours were cut in half.

The upside was that I had over 6 weeks of paid time off built up.  From October to December that managed to cover my missing wages.  If I didn’t love what I do, I’d just hop on the first job that came along, but it’s hard to let go of 11 years of a great job.  So I’m holding on for a bit longer while I try to find a suitable replacement.

However, I miss my freedom.  Sure I can come and go as I please, but I have to rearrange cars to do it.  The driveway is only one car wide, so that’s a pain in the ass. Which limits it to not wanting to wake anyone by borrowing keys, opening and closing car doors at inconvenient hours and such.

I spend 98% of my time here in my room as I don’t get along with the other housemate.  Plus all my stuff is in my room or my bathroom.  It’s very crowded.  Sometimes I will starve myself just to avoid having to deal with them.  Sadly there is no room for a mini fridge or food storage in my section of the house.

When insomnia strikes as it so often does these days.  I have little to do other than write blogs at 4:30am.  Or play games and watch Netflix with headphones on.  Don’t want to make any noise and arouse the angry beast.

What I miss most is playing my drums.  They are in parts in the closet and the rack is by my bed.  I’m not allowed to have them setup.

Looking back I should have renewed my lease.  I could have applied for assistance when the money got tight.  Instead I bought a car that pretty much only goes a few miles in a couple of weeks time.

I also miss taking my summer walks.  But that’s mother nature’s fault.  The bitch.

Vent/TeamSpeak to Continue?

Vent / TeamspeakYeah I don’t know where my head is these days.  Perhaps it’s all the nonsense going on in my life right now.  I know that earlier I said that soon would be The End of CastleRain Vent/Teamspeak.  It seems my friends didn’t speak up right away.  However I was convinced to leave it as it is and coax folks for donations after all to keep it running.  So that’s what I’m doing.

Although Tyler ran it after it became TeamSpeak and pretty much is the only one who knows the system.  It’s up for debate if we want to keep it TeamSpeak and learn that system, or switch it back to Ventrilo.  The only downfall to that idea, is the fact that Ventrilo hasn’t been updated since 2008.  It makes a person wonder if the company that has been saying it’s working on a Linux version since 2005, even cares at all about keeping bugs crushed and features fresh.  To the end users, it looks like at this point all they want is their license fees every year, sit back and collect fat checks.

But… Of the two, it’s the easier to operate as an admin.  I’ll have to see if there is a TeamSpeak for Dummies guide.  I’ll be honest.  I liked Vent.  Learning something that looks overly complicated just puts me off.

Though if you wish to keep the service alive, please donate by May 2015.  With my current situation, I won’t be able to afford it on my own.  That’s just the short and sweet of it.  So use the button on the right or this one here.

Donate via PayPal™

Looking Back

Looking BackFrom time to time I get the chance to take a look around some of the places I’ve lived before.  Yesterday I checked out two places I’ve lived before.  One was when I was only 14 to 15 years old.  My how that hold neighborhood has fallen to ruin.  Houses falling apart.  Roads in serious need of repair.  Even the old convenience store is now boarded up and has been empty for a number of years now.  I remember when it was a quick place to stop for a snack on the way to or from the small beach at the end that led to Otsego Lake.  I wish I had old photographs to do what this picture here has done.  Back then I wasn’t much of a photo buff though.  I wished I had been.  Hell, hardly anyone knew or even remembered the short time I had long hair.  Or that silly perm that made me sort of look like a young version of Robert Plant.  Too bad I never actually had his looks or talent.  I don’t even know if anyone remembers that my hair was a nice blond.  That was the years 1983 to 84… ish.

Those were the years I really discovered girls and music.  It wasn’t my first date, that actually came a couple years earlier.  It was a supervised date by my parents.  What a horrifying experience that was.  It wasn’t the time of my first kiss either.  When those things happened, I didn’t really know why people would get together for a relationship.  I just did it because I saw older kids doing it as well as grown ups.

Fast forwarding a bit to just a few years ago, I remember dealing with two teenage step-daughters.  When they came to me talking about the latest drama or love interest they had, I would roll my eyes and partially but fondly remember how it felt when I was their age.  Though in my mind I would also think “what do they really know of the real world”.

As a teenager, everything is important to some level.  Every feeling, every outcome of things you tried to do.  Whether you succeeded or failed, it could give you overwhelming feelings that absolutely everything depended on what you did and felt.  If you succeeded at something, it was a high.  If you failed at something, it was devastating.

When it came to teenage romance.  Every relationship was true love and it would last forever.  Every breakup was the end of the world and you’d never love again.  You were scarred so badly, that you’d feel as if you just wanted to give up completely.  Or on an off chance, suddenly you’d feel as if that person was never worthy of your affections.

Of course as the consulting adult, teenagers would simply look at you as if you’d never understand what they are going through.  You couldn’t possibly have any idea.  You’re just a dumb adult.  Or possibly you’re old and dead inside.  That may be true in a few cases.  However many of us adults remember it all too well.  It’s just we have years of experience under our belts.  We’ve loved and lost and triumphed and failed at all sorts of things.  Some adults have moved on and don’t wish to think much of it.

Some of us haven’t.

I think of those days frequently.  I crave to feel again how I felt back then when I had a teenage relationship.  Whoever I was with, was the only person in my world.  The stars shined brighter at night.  Days seemed more often sunny than rainy when I thought I was in love.  What I wouldn’t do to feel that again.  My heart aches for it.

Can’t say that the feeling was actually love.  I wouldn’t know as I thought it was supposed to last forever.  Perhaps it’s just teenage hormones that never subsided.

The End of CastleRain Vent/Teamspeak

Vent / TeamspeakTo all my friends I’ve gamed with on the CastleRain Vent / Teamspeak.  As I told Tyler, “I’m sad that it was games that brought us together only to pull us apart.”.  It was something Pam and I started in 2007 so we could have all our friends in one place.  Since leaving Last Chaos, we all went our different directions.  Some chose Runes of Magic and then World of Warcraft, others chose Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 mainly.  With a few odd games thrown in between.

You all have been and will continue to be my friends.  Tyler, you’ve been one of the best friends I’ve ever had and it’s a shame we never could agree on a new game together.

Over the past 3 years I came on less and less.  Usually it’s because I ended up just listening to what is going on and never having anything to contribute.  This year I offered it to Tyler to take over control, he has expressed no interest in doing so.  Thus, when the Teamspeak server comes up for renewal in the next few months, I will instead cancel it.  Please do not make any further donations to it.  Any donations will be considered as gifts or for services I’ve performed for some of you.

It’s a shame to see it end after 7+ years.  I’ll always remember the fun we had way back in the day and cherish those memories forever.  There are a million and one good times we had in that silly Vent software.

Though of course we can still talk via other means. Phone, Skype and of course the TS while it’s still up.

Contact me if you don’t have my Skype, Cell Number or Email address by using this email form.  Of course there is always *cough* *hack* *puke*, Facebook.

Music moves me

The Band (Recognize Anyone?)Of all the things in this world.  I love my children, I love God and I love music.  In that order.  Sure I love my technology.  I love movies.  I love playing video games.  None of them can hold a candle to music.  No matter how much stuff life throws at me, I can turn to music to lift my spirits.  It moves me.  It motivates me.  I can get completely lost in it.

When I watch a movie, I can enjoy it for what it is.  An escape.  I get to watch a story of someone else.  But I can’t become part of it.  Even though I know it’s usually an adaptation of a book or true life story, I always find the plot holes.  So I try to put those aside and just watch it and enjoy some popcorn and company if there’s any to be had.

I love playing video games.  There is something exhilarating to be able to defeat a huge monster with magic and swords.  It’s even more gratifying if the healer bit the dust early, the tank fell just before the final kill and all your party members are laying dead at your feet while you stand victorious over the creatures limp corpse.  Though I can’t lose myself in that either.  Truth is I’d likely have an asthma attack just hurling a sword and shield about.  Or die of thirst from the loss of mana from casting spells.

When I listen to music I can just slip away into a whole different world.  An uplifting melody or beat can ease my cares and even if I don’t care for the lyrics, I can ignore them and enjoy the different instruments in harmony.  If I have too, I can think of my own lyrics.

Mundane things like taking my walk everyday, it’s music that I look forward too when there’s no one to walk with or talk too while I walk.  Let’s face it, where I live there’s not a lot of cool places to explore.  I miss living down town.  So I pretty much walk the same loop and let the music play.  It makes that hour or so fly by and I lip sync along or tap my fingers to the drums.  Sometimes both.  It also allows me to ignore some of the lesser people who pass me by and yell things out the windows of their cars.  I’m sure I wouldn’t want to know the stuff they say anyway.

Playing music is even more fun.  You can do anything and have fun doing it.  You can expend as much or as little energy you like and as long as the music is good, no one will fault you for it.  Well, with few exceptions anyway.  Even if a person like myself has two left feet and should not be allowed to even attempt dancing, it’s a blast to make others dance.  Something I’m looking forward to doing again in the fairly near future.  See the video below.

And lets be honest.  If it weren’t for good music, I’d probably be on medications for all the crap life throws my way.  Thank God for music.

Another Bummer Summer

SummerEvery year I say to myself, “I’m not going to let this summer slip by me.”.  Every year come the end of August, I realize summer is almost over and again the things I had hoped to achieve are only partially fulfilled.  This summer I wanted to spend a lot of time with my two sons and my daughter-in-laws.  Sadly I’ve only seen them twice.  My birthday they took me out to dinner, and then a few weeks later I took 3 of the 4 out to dinner.  One had to work unfortunately.  Outside of that I’ve watched Allen on stage a couple of times, but didn’t get to hang out other than that.  Certainly not what I had hoped for.

I also had hoped to have moved to East Jordan by now.  Still working on that.  Had hoped to play my drums a lot and get a lot of practice in.  Moving (twice) has put a damper on that as well.  Though I managed to make some space for them finally, so now I just need to wrangle them back from my oldest.  He has been holding on to them for me because this new shared situation is cramped.  I would’ve just practiced at his house, but I don’t live near him and he’s far too busy to take me back and forth.  So need them back where I live.

No get together(s), barbecues or parties.  Haven’t hung out with many friends at all.  They too are busy.

Also every year, I say “This year, I’ll take a real vacation.”.  I don’t think I’ve taken a real vacation since my honeymoon in 1989.  Not an honest to goodness get away and enjoy myself vacation.  Any with family, have just been visits to other family.  No exploring new places, camping or sleeping in at a comfortable hotel.  Although I do remember many trips where I’d sleep in my car behind some motel or store.  Ah good times.  Then again, maybe that’s why I’m not real anxious to own another car yet.  (But I think that’s more not wanting a car payment, and insurance here is insane compared to Virginia.  Not to mention maintenance and other costs.)  Besides, I like my car insurance now.  It’s a whopping $18 for six months.  Hey Geico, I saved a ton of money on car insurance by getting rid of the damned car!

There’s still hope for this summer.  I have nearly a month in Vacation Time alone and almost two weeks of personal time I could use.  Maybe things will calm down for my kids and we can have a get together or cookout.  Haven’t been to church in months as I like to go to the one in their town.  Love me some Harvest Barn Church!

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