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Journal Memories

Journal Entry – 2.24.19 – Second Post

Immediately after finishing my previous post I put on my Oculus VR, opened up the meditation app and found myself sitting in a grass field.  My favorite meditation practice is Zen, where the goal is to have a clear mind like the sky and to just ‘be.’  Thoughts are like white clouds that arrive out of nowhere and you let them just pass on through neither fixating on them nor hindering them.

Well, one of those thoughts that came out of nowhere was a kid a few years older than me from the same neighborhood of Golfview woods.  Like all older kids I never had much interaction with him since you tended to stick with your own age group.  I remember he took my neighbor Terra to prom and she was a senior when I was a freshman so, a pretty big age gap there.  But then one day he started working at Raymond Golf Course doing maintenance the same as me!  I almost didn’t recognize him because he seemed so much smaller than I remembered.  In fact, I think he was the same size as me.  Usually the older kids were much bigger.  But here he was, a guy who formerly had seemed like an adult was the same size as me and we could connect and chat easily.  Unfortunately I cannot remember his name but I’m sure it will come eventually.

Anyway, this thought lead to another which is simply the memory of going to school in the morning.  The second thought is a part these mornings and tie in a bit to my point on the previous post of losing social skills as you get older.

In grade school my sister and I would walk out our door and head to the end of our court which served as a bus stop.  For the fall and spring the weather would usually be cool but you could get away with shorts and a light jacket, mine being a jean jacket in grade school.  We would stop by our next door neighbors who had kids younger than us, ring the bell and walk with them to the end of the court.

I had a friend who lived in the last house there on the corner named Matt McElheny – who I’ve mentioned before in this blog – and he started school later than us.  He would often open up his window from his bedroom and we would chat until the bus came.  I do not remember the subjects of these morning chats but like most of my vivid memories remember the ambiance and feelings that came with them.  It was on cool mornings with dew on the grass.  The birds would be singing and light would turn from dawn to the sunrise and the first few golden rays on that grass.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about getting on that bus day after day and would have much rather spent the day playing with Matt and going on all the adventures we could have had.  It was especially hard just after summer had ended when those days of complete freedom and adventure came to an abrupt end.  Collecting golf balls from woods on or near the course and walking on the railroad tracks was replaced by sitting in chairs and having to open up books called “phonics” or having to learn long division.

As this blog attests, I enjoy looking back on my life, rediscovering old memories and of course keeping a record of it!  Well, I remembered Matt and found him on Facebook.  Now I use a pseudonym on Facebook so I could always attribute it to that when someone doesn’t accept my friend request.  They simply didn’t know it was me!  But I had our mutual friend Terry send him a friend request and he didn’t accept that either.

Perhaps he is no longer that little boy who would open up his window and chat with me?  Would he would not only keep the window shut but also close the blinds?  Well, I hope that one day we could reconnect because as I’ve said many times, I remember my past very vividly but have learned that this is a rare talent.  He was a good friend and maybe one day we’ll reconnect.

In high school the routine changed and I found I was all alone that freshman year in the mornings.  The bus stop changed from being at the corner to just down the sidewalk.  I was the oldest of all the kids waiting at the grade school bus stop so this meant I was waiting for the bus all alone that first day of high school.  Luckily I had older neighbors:  Terra who I mentioned above was a senior and her sister Jeanna was a junior!  They were getting into their car and asked if I wanted a ride since we were attending the same high school.

I was overjoyed!  I got to ride with upperclassmen to high school instead of taking the nerdy bus!  I accepted and they ended up giving me rides all year long.  So my mornings were now cutting through the dewy grass towards their place and trying not to get my shoes overly wet.  There were no morning chats with my neighbor Matt but instead I’d ring Terra and Jeanna’s doorbell and their dog Benji would bark crazily.  They’d let me in as I was always prompt but they were always running behind.  I learned senior and junior high school girls take a very long time to get ready as morning sounds were no longer birds singing but that of blow dryers, makeup opening and closing, and general shuffling around in a chaotic sort of way.

I would sit at the kitchen table petting Benji who would be quiet while I was petting him but bark wildly whenever I got up.  He never got used to me and barked at me every morning.

After that first week Terra also started to pick up her classmate Aaron Forester who needed a ride.  So there I was with three upper classmen on the way to school.  I felt so cool!

There was a problem however and that was we were always late for first period.  Now the upper classmen can get away with that but me as a freshman could not.  I racked up 7 tardy slips and even got a Saturday detention for all the tardiness.  My mom was livid and threatened to make me take the bus.  Ninety percent of the time, parents cannot understand the world of their kids and are blind to so many things.  Yes, tardiness is bad, but taking the bus is even worse!  My life was so much better by being able to ride with Terra and Jeanna to school and I would have happily gone to Saturday school every other week if it meant I didn’t have to take the bus.

I forget how it was resolved but I never had to take the bus:  I think Terra and Jeanna just learned how to get ready a tad bit more quickly.

I do remember they almost got a speeding ticket once.  We were pulled over and the cop asked for license and registration.  Terra pulled out the, “Do you know my Dad?”  He was also a police officer and really nice guy.  The cop said no and Terra let him know he was also a cop and so the cop that had pulled us over checked it out.  When he came back he let us off with a warning and that he would be informing her Dad of what had transpired.  That was fantastic!

Well, good memories and I’m glad I’ve got it written down.  I miss mornings in Golfview Woods in late autumn and spring.  The weather is cool, dew is on the grass, the robins are singing and the sky goes from a pale pinkish color to golden yellow as that first morning sun peaks over the trees.

Now, I have an ocean view but it doesn’t hold the same magic for me.  I think part of it is because I’m not a kid anymore.  But another big part of it is we either have gray or blue skies, there are no birds singing, there are no beautifully cut lawns flush with grass, the weather is always cold and the sun rises in the front of the house instead of the back where we usually are found.  Adventures have been replaced by routines, I’m not calling up friends but instead making sure to do something my kids enjoy and the feeling of a neighborhood crush or crushes has long since died.

Life is very good, I do enjoy it.  But a free day doesn’t hold the same excitement and thrill that it did when I was a kid living in Golfview Woods.

So what will we do today?  As I mentioned previously we’ll get those pumpkin seeds planted and I’m thinking we should take a trip either to the park or Fitzgerald Marine reserve.  It has been a while since we looked at the tide pools and I’d also like to use my new 360 degree camera to take a few pictures to put on Google Street View.

The time is now 7:55 AM and the rest of the house should be down in 30 minutes or so.  My morning serenity has ended and it is time to start the day.

 

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Journal

Journal Entry – 2.24.2019

It is Sunday February 24th at 5:52 AM.  It looks like I’m back to my old routine of naturally waking up very early.  I think the mostly has to do with getting back into my exercise routine which promotes a very restful sleep.  I still haven’t started the morning gym routine again but I’m back at karate and that is a big workout by itself.

I hadn’t been to karate for almost three weeks which is much too long.  Yesterday I went to help with the kids class and then the adults class right after.  As always it was pretty intense, I was soaked in sweat and was pretty sore afterwards.  This is when I feel my best because my mind is clear and my body is letting me know I’ve gotten some exercise.  It is louder on this point now that I’m 41 with various aches and pains that didn’t exist when I was 20.

Like red wine, exercise also gives me very vivid dreams.  Last night I had a frustrating one.  I received a call from my high school friends Glenda to come to a party her family was having on the top floor of this apartment/office complex.  So I hopped on something that resembled a Segway and headed over.  I could see them on the top floor having a good time but the elevator/stairs layout was terrible and I couldn’t figure out how to get up to that floor.

The elevators took a long time to come, they stayed open for only a split second when they did arrive, they were crowded and if I did find one that lead to the third floor I ended up in a completely different building!  In my dream I must have tried for three hours to get to that party and for some reason I didn’t want to call and have Glenda come get me, I wanted to figure it out for myself.

I know why I had a dream like this which I’m happy to explain.  Glenda was a classmate in grade school, a friend in high school and a friend in college.  After graduation I went to Japan but we kept in touch through e-mail.

On a visit home I was very excited to see all my friends and gave her a call.  However, she couldn’t meet while I was home because she was “dog sitting.”  When I heard this I was absolutely stunned!  A long time friend is unable to meet in the very short time I’m home only once in the entire year because of “dog sitting?”  She also didn’t offer any other times or really say much else and the conversation ended.  For the first time in my life I had been…. I’m having a hard time finding the right word here…
rebuffed
shot down
thrown away
rejected
shunned
abandoned
gutted

Hmm, I cannot find the right word, so lets just say ‘made to seem less important than a dog’ by someone who I had thought was one of my best friends!  Wow.

Well, lesson learned.  Living overseas I had learned what really good friends look like, friends that are actually there for you.  I then compared it to what I would do when a friend, any friend, not even a best friend, came into town.  I would drive within an hour radius to see them, any time any place.  But here, someone who I thought was one of my most intimate friends just casts me off?

Side note:  Speaking with friends that no longer live in their hometowns, this does seem to be a thing.  You go home, want to get together with old friends but many of them are just too busy and cannot meet.

Anyway, the friendship ended that day and has remained on ice for 15 years or so.  In fact, I’ve spent more time with and have a better relationship with her older sister.  She has come into San Francisco a few times and we’ve caught up.  Glenda has also come into San Francisco a few times and we haven’t caught up.  LoL

But this past Valentine’s Day I left a comment on one of her posts which I never do and she responded.  She and her husband were going to a Japanese restaurant that looked absolutely fabulous so I left a few words.  I guess that is why it is on my mind again.  It is something from the past that remains unresolved.  Or maybe not, maybe we were never good friends and it was just in my head?  Unlikely.  Getting older I seem to be the only one who remembers old friendships and tries to keep them somewhat alive.  All my peers from Ohio (except for maybe 6 people or so) seem to have forgotten the old friendships.  They are now the definition of ‘old’ in that they’re withdrawn, and say things like “My family is what is important to me.”  Yes, family should always be most important, of course!  But I’ve found many say this because as they age, their friendship skills are deteriorating, they cannot make new friends or age just makes them more antisocial.  They want to hide in their cocoon of “family” because social interaction outside of family and work make them uncomfortable.  They’re getting old, don’t have many/any? friends and so squeak out a “My family is most important” as a just and acceptable reason for their lack personality, lack of social skill and anti-social tendencies.  Immediate family doesn’t have a choice to hang out with you or not and are always around.  So in this regard family relationships are easier to maintain the friendships because meeting friends takes at least the effort of a phone call and activity.  Family will be around whether you do things with them or not and you don’t have a choice on interacting with them.  🙂

Well, I think that is enough for today.  It is still early and I’d like to get my meditation in before the rest of the household wakes up.  Perhaps we will hit the park as my little one loves the swings (just as I did and still do).  Maybe lunch outside?  We also need to get the pumpkin seeds planted so there is plenty of time for them to grow come Halloween.  It is nice to not have anything on the calendar and I think today will be a great day.

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Journal Karate Memories

Journal Entry – Karate and Wrestling

It is 5:51 AM and I’m up later than usual.  Yesterday I had two karate sessions making four for the past two days and I’m battered and bruised.  Surprisingly, it isn’t as bad as I had thought.  When I first began I was afraid of getting punched, kicked and fighting in class.  That fear has has decreased considerably as I’ve grown accustomed to it and my confidence has risen.  I’ve also learned that a wrestling background really helps even if it was a lifetime ago.  Seems like riding a bike to me as you never forget the basics.  We cannot use throws or grabs – which I’ve done a couple of times when a partner gets too close to the surprise of a few black belts -but it helps maintain balance, my body moves naturally and it gives a lot of confidence.

It is just by a stroke of fortune that I even began wrestling.  I had wanted to play basketball and tried out for the team in high school.  At the same time our physical education coach was having us do a week of wrestling in gym class; the physical education teacher was also the wrestling coach.  Well, it turned out that I was very good at wrestling winning all my matches except one.  I even wrote about it here in this post from 1991.  I really didn’t enjoy wrestling in gym class at all.  It was very tiring and you sweat a lot.  Well, gym was my first class of the day which meant I had to go through the rest of the day with dried sweat on me and feeling dirty.

A kid named Kalen was an upperclassman and helped Mickey our gym teacher/wrestling coach.  I remember him coming to sit by me whilst we did our sit ups in gym encouraging me to join the wrestling team.  I really didn’t want to and told him I was trying out for basketball.  He asked if I would join wrestling if I didn’t make the basketball team and I told him I’d think about it just to make him go away.  Well, I got cut and was pressured into wrestling.  That freshman year wrestling was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through mentally.  I’ve never been a very intense, mentally tough person when it comes to physical exercise – I am much more so now but then mental toughness was non-existent.

I got through freshman wrestling with the best record and really didn’t enjoy a minute of it.  So the next year I only did a week or so then quit.  The coach and my Dad were very upset with me but I really just didn’t want to suffer another whole year.  So I spent my sophomore year hanging out with kids that didn’t do sports and that meant smoking cigarettes, playing pool, driving to scary parts of Columbus such as old graveyards in the middle of woods and things like that.  I went back to wrestling the following year as I knew it would be good for me and I realized that sports help tremendously with social standing.  Usually stories like these one is disappointed in the ‘year wasted’ but actually it was nice to rebel for a little and experience something different than just sports all the time.  My only regret was losing one year of wrestling means I ended up missing the state tournament my senior year by two points.  If I hadn’t skipped sophomore year wrestling I would have been good enough to go pretty far in the state tournament my senior year.  So yes, it would have been nice to say I made the state tournament in high school instead of losing missing it by two points but that’s life.

And so here I am, at forty years old doing something almost as strenuous as wrestling.  I never stopped lifting weights since high school (I’ve never been very intense about it either) and this pays off tremendously in karate.  It makes me feel confident, happy and young again like I did in high school.  I also love that it is something I can do with my sons and that it fits so well with who they are; this karate training is and will be part of their actual identity as it is part of their heritage; a Japanese style, in Japanese for half Japanese kids.  I love that it will give them the same confidence that I felt being being a wrestler in high school.  Hell, it gives me confidence as an adult.

Adults are supposed to be confident, have their acts together and know everything.  Well, I’m now almost 40 and I can tell you they most certainly do not!  I wrote about this too in a post back in 2004.  Many insecurities and characteristics one feels in high school just do not go away because they get older.  I thought that once you hit a magical age you become a true *adult* that is as solid and stable as a rock.  Well, there is no magical date.

For me personally the only thing that really gives me angst or wonder if I could have done better is with work.  Should I have risen higher on the corporate ladder by now or not?  Should I put more effort into that treadmill that is corporate America?  By doing karate that is answered for me and that answer is definitely not!  I get to bond with my kid, get in shape and do something I’ve always wanted to do!  It puts me in a very positive mindset and I know that whatever work situation I find myself in things will be good so long as I keep that positive mindset.

One of the meanings of life is to have experiences and trading time constantly working for more money in the belief that great experiences can be bought later is the wrong way to go about it.

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Journal Memories

Journal Entry 12.18.2016

It is 3:24 AM.  It is a chilly 39 degrees outside and although there is a beautiful waning gibbous moon it remains very dark on the ground.  When I step outside to look at the stars I see Orion, faithfully in the southern hemisphere confirming that it is the latter half of the year.

There is a quiet stillness to the very early morning that most will never experience.  It is a time when one can be alone with themselves and their thoughts without the innumerable distractions that come when everyone and everything awakes.

I go to bed at 8:00 PM, wake up in the middle of the night and then often go back to bed for a few more hours.  I’ve learned that this may be the most natural pattern – The myth of the eight-hour sleep.

“Don Quixote followed nature, and being satisfied with his first sleep, did not solicit more. As for Sancho, he never wanted a second, for the first lasted him from night to morning.” Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote (1615)

Along with the chilly temperature the only other thing that could make this moment better is if there was freshly fallen snow on the ground, softly illuminated by the light of the moon.  That is a magical landscape that is also reserved only for those who awake in the middle of the night.  Sometimes the moonlight is so strong that the reflection off the snow illuminates the outside almost as clearly as day in a soft pale glow.  It is this scene, nestled away in childhood memories, that make me miss Ohio around this time of year.  It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without snow and frigid temperatures.

This reminds me of the coldest December I’ve ever experienced.  I had a 7:30 AM calculus class at Ohio State and to make it on time would have to be up by at least 5:30.  Sometimes the temperature would be so cold that my car would not start and I had to resort to this contraption you’d stick in the oil to keep the engine warm.  I’d then drive and have to park at the ‘off campus’ location and wait for the shuttle bus.  Sometimes it would be too cold to wait outside at the bus stop, so I’d wait in my car until I saw it coming, then jump out and run over to the bus stop.

My morning did not improve from there as this was a difficult course and was necessary to gain admittance to business school.  It was known as a ‘weed out’ class where the majority of students would fail.  The number of students who wanted to go into business outnumbered the amount of places in the college of business.  There were a few in that class who were taking it for the third time and this frightened me.  I spent many hours in the tutor room and my only real memory of that is one of the tutors had halitosis.  He’d come up close to me and start explaining and I actually had to hold my breath it was so bad.  I felt sorry for him as that must be a very difficult thing to deal with, especially in relationships.

The time is now 4:03 and I feel the desire for a second sleep coming on.  But if I stay awake that gives me three more hours to do activities I’d like to do.  Nobody tells you this but once you have kids the day belongs entirely to them and you cannot do the things you’d like to do: read a book, take a nap, clean, re-arrange things, go to the gym, go for a bike ride, be by yourself, none of these things are possible.  It is only when everyone is asleep that you have the freedom to do as you wish without any guilt.

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Journal Memories

Journal Entry 12.13.2016 – Memories of Christmas lights

It is 5:55 AM.  I woke up around 4:30, drank a shot of wheatgrass, put away dry dishes and washed the dirty ones, made coffee, meditated, added to a post about my Grandpa and wished my childhood friend Ryan a happy 40th birthday.  Still left to do are:  write this post, study Japanese, put Sega and Nintendo emulators and roms on USB for another parent at school, take son to school, run reports, contact some corporate customers, clean the fishtanks and most likely go to the post office to mail a bunch of stuff the wife wants me to mail.

But first things first which is this post and I have approximately twenty minutes to write it before the household wakes up.

This year we finally got around to putting up Christmas lights outside.  The reason we haven’t done it in the past is that the top of the house is very high up and falling off a ladder would equal instant death.  I had it in my head that Christmas lights must go on top of the house and since I don’t want to die just never did it instead settling for candles in the window.  But this year however my son asked why we didn’t put lights up outside so it had to be done.

Instead of putting lights up on the top of the house we put red ones around the two pillars at the front door as well as a string over the garage doors.  It looks pretty good and I’m glad we did it.  I also attached clear hooks to the house that can stay there and hold the lights year after year.

As with most holidays I remember my childhood neighborhood Golfview Woods as being a place where the majority of people decorated their homes for the holidays.  Here in Pacifica, some do a very good job at decorating but most do not.

In addition to the outside lights we’ve also got a few strings up inside as well which do a good job of adding to the holiday ambiance.  We just leave them on all night and it is nice to walk into a festively lit room so early in the morning when everything else is dark and there isn’t a sound to be heard.

As I appreciated the lights this morning I was reminded about another set of Christmas lights that were special to me.  When I was in high school I used to lay in my bed which was high up as it was the top portion of a bunk bed with no lower bed but instead my “Sega cove.”  So I had a good view of the outside, my neighbors yards and even the houses across the street.  One house -2170 Bigby Hollow St.- used to always put up one string of lights across the roof over the garage.  I used to stare at those lights and just think until I fell asleep.  The house belonged to my acquaintance Jason Hanna who I hung around with from 8th grade to about freshman year after which his family moved away in 1993.

The two things I remember the most about Jason was that he didn’t hold up his end of the very heavy sewer grate we had lifted in order to retrieve something which had fallen in.  I ended up smashing two fingers one of which opened up and ‘finger fat?’ actually came out a little. I had to push it back in, run home, rinse, and bandage it myself.  Good thing I did or the end of my left middle finger would just be skin and bone with no cushion.  My left middle finger had a huge blood blister and scars on both of these fingers remain to this day.  The second memory is that my Swiss Army knife suddenly disappeared after one of his visits.

During high school there is a lot going on and thus a lot to think about:  intense feelings, puberty, sports, academic anxiety, social aspects, girlfriends (or lack of) and so on.  The winter is also an intense time as the weather is very cold, there is sometimes snow, it gets dark very early and can be very depressing.

The major factor however was sports; I was on the wresting team and wresting practice day in and day out really beats you up.  I would come home and literally have to crawl up the stairs since I was extremely sore and completely exhausted.  Lying there in my bed, in the dark when all is quiet and it is frigid outside I would stare at those Christmas lights and wish I could just stay like that forever.  I wish I wouldn’t have to repeat the day of school and sports I had just had four more times that week, then have an all day wrestling meet on Saturday and then continue this routine for the next three months.

But my alarm would go off, I get dressed in the same uniform, have a very quick breakfast, and go out into the frigid cold.  I’d arrive at school and it would still be dark, walk into doorway and smell that distinct “school smell” which would change depending on where you were in the building.  Near the basketball court it smelled like basketball court polish, wax or whatever they put on that floor to make it shiny.  Next to that was the guys locker room which smelled all sorts of nasty as high school guys stink and often do not wash their sports clothing and gear.  It smelled like the worst body odor you can imagine.  The weight room smelled like what I had thought was wintergreen Kodiak tobacco but learned it was Bengay cream.  I never learned exactly why those other guys decided they needed to slather themselves with Bengay everytime they went to workout.  I worked out, was beaten up from wresting but didn’t slather myself with that stuff.

Anyway, I’d put my stuff away in my locker, go to first ‘mod,” and I still don’t know what that stands for – module?  Then seven ‘mods’ later at 3:00 PM It would be time for wresting.  I’d envy all the other kids who were laughing and joking outside, getting in their cars to either go home or go have some fun somewhere when I’d be stuck for the next three hours going through a very hard and exhausting wrestling practice.  As 6:00 PM arrived I’d peer through the windows fogged up with sweat on one side and extreme cold on the other.  There might be snow or freezing rain or no precipitation at all but it would always be cold and very dark.

I’d get home around 6:30 or so and after dinner, a shower and an attempt at homework it would finally be time for bed.  So I’d lay there for a few minutes, enjoying the only free time of the day and stare at those Christmas lights and wish I could just lay there in my warm bed forever.  I’d think about girls, school, friendships, enemies, life, the past, the future, Christmas break and how many more days I’d have to go through this routine.  Being as exhausted I was I’d quickly be asleep, the alarm would go off and the punishing routine would repeat once again.

I’ve always appreciated those Christmas lights that I could see from my top bunk back in 1994, 1995.