Day 62 – Tuesday Trips

Day 62 – Tuesday Trips

 I woke up in my Corporate Housing space this morning and took a basket of some of Melissa’s favorite things to her as she came in from her long shift. She appreciated it and said that I was a romantic. I could tell that she was smoked tired and I promised to let her rest for the whole day.

Speaking of being romantic I wonder if I really am and also if I can be throughout Melissa and my whole relationship. I hear that after a short time of marriage most people stop being romantic. For some reason they just stop showing surprising love to their partners. Favorite things are forgotten. Dates are rare. Special days become barely remembered trials to endure. It happens to most people – even to those couples who are considered to be good couples. I would vow to make sure it never happens to us, but I figure that this would be a foolish vow – how can I know that I will always promote romance. Anyway, I will try my best.

My meditation today was about humbling self under God’s mighty hand so that He can lift us up in due time. This made me think a lot about how easy it is for me to act pridefully. Pride comes before a fall and all that mess. I dread the falls and I want to be the humble one who gets lifted up by God, but there are so many opportunities to puff up and pat myself on the back. I believe my cultural upbringing has turned me into an entitled and prideful man. But that is no excuse. I need to stay on my knees in every situation and not try to make myself look better than someone else. I also don’t need to do things so that I can prove I am something special. I find that I have an internal resume I try to add to every day. I should be focused on God and on helping others instead of helping myself. God have mercy on me for chasing the top of the hill…

 I guess trying and failing to understand the church architects was a good way to keep myself humble. I think I should put myself in more situations where I will fail. I think people can learn a lot from failing, but most of us tend to avoid those places that can humble us. Taking on clients like Texas colleges is a good thing too, because I have to work to navigate a huge system and sometimes it doesn’t move as well as I want it to. And even working for small clients like the guys at the Lubbock landscaping group has its challenges.  I will try new things from now on and not beat myself up for not accomplishing what I set out to do. Not that I am going to do a bad job on purpose, but I’m just not going to pummel myself for falling down – falling down puts us on our knees and that’s where God wants us to be.

What do you think about this stuff? What are your thoughts on staying romantic and on being humble? Feel free to comment.

Day 61 – Monday Moving on

Day 61 – Monday Moving on

There are many things I don’t understand – One of them I admit is how my church architect friends even begin to do 3D animations or architectural renderings. I spent time with them this morning going through some of the more complex actions they take as they work behind the scenes. They tried to educate me about everything just using the first bit – church stage design – but I could not wrap my head around it. My brain is just not one that takes to technical things. I told them to keep it simple from now on – like they were showing a child how to tie their shoes. They laughed and agreed.

 The second thing I don’t understand is why people in Lubbock eat grocery store sushi. I’m not trying to be a sushi snob, but if you see where Lubbock is located you know that there are no waters that should be fished in. So, what are people thinking when they buy a plastic plate of sushi that has not been flown in fresh for the day and eat it up. It’s not even cheap. Fifteen bucks for a limited quantity of questionable sushi confounds me. Maybe I am a sushi snob…

 I bring sushi up because my Lubbock landscaping client wanted to take me for some “really good sushi” today. We met at the Market Street grocery store and my client went and picked us out two of the sushi plates. I could have refused and said that I had fish allergies. I could have but I’m working on not lying. Anyway, I took my time setting up my wooden chopsticks and mixing up a side of wasabi-laced soy sauce putting off the inevitable. This relatively new client who is ironically enough in the ground business was chomping down his sushi and talking about what my company was specifically doing to increase revenue for his landscaping and holiday lights business. I told him the details as I held my first piece of sushi near my mouth. Then when I built up my bravery to its highest level, I dropped that piece of fish and rice into my pie hole hoping that the wasabi would deaden the certain harshness of old fish and sticky rice. I almost did a pre-gag but I chewed on it and it was actually okay. I wouldn’t call it really good sushi and I still don’t understand why people choose this expensive version of supermarket sushi, but I give it 2 stars out of 5 and that’s a passing grade.

 Beyond my stupidity and the sushi, Melissa worked a 15-hour shift starting at six p.m. guaranteeing that I wouldn’t see much of her for two days – deep sleep happens before and after those kinds of shifts. So, I was on my own just doing afternoon work (SEO stuff) and actually enjoying myself. While I do love Melissa, I also love having some time to myself. She knows this and we both agree that as we get more and more serious we need to give each other space and time to be on our own.

 That’s it for Monday – Let’s move on…

Day 60 – Sunday Arrivals

Day 60 – Sunday Arrivals

Life began as usual at my Lubbock corporate housing pool and space.  But then it took a turn when Melissa’s friends joined us.

“Do you think that out of all the homes for sale in Lubbock you chose the perfect one?” This was Aubrey’s question. Stephanie, Aubrey, Melissa and me all stood in the den area of the Tech Terrace house. She continued, “How did you know that this house would make you happy? And why Lubbock?  Who are you going to get to maintain the Lubbock landscape designs that out front and in the back?”

She was right to ask since I had taken so little time researching Lubbock homes for sale. I had looked at a few and sort of just fell in love – pretty much like I did with Melissa. I smiled at Aubrey and kind of laughed at her seriousness. I asked her why she asked me about this – why was she so concerned? She just shook her head and replied, “You are so ultra-decisive and in this world making decisions so quickly is dangerous, don’t you think? I struggle to make decisions when I have all of the information at my fingertips and here you are choosing this home – spending all kinds of money on it – and you had so little information. Is this how you always operate?”

I was going to answer but Melissa jumped in to defend me. “Aubrey, I know that this is more about me than the house. When you fall in love, you just do. Kevin didn’t need to see every house in every town and he didn’t need to see every woman either.” Melissa placed her palm on Aubrey’s shoulder and said, “I appreciate you being worried about my relationship, but it’s a serious one and I’m happy to have someone alongside me who can go for it with decisions rather than having someone who cannot ever commit.”

Stephanie piped in and brought some levity to the situation. “I think you both should be committed to the psych ward at our hospital. You are both crazy.”

I nodded and grabbed Melissa to my side. “Just put us in the same straitjacket and we will be happy.” Aubrey rolled her eyes at my cheesiness and said, “Okay, let’s figure out what you need for this house as far as it’s Feng Shui. The colors should be…” We let her talk about our interior design as Stephanie took notes.

Melissa is lucky to have such good friends. I don’t think I have anyone who would raise questions and doubts for my sake. My friends would just be happy that they got a chance to go to a fun bachelor’s party.

Speaking of bachelor parties, I had this conversation with Melissa as to what she thought was acceptable for our pre-marriage celebrations. She said that we should have fun with our closest friends – a few drinks – nothing getting out of hand and no strippers of either sex. I agreed to those terms. It was an important talk because I know of a few marriages that have been ruined even before they begin because of the shenanigans that went on at these parties. Good to have this out of the way.

Okay – Sunday ends with interior design and a bit of external design checked off the list.

Overall a good day.

Day 59 – Saturday in the air

Day 59 – Saturday in the air

I approached the end of month two in my corporate housing/lodgings and I got some great news. Melissa was able to keep her assignment in Lubbock for one more month (and I hope it lasts much longer). She risks not having her two buddies to watch her back at the hospital but she said it was worth it to be near to me. She has to move into a smaller suite, but it’s still on the same floor as me. I’m excited. This sort of move is sacrificial and shows what kind of heart that Melissa has – she also showed how dedicated she is to our relationship. You might not think one more month together would matter, but each day you learn new things about each other if you are intentional and we are definitely intentional with our questions and answers. I took her to lunch at a really nice place called Crafthouse (have I talked about that place before? – probably). Anyway, I had fish and chips and she had a grilled chicken salad with walnuts – excellent food. We asked each other about the other’s childhoods. We both seemed to have decent American upbringings with the regular rise and falls.  (I told her that I used to run a small not-Lubbock landscaping company when I was a kid.)  Neither of us had been put through any super serious problems (I did have an out of body experience at a dentist’s office at age 8, when they left me for two hours under nitrous oxide and forgot that I was in the office – I don’t count that as a bad thing. I think laughing gas is the air we get to breathe in Heaven…) It was fun to hear Melissa talk about her older brother and sister and the hijinks they got into. When we got to the coffee shop after, Melissa pulled out a small scrapbook that showed her as a kid. She was a cute little girl and a pretty young woman. I showed her like two pictures I could find of myself from grade school. We held hands and looked into each other’s eyes for a long time. I had an iced coffee and thus I had coffee breath. She smartly had ordered a Frappuccino with no coffee in it. This left me at a major disadvantage in the adoration stage we had going here. Coffee breath is a killer of good relationships. But, good thing I also had brought my small travel toothbrush and a travel toothpaste. I excused myself to scrub my tongue and the roof of my mouth. I hate bad breath. Melissa both agreed to be one another’s hygiene ally – hanging boogers, bad breath, unwaxed lip hair (her), nose hair descent, etc. I’m glad we were honest about this stuff. I have broken up with girls before because they didn’t tame their nose hairs at all and they allowed a semi-moustache to grow on their mouth. Unacceptable – Petty, but still unacceptable.

After the brushing, I took Melissa to meet the church architects I had been talking about so much and I wowed her with their 3D animations and architectural renderings. I got her to ask them all sorts of questions about this church capital campaign. She came up with a few I had not thought about. They were kind enough to give away their time to she and I as we started with the church stage design and worked from there. It was a good thing to have her along for a different part of my life than just romance.

Church worship and sermon were good. I used them as a replacement for my meditation. I was a bit shocked when Melissa got up at the end of the service and went for prayer. She told me it had everything to do with growing closer to God. She wanted to be as close to God as me and wanted someone to pray that she could get there. Sweet girl. Good Saturday.

Day 58 – Friday Release

Day 58 – Friday Release

I started watching a show on Netflix (idol number two?) and it blew my mind, because it talked about the dangers of technology addiction. Melissa was with me and we binged on 5 of the episodes. This show is not for everybody so I won’t give you the title. It might be too shocking for most people and I’d hate to be the one who sends you off to fill your eyes with what you might deem to be totally offensive. Still it made me think of all of the technology I am dealing with in helping the church architects who are using 3D animation and all sorts of 3D visualizations to further their cause and the cause of each church they help. Their gone virtual model is years away from being at a place where danger lurks, but it was funny how I was reminded of how technology is speeding up everyday and how this technology is pretty much immediately accepted as a good. I had thoughts of all of the unintended consequences that have come from speedy tech – people on their phones constantly – kids in front of too real video games – a serious disconnect between people outside of a virtual world.

My architect friends are not doing anything to hurt people – in fact they are helping. But I am amazed still at how people tend to trust technology’s images over a spoken word. We are addicted to images and they convince us to buy in to things we might not otherwise buy into. I think it is funny how I do the same thing when I am shopping online. I start with the images and then move to the reviews and then if there is anything on YouTube that shows me more about the product, all the better to get me to purchase. Ugh. First World dangers are everywhere and I live in them the same as everyone else.

Besides the church architects, I got caught up in the designs being used by a local friend of mine who does landscaping in Lubbock – so creative and cool.  I also dealt with the Christian school (Pre-K Lubbock – 12th Grade) and we did some re-prioritizing.  They have achieved many of the goals we set out to achieve for two keywords and so they asked me to begin working on two others.  I agreed but warned them that we needed to do upkeep on the highly ranked ones so that they don’t fall.  Overall a good meeting.

Melissa update: We talked about our beliefs – especially regarding politics – I know a couple who are still together (somehow) who never asked each other pre-marriage about their political beliefs. They also never asked one another how important politics was to each other. Well, one of them was hardcore Republican and the other was hardcore Democrat. Not good. They have been to plenty of counseling and it has helped them to give grace to each other – at least in the years between Presidential campaigns.

So, Melissa and me talked about it and I was glad to hear that she was mildly interested in politics – and that she rarely votes unless it is for an issue. I do tend to vote for people, but only if there is a clear choice who is electioneering for good. Neither of us care about it all really. We have both read Howard Zinn’s book called “The People’s History of the United States,” and thus we know political philosophy and real-politik are two very different animals. We won’t have any problems in this area of our relationship…

That’s a good thing.

Day 57 – Thursday Feet

Day 57 – Thursday Feet

I had my normal routine in the morning sans Sarah – I am just now figuring out that I am not Michael Phelps. I could not win 19 gold medals – maybe one silver in doggy paddle while swimming with 5 year olds. Still, the morning swim does get me ready for the exceptional days ahead. It’s a battle against my skinny fatness I told you about. Anyway, I had a good day overall. My meditation was about how Jesus not only came to earth, not only became a servant, not only a sacrifice, but he made himself nothing. That word “nothing” really stuck with me as the day went on. I talk about humility a lot and how I strive towards being more humble. But I think my version of humble is quite different than the one lived out by Jesus. My humility allows me to be attempt impressiveness around people who know me. I sometimes act like a servant, but when I am in a situation when I feel that I should be taken care of or that I am entitled to more, I start to complain and act like a punk. I have never “washed the feet” of regular people. I don’t put myself in uncomfortable situations where people might reject me. I never strive for nothingness. I do all I can to avoid being seen as a nobody. And yet becoming a nobody is exactly what the One I follow did. It made Him prideless and allowed Him to forgive everyone. Being a nobody means you don’t have anything to lose. Your reputation is unimportant and so you can do the right and the good thing even if it is severely unpopular. I am going to try to work toward “nobody-ness.” Feel free to call me on it if you see the opposite in my writings.

Work: I got started on my realty client and had a chance to see all of the Lubbock homes for sale as I worked to create descriptions of some of them to influence buyers to use this company. It was interesting to do this because the entire time I was comparing the one I bought to all of the other Lubbock homes for sale. And even though I felt twinges of Buyer’s remorse, there was no full on tantrums thrown over purchasing the wrong place. Plus the homes I had momentary cravings for were way, way beyond my range (although some of those definitely have incredible Lubbock landscaping). The three nurses agreed to come with me sometime next week to give their best interior design ideas. It’s one thing to buy a place but it’s quite another to fill it with cool stuff. You can’t judge a home by it’s cover. I think I am gonna go hardwood floors throughout and have exposed brick in parts of it. And some sort of couch and monstrous Television. Beyond that I am an idiot.

Sometimes I wonder if buying the size of this house and even buying this size of a TV is ungodly. Should I feel bad about putting little self into an abode like this? Should I be making a TV into the central piece of it? Being American, I think it’s harder to be a sincere follower of Jesus because we have so much to trip us up. It trips me up a lot. I bet I have 10 different idols in my life that are just described as normal objects that everyone has. But since there are no caves for sale with included chalk to make hieroglyphs on the wall for entertainment, I have to do what my culture says. Or do I?  I bet the young students at the Christian school (Pre-K Lubbock – 12th grade) would say I don’t have to – Shame on me, right?

I think I am being hard on myself today. I’ll stop now.

Day 56 – Wednesday New

Day 56 – Wednesday New

After my corporate housing morning routine, I went over to the Realtor’s office and signed some papers, which effectively took this house off the Lubbock homes for sale market. There are still some things, which could derail it but I feel fairly strong that post-appraisal inspection we will be fine. Also, the Realty company decided to increase my responsibilities as I work to sell more homes for sale in Lubbock. Of course, I will be behind the scenes but it will be fun to see their sales increase (easy to do when you see the details they put into the insides and to the outside landscaping). They have proved to me that they are a professional and even Christian-based company. I know there are a lot of companies that would admit to being Christian at their base, but a lot of that stays underneath when they pitch their goods and services. This realty company doesn’t just let those “values” rule them – they are up front about their Christianity. They are not afraid of offending people and they usually don’t – This is the Bible Belt. Still, I respect that they are open to evangelize and open to care about who they serve.

My meditation today was Psalm 73, which is a buttkicker. Basically this one tells of the struggle of the writer who is a man after God. He looks around and sees all of these anti-God and pro-world people who are flourishing. This guy, who doesn’t have the cool stuff or the money that the anti-God people do, is frustrated and openly expresses his frustration to God. He is asking “why them and not me?” By the end of the Psalm, he admits to being a fool – a brute beast who shouldn’t be griping because his eternal reward far outweighs the things of this world. The part that stuck out to me was when he says, “As for me it is good to be near God…” I felt that I need to be nearer to God than I have been – to seek closeness so there is no space between me and my Maker. That might seem simple but I need God to show me what that looks like – I am praying and meditating and reading my Bible, but I feel like there is something missing from being nearer to God. I guess I will just have to seek and find over the next few months. I plan on talking with Melissa about this one to see what she thinks about it. Since she is newer to the faith, she might have some really basic advice that I have gotten blind to –


So, that was my day – Hope you had a good one too…

Day 55 – Tuesday Action

Day 55 – Tuesday Action

“Getting old is not for sissies.”

I  heard this from a woman sitting at a table near me at Starbucks – 80-ish probably or maybe 100. When you get to a certain age, I cannot tell. And I don’t mean that to sound bad. I have mad respect for those who can deal with the rigors of a body and mind obsolescence who are having to deal with the speed at which this technology moves. I fall behind on what the new social media platforms are and about new communication devices – so I imagine those who had tiny black and white TVs back in the day are freaking out. As well, those who are growing older are really not respected enough by our culture. They are often just set aside as useless, when they are just the opposite. We should value the older people if for nothing else that they have life experience we cannot learn from history books. As someone who represents the SEO division for one the nursing care centers in the area, I see the realities that will most likely be mine one day – probably sooner than I ever though imaginable.

So, I agree with the woman’s statement about how hard it is to grow old and I’m afraid I am a big sissy.

All of this brings me to two things – First, it makes me consider growing old and less attractive in my and Melissa’s relationship. Unless we are freaks of nature or die young, we will get older and gravity will take over. We will get wrinkles, skin will sag and we will lose a lot of who we once were. We will lose our cultural identity as people ignore us or as they give us the bird when we are all flying around in spacecraft. We will lose ourselves – We will lose what made our partner physically attracted to us and they will lose what physically attracted us to them. The questions I have for Melissa are, “Can you deal with me as this natural process occurs? and Can we find attractions that go far beyond skin deep?” If we are not willing to take all of this reality into account we should not move on. (You’d be amazed at how many marriages break apart after twenty and thirty years because one or both of the partners want younger and prettier/more handsome partners.) If we marry, I will be in it for life.

The second thing that it brings up for me is how my work has clients all the way up from Lubbock Pre-K through students in Texas colleges – from young corporate types to middle-aged executives running corporate housing venues– and all the way to considering the elderly as important. Everything has become so varied and I think that makes me really happy. It keeps me from being so bored.

My meditation today was all about running this life’s race to win – not some trophy but to do what pleases God. That’s a good focus for me.

As for Melissa, she is still pretty and cool. But even if she wasn’t I’d still stick beside her.

Day 54 – Monday ain’t got nothing on me

Day 54 – Monday ain’t got nothing on me

I was too tired for my weird laps at the pool this morning so I just did some Thighmaster exercises and a round of Richard Simmons Dancing to the Oldies to tighten and firm my already tight and firm body. Then I pulled out the Shake weights and did ten straight Crossfit sessions. Obviously I am kidding. I have no ability to complete any of that stuff. I am what you might call “skinny fat.” I have no muscles, a small tire circling my waist area, and sort of an A cup – but I look good in clothes. Nobody knows I look so bad without my shirt or pants because they never see me. That’s part of the reason I swim so early in the morning. I don’t want people to pity me thinking “Ahhhh, there’s a man with no metabolism or free testosterone left.” I wonder how Melissa will feel when she sees me in the nude moments of our future honeymoon. I think I better do more than a few laps in a community pool.

Anybody have recommendations for a weak and unmotivated man?

I’m serious here. Should couples go all out to look their absolute best before the “I Do?” I hear that a lot of men and women hit the gyms months before so that they can show off their hot bodies – six packs of lover wonderlands to play on. But what happens later? I have talked to a few guys I know who have done this acting job, but then they let themselves go post-honeymoon. Actually they report that their wives do it too. Six packs turn into one packs. I think I’ll ask Melissa if I need to meet some sort of body level expectations. I’d hate for her to shriek with sadness once we are on Bora Bora. As for me and my expectations for her, I just don’t want an alien springing from her stomach and attacking me. Other than that, she can look however she likes. No need for spray tanning. I’m cool with her natural color.

So. Monday – Monday – Monday – I talked to that real estate company about helping them do marketing on all the Lubbock homes for sale. They said they would want to bring me in and show me a specific map of the homes for sale in Lubbock where they are focusing. They are more of a high-end company who was happy to hear I had used them to buy my house. And I was happy that they had taken the time to hire some quality Lubbock landscapers to handle their properties.  We will meet soon.

Other than that, I stuck with communicating with the owners of my Lubbock Corporate Housing space. I’m not sure if they will come on board with my company, but I assured them that I would do a great job, because I have had such an overwhelmingly positive experience there. I also checked on several other clients and all of them were satisfied so far. So, I guess today was just making sure we weren’t about to get fired by anyone. I’ll get back on the sales track tomorrow.

Enjoy your Monday and work those abs.

Day 53 – Sunday by myself time

Day 53 – Sunday by myself time

After a graveyard shift, my girl Melissa and her friends are in absentia – They come back and go right to sleep for most of the day. Melissa often has a migraine and so she is usually not good company. I can tell when she needs her space. No need for me to disrupt her rhythm. Maybe once we get married, (still an if) she can switch to days, or maybe she wouldn’t need to work at all – depends on if my salary can cover the two of us. Also if kids came into the picture, there would be that financial burden.

If you haven’t already noticed, I like to think way, way ahead of where reality has me. This kind of living is contrasted with my meditation of the day. My meditation focused on being careful in trusting that I have any days beyond the one I am in. He is not against planning – He’s for that. But when we start making decisions that support our fantasies of future things and those fantasies become our idol, He’s against that. Right? Am I interpreting that stuff correctly? If any theologians are reading this, feel free to correct me.

It’s Sunday – usually a day off from work, but I went ahead and put a call in to a realty company who expressed interest in using me and my company. Personally, after going on my own search for homes for sale in Lubbock, I would love to represent a company selling Lubbock homes for sale. It would help me learn the process – kind of like I’m doing with my church architects. I am curious to a fault I guess. And I love meeting new people. So there you go.  I also got referred to a Lubbock landscaping company that the realty company subcontracts to and I promised to call them about representing their marketing efforts.

Speaking of meeting new people, I noticed that a couple with a few kids was packing up and leaving. And even though I had never met them I offered my help in getting their stuff in their car. They gladly accepted and we made small talk. I wasn’t looking for a deep friendship, but sometimes it does the soul well to reach out to others and to help. I know if it was me I would want some help – especially with the kids running a bit wild. This little meeting made me think that the nurses and I needed to put on another Corporate Housing party. A lot of people have moved in since the last one and so why not?

Okay, that was Sunday – a decent day – but I have to admit I felt the weight of emptiness during the evening hours. I tried to shake it off of my heart and mind, but sometimes these things are too sticky to get rid of it.

Here’s to better nights.