Day 90 – Wednesday Hump-ty
Today marked my three-month stint in Lubbock, Texas and I’m so happy to get to stay here. I know that many Lubbock natives would scoff at me and say that Lubbock is nothing but a black hole that consumes dreams and happiness – a wilderness that rains mud and blows cruel dust into everyone’s face – a true exile that must be escaped at all costs. But, I have loved my work here and I met my future wife here and I’ve chosen from all the Lubbock homes for sale to stake my claim to a wonderful time in a wonderland. No John Mayer, Lubbock is the wonderland…
I will get to church stage design, Texas colleges and Lubbock catering at some point in this journal entry, but I have to start by saying that I not only had a really hard time falling asleep last night. It was either too hot or too cold. My pillow didn’t hold my head in its usual cradle. My legs itched and my arms cramped. It was a tough toss and turn existence. And when I did finally fall asleep at 4:30 a.m. I had a most disturbing dream that I was trapped in a household of dangerous hillbillies. These were not the Beverly Hillbillies. Nor were they the banjo-listening hillbillies of the Deliverance movie. They were somewhat in between – like I felt that they were going to kill me at certain points but then they started singing death metal country tunes. And sometimes all of this could combine to be funny, but it didn’t feel funny to me. I hated every second of my time in their dream house but whenever I tried to leave, a really oddly shaped bus with couches inside would pull up, put me inside and take me to a clinic that was giving flu shots with dirty needles. I wonder how I survived the night time – I’m still mad at those imaginary people put forth by my brain. I’d like to wall them in Amontillado style. Do them some Edgar Allen Poe damage – teach them to stay out my sub-conscious.
Anyway, I woke up in my fine short-term furnished apartment tired and a little frustrated but I didn’t let that stop me from doing my swim routine and my meditation on Ecclesiastes. The part that stuck out to me from Chapter one today was that no matter how hard we try to be remembered for our great human deeds, we will soon be forgotten. This was a good reminder for me because sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to succeed that I hit near-panic. Sometimes I think so hard about how to act in front of others because I want to be memorable or impressive. These verses from Ecclesiastes tell me that in just a few generations (if even that) I will be forgotten. And if you think about it, the entertainers who get most of our culture’s air time are quickly forgotten (even by TMZ) if they don’t star in any more movies, plays, concerts, etc. Sure, names like Michael Jackson will be remembered for a while as the King of Pop, but no one really cares anymore. Is that mean to say? I hope not. I’m sure prideful people who have a lot of power on this earth will hate these verses because they have done all they can to extend their legacy. But fact is, legacies are remembered by name only. Sure your name might be on a building at a college somewhere, but no one will remember you as you are. Take that William Taft and Abe Lincoln…
That’s all I have for this day – I’ll catch you up on other stuff tomorrow as it happens.
Day 85 – Friday date
I watched everyone around me today to see if I could get the emotional pulse of the world I live in – not the whole world, just my sphere of influence. Here’s what I got: People who are not patients in the hospital seemed to be overjoyed that it was Friday. “At least it’s Friday,” was uttered at least four times to me. My Realtor who is out there staging all those Lubbock homes for sale said it – even though she works on the weekends. My church architects who really love their jobs and will present more 3D shows to prospective clients tomorrow said it to me on the phone. My lawn care buddy and my Lubbock catering point person both said it when I talked to them on the phone. The barista at Starbucks named Joseph said it as he looked at the line stretching behind me – his statement I understand because he happens not to work on the weekend. Funny to me – Friday is like the ultimate day because even though it requires work to be done on the day, it shines out that beautiful nearby anticipation that we humans just love. Saturday and Sunday cannot compete. That’s how I see it anyway. Feel free to disagree.
Speaking of Starbucks, I hung out there for three hours today and did some basic observance of how people act around their coffee. I’m sure nobody was watching me because I was pulling a casual Friday – wearing some colorful golfing shirts and a Tiger Woods retirement shirt. To top it off I wore a bright green visor. I’m sure people thought I must be on some golf tour and so they dared not look me in the eyes. Anyway, I ordered some of Starbucks mega-strong Cold Brew without water or ice so that it would give me the ultimate caffeine buzz and grabbed a morning bun so that it would complete the healthy breakfast/lunch combo. I don’t know why I even brought this up except to say that I do exist in places other than work stations – or I should say that I do vary my work stations because I was set up in this Starbucks all plugged in and laptop ready. There was one very interesting fellow there who didn’t bring anything into the store, who ordered only water and who chose one of the soft recliner-type chairs to fling his left leg over as if he was in his very own man cave. He was there to get free relaxation, but he wasn’t looking to engage anyone in particular. I knew this because I gave him a strong head nod when he looked at me (everyone knows that a strong head nod means I am open to someone saying at least, “Hello.”) and he passed me by without even a slight head nod. I felt momentarily slighted but when I realized I could see his underwear as he sat down I decided he was not the sort of fellow I needed to know.
Melissa is good. We had a date night and it was filled with some painful kisses and deep discussions on relational topics. I asked her if she thought I should go ahead and buy furniture we would like – and then store it in a climate-controlled storage space until we were ready to use it. She said that if there were pieces we found that we just loved, we could add it to the storage. This would give us the year to collect furniture we really liked rather than put us in a rush to fill up a house all at once. My Melissa is a smart and beautiful one. That’s all for today.
Day 81 – Monday once again
Normal corporate housing stuff in the early on the morning – this seems like the longest I’ve stuck with a workout regimen since high school. There is just something about climbing out of the walking world and diving into a swimming world that gets me going for the day. I’m noticing my “skinny fatness” is going away too, which is a bonus. Also if you were wondering, the home I bought in Lubbock has a pool so I can keep it going whenever I do move in – probably in a year. I know that many homes for sale in Lubbock don’t have pools because of the upkeep. But swimming is too important for me now.
My workday began with the church architects and we had a great meeting. They were seeing good results as a result of my work – more clients were calling them for all sorts of work projects and they attributed it to me. I personally think their portfolio speaks for itself and word of mouth has taken over for them, but I’ll take the credit if it keeps getting me paid. I’m also getting good reviews from my company – I won employee of the quarter and was given a $1000 prize. It surprised me and I was humbled by it. They are talking about leaving me in this region for three more months beyond the first 90 days – The relationships I have built are strong and it seems that there are plenty more clients to be had. Plus, I actually am learning to love Lubbock – as insane as that sounds. I guess I better love it – I’m going to be living here with Melissa for our married years. After these three extra months I am considering asking my company to open an office I can be in charge of – traveling has been good, but I want to settle down. I’d hate to have to switch jobs because of the long travel times.
Melissa is already doing physical therapy and she is doing amazing. She had enough paid time off that this recovery was not affecting her finances – plus the hospital she works for has some sort of fund to cover these sorts of events – at least for a while. This whole wreck thing still has me shaken – I keep thinking about how she could have died but even more now I am thinking of just potential injury. What if she had been severely burned? What if she had ended up as a paraplegic? Would I have loved her still? What if something similar happened to me? What if I got sick to the point that she had to take care of me around the clock? How would our relationship survive? Would it survive? I don’t think these aren’t things that most people think about when they are dating – I think most people imagine that sickness or injury won’t hit their marriage. I think most people imagine that all will be the same good forever. I asked Melissa about this and she believed we would still remain in love because we are going beyond the externals and are digging into the depths of one another. I told her the same, but if I am being totally honest, I’m not sure I could hang on if something terrible happened. I would probably stick around but I don’t know if I would love her as much as before. I know that sounds terrible but this is my journal and I can be terrible if I want to.
Anyway, I did call the head of the Christian school (Pre-K Lubbock – 12th Grade) to ask for her prayers for Melissa. She was happy that I had felt like I could call in with prayer requests and she said she would put it on their school’s prayer list. I told her thank you and I promised that I would keep her updated.
That’s it for today – a pretty great day.
Day 80 – The Lord’s Day
I got up early again today but I skipped the usual pool time at my short term furnished apartment. I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as I could. I wanted to see just how much progress has been made in the case of my fiancée and celebrate with her that this wasn’t fatal. When I got there, a hospital chaplain was already in the room – nice guy who you could tell was pastoral in the sense that he was made to visit and care for those in trouble. Some ministry people are like that with a calm demeanor and a listening ear while others who call themselves pastors are actually just good speakers. On this tangent, I wish that churches would name their workers according to their giftings rather than naming them “pastor.” I’ve sought advice from nametag pastors and I could tell they were more about missions and evangelism. I’ve also sought advice from other nametag pastors who actually heard me and were able to advise me in a helpful way. But, I guess nobody has asked me and so this isn’t going to change anytime soon. As well, who am I to judge? Being a church worker must be super hard with all the demands and complaints. I don’t want to be one who adds to those stacks. (I like how my private school clients (Pre K Lubbock – 12th Grade) list what gifts each teacher and administrator has on the doors and on the website – lets you know where to go in special situations.)
So, Melissa…She is looking great and moving around even better. I heard that our nurse friends were going to be here later so I wanted some alone time with my girl. Once the chaplain prayed with the two of us for our relationship and for her injuries, he left and left us to be together. I gave her a light kiss on the cheek so that I could avoid her stitches and bruises and she did her best to smile without pain. I felt like I was seeing a miracle right before my eyes. I took a moment to thank God for His covering – It was like Psalm 91 – protection from The Man in the Sky. Melissa asked me if she was still cute enough for me to marry. I told her I would marry her twice if that were possible. Lots more mushy stuff like that – I enjoyed her. But I figure you know that already.
One of the church architects actually came by the hospital – he hadn’t come by just to see Melissa and me – he had someone else who happened to be stuck in this place. But it still meant something that he came by to check on Melissa and me. He told me that he wanted to talk with me at some point about doing a new project for the Texas college I represented. I told him to give me a call in the middle of the week and we would discuss it. It seems that in a strange coincidence, Western Texas College had need of a new auditorium and had heard of both Halo Architects and Gone Virtual. Funny how things like that happen.
Meditation: More on the Prodigal since I am re-reading the Nouwen book – The main thing I am wondering is why the Father in the parable agreed to bankroll his son on this journey he was about to take. If the Father had not given the boy his money, the boy would not have been able to go to the distant country to screw his life up. Is God like that? Does He give us what we need to go risk everything even if what we are after is negative? In some ways, I think this is the ultimate proof of freewill. I think God gives us what we need to choose, which can be bad for me because I choose stupid a lot more than I choose good. Oh well. Maybe I’ll stay home with my Father next time…
Day 79 – Saturday catch-up
Beyond the life at my short term furnished apartments, I had a lot of serious stuff on my mind. Because I spent most of my time with Melissa yesterday I didn’t get much work done – none really – so I decided to dig into my analytics as much as possible – get some reports ready for the clients we represent. These reports are key to the process because they let the client know how their website is functioning and it lets me know what sort of things I can do to make their site pop. I not only look at their website though – I look at their competitors’ websites to see what links they are getting. Then I go and get the same links. I covered all of my regular clients and even gave some love to my folks who specialize in catering in Lubbock. I was challenged by the analytics for the Texas colleges because they are not a business per say, but I got it worked out. Blah-Blah-Blah. (I wonder why I write all this when it’s probably just me who is reading this – I know how it all works. I guess that maybe someone who is bored out of their minds one day might stumble on to this journal and decide that they too want to use me to improve their site. One never knows.)
Anyway, I prepped these reports for about three hours and did competitive analysis for another two. Then I grabbed some late lunch at Pie Five – pizza sounded good so I went for it. Honestly, I needed to sort of lose myself today with all of the stress of Melissa’s wreck – So, I bought a book by Henri Nouwen called “The Return of the Prodigal Son” and headed to a Starbucks so I could begin it – I had heard it was a life changing book and I am always looking for a life changing. I also picked up a New York Times newspaper just in case the book was not my style. The NYT always covers the weirdness of Trump and Clinton – so I can stay up with the madness of our political system.
But wow…that book became my meditation for the day. There was no need for NYTimes silliness because this book reached right into my heart and soul and pounded it with power and love. Using the Rembrandt painting of the same name as its backdrop, Nouwen made me see the parable of the Prodigal Son in an entirely new light – a deep and bright light. I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it and I had an entirely new view into how God loves even the most disgusting of us. I had moments when I felt like every character in the story and the painting – not easy to write in such a way. Anyway, I plan on reading it again much slower this time to let it sink down in my bones beginning tomorrow night. I may even give this book to Melissa to read since it would be a perfect way to introduce her to God’s enduring love.
Well, that is Saturday – Melissa is everyday improving. I am thankful.
Day 78 – Friday Visitations
Life is so fleeting and you really don’t know when your day is coming – most frightening we don’t know how it will come. That’s the part I fear the most. All this Melissa stuff has got me to thinking about life and death, which I think is totally normal. But I seem to dwell in the constant thoughts of what could have happened to her with just a simple drive home – just a moment of sleep on the road could have taken her from me – all of our joyous plans blown up – me left with a job and a home in Lubbock as well as a heart smashed to bits. It all makes me want to be more careful with my own ways so that Melissa would not have to deal with the death of me. But how can one be more careful and have any sort of quality of life? Truth is, it really wouldn’t matter because even if I hid away in a closet, I could choke on a piece of lunch meat. Or I could slip off of the toilet and bash my head open on the bathtub. There is no fighting death – only Jesus could do that – only He could take the sting of its cruelty away. I’m glad He is on my side.
I was pleasantly surprised by my church architects who must have found out about the wreck. They sent flowers to Melissa’s room – not 3D animations of flowers – actual flowers. I thought that was so cool. Even my new clients, a fantastic Lubbock catering crew was generous in offering to send over food. Sometimes, people blow me away by their unexpected kindnesses. I am not surprised when people do bad things. I expect that kind of thing. But these things lifted my spirits. I made a call to her nurse friends and told them what happened. They said they would get back to Lubbock as soon as their schedules would allow. They were worried but when I told them what the docs had said they relaxed. They were relieved – I guess because they knew what this sort of injury entailed.
As far as Melissa is concerned the doctors said that she is making a miraculous comeback (they didn’t say “miraculous” – they used some scientific term but miraculous is what they should have said.) She is talking like a normal girl who just got her face banged up – still pretty as ever. She is even able to achieve some strained walking – she makes the trip to the bathroom on her own and will start Physical Therapy on Monday. It won’t be long before she is hanging back at our short-term furnished apartment complex (see what I did there…)
I am amazed – God is good.
Day 77 – Thursday improvements
Praise God!!! As it turns out, it only took one day for Melissa to regain consciousness and even though she has massive pain all over her body, there were no broken bones or any long-term damage to her organs. Her brain will still fully function and she won’t have to rehab long. Truly a miracle and a wake-up call for me who takes life for granted a lot of the time.
I told my company what had happened and they were understanding, but they weren’t so understanding that they were going to let me spend all of my days in the hospital with Melissa. They still wanted me – the little cog in a big machine – to produce. So, I decided to do as much work as I could during the days and then be at the hospital at nights. If I bang out as much work as I had been and can finish my daily jobs earlier, then they will be cool with me.
I have found it hard to get right back to the grind one day after all of this emotional drop, but I did ramp up my work for that Texas college I’ve been working on and they have about 12,000 people per month looking at their site – which is fantastic. I can sort of put them on the backburner for now. My landscaping gurus at Lubbock Roots are seeing a spike in their business. I don’t know if I can take credit for that, but I will pat myself on the back anyway. My other clients are doing well enough to let them wait a day for my full services.
It was good to have a conversation, albeit painful, with Melissa at the hospital in the evening. They had her on some pretty strong pain meds and so I know my presence there was mostly blurred. Still, this is the girl who stole my heart and I wanted to just be there near her. I hoped that this wreck would convince her to ask for days at work so she wouldn’t be traveling so tired from the graveyard – but who knows what will happen. Anyway, those issues will be dealt with at a future more appropriate time.
My meditation was all about casting all my cares on God because He cares for me – very comforting. I could really feel God’s presence around me – such a tough experience – such a scary ordeal and God wants me to hand it all over to Him. So I will do that and praise Him that this was not as bad as it could have been.
Okay – I made it back to my short term furnished apartment thinking hard about life – Here’s to not taking life for granted…
Day 76 – Wednesday tragedy
Oh my gosh. Terrible news came my way today – absolutely terrible. Melissa was on her way home from a graveyard shift and she was tired enough to have slow reflexes. She must have closed her tired eyes for a few seconds longer than usual and she smashed full-speed into a telephone pole. She is in ICU – definitely a much worse way to be in the hospital than as a nurse. As soon as I heard, I told the situation to my clients, apologized to the private Christian school (Lubbock Pre-K – 12th Grade) leaders and I took off at top speed to go see her – to find out what the damage was. When I arrived I went to the nurses’ station and asked if I could see her – that I was her fiancée and was freaking out. They told me that she was unconscious and in a possible coma. They said they would let me know when and if I could see her. So, I called her parents and let them know. They said they were going to get there as soon as possible.
Am I now the drowning man from Psalm 18? Is this what God was prepping me for? Can I have faith enough to cry out in desperation and expect results. For the next two hours I just read my Bible and prayed – the nurses then came out to tell me could see her. When I got in there, I felt like a stranger in a strange world. I looked at Melissa and I just cried. She had multiple head contusions and a face that had been stitched up in several spots. I was told that she would recover fine but that her car had been completely destroyed. I was lucky that she wasn’t dead as a result of the impact. I’ve been in a few wrecks before but they were minor – nothing like this…
It turned out that she was just unconscious and that it was expected for her to fully recover. Still she would have to go through full-on physical therapy. I gave thanks for that news and lifted my arms into the air to thank God for His mercy in reaching down to Melissa and saving her from death. I also lifted them up in surrender – I’d never been through such an experience. Those who have died in my family did so naturally in their old age. And I’d never known anyone who had experienced serious injury. New territory for me. I waited for her mom and dad to show up and when they did I went off by myself to mourn the internal struggle.
So, it was a bad day. No time for lawn care or Lubbock homes for sale – Any advice from my readers about how to deal with this sort of thing – I’d appreciate hearing your stories –
Thanks in advance.