East Coast Eddie
Musings of an East Coast Mormon
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
This year we have church from 1-4pm. That gets you weird reactions from non-member friends/family. As if spending three hours in church every Sunday isn't enough to get you labeled "Ned Flanders," the fact that you spend three hours in the afternoon certainly does the trick.
My parents and my sister's family were coming over for dinner. We wanted to eat a relatively early dinner, so we planned on 4:30. I gave my security code to my dad so they could all get in the house, as they were arriving around 2:30 or 3:00.
I rounded up the kids after church and loaded them into the car. Anne had left a few minutes earlier to go help out at home. When I got home, this is the peaceful Easter Sunday scene with which I was presented:
My brother-in-law and neices cheering on an NCAA game.
My dad, in the bathroom, re-attaching the toilet to the floor.
Ahh, yes, just another peaceful Easter.
So why, you ask, had my dad taken the toilet apart? Well, there's a story behind that one.
The previous Sunday when I got the kids from Primary, the boys were holding tongue depressors. When we got home, they were running around with the tongue depressors and I finally thought to ask... you know, what's with the sticks, guys?
The answer I got was something like this... "The whale ate Jonah! ... " (excited chatter, talking over one another) "Say 'ahhh' Mr. Whale!"
Okay, so that explains the tongue depressors. Anyway, they ran downstairs to play/continue chasing each other with tongue depressors while we got dinner ready. A few minutes later we heard the toilet flush.
And of course, it was a tongue depressor that had been flushed. And now the toilet was clogged. Which is a real bummer, because out of all the toilets in the house, this is the one that flushes properly (coincidentally, it's also the only one our builder didn't install--we had a private plumber finish this bathroom).
Now I like to fancy myself as a "Mr. Fix It", but when it comes to plumbing, and more specifically, toilets, I want nothing to do with it. Really. Plumbers are expensive, and you know what? They earn and deserve every penny they make.
So the toilet was jammed with a tongue depressor, and I figured I'd get around to finding a solution. My dad said he had a "snake" and he figured he could fix the problem. Oops, he left the snake at the beach last summer, no go.
Fine, I'll call a plumber. I just hadn't had the time to do that.
And so on Easter Sunday, my dad figured he could fix the problem while I was at church. One thing led to another, and he ended up having to unbolt the toilet from the floor. My brother-in-law, momentarily summoned from his basketball game to lend a hand, was completely grossed out.
And now I see the blessings of attending three hours of church! Just look at what I missed!
I tried paying my dad, even wrote out a check. He wouldn't take it, though he certainly earned every penny.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Pick a deadline, any deadline...
I work for a bunch of engineers. I've learned some bad habits from these people.
For example, I give them a deadline of, say, March 31. I hear back from 1% on March 1. I'll hear back from another 2% on March 15. The majority, however, will get in touch with me on March 31st at 4pm. Half of those will be asking for an extension, because surely I wasn't serious when I said March 31st?
But really, I just laugh about it because I'm the same way. If I know I have a major deadline or deliverable, it's always in the back of my mind. I take notes, I write things down, I may even get started on the project.
But until I'm up against the deadline, I am just not motivated (I'm also a "last week of the month" hometeacher--I always have good intentions about calling someone up and making an appointment for the first day of the month! Never happens).
And the main problem reason I remain so is because I get away with it. Which perpetuates my deadline complacency. Sure, when there's a hot item going on at work, I'm on it before anyone asks me about it. I typically finish things before people come looking for them.
Case in point. I have a major project I'm heading up, and I've been telling myself for 6 months that "this will be the month I finish it." 6 months ago there was an urgency to get it done; I was busily churning away at that project. Now the urgency has been absolved, albeit temporarily.
So "Common Sense Eddie" says, hey, let's get cracking and finish this.
"I've Got Other Things to Do Eddie" says, are you kidding? I'm still worn out after the last project we did. And look at all this other stuff there is to do. Get back to me when you start freaking out.
It's like having a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil.
So today my boss dropped in and during our chat asked about the "eternal project". Have you ever seen "The Money Pit"? Where they keep asking the contractor how long it will take to fix the house? And he always answers, "Two weeks." Six months later they ask him how long it will be, and he says, "Two weeks."
So that's what I said. "Two weeks." Only I meant it!
Why I Love My Sister...
... she's hilarious, among other lovable traits.
(and lest I forget to mention, I have two sisters who are equally as lovable... they are both older than me, but I'm taller than both of them, so I can sometimes get away with calling them my "little sisters," even though they could probably still beat me up if they wanted to)
But this story, I think, helps illustrate just what she's like. She is a very self-confident and determined person. She'll say what's on her mind, and often says very shocking things that make me laugh and choke on my food at the same time. And she always laughs at my jokes, so really, how can I not love her?
Some community organization was having a fancy fund-raiser banquet. She and her husband own a business in their community, and so they were invited. For whatever reason, she ended up there without her husband. So she's sitting around a table with a bunch of stuffy community business philanthropist-type people.
The program begins, and the lady conducting the evening's events announces "we're now going to show you a short video detailing some of the things we've done for the children of our community. It's a real tear jerker!"
At which point my sister leans in and announces to her table, as only she could do, "I don't know about you, but this is usually when I slip out for a cocktail."
It's a good thing I wasn't there, because I wouldn't have been able to compose myself for the rest of the evening (due to my laughter). She said she got looks of shock and disbelief. Which I suppose is understandable, still...
That's why I love her.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Save as Draft...
That button is like a crutch!
I now have three consecutive posts that have been "Saved as Draft". It's kind of like back in the day when I'd call a girl up to ask her out: dial six numbers, and then hang up! Save as draft.
Or when the receptionist tells me someone is on the line for me, and I say, "Nah, put him on my voice mail!" Save as draft.
Or when I go to buy something online, and get all the way to where you enter in your credit card number, then close the browser window to "think about it." Save as draft.
That would be a handy button to have in real life, wouldn't it?
Door-to-door salesman caught you unawares? Save as draft!
Someone asks you a question you really don't want to answer? Save as draft!
Just backed your wife's car into another vehicle? Save as draft!
Kids whining? Save as draft!
Having a bad day? Save as draft!
Monday, March 21, 2005
Springtime and Fighting Complacency
After reading this post on Lizzy's blog, which I read after this post on Kelly's blog, I had the following thoughts...
About a year and a half ago, the phone rang one day. I looked at the caller ID (a must-have, in my opinion, for all church members) and saw a name I recognized but couldn't quite place. Oh, hello, stake executive secretary.
Would my wife and I be available to meet with the stake president Sunday morning? When I got this phone call I knew exactly why he wanted to see us. I knew what was coming, and I knew it was going to change quite a few things in our family. But, I laughed it off and told Anne that he was probably looking for greeters for stake conference... Sure, that's it!
Now this stake president has known us for a while. He set me apart when I left on my mission. He released me when I returned. He interviewed me when we were married. He was similarly involved in Anne's mission and marriage recommends. So we were sitting in his office, again, and he said, "Do you know why you're here?"
I knew dang well why I was there, but I wasn't going to tell him. I mean, what if I was wrong? I'm certainly not going to plant any ideas in his head. I played dumb. "... Because your secretary called me?"
And sure enough, I had been correct (not about the secretary). Not only did I know why I was there, but I knew who my counselors should be. And thus it went.
I spent the first few weeks having difficulty sleeping. I'd stare at the ceiling in a mild panic. There was so much to do, so much to take on, so much to accomplish. I'd never get it all done. I have a job. I have a family. Now, I have this. A friend of mine had the same calling and his wife had not-so-humorously joked about divorce. I thought of our poor bishop, how on earth does he do it all?
Mainly, my thoughts centered around this fact: the talent pool in our ward must be pretty shallow. And to be perfectly honest, our ward was in a period of transition back then. We had one or two solid families moving out every month, and no one moving in. That trend has since reversed, an answer to prayer, and I know there are plenty of other people who could do my job far better than I. Someday, someone else will have the chance, but for now it's still my time to do my best.
The first few weeks, it seemed there was never enough time in the day. I'd race home from work, suck down dinner, then race off to an appointment here or a meeting there. I found I was speeding whenever I was driving--maybe because I was always late to the next meeting, but maybe because I was always wired. Eventually I got over the panic, and I followed the advice of the bishop, which was, do the best you can do.
Then last summer I got slammed at work. For two years I had been proposing a 6-month project, and suddenly they decided to approve it with a 6-week deadline. If I had spent 60 or 70 hours at work in a week, it wouldn't have been enough. I spent all summer, awake at night, cranking numbers and solutions for the problems I had at work. It would all either work marvelously, in which case I anticipated a nice raise, or it would be a colossal disaster, in which case I'd pray for a sympathetic boss. In a way, that helped take additional stress and worry out of the church work.
Now, a year and a half later, I look back at my performance over the last few months. Frankly, I'm not impressed with myself, and I don't feel my efforts have been representative of my "best". Maybe my "good" or my "okay" or my "well, not too shabby," but definitely not my "best". One of my counselors went to a training meeting last week, and as he was sharing his notes with me Sunday I again had the feeling that there's more to do. There's much, much more to do. And it's not going to get done by sitting around thinking about it.
In the beginning, I was motivated by the sheer magnitude of it all. Then I got used to the idea, and got busy with other things. Now I look back and realize I still need that motivation, just not the "panic" and doubts that are now gone anyway.
So, here's to getting back to work.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Dinner vs. Meeting
So last night I had a stake meeting I could have gone to. I was told I didn't have to go, but I was "invited." Normally, I'd have gone, given the implication of "invited" in Priesthood terminology. I sent a couple of my lackeys to the meeting, so I'll get all the juicy details later.
Instead, we went to my sister's for dinner. She was making corned beef and cabbage. Now, quite frankly, that menu alone would typically be enough to make the stake meeting my top priority ("I'm sorry, it's urgent business which cannot otherwise be postponed or delegated!"). But it had been a while since I had seen my sister, and hey, it was one less meal Anne and I would have to cook and clean-up after.
I remember my mom making this, every year, on St. Patrick's Day. I seem to be the only person in the world who doesn't care for it... Nonetheless, each year I'd go along, eat the meal, and thank my lucky stars that this wasn't a mainstay of American cuisine.
So when my sister told me Wednesday night what she was making, she sensed my forced affirmative reply. She offered to make me a PB&J, which I declined. Then she confessed that she always hated mom's meat loaf. So I ate the food at her house (minus the cabbage), and quite frankly, it wasn't half bad.
I'm not saying that I want to boil a big, red chunk of beef with cabbage balls at my house next year. Don't get me wrong. But I suppose it's something I can tolerate every now and then.
Anne likes the stuff, and I'm really surprised given that her parents were on a cabbage diet at one point during her childhood. Yes, that was about all they ate. Cabbage, cabbage, cabbage. Anne was able to eat normal food during this odd phase of her parents' continuing weight-loss craze, but she said the house always smelled of cabbage. If there's one thing worse than Atkins (anyone who tells me I can't eat pasta or bread has another thing coming), I'd have to say it's the "cabbage diet."
Thursday, March 17, 2005
We have some friends that have been wanting to come visit our area for a while now. They've actually expressed interest in moving out this way, given the good job market and what have you. As far as the housing market, well, it's good if (A) you already own a home in the area, or a mansion somewhere else, (B) you plan on knocking over a bank or two before you buy.
So I was chatting recently with this friend, and he said they were thinking they might come for a visit in the fall. That's certainly a nice time of year to visit weather-wise.
However, at the end of the conversation, he said something that I didn't quite connect with until the next day. He said, "Yeah, and by then I'll have about two weeks of vacation banked up!"
Now, I've always thought this visit might be a long weekend. So, when he said this, my first thought was that he was just thinking ahead, you know, that he'd take a couple of days off of work, and he'd have plenty of leave leftover. But the more I thought about it, the realization set in that they are planning a much longer visit than we had originally thought. I have to say that I love my friends and family dearly, but there are precious few people I can imagine being around for two weeks.
I think we'll be "out of town" that month.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
So I tried to post this a few days ago. But Blogger was having a brain freeze or something, and after 20 minutes I gave up. At one point, Blogger half-posted my blog, and it looked pretty funky. Kind of like, "This is your blog. (crack, sizzle) This is your blog on drugs."
Anyway, you'll recall our discussion on moving. Well, a few weeks ago I was helping a couple move in. I was praising these people up and down! They called three weeks before they got here, and brought their own family members to help! Plus, they were moving into a first floor apartment. Piece of cake!
They have friends in our ward who moved in last summer, and they were also on hand to help out. So we were joking about the day they moved in, and she reminded me of something I said.
A: "By the way, I've told them about your move-out policy."Whoops! I said that the day they moved in?! Truth be told, she and her husband are really funny, and I must have sensed that. She reminded me that when they moved in, it was into a third floor apartment, in the midst of blazing heat and humidity.
Me: ".... move ... out ... policy?"
A: "Yeah, that you require six months solid home teaching for any move-out assistance."
Me, with pensive, semi-evil grin forming: "That's not a bad idea! Where did you get this?"
A: "From you."
Me: "From ME? When?!"
A: "The day you helped us move in."
Ahh, yes, I remember now. I'm sure I said some other things I've since gladly forgotten. ;)
Monday, March 14, 2005
Friday night we went to see "The Work and the Glory" movie. I only ever read the first book in the series, and that was about 10 years ago. After marrying Anne there was little point in reading the rest since she told me what happened. Overall, not a bad flick. I find it hard to believe they're going to make 9 of these, though.
Saturday Anne was gone for a good part of the day, up in Maryland to hear Bonnie Parkin. I've always liked Sister Parkin since I found out she's an Aggie. Anne said Sister Parkin high-fived her. I have to admit, she never struck me as the high-fiving kind of lady, but I guess that's because I've only ever seen her during church broadcasts. That's probably frowned upon during General Conference.
Sunday night's fireside went well. We had been asked to talk about--big surprise here--dating. The YW had chosen the topic, surprised? However, the YW's advisor who invited us specifically asked us to focus on being happy with yourself before trying to find someone else with hopes that they will make you happy.
We began by talking about who we are (children of God) and why we're here (to get "home"). Then we moved to the subject-at-hand with Anne recounting "our story". I told her we should make the story more interesting, you know, maybe throw in a drunken bar brawl, but she didn't agree. So instead I offered "The Rest of the Story", from my perspective. The YW were funny, throwing in lots of "Ohhh, that's so sweeeet!" type comments.
Then we talked about four general areas to consider: spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual. We talked about each of these, shared some experiences, and had good questions and comments from the group. After, a line of crying young women formed to hug my wife. I got a thumbs-up from one of the guys. Maybe that was his version of the tearful hug, and that's quite alright with me. Oooh, and the best part: cupcakes for refreshments!
Friday, March 11, 2005
One Hour = 60 Minutes
When my wife has to give a lesson or talk at church, it consumes her. She'll think about it for days. She'll start outlining, gathering visual aides, writing notes, etc. She's very organized, and always does an outstanding job. Recently she was recently released as Gospel Doctrine teacher in order to fulfill another calling, and I had countless people come tell me they almost "opposed" the new calling on the grounds that they loved her class.
The point is, she's very organized about this stuff. Me, on the other hand? Well, let's just say I work well under the pressure of a looming deadline. But no worries, my wife is always prepared! So imagine my surprise when, just a few days ago, I looked at the calendar on the kitchen wall. Penciled in for this Sunday was, "Fireside, Ed/Anne speak"
I hadn't heard anything about this; so I went and found her to see what this was all about.
"Oh, yeah, someone called weeks ago and asked about that. I forget now who it was, or what we were supposed to talk about." In her defense, she's been under the weather for a couple of weeks.
We figured, you know, probably a "panel" type discussion. Or maybe they want us to talk for 10 or 15 minutes. Whatever, no problem! So she called up the sister that had requested we speak.
Long story short:
It's just us (well, us and the youth, who probably think we're older than dirt)
We have an hour.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
What a Difference a Day Makes
Someone once said you shouldn't talk about the weather on your blog. Or, as my favorite local weatherman once said, "Tomorrow's weather won't be anything to write home about. Then again, if you're writing home about the weather, you've got other problems."
But allow me this once. Yesterday it was 70 degrees here. Sunny, mild. Just beautiful weather.
Today, however, is another story. This is the view from my office window:
March is a fickle month.
Only in America
Friday, March 04, 2005
What happens to daddy's when they die?
This morning over breakfast, one of my 3.5 year olds was chattering away at me. Then he posed a question, which at first I didn't quite understand.
Son: "What do they do with daddy's when they die?"
Me: "What do they do with them? Or where do the daddy's go?"
Son: "What do they do with them?"
Me: "Uhh, well, it all depends on..."
Son: "Do they put them in a case, like mommies?"
Me: Where on earth is he getting this stuff? "A.. case?"
Son: "They wrap up the mommies and put them in a case."
Me: (laughing) "Ohhh, you mean mummies?"
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Sunny and Snowy
The drive to work today was beautiful. It snowed all day yesterday, and kept snowing overnight. This morning there were some flurries, but the sun came out as I was leaving the house. The roads are all fine (don't ask me why they cancelled school for the 4th consecutive day).
As I drove by our new chapel, I wished I had brought along my digital camera. The church sits facing the highway and has about 100 or so pine trees in the "front yard". All were snow covered, with the branches hanging low, and the sun from behind the church. Would have been a great picture. Of course, I would have been late to work, but that's beside the point. My commute takes me through some roads that wind through woods and forests. All the trees were snow lined, and it was an awesome sight.
Now I'm at work, wishing I were at home with the kids. When the boys woke up ("boys" refers to the 3.5 year old twins) they asked if we could make a snowman. Given that we were all still in PJs, it wasn't practical at the moment. I checked the local news website (WTOP radio, a Bonneville station--wink, wink) to see about school closings. The boys go to a preschool program offered by a local public high school. Sure enough, since the roads are actually wet, the schools are all closed.
Backyard view, before the sun broke through the clouds
Since I was online, they asked if we could go to the Thomas website. They love Thomas the Train. So we clicked around on the site for a while, and printed off some pictures they could color. We sat at the kitchen table, they colored with their crayons. Okay, actually, I colored with their crayons. They love it when they pick the colors and have me do the actual coloring--I keep telling them they're missing the point. Then they add their finishing touches. The little guy (22 month old) woke up and he joined in the coloring fun--only, he colored the new kitchen table, something I didn't realize and something that made Anne, upon waking up, second guess the value of sleeping in.
I figured I could go into work late, and we'd have time to build a snowman before the snow disappeared. Then I got a call from a coworker who was ill. Someone else is on vacation, and we had two people leave in the last few months that haven't been replaced yet. Long and the short? It would be just me at the office today. So, that meant I had to get showered/shaved/dressed/family-prayered/out-the-door in less time than it would normally take.
So here I am, preferring to be home building a melting snowman. There are days when Anne is at home wishing she were here (well, not here exactly, but in front of a classroom of middle schoolers teaching math, literature and music). We'll all survive, I suppose, and in the mean time the trees sure look pretty.