These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My sister's pregnant!

I called Linda last night to tell her that it's been reported former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom (who lives in W. Michigan) is going to be on the next "Survivor" series in the fall, when she says, "Ok, Uncle Roel."
It didn't click at first. Then I thought Maricella (my sister in law) can't have any more children. I was so stumped that I think I actually said "Who's pregnant?"
She said she was. She'd felt kind of weird, she was off by a week and so she and Arnold went out and got a pregnant kit. It said she was.
I was kinda shocked. She's my little sister, well not so little anymore. But I guess she'll always be my little sister. It hasn't sunk in yet, either. It'll take some time.
I called her today to chat some more and it feels odd discussing it. But I'm very happy for her and Arnold. I know he's been wanting a baby for some time now. And I guess it was time.
My parents reacted positively, which is cool. I think they'd get a kick out of another grandchild. My aunt Mine thought Linda was joking when she called her up last night (after her novelas were over). She didn't say much. Shocked, I'd say.
My brother reacted as he would normally react. He and Maricella were eating out and Linda called. M. answered and she said my brother shook his head. I think it's a protective thing. Linda will always be our little sister.
So we got into names after awhile. We definitely talked about some names that are completely off. We had a good laugh over them.
Dawn said she was sort of working on a baby blanket and was unsure of who would need one. But she figured maybe her sister or mine. That was on Thursday when she had those thoughts. And I guess it turned out to be mine.
We figured if all goes well with my dad, we could make a trip out there some time in April. I think Linda should have the baby by then. That would be cool. Definitely a trip for some celebration.

Friday, July 29, 2005

What do I read next???

I'm in a heap of trouble. I can't seem to find a book to read. It's a problem I've had for the past several months.
I can't recall the last good book I read all the way through. I've resorted to rereading books, and while I don't mind doing that, I'd like to space them out in between the books I've never read before.
I reread "The Church of Dead Girls" and am now rereading Erik Larson's "The Devil and the White City." I love those books but I want to read them on my terms, not because I have nothing else toread.
The Holland library is great and has a lot of boosk on tape. But I couldn't settle on anything. It's nothing new. I walk back home disappointed. I've reached some impass and have no remedy for it right now.
And Harry Potter doesn't county. I was done reading it before I even knew what happened. I did it that way so I could hold a conversation with Dawn and RP. And even if I had taken my time reading it, a week later I would have been done with it anyway.
I'm beating my brains for any author I haven't read yet. Being an lit. major, you'd think there would be tons of choices. The library has a book or two by Dostoyevsky and I'd love to start reading the Russians (Tolstoy). But do I really want to spend a month on one book? That's how long it'll take me to read one of theirs.
I'm done reading the Crichton books for now, although when his newest book comes out on tape I'll probably read it. I can't get into Grisham (although I've read a few of his books).
I ran across the title "Something Wicked This Way Comes." I tried that book many years ago and failed at reading it. Perhaps it's time to read it.
Or maybe, as Dawn just suggested, look at one of the appendixes at the back of King's Danse Macabre. He's got some good horror books. The problem is can I find them on tape (I'll explain why I need them on tape for those of you reading this and don't know about me ina future blog entry).
Hemingway? I've read them all. Most anyway. Faulkner? Haven't really tapped that vein yet. Maybe some time soon. since I'm reading about Chicago, maybe Sister Carrie.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dawnie and me

Married three years now. Time sure passes quickly and we've gone all over the place. I've been taken places I've never thought I'd go. Never thought I'd live in Michigan near the big lake, 1,500 miles from where I was born. Or, that I'd be open to other worlds as much as I have, worlds like love, friendship, music, travel, books, cats and many other things (oh how can I forget X-files and Next Generation).
And it started out...On a Stephen King posting board I started on EW back in 2000. She lived in Maryland and me in Texas. It started out harmlessly enough as postings about King's books, then e-mails, then messaging, phone calls, then visiting and finally moving to Texas.
It looks like it happened quickly but it took quite a bit of time. I first became aware of Dawn back in July 2000. We didn't e-mail until January 2001 (took me a lot of time to finally ask her for her e-mail, coward I was).
It took another three months to get her to message me. She wasn't into it. On her birthday, though, I sent her an e-greetings, which was a surprise for her. While I was online,I sent her another e-mail that Friday night with the final time I'd ask her to get messenger. I sent it. Seconds later, I got this message from...her. She was downloading messenger when I sent her the e-mail. So cool.
We soon found out we had tons of things in common. That first night online lasted eight or nine hours on the computer. It was magical. It kept going and going. We did it again the next night.
I then told her if she wanted to talk some time. I gave her my number, hoping she'd give me hers. Bam! It worked. On a Sunday night, we set up a time to chat on real time. We talked pretty much every day since then.
We met up in San Antonio the weekend after Easter. It was the first time I'd done something crazy like leaving home and meeting someone in a large city. That was big for a square like me, whose craziest exploits until then were going to heavy metal concerts every once in awhile.
We had a great three and a half days then. We did it again for Memorial Day weekend, same place near the river in San Antonio, same days of the week. Dawn, who had planned to move to Chicago where her sister Laura lived, told me she planned to move down to Texas. A big smile crossed my face.
She found a teaching job quickly enough. We got married the following July we got married. Where else would we marry than in San Antonio in a small wedding at the Church of La Villita. Beautiful place. We stayed at the same bed and breakfast where had first seen each other 15 months before.
After a stay in Texas, we moved up to Michigan. It's been quite a change from culture to environment and weather. But I like it. It has given me a broader view of life, having now experienced all of these other things.
And so here we are five years later, three married, and living a world away. Growing up in a ranch with a mind still not even begun to explore life, I never would have thought I'd be where I am today. I've made large strides. Thanks Dawnie.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What's up with my Dad?

Holy shit! I talked to my dad this afternoon (he answered the phone) and I was pleasantly surprised by his voice. He was upbeat and talkative.
His voice was strong and he was laughing and chatting away about going off to the other ranch with his brother Rene. I think I was caught so much off guard that I didn't know what to say. So I accepted what he was saying it and how he said it and shook my head in pleasant disbelief.
It really is amazing how he sounded.He said he felt the best he's felt in months -- certainly since all of this business began with the pain in his liver and the subsequent diagnosis. He spoke nothing about any pain in his stomach, so I'm assuming it's gone for now. How I wish the damned tumors in his liver would shrink with the chemo. That would be the best news.
He said he has been walking down the road as much as he can, despite the heat, visiting the other ranch with my brother, eating more food and even getting a little ornery at a comment his sister made about my dad talking too low (his reply was "she can't hear very well anyway.).
He talked for a good thirty to forty minutes, the most I've spoken with him in a very long time. And we talked about everything from the weather to their dog Dottie.
I know he will have ups and downs, but after having a long down, it's sure good to hear him sound on such a high. And since it was our third wedding anniversary today, I believe hearing my dad's voice so upbeat was quite the treat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dad's chemo

Dad said his first round of chemo went well last week. He had to go both on Monday and Tuesday for treatment.
He went into the room where there were others also having their treatment done on them. It was like an IV, except the needle was inserted into the metaport below his collar bone. The process took about three hours.
There were others there, dad said, that were having problems. He had to help this older lady who was having difficulty.
He said there were people there about his age (in their 60s), some a little younger, and the older lady.
He carried on a conversation with this guy next to him who said he'd lost his hair by the second treatment. Dad didn't know if he was going to lose his or not, but had a light-hearted remark toward the guy. He said, "Well, if it does fall off, maybe it'll come back curly." Now, that's the dad I know, the one with the subtle sense of humor. The dad I grew up loving.
He also met this man in the waiting room who was a downer, but I don't think it got to my dad. The man said his situation was hopeless. He had had the cancer for two years and there was nothing left to do. When my parents talked to the doctor about this, the doctor said it was his job to tell the patients the truth, no matter how bad the situation, but that while there may not have been hope for that man, there was still hope for my dad.
When I talked to him Sunday, he said he was getting his appetite back and was beginning to eat more. Plus, more importantly, he could taste again. That was one of the reasons why he wasn't eating; he couldn't taste what he was eating.
He did have a bout with hiccups that lasted days, but after going to the emergency room and getting some type of medicine through an IV, it helped out and they're gone now.
So, he sounds good now, the best I've heard him in a long time. At least since the operation. He's had no vomiting or nausea yet and he's hoping it's not too bad if it does come.
He'll continue to have treatments twice a week, every two weeks. One of the treatments is for the masses in his liver to see if they shrink, and the other treatment is for the colon, to make sure the cancer does not return. He's supposed to go for six treatments before they check him out again.
I also think my dad's happy because it finally rained at both ranches. The hurricane (Emily) didn't really bring an enormous amount of rain, but it did bring moisture. They've now received a good six inches or more at the house and maybe four inches at the other ranches. He said things are green and they've had to actually cut green grass. I don't think it had rained since before we visited there in March. South Texas is so unpredictable when it comes to rain. You can get three to four months, even six months of good rainfall, then get nothing for the next six. It sort of defeats the purpose of the rain that fell the previous months.
Let's hope it continues on a regular basis, at least until it's time for it not to rain again...A year or so from now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Old friends

The weekend is just about over and it was hot, humid and rainy. We didn't do anything special at all -- unless you count eating at Denny's.
But this weekend I did get to talk to a couple of friends from Texas that I don't talk to very often - both college friends and both I've known for more than ten years. And both live in the same town, probably separated by no more than five miles, while I their common friend is 1,500 miles away.
Lilly, or Willy as I like to call her, I chatted with Saturday night as it rained.
I met her way back in 1995 or so. I started commuting to college with friends who knew Lilly and her sister Lis.
We became instant friends, it seemed, and have stayed in contact since. Lilly and I would shoot the shit at the Student Union on many occasions while in college, and while I was an English major and she an engineering major, we still found common ground.
She even drove me to Austin once in the fall of 1996 so I could see the Smashing Pumpkins. She didn't attend the show,but only drove me. On another occasion, she drove me so I could see the Phantom of the opera performance and visit and she stayed with friends.
She's always been someone fun to chat with and has unusual and entertaining stories from her times in Minnesota to family tales. She has a unique perspective on life, laughs a lot.
Even though we don't talk often, when we do talk, we pick up where we left off. That's cool.
Tonight I called up my pal Rose. Her I've known a few years longer than Lilly. I met up with Rose in a summer English class. My friend at the time, Ram, and I used to call her Jack (as in Jack Nicholson) because she used to wear prescription sunglasses similar to ones he used to were in the '90s.
We ended up having several other courses together and Ram, Rose and I became quick friends. We used to play jokes on each other - once Ram and I pretended we were pissed at each other and didn't talk for a week on purpose and eventually ended the joke with a pretend fight where I pulled out a fake gun on Ram. She knew the gig was up when she noticed the gun was colored red. Still fun.
We graduated the same year with bachelor's degrees - except I went on for another one and she went into teaching eventually. She's a teacher now in C.C., married and with one child. It's funny to look back now and see the origins of our friendship. It all stared with a summer English class.
So I guess I owe Herrick a salute for teaching the course - despite it being dull. And a high-five to Martha and Ronnie for introducing me to Lilly way back in that crowded Student Union eating area.
And for some reason, while friends have come and gone, these two gals, among a select few (I will write about others as I go along), have stuck around and continue to befriend a freak like me. Strong friendships run deep.