Technically I’m a Tech-y!

It’s official. Today I received the letter in the mail. Beginning August 16, I have a new job. I am now a Network Operations Technician for Northland Communications. I am absolutely thrilled!

I’ve been a customer of many forms of Northland Communications over the years. Earl and I were users of their ISP, Dreamscape. At the old house, we had Oneida County Telephone for our phone service. At one time at work, we had Northland for our phone provider, and still use Dreamscape for our internet connectivity. I’ve worked closely with these folks. And now I’m going to be working with these folks.

I’ve been doing radio for the past 12 years. I’ve spent the last 10 years with the same company, save for the short stint in the restaurant biz in ’99. In many ways, my co-workers and the owners of the station have been like family. This was a very tough step to take and it was a difficult decision to make. I’ve been on the air, I’ve written and produced commercials, I’ve sat on billboards for charity, I’ve worked behind the scenes and I’ve fought with stubborn transmitters at three in the morning. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. But radio has changed in many ways over the past 10 years and quite frankly, I no longer have an interest in the industry. I want to listen to the radio to enjoy it, I don’t want to examine it for competitive purposes. And in my current position, I am a manager. I don’t want to supervise people anymore. My interests do not lie in management – I want to work with a team of like minded individuals in technology. I am looking forward to working with telephony customers. I am being one of the guys “behind the dial tone”. I can’t wait to take apart beepers and put them back together again. I can’t wait to add call waiting or call forwarding to a customer’s phone line. I’ll be working in an area of the company affectionately known as the heartbeat. Honestly, my heart races just thinking about it.

The next three weeks will be hectic as I train, train and cross-train others to do my current job. And then I’ll be in 100% learning mode.

The employment path ahead of me is the clearest it has been in over a decade. And I have to admit, I feel absolutely wonderful!

Paths.

This morning I took the first step (well, a giant leap I suppose) on a new path. I made resolutions to myself during our vacation in June that I needed to change some aspects of my life. While I am a mostly happy-go-lucky guy, there were parts of my life that I was not enjoying, and I needed to change that. This morning, I solidified that change.

I’m deliberately being vague because people who need to know don’t, and I don’t know who’s reading my blog at any given moment. But Earl tells me that he couldn’t be prouder of me. I feel a sense of anticipation, awe and excitement as I begin this new chapter. I look back with a sort of wry smile, knowing that I enjoyed myself immensely, but it’s time to move on to this new challenge.

The Reason To Think is to Reason and Think.

As I brace myself for a fun filled week at work (be sure to read about all that tomorrow night), I can’t help but reflect on some observations I’ve made.

It seems like there’s a lot of people in the world that just don’t want to think. They don’t want to take them time to reason why things are the way they are. They just accept what people tell them and take it at face value. Why? Fear? Laziness?

I’ve mentioned before that I am on a new path of spirituality. Now this doesn’t mean that I’ve become what I affectionately call a “Bible beater.” Oh no, no, no, quite the contrary, I think my path has taken me further than that. Now that statement would make some take pause. To me the Bible is a nice book of stories and a somewhat interesting read, but how can one take everything in there at face value? Incest was encouraged. Folks were enthusiastic about slavery. Women who were not virgins when they married were to be killed. Men were permitted to have babes on the side. And then there’s that mention of the whole gay thing being bad – how do we know that Leviticus wasn’t having a bad day because he had a fight with his lover and decided that he’d write something nasty about his boyfriend in the Bible and then it got all twisted around? And then there’s the folks that read the Bible and say “even though it says this, here’s what he really meant.” Oh really! Are you fluent in Aramaic? Do you have the original, unabridged version? Were you there? You don’t look a day over 1500!

I overheard a conversation not too long ago… two guys at work were arguing about whether Jesus Christ was a Christian or Catholic. What? Neither side of that conversation made any sense. What did he do, follow himself? That’d be like chasing his tail! The argument was because “Pastor” said that Jesus Christ was really a Christian, then he must be a Christian. Eeks! I think someone wasn’t paying attention somewhere at sometime. Blind Faith. It makes me crazy.

I guess I stop and think outside of the box because I’ve always been intrigued by the whole New Age arena – psychics, reincarnation, the paranormal, symbols, signs, nature, magick and witchcraft, the whole deal. I regularly read books and articles by Sylvia Browne (the psychic). I constantly scan for the presence of my spirit guide and deceased loved ones. I thank them for their help. I believe that I have reincarnated several dozen times (yes, Shirley McClaine and I hung out during the Middle Ages, or maybe it was the Industrial Revolution.) I watched John Edward when he had the dark colored set (didn’t like the later shows too much), Earl and I even saw him in person. Now this does not mean that I walk around looking in the shadows for dead people or that I talk to thin air. No, I’m much more discreet than that. And because I’m interested in these things, people think I don’t believe in God or whatever. Hardly. I do believe in an all-loving, all caring, all perfect God that’s all around us, in our hearts and minds, in the air, in the breeze, in nature. It’s this cranky guy that sits up on a throne that people fear that gets me crazy.

First of all, if we didn’t reincarnate, wouldn’t heaven eventually get rather crowded? And don’t tell me about hell. I don’t believe in the whole devil, bad guy, hell thing – I think that’s just a tactic to scare people so that you’ll invest more money in the church so you can be guaranteed a place in heaven. Why would an all loving, all perfect God condemn his (and/or her, depending on your beliefs) children to eternal damnation? That doesn’t make any sense. Do we think God likes us crawling around on our knees begging for forgiveness all the time? How would you like it if your child crawled up to you on his knees begging for your forgiveness, lest you lock them in the basement. Please. Hate and anger and all that is a human emotion. I bet that God has a sense of humor and laughs regularly about the whole thing, but is probably dismayed with the mess we’ve become.

I just think that people take this whole life thing way too seriously and too blindly. It’s simple – you’re born, you do good, you share your love, you learn what you can, then you shut up and go home. That’s it.

I wish people would stop and think. Focus on love. Not on hate. “You’re going to hell because you’re going to Planned Parenthood.” Oh – these abortion protestors are gems, aren’t they. They scream murder and then kill the doctors. “You’re going to hell because you love another man.” When the gay and lesbian couples married in San Francisco, et al, I didn’t see society come to a screeching halt. The sky did not cave. The world did not end. No horsemen rode in. And then there’s this one – “You aren’t children of God because you weren’t baptized correctly.” Try explaining to your six year old daughter why her teacher told her that one day. My mom was faced with that very problem a couple of decades ago. More hate. More control. (Being raised Methodist, my sister and I were “sprinkled”, not “dunked” when we were baptized.) Apparently, this didn’t sit well with the strict Baptist church down the street, where the teacher was the wife of the minister.) I don’t care if my mother had us climb a tree, light a candle and throw salt into the East wind while we prayed to God under a full moon naked – if we thought that ritual baptized us, then we were Baptized! By the way, did the ‘baptism’ include the molesting of young boys during piano lessons, or was that something else? (Not that I’m bitter – good thing I didn’t go to piano lessons that summer!)

My cousins Theresa and Charlie have had quite a problem finalizing the headstone for their daughter Lindsey, who passed away this past Christmas. Lindsey’s favorite saying was “The Best Is Yet To Come.”, and Theresa and Charlie wanted this inscribed on her headstone. The church wasn’t going to permit it. “Only passages from the Bible are allowed.” How cold. How callous. How unfeeling. Here they have lost their oldest daughter. They are still grieving and will grieve for the rest of their lives. Their family has been turned upside down and inside out. And we get a “tsk-tsk” from the church because they want a Sinatra phrase on her headstone, a phrase that gave Lindsey joy. The church eventually gave in and allowed the inscription – but only after many letters, pleas and tears. And this is loving? Again, it’s about control. To them, I say “tsk-tsk.”

I guess I’ve ranted enough tonight.

36.

I’m doing something very rare right now and writing in my blog in the morning. I guess I’m feeling somewhat motivated today, which I hope will hold out throughout the day!

Yesterday was my 36th birthday. While many people my age would complain about getting older, their body falling part, etc., I must admit that I’m not suffering from any of that. I feel pretty good. I don’t look any worse for wear.

As a kid, I often wondered what it would be like for me in the year 2000 – imagine, I was going to be 32 years old at the turn of the century! Would I be happy? Where would I be? What would I be doing? Well, now here we are, well beyond the whole Y2K thing, and at 36 I must say that I’m pretty happy with my place in life.

My professional life is filled with opportunity and challenge. It makes it worth getting up in the morning. I feel proud of my accomplishments and anticipation and excitement for what lies ahead.

I’ve gone on about my love life many times in my blog, so we all know how happy I am in that department. Yesterday was no exception, between flowers being delivered, multiple Apple iCards by e-mail, phone calls from Earl on the road and quick, totally love motivated visits from my family, I certainly felt well loved on my birthday yesterday.

Yes, as I begin my 37th year, I realize that I probably should get a little more exercise, savor the moment a little better and enjoy life rather than bitch about it. But all in all, this gig ain’t half bad.

For Sake’s Sake

I am writing this blog entry at Tinseltown Theaters outside of Rochester. Earl took me to P.F. Chang’s for my birthday dinner — a couple days early because he’s going to be out of town Tuesday night. Dinner was wonderful. Chinese is my absolute favorite type of cuisine. It was one of our better dinner experiences.

We arc now waiting to see “King Arthur” in the IMAX theater. It should be a good movie.

Earlier today we did some clothes shopping. I made a conscious effort to buy more aggressive colors — per suggestions on “Queer Eye”. I’m trying to dress more stylishly and less drab. Tonight I wore sandals with my khakis. I believe this was a first for me.

Earl also bought me a GPS for my PocketPC to make navigating our road trips more technologically advanced. I can’t wait to hit the road again.

As I ready myself for 36, I can’t help but to count my blessings and look forward to the future.

I’m waxing all poetic here. I think the Sake Martinis from dinner are talking.

The Bachelor Life.

With Earl out of town on business this week, I suppose I’ve been living the bachelor life a little bit. Now I’m not talking about having a bunch of guys over and getting wild like The Village People – no I’m talking about being lazy and kickin’ back.

I’ve recently started watching reruns of Green Acres off our ReplayTV. To give the experience a little bachelor kick, I’ve been sitting in the family room in my underwear drinking soda with my hands down my pants while I do it. I’m sure the neighbors enjoy the view, what with our floor to ceiling windows in the front of the house. Now that I think about it, I think I usually watch television in my underwear drinking soda. But I usually have my hands down Ea..,er, we won’t go there.

Instead of doing the responsible thing for supper tonight, I ate a whole container of taboule and hummus. That’s sort of cosmopolitan bachelor, eating Middle Eastern cuisine. I hope that doesn’t make me a terrorist. After digesting a round of taboule though, I can understand why there’s no peace in the middle east. Maybe that’s the weapon of mass destruction. Taboule. God knows I would try to bury it in the sand if given the chance.

Last night, I was more bawdy with my supper selection. I ate my weight in Earl’s left over “Oklahoma Stockyard Beans”. I’m still paying the price today for that one, but damn it was good.

Maybe tomorrow for lunch I’ll have a bowl of popcorn and a beer. I haven’t been drunk at work in a while. Might as well end the week on a high note.

My Name Is John.

With my birthday just around the corner, I find it to be a wonderful opportunity to try to get a handle on my life and make a full assessment of what the heck is going on around me

It’s not that my life is a mess. For an almost 36 year old, I’ve got it pretty good. A loving partner. A beautiful home. A stable, comfortable, if not insanely hectic career. A wonderful family and a group of friends that accept me for who and what I am. I wonder why I think I have to make myself over more times than Madonna Esther.

It was about this time 14 years ago that I became adamant in being called J.P. The “J” in “J.P.” standa for my given name, John. In that respect, I’m named after my father. The “P.” in J.P. stands for Patrick, given to me because I was born with red hair and my mother wanted a named to match my seemingly Irish looks. Rumor has it that she wanted to name me Christopher John, but my father thought that was too gay sounding. (Go figure.) He wanted to name me Wesley Walter. Egads, I’m already a geek. Can you imagine if I was a geek named Wesley Walter? I just can’t see myself in horned rimmed, masking taped together glasses.

So my folks settled on John Patrick, my sister and cousins settled on “Johnny”. To this day, I cringe if I’m called Johnny, save for any member of my family and that is simply because I’m used to it from them. My father was called Johnny by his aunt when he was 35 or so and I thought that was just silly and I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. My grandfather has always called me J.P., to differentiate me from my father. Actually he called me Mike-Nat-Eric-J.P., going through the more local of my male cousins until he got the name right, much like he called my father Jim-John and my uncle John-Jim. Sometimes he’d refer to me as “that damn J.P.” but that’s usually when I was doing something foolish like locking the keys to the safe in the safe. And I’ve mentioned Earl’s family with the K.T., Z.R, B.J., P.J. stuff, which I find cute.

But I digress.

Lately I haven’t been correcting people when they call me “John”, like at the bank or at the doctor’s office. I’ve sort of been enjoying being called John again. My name is John. J.P. is almost a fictional character I made up for this charade called life. J.P. was my stage name, sort of like the Queer Eye guy Kyan being called Kyan when his real name is Eddie.

I started using J.P. regularly when I was making a name for myself in radio. I really looked up to a local radio D.J. and he called himself J.R. In fact, it was J.R. that gave me my first big break in radio. But after that station folded, I moved on and “J.P.” stuck – and then I started insisting that everyone call me “J.P.” I thought it sounded more mysterious or something. As John I was boring, as J.P. I was dynamic. Whatever.

So now I sit back and take stock of what’s really important. I like to think that I don’t need to be on stage all the time. For the past couple of months I’ve been looking for a simpler life. Slowed down. Enjoyed. Relished. Savored. And I think I’ve discovered something.

J.P. is dynamic. But John is pretty cool too.

If We Took A Holiday…

It’s always hard to go back to work after a long weekend. Especially since I’m convinced that my body wants to live on Central Time and I live in the Eastern Time zone. I do so much better getting up for work at 8:30, but no, that’s not possible. I have to get up at 7:00 so that I’m somewhat presentable for the office by 8:30.

You wouldn’t think that one extra day tacked onto a weekend would make that big of a difference when it came to going back to work, but of course it makes a huge difference.

The pool is beckoning for a morning swim. Can’t do that, I’ve got to get ready for work.

Tom wants to bask in the sunlight on the front porch. Sorry buddy, you’ve got to be locked in the while your two daddies are at work.

I’d like to eat my way through the refrigerator, but it’s the work week pal, gotta get back to eating healthy.

Fortunately, I was able to break up my work day with a lively visit to the doctor’s office today. Seems I have an infection ‘down below’ again. I have the most sensitive urinary track known to the human race. I think he prescribed a cranberry juice IV. Actually, another round of antibiotics. He also scolded me for my run as a vegetarian. “Humans are meant to eat meat and you’ve thrown your system out of whack. Eat some ribs. Eat some hamburger. Enjoy a steak.” Since he’s in good shape, and cute to boot, he must be right so I made a mental note NOT to try vegetarianism again and see what happens. You can always trust a guy that gives out free pills.

Then tonight I attended a birthday party for my dad… it was good fun to get together with the family. There’s another gathering on Sunday… my relatives are up from Florida, including my cousin, her husband and two children who recently returned from a missionary, uh, mission in Yemen. I haven’t seen her in six or seven years, I’ve never met her husband and I’ve never seen her kids. I look forward to seeing them on Sunday, along with the rest of the crew. Everyone seems to be in a jovial mood when the family gets together.

Earl is dashing around the northeast on business again. After spending the day in New Jersey, he’s actually spending the night at home tonight, before heading out to Ohio for the rest of the week. I can’t wait until the weekend so we can spend some quality time together.

Independence Day

For the first time in a while, Earl and I decided not to go on a wild road trip for a holiday weekend!

We kicked off the weekend by going to the new theatres and seeing “Spiderman-2”. Absolutely loved the movie! Much better than the first – it gave me a kick to try to be healthy again. If Tobey Maguire can do it, so can I.

Yesterday we went to a family reunion (Mom’s side of the family) in Syracuse. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I decided to make it a long-distance cycling trip. Four and a half hours, 60 miles later, there I was joining in the festivities. I missed a spot on my left leg when I was spreading the sunscreen, so I have this whacky looking sunburn, but other than that I’m no worse for the wear. It was great to get together with everyone and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Today we did some work around the house, including replacing the sink faucets in the master bathroom. It was a relatively painless chore and now we have two working sinks, “his and his”. Little by little this place is coming together.

And then tonight we went to the new theatres (again!) and saw “Fahrenheit 9/11”. Wow. The movie is an eye-opener, to say the least. There were several facts presented that I was unaware of, particularly about the mess of the 2000 election. I didn’t know that what’s her name (the election person in Florida – the ugly one), was the head of Bush Lite’s election campaign in Florida. I didn’t know that the network news guy that broke the story that Bush Lite actually had Florida (despite everyone else saying it was Gore) was a relative of the Bush family. I didn’t know that the Bush family was friends with the Bin Ladens (except the big mean one). Even if you don’t agree with Michael Moore’s views (personally I think he’s slightly extreme, but I agree with a lot of what he says), the movie definitely makes you think. And I think that’s what it was designed to do. The November election is going to be very interesting.

Old Dog. New Trick.

Mother Nature has finally consented to full cooperation and has provided nice enough weather for Earl and I to enjoy our new pool. I’ve been really looking forward to splashing around and getting some fun exercise. However, I’ve always been somewhat afraid of diving. I’ve never been able to get my head to go first when I’m diving into a pool – I either have to jump in and then swim or I attempt somewhat of a dive, but I keep my head up and end up doing a big ol’ belly flop. And we all know how a big ol’ belly flop feels.

A number of years ago, Earl tried to teach my how to dive in his father’s pool. We were out in his dad’s backyard in the middle of the night, in suburban Philadelphia and he was showing me how to do, plus some other swimming related recreation (wink wink). I sort of mastered the diving, but then I tried to do a big dive at one of the Ithaca state parks and ended up looking like someone had thrown a lobster off the end of the diving board. Not only did I belly flop, but I chest flopped, leg flopped and nut flopped. It was pitiful and it was painful and as an added bonus, I spooked several people around me with my scream as I hit the water. They probably are still in therapy to this day.

Earl has been coaxing me to try diving again. After all, with my whole “lose the inhibitions” vibe I have going on, there’s nothing to be afraid of, right? Admittedly, he’s right. So I’ve been giving it a whirl once again.

Technically our pool, being only four feet deep, is too shallow for diving. But if you stand at the right place on the ladder and you have the wind at your back and not in your face, one can dive shallow enough not to bash your head on the bottom. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Each night I’ve been moving up an extra rung on the ladder and diving. I sound like a five year old yelling at Earl, “Watch this! Watch this!”.

I’m absolutely giddy with excitement now that I’ve mustered up the courage to dive. I can’t wait to show everyone at show and tell at the state park.