I am sitting on hold with Earthlink (the internet company) as I type this journal entry. They are in the process of securing jpnearl@earthlink.net for our e-mail address again. Earl and I have decided to purchase a high speed internet connection through Earthlink. Living in the country like we do, we’re very limited on internet connection options – dial-up, which is very slow, and two-way satellite, which is expensive but fast. So we’ve decided to go with the Direcway two-way satellite system through Earthlink. So this is an exciting time in my geek life!

They just picked up and asked me the last two letters of my old password when I had an account with them before. Oh jeez! I am suppose to remember that? 🙂 I’m a good little computer boy and rotate my passwords monthly, so it could be one of a bunch of things. I just gave her the right one on the first try! Must be I’m not rotating my password enough. 🙂 Whoops, I’m talking to her again.

Well I just got off the phone. It’s confirmed – we’re getting high speed satellite internet within the next 10 business days – our new e-mail address is back to jpnearl@earthlink.net. It’s the address we had up until September.

I had a really vivid dream last night – I think my spirit guide or at the least, my subconcious, was reminding me how happy my childhood really was. I remember hanging out with my family, but Earl was there to, doing the things we used to do when we were kids – hang out at the airport (my dad is a private pilot), enjoy a picnic… I was near tears when I woke up this morning! In the very last part of the dream, I remember sitting on my dad’s living room floor petting our old family cat Waldo. He’s the cat in the picture of me as a kid on our “About Us” page. Needless to say, upon waking, I promptly said a prayer and a hearty thank you to God for giving me that wonderful dream. It was like an emotional boost for me. I’ve been feeling a little weird about my family over the past year or so, there’s been quite a bit of conflict, with my parents separating and some other “issues”. I’m sure it’s chicken feed compared to what other families go through – but I was the type of kid that lived in a “Bewitched”-type happy existence. Very content to live in my own little world – much like Tobey Maguire in Pleasantville. 🙂 So the affirmations in the dream were very nice.

Then I popped onto ebay, and what do you know – our auctions are going along NICELY. I’m very pleased.

Now I’m going to meditate and head off to bed.

Well, here it is the end of the weekend, time for everyone to get ready for work once again. I’m actually looking forward to working, as it has been going along spectacularly the past couple of days. Also, it’s a short work week for me as I am taking off Friday just for the heck of it. Earl and I were originally going to drive to New York for the weekend, but those plans have been put on hold for a month, so instead I’m just going to goof off, maybe get my haircut (more on that in a few minutes) and just relax.

Yep, the bald boy is going to get a haircut! I’ve decided to grow out my hair for a bit, simply because I’ve become bored with shaving my head. Now I’m not going to end up looking like Fabio or anything, but a nice buzzcut is in order. Ultimately, I’d like to have a flattop, but I don’t think I have enough left on top to flat.

Earl and I went on a bit of a shopping spree yesterday. We started the day at Shoppingtown in Syracuse for Earl’s haircut (I didn’t have enough to cut yet) and then headed over to Carousel Center to go to Old Navy, Best Buy and CompUSA. Even though Carousel Center is HUGE, the Old Navy in there is tiny compared to others that I’ve been in, so we didn’t end up spending the whole gift certificate my father gave me for Christmas. What to do, what to do! So we had lunch at Pizzeria Uno (another gift certificate!) and then got on the Thruway and drove to Rochester. We went to EastView Mall in Victor and the surrounding shopping plazas. Can I tell you, I love Target. We found a bunch of stuff for the house and some nifty other stuff. I got a nice new optical mouse, since my old mouse was starting to get cranky. Who knew that General Electric made computer mice? I think it’s just branded GE for Target. Anyways, we also went to Eddie Bauer, where we went a tad crazy buying clothes. Plus, there was this fabulous restaurant in the EastView Mall Food Court called Tom Wahl’s or something like that. The food was awesome! When we can’t get to a Chick-Fil-A, we’ll get to Tom Wahl’s instead.

Today I’ve been cleaning out the wreck room again. Throwing away tons of stuff… plus I put a bunch of stuff up for sale on ebay. We need to make up for yesterday’s shopping spree.

I am feeling wonderful. I’ve been working hard on being more positive in life, and it seems to be working as I feel so much happier these days! I’ve been doing some “soul-searching” in regards to my spirituality, and quite honestly, I’ve been praying more. Just trying to be as positive about life as possible. I’m not swearing as much, and I’m recognizing when I’m getting upset and doing something about it before I start flying off the handle. And people are having a more jovial attitude around me as well, I think I’m rubbing off! Plus, I’ve been much more productive at work. It’s like vicious circle – the better I feel, the better I do, but I guess “vicious” circle isn’t quite the right term! 🙂

Last night I pursued another of my New Year’s resolutions and I found the exercise quite enjoyable. I began to learn American Sign Language through a multimedia website at the Michigan State University Communication Technology Laboratory. Trying not to go crazy with money, I’m going to see if I can stick to learning five words a day for the next 15 days before going out and purchasing the CD-ROM that has many, many more details. I’m finding this quite fun and look forward to building my vocabulary at it.

Our friends Dennis and Victor were over tonight for supper and a little bit of television. We always enjoy our Wednesday night get togethers. We watched “Queer As Folk” off the TiVo – the Showtime series about a ground of gay friends and their trials and tribulations. It’s funny, I remember some aspects of the lifestyle the show depicts from when I was in my 20s when I was a club DJ and a single guy on the prowl, but now Earl and I just sit back and enjoy the show for entertainment. I hope it continues to do well.

We also watched “The West Wing” – one of my favorite shows of all time. Like much of America, I really enjoy it. I must admit that I’ve become slightly disenchanted with Judging Amy – it seems to be groping in the storyline department lately.

In between Queer as Folk and The West Wing, we watched a little bit of The American Music Awards. What a waste of time! Much of the popular music (Top 40 mostly) is such contrived, repetitive, uninspired drivel that it’s not even worth listening to anymore. Usher? Please. Britney? Whatever. ‘N Sync? Computer generated. I’m liking country music more and more, simply because it’s better musically and doesn’t have the same bullpucky associated with it.

I haven’t been using ICQ as much any more, because honestly, it’s been messing up my computer. So I’ve been using MSN messenger, which seems to run better and not crash as much. If you want to chat, I’m at jpnearl@msn.com on MSN messenger. If the little butterfly below is in color, I’m on line.

Well I am up and about and feeling pretty good today! After taking several catnaps throughout the day, I decided that enough is enough, I can’t be bothered enough to be sick, and when I wake up again I better be feeling better. Well, someone must have listened, because I woke up this morning, still feeling a little sniffly but decidedly 200% than I felt before! The power of the mind!

I’ve been reading one of Sylvia Brown’s books that I have found to be very inspiring. In case you’re not familiar with Sylvia Brown, she’s a very good psychic and spiritual healer. I’ve always been fascinated with the whole idea of “The Other Side” and psychics and healing and all that, and I find much of what she says to be very interesting. I’m going to do some more reading. Another of my New Year’s resolutions is to just be myself and to be a good person – and her books are very inspiring for that purpose.

Today Earl and I drove to Syracuse to help my sister with her move. She’s moving out on her own into a lovely townhouse in the suburbs. (She’s had been living with her fiancé, but that relationship didn’t work out). I’m really proud of her taking such bold moves and taking charge of her life. Earl and I stand behind her 100% and will assist her whenever and wherever we can. She’s always had a good head on her shoulders (she’s the “book smart” one of the family), so I know she’ll do fine. Also saw my Mom and her boyfriend as they were helping out with the move as well. My mom’s doing much better. I suppose I should take the opportunity to meet her out for supper or something sometime soon.

Also talked to my Dad and his girlfriend today – he seems to be doing very well and seems very happy. His girlfriend is a very nice woman, Earl and I had the opportunity to meet her at the family Christmas party.

I am glad to see that my family is getting it’s act together for 2002! 🙂

I am trying a new background on this page of the journal. I’m not sure that I like it very much. Let me know what you think.

A belated Happy New Year! My New Year’s entry is on the December page, since I put Earl and my trip to Philadelphia all in one entry.

So now we start a new page. And I am as SICK as a dog. I have somehow contracted this nasty head cold, that feels like it’s one of those 24-48 hour deals. I know, I absolutely refuse to be sick, and that’s 99% of the case most of the time, but I just can’t seem to fight this one off. So I admit defeat, and I’m spending a lot of time in bed.

Last night we went to the new East Dynasty Buffet in New Hartford… very nice, not your typical Chinese buffet offering. This place was huge and had a very large selection of food. It was very good, at least what I could taste of it because my cold was starting to show it’s true colors.

I probably caught this cold standing outside during the Giants at Eagles game last weekend – but you know what, I don’t care, because the game was well worth it!

My friend Tim had a case built for one of my clock works from my elementary school, and that arrived Thursday. It’s very, very nice… I have it here in the computer room.

There it is on the webcam. It’s a reproduction of one of the clocks from my elementary school and is very nice. I’m very pleased with it. If you haven’t seen my clock page, take a peek here.

Now I’m going to go back to bed. I’ll write again tomorrow night when this cold blows over!

Resolution Revolution.

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s time to completely revamp one’s life with what I call the Resolution Revolution. I tend to take New Year’s Resolutions very seriously. With the dropping of the ball and the birth of a new year, its the best time to take a new lease on life, slip into the body that I’ve always dreamed about, clear my skin, become more spiritually focused, get involved in civic affairs, become a cook, a gardener, a sky-diver, a nuclear physist, the list goes on and on.

But seriously, I do have hopes of improving my life and well-being around the New Year’s holiday. The holiday holds so much promise.

Last year, one of my major New Year’s resolutions was to become a full-time vegetarian. I had been dinking around with being a part-time vegetarian for a couple of months beforehand, mostly when it was convenient, but I told myself I needed to become dedicated to the cause. If it had the ability to take a dump, I wasn’t going to eat it. That lasted until we went out west for vacation and I discovered “Sonic” and “In and Out” burger. So much for that.

Another resolution I made last year was to not spend unnecessary money. In celebration of this event, I went crazy on ebay and purchased a cash register system from a defunct department store. I guess I needed a place to store all the money I was saving.

One of my better resolutions of last year was to learn to speak French. I did the whole CD tutorial thing, along with “French for Dummies”. Earl and I headed up to Montréal for a weekend, the perfect opportunity to test out my French. Trying to be friendly, I tried to strike up a conversation with a nice older woman in the mall. Since it was July, I simply said “Boy, it’s hot”. After she slugged me with her purse I realized that I had said, “I’m in heat.” So much for French.

The first resolution of this year is the only one I am going to share. I’m not sharing my resolutions with anyone. After years of making promises to myself, and announcing them loudly to everyone within a 50 mile radius of my mouth, people tend to not take me seriously anymore. But after my Resolution Revolution of 2002, suffice it to say that I’m going to be rich, famous, a contributing member of society and absolutely gorgeous to look at. At least until January 15.

Saturday- Earl and I are on vacation as I write this on my Palm Pilot. We’ve combined our fifth anniversary and New Years into a getaway weekend. We’re in center city Philadelphia at Embassy Suites Logan Square. We stopped off at Earl’s dad’s for a quick visit before coming into Center City. After checking in, we went for a nice brisk walk down Market Street and in the theatre district. I have a new appreciation for Philly. I’m looking forward to more exploring this weekend. Tomorrow is the Giants at Eagles game – we’re going with Earl’s brother. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Sunday- Well, I survived the game. Upon going to bed last night, Earl informed me that we needed to get up at 7.30. Mind you, this is for a 4 p.m. game!! His brother has an old UPS truck converted to a tail-gating party machine! So we got to the stadium around 10, fired up the grill and had a good time. David and I were interviewed on channel 10 about the cold temps (it was 20 degrees), so we were on the news…Earl too as he was the cook. It was a grear game, with it being close right up until the last second, but the Eagles pulled it off and became Division champions. I guess its official, I’m a football fan, but don’t tell Earl.

Monday- today we went to see the historic sights of Philly. If you decide to tour Philly, be sure to use PLASH, the tourist bus system. It makes getting around the city a snap.
We started off at the Liberty Bell, which was awesome. We then went to the visitor’s center for a bit before heading over to Independence Hall. I found the tour fascinating, and confirmed one of my New Year’s resolutions, to learn as much American History that I can. I must not of paid attention in high school, so I bought a book to read this winter. I am really looking forward to it. Earl and I both noted that there was no resistance from tourists to new security measures. Security was tighter than airport security before Sept. 11, I had to even take off my belt to have it inspected.
We also went to The Second Bank, now The Portrait’s Gallery.
We then went to One Liberty Place for a little shopping and CHICK-FIL-A. You know I couldn’t go without Chick-Fil-A!
For dinner, we went to The Chart House at Penn’s Landing. Back to the scene of the crime so to speak, as we exchanged our vows at Penn’s Landing five years ago on Dec. 26. The food was absolutely wonderful, our server, Michelle, was the finesr server we have ever had, and the company wad pretty good too! All in all, a wonderful New Year’s Eve!
Tuesday – We got up early and checked out of the hotel. I must say that I really liked Embassy Suites. I highly recommend them. We then went to Bristol to visit Earl’s folks, but they weren’t home, so we raided the fridge and headed out. On the way home we stopped at Best Buy outside of Scranton. We got a couple of geek toys and Earl got Creed and Train on CD. We then headed home, and I’m finishing this entry up on my Palm Pilot on I-81 at Exit 201. We should be home around 4:30.

It’s finally snowing here in Central New York. While Buffalo is getting buried in snow as we speak, we on the other hand, have barely a dusting, and we’re just short of 200 miles east of Buffalo! Who can figure out the weather.

Christmas was lovely. Christmas Eve night we went to my aunt and uncles for the annual Christmas Eve get together, it was good to see my relatives, and we laughed and laughed until 11:00 at night.

Christmas Day got off to an early start with opening presents. Earl gave me some wonderful gifts… a docking station for my Palm pilot, so I can synchronize it at home, a beautiful winter jacket from Old Navy, a couple of shirts, a nice aromatherapy set for my meditation and a gift certificate to “The Art of Shaving” in New York for a straight razor. I’ve become somewhat of a shaving enthusiast, and I’ve been wanting a straight razor. The gift certificate is for a razor, along with a complimentary shave and a lesson on how to maintain the straight blade. We’re going to New York on January 18 to use the certificate – I’m really looking forward to it.

Wednesday night our friends Dennis and Victor had us over for dinner – it was a very nice meal, and it was kind of special since it was our fifth anniversary as well. We bought each other matching gold bracelets to celebrate our anniversary. I’ll have to take a picture sometime to post on the web. 🙂

This weekend we’re going away to Philly Saturday to Tuesday to celebrate our anniversary and New Year’s. We’re staying right in town. Earl’s never shown me the sites of Philadelphia before, so we’re going to be tourists while we’re there. Plus, we’re going to the Giants-Eagles game Sunday with his brother David. It should prove to be very fun.

I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s revolutions again, and I’m not going to reveal them until I’m sure that I can do them!

Merry Christmas to all! Earl is downstairs getting ready for the festivities as my parents are coming over, in shifts, since they’re separated. The festivities start tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and go until about 6:00 or so. It should be really nice. I’m a little bit nervous about my presents for Earl. I don’t seem to be as good at holiday shopping as I want to be. I can think of a million things to get when its July or August, but come holiday shopping time, forget it, I go brain dead.

We spent the weekend in Philly at Earl’s folks. It was a great time… everyone seems to be doing well and everyone was filled with the holiday spirit. We saw “Vanilla Sky” Saturday night after dinner at Houlihan’s. I wasn’t prepared to like the movie, since I think Tom Cruise is way overrated, but I did end up enjoying the movie. It was pretty good. My sister said it was disturbing, but I didn’t find it disturbing at all. Yesterday morning we helped put together the traditional cookie trays. Earl’s dad bakes up about 1000 cookies and makes beautiful trays to share with family and friends. Since I’m all thumbs I suck at making the cookie trays look beautiful, but at least I can load them on there and someone else can make them look pretty.

I only worked until noon today, with it being Christmas Eve and all. Earl and I had a light lunch and then he started cooking while I took care of business up here in the computer room. Now I need to do some cleaning before we leave tonight for my Aunt and Uncle’s. It’s their annual Christmas Eve party, which will be nice since we don’t get together as a family as much as we used to.

I’ve been thinking about New Year’s resolutions already, but I’m not ready to reveal them yet. They’ll probably be in a journal entry soon. 🙂

The Chimes.

The holiday season is upon us, and I’m afraid of getting sucked up into the commercialism of it all. I’m not trying to sound like Charlie Brown, but sometimes I feel like the sock that’s added to the washing machine with two minutes left on the wash cycle. Floating around on top for a bit, then sucked down to the bottom of the pile by a big agitator fin. Well, maybe the agitator fin part doesn’t fit right, but sometimes I feel like the commercialism of Christmas is sucking everybody in.

When I was a youngster, Christmas marked a variety of things for my family. All four of us (Mom and Dad, my sister and I) would pile into the car for the annual Christmas shopping experience. It was the one time all year that my father set foot in any type of store, usually J.M. Fields. It was the one of two times that we would eat at McDonalds. (The other time being after our annual dentist appointment – my mother liked to watch us try to eat a Big Mac after being on laughing gas.) And it was my father’s annual trip to Central Farm and Tractor; the place we spent most of the time Christmas shopping.

It was also one of the few times during the year that my maternal grandparents came up from the city for a visit. As I look back, I realize how just a special time it was. My sister and I desperately trying to stay asleep until 6 a.m. and then running downstairs and looking at the few presents under the tree, as Mom was trying to remember where she hid the rest of them. Dad reading the pile of books he had purchased for himself during the shopping trip, looking up once in a while to contribute his favorite adjective-verb… “Huh”. And Grandma and Grandpa sharing the joy with us as opened our presents. We couldn’t actually start opening presents until everyone had their breakfast – french toast and orange juice. That was the rule. And then we would open our gifts, a game or two, some clothes, usually something crocheted by my grandma. As I think about it, we may not have had a lot material-wise as a family, but we did have love and I heard The Chimes.

My favorite writer, Erma Bombeck, often wrote about “The Chimes” around Christmas time. It’s the story of a young, poor boy, following in the footsteps of kings, queens and statesmen that were leaving gifts on the altar. Legend has it that the chimes would not ring unless a true gift of love was left upon the altar. The kings and queens left many riches of gold and fine silk. But the chimes remained silent. And then, this young, poor boy, moves up to the altar. He removes his only possession, his coat, and places it on the altar. The chimes rang beautifully.

As a young kid, I often heard The Chimes. I didn’t know what they meant at the time, but I did have the sense of being loved very much. My sister and I rarely argued. My parents did their best to give my sister and I a happy childhood. My grandparents were very nurturing. But as I grew older, something changed. My mother and father grew apart. My sister and I became teenagers, and well, teenagers don’t hear chimes, they want Atari! And while we were for the most part a loving family, it wasn’t the same as when we were young. As time moved on, we had plenty of material things, but it didn’t hear the Chimes.

As I moved through my twenties, I really took a swing at “commercial Christmas”. One year, I bought my parents a VCR. I was man now and I could afford anything! Good thing they didn’t see my face when the cops called about my bounced check. Another year I bought everyone what I would have rather wanted and didn’t really think about what they would have wanted at all. (“Mom, you really need a new calculator to balance your checkbook!”) And yet, another year everyone got a gift certificate. Boy, to see their faces light up when they opened up the envelope to see a $25 gift certificate to Papa Loon’s pizza emporium. Yeah, right.

But I did hear The Chimes one Christmas. It was Christmas 1991. I was working for Association for Retarded Citizens. I worked in a group home setting at the time, a home for ten mentally challenged adults. Because of the way Christmas fell that year, I was slated to work a 17 hour shift Christmas Day. I could have had the day off, but I opted to work, quite frankly, because I needed the overtime that would come along with working a holiday. After everyone was up and had opened their gifts, one of the folks walked up to one of my co-workers and gave her a present.

“Here, Linda. This is for you. I made it at day treatment.”

“Thank you, Jeanette.”, she replied as she opened it.

It was a construction paper cut out of a Christmas tree, colored green with crayons with little red dots all over it. On the back it simply said, “For Dinla” in huge, clumsy letters.

“It’s very nice, I’ll hang it on my tree when I get home tomorrow.”, Linda told her, with a tear in her eye.

“Really?”, she said with a twinkle in her eye.

“Yep. I promise.”

I heard The Chimes then. And in my heart, though I haven’t seen Linda in a good number of years, I just know that she still has that Christmas tree hanging on her tree to this day.

That Christmas I learned a lot of things. And it made me strive to be a better person. I called my Mom and Dad up and told them how much I loved them. I said a small prayer for my family and friends. I prayed for the soldiers that were returning from the middle east.

Nowadays, the holidays can become very complicated. My parents are separated, so that means separate dinners and separate houses and separate gift exchanges. My sister could be living anywhere between here and Boston so we need to get her schedule coordinated. Plus, Earl’s family lives in suburban Philadelphia, so we need to fit a 700 mile round trip in there to visit his folks, and we have all the nieces and nephews to buy presents for, and Earl gets sick (whoops, that’s a different story), so sometimes its easy to get caught up in the rush of it all. Gift receipts and wrapping paper and Target and bows and cookie platters… it goes on and on.

But every Christmas morning, when I get the camera flashing in my face, and my 41 year old partner jumping up and down with the glee of a ten year old because he’s excited to see ME open MY presents, I hear the chimes. When we sit down for cereal and orange juice, nothing too extravagant for breakfast Christmas morning, and we take the time to bow our heads in prayer, I hear the Chimes. When we pause for just a moment to remember our loved ones, thank our Lord and reflect upon what Christmas is really all about, I hear chimes. When I give him a clumsily wrapped gift of a coaster with two rolls of tape and 10 yards of wrapping paper, I hope he hears The Chimes!

This holiday season, take just a moment to enjoy Christmas for what it really is. Tell your family and friends how much you love them. Don’t give in to the urge to ‘flip the bird’ to the gal in the minivan that just cut you off on the Turnpike. Give that homeless person on the street an extra dollar.

Sit back, and listen for The Chimes.