Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I wanted to take a few moments to thank everyone for their kindness these past few weeks. It's great to know that I have such loving, caring people in my life.

Thank you all so very, very much.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I'm going against whatever judgment I have at this point to tell you part of my story.

I've been diagnosed with clinical depression this year. I've experienced symptoms of depression for over 20 years, but only recently have I sought medical help and therapy. I've tried a few different medications with varying degrees of success and have been seeing a counselor for the past few months, who has been very great. If you're considering seeing a therapist even for a few sessions, I'd recommend it. You may be looking for a few techniques to handle certain situations, coping skills to deal with anxiety or stress, or you may be looking for insight into why you see life through the lens you currently use. A good therapist can help with any or all of these in an environment without judgment while still holding you accountable to yourself.

During the last five or so years, I've tried most of what people suggest for situations like mine: exercise, positive self-talk, motivational books/podcasts, spiritual guidance, and plain old "suck it up and pull yourself up by your boot straps." I found temporary success in all of these options, but as time went on nothing really stuck. It was frustrating and I was difficult to live with. My work performance has suffered at times. There were periods where I didn't know what kind of employee I really was, what kind of husband I really was, what kind of friend I really was, or in the last few years what kind of father I really was. I isolated myself as far as my emotions were concerned and put on a happy face in public. This is a skill that I've honed over 20 years and it works on nearly everyone, including everyone in my family. Perhaps it works too well.

Of my own volition, I admitted myself to the hospital on Halloween of 2011. I've had suicidal ideations for years, but nothing progressed beyond that. In the last few weeks, ideations had turned into intent and intent had turned into planning. Then planning turned into a course of action and it was at that point that I decided to go to the hospital. At that point I felt that I had two options: suicide or the hospital. There was a little bit of light with the hospital option so I chose that one.

I arrived at the hospital at around six p.m. and was admitted to the adult psychiatric unit at a little after eight p.m., because at that point things were still mostly in my control and it took several minutes for me to make my decision. How much control was I willing to give up? I won't bore anyone with hospital talk, but I learned some important things about myself during that experience even though the treatment wasn't as helpful as I had hoped.

On Thursday, November 3rd I began what is called partial hospitalization treatment. It's basically an all-day outpatient therapy option. I'm in a session with about eight other people, all with unique problems and situations. I've learned something from every session, even though they're not all geared toward my own situation.

Last night and today, I'm struggling to accept that I have depression and anxiety disorder and what it can ultimately do to me. I know that it can bring me to the brink. I also know that I've experienced the symptoms for the last 20 years so this is not temporary and may follow me throughout my entire life. It was a bit easier to accept before I knew what to call it, when I thought it was just who I was. I didn't know any other experience, but now I know that there are perfectly happy and productive people out there that may not know what this feels like to the extent that I do. It's unfair.

It's unfair that I'll have to struggle with and manage this for another forty or fifty years. It's unfair that I may need to change medications an unknown number of times and deal with the side effects while wondering if it will "work." If anything will work. Now that I'm on medication to regulate my brain chemistry I'm supposed to try all of the techniques that I tried before again to find those that help me cope.

Jesus. Christ.


Deep breathing.



The power of positive thinking.

Relaxation techniques.

Spiritual development.


All over again, this time with two kids and a marriage that needs work. I have no idea how good I'm supposed to feel if or when this works. I guess I'll find out.

Monday, September 05, 2011


The idea of getting passed over for a position because I don't have a couple more years of irrelevant education should make me more determined to complete that two years of irrelevant education, but it does not in this case. If that degree is so crucial, put someone with no experience and a bachelor's degree in that position without training them and see how they do. Then put me in that position without training and see who performs better.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

My Father's House - Bruce Springsteen

Forgive the camera operator. This is from 20 years ago and he's trying to record using a video camera and without being noticed. It's worth it for the story and song.

Friday, September 02, 2011


For the past year or so, I've been taking classes toward my undergraduate degree in political science. I imagine it will take me another four to six years to graduate. I have an associate degree in business, but I wish I would have gotten it over with when i was in my early 20s.

I guess I was kind of dumb. Part of me would like to punch 18 year old me in the face. Not having a bachelor's degree might prove to be problematic for my short term goals.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

NaBloPoMo or NAMBLA for short

Apparently I'm someone who does things like daily blog posts now, because here I am starting this National Blog Posting Month with 16 or so minutes left on the first day. If I don't publish until after the end of the first day, I won't be surprised if I'm disqualified by some sanctioning body that judges these things. It might be a bit like entering a chili competition in Texas and putting beans in your chili. It won't pass the sanctioning body if there's filler in that there chili, son.

This month's theme is about returning or turning again, so we're going to get real here, people.

Real real. We might update this blog's appearance as well. We might not.

For better or for worse, I will be blogging about my past experiences, I guess.

I wouldn't say that I had an unbearable childhood, there are certainly others who had things far worse than I, but there's a lot that I should be thinking about and accepting. I'm not really sure what "acceptance" is, but I'm pretty sure that I've done it. Whether that was accomplished subconsciously, actively or by Grace I do not know.

I'm pretty sure that I've accepted things like my brother's death. That happened 20 years ago this week. It made me sad to think about when it occurred to me on Monday but I've acknowledged that his lifestyle and choices led to his premature death.

Maybe I'll just leave it here for now since I'm not really sure where to go next. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

30 day song challenge #18

Day 18: A song you wish you heard on the radio.

Monday, May 30, 2011

On Doubt & Skepticism

I'm a Christian or at least I fancy myself one. However, I've spent years as an atheist and more years as an agnostic. I wasn't brought up in the church, was never baptized, never went to confirmation, and never read the Bible until my late 20s or early 30s. I doubted. Doubt is uncomfortable.

As I eventually felt the pull toward faith (which I can't really explain, and there may actually be a scientific explanation for), my doubt became even more uncomfortable. It's difficult to come to terms with ideas that many people accept at face value, and part of that may be because of their history in the church. As I learned more and read more perspectives on the subject, I became even more conflicted.

Making a list of things that I've decided that I do or don't believe in would be pretty tedious to write and for you to read, so I'll spare you. What's more important is that I became comfortable in my unbelief of certain things and have found that many of the details of Christianity have become less crucial. Like it or not, many of the details in the Bible are unprovable or are in direct conflict with other details.

What's more important, in my opinion, are the concepts of love and community. By focusing on these truths, I've learned to sit with my doubt and skepticism.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out, so make sure you're not the last person to run out of ideas or you risk getting punched in the face.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

30 day song challenge #17

A song you hear often on the radio: "Sportcenter theme" - Annie Roboff

I listen to a bit of ESPN radio and hear this quite often. Lame huh?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 16

A song that you used to love but now still love: Loup River Band and Street Choir "Seventeen"

This is technically supposed to be a song that I used to love but now hate. However, we've already done the hate/dislike thing in this challenge so I'm changing it. This is off my old band's last record and it's essentially my friend Jeff Iwanski with his guitar and harmonica. Gorgeous.

My friend Josh was gracious enough to put the song to video.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

30 day song challenge #15

A song that describes you: Blondie "Dreaming"

Embedding for this one has been disabled, but you can listen to it here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 14

A song no one would expect you to love: Public Enemy "He Got Game"

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 13

A song that is a guilty pleasure: I don't really feel guilty about liking anything. You shouldn't either.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 12

A song from a band you hate: Alabama "Song of the South"

I'm sort of a live-and-let-live person when it comes to music, so I can't really say that I hate this band, they're really just not my cup of tea. Actually, they're probably across the street and down a couple blocks from my cup of tea. You might have to click through to watch this on youtube if you want to listen to it. Only a sick, sick person would want to do that though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 11

A song from your favorite band: The Old 97's "Salome"

I don't do the whole "favorite band" thing, but if I did these guys would be right up there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 10

A song that makes you fall asleep: Simon and Garfunkel "America"

Monday, April 18, 2011

30 day song challenge #9

A song that you can dance to: Something really easy like "The Chicken Dance." And it would have to be played kind of slow so I could keep up.

I've got nothing on Bristol Palin.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 8

A song you know all the words to: Gene Hogan "Girls At The Grocery Store"

My friend Jeff said that he wanted a song with the line, "all the girls at the grocery store, man, they look so pretty" in it, and it ended up as the chorus to this one.

I will shamelessly self-promote if I wanna!

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge : Day 7

A song that reminds you of an event: Whiskeytown "Houses on the Hill"

I saw these guys at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha in the late 1990s. I'm not sure of the year, but it was on (a very drunk) Ryan Adams's birthday. They started the show with a Replacements song, and played a few songs before Ryan Adams declared that "it sucked, so we're going to start over." They replayed the Replacements song and when Ryan Adams immediately began the song again, Caitlin Cary stormed off the stage followed by the rest of the band.

Ryan Adams returned a few minutes later telling everyone that "they're pissed because I'm drunk." He then went on to play a 10 minute version of an early song of theirs, making up new words as he went along. I suppose it's a testament to his lyrical ability, because the lyrics weren't terrible. The band eventually joined him onstage and the rest of the show was great. There were two or three acoustic songs (including this one) at the end where Ryan and Caitlin sat on the edge of the stage and played acoustically and without microphones while the crowd gathered around. I had been in front of the stage for most of the show, so I was an arm's length away from them at the end.

Ryan Adams? Three feet away? With his acoustic guitar and fiddle accompaniment? Yep, it happened.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 6

A song that reminds you of somewhere: The Cure "Letter to Elise"

The passenger seat of my friend Shannon's car during our senior year of high school.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

30 day song challenge #5

A song that reminds you of someone: The Jayhawks "Blue"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30 day song challenge #4

A song that makes you sad: Damien Jurado "Lose My Head"

This song makes me a little sad, but it's so, so great.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 3

A song that makes you happy: Paul Simon "Graceland"

I heard Paul Simon say that "Graceland" was the greatest song that he ever wrote.

30 Day Song Challenge : Day 2

My least favorite song. Just short of nine minutes of hell.

Friday, April 08, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge (or) HALP! I've Been Sucked In!

Enough of my friends are doing this and it looked like fun. Instead of using Facebook, this seemed like a good use for my (sort of) neglected blog.

Day 1: Your favorite song - Son Volt "Windfall"

The 1995 or so released Trace is my favorite record and this, the first track on the record, is my favorite song. I think it's absolutely perfect. This isn't the album version, but it's pretty dang good.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Startran Bike Racks

So the Lincoln city buses installed bike racks on most (and eventually all) of their buses. I was able to test them out and load a bike at UNL's bike event yesterday and today I had the opportunity to use it as part of my daily commute. I rode to work this morning, but the afternoon was pretty rainy and today was one of the days that I had to wear a suit.

When the rain didn't clear by 5:00, I decided to give this a try. Since 100% of the buses don't have the racks installed, there was a slim chance that I would be doing some waiting if the next bus wasn't equipped. Not to worry though, my bus was ready for me. During the last few days, I've noticed that most of the buses actually do have the racks installed and I've actually only seen one or two without them. I'm told that these buses without racks will be decommissioned by the end of the month anyway.

A video demonstration of the racks is included below, and using the racks is every bit as easy as it looks. They are lightweight, so lowering and lifting the rack isn't a problem. The arm that hooks onto the tire looks something like a rubber band in the video, but it's actually a metal, spring-loaded arm that's much sturdier than it looks. Going over bumps and around corners isn't an issue as my bike wobbled only slightly on the way home and never moved out the tire wells. Those that have balked at the cost should know that these racks appear to be well crafted.

The driver was really courteous and friendly about the whole experience. He said that he has only had three users so far, but the weather has been fairly nice this week. With a bit more publicity and if gas prices keep going up (yeesh), they'll likely be used more.

For someone like me who really dislikes driving, the city has added a really attractive commuting option should the weather discourage biking in the morning or afternoon. I will definitely use this again.

Information on the city's page.
Information on the Cycle Works blog.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Gospel in 3:21

In terms of how to live and how to treat others, this song sums everything up for me.