My status

Monday, December 31, 2007

Promises for a New Year -

I am the type of person that embraces design, structure, planning & raw empirical detail. That is precisely why I dislike the open-ended, often emotionally charged, short-lived compilations of "New Year Resolutions" --- They are far too arbitrary, both to create and to maintain, but I will succumb to the pressures of the free-range herd and list a few of my own aspirations for 2008. (OK - only 1)

1. Have fun --- keep smiling & enjoying life. :)

Become a better person, both to my friends, coworkers, family and the needy in our community. Continue to give back, volunteer and make at least 3 trips this year for my photography fun. Scheduled for 2008:(Costa Rica, Yellowstone, Galapagos Islands/Peru) - Simply keep on believing in the best that life has to offer and keep pushing myself for higher standards & better results. Take better care of myself physically, emotionally & spiritually. Update my blog with photos at LEAST once per week! :)

Love your family --- find new ways to show you care. Continue to care about people long after they have left --- be a true friend.

Just be Andy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Labels --- just stick them everywhere.

Its funny. Life is... The way some people label you, define you, manipulate you, use you and then blame you for the entire process. It is natural --- people want to be happy and when that happiness is taken away for any reason, even personal choice, the grapes really are sour and you become their emotional dartboard. (Ziiinnnng! Duck!) --- I recently sent an email to a friend that was not responded to at all, assuming that my actions once again are sinister. I think instead of my actions being manipulative, I think they are concerned about being hurt with my inability to be ever-present. I enjoyed our time tremendously in the past, but I don't hold on nor look back, I am just here. If they don't want to be near me for whatever reason, then I am sorry for that loss.

It is OK and sometimes life is too domestic and if that is something that I avoid, then that is my choice. I am not EEEEEEEVIL (as my daughter would say....--- it is kinda comical when she says it) - I try to be a great dad to my children and I know I am a good person. I am just looking for something not too dramatic, not too controlling, something simple. I cannot say that with my wide variety of activities, hobbies & interests, (not to mention work schedule) that my availability wouldn't be an issue for most people, but I try to keep a healthy balance in my life.

I cannot claim to be all things for everyone, nor even anything to anyone.
I am just me, and if that is not enough for some to handle --- then I guess they will not have the chance to completely understand and enjoy me. Fun times should be OK just for the sake of enjoying life, not tied up in some sort of relationship puzzle or encaged with so many expectations. I considered each step completely and I tried really hard to be considerate of the situation, but if it is easier to call me conceited and blame me for your emotional failures, then feel free to continue...

All the best,

Lighter Notes AHEAD:
Another year is upon us....time for a Christmas post with pictures! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Turkey & Tranquility

Well, another month of my life has drifted by, and I am still here working away at keeping some of my life's more notable events from escaping the memory of time. :)

Here is a little post-Turkey roundup: Don't ever get a disagreement with your family just before Thanksgiving. (i.e. You might be spending it alone, honesty apparently equals solitude) --- Well, at least I stood firm on my position with my brother outlaw even if it cost me a fancy feast. My kids flew in and had a wonderful time, we had our own private Turkey feast, and I must say it was probably as equally boring and sublime as it was stress-free. (if that makes any sense) Definitely the most uneventful and forgettable, while at the same time being quite calming. Calmness just doesn't seem to match any memories of my overly complicated, hectic and frantic affairs of "turkey with 20", as it has been for most of my life.

Overall, the kids were great and I do miss them dearly when they depart. Sure, it is fun being fancy free and able to do just about anything I want all of the time, but I seem to find plenty of interesting ways to fill that time --- not too much of which is truly Andy time. So, I decided to work on that just recently.

I pulled out all of my Chinese calligraphy materials including my extremely rare 300 year old hand-carved Shoushan & Jade inkstone, which weighs about 20lbs and decided that it wasn't "getting any younger" sitting in its special padded felt and gold tassled Dragon case, so I fired it up and went to work. (I mean play) - The ritual behind calligraphy or Chinese brush-painting is not the goal but the process. Every single phase is important as much if not more important than the result, which any proper Zen student worth his raked sand, would confirm means nothing and results are to be forgetten and left in the past. No Mind, No Clutter, No Drama, No Worry --- nothing but clarity --- "no mind"

A quiet drop of water and a slow deliberate grind of 100 year old black pine, hand painted inkstick onto the silky smooth stone face is quite relaxing. The focus is centered on nothing else but the ink and the releasing of stress from life itself. Your thoughts, your rambling, your life is to become as pure and clear as a gentle stream - it doesn't think about where it is supposed to be or to go, it just is. That is the magic of this for me --- losing the drama of life and for a brief moment truly residing into the path of clarity, where no one's opinion, no one's thoughts, no one's voice is heard or even desired.

The strokes of the tear-drop bamboo brush glide with deliberate force across the rice paper canvas and "art is made" --- but it is the art created in the spirit that matters more than what dries on the canvas. I think we all need to find something that allows us to truly center, to find our peace, our own place for "no mind" ---

As I look forward to Christmas, I look forward to my children and the rest of my life to be unfolded. I know I need more time to figure this part of my life out and I just don't have the answers nor the desire to know the outcomes, nor the urges to look into the well of the past. I just want to be myself, be happy in the present and then enjoy what gets created on the canvas of my life.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Over the hump......Hammond. :)

Wow. Nearly a month and half since last blog post... :P

"Bye-Bye, Hammond" --- It is a silly phrase that I say each and every time that any weather reporter (meteorologist) on TV says, "High of 74 in *Hammond*", "*Hammond* received .75 inches of rain today", "Low of 48 in *Hammond*" --- Ding, Ding --- Right on cue, Mr. Pavlov! "Bye-Bye Hammond" --- silly, wonderful phrase that childishly indicates my abdication of a 10+ year ownership of my primary home, my domicile, my past life. After Katrina did quite a number on it, I truly never thought I would ever get it back into proper shape, much less sold. It has always been a struggle to own, to maintain and to manage it due to the amount of acreage and then expense of the upkeep. But, I kept working on at it religiously nearly each weekend over the last two years. And....I finally beat that house! I finally overcame every last obstacle and when I finally sold that place, it was 10x nicer than when I had discovered it as a rough gem a decade before. It was a truly wonderful place... I cannot determine its future, but at least I conquered it in the present and set it upon a wonderful course.

I will never forget the property, the memories, nor the importance of that piece of land to my emotional, physically and spiritual growth. It's was all good at the end of the day. :)

So, with that finally behind me --- I had the proper mindset to regain focus on a bunch of other areas, namely my own sanity and my kids. I immediately made reservations and flew my daughter in for a late October visit. A few days later, I made additional reservations for Thanksgiving and Christmas for Katey and Nick. I look forward to having them come visit and enjoy a wonderful holiday season. I am now just determined to work on myself, finding more time to help others with volunteer work once again, enjoying my mindless hobbies, and just try to regain some of my lost strength. I cannot afford any strange drama, emotional strain, stress or anything counter-productive to where I choose to be. I know life is uncertain, but sometimes you have to make decisions about what you will tolerate inside your strange little world and what you choose to leave out.

At the end of the day, Hammond was indeed a catalyst for my own personal growth and I am humbly grateful for both the journey and the destination.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reporting In.....How Andy earns a living.... :)

I sit here at work....actually here is a photo of my desk area: (click pic for larger image!)

I have been meaning to stop and explain what I actually do for about the last 12 years, but I think it would be too hard to explain...suffice it to say that things like optical backbone engineering and routing tables such as this make perfect sense to me:

Gateway of last resort is to network is subnetted, 1 subnets
D EX [170/28416] via, 02:57:29, Vlan90 is subnetted, 4 subnets
D EX [170/28416] via, 02:57:29, Vlan90
B [20/0] via, 02:57:29
B [20/0] via, 02:57:29
D EX [170/28416] via, 02:57:29, Vlan90 is subnetted, 2 subnets
D EX [170/281856] via, 02:57:29, Vlan90
D EX [170/281856] via, 02:57:29, Vlan90 is subnetted, 1 subnets
D EX [170/3072] via, 02:57:29, Vlan99

I really enjoy my work and all that is involved, especially the hardcore technical aspects of it. It is quite fun designing, maintaining and managing very large & complex networks and directing the engineers responsible for keeping them working properly.

It is a largely unheralded job, that cuts with a double sided blade...a sliver of realization that you are just as close to being the hero as you are to being the scapegoat, so keep your wits about you and remember, you are only as good as your last performance. No laurel wreaths collecting dust around here. :P

I will route your packets for ____________

Life is good,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stepping out of the past...

I am so stressed right now trying to get past the damage to my home, its rebuilding after Katrina tore it in half, and now finishing it up to sell it all away. I bought this home before I was married and thought it would be a great place to live, to raise children, to teach good lessons, to simply...enjoy life. After getting married young, we managed to get out there and find ways (when young and broke) to make it work. It was always a struggle, a struggle to maintain, a struggle to manage, a struggle to keep up, and a struggle to simply enjoy. There were times when I was truly proud of my place, but it always seemed there was so much more work to do than would ever get done. With my job requiring so much overtime, travel and out of pocket effort, it become a property of condemnation instead of a sanctuary. I never got past this and I never truly overcame my feelings of despair. Now, I sit here on the brink of selling it, making decent $ on the property....the end closing in finally, and I am still stressed about it.

I never realized the full potential of this place, I never was able to fully master its maintenance, management and care but I tried so hard for over 11 years to make it a place worth living. I am proud that I restored it back to a glory that it hadn't seen ever in its existence, I made it beautiful home and for that I do feel a slight degree of happiness. I am grateful for the times that I share here with my 2 children, their lives, their memories, their experiences. For the friends, family and events that transpired here, I am thankful likewise. No, regretably they were not always good times, in fact I would say most were not, and for some twisted reason I recall each moment like an overplayed track stuck in a mindless repitive groove on a old 45 caked with the dusty memories of times long gone. I am so honored to have been part of its brief passage in time, passage in my life, some 33% of my life was spent on that property, that parcel of land, that slice of "Americana"...

Why is it so hard to complete, so hard to pull together now, so hard to realize the end is near? I continued to pay on a mortgage for a property that I haven't lived in one a regular basis in nearly 30 months. I need to summon the final bit of strength, the final bit of sinew and get this done, put it back into the past and find the way out...the way to a more peaceful chapter in my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trekking along...stumbling upon on a razor.

I sat up last night like so many nights recently contemplating the reasons for this occurance or that occurance in my life. Why, when, who, what, where and how did this or that occur? Trying to seek out answers to questions that not only were as tired and discouraged as I have been lately, but maybe even just resentful that I have been wasting my time during the whole process. Had all of this just been a futile perhaps even childish attempt to make sense of something, just for the sake of searching and not really hoping, wanting or trying to uncover the truth?

I have been tying up so many resources in my strange little world that I was forgetting what it was to live, what it was to just breathe and enjoy the moment.
I speak of being in the moment, but then callously tie up those very moments with wasteful, meaningless exploratory behaviour...seemingly afraid to realize that essentially William of Ockham was right...somethings are just not as difficult as they seem and simplicity does have its own bit of straight-forward magic. :)

On that note, I am revived and encouraged to relax a little more, smile a little more and simply let it all naturally unfold without the trappings of doubt, worry, contemplation or undue concern. I have allowed myself to cloak my mind and soul with a thick moss of emotional effect from nearly every person that has passed through my life in one form or another. From lovers to friends, from family to foes, I have given them all too much power over my existence, my own illumination, my own judgements, my choices, my steps, my failures, my successes, & my fears...I have worried far too long about how everyone feels about every facet of my life. Feeling ashamed of my multitude of my failures, my miscues, & my shortcomings. Feeling guilty of my steps, the losses that I caused, the blood I shed. Feeling proud only in short pre-edited clips that I felt were OK to feel without feeling like guilty or conceited.

I have allowed my path that I thought was so free and clear, that was truly mine, to be not only influenced but molded by others. Was I just a blind drone, a wayward & fearful child looking for approval so much, that I allowed myself to be manipulated into essentially becoming nothing of what I wanted? Nothing of what I admired, nothing of my true path & destiny? I choose to let it all go. Love others, care for the world, but don't lose yourself in the cloud of selfless manipulation and influence. Don't let others form you completely and change who you are simply because they have their own insecure opinions about who you should be, what you should look like and where you belong.

Be bold, be yourself and be proud. Change in yourself what you want, but be true.
Never again will I allow someone to judge me for what I have not done for them lately nor for letting them down. I am tried of carrying the weight of everyone else's opinion. I am not a stray animal looking for a home. I have always tried to maintain true to my word, but if people can not accept events I cannot control or find it acceptable to barrage me without recourse, then I simply don't desire to tolerate those negative influences in my life. I know that I am unique, vibrant & full of life. I choose to walk forward with the strength that I can become what I imagined in my fearful childhood, I can fulfill those promises to that scared, but highly imaginative little boy! I can be proud without being arrogant, I can love without feeling judged or left wanting. I can live freely...

I can be Andy. Simplicity, such magic in it. :) Thanks for the shave, William.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Choosing the Moment?

Tonight, I sit here a little more confused with the daily activity of my life then any other memorable day of notice, anytime of late. I sit here looking at pictures of my son and I think to myself, I don't remember being that age, ever. I possess little to no memories of my childhood, only scattered glimpses and clips, like a movie with a fast-paced, speed scene of a free-falling victim who is trying to make quick sense of their life before reaching their knowing demise. I visited Charlotte this weekend to see my son as we celebrated his 5th birthday. His actual birthday was yesterday, and I didn't call him as I was busy working till about midnight. I don't believe he minded, but just for good measure I called him tonight. He was fine. He is always "fine" --- I think back and I was also always "fine" --- Sometimes I wonder if I really was, or if I knew that I truly wasn't. :)

The nature of children: their fortitude, strength, adaptability & faith is purely amazing to me.

Somewere along the way as life sets in and choices determine the path of our lives. It is like a "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" book, where you cannot flip to the end and then go back again and again until you make the "right choice" makes me realize that each day, I need to make the more sense of the choices I make. I certainly am not getting any younger, but I don't think about that. I just think that I need to understand what I really want vs. where my choices are leading me.
If I don't choose, do I still have to play the game?

I choose to be just Andy, nothing more or less. I don't know where I am going nor where my random jab into the grab bag of life will lead me, but I don't mind not worrying about knowing the details. I live each moment, each day, not thinking about am I on the right road, but only, am I being true to myself & true to life? I don't think about if I will still be friends with someone one day, nor if I will wake wondering about all of the people who I once loved that are no longer there.
I cannot look forward nor look back, it clouds the magic of the present: the simple beauty & spontaneous joy of life itself. I don't know how I am going to feel tomorrow, anymore than I know if the earth will implode next week. I cannot emotionally invest in something that I cannot feel today, no more than I can start crying about something that hasn't happened, just because I think I will be moved by the event when it finally does.

Somewhere along the way, I think I just get confused. Does everything have a beginning and an end? Do people start thinking when will their car stop running right after they drive it off the lot? Are they protecting themselves or their investment into life itself? Is that even possible? I owe it to myself to just keep it simple & keep it magical. There is only one spin on this crazy circular rotating sphere of life, so I need to make it count. Regardless of the outcome, I need to make sense of it...and I need to keep living in the moment. Keep living as "Andy".


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Better Days...

This week has been another one to bring me along the realization that everything truly is good. I feel stronger in my spirit ------- as a person, a father and a man. I had to learn the hard way that in my past, most people who enter my life make little if any lasting impact, usually bring loads of drama and pain, and I am left wanting so much more. Is that my issue or theirs? Is it my fault that I allow myself to be spent, to care more than they do, to love deeper without caution? I have grown to become quite selective of my time and feelings. I still don't understand the ones in my past who come around to use me and waste my time, but I am growing tired of even those juvenile games, as well. I have always joyfully received the impact of the collapses, as all of the fragile feelings crumble, each time slightly less painful than the last. I still feel that I should be more indifferent, more jaded, but it is not who I am truly inside. I still care too much to give less than who I am. I am just growing more selective now.

I cannot turn away from her, I cannot forget the moments that move me. The smiles that I long to seek out in my dreams long after her touch has departed. In the partial darkness, I whispered to her, "Where do you feel me?"...instantly almost preemptively, she leads my hand in her hand across her chest to where her heart lies beating beneath her smooth skin. In turn, I take her hand and lead it my chest. For a moment, time truly does stand still, and I feel her completely. No words, no worries, no judgements, no drama, just the reality of the moment. Those are the memories that move me, the glances of her face that I vividly record as the last bit of remaining light in the room illuminates her smile. I am grateful for her time and her presence. I am happy with the complication that this spite of the lack of rain. :)

Mr. Sun, care to lend a hand?
I drove to Covington this past weekend to volunteer for another HFH home, to run a small team to complete framing on an average Habitat home. The weather brought a tremendous burdening intensity to the normally refreshing event, as the heat index spiraled up to 120F. Mostly all of the twenty newly crowned "weekend wall-building warriors" were left wanting and whining just two hours in, leaving me with little assistance and little recourse, but to let them abdicate their voluntary vows to serve, and walk, if not run, off of the temperate jobsite.

With minimal help, we finished the framing of 8 main walls, marked the cap plates and raised most of the roof trusses, so I felt accomplished, if not a little resentful, for having to stick it out in the face of my own secret desire to find cooler shelter. Was this my reward or just part of a testament to the true spirit of "sweat equity" in volunteer home construction? I am not sure, but I am always happy to serve, even if those memories haunt my soul....sorry, wrong blog entry.

Better days? Certainly better days are not just about the ranges in temperature that nature brings, nor the feelings of overcoming guilt as my children live 900 miles away, nor the moments alone in the darkness that help raise my spirit and provide my life with a sense of peaceful adoration. It is all of this, it is life. Simple, magical, sometimes peaceful, but all of the time --- worth capturing each moment with reckless abandon & desire.

Life is good, and I am thankful for better days. :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tampa, straight up....with a twist.... :)

What a break from everything this weekend was. I enjoy the subtle sophistication of areas such as Tampa & its inherent sanctuary --- The trip allowed me to maintain a greater sense of lucidity and focus while also calming my nerves about my life in general. Our base was the glorious Hilton Carrilon in St. Petersburg. Room 706. I couldn't have planned the events, the moments or the weather any better than it occurred. For all practical purposes, everything went perfect in nearly all aspects of the trip, how rare is that? Perhaps, murphy was on vacation and took his lamenting laws with him this weekend --- leaving me a chance to regain my breath long since weighted and departed for so long.

Hmmm.....what about a game of minigolf? "Let's go play.....but only if you are miserable......." ;) --- It was fun! I love getting wet. :P

Emotionally, I was left feeling stronger and yet still so torn about where I stand versus where I am walking...the paths sometimes seem so clear and solid and other times I don't know what I want nor how much I can be responsible for anymore. I want things to be simple in my heart, yet I battle for complication because that was my comfort, my sense of purpose, for so long. Can anything really be this simple, or does everything come with a cost? What if I change or maybe I am no longer the "hero" then what? Does someone lose faith in me again? Do I fall out of the limelight, do they see that I do bleed as a mortal, and that I am not as great as they want me to be? Has anyone truly known me, for me? Is that something that matters to me?? Is this all just in my head, or am I really "sweet Andy"?
Does that make it so much worse? :P

How can I challenge everything that seems so perfect? Am I afraid of how I might fail someone again? How yet again I just won't be enough, is that why it is easier to not want to be simply content?

I just try to be myself, and hope what I feel might really be enough.
I smile, and I enjoy it --- but I have smiled in the midst of torture and grimaced in the hands of love, so what does that mean? As the memories of the blood I have spilled surges through my dreams & reminds me of where I have been and what I have done, I know I have no solution and I am never the answer --- but I must continue to trust in life and walk my path...and I know kindness is good...and I will continue to look for the peace I need to feel content in this life. I am blessed, I am alive and I can smile. I have good reasons to smile.

Life is good.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What a week...

As I sit here in my jazzy "Cisco & SpeedRacer inspired" cube at work, I find myself trying to let go of the geeky thoughts that have been racing through my head for last several hours...BGP, EIGRP, redistribute routes..... "sho ip bgp neighbor x.x.x.x adv [tab] advertised-routes" --- Hey, AT&T why can't I advertise via BGP my locally originated subnet of to you? I don't know? "You know the bridge collapsed last night in Minnesota, so all routing is affected on our network" That is what I was told was the reason my routes were not working...) :P

I vacillate between thoughts of wondering where all of the intelligent people have been taken, to wondering how many were ever here to start with. This week has shown me more than I care to know about some things in my life and created even more confusion in other areas. I know I am not exactly lucid, but I don't think I know what I am trying to express, either.

I am off to Tampa tomorrow to work on a migration project between 3 remote office locations. Flying at 0600 doesn't bother me, but I just hope that everything goes smoothly and we finally have a project that we can get some "good press" --- our team really needs a win. (Heck, they are sending in their MVP, so at least we should have a fighting chance....) --- LOL.

Personally --- I have run the gambit on emotions, and I feel amazingly less stressed, even though I still have 42 projects to contend with.....I guess sometimes you just have to breathe, do your best & let it go. I am still torn about what I really want right now, and what is best, but I am just going to let everything play out and see what happens.

Life is good.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Complicated...but content...

To state the emotions that I have traversed in my mind this weekend would become labeled as complicated would be an understatement. Stretching from the edges of my emotional sanity, I have succeeded in losing even greater lucidity than I ever thought possible. I felt so much simple reality here...then I saw nothing again --- it had been unmistakably a blood-stained napkin that I tried to hide beneath my clothes, while all the while I could feel its sin, its effect.

I make no excuses for this temporary feeling of change, it was going to change no matter how long we both waited, nor matter how perfect the moment, it was going to change in the that wrong, or is it just natural & an even positive circle of evolution in any relationship? Are we afraid of what we fear or what we desire the most? Reminds me of the Tao when it talks about "success being as dangerous as failure" or when "you go up and down on the ladder, your position is shaky" - It is what it is and that is it. The meanings afterwards are what we place upon them in order to either criticize or justify our behavior.

At the end of the day, it is an unnecessary step --- Live life, enjoy each moment, capture each kiss with a reckless abandon...make each one count. Too soon, too late? I don't know if I can subscribe to either side of is life and it was meaningful and to me that is the most important aspect of all of this. When did I start analyzing moments like these? Simple...when they mattered.

I gazed to know more today, and I saw the same response in her eyes, that wanton desire...was I still the same man, would this still work, do we both want this? I locked on her gaze a few times, and I felt her eyes piercing me... I clearly felt her spirit, her heart...the same as so many times was still there.

And that was good. :)
Life is good.