Monday, July 18, 2016

One year ago today...

I'm really not quite sure how to approach this post. I've watched today approaching for months, because it marks a significant milestone. I don't know if I awaited it with anticipation, or with dread, or with some multitude of nameless emotions. Nothing is particularly different today than yesterday, and yet today feels... important.

I'm really not quite sure how to approach this post... but I felt I should write it.

One year and two weeks ago today, I was in Seattle, Washington with my entire immediate family, plus a step or two past that. We had all gathered there to board a cruise ship the next day for a week-long cruise to Alaska in celebration of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. It was the Fourth of July, and we celebrated as a family over the course of the day.

One year and one week ago today, we were on our final stop on the cruise in Victoria, Canada. It was my first time in Canada (check another country off on my list!), and my Canadian brother-in-law introduced us to poutine. It was actually much better than I expected, and I've actually kind of been craving it ever since. We saw a 7-11, but didn't put two and two together that it was Free Slurpee Day until after we were back on the boat.

One year and a few hours ago today, I was driving my nephew to meet his dad and siblings at Five Guys for lunch before going to see the movie Minions. After the cruise, he had driven back down to Utah with me to spend a week with his favorite uncle. It had been a good trip and a fun opportunity to visit with him without his family around (which I'm sure he appreciated). I also learned that while I get along very well with my nephews and nieces, I'm finally reaching the point where I'm old enough to not quite understand how to interact with teenagers on a regular basis anymore.

I remember being at Five Guys and feeling a bit lightheaded. I felt a bit shaky, and so I assumed it was due to a low blood sugar. At one point, I sort of blacked out, which sort of scared my brother and his kids. They'd gotten some root beer into me, and sort of roused me, and I felt a little bit better, but a tiny bit nauseated. I remember checking my blood sugar and it actually being a bit higher than normal. Still feeling a bit queasy, I got up to go to the bathroom. My brother was still a bit concerned, so he asked if I wanted him to wait outside the door for me. Normally, I would have said no, but I remember deciding that it might be a good idea and telling him so.

I remember instinctively going to lock the door to the bathroom once I'd gone in, then having a sudden thought just happen to strike me that, if my brother was waiting outside for me just in case something went wrong, then locking the door would be counterproductive. I remember very little after that.

One year ago today, right around the same time as I'm writing this, I woke up in the hospital, and everything was different.

As it was related to me, my brother didn't hear anything from me for a bit and knocked on the door, and he knocked on the door to check on me. When I didn't respond, he opened the door and found me unconscious. When he checked for a pulse, he couldn't find one, so he shook me and found a pulse after that. He yelled for someone to call 911 and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived.

As it was related to me, the cardiologist on hand in the emergency room just happened to be the only one at that hospital who was able to perform a potentially invasive procedure in a much less invasive way, inserting a stent through my wrist and up the brachial artery rather than the upper, inner thigh, which would have left me strapped to the bed for at least a day while the insertion spot healed. As it was told to me, that cardiologist just happened to be right there at the entrance when I was brought in and was able to begin work immediately.

I believe that sometimes, things don't "just happen" to happen.

As it was related to me, my heart stopped beating twice while I was on the table, and they had to use the shock pads on me. I woke up with two conductive patches attached with sticky adhesive to my (freshly shaven) chest.

That was one year ago today. It doesn't feel like a year. It feels like a lifetime ago. It feels like a dream, like it never happened, like all of this is a story I made up in my head. But it wasn't a dream, though the only physical reminder I have on my body is a scar about the size of a popcorn kernel on my wrist.

I really wasn't quite sure how to approach this post when I started, and I'm still really not quite sure what I wanted to get out of it. But I felt like I should write something. Like I should actually write down the story. Like I should remember it.

Like I should acknowledge what happened in my life one year ago today.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Ghost Theater

On my way home from work, I generally will get off the interstate several exits early and drive the rest of the way home on Geneva Road. I'm not entirely sure why—maybe it's because I like the lower traffic, the more scenic views, and the feel of driving through the less developed area.
The views to the west of Geneva are pretty sparse. Mostly, it's just open fields, with a few new developments cropping up every so often. I'd been driving the route for several months without anything really jumping out at me. Then, one day, I looked to the side, and I saw this:

Hazy vignettes added to give an "ethereal" feel. You're welcome.

Now, I hadn't seen any hint of this building's construction over the past several months. Not a sign. Not a building frame. Not a truck. Nothing. It just seemed to spring up overnight.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I got closer and saw this: 

Special thanks to Google Maps for these images. (I try not to take pictures while I drive!)

Seriously, you'd think I would have heard about a new MegaPlex going up just a couple miles from my house! It was eerie, though, because it seriously was just THERE one day.

The next day at work, I asked a coworker who lives close to me if he knew anything about it, but he was completely unaware, too. I was actually a little bit nervous as I drove home that evening, because if it wasn't there? I was planning a SERIOUS freak-out.

Fortunately, as I came up the road, it was still there, so not only was I NOT living just a few miles from a haunted stretch of road (to my knowledge...), but we got a brand new, fancy theater really close to me. Score!

Funny thing is, about a month later, my roommate had the exact same experience. He came into the house after work and said, "Hey, did you know about that new MegaPlex on Geneva? I drive up and down that road all the time, and today, it was just sort of there! How long has that been there!?"

How long indeed...?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years and Inoculations

Before I start, let me warn you that at first, this post might seem negative. It's not meant to be, and in the end, I don't think it is. So please, bear with me as I set the stage so we can actually get to the insights I've had. :)

Today is December 31, 2013. New Year's Eve. 2013 ends tonight, and I couldn't me more ready.

2013 has been a rough year. Without listing the things that have gone on, let's just say it's been rough physically, financially, and emotionally, and I'm ready for it to be done.

To cap it off, I'm just getting over one of the worst bouts of flu I've ever had. To be honest, the past week and a half (even before I got sick!) is kind of a blur in my head. It's like remembering a powerful dream I may have had a year ago - I've got the basic gist of it in my head, but the details are all fogged up and blurred together, like they didn't really happen.

The fact that I'm getting over being sick, combined with the fact that my family will be going on a cruise together in a few weeks, brought the last cruise my family went on to mind. While it was an amazing experience, I got sick on the second day, which kind of muted the fun I had.

I took a look at this sickness and I thought that perhaps this is a gift. Generally, with the flu, once you've gotten over a particular strain, you're covered against it. (Hence why the flu vaccine works.) So perhaps, by getting the flu now, while I'm in Alabama and have my parents to look after me, but I still don't have anywhere else to go, I'm basically "getting it out of the way." That way, come cruise time, I can enjoy it at full capacity.

Right now, I'm going into 2014 hoping that that's basically what 2013 was, too. I went through a lot of miserable stuff this year. Hopefully, that means I'm "inoculated" for a bit, and 2014's going to be a great year. I've actually got a pretty good feeling about it. Here's hopin'!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Google Fiber!

It's official! Google Fiber will be coming to Provo!

Read the official blog post here.

If you don't know what that is, check out the video below:

You can also check out the wikipedia page here.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I was named after a woman, and I couldn't be prouder.

     For the past week or so, I've been trying to figure out just what to say about this. My grandmother, who we called "Muddie", was/is basically my hero. She passed away two weeks ago tomorrow. It was a sad thing for us, but it wasn't unexpected, and in the end, we were largely happy that she was able to join those family members she severely missed. She expressed several times that she wanted to see them, and now she has.

I was very touched when my dad and older brother asked me if I would make a few comments at her funeral, which was intentionally kept small and simple, just a brief graveyard service, at her request before she passed. I wanted to share what I said, here:

I’ve thought long and hard about just what to say about Muddie. I want to say something that expresses just what an amazing woman my grandmother is; but every time I thought of something to say, it was never enough.

To be honest, I don’t think there is anything I can say that is quite enough. If you knew Muddie, you know what I mean.

Over the past few days, several friends of mine who knew Muddie have sent me their condolences and their impressions of Muddie:

“Once you meet Muddie, you never forget her!!”

“I love Muddie. Such an amazing person. The sweetest you could ever meet.”

Several of the things I read were from people who had only met Muddie briefly, but in that short time, she had impacted their lives significantly.

You often hear the metaphor of a stone thrown into a pond, and the ripples spreading. Muddie, however, was not content to simply drop into a pond and sink to the bottom. She reminds me more of a stone, skipped across the pond, and everywhere she touched, she created yet another set of ripples. She raised three wonderful children, who each have gone on to have their own families and to touch other people’s lives for the better. She impacted each of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and so on. And she touched their friends, as well – even friends of mine who met her for no more than a 15-minute visit were struck by her amazing spirit and sincerity.

I remember feeling that the timing of her passing was incredibly fitting – She has always been one of the most stalwart followers of and believers in Christ that I have ever known. And now is the time when we celebrate His sacrifice for us, and His Resurrection, which occurred so that we, too, could someday live again, and return to His presence.

I know, without a doubt, that I will see her again, and I can’t wait to see that grin that always made me feel like I was worth something, and that twinkle in her eye that always let me know that she was up to something. J

Within the last few days, my mother found a page inside of one of Muddie’s bibles, which had a brief essay a man had written about accomplishing everything you want to in life. Muddie had marked the following passage:

“We have much in our lives that is unfinished – relationships that need mending, good deeds we plan to do when we have time. But with God’s guidance we can do each day what we need to do that day, so that no matter when we die, we can have the comfort of knowing that we have lived fully and been faithful.”

On the same page, she wrote in her very distinctive handwriting, “This is how I feel. Don’t weep and grieve for me. I have had a wonderful life. God has truly blessed me.”

The last time I spoke to Muddie on the phone, she said something to me that she had said many times before, but this time, it genuinely felt different. As the conversation was winding down, she very deliberately said, “I love you, Bill.”

Then, she paused, as if trying to emphasize the sincerity of what she was next about to say: “And I always will.”

I choked back tears, and I returned the sentiment: “I love you, too, Muddie. And I always will.” It was different than previous conversations, and I felt it was a particularly important moment.

Those were the last words we said to each other, and I will always treasure that exchange.

Muddie gave me several things, but I think one of the most special, at least to me, is her name. When they weren’t calling her “Muddie,” which is a child’s adaptation of the word “Mother”, her family and friends called her Billie, and my parents named me Billy, later Bill, in honor of her. As I grew up, there were a few times when I considered going by Will or William, or some other form of my name, but in the end, I never wanted to, for one reason: because I couldn’t be more proud to share her name.

My one regret regarding Muddie is that the wife and children I hope to someday have will not have the opportunity to meet her in this life. I can certainly tell them what an amazing person she was and is, and I likely will do so several times – but without meeting her, it will be more difficult for them to know just how special she really was.

In the end, I think that the best way any of us can let the people we care about who never had the opportunity to meet her know how incredible she really is would be to live our own lives in a way that they can see the positive impact she had on each of our lives, that they can feel the ripples she left on each of us when she touched us.

“Keep on keepin’ on,” she said to me just about every time we spoke.

“It’s all a matter of the mind – if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

And, as I heard from her countless times, and I’ve heard repeated several times over the past few days by people who knew her, “Don’t you quit!”

I love you, too, Muddie. And I always will.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Safe Zones

So I never expected to say this... but I just related very deeply to the emotional desires and wants... of a cat.

Let me back up. I love people. I love talking to people, I love spending time with people, I love being around people. Especially when they're people I love, I love just having people around. I enjoy having people over to my home, hosting gatherings, having long and involved conversations. I try to be outgoing and welcoming, making sure no one feels left out.

Because of this, several of my friends have tagged me as an extrovert. I've always found this funny, because growing up, I was actually painfully shy. It was due to a good friend that I was able to finally break out of that shyness, but that's a different story.

Anyway, so today, I was reading a post on Sandra Tayler's blog, where she talks about her cat. The cat enjoys having people around, and generally, things work out well for it. However, because of the changes that Summer (and vacation time) brings, the cat becomes distressed by the presence of new people who don't understand the meanings of personal space, of moderation, etc. It's at these times that the cat retreats to certain designated "safe zones."

I've realized over the past few weeks and months that I have similar "safe zones" for myself in my own home. A good friend recently pointed out to me that while I'm a social person, I'm a "homebody." She mentioned that while I love hanging out with people, I'm always offering my own home as a place for people to gather. It's interesting, because I always thought to myself that I was offering my place because, well, I had a place to offer, and it works as a gathering point. And while that may be true, I also realized that she's right. I enjoy offering my place as a gathering point because it's my place, and especially because it's full of places to retreat when necessary.

For example, a couple weeks ago, my friend Peter got married, and a few days before, I hosted his "bachelor party" at my house. (Don't worry, nothing sketchy happened. It was a bunch of guys playing board/card games and video games.) I hung out with the group and had a good time talking, but there were a few times I retreated to my own "safe zones." My office downstairs is the main one (it has a door I can close), but even in the public rooms, I have certain spots where I feel comfortable. There's a particular spot on the couch upstairs. There's a recliner in the game room downstairs. I have my own safe zones where I can retreat if things get, well... overly social.

But when I retreat to these safe zones, like Sandra's cat, I still like having people around. When I sit at my computer in my office, it's nice to hear the sounds of people talking and laughing in the game room or living room. When I'm sitting in my spot on the couch, I like hearing people clanking around in the kitchen or hearing my roommate talking to people over the voice chat as he plays Team Fortress 2. I'm not antisocial, just introverted.

Just something interesting to learn about myself. There's always something more to learn.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

So wow, it's been a while...

To be honest, the thing that spurred me to post today was a post on another friend's blog. She mentioned that it's not every day where you can have a blog post on February 29th, and I realized that she's right. But hey, maybe this post will spur me back into writing regularly again. :)

Let's see, what's going on in my life? Well, I bought a house this last year. Closed at the end of July, and moved in right at the middle of August. I'm getting ready to turn 30, which is actually VERY daunting. I know it's technically just another year, but it feels like a big landmark. I decided that I want to celebrate it in some special way, so I decided to go on an LDS singles cruise for my birthday (less because I'm expecting to meet my eternal companion, and more because I'd like to spend such a cruise with people who are in similar places in their lives to me), and there just happened to be one going through the eastern Mediterranean right around that time! So, a former roommate of mine and I will be flying to Rome in May, visiting all the landmarks we can for a couple days, then departing on a one-week cruise. I'm actually really, really excited for it.

As for Leap Day itself, I basically did the same thing as usual, although I'm planning to watch the one episode of Frasier that is about Leap Day to close out the day. What did you do today?