Friday, February 29, 2008

Well,’s something better...

Amy and Michelle in Louisville
Amy and Michelle in Louisville last weekend
Hmmm...Maybe things aren’t so bad after all.
I guess life can't suck too badly when a guy has two gorgeous women that are a part of it all, huh?

This is a pic I just received from my daughter, Amy (left), that she took of herself and her Mom in Louisville, KY last weekend. The occasion for their visit was Amy's tryout for the prestigious Actors Theater Apprentice Company that’s based there. If she’s accepted, it's a one-year commitment with many exciting potential benefits.

Not only will she receive valuable experience and exposure, participating in master classes with distinguished artists and administrators, including agents, casting directors, guest directors and actors during that time, but many participants who've engaged this opportunity have gone on to find career-establishing connections throughout the country in their pursuit of a life in the theater. It's an amazing opportunity, and we're excited about the possibilities for Amy.

However this is by no means a slam-dunk deal. The candidate screening is highly competitive, and Amy's been through it once before, last year. She clearly admits now that she wasn't ready, and was perhaps a bit overwhelmed a year ago. However she is confident that she's ready now and reports that her audition went well. So we're keeping our fingers crossed. She should find out in a few weeks whether or not she made the cut.

Meanwhile, Michelle provided moral support (not to mention gas money) to allow Amy to relax and stay focussed. They had a great Mom & Daughter roadtrip together. My daughter, who is turning out to be quite the talented photographer, snapped a number of handsome photos, this being just one.

I'm pretty proud of my kids. Hope you don't mind my bragging on them.

Happy Leap Day, all. Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wish I had something Better to Say

‘Bad Day’ doesn't say it well enough...
I don't know what I'm doing here 'cept blowin' off steam. I've got nothing nice to say, so I guess I really should just keep my yap shut — but I can't.

I'm having a pretty shitty week, y'all, but if I was looking for sympathy I'd probably have been writing about it long before now.

No, I really don't even want to explain it more than to say I'm just busybusybusy, and in being such, making mistakes at work that are making me look bad and feel worse. I haven't got a whole lot of self-confidence right at the moment.

I need a vacation.

The house is coming together though — I guess that's good news — but even that is rapidly sucking the life out of me. Finding a place for everything; continuing to have to spend more and more, ‘oh...forgot about that’ money; having to devote every minute of every weekend to house-work; everything we’ve been dealing with has been depressing enough to sometimes make me forget about how excited I was a couple of weeks ago when we’d first moved in.

It’s just that we've worked so hard for so long — dating back to last spring when we began this new home adventure — that I'm simply ready for it to all be over with and for everything to be done.

I'm just plain tired and cranky and out of sorts.

Hope I'm not bringing you down with me, but here's hoping there's a little sunshine around the corner soon for all of us — weather and otherwise.

I'm ready for Spring.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Casa AJ Update

In case you were wondering...
This just in: COMCAST SUCKS! Here’s some brief ventage directed towards the new AT&T (read: monopoly) of the cable TeeVee business. This ginormous cable & Internet provider, who also has a stranglehold on service in my area has gotten on my last nerve.

Not only had several of my e-mail accounts with them been screwed up for nearly two weeks (an issue that was just resolved today), that was merely a pimple on the acute acne outbreak that has been my cable/Internet/phone service conversion experience since we moved into the new house. Actually it goes back further than that. I've had nothing but headaches with Comcast since moving to an apartment following the sale of our house last August.

I really don't want to get into all the gory details, but suffice it to say, the left hand doesn't have a freaking clue what the right hand is doing over in that bloated outfit. I have now been without any Internet access at all for 48 hours, as they apparently had to break one thing to fix another in the litany of problems we've had with our service.

Oh, they were all courteous and, “we'll get to work on that and call you back in 30 minutes” in addressing my issues, but on more than two occasions, after promising to call back, never did. I’ve tried to be understanding and give them a little more time, but have been rewarded with only more delays and hand-offs to a never-ending series of techs and/or departments.

Would it be unreasonable to assign a permanent account number to a customer who has been with you for seven years, Comcast? Is it really necessary to completely start from scratch with a new account whenever a customer merely change addresses in the same area? Apparently not, as creating what seems to me to be an unnecessary layer of red tape to entangle everyone in is what you regard as an efficient way to do business.

I mean, gimme a break here!

But now that my e-mail is back online, I'm hopefully going to get my connection issue resolved later today, however I'm not holding my breath.

Hopefully all this will be a bad memory in a matter of days...

Sorting it all out
In the meantime, Michelle and I have found it a lot more daunting to find a place for all of our stuff that's been in storage since last summer than we anticipated. That, and determining what and how much to spend on new items for our new home, have taken a huge toll on both our free time as well as our collective psyche; we're just plain worn out.

Good new is, the pool table has been ordered and should be delivered in another week or so, and the areas that we have been able to sort out — like the living room — are really looking good. Nevertheless, we're still a ways out from being able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I spent a good portion of my time this past Saturday and Sunday assembling new furniture and miscellaneous storage pieces (a TeeVee Credenza, bathroom wall cabinet and a set of tip-out storage trays that fit in behind the kitchen sink cabinet panels), while Michelle is still trying to decide what stays and what goes in her new kitchen.

It's all a process that is time-consuming and mentally draining, but also one that is ultimately quite satisfying as we move closer and closer to seeing things round into shape here at the new Casa AJ.

Obviously, given all of this, I haven't had a lot of time (well...none, really) to write, but that will be changing soon. I'm getting that balloon-brain feeling again and really need to force myself (much like I'm doing right now) to sit down and get the blog-ball rolling once again.

On a much more somber note, if you feel so inclined, Michelle and I would covet all your prayers and good thoughts on behalf of my Father-in-Law. The skinny is, he's not doing well, and the reality of it all is beginning to hit us like a ton of bricks.

Michelle’s Pop has had bouts with various skin cancers most of his adult life, but has always come out on top. About 20 years ago he suffered a heart attack and had multiple-valve bypass surgery to correct blockages in his heart. Unfortunately the same thing happened to him again just a couple years ago. However after a second bypass procedure he once again was fine.

I mention all this to underscore his current situation. About a year ago he developed more than just the usual elderly male issues with his bladder. Doctors suspected prostate issues but instead discovered a malignant tumor on his bladder, albeit still isolated and new enough to be treated effectively.

However, because of his age and multiple bypass surgeries, doctors were reluctant to attempt either surgery or chemotherapy, due to the instability of his heart and the stress such procedures would place on his body. He opted for radiation therapy, which isn't quite as effective as chemo, but it seemed to do the trick.

Unfortunately his cancer didn't want to go away quietly. Doctors recently discovered that the tumor had returned, and this time, had invaded the adjoining muscle tissue of his lower abdomen.

The tumor is still treatable, but without the option of surgery or chemotherapy as a first course of action, the outlook is not good. It has now been deemed an ‘extremely aggressive cancer’ and what happens in the next few weeks could have a huge impact on our family.

Michelle’s Dad is 77 years old and his overall health has been declining for years, which also makes him a bad risk for surgery. However the condition of his heart exacerbates the circumstance even more. Any kind of major surgery, due to the very real possibility of him dying on the table, can only be considered as a last resort.

All that leaves the air around our house pretty thick these days. On the one hand we're all smiles about our situation as new homeowners; on the other, Michelle is facing the possibility that her Dad may not be with us much longer. Personally I just can't bring myself to consider the latter.

The kicker is that this all comes at a time when we were optimistic that Michelle’s folks might be able to move to Tennessee to be closer to us. That effort has been scuttled thus far by an extremely depressed housing market in Florida where thy currently live. Their house has been on the market for well over a year. It just won’t sell. They desperately want to move, but are held pisoner by their house. And now this.

They go back to see the doctor on February 21st, and will presumably consider in detail what all the options for Michelle's Dad are.

But before they decide to do anything, they want to come up to Tennessee to see us and the new house. After Dad begins whatever treatment they decide upon, all bets are off as to if or when he could travel again.

So please shoot up a few good thoughts to the Man upstairs for us. This is truly a bittersweet season in our lives.