August 2013


I’ve endured a series of maladies lately.  First there was my extended hiking trip about five or six weeks ago that took a pretty good physical toll on me.  Due to taking directions from some mountain bikers for a “quick” side trip, our 6 mile hike turned into 16 miles.  During the last two miles of the hike, I started getting a burning pain on the outside of my “good” knee.  To this day, if I run much over two miles, I pull up with a limp and have to walk back.

Then there were the stomach problems that I developed a few weeks ago.  It began as a persistent ache in my belly and gradually got worse to the point that I could barely eat for about a week.  Sara diagnosed me as having an ulcer (a pot of coffee a day and stress has that effect).  She put me on some medicine and about a week into the medicine, I got better but…

Just as the ulcer seemed to be getting better, I woke up with vertigo.  I was in Orlando traveling for business at the time and didn’t think much of it at first.  I was just a little dizzy in the morning and then it would go away.  A few days in, I could tell that the symptoms were getting worse.  It eventually got to the point of persisting an entire day before I got much better.

Is this what aging is like?  I turn forty next year and it seems like my body is starting to acknowledge that the warranty is running out.  My biggest problem is that while I am turning forty next year, I still think I’m twenty-five.  Truth be told, I’m probably in better shape now than I was at twenty, but being in shape can’t always compensate for the additional mileage I’ve accumulated over those years.

Finally, this week there was another blow.  My grad school started up again on Wednesday and I watched one of my lectures for my data analysis class. I was terrified when the professor showed up on my computer – she couldn’t have been much older than 30… if that!  Her speech, mannerisms, and appearance make me think of her as a kid and I’m having a very difficult time acknowledging that she is my professor. 

I’m already older than my pastor and older than my doctor… now I’m older than my professor.  I think at the next Presidential election, I’m just going to vote for the oldest person regardless of their political affiliation.  I don’t think I can handle being older than the President yet.

The CEO of our company was in on Monday and I took part in a dinner and reception to meet with him.  First of all, it is nice to be able to meet the CEO of a large organization and talk to them like anyone else.  This is a stark contrast from my former employer – the only time we heard about the CEO was during news reports on how he used two million dollars of company money to fund his wife’s birthday party on a private yacht with Jimmy Buffet as the entertainer.

The difference between my professional life and family life became quite evident; however, following the dinner when I called to let everyone know I was on my way home.  Within a matter of minutes my conversation went from talking business strategy with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to this:

I call Sara’s cell phone and Olivia answers, “Hey daddy!”

“Hey baby, I’m on my way home so I’ll see you before your bedtime.”

“Ok… hey daddy, Amelia has poop stuck in her booty and it won’t come out.”

“Really?”

“Yep, and she’s crying a lot.  Do you want to talk to her?”

“Umm… ok.”

Seconds later, I hear Amelia in a pitiful voice.

“Daddy, my booty hurts!”

“I’m sorry honey, what’s wrong.”

“I can’t poop.  I think it’s stuck.”

“I wish I could help you, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do right now.”

“Ok… here’s Olivia.”

“I told you her booty hurt, daddy.  Love you.”

…and she hung up.

I’m finding my late thirties to be a very odd time in life.  The diversity of problems, challenges, and opportunities is pretty amazing.  When else do you go from having a business discussion with a CEO to a poop discussion with a seven year-old and four year-old in a five minute span?

Dumb

Sara and the girls weren’t home, so I was on my own for dinner Saturday night.  I’m not one of those guys who is completely incompetent in the kitchen, but I had been working all day and didn’t want to spend a lot of time making dinner.  I went out to check the freezer to see if anything piqued my interest and came across some ground beef.  Perfect – I could thaw this out and make a patty melt.  Quick, easy, meaty… ideal for a man meal.

I noticed that the expiration date on the meat was in the year 2011.  Normally, this would cause me to take pause, but since I was only cooking for myself, I charged ahead.  The first thing I noticed was that the raw meat was brown.  Unfazed, I thawed the meat.  It was just over a pound and I thought I would make two giant half-pound patties.  Taking half of the meat out, I tried to form a patty.  It was extremely watery and just fell apart.

Men are nothing if not resourceful.  I saw the remaining half of the meat sitting on it’s little meat diaper in the styrofoam tray and realized that it was still compacted together and the perfect square shape for my bread.  I simply seasoned that and threw it straight into the skillet.  What happened next was kind of odd… nothing cooked out of the meat.  Nothing.

I’ve browned my share of ground beef in the past and know that the fat is supposed to cook out; which you then pour into a jar and leave by the kitchen sink for some unknown reason.  But not this time.  I pressed down on my patty (which was actually more of a loaf) and still no fat came out.  Instead, this gray jelly-like substance oozed out, which I actually found to be quite tasty after it crisped up in the skillet.

Since the raw meat was already brown, there was no discernible difference between the cooked and uncooked meat.  Just to be safe, I cooked it about an extra 5 minutes beyond what I thought was well done.  Good thing I’m being safe, right?

I ate my patty melt.  It was adequate and I had no adverse effects.  Every guy in the world had probably done something similar.  Now there is no way in the world I would have served that meat to my wife and kids, but when it comes to our own welfare, men tend to take a few more risks.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

What an understatement.  In his infinite wisdom (literally), God knew that men are ego driven and often overly self confident so he used this wording to get the message across gently.  I think what is actually meant by “a helper suitable for him” is someone to keep the guy from killing himself daily.  Hey us guys are great – we’re thrill-seekers who take challenges head-on and get things done.  But sometimes we need to have a little doubt and question ourselves… and women are great at making us question ourselves.