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each feather fell from skin

This posts has been knocking around inside my head for a couple days…

I’ve never been one to take on a new year like a chance to be reborn and improve myself, this year isn’t any different.  However, 2008 has had a distinctive yet blurry feel to it.    I get stuck finding the right adjective to give this year meaning.  Do I lambaste it for its numerous scary and sad moments or do I champion my personal triumphs that arrive in 2008?

I’m stuck.

I can’t get over hating 2008 for all of the medical scares my dad had.  Never before, I had I had to confront the actual possibility of the mortality of my parents.  Never will I forget the drive from Cottage Grove to the hospital in Oregon City where my dad had urgently been admitted.  Until then, hospital trips were resigned to the oldest generations of my family, for broken bones, but never for something that was life-threatening and so close.  It is amazing how the mind sorts through and presents every possibility and how rarely it is positive.  I can’t shake the sense of mourning that had already begun to fog my mind and body as I drove faster and faster.  Thankfully, I was very premature.

I can’t let go that 2008 has been one of the best years for me personally.  To change myself so drastically, to improve something that had been weighing me down literally and metaphorically.  To run my first 5k, to be able to feel like I had never felt has been truly a metamorphosis.  2008 has helped me not only lose nearly 70 pounds but also fix those habits and tendencies that plagued my life to the point that it was dragging me into a unhealthy lifestyle and most likely a premature death.  I never thought that I was able to run over four miles continuously without stopping… both mentally and physically.  It makes me what else am I capable of?  What have I been telling myself “no” about for so long that I wholeheartedly accept a misconception.

How can I hate a year that brought me that?

But I think it is far more complicated than I have laid out.  These two events, which are by far the biggest, are laced together.  Had my dad not had his pulmonary embolisms, I wouldn’t had realized that I was at far more risk for far worse consequences of my own.

I don’t think 2008 was a good year, I’m glad its gone, I also know that it wasn’t a soul-crushing year either, and I’ll be fond of it.  So if it wasn’t either, than it had to be a year of my own education.  Hopefully, I have learned, or at least begun to learn that I must value my body and take care of it.  As well, hopefully I have begun to learn the wealth that exists in the people around me and to let go of the trespasses that I have long held onto, to improve upon my faults and mistakes that I committed on others.

We’ll see what I do with it.  Hopefully I’m not all hyperbole and metaphors but of action.  Here comes 2009.  I don’t have any resolutions.  I just want to keep on learning, hopefully these lessons are at the hands of positive situations, but if not, I must make the best and not let the bad take the fight out of me.

I’m sure it only gets more interesting after this.Train to Salzburg Chris

The University of Scallop Burritos

…is who came to play against the USC Trojans this past weekend.  My dad and I flew down to see the game and hang out with his friend Jerry.  I was surprised that the USC fans were so polite, we were only booed once and it was actually in fairly good taste (as good as booing can be).  I expected a little more than what we saw.  The USC campus was very nice and equally as large.  What I liked was that as we walked around campus, people were tailgating all over, it showed a lot of community support as well as tie in with the university.The game was a mangled head up of spread offense.  The worst part wasn’t that we lost, rather, that we had that glimmer of hope that came with the first touchdown.  After that it was that nauseating repetitious beating of the ducks.

To ease our pain, we filled out bellies.  We were frequent patrons at Senior Fish, often, I found myself knee-deep in Scallop a scallop burrito.  They had the most fantastic salsas, there is a chance I might try to replicate the fresh salsa, it was so good I could have eaten it solo by the spoonful. Don’t get me wrong, the scallop is one tasty bivalve.

Other than watching our beloved ducks being creamed, we hung out at Jerry’s sipping fine Mexican importsm admiring his new porch, and making crude but slightly insightful jokes.

Once back from the Portland Airport, I gathered up my few remaining things and jumped into my car to be Grove-bound only to find that my hobby-needing mother had plastered, hid, tucked, wrapped, and nestled a something that had to do with USC throughout my car.  In my gum, on my blood donation key chain, on my side mirror, between seats… and there are still more to find I am sure.  As she states it, that was payback for the many trips to restaurants where I semi-steal a spoon, apples, toothpicks, crayons, or honey packet and drop them into her purse.  For some reason, she never finds the hidden goodies until she is out of state teaching a class.  I just want her to be prepared.  That aside, at 11pm on Sunday, I was safely back in the Grove, another weekend gone, but wisely utilized.

Sorry, the quality isn’t fantastic, it’s a cellphone camera, what do you expect?

Guten Tag!

Hello from Switzerland.

Jess and I met my parents in Zurich this morning and are now in Luzern. For the last five days, Jess and I had been in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria. I had actually updated from Salzburg but for some reason, it never took… pictures and all. Oh well. Austria was astounding. Jess and I had such a wonderful time, it is an amazingly beautiful country, especially during thunderstorms in Salzburg.

We’re now sitting in my parents’ hotel room, sharing some hand-crafted liquors that we bought… I have to say, the apricot is my favorite. Tomorrow (weather permitting) we’ll head up Mt. Pilatus to do some hiking. Coming up is Paris, Luxembourg, and Barcelona. Sorry about not having pictures right now, but I’ll try to get some put up by the next time.

Updated Update

I just spoke with my dad, he’s doing much better.  Slightly sore, but he’s feeling well enough to get up and move around.  I think he’s just happy to be out of the hospital.  Surgery just doesn’t look like fun. 

In other news, at the high school, seniors must do a senior board which is a combination of a research paper and a presentation over the researched topic.  Today was the big day when  all of the seniors present and thankfully, all of my seniors passed.  It had been a grueling two months of work over presentations, papers, and speeches.  Happily, it all paid off. 

Hopefully I took my last post-two-master-degrees graduate class to finish adding a special education endorsement onto my teach license.  I am petitioning Pacific to be forgo my last class, which is about assessment, and move onto the process of having them submit the proper forms to TSPC (Teaching Standards and Parctices Commission) stating that I’ve met their requirements… and then I hope to be done with taking classes until I am interested in becoming an administrator.  We’ll see how it goes. 

By the way, this is the 200th post on box of whine.  I’m not sure if that’s an accomplishment.

Hospital Update

I hate hospital waiting rooms.  Dad went into surgery a little after 1 o’clock and was into the recovery area at two.  Hopefully we’ll get to see him shortly.  I hope it is soon because I have to drive back to Eugene for a class. 

I wonder if my dad gets to keep his gall bladder.  We could could name it, it could be a new sibling, I think we could call it Bluto or Ginger.  Maybe just Junior.  We’ll see.

Living is easy with eyes closed…

2008 has been a rough year, so far.  Too much illness, sickness, hospitilizations, death and general rough times.  It is amazing just the overwhelming amount of negative things that have taken place this year; a lot of foundation shaking has taken place.

So, after my dad’s surgery Tomorrow, can we have that be the last big thing for the rest of the year?  Can I have pass card until at least 2009?  Or at least, give me some room to breathe in between?

Everyone’s getting fat ‘cept Mama Cass

I always thought that was kind of a cruel lyric, especially since Mama Cass was singing it…  the muu muus didn’t help either.

Along those lines and following the steps of a couple of friends ahead of me, I thought I would confess what everyone already knew and I indifferent was to–as well, I am purposing a plan.  I’m overwieght.  Not festively plump, not big-boned, not even the baby-fat excuse can ward off the truth.  I’m overweight.  Alright.  First step done, eleven to go, right?  Anyways, I think that I have a great life with a wife who is a better person than I deserve; because of these things and more, I want to prolong my life as long as possible.  I enjoy my work too much, I’m too content, and too excited about the future to risk all of that for the immediate pleasure and enjoyment of what goes in my cake-hole (ironically, it’s not usually cake, more likely it had been a burger). 

More recently and thankfully, something terrible happened.  My dad, who I love and adore, was admitted to the hospital with a two blood clots in his lungs.  I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the feeling of absolute terror and dread that seeped through my body on that drive up to see him in the hospital.  All the things I wanted him to be around for, all of the things we had to do together and all of the things I was afraid I hadn’t said enough of–they all tumbled in my head on that horrible drive.  Thankfully, my dad is doing very well now, he might even say better than before he went into the hospital. 

When I said that “thankfully something horrible had happened”, I meant it.  I think that sealed my resolve.  I always considered my dad to be a healthier than myself, if he could be put into a hospital for five days with something–it made me fear for my own life, if that could happen to him, then I’m really in trouble.  And to a certain degree, I think I was in real trouble, and still am. 

I had been neglectful of my own self-responsibility to the situation that I put myself into.  There was no way out except by trudging back the way I came, by myself.  It had always been my hand that moved so easily to my mouth, it was my mouth that formulated the order that was far too much for one person (or more).  It was all on me.  Every effort had been half-hearted, every promise laid in shambles, and every goal was easily rendered ineffective.  There was always an excuse, always a reason why I could eat this or that, or sometimes both. 

But I’m tired of it.  I feel like that I’ve finally entered my life, the part where I’m happiest, the part where I’m at the apex of my self-control and willpower.  I know I have to make use of this opportunity, these feelings to push myself to make the right choices. To push myself to be better for Jess and for myself.  Hell, I deserve better than what I’ve done to myself.  I have the legitimate fear that I could die before my parents, before I have kids in my life, long before I should.  And frankly, I’m not ok with that. 

I’ve already started taking steps to reverse my problem.  For almost three months now, I have been exercising at least three times a day, for at least thirty minutes of cardio and usually coupled with weight-lifting and abs.  I’m trying to kick my resolve into high gear, when I don’t feel like working out, I make myself go and ironically, those are the days that I usually do longer workouts.  I aim to burn 3,500 calories a week and what I like most is that if I do some cardio for an hour, I can take care of a third of those in one shot. I can do this.

However, the exercise isn’t going to be the biggest piece to my success; it will be what I put on my plate and how much of it I decide that I need to consume.  I think that I have lost where “full” was supposed to be.  Through the last fifteen years, what I want to eat morphed into what I need to eat.  I may want a hamburger, but I don’t need it–I need that logic back.  I need to realize that I don’t need as much and to stop myself.  This will truly be the hardest part, which is funny because it takes the least amount of time to do it, yet it will take more effort than a consistent workout schedule.

There are also perspectives I need to change within myself; many times, when I was trying to eat better, I’d go out with friends and I would know that I should order something healthier, yet I would always diverge from that knowledge and go for what everyone else was eating or something more normally manly.  I guess it comes down to embarrassment, which is ridiculous.  First off, I’m not a person who is easily embarrassed.  As well, around my friends, I shouldn’t have to worry about being embarrassed, as corny as it sounds, I know my friends are supportive.  Yeah, I may get a little bit of grief for ordering a salad, but I need to rationalize that it is in good humor and that I don’t lose anything in their eyes for wanting to better myself… even to the point that they might respect that.  I know I respect it in them. 

With my friends who have lost weight, like Derek Bell, I found myself amazed at the difference.  No offense to Derek, but the change was so drastic, it made me wonder what I would look like.  That’s always what’s in the back of my mind.

The changes have already started.  I see more definition in my legs, especially when I’ve been running, on average, 12 miles a week.  With the other parts of me, I don’t see a difference… yet.  I think that when you see yourself day in and day out, you don’t get that “wow, what a difference” moment.  I definitely am stuck in the degrees of change instead of the drastic change.  But I have to be ok with that, I need to rely on the other comments that I get. 

Just the other day, the mom of one of the kids I coach came up to talk to me in Safeway.  She said, “Tony said, “There’s coach Wells.” and I said, “where? Oh.  Coach Wells got skinny.”” I had to admit, that felt good, even if I don’t think it is completely accurate, but it definitely was heading in the right direction.  It’s those random comments from the people that I don’t have a lot of contact with that always carry the most weight.  Not to diminish what the people around me say, but I think the people aren’t regularly in contact with me have very little invested in my feelings, therefore when they say something, it reassures me that they actually see something.

So here’s the part I’ve been dreading.  I really don’t want to post how much I weigh but I think in order to add another degree of pressure, I need to get it out there.  Three months ago, I started at 300 pounds (not even my heaviest, ouch).  After those three months, I am down to 284.  A loss of 16 pounds (~5 pounds a month).  I always get a kick out of it when I’ve told people my weight, they make comments saying that doesn’t seem right or “are you sure?”.  Yes, I am sure, too sure, actually.  But there are some definite benefits to being as tall as I am, more places to tuck, hide, and camouflage the cute little tubby areas that surround me. 

My goal is to have lost at least 70 pounds by June of 2009.  That averages out to be about one pound a week.  My next major step to ensure this is to reduce my intake.  I don’t know what an appropriate serving is any more.  I need to cope with not feeling full.  I also need to slow down when I eat, that way I can feel and sense that feeling of enough.  I want to ward off the heart attacks, the diabetes, the strokes, the blood clots, the high blood pressure, the large pant sizes, and the feelings of shame and disappointment.

There is a lot I would like to do with my life, I just want to be around to do it all.

Make sure to wear some flowers in your hair?

I’ve been neglectful, I know… enough with the feigned guilt. The bad thing about putting off posting in one’s blog is that by the time that they actually feel they should blog, there is far too much to blog with.

Over the past month and half, there has been a lot that has been going on. The split-Christmas was an entirely new adventure, but a good one. We had a good time at my parents’ place and a good time at Jess’ place, although, I must admit I did leave the Hanson ranch rather disappointed. There was something seriously missing on my Christmas morning. You might assume that I am referring to my family… well, factually, you’d be correct, but I’m talking about the snow. My first Christmas in Bend and it was a chilling fifty-six degrees. What a rip-off.

Thanks to our stay at the Hanson ranch, Moose has become quite the ranch-hound. Riding in trucks, sleeping on hay bales, sleeping outside all night, wrangling and branding cattle. I swear that the pup never knew that we weren’t around him. He had a blast running around with one of the Hanson rottweilers, Chloe. This isn’t to say that Moose had a bad time at my folks’ home, quite the contrary, I’m sure he had a blast ripping down my mom’s Christmas lights or sampling the ornaments from the Christmas tree.

While Christmas was good, the real treat was the surprise that my mom and I cooked up for my dad. My mom had bought my dad a Grateful Dead t-shirt, book, and all sorts of over-price “fogey” souvenirs, and on Christmas, my dad finally guessed that he and I were going to San Francisco for a Phil Lesh and John Mayer concert. My dad was thrilled at the surprise.

The only problem with the trip was that it was all fake. Sitting in the Portland Airport “on our way” to San Francisco, my mom and I disclosed that my dad was actually going to the Holiday Bowl to watch the Ducks take on (and eventually lose to on a stupidly thrown red-zone pass) the Oklahoma Sooners in San Diego. Dad was even more thrilled, especially since he had convinced himself that getting tickets were impossible.

Well, he was close to being right, although that requires a whole other update that includes, Ticketmaster, UPS, and driving an hour only a couple of hours before flying south.

Ever since my dad found out about the actual trip, he mentioned a couple of times on how he should call his best friend Jerry in L.A. and see if he could hang out. I told my dad that, regrettably, that I didn’t even think about calling Jerry. Once at the motel, my dad and I had a delightful dinner consisting of nachos, potato skins, buffalo wings, and a varied mix of corona and bud light.

The next morning at exactly eight, I awoke to find a newspaper being shook back and forth under the door. I open the door, retrieve the paper and in walks my dad’s friend Jerry. My dad, still in bed, does a double take and then makes various comments, which are not suitable for the varied ages and mixed company of the Box of Whine readers. But I’ll translate:

Jerry: Hey Buddy!
Dad: What the feather duster?
Jerry: I drive all this way, and you use that kind of language?
Dad turning to me: you baroque symphony.

I know, two big tricks in two days, not very nice. But yes, I arranged for Jerry to show up. We then proceeded to head Mexico, Tecate to be exact (yes, like the beer), where we walked around for a couple of hours enjoying Mexican beer, fish tacos, and buying tequila. Fun time had by all.

After our little jaunt in Mexico, it was game time. Dad and I got to the Holiday bowl game early, which was good planning on our part. There were so many different things going on, it was really interesting. Not to mention, the Navy skydivers, the fireworks, and of course, the F-18 Hornet fly over. Overall, it was a great game, but of course (here comes the typical duck fan line) the ducks didn’t play as good as the could have and ended up loosing in the last minute. Regardless of the bad throw coupled with the bad play call, it was purely awesome.

Enjoy these photos from our trip:

what will you leave us this time?

The intention of this past weekend was to go to bend, but we only got as far as Woodburn. The freezing rain and the constant bad weather on all of the passes made the trip fade away. Although, we were able to pull together an impromptu weekend in Woodburn. Saturday was mostly watching movies around the house. On Sunday, Jess, Mom, Dad and I drove up to Portland. Me and Pa, dropped off our missess at the bridal show at the convention center. How come there is never a convention for men to walk away with bags of free stuff. Although, I hear that the apex of the even was the fountain of flowing chocolate. I was wondering if they had a fountain of butter, which would be perfect if you were having popcorn or baked potatoes at your wedding. We can all have our own dreams.While the ladies were doing wedding stuff, Dad and I hung out drinking coffee at Lloyd Center. Our highlight of the day was the screaming noise that was coming from underneath the car. I thought it was a pebble stuck under the break, Mom later thought that the car was going to explode.

And in other news: work is good, school is bad.


Summer comes marchin’ in with it’s heavy boots on

Saturday’s football game was a good one–almost too good, the ducks beat the vandals so hard that it was almost boring. But the real issue of the game is how people can, in good conscience, charge seven dollars for a glorified hotdog? Either way, it’s always nice to hang around with Dad and Meg yelling at the really bad calls. School starts today but I don’t have any classes, my hard days are reserved for Tuesdays and Wednesdays but that doesn’t stop the school from charging me an insane amount of tuition. I now realize where all of my tuition dollars go, in to repaving and beautifying 13th and 15th street. Robbers.