Archive for December, 2008

25 Days of Thanks- Day 25

December 26, 2008

Thankful– My family

There are small moments and small stories that make up the overall experience with my family.  From the years of us all living under one roof, to the days that we are now spread all across the country, I realize that I’m pretty darn lucky and blessed when it comes to Mom, Dad, Chris, and Amy.  
Christmas at the Spain household usually begins with camcorder wielding Dad standing at the bottom of the stairs while three kids anxiously await to bring what Santa brought.  Coming around the corner of our kitchen, our faces usually lit up and we went to work.
Now I hear in some families, there’s someone who plays Santa and hands out the presents one by one.  Um, let me just say that the one or two minutes spent tearing endlessly and uninterrupted through wrapping paper is a joy that can only be topped by a few things.  There’s no order other than the wave that starts at one end of the presents and doesn’t stop until you get to the tree.  All that’s left in the path is wrapping paper and ribbon.  I guess we just prayed in early days that Amy would have enough room to come up for air in the midst of her two big brothers.
Recent Christmas’s though have been smaller and rather than presents being shared, stories from the year get tossed around.  This year included the struggles of my brother and Stacy to deal with their dog’s humping problem and when exactly is the right time to open the bottle of Dom Perignon that’s been sitting in the refrigerator since my NYU days (just haven’t found the right moment…).  
As the Christmases go on, they’ll continue to change with new wives, husbands (just thought that a whole ‘nother blog post will be dedicated to “Notes for whomever wishes to marry my sister”.  Don’t quite know if they know what they’re in for with me and Chris.), and kids being added to the mix but, again, I’m thankful and blessed to be spending them with a great family.
This whole blog is a kind of dedication to them and their efforts.  While this post about them is short, the whole blog touches on the various facets of my life that they have helped shape.  
Thank you Dad, Mom, Chris, and Amy.
From my family to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  
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25 Days of Thanks-Day 24

December 25, 2008

Thankful-Extended Family


A big thank you goes out to all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended cousins for your support over the years.  In addition, the husbands, wives, and partners deserve a thanks as well.
But a big “Sorry!” goes out to one of the newest cousins Nick who got his unplanned introduction into the back room of the grandparent’s house tonight.  Over the years, the house that my dad grew up in, and that my grandfather and aunt now live in, as been host to numerous birthday parties, 4th of July bashes, and Christmas get-togethers.  Before my aunt moved in, the back room was the unofficial hangout for the little kids.  There were toys, an organ, an actual bar (we had no idea that it was also stocked with good stuff but, come on, we were too young), and the ever elusive dart board (the darts were hidden in fear that an “accident” would happen between my brother and I)
Anyway, in order to get into this back room from the house, you need to go down two steps.  But these two steps over the years have been evil.  In the days when the pool was open in the backyard, the steps would become slippery and, well, you can probably figure out the rest.  I think each Spain child has fallen on these stairs at least once.  Thanks to me, Nick got initiated into this illustrious club.
I’m standing at the top of the stairs and I hear him coming with my aunt closely behind.  He gets next to me and I look down saying something cute (hey, at least I think it was).  He squirms next to my leg and I say something at the same time my aunt says, “Jeffrey, can you grab his hand.”
Cue the slow motion swipe in the air as Nick takes one “step” down and kinda goes to his knees.  For a split second, I think, “Sweet, he’ll be ok“.  But then still in slow motion, in his attempt to get back up, his feet slip out from under him, and unfortunately, his face met the floor.  
I feel horrible.  I don’t wish any harm on any two year old and I feel bad that this happened on a Merry Christmas night.  A few minutes later he was doing pretty good with a toy in his hand but he did have a good bump on his forehead.  So Nick, Sarah, Eric, my apologies.
A very Merry Christmas to all those who I didn’t talk to today out there from the family.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 23

December 23, 2008
Thankful-Good Friends

Lots of stories about friends of the past have come out already on this blog.  From co-workers to friends in high school, there have been tons of stories and a ton more to tell.  Although some will remain secret because they just don’t need to be shared on a blog, I’m thankful for those who’ve been there in whatever way you may define a friend.  
From quick conversations in the hall to random reunions, I’m pretty darn lucky to have some damn good people in my life.  
To those who were there pre and post, to those who’ve been there before, during, and after, thank you.    
Not So Thankful– The Video Players in Cars

Those who’ve driven the NYS Thruway in any direction can tell you, there’s not too much to look at.  Every now and again you’ll get the little cities along the way in which you wonder what might be happening there tonight.  Or you pass that random lock house along the Erie Canal.  Or maybe you come back from your day dream when you pass the Steak and Crabhouse place (you know, the one with the big neon lobster on the front) in between Rochester and Buffalo (just east of exit 49) and wonder, “How’s the food there?”
While a lot of thinking gets done on the Thruway, one thing has been cutting into my day dreaming, those video players in vans.  You’ve probably seen them glowing brightly while passing a big family van.  Most of the time they’re playing cartoons or Sesame Street, but try as you may, you just can’t turn your head away.  And it’s even worse when you have no idea what’s playing.  
[Begin lie]
I’ve never done this but there have been people who’ve literally slowed down just to see if they know what’s playing.  It’s probably a little battle they have in their head like when watching Jeopardy at home.  It’s not like you know every single show you see on those glowing overhead monitors, but you just can’t pass it until you’ve gotten a good look at it and made an attempt to tell what’s on.
[End lie]
Maybe it’s jealousy.  Maybe it’s the song on the radio.  Maybe it’s that my voice just gave out after trying to hit the high note at the end of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin(Hold on to that feeeeellleeeiiinnng).  But when passing one of those video things, I take more than a quick glance because, well, not much else is happening out there.
Here’s the deal, to the people who have em, rock on.  Just expect a little company on the Thruway.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 22

December 22, 2008

Thankful- A Visit from St. Nicholas


More commonly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, A Visit from St. Nicholas is a poem that has popped up a few times throughout my life:
  • The sixth grade class at St. Jude’s School was responsible for two things, 1) raising and lowering the flag each day along with the proper folding and unfolding and 2) Reciting A Visit from St. Nicholas at the Christmas show. 
  • I remember changing the words around to get someone to switch shifts with me at work so I could hang out with friends.
  • Each year the poem gets reprinted in the Troy Record because before the Record was the Record, it was the Sentinel which originally published it back in 1823.  What the publishing of that poem really meant was that Christmas bonuses were soon to be left on people’s porches
One of the more personal memories of the poem is that each Christmas Eve, my sister will run upstairs to her room, grab a hardcover copy of the poem, run downstairs, and call everyone to the living room.  In the years that I wouldn’t be home for Christmas, I’d still get a call on my cell phone when everyone was ready.
In the old days, it was just the five of us but more recently it’s turned into a damn stage show:-)!  Friends from my family’s past will come over, grab a brew, have a seat and for five or so minutes, slip into those childhood days of Christmas.  Christmas’s when you would wait up as long as possible just to see if you could hear Santa.  Christmas’s of old when your turn on the radio to get reports of Santa’s location.  Christmas’s of old when milk (or oddly beer sometimes?) and cookies would be left by the tree as a treat for Santa.  And Christmas’s of old when the smile on a close person’s face is all you need to make the holiday special.
Wait one second though!  Those Christmas’s are still here and are still to come!  Take a second to turn to family or a friend, give em a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and I’m pretty sure they’ll give you a big smile in return.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays where ever you might be reading this.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 21

December 22, 2008

Thankful- Goals

A few months ago on this blog I wrote about some goals that had surrounding me getting healthier.  For the most part I feel that I’ve met them, the running one is still out there but a recent kick in the butt should push that in a good direction.  I am very thankful that I did that.  The amount of positive reaction and support recieved was really helpful at dropping the weight and taking positive steps.  So, how about round 2?
In no particular order:
  • A buddy is getting married in Hawaii in August.  Hawaii means beaches, sun, and waves.  New goal- Get beach body ready
  • Over the past few years I’ve been toying around a few tv and movie ideas.  One already had a script but after all this writing I’ve been doing, the itch has gotten strong again to see how many more I can pop out.  Let’s say two more by May 1, 2009
  • Figure out why they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day?  Only way to do that, get up earlier.  Grrrr…  We’ll make this a New Years Resolution
  • Take a cooking class.  By the end of January.
Think that’s a reasonable list to get done in the time alotted.  

25 Days of Thanks- Day 20

December 21, 2008

Thankful- Park/Mall Benches

A recent conversation about how people got engaged sparked this thing that I am thankful for. Rick and Felissa got engaged at a park bench they would sit at on a regular basis (if I remember the story correctly).

For me though, I am thankful for park and mall benches for the wide range of emotions they provide.

My favorite park benches would have to be in Washington Square Park. One story in particular that comes to mind is when a woman and I were studying for out Politics in Higher Education final. We were knee deep in different political cases or issues that were talked about in class. All of a sudden though, I heard her scream and then felt a scratch on my arm. What had happened was a darn squirrel had dropped from the tree above, landed on her, then leaped onto me. Unfortunately, this didn’t get us out of the final but it did make for a good story to tell.

I don’t think you’ll argue though that from a park/mall bench you see a wide range of things. You’ll most likely see things that will make you laugh, things that will make you think, or even things that will make you cry. I’m not necessarily one of those people who go to the mall just to people watch but I am guilty of being one of those people who goes to the park just to take their minds off of things.

While sitting in the park I remember seeing the following things happen:

– A world record being broken (Oh it’s true. Guinness World Records used to do a weekly show and in one of those, you could see me sitting on a bench
– A person getting pooped on by a bird (Now I’ve gotten pooped on by a bird but if I see someone else have it happen to them, does that mean I have double the luck?)
– Celebrities and famous people walk by getting hounded for their autograph (never been one of those people who’ve been comfortable enough to approach a famous person. Why? Because if I were them, I know that there are sometimes I just don’t want to be bothered. Why should I interrupt that?)
– Love begin (Now I have no idea if these two people are still together but I remember sitting on a bench facing the dog park. A man and a woman are on opposite sides of the park but suddenly their dogs become angry at each other. The two run towards the commotion and separate the dogs. Together they walk towards the outer part of the park. While reading my material, I randomly gaze every now and again at them and one time see the man hand the girl a piece of paper. I’ve been around long enough to read on these two faces that they are pretty into each other. Who knows what came of it but I hope the two of them are happily ever after)

So to the people who thought putting mall/park benches out there in the world, I say thank you. Not only is a great place to relax while watching another person shop, but it’s also a great place to stop and see the world from a whole different perspective.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 19

December 20, 2008

Thankful- Co-Workers and Supervisors


I’m just getting back from a little get-together with some co-workers and there I posed the question, “What am I thankful for tonight?”  They threw out some very funny ideas but it was in a moment of them sharing an ongoing joke which we’ll cover in a second, that I realized, don’t know how much I’d have been able to get through over these past 10 years without them.  
My job is awesome as already mentioned.  I love every minute.  With this job though comes some, “Really?  That just happened?” moments.  These moments are funny to play through your head but even funnier to play out with some people who are going through this field as well.  From Canisius to RIT, these stories have and will continue to provide tons of laughs.  But as we all know with any job, there are frustrations.  Frustrations that not too many people can understand or comprehend.  So we turn to those who have an understanding, an underlying structure, those who can understand the humor of the story without having to give a 20 minute background on exactly what the day entails.  It is to those co-workers that I am thankful for and who help get me through many a funny and frustrating moment.  From all the different schools I’ve worked at there have been people along the way who I am thankful to be able to pull aside and vent or laugh or even cry.  
Canisius was where it all started.  Your pats on the back helped push me in a positive direction.
And the NYU and Pratt folks, words can’t describe the help.  Through you, a small town boy got his eyes opened to a whole new world. 
The Hobart folks, you helped me take that first step in the door of higher education.
The Brockport folks, you helped encourage me to do my best and work as a team.  
But RIT is home to the story that I alluded to above.  Right now I thing there’s a five person list of people who have “called” stabbing me with the epi-pen if I ever were to have an allergy attack.  Their names have been changed to protect the innocent.  They are (in no particular order.  If I’m missing anyone, um, sure I’ll add you to the list?  Some, understandably, don’t want to mess with needles.  I know that you’ll still be there to assist!):
  1. Baul (Who has unfortunately left RIT but might still drive out from Suffalo (again, changed to protect the innocent) just for the chance)
  2. Rick (He’s been mentioned before, the 90210 fan)
  3. Tisa 
  4. Mathleen
  5. Fmanada
I already mentioned to them the following facts:
  1. After eating a nut or eggs, I don’t become immediately paralyzed
  2. After eating a nut or eggs, I don’t lose the ability to speak
  3. After eating a nut or eggs, I still have enough energy to use the Epi-Pen myself
  4. The thought has crossed my mind to get a tattoo on my chest that says, “Do not stab here”
In a more serious tone, what this does show is another great set of co-workers that I have the pleasure of being a part of.  It’s shows the caring and concern that if an emergency were ever to happen, even beyond an allergy attack, I’ve got good people around me (even more than those mentioned above) who would be there to help.  So Mom, Dad, Chris, and Amy, don’t worry.  If ever I do need to use the magic spell, ANAPHYLAXIS, there’s good people around who would make sure I’ve got the help I need.
This help from my RIT co-workers also extends beyond the allergies to the personal which I continue to be thankful for their guidance and support.  It means more than you’ll ever know.  
To my future co-workers, even though I don’t know you, I look forward to seeing what the future holds.  Just know that the epi-pen goes in the thigh.  Rhymes with high, or my, or lie.  No dart in the heart!
Ok, taking this rhyming thing too far.  Have a good night!

25 Days of Thanks- Day 18

December 18, 2008

ThankfulGolf


A quick one tonight thanks to this head cold.
I’ve talked about before but I’m in my office looking at the golf club sitting sadly in the corner.  Lots of good golf stories and I’m sure many more to come.  
So thanks golf for continuing to get me up off my butt.  


25 Days of Thanks- Day 17

December 18, 2008

Thankful- Benadryl


This one’s late because I’m sick:-(  But Benadryl=good.  Why?  Usually helps with my sinus colds and puts me right to sleep.
But during an allergic reaction, it’s a whole different ballgame.  Usually after eating nuts or eggs, my body starts getting very cranky.  Popping a few Benadryl will give me time to get to the hospital.  But at the same time, I break out the Epi-Pen and inject what’s pretty much pure adrenaline into my thigh (Not the heart!  That Pulp Fiction scene with the adrenaline was the worst for epi-pen users).  So my heart starts beating twice the normal speed not only because of the adrenaline but also because I’m giving permission for who ever is driving to run red lights.  The usual scene at the ER is:
Me: Hi.  I’m having an allergic reaction.  
Person behind desk:  Ok.  Fill out this form and we’ll be with you shortly.
Me: Um, that’s cool and all but my throat’s about to close.
Person behind desk:  Have a seat sir.
Me:  (As if I’m invoking some sort of magical spell to break through their haze).  ANAPHYLAXIS!  ANAPHYLAXIS!
The ER sudden changes into a frenzy.  They throw me down on a bed, put the IV in, then give me more adrenaline directly into the bloodstream.  My heart starts beating as fast as Irish Step Dancing and then they give me the good stuff.  I see the doc come over to the IV, puts the needle in the line, and shoots the Benadryl into the vein.  I tell you, you can feel it travel up your arm, into your neck, and as soon as it’s hits the brain, it’s as if your world has turned into one of those slow motion scenes from a movie.  Everyone’s voices come in a lot slower and a lot lower, but at the same time you can breathe and hear better than ever.  It’s basically at this point that I think the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons is in a room 5 doors away from me.  I can hear her, but just can’t make out what she is saying.
So to Benadryl, I say thank you.  

25 Days of Thanks- Day 16

December 16, 2008

Thankful- Eric Clapton


My dad is a big Eric Clapton fan.  Growing up, we knew a lot of the songs.  Although many weren’t played as part of his band, Clapton was on a lot of times we were working outside or driving in the car.  
Now I don’t know if this was part of his master plan but the first concert I ever saw was Eric Clapton at SPAC.  I believe the story was that friends of there’s couldn’t go so the next best thing was to bring their 8 and 9 year olds.  And I’m pretty darn glad they did.  
I remember two things:
  • The sound was overwhelming.  It wasn’t overwhelming in a scary way but more of a “Wow, I can’t believe what I’m hearing” way.  I remember (and maybe my parents might disagree) but I remember just sitting in amazement at the whole show in front of me.  The lights along with the sound.  It was pretty cool.
  • Ray Cooper- A few years before the concert, I started drum lessons.  The only drum I played though in those early years was the snare drum.  I had no idea of the world of percussion beyond that, until Ray Cooper.  He’s the guy playing in the background during Clapton’s MTV’s Unplugged.   And when I say playing, I mean this guy is grooving to the music.  He was having a ball both during that show and the one at SPAC.  The word “animated” doesn’t even being to describe him.  And I was fixated on how much fun he was having back there.  The man was surrounded not by a drum set but by bongos, wood blocks, bells, shakers, cymbals, and other various drums.  I had thought up to that point that drums was only a drum kit you sat and played at, not all these other toys.

So if I was ever to put a finger on when my interest in drums really came to be, it would be that concert.  Thanks mom and dad for letting me and Chris tag along.