Archive for February, 2009

The Day After Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2009

Tonight, driving back from Albany, I saw two shooting stars, and subsequently had two wishes. The first one had to do with hoping for a successful recovery for my dad (he’s continuing to get better. Some hiccups along the way thanks to an infection and changes in medicine but long term looks good). The second had to do with love. And with it being so close to Valentine’s Day, thoughts of the past can’t help but enter my mind. True, a few did revolve around the obvious but most centered on that today is the anniversary of my Grandma Spain’s passing away.

My Grandma was a talented and amazing person who continues to impact my life. Her English teacher background got me through high school. Every paper, no matter what the class, was not handed in unless it was driven or walked up to their house and reviewed. Upon arrival, we would sit down at the living room couch, the coffee table’s drawer would open, and out came the pencils. Soon after, my grandfather would drop off a Pepsi and water for us to drink.

Her influence extends beyond the grammar as she was also into music and, my favorite, baking. While I would never blame her for my pudgier years (or life), she did know how to make a mean pie or cookie. And I knew how to make a mean meal (yes, I did not say snack) out of them. Even when there might have been something she made that I was allergic to, there would always be a side treat of pie crust sticks that were made right before the egg or nuts went in. My mom and her would collaborate and share ideas to always be part of a major meal or event at their house.

Any time I think of her though, the one thing that pops into my mind is the way she would yell my name when I walked though their door over the past couple of years. Few people call me Jeffrey but she did it with a few extra “J”s. It’s a soundbite that will stick in my mental IPod for the rest of my life.

It must be mentioned and acknowledged that without her influence, who knows what this blog might look like. Structure, ethic, and ideas came from many members of my family. The confidence came from her. That confidence to put pen to paper. That confidence to type these words. But most of all that confidence to explore an idea and constrain it to sensible amount of statements the can get the point across in a honest and effective way.

Three years ago, on Valentine’s Day, I received a card in the mail that on the front had a couple cute drawings. One is of a bear, with a halo, dancing on a cloud. The other is of that same bear sitting on the cloud holding a heart. Now, while I do believe in some out-there things, I don’t believe that she’s dancing with bears in heaven. But I do believe that she’s up there dancing, singing, heck even baking, and making others smile.

And I do believe that she’s been holding onto a few hearts for the past couple of years. But mine is ok to put down right now. There’s a few others both in the family and outside of it that could use a little holding right now. Mine’s in a good place. Just don’t let it get too far away.

I saw two shooting stars tonight. And while it may have been space debris, what if it wasn’t? Was if it was a little nudge? What if it was a “JJJJeffrey“? What if it did happen while I was driving through a town she used to tell me about all the time? What if it did happen on the anniversary of when she passed away? What if it did happen in a part of the sky that I just so happened to be looking at twice? What if she did go up to God and say, “Hey, could I borrow these for a minute?” Things happen all the time that make you go, “Would you get a load of that?” and I’m ok with thinking this was just a little sign that she’s still around.

Thanks for reading…

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25 Random Things

February 5, 2009

Recently, a few friends on facebook have been making a list of 25 random things about themselves. After you create this list, you supposed to link it to 25 other people and it then becomes the modern day chain letter.

To just pick 25 people would be tough.

Now let’s be honest, this whole blog is full of random things about me. This will be the 95th post to this blog so I’m guessing there’s already a ton of random things you’ve learned about me and my family.

Without any more fanfare or explanation, here’s my list:

  1. My brother and I slept in bunk beds. I was on the bottom bunk.
  2. I got so mad at my parents one time that I put my heel through the wall (I was laying on my side). I kept it covered for three years with a wall calendar. It was one of those magic eye calendars and my parents and family just thought that I really liked that particular month’s picture.
  3. During nights I can’t go to sleep, I turn on AM talk radio. Usually the show on at the time is Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell or George Noory. They talk about all sorts of strange topics including ghosts, aliens. Problem is that sometimes the topics are so “out there” that they only keep me up longer.
  4. I’ve only called into one radio show. I had to be 12 or 13 and my parents had some friends over for the evening with talk radio on in background. The early evening guy on 810 WGY was named Don Weeks and the topic got onto the big snowstorm we were getting that night. My dad calls me into the room and says that I need to go outside and start shoveling. “Frustrated” at this because there was only 2 of 10 or 12 inches on the ground, I picked up the phone and called the show. I told the screener that I was “frustrated” that my dad was going to make me go out when the storm wasn’t even over yet. I think I ended up at the top of the list because I got right on the air. I tell him my story and, thinking he’s with me in my battle, he tells me to put my dad on the phone. Thanks to the delay, they hadn’t heard me on the radio until I hand my dad the phone and say with a big smile, “He wants to talk to you…” They start chatting and all of sudden, I hear my dad start talking as if Don Weeks is taking his side! Let’s just say I had my head down in disappointment and my butt out the door before the delay caught up.
  5. I’ve got a few nicknames, “Spainer“, “Dockmaster, “Holcomb”, and “Scooter”
  6. Not a fan of coffee.
  7. I miss NYC everyday.
  8. I’d like to visit every baseball ballpark before I get too old to travel
  9. The only bone I’ve ever broken is my nose. Actually done it twice thanks to an unfortunate biking accident and an unfortunate collision with another person’s face before a basketball game. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, an injury can occur before a basketball game when the teams are warming up. Thanks to two people from opposite teams not watching where they’re going, I got knocked out, a concussion, and a broken nose.
  10. My favorite holiday is Christmas.
  11. The distance in age between my brother, sister, and I is the same (down to the month) between my dad, his brother, and his sister.
  12. I’ve never been arrested, however a cop one time picked up my bike over his head and tossed it about 10 feet. I was 9 or 10.
  13. At a two week summer camp, I won a dancing contest and a gold medal in basketball.
  14. I’d like to have more time to get back into acting. I’ve played different characters ranging from King of a Kingdom to the wearer of the One Ring, from a bell boy to a husband, and from a guy who gives a speech to an apple to a James Bond wanna-be.
  15. Most of my fears boil down to the question, “What is going on behind the closed door?”
  16. I only know one magic trick. It’s a card trick that I have no problem passing on the secret tactic of how it’s done.
  17. There are times that I wish I told stories out loud as well as people tell me I write them.
  18. I teeter between wanting to have a family as big as a baseball team or as big as a curling team (shame on you if you don’t know what curling is…).
  19. Favorite food is a hot corned beef sandwich with american cheese on white bread. Now, this corned beef has to be fresh (the stuff at the Wegmans deli counter is NOT fresh nor is it really corned beef). But eating those will probably be few and far between in the future.
  20. I used to play A LOT of video games. So much so that I was a beta tester for two games. I’m also a recovering World of Warcraft player. If I could break free, so can you! Now interests have shifted more to music and writing.
  21. I am an awkward hugger in public but I’m a huge hugger at heart.
  22. I believe in a heaven and hell. I also believe that the people who’ve passed on still have a connection to the world we live in. The world works in mysterious ways and it has a funny way of showing it.
  23. Equality for all. It shouldn’t have taken this much time in our world to truly come to understand and apply that statement for all.
  24. I do everything right handed except swing a golf club and baseball bat. My dad is the exact opposite.
  25. I try very hard at everything I do. Sometimes though, it’s not good enough. It takes “two to tango” in a lot things in life. But I don’t mind the dance. I’m pretty good at it actually. Don’t usually step on toes and there’s a nice dip towards the end. But I’m not going to give away any more of my dance secrets…

Thanks for reading. More to come…

Adventures in Vermont

February 1, 2009

First off, big kudos to the students who planned the OCASA (Off Campus and Apartment Student Association) ski trip this year and thank you for letting this guy tag along. It was definitely an adventure surrounded by bad hair, silence, snoring, a google maps FAIL, and thinking that Verizon guy is full of crap.

– Those of you who ski or have been to a ski lodge will know what I’m talking about. But anyone can feel free to tell me their thoughts on the following statement:

There is no such thing as a bad hair day on a ski mountain.

It’s true. You can walk into a ski lodge, whip your ski hat off, have the worst hat hair in the entire world, and no one will look at you any differently for it. I walked in to get lunch the first day and did my usual double take as my hand went for my hat. But then, I took a look around, and it was like people were saying to me, “Go ahead! Let it run free! Let it breathe!” I was amongst bad hair friends and it felt good.

Problem is that you get comfortable with this feeling and on the way home, walk into a Subway for a quick lunch, stand in line next to a cute girl, do the cordial Jeff Spain smile, get one in return, and whip the hat off. She then turns (and I really wish I was kidding), looks toward the hair, and then giggles. That’s right, giggled. I’d have to say it was a six out of seven on the Jeff Spain red face meter.

– That dude with the glasses from Verizon along with the “network” apparently have never been skiing at Smuggler’s Notch in VT. Wonder what would happen if, in that guy’s walk around the world he suddenly happens upon Smuggler’s Notch. What would he do? No one would answer his “Can you hear me now?” Would those commercials finally stop? I guess I picture him going, “Well, I guess I’ll just wait here then…”

What it comes down to is that it was weird to be without cell phone service for three days. You don’t realize how much you rely on it until it’s gone.

– Nowadays, we find directions by heading to Mapquest or Google Maps. Maybe even you’ve got your own GPS unit in your car. It gives you fairly accurate directions with the street names usually being correct but sometimes the distances are a little off. To set the stage for this part of the story, you need to know two things,

  1. The map of what I’m looking at:
  2. The directions so far are fairly correct and have brought me to Point A, Stowe, VT, about one mile away from Smuggler’s Notch.

Route 108 is a small two lane road that drives up into the Vermont mountains and connects the two ski resorts. So I start driving up and come upon Stowe Ski Resort, then I hit a large snow bank. Literally, the road ends into a large snow bank. There’s a sign that says “Road Ends Here” so I’m thinking that I’ve reached Point B on the map but maybe the resort got bought out recently. I park the car, take a look around, and notice that the “hotel” is under construction. It’s getting dark and there’s only 3 or 4 cars in the parking lot. Not seeing a soul around, I get back into my car, start driving back towards the town because I’m playing the Find A Cell Signal game, and call Smugglers Notch. A very nice woman answers the phone and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hi. Um, I think I’m at your resort but I don’t know where to go.

Nice Woman: Oh, well just follow the signs to our check in desk.

Me: Don’t really see any signs. All I see is construction.

Nice Woman: Did you almost run into a snowbank?

(Now two thoughts go through my mind, either they’re sitting in some high perch getting a laugh out of all the people who drive towards the snowbank only to pause for a few seconds as if it’s going to magically move, then turn around, OR, something is not right here.)

Me: Ha ha. Yea I did. Did you all see that or something? (Yep, went with option one)

Nice Woman: Oh no honey, you’re on the wrong side of the mountain. Our place is on the other side. You need to….

At that point, my mind completely shifts to frustration. She could be telling me the winning lottery numbers and I wouldn’t have remembered them. I had just experienced my first

See, if you look closer at the map Point B is in the completely wrong place. It should be up where the 108 symbol is. Oh, and the other thing it FAILS TO MENTION, during the winter, the space between the two 108 symbols doesn’t get plowed. If you want to get to the other side of the mountain, you have to drive, oh, FORTY FIVE minutes out of your way. Gee thanks Google Maps. If I had cell phone service by the time I calmed down, I would have called.

Overall I had a blast on the trip! Thanks again to OCASA.

Thanks too for reading:-)