The One about Fireball Shots, Skype Dates and Prayer Nights…

Hi Baby,

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to write a handwritten love note to you or post on the blog. There’s arguments back and forth for both, no doubt. Ultimately though, as I was in my office working on various academic, professional and managerial tasks, a classic song came on, and I found myself overwhelmed as I so often do with loving feelings towards you. So the blog seemed so nice since it’s so immediate and mirroring my love for you, is permanent.

I struggle with my words because I don’t know if any exist that really adequately can describe or capture my ever growing feelings for you, sugar. I’m amazed because my feelings for you grow daily. They say, (and of course we know that THEY say an awful lot of things…) that love, passionate love, is supposed to stop right at the 2 year mark, then it’s not passionate anymore. It’s commitment based. I realize I have no p values or correlations here to back this up beyond my deep thoughts and intuition but I believe they are wrong. I know they are. I love you more passionately now that I think I ever knew I could. Still not as passionate as I will beyond this day, beyond this moment, beyond this breath. You see, I’ve been trying really hard, baby. Really, really hard, to monitor my belly aching. The truth is, I miss you tremendously every day. I wish to the core of my being that things were different. I wish that you were here with me in Raleigh. I wish that more than anything I’ve ever wished and prayed for actually. It’s been hard not seeing you for so long. I’m just a better me when I’m around you. I try not to verbalize every single day the broken record of how much I want you, and how I feel your absence so strongly in the very depths of my soul. It’s a pain I’ve come to learn to deal with. It is a knife plunged to the bottom of my heart that I have learned to walk around with. It’s a heartache that is often times reduced with the medication that is your laughter, your smile, and your selfies. But by no means is it a pain that goes away. It never could, because only your hands are strong enough to remove that blade from my life, sugar. By no means are you forgotten. You are simply where the Lord led you. You are where you are supposed to be. And I think maybe long term this distance is good. Every day, I am reminded of what life is like without you beside me. And I am reminded of what life was like the 33 years before we met. Those simple things that couples take for granted every single day are those major things I pray for with you nightly. I know when we’re together, we have to steal only a few hours before being separated by several months. But even our Lord once had to say, “The hour has not yet come”. Even He had to wait to approach destiny. If Jacob and Rachel can wait 7 years, who am I to complain for a few months? Besides, with what we’ve done with 1,000s of miles between us I can only speculate that the world is needing the necessary time to prepare itself for when we’re actually in the same place. The world will really see something then.

I’m writing this because I want you to know that you’re still my Pretty Lady that you’ve always been for the last 2.5 years. And you are prettier each day to me. Your laughter is food to my soul, while your kiss is breath to my life. I know where I want to be and I know who I want to be with. And it’s you, baby. It’s always been you. On those times when you maybe don’t remember that, I think you’re saying that I need to pause life and simply remind you. There is no experience I have ever had in my past with anyone or any experience I could hope to forge in the future that will ever equate to life with you, baby. Simply put, you’re the one love, one possession, one relationship, one entity in my life that was 100%, solely built by Him and simply… given to me. Placed right in my path. That is all of you. The way you smile and laugh at me when I have no idea what the China cabinet is or what’s inside of it or where it’s supposed to be (Where the hell is the China cabinet??!?). That very way you give attitude to me when you’re angry that makes me want to just… buy pineapples. Your everything is all I want and I’ve ever sought. When you go in your box, I want to paint that box orange. Should you ever walk across the stage for an advanced degree… or as simply as a runway model, I want to be in the stands as the last person you saw before performing and the first person you see when the show is over. If you ever find yourself asking where my heart has been, then baby the answer to that is simple. It’s been where it’s always been— in your loving hands. These days apart are tough. But you’re my best friend. Lover. Confident. And future wife. In a world where I constantly cover up and hide myself, with you, and only ever with you I can be naked, baby. I don’t mean merely physically. That’s easy to do with anyone. But with you, I am naked spiritually, emotionally, mentally, psychologically. I am revealed to the only woman that’s ever known me beyond what I present. You see me, even before I do. So everything that is in you I need. I want. I want it. But I need it to breath.

I love you deeply, baby. I love you so much and just in case you need to hear it more and more, I want you to know it. I love you. The Lord is closer to us than our next breath. But even before wanting my next breath, I still would place being with you 2nd, and breathing 3rd, my Queen. And as I seek each breath, with that same determination I seek you. So if you ever forget how much I love you, just ask yourself, if I forgot to breath that day, baby.

I love you so much baby.

Thanks, Carl Miller

I’ve been so busy in life, doing all the things I have to do for school, and donating so much of my time to pleasing others that I have forgotten a central aspect of my own developmental trajectory.

I LOVE MARTIAL ARTS MOVIES.

Those old, Saturday matinee, evening and night martial arts films. This is one of those things I can say for sure, “I got it from my mama!!” My mother, ever the ecletic woman when it came to hobbies, had more martial arts films than I do comic books and that my friends is LOT. Since I was 5, I remember watching Bruce Lee open a can of whoopass on bad guys. I saw all the Bruce Lee clones (Bruce Li, even the black version, Bruce Leroy!!!) My mother had movies with Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Bolo Yeung all these guys. It’s amazing.

I remember loving martial arts films to the extent that I bought a pair of nunchakus, although they seemed to have been lost some time before my first marriage. Whew.

This week has been so draining with school. I’m SOOOOO close and SOOOOO far away. After another late night, I wound up arriving home at 3:00 am, and after failing to go to sleep, wound up streaming “Game of Death” (my all time favorite Bruce Lee movie) and just remembering all these fight scenes I would watch with my mother. This among many ways is how I connect I think with her when I miss her, and I miss her every day. As I was watching Bruce Lee kick ass last night, it occurred to me from a developmental standpoint, this may in some way explain that old “yellow fever” that I’ve had since like 11 or 12 where I thought Asian women are so lovely, and continue to find them as such today. It all begins with my mother, who by the way just for the record had  BIG crush I think on Bolo Yeung and Jet Li. Whenever, Bolo would get on screen she would always get really quiet and talk about how big and manly his muscles were.

Coincidentally, Daddy Orangemask didn’t seem to like the guy very much…

After watching so many of these as a kid, I remember once that I wanted to take martial arts classes. We didn’t have the money to do so, but I remember studying up on so many different types of fighting styles, and ultimately settling on wanting to learn Bojitsu. I had SO many dreams of things I wanted to do as a kid what happened to those?

Not that I’m the biggest Nicki Minaj fan, but even her video for “Your Love”, I remember watching several times. No, I didn’t watch it for her Anaconda despite what you might think. I liked the fighting in it. Even with Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles and the like, this Easter philosophies of mind and body and using this to defend oneself while staying healthy always appealed to me. So I can’t believe I’ve made absolutely NO PROGRESS towards doing that, especially when I’m looking for a new spark in my fitness routine (running is getting old, swimming was a big fat fail, and I seem to bore of weights…not the best combination).

As tired mentally, physically and emotionally as I’ve become lately, I felt so energized watching this scene and some of these old clips. I remember as a child when this part of “Game of Death” showed. My mother and I had pretty much memorized every line to it. After Bruce knocks Carl into the locker, my mother and I would prepare to say in unison those famous four words that EVERY Bruce Lee fan knows: “You Lose, Carl Miller.”  You knew, you just knew, when you heard that music come on, and saw Bruce in his yellow jumpsuit, that was gonna be somebody’s ass. That suit was so iconic, that Quentin Tarentino used it in homage in Kill Bill.

Kill Bill! And look stylish while doing so.

Kill Bill! And look stylish while doing so.

These memories are so valuable to me. So cherished. My mother really put emphasis in spending time with us and encouraging us to appreciate the arts: movies, books, shows, etc. So in my time of weariness, I can return to those. I haven’t watched a martial arts film since probably the early 2000’s…when mama was still here in the physical. But last night… last night we watched our favorite film together. And today, I have this energy I can’t explain that will hopefully get me through another all nighter.

I love my mother. And 2015 will be a year of getting back to the roots of many of the things she taught me and gave me.

Against “MMPR”

There’s a lot of bad $#@% taking place in the world today. I know I’m being a little immature by choosing not to address them, but there are others who are way better at speaking the truth about stuff than I am... I direct you there (In fact, just read all of her blogs. It’s great to find people who write better than I do. You can always find someone better and I look to her as a guide on how to be an even better and more prolific blogger).

This is a somewhat lighter though still troubling post. I love Power Rangers. Let me repeat, I love the Power Rangers. For over 20 years, I have set and watched multicolored teams of hero’s battle the forces of good and evil across time, across dimensions and across the universe. I’ve seen them fight in the jungle, seen them fight in the future and seen them fight in feudal Japan. I have loved Power Rangers so much, that I actually started watching “Super Sentai”, the show from which PR was adapted from (I’ve watched so many episodes that I can recognize and distinguish Japanese now). Not a boy on the planet didn’t have a crush on the Pink Ranger, Kimberly. (Sorry baby! I was 15!!!! Lets get you a pink ranger costume for honeymoon, I’m totally freaky like that…) So of course I was excited when a new Fan Film simply entitled, “MMPR” was announced. A soft reboot of sorts, the film promises a more militarized version of the “teenagers with attitude”.

Power Reborn?? WHEN.

Power Reborn?? WHEN.

 

I was intrigued by the premise, as it seemed like a darker version of “Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue”.

That’s a badass poster, right? Looks right out of the movie theatre. And that’s what this whole thing has been about. LOOKS. They have lots of bells and whistles and we as fans get nothing for it. Let me explain… The premise of this series was that there were going to be several webisodes released to the public via their official Youtube Channel.  I’m a patient person I think, but even I have limits it would appear. This project began in 2012. It’s Dec 2014, but I remember Nov 2013 being told that the episodes were close to being released. I remember that time since it was right before finals and at the time of a rather memorable other life event taking place. Suddenly…there was silence. I checked everywhere. Their twitter feed. Nothing. Not updated since June 2014.  Their facebook page. Nothing. Not updated since Sept 2014. Typically you could just say, “What’s the big deal? It’s a fan film, move on. Besides, there’s a new moving coming out anyway from Lionsgate

The Problem with the MMPR project is this: they took money from a kickstarter page promising to use it for the film. Instead they shot one Youtube vid of a promo of a Episode 1… then vanished with individuals’ money. They simply haven’t been heard from since taking the money. I didn’t donate, thankfully. But I will never donate to a kickstarter project now because of it, either. I implore you…read the comments. Regular joes and joettes like you and I gave our hardearned money in a community effort to fund this film. So WE (you) are responsible for it and they took OUR (your) money and disappeared. This leaves a horrible tastes in everyone’s mouth. Power Ranger fans, the actors who played in the series, Youtubers and other people on Kickstarter who have actual valid causes but won’t get support now for fear they will do the same. A beloved show for children has this horrible mark on it. They said, when they updated their sites: “oh, it’s in post production…it’ll be done soon.” But the fact there’s been no update on any site whatsoever since then means… they lied to us. Stole your money, then skipped town. I think they ONLY shot principle photography for the one trailer video which you can find on their Youtube. $40,000 investment in a property and there is nothing to show for it at all. I’m putting this out here because I think word of mouth travels fast and it’s important that we don’t let things like this slide with the properties we love and value. My mother and I sat and watched a few episodes since I would get home from school about the same time she would get off work of the original Mighty Morphin series (I could almost swear she had a crush on the Green Ranger…)

So this is very, very close to my heart. That scene STILL sends chills up and down my spine.

If you’re going to mess with a story and add to the mythos, we as fans have the right to ask that you do it right. This is why we can be upset over perceived failings in Spider-Man, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Star Trek reboots. We have an idea of the general framework how a property should be handled. Too much deviation from that too much causes us problems. We LOVE the characters and begin to think of them as our own. So we care passionately about the properties. So we care when you promise something that we’ve invested in financially and leave us with nothing.

I’m not sure where to report these guys but it’s a scam at this point that needs to be dealt with. I’m calling for a full refund of the $40,000 that they deceived the public out of. Their continued silence, deception and refusal to answer fan questions is problematic and I think the whole project needs to be scrapped now. It’s a children’s show for crying out loud. So scams like this hurt the kids who the show is designed for to teach them the value of team work and working together. I’m calling on them to release a statement and give refunds.

Somethings you don’t mess with. Our childhood, and the legacy we can leave our children is one of them.

Timelines

Over the Thanksgiving Break, I had a great conversation with my good friend Jason. Both of us are kinda going through the winding roads of life right now. Somehow we got on the subject of alternate timelines. Other realities where some choice was made or perhaps not made and everything changed.

The story of alternate timelines isn’t something new. Over my birthday as I studied for a test in multilevel modeling, I watched “Star Trek into Darkness“. I have always been a trekkie so to speak. Weekday nights at 11, all of us would pile into mama’s bedroom and watch Star Trek: The Original Series episodes. Mama grew up watching the show, so when they moved to syndication on Channel 48, nostalgia took over and we could stay up late to watch just what Captain James T Kirk, Spock and Bones would do next. So when the new movies came out which rebooted the series, my interest was naturally peaked. The premise of the reboot is simple. A romulan fugitive escapes through a black hole and time travels back 25 years. He then blows up Vulcan which completely changes the original timeline. “Whatever our lives would have been has all been changed now”, young spock says. In essence, by blowing up Vulcan, the Romulan criminal essentially reshapes reality and as such, all the events in The Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager never took place. Essentially 40 years of continuity has never happened now, the slate is clean and everything starts anew. An alternate timeline.

This idea of alternate dimensions, realities and timelines has been making it’s way across comics books recently. One of my favorite DC Stories is “The Flashpoint Paradox” (this is actually a shout out to my youngest sister, who is my heart. We watched this together over Thanksgiving. I love you little sis).

In this powerful scene, Flash (the guy in red) goes back in time to prevent his mother’s murder. Reverse Flash (the guy in yellow. Major bad guy. Actually maybe my favorite bad guy!!) alerts him to the fact that time is not linear. You change one event, it doesn’t just change your own personal time line. It changes everything for everyone. In other words, Flash caused a sonic boom in the time time stream creating an all new timeline. One that’s 1000 times worse than anything seen before. In this timeline, Superman’s rocket ship doesn’t land on the Kent’s farm. It lands in the middle of metropolis. It wasn’t Bruce’s parents that were gunned down by a criminal…it was Bruce himself. Aquaman and Wonder-Woman are no longer team mates. They are star crossed lovers whose wayward affair sets the world on path to all out annihilation.

The movie binge with my sister continued as we watched X-Men: Days of Futures Past while reflecting and reminiscing on how both of our lives changed as a result of mama’s passing. Another superhero time travel tale. This time, Wolverine travels back in time to stop Mystique from killing Trask. By killing him, she damned the world to a Mutant vs. Human war which resulted in the creation of Sentinels, and (spoiler alert), every single mutant being killed, with the sentinels then turning on the humans. But the assassination attempt is stopped, and now not only have the mutants returned, but even characters killed way back when in the first movie, are walking around. Characters who are supposed to be dead are walking around like nothing is the matter now, which I always find just a bit creepy in time travel stories. People who were just killed on screen moments ago, now as a result of his actions are walking into classrooms ready to teach. He changed the timeline for the entire world.

This idea of alternate selves and alternate timelines is touched on more closely in the ongoing Spider-Verse, happening right now in Amazing Spider-Man. The premise is that there are several different Earths. On some Earths, Peter was bitten by the radioactive spider but the results were very different. Or someone else was bitten by the spider. Or some other event took place that caused Peter to switch costumes, mentality or tactics. In other words, some choice resulted in the splitting of the current timeline and reality to another one.

Every Spider Man Ever

Every Version of Spider Man Ever

From early on as a kid, this concept of time travel, specifically undoing the past and seeing what the future holds has always fascinated me. My favorite movies include Star Trek: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: First Contact, Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3. I LOVE Quantum Leap and petitioned heavily for them to either make a movie or restart the series. This idea of going backwards or forwards in time has always amazed me from my earliest memories. Is it any wonder I study Developmental? This theoretical understanding of an individual’s place within their historical context and how these factors determine who they are, and who they become? I love time. I love time travel stories.

So as Jason and I sat in his man cave (surrounded by Cleveland Browns paraphernalia) we approached the topic of life. How events within time can shape who we are and what happens to us. We began joking, “What would present day Jason tell 17 year old Jason?” I thought of what present day Calvin would tell 17 year old Calvin. We both agreed we would give our younger selves the results to every major sports competition and make fortunes in sports betting (a nod to Back to Future 2, hehehehe). How might life look different if only different choices were made. How might life look different if our younger selves knew what we know today.

I stayed up Thanksgiving Eve pondering over these quandaries long past the time of drinking my last beer, when everyone in the house was sleep. I came up with a list of questions that have really given me pause over the last few days about life and what its meaning ultimately is supposed to be for me.  What if one thing changed? What if it all changed?

What if Mama was still here?

What if I hadn’t moved to New York?

What if I had of arrived to school on time instead of being late on that fateful day?

What if I had stopped after grad school?

What if I had stopped trying to save a failing marriage sooner, instead of waiting so long before jumping off the ship?

What if I had went to Carolina instead of WFU?

What if I finally had a publication here?

What if I had returned to NC more often than I did?

What if Chris had lived?

What if I had finished at Syracuse?

What if I had chosen a different major?

What if I didn’t go out as much, but instead went to sporting events?

What if I had chosen the military instead of school?

What if I actually prioritized working out? In some reality there’s a “ME” with 6% bodyfat getting 1000s of likes on Instagram.

What if I had never taken the job in Durham?

What if I had never went back to school?

What if I wasn’t at NCSU but had attended elsewhere?

How might all or some of these “ifs” had changed who I am? How many alternate me’s are there out there in the multiverse, if something like that truly exists? What are they doing in this moment? Are they happier than I am? Are they sadder than I am? Are they happily married with kids? Are they in an ally somewhere in a drug induced coma? Are they president? Scholar? Prisoner? Warrior? Are they alone, and depressed? Are they alone and enjoying the single life? Are they playboys? Are they philanthropists. Are they both? Are they still Christian? Or has their life led them away from believing? Trajectory. I’m always thinking about trajectory and how events shape who we become. If anything had changed, then would I be the me I am today, still? Or would I be different? And if I would be different…then which is the real me? Or are they all? Or are none of them?

I guess with this last birthday, I’ve really been focusing lately on what it means to be alive, approaching mid life. What does it mean to be where I am, and I am I supposed to be here? Or is there a better place? Have I made the right decisions in life, or have most of them been in vain? I feel like I should be in a different place than where I actually am. But then if I were actually there… how I would feel then? I’m also wondering a lot lately…are events happening to me, and I am just reacting? Or am actively shaping the kind of future that I want to see in my life? These are strange thoughts to be having in the middle of the night as I sit alone in a cold office staring at piles of analyses, and papers to be both graded and written. I don’t have time to be writing a blog. But it just felt…like the time to do so.

What is life? Does it just happen to us, and we’re hopelessly condemned to try to make the best of it? Are we the architects of our own lives? Is it deterministic, so maybe there are NO alternate versions of me out there, and this is the only timeline there would ever be? I know that our steps are directed by the Lord (Psalms 37:23), but sometimes… just sometimes my arrogance makes me feel that I could be directing my steps a bit better than He does. I look around, and there are definitely some things I would change if given the opportunity, or choices I would have made differently. I guess the purpose of it is that at the time, I did the best that I could. And I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The gained experiences along the way helped to make me a brighter and better me to hopefully help someone else out one day. But sometimes, alone in this office, I just wonder… what if things were different. And what can I change now in life to make things different? Maybe it’s the recognition of the power of choice that really gives us strength developmentally. I don’t have these alternate versions of me to see how life could have or should have been. Or to see what I was saved from. I just have this version and the sum total of experiences I’ve gained and the recognition of opportunities I’ve lost.

Is my current me my best me? And if not, my focus for 2015 needs to be being a better me. My focus needs to be on being less reactive to things that happen and instead creating things to happen.

I need to learn to create the reality I want to be on the trajectory I feel I deserve. I speak as a comic book collector. I speak as a sci fi fan boy. I speak as a Christian. I speak as a Developmentalist.

 

 

Nov 2014 Pic

IMG_1912

Random picture from Charlotte. I’ve been meaning to post. I have so many things to write about…

 

Hope Deferred

I needed to post this somewhere. I was sent a survey by the NCSU Aquatic Center. As you know I’m supposed to be learning how to swim. If you’re paying attention to me then you know I haven’t mentioned anything at all about swimming lately on any social network. That’s because it’s not happening. I have received some of the worst treatment by the NCSU Aquatic Center. At the end of this survey, there’s a space where you can “Please feel free to let us know your opinions so than we can continue to offer the best service possible. We appreciate your patronage and hope you will think of us for future classes and programs!”

This is what I wrote. You see no one is ever going to read their survey. No one’s ever gonna know my pain in this, and probably not even care. After I hit the send button, it’s going to go away into the abyss then it will all be over. But then I decided that I don’t have to keep in silence. I don’t want to keep in silence anymore. About anything. So I’m posting my open ended response that I wrote them here. Maybe someone will read this.

I think my experience was really atypical. It wasn’t the best. I started this program in mid July because it was a life long goal to learn how to swim.  I had developed a fear of the water due to nearly drowning as an adolescent. So when I signed up for lessons I was approaching mid 30’s. I’m a graduate student so the summer was the best time to take lessons. I signed up for the 5 lesson private sessions. I had my first meeting, then my instructor stopped emailing me and we couldn’t set a time up. He just stopped responding. He just wouldn’t respond. An entire month went by. I stopped by the manager’s desk 2 weeks after not hearing from my instructor and was told I should wait longer to hear from him before the center could set me up with another instructor. The day before asking for a refund back (because I’m a grad student) the Aquatic center emailed me to talk about setting up another instructor. He rocked! But by that point it was already early Sept. Finally I could resume lessons. Scheduling was difficult due to my graduate schedule but we did make lessons. We had two really good ones. Apparently the 3rd lesson was scheduled over Fall Break. The fault lies somewhat with me because I didn’t realize this and should have made sure. But since campus was shut down, I was away at a conference. I then was alerted via email that I had missed my lesson and that I was going to lose it. In other words, I just lost a lesson scheduled when school was closed. So although I started this out paying for 5 lessons over 5 weeks, I will receive 4 lessons over 3 months at the same cost. I have one more lesson left now. So I paid $95, still can’t really swim, and what should have taken 5 weeks max has now taken 3 months, and I’m being charged for a lesson that was scheduled when campus was shut down for holiday while I was presenting at a conference. I think after the first instructor bailed on me, I kinda became that problem that needed to be swept under the rug. I can’t really say that I’m satisfied with the treatment I’ve received or the level of progress I thought I would make. But assuming this case is atypical, no one is ever going to really hear about this and the Aquatic center will continue to get raving reviews from the patrons who attend. It just bothers me because of how important and how much of a personal thing this really means for me to try to be brave enough to get into water and then no one seems to value it but me. I know people have different personal journeys but mine is learning to swim. There is no victory for me on this end nor is there honor in this on the Aquatic center’s end. Instead, I’ve been let down by the Aquatic Center and at this point even wondering if it’s worth it to me to show up for this last lesson when all evidence leads me to think I’m going to have to sign up for MORE swim lessons with another company or private instructor not NCSU affiliated. It’s not fair and what started out as something so hopeful and enjoyable in the summer has become just another one of life’s little frustrations in the Fall.

I don’t expect any type of movement to come out of this or any type of refund or any type of amends. But NCSU failed me on this one. And that’s just the truth.

Guess I better go get ready for that last lesson.

Dear Blog

I still exist.

I’m just tired. And swamped.

But I haven’t forgotten about you. I blame that sexy, attractive little minx called “Twitter” for why I’ve been away.

But I haven’t abandoned you.

Promise.

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