Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Round a' Bouts

I finally took the plunge. After a few months of wavering, I finally jumped on the DSL bandwagon - mostly because Earthlink offered to give it to me for the same price as what I currently pay for dial-up. I figured I didn't have anything to lose. Even better, five days after I signed up for DSL the modem arrived, and I thought I was on my way to streaming audio and skipping from website to website as though I were dancing on clouds. I was footloose and fancy free ... until I hooked up the modem and - wallah - no DSL!

For the past week two weeks, I've been trying to "troubleshoot" what the problem is, which means I've been calling 1-888-Earthlink over and over again. Finally, though, I got them to send out a technician yesterday, and he confirmed that my telephone line hasn't been wired yet for DSL service. He then informed me that our line is serviced by an SBC building two blocks north of us ... "shouldn't be a problem getting that up by tomorrow morning," he assured me. But when the modem still showed no signs of life this morning, I was back on the phone - pushing numbers to direct me through customer service labrynth.

As it stands now, we're just waiting for the technicians in the building just two blocks away to make the connection. Of course, there is no direct number to get a hold of them. Instead, we call another 1-800 number and speak to somebody over in India. Oh, it is driving me insane.

Thankfully, to keep me from breaking, we got the best Christmas gift ever imaginable: MacGyver - the First Season. First off, I had no idea that Henry Winkler (aka 'the Fonz') produced the show. Secondly, I forgot how corny and easy natured 80's shows are. We've watched two shows already, and we've also made some other assessments:

-Criminals and bad guys in the 80's were ridiculously bad shots - often missing from less than twenty feet (and with automatic weapons to boot!)
-Narration by the hero is intended to be cool, but upon closer examination it is often just corny
-Solving intensely difficult problems or overcoming tremendous odds is much easier when you've got video editing, stunt doubles, and only fifty-five minutes of air-time.

Which leads me to one final conclusion: life is simply not television. The fantasy that was MacGyver or Magnum P.I. is a far cry from the reality of day-to-day. In real life, villians aren't shown in profile in the first thirty seconds of the show, and life's problems often don't involve international drug lords, toxic gas leaks, or the threat of nuclear holocaust. Life is more sordid, less absolute and much more confusing. I spent my day fumbling my way through automated voice mail messages, and as far as I could tell, there was no easy way around the madness. Then again, I'm not MacGyver.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Back at it

It's been a wild couple of weeks for Anna and I, and we made things absolutely crazy this past weekend. Since our little CRX doesn't hold more than two people and lacks a back seat, we drove over 1800 miles to Avon, CO to switch cars with the family (sidenote: I hope not to offend Brian, Rachel, Gayle and Ryan by laying this tantalizing fact out there, since we were a few hours away from Denver. Believe you me: if we could have gone the extra couple hours and enjoyed a brief stay, we would've. But I digress ...). The trip was like a marathon, spiritual journey and plunge into the twilight zone. Nothing like driving through the Joshua trees of the Mojave, the glittering neon lights of Vegas and through the cascading snow of the Rockies all in one day.

To make the trip, we drove from 5:30 am on Saturday morning 'till 11:30 pm that night, slept till 9 am and hit the road after breakfast at Denny's. All said and done, we made it back to Pasadena after $114 in gas, two stops at Arby's, a double-double from In n' Out and many miles of daydreaming and singing along to cd's (just bought David Gray's "Life in Slow Motion"; very soothing and rhythmic, excellent for the decending hours of dusk).

What was really hard was the amount of dark hours we experienced since we drove away from the sun the first day and couldn't catch up to it the second. There's nothing like seeing the sun set at 4 pm California time and knowing there's six mores hours to drive.

Arizona seemed like a dream that Nicolas Cage had in "Raising Arizona", and parts of Utah looked like the end of "Terminator 2". But perhaps the most surreal stretch of the drive came on I-70 east as the highway snaked its way through a valley with water flowing west beside the highway and snow softly falling. Meanwhile, a train heading east was barrelling along beside the highway - moving silently around and through mountains while its yellow-white light shone forth onto canyon walls. By the way, did I mention a big ol' buck tried to cross in front of our car at one point. It thought better when I flashed my brights and honked the horn while hurtling towards it at 70 mph. That was the closest we came to danger; thanks be to God for keeping us safe and sound.

Also a big thanks to Drew for being a great bro and sacrificing more than a few days to make the other side of the trip. His was actually longer - over 2,000 miles (But then again, he also got to ski in Avon). It was great to catch up with him, and we all three enjoyed the briefest of minutes we had over breakfast. We got some great pics in the snow - one of them is at the top.

Anyhow back to my original point: things have been crazy lately. And the haste around the holidays has left Anna and I saddened. For the first time, we both feel Christmas is coming too fast. Perhaps more disturbing, it's been hard for us to reflect upon and enjoy this season. Connecting with family, reflecting on the year gone by and the year ahead, giving gifts from our heart and meditating upon the gift of Jesus Christ have alluded us by and large.

While going through these delirious days, I've also realized that a great many Christmas stories/movies are centered upon this theme: life begins to move irreconciably out of control which causes great consternation or sadness. But just when things seem lost, life is restored and new opportunities are granted. Such are the tales of Ebenezer Scrooge and his depleted existence or Clark Griswald's doomed Christmas hopes. So perhaps this more to be said about this Christmas season.

We have continued to get some wonderful cards, emails and gifts from friends and family, which has been a blessing. Even if our communication and support has been sparse, we are both thankful others have been more gracious. It is hard being far apart from people we love - always, Christmas just accentuates the reality.

Anna has been battling a wicked cough the last few days, and she acted wisely by taking work off today. It's amazing how emotional, pyschological and spiritual diress manifest themselves in physical ways. Anna noticed last week that our little boy to be wasn't nearly as active, either - a fact we attribute to stress. But no worries; we've restocked our pantry and gotten some Echinacea tea to stir up some good health. Plus, seventy degrees and sunny can't hurt the cause, which is what it was today in Pasadena.


Only a few more days to go before Christmas Eve. Peace to all.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

An Active Little Guy

For the last hour, I've been combing through Google sites trying to find boy names. Anna and I have yet to land on a "this-is-it" name for our soon to be son, so we've been sounding out combinations and even going so far as trying out a couple for a few days. It does seem inherently wrong to be auditioning names as though they were a cell phone plan or a car. But if those sorts of things are worth a little time, research and test drives, why shouldn't a name be as well?

In fact, there's really a bunch of similarities between names and cars. You can go with an old standby like Adam or Michael, which is like a Ford or a Honda, and you're bound to get acceptance by the vast majority. Plus, there's less risk with names like these. For instance, if something goes wrong with your Ford it's because the whole American manufacturing system is defunct. Likewise, the only people the Adam's and Michael's have to blame for their failure or frustration is something broad and indefinite like politics or economics.

However, the exact opposite is true for names like Abner or Tobias. Here you run the risk of having a budding noble prize winner, runway model or social outcast - the fine line between the Porches of the world and the Delorean that only raced through Back to the Future.

Of course, the most recent trend is to adjust a middle-of-the-road sedan name like Michael or Caleb by using a new spelling, such as Kaleb. In the end, though, it's pretty much like tricking out your Honda Civic: if it's not done well, it just looks crappy and may even be a sign of white trash.

Anyhow, everything continues to go well with the pregnancy, and our little guy is getting more and more active. For the last two nights, he's been wiggling, kicking and turning for an hour. Anna was spell-bound by all this activity, and I don't blame her. I put my hand on her belly and felt him shifting around, making a bump here and a poke there. It's just surreal and awesome. I'll see Anna grin and look at her belly with wide eyes. Then Anna will place her hands on her stomach and wait - letting her senses take over and allow movement to speak to her - the subtle communication of new life. I too let my hands feel and sense this movement, but I know I'm on the outside looking in. What must it be like to have a human being pulse and move within you? This to me is the miracle of motherhood.