Friday, December 29, 2017

2017...You Bastard.

It started years ago with my Golden Cousin's yearly newsletter about her Golden Family and their Golden Adventures.
She made sure to send it to the Poor Relations in Texas either to share her life with us or to rub our noses in it.  Not sure which one...

I drank some wine while reading it and decided that my version of a yearly newsletter would sound really different and boy, did it!
Most of the time my newsletters are filled with alcohol-fueled mistakes and #TotalDeMoves and a very imperfect life.

Not long after I posted my 2016 letter, my mother became gravely ill and we almost lost her.  The first few months of the new year was spent helping her get her strength back and getting her back into her life.
My entire perspective on life shifted.  I realized, TRULY realized, that my days with my mother were numbered.  We all know in the back of our minds that we will have to deal with the death of a parent at some point but it's always so far in the future that it doesn't seem real. 
Suddenly, it was shoved in my face and I needed to make sure that my last years with my mother were meaningful.  

2017 found me turning down a lot of invitations from friends.  I pray to Jeebus that they don't stop inviting me because one day I'll accept invitations again.  I miss my friends!

I was able to throw my annual birthday party, however...and it was interesting.  Somehow, at the end of the night, I found myself throwing my body in between an angry redhead and a drunken loudmouth.  My beautiful ginger friend was going to kick some ass that night and at times I think I should have let her just to see how it turned out but the peacemaker inside of me took over and separated everyone.
It was a night we'll never forget!
I am always grateful for my friends who come to celebrate my birthday with me.  I am so very fortunate.

2017 sucked for so many people I know.  Hurricane Harvey was surreal.  It was hard to believe what was happening to my community.  The fear of sitting home through a hurricane, waiting for the worst to happen is bad enough but the worst DID happened to so many people.
I got lucky.  We were surrounded by rainwater pumps working 24/7.  There was street flooding but most of us in town were spared.
The images of people being rescued from their flooded homes with only a few bags and their pets is something I will never forget.
Then we had Irma and Maria to watch as it devastated another part of the country and horrible fires on the other side, as well.  Damn, 2017, you were brutal.

Soooo...let's see...I feel like I'm forgetting something...something to do with the Astros...hmmm....
what could it be....
Oh well...I'm sure I'll think of it.  In the meantime...WE GOT VERLANDER!  Holy crap, Verlander is an Astro! I never believed it would happen.  I come from the land of the 2011-2013 Astros so I am just waiting for something really bad to happen.  It never occurred to me that we could land someone like Justin Verlander!
The other amazing thing is that the day Justin landed in Houston and put on the Astros uniform for the first time, Greis and I got pictures with him.  We were like every annoying internet commenter when we yelled "FIRST!" afterward.  It is a fact that we were the first fans to get pictures with Verlander wearing an Astros uni! This will go on my headstone, ok?

Oh c'mon...did you really think that I'd forget that the ASTROS ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS???
Chances are if you're reading this, you're an Astros fan so you already know the heart-bursting happiness I feel.  You already know how anxious I felt during Game 5.  You already know how I cried at the end of Game 7 and during the parade and watching the videos on FB and when George Springer won WS MVP and when Altuve won AL MVP and and many tears and happiness.  I'm honestly still pinching myself.

Like last year and the year before, I've picked a word to guide me through the new year and for 2018 my word is Courage.
I need Courage to face what 2018 has in store for me.  I need Courage to become a better person, a better friend, a better citizen of the world.
I need Courage to change the way I'm living my life and Courage to be myself.
The word Courage reminds me of the Cowardly Lion from Wizard of Oz but whatever, I'll need Courage to get past that too, I guess!

Shortly before Christmas, my mother had a heart procedure and complications from that caused several things to happen which landed her in the ER, ICU, back home and back to the ER via ambulance a few days later.
When we had to call the ambulance, I thought that was the day I was going to lose my mother.  You're never prepared.
But she rallied.  They implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator after that and 3 days later (while still in the hospital), her heart stopped and she died for about 1 second.  That brand new defibrillator, hidden away under her skin, delivered a shock to her heart that got it started again and she woke up to my terrified screams.  When things calmed down a little, she said "I went somewhere and then I came back."
She didn't say that she passed out.  She didn't say that she went to sleep.  She said "I went somewhere."
Look, I don't know what to believe when it comes to the afterlife but sometimes life is so freaking awful that you have to have faith that something better comes next or it would be nearly impossible to stomach the awfulness, right?

As of writing this, my mother is home and slowly getting her strength back and planning on playing cards with her friends on New Years Eve.  Now, isn't that a miracle?

So, 2017 has been a total bastard but I still have my mother, my friends, Dashiell and the things I love all around me so it wasn't a complete loss.

Happy New Year, suckers!

Friday, September 8, 2017

How To Be Decent

*I'm adding things as I think of them so this is essentially a work in progress*
How to be a decent person:
To me, being a decent person isn't that hard. Sometimes I struggle and I always feel the need to try to be better all the time.  I fail often but I keep trying.  And the more I deal with people, the more I see the absolute NEED for people to be better.  We all need to be better are some of my ideas to be a decent person.

Stop thinking about yourself so much.  Stop thinking about how YOU feel, what YOU think or how something someone else does affects YOU.
Instead, focus on others from time to time.  Think about how your words and actions affect others.
Ask people about themselves and then LISTEN.
Follow up on friends who are having a bad time.

Share in someone else's joy.  Maybe it's not your cup of tea but if someone is excited about something or has a passion for something, be happy for them and share their joy.  You don't have to understand it.  IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.

Say thank you...and mean it.  When someone goes out of their way...even in the smallest way...appreciation for their gesture, for their time, for their very thought of you, is extremely important.  It's not a weakness to receive help, it's not a weakness to ask for it but it's a giant flaw to not show appreciation for it.

Know your audience.  Your sense of humor may not be for everyone.  Your bawdy language may be cool around your peers but your grandma may not be so happy about it and the older lady in line behind you may not find it funny.  Have some respect not only for yourself but for the people you're near.

Keep work professional.  Your coworkers may be friendly but they're not always your friend.  If you keep a professional, yet helpful and friendly demeanor, you just might inspire others to do the same and work could become a less stressful situation.

Find your own happiness.  Don't look to others to make you happy...only you can do that.  Get to know yourself.  Find hobbies or projects that make you feel whole.

Learn to appreciate your blessings.  You may not have everything you want, but chances are you have everything you need.
Having goals and a plan for the future is a great idea but try to find peace with what you have while you work toward your goal.

Stop expecting everyone to adjust to you.
If you have communication issues with multiple people, look at the common denominator:  YOU.
You can't control how another person reacts to you unless you're thinking about how you react to them.  No one needs to cater to your bad day so don't take your frustrations out on others.

Be patient. If you're struggling, having a bad day or going through something, the person in front of you might be as well. Show a little compassion and patience.

Keep learning.  Be curious and interested and read something other than gossip blogs and watch something more than reality TV.  If you're interested, you'll become more interesting.

Most importantly...
Life is just a little brighter when you offer yourself to the service of others.
However, it's important to create a balance of taking care of others and taking care of yourself.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

An Except from @HouCounterplot’s upcoming book..."

I held the oxygen mask in my right hand and ran my thumb and forefinger along its elastic band. The band was brittle from years of neglect. My death would be quick.

And hopefully painless.

I thought about praying. I thought about reflecting on my life—the good, the bad, the regrets.

…the women.

I sat. Stoically. Quietly. Calmly. 

The bottom had fallen out. The plane was careening towards my death. I peeked out of the window and saw a trail of thick black smoke chasing me. People began screaming. The plane was careening towards their deaths as well. Guttural moans. Horror.Panic took over the entire cabin.

But, yet, I sat. Stoically. Quietly. Calmly. 

I am unafraid to die. 

I thought about the night before. Her scent remained. I could taste her. I thought of her body; she was a goddess. I prayed at her alter. I baptized myself in her being. We were Gods. We were powerful. And now? Mortal. Imminently mortal. I am dying. I will die. 

…in moments.

A young mother held her baby. An older couple held onto each other. I continued to run my thumb and forefinger along the brittle elastic band of my oxygen mask. I waited for death.


And then I woke up in a hospital bed. I rubbed my eyes. My body ached.

“What’s today?”

“You’re a very lucky man, Mr…?”


“Mr. Altuve.”

My nurse was beautiful. She was cut right out of a magazine. She was wearing a short skirt and a blouse that showcased her large supple breasts. 

“I’m going to take really good care of you, Mr. Altuve.”

(If you enjoyed this, please preorder Fifty Shades of Altuve at your local Barnes & Noble retailer. Out this Valentine’s Day.)