Saturday, April 30, 2011

I really should be working right now...

I have a ton of stuff to do, projects, call-backs (well, I guess it's email-backs at this hour), but we haven't talked for awhile.  As the regulars know, I started a new job at MACC last week.  So, this concludes my second week of wading through a newly created position in a new environment.  I'm fairly familiar with MACC.  Jaime & I both graduated from the college; she's put in 5 years so far as Marketing Director and Suz did a stint there prior to our grand move across the pond years.  But, to be on the other side of the desk is enlightening and pleasantly exciting.  

I met Dr. Jorgenson on the way to the parking lot last night and she kindly asked how things were going.  I maintained the decorum necessary when addressing a college president who happens to be your boss.  I replied graciously that things were going well and that I was looking forward to meeting with her next week for a check-in.  What I should have said was that I'm just so at peace here.
This job is going to nail me to the wall on some days... as any good position should.  Already, I've had instances where I wasn't as dashing or intelligent as I needed to be.  It's going to stretch me and allow me to delve deep into the creative side I've longed to nurture and I'm excited about that.  But, it's also allowing me to invest in something first-hand that's going to impact my son.  Lord willing, Cooper's going to college in 17 years (countin' 'em down) and the work I do today at MACC will build that foundation for him.  

That's some seriously far-reaching stuff.

Now, as I move onto my next subject, I realized I'm about to lay some new lines of relationship.  See, we all reach into different corners of the globe (some more than others ,obviously). Folks from my USCC days may not know the MACC connections I'm making and vice versa.  Cheryl in Jordan didn't know Cheryl at the office, but now she does.  This is the beauty of the blogosphere... and the weird six-degrees of separation we all experience.  To me, it's cool to be able to introduce some new people to you who are important to me at this time in my life.  Over the next few weeks, I'm sure we'll do more of this. 

Anyway, this afternoon, Mona (the out-going Alumni director) and I made a run to Heartland (the place where Suz & I had our wedding reception all those moons ago) to check out the space for our Alumni banquet tomorrow.  (Speaking of which, if you're an alumnus of MACC, doors open at 5.30 and tickets are $15.)  After all the necessary business was out of the way, we stood in the parking lot and walked circles around the job she was retiring and I was acquiring.  Mona and I go way, way back... to 1993, big hair, (mine, not her's) and the Journalism class she taught at the college.  Jaime followed and our families have been close ever since.  Our conversations are pretty straightforward with each other and it's nice to have that comfort level.

Just as we were wrapping up, a nice surprise walked out the door.  Robert & I worked the late shift taking customer service calls at USCC just as the first flip phones appeared in the market.  We may not have stayed in constant contact over the years, but I consider him a good friend.  In a space of 2 or 3 minutes we caught up on each other's lives and swapped numbers.  I had such a genuine feeling of happiness seeing him again.  We had some great times traveling and working together in a variety of places.  He's one of those people who say, "Let's do lunch," and means it.  I gotta say, a lot of people have impacted my life.  We've all shared some experiences that can't be replicated (Maya's summer cheesecakes at 3rd Circle come to mind).  As I find myself getting a little older, I'm cherishing those relationships a lot more than I realized.  To quote Hugh: "Every man is an island... But clearly some are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected..."

Let's all do lunch sometime... it's good for us.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SUZI: Start As You Want To Go On

Before I had Cooper, I read a short article called “Start As You Want to Go On.”  The author encouraged parents to decide now how they will parent in the future (but the concept can be used for any area of life).  How will you handle discipline?  What kind of person do you want to model for your children?  What will be important to you?  What do you expect from your children?  The author spoke about deciding those things before they actually occur so you can start out the way you want to be years down the road.  Then there’s not a lot of re-doing and back-peddling.

After reading it, I sat down and started writing about various areas that were important to me.  Things I wanted to do and the way I wanted to be.  I ended up with two pages.  I decided it would be a type of “manifesto” about the person I wanted to be.  I was also curious about how my feelings would change once I actually had the baby.

A few weeks in, I decided that I needed to reread the manifesto every so often to remind myself of what I wanted to be and do.  The only problem?  I couldn’t find it.  Anywhere.  I had lost my manifesto!  I laughingly told myself, “How can I be a great parent if I don’t have a paper telling me what to do?”

Have you thought about the person you want to be?  If you found out today that you only had a short time to live, would you be ok with the person you are and what you’ve accomplished in life?  Do you have things around you to remind yourself to stay on track?  I get sidetracked at times, and it helps me to see my thoughts in writing.  It’s a good way for me to gain some quick perspective and get back to what it most important to me.

Just before we left for Prague, I found the manifesto.  There it was in my journal…a place I had already looked countless times.  I had flipped passed it and somehow didn’t see it.  As I reviewed it, there were some things that I was right on with.  Others…well… it was a good reminder.  (Like “I will speak kindly no matter how tired I am.”  That doesn’t always happen.  But I’m working on it.  Or “I will be thankful for every moment with my child, even if it is difficult or frustrating.  This season will pass too quickly.”  Remembering this helps me when Cooper sits at my feet, grunting non-stop because he wants to be picked up.  A lot.)

I think it helps to give these things some thought. Hopefully, one of these days when I’m on my deathbed, I can look back and say that I accomplished what I wanted and was the person I should have been.  Now if I could just keep from losing the manifesto!

Friday, April 15, 2011

April Photo shoot

We've documented Cooper on a monthly basis for the first 12 months... there's debate on whether it'll continue for another six months and then break to every quarter... I'm assuming when he's 15 he's not going to be like, "Hey Dad, it's time for my monthly photo shoot!  Can I pick the props this time?"

I know it looks like he's hamming for the camera, but any photog worth his light meter will tell you kids can be a whine-fest of creative killing muck.  This shoot was the cake topper.  We've learned this time around not to take him anywhere for the first time and try to shoot.  He's too interested in what's going on around him to focus.  He didn't want anything to do with the camera... just get him a stick and in the water... Pronto!  Speaking of sticks, my fave of the whole bunch follows below.  What you don't see is Suz grabbing for the stick going, "Yucky, Cooper! We don't chew on sticks!"  But it makes fantastic memories... and that's what it's about!

A good week gets better

Today I turn 37.  

That means I'm officially in my "late 30's."  I'm not bemoaning that fact; I'm simply stating it as it is.  I've become pretty comfy picking the 35-44 age category in the online surveys.  What's changed is that my son turns one (1) today.  As in, "I have a one-year-old boy."  And, my, isn't he all play-in-the-dirt, bowl-you-over, plain-and-simple boy.  So, it's a good day to celebrate on those facts alone.

But, my day gets better.  This morning I received a callback regarding an interview I had this week.  As of Monday morning, I'll assume the role of Director of Institutional Development and Alumni Services at Moberly Area Community College.  It's a very long title that means I spread a lot of love to the Alumni and represent the College to potential donors and grant organizations.  I spent a few years in MACC classrooms in the 90s before moving on to MU. And I have to say, I'm pretty excited to be back on campus in a role that lets me talk about the great work that's going on across the entire MACC system.

And to put some fondant on this celebration, Suz & I signed a contract on a house in Moberly this week.  

Reading that you may think our lives have taken a new direction.  You're right.

It seems in the past two weeks, I've told our story from a few different viewpoints, but it always ends the same.  At some point earlier this year, we realized it was time to go home.  Now, in the 13 years we've been married, this is the way it usually works:  

1) Separately we begin to feel like a change is coming in our direction.

2) We pray about it.

3) One of us says to the other, "I've been feeling like (insert earth-shattering revelation here)."

4) The other responds: "Wow... that's amazing, I'm feeling the same way."

When we started out 2011, I would not have expected to be moving into a house in Moberly and starting a new job right now.  I know a lot of others didn't expect that either.  I fully expected for Cooper to grow up as a gypsy child, wandering from one totally cool experience in some exotic locale to another.  But the longer we were out of the country this time, the more we knew our time overseas had come to a close.  There have been periods when I questioned the direction we were headed, but this time it was adamant and peaceful.  I tried to articulate that in our last newsletter to our sponsors.  There's a lot of work to be done overseas, but there's also a lot to be done here.  And our focus has shifted.  I don't know that I can pinpoint any one single answer to why we're back in Moberly, but I can tell you I'm very happy to be home and very hopeful about the future.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baby In Prague

While Mom and Dad were in Prague, we took a trip outside the city to do some visiting.  We wanted Suzi and Cooper to go with us, but didn't have the required safety seat.  Jaromir did some searching and came up with Baby In Prague.  I've never been more impressed with such a service.

The website is informative and clear.  The prices are competitive considering the services provided and, best of all, they deliver!  My emails were promptly returned and when I called, Petra answered with a friendly nature that's still working its way into Czech customer service.  The seat was top-notch Mothercare and spotless to boot (we tried, a bit unsuccessfully, to return it in such a fashion).  The delivery and pickup was effortless.

According to Petra there are services such as hers in other cities, but since we're only 11 months into childhood, we haven't had the need to search them out.  Good for her for stepping into a much needed niche market and supplying top-drawer service.

Seriously, I can't go on about this enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Junk Mail Surprise

Coming home from a long trip there's always a crash course in targeted mailing services awaiting my arrival.  My Advertising degree strictly prohibits me from trashing junk mail without at least a cursory review; not for the product per se, but for content.  Email spam is a completely different story... that stuff gets the auto-delete... and, might I add, I'm a firm believer in chopping off appendages of those who propagate such ridiculousness.  Who's buying the fake Rolex and "enhancement" pills?  Really?  If there were no click-throughs there would be no market for spam!

OK, anyway... Let me preface this by saying, I'm a marketer at heart.  I use mail lists.  They are valuable.  My point today is snail mail lists and their absurd growth patterns.

In 1998, I moved to Chicago as part of US Cellular's now defunct Manager-in-Training (MIT) program.  It opened a lot of doors for me, many of which I'm still reaping the benefits.  Somehow, I got on a few industry mail lists at the time and, even after moving on to greener pastures, I'd receive something addressed to MIT Scott McGarvey.  It provided some chuckles and insight on where lists got sold and to whom.

Fast forward to 2011.  Like 13 years later, 2011.  Last week, I received a free pen and order form from National Pen Company addressed to me in care of MIT United States Cellular Cor... at my parent's home address.

How is that possible?  That means the mail lists from a Chicago  corporate address in 1998 have been combined with personal mail lists from 2011.  

They've cross-referenced and combined.  

Junk mail isn't just malevolently clogging our in-boxes and landfills, it's multiplying intelligently.  I think Bruce Willis should make a movie in which he combats hordes of envelopes and free lotion samples with a souped-up shredder and Louisville Slugger.  The idea's got legs... I think it'll move.