This is 36: A Symbol of Our Love for a Decade, Broken and Restored

Travel back in time with me over a decade. On March 8, 2007, a month away from my 26th birthday, I walked into Kay Jewelers at the Cool Springs Mall in Franklin, Tennessee. A kind salesman, of Indian descent yet who spoke with an English accent, helped me find the perfect piece of jewelry.

I had only been dating this California girl for a month, but I felt compelled with all my being to spend $238 on a diamond bracelet as a gift to show her how serious I was about her.

It was simple: I knew she was the one. I knew that if she’d let me, I would promise the rest of my life to her.

This diamond bracelet would be followed by an engagement ring just 10 months later. But whereas the engagement ring (and wedding ring) would be taken off at times, like to wash the dishes and to get the rings cleaned, this special bracelet would ultimately never been taken off.

For the whole time we dated, then were engaged, then were newlyweds, then became parents the first time, then became parents the second time, then even saw our 2nd child turn a year-old and saw our 6 and a half year-old son prepare to graduate Kindergarten… my wife wore that diamond bracelet. For 10 years and 2 months.

And then, it snapped in two:

“Sad day—my heart bracelet broke after more than 10 years—I was playing with it on my wrist and then it snapped 😦   My arm already feels naked.”

The very next day I journeyed back to the same Kay Jewelers and happened to immediately see the very same kind man from a decade before, as if time hadn’t even passed. He was impressed that I remembered him from a decade ago, but he was even more impressed how well the bracelet held up for over 10 years.

He began looking at the snapped bracelet through a special microscope, confused on why a silver bracelet had not turned at all after so long. Then he began typing on his computer, searching the records on my purchase from March 2007.

Then he explained, “I figured it out… This isn’t a silver bracelet… it’s white gold. The price for white gold has greatly increased in the past decade. There is no way you could purchase a bracelet like this, for what you paid for it back then. Just no way. This would go for at least $700 or $800 today. At least that much…”

What did I know about buying jewelry back in 2006, as a 25 year-old? Well, just that this classy diamond bracelet seemed to perfectly match the special girl I was buying it for. I definitely had no idea that the investment I was making back then would transcend beyond a symbol of my love for her- that the investment would also be financial, as well.

So two weeks ago, I paid the nice man at Kay Jewelers $42 to send off the bracelet to be repaired, and just a few days ago, I picked up the bracelet- good as new.

That bracelet, and what it symbolizes, holds so much personal value to both of us. I’m very glad to see it back on my wife’s wrist.

This is 36.

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So Maybe I’m Allergic to Peanut Butter… in Large, Consistant Amounts

But not allergic to peanuts themselves.  Noted, I’m no doctor.

One of the darkest places in life for me is when I am throwing up- which only happens a few times each decade.  It’s that feeling of inescapable depression, like being a notches away from a sickly death- a hellish gravity so overwhelming that I tend to wonder if I will wake up as a ghost like Bruce Willis and not realize I’ve been dead the entire movie.  Usually I try to keep things a bit classier when I write, but in this case there is really no way around the fact that over the weekend I spent the hours from midnight until 4:30 AM constantly vomiting, only interrupted with sporadic periods of rest on the bathroom rug.  I understand that some people have never gotten food poisoning.  As for myself, I can easily think of my three worst occasions: The Central Park drive-thru in 1990, the shady Chinese buffet restaurant in 2007 (back when I still ate pork and shellfish), and the apple & peanut butter incident of 2010.

I don’t know; maybe getting food poisoning every couple of years is like getting stuck by lightening more than once in a lifetime.  Or maybe my digestive track is just ultra-sensitive to any food that is slightly less than proper and sanity.  But what I do know is that I am unable to digest slightly massive amounts of anything- even if it hasn’t been setting out in a Chinese buffet for three hours unattended. What clued me into my possible allergy to large, consistent amounts of peanut butter was my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup overdose of 2003, when I consumed 36 of them in less than 24 hours: I had just came back from spending a summer in Thailand where both peanut butter and rich, American chocolate are rare finds.  I experienced a major depression for the following two days along with a mild rash on my left wrist for the next six months.

Last week my choice snack every day was an apple with three tablespoons of peanut butter. So good- and seemingly healthy.  But I guess by Day 6 of this treat, which I made my lazy dinner Friday night, was just enough peanut butter in a week’s amount of digestion to throw my digestive track into shock.  Because this was the first time that after I puked up all my food from that evening, I puked up a thick yellow substance, then a thick green substance, then blood- and that pattern repeated a few times before I finally fell asleep until late morning. Eventually though, every single trace of peanut butter was erased from my body. Now, a few days later, I was able to eat my first meal with meat (tilapia, okra, and salad), though my voice is raspy from all the ralphing and my ribs hurt any time I cough or sneeze.

To my understanding and according to my self-diagnosis, I have survived yet another case of food poisoning- and surprisingly this time it didn’t involve a restaurant, but instead a good snack.  I’ve eaten a lot of peanuts in a week’s time and never had anything like this happen.  There must be something about the simple process of smashing the peanuts to turn them into butter than makes them slightly toxic to me.  Sure, I didn’t experience any of the typical symptoms of peanut butter allergies like swelling, but I just think it that peanut butter is smart enough of a food to hurt people in its own sneaky ways.

Lesson learned: From now on I’ll go light on the PB.

LOST- Answering Questions that Were Left Unanswered When It Ended

LOST lives on!

The writers of LOST are getting exactly what the want- for their fans to continue discussion about what really happened in the finale and to give each other reasonable explanations for all the show’s mysteries.  Here’s my attempt at answering a bundle of popular questions.

“So did everyone who crashed on the plane died in 2004, and that’s why they were all in purgatory (“the holy lobby”) together at the same time?”  No.  Each character died at whatever point they died in real life.  Charlie drowned in 2004.  Jack was stabbed to death in 2007.  At some point later, as the island’s protectors, Hurley and Ben eventually died- whether they were murdered or died of old age, in who knows what year. 

Everybody at some point died, (like we all eventually will) but not because of the plane crash in the first episode.  Because the afterlife is not restricted by time, they all met up at the same time in purgatory (the waiting time before they go to Heaven) before entering Heaven together.  So all people arrive in the afterlife at the same time, essentially, since time doesn’t exist in the afterlife.  For more explanations of the finale, read this: LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”.

“Did Ben not go to Heaven?”  He did go to Heaven.  Eventually, maybe even ten minutes after everyone else.  But he wasn’t ready to enter when the rest of them were.  He didn’t feel worthy because of all the bad things he did in his life- he had trouble accepting the fact he was worthy.  But ultimately he redeemed himself by protecting the island post 2007 when he became the #2 to Hurley.

“How was Jacob able to leave the Island?”  Jacob was never really confined by the limitations of the past. 

“What did it mean to be “special”?”  This is referring to seasons 1 and 2, regarding the children.  They were special because they were children.  Since it was impossible for babies to be born after the bomb exploded in 1977, the Others (Ben, Juliet, etc.) wanted to raise them as their own, hoping they would eventually forget the ways of the world they were born into.

 “Why did Ben and Widmore hate each other and want to kill each other’s daughters?”  They got in each other’s way since they were both strong-willed men who were very focused on what they wanted out of the island.  Ben wanted to please Jacob.  Widmore wanted to make money of the island’s electromagnetic properties.  So when Widmore indirectly killed Alex, Ben wanted revenge by killing Penny.

“What was the Smoke Monster, and why no name?”  The Smoke Monster was a manifesto of the evil that was held inside the island by that plug.  I’ve heard that in the season six DVD’s, we will learn that the Man in Black’s name was Samuel.  But ultimately, the fact that he didn’t have a name just made us more intrigued by the mystery of it all. 

“Who was on the island before “Mother” and the twins?”  Other random people just like them.  They weren’t important since they were before Jacob and The Man in Black and had not contact with Jack Shephard, whose human life the show was based around.

“Is it really an island or a “cork” to guard the door between Heaven and hell?”  Not between Heaven and hell.  But between hell and Earth.

“What was the deal with the numbers? Just Hurley’s curse or did they have some importance overall?”  It was just Hurley’s curse- just a very interesting part of his life.  Some people’s lives are filled with peculiar coincidences.  Even the flight gates were these numbers, Jacob couldn’t have planned all the number coincidences.

“Was Jacob’s cabin built to contain the Smoke Monster? The ring of ash around it?”  Absolutely.  It was an attempted trap to contain him.  The holy ashes prevented him from crossing- we’ll never know why.

“Why did people “see” Walt after he left the Island?”  The Smoke Monster scanned the memories of people and would use those images as library of people to appear as.

“Where did Michael the Russian come from? And how did he know Korean? “  He seemed to have military experience, which would explain his ability to speak multiple languages, especially because of Russia’s proximity to Korea.  The Others hired him at some point based on his useful credentials.

“Who was Henry Gale that parachuted onto the Island?”  A random, unlucky guy who for some reason ended up there like the rest of them.

“In Jacob’s cabin, who said “Help Me” to Locke? And Ben couldn’t hear it.”  That was Jacob trying to recruit Locke as a candidate, but Jacob didn’t want to recruit Ben.

“Who was Dharma and were they important? Were their experiments important? ” They were a group of scientist who came to the island to explore the capabilities of the island and its mysterious electromagnetism, which obviously healed people of cancer and caused the crippled to walk.

 “Who built the 4-toed statue?”  An ancient people group a long time ago, possibly the first to inhabit the island- one of which may have become the very first protector of the island.  Maybe centuries before Jacob was born circa 10 A.D.

“Libby used to be crazy and was in the institution with Hurley. Then she was fine and sold Desmond her boat?”  She was unstable- she was absolutely crazy at times, then at others, seemed perfectly normal.  The craziness was taking over her normal life.

Got more LOST questions?  I’m ready to tackle them.  Just leave them in the form of a comment.  Thanks.

Stranger than Deja Vu

Sometimes DJ’s read our minds…

Here’s a unexplainable mystery that has happened to everyone at least once in their lives. I get a random song in my head I haven’t heard or thought of in years, then it comes on the radio later that afternoon. What would cause that DJ to want to play the same random song and what would cause me to happen to listen to that same radio station at the exact same time he played it?

In August of 2007 I was in Dallas for the Great American Trucking Show (made famous from my photo albums on facebook). As I sat down in the hotel lobby to wait for the charter bus to take me to the convention center, The Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” was playing. In particular, it was the end of the song, “Na na na na… hey Jude…”

Ten minutes later I stepped up into the bus and as I found a vibrantly decorated New Mexico–style embroidered seat, the elevator music version of “Hey Jude” was playing. And it just happened to be the end of the song: “Na na na na… hey Jude…”

During my lunch break today I was in a store picking out a card when I heard the worst song ever recorded in history. I’d never heard it before. But it was awful. Sounded like they made up the melody on the spot. Or lack of melody, I should say: “I… miss… you”. Sounded like Amy Grant in the late ‘80’s. As I paid the cashier teen boy, also named Nick, I said, “So the radio station here. Sucks, don’t it?” He politely agreed.

An hour later I’m back at work. I call our legal guy to ask him a question about a title for a vehicle. I’m put on hold. There could only be one song in the universe that plays in elevator music form. Yes. It was “I Miss You”.

This “hear a song on the radio, then the next song I hear is that song, but the elevator music form of it” event has happened to me twice in the last two years. With a little help from some co-workers and a consultation with Wikipedia, I found out more about the worst song ever recorded in history. “I Miss You” was a 1985 hit by a group called Klymaxx.  It’s worse than any song a Hollywood actor recorded during the 5 months they tried to also have a career in music. It’s bad, man. Bad.

Not important in the grand scheme of things, but if nothing else, this “deja vu song” concept sometimes happens to us.  During what would have been another ordinary day. 

Do you, the random or regular reader, have any weird stories like that?  I’m currently collecting them in my mind.  It’s fascinating.  You can leave a comment about it.  I will care.  I will read it.  I will be fascinated.  I want to know this truly doesn’t just happen to me.

LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”

I loved it.  Absolutely.  And I believe it was the best, and really, only way, to end the show.  But it just took me 24 hours after watching to understand why.

The entire show was just about Jack Shephard.  Everything else, including the island and its ability to heal people and time travel, the Smoke Monster, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Jack’s friends, Jack’s enemies, the light in the cave… All of it were the parts of Jack’s life that ultimately mattered to his existence.

In the likeness of the movie Vanilla Sky, when you’re dead, it’s all over- so why focus on the character’s earthly life after they die?  But the writers of LOST took that concept to a new level by acknowledging that all the mysteries, actions, heartaches, and triumphs all boil down to one thing- the people that were involved in your life.

Even Vincent the dog’s best purpose on the island was to comfort Jack as he died.

I definitely plan to write much more in the near future answering the remaining questions about LOST: Why was The Man in Black never given a name?  Who was the first protector of the island?  Did it really matter that Desmond and/or Locke typed the code every 108 minutes?  What was really accomplished by Juliet sacrificing her life by detonating the bomb in 1977?

But as for today, I think it’s more important to focus exactly what happened in the finale.  The most begging question is what’s up with the flash-sideways?

The first time we saw the characters of LOST in the finale season, they were on the plane.  Note there were never flash-forwards or flash-backs during the flash-sideways, indicating no past or future in that timeline.  They weren’t reincarnated, having to live their lives all over again, in this version with the island being sunk.  The alt-reality was simply an “acknowledge your dead and that your life mattered” precursor to the afterlife, often referred to as “purgatory” or “the waiting room”; it started with the plane ride.

Keeping in mind that life on the island (and “the real world”) continued after Jack died, that Hurley and Ben served as the island’s protectors for the rest of their lives, that Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Richard, Miles, and Frank all left the island and lived normal lives back in the United States or wherever they chose to re-establish their lives… they all still died at some point.  Most of them of old age, living to be in their 70’s.

And once they died, before going to Heaven, they were reunited, having the blessing remembering how they mattered to each other.  And since time, in essence, doesn’t exist in the afterlife, they all met at the same time, since it didn’t matter that Jack died 40 years before most of them did.

But because Jack was the main character of the show, the show stopped with his earthly death.  The rest of the living characters lived their rest of their lives and eventually died, the show just didn’t continue to follow their earthly lives.

So when Jack died in 2007 (three years after originally crashing on the island), and (say, for example) that Kate died in 2051, they met at the same time in “the waiting room”.  (Because time doesn’t exist after earthly life ends.)  Then they went on to Heaven with the rest in the church.  (And Ben went once he was ready.)

The writers were clever to utilize a nearly universal belief that there is some sort of life after death.  The episode was quite saturated in Christianity (which was a smart idea since most of America identifies with some version of it), yet didn’t write off other popular international religious beliefs, thanks to the “major six religions of the world” stained glass window in the church.  The point wasn’t to depict any religion’s specific teaching on the afterlife as specifically accurate, but to instead play and expound on our perceived general ideas on life after death and the importance of the people in our lifetime after we die.

I don’t see how LOST could have ended any other way.  Yes, technically “all our questions” were not answered.  But it involves using our imaginations and clues from the show to fill in the blanks, as we as Losties have been doing the whole time.  It will bring me much joy to take matters into my own hands by filling in these blanks with many more LOST posts to come.

Comments welcome.

(They will most likely be spun off into a new post if they are interesting, insightful, or raise a good question; or instantly deleted if they are full of nerd spite: “NO!  You’re wrong!  What really happened was…  Looks like you never thought of that while trying to make your weak point, did you?…”).

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37320802/ns/today-entertainment/

The First Steps on the Earth

I like to be where no man has gone before.



Ten years ago during the summer of 2000, I travelled to California for the first time in my life.  The plane landed in Sacramento (which ended up being the hometown of my wife, whom I would meet six years later), then I took a 3 hour bus ride north to Redding.  It was the token instance in my life where the airline sent my luggage to the wrong city.

Meaning that I, along with the group of ten or so others I was with, had to wait until the next day until our clothes and toiletries arrived.  Since that flight, I have always made a point not to bring on any luggage onto a plane other than my carry-on.  (I even spent an entire week in New Zealand in 2007 with just one bookbag of my belongings, which I was able to stuff into the overhead compartment for the flights.)

That summer, age 19, I was part of college singing group that got to spend two weeks out in the mountains of northern California as we performed songs at a summer camp and were the actual camp counselors as well.  Best I can remember, we thought we were pretty cool at the time.

Christi Soderberg, one of my friends from the group, always called me Peter Brady, because in an attempt to mock the college’s dress code, I “permed” my long shaggy hair, so that it would appear that my hair was short enough to be deemed acceptable (above the eyebrows, off the ears and collar).  And even after my hair eventually grew back straight, I was still Peter Brady.

During the weekend between the two weeks of work we were rewarded with a hiking trip to the top of Mount Lassen, which is an active volcano that’s peak is 2,000 ft high.  Because the volcano is so steep, the only safe way to climb it is to hike around and up it, which takes a good two hours minimum.  We started at the bottom in the hot summer sun, but by the time we reached the top, we were marching in snow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lassen

Mount Lassen

It was definitely my kinda thing.  Spending a Saturday morning hiking a volcano, shimmying up and over to the most dangerous and scenic spot once I reached the top, finding some weird satellite-type device in the process and wondering how few people in the world have been at that exact spot. That’s something I often think about.

How many people have stepped on the exact spots of the Earth I am standing on right now?  How often (seldom is the better word) do I step on “unstepped” spots?  I try to visualize all the ground around me covered in blue footprints, seeing random spots that have never been stepped on.

I realize the Earth is really old and that billions of people have lived here during its lifetime, but surely sometimes I take the first step on certain corners of the world.

The Winter Olympics is coming to an end.  These athletes (and ice skaters, whom I watch mainly to see fall after they do a Triple Axel jump and also to make fun of their sequin-infused outfits) live for the opportunity to break the current record.  I’ll never know the high that Shaun White gets to experience as he flies through the air on his snowboard.  My only experience snowboarding was in Maggie Valley, NC back in 2001 and involved me constantly falling over every 4.3 seconds.

I’m not an athlete who finds freedom and thrills in breaking records of Olympic history.  Instead, I am an explorer who finds freedom and thrills in discovering new niches of the world.  I may not be able to discover something new, but I can discover something rare.  It’s nothing impressive, really, to the rest of most of the world.  But for me, I thrive on those places and those moments.  Then I can take snapshots of the scenic route.

Related Posts by the Same Author:

The Scenic Route http://wp.me/pxqBU-pL

Parks and Rec http://wp.me/pxqBU-jw

WOLBI Florida Ensemble 1999-2000

My friend Christi Mack and I at the top of Mount Lassen in 2000 and 2001