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4.25.2010

Something Worth Writing


It's been an awfully long time since I've written, I know. I also realize that I promised I wouldn't take this long between posts, I know. Much of it is due to a lack of motivation, most of it due to the fact that I'd rather play Xbox than have to actually use my brain power to think of something to write. However, now I've got something that's truly worth writing about.

This past Thursday, I helped bury one of the best men that I'll ever know: my granddaddy, Raymond Coppage. His eight grandsons, including me, were his pallbearers. His passing was long anticipated, both in the fact that we knew it was coming since a procedure he had in January, many of us expecting that day to come at any time, and the fact that we knew it was coming since his first heart attack back in the early nineties. Even when I first started dating Meghan back in 2003, we had a pseudo-memorial/recognition event in his honor so that he could see how much he had affected people and how much they loved him, thinking that he wouldn't be with us much longer. Being the stubborn, hard-working man that he is, my granddaddy outlasted every prognosis he was ever given. He lived to be 80 years old, passing away over a month after his last birthday.

I'll start by saying that I never knew granddaddy as well as I should have. Honestly, I don't know much of my extended family as well as I should have. I've always been so much of a self-sufficient person that I haven't made a good, honest effort to get to know those in my life as intimately as I should. Being around all of my family this past week made me regret that. Hearing about granddaddy from letters that he wrote home in college, from stories through his children (my aunts and uncles and mom), and from eulogies by men who called speaking at his funeral their "greatest honor," it was humbling. This was a man that I had 25 years to get to know, and it took his passing to really see how great of a man he was. It made me sad that I'd never get to talk to him again. It made me feel that sense of longing to know my father's father as well. The fact that I was never even able to meet him pains me. I see how much my dad loves him and his memory, and it makes me know that I would have loved him too.

I usually don't cry at these moments. I have a way of compartmentalizing my emotions that I'm sure isn't healthy, but it's effective. It wasn't until we were at the visitation, family only, that I shed my first tears. It was in seeing all of the pictures of granddaddy and grannie together over the years that moved me. There were only a handful of pictures from their younger years since cameras weren't as prevalent back then, but what I saw was a man who loved his wife, who loved his work, and who loved his life. He and my grannie, Velma Coppage, were married when they were 20 years old, and were together for 59 years. As I thought about what must be going through her mind, about what it must be like to have to let go of the man that you had followed, fed, sacrificed for, and loved for nearly 60 years, it broke me. It broke me because I know how much I love my wife, the woman who turns my world, and I know how absolutely devastated I'd be without her now, nevermind 60 years from now. In nearly every single picture that was shown at the viewing and the funeral the next day, grannie and granddaddy were together, smiling, hugging, loving each other every step of the way.

I listened at the funeral as the pastor at granddaddy's last church spoke. I listened as my Uncle Ray talked about his dad in a way that I had never heard him speak, seeing emotion in him for one of the first times I can remember. I listened as a man I had never even heard of before spoke about how granddaddy helped found a seminary in India by fronting the first portion of funds, and how that seminary is now graduating 15+ young ministers a year. That same man, I'd guess about 80 years old himself, said that my granddaddy was one of his dearest friends, and the best man that he'd ever know. He said, "I've received alot of honors in my time... but this, speaking here about Raymond, this is the greatest honor I have ever had." I listened as my mom spoke about her daddy, thinking how amazingly strong she was throughout the whole thing, telling stories that he would have wanted to tell, that he did tell probably a hundred times to his kids and grandchildren and great grandchildren. I stood with the rest of our family as we sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and every one of us struggled to hold back tears as we thought of granddaddy looking on from heaven, finally receiving the reward for his eight decades of faithful service to Jesus.

Granddaddy was a gardener, a farmer, a fisherman, and a pastor in every sense of the word. I heard more about him this past week than I had for most of the rest of my life. All of it just reminded me of what I already knew: he was one of the best men that I'll ever know. While I know that Jesus' sacrifice should be enough reminder daily that we should live to the standard that he's set, Granddaddy's passing has put that back in focus for me. His example, his life has reminded me that living righteously is possible. Knowing that he's up in heaven, looking down on us, makes me want to be a better man. Seeing the hundreds of people at his funeral made me want to make that kind of impact with my life. Witnessing the passion and outpouring of emotion for his life inspires me every day to simply be better. I know that Granddaddy has more important things to do with Jesus than to look in on me, but it's that thought that has me already thinking clearer.

I love you, Granddaddy. Thank you for everything... and tell Jesus I said "hi."

3.05.2010

Exhausting.

This week marked the first time in a long time that I have gone absolutely all out for my job. It was exhausting. There were at least a couple nights working past midnight and I made probably ten trips to Office Depot and FedEx Office collectively. They know me there. I'm kind of a big deal.

Meghan had a busy week too. It was hard emotionally, mentally, and physically with everything that she had to endure with her job, and it was hard for me to see her go through all of that, especially when I was as swamped as I was with work. She's entering the second hour of a pretty well-earned nap at the moment...

Once I finished everything that I had to finish today, though, I pretty much just crashed on the couch and haven't had much reason to move since. While Meghan and I were watching last night's Office, we both said the same thing at the same time:

"I'm so glad this week's over."

And we are. I almost don't even want to write at the moment, but it's been too long since I've updated, so I feel a little responsible to at least put something up. Maybe I'll stop here... maybe I won't. I won't.

This week was pretty big for Emily too. She's been debating over whether or not to take a job in Georgia, and when push came to shove yesterday, she decided to go for it. Before, she was nervous about the hours, the long commute, and the fact that she would be leaving Florida, but right after she accepted, her new boss went ahead and changed the hours to make it fit what she was looking for... without her even telling him what that would be.

It's going to be sad to see her go. We've loved having her here. It wasn't a sacrifice in any way. She's been nothing but a huge help to us around the house, with Chief, with dinners, and with company. She and Meghan both finally got to have a sister for the first time in their lives. Chief made a new best friend. Emily got to find her center and get a better idea of who she wants to be in this life. We'll miss her. She'll miss us. She wants to take Chief. She's not getting him. That's my boy.

Meghan has also decided that she wants a Great Pyrenees pup. We went to some kind of "Dog-A-Palooza" this past Sunday where tons of the local shelters brought dogs that were eligible for adoption to the Sun Dome (where USF plays their basketball games). Even though we knew we don't really have room for another dog, we went anyway and tested our resolve. After nearly walking around the entire arena, we came to the back corner where one of the "big dog" shelters was stationed: the Great Pyrenees. They're massive, white, fluffy, gentle giants that are just about the sweetest dogs you'll ever see. Chief used to have a girlfriend pup that was a Great Pyrenees named Lily who lived in our old neighborhood here in Tampa. He loved that pup. Megs did too. We stayed at the Great Pyrenees rescue corner for a good fifteen minutes while Megs petted and stroked the one named "Panda," yes, like the bear, and went ahead and got her heart set on getting one. Here's an idea of what they look like.


So, basically, it's a giant, white, fluffy version of a Golden Retriever. I kinda want one now too.

That's about all I've got in me. I'll update again soon!

2.25.2010

Jimi and the ATL

Earlier this week I traveled out to Nashville to help one of our salespeople with a presentation she was giving to a county out in Northwest Georgia. Since I used to sell in that market and I'm familiar with those folks, management thought it would be a good idea for me to tag along. Overall, the trip was great. I always love to spend time with other salespeople and to share my knowledge and experiences with them, and it's great to get an idea of how other people approach the job too.

Both my flights into and out of Nashville went through connecting cities before I could get back to Tampa. On the way out there Monday afternoon, I had to go through Charlotte on U.S. Airways. The Charlotte airport has white, Cracker Barrel-style, wicker rocking chairs all the way through the terminal, just on the outside of the moving sidewalks. It's something that I've yet to see at any other airport, and it's a clear sign that you're in the South. The relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, the free internet, and the open space that a relatively uncrowded airport like Charlotte provides is something that I should have appreciated a little more considering what I had ahead. When I came back from the home of country music, I had to fly Delta. And that meant that, yes, I would have to go through Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta's International Airport, also known as the "busiest" airport in the world.

When I used to live in Tallahassee, I would have to go through Atlanta for nearly every single flight that I took. Therefore, I've missed at least two or three flights because I couldn't get from one gate to the other in time to make a connection. There are so many people, so many roller bags, and so many ignorant, wandering sheep in that place that I'm surprised there aren't more incidents that I'm sure there already are. The entire place is a mess of escalators, rude food staff, motorized carts, people standing in aisles, and terminal-transport trains. In a nutshell, it's a madhouse.

If one flight gets delayed at ATL, you can bet your bottom dollar that all the flights are going to be delayed. When I arrived in Nashville about an hour before my 5:05PM flight was scheduled to take off, I saw that my flight and the two before it (also to Atlanta) were delayed because of weather or wind or clouds or other assorted Acts of God in the metro-area. This was fine with me as I had already planned for precisely this scenario. I booked my flight from Nashville to Atlanta so that I'd get there around 6:30PM, then my flight to Tampa didn't leave until 10:50PM. I gave myself a little room to work with. However, as the flight just before mine was boarding, they called all those in the waiting area who were on the next flight (mine), to come to the ticket counter, offering seats on this earlier flight. By this point it was around 5:40PM. I asked the lady at the counter if I could also get an earlier flight to Tampa. She took a look and booked me safely on the 7:00PM flight out of Atlanta, which at first glance seems like a mistake. But no, no, my friend, she knew just as well as I did that one delay means a thousand delays, and that flight didn't end up taking off until 9:35PM.

When I got off the plane in Atlanta, I walked out the terminal to see what I'd expect Mumbai looks like if it were inhabited by the South. People. Every. Where. Immediately, I slipped my iPhone out of my pocket, inserted my head phones, and found the one thing that I knew would get me through the duration of this 1-2 hour madhouse: Jimi Hendrix.

Several years ago, when I was really starting to fill out my music selection. I randomly bought the Greatest Hits CD for Jimi Hendrix. I wasn't too enthralled with the blues or other genres like the blues just yet, but after I listened to that album once, I was. I had heard Jimi songs in the past, and I knew some of his work a little more than others, but this was an education. This was soul, and listening to it all made me sad about the fact that he'll never make music again. For the next two hours, though, he was going to be right there by my side, seeing me through, making sure that the rest of that crazy world I was surrounded by was drowned out by the electric guitars and deep rhythms that carried a generation. It calmed me, made me lose myself in the music, and helped me make it through without so much as a burst of anger.

Therefore, I'm leaving you with the first Jimi Hendrix song that I can remember listening to. It's "Red House," and if you haven't heard it before, then you haven't lived. Enjoy.

2.17.2010

Dreams

First off, I've posted more Mitch Hedberg for you all to enjoy. This is from a very early set he did in Canada somewhere. It's hilarious. I've already forced Emily to watch it. I'll explain my reasoning in a second.



The reason I thought of Mitch in the first place was because one of his jokes popped into my head earlier today.

"You know, I'm sick of following my dreams, man. I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with 'em later."

I was walking with the Chief and I was thinking about my current job status, where I'm going with my life, the usual. My sister's been going through so much with graduation and trying to figure out what to do with just life in general, and that's rubbed off on me a bit. I haven't been all that satisfied with my job for a long time now, and it's not something that I've shied away from talking about with my bosses. Obviously my line of work isn't what people grow up wanting to do, or even graduate college wanting to do, but it's a great job. The pay is fantastic, the benefits are stellar, the perks are great, and there's really no limit to the kind of success you can reach. All that being said, though? I know it's not what I want to do the rest of my life. I feel it in my bones and in my soul that this is not where I'm supposed to be spending the best years of my life.

But, of course, that begs the question: if not this, then what? And until I find the answer to that question, I'm going to do the absolute best with what God has provided for me. I honestly don't know that I'll ever find the answer to that question. All my life, things have simply fallen into my path and I've gone along with them. I haven't had to actively seek out what my purpose is, where I should be, who I should be, what I should be... I've just accepted myself in the moment. Somewhere along the way, though, I've come to realize that being in the moment isn't cutting it anymore. I've lost that sense of self, that sense of who I really am inside, and it eats away at me, little by little, every day.

I'm not saying that I don't know who I am anymore. I'm just saying that I don't feel like myself. While it may not be the job that's affecting that as heavily as I believe it is, it has to have something to do with it. The fact that I spend at least nine hours a day with responsibilities tied to that facet of my life lead me to believe that it's the culprit for how I feel. I don't know if it's the job itself, the fact that I work at home instead of in an office with other people, the fact that I'm in sales, or what, but I know that there's something missing here that's important to me, that I'm not connecting with, and I know that I'm way too young to be as jaded about it all as I feel.

The great thing about the company that I work for is that they recognize when there's a need with their employees, and they address it. I've been given countless avenues to help resolve the way that I feel about this whole thing, and little by little, it's helped me gain more and more understanding about myself and my role here. I have full faith that is there is anything that my company can do to help find me a position that fits my needs and personality, they will. But if they don't, what's my big plan? What are my dreams then?

I've never had a "dream job." Well, at least not a realistic one, or a consistent one for that matter. When I was young I wanted to be a paleontologist because I loved dinosaurs. When I was in high school I thought about marine biology. When I was a college freshman I wanted to be a radio manager. When transferred to FSU I wanted to try entrepreneurship. Sooner or later, though, I had to settle or a degree, and I ended up in marketing. It was a good fit.

All my life, I've never been great at creating... but I've always been fantastic at making what's already there, better. This is why I operate so well within a given set of rules, because I know how to maximize their potential. This is why I naturally gravitate toward positions of leadership, because I know how to get the best out of people and maximize their talents. This is why I thought marketing and sales was such a great fit, because you're essentially taking something that already exists, and you're making it sound better. That's perfect, right?

But I know this isn't where I'm supposed to be. I'm missing a crucial portion of what I need to make me the person that I am, and until that's fixed... my dreams are just going to have to be out there, somewhere, waiting for me to hook up with 'em later.

2.16.2010

Reconsideration

It's obvious that I've been a bit behind in my writing lately. I can't say that it's because I haven't remembered, because I have. It's just this severe lack of motivation recently that's caused me to reconsider my strategy for the blog.

This whole New Year's Resolution deal has really worked well. It's gotten me to focus on writing for the first time in a long time, and has helped give me a bit of direction at a time when I could really use some. Up until recently, I've been diligent about keeping this updated every day. I created the theme scheme to help myself have something to write about every day, even if I was forcing it. And honestly, that's what it's become recently: more force and less passion, less ease. When I write, I want it to mean something, to come from somewhere other than just my trying to think of something to pound out every night.

That's why I think I'm going to do away with the themes... but not entirely. I'm also going to do away with writing every day, simply because I don't have it in me every day. There are times when I have the time and the dedication to write, and there are times when I'd rather just unwind and not have to think any more for the day. So maybe it'll be every other day... maybe once every couple days. Either way, I'm not going to go eight months between posts like I did last time. I'll keep this regularly updated, just not to the extent that I have been. And if I feel like I'm struggling with it or I need some kind of boost, I'll reach into the weekly topics and bust one out every once and while.

I think all that sounds fair enough. I know there are a handful of people that actually read this, so I'll do my best to keep you fair few appeased. When I'll all said and done, I'll greet you like Maximus in Gladiator:

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"

2.14.2010

Sports Saturday: Tom Glavine

During the week, one of the first baseball players that I ever knew about and one of the greatest pitchers of all time retired: Tom Glavine. He spent the vast majority of his career with the center of my childhood fandom: the Atlanta Braves. That was back in the day when the Braves were one of the most dominant and consistent teams in the league, winning fourteen straight division titles. Back when they had pitchers like Greg Maddux, Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Mark Wohlers, and the like. Glavine was a pillar of those 1990s teams, and won two Cy Youngs in that time (1991, 1998), as well as 10 All Star selections throughout his career. In the Braves' lone World Series Championship in 1995, he was the MVP. He's likely one of the last pitches who will ever reach 300 wins (he's got 305), and will surely be a first ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes.

Back in 2003, Tom broke many Braves' fans hearts when his contract wasn't renewed, and instead of taking a pay cut to stay with the team after they felt his production was slipping, Glavine signed with someone else... the hated New York Mets. The Mets were the team that initially put dents in the Braves' dominance in the National League East division, becoming the first team to win it since the Braves' incredible run when they finally took the crown in 2006. That was a sad time for most Braves fan, especially since it was the end of an era. Maddux was long gone by that point, and Glavine too. John Smoltz was about the last one standing from those original teams, him and Chipper Jones. With that era over and done, many fans moved on. It's been hard for me to be a die hard Braves fan since when you combine all that with the fact that we've moved to Tampa and become fans of our own local team. But I still follow the Braves, I still cheer for them, I still try to keep up with what's going on.

When I heard the news that Glavine was retiring, it came as a bit of a surprise. I knew that he was probably toward the end of his career, especially after last year being nothing short of disappointing for him. I guess I was just too preoccupied with the fact that pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon, signaling the beginning of the season all over again. But there I was, sitting in Lee Roy Selmon's, looking up at the MLB network with the picture of a man that I grew up watching, saying that he was done. It certainly took me back to those days when I was a kid, going to my first live Major League Baseball game in Atlanta, watching TBS every other night in the middle of the playoff races or the playoffs themselves, my eyes wide when I'd see the men themselves at spring training... I even had a baseball signed by the entire 1994 squad. I think that ball ended up somewhere in my parents house... especially after I tried to play with it outside not long after getting it signed. I learned my lesson.

So while Tom Glavine steps away from playing and into the Braves' front office, I'll cherish the memories. Thanks for everything, Tom... and good luck.

WTF: Catching Up

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted in a few days. There's a reason for that. But first, I'll start by restating someone's status I saw on Facebook a few days back:

"After Monday and Tuesday, have you noticed the rest of the of the week reads 'W T F' on the calendar?"

I just thought that was funny. There's really not that much more to it. That being said, I'll sum up this week's themes quickly.

Whatever Wednesday: Wednesday night, eight of Meghan's coworkers came into town for a team meeting. Six of them stayed with us. This is reason number one for a lapse in posts. I was playing host with my beautiful wife and trying to keep up with that instead of my writing.

Thankful Thursday: About the time Thursday afternoon rolled around, I was really thankful for peace and quiet... Although, to be fair, the girls (yes, all six of our visitors were ladies) were very good guests, and more or less kept to themselves when they were around. I'm thankful we had such nice people staying with us, and not stuck-up folk that would have made our jobs much, much harder.

Fun Fact Friday: Here's a fun fact for you: four hair dryers operating on one circuit breaker will not work. Also, when someone goes to label a circuit breaker box, they should realize that the "master bathroom" is the one that's the biggest. That way, I wouldn't have flipped off the lights over and over on the poor girl who was taking a shower in the guest bathroom. Lesson learned.

That catches us up on WTF, I'll be posting for Sports Saturday and Story Sunday shortly. Sorry for the delay!