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October 31, 2005

Día de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead. All Saints Day. All Souls Day. By whatever name it goes by it's an intriguing Mexican tradition, remembering those gone but not forgotten.

I'm not Catholic, nor am I Hispanic. However it's a wonderful tradition to pause and remember family and friends who have passed.

Evelyn and James Woods (1986 & 1979), my parents. Seldom does a week go by that I don't think of both of you. Dad, I wish you could have met Denise and that both of you could have gotten to know Bailey. There's also so much I wish that I could ask you. Life is so... confusing at times -- it would have been nice to get your input on some things. I look forward to our reunion in heaven, some days I wish it were sooner than later.

Howard Woods (1992), uncle, and Margaret Warren (1989), aunt. Lazy summer cookouts with the entire family together over at Nana's house. Shooting pool in the basement over at Uncle Hotz's house. My first look at a color TV at Aunt Margaret's. As a child, never understanding why brothers and sisters couldn't get along but realizing, as an adult, why it happens. I still think that it's ten shades of suck, but I understand how it happens.

Pat Rampino (2003), friend. I've already posted about you here, but suffice to say that I still miss you. I got the fence project finished. I have a ton of new projects that I wish that I could consult with you on. Sigh... So much new music that we'll never discuss on this side of the sod, so many bad puns that will never be shared.

Steve Gaissert (2004), friend. Driving along the Florida coast in your red TR6 with the top down happened over half a lifetime ago yet I can still feel the wind in my hair and the smell of the saltwater. I still chuckle when I recall that British Leyland promotion at the Triumph dealership in 1976 -- "Tea for the Colonists." I remember the debates that we had about the Ford / Carter election, your scheme to get rich by selling "A Piece of Plains," third shifts spent in the computer room playing cards. Later, a short visit to Atlanta to introduce my new wife to you and much later, countless emails discussing everything under the sun.

Donnie Renfrow (1998), my first Texas friend. Blacked-out Cowboy games at your house via you dad's Cowboy antenna. Countless two-on-two football games in the street. Swimming at the Greenwood Hills pool. Spiderman comic books read on rainy afternoons up in your room.

We lead our lives, and when they end, the quality of that life is measured in the memories in those who remain. For each of these individuals who I was privileged to know, I remember the strangest things. A smile, a word of encouragement. Seldom an unpleasant moment. From a time when the world was still new and anything was possible to the present where experience has taught me that sometimes the best you can hope for is an even chance, these people were there and they touched my life.

Posted by mjwoods at 04:27 PM

October 17, 2005

Cajun Dreams and Other Things

I read somewhere that all people dream every night. Perhaps, but I rarely remember them. It probably has to do with burning the candle at both ends during my waking hours, crashing into bed for some fitful sleep then waking to the alarm clock in the pre-dawn hours. So it's always a treat for me to actually recall a dream during full consciousness. I'm still confounded as to why I would dream about the Cajun -- it's been over three years since our goodbyes were said so it's not like it was a topical subject.

There was an old ad campaign that my company ran, "The Citi never sleeps." It's true, it never does. Sometimes it feels like its employees never do either. Most nights and some weekends a trip to the office will find little knots of workers toiling away on their projects. It comes and goes -- I've been up at work till all hours myself from time to time -- it depends on the project and how aggressive the project plan is. Sometimes I can travel by VPN into the office, sometimes I have to go there.

It takes its toll after a while which is why downtime between projects is so important. But there's always the next one, and my latest is starting to ramp up. So while I'm not up there all the time right now, I seem to think about it most of the time. It screws up your nerves and your sleep patterns. I try to battle it the way I always do, exercise and pounding the stuffing out of a little tennis ball. I used to blog and journal faithfully, but I seem to have gotten out of the habit.

Of course there are reasons. My father-in-law had his surgery as planned, but his recovery has been slow. I hate hosptials, especially CCU. The last time I saw my dad alive was in Baylor's CCU. Twenty-five years have brought advances in design and Baylor Grapevine's CCU is a lot friendlier to the family. But still the memories come flooding back.

We wound up selling our house and moving a little closer to Denise's parents. What used to be a five minute drive is now a five minute walk. The new house is OK, but nothing special. I view it as a blank canvas -- plenty to do! I miss the storage space we had in the old house but don't miss the yard maintenance required for a half acre lot. I can mow this one in fifteen minutes. Ah, but there's that missing storage space. Tomorrow I meet with a contractor to see about building a storage building in the back.

Bailey finally has wheels of her own and we hardly see her anymore. Between school, band, her job and her social schedule she's gone most of the time. I miss seeing her most of the time, but I don't miss being her taxi driver. I'm amazed at her energy level and how she seems to find time to do all of the stuff that a normal teen does while keeping her grades up.

So with all that is going on and all that is on my mind it's puzzling to me that I should dream about the Cajun. As always, I pray that she's doing well and is happy in her new life. But rather than dwell on the significance of the dream (which I'm sure was due to a random connection in some synapse), I paused to think about her before going about my business today. In her honor tonite I enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir with dinner with the hope that it will make me sleepy later.

Life goes on, and tomorrow's another working day. The Citi may never sleep, but I hope that I do.

Posted by mjwoods at 09:18 PM

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