Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home for the Holidays

The common cliche says there is no place like home for the Holidays. However, the word "home" has been a rather strange concept for me to grasp the past few years of my life. For me, home has been a constant state of transition. Mr. Webster offers a few definitions of the word "home." Home can be defined as one's place of residence, the social unit formed by a family living together, a place of origin, or a familiar or usual setting. I was born in Southern Indiana, but grew up in Northern Indiana. Most are oblivious to the cultural rift between the two areas. I stayed within Indiana for college, but my parents relocated to St. Louis my freshman year. I still lived most of the year in Indiana, but spent my summers working at a ranch in New Mexico. The summer after college I worked for a baseball team in Illinois and I now reside in Houston, Texas. All of this happened within four years. So it is easy to see why I have a difficult time grasping the concept of home. I'm not sure what or where "home" is for me.

I will admit that this was the first time I actually looked forward to coming to my parents' house 30 minutes southwest of St. Louis, Missouri. They live out in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but hills and winding country roads, which exactly what I needed. Living in downtown Houston wore me down. I guy like me needs to see some nature every once in a while. Christmas allowed me to do that this year.

Christmas has been a difficult time of year for me in recent past. Christmas is often associated with reliving childhood memories, keeping traditions, and visiting with friends and family. Anymore, I feel that Christmas has become just another over-rushed, over-hurried event that is synonymous with the modern American lifestyle. I find the irony in all this almost humorous, but mostly frustrating. My household does what I call "The Blitzkreig." Blitzkreigs have nothing to do with Hitler and the Nazi regime, but are visits to where most of my kinfolk live. The Blitzkreig's primary objective is to see as much family possible in the shortest amount of time not exceeding 24 hours. I mentioned irony earlier. When I was a teenager, my mother told me the importance of family and how you need to enjoy them while you can because they won't be around forever. If family is so important then why does everyone seem to make an effort to spend so little time with them? I find the only way to truly connect to people is through conversation. I have known my cousins for most of my life, but in all reality I know nothing about them. I wish I knew them better, but every time I'm with them I feel like cattle being herded from one dinner to the next. At these dinners everyone spits out the usual chit-chat small talk. Nothing genuine. It's fast and to-the-point. Over-rushed. Over-hurried. This year, I think I had only two complete conversations. One with my uncle about Freemasonry and one with my aunt who was the only one who bothered to ask how my job in Houston. I gave her a full account only to be criticized by my siblings claiming I talked about myself too much. Two weeks ago, my sisters could not wait for their Big Bro to come home. Five days later I get lectured on why the world needs nurses and not professional sports. Again irony.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy New Year!

Good Luck to Coach Lynch and the Indiana Hoosier football team in the Insight Bowl!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Country Boy in the Concrete Jungle

The Houston Dynamo organization rode its back-to-back momentum as long as it could. Now we're just another MLS club deep in the heart of Texas. The people who know me well laughed when I told them I was moving to Texas saying how well I would fit in there. Ironically it's been quite the opposite. Despite my efforts to get tapped into the things I enjoy. I've struggled to find my niche down here. Last weekend I went to an alumni event to watch the Indiana-Kentucky basketball game. I had a lot of fun, but I was by far the youngest person there. One of the guys is a big soccer fan and player. He's only a few years older, but he's married. I've done the third wheel thing my fair share of times and I'm tired of playing that game. However I did meet an alumn who cycles and wants to get me on his club because I'm an ex-Little 500 legend in my own mind. After that I had dinner with a Philmont adviser. Talking about something other than Dynamo/soccer was a treat. She's signing me up for her Venture Crew so I can attend their events in the future. That night a friend of mine from church and one of our Dynamo girls had her birthday at the dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon. I tried to recruit a few buddies from work, but to no avail. I went anyway. Most of the people there were from our Sunday school class and we're nothing but a bunch of stiffs. They didn't sing along or get into it, which is where the fun is. All they did was stare at their diet cokes and sprites on the rocks. I drank a few beers, but it's not like I got hammered. My friend Jennifer put it this way: if you were Greek in college and a Christian- you get it. I'm a Saturday night out on the town and a Church boy on Sunday. So for the time being, I'm going to crank up my John Mellencamp and George Strait CD's and keep on being a country in the concrete jungle.