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“Welcome to the world of the plastic beach!” June 28, 2010

Posted by osyrn in My life, Vacation.
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Ten points if you got the reference from the title of this post.  If you didn’t, no worries, I’ll tell you what it is at the bottom.  Anywho, on to the matter at hand.  I just got back from a wonderful vacation with my family.  Every year I go down to Myrtle Beach for three or four days with my family (Mom, Dad, brothers, and nieces).  For those three/four days I play in a golf tournament with my dad and middle brother (Bobby).  While we’re playing golf, mom and my oldest brother (David) hang out at the condo, swim in the pool and/or ocean, and shop.  Once we’re done playing golf we come back to relieve them of “babysitting” duties with the girls and take our turn at the pool/beach.

This year’s trip was basically no different than the other trips, with one exception (which I’ll detail shortly).  Golf has always been a very solitary sport for me.  It has always been just the ball and me and I typically don’t worry about or compare myself to my playing partners or “winning” the tournament, etc.  I’m on the course to challenge myself, play the best golf I can, and have a good time.  The first round this year (played on Wednesday) was…how shall I say…horrendous, haha.  I played possibly the worst round of golf in my life.  I couldn’t do anything right and my score reflected that.

The second day I played so much better, struck the ball well, recovered well when I got into trouble, and putted much better.  Again, my score reflected my better play.  Imagine my surprise Friday morning when I got to the course and saw I was only one stroke behind the leader of my flight for the final round (they average your first two rounds and flight you based on your score for the final round on Friday).  As is typical for me before the start of the Friday round I told my dad and brother I was “going low” today, hahaha.  This inevitably leads to me shooting around my average and having no chance at winning my flight.  Well, I shot…how shall I say…”lights out” on Friday.  I actually went low and won my flight by two and half strokes.  Of course, this elicited comments of “you sandbagging S.O.B.” from my dad and brother (which is ironic, because my dad is the biggest sandbagger I know, haha, ask him what his handicap is and he’ll reply “what do you want it to be”.  Hey, apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).  Needless to say, I was pretty happy with my play on Friday, and got a nice trophy to boot!

Other than the golf, playing, swimming, and relaxing, we went Thursday night to visit some extended family (my dad’s cousin and her partner, Sandy) who recently moved to Sunset Beach.  This was a real treat, not only because Judy and Sandy are very nice people (they used to live in Seattle so I don’t know them well) and we had a great visit, but also because we were back in Sunset Beach which brought back a flood of old memories.  Growing up, we were the typical middle class family who did not have a lot of extra money.  Mom and Dad always provided well for us and I’m eternally grateful for everything they have done for me.  So our yearly family vacation was a week spent at my Dad’s Aunt’s cottage at Sunset Beach.  Sunset has always been, and still sort of is, a very sleepy, family oriented beach.  It has this beautiful one lane swing bridge that sadly is being replaced by a much larger, more modern bridge.  The local residents fought the new bridge for years, fearful of the impending commercial boom that will take over the quiet beach town once the new bridge is in, and sadly that battle has been lost.  All in the name of progress huh?  “Hmph” I say.  But, again, being back in Sunset was very nostalgic for me.  Some of my best memories come from the summers we spent there.  Stopping at Paul’s Place in Castle Hayne on the way to/from the beach to get the best hot dogs in the world.  My dad and brothers teaching me to swim in the ocean and body surf the waves.  Playing on the beach and building sand castles.  Feeding the ducks that used to come up to the cottage late in the day.  Sitting at the kitchen table with Grandmother Hughes (my dad’s mom) and having her teach me different kinds of Solitare and how to shuffle a deck of cards.  Putting together puzzles with my other grandmother, Grandmother Clements (my mom’s mom) and the great big, red, heavy, metal Coca-Cola cooler she used to bring packed full of homemade goodies.  Going to Calabash to play putt-putt or across the state line into South Carolina to get fire crackers (which were illegal in NC at the time).  Even now I get a little choked up thinking about those days.  Life was so much more simple and easy back then, where the hardest decisions while on vacation were what kind of homemade ice cream we were going to make for dessert or what I should buy with my hard earned chore money at the Nautical Gift Shop in Calabash.  And while going to Sunset every year wasn’t as glamorous or exotic as the summer vacations a lot of my friends took, looking back, I wouldn’t trade my childhood vacations with theirs for all the money in the world.  Thanks mom and dad, those were some of the best days of my life.

So other than the extremely hot weather (mid to upper 90’s everyday, with a heat index upwards of 110), it was a great trip.  I had fun playing golf, which I always do, and it was great spending time with my family.  It was also fun playing with my nieces in the pool and the ocean.  Those two are a handful and quickly wear their Uncle Chucky out, but, they’re worth it.  I only wish David’s girlfriend Denise and Bobby’s wife Amy and their baby girl Wilkie could have joined us.  Maybe next year!

Did you get my reference from above?  No?  I’m not surprised, it’s kind of obscure.  It’s the title of a song from Gorillaz latest album.  Again, ten points and good on ya if you got it.

Until next time…I hope you’re having a great summer so far, and hit em straight!

Love fails? and content to be alone May 21, 2010

Posted by osyrn in My life.
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If you have ever been to a wedding you’ve probably heard the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13 that speaks of love. Verse 13 states that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love. While deep down I know this to be true, recently that belief has been shaken mightily. This is due to various experiences in my life, but none more so than the recent news that two of my best friends have called off their engagement to one another, and also terminated the relationship completely. I don’t know the details of why this happened (and I don’t need to know, it’s none of my business), but it does make me extremely sad for them. I’m sad because these two seemed to have found something rare and special. They seemed so perfectly matched. They were deeply in love with each other and it showed. I was very envious of what they had, and hoped (and still do) to find that one day with someone special. So imagine my utter shock when I learned that they had broken up.

So why does this shake my belief that love is the greatest thing and can conquer all? Because here I thought were two people who had it figured out. They were planning a life together, and now, that has all been…I don’t know, taken away?, thrown away?, destroyed? They are two of my best friends and I love them both dearly. I was so happy for them, and it hurts me to see them in so much pain now that this has happened.

This may sound cynical (and maybe it is), but this makes me believe even more that I am better off by myself, at least at this point in my life. People ask me all the time, “Chuck, you’re such a nice guy, how come you don’t have a girlfriend?” The most simple, honest answer to that question is because I don’t want one.  Part of it is that I am extremely picky when it comes to women.  Yes, I have dated plenty, but those women (while being attractive, funny, etc.) never had what I was looking for.  They never had “IT.”  I’m not sure what “it” is, but I know “it” when I see it, and it is very rare.  Which is why I’m hesitant to invest my time in someone that I have a pretty good feeling early on that they don’t have “it” and hence why I am alone.

I like the way John Mayer puts it in one of his newest songs “Perfectly Lonely”:

I see my friends around from time to time, when their ladies let em slip away.  And when they ask me how I’m doing with mine.  This is always what I say,

Nothing to do.  Nowhere to be.  A simple little kind of free.  Nothing to do.  No one but me.  Is it really hard to see,

Why I’m perfectly lonely.  I’m perfectly lonely.  I’m perfectly lonely (yeah).  Cause I don’t belong to anyone, nobody belongs to me.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I wish I had someone to share my life and experiences with, but overall, I am content with being alone.  That doesn’t mean I will always be that way.  The last verse of John’s song hits the nail on the head:

And this is not to say, there never comes a day, I’ll take my chances and start again.  And when I look behind, on all my younger times, I have to thank the wrongs that led me to a love so strong.

One of these days I know I’ll find that special someone I’m looking for, but until that day comes, I’ll keep doing my own thing, singing John’s song, and being perfectly lonely.

Truths for mature(?) humans, hmmm May 12, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Miscellaneous.
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A coworker sent me this list the other day, I thought it was pretty good and thought I’d share. Some of you may have seen it before, maybe not. Either way, I provide commentary on some of my favorites. Some of these are hilarious, and like me, you’ll probably find yourself nodding at some and laughing hysterically at others. I’m not sold on the title of the list, for “mature” humans, hahaha. I don’t think I qualify for that. Oh well.

Enjoy!

(oh, my comments in parenthesis)

Truths For Mature Humans
________________________________

1. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger. (Wish they would implement nap time in my office, I’d be out like a light everyday.)

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary? (I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote in cursive.)

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. (Hence the reason I use Google Maps, Map Quest blows, haha.)

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired. (Oh how true it is.)

10. Bad decisions make good stories. (Not always.)

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. (Sometimes that’s around 7 in the morning, haha.)

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

13. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. (I’m not terrified, more like annoyed, especially after I just hit save.)

14. “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this – ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring “Hello? Hello? Damn it!”, but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away? (I know numerous people who do this on a regular basis. It boggles my mind.)

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. (Nah, I blow the old numbers away and never pick up numbers I don’t recognize.)

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay. (Right! I hate those Kay commercials.)

20. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.

21. Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger. (Eh, not so much, cause I seem to eat all the time, hehe.)

25. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said? (Oh, one maybe two.)

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! (Hells yeah!)

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year? (Preach on preacher.)

29. There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far. (Well, I think there are worse feelings, but that one is pretty bad. You know pain is coming real soon.)

30. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. (Not my watch since I don’t wear one, but my phone, yes.)

31. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time! (This is an art form that I mastered years ago!)

Hope you enjoyed that!
Cheers!

Boohoo, whoa is me… April 26, 2010

Posted by osyrn in My life.
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Kevin Smith (the writer, producer, director) is widely known for his films Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and many others. His dialogue can be pretty quick and witty, but is usually full of rude and crude “dick and fart” jokes, which, let’s be honest, in the right setting can be down right funny, and Smith excels in this area. All his movies have “dick and fart” jokes in them to some extent but none more so than “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” The entire movie is basically one big “dick and fart” joke (how could it not be, it’s about Jay and Silent Bob).

In JSBSB, Smith has cameos of a lot (if not most) of the characters from his previous movies (see the movies I listed above). One particular scene has Ben Affleck reprising his role of Holden McNeil from “Chasing Amy.” Jay and Silent Bob have stopped by Holden’s to get money that belongs to them because they find out about a movie that is being made, “Bluntman and Chronic,” based on their likenesses from the comic book. At one point during the scene Holden says:

“Why in God’s name would I wanna keep writing about characters whose central preoccupation are weed and dick and fart jokes? I mean, ya gotta grow man. Don’t you ever want anything more for yourself? I know this poor hapless son of a bitch does. I look into his sorry doe eyes and I just, I see a man crying out. He’s crying out, “When Lord? When the fuck can your servant ditch this foul-mouthed little chucklehead to whom I am a constant victim of his folly, so much so that it prevents him from ever getting to kiss a girl! Fuck! When, Lord when? WHENS GONNA BE MY TIME?””

If you’ve never seen the movie, or are unfamiliar with Jay and Silent Bob, the hapless son of a bitch he’s talking about is Silent Bob.

Which brings me to my question, well, almost. I’d like to preface this by saying please don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I mean, when I take an honest look at my life I realize that things really aren’t that bad, they’re actually pretty good. I’ve got my health, my family, the best friends in the world, a good job that pays well, a good place to live, food on the table, clothes on my back, and I basically don’t want for anything. However, it seems like lately (and by lately I mean over the last year or more), that between stress at work and personal issues that I won’t go into here, I’ve been…how to say…less than satisfied with my life, and honestly, I could really stand for something good to happen in my life.

Normally I’m a very optimistic, upbeat, energetic, outgoing person, but lately, I’m having a hard time staying positive, and feel like I’m struggling just to keep my head above water. I’m fighting the good fight and hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit, but sometimes I feel like it’s a losing battle. Yes, I know that I have control over that, but I feel like I’m stuck in a rut, and I’m not quite sure how to get out.

Which brings me to my question. I realize that with faith and patience the answer will eventually reveal itself (patience not being one of my better virtues mind you). I have asked this question many many times over the past year or more (and I ask this in a totally different manner than Holden did when speaking for Silent Bob), but the question still is this:

When, Lord when? When’s gonna be my time?

So, you want to be a backpacker? April 2, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Backpacking.
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This past weekend my buddy Cliff and I went backpacking.  We went out to the western part of Virginia (west of Staunton), into George Washington National Forest. We backpacked an area known as Ramseys Draft . We didn’t actually do the entire route shown. We did camp at Hiner Spring on Saturday night, but modified our route after that, choosing to go north instead of south, as shown on the map.

We got to the trail head Saturday morning, put our gear on and took off. Immediately we had to cross over the river. This was a 10 minute ordeal as we tried to decide the safest way to get across. With some nimble foot work and selective rock hopping, we finally got across, completely dry I might add. On the other side the trail disappeared back into the woods. From here the trail instantly went up, and we spent most of Saturday gradually gaining elevation. After several miles we were up on the ridge line and spent a good portion of Saturday’s hike going up and down the various mountain tops. The ridge line was great with some gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, but the weather was even better. Saturday was sunny, beautiful clear blue sky, and mid-50’s. We enjoyed it immensely. Good thing too, because Sunday was the exact opposite (more on that below). At one point, we were standing on top of one mountain and looking behind us we could see the four ridges we had just traversed. It was a pretty cool sight.

About three-quarters of the way through our hike on Saturday we suddenly came upon a clearing. To the right was a nice campsite, and to the left was a little spring fed pond. It was weird to see this all of sudden appear on the trail, but was a welcome relief. We stopped for a quick break, took off our packs, had a snack, explored the pond, and enjoyed the peace and tranquility that surrounded us. Shortly after this the trail turned down as we descended into a valley. Eventually we came to a point where another trail intersected ours. At the intersection was a carved wooden sign that read “Wilderness behind this sign.” We just looked at each other and laughed. Really? Wilderness “behind” the sign huh? Who would’ve imagined? Haha.

About a mile and a half later, after a short detour (the trail was not very well blazed in certain areas and a few times we kind of had to guess at where the trail went), and another short little climb we arrived at Hiner Spring, our campsite for the night. We’d hiked 11 tough miles and the campsite was a welcome sight. Let me tell you folks, after you’ve been on the trail for 6-7 hours with a 35-40 pound pack on your back, there is no better sight in the world than turning the corner and walking into a campsite (well, I can think of one thing, but I digress).

There was already a group at one of the campsites, so we found another fire ring (close to a spring), and began setting up camp. Now, just because you’ve gotten to a campsite doesn’t mean your day is done. There is still a ton of work to do. If you want a fire, you’ve got to gather wood, get the fire going, and then continue to gather wood to keep it going. A fire is a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Then you’ve got to set up your tent, get your bed roll and sleeping bag out, collect/filter water to drink and for dinner, make dinner, eat, clean up, and finally prepare for bed. By the time Cliff and I had managed all that, the sun was below the horizon, the temperature was dropping, and we were exhausted. By 8:15-8:30 Saturday night, we were sacked out.

Sunday morning we woke up, checked the time, it was 8:30. We’d “slept” 12 hours. I say that because you really only sleep in spurts. I’m not going to lie, it’s not terribly comfortable, even on a bed roll in a nice sleeping bag. So you sleep a bit, reposition, sleep a bit, reposition, rinse and repeat all night. Even without looking outside the tent, we knew the sun was up but there must have been some serious cloud cover. We were debating on getting up, cause seriously, it was cold, haha. It got down into the mid-30’s Saturday night. So Cliff says, “well, at least it’s not raining.” Jinx says what? Patter patter patter on the tent. Yep, it started to rain.

(Warning! Somewhat graphic description follows, hehe).
I was going to just lie there a bit longer, I was cozy and warm in my sleeping bag after all, but mother nature was calling, so I got out of the tent, walked up the hill a bit and found a nice tree to relieve myself. As I’m standing there I got the feeling I was being watched. I looked up, and not 30 feet away were four deer, just standing there. One of them raised it’s head and was staring at me. When it realized what I was doing it started walking towards me, yes!, towards me. I looked around and suddenly there was another deer to my right, coming towards me. I couldn’t believe it. As quietly as I could I looked over my shoulder towards the tent and said, “Cliff! You gotta see this.” Which he probably thought was a strange request, hahaha, considering what I was doing. “Cliff, get the camera, NOW!” He poked his head out of the tent, finally saw what I was talking about, and proceeded to start taking pictures. Never, have either of us seen deer that were this docile. It was amazing.

Having finished my business I tip toed back to the tent to get my camera. When I turned around two of the deer were over munching on the leaves where I had just relieved myself. Talk about strange. So I slowly moved back up towards them. A few of them standing around were skiddish, but I was able to get about 10 feet away from the ones eating the leaves, I could almost reach out and touch them. It was incredible. Four of the deer were juveniles and the other was a fawn. They were so beautiful. Finally we left them alone so we could begin preparing breakfast and they eventually left, bounding away into the mist filled woods. That, was the highlight of the entire trip! Absolutely amazing!

By now it had begun to rain a little harder, so we had some coffee/hot chocolate, ate breakfast, and broke camp. There was a heavy fog/mist lying like a wet blanket on the mountain, it was very surreal. We knew it was going to be a long wet day. The rain let up as we left camp and we disappeared into the fog. We headed north, not south as the map shows, and a few miles later connected with the Shenandoah Trail where we turned south to head back towards the trail head. The woods were amazing, especially with the fog, and would go from a hardwood forest with hardly any underbrush one mile, to a densely packed grove of pines the next.

Around 12:30 we stopped for lunch. At this point the rain came back, and this time to stay, luckily it wasn’t too cold, around 40. A bit of history here. This is the fourth backpacking trip Cliff and I have taken since we started backpacking last summer, and we have been rained on every single trip. I’m not talking about, oh it’s sprinkling a bit we’re going to get a bit damp. I mean, we’ve been rained on. We are four for four. Batting 1.000. Folks, that’s a Hall of Fame career. Cooperstown here we come. Guaranteed induction, no five year wait after retirement, hell, we’d be inducted now. Absolute insanity. You don’t need a weather man to predict the weather, just send Cliff and me backpacking, guaranteed rain.

After finishing lunch we got back on the trail and what did I do? Taunted Mother Nature (brilliant I know!). Told her to bring it, a little rain wasn’t going to stop us, and bring it she did. With each passing mile it rained harder and harder. By the time we reached the turn off for the trail to take us back to the car, we were soaked, even with our rain gear on. I led the way those final two miles back to the car, and I put the hammer down. We were humping it. With the exception of the sloshing water in my right boot (still not sure how that happened) I couldn’t feel anything. Not the pack on my back, rain running down my face, nor the ache in my feet and legs. Needless to say I was focused and ready to get out of the woods. Cliff was just as focused and right on my heels every step of the way. We were in the zone.

We finally got to the car around 3:30, changed, and started making the drive back to DC. We were two tired pups, and who wouldn’t have been after backpacking 22+ miles in two days. Even though we came out a day early and even with the rain, it was a great trip overall, and we can’t wait for the next one, even though we’ll probably get rained on again, hahaha, but hey, that’s backpacking. Periodically, as we’re going down the trail and the hiking is particularly hard, whether it be a really steep climb, or if it’s raining to beat the band, Cliff and/or I will look at the other and say “so, you want to be backpacker?” Hahaha, or, “who thought this was a good idea?” It always elicits a hearty laugh and we plug on.

It’s hard to describe the joy we get from being in the woods, most people think we’re crazy, and maybe we are. Yes, it’s a lot of physical work, a lot of pain in your feet, legs, back, shoulders, etc., but the benefits far outweigh the pain. For one thing it’s challenging, physically and mentally. Also, the solitude and the chance to get lost in your own thoughts as you hike down the trail is not something you can find in a city. The chance to get away from civilization, completely unplug from the world. Being totally reliant on yourself, your backpacking companion, and your gear to get in and out of the woods safely where realistically anything could go wrong and you could find yourself in some real trouble real fast. Plus, we get to see some pretty amazing views, beautiful woods, and incredible wildlife. For us, it just somehow makes sense!🙂

Check out my FLICKR page to see the pictures from this and other trips. Enjoy!

I’m all at sea… March 9, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Music.
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Ever wonder what the world would be like without music?  I do sometimes and I can’t come up with a definitive answer.  I imagine it would be a dull, dreary place.  Would we as humans find something else to take music’s place?  Most likely.  Maybe music took the place of something else that we can’t even conceive of.  But music is what we have, and what a glorious thing it is!

I realize I’m not the first person to ponder this, but think about what music means to us.  I can only speak for myself, and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way; music is such an integral part of our lives.  It is everywhere.  We have radios (in our cars, homes, offices), mp3 players, walkmans, cell phones, internet radio, satellite radio, and on and on.  There is nowhere you can’t go and not have music with you if you so choose.  Why is that?  Why is music so important to us?  Why is it so important to me?

For me, I literally have music on almost all day, every day.  I listen to classical music when I’m in the car commuting to work, the gym, and home.  I listen to my ipod or internet music at work.  I listen to heavy metal on my ipod when I’m at the gym.  If I’m home, my kitchen radio is almost always on, playing classical music.  It’s such an integral part of who I am and my daily routine, that it’s weird, on the rare occasion, when there isn’t music playing.

And I listen to anything under the sun.  I like almost all music.  One minute I’ll be listening to one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and the next I’ll be head banging to Avenged Sevenfold.  I may go from high energy techno to bluegrass or rap or R&B at the drop of a hat.  Depends on my mood.  And my mood usually dictates what I’ll listen to.

Sometimes I’ll have the radio on, playing classical music, simply because it fills the empty space nicely and is soothing and relaxing, but most of the time the music I listen to is directly related to my mental and/or emotional state at the time.  Sappy I know, but hey, I am who I am.  If I’m happy or joyous it’s likely to be something upbeat/uplifting, or something that brings good memories to mind, like Dave Matthews Band or Jamie Cullum.  If I’m sad or depressed it is almost always Alison Krauss (no comments from the peanut gallery).  That woman has a direct line to my soul.  Her lyrics speak to me like none other.

Which hits on the main point I’m driving at.  Music speaks to me, as I’m sure it does others.  It’s those emotions that music evokes, those memories that come flooding back when you hear a song you haven’t heard in a long time and suddenly stop and think back to a certain time in your life, what you were doing, what you were going through, and what the song meant to you at the time.  It’s like music is a time machine.  Each song a time capsule with the ability to transport you wherever you want to go.  Often times it’s a journey within my own mind.  Jamie Cullum’s song “All At Sea” says it perfectly:

“I’m all at sea, where no one can bother me
Forgot my roots, if only for a day
Just me and my thoughts, sailing far away

Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you can spend some time with me
If you want to, all at sea”

Often times I’ll sit at home and just listen to music, or play it on my guitar, and get lost in remembering the good (and yes, bad) times that each song has the abitily to evoke.  It’s those memories that keep me listening to those songs over and over.

Case in point, and probably the best way I know how to explain it, this past Sunday I saw Jamie Cullum (for the 3rd time!) with some great friends of mine.  From this day forward, every time I hear one of his songs (especially one of the ones he played that night), I’ll think of that concert, being with my friends, and all the emotions and feelings that I personally experienced that night.

That, in a nutshell, is what music is to me, and why I have chosen to make it such an important part of my life.  I wonder, what is music to you?

Ray’s (ing) the bar! March 4, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Miscellaneous.
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A good friend of ours, who several years ago got married and moved to New Jersey, has been in town for the past week or so for military duties (she comes to town every few months for this).  Every time she’s in town she talks about how she wants to eat dinner at Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington, but until this trip we have not been able to schedule it.  Two nights ago, six of us found ourselves enjoying the culinary experience that is Ray’s, and I must say our dinner was like all the other times I’ve eaten there, amazing!

A quick blurb about Ray’s.  It was opened (in it’s original location in Rosslyn) back in 2002.  It was a basic, no frills steak house (and pretty much still is today, even though it has moved to a new fancier location in Courthouse).  The walls were bare and the furniture somewhat plain, but honestly, you weren’t there for the decor.  You went for the steak, and oh baby, the steak is good!  I can’t speak to how the restaurant is run today, but when it originally opened and was nowhere near as popular, the owner, Mike, hand selected all his beef and hand cut every steak.

My first experience at Ray’s was back in ’02 when my good friends Justin and Laura held their rehearsal dinner there.  They wanted a small, intimate atmosphere, with impeccable food to share with their loved ones, and Mike delivered.  They reserved the entire restaurant (which at the time was tiny), and before I finished eating my first steak at Ray’s, I was hooked.  It is, without comparison, the best steak I’ve ever had.  Mike has ruined me for steak forever, because every steak I eat now is compared to what I get at Ray’s, and so far, nothing has come close.  While I have sampled many of the steaks on the menu (off of my friends plates, hehe), I always get the fillet au poivre.  It is a thing of beauty!

But, believe it or not, it’s not all about the steak (although it’s mostly about the steak, haha), but it’s several little things that Mike does that make the entire dining experience so enjoyable.  In the wintertime, when the check is brought to your table, you also get a demitasse cup of homemade hot chocolate.  It’s a perfect little sweet something to top you off after eating a huge meal.  His side dishes (homemade mashed potatoes and creamed spinach are standard with every meal, at no extra cost) are served family style on little skillets.  Also, his appetizers are very good (especially the sherried crab bisque, mmmm), and his deserts are incredible (the white chocolate mousse will make you want to go home and smack yo momma).

I think it goes without saying (but I’m going to anyway), I love Ray’s the Steaks.  Now, while Ray’s is by far not even close to being the most expensive restaurant in the DC area, it’s not the cheapest either.  Because of this (and because my money tree in the back yard has yet to bare any fruit) I only go to Ray’s once every 6 months or so (maybe 3 times a year at most).  Which, actually is for the best, by only eating there 2-3 times a year, I appreciate it even more when I’m there.  I think the old saying is true, “too much of a good thing can be bad.”

Mike certainly has a hit on his hands, and is expanding on his success.  He already has a few other restaurants, including Ray’s Hell Burgers which serves awesome gourmet burgers.   My recommendation to you, if you get the chance, check out Ray’s the Steaks.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  Will it be the best steak you’ve ever had?  Maybe, maybe not.  I’ve had folks tell me they’ve had better, but, everybody has their own tastes, so that’s okay.

For me, every time I eat there it’s a wonderful experience.  One, because I’m always there with great friends or family, and two, because the food is so incredible.  I guess you could say, it’s a food of love thing.

“Damn the man! Save the Empire!” February 24, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Me being me!.
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A week or so ago one of my good friends Doug picked me up at my house.  We were going to dinner and a play with a girl he’s been dating and a friend of hers.  He picked me up first and our next stop (a few blocks away) was to his date’s house.  I got in the back seat so she could sit up front with him.  As he got in the driver’s seat he turned to me and said “Where to sir?”  Without hesitation or thought I instinctively said “The opera Rattigan.”  (Ten points for getting that last quote right before I tell you what it is).  Doug looked at me and said “The Secret of My Success.”  We both laughed as he drove down the street.  That little exchange got me thinking.  I do the movie quote thing a lot with my male friends (and female friends for that matter, although I usually get the “are you talking to me?” look from them, haha).  Why is that?  Why do men quote movies all the time?  So I started doing a bit of research.

The internet being what it is these days, anything is within pretty easy reach if you know where to look.  I think Boomhauer said it best, “that dang ol’ Internet, man. You just go on there and point and click. Talk about W-W-dot-W-com.  Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. It’s real easy, man.”  Well, it is real easy.  Within a few minutes I found what I was looking for.  Chris McKendry, an ESPN Sportscenter Anchor and online columnist wrote an article about this exact thing several years ago (the original article can be found here http://a.espncdn.com/page2/movies/s/mckendry/020828.html ).  If you don’t feel like reading the entire article, I’ll regurgitate her five main points.  1. It’s a bonding exercise.  2. Men can’t express themselves, and need the help. 3. Nothing to talk about. 4. Fear of intimacy. 5. Quotes become part of the subconscious.

Now, while I don’t necessarily agree with numbers 2, 3, and 4, as that doesn’t describe me, nor my friends necessarily.  I think 1 and 5 are spot on.  Number 5 you witnessed in the opening story with Doug and happens more times than I can count.  Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it.  As for her first point, there is one incident that clearly stands out in my mind.

One of my good friends Greg Gordy is in the process of starting his own vineyard/winery.  Back in May of 2007 I went down to Ringgold, Georgia (Gordy’s home town and where he’s starting his vineyard/winery) for a week to help Gordy work on the vineyard.  We spent a week working in the hot northwest Georgia sun, digging around in the red Georgia clay.  While out working on the vineyard, we passed the time by quoting movies.  It started with “Oh Brother Where Art Thou.”  Once we had basically quoted the entire movie we moved on to “Pulp Fiction.”  Once we exhausted that movie we went back to Oh Brother, haha.

To this day, we can be sitting around and one of us will go “*sniff*, ‘speck you want them chains knocked off?”, and it just starts all over from there.  Admittedly, it’s kinda sad, hahaha, because one of us will take one or more roles and the other will pick up the remaining characters, and basically act the scenes out almost word for word.

Is it because we have nothing else to talk about, can’t express ourselves, or fear intimacy?  Absolutely not.  We talk about plenty of other things (some of then intellectual and thought provoking), but somehow, invariably, movie quotes always insert themselves into our conversation.

This also seems to work with people I’ve just met or barely know.  Quote a movie, they pick up on it, and all of sudden you’ve got a common thread that ties you together and often will lead to more stimulating conversation.

Those of you who know me are sitting there reading this either shaking your head thinking, “yep, that’s Chuck,” or nodding your head thinking, “yep, that’s Chuck.”  It doesn’t make me unique or special, although, I am unique and special (my momma told me so :)), it just makes me a guy!

So what did I learn from all this?  The big thing I take away from this, is men use this as a bonding tool (at least I do with my friends, can’t speak for all men).  Sure, there are other reasons too, but it brings us closer together in a “manly” sort of way (yeah, sports do that too, but not all guys watch sports.  I know, the horror!).  So ladies, the next time you hear a guy quote a movie, or several guys are standing around holding a conversation in nothing but movie quotes, maybe now you’ll have a better understanding why, and guys, maybe you’ll understand too.

Are men cluttering up their brains with useless movie quotes when we would be better off using our grey matter to remember what we should be picking up from the grocery store on the way home?  Yep!  But hey, we’re men, cut us some slack!  That being said, I’ll take my leave of you for now, I’ve got a movie to watch!

“…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

Why I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day! February 14, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Me being me!.
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12 comments

So why don’t I celebrate Valentine’s Day?  For those who know me, you may think it’s because I’m currently single.  While that may seem the logical choice why I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is not the reason.  Even when I’m in a relationship I still really do not celebrate Valentines Day, not in the traditional sense (i.e. cards, flowers, candy, etc.).  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Valentine’s Day, the idea behind it is great.  Take one day out of the year to show the person you love what they mean to you (or anyone special in your life, friends, family, etc.).  The problem I have with Valentine’s Day, well, really two problems, is one, the commercialization of the entire thing, and two, the fact that society states that “you must show your significant other you love them on this particular day of the year or you’re a bad person.”  That you have an obligation to buy stuff to show your love.

In all honestly, those two problems are really one in the same.  Think about it. You have all these commercials/advertisements on television, radio, internet, in grocery stores, drug stores, etc. saying “buy something expensive to show your love!”  Actually, it doesn’t even have to be something expensive.  Anything and everything is peddled, like the shady street vendor in a back alley selling knock-off Rolex’s for $5 one day and fake Coach bags for $10 the next.  Candy, cards, teddy bears, jewelry, flowers, mints, balloons, lingerie, and the list goes on and on and on.  Society says “you must buy one (or more) of these things for your significant other to show your love.”  My question is why?  Why do you have to do that?  The answer is you don’t!

Now, I know ladies, you love getting flowers, candies, etc. (and I love giving those sorts of things), but why do you have to get them on just this one day?  I say you don’t.  Me personally, when I’m in a relationship, I do those sort of little things any day of the year.  I mean seriously, how nice is it for her to come home on a random Wednesday evening, after a tough day at work, and there is a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table, just because.  Every day should be a day when you tell/show that significant person in your life how you feel about them, even if it’s something as simple as an email or a text that says “Hi!”.  Not a day should go by when that person should ever wonder whether you love them or if they are on your mind, even if it’s just taking a few minutes out of a hectic work day to call and chat for five minutes.

So again, I ask, why should you buy all that stuff, just because it’s Valentine’s Day?  And again I say, you don’t have to.  I have several couple friends who feel the same.  They still do things for one another on Valentine’s Day, but it’s simple things like, leaving a love note on the bathroom counter in the morning, or cooking a romantic meal together and eating by candlelight with a nice bottle of wine.  Valentine’s Day can be simple, inexpensive, and just as romantic (if not more so) without all the commercialized crap.

Me, I’m just a hopeless romantic and all the hoopla of Valentine’s Day is lost on me.  You shouldn’t need Valentine’s Day to show appreciation and love for that special someone in your life.  By all means, do it on February 14, but do it the other 364 days of the year too.  Take the spirit of Valentine’s Day and spread it throughout the entire year.  Take a spontaneous romantic weekend trip the beach. Go out for a walk, hand in hand, and buy an ice cream cone.  Have a nice Saturday night in, light some candles, order take-out, and watch a movie.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  Sure, we have deemed today is Valentine’s Day, but Valentine’s can and should be any day of the year, not just February 14.  So put the chocolates, card, and teddy bear back on the shelf.  Walk out of the CVS, go home, hug your significant other, and tell them you love them.  Not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because you mean it!

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

With much love!

An Introduction…of sorts! February 12, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Uncategorized.
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12 comments

Well folks, I’ve decided to take the plunge and enter the world of blogging.  I’m not sure exactly how this will work out, but I’m going to give it “the ole college try.”

So what exactly will you see when you come here?  That is a great question, and something I’m still trying to figure out.  Two things you will most likely not see here will be posts about politics or religion.  Why?  There is a standing rule in my inner circle of friends (which I will carry over to this blog), we never discuss religion or politics.  Sure, they invariably come up every now and then, and when they do everyone looks nervously around the room and the topic is usually killed with lead pipe cruelty.  My religious and political beliefs are mine, and I don’t feel comfortable pushing them on others.  Many folks may not agree with that (the political part), especially since I live a mere 11 blocks from the Capitol building, but, it’s who I am.  So deal!🙂

So what will I talk about on here if it’s not religion or politics?  It will likely be a bunch of dribble about the things in my life that are important to me.  Possibly sports, friends, family, writing, simple things in life that give me great pleasure, or anything that happens to be on my mind or catches my attention.  Will my posts be witty, snarky, intelligent, or anything of the sort?  Maybe, haha, but probably not.  They will not be pieces of literary genius, but simply my musings as I make my way through the world.

If you’re reading this post, my many thanks.  I gotta be honest, I’m a bit nervous about doing this.  I’ve never felt like I had anything worth blogging about that anyone would find even remotely interesting.  I hope this works out.

Please feel free to leave comments to my posts, I would greatly appreciate it.  Thanks again for stopping by.  Join me as I stumble my way into the blogosphere.  Who knows, we might just have a good time along the way!

Chuck

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