Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vacation #1: April 8 - 14

Since I am in a somewhat reflective mood, let's talk about what has been happening in my life, so far, in 2007. I work TOO DAMN MUCH!! That's the bottom line! However, in saying that, there have been some high points this year.

First off was seeing one of my all-time favorite bands at Alltel Arena in Little Rock - I saw THE WHO! Musically speaking, those guys can still play, and Zac Starkey is the closest thing the Who has gotten to remotely replacing Keith Moon. They played a lot of the classics, but there were so many songs that were left out: "I Can See for Miles", "Squeeze Box", "Magic Bus", & "Long Live Rock", just to name a few. But what shocked me the most? Brace yourself for this:

They played nothing, and I mean NOTHING, from "Quadrophenia"! You would think maybe "5:15", or "Love, Reign O'er Me", or "I'm One", but NOOOOOOOOO! How shocking is that?

Anyway, on April 8, I finally started my first weeks' vacation. On Easter Sunday, I spent some time over at JLo parents' house. When we got home, we had no idea how late it was - it was after 10:00 p.m. We still had to pack for our trip, and we also had to finalize hotel arrangements. We then got up Monday morning & drove all day to South Padre Island, Texas. We got there after midnight, and we slept until around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. We got up and saw the sights, did some shopping, and spent the end of the afternoon doing some dolphin watching. It was so much fun. We also had one rule on this trip: we would strictly eat at places that we have never eaten at. No McDonalds, no Sonic, no Burger King - not even a Chili's or an Applebee's. We ate entirely too much while we were on vacation, but it didn't matter - we had a lot of fun.

On Thursday, we left the Island heading for Austin. We saw a HUGE outlet mall in San Marcos, and we drove around there, looking for places that caught our eye. I saw a Rockport place, & I told JLo that we are definitely stopping there. I bought two pairs of Rockport work shoes for $85. I was so happy, because I can not get Rockports in either Hot Springs or Little Rock. Amazing, huh? I found the number of Miss Caroline, she of "Candidly Caroline" notoriety, and I almost started to call & see if she wanted to join us for lunch, but I held off on it. Maybe next time...

On Friday, we checked out of our hotel room & went to a huge music place in Austin - Waterloo Records. Unfortunately, they didn't have that many records left, but they had a ton of CDs - I bought about $200 worth. Then we went to a place called "The Salt Lick" in Driftwood. JLo had seen something on the Rachael Ray show about it, so we thought we would try it out. The bottom line: this is the best BBQ I have ever eaten. Up until then, I always thought Memphis had the best BBQ, and Memphis is still one of the best, but this BBQ we had totally blew us away. Peeled off of the bone - melt in your mouth - oh, man - this was so good. When we come back to the area, we are stopping there again. Awesome BBQ - the best.

Anyway, on to Dallas, and Forever Young Records. I first went to this place back in 1990, but did not return until 2002. So much had changed in those 12 years. They had gotten BIGGER! I spent about $500 when I went in 2002 - I only spent about $200 this time, but got some really cool stuff - Herbie Hancock, Al Kooper, Elton John, just to name a few. I made it there just in time, because it was really storming outside. When the storms flew over, we discovered that 5 tornados had touched down in the Fort Worth area. They just missed us - thank God! Anyway, it was almost 10:00 p.m. when we left, and I knew we would be pushing it heading back to Hot Springs. I decided that I would drive until I couldn't drive anymore. We stopped at Sulphur Springs, Texas, and spent the night at a hotel there.

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast, & headed home, but we stopped at a Best Buy in Texarkana, & I bought the new Sly and the Family Stone boxed set before doing that. We got home about 4 p.m. We weren't home 30 minutes before Spacely called & said that he was in Hot Springs & wanted to meet us at Jason's for dinner. We did that, then I went to Kroger to check next week's schedule, & then we went home & went to bed. I think we were in bed at 9 o'clock that night - we were so tired!!

This was the first vacation JLo and I had ever taken together, and we had so much fun. Truth be known, I don't think I had as much fun on any vacation my ex-wife and I took. My ex-wife certainly wasn't considerate. Here is a good example: when we were driving to South Padre Island, JLo saw that I was tiring out pretty quick. We went to a town (don't remember the town), and we stopped at a Supercenter because JLo wanted to get a few things. We pulled in, I started to get out of the car, and JLo tells me to stay in the car & take a power nap while she was in Wal-Mart. She was there for 30 minutes, and I took a nap. When she came back to the car, I was rested up pretty well. I helped so much. My ex-wife would have NEVER done that for me.

We have talked about vacation plans for 2008, and right now, the front runner seems to be Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nettiemac, what do you think? Good choice?

That does it for this post. More to come - wow!! This is 2 posts in one day! Especially since I haven't put in a post since February! Strange...

Later, Bolivar

I am such a terrible blogger...

Hello everyone!! I am such a terrible blogger! OK, I know it's been February since I put in my last post. It has been really crazy, but I have the biggest news to drop on the world. Here goes -

I had stated in my last post that I didn't get a promotion for either store I applied for. Since then, I had been applying for stores and for positions within the Kroger Company. My life changed this past Friday, June 22, at around 9:30 a.m.

I accepted a position to work in the Information Systems & Services department at the Kroger Division Office in Memphis, TN. I will be a Technology Field Representative. My job consists of a lot of items, but the main items I will be doing will be going to stores & fixing their computer problems; I will also help implement to the stores new computer programs that come through. This is a huge opportunity for me, and a lot of people have went to the plate for me, including store managers, zone managers, merchandisers, and other bigwigs. I am not about to let them down.

One thing that is so great about this new position is that I will have off every Sunday, and only work on occasional Saturdays. Ever since I was old enough to work a job, I have never liked working on Sundays. That doesn't mean that I won't do it - I just have never liked it. I am so excited about starting this new position - I can't wait to get started.

Notice the date I accepted this position - June 22. Talmadge knows where I am going with this - in case no one else does, June 22 would have marked the 11-year wedding anniversary of me and my ex-wife. June 22, as of 2007, takes on a whole new meaning. A better one, I might add.

I got a pretty nice raise and the opportunity for a bigger bonus with this new position. What's more important is that I am leaving Hot Springs. Friends and family have been telling me that I need to leave this town, and that I've been needing to leave for about 3 years now. I would have left in 2005 if I had lost the house in the divorce. But I managed to keep the house, so I decided to stay. When I look back on my almost 6 years in Hot Springs, it will go like this - I have had the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows since I have been here. Of course, the lowest will be the divorce and everything that went with that, but I have met a lot of wonderful people in this town, and I have been to a lot of really great places in Hot Springs. I will miss this town tremendously, and I will miss places like "Rocky's Corner", where JLo and I have eaten on a weekly basis for about a year and a half now. If you ever go to Hot Springs, and you love Chicago-style pizza, eat at Rocky's - I swear you will not be disappointed.

Of course, with the promotion and everything, things are looking up, but there is something that I have to consider - JLo. She is scared about my promotion. We have talked about everything, and we have tried to cover all of the angles with this move. I told her that she is making a bigger commitment than I am. The only commitment I have made is the new job, but I have been with Kroger for 18 years, so everyone close to me knows that I am committed to Kroger. But JLo faces the possibility of leaving her family and her friends and going to a town that she knows absolutely nothing about. I know Memphis very well - I made trips there about once a month for about 13 years, and I have stayed in hotels there. I know Graceland and Beale Street very well. Also, she has never been away from her family, so this will be a first for her. The one thing that sticks in the back of my mind is this - the last time I took a young lady 3-4 hours away from her home - do we need to go any further on this? I think we all know what happened there.

If JLo goes with me, fine. If she chooses not to go, that's OK too. If we split, I will have nothing but good things to say about her. She has a really big heart, and she has stood beside me through some really tough times in my life. I would look back with very fond memories - something I can't say about my ex-wife. As far as my ex-wife is concerned - remember, what you reap, you sow. She has always wanted to get back closer to her home. And now, I am, and she isn't. Remember what I have said before - she had the world and everything that went with it, and now she has settled for second-best. Good luck.

I do have two more posts I will do today - my vacations. Should make for interesting reading - I hope.

Before I end this post, I am deeply heartbroken and saddened by the events that occured concerning one of my all-time favorite wrestlers - Chris Benoit. I was watching WWE Monday Night Raw and saw that he had passed on. My jaw immediately hit the ground. Chris was one of the most intense wrestlers I had ever seen - he was absolutely incredible. His in-ring work was awesome. I remember when he was part of the legendary "Four Horsemen" with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and the late Brian Pillman. They were a bunch of tough guys. Then he arrived in WWE with the Radicals - Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. They were also a tough bunch. I remember watching in awe as Benoit became only the second man to enter the "Royal Rumble" at #1 and be the last man standing. And then, watching him beat Shawn Michaels and Triple H at Wrestlemania XX to finally become world's champion. I loved watching Benoit wrestle because he always pushed the envelope and he was so intense. Unfortunately, his legacy is totally clouded because, supposedly, he strangled his wife and smothered his son before he took his own life. Whether he had serious issues, or he had a problem with steroids, or whatever - the bottom line is this: three people are now dead. And no amount of investigation will change that. If Chris actually did this, then he should be judged by God on his actions, and I have no doubt that he will be. If someone else did this, then they will be judged somewhere down the line. May not be today, may not be tomorrow, but rest assured that they will be judged by God. If Chris did this, it hurts me and a lot of fans because we had always thought that nothing could break this man. How wrong we were, and are. It's a real shame.

Future posts to come - I promise!!