Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lazy Days - All things in moderation

I've just got out of bed.

Nothing unusual there except it's 4pm. I didn't stay in bed all day but it's been one of those nice days where we didn't have to do anything or be any where so after watching a football game at lunch time (soccer for the uninitiated), feeling tired I went for an afternoon power nap.

I know last time I was talking about saying yes more and being more active but after a couple of busy weekends we deserve a quiet one for a change eh? And just so you're not too worried about our new resolution going out the window before January is through, we did go out last night for a family birthday.

If we'd had a couple of consecutive weekends where we hadn't really done much then I wouldn't have taken a nap mid-afternoon, but as it's something I possibly won't be able to repeat for a while I feel all the better for it.

I suppose when you limit yourself to something, you end up enjoying it a lot more. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy things like Christmas a lot more these days. Obviously when I was a kid my parents made every Christmas amazing and we all have great memories, but for the intervening years, when I was living alone, thousands of miles from my parents, certain holidays took on less significance. Mainly because whenever I wanted something, I'd just go and buy it myself so there was little to look forward to. Friends had their own families so there wasn't really much going on socially either.

Now that I'm married, I see things the way my parents must have seen all those Christmas's while we were growing up. The greater joy is through making it memorable for loved ones. Also, the added responsibility of having a Wife is that there are a lot more things we need to buy for our homelife so there's less opportunity to just go out and spend money on every little whim.

Also, your priorities change. I don't want to go to the pub every night and the football every weekend with friends. I get to see my team play on the tv every week but my favourite activity in the world now is shutting out the outside world and staying in with my Wife and watching some TV or a movie. That's exactly what we're planning to do tonight and I'm really looking forward to it because for the last three nights we've been so busy that we've pretty much just seen each other to kiss goodnight.

Anyway, I'm hoping my little power nap this afternoon means that I'm able to stay awake until the end of the movie!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yes Man (& Woman)

Last night we went out with friends. Nothing fancy, just a meal, then a few drinks in a new bar afterwards. But it was a good night, enjoyed by all (I think!).

This year, my wife and I have made a conscious decision to reconnect with the friends we neglected last year. The neglect wasn't a deliberate thing, but we spent the entire year planning our Wedding, and then after Hurricane Ike hit, re-planning our Wedding.

We got married in November, went on honeymoon (which is where my new profile picture is from by the way) and then straight into Thanksgiving. Once that was out of the way, all thoughts turned to Christmas.

Only now are things starting to settle down. We found ourselves emotionally, and physically drained after such a busy but amazing year. We had a nice quiet Christmas, but it didn't really feel like Christmas, and it was the first New Year's Eve I can remember that I've been in my own home when midnight struck.

The thing with planning a Wedding is that most other things come second on your priority scale. Everything is geared to that one day, and then when it's all over, there's a bit of an anti-climax. Not with the marriage, but you've spent so long planning and working towards something that it's a bit of a culture shock when there's nothing to do and nowhere to go. You can't help but feel a bit lost and that's when things start to catch up with you.

The latest Jim Carrey movie, 'Yes Man' is about a guy who decides to say yes to everything. Based on the real life account of author Danny Wallace, who having found himself in a similar predicament as us (though for different reasons) decided to spend an entire year saying yes to everything to see where it took him. The book is a good read, although I haven't seen the movie yet. Maybe my wife & I can take Danny's experience as our inspiration. I won't spoil the book for you but I would recommend checking out Danny's work when you have the time (

So this year we're determined to re-open our diary and get out more. We're hoping to fit in a couple of trips too but we've made a decent start to our new busier calendar. This is the second consecutive weekend we've had engagements at least two of the days.

This afternoon we're at a six year old's birthday party at a roller skating rink so only time will tell whether we still feel like saying yes after that!

Wish me luck..


Friday, January 23, 2009

Snakes in the grass (and that's where they should stay)

Ok, so I've just discovered two halves of a dead snake in the spare room..

A gift from our young puppy, but strangely enough it got me thinking about England. The most interesting thing you'll find in your house back there is a big hairy, harmless, but still scary house spider.

I've lived in Houston for nearly four years now without returning home for a visit. I do miss it, but I have an amazing life here so it's usually just those odd moments when something random reminds you of the things you miss, although the spiders certainly aren't one of them!

I remember one time when I was living alone that one such spider had been cornered at the top of the stairs. I needed to get downstairs, which was the kind of narrow, steep staircase you usually find in 100 year old houses.

So there I was, stuck, not knowing how I was going to get down the stairs when I turned back to my bedroom to see what I could find to aid my escape. All I could come up with was a can of spray deodorant, and a vacuum cleaner. So getting to work, I used the deodorant was used to stun the wild animal, and then the vacuum cleaner was used to suck up the remains as my nemesis fell confused to the floor. A trick I learned watching Ghostbusters when I was a kid.

Anyway, back to my original point (not the dead snake). Life is so different now than back in England. I lived in Houston for three years between the ages of 18 and 21 and never really settled. I felt like I hadn't had the chance to 'live' in England. By that I mean being old enough to make my own decisions and live the way I wanted to. I compared absolutely everything in Houston to Manchester, and there was only ever going to be one winner there. Six years later I returned to Houston, wisened by the cold struggle I'd endured and looking forward to spending my days in the sunshine.

As I said, I haven't been back to visit since leaving in 2005. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't need to. I've planned to go back every year but something always comes up to change those plans.

I know a lot of people who have moved to Houston from all over the world and it tends to be the older ones who settle easiest. This surprises me as they have more memories back home, and seemingly have more to leave. The problem I think the younger ones have, the ones who have basically grown up here, is they have only romantic memories, not necessarily of their homeland, but of their childhood, the friends they had at school, playing out in the street, family members they don't see anymore (Grandparents who have died etc). They build up this image into something that can't possibly be matched. This is amplified whenever they have a bad day and think "well, I can always go back home", thinking they can leave all their problems behind and live happily ever after.

It's funny how you become much more patriotic for your home country when you live somewhere else. It's not that you really want to go back. You miss the good things you liked, while forgetting about the bad things you didn't. I know the standard of living I would have there, and there's no comparison to the standard of living I can have in Houston.

My six years back in England gave me the experiences I craved when I was younger. Experiences I wouldn't have had staying in Houston and I don't regret it at all. In fact, now that I'm settled in Houston with a good job, a nice house and a beautiful wife I feel I'm really seeing the benefits of that time served. I also think my kids (when they come) will benefit from my decision although it is important they learn about their English and Irish heritage.

Thanks for listening, and see you next time.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Year...New Mood?

Welcome to my new blog.

I just set up this blog a few minutes ago to put my thoughts down into words and see if they make any sense, or if I have anything interesting to say.

We're now almost 3 weeks into 2009 and the main theme so far seems to be one of confrontation. It's almost like the whole world got out of bed the wrong side on new year's day.

At work, everything seems to be a challenge lately, from getting people to do what they're supposed to do, to getting answers to seemingly simple questions and so on. Even when you're trying to help people with their job, most people I've had to deal with this year do not have the capacity to think for themselves and make the small changes required to, maybe not reach their potential, but at least make a start.

Even in my personal life, the same thing seems to be happening. People make no attempt to improve their own lives, but make themselves feel better by putting down the people who do try to make something of themselves. Is it jealousy? Or just in their nature to criticise others?

Certain people I encounter talk at each other, not to each other, so that every conversation seems like confrontation. They say their piece then pause not to listen to what the other person is saying but to think of a way they can get the same point across using different words. They assume the other person is wrong, even though they refuse to listen to the words coming out of their mouth, and the volume gradually increases. The funny thing is, if they'd only stop and listen to each other, they'd find they're all saying the same things! I can't help but feel that people like that are missing out on a lot of the joys of life because they already think they know everything.

Is it really possible to let others continue doing the same things, in the same way, getting the same results, and then listening to them complaining how unfair life is, without letting it get to you? Is it really possible to ignore their attempts to drag you down to their level?

I've been married for just over two months. My beautiful wife, who admittedly puts up with a lot, continues to give me the belief that this will be a great year. I know if it's just the two of us, doing our own thing, it will be.

So that's it for now. I've achieved what I set out to do and created this blog. Now all that remains to be seen is whether I have the dedication to keep it going.

Thanks for reading.