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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

An End of the Year Post — 2012

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2012

Last December 31st, I wrote an End of the Year Post where I wrote about highlights (and lowlights) of each month. I don’t know that I’m going to do that this year, but I’m going to try to list some of the same types of things for 2012.

In January, I was still recovering from a major December surgery — a sigmoid colectomy. They took out 25% of my colon. They also took out my appendix while they were inside me. It took me a full 10 weeks to recover from that surgery. January was a month spent resting and recovering. My mother had her birthday and we celebrated. She’s getting fairly old though and that’s a little depressing. My father celebrated his birthday in February. He and Mom are in fairly good health considering their ages. In February, my then-girlfriend and I traveled to Maryland to visit her family. It was a good visit. We saw 18 cops in Virginia on the way up and 18 on the way back. All but one had a car or truck pulled over.

In April, my girlfriend celebrated her birthday. She looks 10 years younger than she is. She’ll age most gracefully.  🙂 April also saw a new issue of Ray’s Road Review come out. It’s the online literary magazine for which I’m the poetry editor. Another issue came out in June.

We found a little Episcopalian church near us in May and started attending. We like it infinitely better than the Presbyterian one we had occasionally attended before. The music was better, the sermons were better (non-politicized), and the people were very friendly. We felt accepted right away.

On Independence Day, in July, I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes! We’re getting married April 6th, 2013. On July 10th, we went to see one of Gretchen’s favorite bands — Crosby, Stills, and Nash. They can still rock it. Good show.

In August, I had to have another surgery, a neurological one to treat the pain caused by my Trigeminal Neuralgia. It worked for three weeks. Additionally, we were supposed to go to Knoxville to see Van Halen and we were pumped, but VH cancelled all of their shows and that really ticked us off. Very disappointing.

I had a birthday in September and tried not to be too depressed about it. That month, we were also undergoing pre-marital counseling. We want to get married in the little church we attend. Additionally, I was able to go see my longtime favorite musical group, Dead Can Dance, in Atlanta with my friend, Chris. We got second row, middle seats, and it was awesome. This tour was to support their first studio album since 1996, and it’s quite good. I wrote about the concert here and posted many pictures.

In October, I had to have two more neurological surgeries — one to anesthetize the Trigeminal nerve in my brain, and the other to literally burn it. These were my seventh and eighth surgeries since December, 2010. It’s gotten quite old. Another issue of RRR came out that month too. Meanwhile, Halloween 2011 had been a bust for us. We only got six kids, so this year we didn’t get nearly the candy we got last year and we didn’t even carve a pumpkin. And how many kids did we get? None! That’s right — not one. What the hell are all the kids doing for Halloween??? We live in a decent residential neighborhood. It’s not right.

November was pretty quiet, but the pain caused by my TN had been tempered by the surgeries, so that was good. Of course, Obama was re-elected and we celebrated our not having to move to Toronto if Romney won. LOL! Seriously, we were relieved and elated.

In December, Gretchen and I celebrated our second anniversary together. It was a more quiet affair this year than last, but it was still great to reflect on our past year together. In addition, another issue of RRR was published. I also had a job interview here that went great and I was told by the recruiter that I was one of two finalists for the position. I just had to undergo a second phone interview. I did and it was a complete disaster, which I wrote about. I’ve been looking for work for a little while now, so that was depressing. I think the person interviewing me thought I was interviewing for a different job, because he asked nothing about the position and all questions were about other stuff.  Of course we just celebrated Christmas, and it too was low key for us, but I was able to give Gretchen several Baltimore Ravens apparel items and some books while she got me a cool DVD, a Journey t-shirt and a Steelers stuffed bear. I’ve named him Beardy the Bear (I think) after Steelers defensive lineman Brett Kiesel. I’m still considering naming him Heath, after tight end Heath Miller, a Pro Bowler who’s had a great year.

All in all, it was a tough year for us health-wise (but better than 2011) and financially, but we grew closer together and bonded more with our respective families, so that was great. 2013 looks to have some challenges to it (I need a job!), but I think and hope we’ll have a good year and I’m looking forward to it. I’m especially looking forward to our April wedding. So, I wish everyone reading this a happy New Year and I hope that 2013 treats us all well. Cheers!


Oh, I forgot to mention the death of my favorite aunt — Aunt Katherine — late in 2012. We all traveled to Winston-Salem, NC for the memorial service. There I was reunited with several great cousins and even met some new ones I’d never met before. That was awesome. On the way back, we stopped in Asheville to visit my old friend, Ami. It was wonderful to see her again.

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A Memorable Weekend

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 15, 2012

Hi. I feel like I’ve been out of touch for awhile now, so it’s about time I’m writing. My Aunt Katherine died a week and a half ago, in Winston-Salem, NC. She was my favorite aunt. I hadn’t seen her in years, since something like 1994. But we kept up with cards and phone calls and Mom kept me posted on what she’d been up to. She was 84 and her health was failing, so it wasn’t a huge shock, but still, when I got the call, I cried for an hour or two. I can’t believe she’s gone. She was preceded in death a couple of years ago by her husband, my Uncle Earl. I have five cousins — their children.

Aunt Katherine’s memorial service was last Saturday in Winston-Salem. My fiance and I joined my parents for an eight hour car ride through East Tennessee over the mountains and on to northwest North Carolina. We arrived last Friday night and found our hotel before going to a local steakhouse for dinner. Then we went over to my aunt’s house, where my cousin Stephen was living. He had cared for his mother for the last three years of his life, and frankly, it had worn on him. She had gotten a rare form of dementia and had turned mean, unfortunately. She had always been loud and bossy, but also loving and warm. Now she was just mean. It’s sad. We visited with Stephen for awhile, whom I had not seen since 1994, and then went back to our hotel rooms. I was disappointed to find out he wouldn’t be attending the memorial service the next day. Additionally, my cousins Susan and Katherine couldn’t make it over from California, so just three of her children would be there. Later at the hotel, Gretchen and I went to the bar and discovered the Winston-Salem Shag Club was meeting and dancing there. It was kind of funny. For those of you unfamiliar with the shag, it’s a Southern dance. Been around a long time. We had a drink and hit the sack.

Saturday morning, I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought that maybe 10 people might show up for a 10 minute service. Boy, was I wrong! A lot of people showed up and the service was long. I first spotted my cousin Jane (with her husband), whom I hadn’t seen since 1985. It was nice to see her. Then her brother Kenneth, and his wife Betsy, showed up. I was really dumbfounded when my cousin Gray appeared. I’ve only seen him once, back when I was a young child in the early 1970s. He was older than me. He dad — my Uncle Tom — had died young. I never knew him. Now Gray was here, and with him a sister — Bunny. I had heard of Bunny for years, but — get this — I did not know we were cousins. I had thought we were second or third cousins or somehow related, but no one had ever told me Uncle Tom had three children (one is deceased). I was stunned to meet a new cousin at my age. It was awe inspiring. I was further excited to see my Aunt Francis, who came up from Savannah, and her son Chan, with his wife Lana, up from St Petersburg. It was a large family gathering — something I’ve never been a part of, as I’ve never lived near family and grew up not knowing any. I guess Aunt Katherine was my favorite aunt because I knew her best, but we still only saw each other two or three times a decade. Isn’t that tragic? I never met my grandparents on either side. They all died. I’ve never known what it’s like to have grandparents. That’s always saddened me.

The service was held in a Lutheran church, where my aunt attended. It was a traditional service. Many of Aunt Katherine’s former bridge partners showed up, which was nice. In fact, there were quite a few people there. It was touching. Jane got up and spoke, as did Betsy. Then my mother — the only remaining one of she and her siblings — got up and spoke. I wanted to, but decided not to as it seemed to be just the immediate family doing so.

After the service, ladies from the church served us lunch, and we gathered to look at old photographs and memorabilia. Gray and I caught up a bit. Like me, he’s a writer and editor, which was interesting. I talked to Bunny for a few minutes. Jane was the life of the party, as she always was growing up. Center of attention, and all that. Her husband, Craig, is very quiet in contrast. After we finished there, most of us headed back to the house, where we gathered together and talked. And ate goodies. Betsy was animated and she and I had a nice chat. It was especially good to see Kenneth, who’s probably my favorite cousin as I’ve kept up the most with him. He even came over to Chattanooga last year to visit, which was awesome. It was great being able to introduce Gretchen, my fiance, to everyone. They all liked her and even though she’s an introvert, she did well and I was proud of her. Many pictures were taken, and some were even decent, although I’m far from photogenic.

Late in the afternoon, we left and drove down to Old Salem, particularly to see the all women’s school, Salem College, where my maternal grandmother attended school years ago. I have a bum hip these days, so walking around was very difficult for me, but it was still nice to see some of these old buildings. When we returned to our hotel that night, we all watched football. I watched Alabama lose to Texas A&M in disbelief.

We left late the next morning, because we planned on stopping in Asheville to visit one of my dearest friends, Ami, an old college friend. She’s now a married mother of three and very busy, so it was nice of her to fit us into her schedule. Her step-mother was there visiting from Maryland, and as I hadn’t seen her since 1990, it was nice to talk to her. Ami looked great! I swear, she looks younger every time I see her. I want to know what her secret is. She came over to Chattanooga to visit me last year, so it was nice to be in her cute home up in the mountains. It was also nice to finally be able to introduce Gretchen to Ami. They had become friends over the past couple of years because of me, and they got along marvelously. When they met in person, it felt like they already knew each other very well. It was too short of a visit, but I’m glad it worked out.

On the way back to Chattanooga, we stopped in Knoxville at the church I grew up in. You could call it a mega-church, although it’s not nearly as big as some. For a mid-sized Southern city, I guess it’s fairly large, with about 5,000 members, six buildings, lots of land, and lots of money, with an operating budget close to 7 million dollars. It was encouraging to see their missions hall chock full of hundreds of big baskets of food items to be given to local missions and charities. It’s a rich mega-church, but they do have good people there and they do a lot of good work. They support more missionaries than any other Presbyterian church in their denomination, which is interesting. They even have six houses where they let missionaries on furlough stay when they’re back in the States. Naturally, my parents ran into a ton of people they knew, which extended our stay there, and naturally, they had to show Gretchen around. I had mixed feelings about being there. I’m generally not a big fan of mega-churches and I’m no longer an evangelical, so I don’t really support their teachings there, but there are a lot of good people at that church and they do a lot of good things, so I guess it’s a decent place. Still, it brought back a rash of memories from my growing up days, not all of which were good. Gretchen seemed to like it, although like me, she’s generally not a big fan of mega-churches. Instead of building two story gymnasiums and Internet cafes and coffee houses, more money could be given to the poor. That’s how we see it. I guess it’s different strokes for different folks. I do miss the size of the church though. My parents are attending a Presbyterian church here with 53 people in it, and Gretchen and I are attending an Episcopalian church here with about 60 or 70 people in it. It’s definitely different.

We got home around 6:30 Sunday night and unpacked. Gretchen and I were tired from a long weekend, so we simply ordered a pizza and watched some football. It had been an emotional weekend, but generally a good one, and it was so good to reunite with old friends and family members, as well as meet new ones. I hope to keep up with these cousins of mine now that I have some of their contact info, and maybe, just maybe, some might be able to make it to our wedding next spring.

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An End of the Year Post

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2011

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I am recovering from a very major surgery I had on December 5th. It was quite painful, I was in the hospital for awhile, I still am in discomfort, but I’m coming along quite well, IMO. It’s supposed to take 6-8 more weeks for me to heal, but I think I’m ahead of schedule. I’m grateful for that. My girlfriend and parents have been very helpful. I wasn’t allowed to drive for two weeks or pick up anything heavier than five pounds, and I was largely housebound after getting out of the hospital, but it helped having others around to help, so that worked out well.

As I write this, Christmas has also come and gone. This was a very meaningful Christmas for me. For the past seven years, I hadn’t really been “allowed” to celebrate Christmas, as my ex was against it for religious reasons. Indeed, it felt like I was let out of prison this year and I really had fun with it! I got my first ever Christmas tree (as an adult). It’s artificial, but I don’t care — it’s decorated and beautiful. I felt wonderful to have one up, and have the lights and give and get presents and do stockings and the whole works. Wonderful experience.

As I write this, 2011 is nearly over and 2012 is almost upon us. I think I’m going to do what everyone always hates and that’s run through some high/low points for the year. Yeah, I think I will….

  • January: This was a very difficult month for me. I had to have a second eye surgery, following one in December, in order to help me see again. I was undergoing blood sugar problems and tremendous head/facial pain. My ex and I were having significant relationship problems, and I was having job problems, largely because of my health issues. I also made a move in January, a temporary one, but still a hassle.
  • February: Another difficult month. I decided to quit my job to concentrate on salvaging my health. I was seeing up to two and three doctors and specialists a week in order to find out what was wrong with my head in terms of the tremendous pain I was experiencing. Sometimes I didn’t feel like I could keep going on….
  • March: My buddy, Chris Duncan, offered me the opportunity to serve as the poetry editor for an online literary publication called Ray’s Road Review. I pondered it for a week and then accepted. And I must say that I’m grateful to Chris for this opportunity, as it’s been enjoyable and fulfilling all year long. I hope to stay in this position for as long as Chris sees fit.
  • April: Continuing to strive to find the source of my head pain, I underwent a lumbar puncture one neurologist wanted me to do for testing. It felt quite odd. April was also the month a long term friendship started to blossom into a wonderful relationship. So, a good and bad month.
  • May: May was big. My relationship with my ex legally ended after months of legal goings on. I found a pain management specialist who believed my pain was the result of Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known as The Suicide Disease as it’s widely considered to be the most painful condition known to man. I underwent a Gasserian Ganglion Block procedure, which confirmed his diagnosis and I embarked on a new life of research into this disease and treatment options. Two days after my surgery, I wound up back in the hospital for five days due to remarkably intense abdominal pain. It took awhile to recover from that. In May, my new girlfriend made her first trip ever to the state of Tennessee and here to Chattanooga. We had a remarkable time together.
  • June: June was a month I started looking for a place for my girlfriend and I to move in together here in Chattanooga. She had decided to relocate here to invest in our relationship, a wonderful thing to have happen. Meanwhile, I had severe blood sugar problems and had been put on an intense new extremely low carb diet in order to gain control over the blood sugar issues. I lost some weight and that was good.
  • July: In July, several medications I take regularly were changed or replaced with stronger medications, making it extremely difficult for me to function for weeks. Some of these meds had extreme sedative effects, and I was still experiencing my head/facial pain, so I spent much of July in bed, literally. The one good thing was that my girlfriend came back for another wonderful visit. We had a very special time.
  • August: In August, I underwent another Gasserian Ganglion Block for therapeutic purposes related to my head pain. August also saw a recurrence of my abdominal pain, putting me on new meds for extended periods of time. The big news, however, was that my girlfriend moved here from out of state and we moved into a nice new house my parents helped us find, with our two cats, so we formed our own little happy family and things were starting to become right with the world!
  • September: I had a birthday in September. I tried not to be too depressed. LOL! My girlfriend gave me the new Bukowski book, among other things, and that was sweet. My abdominal pain was pretty intense and the meds weren’t helping too much. However, home life was very good, and that was a wonderful change.
  • October: I found myself in another surgery center this month, the result of which was a recommendation to see a big time general surgeon to discuss major surgery. *Sigh* October was also the month for Halloween though, and my ex had never allowed me to celebrate Halloween, again for religious reasons, so this year I bought a TON of candy, some decorations, a mask, a costume for my girlfriend, and we carved our first pumpkin together, which was an awesome experience. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get too many trick or treaters and had way too much candy left over!
  • November: November was a month of significant depression for me. My father had a very serious surgery of his own, which was nerve wracking, and my major surgery was looming. Life didn’t seem too good. A highlight was Thanksgiving. My girlfriend’s youngest son (she has two) flew in to visit and, along with my parents, we all celebrated Thanksgiving together and we had a lovely time. It was nice to have company.
  • December: Well, I’ve already written about my surgery and about Christmas, so that covers most of it. I put our anticipated 2012 budget together yesterday and am trying not to be too depressed. LOL! I’m going to have to start thinking about looking for some type of job soon, even though I don’t feel physically up to it yet. Gotta generate some income. My depression is improving, and that’s been welcome. And it’s been a really great month. My girlfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary together (we gave each other beautiful watches!), we sent and received dozens of Christmas cards, I received 57 get well cards (most from family friends), we enjoyed spending Christmas with my parents, we gave each other some lovely gifts, and now I’m sitting here bathed in bowl games and loving it!

Well, I guess that covers my “End of the Year” blog post today. It was a hard year, but a good year. I’d like to start blogging more next year, but I often just really don’t have the energy. And I feel like I have little of interest to write about too, so there’s that. Nonetheless, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that 2012 treats everyone right. Cheers!

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