"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

December 22, 2014

Good stuff from years gone by

Since I'm halfway through my month-long Christmas vacation, you'd think I would have written a post by now. But I've been too busy just chillin' and doing things I don't normally do, like cleaning out my office. While going through a bunch of papers, most of which became trash, I came across a little gem—my journal from 1994 through 1996 titled "Good Stuff Happens."

In keeping with my current mantra of "streamline, simplify, streamline, simplify," for this post I'm leveraging what I wrote around 20 years ago. So here's a selection of staccato journal entries back when I was divorced, living in an apartment, working two jobs, and raising two teenagers. The good stuff that happened revolved around them, music, Mexican food, and baseball, plus two special vacations. What a fabulous time it was.

Good Stuff Happens


Apr 4: Zach had a great game. He walked only one batter, and hit a home run and a triple (four RBIs).

Apr 5: Took Angy, Zach, and Sean to the Pink Floyd concert at Rice Stadium.

Apr 7: Took Angy, Zach, and Monica to see the musical “Tommy” at Jones Hall and then ate at Treebeards in Market Square.

Apr 16: Took Angy, Zach, and Monica to Fitzgeralds to see the band Milkbone. Earlier, Zach hit a home run.

Apr 25: Zach played his last little league game. He made the last out of the game playing third base.

Jun 2: Zach pitched his first game in high school summer ball. We won 14 to 7.

Jun 5–12: Went to Washington, DC, for a Compaq training event. Saw the sights and cruised around in a limo.

Jun 17: Angy’s 17th birthday. Gave her four tickets to Metallica and $100. Took her, Zach, and Monica to Pappasito's for fajitas.

Jun 25–Jul 2: Went to San Diego for a training event. Had a dinner cruise around the bay and pulled into the harbor as an awesome fireworks display began. Met Chuck Norris.

Jul 16–23: Took Angy and Zach to Key West for vacation. Too fine! Coffee on the veranda, wine on the patio, margaritas on the pier, sunsets, shopping, and jet skiing.

My beautiful girl and the Key West sunset
My beautiful boy catching some rays

Jul 25: Turned 40 today. Coworkers trashed my office, took me to lunch, and gave me a Macy’s gift certificate. Clai bought me a bottle of wine and took me to see “Forrest Gump.” The kids gave me Jimmy Buffet CDs so I could reminisce about Key West.

Aug 31: Zach’s 15th birthday. Gave him $100, and took him and his girlfriend to Pappasito’s.

Sep 19: Started working at the Mason Jar (evenings and weekends) so I can buy a new car. It's my first job waiting tables, and my first tip was 20%.

Dec 26: On vacation. Slept late, spent time with the kids, and enjoyed the great weather. The kids gave me Converse tennis shoes for Christmas, and I bought a video camera as a gift for all of us. (We made Mom and Dad a Christmas video for their present.) Went to the Christmas Eve service at church and sang “Silent Night” by candlelight. Then spent a great day with all the fam.

Dec 31: The kids’ friends came over. I made a lot of food. We did fireworks, then had a toast in the parking lot at midnight.


Feb 14: Valentine’s Day. The kids made me the sweetest card I’ve ever gotten in my whole life and gave me some tulips. Then Zach brought me a rose that night at work.

Mar 25: My first Saturday off … no more working weekends! Zach had his first game of the season. He pitched and we won 15 to 2.

Apr 16: Had a nice Easter weekend. Hid eggs with $20 bills inside for the kids on Friday. Gave them Easter baskets Sunday morning and had a nice day at Mom and Dad’s, eating and playing games.

Apr 26: Zach had a great game. He pitched, got a double and an inside-the-park home run. We won 9 to 1.

May 21: Went to see Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Woodlands with Zach, Nick, and Nick's brother, Ryan. Perfect weather for sitting on the hill, and the concert was great.

Jun 13: Zach’s team won the championship. He hit a home run that scored three in the first inning and he scored the tying run in the last inning. Later, the Houston Rockets won their second straight championship. It was a very exciting night for sports.

Jun 17: Angy’s 18th birthday. We ate at Pappasito's and went to see “Batman Forever.”

Whatever happened to my poster?
And why did I ever have those bangs?
Jul 25: My 41st birthday. Took the day off from both jobs. Slept late, and Zach and Nick made me breakfast. Angy and Zach gave me two dozen red roses. Soaked in a bubble bath and then went to meet Clai. We ate at Fuddruckers and saw “Apollo 13.” Clai gave me a bottle of wine, Mom gave me $100, and Rex gave me gold earrings and a “Legends of the Fall” poster.

Aug 31: Zach’s 16th birthday. Last night I took him to Eric Clapton’s concert. Tonight I took him, Angy, and Nick to Chuy’s for dinner. (Mexican food has become a birthday tradition.)

Sep 12: Last night working at the Mason Jar! Just couldn’t do it anymore. Afterward, I threw my shoes in the garbage and had some beer at the bar.

Nov 3: Zach told me that he was happy every day of his life. That made me very, very happy.

Every day: God is so good. I praise Him for His infinite mercy, grace, love, kindness, patience, faithfulness, goodness, power, and glory.

Nov 20: I finally got a promotion at Compaq! As an editor, I now have a job that I’m suited for, enjoy, take pride in, and am challenged by. Thank you, Jesus … this is the best thing that has happened in a long time.

Dec 25: Went to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve and then opened presents. Had a nice, quiet Christmas at Mom and Dad’s and am having a wonderful 10 days off from work.


Mar 20: Life has been so good every single day. I haven’t been writing because every day has been special. Love my job and everything about my life. I’m getting more involved in church, and I’ve got the best kids in the world. I’m at perfect peace, not so much because things are going well, but because God loves me and He’s in control. And today I’m leaving for Europe! Laurie and I are going to London and Paris.

Mar 21: Karen picked us up at the airport in London. We drove (on the left side of the road!) to her house in a quaint little village called Much Hadham. Had afternoon tea, visited an old church and cemetery in drizzling rain, and went to a little country pub for dinner. It was lovely.

Mar 22: Laurie and I took the train into London. We saw the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Dungeons of London, Tower of London, and the Crown Jewels. That night Karen took us to a mystery dinner theatre at an old hotel in the country.

Mar 23: We visited Leed’s Castle. Had delicious bangers and mash that evening at the Bull’s Inn.

Mar 24: Karen drove us into London. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. Laurie and I took the train to Paris and checked into our quaint little hotel. Caught a glimpse of the Eiffel tower all lit up on the way.

Laurie, some guy, and me
Mar 25: Walked and rode the subway all over Paris. Went to the Loueve, strolled along the Seine, shopped, visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, went to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, and had a fabulous dinner in St. Michel.

Mar 26: Visited the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Went to Montmartre at the top of the hill and had a great lunch. Did more shopping and sight-seeing. Had a bottle of wine at an Australian bar and then another bottle at a Parisian bar. Ordered a “cheese royale” at McDonald’s (in homage to "Pulp Fiction").

Mar 27: Had our last wonderful breakfast of fresh bread and café ole, then flew home. It was a fantastic trip, but it was equally fantastic to get home and see my kids.

May 12: Had a lovely Mother’s Day. The kids gave me some stargazer lilies and a card (they picked up the wrong kind and had to cut “Happy Birthday” off the bottom).

Jun 14: Sat on the hill at the Woodlands Pavillon under a full moon and listened to the Moody Blues in concert with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

Jun 17: Angy’s 19th birthday. Gave her a camera on Saturday, had cake at Mom’s on Sunday, and dinner at Carrabba’s on Monday.

Jul 25: My 42nd birthday. Woke up to find a large vase filled with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a precious card, and a watch from Angy and Zach. They took me out for breakfast at IHOP, and afterward drove me by a retirement home where they thought I might like to live some day. (They're so much fun.) Mom and Rex had each given me $100. After spending it on clothes, I had a facial, then met Clai at Macaroni Grill.

Aug 31: Zach’s 17th birthday. Gave him $200 to put toward a car. Took him and Angy to eat at Ninfa’s, then had cake at home.

Sep 20: Found my house!

Oct 21–24: Went to Nashville to audit a training class. Closed on my house when I returned. Walked the property and every room of the house and gave it to God, asking Him to bless it and everyone who comes inside. One of the best days of my life!

Postscript: Just a few words about events can unearth a treasure trove of memories. I'm so glad I wrote them. Except for the few of us who share the memories, however, this probably wasn't a very interesting read. So if you made it all the way to the end, thanks for indulging me. I hope you're at least inspired to record your own good stuff so you can enjoy it somewhere down the road. And no, Facebook is not a substitute. You've probably got a lot of junk on there you won't care about later. Plus, you need to have a printed copy, because there's no way the Internet will survive the zombie apocalypse.

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