Sunday, December 11, 2011

R.I.P. Nelson Ray Bridges II

So today is December 11. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that date, 2 years ago on this date, my dad was killed by a drunk driver in downtown Amarillo. He died shortly after 9 pm after being worked on by several doctors and nurses for 4 hours. I can easily say that was the worst day of my life.

I still remember every detail about that day. I remember exactly what I was wearing and what I looked like. I still remember the weather that day. I still remember every moment from the hospital that night and from church shortly before that incident went down. I still remember waking up at 11:43 in the morning to a text from my dad that asked me if I wanted to go down to the shop and fool around with cars. I replied with a "Nah. Thanks anyways." but changed my mind several minutes later to "Yeah. Let me take a shower real quick." and he invited me to lunch at the Golden Corral. I hate that place. But I had no idea that would be the last lunch I'd ever have with my dad. After lunch with my dad and uncle Chris whose birthday was that very day, we headed out to the shop. We walked out of the restaurant and my dad cracked a joke about how I parked right out front of the restaurant and he parked "over in the next zip code." This was a classic Nelson moment. He could make anyone laugh and if you didn't laugh at one of his jokes, you didn't have a heartbeat.

I remember us all driving to the shop and going inside to work on some cars. I stayed there for a couple hours and left shortly after 4 to go home and get something to eat before heading to church for the Christmas drama practice. I had no idea that would be the last time I ever told my dad that I loved him and that the "bye" would be so literal.

At 5-ish, Andrew had gotten a text from a friend telling us that dad had been in a wreck and was at the hospital. I didn't have my phone on me so I went up to where I had left it and looked.. Yep. A text from Mark telling me the same thing. Andrew and I left and drove to BSA, worrying about what could have happened. All we knew was that my dad had been in a wreck with another truck. Details were very vague at this time until we got to the hospital and walked in to see mom and Kellye sitting at the reception desk trying to find out where dad was. He was upstairs but he wasn't in good shape. Every time the doctor came back to share with us what was going on, the news were progressively getting worse and worse. Broken right knee, pelvis, injuries to the side of the chest and arm, and trauma to the side of the face and head. Internal bleeding. They were giving him bag after bag after bag of blood and were desperately trying to help him breathe. He was still alive but unconscious. Eventually, he died.

What had happened was my dad was walking toward the shop off the street and was standing in front of his truck when William hit the backside of my dad's truck doing twice the speed limit at 70. My dad was only standing near the corner of the truck so the impact knocked him out of the way while William's truck pushed my dad's truck into the back of yet another car on the next block, bending the '72 GMC in half. The front of the bed was pushed well into the cab where the driver's side door would not open. The bed had been smashed in to where the sides bowed out.

William was only sentenced to 15 years and will most likely be out earlier. This was William's 5th DUI. The Monday of the same week he hit my father, William had been arrested for his 4th DUI and bail bonded out of jail on the Thursday before that fateful Friday. It took 5 DUIs and taking my dad's life before the City of Amarillo said they would reevaluate their justice system and after giving William such a small sentence in those circumstances, I'm still not happy with how William's trial went. I never will be. Before you ask, yes, I've forgiven him and moved on. That doesn't mean I have to go fishing with the man or become his buddy. I've forgiven him but for his safety and well-being, he better not come anywhere near to me. I don't care if anyone thinks that's wrong. Get over it. I never want to see that man again. I refuse to. It still is difficult for me to even want to stay here after what happened that night. It still is after how people expect me to live to their expectations and standards. It seems as if they still haven't realized that their expectations and opinions do not define me. I'm me. That's all there is to it. It's funny how true this quote is:

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment!"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

However, there are a few things in Amarillo that I love which keeps me sane. I love going to school and volunteering at Vermillion. Those places make me want to improve myself and make me discipline myself. I also love working on my hot rod projects at home as that's what my dad and I loved to do. We would work for hours and hours on the most small of projects. I still have the '48 Chevrolet truck that my dad and I started when I was in high school that will get finished eventually. My garage is my escape from reality.

But in the end, my dad's gone. He's been gone two years today. If you were to ask me if life's any easier, I wouldn't be able to give you an answer to that question. I still struggle with the concept of not having a dad to come home to. It really sucks knowing how quickly it went from being able to say "I have a dad" to "I had a dad." I regret not being a better son. I regret not spending as much time with him as I could have. I regret leaving him that day to go to drama practice. If I hadn't gone, then I would have been with him and maybe I would have saw that drunk barreling down Fillmore street and told him to get out of the way. Maybe he would somehow be still alive had I not left but I'll never know. We never will. There were so many things that could have happened to change the circumstances of that day but in the end, my dad got killed. It's not easy accepting that fact but it happened. I don't want a pity party. I don't want people telling me they're sorry.

This happened. This is a major part of me whether I like it or not. I just think people should know this is a major part of me. There are so many people in Amarillo that I could easily live without and my dad wasn't one of them. He was one of the few that kept me sane. He was one of the few that made me want to better myself. He's one of the few examples that taught me to be myself without regard to what other people think and without having to answer to anyone.

I miss that guy more than you will ever imagine.

R.I.P. Nelson Ray Bridges II

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Self-Righteous Hot Rodder?

While I wouldn’t call myself that, it seems like everyone makes me out to be one. Some people have given me their opinions on what I’m building, referring to my 1928 Model A Coupster as a “Rat Rod.” That’s right. You know who you are. One of my challenges is holding true to my vision although few in Amarillo would understand why I would rather get an original Model A frame than use a tube steel frame.

So, I decided to make a blog post on my thoughts and opinions about the term “Rat Rod” which is thrown around too loosely and the differences between a hot rod and a street rod as well. While I could go into details about the other aspects of classic cars such as pro street, pro touring, kustom, mild custom, lowriders, taildraggers, et cetera, I want to stick with the aforementioned three topics; hot rods, street rods, and rat rods because these oftentimes refer to the 20’s through early 50’s. My car, in question, falls within the 20’s-early 30’s category, so let’s stick with that for today.

First and foremost, I want to explain the build of my Model A Coupster. The term Coupster is a modern term coined which defines a coupe that has had its top cut off. This was a popular method used back in the day when kids couldn’t afford to buy a real roadster, so they would buy a coupe and simply cut the roof off, which explains the combination of the two terms; Coupe and Roadster to make Coupster. My Model A started its life as a 1928 Model A Sports Coupe which is pretty much a coupe with its window frames around the door and door frames that runs from behind the door up and then horizontally to the front windshield post, or A-pillar as it’s known. The difference between a real Coupe and a Sports Coupe is the Sports Coupe does not have a hard top. Rather, it has a soft top. I have provided two examples of each so you can identify the differences.

Now, my Coupster is a 1928 model because it has bolt hole provisions in the rear driver side of the subrail for a single taillight. The 1929 model had the taillight moved to the driver’s side rear fender and there were no bolt holes in the rear subrail for a taillight. My cowl is not original to the 1928 model because the date stamped on the firewall of the cowl says that the car that the cowl originally came on was built, or at least stamped out in the fall of 1929. Nonetheless, my Coupster will be a fully traditional build that features parts used that are as new as 1957, in other words, any parts that I use has to be from 1957 or earlier than that. The Model A body is an original Henry Ford product and not a reproduction body, the Model A frame is original as well. The motor is a 1957 Chevy 283, and a Ford 3-speed is planned, along with a Banjo rear axle and probably a closed driveshaft. Split wishbones, ’46 Ford I-beam axle that will get dropped, juice brakes, Ford steel wheels, bias ply tires, ’53 Mercury dash, Stewart Warner gauges, bench seat, mild channel, Z in the rear frame, leaf springs, the whole nine yards. This car will be more likely to get compliments from your grandparents or parents than from you. Why? Your elders grew up around these cars and I hate to say it, but the older cars that you have grown up around are nothing like what they built back in the day. Now, the average person will think to themselves, “That cannot be safe! He’s using only old parts?” I should remind you that they did that back in 1957 and it was perfectly acceptable. There are plenty of cars like that out there but they just aren’t in Amarillo. My car fits into the hot rod category.

My definition of a hot rod is a traditional build. That means, to me, a hot rod is a completely old school built using old parts. The term “hot rod” is thrown around as loosely as the term “rat rod” which bothers me a lot. Unfortunately, other people in Amarillo do not commonly share my beliefs. I can only count on one hand the number of people that would most likely agree with me. In other words, it’s me versus Amarillo. Will I be the one to say that my car is better than all the other cars? No. I’m not that strong an elitist. I will admit though, I believe mine will have better proportions, overall choices, aesthetically pleasing and will be much better thought-out. But to say my hot rod will be better is something I don’t believe in. It all comes down to whose opinion you’ll be asking.

My definition of a street rod is they are one of the most common forms of old cars you see today, driving down the road. They might be the most reliable but they don’t have much taste. They don’t have a lot of style. They don’t have soul like a traditional hot rod. They might look nice to most people but I’m too much of a perfectionist to be content with what a car looks like. Especially when it’s one I’m building which is why I absolutely will not accept compromises with my build. Street rods oftentimes have crazy paint schemes, two-tone, airbrushing, independent suspension on the front or/and back, billet wheels, and usually follows the latest trend. Fiberglass bodies are the norm here too which I loathe. The ugliest street rods are usually from the 80’s featuring pastel colors with some really funky wheel designs. The 90’s cleaned up a little more but were still ugly. Modern street rods are not as ugly as before but normally have some distasteful choices. Most modern street rods have radial tires, crate motors (usually small block Chevrolets) automatic transmissions, 4 wheel disc brakes, aftermarket wheels, or have tried to combine modern body parts with an old body which never, never works out. Street rods do not bother me as much as rat rods do. They're safe and can drive. Sure they're ugly, but not everyone has good taste.

My definition of a rat rod is blunt. They suck. You want a simple formula for building a rat rod? Get a car regardless of the year, take the fenders off, Z the front and back of the frame enough to get the body within an inch of the ground, and get it running. They are a mix of mismatched parts which aim to deliver an overdose of shock factor and are dangerous. I have seen rat rods that don’t have any suspension travel, that scrap the ground as they drive, that their families probably have obituary forms prepared in case a tire blows out, that have barely half a body to sit in that has been eaten by rust, and pretty much isn’t impressive to me at all. They usually consist of tube steel frames if they don’t already have the original frame with them. There have been so many nice original bodies that have been ruined over the years because of this latest trend. I cannot wait for the day that this trend dies. I would rather there be more street rods versus rat rods although I dislike either. I have never seen a rat rod that I liked nor will I ever. Rat rods to me are the bottom of the food chain when it comes to building a car because for one, they have no aesthetic value, for two, they normally pass as dangerous but are still registered just because it’s an antique, and for three, it’s a rat rod. The DMV should be stricter on what passes as register-able. Just like they should make the driver’s license tests harder to pass. Just like there are moron drivers, there will be moron cars. The only reason I would buy a rat rod would be to save the body that I want off of it and scrap the rest. I would never sell a rat rod frame which would make for one less rat rod on the road. Rat rods tend to give hot rods a bad rap because the average person struggles to tell the difference between hot rods and rat rods. To me, it's as clear as black and white but for the average person, it's grey, unfortunately.

One of the car forums responsible for spreading the idea of building a perfectly traditional hot rod, as well as period correct kustoms, mild customs, gassers, altereds, front engine dragsters, and cruisers is the HAMB, or Hokey Ass Message Board. Here are some links to some of the builds that I follow online that you could check out and get ideas as to what I’m building. I’ll warn you right now that some of the builders have very strong languages and might offend you. If you’re easily offended, don’t look. It’s that simple. Read at your own risk.

The term “hot rod” to me is defined in a paragraph above, so if you go back and read it again, you may understand it a little more. I don’t believe a Camaro or a Buick Grand National can be a hot rod because to me, these are muscle cars. It can be pro touring, pro street, cruiser, but they will never be hot rods to me. I have a very particular definition of a hot rod and it’s very difficult to prove to me that a specific car is a hot rod. I’ve come to terms that the only way that I will be able to prove to them that my Coupster is a hot rod is to build it and show them.

All in all; I don’t build rat rods or street rods. My Model A is a hot rod. Simple as that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day: Single Awareness Day

This is one of these blunt posts. Feelings will probably be hurt. Friendships may end. Assassination attempts may be made. Nuclear wars may be started. It may not sound like there's any love in this post, although this post is ironically about love, this comes straight from the heart. This is as honest as I get. There's a hint of sarcasm in there too.

Two topics that play a negative role in my life are living in Amarillo and my (basically non-existent) dating life. More people have commented negatively on the first one because they don't see Amarillo like I do. They don't understand my problem with living in Amarillo. That topic, I can understand why they respond the way they do. But the second topic really surprised me. Some friends brought up their concern about my personal life. I was actually told to be brutally honest but that wasn't something I wanted to do in my school's student commons. I would rather be brutally honest in a more discreet location. When I'm brutally honest, feelings get hurt, people get upset, maybe even mad ..but they did ask me to be brutally honest. The whole "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" rule came into play pretty strongly at that lunch because things would have gotten ugly had I spoke my mind. But to be brutally honest, that rule has to be broken here, and right now. Here goes..

I had a interesting lunch at school one day, sitting with a couple of friends. 2 of the friends are married to each other and the third person is just an interpreter. They were questioning why I was single and how come I hadn't dated any of the girls in Amarillo. I couldn't summon up the words to describe why because one of the challenges of being intelligent and deaf is trying to find the right words and communicate using them through sign language so that the other person understands me. I've always thought I communicate better online through emails, chatting, or texting than in person because I can make my points more clear and my arguments are easier to understand. I hate to say it but sign language is actually limiting to me. But that's just a challenge I have to go through in life which I don't mind at all.

Anyways, back to the lunch segment of the story. My dating life was in question. I simply explained that there weren't any girls here that I'm interested in. Then the interpreter started naming off every girl that is a part of the deaf community here in Amarillo. None of which I have any interest in dating based on several reasons individually. But I could tell the interpreter was starting to come off as a bit annoyed that I wouldn't date any of the named girls. Then one of the couple asked me what if God wanted me to date the interpreter, would I? While this is a very good question, this is a commonly asked and abused question. I have been asked many times what if God wanted me to date so-so, and ultimately, would I? But I have never had a good response to that question until now.

This is the response I would have gave had we not been in such a public place. I cannot force myself to become attracted to something I'm not attracted to in the first place. So what if I don't like certain girls? There are reasons why I don't that have nothing to do with physical appearances. Yeah, I check out girls that are physically beautiful but do I base who I'd date and who I wouldn't solely on physical appearance? Absolutely not. A girl can be physically beautiful but spiritually ugly, have a horrible personality, bad morals, or the wrong priorities. Don't think just because the beautiful girls that catch my eye are the only ones I'll date. More than often, I don't even try to talk to them or interact, because oftentimes they don't know sign language. There are certain things I look for in a girl and sign language is a major factor. This is just one of the many reasons that has nothing to do with physical appearances.

You know what? I'll just list some of the reasons why I don't hit on every cute chick out there. I dislike smokers, heavy drinkers/drunks, party girls, girls that sleep around, obnoxious, high-maintenance, slutty, unintelligent, annoying, gold diggers, foul-mouthed, girls who have no ambition or goals. You see, physical appearance is not the most important quality. It plays a factor though, yes. Attraction is what starts each and every relationship, although not always physical attraction. Again, I cannot force myself to be attracted to something I'm not. Just like I cannot force myself to love something I don't. Love and attraction are something that just happens naturally. Yeah, I'm a complicated guy. It's hard to please me, but I believe somewhere out there, there is a girl that matches me perfectly and maybe she'll prove me wrong about Amarillo. And that girl will attract me. But right now, none of the girls in the deaf community here fit into that role. Sorry, but that's just the truth.

As for the God question: if God really wanted me to date a girl, He would have had me fall in love with said girl or become attracted to her. That's how He works. We're long past the days of the burning bush. I'm not going to be walking between the HELC computer lab and the JBK Student Commons and all of a sudden a bush becomes ablaze and I hear "Matt, go date this girl." If He wants me to fall in love with a girl, it will happen. Otherwise, He hasn't told me to date any of the girls that you think I should. And to be honest, I'm glad He hasn't. If you think I should date a girl here that I'm not attracted to, then I'm not sorry to tell you no. Try to set them up with one of your friends that might think they're cute but quit pushing them on me when you know I'm not attracted to them. But as for me, this is MY life to live as God sees fit. Not yours. I'm not your personal Barbie and Ken set. You have your own life to do whatever you please.

As for the whole hot rods thing, right now, that is more important to me than finding a girlfriend. It makes me happier than a girl ever has. I'm pretty convinced that should I end up with a wife, she will be hearing, or from a deaf community outside of Amarillo. There are plenty of people who are happier being single and building hot rods than if they were married and had kids. If I end up in that category, so be it. If I don't and I actually end up married and with kids, so be it. And when I made the comment of how I could move into a shop because building hot rods is what makes me happy, I was insulted when someone kept telling me "Oh, you'll never be satisfied with that. You'll be done and there'll still be a hole in your heart and-" excuse me..

Did I ever make a comment about hot rods being more important than God? No. I may be obsessed with hot rods, but is hot rod building a sin? Does it say somewhere in the Bible that "thou shalt not touch the fruits of Henry Ford's labor?" You are simply making a statement based on the little, if any  knowledge you have of me. I can still serve God and glorify His name while building hot rods. I can still go on missions. I can still participate in church. I can still volunteer at church. I can still contribute. There are people who have built and sold hot rods and made money that went to charities and to mission funds. It's not just hot rods. People have made gracious contributions for greater causes doing what they love that has absolutely nothing to do with hot rods. But since building hot rods is a sin, I guess I'll sell everything I have and become idle, wait and see what kind of horrible unspeakable evil can entrap me or what addiction I develop. Sorry, but hot rods has kept me as far away from being idle as anything else can. Including girls. Building hot rods keeps me in line. And when I look back at my high school years, I'm glad I got into hot rods and don't have a bad history with girls. Especially from my high school. God knows how many pregnant teenagers and mothers there are today and over the last several years, and I can honestly say I'm not one of the guys that contributed to that statistic. So before you try preaching to me based on your assumption; Think. Ask. Investigate. Be sure your assumptions are right because the wrong assumption was made the other day.

So I think I've voiced my opinion pretty well and have made my point. If your feelings are hurt or you feel mad at me, remember the request was made to be brutally honest. I'm not a people-pleaser and don't feel bad about not being one. If I lose friends, oh well. From now on, next time you feel the need to bring up your opinion about my life, ask. There are friends whose opinion I'll take to heart and friends whose opinion is worth nothing to me. Frankly, life is much too short to take crap from everyone. I want to be as nice as I can be to everyone but when people start having expectations about my personal life, that's when I draw lines in the sand. I refuse to be the next "The Truman Show."

The Amarillo blog will come at a later time. This question struck a personal nerve with me and just had to be answered.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Life

If you knew me, you would probably describe me as different from everyone else. I've never fit in with the modern culture of fist pumping partiers.

Don't fret. Differences can co-exist peacefully. This is the way I see it.. You can drive your Prius but I'll drive my Chevy. Just stay out of my way, that's what the slow lane is for. Sure the Prius has better mileage, but my Chevy's faster which is more fun. First, some background..

I have been described as traditional and old school plenty of times.. And I don't consider that as a bad thing. I've never been in Midnight Rodeo and have never found appeal in the idea of going there. I've never stepped in a club. I do have been in a bar or two before, in Fort Worth, that I will admit to. But the experience wasn't enough to make me think that they're a must do on my list. I feel maybe I should explain the whole "fist pumping partiers" thing.

Back in high school, I had never gone to a party. Even in college, I still haven't gone to one. I don't plan on doing that, so does that make me a social outcast? I wouldn't think so. I'm sure there are young adults my age out there that have done the same, or "have not done" which is more fitting. Plus Jersey Shores is pretty dumb, even by today's standards. I have never, nor will I ever, found Snooki cute. Ugh. Who could? It seems that the only memberships the cast has is to the gym and the tanning salon. Wow, what a way to live your life.

I'm sure Alexander Supertramp never had a membership to either one

You see.. My life is more about getting out there. Living my life outside walls. How many of you guys have a bucket list? I have a humongous bucket list. I guarantee you I will never ever complete my bucket list. It would take a thousand lifetimes to do that. Some of the things on my bucket list are cars-related, like driving on some of the world-famous tracks like Nurburgring in Germany, Road Atlanta in Georgia, and some include events like an Illegal Downhill Soap Box Derby in San Francisco, the Moto Melee in California as well, and people I want to meet like Vern Tardell, Troy Ladd, or Jimmy Shine.

Salt Lake Flats, Bonneville, UT

Front Engine Dragster making a run.

But it's the non-cars related events that you guys are probably more interested in. So, I'll spare you the hot rod lingo and talk about some of the things I wish to accomplish in my short time here on earth. One thing I would love to do is live off the grid for a numer of months, like 6. Live completely out in the wild, in the middle of a beautiful valley, surrounded by mountains and trees, miles from civilization.

Or maybe even live on a ship on the ocean! Imagine all the fishing I could do, the sights I could go see, the places I could swim in, and the danger! The danger is something that I believe we all need to experience at least occasionally. How else would we appreciate living? Why should we stay in one house in one town for the rest of our lives? What's the point of living when we have a daily routine? We need to break that habit and get out there and live our lives to the fullest. God gave us a beautiful green earth that we're slowly killing off. We should appreciate its beauty and its natural design while we can. Think of it this way, the first time you smell a candle, do you think "that's all I want for the rest of my life?" No. You pick up the next candle and smell it to see what different scent it might hold. Then you pick up the next one and so on and on. Now, my point of living on a ship is that's something that we're fully capable of doing, but we never take the challenge. We think "I can't, I have a job, I have responsbilities, I have bills to pay." which are understandable. I'm not saying we should go and live on the road and never have a permament residence. I'm saying we should go out there every once in a while and see what else is out there behind the city limits.

I hope you guys find some inspiration from this post. I know some of these things that I talk about are ludricious, but we're only given a certain number of years to spend on this earth. And I refuse to spend those precious years on the dance floor or in a tanning bed. There's more to life than that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Uh? Blog? I have one?

I know. I know. I never update my blog any more. It's hard for me to do so since my brother's laptop broke. School's out though, so I can make more time for everything else I've been neglecting. I can get more work done and get things crossed off the to-do list!

I'm currently typing this on my iPhone. It sucks that blogger doesn't have a mobile site or an app like Tumblr. Oh well. Speaking of Tumblr.. I have one now. It's a culmination of photos I've saved to my phone ever since I got it, which has exceeded a thousand pictures numberous times even though I delete them to try and preserve what memory I have left.

Here's the address:

You guys should check it out. Maybe you'll somewhat understand what goes through my mind on a daily basis. :)

I'll type a big blog update at some point this Christmas break, I promise! I'm sorry I've neglected my blog. :/

Thank you guys!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life has its Ups and Downs

I'm having a hard time adopting the habit of blogging oftentimes. I'm still getting used to trying to capture all of the thoughts and ideas that go through my head with a keyboard and putting something together from that. It does take a lot of thought.. But I think I may have one down tonight.

Oh, and to emphasize how much of a risk it was to take this Nissan to Arlington, here's a photo..

It doesn't look all that bad in that picture, but when you see it in person and witness the smaller details around it, you realize it really is a risk. Okay, I need to stop. I told myself like a million times to not exaggerate.

Last year, I had plenty of "downs" as normal people do, but then near the end of the year, I had one huge "down" where my dad died as a result of some other idiot who should have never been on the road, or even a free man to walk, to begin with. Luckily, this person is currently awaiting trial for his crime. (I would elaborate, but I'm trying to keep this post as positive as I can.) I think this has driven me to make many choices in my life since then and many more choices to come. I've gotten to the point of where I'm just tired of trying to satisfy other people's expections and try to meet my own.

So, this year alone, I've been doing a lot of stuff. They've almost been the "ups" of my life right now. This past July, Andrew and I decided on a whim (notice a trend here?), a week prior, to head to the Southern Baptist Conference for the Deaf in Pennsylvania. Don't worry, it wasn't our doing, it was our friend, Tori, who had convinced us that this trip was not worth missing! Oh, we had to buy a whole bunch of plane tickets as well.. We should have took the Nissan. Our first flight was out of Oklahoma City to Chicago, then another one shortly after to Philadelphia. Upon arriving there, our friend Steve, who was already there would pick us up and drive us to SBCD in Lancaster, PA. This was on a Friday. At the end of the event (Thursday or Friday) we would fly from Lancaster to Baltimore, then from Baltimore to Philadelphia, before finally flying to Dallas, TX.

The very first spur-of-the-moment didn't take place in Philadelphia. We weren't even where we were supposed to be and we had already taken a detour off the main goal. It all started when our flight from Chicago to Philadelphia, which was to leave 30 minutes after we landed, got cancelled and we were put on the next flight which left 6 hours after our first landing.

So, all this free time to burn before our next flight. What to do?

Go see the Wrigley field! Yeah! That's what I'm talking about! We had tried and unsuccessfully negotiated getting put on an earlier flight, because the earliest flight was 6 hours away. Oh, the irony. Our friends, Tori and Angie, had already gotten tickets a long time before, which put them on a different flight which got them to Philadelphia earlier than us. So, we hopped onto a tram or bus or whatever you'd consider it, which brought us to a rent-a-car place. We tried to sweet-talk our way into a nice car. They were willing to look past me being 22, 3 years shy of the 25-year requirement, but negotiations got too complicated. We just stopped negotiating and told them to call us a cab. So, we took our first taxi cab ride in Chicago, Illinois, of all the places in the world. It looked like an unmarked police car, minus the shotgun rack, swerving laptop, and demoralizing cage in the backseat. We met with the man who introduced us to our driver. Our driver was a young but smooth looking cat, which reminded me of Josh from Real World: D.C. which in turn, reminded me of a young Michael Jackson. (Did I actually just make a positive comment related to Michael Jackson?)

Andrew and I slid into the backseat of his unmarked-police-car-taxi-cab and promptly told them Wrigley Field! The man and his driver started trying to figure out what the address was, knowing it was somewhere near the lake, then finally I wrote down "1060 West Addison St, Chicago, IL" on the notebook. They both looked at me perplexed. I wondered to myself how I knew the address as well, and remembered where I had learned of the address to the Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play. It was from the classic 1980 film; "Blues Brothers."

So, off to Wrigley Field we went! We eventually got to the field after traveling over 15 miles in a hour, bought a couple t-shirts as evidence we had been there, and got back into the taxi cab and headed back to the airport. Once again, the 15 mile ride took us a brisk hour, maybe even a hour and half. We got back to the airport with time to eat before flying to Philadelphia, and eventually SBCD in Lancaster. We enjoyed SBCD so much we're even considering coming back to it! Guess where it'll be located.. Atlanta, GA!

Now.. The question is whether to take the Nissan or fly. I'm leaning towards driving since we had a couple bad experiences with the airport, but nothing like our friend, Tori, who had her luggage shredded!

Another "up" recently was going on a fishing trip in Galveston with a group of men from the deaf church, New Life Deaf Fellowship in Fort Worth. Don't worry, we didn't fly. Nor did we drive the Nissan. We swallowed our manly pride and rode in a (Censored by Blogspot). Yep. We rode in a (Censored by Blogspot)!! Can you imagine riding in a (Censored by Blogspot) for a total of 24 hours? Such a chick car. (There I go again, exaggerating.. It wasn't as bad as I make it sound). Overall, it was worth it because I caught my first shark, as did many others.

The trophy catch of the day though, would have to go to Alex for catching a Ling! Steve (yes, same Steve from the SBCD story) had emphasized catching a Ling for their famous tasty meat! I distinctly remember Alex wrestling his fishing pole, struggling with surfacing the fish, and finally bringing it aboard. At one point during the struggling, Aric turned to me and said "Alex's exaggerating." But pulling that huge Ling onboard justified Alex's "exaggerating" and showed everyone how much of a fight a Ling could put up! It was so worth the trip in a (Censored by Blogspot) to spend some good quality fellowship time with other deaf men, as well as the fishing!

It's the trips like these that make up so much for the numberous "downs" in my life particularly last year. But "ups" don't have to be as big as these were.. They do come in small packages as well. I've been focusing on changing what needs to be changed in my life to reduce stress and make for less things to worry over.

P.S. this Blog is just making me even more aware of how technologically challenged I am. Thanks go to all those who helped me out (or are currently helping me out). I guess I'm just traditional or old school..

Friday, September 24, 2010

In the Red Corner..

Standing at 6'2'', weighting 240 pounds, coming out of Amarillo, TX, we have Matthew Bridges!

Honestly, I don't know why I decided to use that as the opening line for my intro, but I guess it got the job done. I also decided on using the Red corner because I love the Red Sox. Don't get me wrong, I love the Rangers as well, but I didn't want to use Blue because that's the color the Yankees abuse. I decided to start a blog because, basically, I didn't have one like pretty much everyone else does. And I particularly enjoy reading everyone else's blogs too, and thought.. "Why don't I have one?"

There may be a couple posts that touch on sensetive issues. There may be a couple posts that will offend a couple of readers. There will certainly be posts that will make you laugh. There will most certainly be posts about cars, because, face it, if you know me just a little, you know I love cars.

Now to give you some background on who I am. I'm Matthew Bridges, and yes, those are really my numbers. I'm a very traditional and conservative Christian who was raised to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" and to hold doors open for people. I'm not really your typical American college student. I may be college-aged, but I'm not your average partying, washboard-stomached, hearing, cool, douchebag college boy. If you missed that, I dropped "cool" in there. I can also be sarcastic as well.

Yes, I'm hearing imparied, but since I'm really politically incorrect, I'll stick with "deaf." I was born that way in 1988, but never at one point since then have I wished I was "hearing." Certain challenges arise from being a deaf person that I believe the average hearing person wouldn't be able to complete, which gives me all the more incentive to get through life as a deaf person. I love challenges, being pushed to do something, because of the motivation it gives me to finish something makes the feeling of achieving it in the end worth it. I'm also a very technical person, which means I like things very precise, organized, and I like to know the certain details about something. There are so many goals I have set for myself in the short time I'll spend on earth, although I know I won't complete them all, they do make life more interesting and challenging. A better description of my goals would be "a hundred lifetimes worth of goals with one lifetime to pull them off."

I also like to debate stuff with other people, I like to make arguments that will potentially lead to me learning something from the other person, or possibly change my opinions on a certain matter. There are a lot of pet peeves that I have which could explain why I react to some people, issues, or situations the way I do. Much like everyone else, I dislike discomfort, being annoyed, awkwardness, or basically just the unnecessary. As a result, there are certain kinds of people, events, or things that I avoid. There are times where I do step out of my comfort zone and do something stupid, scary, or even dangerous.

An example of that would have to be the night my brother, Andrew, and I decided at the last minute to take a drive to 6 Flags in Arlington, TX for Deaf Day at 6 Flags. Deaf Day, which took place on August 7, is an event whose objective is to try and draw in as many deaf people as possible for the purpose of deaf people socializing with other deaf people. I probably should mention that Deaf Day started at 10 am, and we decided 10 hours prior to come, and a drive from Amarillo, TX to Arlington, TX typically takes between 5 to 6 hours. Our mother had left town with her younger sister on Friday at 4-ish to go to her high school reunion and would be back on Sunday, which gave us more reason to make such a spontaneous decision. It started as a short but sweet conversation sitting on the couches in the living room at midnight.. I got Andrew's attention and said "You know what would be cool?" and he responded asking what. I then said "If we showed up at Deaf Day at 6 Flags." to which he inquired "But that starts in 10 hours?" and I confirmed that it did indeed start in 10 hours. He looked at me with a worried look and asked what we would do, and I said "We could go to a friend's and shower, then go to 6 Flags, and drive home right after." and he thought to himself.. and I finally closed the conversation with "Come on.. Why not?" and he agreed. We packed a backpack with a change of clothes, shampoo, soap, the usual bathroom stuff, and set off on our 6 hour long drive at one in the morning.

A concern was what we would drive, as seeing we doubted either of the trucks we had would make it, so we tried getting ahold of our sister, Ashley, but that turned out to be unsuccessful. So we decided to take my brother's '89 Nissan pick up. I should point out that this truck had a problem with the starter and flywheel but that was taken care of.. Then shortly after, we found out that the truck had been driving for a couple of months with nearly no transmission fluid and oil in the motor. Of course, that was taken care of, and no damage actually happened to it which made it a more logical choice. Still, there was a cloud of doubt as to whether the truck would actually make it to Arlington.

So, we set out on our journey to Arlington in a beat up Nissan truck with no A/C or heater at one in the morning. We drove down the 287, finally arriving at our friend, Josh's apartment in Fort Worth to take a shower and change before setting out for 6 Flags. We had gotten to his apartment at around 8 to 8:30, and left at 9:30. His wife, Libby, was urging us that we stay and sleep a little, or even overnight so we wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel on the trip home. Of course, we were against the idea. We got to 6 Flags at around 9:45, parked, and proceeded to walk up to the front gate. I would like to give tremendous thank you's to Josh and Libby Bonjour for letting us take advantage of their guest shower.

We got in the park and saw a bunch of our friends who were all very shocked we made it there, and not just that, but in a beat up Nissan! A couple of our friends and we went and ate at Chili's at around 5:30 in the afternoon,we then left at 6:45-ish to see a couple of friends in Haltom City and another neighborhood of DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth for those of you who aren't native Texans) before setting off for home. We left at approximately 9 on Saturday night, then after a couple of negative discoveries involving not doing a couple certain tasks that Andrew was required to do that could have potentially aided our mother in discovering what we were doing. Now, folks, if you know my mother, you'll agree that she'd disapprove of this. We set off to drive all night and finally got home at around 2:30 in the morning. We woke up, got dressed, and headed to church here in Amarillo, TX.

No one knew of this journey except for us 2 and our friends in DFW. I knew at some point, our mother would find out, so I decided that it would be better I let the cat out of the bag than someone else did. So, mom got home at around 2 in the afternoon, walked in the house, and asked Andrew and I if we had fun. The looks on our face immediately made it obvious to mom that something had happened this weekend, but she wasn't sure as to if it was a positive or negative "happening," so she was trying to find out from either Andrew or me what happened. Then she turned to Ashley to find out, but she refused to let our mom know. I then sat my mom and her sister at the bar in the kitchen and explained to her what had happened between midnight on Saturday and 2:30 on Sunday morning. Needless to say, she was shocked at how much we had accomplished in 26 and a half hours, and then muttered "I'm never leaving you 2 alone in this house again."

You could say I do have my moments of instant spontaneity, and oftentimes, they're a considerable amount of sponateity. But after all, I do want my life to be interesting. Don't you?