Plano Revisited 2013

Last week, I was in Plano for my annual visit. This is the visit where I spend a few days with my brother and his family and spend a few days with my closes 1700 fellow employees from the employee resource groups from the company I work for.

Yet we all know that this post is about my Plano, Texas visit..

The term I want to introduce to my readers is “Tiger Moms”. These are mothers that become so involved with their kids athletic events that they think it’s normal to be total jerks instead of just encouraging their kids to play fair and do the best they can.

I went to see my nephew play at one of his tennis team matches in West Plano. Let me tell you this is serious High School tennis.. East Plano Vs. West Plano at it’s best.  Yet of course I digress.

Two young ladies were playing and it was a tough match. After the match the winner walked over to where I was sitting. The winner was limping and she apparently was playing injured.  Tiger Mom “A” (The Loser’s mom) says to the young lady (winner),  “you shouldn’t have played”.  The Dad casually says “She won (his daughter) anyway”. Well this set off a chain of events that led to escalation to the loser’s coach for the innocent response from the Dad, as “bad sportsmanship”, etc..

Of course the other tiger mom’s jumped in and were saying nasty remarks over this whole incident.. I was so amused by this whole one-act play at a tennis match. These women were living their own lives through their kids with their overbearing opinions and attitudes.

I actually thought the whole exchange was pretty pathetically hilarious! Parents should encourage their kids to show sportsmanship, instead of being role models, they act like they are in high school themselves. Remember these are upper middle class moms whose income exceeds 6 figures at a minimum.

High school sports in Texas is a very serious business. Football, Tennis, it’s huge. I don’t know whether any of you have heard of the show “Friday night lights”. That’s Texas sports in a nutshell,

Beyond that my Plano visit in a nutshell. Oh I forgot about my sinus infection and my visit to the local “Minute Clinic” at the local CVS.., What a concept. You make a quick appointment, get evaluated by a physician’s assistant, and get a script all in an hour. No doctor needed. All insurance accepted.

I also saw some amazing pre-construction new houses that are just state of the art in McKinney, Texas.  Keep in mind, McKinney was voted the best place to live in America in 2012. Overall, McKinney is a really nice small town which feels like a place where you can truly call home! Yes, this is coming from a long-term NJ, homey.

Every time I visit Plano, I love it more and more.. If all the stars align.. this may become a reality sooner than later..

That’s all for now..

Where else can you find random ramblings like this which don’t seem to have any logical stream.. Dad’s Taxi of course!

 

 

 

Welcome to my New Life-decisions and chaos

Take care of Elderly ParentsOver the past 6 weeks after Super Storm Sandy, it would be an understatement to say that my life has spiraled into a life of daily chaos and additional stress. With my elderly father’s ongoing battle with his health and his mental faculties being so impaired, let’s just say.. “the hits keep coming”.

I’ve decided selfishlessley that this blog will be my outlet for all the frustrations I’m currently facing. As many of my readers know that I usually laugh at most of the things that happen around me.. Now I’m laughing (or crying)  at the things that happen TO ME directly.

It’s like the heavens have opened up and blessed me with multiple challenges and decisions that I need to make on the fly.. I hate making decisions on the fly.. I’m into organization and planned decisions. If you look up the definition of what the personal traits of a Saggitarian you would see my traits. We don’t like surprises and are quite inflexible when it comes to surprises. I’m one of those classic Saggitatians. We want the world to be perfect (as we are) and get bent out of shape when the the world does not live up to our expectations. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m sure my family and friends would agree on this statementYet I also know that that’s all in a perfect world, and I live in the most imperfect of worlds.

eldersAfter Superstorm Sandy, I realized that my elderly father was in need of medical help and as the “good son” and only son in NJ, I’d have to take the burden of caring for my father. Let me start of by saying that my relationship with my father has never been (to put it mildly) a relationship based on mutual love  and respect. Yet the one gift that my father did give me over the past 10 years is the gift of raising my family without his distractions and worrying about his welfare. Pretty selfish statement, but in reality, he gifted this to both me and my sibling who happens to live in Texas.. Yes I’ve written about my visits to Texas!

My dad was admitted to the hospital about 6 weeks ago in a state of anemia, pneumonia and a state of dementia. Of course all conditions developed over time (especially the dementia), but because my dad was living alone, he was able to hide these symptoms from me for a few years.

Over the past 6 weeks, it’s been trips to the hospital (daily) and rehab (where he currently is) and planning on HIS future after rehab. At the same time, of course my daily chaos with my home life is (as Barney says on “Big Bang Theory” —> LEGENDARY). ongoing.

How I’ve managed to maintain my sanity, I really don’t know, I guess being numb during chaos and just reacting is a great way to maintain your sanity. The future looks bleak for my father as he will need 24×7 care after he leaves rehab and our great medical system “draws down all his finances, so Medicaid can take over”. He will never regain his independence and will never be able to constantly remind me that my inheritance (now none) is what he will leave for me.

As luck would have it, my employer has been totally understanding of the choas in my life and has been unconditionally supportive and allowed me take time off to address my dad’s illness. I do not know what I would have done, if this was not the case

My brother came to NJ from Texas for a week and we researched and educated ourselves on the assisted living and nursing homes. We quickly realized that the our current situation with our father was payment for being allowed to raise our families in peace over the past 10 years without having major home issues because of the possible influence of our father in our life. 

I walk around in a state of total exhaustion both mentally and physically as I now realize that every day puts forward a new challenge on my ability to reason with the events that are going around me. Sound pretty pathetic, but when I say the “hits keep coming”, that is the truth.

Examples:

  • Super Storm Sandy and loss of Power
  • Elder care and illness of parent daily issues
  • Work related stress
  • Tennis injuries (don’t get me started with this one)
  • Car Repairs (I guess you really do need brakes to stop a car)
  • Holiday cheer (I’d call it more holiday depression)
  • Differences, benefits of Medicare and Medicaid
  • Self forgiveness and letting go of the guilt.
  • Putting things in perspective.

Yet the whole experience over the past 2 months has been humbling. To see a man who all his life was a miser and self-centered, become totally dependent on others for his daily care. He’s actually mellowed out in his “state of confusion” to where we get along better now then we have ever gotten along when he was NOT in his delusional state. Each day, I spend time with him and realize that his ongoing battles with sanity have enable me to forgive him as well as myself for our inability to have a good relationship.

I see myself through  his eyes and in his wheelchair in another 20 or 30 years I see myself struggling to maintain cohesiveness and losing my freedom and become dependent on others to take care of me. If these thoughts are not humbling, I really don’t know what is.

I’ve now learned to take each day “one day at a time” and instead of feeling sorry for myself, just accept the situation and deal with it in my unique way.. Using sarcasm, humor and plain self understanding is the way to come out of this unscathed.

I’ve become educated about:

  • Elder care and its financial impacts on families.
  • What it takes to take full health and financial responsibility for another human being who cannot take care of himself. Specifically the legalities of the healthcare system in our country
  • What the words “draw down the assets mean”.
  • Showing empathy when in reality, you are struggling with your internal strife and emotions.
  • Being able to adjust to change, when inherently your nature precludes change.
  • Finding outlets for the stress that are both healthy and self-contained.
  • How to become organized and make decisions that are outside your comfort zone.
  • How expensive elder care is in this country for those with assets.
  • How important it is to have a healthcare directive and a Power of Attorney (POA)!
  • what’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

I could go on and on.. but you can see that the past 2 months have been so difficult that my senses have become numb that the only way to I can adjust to my “New reality of my life” is to write about it..

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Texas on my Mind

A few weeks ago, I spent about a week in Dallas, Texas. This was both a personal and business visit. Personal first, business last. My brother and family live in Plano, Texas and they always show me a great time.

This time was extra special because, I got to eat the cheapest and most delicious Indian Food I’ve ever had. As my friends know me, my mantra is always “if it’s cheap or free it’s for me”. I try to be the ultimate in frugal. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m pretty proud of the ability to find deals.

In the Plano Area I’ve found 2 places that fit the bill for me for cheap and good eats

  • Mexican Food – $1 for a sit down meal for tacos. Chito’s has fresh chicken, fish, pork and beef tacos, you can’t go wrong. The salsa combinations are to die for as well
  • Indian Food – 99 cent daily specials at India Bazaar in Plano! Every day a special that you don’t want to miss. These are not just samples, but a full serving of amazing vegetarian food like Paani Puri, Bhel, and the topper, pure sugar cane juice
  • Beer and Darts – $2 dollar drafts and free games of Darts at Fox and Hound.. You can’t beat that. I’ve never played darts, but when you get a bullseye, that is worth the price of admission. Oh by the way, there is no admission charge! Only problem with this place is that it allows smokers and it doesn’t have a non-smoking section.. I gotta remember the name of this place. Highlight of this place was and I swear this would never happen to me in NJ.. A guy I just met sees that I don’t know how to set up the darts says.. let me help you and he gives me the edges to the darts out of the kindness of his heart. In NY/NJ.. they would tell you to go to..

After my awesome visit with my brother, I went to the pinnacle of luxary: The Hilton Anatole , in Downtown Dallas.Let me tell you I’ve been travelling for so many years for both business and pleasure, this hotel is #1 on my places I’d like to stay again in. From having the beautiful artwork (Including having 2 pieces of the Berlin wall, multiple Buddha statues, the Indian artwork, the pictures). This place is state of the art and huge! I felt like I died and went to heaven! You gotta see it to believe it!

I have to tell you, If I had my druthers, I’d be planning my relocation to Plano Texas.. Every one of my financial issues would be solved instantly. Yet I know, my Kismet/Karma is not that good. I’m destined to continue struggle daily in the Garden State.. oh well such is life.

Oh wait, I can close my eyes anytime and I can visualize myself living in Plano and being Dad’s taxi driving my daughter from activity to activity!

Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon

I came across a blog site which had some excellent pics from the this years Chinese New Year celebrations in Austin, Texas.  This is the “The Year of the Dragon”! The Candid pictures were really of excellent quality and I wanted to have a way to see them over and over again!

Hope you enjoy!

Blogging Hiatus

Normally, I try to blog at least once a week, but for the past few week it’s been totally crazy.. I just came back from Dallas from an employee resource group conference.

I tell you Dallas just continues to amaze me at the size of the malls and the number and variety of restaurants that are available in almost any neighborhood and mall. I found a little strip mall which had 10+ small restaurants in Addison, Texas that were all different (Mexican, Italian, Tex-Mex, Grill, etc..)

Another thing is the size of these malls, the sizes are just huge, I guess when they say “Things are bigger in Texas” they must have meant the shopping malls!

The more I go to Texas, the more I realize, I don’t think I could live there. It’s just different. Yes there is diversity, but just the general mood of the city is different. I’ll go into that more in other postings.

Anyway, Dad’s taxi is back in operation and has to hit the road to drop off the younger one to school. I’ll post more later.

Almost forgot to add that the amount of spam that I continue to get on this blog is mind boggling.. People don’t leave comments (that’s ok), but I was gone for 2  weeks and I had over 30 SPAM comments.. How many pairs of UGGS shoes can a person buy?

TTYL for now!

Dad’s Taxi – Texas on my Mind

I didn’t post any new perspectives over the past 10 days as I was out-of-town. I was visiting the lovely state of Texas, which my brother calls home.  I gotta tell you this, the state of Texas and especially the city of Plano, has a new fan in me.

I guess my perspective would change when I visit Texas in June, when it’s scorching and you can basically burn without much effort. I gotta say one thing (amongst my various opinions), I can easily imagine leaving the friendly confines of my native Monmouth County, NJ home and relocating there.

Except for the one tornado warning that I experienced, I found my first visit to Texas in 25 years to be really eye-opening. Plano is a wonderful place to live, with everything you may want with a healthy dose of very comfortable quality of life. The parks, schools, roads, malls, technology and just about everything just shine. As many people know, I’m never one to give compliments easily to anyone, anything, or anyplace.

What struck me most about Plano was that financially, relocation to Plano would be a no-brainer. The amount of money I could save provide a BETTER quality of life for my family is beyond my wildest dreams. Yet, in order to make this kind of transplanting you need to always think things through. As everyone does, I carry plenty of baggage, both literally and figuratively. A few months ago, I wrote about debt and my constant battle beat this devil. Well moving to Plano, would wipe out my debts and still leave me with plenty of change to plan for the future.

The price of housing in Texas can best be described as almost 1/2 of what is in NJ (one of the most expensive and overpriced places in the US to live) . The number of “man-caves” I saw on this trip made me blush with joy. I said to myself: “This could be mine!”

When they say: “Everything is bigger in Texas” is without a doubt true.. The Parks, Malls, restaurants, Houses, roads.. everything is bigger in size.

The only thing that I found unusual in my brother’s community house was the obvious emptiness of no kids playing in the front yard.. I just didn’t get it. I think it’s the culture that the kids have so much space and activities going on that they don’t have time to be outdoors running around and playing in their community. And as my brother was driving me around to various communities, I saw the same thing almost everywhere, there were no kids anywhere outside.. It wasn’t too hot so that could not have been the reason.

Anyway, Plano Texas is one place, I’m sure to visit again over the next few months. Who knows, perhaps my destiny will take me there next as a transplanted Northerner..

Overall, my visit to Texas allowed me to reconnect with my brother’s family and my amazing nephews and niece! Warmed my heart and put a huge smile on my face for days.

With all the technology, companies that have corporate homes in the Plano area, it’s no surprise that Plano has so many schools (at all levels of education). Each school is huge and of course  each has amazing facilities.

Let’s see, when is my next trip to Plano? I think I’ll go next month.. I had the best Mexican food at the cheapest price (and we all know how much I’m into good food and low-cost food!).  Even as I returned to my home in NJ, I could still taste the amazing $1 Taco that I had the day before in Plano.. and this taco beats Taco Bell to a pulp!

Overall, my visit to Plano felt incomplete.. you know why? I was so enamored with the city that I felt like that not only had I reconnected with my brother and his family, I felt that perhaps, life outside NJ suddenly become a reality.. Now if I can only unload the excess baggage I carry around every day!

TTFN