Sunday, November 30, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Twelve

For about five years there in the late '80s, my family lived in an apartment at a complex called Stratford Park. Back then it wasn't a bad place to live. I'm not sure how the neighborhood fares these days.

We had a patio on the other side of the sliding glass door that was surrounded, for the most part, by brick walls. It had a very enclosed feeling. The living room had an ancient upright piano that was supposed to inspire me and April to practice on a daily basis. Really didn't work.

Over the years we had some interesting neighbors. Directly upstairs, I remember there being a couple with a very destructive relationship. The man was very abusive. There were a number of times when we could hear him yelling at the woman through the ceilings. If I remember correctly, my parents called the police a few times and even endured threats from the man for not minding their own business. Eventually they split up and she moved safely to Chatanooga where she had family.

Toward the end of our stay there, we had neighbors across the hall with two young daughters. Finally, someone for April to play with. The older of the two had a crush on me. She showed this by being very, very annoying. What made it worse was that we went to the same school. Of course we went to the same school, we lived in the same building. So very annoying.

The apartment complex also had a swimming pool. And though I never learned how to properly swim, it was a nice way to break up those boring summer days with no school.

The hallway outside our apartment had an odd smell. To this day I can still remember it, but I can't describe it. I can't say it was like mildew or stale air or anything like that. All I can say is that it was unique. I've never smelled anything like it since. But I remember pushing that door open to enter the building and being hit in the face with it, no matter what time of year it was.

We lived there until October of 1990, when we moved into the only house my parents ever owned. I never missed that old apartment. I never will.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Made This

Yesterday our branch was pretty slow. I guess most of the consumers in the Triangle area were out shopping. Or visiting other branches of our banking institution. Anyway, with things being slow for me at the bank, I was asked to set up the Christmas tree.

The artificial tree was up on a high shelf in the storage room, and was pretty heavy. Being the only man in the branch, it is assumed that I have the ability to do all of the heavy lifting. That's an assumption that I won't argue with until they start asking me to pick up cars. I think that's outside the range of my abilities.

Once I figured out how to put the plastic branches in place, I took it upon myself to string the lights. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to begin this process until several hours later. No, we didn't get a sudden rush of customers. Last year, when Christmas was over, some moron decided that the most efficient way to store the lights would be to ball them up and shove them into a box. Good idea idiot!

I spent the better part of the rest of the day untangling the biggest mess I think I've ever experienced. What made it worse is that one of the strings was made up of lights with little plastic hooks on each individual light. That did not make the untangling any easier.

Finally I got the lights straightened out and wrapped them around the tree. I then took it upon myself to hang the ornaments, complete with a crappy red bow on top. Really, that thing needs some work, but it was almost the end of the day by that point. So I put up the tree at work. All by myself. And now I'm in the Christmas spirit. I even changed my ringtones on my phone.

Normally, when my Bluefield friends call me, I hear Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. Now I'll hear The First Noel, Carrie Underwood style. Whenever the Greenes/Hamiltons call me, I hear Starship's We Built This City. For the holidays I'll be hearing The Chipmunk Song. Everyone else, normally, plays the theme music from Superman. For Christmas I'll hear Carol of the Bells. Now, if it'll just snow a few feet, the Christmas season will be complete.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Question of the Week: Money

Would you rather be given $10,000 for your own use or $100,000 to give anonymously to strangers? What if you could keep $1,000,000 or give away $20,000,000?

Okay, please don't think of me as an entirely selfish person. But I'm kind of selfish. I'd keep the $10,000. I'd keep the million. I know that $10,000 isn't a lot of money. It really wouldn't go very far. But it would take a pretty big chunk out of those student loans I have looming over my head. I've been pretty fortunate for the last 18 months or so to not have to make those payments. Now that I'm quitting school, those will be kicking in again sooner than I'd like.

And they say that a million dollars isn't that much money these days. I think I could make it work. If you're smart with your money, you can make that million last a very long time. Maybe even a lifetime.

Come to think of it, those questions would make for a good reality show or even a movie. Find an eccentric billionaire who's willing to put up the money. They offer that option to your Average Joe. And it turns out the only way that Joe gets to keep any of the money, is to give it all away. Something like that. I'll talk to Moon Vest at CBS about that.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Everybody and their brother is probably doing a blog post today about something or someone they're thankful for. After all, today is Thanksgiving Day. It's a national holiday that started off as a way of showing thanks to God for the harvest and for His provision for the coming winter months. These days, the holiday has progressed into a celebration of gluttony. More often than not, Thanksgiving is referred to as Turkey Day, because that is where the importance tends to be placed. Generally, it's not a day to thank God for His blessings, it's a day to overeat and fall asleep watching football in front of the TV.

But I, like everybody and their brother, remember what the day is all about. And here I will share the things for which I am thankful.

I'm thankful for the Greenes. I'm thankful that they are willing to take in strays on national holidays and when the plumbing goes bad. I'm thankful that they're willing to give me a ride from church to lunch so I don't always have to waste gas when we're all going to the same place anyway. I'm thankful that Nicole lets me win the occasional game of Rummy, just so I don't always have to feel bad about myself.

I'm thankful for a guy named Geoff Johns. I am a comic book geek. And Geoff Johns is a comic book writer. He is responsible for some of the best story telling in comics during the past decade. The scope of his stories and the depth of his characters make any project he does worth buying.

I'm thankful for a job that I complain about on a regular basis. Yeah, I complain all the time. But at least I have a job to complain about. With the economy being what it is, it's hard to know where someone's next paycheck may be coming from.

I'm thankful for a new apartment that is so much more awesome than the place I'm living now.

I'm thankful that God has opened doors for me to leave seminary and still be okay with it.

I'm thankful that my blood relatives understand that I'm not able to be there for Thanksgiving (or Christmas).

I'm thankful that there's gonna be another Bourne movie. 'Cause those are awesome. And on that note, I'm thankful for the upcoming sequel to Transformers. Yeah.

Finally, I'm thankful that the hunger that I'm currently feeling will soon subside when I gorge myself on the bountiful feast that's being prepared as I write these words.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Welcome to my new place. I hope you like it. It's a little empty right now, but I'll fix that throughout the month of December as I slowly move my belongings from one place to the other. But for now, I give you the virtual tour of my new apartment. Please take your shoes off, I don't want anyone to track mud onto the hardwood floors.

Check out the high ceilings. Every room is like that. I estimate them to be about 15 feet. I was thinking of hanging Christmas lights up there, but I'd need a really tall ladder. And I'm kind of afraid of heights.

This is a view of the living room from the window side of the apartment. That's my front door in the background. Under the light there, that's where the foosball will go.

This is where the magic happens. And by magic, I mean sleep. Thus far, that's the only trick I know for this particular room.

I know some tricks for this room, but I think they're pretty self-explanatory.

Three guesses what will be happening in this room.

And here's another view of the living room. It feels like such a big place. Definitely has plenty of room for my crap.

Uh, so that's my place. Come visit any time. Except on Thursdays. That'll be Lost night.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Clear Rite

For the most part I've been disappointed with Saturday Night Live for the last few years. But as long as they keep using Kristen Wiig in their sketches, they're good to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Eleven

Church has always been a very big part of my life. I was raised in a Baptist church. In high school we changed churches, but it was Baptist as well. During college I explored other church options, but going to a Baptist college kept me close to that tradition.

Until my senior year of high school, I went with my family to Villa Heights Baptist Church. As a kid, the church was located in this ancient building in what had become a crumbling Roanoke neighborhood. I began my church experience as many kids do, with Sunday School and Children's Church. While Sunday School would remain a constant throughout my life, I quickly outgrew Children's Church.

By the age of four, the teachers in the Children's Church were asking my parents to do something else with me. Apparently I was a difficult child. I don't think I was to the point of sticking my tongue out or turning desks over, but I was asking the tough questions. You know, like, "Who was Cain's wife?" "What was Noah's last name?" "What are boils?" Things of that nature.

So Dad gave me a shot. It was time for me to see if I could handle going to Big Church. This was a huge thing. I would be sitting by myself at the age of four. Probably a mistake to let a kid that young to be left to his own devices during a church service. There's only so much scribbling on offertory envelopes that one can do. Why would a four-year-old be sitting alone in church? I'm glad you asked. Mom and Dad were both in the choir. Thus, every Sunday, they were sitting at the front of the church. So I sat in the third pew on the organ side. Remember, this is a very traditional Baptist church. This means that the first few rows in each section were empty.

So there I am, alone in the third pew, with not even a stranger to keep me in line. I'm minding my own business, not really paying attention because, I'm sorry, the sermon was boring. Suddenly I'm jerked out of my seat by my Dad. There he is in full choir regalia and yanks me into the little room behind the organist. "If you ever do anything like that again, you'll be in Children's Church until you're in college!"

What'd I do?

Okay, I'm not so innocent. I was lying down on the pew. With my arms up in the air. I was pretty much just being a kid who was left alone in church. I put the blame for this one on my parents. Look, just because I'm asking mature questions in Children's Church doesn't mean I'm mature enough to handle being alone in Big Church.

I spent the rest of that day miserable in Children's Church. I was angry at myself for disappointing my Dad. He had placed a lot of trust that day, I kind of shattered that. But what can you really expect from a four-year-old? Especially in a church where sneezing during the worship could be considered blasphemy.

The next week I was back in Big Church. But this time I was sitting in the balcony with my grandparents.

And yes, I realize this story is somewhat out of order. It just didn't occur to me to tell church stories, but that's ridiculous. I have so many church stories to share. And church has always played such a pivotal role in shaping the person I've become, for better or worse. So I figure there will be more later.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

MK v. DC

There's a new video game out for your popular home console systems. It's called Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Those who don't speak geek may be confused about what the DC Universe is. It is the universe in which Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all reside. And unless you've been living under a rock for the last 15 years, I'm sure you know Mortal Kombat is. Okay, it's a video game franchise that sparked controversy when the original installment showed realistic characters and (gasp) blood.

Some time ago I heard that they were working on a game that would bring together the mythos of Mortal Kombat and the classic heroes and villains of the DC Universe. Last week, the game was finally released to the public. I got my hands on a copy and initially thought it was awesome.

Being the first fighting game to feature DC characters since the uber-lame Justice League Task Force, it holds a huge attraction for someone like me. For years, the Marvel super-heroes have been showcased in several games that have been very well done. I guess I've just been jealous of how cool the people at Capcom were able to make Spider-Man and Captain America look. When would Superman get a turn? All of his games are stupid at best.

So I'm thinking, here's someone's chance to do it right. I mean, the last few Mortal Kombat games have been great. But to be honest, I've been a little disappointed with this installment. A lot of people have complained that this game would be a lighter version of Mortal Kombat. They complained that you wouldn't experience the same kind of thrill you got from past games. After all, Superman and Batman don't kill their enemies. This seriously detracts from popular fatalities where someone gets decapitated or has their spine ripped out. That's not my problem.

My problem comes in one of the game's concepts. Is it really believable that Liu Kang could possibly take down Superman? Could Scorpion's spear really pierce Superman's chest to drag him over for a quick uppercut? The plot of the game tries to explain this away with Superman's vulnerability to all things magic. But does that mean that every character in Mortal Kombat is a magical being? I don't buy it.

The graphics are almost what one would expect for a PS3 game. Not up to the standard set by some other games, but pretty good nonetheless. I will say though, that Wonder Woman looks completely ridiculous. It's like her face was animated way wrong.

I just don't get it. DC Comics is a subsidiary of Time Warner, right? You'd think, with all that backing, they'd be able to do other media the right way. So far, the only thing they seem to have gotten right is the new Batman franchise. Superman can't catch a break on the big screen. Wonder Woman has been put on hold so many times, she's probably hung up her golden lasso for good. And what about all those other characters they've got? If Iron Man can get a decent movie made, why can't The Flash? Okay, Iron Man wasn't decent. It was freakin' phenomenal.

Apparently there's a DC video game coming out that's some kind of online role-playing game. Hopefully it'll turn out better than this. Don't get me wrong, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a fun game. It'll be nice to take control of Green Lantern and hit Sub-Zero with a giant hammer every now and again. But I think it could have been so much better.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Last night I went with Kevin and Nicole to see the new James Bond film. If you're expecting a classic Bond with invisible cars, bowtie cameras, exploding cufflinks, and wristwatches that shoot lasers, you will be disappointed. If you're expecting a decent follow-up to Casino Royale, your expectations are much more realistic.

Nicole mentioned that she had read some reviews that compared the new Bond to a Bourne movie. That's a fair comparison. From word go the movie is non-stop action. Well, I can't say non-stop. There are a few beats where things slow down. But those beats are very few and far between.

Again, people expecting the suave James Bond of the Connery days will be somewhat let down. Daniel Craig, according to Nicole, does have a certain charm. But he makes James Bond more of an action hero than any previous actor. I can't think of a previous Bond who would chase down their target on foot and pull Batman-style moves by jumping from rooftops fire escapes. If I'm wrong let me know. I just can't picture Roger Moore taking off in full-sprint. Seems more of a leisurely stroll kind of guy.

But that's the thing people need to realize. We live in different times than the James Bond of the 20th century. Those cheesy gadgets that Q used to showcase for Bond are out of style. People, I think, want more realism in their spy movies. Okay, I'd like a little more realism. I don't want to see James Bond get caught, then placed in some supposedly inescapable death-trap with one inept guard in the room. It's a James Bond movie. You know he'll escape, even if the escape is unbelievable. In Casino Royale he was captured and tortured. There's a lot to be said about having him beaten to a pulp and watching him go through that pain, but still knowing he won't be killed.

Quantum of Solace is definitely not a stand-alone film. Most of the plot makes sense only if you've seen Casino Royale. On that note, the new movie felt more like an extension of the previous film, rather than a brand new Bond. But they couldn't very well make Casino Royale five hours long, could they?

So if you're looking for classic Bond, go out and rent Dr. No. If you're looking for the 21st century's take on Bond, see Casino Royale first, then go see Quantum of Solace.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Question of the Week: Hatred

Have you ever hated anyone? If so, why and for how long?

In 1993 I vowed to always hate the people at NBC behind the cancellation of Quantum Leap. Along with that vow, I included the producer of the show, Donald Bellisario. Not because he had anything to do with the cancellation, but because we were given the news that Dr. Sam Beckett never made it home. Because of this, I have refused to watch Donald's other creations: JAG, NCIS, and even reruns of Magnum PI. He's got a lot of shows with initials in the titles. Maybe that's why Quantum Leap failed.

Okay, really I'm kidding. I only wrote the above because I can't think of anyone that I've ever actually hated. I'm sure that when I was a kid I told my sister that I hated her out of anger, but it wasn't something I ever meant. I think a lot of people are very careful to say that they don't hate people. They just dislike them a lot.

I don't see what the big deal is. If you're thinking it, you may as well say it. Sure, "hate" sounds a lot more harsh, but so what? If that's how you feel, it's how you feel. "Love" is an emotion that, theoretically, is just as strong, but we throw that word around like it's nothing. Maybe we should be more careful with our "I love you's" too.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If Kids Ran the World

When I was a kid, I remember finding a Dr. Seuss book in the church library called If I Ran the Circus. It isn't one of my favorite Seuss works, but I did enjoy the rhyming aspect. Something about rhyming words when you're a kid. It's almost comforting.

If memory serves, it's about a boy who looks into an empty lot and imagines what it would be like if he started up a circus. He thinks about how he would run things. Eventually, his imagination gets the better of him and things kind of get ridiculous. I think. It's been about 20 years since I've seen that book.

Yesterday I wondered what it would be like if kids took over. They outnumber the teachers and administrators in all our schools. That's where I imagine it would all begin. Take a look at your average playground. You have a whole lot of kids running around in their own little cliques. You rarely hear of all the kids in one grade getting along or coming together for a single cause.

But what if all that changed? What if, somehow, they were able to form a collective hive mind? What if, somehow, they were able to coordinate their efforts via the internet or some newfangled video game that their parents just don't get? What if there was a particular time on a particular day when all the kids just decided to strike back.

No more pencils. No more books. No more teachers' dirty looks.

We used to sing songs about taking over the school when we were kids. We'd take well-known and beloved songs and change the words to make them fit our fantasies. Just how would we finally do in our teacher? How could we get the principal out of the way? We had these lofty dreams, but what if those dreams were met with success?

What about after? There are never any long range plans. It seems that the notion of taking out the authority figures was enough to get us through those really hard days. We never realized that once the authority was gone, the kids would become the authority.

I didn't watch CBS' Kid Nation last year. I assume it was a failed social experiment. From the ads I saw, the kids were at each others' throats just as bad as adults are when it comes to the balance of power.

The kids take over the schools. From there, they establish their strongholds. I would assume that the high schools would not be trusted. They're too close to adulthood. The rest of the kids would fortify and plan and eventually bargain with the government.

In the beginning there would be an appointment made to the presidential cabinet. Soon after there would be a kid representative at the UN. Legislation would soon be passed that would allow for children to run for office and to vote. Then we'd have all of our tax dollars going to fund things like Hannah Montana concerts and bigger and better Chuck E. Cheese's.

Of course, all of this hinges on the ability of the kids to finally work together. Lets just hope that those cliques just stay cliquey.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Ten

What can I say about the first grade? I'm one of those people who has the uncanny ability to remember each of the teachers that he's had throughout his life. So when I start listing my teachers in these consecutive blog posts, Mark's gonna make fun of me.

My teacher that year was Mrs. Atkinson. She was very sweet, and looking back now, I can see that she was also very manipulative. She knew just how to act and what to say to wrap her impressionable young students around her finger. I guess any good teacher should have that ability. I think it helps to prevent an uprising. Look at the average class size in your public schools. If those kids ever realized that they outnumbered their teachers 23 to 1, the coup would be inevitable. Could you imagine what it would be like if kids ran this country? That's an interesting thought. Maybe I'll explore that tomorrow.

Anyway, I was in a new school for the second year in a row. My days at East Salem were gone but not forgotten. Now I was matriculating with the class of 1998 by way of Raleigh Court Elementary. It was in Mrs. Atkinson's class that I met two very influential people in my life: Jessica Smith and Justin Walker.

I've mentioned Jessica in the blog before. She's pretty much the only person I've maintained contact with since high school. And she's absolutely the only person I've maintained a real friendship with since the age of six. Justin is the person who was my best childhood friend. But I don't really remember doing a whole lot with him until around the third grade. So we'll put off these friendship stories 'til later.

I got in trouble a lot as a first grader. Apparently, Atkinson had it in for me. She would send home long letters about how I was acting up in class. She would make up some kind of propaganda like I was sticking my tongue out at her or turning my desk upside-down. I have no recollection of any of these events.

Turns out I was bored in class. In first grade, I was apparently a super-genius. Or at least mildly "gifted" in certain areas of study. I would breeze through a great deal of the classwork and then act out in order to cope with my boredom. Thus it was decided that I would have extra work. Advanced work. SECOND GRADE WORK!

Way to go six-year-old me. You had the chance to be a slacker from day one and you blew it! What were you thinking? Extra work? It's called take a nap, chump! Twenty years will pass by and you'll be begging for those naps that you could have enjoyed so freely. I am ashamed of you six-year-old Aaron.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXXVIII

In case you're just tuning in for the first time, I work at a bank. More specifically, I work at the drive-thru window at a bank. For the most part, this means I stand with my back to the lobby.

Now, occasionally I feel the need to turn around to see if there are any customers lined up in the lobby not being helped by anyone. I'm very fast at what I do, and can therefore move quickly between the window and the lobby. But sometimes, when I turn to check on the lobby situation, I get a little freaked out.

I don't freak out when there are five people waiting impatiently. I get freaked out when a customer that's being helped by one of the other tellers just happens to make direct eye contact with me at the exact moment I turn around. That tells me they've been staring at me. Why have they been staring at my back? Why when I turn around are they looking directly at me?

If it happened once or twice, I wouldn't think it's a big deal. But it happens all the flippin' time! Any other drive-up tellers out there that experience this phenomenon? Please, share your stories. You're not alone.

Brian Fellow

Recently I've started watching 30 Rock through the Netflix website. I never gave this show a chance when it first started. But then it started winning all these Emmys (or is it Emmies?), so I thought I'd take a look. It's actually pretty funny. I had forgotten how funny Tracy Morgan is. So in honor of his hilarity, here's an old clip from SNL. I apologize to my readers across the sea, Hulu doesn't allow for foreign viewers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Source of My Powers

I've been told lately that my posts are slipping. I'm told that they're not as good or as funny as they once were. I'm not being consistent with the quality of the content. I just want the two or three of you that have complained to know that I'm taking this to heart. There's a good chance you're right.

I can't help but wonder what's caused this change in me. I could easily blame school. Even though I'm withdrawing soon, the fact that much of my time is consumed by exams and research papers has not escaped my attention. But I think the problem is much deeper.

A few months ago I made the decision to determine what was going on with my emotions. Or, I should say, my lack thereof. After a great deal of prayer and a small bit of self-discovery I've been able to let go of a lot of bitterness and grief that I had been clinging to for so long. In the process, I believe that some of my cynicism has somehow leaked out of my system.

Could it be that those repressed feelings of anxt and anger were the source of my sarcastic powers? I certainly hope not. I think I've made a lot of progress on the emotional spectrum. And yet, here I am, posting another blog that's just not very funny.

I think I'm also getting a little self-conscious about this thing. For a long time, I was sure that no one ever read this blog. Now I'm aware of about 20 people that I personally know who read the blog on a weekly-ish basis. So this means that I probably can't be as free as I want to be to make fun of anyone.

Generally I pride myself on not caring what other people think. And generally, when it comes to what people think about me, I don't care. But I hate feeling like I've hurt someone's feelings. I know I'm mean at times. I know that I can be harsh with the sarcasm, but I've never meant anything to be malicious in nature.

But because more people in my life are reading these words, I feel as if I need to tiptoe around certain issues that I would otherwise be brutally honest about. Because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. With certain people, I can be totally and brutally honest. These are the people whom I consider to be my best and closest friends. The rest of you are basically acquaintances. I don't like to be brutally honest until someone knows me well enough to know that I'm not saying the things I say to be mean. Despite the rumors, I'm not really evil.

Maybe I need to find a happy medium. Somewhere there must be some sort of middle ground where I can still be cynical and sarcastic and at the same time be honest with what I'm thinking and feeling. I'm going to try and return to not holding back. This means I might someday start hurting feelings. Keep in mind that this is not on purpose. But it'll probably happen. If I had feelings, they'd be hurt by others all the time. There, I feel better already.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


No one wanted any advice this week. No one sent any e-mails. No one wanted to hear what I had to say. I guess this whole "advice column" thing was just an experiment in futility. Just one more example of the pointlessness of asking for audience participation here on The Single Guy/Carp Dime.

I didn't even get any fake questions. I was kind of hoping for something ridiculous that I could have fun with. But no. No one wants to play along. So I'll be giving advice to myself today.

Aaron, why do you keep doing this to yourself? Why ask questions to the readership? Every week you do that stupid question of the week and it's extremely rare that anyone answers in the comments. You put the e-mail address out there inviting people to share their own questions in an attempt to help people with their problems. But you get no response. What does that tell you? Stop doing this stuff! You're setting yourself up for disappointment. You're setting yourself up for failure.

You made a commitment last year to do a blog post every day. Why do that? You've only got another month and a half. I say, after the new year, give up the daily postings. Or, even better, drop the blog all together. Shouldn't you be focused on trying to get a full-time job? Aren't there better things you could be doing with your time? Don't you have a flippin' awesome Playstation 3 that you hardly ever play anymore?

And look, I know you're thinking about doing another interactive segment in December. You're planning to have your readers vote in different categories and have some kind of pseudo award show for your lame blog. It's a lame idea. Don't bother. No one will vote in your stupid categories. And don't act like you weren't gonna do that. I know you.

Okay, that's the advice for this week. Hopefully that loser will heed my words. Remember, the e-mail address is over on the right. Send your questions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXXVII

Yesterday morning as I arrived at work, I noticed that something smelled odd. It began outside. I wrote it off as just being someone's car that smelled strange, and continued on about my business. I walked inside and the smell was even stronger.

But we continued with the daily routine of opening up the branch. Several others commented on how it smelled like gas in here. So then our manager stepped in to save the day. Well, really she just made the call that we should shut down until some official gas-company-types with official gas-detecting-equipment could come and scope out the situation.

So all employees were evacuated across the street to the local McDonald's. We enjoyed an impromptu breakfast of Egg McMuffins and Sausage Biscuits. But the bank didn't pay for these things. No, no... we were on our own for this meal.

We sat in the fast food joint for a good 90 minutes waiting for the all-clear signal. Eventually it came and we went on with our day like a normal Friday. Later in the day, as part of an "employee appreciation" deal, we got pizza from Pizza Hut. During this lunch, the manager let it slip that the gas guys told her that if our attic was not as well ventilated as it is, we could have found ourselves in a potentially toxic and/or explosive situation.

I risked my life to go to work on Friday. My very life! I think the bank now owes me a little more than a meat-lover's pizza.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Question of the Week: Memory

What is your most treasured memory?

I've been trying to think all morning of what my "most treasured memory" could be.

The word memory is not capitalized, so obviously it's not talking about that old game I used to play with my cousins as a kid. You know, the one where you have all the cards face down and you have to try and find the matches. I liked the one with the picture of a tiger on it. But I wouldn't call it "treasured." I mean, it's just a piece of cardboard with a tiger on it. Big deal.

I really do have a hard time finding just one treasured memory though. I don't know if that means I've just done such an excellent job of repressing my memories that nothing stands out or if it means that I've just led a pretty good life thus far. Could be a little of both.

I haven't led the perfect life. And I do repress a lot of things.

Okay, I have it. Back in the summer of 2001, Dad and I took a trip together. We had the opportunity to travel up the east coast and go to five Major League Baseball games in five days.

We went with my then Residence Hall Director, Ben, and his wife. But as far my memory is concerned, that trip was about me and Dad. The itenerary started with Baltimore to see the Orioles play. Then we drove up to New York to see the Mets one day, the Yankees the next. We then made our way up to Boston to catch the Sox at Fenway. On the way back home we stopped in Philadelphia to see the Phillies.

It was a once in a lifetime kind of trip. I remember before the fact, he and I debated whether or not we should go. We both wanted to, but we had a lot of questions as to whether we should. This was three years after Dad's bypass surgery. Obviously he wasn't in the best of health. But it was also a few years before was tethered to the O2 machine. He had a hard time keeping up sometimes, especially when we hit Times Square. I felt so bad for him.

I hope that in his last few years, he was able to look back on that trip with as much fondness as I did. I wouldn't trade that week with him for anything.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reports of My Fatherhood

...Are highly exaggerated. Yesterday, my sister left a Facebook status message saying, and I quote, "April Peck is going to work.....til 9 and then hitting the road to go see her NEW BABY NEPHEW!!!! I am Super EXCITED!!!!"

Logically speaking, I can only assume she is talking about a child that I have somehow fathered. See, April has but one sibling. That would be me. Therefore, the only way she could biologically have a nephew, new or otherwise, would be if I had a son.

Now, I would think that if I had somehow impregnated a woman, someone would have let me know about it at some point in the last nine months. Come on, that's a long time to inform the father that there's a kid on the way.

Now I just have to figure out who the mother is. Which one took themselves off the pill and didn't tell me? No, wait... I can't do this. I was going to try and take this as far as I could just for the sake of humor. But it seems in poor taste to joke about something like that. Having an illegitimate child out of wedlock is no laughing matter.

Besides, I can only think of one person that could be the mother. I mean, things at the bachelor party got a little out of hand, one thing led to another, yadda yadda yadda, I never heard from her again. I'm just kidding. I can't back that one up either.

I couldn't see myself telling my firstborn son the story of how I met their mother and having it end with, "I didn't know you existed 'til after you were born. And that's why Mommy and Daddy don't live in the same house."

In all seriousness, I am not now, nor do I plan to be a father. Not anytime soon anyway. I contacted my rumor spreading sister last night for an explanation. Her longtime friend Andrea had a baby yesterday. I guess April considers herself to be "Aunt April." I consider her to be "Sister April." That doesn't really matter. Just as long as no one at this juncture considers me to be "Father Aaron."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXXVI

There are a few things that only drive-thru tellers get to experience. We get to watch people drive off with the box and/or tube that's used to send money/transactions in to us. We get to watch people drop said box/tube and run right over it with their cars. We get to watch people who were scatterbrained enough to not have their transaction ready ask for a pen, and then keep said pen. And my favorite: we get to deal with customers who think it's cute to let their kids do the transaction for them.

Maybe it's because I have no soul/heart/patience for small children, but I just don't think it's cute. I think it's annoying. I'm trying to get you in and out of here in a timely manner, and you're letting your 8-year-old do all the talking? Seriously? You're a grown-up! And chances are, you're ignorant enough as it is, not showing up ready, but sending in a bunch of crap that's incoherent at best.

You know what, most of the time it is incoherent. What, did you let the kid fill out your deposit slip too? Do they sign your checks for you?

Sorry, it's just been one of those days. Oh, and look, someone just ran over the box again. Good thing those things grow on trees.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First Lines List Update

So last Tuesday I did that thing that's apparently going around. You know, the thing where you randomize some songs, then list the first 20 by first lines only. Then everyone else does the guessing. Well, because I'm coming up short on writing ideas tonight, I thought I'd unveil the titles to the songs that no one was able to guess.

2. Picture Postcards From LA - Joshua Kadison
11. The 5th Wheel - Justin McRoberts
18. Friday Night - The Click Five

Those were the only three that went unguessed. And I know there were no prizes to be given, but I feel that I should give mad props to Jen for correctly answering nine of the songs in question.

Okay, next time I get bored or have writer's block I'll troll the internet for another of these types of things. MySpace bulletin boards are usually pretty good for random surveys and the like.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sick and Twisted

Today is my sister's birthday. In honor of this occasion I share a story from our childhood. A story that is both sick and twisted. A story that shows just how deeply depraved I was, even at a young age. This story begins with a funeral.

When I was nine or ten years old, my great-grandmother, Freddie Powers, passed away. I remember Dad sitting April and myself down in the living room and breaking the news to us. I remember feeling sad, and remember thinking that I should be crying, even though I wasn't. I knew that the thing to do when someone died was to cry. April was crying. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the tears to come. Now I know it's because I was incapable of real human emotion.

We made the trip to Nashville for Freddie's funeral. At the funeral home, we discovered a break room area in the basement. By we, I mean the kids. It was here that we got away from the grown-ups and got to drink sodas and eat chips. Across the hallway from this little break room was the display room, where the funeral home had a showcase of caskets.

This is the part where I put the fun in funeral. At the far end of this display room was a large door that I can only assume was locked. A sign on the door said "employees only." As we weren't employees, we couldn't very well go exploring any further. But we could hear strange and disturbing noises from beyond that door.

"What do they do in that room?" my innocent sister asked.

My evil mind was working quickly. "That's where they cut off the legs." April looked at me with a horrifying expression on her face. "Didn't you ever wonder why they open up the top half of the casket? It's 'cause they take the legs off first."

April probably ran upstairs and probably told on me. I probably got in trouble. But I think that deep down, Dad was probably thinking, "That's my boy!"

Sunday, November 09, 2008


A week ago I put out a call for your questions. Believe it or not, I got a response. This week's question comes from a girl who wishes to remain anonymous...

There is this guy that I have great chemistry with. Our connection is indescribable. He’s told me he feels the same way. In his words, “We are so compatible; you are probably the most amazing person I have ever met!” All seems well, right? The problem is that he has a past with a girl who isn’t exactly the most upstanding citizen. She is in jail. I understand that history with someone is a strong bond and can sometimes be a difficult thing to break away from. But when you meet someone and you have mutual feelings, what is the issue? I feel like he is either lying about how much he likes me or there is more to the story with this other girl that he is not telling me. I’m just really confused on what to do. I enjoy this person as a friend but I do want more from him. At this time, he has made it clear that it’s just not possible because of the other girl. Should I continue to torture myself and be around him or just cut it off?

It sounds to me like this guy has a whole lot of baggage and you’re really only seeing the stuff on the surface. It’s obvious that he does have a complicated history with this jailbird and it sounds like he’s not willing to let go of that yet. He may be telling you that you’re compatible together, but if he’s not able to take the friendship a step further with you, then his heart truly lies somewhere else. It sounds like he’s comfortable with you. He’s unsure of what kind of future he could really have with the other woman, so it seems like he wants to keep you close, just in case. He wants to keep you close, but not too close. This means he could go either way. At this point, he knows he can turn to you if thing go further south with the girl in jail. You’re giving him all the power. I know you enjoy spending time with this guy, but from my perspective, it seems like he’s using you. It’s not going to be an easy thing to do, but my suggestion is to back away from him. You said it, you’re just torturing yourself by being around him. And the longer you stay in that situation, the more it will hurt if he decides to stay with the jailbird. Give him some time; allow him to make a decision. Maybe it’s that whole cliché, if you love something set it free. If it doesn’t return, then it was never yours to begin with.

Thanks for sending your e-mail. Each Sunday I'll respond to e-mails as long as I get some. And they can be as serious or not serious as you want them to be. Feel free to e-mail about anything that you want me to devote time to next Sunday.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Just a Few Chords

I wasn't sure what to write about today. So I decided I'd find a video to post. But I didn't know what kind of video to post. So I went to YouTube and just started stumbling around. And I found something that's pretty freakin' awesome. It's amazing to think how many popular songs there are that are written with just three or four chords. Does this mean that musicians today are just lazy? Or does it mean that they're crazy talented, to be able to find so much diversity in so few steps? Anyway, here's the video I stumbled upon...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Question of the Week: If You Want Me To

If God appeared to you in a series of vivid and moving dreams and told you to leave everything behind, travel alone to the Red Sea and become a fisherman, what would you do? What if you were told to sacrifice your child?

You know, I haven't been fishing in a long time. I think it's been about 13 years since the last time I picked up a fishing pole. And at that point, it was just a little catch and release stuff on the Roanoke River. I'm guessing that if God wanted me to go deep sea fishing in the middle of the Red Sea it would be a little more complicated than just a stick and a string.

But I suppose that just because I don't consider myself talented in the hunting and fishing field, that I shouldn't use that as an excuse to not go where God has called me. If I truly believed that God was telling me to go to the Red Sea to seize the fish, then that's what I'd do.

Sacrificing one's own child, though, is a different matter entirely. That's something that I wouldn't know what to do until I was in that very situation. If I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God's voice telling me to sacrifice my child, I hope that I would have the kind of faith that Abraham did when he was in those sandals.

The way I picture that story is that Abraham got the call to sacrifice his only son, took his son up to the mountain, and got everything prepared without questioning a thing. I don't think that Abraham knew exactly what was going to happen that day, but I know he wasn't afraid and he didn't lose the trust that he had in God. He knew that God had promised him a son that would lead to a nation of countless people. He knew that God would remain faithful to his promises. Abraham knew that everything would be all right. When Isaac quetioned his father about the sacrifice, Abraham told him that God would provide. God did provide the sacrifice that day, and Isaac walked away unharmed. And it also foreshadowed another sacrifice that God would later provide, giving us all the opportunity to walk away unharmed.

See what I just did there? I got deep. Theology style. Guess my year and a half in seminary wasn't for nothing after all.

So really, the question of whether or not I'd sacrifice my child is a moo point. 'Cause God wouldn't ask us to do that anymore. 'Cause his Son already made the ultimate sacrifice. Yes, I would go fishing in the Red Sea though. Sounds interesting.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The New Apartment

As the semester comes to a close, I've been forced to search elsewhere for a roof over my head. This is because, and I'm assuming here, the seminary will not allow me to live in seminary housing when I'm not a seminary student.

A few weeks ago I found an incredible apartment on a tip from a co-worker. It's a place called Glen Royal Mills and it's not far from my current residence. It's this really old building that once housed a cotton mill. It has since been converted into a fairly large apartment building. So I called the leasing office to make my interest known.

And it was then that I was placed on the waiting list. It was then that I was fifth in line.

So I pretty much figured that there was no chance I'd be getting into that apartment. And then I began looking elsewhere. And then I got discouraged. Glen Royal Mills had been the most affordable apartment I had come across in my search thus far. Next on my list was a place in Youngsville, where the rent was $65 more per month. Another place down the road was $100 more a month.

Last Friday, out of the blue, I received a phone call from the property manager at Glen Royal Mills. A one-bedroom apartment had opened up and I was next on the list. I have no idea how that happened. In a matter of four short weeks I had gone from fifth to first on the list. I made arrangements to go and visit the place. I really wanted to see this place on the inside.

Yesterday was the day. I was escorted to the second floor where the empty apartment sits. The one-bedroom feels huge. In reality, it's probably not all that big in terms of area. But the ceilings stretch on forever, making the rooms feel so much larger. The floors are all hardwood, so I guess I'll have to buy some new area rugs. The windows are ginormous. There's gonna be light in that apartment whether I want it or not. Also, there's a dishwasher in the kitchen. No more doing dishes at the sink for Aaron.

So I got the application and filled it out today. I'll run it back over there tomorrow while on my lunch break. Assuming I survive the credit checking process, I'll be moving into my new home in December. So get ready to receive my phone call. Moving day will be here before you know it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Nine

Where was I? Oh yeah, leaving Salem. We left Salem at some point in the mid-80s. I can't remember exactly when. I want to say sometime in 1986. But I really don't know if I was still in kindergarten or if it was between that and 1st grade. I do know that we were on our way to Stratford Park Apartments in southwest Roanoke. But on the way there we made a pit stop.

In my mind, we spent a couple months living in my grandparents' basement in Botetourt County. In reality, it may have only been a week or two. What was so exciting about this endeavor is that Mamaw and Papa had cable. You know, we very well could have had cable back on Reece Rd., but we didn't have Nickelodeon.

And this is back when Nickelodeon was good. This is when we had Picture Pages with Bill Cosby. We had You Can't Do That On Television. None of this Spongebob or Drake and Josh crap you see these days. I miss Turkey TV.

You know what else Mamaw and Papa had? A pool table. Not that I was old enough to really comprehend the object in playing pool. It was just fun to roll the balls into the pockets and watch for them to roll through to the end of the table. Good times.

It was during this time that my sister became scarred for life. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Mom had been getting ready for work and had her curling iron sitting on her dresser. April decided to foolishly play with the hot item and dropped it on her foot. There really wasn't much of a story there, but I'm fairly certain April still has that scar on her foot. I think she learned a lesson that day. Straight hair means safe hair.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Welcome to This Heart of Mine

I'm getting this from my friend Erynn's Facebook note that she posted. I know it's unoriginal, but it's been a long day and I'm not sure I feel like writing anything too involved. I mean, I lectured on the importance of voting yesterday. Hopefully you went out and made an informed decision today. So now, just sit back, relax, and let the electoral process do its thing. Meanwhile, get interactive with tonight's post.

Step 1: Put your music player on random.
Step 2: Post the first line (or so, some are hard) from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what SONG AND ARTIST the lines come from.
Step 4: Italicize the songs when someone guesses correctly (No lyric hunting! That is cheating!)
Step 5: After doing the 1st 20, listen to one more random song and post it as your title.

1. Down on my knees again tonight, I'm hopin' this prayer will turn out right
2. I'm the piano player down at Eddie's bar
3. How can you see into my eyes like open doors
4. If I could I would tell you why, the first time I saw her I could touch the sky
5. Try to see it my way, only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong
6. Saying good-bye, going away. Seems like good-bye's such a hard thing to say
7. 2 AM and she calls me 'cause I'm till awake
8. Livin' in my own world, didn't understand that anything can happen when you take a chance
9. All the old paintings on the tombs they do the sand dance don't you know
10. Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close
11. I'm in Southern California and the beautiful ones just kicked me out of their restaurant
12. This thing called love I just can't handle it
13. Many nights we've prayed with no proof anyone could hear
14. My love must be a kind of blind love
15. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
16. Hello darkness, my old friend
17. Somewhere there's speaking it's already coming in
18. Manic Mondays singin' you to sleep, you could use some time to breathe wake up please
19. When the night has come and the land is dark
20. You know our love was meant to be the kind of love to last forever

Monday, November 03, 2008


Tomorrow is Election Day. It's that special day that comes around each year when every intelligent American can go to the polls and voice their informed opinions and take part in shaping the near-future of our local, state, and federal governments. It's also that special day when every idiot in America can go to the pools and voice their uninformed opinions and take part in shaping the near-future of our local, state, and federal governments.

Today's post is my one and only lecture post regarding the election. The ability to vote is a right and privilege that people over the last two and a half centuries fought for Americans to have. Yet how many people actually go out and exercise that right? According to the Census Bureau, in the 2004 presidential election, 68% of registered voters showed up to cast their ballot. My question is, why isn't it 100%?

Being the cynical person that I am, I generally don't give a second thought to who wins elections. I'm usually of the mind that my one vote doesn't count for much in the grand scheme of things. But I talk myself right back into voting because what if everyone thought that way? Then you'd have a country with no direction.

So I implore all five of you reading this blog to go out tomorrow and vote. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. That's wrong on so many levels. But I do want you to check up on the candidates. Figure out which one stands for the things in which you believe. Where do each of the candidates stand on the issues that concern you the most? Decide from there who you'll vote for. This isn't American Idol. Don't just vote for the one that you think is most popular or who's prettiest.

Vote early. Vote often.

And while I'm not telling you who to vote for this year, I will tell you who to vote for in eight years. Be prepared.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Nicole suggested that I start giving advice. Something along the lines of an advice column. I'm not sure about this, because in the immortal words of Chandler Bing, "I'm not so great with the advice, but could I interest in you in a sarcastic comment?"

But I'll give it a shot. Now, I've tried the whole interactive blogging thing before. Heck, I even try it on a weekly basis with the question of the week. Only occasionally do I receive responses there. And we all saw how well that whole "give me something to write about" plea went.

My e-mail address can be found on the right side of the page, directly under my picture. I'll also post it at the bottom of this entry. Feel free to e-mail me about anything and everything. Ask your questions about anything and everything. By sending your questions, you are at the same time telling me that you don't mind it being published in this blog. However, if you wish to remain anonymous in your queries, I will honor that, just be sure to make that clear when you e-mail me. If you want to go for real anonymity, you can go and create a random e-mail address to send from.

I know, I've complained about anonymity in the comments, but this is a horse of a different color. I will respect anonymity when it comes to asking personal questions. So go ahead, begin your e-mailing.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Carp Dime

For awhile now, there have been several people suggesting that I change the title of my blog. For three years it has been titled "The Single Guy." Simply put, I titled it that because as my friends were getting engaged and married, I remained single. So, in starting this blog, I went into it with a single guy's mentality. Originally I had planned to comment on life as a twenty-something single man in the early 21st century.

But if you've been reading my blog in the last year, you'll notice that there's not a lot of mention of the trials and tribulations of the single guy. I don't date, so I can't do a lot of writing about those particular pitfalls. I don't really emote too often, so love doesn't really enter the equation either. So what have I been writing about? Day-to-day life.

This brings me to the new title for the blog. "Carp Dime." Don't worry, I'll explain.

Back when I was keeping a blog on MySpace, I did explain the origins of the phrase "carp dime." But I have yet to tell that tale here. It all begins in Bluefield, Virginia, where three young college students had a craving for Chinese buffet. Mark, Andy and myself piled into my little green Escort, we'll call her Jade, and headed to the Mercer Mall. On the road, we noticed our friend Cassie in her car behind us. We met up in the mall parking lot and invited Cassie to join us for some sweet and sour chicken, but she was jonesing for some Chick-Fil-A. So we just told her to sneak her food into the restaurant and hang out with us anyway.

We took a booth in the Chinese restaurant and were greeted by a strange sight. This is something that I had never experienced, and have never again witnessed, in a Chinese restaurant. Our waitress was a crazy, old white woman. Her hair was an odd mass that looked like it could have housed any number of rodents. She had a long scar that stretched from her left ear down her neck, then disappeared behind her shirt. She had one of those creepy cackles that you imagine old cat ladies having. The only thing that would make this image complete for me is if she lived in one of those houses that kids cross the street to avoid. The kind of house with a front door that the bad kids dare the good kids to run up and knock on. Happily, I have no idea where this woman lived.

Our little group here had recently returned from a Baptist Student Union retreat at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. While there, Mark had interacted with a cute girl from JMU. Naturally, our dinner conversation drifted toward Mark's thoughts on this young lady, and what he planned to do. For awhile, he considered driving up to see her during an upcoming break. Being the supportive friends that we were, we tried to encourage him to do so.

Our crazy, old cat lady overheard our conversation and decided to throw in her two cents. Eventually she turned her attention solely to Mark, while the rest of us continued on our own. Mark is the kind of guy that's too nice to stop someone when they're rambling, so she kept on for some time. When she wrapped things up, she said something that caught everyone's attention. "Carp dime!"

At this point we were all confused. We decided that she was attempting to say carpe diem, but carp dime was what came out. That crazy, old cat lady had just given us a catchphrase that would stay with us through college and beyond. Those two words hold no meaning to anyone who didn't finish their days at Bluefield College, but to people like me, they mean so much.

If she, in fact, meant to say carpe diem, then it means to seize the day. But it could very well mean 10-cent fish. Perhaps she was trying to sell a special on the menu at the Chinese buffet.

Whatever its meaning, it is now the title for this blog. The blog isn't about some guy that just happens to check single on his W-2. It's about what that guy observes as he's out there attempting to seize the fish.