Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LVI

Lunch time is now a mere half hour long.

Up until now I've been enjoying hour long lunch breaks. At my old branch, this left me with plenty of time to drive home for lunch where I would make a quick sandwich or two, inhale them, then hop in the car to get back to work. These days, a 45 minute commute makes such a feat impossible.

So what have I been doing with my daily hours off work? Well, I generally pack a lunch. It's certainly cheaper than hitting a drive-thru each day. Besides, the only nearby drive-thru is attached to a McDonald's. You can only survive on McNuggets and McCheeseburgers for so long.

Eating in the break room is a quick and simple matter. Usually I have leftovers from the previous night's dinner or I nuke a couple of hot dogs. This usually means I'm able to eat within a time frame of roughly fifteen minutes.

The rest of my hour is spent sipping on water and reading whatever book I happen to be reading that week. But in a quiet room with only my thoughts and a silent book to entertain me, that hour sometimes seems to drag on. And there are a lot of days that I'm just tempted to lay my head down on the table and fall asleep.

That will no longer be a temptation.

With half hour lunch breaks, I eat in half the time I'm there, then get a few pages read before heading back to work. It's not nearly enough time to even begin feeling fatigued.

So while many of my co-workers may be complaining about the shortened lunches, I am rejoicing.

Another perk: The extra 2 and a half hours added on to my work schedule means a day each week that I'll be going home early. Pretty freakin' sweet if you ask me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Thirty

So the numerous physicians that I was forced to continually visit finally came to the conclusion that my problem was in fact psychological. If only they'd listened to me in the first place. Then I wouldn't have had to know the discomfort of radioactive fluid being pumped into my veins followed by a cramped scan in a large machine.

It was determined that I was suffering from some sort of eating disorder, most likely anorexia nervosa. Statistically, most of the people who are diagnosed with the disease are girls. Roughly 90-95% of cases are girls. So that could have something to do with the fact that I was not diagnosed right away. Usually the onset of the disease hits around age 17. So not only was I the wrong gender, but I was too young. The human mind is a tricky thing.

So thanks to this new psychological disease, I was sent to the first in a series of psychologists. Honestly I don't remember these first few people. I saw school counselors. I saw non-profit therapists. Finally I saw Debra.

Debra was the therapist that I would end up seeing for the next few years. She was a counselor that specialized in adolescent eating disorder cases. Every other week or so, she would have me come into her office and open up about what was going on in my life. Sometimes these sessions would turn into family sessions.

Something that was typical of my time at her office was when I would weigh myself on her scales. She would have me weigh in just to see if I was making any progress in gaining weight. Much of the time my pounds stayed pretty stable. Sometimes I'd go up one or two, and sometimes I'd go down.

During this time there was a lot of forcing myself to eat. Thus I became a much pickier eater than I had been in the past. I even got spoiled by that fact. My grandmother would even cook special food for me at family get togethers, just to make sure I would eat.

So things were stable for a while. But I wasn't over it just yet.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


When one thinks of toys, usually a child's plaything comes to mind. That could mean dolls or action figures or tea sets or Legos or any number of things.

As a kid, I had plenty of toys to play with. GI Joe action figures that I seriously mistreated. I would have the Cobra forces capture a few Joes at a time and then torture them for information. Using an Erector Set, I would fashion a large torture device, to which I would attach a magnifying glass. Then the poor GI Joe victim would be "tied up" under the magnifying glass, which would then focus the light of the sun on the helpless action figure. I melted several soldiers that way. It's probably good that none of this came up in any counseling sessions. I'd have just turned into another over medicated kid who wouldn't be able to use the imagination he was given. My friends and I certainly did have some crazy imaginations. But don't worry, we never hurt any of the non-toys.

I also had a lot of the He-Man figures, but no harm done to them. In fact, they're still packed away in a box in my closet. And of course there were the Legos. I loved to build things. It didn't mean that I wanted to be an architect when I grew up. It was just fun.

As we grow up, our toys tend to evolve. And it depends on the kind of person we grow into that determines the kind of toys we like to play with. I can only speak for the guys out there. And really I can only speak for myself. But I'm just saying, I have no idea what kind of toys the girls still spend their time with as grown-ups.

A lot of guys like technological gadgets for their toys. They like the flashy new TVs or the iPhones or the Blackberrys. I fall into that category somewhat. I don't play with the water guns or the action figures so much these days. But I love a video game.

My Dad's ideas of toys, for the most part, were new gadgets to use in the kitchen. The man loved to cook and he loved finding new ways to do things. I remember kitchen gadgets always being the go to Christmas gift when I couldn't think of anything else. And for the most part, he may have used them once or twice and then they'd be forgotten. Maybe that should tell me that he didn't really like all those kitchen gadgets.

And then there are the guys who collect the traditional toys. These are the guys that scour E-Bay for the GI Joes that I treated so carelessly. These toys that I once played with are now collector's items, worth crazy amounts of money. These are the guys that go out and buy brand new action figures and never take them out of the box. If they're out of the box, they're no longer in mint condition, and that diminishes their value.

So what do you play with?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

They Said That It Couldn't Be Done

When I first moved into my apartment I debated whether or not to have a spare key made in case of emergencies. I reasoned that there was no possible way that such an emergency would come up, since the door to my apartment could only be locked by a key from the outside. Logic dictates that if I had my key to lock the door, I would still have it to unlock it.

Thursday night, I found a way.

It was a typical Thursday evening. I was tired after a long day of putting up with mind-numbing crap at work. But the previous night, I had been gently reminded by the Wake Forest police that the tags on my car had expired. And they're from another state, which is a carnal sin, in and of itself. I took it under advisement and knew that I would need to jump online and renew my tags if I wanted to continue to drive around semi-legally.

So I surfed the World Wide Web and navigated my way into the Virginia DMV's online home where I began the process of renewing my registration. Alas, to do so would require my registration number and vehicle identification number, both of which could be found on my current registration. The current registration, of course, could be found in the glove compartment of my car.

I grabbed my keys off the coffee table, slipped on some flip-flops, and headed out the door. Now, I don't live in the fanciest of apartments, but it is still open to invasion from nosy ne'er-do-wells. I generally don't leave the place without locking up. So I turned the key without a second thought and headed down to the parking lot.

I got in the car and opened the glove compartment and immediately knew that finding my registration would be a job of work. This thing hadn't been cleaned out in months, possibly years. I had just been continually stuffing things into it. Small papers and cards that I knew would be important to me at some point, but by placing them inside I could forget they existed until that time came. So I set my keys down on the seat beside me and began to discard all those old things that meant little or nothing to me anymore. There were a lot of old insurance cards, previous registration cards, those garters that I had caught at my last three weddings, and... score!... a book of stamps!

I finally found my latest version of the car's registration then headed back inside. As I boarded the elevator I noticed something strange. Well, really, I noticed the lack of something. There was no jingling sound coming from my pocket. I closed my eyes as a wave of nausea overtook me. I got back off the elevator and went back to the car. The short walk from the building to my car felt like miles and I was praying the entire time that just once I went against my nature and shut the car door without locking it first. There on the passenger seat was my one and only set of keys. And of course the door was locked.

So I walked back inside, the walk of a man who feels utterly defeated. I slowly made my way back to my apartment, again, hoping that I was remembering things wrong. Maybe I hadn't locked my apartment after all. Because through that door was hope. Inside that apartment was my wallet. A wallet which contained a spare key to my car. If I could only get to that wallet, all of my problems (of the moment) would be solved! But that door, too, was locked.

I began playing different scenarios in my head. I would be forced to sleep in the hallway and wait for the property manager or the maintenance man to show up the next day. It's not as if I could call anyone, my phone was also locked safely in my apartment. I thought about walking to the Greenehouse. It's literally right up the road from my place. But on foot, in the early summer North Carolina heat and humidity, it seemed light years away.

From there I decided to knock on doors. The first three I pounded on were empty. Either no one was living behind them or no one was home. That or they were more afraid of meeting their neighbors than I am. I finally knocked on the door of my next-door-neighbor to the right. Nice guy, works nights, so I felt pretty bad when he said he'd just woken up. I knew that it wasn't my knock that woke him, he was already awake (so he said), but I still felt bad about bothering him. He told me where Maintenance Man (who henceforth shall be known as M&M) lived. I apologized again for disturbing him and made my way to the third floor.

But no one was home there either.

Back in 213, my neighbor let me hang out until he could get someone on his cell phone. You may be asking why I didn't just call someone using his phone. Well, I was going to, but his phone book was only good for Raleigh and did not cover Wake Forest or Youngsville, the only places I would know anyone. And finding the Greenes' number would have done me no good since, that very day, they had changed their home number. Some funny joke, huh?

Luckily my neighbor had M&M's number in his cell. So he left a voice mail and we waited for him to call back. Another stroke of luck is that we only had to wait about ten minutes before M&M called back. M&M said he'd meet me in the parking lot. Since I didn't have power windows, he felt like he could get one of them down and then I'd be able to retrieve my keys. Well that didn't work. M&M took me upstairs where he got the spare key from the leasing office. M&M provided this story with a happy ending.

He let me back into my apartment. I got my spare key and my cell phone (just in case) and went back to my car. And the rest of my keys were still sitting there, waiting for my triumphant return.

Now, it's been two days since the incident. The question remains, why have I still not had a spare key made? I'm such a dummy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Question of the Week: Cure

By controlling medical research funds, you are in the position to guarantee that a cure will be found in 15 years for any disease you choose. Unfortunately, no progress on any others would be made during that period. Would you target one disease?

No I wouldn't. What if researchers are only five years away from a cure for cancer, but I've decided that all they're gonna work on is athlete's foot? Fifteen years from now, no one will have itchy feet, but cancer will still have claimed millions of lives.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Something happened to me that's never happened before. Yesterday as I was driving to work I felt an odd urge. It was an urge that I have felt before, but I usually don't follow it. I just ignore these random things and logically push them away by busying myself with the things I need to do at the time.

As I was driving I felt the strong desire to start singing old hymns. So I turned off the CD that I was listening to and just began to sing. It's been a long time since I've attended a church that asks its congregation to thumb through the old hymnals to sing number 336. And so, for the most part, I'm only able to remember the first and most popular verses.

So I would begin to sing a song. Then I'd get to the end of the first verse or make it through the chorus just once, and I'd be forced to move on. I pulled out a little Old Rugged Cross, In the Garden, and Holy, Holy, Holy. But then I got to my very favorite hymn of all time: It Is Well With My Soul.

The lyrics were written by a man named Horatio Spafford. Spafford wrote the song after a series of tragedies in his life. His son was killed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which also destroyed his law practice. Only two years later, while crossing the Atlantic, the ship containing his wife and four daughters collided with a sailing vessel and sank. Though his wife survived, all of his children were lost. Not long after, he traveled across the ocean to join his wife. When passing near the area that became his daughters' resting place, he was inspired to write the words of that great hymn.

The song reminds us that in any circumstance in our lives, we can find peace. No matter what is going on, in good times and in bad, our souls can find rest when we go to the proper source. Relying on Christ as our strength gives us the ability to say it is well with our soul, no matter what.

So I sang through a few verses of this song and then I couldn't go on. It wasn't because I had forgotten the fourth verse. I was crying. At first my voice just began to shake a little and I tripped over the lyrics. Before I knew it I had no voice and tears were streaming down my cheeks.

At first I wasn't exactly sure what to do. I was driving and trying to see through tear-filled eyes. So I did the only logical thing I could think of. I prayed. I prayed hard. God had placed an urge on my heart that morning. And for once I decided not to be stubborn and just go with it. And through that, God put a crack in some of the walls I've spent so long building up.

It's good to know that He is still there to reach out to me, even when I neglect to reach out to Him. I just hope that next time I feel His push, I follow it, rather than ignore it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Revenge of the Fallen

Two years have gone by since Transformers introduced us to the awesomeness of childhood playthings becoming a life-sized reality on the big screen. Two years in anticipation, waiting for the inevitable sequel, hoping against hope that a part two would be equal its predecessor in the category of all things awesome. I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but be warned, a few bits of information not revealed by the trailers may be thrown in here and there.

All of that culminated last night as I was among the possible millions in this country who stayed up late to catch the midnight release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It was a last minute decision to see the movie at midnight last night, and even that was a difficult one to make. Yes, I was looking forward to this movie about as much as I had anticipated The Dark Knight last summer. But with it being the middle of the week, and with the burden of a full-time job, I assumed I would need to wait at least a few days before finally seeing the new film.

That wasn’t the case as Nicole suggested that I go with Kevin and their oldest son, Bryce, to the midnight showing. Now, I love going to the theater, especially when it’s overcrowded. The people-watching possibilities are limitless. And thanks to the fact that school is out for the summer, there was no end of adolescent fanboys hanging out with groups of girls modeling the latest in hookerwear. Though we had pre-paid for our tickets, we were forced to wait in line until we got the okay to enter the viewing rooms. After a roughly half hour wait, we were allowed to wade our way through all the teenagers flaunting their new-found freedom from chaperones and curfews. Like cattle being led to the slaughter, we were ushered into our theater to finally see the sequel to greatness.

And then the movie began. The months of anticipation was not met with a whimper, but it really wasn’t met with a bang either. We pick up two years after the first film ended. The Autobots are now working with a military division that is hunting down the remaining Decepticons and attempting to rid the Earth of their threat. In the meantime, the Autobots have grown their ranks with a few more visitors that have joined the battle in between stories. But the Decepticons have been at work as well.

Our hero from the first movie, Sam (Shia LeBeouf) is all grown up and heading off to college, leaving behind his protector, Bumblebee, and his unrealistically hot girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox). When he comes in contact with a forgotten shard of the All-Spark, he is somehow infected with information that the Decepticons will kill to get. All of this leads to an action-packed adventure that delves into Earth’s ancient past, where we discover that the Transformers have been here before, leaving behind a source of great power that may be vital to the survival of their race.

Like the previous installment, this film continues the theme of sacrifice for the greater good. We see it over and over again in each of our good guys. Optimus Prime sacrifices himself to save Sam. Sam does the same for Prime. Sam’s parents argue with him about whether or not they will stay and fight or run and hide, as Sam tells them. Mikaela shows a great amount of faith in her fella, even when the odds are impossibly stacked against them.

The plot and the action alone made this movie well worth seeing. And for anyone who is as big a fan of Transformers as I have been, it is a must see. However, there are disappointments.

While the movie is a great action flick, there are a lot of elements that have been stripped from other, well-known franchises. A few of the most obvious ones come from Star Wars, Terminator, and Indiana Jones. When you see the movie, you’ll see those influences.

My biggest problem comes with the crudity and the over sexualized mentality of the movie. I can get past the use of certain characters purely for comic relief, that’s not the problem. The problem is when they resort to crude language and humor to break the tension with a cheap laugh. And remember how I said the girls at the theater were modeling their hookerwear? It’s easy to see where they get their fashion sense when Megan Fox is spending all of her screen time fairly scantily clad.

Not that I normally would mind staring at Megan Fox in low-cut tops or short shorts. But I was sitting next to an 11-year-old kid. And as good as the action was and as exciting as the plot may have been, it was hard to enjoy that when the whole time I’m thinking, “He really shouldn’t be seeing this.” I realize that the MPAA has their guidelines that they follow when rating a movie. And it’s not that this particular movie contained anything worse than you would find in any other PG-13 rated film. It just contained so much of it. There was so much sexual innuendo and crude humor that it seemingly pushed the envelope for this range of the rating system.

Maybe my opinion would be a little different and skewed in another direction had I seen it with the guys I went to college with. After all, those are the guys with whom I can sit through Anchorman and laugh hysterically. Seeing this with them, I may have walked away going on and on about how awesome the effects were or how cool it was when such-and-such exploded or how hot Megan Fox actually is. Instead, I walked out with a father and his impressionable young son talking about how inappropriate the content was and how disappointed we were after a huge and exciting build up.

So my opinion? The movie was good. The story was thrilling. The action was exciting. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. Just leave the kids at home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LV

I helped a customer today that I wish I had never seen. I hope that I never see her again.

She wasn't rude or demanding. For all I know, she was just a sweet old lady. And that's part of the problem.

Here's the thing... She was wearing a sleeveless shirt. Now, it was a hot day today. For the most part, I have no problem when women wear sleeveless attire. I mean, it's in the mid-90s outside and the humidity is almost about to jump off the charts. But I think there should really be an age limit.

This woman was, by my best estimations, ancient. Did you ever see There's Something About Mary? You know the shriveled up, over-tanned old lady on that? She looked like a smooth length of silk compared to this old chick.

It was kind of like someone had taken her arms and just pulled her skin off her bones, the way someone would pull on a rubber band, and then it just snapped back. But it didn't go back to its old shape. The skin was still all stretched out, but now it went back to covering the same area as before.

I had the displeasure of helping this woman. And she was a talker. I can be polite to our customers when they want to talk, even though I am not a talker. The elderly folks that come in are, a lot of the time, a lonely crew and a trip to the bank means a chance to talk to someone... anyone. Even if it means they're stuck talking to a jerk like me. Who, meanwhile, cannot wait until they finally shut their traps so I can thank them for banking with us.

So I'm caught in a conversation about whether or not this woman's account has a decent interest rate or not. And while she's talking, all I can think about is how not to throw up while looking at her heavily wrinkled arms. And through my mind is running the feasibility of running for office, simply so I can write legislation making it unlawful for men and women of a certain age to wear sleeveless shirts.

I know, I'm mean. How can you stand to keep reading this stuff?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is the question that is inevitably asked of every college student at one point or another. Some are asked as rising freshmen. Some are asked as exiting graduates. Many are even asked again once they interview for that job they've been working so hard to get.

The question is a loaded one. It's a gauge that people use to determine what sort of drive you have. What sort of vision do you have for your life and what's to come?

I remember being asked this question several times throughout my life. And each time I've heard the question, I remember thinking about how unfair it was.

At 18 years of age, as a freshman just taking those first steps into adulthood, how could I have possibly known what the next five years would bring me? My answer was hopeful. I'd be a college graduate. I'd have a job. Back then, I may have even thought I'd be married, or at least on my way. But in reality, I had no idea.

At 23 years of age, as a college graduate, I still had no idea how to answer that question. I certainly didn't see myself as a grad school drop out working part-time at a bank trying desperately to make ends meet. But my answer at the time was probably roughly the same as it had been five years earlier.

And now, at 29 years of age, all I can safely say is that five years from now, I'll be 34.

I don't think about the future a great deal. Don't confuse that with spontaneity. I may not make long term plans, but I really don't fly by the seat of my pants either. The thing I don't like about plans is that they usually don't work out. I'd much rather live today for today and see what it brings, for better or worse.

So what sort of vision do I have for myself and my future? I don't know. I have goals, but they're not lofty. The goals I set for myself are attainable and, for the most part, within reach. My thought is, if you set yourself up with goals that are too far ahead, then something comes up and you can't reach that goal, you've done nothing but set yourself up for disappointment. I'm definitely not a fan of disappointment.

What about you? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Deal With It

It's come to my attention that I have a certain following on this blog. It amounts to roughly 15 or 20 visitors per day. To me, that doesn't seem like a lot. Especially when I follow other blogs that get more comments on one post than I get in a month of posts. But those 15 to 20 each day could, in fact, be a hundred different people who only check the blog periodically.

So to those of you who read this regularly, I say thank you. Thanks for paying attention to what I have to say when I have something to say. But I sort of have a request. Don't take me so seriously.

Even when I label a post "On a Serious Note," take it with a grain of salt.

I have issues that I deal with. They're deep and they're numerous. Part of my personal exploration of those issues can be seen in the Life Story posts that I've occasionally done over the last few months, and will continue to do. Those are just a few examples of walls that I'm trying to break down.

But looking into my past all on my own probably isn't enough to deal with everything I've got going on. I'm one of those people who recognizes the fact that I need therapy. In fact, I should probably be seeing a counselor on a pretty regular basis. But when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm very stubborn. If you keep reading the forthcoming Life Story posts, you'll easily be able to see why I am that way.

So, since I refuse to send myself to a therapist, and since this is also much cheaper, I write. This blog is the one place that I can come to and vent. When something is going on in my life or when I'm deep in thought over things, I come here to write about them.

Try not to take the things I say here so seriously. Nothing I've written has ever been meant to help or harm anyone. But it's therapeutic for me. If you like what I have to say, keep coming back. If you don't like what I have to say, I'm sorry, but I'm not changing it. Come back some other time and maybe I'll have posted something more to your liking.

I've got a lot of issues to work through. I'm dealing with them. So should you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Question of the Week: J/K

A good friend pulls off a well-conceived practical joke that plays on one of your foibles and makes you look ridiculous. How would you react?

I'd like to say I'd laugh it off. I mean, I love a good practical joke... as long as it's played on someone else. I'd probably get pissed. I'd get over it, and it probably wouldn't take long. Eventually I'd look back and laugh at it. But I think it's safe to say that I'm one of those guys who can dish it out but can't take it.

If it was a really good one, I'd probably end up being jealous at some point. Jealous that I hadn't thought of such a joke myself. So let that be a lesson to all of you out there. Don't pull any practical jokes on me. You'll reap the whirlwind.

Okay, not really. I can't really bring about a whirlwind of fury.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009


On Monday I received a last minute text message from Kevin asking if I'd be willing to house sit while the family went to the beach for the better part of the week. Of course I said yes and have spent the last three nights in the Greenehouse.

This morning, on the way to work, I decided to stop by my apartment to grab something for lunch. To my great surprise, there was water all over my kitchen floor. I had no idea why this would have happened, especially since I hadn't been in my apartment for the last two and a half days.

Then I stopped and listened. There were several steady drips falling from the ceiling high above the kitchen. Now, I was in a hurry, so I didn't take the time to seek out the source of the leak. So I headed back down to the car in order to drive to the bank.

On the way to work, I pulled out the cell phone and dialed the property manager's office. The posted hours for the property manager are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. With today being a Thursday, I knew I should expect no answer. And that's exactly what I got. Unless you want to count the answering machine.

The outgoing message provided me with an after-hours emergency pager number. So instead of leaving a message that I knew wouldn't be heard until tomorrow, I hung up and called the pager. I typed in my phone number and hit the pound key, then hung up again. It's been awhile since I've actually called a pager, but I'm pretty sure I did it correctly. The fact that an automated voice said "thank you" when I was finished seemed to be a good sign.

But I never got a return call.

After awhile, I called the office yet again. This time I left a message letting them know what was going on. I wanted something to be there, just in case someone checked messages, even in the off days.

I never got a return call.

Even after paging the emergency number a total of nine times throughout the day. I never got a return call.

After work I quickly took care of the dogs at the Greenehouse, then headed to the apartment to make sure the leak was contained in the kitchen. There's nothing valuable on the floor in there. However, if the small pool had spread to the living room, heads would have to roll.

Luckily, the puddle remained in the kitchen. Without a mop handy, I decided to grab some towels and throw them down, just to catch the rest of the drops and hopefully prevent any more of a spread.

I also grabbed a flashlight in order to check out the high, dark ceiling, hoping to find the source of the several leaks. One seemed to be coming from a pipe of unknown origin. Another was dropping from a beam, telling me that at least part of it is definitely coming from upstairs.

Again, I called the office to leave another message. This time I was a little nastier than this morning. It's not that I was expecting a lot on an off day. I just think it's ridiculous for them to leave the residents with an emergency number for which there would be no answer.

So I'm once again at the Greenes, even though they're returning home tonight. As far as I know, the dripping continues, and will continue into tomorrow. What do you think? Did I have a right to be a little peeved about the lack of response to my pages? I don't pay much in rent, so I don't expect a lot of return on that investment. But it would be nice to hear someone say they won't be able to get to the problem today, can it wait 'til tomorrow? Just let me know what you're doing or not doing to earn my rent check each month.


Oh, and I'm a little afraid that what's leaking may be poo water. Not sure, but there's definitely a brown stain on my counter top where it was leaking this morning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wanna See Somethin' Cool?

Ever use Google Maps? Or the Google Earth doohicky?

Sometimes when I'm bored at work, that's what I do. I go on there and I zoom in on places I've been. Most of the time, the places I zoom in on are places that I haven't been in a long time.

Well, yesterday, during one of those slow, boring periods of the day, I started searching for the places that I've lived in my life. I Googled the duplex that I lived in with Dad and found something pretty cool.

Zooming in as close to street level as possible without actually going to street level (which is pretty cool in itself), I saw my own car.

Now, I haven't lived there in over two years. So obviously, the satellite picture that was taken of 3312 Oakland Blvd. must have been taken a few years back. 'Cause right there, parked on the curb is my little green Escort. And in the driveway is Dad's old Taurus wagon.

Don't believe me? Well here it is...

View Larger Map

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Okay, is this a real product? Or is this just an SNL sketch waiting to happen?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009


That's today's writing prompt from over at Sunday Scribblings, and I'm really not sure what to write about it.

I could air grievances based on the random absurdities I constantly find my life bombarded with. It would be cathartic. But I don't know if that's the right way to do things.

So what if I just take a look at myself and examine my own expectations and actions. What is it that I bring upon myself that falls under the category of absurd?

I have unrealistic expectations. I expect myself to be able to help the people around me no matter the situation they find themselves in. Ever since college, there have seemed to be seasons in my life when I become a magnet for people with problems. It's because I'm slow to speak but quick to listen.

For awhile, I believed that I could parlay that into a successful career as some sort of counselor or therapist. But when it came to giving advice, as therapists must often do, I felt like I was falling short. I began getting frustrated.

It wasn't necessarily because my advice was bad. To me, good advice just comes from having good common sense, something that is seriously lacking in a great majority of the people. The frustration came when people would ask for advice but then wouldn't listen. Those people would find themselves in the same situation over and over again. I'm not trying to be conceited here. I don't want you to think that I think so highly of myself that everyone should follow my stellar advice and then their lives would be problem free. It's just that, if you don't want to hear the advice that someone is giving you, then don't ask for it in the first place.

At some point, I need to realize just how absurd it is for me to expect to change people's lives when they don't want to change themselves. It's not up to me. At some point, I need to realize how absurd it is for me to get involved in other people's lives. How involved I am is definitely up to me.

I disconnect myself from so much. And it's because I get disappointed in people. When you get close to someone, you open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable. You set yourself up for that disappointment. It's absurd to think that those people you call friends will never let you down.

It's absurd to believe that anyone an your life is going to make zero mistakes. People will let you down: family, friends, significant others, co-workers, ministers, rodeo clowns... they're all just human. They're gonna screw up from time to time.

So this next part is as much for myself as it is for anyone reading. Have a little faith. Even though the people in your life have let you down before, get over it. Learn to love them anyway. Learn to love their flaws. Learn to help pick them up and dust them off. Learn to help them learn, because they may not even know what mistake they made. And then, learn to get over it again, because it doesn't matter who they are to you or how much they mean, they will let you down again. It's inevitable. It's absurd to think they won't.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Question of the Week: Peace

Would you be willing to give up sex for one year if you knew it would give you a much deeper sense of peace than you have right now?

I've gone 29 years, 3 months, and a week without sex. What's one more year?

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

Friday, June 12, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Nine

I'm not gonna continue with the story today. Just gonna post a before and after shot. The first was from the day I graduated from fifth grade. The second was from my 13th birthday party during that seventh grade year.

I promise you, both pictures are of me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Eight

So I reached the seventh grade and was somehow fifty pounds lighter. Okay, not somehow, I had stopped eating. But no one recognized that as the true reason.

The parents took me to the hospital to visit the doctor that had been my pediatrician since birth. Unfortunately, he was on some sort of sabbatical. So I was forced to see the new guy. This doctor must have been fresh out of medical school, 'cause he sort of had that deer-in-the-headlights kind of look the whole time he was examining me and running his tests.

And he ran some tests. Lots and lots of tests. You name the potential disease, I was tested for it.

During my initial visit, the doctor asked me, "Why do you think you're not hungry?"

"I think it's all psychological," was my response.

The doctor, completely serious, just looked at me and asked, "Aaron, what does psychological mean?"

In my mind, I was thinking Aren't you the doctor? Did they not explain psychology to you in medical school? I really wanted to see his degrees just to get some proof that he wasn't some wacko.

I like to think that he really just wanted to make sure a 12-year-old kid knew what he was saying. I must have surprised him with just how brilliant I really was.

A few weeks into our doctor/patient relationship he brought me and the family into his office and sat us down. "Well, we don't think it's Leukemia but we don't want to rule it out."

Really dude? That's what you say to a 12-year-old kid? Even the ones who know what psychological means can crap their pants when you use the word Leukemia.

It wasn't Leukemia.

It wasn't long after that that we decided to wait for my regular doctor to get back to town. We definitely needed a second opinion.

Dr. Keagy examined me himself, then came up with his own possibility. One that no one had considered, mostly because I was a boy.

"Aaron may have an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa."

See, it was all psychological.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Seven

At the end of my sixth grade year I was still a pretty hefty individual. At roughly four and a half feet tall, I weighed in at 135 pounds. Now, I'm not sure what a healthy weight is for that age and height, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't it.

That summer I lost a total of 50 pounds.

At first it seemed okay. The weight began to come off, the gut began to shrink, and people began to tell me how good I looked. So we have a little positive reinforcement to push things along. Whatever I was doing seemed to be the right thing.

But I didn't know what I was doing. I just didn't have an appetite for much of anything. There was no hunger. And because I didn't feel hungry, I didn't eat. For the better part of three months.

Again, this wasn't a choice that I made. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to just stop eating. That's not how my 12-year-old brain was working.

What did happen was that I spent so much time in school being picked on because of my weight that my fragile, pre-pubescent self esteem couldn't take anymore. Something inside my brain just switched off. When I should have been hungry, I wasn't. At a time in my life when I should have been growing like crazy, I wasn't.

Soon, all those family members and friends from church who said I was looking good began to wonder if something was wrong. It didn't take long at all for my parents to enter panic mode.

I felt all right. As far as I could tell, I was just finally losing the pounds that had caused me some pretty horrible emotional anguish. At least as horrible as sixth grade can get.

I look back and I realize I should have probably just developed thicker skin, that I shouldn't have let those kids get to me. But it's easy for me to look back with that attitude. I'm older now and I've been through more. Things that bothered me then wouldn't bother me now. Things that seem petty and childish to an adult can make or break a 12-year-old's psyche.

I returned to Woodrow Wilson for seventh grade in the fall that year. All the kids, friends and bullies alike, had a hard time recognizing me. The change was that dramatic. Several people asked me repeatedly if I had been sick. As far as I knew I was still okay and I felt fine.

I was wrong.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Six

Before I get to the heavy stuff, I want to explore one more aspect of middle school: The Band.

Now, sixth graders weren’t allowed to take part in the marching band, but we were encouraged to learn an instrument so that we’d be prepared for our seventh and eighth grade years.

Our fearless leader was good ol’ Bill Carr. You may have heard of him. He’s pretty famous in Roanoke music circles. At least, that’s what he told us. I kid, he’s actually a pretty humble guy.

As a kid, it was difficult to not look upon him as a slave driving maniac, cracking a whip upon us poor kids, making us walk and play instruments in the bitter cold. But now that I can see the bigger picture, he was just trying to teach us the importance of taking pride in what we set out to do.

One of his favorite lessons was the value of teamwork. For a band to succeed, the individual parts must come together to form the whole. Often he would use the illustration that the difference between the word “united” and “untied” depended upon where you put the “I.” I guess that’s one of those “there’s no I in team” kind of phrases.

I played the trumpet, along with most of the other cool kids. Since this was just middle school, we really had no idea what it meant to be band geeks. That kind of thing wouldn’t come along ‘til high school.

I don’t remember many of the songs that we played, but I do remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment whenever we nailed a performance. Like I said, at the time, we would grumble about the way Mr. Carr would direct us in rehearsals or fuss at us for not being focused. But even then, it was easy to see the pride in his eyes when we had finished a concert. There was never any doubt, the man loved what he did.

I ran into Mr. Carr a few years ago. He went to the same church that I was attending before I moved away from Roanoke. My sister, April, played in the band a few years after I did, and I’m pretty sure he must have liked her better than me. Every time I saw him at church, he would ask about her. I’m not sure if I should let that bother me or not.

You’re probably asking if I still play the trumpet. The answer, of course, is no. Seems I can’t stick to anything I took up in middle school.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Five

Wow it’s been a long time since I put myself under the microscope. I think that’s because I’ve entered the middle school years, which feels mostly downhill ‘til I get out of high school. But since I can’t exactly skip past seven years of life, I’m back to it. This week I’ll be posting five chapters. So if you don’t like reading about the unimportant details of my childhood, you’ll probably want to wait and come back next week.

For those of you who are still here, I’m gonna ease back into things today. Back in 24 I mentioned that I had started middle school at Woodrow Wilson. If you’d like a refresher, then click here. Suffice it to say, I hated it there.

During my time at Woodrow, I was able to gain exposure to a foreign language. A lot of folks had to wait until high school to begin Spanish, but I got to start in sixth grade. I say “got to” like it was some kind of privilege. I guess, looking back, I should have treated it as such. If I had, maybe I’d be able to speak the language fluently to this day.

Our teacher was a crazy lady named Mrs. Carper. But in class, we had to call her Señora Carper. Actually, outside of class we had to call her that as well. It’s not that she was actually crazy. Maybe eccentric is a better word. But I always assumed that eccentric was used to describe wealthy people. Not too many wealthy people teaching Spanish to sixth graders.

Aside from learning the Spanish alphabet, the numbers, the days of the week, etc. we got to watch movies in Spanish. These weren’t foreign films where the actors spoke Spanish, no. These were American films that were dubbed in Spanish. Two that I distinctly remember seeing were Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I remember that, during these viewings, my friend Chad and I would sit in the back of the class and make up the dialogue as we went along. As we were only middle school students, a fluent understanding of the voice-over actors was beyond us.

Another tradition that Carper liked to force upon us was the singing of the Christmas carols… That’s right… en Español. I didn’t so much mind sitting in the classroom year after year and going over the Xeroxed pages of translated carols. What got to me was the forced marching through the halls of Woodrow Wilson, singing at the tops of our lungs. Oh, the humiliations. No me gusta.

So let’s think about all the years I spent learning Spanish. Three years in middle school, plus two in high school. But since I didn’t take the advanced placement exam in high school, I was forced to relive two years of it in college, just so I could get my degree. Anyone need help with the math? That’s seven.

Seven full years of Spanish and I can barely speak a word of it. Maybe if I were to go and spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country I’d have no choice but to learn and I’d be able to pick it up quickly. So far though, I’m not having any luck when all I’m surrounded by are English speakers.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Soul Mates

I don't believe in soul mates. I really just don't think they exist.

I think it's a term full of romantic nonsense that people who like to watch Dawson's Creek enjoy throwing around as if it means something. People end up with who they're attracted to, that's all there is to it.

I believe that God places certain people in our lives for certain reasons. Many of those people, we may not understand the reasons that they've come or gone, but for better or worse, they've affected how we think or act on something.

Now, I'm not an advocate of predestination. I'm a big fan of free will as a part of my theological thinking. So I also believe that it's up to us to decide with whom we fall in love, to whom we're attracted, and when and if we ever get married. God has a plan and a design, and our decisions don't mess with that design, but He still allows us to make those choices.

The idea of a soul mate just takes away any of those decisions.

To me, when someone uses the term soul mate, it just sounds like an excuse. It's an excuse to get out of the lousy relationship you're already in. I mean, if you're unhappy with your marriage or your significant other, then that person is obviously not your soul mate, right? Or if you're ridiculously infatuated with someone of the opposite sex who barely knows you're alive, almost to the point of stalking them, it's okay, 'cause that person's your soul mate, right?

Okay, that second example is a little dumb. I mean, if there were such a thing as soul mates, wouldn't the object of that person's infatuation be just as infatuated, if he/she were in fact that person's soul mate?

But the first one is right on. And that was sarcasm up above. That's kind of hard to convey in text. We need a new sarcastic punctuation. I digress.

Soul mates don't exist. So don't go looking for one. It's ridiculous to think that out of 6.5 billion people in the world, there's only one out there for you. What if that one person lives on the opposite side of the globe? Does that mean you both spend your lives alone and miserable until one of you finally decides to take that trip to Indonesia that you've been putting off 'til retirement? I don't think so.

Try to make the best of the people that God brings into your lives. Trust me, He knows what He's doing.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Well, I finally finished.

After months of putting it off, I took the time to read the Twilight sequels.

For me, the first book was a pretty quick read. I mean, it had its slow points, but what book doesn't? Then I picked up New Moon and just couldn't seem to get past the first three chapters. Well, maybe I read the fourth chapter, but it just didn't hold my attention at all.

Nicole said it was because the main character's main squeeze, Edward, was out of the picture. If you know anything about the book or have seen the trailer for this fall's movie adaptation, you know the vampire takes off. This makes room for Jacob, a werewolf, to step into Bella's life.

But for half of book 2, you really don't "know" that Jake is a wolf. He's just a guy who has an obvious crush on a damaged girl. Pretty boring stuff. I was told over and over that the book would get better toward the end when Edward reappeared. I just had to choke my way through book 2, because book 3 was so worth it. But I'll admit, I thought New Moon started taking off once the werewolf story began to really take shape. So I was actually okay without Edward being around.

Book 3, Eclipse, was better though. And I don't think it was because the vampire and his family were back in full force. It was because the story was better. Again it started off a little slow, but that's because there were so many threads of the tapestry that needed to build and then become woven into the whole.

But Breaking Dawn, the final book of the saga, eclipsed all the others. I'm not gonna sit here and talk about what happens in the plot, just know that throughout the great majority of the book, it's filled with suspense.

But is it the final book? On the author's website, one can find a partial manuscript for Midnight Sun. While it was intended to be a fifth book in the series, it was never a true sequel. It's really just a retelling of the original story, told from Edward's perspective, rather than Bella's. But since the manuscript was leaked onto the internet, and Stephanie Meyer didn't finish it, we may never know how the whole thing would have turned out.

But while that wasn't a real sequel, it seemed to me that she left a few plot threads hanging in Breaking Dawn that could easily be turned into another story. Time will tell.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good run. Is it worth the national obsession that the series has seemed to garner over the past few years? I don't know. I don't think so. It's a good story, but that's just it. It's a story. Harry Potter was a good story. Left Behind was a good story. But that's all they are. These books should be read purely for their entertainment value. Looking at them from that angle, then Meyer has been incredibly successful, because her books are just that, entertaining.

And just so I can say I threw a video on here, below is the trailer for New Moon. Enjoy.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Question of the Week: AIDS

If you found that a good friend had AIDS, would you avoid him? What if your brother or sister had it?

No on both counts. I think in the beginning it would be an adjustment, but I don't think it would take long to get to a comfort level that we're used to. This isn't the 80s when AIDS was a new disease and people were ignorant of how it affected the infected or how it was spread to others. The only reason I would avoid that friend or family member with the disease would be if I had a cold or something. Knowing how AIDS destroys a person's immune system, I'd hate to think I'm the one that gave them that extra push into extreme sickness.

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

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Back in the day I was a big fan of the game The Sims. In fact, so were my roommates in college. Well, really just one of my roommates: Brandon. We both had the game on our computers and would play the game simultaneously, then start yelling at each other in the fake language that the Sim people would use.

If you've never seen or played the game, you're really missing out. You create a person with personality traits and needs and desires, almost like real people. You then place your Sim in a house which you are able to decorate to your heart's content. And then you let your Sim live. You control when they eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, go to work, etc. I don't see it as playing God, but I guess it could be construed that way.

Especially when one derives some sort of pleasure from placing a Sim in a room full of fireplaces and removing all means of escape, then having the Sim light all said fireplaces. Guess what eventually happens? Yeah, pretty sick, right?

Anyway, that game's popularity carries on to today. It spawned sequels, which brings us to the recently released The Sims 3. Back in January, I first caught wind of this game's coming release. So I went to the local GameStop to put down some money and reserve my very own copy. I didn't have enough to pay for the whole thing right then and there, but I figured that I'd have the rest and then some when the game came out a month or so later. At first I was a little nervous that the game may be too advanced for my aging computer, but the sales clerk assured me that if The Sims 2 worked for my laptop, the third installment should be no different.

Then the release date changed to June 2. Little did I know, that when June 2 arrived, I wouldn't be able to afford the rest of what I owed for the game. So I gathered up all the old video games I never played and traded them in for store credit. After all was said and done, I picked up the game on Tuesday for a grand total of $1.01 out of pocket.

That evening I was excited to load the game on my laptop. It took awhile, but the program finally finished installing itself. The game was afoot. As I was heavily into creating my very first new character in the new game, my computer crashed. Turns out the laptop doesn't meet the minimum requirements to run the game.

So now I'm stuck with a game that I can't play until the day I can afford to buy a new computer.

Another option is the Greenehouse. Nicole discovered that the desktop computer in their home office is capable of running the program. Last night I went over there and tried it out for a little while. After playing for only 15 minutes, I can say that this game is just as involved and complicated as the previous versions. It'll be nice when I can actually play it in the same addictive way I played the old ones.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Mouse in the Greenehouse

The three of us sat there just watching a movie
Relaxing on Tuesday and feeling quite groovy

Noise in the dining room caught us off-guard
We all were alert, our consciousness' jarred

Nicole got up first to see what was wrong
Her scream reached us quickly, it didn't take long

Kevin went next, to see what she saw
And there was their cat, with a mouse in her paw

Bailey was proud, she had done some good work
But to toy with the mouse made her seem like a jerk

So the mouse was set free in spite of the cat
And it may seem the end, but this is not that

The creature was free to roam in the house
So one must step up to get rid of the mouse

And then Kevin went out to get a big cup
When he came back again I knew what was up

He cornered the rodent and asked me to help
'Cause no one can capture a mouse by himself

My job was to cut off the means of escape
I wish we had gotten this all down on tape

With nowhere to go the mouse fell for the scheme
It was taken outside through the back porch's screen

What started in panic ended with laughter
And the mouse just might live happily ever after

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What I'm Looking For

Some time ago, Nicole claimed that I would be getting married on October 9, 2009. I'm still skeptical, seeing as that's a mere four months away and I have no potential mate. Also, I was looking ahead at that magical thing called a calendar and realized that October 9 is a Friday. Who gets married on a Friday? Still skeptical.

Anyway, I figure if this person is out there somewhere, she should know what I'm looking for in a potential bride. Please don't interpret this as an I'm-looking-for-a-wife-right-this-second kind of list, because I'm not. But here's the list.

Faith - This is the first and possibly the most important factor. As a Christian, I feel that any woman I marry would have to be the same. I'm not looking for someone who's perfect or holier-than-thou. I want someone who struggles in the same ways that I struggle. I want someone who understands that I'm not perfect either. Someone who's gonna deal with it when I screw up and help me to remember that she's still gonna love me anyway. Someone who's growing in her walk is a plus.

Movies - I'm not saying she has immortalize Back to the Future as I do, but she at least needs to have the ability to stomach watching it at least a dozen times a year. She has to understand that movies are awesome and fun to watch. Movies aren't an all the time thing, she just has to enjoy them on a regular basis, that's all.

Games - I don't think I'm the most competitive person in the world, but I do have a competitive streak when playing most types of games. It would be nice if she could give me a run for my money. She doesn't have to beat me all the time, I just want to know that it could be a toss-up, depending on the game.

Conversation - I'm not much of a talker. She might have to do some extra work in this area. That, or she's gonna have to know when to shut up. Either way, it's gonna take a lot of the next category on her part.

Intelligence - When I do talk, I'd like to think that she and I can carry on an interesting conversation. But this doesn't mean book smarts. This is mostly common sense. Just have the ability to use your brain and we'll get along just fine.

Communication - This is definitely not the same as merely talking. There are going to be times when we will get on each others nerves. We've got to be able to work through it. We'll also need to learn how to compromise. That doesn't mean that one of us just gives in, allowing one to walk all over the other.

Looks - This is the sticky one. If I try to describe someone that I think is really hot, then I'm labeled as shallow and superficial. The thing is, I'm not looking for a supermodel. She just has to be attractive to me. It doesn't matter what other people see or think of her. I'm the one who has to think she's hot. What are my preferences? Well, I'm flexible. But I prefer longer hair and not necessarily a fan of the redheads, though, being a blonde or brunette is not a prerequisite. She's got to have all her teeth in the right place. Smile's are big with me, even though I don't really do it all that much myself. And the eyes... I really don't care what color they are, as long as there's life behind them.

Well, that about sums it up. I'm really not looking to get married in October. I may not be looking to get married at all. But if it happens, it'll be way down the line. And I'm pretty sure the woman described above is the one that I'll find. Or she'll find me. But hey, if you run into her before I do, tell her to take her time, 'cause I'm really in no hurry.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Medal of Honor

During Dad's last few years in this world, he had a few favorite past times.

One was to watch every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over and over again. He never quite memorized every line from every show, but that was not really his forte.

He sang all the time. It wasn't what he did, it was who he was. He was a singer up until the very end. Scratch that. He was a great singer up until the very end.

He loved to cook. More specifically, he loved to cook for me. Okay, I'm pretty sure living in his basement just gave him someone to cook for and look after. But I always told him I was there to look after him just as much as he looked after me. Whether he believed it or not, I don't know.

Finally, he played Nintendo. Dad owned a GameCube for a while and enjoyed playing only one game: Medal of Honor. The man would play that game for hours on end. The first time playing it through, it took him weeks to reach the end. Eventually, he got it down to a science, knowing where each foe was stationed throughout the game, anticipating each and every move they would make. The man was a pro.

After he passed away, I inherited that game and have been reluctant to part with it. Other old games that have been in my position I've either given to friends or traded in for store credit at the GameStop. But Medal of Honor is one that I just haven't been able to let go of.

It isn't because I play it. In fact, I don't believe I've ever put that disc into the Wii to fight the Nazis. I'm not very good at it anyway. The few times I ever tried to play, I was always taken down while we were still on the beach at Normandy.

No, I've held onto it because it was Dad's favorite. I'm sure that seems silly. I'm not one to be sentimental over too many things, yet I don't let go of something as trivial as a video game. At the same time, I hope you're not thinking I treat it as a shrine. It's sitting up on the bookshelf with all my other old GameCube games (that I never play). It's not next to an always burning candle and goofy picture of the old man.

So yeah, it does seem silly. But at least I know that there's a part of me that will always be sentimental about some things. Even something that small.