Sunday, January 31, 2010


I'm so close to turning 30 I can almost feel it. And I mean that quite literally. I find that if I sit in one position for too long, my joints stiffen up. And then those first few steps after standing are pretty rough. I imagine I look a bit like a hunchback of some kind. Luckily I only find myself in a sedentary position for too long a time while at home doing nothing. This is my alone place, where no one can point and laugh when they see that I can't move like the limber young man that I once was.

But as that 30th anniversary of my birth quickly approaches, I can't help but wonder if I've reached the point that I had hoped to reach by this age.

The first disappointment that comes to mind is one that I complain about often on this blog. That's the subject of my job. And I know that money isn't everything, but as a college graduate with a fairly large amount of student loans to pay back, what I make is pretty dismal. Especially considering the fact that the average 30-year-old college graduate makes roughly 15 to 20 thousand a year more than I make. It's humbling really.

And then there's the marriage thing. Okay, I never really thought I'd be married by now. I may have had a fleeting thought about it once or twice back in college, but haven't given it serious consideration in recent years. I think that sort of thing weighs more heavily on the minds of my friends and family than it does on mine. And when I say it weighs heavily on their minds, I think they're pretty insistent that I should find "the one" and settle down. I may be hitting 30 soon, but I'm still not in a hurry there.

I guess those are the big two when it comes to judging these milestones. I guess family would be another consideration. But since I'm not married, having kids isn't even a blip on the radar.

But what makes 30 such a big deal anyway? I guess as a kid it seemed like this old age that I would never get to. 30 years always seemed so far away. It's not that I thought of myself as immortal. It just didn't seem very realistic to think I'd hit 30 any time soon. Yet here I am. One month and six days away from that fateful number.

It really can't be that bad.

No. I think 30's gonna be okay. I think 30 will see a new job. 30 will see me completing my first novel. 30 will see me going on a date for the first time since 2002. Maybe not. Dating is stupid.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What I Did With My Snow Day

For most of the week, they've been predicting it. The meteorologists that be kept on claiming that Friday night would begin approximately 24 hours of incredible snow fall. I didn't want to believe it. See, they've made these sorts of false prophecies before.

And then it happened. Friday night, as I was driving around on my first pizza run of the evening, the snow began to fall. And it was just about instantaneous. At first there was nothing but cloudy skies and the whispers of nervous southerners who were ill-prepared for winter. Suddenly my visibility was seriously decreased. Then my excitement kicked in.

I became like a little kid. I knew that today would be Saturday and there was no work to be had, but I still became giddy, as if I would be waiting in front of the TV to see if school would be closed. I finished my shift and came home, ready to be snowed in for the entire weekend.

Predictions told us that we could expect the snow to fall for nearly 24 hours straight. Sure, it would taper here and there at times, but Raleigh was braced for an epic dumping of snow.

Imagine my disappointment when I finally woke this morning to see that not much more had covered the ground than had been when I got to my apartment last night. Sure, the roads had a nice blanket of white. At least the road into my parking lot had a nice blanket of white. I'm thinking the meteorologists need to seriously consider learning how to tell time all over again. Their 24 hours was probably more like 12. Not a lot fell from the sky today. Maybe some sleet or some freezing rain during the morning. Most of the day went by with no additional precipitation. Not outside my window anyway.

But I stayed inside today. No use trying to get the Escort out of my iced over parking lot if there was no need for it. Most of my day was unproductive. I read. I watched episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I did my taxes.

That last one I would say was pretty productive. The government owes me $1,100. Not bad for a day's non-work. Question remains, what should I do with that extra cash that Uncle Sam will be sending my way? You work on that, I'm gonna go get a Coke.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Question of the Week: Dream

Is there something you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?

I want to write a book. I guess part of the dream would be to have it published and become a household name. But I'd really settle for knowing that I have the ability start and finish a full novel. I haven't done it because I simply don't force myself to do it. I know all it will take is time. But I don't make the time to sit down and get creative. I have all these ideas floating around in my head, but I never do anything with them. Well, never is a strong word. I have a notebook that I write ideas in when they hit me at work. And I've outlined plots and mapped out character ideas. I just haven't pulled the trigger and written actual chapters.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't Send In the Clowns

Recently there have been a few commercials exploiting the healthy fear of clowns that I and countless other Americans suffer from. Being that it's fairly late and I'm not feeling fairly creative, I give you two of those commercials now...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

American Idol: Barney Kids Grow Up... To Be Dirty Little Girls

And we're in Dallas. Tonight we have two guest judges: Joe Jonas and Neil Patrick Harris. For those of you who are unaware, Dallas is a little town in Texas. Apparently they have a professional football team. Not sure what that's all about.

The first guest judge of the night is Doogie Houser himself. His current role is that of Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. And our first contestant is Julie, someone who tried out in Dallas in the first season. That was a long time ago. 'Cause this is eight years later. I think she's singing "Black Velvet," but you wouldn't know it, 'cause you really can't pick out the tune. The last eight years have not been good to her, or her voice. After four nos, she still keeps trying to win them over. And she's escorted out. It's a little sad that the only person waiting for her is Ryan. No family. No friends. She feels like if she had controlled her breathing better, she could have gotten that golden ticket. I don't think all the oxygen in the world would have helped her out.

Lloyd Thomas is our first heartwarming story of the night. Singing "Overjoyed" he actually does a decent job. As I've said before, any time we get the sob story for these contestants, I automatically wonder if they'll be any good at all. Also, I think the stories give those folks an unfair advantage once they reach the rounds where America votes. But this guy's talented anyway, so he makes it through. After Lloyd, it seems that Neil and Simon are having a hard time getting along. Well, that's the way they've edited it. It looks like they aren't agreeing on many of these contestants. Kimberly Carver comes in and impresses Randy, but not Simon. Neil disagrees with Simon. So does Kara. So Kimberly gets her ticket.

Dexter Ward is pretty sure he's the next America's... Idol... yeah... But then he sings, and I'm pretty sure he's wrong. It's mostly because he can't sing. This is followed by the usual montage of tears and negative answers from the judges. The judges then take a break before Erica Rhodes: Dominatrix comes through. This is quite a leap from her first performing job on Barney & Friends. But now she's in some kind of Catwoman get up, complete with whip. She sings the theme from Barney... and I don't think I'd let her through based on that. When she sings her real audition song, I'm still unimpressed. Mostly I'm annoyed. But my opinion doesn't count. She gets to Hollywood.

The end of day one brings us another inspirational story. Dave Pittman suffers from Tourette Syndrome, but you can't tell it when he sings. He's really good, so he's going to Hollywood. He's one of 15 to get golden tickets in the first day. Now we say good bye to Doogie and say hello Joe Jonas. He's so dreamy! Actually, I kinda think the Jonas Brothers are kind of annoying. But it is what it is.

First up on day two is Todrick Hall who has made up his own song for the judges. I think it was actually pretty good. Randy tells him he's definitely one of the best he's seen in the competition. I've noticed the judges say things like that all the time. "You're the best I've seen today." "You're the best I've seen so far this season." "A million percent yes!" That just doesn't make any sense. How can you have a million percent? But it is what it is.

Now we have a montage of yeses. They do that a lot too. Maegan Wright is our next story of the night. She seems to do a pretty good job with "To Make You Feel My Love." I'm wouldn't be throwing out a standing ovation, but it's decent. She's Kara's favorite of the day, another of those crazy claims. She makes it to Hollywood. And then she's attacked by her family.

Vanessa Johnston is just the kind of girl that you absolutely know will not make it to Hollywood. She's brightly dressed in tight clothes and ridiculous make-up. Her personality is very loud, and so is her voice. She doesn't so much sing "At Last" as screams it. Off key, by the way. She gets a bunch of nos. Not a surprise. But at least she has a good attitude about it. Our final Dallas audition comes from leukemia survivor, Christian Spear. She has a strong voice, especially for a 16 year old. They all send her to LA. And that's the end of Dallas night.

Next week they go to Denver where there is some implied nudity from a contestant. Can you say ratings stunt? I knew you could. Stay tuned for the State of the Union. It's current events guys, doesn't matter which side of that political fence you stand on. It's kind of important to know what's going on in your country. Not that I'm really one to talk.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Week Away From the Beginning of the End

We're one week away from the final season of Lost. And we're five hours into the latest season of 24. Cleverly, someone has mashed up the two of these worlds. Have you ever wondered how the crash of flight 815 and the events surrounding it may have occurred in real time? No? Well find out anyway...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Greatest Hits: Texting

Originally posted on 12/18/2008:

I get bored at work. This leads me to either begin e-mailing friends who work at the same institution, like Brandon or Shalana, or to send text messages to people. Usually the texts go to Nicole, 'cause she's the one most likely to respond within a reasonable amount of time. Generally I'll begin with an actual question, but the text conversation usually mutates into something ridiculous. I give you an example from today's back and forth texting between myself and Nicole:

A: Meant to ask... May I do laundry this evening?
N: I guess so
A: I don't want to put you out or inconvenience you in any way.
N: Whatever
A: Why so passive aggressive? What did I ever do to you?
N: Hmmm. Let me think that one through.
A: Ok now you've actually got me concerned.
N: Really?
A: Are you messing with me?
N: Would I do that?
A: Absolutely
N: Never!
A: Lies! All LIES!
N: I do NOT lie!
A: Another LIE!
N: Whatever.
A: You shouldn't lie about lying about lying
N: You shouldn't be a pain in the butt
A: But I'm pretty sure that's one of my spiritual gifts
N: That's very interesting. A spiritual gift you say? Not one of the most spiritual or uplifting if you ask me.
A: It's one of the lesser gifts. My stronger gifts are in sarcasm and cynicism
N: I think you may be deceived because I'm pretty certain they are not spiritual gifts
A: Yeah. They're mentioned in the book of Second Opinions
A: Chapter 11 I think
N: I would be interested in seeing that particular book. What is it from? Aaron's version of the Bible
A: It's one of the lost Dead Sea scrolls. Sadly it was lost in the Great Chicago Fire many years ago. Its truths are but legend now.
N: How convenient for you!
A: No Nicole. It's a tragedy for us all.
N: I think you are extremely misguided and need medication
A: I just wish you could be a little open minded. I weep for you.
N: I will not be deceived by the workings of the devil.
A: Are you calling me the devil? That hurts.
N: I am saying that you are under the influence of the devil
A: Just to be clear you know that I haven't been serious about anything I've said right?
A: Except for the laundry
So that's been my morning. And I think that's pretty typical. Have fun with that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


There was a time when I had a hard time saying no to people's requests. Someone would ask a favor, and not wanting to disappoint them, I would agree to it. I'd say yes without thinking. Even if it was something that I absolutely did not want to do. Even if it was something that interfered with something I had already planned. I wouldn't mind rearranging whatever it was so as not to disappoint.

All that changed when I hit full-on adulthood. I learned that it was okay to say no. I learned that I didn't always have to seek someone else's approval. I learned that it didn't matter what anyone else thought, whether they were disappointed or not. After I learned these things, it became a lot easier for me to say no. And I've been saying no a lot ever since.

In some ways, I've looked at saying yes to things as a way of quickly becoming someone's welcome mat. They ask a favor, I say yes, and they've then been conditioned to know that I'll agree to whatever it is that they want. I then become weak. I then become used.

In some ways, I've let the word no keep me safe. No keeps me at a comfortable distance from those around me. It keeps me secured inside those psychological walls that I've spent years building up. But at the same time, I find that it keeps me from experiencing a lot of the great things that life has to offer.

A few months ago, a friend of mine had the idea that a group of us would take a road trip. The plan was to take a couple days, drive up to South Bend, Indiana, take in a Notre Dame football game, then drive back. In the end, only he and one other went. While I was invited, I said no.

I rationalized. I had to work on the weekend in question. I could have asked for the time off, but I didn't. I was still new to the second job at the time, so I didn't want to make waves just yet. I could have rearranged my plans. Instead I worked the few hours that were required of me. I went back home. I did the same things that I do with pretty much every other average weekend.

And the two guys that went? They had a blast. They came away with great stories worth telling for the next few years. I got to hear about it on the phone after the fact.

Now I'm learning that saying yes doesn't necessarily make one a pushover. Saying yes can open up one's life to new possibilities. The people that say yes are the ones that get to have adventures. The people that say yes are the ones that get to tell stories. They get to tell true stories of real events that actually happened to them.

Guess it's time to learn how to discern between the times I should say yes and the times I should say no.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'm not a fan of the forwards that appear in my inbox from time to time. Every once and again, if I'm feeling particularly bored, I'll open one up, just to see if it's anything worth laughing at. Usually it isn't.

A couple days ago I got one from Mom. The subject line screamed at me in bold caps: URGENT! URGENT! I'm not sure that I reached the correct level of alarm necessary for an e-mail of that magnitude, but I was at work when I opened it, so that could have had something to do with my reaction. It went on to explain that there's a forward going around with a picture of Osama Bin Laden in it that will cause a devastating effect to one's computer if it is downloaded.

Um... Wouldn't it be that the only reason the devastating software was downloaded was because we, as a society, are still naive enough to open these forwards? Well I'm putting a stop to it. Right now.

From this moment on, whenever I see that an e-mail has been forwarded to me, I will delete it. Without opening it. I don't care what it's about. I don't care if it says I'll have bad luck if I don't send it to 8,413 of my closest friends. I don't care if the internet judges me and claims that I don't love Jesus if I don't pass the e-mail along. I don't care if there's even the off possibility that I could get a $50 gift certificate to Applebee's.

And I don't care who it's from. I don't care if it's from my best friend. I don't care if it's from my worst enemy. I don't care if it's from my sweet grandmother. I view forwards as a waste of everyone's time and an insult to everyone's intelligence.

I realize that so many people out there complain that they never hear from people anymore. And they go on to complain that the only times they do hear from their once close family and/or friends are the times when they receive these forwards in their inbox. And yes, I realize that there is some merit to the argument that those forwarders send out those forwards not as an annoyance, but as a way to let someone know that they're thinking of them.

But I ask you, would it really take that much longer to compose an actual e-mail that simply said "Hey, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you." There probably should have been a question mark at the end of that last sentence, but that statement confused me. Telling someone you're thinking of them isn't really a question. I wasn't sure what to do there. Pssh... and I wanna be a writer...

Anyway, aside from that bit of rambling after the fact, it only took me a few seconds to write that sentence. Then you move your hand from the keyboard, move the mouse and click send, and BAM you've sent a simple, personal e-mail. One that you didn't receive from a thousand people before you. One that you didn't need to send to 25 others at the same time. And there's a good chance that you actually made someone's day, instead of making someone roll their eyes and huff in ingratitude.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Question of the Week: Talented

Would you rather play a game with someone more or less talented than you? Would it matter who was watching?

I'd rather play with someone who's better than me. That way I can constantly be learning how to improve whatever it is I'm doing. In theory, that's the best way to learn. And then when I stun them in an incredible upset, I have a much greater sense of accomplishment by winning than I would if I played someone who sucked worse than I did. And no, it wouldn't matter who's watching. If I'm gonna be bad at something, I would hope that I'd at least own up to it. Win big or suck spectacularly.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXI

For a day and a half I was in training this week. That's right, in training to learn more about a job that I don't want. It wasn't necessarily training for the job I currently have. It could be training for what would be the next step. But that completely hinges on the assumption that I want to advance in a career in banking. Which I do not.

But they say knowledge is power. And I now know how to do a lot of things in our banking software that I didn't know before. Perhaps this is a good thing. But it absolutely has not encouraged me to turn this job into a career.

There were only four of us in this class. Three of us were fairly local. The other was from Wilmington. She was cute, and for about 2 seconds I considered inviting her to dinner. But that theory went away quickly when I found out she had the same name as my sister. I just don't think I could date someone with the same name as my sister. It would be weird. Also, when she spoke, she sounded like Paris Hilton. That's not hot. That's annoying.

I didn't regret my decision to abstain from a dinner date (or my lack of nerve, take your pick) until this morning when I arrived for day two of training. Turns out this girl just went to her hotel room after class yesterday and did nothing for the entire night. I've done that before. It's dull. It's boring. And I'm the kind of person that enjoys his alone time. All three of us locals felt a little guilty about not offering to do something with the out-of-towner.

So I only had half a day of training today. Most of the time when I go to a class and we get done early, I'm able to go home. But today, I was asked to spend the rest of the day working back at my branch. That was very obnoxious. Here's the thing, no matter how long I'm at work, it always feels like a full day. Whether it's 8 hours, 4 hours, or even 15 minutes, it still feels like I've been there all day. And as dull as the first half of my day was, it felt a lot like I had two work days all in one.

That pretty much means I'm really tired. 'Cause after my two days of work in one day, I then had to deliver pizza. I want to sleep.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

American Idol: I Split My Pants!

Yeah, I didn't post anything for last night's episode. That's because I didn't watch last night's episode. Last year around this time, I got cable with that handy-dandy DVR specifically for American Idol. That's because I was blogging for the local paper, not just for myself. I felt like I had a responsibility. For season 9, I don't have that responsibility. Nor do I care all that much. But from what I've heard, Chicago was a pretty big disappointment.

Tonight the Idol crew is in Orlando, home to Mickey Mouse. The guest judge for Orlando is Kristin Chenoweth. That's actually part of the reason I'm taking the time to watch tonight. I have to admit, I kinda have a crush on Chenoweth. She's so tiny you could just fold her up and put her in your pocket.

The first contestant is Theo. Dude has a feather and some coins plastered to his face. Maybe not coins. Maybe they're small round mirrors. Also, his shirt has something inappropriate on it. 'Cause it's blurred out. Dude's singing Pat Benetar's Heartbreaker. Singing is the wrong word. Screaming is probably more appropriate. After a unanimous no, he got lost on the way out. But hey, tomorrow's his birthday, so all is not lost.

Apparently Kara and Kristin are BFF. I think I'd probably be in Simon's boat. At the end of the annoying girls' montage, we get a losing contestants' montage. And here comes our first sob story of the night. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't like these "inspirational" stories from would be singers. It isn't that I have no compassion for these people. It's just... they're here to sing. Can't we just hear them sing? Seth Rollins sings Someone to Watch Over Me, a nice, classic tune. And he's got good tone. I'd pass him through to Hollywood. I think the judges will too. He deserves the golden ticket. And it's based on the merit of his talent, not the fact that he has struggles in his personal life.

And now, since we just happen to be in Orlando, we get a montage of people's hopes and dreams set to the classic Disney standard When You Wish Upon a Star. Jermaine Purifoy is trying out for the second time. The first time he didn't get through. I'm not sure why, 'cause if he sang like that last time, I'd have thought he'd get to Hollywood. Maybe he just didn't get past the producer round before the judges. His rendition of Smile was very good. The final contestant on Orlando's first day is Shelby Dressel who sings a Norah Jones song. And halfway through it, she drops the lyrics and drops the S-bomb. The judges send her to Hollywood seeing a lot of potential in her. She's one of 18 from day one.

For day two, Kristin was called back to New York, so that means no guest judge. So I'm thinking about not watching anymore. No, I'll stick it out. Human Target is on next. It's a pretty good show, you should check it out. Jay Stone pulls a Season 6 Blake Lewis on The Beatles' Come Together. It's kind of impressive. The judges ask if he can actually sing. He pulls out Ain't No Sunshine and the judges seem to have fun with him. But when it comes to a vote, it's not unanimous. But it turns out Simon was the only dissenting vote. We get a girly montage of three decent singers that make it to LA. Next up is Cornelius who gets three yeses simply because he jumped in the air, did a split, hit the ground, and split his pants. I mean, it hurt me to see how hard he hit the floor.

And now we have the Desimone sisters. Bernadette sings first. Eh. Amanda sings next. Eh. I'm not too impressed with either of them. But they're very supportive of each other, which is nice to see in siblings. The judges like them enough to get them to Hollywood. And here comes Jarrod Norrell. In his interview, he seems kind of drunk. Or stoned. Also delusional. He's pretty sure he's one of the best singers around. But his take on Amazing Grace proves that he's wrong. And he doesn't take the criticism very well. And he doesn't know when to quit. And security escorts him out. No... they shove him out. And then he gets arrested. Pretty sure he won't be going to Hollywood.

Matt Lawrence is the last contestant of the day. Wait, isn't Matt Lawrence Joey Lawrence's little brother? Pretty sure this is a different one. This one robbed a bank with a BB gun at the age of 15. So he's trying out for Idol seeking some redemption. That's right, we got another sad story to wrap up the night. He's not bad as far as the singing goes. He's not great either though. He'll get his golden ticket, but I don't know that he'll hit the top 24. Kara thinks he'll go top 12.

Next week they're in LA for auditions. But I'll still be here tomorrow with more random thoughts. This has been Carp Dime. Good night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Nine

So I was a 14-year-old patient at St. Alban's Psychiatric Hospital. I was diagnosed as having an eating disorder and this was the place that was supposed to help me to get better. Truth is, I was too scared to let them do anything to really help me. At least at first.

Somehow I was lucky enough to have my own room. All of the rooms on the adolescent unit were doubles. But thankfully, not all of the beds were needed. That first night I slept in a room with the barest of essentials. Eventually, my parents would bring a lot of my things to me on their frequent visits: favorite movies, books, drawing supplies (I was into drawing back then), comic books, and my completely awesome dinosaur blanket.

I had gotten that dinosaur blanket when I was in the second grade, back when I, like many young boys, had a thing for dinosaurs. I never thought of myself as someone who had a security blanket, but if I did, this was it. It was soft and warm and I slept under it pretty much every night until I was 25. Make fun if you want, but it's not as if I carried it around with me while sucking my thumb. And when it was too old to be considered a comfortable blanket anymore, I threw it away. No tears.

Anyway, the adolescent unit had two hallways. One held the boys' rooms, the other was for the girls. The common area had a dining table, some couches, a TV, a kitchenette type area, and a bumper pool table. Off to the side there was a meeting room, often where psychiatrists and counselors would take their patients to have little chats. This is where I met Dr. Llinas and Margaret (my psychiatrist and counselor, respectively) for the very first time. They seemed nice enough and seemed to know what they were doing. I'd later learn that I was wrong on both counts.

At the end of the girls' hallway was a pay phone. This is where I would spend my time calling home and calling family. My folks gave me an AT&T prepaid phone card, or maybe it was a credit card, I'm really not sure at this point. I do know, however, that I used it enough times that eventually I memorized the number and needed the card no longer. I made a lot of calls. I got a little homesick from time to time.

Also at the end of that hall was a school room, where a teacher would come in each day and facilitate each patient's school assignments. I don't mean to belittle her teaching ability, but she seemed to me to be a a glorified babysitter while we sat in "school" for a few hours.

The main entrance to the unit was the nurses' station. This is where the nurses would hang out and keep the meds. We the patients didn't spend much time there. Generally they brought the meds to us.

So that was the layout. This was the place that I'd come to call home for the next seven weeks. That's right, I said seven. It was only supposed to be two or three. Let's just say I hit a couple of hiccups while enjoying my stay.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Greatest Hits: Bully

Originally posted on 9/8/2008:

I realize that in the world we live in there are a great number of social injustices. You have your homeless people living on the streets or in subway tunnels. You have starving children around the world and even in your own neighborhoods. You have underdeveloped nations tearing each other apart through civil wars.

I'm not going to address any of those global issues though. This one hits real close to home. Today I'm gonna take a look a bullies.

Everyone at some point in their life has been exposed to bullying. Whether you were on the giving or receiving end, it's a playground phenomenon that's inescapable. For the most part, it seems that adults turn a blind eye. Maybe we think that it builds character in our kids to deal with that sort of conflict.

Oftentimes, however, when parents get involved it becomes an impossible situation. The parents of the bullied children are placed in a difficult position. They may not witness the act of bullying, but they witness the results. Crying, broken-hearted kids who are victimized by the kid on the playground. But they don't want to talk about what happened. If a parent is fortunate enough to drag it out of their child, they still have no actual proof of what happened. They have their child's word against another's.

The parents of the bully are in an equally awkward position. Most of the time they don't have a clue how their child acts outside of their home. They have no idea that their son or daughter may be belittling their classmates or, more often, kids who are younger or smaller than they are. So when another parent approaches them to discuss the problem at hand, they are extremely offended. There's no way their little angel would ever mistreat others.

And so the cycle continues.

Eventually, the kid being bullied will take all he or she can stand and then fight back. Most of the time. But at that point, the rage inside is so strong that it's unleashed in a maelstrom of emotion (See A Christmas Story for a perfect example).

Or, they allow it to continue happening. They repress what's really going on and they spend the rest of their lives battling a damaged self-esteem and lack the confidence to push themselves.

I think Daniel Stern said it best in City Slickers when he said (and I'm paraphrasing) that a bully isn't just mean, they rob you of your dignity. What makes a bully act the way that they do? Why do they feel the need to make others feel horrible about themselves?

Most psychologists will say it's so they can make themselves feel better. They're lashing out and exposing weaker kids' insecurities in order to compensate for their own. What's wrong? Did daddy not hug you enough? Did mommy hug you too much?

And I'm not saying that bullying is limited to only childhood. We have bullies in the real world too. Managers who think that just because they're your superior on the job, they can step on you as long as it accomplishes their personal goals. Cops who bend the rules simply because they're in a small position of power. There are others as well. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all police officers or bosses are bad people. I'm just saying that power can corrupt.

And these adult bullies could be anyone. They could have been bullies as kids that no one ever had the guts to stand up to. More often though, those kids grew up feeling guilty about the way they treated others as a kid. The adult bullies might have been the kids that got kicked around. Now that they're older and in positions of authority, they feel vindicated and think they're well within their rights to push others around.

As with most of my posts, I've done pretty much no research to back up anything I'm saying. This blog has and always will be based solely on my opinion and how I see things. If you disagree, as always, I invite you to comment below.

And I'm sure that there won't be any "bullies" reading this, but if you are a kid reading this blog, I encourage you not to pick on the ones who are little or different than you. If you're one of the bigger kids in your class or in your neighborhood, then you have a responsibility to stand up for those who are incapable of standing up for themselves. When you do the right thing, you'll feel much better about yourself as a person than you would if you were kicking someone while they were down.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Good Old Days

When I think about the good old days, I tend to think of the college years first. While I was at Bluefield College I met some of the best friends I've ever known. These were friends that were just down the hall. They were friends that I got to see and hang out with all the time. They were friends that became family to me while I was living in Bluefield.

But I think we tend to look back at the good old days through a fog of nostalgia. When life catches up to us, we tend to look back and choose which memories we wish to keep. The good old days are only good as long as we only remember the good memories. If we would be honest with ourselves, I'm sure we'd all have to admit that the good old days weren't always good.

Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of good to those good old days. But there had to have been some bad, right? I tend to look at my present through the fog of whatever problems happen to arise from day to day. But really, life isn't that bad. There's a lot of good that comes with the bad. Just like the past had some bad to come along with the good.

There were research papers, exams, broken hearts, illnesses, loss of family. All of that is just a part of the laughs, the classic stories, the legendary adventures. The good old days do not make us who we are today. It's the sum of the good and the bad, the past and the present. All of those things turn us into who we are and help to shape who we're constantly becoming.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Late Shift

A lot of folks out there are weighing in on what's going on over at NBC between the suits and the late night show runners. For those of you not near the internet for the last few months, or near network television for just as long, you need to know that Jay Leno no longer hosts the Tonight show. Since the beginning of the fall season, he's had an hour long talk show in prime-time; at 10:00, just before the late local news. For some reason, the NBC suits thought this would be a brilliant idea.

Conan O'Brien moved from his Late Night show and took over Tonight when Jay vacated the desk. From what I understand, his ratings haven't been great. I'm not saying that as a knock on Conan. I like Conan. I'm just not a late night TV watcher. If I happen to be awake during those hours, I'm generally watching a movie or some kind of familiar DVD. I find it to be a soothing lullaby to help me drift off to sleep. I've caught Conan's Tonight once or twice and was not displeased. I think he does a pretty good job with what he does.

As for the Jay Leno Show, I've pretty much refused to watch it. I didn't see the point. If I want to watch the Tonight show, I'll stay up to watch it. Why should I watch what is basically the same thing an hour and a half earlier, when I could be watching a far more interesting dramatic series on another network? From what I understand, a lot of people felt the same way. Jay's ratings have been pretty bad as well.

Jay's bad ratings led to local affiliates' bad ratings for their 11 o'clock news programs. Local affiliates' bad ratings led to Conan's bad ratings. And NBC's well thought out house of cards has come tumbling down.

What am I saying? Well thought out? Did the suits just get together and decide that they didn't want to shell out money for new ideas and new pilots for TV series? Instead, let's just move Leno to 10! Smooth move NBC. You just introduced the world to the dumbest move in the history of television.

Since that little experiment has failed, NBC wants to move Leno back to 11:30. They want to keep Conan on Tonight, but move him to 12:00. Needless to say, this upsets Conan. And he has a point, if you have a show at midnight, it's technically not Tonight anymore. It's Tomorrow. I know that Conan has the red hair, but he is not little orphan Annie.

So after only a few short months, Conan's dream job (hosting the Tonight show) is coming to an end. And it's looking like NBC will reinstall Leno behind the desk that he already sat behind for, what, 20 years? Almost 20?

I feel bad for Conan. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a smart enough and talented enough guy to be able to land on his feet when all of this blows over. But NBC has basically just screwed him over. And therein lies my problem. Leno had his chance with late night. He had a pretty decent run. But now it's someone else's turn. He and NBC failed at whatever it was they were trying to accomplish at 10. Time for him to move on to something else. Something that might just work. You can't just bring Superman in to kiss Lois Lane and have the last few months just not exist anymore.

If there's to be a boycott of late night NBC talk shows, I'll back that up. I'd be behind a boycott of the entire network if it weren't for The Office and 30 Rock. Oh, and Chuck. Everything else I can do without.

By the way, the Superman reference is from Superman II. Did my fellow geeks out there follow that one?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Question of the Week: Venom

You, your closest friend, and your father are on vacation together, hiking in a remote jungle. Your two companions stumble into a nest of poisonous vipers and are bitten repeatedly. You know neither will live without an immediate shot of anti-venom, yet there is only a single dose of anti-venom and it is in your pocket. What would you do?

This is just a highly implausible situation. First of all, what the heck are we doing out in the jungle? If anti-venom is a possibility for our supply list, why would we only bring along one dose if there are three of us out there? Who planned this trip anyway? No, something about this just doesn't add up at all. It sounds like a set up. No one gets the anti-venom. I think they're both faking it. There are no snakes! Besides, if my Dad is on this hiking trip, he's doing so from beyond the grave. I'm pretty sure he'd be okay with the only vial of anti-venom going to the friend. That's another thing, Dad was never much of an outdoors man, even at his healthiest. For that matter, neither am I. This would never happen to me for so many reasons. Question denied.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Rental

Monday I dropped my car off at the shop to have the bumper replaced. Remember last month when I was rear-ended? Well I'm finally getting that little disaster taken care of.

Enterprise was kind enough to pick me up from the body shop to take me to their office, where I assumed they would provide me with a few drivable wheels and I'd be on my way. No problems. Except that when I got there, my name wasn't on the list. Problems.

I sat for a while, during which time several others who rode in the shuttle with me got their cars and sped off. By the time they figured out that State Farm would be taking care of my rental, they didn't have anything left on site. So I had to be shuttled back to the body shop, where another customer had dropped off a rental. A red Chevy Aveo.

Now, I'm not entirely unhappy with the Aveo. I mean, yeah, it's tiny. Yet, it's roomy at the same time. I don't know, I guess I just always feel strange driving a car that isn't my car. Adjusting mirrors for the first time. Figuring out how the radio and a/c work. And I'm not a big fan of the color red. Well, not for a car anyway. So Jade has nothing to be jealous about, that's for sure.

In the rental agreement, I signed a portion that stated I would obey traffic laws. I also agreed that I would be the only one driving it. And that I wouldn't have any pets in the car. Nor would I smoke in the car. I have no problem holding to each one of those statements. But I'm pretty sure the last renter had a problem with the last one. I swear, every time I get in that car, I can faintly smell the odor of cigarette smoke. It's really hard to miss it.

I was hoping to have the Escort back by today. I called the shop on Tuesday to get an update. Apparently they couldn't find a similar bumper in the junkyard, so they had to get one from Ford. Well, Ford couldn't get them one until today. So the guy told me he hoped to have it all installed and painted up for me by Thursday, but it would most likely be Friday, depending on what time he got the bumper in. So I'm still without my car.

Really hoping I get my car back tomorrow. 'Cause I'm supposed to deliver pizza tomorrow night, and I'm pretty sure I can't do that in the rental. Gonna be cutting it close kids.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American Idol: I Would Have Said No to Both of You

And we're back in Atlanta for more auditions. Tonight's guest judge is one Mary J. Blige. The try outs take place on the 27th floor of some building. That's a rough ride back down if they get the usual judges' response.

Up first is Dewone Robinson singing an original song. And he's singing in falsetto. And then he's singing crazy low. Back to falsetto. This is a train wreck. And they get him to start three times. And he's singing in the elevator. He needs to be careful, 'cause it might cause the thing to plummet.

Next is Keia Johnson, who won Miss Congeniality in a beauty pageant. She actually does seem like a nice person. After singing My Heart Will Go On, she's given four yea votes. Keia then opens the door for a montage of southern women that make it to Hollywood. After that we have our first touching story of the night with Jermaine Sellers, a church singer who takes care of his sick mother. And he's not one of those church singers that thinks he's better than he really is. He's definitely next round material.

Christy is up next singing Love is a Battlefield. And it's bad. Followed by lots of bad. Love a montage. I'm not gonna pay attention. Gotta take a phone call...

Sorry. A friend called that I haven't talked to in a while. And I don't have a DVR anymore. So I prioritize. I think I missed the final golden ticket of the first day. I'm sure it was all very good. But now it's time for day two in Atlanta. The first guy we see, Jesse, has apparently had a few close brushes with death. And I'm sorry, but you can barely understand him when he speaks, I'm not sure how he'll sound when he sings. Mary J is having a hard time keeping it together for this one. Can't say I blame her. That's gotta be a no.

There's a girl that's dressed like a guitar. She calls herself the human guitar. I'd say no just because of that. I hate gimmicks. Sadly, she actually has a decent voice. A very country voice, but still pretty good. Based on the voice I'd send her through. So do the judges. After her, there are a lot of day two people that get rejected. And then we get Mallorie Haley dropping some Janis Joplin on us. And she does it better than Joplin. But I don't like Joplin (think I said that in last night's post too). She's Hollywood bound.

I'm gonna end this early again. There's another half hour of the same thing. This bores me. I'm done with Atlanta. Peace out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

American Idol: A New Beginning

American Idol begins yet again. And like Christmas or David Copperfield, the magic just isn't the same for me. No, it isn't because Paula Abdul is no longer a judge. It isn't because Ellen DeGeneres will be a judge (once they get to Hollywood). I don't know what it is, really. Maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff. Maybe American Idol itself is getting too old for this stuff.

And so we kick things off in Boston, Mass. It's a rainy start for the thousands in line. That's how it was when I went to Boston to try out at the beginning of season five. I wasn't as excited as a lot of these people. Could be why I didn't even get as far as Simon, Randy, and Paula.

Until Ellen joins the judges, there will be a guest judge for the city auditions. Boston's guest judge is Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice. Can we still call her Posh Spice? I mean, the Spice Girls aren't even a thing anymore. Most of the people watching American Idol probably don't even know that the Spice Girls ever existed.

The first contestant, Janet, has been built up to not make it at all. She's apparently awesome at the video game version of Idol. She must consistently have the game set on easy. 'Cause she's wicked bad. And she thought Kara was Paula. And she might be drunk.

Next up is Maddy Curtis, the ninth of twelve kids. She has a touching family story, being the sister of four brothers with Down Syndrome. She comes to the audition and sings Hallelujah and is actually pretty good. As a 16-year-old, she has a very strong voice. Simon pays her a compliment by saying she's not annoying, apparently this is a rare trait in the teenage contestants. She sails through to Hollywood.

And here's Pat Ford who is a scary kind of outgoing. Usually this kind of personality exposure on this show means that the person will be a very bad singer. Pat is no exception to that rule. Apparently Pat was a sign that the boys in Boston are lacking. But the montage of girls shows that the judges' favor sways toward the fairer sex.

With the next guy, Amadeo, we get to meet his family. It looks like an Olive Garden commercial. His actual audition is a song I don't recognize. He's incredibly loud. If I were a judge, I'd say no. But I'm not a judge. All four of them let him through. And to celebrate he tries to tackle Seacrest. Seacrest out. After Amadeo's celebratory insanity, we meet Derek, a self-described "spiritual" guy who wants to get on the show to touch people. Don't touch me dude. And if he thinks he's a good singer, he's pretty touched... in the head. And we have the montage of nos, complete with tears and an "I was nervous" excuse. Those are always nice.

After another commercial we see the girl without the umbrella, Mere Doyle, who proceeds to butcher Janis Joplin. Atrocious. To make up for it, Luke Shaffer provides some actual talent. He and a couple other guys in the waiting room, including Benjamin Bright, manage to find each other and harmonize very well. Toward the end of day one, we meet Andrew, who possibly has the worst attitude of anyone who's ever auditioned in the history of this show. And it's not as if he's the worst singer in the history of the show, but watching him kind of scares me. He looks like the kind of guy that could snap at any moment. Like, psychotic break kind of snap.

And nearly an hour into the first episode of the season, I'm less than impressed. Thus beginneth season nine. Here endeth my first commentary of the season.

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXX

I just need to let you, the reader, know that I have a lot to say about the place in which I work. But there are a lot of things that I cannot say at this time. See, I've mentioned before that some of my co-workers have found their way to my blog. Therefore, if a co-worker happens to do something that happens to irritate me in some way, I can't vent about it here like I once could. But I will save up these stories and share them once I've left the bank.

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Greatest Hits: Saved By the Bell - Where Are They Now?

Originally posted on 8/4/2008:

I watch Saved By the Bell pretty much every day as I get ready for work. There have been times, as a fan of the show, that I've sort of wished they would get those crazy kids back together for some kind of high school reunion. This got me thinking about where the characters would be today. I know the actors have had various levels of success (or not) since they graduated from Bayside High, but what have their fictional alter-egos done with the last fifteen years? (Please note: this is a work of fiction and has no bearing whatsoever on the Saved By the Bell canon or universe.)

Zack Morris: Zack enjoyed a somewhat brief life and marriage with his high school sweetheart Kelly Kapowski. After six years of wedded bliss, in August of 2000, Zack was arrested and later convicted on eight charges of fraud. After secretly running a number of get-rich-quick schemes, Zack succeeded in beginning a pyramid scheme which swindled a number of little old ladies out of their life savings. He is currently serving a 25 year sentence. He is due for parole in 2010.

Kelly Kapowski: During her six year marriage to Zack, Kelly gave birth to five kids. When Zack was arrested, Kelly was left with nothing and has been forced to raise her family alone. Depressed, Kelly has taken up smoking and has put on 75 pounds. She felt that her family needed a change, so they left Los Angeles and moved to Arizona. Kelly is a single mother, working as a waitress at a truck stop outside Flagstaff.

A.C. Slater: Slater became a cliche during his final college years. Due to heavy drinking and partying, he was forced to leave the wrestling team. After six years of college, A.C. graduated with a degree in underwater basket weaving. Sadly, there is very little opportunity for an underwater basket weaver in today's society. The job market was a difficult place for Slater to succeed in. After getting himself into AA, Slater was able to become a successful used car salesman. He traded in his mullet and muscles for a combover and beer gut, but is now the owner of a chain of used car dealerships in the San Fernando Valley.

Jessica Spano: Jessie graduated summa cum laude from Stansbury University. However, the pressures of law school proved too much for her and she fell off the wagon. Unfortunately she fell back into an addiction to caffeine. Despite the fact that she is a highly successful defense attorney in New York City, Jessie has not slept in over three years.

Lisa Turtle: After Lisa's second year at the Fashion Institute, she was able to show her designs for the first time. Critics ripped her clothes apart. Literally. Heartbroken, she returned to the west coast where she married wealthy inventor and software engineer, Samuel Powers. She married him purely for his money.

Samuel "Screech" Powers: Screech graduated from Cal U. after only two and a half years with two degrees, one in astrophysics, and another in pottery. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in physical education, but found that he was ultimately unfulfilled. Working in his own private laboratory, in 1997, Screech invented what would one day be known as the iPhone. He sold his technology to Apple for a tidy sum. Upon hearing of his newfound wealth, Lisa Turtle promptly married him to escape her destitute situation. In 2005, Dr. Samuel Powers disappeared without a trace. According to Mrs. Powers, Screech left on a journey of self-discovery. Circumstantial evidence points to foul play. As the sole beneficiary of Dr. Powers' fortune, Lisa is a prime suspect and is currently under investigation.

Tori Scott: Tori should never have existed in Saved By the Bell lore, and therefore deserves no future to speak of. In all likelihood she vanished into the same obscurity from which she emerged during the senior year at Bayside.

Richard Belding: In 2001, Richard Belding suffered from a heart attack during a fund-raising event for Bayside High School. He volunteered for the dunk tank, as he had so many times before. Sadly, some students from Valley played a prank that went terribly wrong. The water in the tank was just slightly above freezing and proved to be too much of a shock for Richard Belding's aging system. He had retired the previous year, but came back to help out the school he loved for so long. Richard survived after having open-heart surgery, but was left unable to continue his career as a school administrator. He is confined to a wheelchair and an oxygen tank, but lives happily with is wife Becky and their only child.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


There's a little amusement park outside of Richmond, Virginia that you may or may not have heard of (depending upon where you live in the world). It's called Kings Dominion.

I've been enjoying Kings Dominion since I was a little kid. Granted, it's not like Richmond was just a short drive from Roanoke, where I grew up, but it does make for a pretty decent day trip. As a small child, Kings Dominion featured a great number of attractions for the very young. Many popular Hanna-Barbera were found walking around the park greeting the children. It was the park that introduced me to the Scooby-Doo Roller Coaster.

As I got older, my Mom decided it would be a good idea to get me to ride a real roller coaster. At the age of 12, she pulled me into the line for The Grizzly, a rickety old wooden coaster in the middle of the woods. I psyched myself out so much that I literally threw up while standing in line. This was much to my Dad's relief, for he was not a fan of the roller coaster.

Only a few years later, I would finally get on my first roller coaster, beginning a love affair that will never be fully satisfied.

In 2001, Kings Dominion opened a roller coaster called the Hypersonic XLC. The XLC stood for "Xtreme Launch Coaster." I know that's a stretch for the title of today's post, what with the E being missing from the proper spelling of the word. But I digress.

Seeing commercials for that roller coaster while in college got me all kinds of excited. And so, during the summer, when the opportunity arose, a group of students, including myself, decided to take a trip to Kings Dominion to personally test this "extreme" roller coaster.

Being a new ride, it was quite popular. Thus, the line was quite long. For nearly three hours, we brave souls waited, moving slowly along the gated sidewalks. Of course, we were constantly reminded of the extremeness of the coaster, what with all the screaming going on around us.

Standing in line, we watched as the car (which held only eight people at a time, hence the long wait) would approach the "launch zone." The car would then be launched to 80mph in order to immediately mount the 90 degree climb. The car would go straight up into the air, then at the top, would make it over the hump to go straight back down, another 90 degree angle. After that, the car just made a loop back to the beginning. The entire ride might have lasted 30 seconds.

I didn't actually time it. I just remember thinking, as I got off the ride, that the ride was certainly not worth the wait. After that, we decided to go ride the Anaconda over and over again. The Anaconda is still a very good roller coaster, but it's very old. No one wants to get in line for an old roller coaster. I don't get what the problem is. It's fun to ride a coaster and not have to get out because no one else is waiting to get on.

In 2007, the Hypersonic XLC was shut down and put up for sale. I guess there were more people that felt like me. The duration of the ride just wasn't worth the wait. They should probably remove the X from the title. Because extreme, it was not.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXIX

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Back in October, I mentioned that I no longer needed to wear a tie to work. That little vacation is now over.

A little background: My boss has a new boss. And his boss also had a new boss. The chain of command in our bank's region has been shaken up just a bit. Apparently we, in the great state of North Carolina, have been doing things a little bit differently than the rest of the corporate footprint. The boss' boss' boss has come to town and is ready to assimilate our local branches. Resistance is futile.

Most of the changes will not affect your friendly neighborhood bank teller. We at the bottom of that particular barrel will feel very few of the shockwaves. But my boss will fell the changes in a greater way. He went to a meeting with his new boss last Monday. He reported back to the peons on Tuesday. He sat me down and spoke with me first, because he knew that the real news he was reporting would affect me much more than anyone else.

The tie was making a comeback.

But that's not the worst part of this news. Back when I wore the tie to work, I enjoyed wearing fun ties. Nothing too serious. I like the ties that feature Looney Tunes, Classic Disney characters, and comic book super-heroes. I will be allowed to wear those ties, nevermore.

But even that's not the worst part of this news. I can handle a serious tie. I've got a few that I can work into the rotation. I won't like it, but I can deal with it. No, the worst part is the elimination of casual Friday.

Shock and awe.

So this means, five days a week... tie. Serious tie. Anything less would be considered "unprofessional" by the powers that be.

But I ask, what of the women in the bank? Will they be forced to step up their fashion game? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that there is little difference between what my female coworkers wear from Friday to any other day of the week. Fridays don't seem any more casual for them than Wednesdays. Wednesdays don't seem any more formal than Fridays. I'm just saying... doesn't seem fair.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Question of the Week: Pick One

Which of the following restrictions could you best tolerate: leaving the country permanently, or never leaving the state in which you now live?

I would rather be stuck in North Carolina than permanently leave the US. Not sure if that makes me patriotic or just lazy.

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

Thursday, January 07, 2010


They're saying it may snow tonight. I don't see it happening.

Yeah, it's been cold lately. It's been real cold for what could be considered normal in this area. It's been cold enough that the ground could be considered frozen at the moment. So that means that, if conditions were just right, snow could fall and snow could stick. But I don't see it happening.

They're saying we could get about an inch. To me that isn't much. But around here, it could be enough to shut some things down. I don't see it happening.

Though it would be nice to have to go to work late tomorrow. It's nice that there's the possibility that things like this could happen. But I've learned since living here not to get my hopes up when it comes to snow. Like I said, I just don't see it happening.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXVIII

I don't often find something to laugh about while I'm on the job. Not because funny things don't happen. Generally it's because I let my sour attitude to affect all aspects of my day.

But there is something that happens several times a day at the branch in which I work. And it's pretty funny to watch. Well, it's funny when I actually witness it. Usually I miss it because I'm facing away from the lobby. The curse of the drive through teller.

The entrance to our branch consists of double doors made of mostly glass. On the outside, there are handles. To enter the building, one must pull them open manually. To leave, one must push out.

Even though every person that comes into the bank had to use their hands to pull the door open, something snaps in many of them while they're inside. They seem to think that, during the five to ten minutes they were in the building, our manual doors became automatic motion-sensing doors.

They approach the doors, and then they just stand there. They look at the doors, just expecting them to open up. A lot of the time, they'll even wave their hands, hoping the extra movement will do the trick. I'd like to tell someone, just once, to stomp on the mat, just to make them think the sensor is under the floor. Not sure I could get away with blatantly mocking a customer like that though.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Greatest Hits: Epilogue to a Reunion

Originally posted on  6/22/2008:

In the past I've refrained from using people's full names to maintain some form of anonymity. Anonymity is a joke. Besides, I keep saying I want lots of people to read this thing. So from now on, whenever I speak well of someone, and it's appropriate to use the full name, I'm gonna do so. That way, if someone wants to Google themselves, they might make their way to my little corner of the internet. But, uh, you know, if I have something not-so-flattering to say about someone I'll just use their first name. Or a fake name. 'Cause I'd hate to be sued for defamation of character or something like that.

I arrived fashionably on time, way abnormal for me. Generally, I show up to things chronically early. But when I got to Roanoke yesterday I went to my grandmother's to visit with her and Mom and April for a while. Before I knew it, it was 6:30. That's when registration was scheduled to begin. I got there just before 7, when the actual event was supposed to start.

The first people I saw, of course, were Jessica Smith and Allison Mease. These two ladies pretty much put the whole thing together. Gotta say, I was impressed. There's a lot of work that goes into planning an event such as this, and they've spent the last 12 months getting the class of '98 ready for this thing. Job well done.

I made my way into the reunion area and had a hard time recognizing anyone. Part of it could have been that 10 years have passed and some people look different. Part of it could be that 10 years have passed and I can't remember a lot of people. Part of it could be that I was crawling back into that shell that I mentioned yesterday.

After about five minutes of feeling and probably looking awkward, I recognized Eric Orange. I thought this part of the reunion would be weird. See, he's Jessica's ex-husband. And while I've maintained a good friendship with her, I haven't seen or talked to him since they split up. I guess she got me in the divorce settlement. It really wasn't that strange though. We spent a few minutes getting caught up. And then I moved on.

I made my way around the room, trying to find a table to sit at. One where I wouldn't feel like I didn't know anyone. Unfortunately, at first, that didn't happen. But then Beth Farmer invited me to come sit with her and her friend Karen. I remembered Beth, but I had completely forgotten that she and I were in the same group for our Decades project. We did the 1960s. Good times. So I had now established a place to plant myself for the evening.

And then you'll never guess who came over to talk to me. Tara Cronin! I know! She's like, one of the most popular kids in school! Seriously, cheerleaders never used to just walk up to me and begin a conversation. And, can I just say, 10 years ago, she was a cute girl. I was in school with her from first grade on. I won't lie, there was a slight crush there. And somewhere in the last 10 years, she went from cute to full-on gorgeous. I mean... wow. And, uh, what does it mean when a hot girl says you look really good? Twice? In the same conversation? Yeah, I didn't think it meant anything either. I just thought I'd ask.

Soon after, the buffet line began. Then came the slideshow of pictures from high school. I was surprised to see myself in a few of the pictures. Shocked is probably a more accurate description of how I felt about that. I'm the guy that only shows up on 1/16 of a page in his own senior yearbook. And then, there I was, sitting outside the Planet Hollywood in my Superman t-shirt. Good times.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. Jessica forced me to dance with her while Strawberry Wine played. I have a totally unrelated story regarding that song involving Dereck and Andy in a wig. I'll have to share that one sometime. Anyway, while we danced, we talked. I'm not sure if it was the wine or what in our conversation led to her question of "who's the most beautiful girl you know?" And even at that moment, I knew she wanted me to say her, but I just had to blurt out, "Honestly, right now, I gotta say Tara Cronin. Seriously, how hot did she get?" I don't think I really hurt Jessica's feelings, but she acted like I did. So I gave her a hug and said I was just kidding. But I wasn't really kidding. I mean, did you even see Tara last night? I mean... wow.

Guess that's it kids. See you at the 20. Maybe.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Leaf

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I don't believe in them. Maybe what that boils down to is that I don't believe in myself.

I just don't see the point in promising myself that I'm gonna lose weight or that I'm gonna spend less money on frivolous things.

Should I lose weight? Probably.

Should I spend less money on frivolities? Absolutely.

But there's a good chance I'm just gonna let myself down. And when I haven't lost that five pounds by the end of January, I'm gonna feel guilty about it. And I really don't like feeling guilty about stuff. It's a negative emotion. And 2010 is all about the positive emotions.

See, that's what I've promised myself this year. That 2010 will be better than 2009. That means a better outlook on things.

Okay, not really. That was just my way of contradicting myself. But really I'm not. 'Cause I didn't even make that kind of resolution.

But would I like 2010 to represent some new things for me? Of course.

If you've been to this blog before, you'll see that there have been some changes. Nothing drastic, but I hope it streamlined things a bit. You'll also notice that there's a new web address, which I like. This isn't news to the three of you who regularly stop by. But for those of you coming over from Sunday Scribblings, it might be brand new information.

I'd like to see a new job in 2010. If you stick around beyond Sundays, you've no doubt read a Bank Teller post or two. One may infer from reading those posts that I dislike my job. One may be correct. I think most of it is the redundancy of the job. But I guess that would be found just about anywhere. I'm just desperate for something different.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that in today's society, having a job, any job, is truly a blessing. But this thing started as a part-time gig while I was still in school. I've been out of school for a year now. Time for something new.

So hopefully that'll be my true new leaf. I want to turn it over and find a decent salary. With benefits.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Eight

I keep putting off writing about this part of my life. I'm not sure if that's because I have a hard time putting into words what happened during my stay at St. Alban's Hospital, or if I genuinely struggle with remembering it all. I have no doubt that I've tried to block out much of that time.

The day that I was taken to Radford to be admitted into the hospital was a long one. Radford was about a 45 minute drive from our home in Roanoke, but that turned into the longest drive of my life.

Mom took the day off from work to take me that day. I don't remember the circumstances surrounding the event, but I'm not sure why Dad wasn't able to come with us. Maybe he just couldn't get off work at the time. Maybe someone needed to stay behind to be there when April got home from school. All I know for sure is that it was only me and Mom in the car. And it was very quiet.

Before making the trip, we had spoken with my counselor about what we could expect from the hospital. Our expectations were not much. I would be admitted. I would be staying on the adolescent unit of the hospital, along with other teens dealing with issues ranging from eating disorders to suicidal thoughts. I could expect to stay there for two, maybe three weeks. I'd be home by Christmas. That didn't sound so bad.

And then the day actually came. That long car ride didn't even seem long enough. We got to the hospital and were told to wait. For a long while, it seemed that our insurance wouldn't cover my stay there. For a long while, I started to feel relieved. While we sat in the lobby, waiting for the final word, I began to think I had made a terrible mistake. What could the people at this hospital do for me that my family couldn't? Why did they think that just because I was in their controlled environment that I would suddenly be able to feel better about myself and put the pounds back on?

Just when it looked like we had made the trip for nothing, the decision was made that I could stay.

I was forced to say good-bye to my mother. I was given a physical examination before being released to the adolescent unit. I was given a room that I would call home for the next few weeks. I was introduced to the nurses and aides that would come to be my caregivers. I never felt more alone in my life than I did that first night.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Question of the Week: The Fun in Funeral

How do you picture your funeral? Is it important for you to have people mourn your death?

Think, Michael Jackson's televised memorial service, times infinity. Yeah, that's how my funeral should go. I know this doesn't exactly carry the weight of a last will and testament, but these are my wishes. I would like a choir of whistlers to whistle a jaunty tune. It must be in harmony. I prefer "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. I will be cremated, therefore I will have no need for pallbearers. However, during the service, I would like a line to form for people to come up and rub the urn containing my remains for good luck. I would like my friend Nicole to choose who is worthy to rub the urn. There will be those she deems unworthy. Those people must return to their seats and get over themselves. I have chosen several people to eulogize me, one from each chapter of my life. From my childhood, my best friend Justin. From the high school years, my friend Jessica. From the college years, I refuse to choose a person. I have too many friends that I still keep in touch with from those days. Therefore, as a part of the service, there will be a Thunderdome style battle royale. Any of my friends from Bluefield College are welcome to throw their hat into the ring. The winner of this fight will deliver the third eulogy of the day. The final eulogy will be delivered by Nicole, if she isn't too worn out from selecting people to rub the urn. Of course, there is the possibility of more eulogies, depending on where life leads me between my time in North Carolina and my death. I must assume that I have many years ahead of me. So perhaps I should go ahead and say that my next eulogy would be delivered by the person I select as my running mate when I run for president. I'm sure that, whoever he or she may be will be a fantastic public speaker. As far as a location for the service, I think the most appropriate venue would have to be the Cowboys' new stadium. I know that's nowhere near where I currently live, but there's nowhere that's that large around here. There must also be a laser show. And fireworks. And an anti-gravity machine.

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

Welcome to the New Carp Dime

The changes have occurred. I know, it's not a huge deal. Just some changes to the look of things.

But the web address has also changed. Now you can navigate directly to to find me.

Don't worry though, if you're still using the old address, you'll still be redirected to the blog.

If there's anything else you want to see added to the site, let me know. I'll find a way to work it in.

I'll be back later today with a real post. Happy new year kids!