Friday, April 30, 2010

Question of the Week: Belittled

At a meal, your friends start belittling a common acquaintance. If you felt their criticisms were unjustified, would you defend the person?

Honestly, I probably wouldn't at first. In fact, I'd probably join right in with the belittling, especially if it's the kind of thing where we're having a laugh at that person's expense. However, I'm sure it wouldn't be long before I felt guilty about it. But by then, it would really be too late to say something about it. At that point, it would just be hypocritical of me to tell the others we need to stop making fun of someone who isn't even there. But I know I'd feel bad about it. It's happened before.

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Concrete Hustle

I'm having a hard time coming up with something to write tonight. You'd think, having the day off, and having not much happen to me at all, I'd find some way to be more creative. Not the case. So here's a video from the YouTube that was shown to me last week by one of the Greene kids. I found it to be most impressive.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXVI

One of the fun things about working for a nationally recognized bank is the incredible array of e-mails that I am bombarded with on a daily basis. My favorite kinds are the ones that state the obvious.

Today we arrived at work and were greeted by e-mails that warned us that many account balances were posting incorrectly on our system. Not long later, the entire system went down. For bankers in the 21st century, this is a crippling thing. We do everything with our computers. We run your transactions, we process your withdrawals, we make your payments, we look up your account numbers... when the system crashes, these simple procedures are impossible.

Roughly ten minutes after our bank-wide computer program went down, I began to wonder why we hadn't received an e-mail informing us that the program had gone down. Because that usually seems to be the first thing that happens when something like that happens. Someone out there gets the bright idea to send an e-mail to everyone working for the bank everywhere in the country to let them know what they already know: the computers aren't working right.

They don't send along any helpful information. Those obvious e-mails never tell us what the problem is, nor do they give us an estimated time to expect the problem to be resolved.

Eventually, after a few hours of chaos, the system was restored to its normal state. Of course, we all received another obvious e-mail informing us that the system was back up and running.

I need more people in my life who will tell me things I already know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Single Guy and the Yellow Streak

He hadn't seen the Girl in the White SUV in nearly two weeks. She had been back to the bank once since the day she thanked him for the card he had sent. However, that fateful day was the Single Guy's day off. He knew she wouldn't just stop coming to the bank, nor would she stop coming to his teller window, but he couldn't help but wonder when he would see her again.

In the days that passed by, the Single Guy played different scenarios in his head. Mostly he just thought about what his next move should be. It was as if he was playing an elaborate game of chess with his heart at stake. After an entire week of work passed by without seeing her, he made the decision that he would just ask her out.

There would be nothing complicated about this task. The Girl in the White SUV would just pull up to his window as she normally did. The Single Guy would make the same small talk that he normally did as he ran her transaction. And before she had the chance to drive away, he would simply ask her to have coffee with him. In his mind it seemed so simple.

Monday arrived, and brought with it a new week at work fresh with possibility. He told his friends and his co-workers that today would be the day, assuming she came to the bank, that is. The Single Guy was ready to ask the Girl in the White SUV the question that he'd wanted to ask for months.

And then she came. As soon as her car was in view, the Single Guy knew it wouldn't be as easy as he had imagined it would be. He was able to say hello and ask how she was doing. But after that, while he was making her deposit, he felt as if his throat was closing up. He was afraid that if he tried to speak again, nothing would come out.

So he chickened out.

The Girl in the White SUV smiled just as brightly as she had when he last saw her. The Single Guy pushed out her receipt. She had parked a little too far from the drawer and was forced to lean uncomfortably out of her car window to reach the slip of paper. He asked if there was anything else he could do for her, other than find a way to push the drawer out farther. She laughed, even thought the Single Guy knew that his joke was really not that funny.

For the first time in his memory, the Girl in the White SUV waved to the Single Guy as she drove away. In a small way, that one move was energizing to him. It was too late to ask her out today, but maybe next time he would really be ready.

Greatest Hits: Pain

Originally posted on 9/23/2009:

What's your response when someone you love is hurting?

The pain I'm referring to isn't a physical one. It's not as if you just saw your best friend trip over their own feet and skin their knee. If it were me watching that happen, there's a good chance I'd laugh. Sure, I'd ask if they were okay in between chuckles. But a good, non-serious injury is always worth a giggle or two.

Here I'm talking about the kind of pain that isn't on the surface. You can't necessarily see it when you're face to face with your friend. It's not a cut or a bruise that shows up over night. You can't just look at them and ask, "What happened?" The pain I'm referring to is much more subtle.

I'm talking about a pain that comes from psychological and emotional turmoil. In a lot of ways, this sort of pain can cause much more damage and have more far reaching consequences than a broken bone or a deep gash could ever have. And more often than not, when the people we know are in this kind of pain, we never suspect it.

People like to put on a good front. They don't want to burden you with their problems. You might look them in the eyes and assume that everything is just fine, simply because there's a smile resting a few inches below those eyes. But what happens when you're not around anymore? What happens to that person when they go into their bedroom and find themselves alone? What thoughts and memories plague them in the darkness?

Eventually this pain will manifest itself. Signs of stress or depression will begin to emerge in your friend or family member. But what can you do then? I think that depends on the person that's hurting.

I have bad days. There are days when I find myself angry at someone, or maybe just unhappy with the world at large. On those days I like to shut myself down. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to have contact with even my closest friends. I just want to be left alone. If I had it my way, I'd close the blinds so even the daylight couldn't find me. Left to myself, I'd shy away from anything unpleasant, and even the burden of my responsibilities would eventually be more than I could handle.

I thank God that, when I've had those days, I have friends who have reached out to me. I may ignore their good intentions for awhile, but they remain persistent, and eventually I break out of that shell of pity that I build up around myself.

But what happens to the person who becomes ignored by the people they once counted on for love and support? What happens when the people who were thought of as friends and mentors leave a hurting person to fend for themselves? The downward spiral becomes heartbreaking and tragic.

There are a lot of hurting people out there. And there's a good chance that someone you love, one of your closest friends, is one of those pained people. Be perceptive. Be persistent. Be compassionate and be loving. Be patient and be understanding. Inspire hope where hope seems to be lost. You might just be saving a life.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Alex drummed his hands on the steering wheel of his ancient Ford Escort as he slowly drove through Alyson's quaint suburban neighborhood. He was nervous, as he usually felt when he was about to see this girl. Yes, he saw her every day at work. Yes, he'd shared lunches with her a few times before. But tonight would be a different animal entirely.

Alex had finally asked Alyson out on a real date. The moments leading up to his asking were agonizing for him. But as soon as he had uttered the words, he felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. And it isn't as if he had done anything special to get her attention. He just walked to her cubicle at the end of the day. As she was shutting down her computer, he simply asked her if she'd like to have dinner with him. And she simply said yes, tacking on a smile for added effect. He smiled in reply and then they worked out the details.

And now he was on his way to pick her up. He was nervous all over again. If she had said no, well, he would have gotten over it. But since she said yes, he now felt the pressure of being cool and confident and conversational for the next few hours of his life. Alex had turned the stereo in his car off, opting instead to psych himself up for his date. He reminded himself that she already said yes, so it's not as if he has to impress her. He reminded himself that Alyson, while she may be the girl of his dreams, was still just a person who wanted to be treated with kindness and respect. Alex figured he could do those things.

He pulled into her driveway, turned off his headlights, grabbed the flowers he had bought, and walked up to Alyson's front porch. He rang the doorbell and was greeted by a strange girl wearing a bathrobe and holding a bag of chips. The girl looked blankly at Alex and his flowers.

"Uh..." He wasn't sure if he had the right house. "Is Alyson here?"

The girl turned her head and yelled, "Aly! He's here!" She turned back to Alex and held out her hand. "I'm Tasha, Aly's roommate. You can come in if you want."

Alex shook the roommate's hand and told her it was nice to meet her. In the background he heard Alyson say she would be ready in a few minutes, so he walked into the house and took a seat on the nearby sofa. Judging by the television, he had interrupted Tasha's regular ritual of chips and Ghost Whisperer. He felt a little awkward as Tasha went on pretending he wasn't there, occasionally munching noisily on her chips and salsa.

After what felt like an eternity, Alyson finally emerged from a darkened hallway. Alex may have been hallucinating, but he could have sworn that her entire face lit up when she saw him sitting there. He stood and handed her the bouquet that had been sitting in his lap.

"They're beautiful!" she said, "I'm so sorry it took me so long."

"What are you talking about? I love the Ghost Whisperer," Alex said, trying to be as polite as possible. Tasha, it seemed, didn't even realize a conversation was happening in her midst.

Alyson laughed and looked over at her nearly catatonic roommate. "I'll be back later. No wild parties while I'm gone." Tasha merely rolled her eyes and waved them off. Alyson looked back at Alex and said, "Let's get out of here."

Walking to the car, Alyson apologized for her roommate. "No, I thought she was great. Really into her TV though."

"Yeah, that's the way she's been lately. Really bad break-up about a month ago," said Alyson as Alex opened her car door.

Alex walked around to the driver's side and got in. "I hope you like Chinese. I made reservations for us at P.F. Chang's."

"I love that place. And I'm starving." Alyson just kept on smiling. They drove in silence for a few minutes before she finally said, "I was really glad you asked me out."

Alex was a little shocked at that statement and wasn't sure what to say. He concentrated on the road, making sure not to hit anything or anyone in his sudden elation.

"I mean, I know we see each other every day and I know we've had lunch before, but it's not the same as really getting to know someone."

Alex untied his tongue. "In that case, I'm sorry I didn't ask you out sooner."

Alyson laughed again. He didn't think he had said anything funny, but the sound of her laughter was amazing to him. "It's okay," she said, "just know I've been really looking forward to tonight."

Alex was still nervous about dinner, but suddenly, a great deal of his fears melted away.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Forty Five

I had had a seizure. It's the only reason they allowed me to see my parents. The powers that be believed that my life might be on the line, so they got my parents to Radford as soon as the Corsica they drove could carry them. This was about the time it was decided that the good people at St. Alban's Psychiatric Hospital absolutely couldn't help me anymore.

This was also about the time that my parents were made aware of the pants wetting incident during group therapy. Needless to say, they were upset. They were also upset about the multiple prescriptions that I had been on and suddenly taken off of, just in case those pills were what caused my unexplained seizure.

I think the decision to have me taken home was a mutually agreed upon solution between my folks and the hospital staff. The counselors and doctors decided that there was nothing more they could do with me. I mean for me. They had been so helpful and giving throughout the previous seven weeks anyway. And my parents were pretty angry with their brand of help and treatment. So on January 17th I was given my walking papers.

I was out of the hospital for the first time since Thanksgiving. Nearly two full months were spent inside those padded walls. Okay, they weren't really padded. But the place was full of doctors and therapists that believed they knew everything about everything and could do no wrong. I can't say anything bad about the nurses. They were genuinely kind and actually cared about their patients. And, of course, Hank.

The doctors, well, they thought I was going home to die. They truly believed that I would either be dead within a few short months, or my parents would be forced to send me to a different hospital. Their suggestion was Johns Hopkins. Neither of their scenarios played out. I never went to any other hospital. And, as you can tell, I didn't die.

I went home. I struggled a little. But I got better. It wasn't long until I had the appetite of a normal teenage boy, just eating and trampling everything in sight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Question of the Week: Next Step

What would you like your next step in this life to be?
Well, considering I'm still pretty content with my singlehood and pretty uncontent with my current career, I'd like my next step to be in the field of writing. Preferably, I'd like to become published. I'd kind of like to see a short story published in a magazine or something. I've been able to get a lot of writing done lately, and not just for this blog. It's still something I love to do and would love to turn into a career.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Blessing and a Curse

You know, any time that I don't have to wake up at 6am in order to shower, shave, and get ready for a 45 minute commute to a job that I don't like is the start of a good day.

Yesterday was one of those days. I'm typically only allowed to work 35 hours a week at the bank. In some ways, this is good. It means that I get a full day off during the week. It's not a bad deal, working two days, then having a day off, two on the weekend. It's nice. And it keeps me from getting so burned out. The downside is that I get five hours fewer per week than I would if I were working one of those full 40 hour work weeks. That's less money on that paycheck.

But it was a day off. I got to sleep late. I got to have breakfast with a couple of friends that have recently come into my life and have already become an important support and encouragement to me. I got to come back home and relax and spend some time actually doing things I wanted to do.

And while all that was well and good, late in the day I received a disturbing text message from my assistant manager. The Girl in the White SUV came by the bank while I wasn't there. The universe is full of good and bad; a constant yin and yang, if you will. But I do work four out of five days each work week. The odds are in my favor that, next time she comes by, I will be there. And I will be waiting to see that smile yet again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Smell

There is a foul and unpleasant odor to be found in the hallway outside my apartment. It's been there for a few days now; possibly a couple weeks.

I know the smell isn't coming from my place. I don't smell it 'til I open my door to leave. Believe me, I'd know if this disgusting stench originated in my apartment. It's like a cross between month old garbage and used diapers. When I say used, I mean used of the number two variety.

I'm not pointing fingers, but the culprits seem to be down the hall. Next door, I've noticed several grocery bags that are tied closed that have just been sitting outside my neighbor's door for quite some time. I'm not saying it's them, but it seems suspicious that the smell began around the same time I noticed these bags just sitting there. However, directly across the hall from those bags, the other neighbors seem to have a collection of cardboard boxes that have built up in front of their door over time. I don't know if these boxes are empty or if they contain some horrible waste that creates noxious fumes.

I don't think I'm tooting my own horn when I say that I take my trash out on a regular basis. When the bag is full, I tie it up and carry it down to the dumpster that's so generously provided by the management. That's just how I've assumed things are to be done. That's just how I assumed that all people are supposed to deal with their trash, whether it smells bad or not. So what gives my neighbors the right to leave their garbage sitting outside their doors for weeks at a time? Do they really think that by leaving it there, it will all just magically disappear; that they'll never have to deal with those sights or smells ever again?

Come on neighbors, grow up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And Now...

I've been in a Deep Thoughts kind of mood lately. I'm sure there will be a lot of readers out there who have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm referring to Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. Deep Thoughts were a common segment found on Saturday Night Live back in 90s. They're the kind of thing that you either think are hilarious or are stupid. It's definitely a twisted kind of humor. In college, my choir director, Chris Sheppard, had the amazing ability to quote many of the Deep Thoughts verbatim without so much as cracking a smile. The man had a gift. Even now, I read some of them and can't help but crack up at them. I think it's because my overactive imagination puts the images in my head and makes them even funnier. So that's what I'm posting tonight, some of my favorite Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.

"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is 'God is crying.' And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is 'Probably because of something you did.'"

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."

"To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started, and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad."

"As we were driving, we saw a sign that said 'Watch For Rocks.' Marta said it should read 'Watch For Pretty Rocks.' I told her she should write in her suggestion to the highway department, but she started saying it was a joke--just to get out of writing a simple letter! And I thought I was lazy!"

"If you define cowardice as running away at the first sign of danger, screaming and tripping and begging for mercy, then yes, Mister Brave Man, I guess I am a coward."

"The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face."

"If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong though. It's Hambone."

"Laurie got offended that I used the word 'puke.' But to me, that's what her dinner tasted like."

"I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye."

And my absolutely favorite...
"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no,' I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Greatest Hits: Lois & Clark

Originally posted on  8/24/2009:

I just finished reading It's Superman! by Tom DeHaven. It's a retelling of the origin of the world’s greatest super-hero. Over they years, Superman’s origin story has been written and rewritten over and over again. Different authors change certain scenarios: time frame, location, circumstances. But no matter who does the telling, there is always one constant: the undeniable love between Clark Kent and Lois Lane and Superman.

But isn’t Clark Kent really Superman? So shouldn’t it just be the undeniable love between Clark and Lois? Eventually, yeah. But when they’re starting out, the worldly investigative reporter just seems to be unable to connect the dots. It’s impossible to believe that a Superman would dumb himself down to become a slouching mild-mannered reporter who grew up on a farm in Smallville.

Here’s how it inevitably works: Clark meets Lois and is instantly smitten. Lois treats him like an uneducated hick, to whom she wouldn’t even give the time of day. Lois meets Superman and is instantly smitten. Superman treats her as he treats every other citizen of the world, with kindness and respect. Clark knows that if he shows up in the cape, he could easily be with the woman of his dreams. But he also knows that she’s not in love with the person he really is. She’s in love with the spectacle.

Clark goes through those early years of his career, both as a reporter and as a hero, struggling with his unrequited feelings toward the intrepid Ms. Lane. Time and again he shows her the way he feels about her. He saves her life from certain doom as Superman. He offers her a kind word and a shoulder to cry on as Clark Kent. But, time and again, he is forced to endure a broken heart as she constantly brushes Clark to the side in favor of her unattainable infatuation.

The It’s Superman! version of Lois saw the flaw in herself. She knew she only wanted Superman because she could never have him. She knew that she could have Clark any time she wanted him. But she was always reaching for what was beyond her grasp.

I wonder what it must be like for Clark Kent. He knows from the moment he lays eyes on Lois that she’s the one for him. And nothing, not Lex Luthor, not alien invasions, not giant rampaging gorillas, not even the Man of Steel will get in the way of his love for her. So he perseveres. And he deals with her continual cold shoulder.

In some ways I think it would be great to have a Lois Lane in my life. A woman that I was so confident would be the one I’d spend the rest of my life with that it verges on destiny. But I think about the patience it would take to see her day after day and not be able to express how I feel. ‘Cause no matter what is said or done, she’ll never be able to see past the glasses to see what may be hiding under the surface. Still, that certainty would be kinda nice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I wonder if she's going to call...

He kept thinking those same words over and over again. He didn't like to admit that he was obsessing, but that's exactly what Tim was doing.

Tim had gone out with Cindy just once and he hadn't seen her or heard from her since. But that wasn't for a lack of trying. He tried calling her at home and on her cell phone the day after their date. For the last week he had spent a great deal of his free time hanging out in the coffee shop in which he had first met her. Nothing.

Cindy hadn't returned any of his messages and she hadn't stopped in for coffee even once.

"She's not interested, dude." Comforting words from Tim's closest friend, Dustin. They were both, once again, sitting in Tim's favorite coffee shop. Dustin was getting sick of watching as his friend would crane his neck toward the door every time the bell rang signaling a new customer. He was sick of watching Tim constantly look at his phone and putting it back down only to be disappointed when there was no new text or voice message.

Tim just looked across the table. "Thanks for instilling that bit of confidence in me... means a lot." The door opened and, predictably, Tim turned around. It was just some guy in a flowery shirt. Tim exhaled, part sigh, part huff.

Dustin couldn't help but roll his eyes. "It's been a week. You haven't heard from her. Obviously she's moved on. Time for you to do the same."

Tim knew he was right. Cindy was just a random girl that he had met in a coffee shop. He had seen her there a few times and decided to ask her out. Sure, she was pretty and she seemed nice enough on their date, but she'd left him hanging now for a week. Why was it so hard for Tim to just let things go?

"All right, dude, I'm getting outta here." Dustin stood up and picked up his newspaper from the table. "You can stick around and keep punishing yourself or feeling sorry for yourself if you want, but I can't sit here and keep watching you do it."

Dustin walked away while Tim just sat there. He drummed his fingers against his cup and looked around the shop. He grabbed his cup, got out of his chair, and finally followed his friend outside.

Dustin was still standing just outside the door when Tim joined him. "I knew you'd come around eventually."

Tim smiled. But just as he was about to apologize for being so pathetic for the last few days, Cindy walked up. She looked as if she had been crying.

Tim didn't know what to say to her. In the span of a few seconds a million notions entered his mind. Cindy put her arms around Tim and hugged him tightly. She buried her face in his shoulder and he could feel the warm moisture of her tears through his shirt as she began crying all over again.

He just looked over at Dustin, who simply nodded and walked away. Tim just had no words for the moment. All he could do was put his arms around a woman that, only a few minutes before, he was certain wanted nothing to do with him. He rubbed her back and tried to offer as much comfort as he could, considering he had no idea why she was so upset.

Now his mind went to another place. Instead of selfishly wondering why she hadn't been calling him, he began to wonder what could be hurting her so bad. He began to wonder just how he could help her.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mother's Day

I know, Mother's Day is still a few weeks away. But I'd really like to dedicate a post to my Mom.

Recently she read something on here that I'm pretty sure upset her. Once I found out her feelings about what I had written, I tried to rectify the situation by explaining that what I wrote was not directed at her, nor was it meant to make her feel bad. I talked a bit about my personal issues with family relations, particularly since my Dad passed away. I need to make it clear that these are my personal issues. These are choices that I've made. I hope that no one in my family feels any guilt or tries to bear any responsibility for my decisions and my issues.

That being said, I need my mother to know just how much I love her. I know that I tell her all the time. And I know that I've told her in the past that I appreciate her and everything she's done for me. And I'm hoping that she knows that the times I've said these things have not merely been talk.

I've complained in the past about how I haven't received too many familial visits since my move to North Carolina. That part is just talk. Not that I actually do get a lot of visits, but I really don't mind. However, Mom has been down here a few times and I know that if the need were to arise, she would drop whatever she was doing to come down here in a time of crisis. And she has.

That's the kind of person she is. I'd be lying if I said that I agreed with everything that Mom's ever done. But I'm sure there are a lot of things that I've done that have been contradictory to how she thought they should be handled. But she's kind and is constantly putting the needs of others before her own. When it comes to her family, she is constantly there, taking care of people in need, often doing so without expecting so much as a thank you.

All of that is to say thank you to her. I hope she realizes just how much I appreciate the things that she does for me, for my sister, for her family, and even for friends who live hundreds of miles away.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Question of the Week: Appeal

Does the fact that you have never done something before increase or decrease its appeal to you?

Really depends on what it is. I've never been skydiving, but I'm not too sure that increases the appeal of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Then again, I've never met Carrie Underwood, but that doesn't make me like her any less. So yeah, just depends on the situation I guess.

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

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It was brought to my attention today that the Powerball jackpot is up to $212 million this weekend. My assistant manager came around asking what each of us would do with the money if we were to win. All this speculation got us thinking about pooling our money and buying a few tickets between us. So, with six of us working in our branch, and each of us contributing two dollars to the cause, 12 tickets were purchased. Ryan, the assistant manager, did the math. After taxes and split six ways, each of us would walk away with approximately $15.9 million. That's not a bad chunk of money.

So what would I do with my share of the jackpot? I'm glad you asked...

I would first anonymously donate 1.6 million to church. I'm sure there would be a question of whether or not the church would accept money that came from gambling. But the way I've always seen it, the odds of winning something like that are astronomical. So if I win even a part of that jackpot, I have to believe that God played at least a small part in changing those odds. But I'd still make it anonymous. I don't know that I'd want a bunch of people knowing that I'm the one that donated that much cash to any one organization. For me, it wouldn't be about getting credit.

Next I'd buy a house at the lake for my mom and stepfather. He's got a boat that, as far as I'm aware, he's not able to use that often. If they were able to retire near the water, I think that would make the fisherman in Jerry very happy. And I'd give them enough money to be able to retire comfortably out there by their lake.

I'd pay off the house that they're living in now. My sister is living in their basement, so I'd buy the house and let her live there rent free.

I'd set up scholarships for the Greene kids. I'm thinking $50k each, times five kids, that would be a pretty decent start on college tuition, right? The oldest is still about 6 years away from college. So by the time they each get where they want to go, with interest earned, they'll be well on their way to a free ride. If that's what they decide to do. I'd discuss stipulations with their parents, of course.

I would treat my family to some vacations. Maybe a cruise, maybe a trip to DisneyWorld, maybe a vacation in some exotic locale, maybe all of the above.

I'd get a new car. Maybe not even a new car. Just a decent car that isn't 12 years old that always seems to have something small wrong with it.

I'd get a small place where I wouldn't necessarily have to pay rent every month. I don't want anything big or flashy, that's just not who I am. I'm only one person. I really don't need much.

I think I'd take flying lessons. Not that I have any aspirations to become a career pilot. I just think it would be fun. And since I certainly won't be working anymore, it'd be nice to have something to do to keep myself busy.

And of course I would invest a great deal of it. Enough to give me enough to live off the interest every month for the rest of my life.

Anyone else have any ideas what I should do with my share of the jackpot? I'm pretty sure I've only taken care of about 5 of the millions, maybe 6...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Single Guy and the Blank Card

The following account is based on actual events.

The Single Guy longed to talk to the Girl in the White SUV. For months he watched as she drove into and out of his life two or three times a week. He was working a job in which he found little joy. But seeing her smile was enough to brighten even the darkest of his days. The possibility of seeing the Girl in the White SUV was enough to keep him coming to work. It was enough to change his attitude about even the smallest things.

But he had no idea what to say or how to say it. The Single Guy went back and forth in his mind about what the right move might be. Should he say something while he was at work? Would that be unprofessional? Would that embarrass her? He didn't want to put her on the spot.

Should he write it down? Maybe an e-mail would be the way to go. But wouldn't she think it was creepy that he found her e-mail address? Sure it was on her business' website, but could that be considered out of bounds?

In the end he decided that writing his thoughts inside a blank card would be the right move for him. He wrote only a fraction of what he was feeling and expressed just how much he enjoyed seeing her when she came to his bank. He dropped the card in the mail on a Saturday and knew there was no turning back. He knew from that point he could only wait. He knew that if she made an appearance at his teller window, it would be a very good sign. If she never came back to his bank, well, at least he would know that she wasn't interested.

A few days passed. He took a day off on Monday and was told by his coworkers that she drove by, but she didn't mention the card. Maybe she hadn't received it yet. Tuesday she was a no show. But he wasn't worried yet. He thought, Who needs to go to the bank every day?

And then Wednesday arrived. And what a glorious day Wednesday turned out to be. Because on Wednesday, the Girl in the White SUV came by the bank.

He was standing at his computer as he normally would. He saw the front of her White SUV and was immediately hit with an incredible wave of nausea. All of his mass seemingly dropped to his feet. It was as if all his weight was just below his ankles. Suddenly he was feeling something that was too strong to be called nervous.

The Single Guy looked into the eyes of the Girl in the White SUV and smiled. He asked her how she was doing. She told him she was doing good as she smiled back. She passed her deposit through the window to the bank teller. He did his job without incident and passed her the receipt. He asked if there was anything else he could help her with, and she shook her head, smiling all the while. And then she thanked him for the card he sent. He simply said, "You're welcome."

They smiled at each other for a while before she finally drove away. The Single Guy dropped to the floor once the Girl in the White SUV was out of sight. He sat there, shaking. His coworkers looked at him and laughed. He had lost all feeling in his body. His heart was racing and he began to wonder if that was what having a heart attack felt like.

He was sure, after this encounter, that she at least liked the card. By the time the shock of seeing her and speaking to her had worn off, the Single Guy still couldn't stop smiling. As happy as he was about the events of the day, he was still left with the question, What do I do now?

Life Story: Chapter Forty Four

My time at the hospital was coming to an end. I didn't think things could get much worse for me. I was under constant supervision in case I decided to make myself vomit (which I never did). I was forced to drag around a machine that fed me through a tube that ran through my nose and down my throat. I was given a cocktail of drugs that consisted of at least two anti-depressants and one anti-psychotic. Things were not good.

It was January of 1995 when rock bottom kicked me in the face. I was not allowed to see my parents. That was my counselor's latest tactic. Eat your meals without vomiting for so many days and we'll allow you to see your family again. I don't like ultimatums. But it's not as if I had a choice. I didn't want to die of starvation, it's not like I was consciously deciding that I didn't want to eat. As I've said a number of times in these stories, I knew I had a serious problem.

But I did my best. I ate my meals. I kept my stomach settled. This was not an easy thing to do when, at the same time, Sustacal was being constantly pumped into my gut. If you're not aware, when someone changes their eating habits, specifically the amount of food they eat, the stomach changes size. I'm not talking about getting a gut when you eat too much pizza, though that does seem to happen. But the actual organ, the stomach, is pretty elastic. When you eat less and less, the stomach shrinks. When you eat more, it enlarges. It's almost like training your interal organs. So my stomach was about as small as it could get. Yet I was expected to eat real food, drink real beverages, and still receive a constant flow of nutrition drinks. There's only so much room, eventually something had to give.

My parents were scheduled to come visit me on Saturday the 14th. I had been successful in eating and keeping my meals down for whatever amount of days I was supposed to. And then, tragically, the night before their long-awaited visit, I threw up. Middle of the night. Nothing I did to start the event. It just happened. Also, as an added bonus, the feeding tube came up too. Wrap your head around how uncomfortable that little scenario was.

So what was supposed to be a great day, Saturday turned into a nightmare. The counselors didn't bother calling my parents to tell them not to make the 45 minute drive from Roanoke. Instead, they waited 'til they got there to turn them away at the doors. Disappointed, my parents got back in their car and made the drive back to Roanoke.

But then it happened. At lunch I was depressed. I was trying to eat the really lousy hamburger that was sitting in front of me, but it should come as no surprise that I had no appetite. It was hard for me to care anymore, now that I had nothing to look forward to. The next thing I remember was lying down on the bed in my room. I was staring up at the ceiling, confused about how I had gotten there. I was just eating lunch, how did I get in my bed?

I had blacked out. I had a seizure. I had fallen out of my chair at the dining table and had begun convulsing on the floor. I was rushed to the medical hospital in an ambulance. My parents met me there. It was the most confusing few hours.

This was before cell phones became such a common thing in our lives. So the good people at St. Alban's had to call and leave a message for my parents to receive when they finally got back home from the long drive, only to turn right back around and come back to Radford.

In the ER they ran a lot of tests on me, trying to determine exactly why I had seized when I had no history of seizures at all. My bloodwork showed a magnesium deficiency, but they weren't sure that could be what caused it. They gave me a supplement anyway, just in case. Looking back, I have a hard time believing that anything in my nutrition could have caused my seizure. Yes, that's what all the doctors at St. Alban's wanted to blame, obviously, because I wasn't eating enough to get proper nutrition. But even when I wasn't eating all of the food I should have been, they were constantly feeding my a nutritional drink that would have met every one of my nutritional needs. I was getting better nutrition in those few weeks at the hospital than I probably had in years back at home. So if I deficient in one particular mineral, why wouldn't I have had a seizure long before then?

No, my theory is that all those pills they had me on affect my brain chemistry in a way that they couldn't have predicted. As I said, I was on at least two anti-depressants (one of which was Zoloft, the other I'm not sure of) and one anti-psychotic (Haldol). During my time there, they tried out several other medications to see how they would affect me. I have no proof that these things caused the seizure, but you'd have a hard time convincing me otherwise.

Yes, it was another bad day. But I'd soon learn that I wouldn't have to endure this personal hell much longer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller: Episode LXXV

75 Legends of the Bank Teller. Who'd have thought that I'd put myself through this for so long? I know I sure didn't. And I've said a lot of things in those 75 posts about this job. Today I'll be discussing one of our most infamous clients. I may have mentioned her before, but I honestly don't remember. 75 is a lot of different stories to tell.

This client isn't exactly infamous in the truest sense of the word, but she's infamous among our small circle in our branch. She was just in the bank today (as she is most every day) which is why all of this is fresh on my mind.

She's rude. She's been known to, on more than a few occasions, jump ahead of people who are waiting in line to have her deposits taken care of. I'm sorry, but that doesn't fly with me. If I were a customer, I'd sure say something. As it is, the lobby tellers who usually deal with her are pretty good about holding their tongues and finding a polite way to say she has to wait. But God help the teller that tells her to wait. As rude as she is on a good day, she gets down right snarky when it's finally her turn at the window.

She's condescending. I don't have any examples of specific things she's said in the past, but just know that she generally makes a point to place herself on a pedestal in order to stand head and shoulders above us common bank workers.

A few months ago she broke her foot. She was gone from our lives for a month. It was a good month. But then when she returned, she was even more demanding. See, she and her husband own a few small businesses in the area. So, about twice a week she calls us to demand boxes of coin for change for these businesses. I say demand, and I mean demand. Polite customers would ask nicely. She just calls and says, "I need!"

So we scramble to get the coin together quickly, because she generally shows up about two minutes after she calls from the road on the way here. And then she gets here, acts rudely, and demands that someone carry the boxes of coin to her car for her. Now, I could understand doing this for her when she was still wearing one of those air cast things for her foot, but that was months ago. She's walking around just fine now. She can carry her own freakin' coin. She just gets us to do it now because we allow her to walk all over us with her perfectly healed foot.

I really have a hard time understanding why management continues to pander to her every whim. But they do. She calls each morning to have her account balances faxed to her. When I say each morning, I mean each and every morning. You could set your watch by her predictable phone call. She could easily use the bank's internet banking option, but then she's afraid the government will see how much money she's making. Hmmm... sound shady to anyone else?

Yet we continue to treat her like she's some kind of royalty and she continues to treat us like commoners that she blesses with her presence. Jacked up if you ask me.

Date Night

I'm a horrible person. I said in my early morning post yesterday that I would post something of substance last night. But I didn't. I missed Sunday Scribblings this week. Someday, I promise I'll make it up to those of you faithful readers who have stuck with me this long. Today is not that day.

Well, I am posting a real blog post of substance today. But I don't think of this as a way to make up for not having anything good for the last two days. This is just a regular blog post. Just a simple movie review.

After an incredibly long, trying, and emotional day yesterday, I went with my mother and Nicole to see Date Night. Now, I'm a big fan of The Office and 30 Rock, so that makes me a fan of Steve Carell and Tina Fey. When I saw the first trailer for this movie, and saw that they were in something together, immediately I thought it would be comedy gold. But then I got a little scared. What if it's like two rights making a wrong?

And my fears were slightly confirmed when I started reading some of the reviews that said all the funniest stuff was in the trailers. I've decided I just need to stop reading professional film critics' reviews. I thought Date Night was hysterical.

Maybe it was because I was tired. Maybe it was because I was so desperate to laugh that you could have had Steve Carell reading the phone book in a funny voice and I would have been in tears from laughing so hard. I don't necessarily think that's the case though.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey had really great chemistry on screen. I'm not saying they're the next Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but they were very good together. They play a married couple who have grown very comfortable with their roles as husband and wife/father and mother. As they find out that friends of theirs are on their way to divorce, they begin to look at each other. Without saying it, they each want to make things new all over again, and not just remain stagnant in a marriage that brings the same routine day after day.

So they go on a date. Early on we find out that date night is a regular thing for them, which already puts them heads above many married couple who never make time to spend time alone together. But even their dates have become routine. They go to the same steakhouse and order the same items off the menu. They look around at other couples and make up stories for them, and in some cases become envious. Again, without saying it out loud, they want a change.

Mrs. Foster decides to dress up for date night. This inspires Mr. Foster to do the same, and to take her into Manhattan for a real date and a night to remember. They go to an upscale restaurant without a reservation, which is apparently a no-no on a Friday night in Manhattan. They're rudely told to wait at the bar in case something comes open, which should be an impossibility. But then the Triplehorns never showed up to claim their table for two. So the Fosters move in and take the table for themselves. Who takes someone else's reservation like that? I mean, really?

That one move ends up giving them the night they'll never forget. They're soon caught up in an adventure that involves blackmail, gunfire, high speed chases, and corrupt authority figures. Through it all they were able to explore just how they still felt for each other, even though their lives had grown complacent.

Yes, there were a lot of scenarios in the movie that were unbelievable and far-fetched. Those are the kinds of things that a lot of people may scoff at when they see it. But you know, it's a movie. It's purpose is purely for entertainment value. In that case, it succeeds. I found it highly entertaining. And just because I like the two of them together, I'm not saying I'd like to see a sequel, but I wouldn't say no to another movie down the road with these two in the lead roles.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I didn't write anything yesterday. Sorry about that. I've said it before, it's been a long week. Today is going to be another trying day. If anyone out there reading this is a believer in the power of prayer, your prayers are needed. I promise I'll write a real blog post later. Again, many prayers are needed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Atari Attacks!

This week has been far too serious. So I'm taking a break from things today with a short film that shows what happens when classic video games run loose on the streets of New York. Look for cameo appearances by Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and the Space Invaders.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Question of the Week: Family

How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people's?

I would not call my family close or warm. I think that there are certain members of my family who would like to believe that we are. I think those family members are even capable of putting on a good face and are good at making things look warm and close. And maybe for them, things really are that way. But for me, it just isn't. Since Dad passed away, my desire to be around family has somewhat diminished. That's no reflection on my family. It really isn't about anything they've done or haven't done. My choice to become as withdrawn from everyone as I have was just that: my choice. They may not like it and I know they don't understand it. But it's how I've decided to deal with things. I know, probably not the healthiest thing in the world.

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

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Not Sure What to Say

Monday evening I wrote a post titled Divorce. I kept it anonymous because I spoke ill of one of the parties involved. The way I see it, in a forum such as this, people that I write about are completely unable to defend themselves. Tonight I'd like to address this post to that same anonymous man.

What is wrong with you?

First off, let's deal with your temper. It's one thing to go after a man that you blame for a lot of your problems. I can understand a jealous rage. I can understand punching someone in a moment of insanity. I can't condone it, but I can understand it. Why can't I necessarily condone it? You're a grown man. You are in charge of your own actions. You're supposed to be responsible for those actions as well. But you, as yet, have refused to take that responsibility for those actions. Your rage has grown continually worse. Grabbing your oldest son by the neck in a fit of your own frustration? Shoving your wife during another of your heated arguments? You're crossing a line there.

So now you're out of the house. Your wife finally got the nerve to stand up to you before you could throw her under the bus yet again. She took action before you could find some trivial reason to get rid of her first. And her reason for getting you out of the house? Because she was genuinely afraid of how you would continue to treat her and your children.

And then what did you do once you were out of the house? You had your wife's car repossessed because you haven't been making payments on it for months. Do you know what that does to her and to your children?

What else did you do? Oh, you had your children's grandfather arrested right in front of them. For poking you in the chest. Is that the way you get revenge on your wife for getting a dangerous man out of the house? By the way, that dangerous man is you, Mr. Anonymous. Your kids know that you had their grandfather arrested. What does that do to their opinion of their father?

You know, I thought I knew you. Just a few weeks ago, you again called me your brother. I called you one of my best and closest friends. But after witnessing these things that you're capable of, I wonder if I ever knew you at all. Was the nice guy thing just an act? Gotta say, you're a good actor. Your true colors have shown you for who you truly are now.

Finally, I want you to know something. No more questions. No more trying to figure out what's snapped inside of you to make you into this hateful, vindictive, selfish person you've become. I want you to know that I'm still praying for you. My prayers for you have changed. I'm praying that God will soften your heart. I'm praying that you will open your eyes and see exactly how much damage you are causing, not only to your kids, but to yourself. I'm praying that you will see how much pain you are causing those around you. I'm praying that you will find yourself in a place where you actually care about the consequences your actions are having. I pray that God will radically change whatever is going on in your heart.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Word From The Simpsons

The other day, a woman came to the bank and informed us about a new upscale retirement community. It's amazingly expensive and there's no way I'll ever be able to afford to put my mother or even myself in such a place. But her speech brought to mind this classic clip from The Simpsons. Enjoy...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Forty Three

Where was I? Oh, yeah... I got sick. I lost a completed meal. Therefore, all the hard work and hard eating I had done in the previous weeks was negated. And it only got worse from there.

My doctors and counselors, they stopped trusting me. They believed that I was making myself sick so I could stop gaining weight. But as I've explained before, that's not how this thing worked for me. See, they had a textbook definition of what an eating disorder was supposed to be, and that's just not where I fit. They didn't know how to truly deal with me. But I guess they did the best they could.

With the evidence that they saw, they felt the need to assign me to "one-on-one," meaning that someone had to watch me 24/7. They also installed a feeding tube. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of having one of these things shoved into your body, count your blessings. It was the most unpleasant experience of my young life. And if you're squeamish, you may want to skip ahead a bit. What they do is they shove this long plastic tube down your esophagus by going through the nose. It's not fun. I wouldn't suggest trying it.

But through this feeding tube, I was constantly fed a liquid diet of a substance called Sustacal. They gave me an option of which flavor I wanted: vanilla or chocolate. Not that it really mattered. It's not like I was actually tasting it as it slid down the plastic tube in my throat. I could smell it though. I guarantee I'll never drink the stuff voluntarily. Nor will I drink its more popular counterpart: Ensure. They smell the same.

So I'm on this "one-on-one" thing. One day I was carted up to our eating disorder group therapy session. I listened to the same things over and over again. I never thought of myself as better than any of the other people in the group. But I couldn't help but be confused by the constant rehashing of the same issues over and over again. I knew I had problems, and I knew that these people were trying to help me the best that their so-called "educated" minds could come up with, but this group was not the way.

But that's not the point of today's story. At some point during our session, I had to go to the bathroom. That urge just hit. And it shouldn't have been a big deal. It was just the number one. I'd be in and out, no problem. But the counselors were only women. Therefore, they wouldn't be allowed to follow me to the bathroom to make sure I wasn't going in there to make myself vomit. Problem was, Kevin, my one-on-one assignee for the day had stepped out, thinking I'd be watched just fine while in group counseling.

So they refused to let me go to the bathroom. Did you catch that? REFUSED! I was a 14 year old kid with, what they considered to be, a severe eating disorder. For days they had been pumping me full of liquid sustenance nonstop. Something had to give. So I lost control of my bladder right there on their nice, clean sofa. I don't think I had ever been more humiliated in my life.

A lot of extremes happened in the hospital. That's the most uncomfortable and most humiliated moments all in one posting.

Anyway, a few days later, I returned to that wonderful group again to face all those wonderful people who, in essence, forced me to piss in my pants. Do you know what my counselor had the nerve to do? She turned the incident around on me, making it into a nice psychological topic of conversation. She told me that I was pissed off about my situation. Oh, gee, ya think?! Of course I was pissed off. Pretty sure if my folks had been aware of our little lack of bathroom break, they'd have jerked me out of that hospital in a heartbeat. They didn't find out for about a week. But by then, it was time for me to go home anyway. Don't worry, I'm getting there.

Monday, April 05, 2010


As the perpetual bachelor among each of my circles of friends, I’ve witnessed just about all of the best and worst that relationships have to offer. As the guy that sits back and watches, I’ve had the unique opportunity to see the full life cycle of a lot of relationships. I’ve seen relationships begin as two people have a love that blossoms and they become annoyingly sweet with one another. I’ve seen relationships grow and flourish under difficult circumstances. I’ve seen relationships collapse and crumble under their own weight.

At times it can be inspiring to watch as friends seem to make all the right decisions with each other. These are the rare people that actually make me slow down and rethink my stance on the ridiculous notion of soul mates. It’s equally as inspiring to watch two people who seemingly have nothing in common battle against the odds and prove the naysayers wrong by working hard and making a relationship work. On the other hand, it is incredibly heartbreaking to watch as two people can move from a place of love and trust to a place of complete disdain and hatred.

I’m trying to wrap my head around something, so bear with me. Over the last couple of years I’ve watched a marriage slowly and steadily decline. At first, on the surface, things looked okay. But as I got closer and scratched that surface, I saw that one half of the relationship fought hard to do what she believed to be the godly thing in order to hold the family together, despite the way she was being treated by the other half of the relationship, who remained blessedly ignorant of any wrongdoing on his part.

Eventually, after so many years of fighting for unity, it looked like one half was ready to give up. I watched, as it looked like the other half finally realized that he had been making the same mistakes over and over again for years and was ready to turn himself around. He looked as if he was prepared to become the kind of husband and father that God had expected him to be. And while he did, in fact, change his behavior with his children, his actions and attitudes toward his wife remained stubbornly harsh and controlling. The change in his life that he claimed to be from God seemed, really, to stem from a place of fear: fear of losing control; fear of losing his family.

I have watched over recent months as this man would sit down with anyone who would listen and plead with them. He would cry to them. He would convincingly tell them that all he has ever wanted was reconciliation with his wife and to save his family from being torn apart. Meanwhile, at every turn and every opportunity, he would throw his wife under the bus. Every word and every action from this man toward his wife has been filled with hate. These are not the actions of a man who wants to reconcile his marriage in a godly manner. He’s a man who has refused to take responsibility for any of his own actions, but instead chooses to blame others for the path that he’s been on.

I know what the Bible says about divorce. I know that Malachi 2 specifically says that God hates divorce. But how can I sit by and look at this as a black/white issue where there is simply one way that’s right and one way that’s wrong. There are so many shades of gray involved here that it would make your head spin. How can I sit back and tell a friend, who has been mistreated and abused emotionally and psychologically for years, that divorce is wrong? How can I tell her that this is what God wants for her life, that no matter how bad things are, she needs to stick it out? I can’t, in good conscience, tell her that staying and living a miserable life and being treated as a sub-human is the right way to go here.

I’m at the end of my rope. As a friend, I have a really difficult time sitting back and watching as someone I care about being treated unfairly and unjustly. I feel completely inadequate as a friend to continually offer platitudes and prayers, but there’s really nothing else that I know to do in this situation. Anyone out there reading this, if you know of some way to help a mother who seemingly has no options and no choices of her own, then your thoughts and your prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


It's a devastating thing, finding out that someone you looked up to has fallen from grace.

I had someone like that in my life. From the time I was just 15, this man took me in. He made me a part of his family. He saw potential in me that no one else cared to look for. He saw more than a problem kid that got packed up and shipped from foster home to foster home. He saw more than a boy who had a tendency to rebel against anything that would stand still long enough to be rebelled against. He saw the man I would become.

Joe was a pastor. His church was one of those small places that met in an old storefront downtown. They weren't a big congregation, but they were good people. From what I could tell, they were genuine people. Joe brought me in one Sunday morning and introduced me to the crowd. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want a bunch of holy rollers looking at me and judging me. But they didn't.

To them I was just a lost kid who needed to be loved. And love is exactly what they showed me. For the first couple years I stayed skeptical. But Joe was persistent. He was constantly on my case about my grades. He was always hovering around me whenever I had free time, expecting me to make good decisions and getting in my face whenever I made a bad one. But he never came down on me in a way that made me feel like he was angry or resentful. Everything he said and did came from a place of real love.

I finally understood where that love came from the day I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I understood what it meant to reach out to a lost soul in love. I understood that Christ had called Joe to reach out to me, to teach me, to disciple me and bring me to Him. I understood that Christ had called me to do the same thing for someone else, to share the love that was shown to me.

I'm 25 years old now. After I graduated from high school I went to college. Joe helped me to find ways to pay for it. All through my four years at Tech, I kept in touch with Joe. He kept asking all the same tough questions that he liked to ask. I kept giving him the honest answers, whether it was what he wanted to hear or not. Slowly, though, we drifted apart.

I didn't forget about the things that he taught me. I never forgot how to love strangers the way he showed me to. I guess I just forgot to keep thanking him for showing me what God's grace looked like.

Imagine my shock when I found out that Joe had walked away from his ministry. An old friend from that small church called me up last week and told me all about the drama that had unfolded over recent months. Joe walked out on his church. He walked out on his family. He walked out on God.

I thanked my friend for letting me know. If for nothing else, so that I could at least pray for my old mentor. But as I hung up the phone, I was hit with a crisis of faith. If this man who had shown me so much in my life, who had laid a foundation and built so much upon it, could drop everything and just walk away, how much of it was real?

So I prayed. I dropped to my knees and I prayed to the God that I know is real. I prayed to the God that I knew would hear my prayers. I prayed to the God that I knew was in my life, shaping me and molding me, and would continue to do so for as long as I had breath. My crisis of faith melted away. It didn't matter what Joe had done in the past or in the present, or what he would do in the future. The same God that led Joe to me is the same God that would lead me to Joe.

Joe was my mentor. He was a man that taught me so much about the character and nature of God. I had to admit that there was a very real possibility that all that time, Joe was just talking the talk. He may have known the right things to do and to say in order to put on a good mask for the world to see. Maybe his faith was really dead on the inside. Maybe it wasn't though. It's not for me to say.

All I know is what I know God is calling me to do right now. He's calling me to find my old friend and mentor. He's calling me to reach out to him in love, the same way he reached out to a problem kid that got packed up and shipped from foster home to foster home. God isn't done teaching me, and I have a feeling He's not done teaching Joe either.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I remember watching the original version of Clash of the Titans over and over again as a kid. We recorded it when it was on the Disney Channel once and I kept the VHS tape near the VCR for a long time. I remember being terrified of Medusa and the Stygian Witches with their crazy shared eye. But to balance it out, I developed a small crush on Andromeda. Not sure if it's the really bad special effects or the epic mythical story, but something about that movie makes it a classic.

So they remade it. The trailer I saw for it a few months ago got me excited, even though I try to stay skeptical about remakes for as long as possible. But when Liam Neeson, as Zeus, says "Release the Kraken!" it's hard to not get excited.

Today I made the trip to the theater and saw the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans. As one who loved the original as a kid, I can safely say I was not disappointed. The story is slightly different, but the main ideas remained the same. The effects were awesome to say the least. But it's really easy to call special effects awesome after there have been 29 years of advances made in movie making technology.

Sam Worthington plays the part of Perseus, originally played by Harry Hamlin. Now, I'm not sure how big a fan I am of Worthington yet. He's now been in three very high profile movies in the last year. I guess Hollywood loves him, but I'm just not that impressed. I'm not saying he did a bad job in this movie, I just don't buy his appeal.

If you're looking for a call back to the old school Titans, we get a glimpse of the mechanical owl near the beginning of Perseus' quest. Sadly, the owl gets no more screen time than that. Oh, and the Kraken looks much more menacing this time around. It used to just look like a giant version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

By the way, I feel that I should specify that I saw the movie in all its 2-D glory, as it was originally meant to be seen. I'm sure you've seen all the amazing ads telling you to see this movie in 3-D, but don't be fooled. This was not a movie that was filmed specially to be seen in 3-D. This was a movie that was altered in post-production to take advantage of the 3-D fad that seems to be foolishly sweeping the globe thanks to Avatar and every single animated movie that comes out these days. 3-D is a gimmick; one that I hope goes away soon. Depth is highly overrated. We get enough of it in real life. Watching flat moving pictures helps us to separate entertainment from reality.

The original Clash of the Titans is actually available to watch via Netflix online. I may watch it tonight for the purposes of nostalgia.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Question of the Week: It's For Charity

An eccentric millionaire offers to donate a large sum to charity if you will step--completely naked--from your car onto a busy downtown street, walk four blocks, and climb back into the car. Knowing that there would be no danger of physical abuse, would you do it?

A large sum of what? Money? Tangerines? Pencil erasers? This is a very non-specific kind of question. And to which charity would we be donating the erasers? Is it a charity of my choice? That may effect my decision. And what city's downtown area are we talking about? 4 blocks in Roanoke, VA is a lot different than 4 blocks in Manhattan.

What it comes down to is that I wouldn't do it. And believe me, any charity would be thanking me for making the choice to remain clothed, no matter how many erasers they could have gotten from the crazy rich guy.

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

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Reasons Why Pizza Delivery Is Better Than Banking

Tonight, as I was working my second job, I noticed that this part time delivery gig holds several advantages over my day job. The following are listed in no particular order...

  • On average, I can earn more in an hour delivering pizza than I can in an hour working at the bank.
  • Little kids get excited when they see my car pull up in their driveway. Tonight a little kid, no older than 5, ran out of the house screaming, "THE PIZZA MAN!" No one ever gets excited about seeing me at the bank. I've yet to hear anyone screaming "A BANK TELLER!"
  • Again on the money issue... At the end of a night delivering pizza, I can walk away from the job with cash in my pocket. Doing that at the bank leads to being arrested.
  • Shall we talk about discounts? With the pizza delivery, I get 50% off no matter how many pizzas I want to buy. With the bank, I can get a discounted interest rate on a loan. But first I have to be approved for the loan. And then, I still have to pay it back with interest, just not as much interest as the average customer. Those loan payment coupons do not make a good meal. You know what does? Pizza.
  • Pizza customers always seem really grateful. Even the ones that don't tip very well are still happy to see me. I brought dinner. Bank customers are occasionally grateful, but mostly they complain because I wasn't fast enough or I did something wrong or they want to blame me for something that someone else did wrong. Tellering is really a thankless job. I never get tipped at the bank, BTW. That's also illegal.
  • If something awkward happens between me and another coworker at the pizza place, it's okay. 'Cause in just a few minutes time, I'll be out in my car driving a pizza to its new home. And there's a good chance I won't see that coworker anymore because we're like two ships passing in the night. At the bank, if something awkward happens with a coworker, I'm stuck there for the next 8 hours. That can, some the times, make for an uncomfortable day.
  • Okay, let's score one for the bank industry... The Girl in the White SUV...
There you have it. I hope you've enjoyed this insight into what it's like to work these two jobs and to live in these two worlds.