Monday, October 31, 2011


It happens all the time in this world. Criminals get off on a technicality. Natural disasters strike and leave people without homes. Bad things happen to good people.

Today, a very dear friend of mine experienced a pretty severe taste of injustice. I don't have a lot to say about this issue. It wouldn't do any good. My words couldn't effect the outcome of this situation three years ago, they won't change things now.

But to my friend, I can only share the advice that was given by my campus minister to my fellow students in the days following 9/11...

Don't stop living your day to day life. If you do that, then the terrorists have won.

And yes, I'm blatantly referring to your opponent as a terrorist. The point is, you know the kind of person you are. God knows the kind of person you are. With His grace and through His faithfulness, you'll be able to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and keep on fighting the good fight. Never forget that you have friends and family that love you and are praying for you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Justin arrived late to the party. He usually arrived late to things. He did it on purpose. He was hoping for a spot in the yearbook as the senior who was most likely to show up late to graduation. He could have gone for friendliest or class clown, but those awards seemed too obvious. He also supposed he could have gone for best legs, but he really didn't feel up to shaving them. Really not worth it.

He made his way through Staci's house and went down to the basement where all his friends would be talking and dancing and playing slightly inappropriate games. None of them could get into too much trouble since Staci's folks were watching reruns of The Cosby Show just upstairs.

Before Justin reached the bottom of the stairs, he stopped to take in the view of the room. He shouted a quick, but loud, "HEY!" His friends responded with shouts and waves and raised glasses. Staci made her way over to him and laced her arm through his. She had a thing for him and he knew it, he just wasn't sure how to let her know that she wasn't his type.

"So what've I missed?" he asked.

"Not much," said Staci, "but we're already out of chips."

"I should go then. Those chips were really the only reason I came."

Staci let out a girlish giggle and slapped Justin on the arm. "I'm sure I can find another reason for you to stay!"

"Is Tim playing Operation?" Justin asked, noticing Tim alone on the couch.

"Yeah, I had some board games out," said Staci, "I'm really not sure why he's decided to play that one by himself. For that matter, I'm not too sure why he even came here tonight. Tim's always keeping to himself."

Justin looked back over at Tim. He was hunched over the classic game, his brow was furrowed in deep concentration. "He's a good kid, just a little introverted, that's all. Come on."

Justin and Staci walked over to Tim's corner. Justin sat in a chair across from Tim and Cavity Sam, while Staci stood with her arms crossed. "Hey Tim. Whatcha doin?" Justin asked.

"I'm training," Tim said, never looking up from the game.

Justin noticed that the look on Staci's face was not a happy one. He silently nodded at her, trying to convince her to sit next to Tim. She rolled her eyes. "What are you training for?" Staci asked as she sat next to Tim on the couch.

"Ah! You made me drop the Adam's Apple!" Tim yelled as Sam buzzed at his error.

Staci immediately stood back up. "Sorry! Geez, it's just a game!" she shouted and stormed into the crowd of her friends.

Justin watched as she walked away and he couldn't help but laugh a little. He looked back at Tim, who was still huffing in frustration. "No, really, what are you training for?"

"I'm gonna be a surgeon someday."

"And you think that playing Operation at age 16 will help to prepare you for that?" Justin asked. It may have sounded like he was being sarcastic, but he genuinely wanted to understand Tim's thought process.

Tim set down the game's tweezers and looked up at Justin. "This game helps to improve dexterity."

"Dude, you're at a party and you're sitting in a corner playing Operation by yourself. That's something you could do at home."

Tim sat back on the couch and crossed his arms. He looked at his classmates around the basement with a look on his face that could almost be described as disgust. "These people don't like me," he said. He looked back at Justin, "I'm not even sure you like me."

"I don't dislike you," said Justin. "But I don't exactly know you, either. And I'd be willing to bet, not many people in this room do know you. You have to admit, you do kind of close yourself off from others."

"No I don't--"

"Says the kid playing a board game alone in a room full of his peers."

"Point taken," Tim said.

"Look, it's obvious you don't want to be alone," Justin said as he stood. "If you wanted that, you'd have stayed at home."

"The truth? I came here tonight because I have a crush on Staci," Tim said. "Don't tell her," he added quickly.

Justin couldn't help but laugh again. "You know, yelling at her for dropping an apple-shaped piece of plastic is probably not the way to win her affections."

As if suddenly realizing what he had done, Tim leaned forward and picked the tweezers back up.

"Oh no," Justin said, "Don't pick those things back up. Operation: Wingman is about to commence. You and I are going to work together to get Staci's attention. In a good way, this time."

Tim looked up, his expression unchanged. "I mean it. Stand up," Justin ordered, "And try smiling a little. It's a party."

With that, they moved toward the crowd and approached Staci and a group of her friends.

See how others interpreted this week's writing prompt at Sunday Scribblings.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

AFI 72 - The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption
Directed by Frank Darabont
Netflix sleeve: Framed in the 1940s for the double murder of his wife and her lover, upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) begins a new life at the Shawshank prison, where he puts his accounting skills to work for an amoral warden (Bob Gunton). During his long stretch in prison, Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates--including an older prisoner named Red (Morgan Freeman)--for his integrity and unquenchable sense of hope.

I first saw this movie back in college, roughly 6 years after it was originally released. And it was around that time that I read Different Seasons, Stephen King's collection of four novellas that included the story on which this movie was based. Since then, it's become one of my favorite movies. It's one of those that I'll stop and watch if I happen to catch it while channel surfing. If you haven't seen it and have an extra two and a half hours to spare, do yourself a favor and watch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Question of the Week: Routine

Do you establish routines in your life? For example, do you usually sleep in the same place in your bed? eat meals at the same time? regularly return to the same vacation spot?

First of all... What's a vacation? This word is not familiar to me. Sorry... it's just been a really long time since I went on a real vacation. Hard for me to return to the same vacation spot when it's been so long since I took one. Anyway, I think in some ways I follow routines. It's hard not to. I don't know if it's a general trait found in humanity or just a personal quirk for myself, but I find myself getting into certain comfort zones. Which leads to certain routines. Or maybe the routines lead to the comfort zones.

Yes, I sleep in the same place in the bed. Occasionally I'll spread out if I feel like stretching a little, but by the middle of the night I end up back in my regular spot.

And so what if I eat my meals around the same time every day? Can I help it that I tend to get hungry at the same times? My work schedule dictates my lunch time on a daily basis. And we all know that dinner is at six o'clock. Don't question it. It just is.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - One Picture of Myself


I thought about just posting a current image of myself using my webcam. But I really need to shave. And I should probably do something with my hair. Not that there's ever anything that I actually do with my hair. It always ends up the same way no matter what I do. But I didn't feel like dealing with this new-fangled technology. So this is a picture of me approximately 27 years ago. Sadly, I don't think this was my Halloween costume. Pretty sure I was wearing it just because...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Two Songs


Day Is Done - Peter, Paul & Mary
Dream On - Aerosmith

These aren't my favorite songs in the world. I like far too many songs to really have favorites. And even if I could possibly choose favorites, they would change within a few weeks. I don't listen to a lot of new music these days, but when I do, I'm usually able to find something I like. And as often as I listen to old music on CDs, it's not surprising that an old song might turn into a temporary favorite.

I chose Day Is Done because it holds a special place in my memory. I would never consider myself a fan of Peter, Paul & Mary. In fact, the only other song of theirs that I'm really familiar with would be Puff the Magic Dragon. But I love Day Is Done because it's something my Dad used to sing to me. He wouldn't sing the whole thing, just enough to calm me down when I was upset or scared. If I ever decide to grow up and have a son of my own, it's a song that I'll sing to him whenever he's upset or scared...

Tell me why you're crying, my son
I know you're frightened, like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you fear
Would it help if I stay very near?
I am here.

And if you take my hand, my son
All will be well when the day is done
And if you take my hand, my son
All will be well when the day is done

As far as a reason for why I chose Dream On... well... it's just awesome. It's one that I love to play in my car while I'm driving. I get a kick out of singing along and wailing at the tops of my lungs on the wicked high part at the end. If I ever manage to get people to go along on a karaoke night, I'm definitely singing that one. Just gonna blow everyone away.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Three Movies


Remember how I've been occasionally giving my thoughts on movies from the American Film Institute's top 100 films of all time? At the same time, I've been occasionally ranking movies that I've seen through the incomparable website, Flickchart. The idea is that, once I'm finished with AFI's list, I'll have my own top 100 to share with you. And that's where my top three movies will come from today. At least, these are the top three as they are right now. They seem fairly accurate. So here goes...

1. Back to the Future - This should be a no-brainer for anyone who has read my blog once or twice.

2. The Empire Strikes Back - Absolutely the best of the entire Star Wars saga. You have Han Solo using a lightsaber for the first time. Princess Leia falling for the scruffy-looking nerf herder. And, SPOILER ALERT, the big reveal that Darth Vader is actually Luke Skywalker's father. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

3. The Matrix - While I consider the trilogy as a whole to be kind of disappointing, the original installment was pure awesome. And really, it would have been just fine as a stand alone feature. I could be wrong, but isn't this the movie that introduced the world to "bullet time"?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AFI 73 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Directed by George Roy Hill
Netflix sleeve: Legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) display their gifts for perfect comedic timing and charisma as they pull of heist after heist in this Academy Award-winning film from director George Roy Hill. To evade a relentless posse, the boys flee to Bolivia, thinking they'll find easier pickings there. But trouble finds the charming desperadoes wherever they go, prompting yet another run.

This is one I'm a little surprised I've never sat down to watch before. But it's probably because I generally do into things assuming I'm not going to like a Western. I need to stop assuming that because I thought this was a pretty great movie. I may not have seen the whole thing before, but certain scenes have been shown so many times that they're burned into my brain: Butch riding the bicycle with Etta to the song stylings of BJ Thomas, Butch and Sundance jumping off a cliff to evade their pursuers, and their last stand in Bolivia. Despite knowing the ending, I still kind of hoped that they would make it out okay. Spoiler alert... they probably didn't.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Question of the Week: Picking Up the Check

In a nice restaurant, after getting the check for an excellent meal, you notice that you were not charged for one of the items you ate. Would you tell the waitress?

I don't what constitutes a "nice" restaurant, but this has happened to me on a number of occasions. And I always say something whenever I'm undercharged. If I don't say something, I'm pretty sure karma would come back to bite me in the butt. Besides, more often than not, the waitress might thank me for my honesty and then not make me pay anyway. I'm pretty sure it's only happened once in my life that I brought up not being charged for something that they actually went back and corrected my bill and made me pay for what was left off. Whether they make me pay or not, I walk out of the restaurant with a clear conscience.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Four Books


                                                    Source: via Amanda on Pinterest

Un) The Wizard of Oz - This is my favorite book of all time. In fact, I probably read through the original about once a year. It spawned 12 sequels written by L. Frank Baum, as well as countless Oz stories written by other authors. And how many times has it been made into movies? Plays? TV shows? Yeah... it's that good.
                                                  Source: Uploaded by user via Renee on Pinterest

Deux) Harry Potter - Don't make me pick just one. The entire series is phenomenal from start to finish. And it's even more fun to read the second time because there are so many little things that you can pick up on that you may not have gotten the first time around.
                                                     Source: None via Zuzu's on Pinterest

Trois) The Stand - I may have had some issues with the way things ended in this book, but it can't be denied that the scope of the story is epic.
                                                     Source: via Rita on Pinterest

Quatre) The Hunger Games - The entire trilogy is great, but I've got to go with the one that introduced us to the world of Panem and the amazing Katniss Everdeen.

Thanks to Jeff B at A Word In Edgewise and CrystalChick at Mary Says.... for linking up and playing along! Go see how they've taken the challenge!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Five Foods


                                                     Source: via Shelly on Pinterest
                                                   Source: via Hailie on Pinterest
                                                  Source: via Sara on Pinterest
                                                  Source: via NUIC on Pinterest
                                                  Source: via Brittany on Pinterest

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Six Places

Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and assume that this means 6 places that I'd like to visit. I would hope it's not just 6 random places chosen with no rhyme or reason. I could see myself choosing places that way if I had a globe, which I would spin very quickly and then stop with my finger, and wherever my finger lands, that would be one of the six random places. Or if I had a huge map on the wall where that I could throw darts at. I'm putting way too much thought into this. Let's just get on with the 6 places, shall we?

                                                     Source: via Neda on Pinterest
                                                    Source: via Kelsey on Pinterest
                                                      Source: via Meredith on Pinterest
                                                       Source: via Aaron on Pinterest
                                                      Source: via Aaron on Pinterest
                                                     Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

Monday, October 17, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Seven Wants


This is the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. I mentioned that I wanted this back when I was making birthday requests. I didn't get one. I still want one. 'Kay thanks...

The Flip UltraHD Video Camera is another one that I mentioned before my birthday. I still don't have one of those either.

Yep, you guessed it. I still don't have an electric razor. I just don't ever buy things for myself.

The Community Season 2 DVD. For the record, I never got the first season on DVD, so I'd like both seasons. I just thought it would be overly redundant to throw pictures of both of the DVDs up there.

Who doesn't want a DeLorean? Mostly I just want it if it's tricked out to look like this. The one from Back to the Future. I'm gonna need a flux capacitor too.

I want a smart phone. It doesn't necessarily have to be a Droid. I won't be too picky. I'd just like to be able to access the internet on occasion. Oh, and play Angry Birds.

If you can't tell, this is a bowl of Frosted Flakes. You wouldn't believe how easy it is to take these things for granted when you have access to your own bowls and milk. I don't have my own bowls. And I'm not sure about the milk situation. But I miss the Frosted Flakes. And I kind of miss Cinnamon Toast Crunch too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Question of the Week: Under Strong Advisement

If you decided to do something and your friends strongly advised you not to, could you do it anyway?

While I absolutely value the opinion of my friends, ultimately, whatever this decision is, it's my decision to make. I'm the one who would have to live with whatever consequences may arise. On the other hand, I'm the one who would enjoy the rewards if it turned out to be a good decision. Life is full of risk and no matter what, we are a product of the choices we've made.

I've been there, though. While I don't like to give unsolicited advice, I have been the one to give advice and not have it followed. Being that friend, it kind of makes it hard to want to help out when asked. But I don't like to say, "I told you so," either. So my hope, if I had friends who were strongly advising me to not do something and I did it anyway, and it turned out to be a mistake, is that they wouldn't hold it against me. That turned into a really bad sentence. Anyway, I hope they would just continue to be my friends no matter what.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Eight Fears


1. Clowns. I don't feel the need to elaborate on that. I've elaborated plenty of times in the past.
2. Disappointing Others. A lot of the time I honestly don't care what others think of me. But there are a chosen few that I never want to disappoint.
3. Snakes. If Indiana Jones can be afraid of them, so can I.
4. Being the Least Funny Person In the Room. Yeah, I'm sure there's an official name for that phobia, I just don't feel like looking it up.
5. Research. See what I just did there?
6. Zombies. Though I think if I were faced with real zombies, I could hold my own.
7. Foreign Currency. You should see how badly I freak out when someone accidentally passes me a Canadian quarter.
8. Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance. He scares the bejeezus out of me. His legs flail about as if independent from his body!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Fugitive

This morning I woke up with the theme song from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego stuck in my head. If you grew up around the same time as me, it probably just got stuck in your head too. It's that song by the group Rockapella from the PBS game show that was on in the early to mid-90s. It's kind of classic.

I couldn't understand why my mind would have this song on a continuous loop. Beyond that, I couldn't understand how it's possible that I remember so many of the lyrics as accurately as I do. I know I haven't heard that song in many, many years. And yet, there it was.

It may have something to do with this week's episode of Saturday Night Live. They did a sketch mocking Hank Williams, Jr. and the Fox and Friends incident. As part of the mockery, they ran a quick list of corrections that the fact-checkers had to come through and supposedly fix because the on-air personalities made some pretty wild claims. One of these throw away gags was "President Obama did not pardon Carmen Sandiego." That little blurb was probably just enough to plant a seed in my brain. And that seed took root.

Throughout the day, I kept thinking about Carmen Sandiego. Does anyone even remember what crime she committed at this point? She's been a fugitive for so long, maybe it's time that someone did grant her a pardon. I mean, if the president can make a show of pardoning a turkey every year on Thanksgiving, surely he can pardon this woman who has seen more of the world than any of us ever will.

What's she charged with? Theft? What did she steal, aside from the hearts of children everywhere? I believe her only real crime is a curiosity for World Geography and the ability to make that red hat and trench coat look good. If a thirst for knowledge is illegal, then you better lock me up too.

10 Day You Challenge - Nine Loves


                                                       Source: via Quinn on Pinterest

                                                       Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                                     Source: via Emily on Pinterest

                                                       Source: None via Rebecca on Pinterest

                                                        Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

                                                       Source: via Amy on Pinterest

                                                         Source: via Shelly on Pinterest

                                                      Source: via Debbie on Pinterest

                                                        Source: via Chase on Pinterest

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Ten Secrets

Okay, this is another one stolen from Amy. Though, to be fair, she did put the invitation out there for other people to participate. This is me, officially participating. I really hope she doesn't mind my stealing the graphic from her site either. I can't afford another lawsuit for copyright infringement. Yeah, I'm looking at you Barry Manilow! I swear, you sing I Write the Songs at one karaoke bar in the guy's presence...


One} I confess. It was me. I put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp. I also put the ram in the ram in the rama lama ding dong. However, I did not put the dip in the dip da dip da dip. Can't take credit for that one.

Two} I was so excited about getting a Kindle earlier this year, but I've only read one entire book on it. Waste of money? I keep telling myself I'll get into it eventually.

Three} My latest ambition is to develop a successful TV show. Scratch that... It doesn't necessarily have to be successful. I just want to sell a pilot to a network.

Four} I'm Batman.

Five} In 9th grade I forged my Dad's signature on a permission slip so I could go to the science museum on a field trip.

Six} I keep hearing about the awesomeness of cruises from friends who have either recently been or are planning to go in the near future. I've never been on one. So I've decided to give myself a cruise vacation next year.

Seven} I wish I could restock my change jar that I had counted for real cash a few months ago. But it's not gonna happen 'cause I never carry cash and, therefore, never receive change anymore.

Eight} I'm finding it really difficult to come up with ten secrets when I write about my life on a nearly daily basis on this blog. My life is an open book.

Nine} I don't make time to read as much as I used to and I really miss it.

Ten} I have a crush on a woman that I've never met and will never meet. But don't tell her. This stays between you and me, got it?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Call

Julia heard the call at the worst possible moment. She had finally been having a conversation with her father. It was the conversation she had been putting off for nearly a year. The conversation that she felt sure would finally reveal if her father blamed her for her mother's death.

But the horn sounded far in the distance and she knew she had to run. Julia made her way through the forest that she knew so well. She could read the twists and turns on the narrow path far better than she could read her father's emotional state. As she ran, she imagined the sigh of relief he must have breathed when they heard the call.

Julia dodged limbs and jumped over roots and finally reached the sunshine of an open field. In another 200 yards, she would be at the gate of the city where she had grown up. Halfway across the field, the horn sounded again. This let her know that in another two minutes she would officially be late, and the punishment for tardiness was severe.

In the year since she joined the militia, she had never been late for the call. But she had witnessed as others suffered the discipline of their superior officers. Julia was certain that she would be comfortable living out her entire life without experiencing the end of that whip first hand.

In the city-state of Answain, young people were given a choice upon reaching their 16th birthday. You either joined up for five years of military service, or you go to work in the mines for seven years. Both of these options were, of course, noble choices and helped to protect and support the society in which she lived. But Julia had an irrational fear of dark, enclosed places. So for her, the choice was a no-brainer.

Now, at 17, Julia had grown to love her new life with the militia. She just wished she could move a little bit faster. She weaved her way through the crowded streets of Answain, making her way to the Ellipse at the center of the city. The third call had not been made, so she knew she would be counted on time. She stood in line between two boys who were recent recruits. Her breathing was labored, but she felt like she could relax. She wouldn't feel the whip today.

Answain didn't have a lot of enemies. But the militia was there to protect the citizens from the few enemies that existed outside the city's walls. Julia had only seen two real battles in her time with the militia. One was little more than a month ago, when a group of spies was discovered. They hadn't put up much of a fight, and Julia was pretty sure that the few who were captured alive were held for questioning. She shuddered to think what that questioning would entail.

She didn't like to think about the first battle she had been in. It was only a month after she had signed up for military duty. Her father had told her that he was proud of her. Of course he was proud, she was following in the footsteps of both her parents. The militia was where they had met. It was where they had fallen in love. Her mother was proud too, but she was scared for her little girl. Julia understood her feelings. All she could do was kiss her mother good-bye and tell her not to worry as she moved out of the house and began her intensive training.

Julia had barely finished her training with the sword when the reports came into the barracks that the south gate had been taken down. All members of the militia, even the new recruits, were called to take up arms to defend the city. Julia's mind was filled with panic. It wasn't because she unprepared to defend her home, it was because her family's home was located two blocks from the south gate.

She grabbed her sword and shield and ran south with the others. None of them were too sure where the battle would be taking place. They just knew to run in the opposite direction of the fleeing citizens.

Julia caught sight of an enemy soldier. She recognized the uniform of the Red River military. She had heard stories about Red River. Their soldiers had no honor. This fact was clearly displayed by this man, who was attacking an unarmed woman who was simply trying to flee for her life. Julia knew that this man would be her first kill.

She charged at him, sword in hand, and ran him through without thinking. Julia turned to the woman and shouted at her to run. Immediately, her thoughts turned toward her family. Red River would spare no one in their quest for domination.

All around her, explosions were erupting. She ran through the streets, hoping to find more action, hoping to make a difference. She was in sight of her childhood home when an explosion rocked her world.

Heat and shattered glass threw her off her feet. Julia fought the urge to lose consciousness. She was a little confused, wondering how she ended up on the ground. She could feel the intensity of the fire coming from the store across the street. What kind of weaponry could Red River possibly have that would cause so much destruction?

Her body screamed at her as she picked herself up off the street. She moved as quickly as her legs would allow her, but felt as if the world were moving in slow motion. Up ahead, she saw her father and mother fighting for their lives. They hadn't been military for nearly 20 years, but they still knew what to do with a sword. In that moment she was proud to be their daughter, and she hoped that she could live up to their expectations of her.

More than that, she wished she could move faster, because there, before her eyes, she watched as her mother was killed at the hands of a Red River soldier. She watched as her mother fell to the ground. She watched her father turn to catch the love of his life. And she watched as the soldier who delivered her mother's killing blow prepared to do the same to her father.

But Julia arrived in time to save him. She plunged her sword into the side of the man who had just taken her mother's life. Her anger and sorrow mixed in a cry of agony as she drove her enemy to the ground.

She fell to her knees next to her father and grabbed her mother's hand. Julia saw the faintest smile on her mother's face and felt her squeeze her hand lightly before she passed on. She looked up at her father, who was gently caressing her mother's face. He looked into her eyes and said nothing. She could only imagine that he was thinking the same thing that she was. Why couldn't you have gotten here sooner? She would still be alive.

Without a word, Julia stood up. She charged into the fray where her sword took the lives of half a dozen more enemy soldiers. But the rest of the battle was a blur to her. Julia was numb, unsure how to feel anything else that day. The pain she felt, both physically and emotionally, was too much for her to bear. So she pushed it aside.

The sound of the third call broke her from her vivid memories. Julia stood silently as her captain walked down the line calling names. When he got to her, he gave her a slight wink. She could tell that he liked her, but he really wasn't her type. But the gesture was enough to make her smile anyway. Once attendance had been taken and it was determined that there were no deserters this week, the fourth call sounded and the troops went their separate ways to perform their various duties.

Julia made her way to the barracks, where she had been assigned evening guard duty for the remainder of the month. As she had done every evening for the past two weeks, she would stand silently, waiting for her replacement to relieve her at midnight. She knew that she only had her thoughts to occupy her time. She made a promise to herself that she wouldn't think about the conversation she almost had with her father today. She wouldn't think anymore on the events of the Red River battle. She would do her duty tonight and she would worry about the things she couldn't control some other day.

See how other bloggers answered "The Call" this week over at Sunday Scribblings.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Pain of Relaxation

Thursday at work, I was invited by Tree to tag along with her and her friend, Elizabeth, to get a massage at the mall. At first I thought I didn't want to go. I was thinking that I couldn't afford it. Not that it cost all that much, I just generally assume that my money can eventually be spent on something more important than something like a massage.

But Thursday was a rough day. By the end of it, I decided, Screw it, I can find $15 dollars. So I went. It was the first and last time I'll go to that place at the mall to get a massage. I obviously had no idea what I was getting into.

Before arriving at this massage place, I was told that I only needed to choose a length of time. I went with 10 minutes, the shortest and cheapest option. It was my first real massage in a long time, so I figured I should just try and take it easy. Let me just say, the last time I had a massage was in the airport on the way back from Brazil in college. This was nothing like that.

It came to be my turn and I was introduced to an older Asian gentlemen. He motioned for me to lie face down on the table and so I did. He then proceeded to beat the ever-loving crap out of me.

During my ten minute massage, I resisted the urge to cry out in agony at least five times. He poked. He prodded. He rearranged my internal organs. At one point he began kneading on my skull as if the bones were actually a flexible mass.

It was an extremely long ten minutes. When I heard the sweet sound of the timer squealing next to my ear, I whispered a quick prayer of thanksgiving to God, knowing that I would never have to go through this again.

As I stood up, I wanted to ask the man what I could have possibly done to anger him so. We had just met and hadn't even had a real conversation. I only told him I wanted the ten minute massage. Maybe that's what angered him, that I was being cheap. I gave him a tip before I left. I didn't want him following me to finish me off if I left him unhappy.

Apparently I received a deep tissue massage, rather than one that brings relaxation. When I awoke Friday morning, I couldn't turn my head. When I needed to turn to look at something, I needed to turn my entire body. Even now, 48 hours after the fact, the back of my skull still feels bruised.

I haven't seen any bruises on my neck or shoulders. I'm left to assume that this Zen Master of Pain was so good at his craft that he was able to hide any marks his acupressure technique may have left. I'm just glad he wasn't so offended that he felt the need to use the Touch of Death.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Question of the Week: Outgoing

What sorts of things would you do if you could be as outgoing and uninhibited as you wished? Do you usually initiate friendships or wait to be approached?

If I were more outgoing and less of an introvert, I would be a lot more talkative with people, whether I know them or not. Don't get me wrong, I'm okay with being introverted. I'm perfectly content being the kind of person that enjoys his alone time. But I'm sure that particular trait has and will cause me to miss out on some excitement in my life. But hey, no regrets. As for the second question, I pretty much wait to be approached when it comes to new friendships. After all, once people experience my irresistible personality, it doesn't take long before they're swarming me with friend requests on Facebook. It's true. Google it.

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

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Five Years Later

Honestly, I wasn't sure how today would go for me.

Today was the anniversary of my Dad's death. It's the first time I've been in in Roanoke for this day in four years. Over time, October 6 has gotten a little easier to get through. But I just wasn't sure about today.

I've heard that milestones can be a little harder to deal with. Five years seems like one of those milestones. And it's hard to believe it's been that long. On top of the milestone, I'm back at home. I'm back in the town where all of my memories are.

But it really wasn't that bad. Not like I anticipated, which is a good thing.

I didn't break down at any point. I went about my day like normal. There were times when I had trouble focusing on the task at hand. Kind of like now. But I promise, I got through my work day, I'll get through this blog post.

In the car I decided to pop in a CD of my Dad singing. It's not something I listen to very often. Usually, I'm afraid to listen to it. I'm afraid of what hearing his voice will do to me emotionally. I'm of the belief that driving becomes much more difficult when you try to see through a flood of tears. But today, I listened. And I did okay with that too. Again, better than I thought I would.

Anyone who had the chance to hear the man sing knows what a phenomenal voice he had. When I was a kid, I remember overhearing a conversation between a couple of the older guys at the church where I grew up. It was during a Sunday morning service and Dad happened to be singing a solo. I was standing out in the hallway listening to him over the speakers in the ceiling. These guys must not have seen me standing there, or they may not have had the conversation they had.

One turned to the other and said, "There's a guy who really missed his calling." The other just nodded his head in agreement and went on listening to the song. At the time, I just smiled, thinking this guy was right. Dad had a great voice. At some point somewhere in his life, if the right person had happened to hear his singing voice, things could have been very different for him.

As I've grown up and looked back at my father's life and the passion he had for music and his church, I'm more and more convinced that he followed his calling to the letter. Yes, he was incredibly talented. I've heard more than a few people say that hearing him sing gave them chills. And they always meant that in a good way. But to say he missed his calling because he wasn't a household name would be way off base.

He was never happier than when he was serving in the church. To the very end, he was singing to the tops of his lungs. The night that he died, he was with his church family, helping them prepare for an upcoming event. He spent his last hours in this world in a place that he loved, working side by side with people he loved, serving the God that he loved.

I miss him, and I'll never stop missing him. But I know that any tears that I shed are selfish. Those tears come from a place of wanting him back here, wishing I could hug him again and talk to him about everything that's been happening for the past five years. But he's in a better place. I realized that immediately on that night five years ago.

I can't sit here and say that I mourn his loss. Not anymore, anyway. Instead, I celebrate his life. Knowing the man that he was makes me smile. Knowing the life that he led makes me proud to be his son.