Saturday, December 30, 2006

On This, The Sixth Day Of Christmas

Over on Andy's Blog, he linked to this post on Adam Mustoe's blog. To clarify, I have no idea who this Adam person is, other than the information available about him in his profile. But, he had some thoughts on the holiday, and since reading them... I guess on the 24th or so, I have been mulling them over.

Somewhere in the past... I don't know... thirty years or so--I'm 39 now, and I think Wade spilled the beans about you-know-who when I was younger than 9, so we'll go with about thirty years or so...

Where was I? Oh yeah. Anyway, somewhere in that time, Christmas has become--hokey as it sounds--more about the giving for me.

I don't know that Mom or anyone else did anything to create that in me. I've been trying to trace this back into my history somewhere, but nothing is standing out. It seems important to figure it out, because I think if you love your kids, you'll teach them to find the joy in giving so that Christmas still has a sort of... well, magic isn't the word I mean... but it's close. We'll go with "joy".

Of course, if your kids grow up to be dirt poor and can't afford to give anyone anything a particular Christmas, that Christmas is gonna kind a stink, but there's always next year, right?

There's just a sort of joy associated with thinking of your friends and loved ones, trying to figure out what they would like, and then setting it up just right. I know some people hate doing all that--especially the picking the perfect gift part--but, when I have the means, I love doing that.

The best gift I ever gave--at least that I can think of right now--is Doris Day's holiday CD. I gave it to my Secret Santee out at MCM&VCo. during the run of "A Christmas Bette" back in... whenever the heck that was.

Jon Copeland was a huge Doris Day fan, and had mentioned that, although she had recorded lots of holiday songs over the years, alas, she did not have a holiday album. was young back then, and I don't remember how it came to pass--either I did a search for "Doris Day" and "Christmas" on a whim that maybe Jon was unaware of the CD's existence, or if I was just searching for ideas of what to get him next, but there it was: Doris Day: Personal Christmas Collection.

I didn't have a debit card. I had to mail a check to and then hope against hope that it got here before Christmas.

It arrived, but I wanted so badly to see his face when he got it. This is very hard to pull off in the course of a MCM&VCo. show, because you don't want anyone to see you place the gift, and you have to plan it so that they're next going to be in that spot at the same time you are. Also, if you're staring, it's kinda obvious.

I enlisted the help of Marcie Ramirez. I asked her to announce in the dressing room, while Jon was off somewhere else, that everyone watch Jon as he arrives behind the curtain for the water glass number, because his Secret Santa was going to put a gift on his water glass table, and wanted to watch his reaction.

So, as we carried the tables onstage, I surreptitiously placed the unwrapped CD on his table. We all watched as Jon arrived, and I would not trade watching his expression for most anything in the world.

That--to me, anyway--is how to keep some Joy in Christmas.

Even this year, when things were... um... lean... I still have the memory of that performance and Jon's sheer joy at seeing that, not only did Doris Day have a holiday collection, but he was now the proud owner of it!

So, yes, hokey, but for me the joy comes from the giving. Of course, I love to get stuff, and it's always fun to see what people find for me... so don't stop giving, those of you who do.

It has just hit me that maybe one of the reasons I like to give is connected to why I like to perform. I like entertaining people. Giving a great gift is a form of entertaining them. And if you're there, it's not unlike performing onstage--you get immediate feedback as to how you are doing.

Some day--maybe next life--I'm going to have holiday money all saved up in plenty of time to shop (my life for years has been: December Paycheck the last day before break, then rushed holiday shopping, keeping in mind that January bills must also be paid). When this happens, it's going to be the best flippin' Christmas ever!

"Next year all our troubles will be out of sight," indeed!

P.S.: If this post has convinced you that the joy is in the giving, here is my wish list and a page on my website about gifts I'd enjoy.

I kid. I just felt I had to end it that way, strictly for reasons of comedic closure.

Friday, December 29, 2006

"In Case Someone Needs To Find My House At Night For Some Sort Of Emergency, Like Pizza Delivery" Tip #3

I touched on this last time, but I'll go a bit more in-depth here. Reflective material is not helpful at night. I realize this might seem counterintuitive, but it's true. Unless I'm turning the car and pointing the lights at your house or mailbox or wherever you've put these reflective numbers, all I get are flashes of the numbers as my lights brush up against them and say, "I do beg your pardon" before moving on.

Heck, sometimes I can point my flashlight directly at them and still can't make them out... the angle is off, or something just isn't right. The force is not with them. Much more helpful than reflective material is a good contrast between the numbers and whatever is behind the numbers. That helps them stand out in low light.

And a freebie with this tip: One easy test to see if you have easy-to-read numbers--and thus an easy-to-find home--is to ask several people who don't know where you live to find your home by consulting a map before leaving to get there--no checking the map once they've left for your place, and make sure it's a night-time trip. And pick friends who aren't too nice to point out ain't no way nobody can find your house because they can't read your house numbers (or your neighbors').

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Catch-up

Jodan, her eyes all aglow with the holiday spirit... and flash-induced red-eye.

Adam, Allison, and Wade open gifts and point out the handsomest person in the room, which is apparntly the cameraperson.

Here's Dane with our great-nephew, Zach. Dane's in mid-shush, as I recall.

On the evening of the 22nd, Ruth drove me and all of our gifts across the state to Center. We found the kitchen still in mid-remodel (and I'll leave it at that, as Wade has received enough ribbing on the topic), but by the next day it was looking much better. However, that night I had to start the brine for the turkey, and I did it amid the remodeling.

Leslie and Jordan arrived in Center not long after Ruth and I, and I introduced Jordan to the meaningful and long-standing Riggs family holiday tradition of putting the little bird lights on the ceramic tree, which I had grown tired of standing there and doing.

As is always a holiday tradition, several trips to Hannibal were made. I needed a bucket in which to brine the turkey, and made a trip late on the 22nd (or early on the 23rd), and I think at least one trip was made for sanity-keeping purposes in the "normal" morning hours of the 23rd.

Ruth and Leslie prepared everything that wasn't the turkey (and Ruth answered a few questions I had about preparing a turkey), and it was a great meal--even though the biscuits weren't Deana Mae's recipe... there were still great rolls there.

Todd, Anne, and the kids came to Center the afternoon of the 23rd, and enjoyed the meal with us. Then we had the gift-opening, which was lots of fun. The best moment was when Allison opened her gift of a very large green stuffed animal frog, and shouted, "It's a pig!"

Ruth and I returned to Kansas City that evening. I made Sunday services on the 24th, and not long after 12:30, Ruth and I headed for Omaha.

Wade, Dane, and Jordan were headed from Omaha about the same time as us (Leslie had a previous engagement in St. Joe, so she drove seperately).

Ruth and I arrived at Say's a bit before 4:00, and by the time we figured out how to park on the crazy streets around Say's house, it was 4:45.

I kid. It was 4:00.

Say, Peggy, Carrie, Zach, and Carrie's boyfriend (I think) Steve were all there. Say was making Christmas treats, and Zach was either sleeping, eating, or thinking about doing one of the two. I love my new great-nephew and all, but I told them he needs to be doing a few tricks or something the next time I come see him, because right now he's boring. Although it was nice to hold him and sing to him. I forget that part about babies.

Wade, Dan, and Jordan arrived a while after we got there. Once Leslie arrived, the Omaha gift-opening took place, and it was decided to hold off on the stockings until Christmas morning. We did, however, go ahead and draw names for next Christmas. Steve is to e-mail Todd, Anne, Ed, and Sara about who they drew. Since we missed doing the name-drawing this year (due to a lack of Thanksgiving), we figured it would be best to go ahead and draw them now.

Ruth, Leslie, and I went to Leslie's house to spend the night. There's not a lot to say about that except that Leslie was right--the upstairs bedroom is very cold.

We went back to Say's on Christmas morning, and Ruth and I headed back to Kansas City at about 10:00. Ruth finally had enough driving, and I took the wheel at the Stuckey's where I did my Christmas shopping for Adam and Allison last Christmas Day.

The rest of my Christmas was spent here, enjoying my time off... as I was fairly sure I'd be delivering pizzas on the 26th. And I was.

So, holiday cheer all around. Hooray!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

It's finally the holiday season over at my website. Also, my Christmas card is here. I'll hopefully be sending out personal links to some of you later, but no promises. I'm in Center right now, cooking a turkey.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Thoughts On The Big Debate

Okay, I've had the Ally McBeal Christmas CD going in my car lately--

And now I feel I should explain myself. I enjoyed the show whenever I happened to see it, but didn't watch regularly. However, several years ago Jeanne B. out at MCM&VCo. wanted to find out all she could about a song she'd heard in a Target commercial, and my crack detective skills (yes, I always tell the kids at school I'm not Nancy Drew, and thus they need to not talk at all during tests, to avoid my assuming they're cheating, but really I am very much Nancy Drew) led me to learn the song was called "The Man With The Bag" and there were three recordings of it available locally. One was on an Ultra Lounge holiday CD (and it was the original recording of the song, actually), one was on the (at that time) new Diana Krall CD--but only on the ones purchased at Target--and the other was on the Ally McBeal Christmas CD.

So I got each one. All three CDs are great, by the way. I love the Ultra Lounge holiday CDs. They are just about my favorites for car holiday cheer.

Anyway, the current car holiday CD is the Ally McBeal Christmas CD, and on it, Vonda Shepard sings the less-appealing version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"... well, the less-appealing of the first two on that link from the last post... I won't delve into the others on there.

Anyway (again... feel for anyone whose job it is to listen to me talk at length...), hearing this several times while delivering pizzas last night, I had another thought to add (and some confusing backstory as well, it would seem) to my whole debate below... and also, I felt I should clarify. I will probably feel I should clarify even after this post is over.

My big problem with the "brighter" version isn't that they say "This year Christmas is great..." it's that they're asserting that this year and forevermore everything will be great. "From now on our troubles will be out of sight."

Well now, please. Give me an ever-lovin' break already. "Next year all our troubles will be out of sight" might seem to suggest something similar, but I look at that as, "Next year at this time, our current woes will be forgotten", or, in the more... I dunno... abstract, I guess, "In that future time when we have the best Christmas ever, things will be so wonderful, we'll never have time to think about the troubles we had in the past." But heck, even taken literally, all the original version promises is a year of trouble-less-ness.

I mean, come on, from now on? Yeah, maybe if you mean, "From now on, our troubles will be invisible to us, able to attack us at any time."

I'm just sayin' is all. The original version is far superior. Doth anyone dare to contradict my assertion? Post your comment, you varlaty thou, you.

Varlet. What's a varlet? Apparently, the spell-checker was wondering the same thing.

Also, for those of you who normally get me holiday/birthday gifts, I've just updated my wish list. Sorry to be so late about it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Heated "Have Yourself A Merry Little" Debate

Okay, so there isn't really a debate... but since I'm of a very strong opinion on this holiday "issue", I think there should be. I'll start.

First, a reading assignment.

Now, for the purposes of this debate, I'm pitting the first version listed on that link against the "brighter" version (listed second... and minus the introduction, although it doesn't really matter, I don't think).

Here's my stand: I think the first version is a much more satisfactory song, because it's not all b.s. about how perfect everything is. In fact, it's superior--granted, in my opinion--because it admits the present isn't perfect while allowing for a possible future where things are much better.

I think the brighter version is a big liar-head, that wants to act like every Christmas is just the best one ever, and people never look back at other Christmases and wish that they could take elements from various years and combine them all in some future perfect Christmas... where all those who can no longer be with us, or no longer speak to us, are there (and speaking to us) again once more. And where all the gifts are the best gifts we ever gave or received, and the food and the company was just right... you get the idea.

I like that the first version indicates that it's thinking in that direction instead of saying "this year is perfect". And the need for this debate? The dumb version gets more air play... and by "air play", I mean it's the one you hear the most, whether on the radio or at holiday sing-alongs.

There. Rant over. Other side?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent Week 3: Joy

I have nothing to say on this topic right now.

I just figured since I said something about the other two, I needed to put a post here about this week. We don't really want me to get started on the topic of "Joy", now do we?

"In Case Someone Needs To Find My House At Night For Some Sort Of Emergency, Like Pizza Delivery" Tip #2

First, a side note. The last tip (and most of these tips) do not apply if have your house number painted very clearly on the curb in front of your house, have a mailbox by the curb with your house number in clearly visible (which means non-reflective) numbers on both sides (and the "door" of the mailbox, while you're at it), or both. These homes are very easy to find, and are a joy to delivery drivers throughout the world.

Now, the tip: Who cares if they don't look pretty; the bigger the numbers, the better--especially if you're not close to the street. Ain't tryin' to read inch-high numbers on a house half a football field away from me!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"In Case Someone Needs To Find My House At Night For Some Sort Of Emergency, Like Pizza Delivery" Tip #1

Don't use those script letter things, where the numbers are written out in script form.

Yes, yes, pretty, pretty.

Ain't nobody able to read the things from the street. You could have the thing spotlit with the 20th Centurly Fox searchlight, and people'd still be all, "What's that say? Scribbledy Scribble?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where Are The Anti-Anti-Coagulants?

Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!

I went to see Dr. Bowlin today after school. Guess what!?! I'm anti-coagulant-free!

Okay, actually, it will take a few days for the last few doses to leave my system, but I'm on the road to anti-anti-coagulation!

Also, apparently I have no major health issues, which is surprising, but I'll take.

Now, if I get a blood clot in my lung and drop dead, you read about it here first.

In other news, I zonked out on the couch in the sunroom and just woke up cold, sore, and... well, cold.

I'm off to bed, where I will NOT take a pill (or a pill-and-a-half) before lying down!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

On Peace (On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen!)

Wow. So, apparently my post last Sunday frightened at least one person. I didn't think it was like 100% negative. I'd done it mostly as an exercise in emotionless observation of my life (not that I need to exercise that particular muscle, but I flexed it anyway).

Got to see Jen and her son Emmet tonight (and I hope I spelled Emmet right). Jen's funny as usual, and I probably should go see her in the MCM&VCo. show. It's on the list.

This week in advent the theme is Peace... or the... something... is Peace. I don't know if it's a theme, or what.

And I realize that a) lots of people have it much worse off than I do, and have children to look out for on top of it, and b) who cares about my life and woe, when I could be sharing a funny story or something, but...

Wait, that reminds me: I still need a laffline for December. My traditional December homepage isn't up, because I don't have a December laffline!

E-mail me if you have one for me.

Anyway, Friday was bad. I mean, I thought the Friday before last was bad, but apparently my life is an experiment in one-upmanship between misery and woe.

I kid. But Friday was very bad. By the time I got home Friday night--no, even before I got home, but definitely more so after I picked up the mail, etc.--anyway, by that time, I was just wanting to crawl away and never come out to see the light of day. It's a good thing I don't know where any liveable caves are around here.

But, thankfully, what sitting under the tree won't cure (not that I tried that, because I was worried I'd fall asleep there and have all sorts of back issues in the morning... and also, I'd be so depressed if it didn't work), sleep will help.

Does everyone else have that reset button that gets hit with a good night of sleep?

Whatever, I woke up with some perspective, and with what passes for a positive outlook in my brain.

Also, Jin called early in the afternoon and asked if I could close, which equals more money, which equals... you know the drill.

And the fact the other person who was supposed to close sorta flaked and I had to deliver all by my lonesome for the last few hours didn't really bug me, because, again, money...

Boy, do I sound like a slave to the almighty buck or what?

Which is fair...

So, anyway, church was good, and the theme or whatever was Peace, and the talk was about the message of the season... or messages of the Advent season, and I thought back to Friday and realized that I don't understand Peace very well, but I sure would like it. The Peace that comes from getting a blanket and moving into a dark, dank cave, and never leaving it again. The kind of Peace that passesth understanding--which explains why I don't understand it very well.

It would just be nice to--have things just be nice, I guess.

And I had to wonder if I really do any good in the world, which was also part of the problem on Friday. I don't mean that in a... wah kind of way. I just mean I wonder if I do any good with the things I do. I feel my teaching suffers when I'm working so much, and I'm probably not off the mark there. And then there's beyond the "doing good" of teaching. I wonder, do I at least manage to do more good than harm just in my day-to-day life?

There needs to be a website where you could look that up. Nothing complicated. Just a pie graph, maybe. You can select what color to make the "good done" part of the chart, and the color to make the "bad done" part of the chart.

Then, adjust your life as fits.

Peace. I don't know. I think it's a great concept. I'm all for it. I've got some on backorder, methinks.

Anyway, this holiday season is kinda gonna stink for me, as I will not be giving much (okay, probably not anything) in the way of gifts.

This is probably where all this blah blah blah negative Ned stuff is coming from.

Well, bah humbug on that. I've got my lights, and that's something.

P.S. to the Board of Public Utilities: Please do not cut off my electricity until after the holidays. Thanks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ah, Yes... This Is MUCH More Familiar

Well, Jin called the cell yesterday afternoon and left a message saying he'd meant to schedule me for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening.

What, I'm just gonna say, "No, I want to have some down time" or even just "Sorry, I've already made other plans" or something?

But last night, when I finally got home, (but early for a Wednesday... it was 6:--something or so), I sat down by the tree and tried to get some sort of good picture. The holiday music was doing its thing, and I got distracted by the pretty lights and music. And it was good.

I mean, there's lots of good, don't get me wrong... or don't read some of these posts and think I don't know that. I do. And indivdually-blinking lights on a tree (especially when there's holiday music playing)--that's one of the good things. Between Thanksgiving and January 6th, anyway.

So, anyway, I got to work tonight. Hooray! I'll work tomorrow and Saturday, too. And the up side is, I have income I hadn't been planning on! Hooray!

Upon hearing I was working after all, a VERY GOOD FRIEND said (and I think it was meant in the same tone as Anna Nicole might have said to that rich elderly man she was married to, "I wish you would just hurry up and die"), "I wish you would just win Powerball."

Yes, you and me both.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I May Be In Bed By 10:00!

As I listen to the washer do that "final spin" thing, I'm thinking I may be in bed and asleep by 10:00!


Hope everyone is having good times. I went to the post-concert dinner tonight an had a good time. I'll have my Tuesday nights free (read "I'll be delivering pizzas on Tuesdays now, hopefully") now!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Yes, It Could Be My Imagintion (And Probably Is)... BUT... I May Be On The Verge Of Something

So, what a great night. I get to work (late) at P.J. and learn that I'm scheduled for ONE--count 'em--ONE night this week. And I don't even close.

Granted, it will be nice to rest some more, and not be so tired and just... at the end of every rope I've ever had.

However, the man is trying to bring me down, and I need some money to keep him slightly at bay.

So, there I am, taking my first delivery and generally feeling miserable about things, but also thinking about some other issues I've got going on based on a post-service conversation I had yesterday.

I get to my destination, walk up to the place, and as I get to the elderly woman standing in the already-open door, this smell wafts over me that has to be experienced to be believed. It was coming from the house, not her, I'm fairly sure. I described it to the folks back at the store as the smell of someone having eaten cat dook and then vomited it up. But I didn't say "dook."

And, what bit of the... and I'm kinda going out on a vocabulary limb by calling this place a house, but, here goes... what bit of the house I could see looked very much like, "let's hammer up some things to serve as shelves here on the drywall." Also, I think at least one person in this dwelling was dealing with some sort of severe mental challenge.

So while I'm in the doorway, and the elderly woman is signing the credit card receipt, I'm mostly thinking, "Please let me get away from the door before I hurl." This was due to the smell, not the decor.

When I turn and am returning to my car, however--and after I glanced down and noticed I didn't get a tip... and was subsequently surprised to learn I didn't particulary mind about that--I was struck by this feeling of... something.

It sorta branched out from the thought, "Getting out of that doorway was all the tip I needed," and went into this whole... I don't know what to call it.

My next thought was along the lines of, "There's a message here, and you're stupid not to see that." Of course, was the message, "Hey, you think life is awful, but you could be doing much worse," or was it, "This is what's next for you." I mean I wonder that now. At the time I felt it was a lesson in the former, not a warning of the latter.

And this put me in the mind of some things from the talk yesterday... I mean Talk, not the lower-case kind. Something about being ready and open... or maybe "open" is my word. Anyway, I just about had a flippin' mental breakdown in the car.

Yes, I know: I'm crazy.

But here's the thing. I just have this feeling that I'm on the verge of something.

Okay, here's a related story from my college years. When I was in Directing class, there were something like 7 or 11 or 13 directors in the class. I can't remember for sure, but I'm fairly sure it was a prime number. Anyway, after auditions with all the Basic Acting students, we all sat around Kim's desk in his office and sorta haggled over the actors.

We had come to what--at first glance--seemed to be a deadlock of sorts. Everyone had someone they just had to have, but had a sort of, "Well, if I could have..." exchange they would be willing to make. But, as I said, on the surface it didn't seem to match up.

But then my brain did this thing... and I don't know how to explain it, exactly. I just sat forward in my chair suddenly and--seriously--commanded everyone to be quiet. I don't know how else to say how I said it. I think sorta... let my brain connect the dots for a bit, and then I just pointed to each person and said, "You get so-and-so, which means you can have so-and-so..." and so on until I'd given everyone one of their choices. Then I stopped and asked, "Does that work?"

Because, you see, I wasn't even sure I was right about it, even though it sure FELT like I was right. But, also, we Riggs kids seem to have an overabundance of self-doubt.

And it did work. It was crazy.

So anyway, tonight I felt that. Or recognized I've felt that for a while. Not quite the "sit up, lean forward, and speak in a commanding voice" variety, but maybe about four or five levels below that.

I don't know what--if anything--it means, but here's hoping it means I've worked out some winning Powerball numbers, eh?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hope and Hopelessness

Today's talk at church was about hope. Okay, about hope and other stuff, but apparently this week of Advent is about hope, so I'm going to say the talk was about hope.

It was almost too much for me to take in at once, but then again, I have a short attention span.

What was I saying? Oh yes. Hope.

Anyway, it reminded me of the summer before last when I heard Rita Pierson speak. I fail to remember exactly what she was saying, but it was something about things humans need, or something people in poverty need, or... I don't remember. On this list was the word "faith", and she said something along the lines of "I don't like to use that word, because I know it puts some people off," and she's right, it does. I know this for a fact.

Face it, some people have just ruined the word for others of us. It comes with overtones of smugness, judgmental behaviors, and about 57 other negative things I'm not going to dwell on here. My personal thoughts on the word have changed now, but, depending on who is using it, it can still hold those overtones.

Back to the point, after she said this, she went on to say something along the lines of, "I choose to use the word 'hope'". She explained that one thing that is needed for... whatever it was she was talking about... is the hope that things will get better. A belief that they will, in fact. (Which means "faith" is a better word, but still, overtones.)

So, at the time, I was very much like, "Oh, okay, I have that." That's because, at the time, I only thought life was as bad as it could get. Little did I know.

Now I have to wonder if I have hope any more. I mean, I know I do, because I seem to have this insane amount of it. Crazy insane amounts of it. (As opposed to the other definition of insane, Mark?) I have this hope in me that something will change. I'll sit down and do something that turns my life around. I'll meet the right person, say the right thing, do the right good deed, and--presto!--instant turned-around life.

And then there's the rest of me that looks around and sees that this hope is getting me exactly nothing except disappointment and... well, more disappointment. And this part of me is totally devoid of hope.

Yes, yes, I'm one person. I get that. But I'm one person both filled with hope and hopelessness. The two must not be like matter and anti-matter, or I would have exploded by now, right?

I do live in hope that I'll get my life together. I live in hope that I won't be working two or more jobs the rest of my life. I live in hope that my life will be longer than a few more years. I also live in hope that my life isn't too long, because getting very old can be messy and expensive, and here I can't even afford being 39.

And I live with a part of my head saying, "Dude," (I don't know why this part of my brain says "Dude," but I just heard that in my head when I thought it) "look around you! You're gonna be working an extra job until you're dead, and at the rate you're going, that's not so far down the road. Give it up!"

I mean, to be honest, the other part of my head responds with a, "Oh, shut up." Usually, anyway.

Here's a for-instance (also known as an example): Friday was not the best day on record for me. Just when I thought I'd robbed Peter enough, Paul came up with a thing or two I'd forgotten about. I don't have the finances right now to get the blower fixed on my car, so I've resolved myself to wiping--or scraping and wiping--the interior side of my windows while driving down the road. It took a crazy amount of time to find a parking place downtown, and I ended up having to fork over $5 for that. This was after forking over $18 and some change for my tux cleaning. These seem like small amounts, but see the earlier bit about Peter & Paul for clarification.

I'm in the dressing room lamenting these and other facts aloud when I notice my tux shirt, which had been missing one of the buttons on the left cuff, was now not missing that button.

You would have thought it was the miracle of Christmas. I was joyously announcing to everyone that either the cleaners thought they lost the button and thus replaced it, or they were just nice folks, as there was not an additional charge for the button. I then realized how stupid I sounded, having just gone on about how life is just too much, only to be thrilled to death that I got a free button sewn on my tux shirt.

So I had to throw in a sarcastic, "This is it, things are definitely turning around for me!"

Oh, I'm sorry... you were expecting some sort of point?

No, none there, really. Just reporting that I'm just as confused as usual, and it's thanks to the 800 people in my brain.

Also, to report that Andy scored with a timely talk today.

That is all.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Life, Laffs, and Late Entrances

First, if anyone can remember a good laffline for my site, I'd appreciate it. The only one I can remember right now isn't very good for December, so I'm wanting to save it for January.

We had two snow days in a row. I'd like to report I got much more done around the house than I actually did, but instead I am reporting I only got some stuff done.

Final Dress was to be Wednesday night, but it was postponed to Thursday on acount of an ice storm of sorts. Thursday's Final Dress was cancelled due to the snow storm. So, final dress was actually the Friday performance.

Which is important, because I had yet to leave stage during Act II, change from my Act II costume into the Solo outfit, get my mic on, and get back on stage.

So, as I'm backstage, rounding the corner where I could stop and get some water which I desperately needed before picking up the mic that I forgot to bring to the dressing room, I realize it's now a choice, if I don't want my entrance to be late. I told Santa to be prepared to vamp.

Thanks go to Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, by the way, for teaching me to deal with a time crunch.

I figured saliva was gonna have to do the work, because--even though I don't necessarily need it--I needed to wear my mic. Mostly becausee, even though I could probably make myself heard, it would sound odd when every other soloist had a mic.

Apparently nobody noticed my throat was dry, because I got compliments on my number afterwards. I have some sort of built-in mechanism to always think I don't do so well, and having a dry throat made it doubly hard to overcome.

However, I've learned that "Thank you" is a powerful tool when dealing with many things. Compliments you feel you may not deserve, expressions of sorrow at the death of a loved one, and so on.

Then, getting back into the Act II costume, I encountered several problems, and wasn't able to make it on for the finale. Tonight I'm just going to stay in the solo outfit and come on for the encore. Also, tonight I'll be exiting the stage at least one song earlier.

On show days, at least when I have a solo, I tend to not eat after noon. This means that at about 10:40 or so when I get home, I pretty much need a meal. This, in turn, means I must stay up a few hours before hitting the sack.

And this, in turn, meant I was in no mood to wake up when my alarm went off this morning, and thus didn't make it to the hanging of the green at church this morning... or at Ben & Tricia's.

At any rate, my holiday stuff is almost all up (got the tree finished yesterday), and I'm getting all kinds of rest--one might even suggest I'm getting too much rest.

Hope everyone is having a good life these days. E-mail me if you have a good laffline. You might want to check out my laffline page for the guidelines... if there actually are any.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm Thankful for My 100th Non-Blog Post!

Hello there, everyone, and welcome to my 100th non-blog post.

First, a confession: I did not go out of town for Thanksgiving. I fully intended to, but Leslie called on Monday night to say they weren't really having a dinner and all that, and I figured I don't have the gas money anyway, so I stayed home.

Now, those of you in the KC area who might take offense that I did not dine with you, please realize I'd had about 15 "If you aren't doing anything else" invitations, and who can remember who asked first, and plus, I'm just tired and wanted to spend some alone time.

I did eat this SmartOnes turkey meal that I found in my freezer, so I didn't go turkeyless. And I got some decorations up, and even some cleaning done.

I considered going to the meal at what, for lack of a shorter term, I'm calling my church (actually, it would have been shorter to just type the name, now that I think of it), but then I realized I'd need to shower, etc. Also, I woke up very late that day.

It's been a nice break. Next week I have rehearsals galore, so no pizza delivery (which means no pizza delivery money... hooray!). It's almost like having free time.

Anyway, I wanted to share my Thanksgiving confession with the world. Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What I Have To Say

You know, driving around delivering pizzas gives me plenty of time to think of things, and often I think, "That's what I need to post on the non-blog about."

And then, by the time I'm home I'm too tired to bother, and by the time I'm not too tired to bother, I've forgotten all about it... or at least all except for the fact I'd thought of it.

I know I have a rant/friendly lesson on how to put the numbers on you home, and what things to consider when you do this. But I'll save that for later.

I used to have a little tape recorder I could use for this, but I think it might be in the city dump now, as a result of the whole Great Basement Clean-Out of 2005. It would come in handy now, as I could rant into the tape recorder and post the edited rant later.

Anyway, I have many thoughts that aren't making it here. So there.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful life. I'm a great-uncle again. Zachary Cade Leake (I'm guessing on the spelling and I STILL haven't gotten an e-pic yet of him) was born on November 2nd.

It's almost time to put up the Christmas decorations! Hooray!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Okay, that last post reads much more bitter and angry than I'd intended. Or much more "Wah" than I'd intended.

And I certainly didn't mean to never ask me how I am, especially if you're actually wanting to know.

I just meant that it's fun and exciting to be working all the time.

I kid.

Anyway, wah me.

I got up early today to get some stuff done before another meeting, and while waiting for the dryer to stop, I thought I'd re-read my last post. Glad I did. What a bright start to the day that was!

Hope all is well in everyone's world!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

But Other Than That, How Did You Like The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

I had to use that for a title, because I love that line. I don't know who to credit for it, however. Google for "play, Mrs. Lincoln", and you'll see how there are many variations on the line.

I also choose it because it's sorta how I feel about putting an update on here. I'm working 1.75 jobs (or one full-time, one almost-full-time), taking nights off 1.5 days a week for other obligations, and Sundays off for my sanity.

Which translates to very little sitting-at-home-being-me time.

Also, I'm running a sleep shortage like you wouldn't believe. I get home at midnight or so some school nights and have to do laundry so I have a uniform the next night. Other nights I'm home at 10 and have to do laundry.

So it seems stupid to get on here and update people, as the update is "326th verse, same as the first".

I am getting a lot of think time. If I ever have a really long stretch to sit and write, I've got some GREAT projects worked out in my head.

Also, I'm almost getting bills paid.

Okay, speaking of bills, I need to vent (and update at the same time... two birds down, infinity to go):

Remember the flat tire? Well, I took it to Wal*Mart and there was the whole delay thing mentioned in the earlier post. I noticed when they were putting my tire on that they had to stop partway around and seemed to be having some sort of trouble, but then got over it and moved on. I didn't think much of it at the time, other than the fact it was making me even more late than I already was.

The next weekend, I've got a flat tire again. This was the tire I had just had put on.

I went to Wal*Mart. They tell me I'll have to wait four hours. I said, "To finish the job you started last week?"

Apparently so.

I go to a manager... actually, I go to the customer service desk, and I say, "I'm in a rush, so I need to go as high as I can go on the customer service chain without dialing a phone" and got a manager who pointed out that it wouldn't be fair for me to go in front of those people who got here before me, to which I replied, "They got here last week? Because that's when I brought this job in and you people failed to do it correctly."

He told me he was sorry, and I left, pointing out that he wasn't sorry, or he'd actually do something to rectify the situation.

So, hello Tires Plus.

After some waiting and a drive home on the donut to shower and change, I learn that Wal*Mart put the tire on a bent rim. This explains that trouble they had getting my tire on, but it's still a mystery as to why they wanted me dead. The Tires Plus mechanic was so wide-eyed I thought his eyes were going to fall out. Apparently this is an appling thing for Wal*Mart to have done.

So, I ask Tires Plus if they can get a new rim.

They said lots of words that basically came to, "Well, we can direct you to a place because none of us know who we call about rims."

Uh.. okay.

So I call Bowman, and he helps by making some phone calls for me on Monday. I give up when it seems unlikely and just call Tires Plus to see if the guy who knows where they get rims has made it in to work.

He has, and I tell him I just want them to get the rim, and ask how much, etc. He verifys my phone number, which was off by a digit, and so we presumably fix that.

Tuesday: No call. Rehearsal in the evening.

Wednesday: No call. Parent/Teacher Conferences in the evening.

Thursday: No call. Parent/Teacher Conferences in the afternoon. Work in the evening.

Friday: No call. After school lets out at 11:15, I drive home and decide to call and find out what the delay is.

I wish I was lying about this next part...

"Mr. Riggs, we need to know what type of car you drive in order to get the rim."

Um... see, theres' this thing I have (thanks Ruth) called a cell phone. You can reach me on it pretty much all the time (except during school hours). I gave them that number. I had not heard from them. And so, when I call on FRIDAY, and they mention they can't order it until they know what kind of vehicle I have...

And I was so tired of the whole... being awake and dealing with life thing, that I just politely told them what it was.

This reminds me, I need to call them after I'm done here. Maybe they'll remember me.

Anyway, in the meantime I have been driving around on a donut. That's closing Monday night, Thursday night, Friday night, an Saturday night.

I seriously don't know how much more this donut can take.

Meanwhile, I still need to call Wal*Mart and demand the money back for the incompetent manslaughter attempt or whatever they're calling tire changes at Wal*Mart these days.

But other than that, how have you been, Mark?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hooray! Another Flat Tire!

Because life is too easy, it's always nice that small difficulties like this arise.

Yesterday, 4:20-ish.

I was due in to work at 5:00.

Luckily, I had my phone.

Got out of the tire place around 7:00.

Made it to work around 8:00.



Before the weekend of the 8th, the most I knew about Dallas was the Kristin shot J.R. and Bobby's in the shower.

My impressive singing powers (I kid) were needed in Dallas, so on the morning of the 6th, I took off in a carpool with a couple of other people whose voices were needed (along with about, um... fifty others).

The night before, Ruth left me a message that my cell phone had arrived (my first cell phone, which I wouldn't have if it weren't for Ruth). Of course, someone was fired at P.J., so I ended up closing, which meant I couldn't pick it up until the morning.

Oh yeah, and I'd be up for quite a while doing laundry.

Anyway, I picked up the phone, and it's good that I did, because before we got out of the greater K.C. area, I realized I'd left my digital camera on my front porch... in plain view of anyone who might think hocking a stolen digital camera might be a great second job.

So I thought of the one person I know who might have some flex time to go pick it up, and I called her. Tricia told me that Ben was near my house, and she'd call and have him pick it up. So the first half of that crisis didn't last long.

However, I do have that other blog where I take a picture every day. Luckily, Wal-Mart sells disposable cameras very cheaply.

But a camera with 27 exposures is not a digital camera with several hundred exposures. I had to be picky, and I had to be 4 to 12 feet from what I wanted to photograph.

The trip was long, but I spent it grading papers. And grading papers. And grading papers.

We arrived in Dallas around 6:00-ish, and got to where we needed to meet up with others around 7:00-ish. We ate at the original Black-Eyed Pea, so there was my sight-seeing for the weekend.

After dinner I met my host for the weekend. He was a nice guy who had a house far away from everywhere we needed to be that weekend, but I enjoyed seeing different parts of the Dallas area.

He had two dogs, and he used to have a cat. I think some tiny part of catness must have remained in his home, because the morning of the 7th I had very bloodshot eyes, which normally comes from my being around a cat. Good news: didn't happen again all weekend.

Saturday was a rehearsal day, and that night we did a sort of Meet-n-Greet. There was a comedian for entertainment, and in general it was a good time.

The concert itself was on Sunday. It was very stressful, because I was doing a solo and also singing music I wasn't as familiar with as I would have liked.

But it also kicked butt.

Of course, as fate would have it, one night (either Saturday or Sunday) I was in what I assume is the downtown Dallas area, and the harvest moon was framed by two big buildings... would have been a great shot with my camera. Oh well. Grr.

Monday was the drive back, and I can sum it up in two words: graded papers.

I think the people in Dallas must have found me very boring. I slept a lot. Grading papers tires you out.

Anyway, if I ever get these photos off this CD, I'll be able to catch up over at Still Life. I'm hoping tonight will be the night.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Update Haiku

I have been so sick--
One day better, next day worse.
Major sinus thing.

*Edited 9/18/06 for syllabic and health-related accuracy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

From Our "Heart on Sleeve" Department: A Poem

First Anniversary
by Mark Riggs

Hard to believe--a year has passed
Since that time I saw you last--
A year since I brushed back your hair,
And kissed your cheek, and watched you stare...

I know no reason for a pause
Except the Earth is where it was
The day our shared time here was done
(In terms of placement from the sun).

Twelve months have gone since our last scene,
And I've done nothing in between--
No deeds to make you swell with pride--
In these twelve months since you have died.

I've been on stage, and you'd have done
Your sotto voice of, "That's my son."
My average has shown modest gains
When throwing fifteen pounds down lanes.

As part of some confusing search
I find myself each week in church.
I wake each painful day and try
To heed your words: to laugh, not cry.

And laugh I do, but here's the thing:
You are not here to watch me sing
Or bowl or laugh or search or teach
or listen to my tales of each.

And here's a thing I know and fear:
In twelve more months, another year
Will be between then and new now.
Still, I should carry on somehow.

For you were gone before that day.
No laughing smile, no playful way
That meant my mother was still here.
Yes, it's been longer than a year.

So here's a plan of what I'll do
Until I get to be with you--
Well, assuming there's some after
When I'll get to hear your laughter.

Within my heart I'll keep a list
Of mother things--all sorely missed.
I'll cherish them--and share them, too
And that's my way of keeping you.

Three hundred sixty-five days and
I still wish I had held your hand
When I told you we understood
And if you had to go, you should.

Now I wonder if this aching
Means my heart will not stop breaking...
No more laughter and no more scenes.
No more grandmother in blue jeans.

No more face full of mother's pride.
No more feeling of joy inside
That came from being there with you.
It's been twelve months--and nothing's new.

I'm getting down--I should end this.
Just let me tell you that we miss
You being here. We really do--
Your children, and your grandkids, too.

In three hundred and sixty five
Times all the years left I'm alive
More days, I hope I can confess
I do not miss you any less.

(c) copyright 2006 Mark Travis Riggs

Monday, August 21, 2006

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school. The lead-up was killer, so I didn't get much done with that stuff I talked about in the last post... but I did start another blog.

Due to... well, lots of stuff, I guess... I was getting my room ready right up until (and while) the kids arrived.

As part of the craziness, I got to school this morning at about 4:50, and thought I wasn't going to be able to get in, but it worked out.

I'm dead tired right now. I'm excited about my new room, about this group of kids, and about the good vibe I've got for the year.

We shall see.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The First Annual "Wear Red For Patsy's Birthday" Is Next Week!

As some people may recall, I sent out a call for everyone to wear red in memory of my mother, Patsy, on September 10th and 11th of last year (we were having a sort of celebration of her life on the 11th, and her memorial service was on the 10th). I even encouraged sending digital pictures of yourself in red (and jokingly suggested holding up that day's paper) to my e-mail address. Peggy (who has commented on here before) and Rick complied with the newspaper suggestion, as seen here:
My friends at Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Company went all out as well, as evidenced by Jon, Jeanne, and the "actor" who portrayed Tiny Tim when I portrayed Bob Cratchett shown here:

Jeanne's husband, Dan, and their daughter Cassandra participated, although the daughter in question opted for a construction-paper outfit to go with her pre-photographed costume:

And, as you can see, the actor who had portrayed Tiny Tim was very shocked at the news that my mother had passed:

Another actor friend (who also sings) went all-out for the event. His name is T.K. Durham. Can you guess what type of music he sings? Here are three chances for you to figure it out:

I have other pictures (from the celebration on Sunday the 11th), but blogspot is getting persnickety, so I'll save those for later.

My point is, I've decide to make August 20th the unofficial "Wear Red For Patsy's Birthday"--a date where I encourage everyone I know to wear red in honor of my mom, Patsy. Red was her favorite color, and I figure it would be nice on her birthday if she could look down from Heaven and see a sea of red... and I don't mean the Red Sea.

I kid. Mainly it's just a way to recognize that I had a mother and she played a very large role in my crazy sense of humor... and really probably anything else about me that's crazy.

I'd like to somehow tie it in to the Alzheimer's Association or something, but I don't know how to do that, other than to encourage you at this time to maybe make a donation to them. But I'm not even sure if there's such a thing as the Alzheimer's Association. I know there are lavender ribbons.

Anyway, on the 20th, would you please wear something red for Patsy's birthday? I'm going to try to post some Fun Patsy Facts on here to share with people who ask you, "Why are you wearing all that red?" So it's like a party, only not.

Join us!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Bathroom That Wants Me Dead!!!

Starring: ME!

Okay, first: Leslie and Ruth still have another month to raise more funds... or just search that site for some poor schmoe who hasn't been able to raise the required minimum and donate to them instead...

Now, back to the new horror movie starring yours truly.

Remember that bathroom I nearly died in last year? I think it is trying to kill me. Okay, so it's only made two attempts in a fourteen-month period, so when we turn this into a screenplay, we might want to lose some of the down time--but, still, I'm worried for my life. It might try to get me again next summer.

Caution: This story contains the word "urinal". If you can't bear reading the word "urinal", you should probably not read beyond the end of the previous paragraph.

So, today (okay, yesterday, but it's still today in my head) I was in the Restroom of Harrowing Experiences, which is my new name for it.

I flushed the urinal and turned to go, letting go of the handle. The urinal did it's favorite trick, which is to do the urinal equivalent of saying, "Okay, I'm flushi--psych! I'm not flushing!"

This particular urinal does this often, and I was rolling my eyes as I was in the process of stopping to change direction a bit so I could reach back and hold down the handle. That's when it happened. My left foot just went sliding along the floor. My right foot was in mid-step. It was all very slow-motion-y, and I remembered thinking, "Okay, you're going to fall. Just fall in a way where you don't hurt yourself as much."

So, still in slow motion, I let myself fall backwards, saying a quick prayer about halfway down something along the lines of, "God, please don't let me crack my head on the urinal and bleed to death in here... and if that's a given, then please don't let my head land in the urinal." Okay, I'm kidding about the last part. I was mainly just thinking, "I can't die in this bathroom after failing to die in it last summer, right?"

The prayer was answered in the affirmative... or at least with an "Okay..." or maybe a "I'm sorry, what were you saying? Um... I mean, yes, behold my power over urinal concussions!"

Also, second miracle: Kids aren't at school right now, so the floor wasn't... um... icky. Just not cooperative with my sandals, I guess.

However, my camera, which was around my neck for reasons that are not about a creepy guy in a public restroom with a camera, but more about my room being constantly left unlocked while the building is being readied for the upcoming school year (and also more about this site and the fact I'm always taking pictures these days--only, not in the restroom), decided--or reacted according to the laws of physics, more likely, but I like thinking it had some free will--to fly up and hit me in the head. And this is no small camera.

So, I have this strange knot on my... well, not my eye, but on that bony part around the eye. It hurts. Also my elbow keeps complaining that I had plenty of time to land while going in slow motion, but apparently I didn't plan well enough to spare it any pain.

But, I survived this second attempt on my life by the forces of evil that possess that restroom. However, I'm thinking I'm gonna use the restroom next to the nurse's office from now on.

Never a dull moment, folks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Visit From Aunt Rachel

Twas five months before Christmas...

Forget that. Maybe in my younger days I would have taken that idea and ran with it, but I'm no spring chicken. Or any other kind of chicken. Or a spring anything.

Before I forget: Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk: Ruth, Leslie. Click the name to see their site.

Aunt Rachel is in town (and so are Cousin Karen, Cousin-in-Law Jim, and First Cousin Once Removed Cami) for Cami's softball tournament (I don't know if I'm spelling it right, but surely someone will tell me...) and I got to see them all tonight. Also, I saw First Cousin Once Removed Bryant as well.

I'm glad I got to hang out with Rachel, and not just because she wanted to buy us dinner. We got to sit around and talk, and I saw Sara, Kathy, Elizabeth, and Melanie for the first time in a while. It was a good time.

I'm very much wanting to do a full family reunion, complete with shirts. Okay, a Hickerson family reunion, specifically the offspring of Ada Hickerson. Complete, as I said, with shirts.

I watched another softball game. My second this summer. I remember enjoying playing baseball at one point. I think it started being unfun when they kept having to put me in the older kids' group, because not enough kids my age would sign up. Oh well.

Fun night. Long day yesterday with little sleep last night. Long day tomorrow. Going to bed soon. Bye.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Late Night Emotional Roller-Coaster

First, let me begin by saying Leslie & Ruth could both still use some support in raising money for their Breast Cancer Three-Day Walk. If you havn't looked at Ruth's drawing yet, to quote Riff Raff, "Go. Now."

Now, that plug and those links out of the way, I can go on to say how I've been laughing out loud for a while now over about three different things posted either on a blog or on myspace. Also, my heart has ached, and I was mortified to see I've had a typo in my profile here since the day I created it.

So, emotional roller-coaster.

A big Happy Birthday to my brother, Dane, who is celebrating the 38th anniversary of his arrival on the planet... I mean out of the womb. Whatever. No pro-life flame comments, please. Big family hoo-ha next weekend, so he'll have to wait for his card and lack-of-gift from me until then. We did just have a lovely late-night IM chat on Yahoo, although he needs to work on his closings, as now I'm wondering if something fell on the house and caused him to just suddenly stop typing.

Oh well. I guess if that's what happened, someone will call and notify me. And big shout-out goes to Patsy for THAT little attitude on life.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mustard and...

Okay, time to play catch-up...

Tuesday I took the girls to see a BeTickled or Betickled program/concert/thingy. It was a fun concert. Maddie for some reason became shy, which was funny to see. She sat and acted like there weren't a lot of kids dancing around her. Olivia, on the other hand, seemed to really enjoy herself.

We played in the church playground afterwards, then walked over to a nearby park to play some more. It finally got to be too much for Maddie that there was this perfectly good swimming pool complete with lifeguards, and here she was without her swimsuit, so we went to have lunch.

Lunch at a fast food place... wow, I have a new respect for any parent who has taken more than one kid to a fast food place.

Anyway, active Tuesday.

Had a class all week. It was very informative, but during the parts that I got quickly, I became EXTREMELY bored and frustrated while the class kept focusing on what I'd gotten. Shades of math classes in college.

I was hoping to go to the concert thing Tuesday after next, but forgot I have a class/in-service/thingy that lasts all day every day that week.

I'm going back home for the weekend of the 29th. I'm looking forward to that, oddly enough.

Friday night I had a great duh moment. I was working, and this guy that I have delivered to was in, having ordered a pizza for carryout. I recognized him as the guy with some sort of hearing issue, as his doorbell is a "doorbell for the hearing impaired", for lack of the actual terminology, and he never "says" anything when I rattle off the "here's your order, here's what you owe me".

I looked at the carryout orders, and see one for a "bob" (and that's how it was written, and so shall I write it here). Me, being big "I used to teach basic sign language to 6th grade kids" guy, decide to sign to him "b-o-b" with an inquisitive expression, as if to say, "Are you Bob?"

He gives me this strange look, so I sign it again. Forgetting in my panic onset that I know the signs for "is", "your", and "name".

He makes a gesture for pen and paper, and we go from there. He wasn't "bob".

Right as his pizza is ready, and as I'm handing it to him, I realize my mistake. I had been signing "d-o-d" and not "b-o-b", so the poor man was probably confused as to why the Department of Defense had something to do with his pizza.

So, there's my "Stupid Mark" moment for the week. To celebrate, I went out to a drinking establishment.

And that brings me to a thought I had today about public dancing. There has to be one of three conditions for me to dance publicly: sufficient intake of adult beverages, "Love Shack", or choreography with rehearsals. Friday night, two of those conditions were met, and I was dancing and making a fool of myself, to be sure.

Well, work, work, sleep, Buffy, work, work. That's my life right now. It's not a perfect life, but it still beats last summer...

Don't forget, Ruth and Leslie could always use more donations for their Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk--and I still highly recommend viewing Ruth's page, just for the drawing she put on there.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

(SFX: knock on door) Housekeeping!

Well, I've finally figured out how to add links. Hooray!

Also, I've started another blog, inspired by Reverend Andy and the movie Smoke (or whatever that movie was called.. Robert DeNiro (or someone Robert DeNiro-like) played a character who took a picture of the same spot every day in it). I'm striving to take a picture with my newly-working camera every day... and my guidelines are as follows: 1) It must capture, in some way, a part of that day, and 2) It must not contain people. I was thinking about it not containing animals, as I'm not apt to be around them much, but then I remembered the cat that thinks it lives on my porch, and how the day I finally decide it does understand what I'm saying when I say, "If you don't leave my plants alone and if you don't stop pooping all over the place here, I'm calling Animal Control," and I actually call Animal Control, I'll want to get a picture of the creature. That was a long sentence.

Leslie has made her walk goal, but both she and Ruth would both probably be okay with raising even more funds. Feel free to click on those links, if you'd like to help. (Also, Ruth's has a funny drawing she did of herself and my older sister, Rusty.)

No other news to report at this time, I guess. Housekeeping is temporarily complete.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

People Are Great

Okay, I make no secret of the fact that I think people--in general--stink. I'm the inverse of Damon Wayans, who once said something along the lines of "People are a great concept, but a poor actuality." Again, not a direct quote.

When I think of people in the abstract, I tend to think they're just awful. In reality, I often times enjoy the company of people.

Oh, don't get me wrong... there are plenty of times I dont' enjoy the company of people... mostly because the people are antagonistic, irritating, or--worst of all--irritated... with ME! (How could anyone EVER be irritated with ME?)

Anyway, I sent out an e-mail plea to help my niece make her walk. It went to several people I wasn't sure read this regularly (and thus wouldn't see links--like this one--to Leslie's walk site). Not only did several people respond with positive words, etc., but several also donated, and at least one passed the link on to another family member--who also donated.

So, people are great. And I just came from delivering pizzas and I'm saying that!

P.S.: I know there are lots of reasons a good person may not be giving financial support. I'm not thinking any less of those who choose not to donate. I just want to put the opportunity out there for those who would like to take advantage of it!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Rusty... a day late

My sister's birthday was yesterday... and I didn't get her called. I did, however, call Ruth from Papa John's and asked her to e-mail Say for me. I don't know if she did or not, but if she didn't, I've only myself to blame for not getting in touch with her sooner.

So it goes.

Remember, Leslie needs your support (she's walking for Say/Rusty/Lynne/her mom), and if you're a single woman, scroll down a couple of entries to read about Ty.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's March!

Okay, not really. But it is on my website. And tomorrow I'll update to April. On Wednesday, I'll update to May, and on Thursday I'll update to June. Then, late Friday night, I can update to July and BE CAUGHT UP!

Hey, my niece Leslie is doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, and is SO CLOSE to her goal. If you feel moved to help, or would like to read about it, click here.

Tick, is it true that in those days of pizzadom, anchovies were VERY popular? Some guy told me that the other night while I was taking his order.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I've Been Alive for a Year This Week!

So Wednesday was the 52-week mark of my surviving my pulmonary emboli, and Thursday was the one-year anniversary.


I was freaking out a little bit as those two days approached. I was nervous, and--insanely enough--constantly thinking I was about to die any second.

But it didn't interrupt with my Summer School duties.

Wow, I'm way behind here. Let's see if I can do an update-thing:

I went to bowl in OKC again this spring. Again, I'm accused of making out with someone when I really wasn't. Maybe a SMALL amount of close-talkiness, but mainly this person was just displaying how insane they were, and I was less sober than usual and not handling it well. When friends got near I was saying, "Help me, please..." but all that came from that is I got accused of making out. Go figure.

School ended without me breaking a leg and missing the last three weeks, so that was an improvement. I'll miss some of the kids... maybe about 20% of them... and that's low. This was a tough group.

Let's see... I got a solo for the last concert. It was the solo I wanted. I have found that I've stopped inviting people to come see me. Partially it's because it's not cheap, and partially from the whole rejection-thing (specifically: fear of). But people gushed. I smiled. I said, "Thank you." I'm still not comfortable with compliments. Maybe by the time I'm 50.

Still delivering pizzas. Notice my website has not been updated since February... actually, later than that. I keep thinking I'll get the other months in, but here it is almost July, and my website still says "February".

Okay, my favorite Papa John's manager, Ty, wanted me to tell people something along the lines that he's available and... well, I can't remember what I was supposed to say about his looks. It might come out sounding wrong if I'm too strong in complimenting his looks, and he--and any interested females--might be made uncomfortable. But he's available. He's 20, but finds "older women" to be attractive (but don't worry, younger ladies, I'm sure you're not out of the running entirely). To contact him... um... I don't know. Maybe leave a comment here, or stop by P.J. some evening when he's working.

That's it from me. My laundry has finished, so I'm off to bed.

Oh, Vieta, I got your blog comment right as I was getting ready to post this. How's that for strange? Still thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Well, I Ain't Writin' No Haiku About It

Ruth left me a message last night that Uncle Jim passed away Sunday around noon.

Uncle Jim was Aunt Lois' husband.

So guess who is doing the officiatin'? There was a rumor going around that Olivet Christian Church in Center wasn't going to let any guest officiants after that mess that was the message at my aunt's service. Apparently this rumor is not-so-reality-based.

The service is Saturday, and like previous funerals involving husbands (or former husbands) of my aunts, I don't think I'll make it.

(At least I don't think I made it to Deana Mae's husband's funeral. I was pretty young at the time, but maybe I was there... one of my earliest memories was of seeing him still alive, though.)
Rachel's former husband Bill passed away back in 1999, I think... I know the service was on the day Ruth and I had to move out of that duplex in Overland Park, anyway. So I didn't make that one.

This time around, since I'm afraid I could go to prison for aiding my Aunt Rachel in killing "that S.O.B." that spoke so... well, "insultingly" doesn't really cut it, does it?

Anyway, I'm afraid I'd be all-too-cooperative in any plan she had to harm "that S.O.B.", so I think I'll stay away. I'm not sure if Dane is going. I need to see if we'd all like to contribute to some sort of flower arrangement or something.

There was this time when I was very young--say, mid-elementary age or so--and I realized my dad was so much older than everyone else's dad. Shawn Couch's dad coached us in little league, and did stuff with us. My dad was mostly... well, old and in the very early stages of the emphysema that finally took his life in the mid-80s. I remember thinking something along the lines of, "So, who do I have in the family who is like a younger dad?"

Uncle Jim came the closest. Uncle Bill (Rachel's husband) was way off in Omaha. I remember thinking it should be my mission in life to hang out with Uncle Jim, but on my next visit out to their place, I realized he was way too busy to hang out with me--and plus, most of the stuff they did on the farm was so foreign to me, I'd be of no use around the place.

I hadn't thought much about that until just now. Odd stuff, eh?

Anyway, I basically accepted that I didn't really have a "younger dad" figure like most of the kids I knew did, and I moved on with my life. Until now, when I've suddenly decided to dwell on it.

Okay, back to the discussion about urine samples in trucks.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Great Orange Juice Fiasco

Okay, picture it: It's a lovely somewhat-spring-like morning. I had to run to the bank during plan time, because we were having Penny Wars at school, and I have an account at a bank that allows me to use the change-counting machine for not charge.

I'm on my way from the bank, a few strange coins that didn't want to go through the machine are in my pocket. I have the brilliant idea of stopping by Sonic to get an orange juice (because orange juice with crushed ice just ROCKS), and thus have some change to replace the change that wouldn't go through the machine.

I buy my orange juice with no problems at all. I put the straw in and have a sip. I have a drink carrier-thingy in the car, and I open it. I set the Styrofoam-like drinking container in the carrier, and vaguely notice it isn't a tight fit--a bit the opposite, really. However, I was getting ready to pull out into traffic, and didn't have time for such minor details.

I turn into traffic, and my precious, precious, PRECIOUS drink goes flipping over onto the passenger floorboard...

...and it lands "head first"...

...and the straw is forced up through the bottom of the container...

...and suddenly I've got this container that is leaking--scratch that--GUSHING orange juice from both ends.

Now, a little about my car: The driver's side window doesn't roll down.

So, keeping in mind that I've just entered traffic (and it wasn't THAT bad, but still, there were many vehicles I could have easily hit while driving and dealing with this container), and I'm holding this thing in my hand. Orange juice is getting on me, on the floorboard, on the drink caddy, and on my little catch-all between the seats.

Again, I can't just toss it out my window, as it won't roll down.

The up side? I had to deliver pizza that night, so I'd brought a change of pants with me.

All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable event, but I'd rather not repeat it.

Let this be a lesson to you that you should never trust a drink to stay in the drink caddy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Take Your Child Out Of School Day

Don't get me wrong: I think taking your child to work to learn about what you do is a great educational tool. However, I think it's stupid as all get-out to have it during the school year.

No, it's not that I mind having only two classes of kids, and three additional planning periods. No, I don't mind making up some fluff lesson about careers and math for only 40% or so of my students.

But it is such a stupid waste having this during the school year. And, it totally marginalizes careers in education.

I mean, if you are of school age, and your parent is a teacher, there's no reason to go to work with him or her on this day, as YOU SPEND MOST EVERY WEEKDAY FROM MID-AUGUST TO LATE-MAY WATCHING A TEACHER WORK. So it's not as if we have to have it during the school year so the children of teacher can get an idea of what this whole teaching-thing is about. Also, trust me, teaching on this day is NOTHING like teaching on most any other day of the year.

So, I move that we either change the name of this day to "Take Your Child Out Of School Day" or move it to the summer, when schools are traditionally not in session. Teachers with kids can take them to their summer job, or to the classes they are obligated to take... or choose some other way to show their kids to be sure to pick a career that recognizes hard work with financial reward, not scorn, heartache, and high blood pressure.

I kid.

But seriously, when you have only so many days to teach kids WAY too many objectives, days like tomorrow are just a huge frustration.

However, I will be enjoying having several hours of plan time tomorrow.

Coming soon: The Great Orange Juice Fiasco (it's fun... I nearly wreck my car!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Flat Tire from Hell

Okay, it wasn't from Hell, but you know what, everything is right now, which is the point I want to make.

My schedule right now is so wall-to-wall, I'm going crazy. Yes, there are a couple of things I could cut out, and I know this, but these are the keeping-me-sane things (chorus and dinner with friends and bowling). Plus, if I cut them out, it would free up more time to work, which would be nice financially, but I'd be dead in a week.

Anyway, this morning, on my way to work, I had a flat tire. There went my WHOLE DAY!

I walked to NKC Hospital when I realized the tire WOULD NOT COME OFF (see the report on Christmas Day 2005 for a similar experience on my part) and called the school from there. Of course, the secretary didn't appreciate me starting off with, "This is Mark. I'm at NKC Hospital."

But someone sent the resource officer after me, and I got to school mostly on time.

Then my planning time started with Bowman (I'm sure I've said elsewhere what a great guy Bowman is, but I'll say it again, just to make the point clear: Bowman is a great guy) and I going to my car and trying to ge the flat tire off the car.

That done, we returned to school, where anything I was going to get done got almost done. I have an application for this summer learning thing to get completed, this other application for some sort of financial assistance completed, and--oh yeah, TAXES to get completed. WHEN!?!

Anyway, all my plans for AFTER SCHOOL were shot, because I had to go get a new tire. Wal-Mart took way too long, and the guy didn't read the note about the door being tricky to open, and he actually made my trick door handle WORSE. But, whatever, no time to kvetch and moan to management, because now instead of running my errand, calling Lyndsey, sneaking in a 30 minute nap, and THEN going to rehearsal, I had to go to rehearsal and arrive late.

Anyway, that's why everything is from Hell these days--especially if it unexpectedly takes up any of my time.

Okay, I am going to watch something on TV for a while, maybe a show I've taped, and then I'm going to get my stuff out of the dryer.

Hope all is well in everyone's world.

Church, Rounds Two and Three

Not that I'm wanting to compare it to a boxing match or anything...

The second week, I sat with JEC's sister, Robyn. Early on iin the visit, before things got started, I noticed a sign over the door I normally did not use. It read: SERVANT'S ENTRANCE.

I gasped, and made some comment to Robyn about it, and she laughed... then explained that the sign was over the door you were walking OUT of... so... SERVANT'S ENTRANCE to the WORLD, you see...

And plus, duh me, there was one just like it over the door I'd gone out the week before.

Anyway, it set a lighter tone for the service, and I felt okay for the whole thing.

Last week I sat with John, JEC's dad, and things were fine again. There's something internal going on with me, and I don't know what it is exactly, but at least it's not leaving me an emotional wreck each week.

And I'm liking going, so keep going I shall, methinks.

And methinks I use "methinks" too much.


So, why am I on the computer, posting these things instead of sleeping?

I'm glad I assumed you asked me that question...

My dryer has some sort of timer issue. It doesn't know to stop after such-and-such time of drying. So I have to stay awake to finish my laundry (yes, I know, you get wrinkles if you turn on the dryer and then go to bed, but what do I care about wrinkles?) and it's just one more thing that's KILLING ME!

Because I'm all tired and stuff.

And the stupid part is, I have another dryer down there. I just need to take the time to hook it up... but it is a smaller capacity dryer, and plus, I don't have time to hook it up, with all the staying-up-late I'm doing to do laundry now.

So it goes.


As promised: THE CONCERT!

The concert went pretty well, I think. Maybe someone who attended can post a comment. I'm not a huge Judy fan myself, but I liked a lot of the songs in the concert.

I had a speaking part, and didn't sing most of the concert. I did have a solo, and apparently I have some sort of Ethel Merman-like attribute to my singing.

Finding my costume was a bit of a chore, and I don't know that I was as happy with the end result as I could have been with a huge budget, but it was okay enough. I think I was spoiled by my costume for the holiday concert in December. If you've seen the pic of me in a purple suit, I think you'll know why!

It was odd not rehearsing with the rest of the chorus for most of the concert. I missed that. I'm looking forward to this next one.

Some day I want everyone to come to the same concert, so I win the "most people came to see you" prize. I think there's a gift certificate of some sort.

Okay, everyone but Jhoneric, who can't stand the "hand jive" aspect.


Well, I'm sure JEC can explain it better than I can, but I think that comment was either: 1) an honest reaction to me sharing emotions, etc., which, if I were to do in person--as I seldom do--would seem sorta strange to me (and him, methinks) or 2) an attempt to sound like a middle school girl who just found out there are urinals in the boys room. I'm not sure which... and those are just theories.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

By Popular Demand

I should be going to bed, but I want to write this down before I forget some of the things I remembered earlier tonight...

I don't work as hard as I should to hide it, but in general, I have this wonderful wellspring of anger that I can pull from any time I need it. I don't mean "wonderful" in the good way.

Anyway, I coast at angry, with plenty more where that came from. It's there when I need it.

So, over the past... I don't know... 10 months or so, my cup of anger has just runneth over. I mean, I had an abundance to begin with, and now I've got it in spades.

Also, Andy-the-sometimes-commenter had made a comment to me in person about not everyone in a pew necessarily knows what they believe, and that stuck with me.

So, with these two things in my mind (the anger and the pew-thing), I'd been thinking--since late December, actually--of going to a church service where Andy-the-sometimes-commenter was... um... preacherizing... or ministerizing... or whatever the verb is. The big reason was I wondered if being at a service and singing some songs with a bunch of strangers who--in theory, anyway--weren't angry hate-mongers might help me with this overabundance of anger. So I planned to go the first Sunday of the year this year.

Well, there was always SOMETHING... the fact that I work the full-time teaching job and the 17-to-26 hour pizza delivery job (and thus have very little ME time--something else to get angry about) being the most popular reason... although that didn't start until February. January 1st was an issue because... well, it was January 1st.

Anyway, after much putting-it-off-ed-ness, I managed to figure out how to avoid avoiding it: e-mail Andy and say I was thinking of going, and needed to know what people tend to wear to this particular service--which was very true, because I have no clue about such things.

Thus, having said I was planning it, I had the additional motivation to actually wake up, shower, get gussied up, and attend.

This all came to pass, and at 10:20-something I was walking in to the doors (I wasn't sure if it was the right door, but it looked like the best bet) of the Methodist Church in question.

I saw Robin (Jhoneric's sister), her daughter Miranda, Andy, and John (Jhoneric's dad), and I made sure all of them knew Jhoneric was not to know of this trip of mine down the path of going-to-church-ed-ness.

There was something... almost from the time I woke up, really, but intensified once I was actually in the church--there was this something. I'll try to vague that up for you. Or clarify it.

It wasn't like an adventure, and it wasn't like anticipation. I guess it was mostly like... I don't know. Wonder? I don't know. I just had this sense of "Wow, this is not entirely outside my range of experience, but I haven't experienced anything in this range for a long while." That will have to do, but I'm not capturing the feeling.

Anyway, I opt to sit with John, and I read the program--or whatever it's called--and make chit-chat with John.

Alberta (Jhoneric's mom) was the liturgist (and judging by the context, that translates to "person who reads stuff"), and she started the service by saying, "Welcome home."

Now, promise me you'll read on even if you think I'm a total bastard after this next paragraph.

Without even a millisecond's thought, my brain said, "Oh, jeez, "welcome home", whatever."

And I didn't think anything of that reaction. It made perfect sense. I'm a cynical person. I know this.

Then the pianist started playing some song, and that was the end of the ball game. I don't think my brother Eddie is right--I don't think songs make people cry, but I do think music has it's own special key to everyone's heart, and it has a way of getting to places words alone cannot reach.

Yeah, okay, stupid, perhaps. But I hope you get the idea of what I mean.

There I was, crying, but trying real hard not to be loud about it. First of all, I didn't know WHY I was crying, so I didn't want to draw attention to myself, in case someone should ask. Secondly, can you imagine being John, sitting next to me, and suddenly I'm a basket case?

Part of it was me realizing that what Alberta said was... well, I mean true, but I don't like that word for what I mean, so... I don't know what I mean.

It was like someone in some foreign land said, "Welcome home," and just as I'm thinking "whatever", they open the door and right there is everything I've ever loved--most of which I thought I'd lost. I guess I mean like something that feels like finally coming home where you least expected it. But again, I'm saying it wrong. It's great that I'm so good with words, eh?

Anyway, I'm leaking out my eyes, hoping John isn't noticing and wondering if I'm more insane than usual. And prayers are the worst, because I instinctively close my eyes out of childhood habit, and when I open them, all this backed-up tearage comes running down my face.

I wanted to run out... or walk out in a "oops, I left the oven on... be back in a jiff" sort of way, but John was on one side, and... I can't remember who was on the other side. But I couldn't just slip out without people maybe glancing at my face and thinking, "Ah, nervous breakdown. How nice."

I kept wondering if there was a park nearby. I just wanted to get outside and breathe and try to come to grips with whatever had come over me, and maybe do so in a park sitting where I could sorta... collect my thoughts.

And, in TV terms, what was going through my head was from Season 6, Episode 22 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Willow, who was evil at the time, suddenly got a burst of magic that allowed her to feel what everyone was feeling, and she says, "It's too much... it's too much."

Seriously, folks, this was in the first 10 minutes or so.

As you may have guessed, when it came time to sing, I was worthless. Less singing and more croaking.

Anyway, when it came time for the message/sermon/what-have-you, I was maintaining a bit better.

Here's what I have to say about that part: If it's par for the course, I'm thinking I'm going to like this church. I won't go into the details here, in case Andy should decide to publish his collected what-have-yous, but the points that stuck in my head are: 1) Love is all you need. 2) It's not your love to give, just allow it to be given through you.

I would love to repeat the whole thing, but I didn't memorize it, and I've already gone on way too long here.

By the time the whole thing was over, I was less emotional and more about figuring out what happened to me.

Oh, and I knew I had to tell Jhoneric as soon as I got home, because I knew I wanted to come back... so, the sooner I got that over with, the better.

I didn't discuss what happened with JEC, but I did want to discuss it with SOMEONE. I had no idea who or when. I had a concert to perform in that late afternoon (more on the concert soon, I promise), so I couldn't bring it up to Tricia at their place--since I wouldn't be there. I wanted to talk to Patrick about it, but he ended up not working on Monday night. I was going to talk to Lyndsey about it, but by the time I got around to it Tuesday night at their place, Damien had gotten home, and I didn't think I could tell the tale for the first time to an audience of two.

Also, I've so firmly established myself as anti-church to so many people, I didn't want to have to deal with that aspect of the conversation. I spent a good part of my alone-time this week trying to figure out what that was all about.

Tonight (or this morning, I guess) after work, I just decided to talk to Patrick about it. So now I can share it with anyone on the internet who happens to stumble across it.

I'm going tomorrow... er... today. I'm hoping I'm not overwhelmed again. I'm hoping it's not as full of surprises--the internal emotional kind, I mean.. Hope springs eternal. Hope Springs, Indiana.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring Break: The End is Nigh

Well, Spring Break is almost over. I did accomplish many things I wanted to accomplish. It's too bad the concert was this weekend (and thus tech week was this week), because I would have enjoyed going out of town. Of course, if I hadn't been doing tech week, I would have had my schedule at Papa John's to think about, so never mind.

But, the Christmas decorations are now in the basment (I took them down on January 7th, as always, but as life has been a bit too busy of late, I hadn't been moved to get the boxes down in the basement until this week).

I've gotten some good rest, I think and the last 9 weeks of school (or however many it is) don't look as daunting as they did before I got this rest.

I've had an emotional Sunday, and maybe I'll go into the details later. I am feeling better today than I have for a while, anyway.

Also, I need to post the Saga of Mom's Ashes at some point. It's a tale rife with intrigue and confusion... the confusion caused mostly by the alcoholic villain of the piece. (Can you guess his name?) But that will have to come later. I need to get a nap in before tonight's performance. Or maybe I need to make breakfast/lunch. Something needs to be done, at any rate.

Not to mention those papers I need to finish grading.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

There's the Cat, with the Nine, and the Physic

One of my favorite Patsy expressions is "I'm busier than a cat with nine assholes that's been given a physic."

And I am.

I'm working a second job now, and rehearsing, and working on the upcoming bowling tournament. In short: overextended.

Anyway, I hope everything is okay. Vieta sent me a great e-mail that made me smile a while back, and this is my shout-out to her for doing that.

Stay well, everyone.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What Four?

I got this from one of the sites listed below...

Four jobs I've had in my life:
Desktop Publisher
Documentary Researcher
Pizza Delivery Guy

Four Movies I could watch repeatedly (and have):
Galaxy Quest
The Fifth Element
'night Mother

Four Places I have lived:
Center, MO
Liberty, MO
Santa Monica, CA
Omaha, NE

Four TV shows I love to watch:
Anything in the Buffy-verse (this is how I get Buffy & Angel to count as one show)

Four Places I have been on Vacation:
Gettysburg, PA
Hershey, PA
Branson, MO
Las Vegas, NV

Four Websites I visit daily:

Four Favorite Restaurant Foods:
Chicken Burrito with the HOT sauce from Chipotle
The Mediterranean Pizza from Minsky's
Chocolate Malt from Sonic
Asparagus from Cafe Trio

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:
California (Los Angeles area)
Living in a cabin in some secluded spot far away from everyone and everything (it's a mind clearing thing, not a "I hate everyone"thing)

Four People I'm tagging:
I'm not. Feel free to post your FOURS in the comment section.

Four Categories I'd Like to Add, and My Four Items for Each:
Four Songs that Change Your Mood Upon Hearing Them:
Happy Doesn't Have to Have an Ending, They Might Be Giants
Brighten the Corner Where You Are, The Wilders
Life in a Northern Town, Dream Academy
By Your Side, "Godspell" soundtrack
Four People You Wish You Could Meet (or Could Have Met, if they've passed):
Jim Henson
Uncle Bud
Joss Whedon
Carol Burnett
Four Books You Would Re-Read (or Have Re-Read):
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
books and the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
The Harry Potter books by J.K.Rowling
Four Goals:
Debt-Free before Death
Help meet Dane's needs
Lose a kerjillion pounds
Get my middle-school-level book finished and published

So, How Was the Service?

No, I didn't join "the service".

The service for my aunt Lois was on Saturday the 28th of January. I had to be back in town that evening for a gathering in honor of me (scheduled by me... so it wasn't like I was getting an award or anything), so unfortunately I had to leave before I could get lots of feedback on the service from family members, but I got enough to learn it was fairly unanimously negative.

Keeping in mind that I hated Mom's service, I guess this did serve the purpose of making me think maybe it wasn't so bad.

Instead of lunch afterwards, we had lunch beforehand in the church basement. My aunt's brother-in-law said a prayer, and it was filled with lots of "Jesus, our personal lord and savior"'s, so once I learned he was the officiant--or whatever--I braced myself for an unbearable time. But, my aunt Rachel was there, and I would put up a good show of accepting it and moving on.

There was a bit of a visitation at 1:00, although we got up there at 1:15 or so. My cousin David had put together a video of his mom with pictures and stuff, and that was showing.

This was the same church as where Mom's service was, by the way, but with a different officiant. A guest speaker, as it were, would be officiating this show.

The service started and this guy begins by talking about knowing Lois when she was in high school, and talking about double-dating with his brother. He went on to talk about her life.

I thought it was... well, at the time I thought it was questionable judgment--and I don't know what I think now--when he sorta glossed over my aunts first marriage (by "glossed over", I mean "never mentioned it"), even though the daughter and granddaughters and great-grand-children from said marriage were present. But still, he shared a lot about her life, and then asked for people for memories of Lois.

I thought, "Wow! This is exactly what we wanted for Mom's service! This is going to be a pretty good deal."

Then, after three or four people shared stories from the pews, he said something along the lines of (maybe even these exact words), "Well, that's enough of that."

He then proceeded to explain that he knew Lois had heard the gospel, and he hopes she accepted Jesus as her PL&S (I'm already tired of typing the full thing out), because that is the only way she could have gotten into heaven. Once you die, he explained, there's no changing it. We have no way of knowing, he kept explaining, where Lois is.

I don't know about you, but what I want to hear most at a memorial service is, "Maybe she's in HELL."

Well, my first thought was, "I'm standing up and leaving. I don't remember Lois EVER mentioning Jesus, unless she hurt herself, and then I don't think she was speaking theologically."

But my aunt Rachel was directly behind me, and I didn't want to make her angry, or upset. Also, I wasn't sure how Rusty/Say/Lynne, who was sitting next to me, would feel about me doing that. So I sat and listened.

He went on to inform us that we were all sinners and evil, etc., and that if we didn't know Jesus, we could do no good. If we didn't know Jesus, the only reason we would try to do good is so that other people would look at us and say, "Look how good they are!" This differs from doing good so that Jesus, God, Santa, and Francine the Lucky Fish would look down from up on high (or from undersea, in the case of Francine) and say (or gurgle), "Look how good they are" in some way, I presume... I'm just not sure what.

Also, I don't think that's the only reason non-doin'-it-for-Jesus types do good. In fact, I think there are entire nations of people who would agree with me on this point.

Anyway, he railed on for what seemed like hours. At times he begged and asked what he could do to get whoever among us was not saved to cross over to the dark side, or whatever. My cousin Linda, my cousin Bryce, and I all had the same thought, I learned afterwards: Well, if you shut the *#@&! up, it would be a great start.

I guess it was closer to twenty minutes or so later that he finally remembered why we were there, and once again reminded us that, while he hoped Lois was in heaven, the jury was still out on that, and if that doesn't make you afeard enough to love Jesus and vote Republican, I guess he doesn't know what will.

Eddie was probably happy with the service, however, because they only had two songs, both being organ pieces with no singing, and thus nobody felt the need to cry.

Apparently my aunt Rachel wasn't happy, and might have even got up to leave with me, had I opted to go that route. I didn't hear this from her, so I could be misinformed there.

I still don't know how Mike, David, and Toni felt about it. I'm fairly sure Toni wasn't thrilled, but I don't know. I kept thinking during the service that maybe they wanted this sort of service. I mean, it's within the realm of possibility that this part of the family that I grew up less than two miles from had this whole super-religious secret life that I never saw or heard about. Then again, it's also within the realm of possibility that everyone but me is a robot, and aliens are testing me for some reason. Possibility is funny that way. And either story seems just about as likely to me--meaning to imply more about what I'm fairly sure the Cottrell's are like and less about my sanity.

Anyway, I spent a little time discussing it with my cousins, siblings, and niece, and I said words in a church that I can't believe I said--in case you haven't sussed it out, I was a bit angry after that service--but then I had to take off for K.C., so that I'd make it to my gathering on time. Which I did.

So, does anyone have comments about this service? Anyone want to theorize why I now seem to have this free-floating anger in me that doesn't know what to lash out about? Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll just listen in.