Monday, December 31, 2007

Curses! Soiled Again!

Well, I need to go back to Strasser Hardware to finish this phase of my work, so I'm done for the night.

In the process, I got covered in the most disgusting water imaginable, so I've had a late-night NYE shower... the perfect way to celebrate, eh?

Tomorrow I shall wake up early enough to go to Strasser, and I'll probably be giving someone with a functioning kitchen a call so I can prep my food that I'm taking to the traditional NYD get-together over at P&L's.

Forward motion. Forward motion.

You know, doing this reminded me (as it does every time I do some sort of handy-work around the house) that I used to use tools to do this sort of thing (okay, not plumbing, but still) on a regular basis about twenty years ago. Then I have to wonder what happened to that me, and I wonder if his life is working out for him, wherever he ended up living it.

Okay, I think I'm going to hang out for another twenty minutes or so to see the new year in, and then I'm going to go to bed and read up on my book.

Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm Going In!

For those of you who don't know, my kitchen drains have been an issue since... um... February. Yes, I have a landlord (landlady, actually), but the last time I notified her of anything that needed fixing, I heard about it for a good month. So, I have long since taken a fix-it-myself attitude toward my living space.

Anyway, this drain has been slo-go to no-go since February, and I decided earlier today that I wanted to have this problem fixed by midnight tonight.

So I've been working on this off-and-on all day. The "off" part comes when I get frustrated and have to take a break.

I'm on an "off" part now, but it's because I'm waiting for the water I'm boiling to boil. It's a thing.

Anyway, I finally decided--since anti-clog products have done little-to-no good since February--to take the advice of several people and get under the sink and see if I can clear out the U-joints.

I did that at about 9:00. Let me tell you, folks, it's no fun.

First, I could spell "LULL" with the joints that are under the sink on the right. And I could spell "LU" (if it were a word) with the joints under the sink on the left--and I think it has fewer L-joints because of the garbage disposal unit under that sink.


Just sayin'.

Anyway, the sink on the right did have some plug issues, and that's taken care of, but I think there might be a plug issue further along.

So, here's my plan (be it wise or unwise--I doubt anyone will reply in time for me to change my plan either way): I'm going to pour boiling water down the right-hand sink, in the hopes the issue is some grease-related mess past the "LULL"-joints. Also, this will help me to test that I have the "LULL"-joints tightened correctly before I move the bucket under the whole "LU" situation under the left-hand sink.

If this works, I'll have a functioning kitchen again. I'll be able to do dishes, which means I'll be able to cook... which means... well, the possibilities are endless.

I hope to be done soon. A co-worker called just as I was getting under the sink to invite me to come hear her man play in a band somewhere not-far-ish from me. I wasn't planning on going out, but if I get this sink sitch taken care of, I may have to go out to celebrate!

Oh, and the poll results:


Yes.: 0%
Not yet, but I will.: 0%
No.: 50%
Artichoke!: 50%

Two people voted.

I'm not sure if I want to keep doing a poll. Feedback?

Friday, December 28, 2007

There Went Christmas Day...

Wow... it's been a while.

Say, Leslie, Jordan and I rode back to Center with Ruth last Friday night. We had the family holiday on Saturday, and--due to the weather forecast, I believe, opted to stay until Sunday. On the way back on Sunday we counted 30 vehicles in the ditch or on the side of the road. So, all in all, good plan, eh?

Sunday night I went to Ben & Tricia's, as per the norm, and I still am not sure if this is something I already had, or I caught it that night (I've found that--more often than not--I don't catch whatever cold bug the girls might have... of course, I probably just jinxed that), but by the time I got home Sunday night, I could tell I was going to be getting sick.

Ruth and I had a plan to go to Omaha very early Christmas morning and return by 3:00 or so that afternoon, but I felt so miserable on Monday that I knew six hours in a car wouldn't be a good thing.

So on Monday I didn't do much... I didn't even get on here to change my poll. I guess I'll have to save that idea for next Christmas Eve.

So Christmas Eve I stayed at home. I did stay up past midnight, and went outside at that time (briefly, anyway). Christmas morning I eventually woke up and started my day, going to house-and-dog-sit for Ben & Tricia while they did their traditional Christmas Day traveling.

And here I have been ever since, even though they returned the following night. The cold seems to be getting better, and it hit me as I was going to sleep last night that I hadn't updated this site for a while (and that I forgot to update the poll).

Speaking of the poll, here are the results from the last one:

The original one that was too dark for the movie, even. 0%
The original one that was in the movie. ("Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow.") 40%
The more upbeat one. ("Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.") 20%
The Christian one. 20%
I dislike every version of that song. 0%
Interloper! 20%

There it is. New poll should be up minutes after this post...

Anyway, I hope the roads are okay for driving this afternoon, because I have to go home today (last night I finished the book I'd been reading), and I'd rather do it on less-slickery roads.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas... feel free to post comments and share. I need to go around and read all the blogs I normally read and see if there's any news there.

If I don't get a chance to post before, hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and Happy 2008!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Here's a link to my Christmas card, in case I haven't sent you an e-mail about it yet:

If you didn't get an e-mail, check your spam folder first... if it isn't there, shoot me an e-mail. It could be in the great mini-crash of 2007 your address disappeared from my address book.

I've been meaning to share this little tidbit:

I finally got to hear the Alvin & The Chipmunks song I thought was so hilarious when I was much younger. It is their rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas".

Let me first say that I am too old to listen to an entire A & TC CD. Not because "I shouldn't be doing that", but because it made me very irritable to hear those squeaking voices singing for 50 minutes or so.

I think I'll be avoiding the movie (which is unfortunate, because how fun to go see a movie the ads of which alone have taught young children to sing generic porn background music) because I'm irritable enough on my own. I don't need help at it.

Beyond that, the song wasn't even that much of a laugh riot. Boy, I sure thought it was great when I was in elementary school though. Who'd a thunkit? Sense of humor changes as we age.

I got to see the dentist today. Hooray!

Hey, if you go to STILL:Life and see the picture with all the comments, no worries... there's nothing controversial about the picture. Don't spend forever looking at the picture or sifting through the comments trying to find what was so commentable about that photo. Just a little late-night exchange between me and some unknown commenter.

I think I'm going to put another poll up now. Only five people voted in this last one:

Lafflines: Now that I've done them for 10 years, how should I handle them in the future? No change (but try to update them more regularly). 1 vote.
Put them on this blog, with links to your people pages. 0 votes.
Put them on this blog, but don't worry about linking them to your people pages. 3 votes.
I don't care. 1 vote.
Shoehorn. 0 votes.

I really wanted "Shoehorn" to win. Well, I don't know if I'm going to abide by the committee's decision, but thanks for the input.

Anyway, the poll that I'll be putting up shortly (I hope) will be up until about noon on the 24th. Then I'm going to put up a special Christmas poll... so be sure to come back on the 24th or the 25th so you can vote!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coming Soon To A Stage Near You (If You're In KC, That Is)

Before I dive in, I just want to say that at some point I got all stressed out about the RULES OF CAPITALIZATION IN A TITLE and decided that I'd just capitalize the first letter of every word and call it a personal "style".

The problem is, I don't always remember to do that.

So it just ends up being stressful whenever I type a title on here. I can't get away with it. I guess I could re-learn those rules, but I've sorta joined the camp that says there shouldn't be rules, but merely a recording of the state in which the language currently resides. I guess not entirely, because it still makes me crazy when kids don't follow the basics, but the ones that I think are stupid, I think everyone should agree not to follow.

That's fair, right?

Anyway, I decided it was safe to share this on here now, since everyone that would object to me doing this has already heard from me (well, everyone currently talking to me, anyway).

I'm doing the next two Martin City shows. The first one, "Wolfman, or: Another Bad Hair Day" will open in mid-February and run until the first part of April or May (the Metcalf South remodeling/tear-down date is up in the air right now).

Then, this summer I will be with MCM&VCo. as they return to Martin City for the new show: "Shakespeare in the Dark".

I have no idea what roles I will be playing. I do know the vaudeville for "Wolfman" will be "Pet Pizazz", so if you're a follower of Martin City, feel free to post comments about that here. I have never done that vaudeville, but I've seen it.

I went to see the current show on Saturday night. It brought back the fun memories, for sure.

Yes, there's stress, but the best part is: once you start performances, it's easy money.

Well, and also the audiences for MCM&VCo. shows can be very responsive. I'm missing performing a lot lately.

Anyway, from mid-January to mid-February my weeknights will be busy again. Once the show starts, the performances are only Friday thru Sunday.

I've got some holiday thoughts to post, but I think I need to get back to sending out my e-cards. I'm still only on the "first name begins with B" part of my list, and it's alphabetical by first name...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shaving Account

Hooray! I got to shave after school today!

Well, it's been a busy eight or so hours since I left school this afternoon, and I'll try to sum up the most boring bits to help you nap.

I stopped by the Wal-Marts on the way home and bought some shavers. Other than the one day that I shaved my neck to make it look like I was intending to grow a beard, I have not used a non-electric shaver since... well, probably the morning of June 22, 2005 (cue the "dun-dun-duh" music).

I got home and used the trimmer part of my electric razor to get rid of most of that facial hair mess, and then I had a good ol' shave.

I went to see a show at Patrick & Leigh's church tonight, and as I left my house, the first thing I noticed was how cold my face and neck felt.

It's good that I'm shaving again, however, as I was starting to think I could live with my face looking like that. I mean, I got used to the way it looks without it, so I should be able to get used to anything!

Oh, for fun.

Anyway, I enjoyed the production this evening. I have other news of a theatrical nature to share, but that will have to wait until after things are a bit more set in stone... watch this space (or above it, actually) for more information!

Three days (two of which are half days) left of school in 2007.

For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about the passage of time--the main reason probably being that I'm always thinking about it. If I wasn't obsessed with so many things, I'd say I was obsessed with the passage of time... but it's up there with a lot of other things.

Anyway, I find myself very aware that one day I'm going to be gone, and the world will keep doing what it's doing... and one day all the people I know (or will know by the time I leave) will be gone, and the world will keep doing what it's doing... and one day all the people they know (or will know by the time they leave) will be gone, and the world will keep doing what it's doing... and so on...

I mean, unless we're all gone because the planet was eaten by a giant mutant space chihuahua.

I find myself thinking about people who were around in the 30s and 40s who were around my age then. They had their now, and probably couldn't accurately imagine my now, just as I probably can't imagine the now of some people who are going to be about my age in sixty or seventy years.

And I know these are all real "well, duh" thoughts, but--like I tell the kids--the properties we learn in math are real "well, duh" thoughts, but once you have them, there's all kinds of places you can go with them.

So I guess I'm just going places.

I'll send a postcard if I get a sec.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Not Again

Today we had school. What a stress-fest!

Just a lot going on, and frantic trying-to-figure-out-what-to-do-ed-ness, and so on. One camp is like "three more full days, two half days, why try to fight them to get them to do anything", and then there's the "by golly they WILL do this work..."

I'm in the latter camp.

Anyway, tomorrow will surely be less stressful, right?

I had a headache almost all of the day. I think it was because I didn't drink much water. I keep forgetting, and I have this gigantic QT cup sitting there, waiting to be drank.

Also, I forgot The Wilders had their Christmas show tonight, and I missed it.

Well, at least I got to sit by the tree and bask in the multi-colored flashing-light-ed-ness.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Is Finally Here!

And this year, I went for a snowflakes applet instead of the one I usually use. When you move your mouse over the picture, you make snowflakes appear! Check it out! Oh, and if you want to skip the snowflake thing because it jacks with your computer, go to instead.

I'll get my card finished in the next few days, and hopefully I'll have my end-of-the-year letter done by then, too. Then I'll start sending out those e-mails.

According to the message left by the distrcit's automated machine (25 minutes after the phone tree call came in... perhaps this is one where technology can't beat good ol' human effort), there were several building with heat issues. Um... we always have heat issues in our building. Why are we ever going to school?

Also, side streets were apparently icy.

So it goes.

I got much done today, which is shocking. The fact I didn't go back to bed after I got the call is the biggest WOW of them all.

We absolutely must have school tomorrow. Enough is enough!


Well, it was official for me about 25 minutes ago. My alarm was 1 minute away, and my phone rang. No school again today.

You'd think I'd be thrilled, but I promised parents there would be two tests on this report card, and I'm still two lessons and a review away from that. Methinks we will be having a test on at least one of the half days. Luckily I'm part of a great an cooperative team that will be okay with all 5 of us giving the test at the same time, thus giving the kids ample time to get it done.

I guess the good news (other than not having to go in to work, that is) is that I'm still having trouble waking up at my preferred time (4:30) and getting my life together so that I'm at school by 6:00. My days are so much better when I do this. Actually, I'd prefer to wake up at 3:30 or so, walk for an hour, then get ready and go to school, but at this point that's a dream of the long ago.

Oh, I remembered what it was I wanted to mention last night. I finished The Golden Compass Sunday evening. I enjoyed the book and all, but was a bit frustrated by the ending. It was like "Back to the Future II" in that, yes, there was some resolution, but too much was left unresolved. I mean, yeah, trilogy and all, but you can have a trilogy without having so much left unresolved, right?

Sure, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring left lots unresolved, but that was supposed to be just one huge book that got split up... or did I hear that wrong.

Well, anyway, I went on to the next Discworld novel and figured I'll read the next book in that other trilogy after Christmas or so.

Okay, well... I think I'll try to figure out what sorts of things I can accomplish today while I have the extra time.

Oh great... just remembered some Pre-Algebra kids were wanting to stay after school to re-take some tests. That's going to have to be tomorrow (assuming we have school), I guess... that or their parents will have to come pick them up, because tomorrow is the last day of the extended day program for this quarter.

You know, I know there's this whole process they go through to decide whether or not we have school on a given day, but on days like today I need it re-explained to me so I can find fault with it.

Poll results are in. With three votes, it appears that you readers don't care if I do the ornament thing or not. (One for "Yes", and two for "I don't care".) Well, that will make it easier to blow off that idea, so hurray for that, I say. Check out the new poll. This one is a big deal, so make sure you vote!

Hope everyone has a great day. I'll try to stay busy so you don't have to be bitter about my having a day off!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And Then It Was November

It's November over at my website.

I had another poll in mind for when this current one is done (about midnight tonight), but I think I'll put that one off for a week to instead allow a vote as to what I'm going to do after my website reaches the ten-year mark.

No school today, so I stayed inside all morning. I've been a little tired today because the power went off at 3:30 this morning. One of the benefits of sleeping with a fan running year round is the sudden silence is usually a pretty good wake-up call.

Add to that the beeping of the formerly-charging cell phone and it's an almost-guaranteed wake-up call.

I used the cell phone to go downstairs to get the flashlight (which I immediately remembered thinking about taking upstairs, but then forgetting to do so), then brought the flashlight back up with me. Well, I looked outside to see if it was a typical my-side-has-no-lights-but-across-the-street-everyone-is-fine power outage, or a full-street thing. It was full street.

Then I went upstairs.

My current fan doesn't come back on after a power outage, so I flipped on the overhead light to see if that would wake me when it came back on.

It did. Or the newly-charging cell-phone did. Also, the VCR made some sort of tape-moving back-to-life noise.

It was about 5:00.

Anyway, I stayed in all morning, played some Scrabble with the computer, and reheated some leftovers for lunch.

I spoke with Jhoneric around 12:30 and learned the streets weren't icy, so I opted to go run errands.

I'm fairly sure we'll be having school tomorrow. It's not supposed to get very cold tonight. I really didn't want a snow day until after the break, but so it goes.

I will manage to adjust the lesson plans. I will survive. Hey, hey.

There was something I was going to say on here, but I've lost it (hence the rambling for however-long-it's been). I guess if I think of it, I'll come back and post it later.

Well, I should have December up on my website by the end of the weekend... and this year I think I'm going to send out individual e-mails with the link to my card. That way I can make each one much more personal than I have in the past.

That's the plan, anyway. But we know how my plans go, right?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

September Has Arrived (October, November, & December On The Way)

Well, I have September up over at my website.

October and November will be up sometime this week (I hope).

December will be up (I hope) next weekend, which means that snow scene I always put up will be the first thing you see. I'll put a link up for the "skip it" version, if the snow scene jacks with your computer somehow.

Spent hours working on my online card yesterday. I didn't mean to, but the time just flew by. I hope people like it, because I'm having fun making it (spending hours working on it today, too).

I'm thinking after December I'm going to stop doing the laffline on my website. I also think I'm going to remove a lot of elements from it. I started that site January of 1998. I taught myself html, and still type it all in directly. That makes me stupid or old or both, and maybe other things as well.

I'll keep the people pages up, but probably with a lot less information about each person, as identity theft is such a popular hobby these days.

I'm considering continuing the lafflines, but just post one a month on here. Probably sans the links to the people involved. I'm not sure. What do you think?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Family Faux Pas

Okay, here' s something not to do when you have family in a city where some sort of disaster/terror/freakishness is happening: hear they're all right and decide they don't need you calling to commiserate about the horror/terror/freakishness of the event.

I don't know how word got to me that the "family in Omaha was okay" after that incident yesterday, but I got an e-mail this afternoon--well, I got it this evening late, but it arrived this afternoon--from my aunt, asking how I knew everyone was okay.

So I'm thinking however I received word that everyone was okay, that person must have been speaking "sister, nieces, nephew-in-law (is that a thing?), great-niece, and great-nephew", while I was hearing "family in Omaha". When I called Leslie, I figured she was speaking of the long list, which doesn't include "aunt, cousins, cousins-in-law (is that a thing?), and first-cousins-once-removed". However, I heard from Ruth not long after I spoke with Leslie, and whether or not she actually specified who she meant, I took her to mean "family in Omaha". She may have very well said, "Leslie and them," but my brain is... well, my brain. That is to say, malfunctional.

Before I go any further, I should clarify: I'm not about to say that aunt, cousins, cousins-in-law (if that is a thing), and first-cousins-once-removed includes a victim or victim of the shooting spree on Wednesday. I'm not sure if they are or not, but I think my aunt's e-mail would have had something like that in there if there was an issue. I think.

Which brings me back to the faux pas part. My aunt e-mailed me asking how I knew the family was okay, and all I can lamely reply is, "I misunderstood a message, I think."

Like it would have been the end of the world to call my aunt or Karen and say, "This is some craziness," and so on. Okay, it's beyond faux pas... it's sorta bad inconsiderateness... or worse inconsiderateness, as I'm not sure there's a good inconsiderateness.

Anyway, sorry to Rachel and Karen and... well, I can't start listing everyone because I don't have a cheat sheet with me, and plus, I don't know where Bryce is living right now... anyway, sorry I didn't call to check on you.

Everyone else, let this serve as a cautionary tale.

In other news, I went out with Say and Ruth tonight and had some dinner. We then went to Macy's, which was less of a thrill for me, but it kept me off the street. We then did a little Christmas Light tour, which included the Kryger glass people's home. It was a cool display like the one I mentioned in a recent post... Ruth tuned her car radio to the appropriate frequency, and we got to watch a sort of lawn light-show.

Odd bit: One of the tunes was The Star Spangled Banner. I don't so much think of it as a Christmas song. We decided it was how they kept people from hanging out in front of their house too long, because it certainly encouraged us to move along.

It snowed in KC today. This means 7th graders who are too cool for kid stuff will now titter and glow and giggle and daydream about all the things they've been doing in snow since they were old enough to go outside and play in it.

Ah, to not have to think about driving home in it.

Well, hope this finds everyone well... or I hope as you find this, you are well, as I'm not sending this anywhere to find you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Getting To Know Your Friends, Christmas Edition

Okay, this is one exception to my dislike of e-mail forwards. These can be very entertaining (and sometimes very disturbing) to read, and I usually enjoy answering them. Sara sent me this one, and I thought I'd answer it here instead of forwarding it to everyone in the world. Thus, only you die-hard fans of my non-blog will get to know the TRUE me. I don't have to pretend with you guys!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Please see my post from November entitled "Going Green for Christmas". Think globally and act locally, people...

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial, because all living plant life that enters my home is doomed to a slow and painful death, and I think that's wrong.

3. When do you put up the tree? Typically Thanksgiving evening or the day after. If I'm going to be out of town, I might put it up a day or two before, but not light it up until after Thanksgiving. On years like this, when Thanksgiving is the earliest it can be, I use that as a great excuse to put it off. I love getting the house all Christmased up, but I'm terribly lazy about doing things for myself. It's a struggle. I think this is turning into a "less entertaining, more disturbing" answer.

4. When do you take the tree down? One year it was after Easter, seriously. But usually I shoot for the 7th of January or so.

5. Do you like eggnog? Not enough to go out and buy some. In fact, I might really hate it. I haven't had eggnog for so long. Maybe because I've never had the boozed-up version.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My organ. ::snicker:: No, seriously, I got this little organ after I'd been taking piano lessons for a while. I knew in advance it would be my entire Christmas. I remember playing some song like "Good Bye Ol' Paint" or "So Long Ol' Paint" over and over on that thing. I could hum the tune for you, if that would help you figure out the title. Of course, I was slightly beyond child age at that time, so I might have to revise my answer to either the Peanuts board game or the haunted house board game I got that year Santa stopped by our house on Christmas Eve while we were out at Say's house. I don't know, it's hard to say, really.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No. I was in a living nativity once. I was the inkeeper. Yeah, there's a role you want. I don't have a nativity because if you do it right, it's very difficult to keep up. I mean, do the wise men show up on the 6th of January? On the 7th? Two years later on the 7th? I ain't tryin' to go to seminary just so I can have one of them historically accurate nativity scenes... and if it's not gonna be historically accurate, can't I just take some Marvel superhero figurines and make a nativity scene out of that?

8. Hardest person to buy for? Eddie... Okay, I've picked myself up off the floor now. Wiping my eyes... and, the actual answer: Ruth, because she's so secretive. No, I kid. Um... I don't know. Dane? Heck, I'll have to think about this one.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Kids, because I am the type of old fogey teacher relative that believes they should get books.

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? Books. No, I'm kidding. I just had to put that after my last answer. I don't know. I guess getting to prep that dead lady for her funeral the day after Christmas could sorta count. Thanks, Eddie.

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas Card? E-mail, of course. I do have a lot of old cards from like the 80s... and they aren't as funny as I thought they were at the time. I sometimes think about sending them out for a sort of retro holiday. But I never do it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Saw... I kid. Um... The Nightmare Before Christmas, if that counts.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually the afternoon we get out of school for break.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Remember, I'm going green this Christmas.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey, Deana Mae's biscuits, and home-made coookies. I don't get to eat the cookies for Jordan any more, or nibble at the carrots she leaves for the reindeer... Sunrise, Sunset, baby.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored, individual blinking C7s. Eight colors: Red, Amber, Yellow, Green, Teal, Blue, Purple, and Pink.

17. Favorite Christmas song? It's a tie: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King What'sHisFace (I can't spell it, and the hour is late), and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (the good version--see last year's rant). Also a couple of Transiberian Orchestra ditties, the titles of which are not readily available to me. The one everybody knows when they hear, and the one that guy set his Christmas lights to a couple of years back.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I time-travel at Christmas, to a time where people weren't afraid to tell you Merry Christmas, no matter what your religious beliefs were... because, just like we wouldn't mind having some other religion shoved down our throat, people shouldn't mind having ours shoved down their... Wait, wrong post. Um... I always travel. Christmas at my house would be me looking at the fake gifts I have under the tree, feeling miserable. No thanks.

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? No, because they already have names. And by the way, it's Donder and Blitzen, not Donner and Blitzen. Donder and Blitzen are German for "thunder and lightening". Or for "biscuits and gravy". Or something. Or maybe not. It's been a long time since I took German. I researched this once, and think it might actually be Donner. But I prefer my first ranty stance on this unimportant issue.

20. Do you have an Angel on top of your tree, or a star? Jester hat. I made an angel for our tree at home once when I was a teen. I was very proud of how nice it looked, as I'm not much of an artist. I think the rest of the family thought it was crap, though.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? When I'm told.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? What, I have to choose? You want a list? I guess I'll go with "it's too busy" or "there's not enough time to see everyone I want to see".

23. How old were you when you added your twos about this whole Santa business and got four? I was... I don't remember. I know it was Wade that spilled the beans, and he was spilling them about the Tooth Fairy and threw the jolly old elf in just for extra measure... I think I was in second grade.

24. What is the greatest distance you have been from home on Christmas? I don't know how far it was, but when I was in Augsburg, Germany was probably a sure thing.

25. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love: Which best describes Christmas for you? Presents! I kid. That would have to be Peace, Bob.

Okay, I cheated and added the last three, because I thought it would make more sense to have 25 items on this list. Feel free to copy the list, type in your own answers, and e-mail them to everyone (don't forget to include me--again, this is one e-mail forward I enjoy)!

I ALWAYS Have That Camera With Me

So I'm in the... I can't remember what that grocery store is called, so I'll call it "the grocery store in Westport". Anyway, I'm at the grocery store in Westport tonight, and I come across a "SALE" sign with this information.

Boston Market Entrees
2 for $6
Regular price: $2.99 each.
You save: 1 cent.

And here I am without anyone to whom I point out this craziness.

So I did the Patsy thing, which was to tell a stranger. Well, to try to tell one stranger, who is for sure living by the "If you don't look at the crazy person who thinks it's okay to just up and talk to a stranger, he'll think he's imagining you" creed, and then successfully tell another who doesn't quite seem to get it--or, perhaps he was thrown off by the whole "stranger danger" thing, too. Or maybe he's just really bad at math.

And in case you're really bad at math, let me explain (if you aren't, skip down to the START HERE, GOOD MATH'ERS paragraph): First, who cares about saving 1 cent? Secondly, the difference between the sale price and the actual price is two cents. Finally, YOU'RE OVERPAYING THOSE TWO CENTS, NOT SAVING THEM!!!

START HERE, GOOD MATH'ERS! What an odd range of emotions to have brought up by a stupid sign. I was amused, perturbed, alone, and flustered, all at once. Let's call it amturbelonered.

Oh, and the best part: here I am without my camera, as well. I left it in the car. I usually do when going into a grocery store, and I don't know why. I should look into this mental quirk sometime... not that it's the priority of the mental quirks I have, mind you.

So today's STILL: Life isn't that sign, but it should be. Today was particularly insane for me... I felt like I was spending every hour saying two sentences to kids, and two minutes later having them not be able to just spout one of the two sentences back to me. Frustrating, difficult, and all around why-am-I-doing-this-y.

Thus, the chuckle and strangeness was fitting. And nice.

Have I mentioned that I got the lights and the tree up on Sunday? All in one day, which is almost never the case, unless I have help.

I do regret having moved the television into the living room, because I like to keep the living room my "chill out with the lights and the holiday music" room, but it is nice not to freeze to death watching television, which is what I used to do in the sun room around this time of year.

Say is in town, which means one less relative I had to be concerned about when I got an e-mail from Jhoneric about the mall shooting in Omaha. I called Leslie immediately, and she said everyone in the family was accounted for.

Which leads to that whole moment of, "Oh good, all is well--except not for about fifteen people and the people who love them."

But, just saying, if you are aware that I have family in Omaha, and were concerned, just know that they're all fine.

Okay, I must go post today's picture, make the rounds on the blogs I read, and maybe see if I can kick Maven's just-below-basic-level hind-end in Scrabble. Or maybe just go read. The evening is full of possibilities.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

He's Not A Compass

What a strange day. I should be in bed. Instead, I posted pics over at the photoblog, and then I went around to most of my "regular" blogs to get caught up.

Jordan texted me (and apparently everyone in her directory) this morning, and that confused me. I now find myself on what I would have, at one point, considered to be the wrong side of the digital divide. But I refuse to text on anything more than an occasional basis. It's how I'm wired.

Anyway, I was checking blogs, and found this post over on Andy's blog, and thought I'd link to it, for those of you who don't normally go over to see what Andy has had to say lately. I liked it. The comment section is less fun, and makes me want to post counterpoints, but down that road lies insanity and general irritation.

Before I did the blog thing, I got an e-mail forward (my FAVORITE thing in the world... the digital equivalent of ripping something out of the paper, making a kerjillion copies of it, slapping a stamp on each one, including no personal comments, and mailing a copy to a kerjillion of your "close, personal friends") that I received at school a few weeks ago. This version was a much-watered-down version of the one I got at school... but this one called for a boycott.

When I receive junk like this at school, I immediately go to Snopes to see what they have to say as to the validity of the claims. I used to do this at home, and then--on an as-needed basis--reply back to the sender with the debunking, ask them to forward my e-mail to everyone they forwarded the other one to, and ask them to forward it back to whoever sent the b.s. to them in the first place. But, apparently this is rude or offensive in some way.

So, when I got this e-mail at school, I read up on it at Snopes. What they had to say was enough to make me think, "Okay, this is a little over-the-top in the reaction department..."

Yes, atheist/agnostic author; yes, the god of this fictional world doesn't come off looking so good; yes, people on this planet often don't have the same opinion/beliefs about the world around them. Yes, snopes confirms, yes, yes.

But as for "Hollywood" wanting to take over the work of schools, offices, and Studio City... well, I'm thinking it's more about, "Hey, here's an award-winning children's book... perhaps we could make a movie out of it."

So I went out and bought the book, The Golden Compass.

I won't repeat the original e-mail against this book/movie here. The short version is something along the lines of, "Either we don't have actual conversations with our kids about what they see and read, or we're afraid other parents aren't raising their kids the way we think they should, and thus WE need to look out for what they see and read until the time their parents come around."

Okay, the mid-range version was that. The short version is "Censorship: Hurray!"

Not that there is any out-and-out censorship involved in the e-mail, I guess, but there's use of some of the familiar censorship tools: Give others your interpretation of the work while discouraging them from reading/seeing it for themselves, assign questionable motives to ordinary actions, and so forth.

You can find the version I first got if you go to Snopes.

So, anyway, I'm reading the book.

First impression: Children's book? What kid is going to read this? Maybe if he or she is pushing twenty. MAYBE. I mean, yeah, there are kids who would read something this... I guess "complicated" or "wordy" is what I'm looking for here. But I'm willing to bet those kids have already done a lot of thinking about the world and how it works. I doubt a fantasy/sci-fi/whatever-the-heck-this-qualifies-as book would turn them upside-down.

From what I can tell, this book doesn't even take place in our reality. Am I missing something here? If a series of books ended with Zeus being proved to be a fraud, would these folks be getting their panties in a twist?

Or, even if you don't agree with the message, how about read the book with your kids, then sit down and have a discussion about it? Wacky crazy idea, that.

I'm only partway through the book. I should be upstairs reading it right now, but here I sit typing about it.

The worst part is, I don't have time to go see a movie this weekend, but this most recent e-mail calls for a boycott of movies this weekend! How am I gonna find time to watch like 15 movies this weekend?

Next week: I name a teddy bear "Jesus".

Time For A New Poll

Okay, WAY past time...

Old Poll Results:

Which of the colors found in a standard box of 8 crayons is your favorite color?

Red: 20%
Orange: 0%
Yellow: 0%
Green: 20%
Blue: 0%
Violet (Purple): 40%
Brown: 0%
Black: 20%

(Five people voted.)

Anyway, as I put up the tree this last weekend, and was putting all the different ornaments up, I realized most of them were gifts and had all kinds of memories associated with them (in some cases, the memories didn't include "And the person who gave me this was..." followed by a name...) and I thought it might be fun to take pictures of them where they are on the tree this year, and post what I know of them underneath.

This would give people a chance to say, "Hey, I gave you that one!"

Of course, they could be fibbing... but if they need the credit that bad, I say we should just let them have it.

So vote. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and the last choice is for those of you who are feeling a little non sequitur when you vote.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Here's my desktop photo:

Tracy posted a picture of her desktop over at her blog, and I thought I'd post mine here. If you're not in the collage, no worries: I probably didn't have a photo of you on my computer when I made this. I probably need to put together another one, as some of the younger folks in the collage are older folks now. Well, older young folks. Also, I'm missing several people.

My old desktop picture was the characters from Farscape. It was up so long, I don't remember my desktop before that one.

I'm up because I went to bed early, then had a crazy nightmare which I reasoned my way out of before waking. It was very odd. It was a mix of The Mist (which is a Stephen King short story/novelette I read back in the 80s and which is now a film... which moved me to re-read it, because I remember liking it a lot), real life, various road trips with my sister, and my fear of someone breaking into my home. So it was easy to reason my way out of it, you see.

Anyway, I thought I'd post my desktop pic. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Going Green for Christmas

I know it's before Thanksgiving, and it makes me insane that I'm already hearing Christmas music everywhere I go (and if you've read my posts around this time of year any other year, you already know that), but I wanted to get this out there for those people who have already bought my gift.

This year, in an effort to "go green", I've come up with an idea about wrapping paper.

If you buy the weaker masking tape, it's very easy to peel that off paper. Instead of wrapping my gift in traditional wrapping paper, wrap my gifts in money, instead.

All you do is lay out the bills, (dollars are fine, but you can probably make more interesting holiday patterns with a variety of bills) to the size you want--and obviously close together, if not slightly overlapping. Then, tape them together using the weakest masking tape you can find.

Next, wrap the present with the tape on the inside. If wrap well, you really only need on piece of tape on each end of the gift, and that you can hide with a bow made up of several well-folded one-hundred dollar bills.

This way, the only part of the wrapping paper I won't recycle is the tape.

I appreciate everyone's cooperation in this matter.

About That Facial Hair

We're doing a fundraiser at school. Many of the male staff members have not shaved for a few weeks (well, a little "shaping" is allowed). We're about to give the kids a chance to vote with donations to our Christmas fund (where we pick some families with a need and we provide them with stuff for Christmas) whether we get to shave on the morning of the last Monday before Winter Break, or on the morning of Valentines Day.

So, that's why I'm going around with what looks like an attempt at a beard.

Facial hair doesn't work on me. And I don't mean it doesn't work, as in "is not a good look for", but as in "my car doesn't work... I can't even get the engine to turn over".

Anyway, I just wanted to explain, in case you see me (or worse yet, a picture of me), and wonder if I'm aware my facial hair doesn't know how to grow right.

Also, speaking of pictures of me, apparently I have problems with tone in my writing. I'm aware of this. That post with the picture of me holding a sleeping Binx was suppose to have a tone of "I'm joking--since when do I actually care what my hair looks like?" when I was talking about my hair. Apparently I failed.

So it goes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Weekend In Omaha

Before we get started, let me ask this: Why hasn't anyone told me my hair looked like that?


Saturday morning I woke up nice and early to get to Omaha for the birthday happenings (Jordan and Binx have birthdays side-by-side). I hate waking up to an alarm on a Saturday morning, and the good news is I woke up just before my alarm was to go off.

When I went out to the car, it looked like the front driver-side tire was low, but it always looks like that. However, it felt a little pull-to-the-left-y, so I stopped at QT and checked it out on a flat surface (which my driveway SO is not).

It was low, so I put some air in it, hoping there was just some little one-time thing happening here, and all would be well.

Yeah, seriously, I do that hoping thing a lot. I'm an optimist like that.

I went over to the church (I was going to leave my car at the church as I needed to be at the church on Sunday morning, and it made more sense for Ruth to just drop me off at the church when we got back instead of taking me to my home and then having me drive back to the church--plus, this meant sleeping in a little longer on Sunday in Omaha) thinking I could help get things set up for the breakfast they were having, but everything was already set up (and it wasn't 7:30 yet!).

So, I eventually went back out to my car to wait for Ruth.

We got to Omaha around 11:00, and while Ruth took a nap, Leslie, Jordan, and I played "Imaginiff..." which is this board game I have had for a while and have always known would be fun, but have never gotten to play (note to self: get life together and start having a game night a couple of times a month with friends). It was enough fun to bring Ruth back into the living room.

Say arrived and Binx arrived and some of Jordan's friends (and co-slumber-partiers) arrived and soon Leslie and I took the 7th grade set to pick up the rest of the crowd and head for the mall (part of Jordan's party was to go to the mall and walk around without her mom RIGHT THERE the whole time... Leslie and I hung out in the food court with cell phones at the ready).

When we got back to the house, the girls went up to the "Slumber Party Room" while Ruth, Leslie, Say, and I played "Imaginiff..." again. We played it a couple of times, actually. It's a great game if you like to laugh a lot.

Anyway, Binx was getting fussy and still not wanting to be near me (because since Carrie's wedding he's forgotten what a fun guy I am, you see), and he wouldn't stay still for anyone who held him, and he wouldn't stay where he was supposed to when they set him down.

So I finally just reached down and picked him up. It's unfortunate we didn't get a picture of him. He was as still as could be. After a bit Leslie noticed he looked tired, so I started singing. This always works, because at this young age they don't want to injure themselves to make themselves deaf, so the only escape from my singing is slumber.

Once he was out, Ruth snapped that picture where my hair is doing that thing.

Anyway, it was a fun time. The girls got to do crazy crafts and played "Imaginiff..." upstairs, we pranked Jordan with a phone call, and a good time was had by all.

Of course, here it is the "fall back" weekend, and I am once again doing something that doesn't allow me to just enjoy the extra hour--but I've decided that's just my way.

When I got to the church, my tire was indeed flat. I got to check out my new tire-changing stuff, and John Campbell (not to be confused with his son, John Campbell) did most of the work... which was funny, because I spent most of church thinking I would wait until everyone left because I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to see my insane reaction to yet another flat tire.

It wasn't so insane anyway, so no big.

I went home and got laundry done, then got to see Ben, Tricia, and the girls and have a good Sunday Dinner with them. Great times!

Anyway, that was my fun weekend. Why don't some of you commenters tell me about your weekend? And maybe suggest another poll topic...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh, So THAT'S Where The Expression "Like A Root Canal" Comes From

So I had this root canal thingy done yesterday, and couldn't figure out what the big deal was. "It hurt like a root canal," or "Only a little painful, like a root canal is a little painful," and so on.

Seriously, the root canal part was no big. Mostly boring and awkward, as I'm not used to people messing around with my teeth. (I did mention it's been 20 years since my last dentist visit, right?)

I got there a little after 1:00, and by 1:15 or so I was hooked up to the laughing gas and had that VERY painful shot in the mouth... two shots in the mouth, actually. I didn't feel any pain.

Until about 6:00 that night.

I was at the church, killing time until choir practice. I had started feeling a little... sore, I guess. It was a sort of free-floating soreness that I didn't associate with anything other than my face being so numb. Anyway, at about 4:00 or so, I was feeling a little sore.

Right around 6:00 is when I started wishing for unconsciousness. Seriously awful.

And, being pragmatic, I started praying--not that the pain go away, but that the pain be significantly less by morning, so I'd know it wasn't going to last forever.

I tried to nap, tried to occupy myself by taking pictures in the sanctuary (see yesterday's STILL:Life), tried to play music. Nothing was enough of a distraction.

So we had practice, and the choir sent me home after one time through the song for this Sunday.

I got home, ate a quick supper (as I was hungry enough to overcome the whole "eating is going to hurt" thing that was going through my brain... plus, cold mac 'n' cheese is easy to swallow with minimal chewing), then hit the sack.

I had a lovely evening of hour-long naps... with one or two 90-minute naps thrown in.

But, in the morning, I did feel significantly better.

Today was much better, and tonight I only feel slightly sore.


Tomorrow we go to Omaha to visit Zach one day after his first birthday, and for Jordan's birthday party. She's a teenager now. Sunrise, sunset...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Healthy Schmealthy

The district is in the middle of this "pretend we care about your health because we don't like paying for you being unwell, even though that's the only reason you give us money" thing sponsored by our insurance provider.

I went, under duress. (If you don't go, you have to pay an addition $10 a month--or you don't get a $10 per month deduction that everyone who goes gets. Either way, it's duress because they're saying I'm $120 poorer than those who go if I decide not to.)

Well, the good news is, I'm a miracle, in that my terrible blood pressure had somehow not killed me. The other good news (which seems to amaze people, for some reason) is that my cholesterol levels are still great.

There was a weigh-in part of the event, and people at school had been complaining about it, and my plan was to wait for them to tell me my weight, then say, "And how much more do I have to gain for it to qualify as a disability?"

But there were technical difficulties, so I didn't get my chance to say it.

After they took my blood pressure reading, analyzed my blood, talked with me about different things, re-took my blood pressure to make sure it was right the first time (as I wasn't clutching my chest and saying "it's the big one"), I got to go sit in a very private area to answer very personal questions on a computer.

By "very private" I mean RIGHT NEXT TO SOMEONE ELSE ON EITHER SIDE OF ME. It didn't bother me so much, because I'm mostly like, "Here it is, whatever." However, the woman on my left needed assistance from one of the people there helping out, and he was standing in such a way that I got to type my whole survey at an angle.

Also, I learned that she's experienced a loss in the past year, and her Aunt Flo first visited her when she was twelve. Seriously. And this I heard while jamming a finger in my left ear in order to give her some sense of privacy. Imagine if I was TRYING to eavesdrop!

Anyway, it was just an irritating experience. I wasted about an hour of my work day to learn I have crazy blood pressure that I should be talking to a doctor about (oh, wait, I already have), and that I should exercise more (ya think?).

Yeah, I had nothing to do at school at all. No papers to grade, and the team didn't need to meet about anything at all. But at least the insurance company is happy, and at least they won't be yanking that $120 from me over the course of the year. Hooray!

My gig as interim choir director ends on Sunday. Lord willin' and the creek don't rise I'll soon have another job that isn't pizza delivery. I haven't heard back about the tutoring job I'm looking at. It pays well, but it might take up several evenings during the week. But at least it isn't delivering pizza, eh?

Speaking of money, I need to save up for shoes. I think we're getting past the sandal weather. Well, since I'm indoors most of the day, I could get away with it year round, if not for the snow. But it's always fun to start wearing the monochrome black Chuck's, and wait to see how long it takes the kids to notice I'm wearing "cool" shoes.

Well, conferences are over, and that's a good thing. I hate the evening hours of that deal. I minded less when we got a full day off, back when I first started teaching. But now we have to do a half-day on Friday, and it just wears me out.

Or life wears me out, and that's just a part of life. Something like that. I find I'm very tired, anyway. Probably something to do with my blood pressure! ;-)

What else is news? Oh, I played BINGO on Saturday. That was a good time.

Root Canal Day is Thursday. Wish me numbness! (I mean more than my usual numbness!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Poll Results

"If you didn't have to wake up to go to work or take care of the kids, what time would you wake up?"

The same time I wake up now. 0%

A few hours later than I wake up now. 33%

Five or six hours later than I wake up now. 33%

No work? No kids? Why do I need to wake up? 33%

There were 3 votes. Lame, people. This week's poll's deadline is 11:59 pm. on Saturday, 11/3.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Terrible Mistake, A Toothache, and a Trip Down Memory Lane

What a great way to start the day...

Last night, during conferences, I remembered at 7:30 that a very important person on my List of People to Notify about No Choir Rehearsal did not get called. I was in the middle of conferences at that time, and by the time conferences ended, figured I'd have to find out what happened later.

Well, I found out first thing this morning when I got my e-mail.

You know that feeling you get when you do something really stupid and put someone through a ridiculously unnecessary amount of time-wasting and stress?

Well, whether you know it or not, there was that feeling.

And what can you do, other than apologize and try to do better in the future, and work really hard to make sure the stressed party knows you are sorry... and so on. It's just an awful position to be in, especially when you know it's all your own stupid fault you're there.

And my tooth, which has gone from a Saturday Night Pain to a daily visitation, decided to kick in early today. But it's payday today, so I decided to see a dentist as soon as I could after school.

So I call one dentist office, and the receptionist tells me they don't have any openings for over a week, but I should call her dentist. So I do.

I get an appointment for 3:15, but in the course of calling, I realized a few things.

First, I realized that the dentist must be in Liberty, because I recognize the prefix from my college years. (In the late 80s and early 90s, Liberty had two prefixes: 781 and 792. Oh, the worthless things we remember.)

Second, I realized I somehow had failed to realize this before I call.

And, most importantly, I realized that some part of me didn't want to go to Liberty.

Part of me thought this was due to the fact that my "once I had this friend who came to the emergency room in tears when she thought I was about to die, and now I have this former friend who would probably show up just to make sure I did die..." lives in Liberty.

And that probably is part of it.

But then I thought, "Hey, it's the middle of the day, I can go hang out up at Jewell and catch up with the theatre department and all that."

It wasn't until I was cresting the hill of the road I used to take to the college (I always forget that road doesn't go up onto the campus any more) that I realized I had another reason for Liberty-avoidance.

I don't like going to Jewell when my life is crap.

I had that feeling that there was something left on pause at Jewell, which I always get when I head that way, and I struggle to figure out what it was. It's almost like I feel I didn't pursue my dreams because there was something I meant to do at Jewell before I left, and if I could only remember what it was and FINISH it, I could have the life I meant to have. Only not, because it doesn't work that way. But you get the idea. Or a vague idea of it, anyway.

Also, going to Jewell when my life is crap is about five times more likely to make me pine for the days when life was so much easier, and I was innocent enough to not realize how easy life was. So I pine with a desire to have it back as long as I get to keep the knowledge that life was so much easier then.

I got to the campus, and first thing, I couldn't find a spot to park. I finally found a spot near the football field, behind Brown Hall (where I spent a lot of time, as it contained the theatre, the newspaper office, and... well, the theatre). I walked in the bottom entrance, and right there I saw one of the green-cushioned benches that have been in Brown Hall since before my time.

Hello, Memory Lane.

But, I walk into the newspaper office, and things look different enough to make my brain throw up an overlay of what that office used to look like.

And I guess that's where some good stuff started happening. Because I think that started a slow process of me putting an overlay of my life onto what my life was, instead of putting an overlay of my life onto what I wish I would have manged to have. Does that make sense?

Anyway, it didn't happen immediately, but I think the process started there.

Then I went back out of the newspaper office, noticed the old "computer lab" was now a "debate lounge", and headed for the stairwell.

They have done very little to that stairwell. Okay, they have done extremely little to it. It's exactly the same, that's what I'm trying to say here.

And what's more, the art department hallway, which you have to walk through on the next level to get to the theatre stairwell, is pretty much exactly as it was my last year or so at Jewell (the "or so" including when I lived in Liberty for a year or so after college).

So I began to get nervous, thinking when I walk in the theatre office (which was honestly my home for most of my five years at Jewell), I was going to have a nervous breakdown. And I almost did, but for a different reason.

But before I get to that, I have to say the stairwell up to the theatre level is exactly the same as it was in 1985. Right down to the scuff marks on the steps.

I walked into the theatre office to see a bunch of people who are probably 20 years younger than me doing what I and my classmates did in the late 80s: hanging out in the theatre office.

I didn't notice how there weren't any big desks in the room, but instead said, "Is Kim or Nathan around?"

Some young lady was nice enough to tell me their office is down the hall and to the right.

Wow. Major deal. Seriously. Kim always had an office surrounded by all of the college theatre freaks having conversations and generally being college folk. So strange. And plus, those offices they've moved to were the Psychology Department offices!

Not that it means anything; it's just things aren't supposed to change that much, right?

So I stopped by Kim's office, and he was chatting with a student. I apologized for interrupting, but told Kim things shouldn't change ever, and that when he was done I'd be hanging around if he had time to talk. There was a hug in there somewhere, too, of course.

Nathan was in his office, but only to stop by to pick something up, I guess, for the class he was in the middle of. He told me he'd come back in a bit and show me the new theatre look. And later he showed me.

But first, we stopped back by the theatre office, now the communication/theatre lounge. He introduced me to the students, mentioned they've probably seen my name on a plaque or program or two, and then asked me if I'd been at Jewell when the renovated Brown from a gym to the building it was now. I told him I started a few years later, and to clarify how long after (since I don't remember when they did that renovation), I said I started in 1985.

To which the young woman who directed me to the offices said, "I wasn't even born then."

To which I said, "If you want me to leave, you can just ask me to."

For fun.

Then Nathan took me into the theatre.

Again, things are changing.

It looks really good, and I'm glad nobody will get the joy of smashing their finger with those crazy heavy seat platforms when converting from proscenium to thrust layout. But it was wild. The green was gone (or had become red), and there was more of it.

I would have loved to have seen the shop and all the tech areas, but I don't think my heart could have taken it. By this time I was doing way too much "remember what was here before; now place it over what you see now".

I got a chance to talk to Kim shortly after that. I didn't realize how much I missed talking to Kim until I saw him.

At one point, he pointed to his wall that is a sort of homage to our 1986 production of "Marat/Sade" and told me some kids were looking at the pictures and asking the date of that production. When he told them, they said they hadn't even been born. I cringed again.

Kim told me that the age we are there in those pictures is how he always thinks of us.

Yeah, guess what: Most times it's how I think of me, too.

I'll always be 20. Kim will always be 40. Except for when I'm even younger, or slightly older. But basically, I feel about 20.

I guess a lot of my figuring out who I am happened in college. I don't know how to explain it. What makes it especially difficult is I'm not sure I've figured out who I am, even twenty years later.

Apparently not having enough overlay going on in my brain, I decided to go see Lois Anne, Kim's wife and the newspaper advisor, who now has an office over in Curry Library.

She wasn't in, so I left a note. Then I decided to go to Jewell Hall to take a picture of the view from the hill (see STILL:Life for that one), but before I got there, Dr. Geilker passed me, and I said, "Hello, Dr. Geilker," just like it was 1990 or something, and walked on by.

It hit me that while I have this story I love to tell about a day in Dr. Geilker's class, and while he's a main character in it, I've never really gotten his take on it.

It was my 5th year. Fall, I believe. Yes, it was the autumn of 1989. I had gone to Jewell for four years and three summers prior to this, but still I didn't have all the credits I needed for my teaching certificate (in fact, I went back to Jewell to get the certificate when I realized the summer before that I wouldn't be able to get a great job with just a Communications degree... and while I was there, I finished my theatre emphasis).

I had given up on the English part of my degree (I had started as a triple major: Communication with Emphasis in Theatre, English, and Education... the idea being I could teach speech, theatre and English to high school students--and here I am today, teaching math to 7th grade kids. Go ahead! Make plans! Life's just gonna do what it wants anyway!) early on in my college career. It wasn't until the beginning of my senior year that I found out I took the wrong science class (or something like that) and couldn't get my teaching certificate. Then I got a bad grade in Theatre History, and dropped the Theatre Emphasis. So I got my diploma with just a Communication degree. B.A., no emphasis.

So, when I went back for the teaching certificate, I had to take Physics, some sort of Poli Sci class, and some other class the nature of which is currently escaping me. And I took Theatre History to get that emphasis I so wanted. I had student teaching and all that to deal with second semester.

Now, to understand this tale, you need to know a few things. First, my older brother Todd was always having me read things that were beyond my grade level. And one day I either picked up one of his books or he had me read it, and this whole book was a sort of "FAQ of Science" for older kids.

The question was: "What would happen if the earth suddenly stopped spinning?"

The first few sentences of the answer explained that if the earth suddenly stopped spinning, we'd all be thrown off.

I didn't read any further. I used this information to piece together that gravity happened because the earth was spinning.

I obviously didn't do much to analyze this theory. And it was never challenged, because I didn't take physics in high school. I mean, once you have a theory about why gravity happens, all you really care about is that it DOES happen. You don't think about the why.

That is, until Dr. Geilker says, "Gravity is a force. We don't know why it happens, but it does."

I was sitting in the front row. Pretty much everyone in the class was a freshman. I very calmly (not) yelled, "No way! Seriously? Gravity just HAPPENS?"

Nobody knew that I was dealing with a little cognitive dissonance. Nobody knew that in my mind I was having to rearrange stuff I hadn't thought about for years.In fact, I have often wondered if Dr. Geilker thought I was pulling his leg, since my reaction to learning that gravity is just a force was so huge.

And you know most of the people in there thought I was an idiot. I don't blame them.

But I had a huge reaction to this news. A really inappropriately huge reaction. And I still laugh remembering it, and imagining what I must have seemed like to all the people around me who knew for years that gravity just happens.

So I turned and saw that he had gone into Curry. I followed him in and introduced myself. He seemed to remember me (not that I think he has no memory, it's just as a teacher I know how hard it is to remember former students, and also I only had the one class with him) and I told him the story. His take on it (at least his take now--I'm fairly sure he doesn't even remember that day in class, because to him it would have just been a normal day made slightly odd by the strange guy in the front row) was to tell me that in his astronomy class he spends the first few weeks going over the history of astronomy, and how for centuries we viewed the universe as earth-centered, and he always ends up with students telling people at the end of the semester that Dr. Geilker teaches that the sun goes around the earth.

So I think he was telling me that I could have been a lot dumber.

Anyway, that over, I went back to take my picture from the front of Jewell Hall, then I visited the Union, which is massively different now, and then I checked to see if Lois Anne was back in her office, and then I left the campus.

I did drive by all my old apartments. That was odd, too.

Here's what I figured out: I may not have done all I wished I could have done, but I'm not dead yet, and I'm doing well enough.

To which Jhoneric said when I called him later, "Oh yeah, you got to work at kinko's, and..."

Shut up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Okay, So I AM Cursing The Darkness...


That sums it up.

Okay, sorry about that last post. I typed it up, then was going to spell-check and edit it, because I just sorta threw it all out there and wanted to fix it up, but my computer froze on me.

Luckily, saves every however-many seconds, and when I logged on the next night, there it was. However, I was too tired to do more than publish it.

Not my best rant, is all I'm sayin'.

But I meant well. And as per Andy's comment, yeah, I get the glass-half-full thing, but what with the situation that made me start thinking about the need for mentors, I guess I had "the horrible future of the road hopefully avoided" on my mind more than "the great future of the rode hopefully taken".

Well, and it's more than that. I guess with what I do or maybe it's just how I'm wired, I think more about stopping the horrible and figure someone better at living life will do the "starting something wonderful" part.

I mean, looking at my life, I'm thinking I'm WAY more skilled at knowing where the stupid choices get you than I am at knowing how to do things in a way that make sense.

So let me be the mess standing there saying, "Turn around! Bridge out! Abandon hope all ye who continue down this path!"

And so on.

Okay, that went a lot darker than I meant it to. Lighten it up a bit and you hopefully get the idea.

While I'm on the topic of Comments, let me first say "Hey" to Chris! I was really amazed that you read this, Chris, and thrilled that you commented! Go over to my website and find a link to my e-mail an drop me a line! I'd love to know what's going on in your life.

And also on the topic of Comments, let me second say, "Are there no mentoring programs other people are aware of? I was really hoping a link or two would crop up in that last post's comment."

There, I've said it.

Anyway, tonight I'm thinking about what a horrible place this world can be, and how I am SO not equipped to manage very well in it. Or, I'm thinking about how I'm wired in such a way that I more often wait around to be of use to someone than think about what I want to do or be and work toward that. Or, I'm thinking that this is all wrong, and if I could just figure out where I took the wrong turn, it'd just be a matter of back-tracking and adjusting... but who has a time machine? Oh yeah, and I'm thinking that decades-long apathy doesn't lead anywhere good.

Also, I'm thinking about this thing that happened to me this summer, where I thought... or felt, I guess... that things were going to be better--

And let me stop that thought to say that, yes, they are better, but the stupid hopeful part of me thought that meant "better" in that life would be better, not that I'd be much better equipped to say, "Well, what happens is what happens, and I'll deal with it when it comes." Which is nice and all, seriously, but stupid hopeful me just thought things would be... you know... BETTER.

Anyway, I felt like I had a life-changing experience... and now I'm wondering if the big change was that to completely make it out of the frying pan I'm gonna have to drop into the fire and make my way around the... okay, now I'm wondering if there's a word that means "the stuff you've put in the fire so that it keeps burning" (and don't say "fuel", because I'm looking for a word more... um... fancy than that), be it logs, or paper, or whatever. Well, whatever it's called, I imagine there's now all this fire and stuff that's on fire that I have to work around to get out of the general vicinity of the frying pan.

Well, now I've gone and painted it much more dire than I meant to.

I just mean--in case people haven't been paying attention to the world around them--that this world can be difficult and disappointing at times.

Blah blah blah.

Here are some joyful things:

Kids who are 12 years old will go out of their way to make sure nobody sees their class photo, but if you suggest to them they should put a paper bag over their head, they act all insulted.

Just when you think life is boring and awful, there's the sky, full of blue and whatever other colors go with the time of day, and--more often than not, it seems--a bunch of REALLY cool clouds. Also, there's often some cool sun action in there as well.

Grades are done for the first quarter! I've got my plans done for second quarter!


Okay, how strange is that? I'm sitting here trying to focus on the joy, and struggling to come up with some really great joyful thing to end with... and I get a joyful phone call.

This world is a trip.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Yes, I'll share more about Denver some day. I truly will. I'll also tell the stories alluded to in one of the earlier posts (about my last day at PJs, and so on).

But, as you may or may not be aware, there was another school shooting today.

Statistically speaking, we're doing okay here. Again, that's strictly statistically speaking. And by "we", I mean public schools in America. The friends and family members of those shot, and the friends and family members of the kid who did the shooting probably aren't doing so okay, non-statistically speaking.

I mean to say this doesn't mean the school near your home isn't the safest place for a kid to be. Schools are safe, trust me. It's just a school being safe doesn't make the news.

But, back to the horror that is any school shooting...

I have a suggestion for you if you hear about these things (or see them on the news) and wonder what's wrong with the world--or, more importanly, if you feel like you should do something.

Ready? Here it comes: volunteer to be a mentor.

There are so many programs out there to give adults the opportunity to mentor a kid, I'm not sure where to begin. In the Kansas City area, we have Youth Friends. There are Big Brother/Big Sister programs just about everywhere. You can do a search for "volunteer, mentor, youth" and the name of the city or state where you live to find programs in your area.

I don't have any solid numbers handy at the moment, but trust me when I say there are a lot of kids out there who need another adult in their lives. At our school alone, we're needing mentors for another fifteen kids or so. There are ridiculously huge numbers of children and young adults who could benefit greatly from just a little attention.

There are kids out there (and not just a few) who have parents they seldom see. (That's not to judge the parents who are working two jobs or a night job to provide for their family, mind you.) Many kids today don't have that sense of community, or a sense of belonging. They don't have a decent number of trustworthy adults in their lives. And it's not like you have to be all that great of a human being to do a great job at being a mentor. You just have to be A human being... someone with a heart that can listen and make conversation over lunch. Nothing fancy required, honest.

If you could dedicate an hour a week to hanging out with a kid, you wouldn't believe the difference it could make.

So go volunteer. The down side to volunteering to be a mentor is also the up side: you may never know what horrible future you may have helped a young person avoid.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I'm in Denver as I type this. Ten-hour drives are for the birds.

If you're looking for the post related to the poll that ends this Saturday, you need to scroll down to the next one.

Anyway, I made it to Denver. I'm hanging with Sarah when I can, singing when I'm supposed to, and spending the other time trying not to think too much about that drive back to Kansas City.

As I was driving to the first event this morning, I had to reflect that it wouldn't suck to have mountains to look at every day as you drove to work.

Then I thought, "Yeah, but I bet after a while you'd forget they were there. Or, worse yet, maybe you'd come to resent them for some reason."

This led me to start writing a story in my head about someone who, as he drove to work every day, would look at a mountain top and imagine there was someone there who didn't have all the worries he had. He would imagine if he had this guy's life, he'd be so much happier. The guy becomes obsessed with the idea, and one day, after receiving one more piece of disturbing news to make his life more difficult, he sorta snaps and decides he's gonna go to that mountain top and tell this ideal-life guy off (having gone just insane enough to forget that he made the guy up in the first place).

So he pulls off at the next exit, and begins figuring out how to make sure he goes to the right mountain top (because he is sure he must go to the specific one that is the source of his anger).

At this point, my story became fuzzy, due to a need to research how he would go about figuring out how to get to that specific mountain top. But, in the preliminary version, this bitter and angry man gets to the right mountain top, and of course there's nobody there. There's no cabin (because he'd imagined this guy lives in a very nice cabin, and looks down at the folks on the highway, thinking, "I'm so glad I don't have that sort of life"); no sign of human life at all.

I didn't have anywhere to go with it after that, and traffic drew my attention away from the story. As I think of it now, I think the guy should decide to leave his life behind and live on the mountain until he could find some sort of sane way of living. But that's just this version of it. I'm sure if I sat down and wrote it, the story would go some completely different direction. I'm not saying I have a story that goes anywhere. I just wanted to give you a glimpse into what my brain is like on a morning drive.

Then, as I was typing this entry and specifically the part about how nice it would be to see the mountains every day going to work, I realized that on good days (when I have a good and restful evening the night before, anyway), I like to get to school by 6:00 in the morning. So how often would I get to see the mountains on my way in to work in the morning? Well, there it is.

Anyway, I'm going to nap now. Did I mention that 10 hour drive yesterday, and how much it wore me out?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Am I Insane?

First, a recap of the last poll:

Which closest matches your theory as to why I had disappeared?
You're a jerk who doesn't return e-mail. 0%
You were dead and nobody sent me funeral arrangement info. 0%
You were gone? Oh. Welcome back, I guess. 0%
You were attacked by bears or aliens or clarinets or something. 33%
You were busy getting ready for school and finishing that Pre-Algebra curriculum. 66% (Although it should read 67%... who does the math for these things? My students?)

Okay, now let's get back to topic:

Am I insane?

I'm not one of those folks that buys into the whole, "Insane people don't think they're insane" thing. I think there are plenty of insane people who know they're insane.

And I'm not poking fun at the insane here. I'm really starting to wonder.

I mean, here's something I don't bring up to people, but am willing to share online with the world: I've been seeing things out of the corner of my eye. Or the corners of my eyes... I don't think these "things" favor one eye over the other.

Nothing specific, mind you. Well, nothing more specific than the message light on the phone at school, which was the first false thing I realized I was seeing out of the corner of my eye. I sometimes see the message light flashing out of the corner of my eye, but then I stare at it, and it doesn't flash at all (I have to stare, because there were times that it WAS flashing and I'd glance, look away, see the flash again... rinse, repeat).

Then, there was this whole crazy thing with the Encyclopedia "Yearbooks" at the first of the year. Although there ended up being a rational explanation as to why I'd look at a book and it would say 1985 as clear as day, then several minutes later it said 1986 or 1984, the feeling of "Oh man, I'm going insane" was not unfamiliar to me at that time.

I keep seeing movement out of the corner of my eye when nothing is moving. When I'm home alone, it's very disturbing. Especially when it's accompanied by a voice.

I kid. No voice.

Well, I mean, barring the ongoing dialogue between the different parts of my brain, which sometimes seeps out into the real world in the form of conversations with myself, which is a whole other insane thing.

Also, let's reflect on how I have the financial planning skills of a milk truck. I mean, isn't the definition of insanity (or the popular t-shirt version) doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Oh, and if you knew the story behind the potato-chip picture over on STILL: Life, you'd be voting "he's TRULY insane" on that poll over there.

Or, maybe I'm just bored. I have all the free time on my hands, so I can see how I'd get bored.

I kid.

Okay, I'm done worrying about it. You people vote on it (hopefully more than three of you this time) and I'm going to type some more, updating folks on my life.

I don't deliver pizza any more. There's a great story about it, and I'll post that some day before I die, if I'm lucky... or if you're lucky... or if someone has some sort of luck. Whichever applies.

I'm the interim choir director at the church right now. It's an odd feeling, directing a choir. I mean for me. I doubt your average Joe Choirdirector has the same feeling. For me, it's a mix between the "People are looking at me" I felt back when I would pitch on our Khoury League team, and the "People are looking at me" I feel onstage. That is to say, it's a mixed bag, based on my feelings of inadequacy. But I'm enjoying it. It's just an odd feeling.

I'm going to Denver this weekend to sing. Also, I get to visit my college chum Sarah, and meet her family. I haven't seen her in a coon's age... almost literally, there. Come to think of it, I don't know if I've seen her in even more than 16 years.

However, I'm driving to Denver, and that gives me odd feelings of dread. I don't know why. The car is practically new. But, if this is some psychic thing, let me take this chance to say I love you all dearly, and my will is under my mattress.

Okay, I'm tired. I'm driving ten hours tomorrow. My laundry is about done. I'm gonna add a link over on my other blog, then hit the hay.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm Just Gonna Tell It Here And Be Done With It

First, in case you haven't read the post below, walk fund-raising:

Ruth & Kathy, Breast Cancer: Here
Leigh, PKD: Here
Debbie, Alzheimers: Here

And no comments asking when I'm going to participate in a walk. It ain't gonna happen until I first am able to walk a mile in another person's body.

So I have this dream to recount, and I can't figure out who to recount it to... as it's the sort of dream that might inspire people to feel they need to comment or say something of comfort or otherwise voice something that feels somewhat obligatory.

Thus, I've opted to just share it here, to get the sharing part out of my system, and then go take a nap.

Last night I dreamt that through some plot device now lost to the dreamer, I'd travelled back in time some vague-yet-small amount. Somewhere around ten years or so, I guess.

Anyway, I was in the middle of whatever it was I was supposed to be doing when I suddenly realized that Patsy was alive and in her right mind, and I could go see her again.

So, I pick up the mobile phone--which I think some lucid part of me realized shouldn't work, as it was the past and the phone number hadn't been activated... and might not have even worked if it had been--and I called Mom.

She didn't know it was me from the future, and I just asked her if she was going to be home for a while so I could come visit.

On the way to the house (I don't know where I started... it seemed to be some mix of Center, Kansas City, and maybe some Los Angeles in there), I ran into all kinds of difficulties. At one point I had to climb up onto an overpass, only to find the overpass had flooded, and for reasons not made clear to my lucid brain, I had to avoid the water. So I was jumping from car to car, eventually climbing on top of what I believed to be a train, even though it makes no sense having a train on the highway.

In the course of all this, I got on the phone again, and somehow I was jostled and the phone hit my chin and a piece of it broke off.

This is the strange part.

Okay, one of the stranger strange parts.

My lucid brain, which was apparently less lucid than it should be, as it was buying into this dream, thought "If I wake up and my phone is broken, I'll know I really went back in time, and this was God giving me a chance to see Mom one more time, as she was."

So much for "lucid", right?

So I got to the house (this happened off-camera... I just suddenly was there, and I don't even remember if it was the old house or the current one), and there was Patsy. I made such a noise of joy/grief/anguish/jubilation that I am 100% positive I actually made that noise out loud in my sleep. (To clarify, the grief/anguish parts of the noise were coming from the lucid brain in me.)

And that noise, I think, is what woke me up.

I didn't check my phone, because lucid brain was having nothing to do with that, instead just clearing it's throat and making tut-tut noises while not making eye-contact with any other part of my brain.

Okay, I'm off to nap...


No, not Texas Rangers, or a herd of that thing I used to get around when I had a broken leg...

I just wanted to link to some people participating in different fundraising walks.

Ruth and Kathy are finishing their walk today. They've made their goal, but if you want to give, go here and follow the links to their walk sites... or read the latest newsletter... or watch the video again...

My friend Leigh is walking in the Walk for PKD. To read more about PKD and her walk, click here.

Debbie, who I have only spoken to via e-mail since... I don't remember the last time we talked in person, actually. It might have been in the 80s. Anyway, I've known her since seventh grade... where was I? Oh yeah, Debbie is walking in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk in St. Louis. Click here to visit her walk page.

Oh, and that lack of memory joke in the last paragraph wasn't meant to be a bad Alzheimer's joke.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Where Have You Been?

Don't ask!

Okay, the short version is: Pre-Algebra Curriculum. Although that isn't an answer to the posted question, it explains why I've been so computer-shy these last... um... 50 days or so.

Every time I'd sit down to do ANYTHING at the computer, I'd be reminded that this curriculum mess isn't fixed yet.

As for the mess, seriously, don't ask. We can leave it at "It's done now" and move on. I will say that it got so bad that when I finished Thursday night/Friday morning at 12:15, I seriously considered going out for a drink or ten.

Anyway, on top of the "not posting" mess, I'm also having a "what the heck is going on with my e-mail mess", which involves me not being able to successfully send e-mails abou 95% of the time.

So, after this, I'm going to pop over to a blog or two to explain that this explanation is here, and them I'm going to go out for a drink or ten. I kid. I'm actually going to... I don't know what I'm going to do.

My website is updated to July, finally. I hope to update it to August sometime mid-week, and finally be in September next weekend.

Oh, the poem is posted, and the results from the 2nd poll are as follows:

People who have known me for less than a year: 0/7 (0%)
People who have known me a year or over, but less than five years: 1/7 (14%)
People who have known me over five years, but less than twenty years: 2/7 (28%)
People who have known me twenty or more years: 4/7 (28%)
People who don't know me: 0/7 (0%)

The lesson here is that only seven people who read this thing take part in the polls... and that's assuming somebody didn't take the poll more than once.

Anyway, the poll should be changed now (unless you read this in the five minutes after I post it... in which case, come back in ten minutes).

I have thoughts to post which I will post later. And news to post which I will post later.


Finally, That Poem


How can I do justice to the feeling of bliss
Inspired by the simple act of stepping out
Of shoes (whose painful nature others might dismiss)
Into sandals? I suppose I could simply shout
From the nearest mountain top, or perhaps a hill,
But the words I'd shout escape me. It's late, as well.
This peacefulness accompanied by no small thrill
Is not unlike, after twenty-five years of Hell
Finding, right beside you, where it's been all along
The tallest, coolest glass of water, just for you.
And, as you slowly drink it down, you hear a song
Played in your head say, "Through these years you always knew
That right beside you, waiting for your open eyes
Was peace, and joy, and love. But you kept your head turned,
Letting what you couldn't help work toward your demise.
I've been waiting here, while inside you this fire burned.
But now, you see. And, home at last, you find relief.
And now, you see that darkest night has led to dawn.
And now, you know that all along you had belief
That all would be well when you had your sandals on."

Copyright 2007, Mark Travis Riggs

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thinking of Dining Out?

Sorry for the radio-silence... but I'm crazy busy right now, and I'm only breaking it for a second here to remind (or tell for the first time) that Ruth & Kathy's two-day fundraiser via all KC area Uno Chicago Grill restaurants is tomorrow and Thursday. Read the info here:

You'll need to bring a certificate, which you can get by clicking the link at the bottom of the page I've linked to in the last paragraph.

I tried sending out an e-mail this morning, but apparently something majorly messed up over at my ISP. They say they're working on it.

I'm back to this fun all-nighter I think I'm about to have to pull. Ta.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wait, There's A Journey?

First, the poll has closed, and it looks like 5 were for it, 1 against it, and 2 voting for free will.

I'm not sure whether I should be thrilled or upset that 8 people voted. I'll go with thrilled, as I can't think of who the 8 would be (did one of you vote twice?).

Second, I realize that as a first personal reaction to what I said in that last post, job one will be to get the plank out of my own eye. So begins the process of me identifying who I may have shooed (or even thought needed to be shooed).

I'll have the poem finished within the week! Now vote in the new poll!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

First: Don't forget to take the poll found at the right, if you haven't already taken it. Details in the post below.

Second... a warning: Christ may be mentioned often in this post. Read it if you dare, person that I'm thinking of (and I know you know who you are).

When I was thirteen (I don't know if this is an actual thirteen, because really it's a "somewhere around thirteen," which includes thirteen; it's just that, barring the lengthy explanation, it's quicker to say/type "thirteen") I was asked to leave Christ alone. I was told Christ did not want me hanging around. I was told that I was making the place look bad. In short (too late), I was told, "Get out. Christ don't like your kind 'round here."

Nobody actually said that to me. I think it's very seldom said. Like good Christian works, I think bad Christian works most often happen with deeds, not words... or at least bad Christian works don't happen with words directly spoken to the person they are meant for.

But, from a young age I had no problem with addition, and I could add two twos to get four. I certainly wasn't going to admit I belonged to a group being told "go away". I just began my slow walk away from the table where the eternal Lord's Supper is being continuously served.

I picture me with my head down, not wanting to look back, for fear Christ would be scowling at me because I wasn't going away fast enough--but that's because I have a touch of the dramatic and everything must either be envisioned as a stage play or a film. Or a scene from a book, maybe. Notice I didn't say "a good book", as I'm not sure if this would make a good story.

I didn't have it in me to hate God or Christ just yet. I still had enough fear in me, and the anger had not yet built up. But, the thing is, if you are told Christ doesn't want you around (at least when you're young... and I think it's true if you're older too--especially if you didn't have much of a religious upbringing, or didn't have one that stressed the unconditional love of God), after a while, you start to quietly think something along the lines of, "Oh yeah? Well, f**k him, then!"

Yeah, at first you think it with the f**k and the initial letter of "him" in capital letters. But, with time, they go to lower case. Lower case for the first four letters doesn't mean you're less angry. It means you're more accepting of your anger, and you're more committed to it.

And so it was with me.

And the lower-case "h"? That's there because after a while you find yourself singing "Oh how I hate Jesus, because he first hated me." And you never capitalize the initial "h" of the him you hate.

And so it was with me.

After some time, you just write the whole thing off as a fairy tale, and get irritated with anyone who believes as you used to (or, put another way, still gets to sit at that table you were sent away from). You get to carry around a large Army duffel bag full of anger, and hate, and fear.

And so it was with me.

My anger solidified itself into disbelief in the whole thing when a classmate died. I figured it made more sense to not believe in a God that would allow one of the loved ones to die instead of getting rid of a hated one. It didn't help that I was silently hoping to be gotten rid of. Living without your spiritual anchor is no cup of tea.

And life went on. And on. My anger, combined with my humor, became my "thing". I happily avoided anyone wearing a cross, and made fun of anyone seen walking into a church. More hate and anger and fear for the duffel bag.

Life goes on. Tolerance sneaks in. The anger/hate/fear more often stays in the bag, only needing a slight release every other... I don't know... twelve hours or so.

At least, so it was with me.

Now, if you're lucky--or maybe, if you're able to take advantage of the chance you are given to turn and see Christ beside you, silently waiting for you to realize He has never left your side from the moment you stepped away from the table--you may have a string of events help you realize it wasn't God or Christ that sent you away.

It wasn't God or Christ who said those hateful things.

Seeing that, you may be able to look back at your life and see all the times He has been there, silently holding you, prodding your conscience, helping you up when you thought you couldn't stand anything else.

He has been there listening to your non-stop prayer of anger, you realize.

If you're lucky. If you take advantage of the opportunity that may arise.

And so it was with me.

However, these opportunities are like pennies on the sidewalk. Easy to miss, and not always able to generate the motivation to stop and make the little effort needed to take them. Looking back, I know I've walked by many such metaphorical pennies.

I do, however, tend to pick up any non-metaphorical penny I find on the ground. I don't hold to the whole "tails up is bad luck" thing.

My point (and yes, there actually is one here) is this: Not everybody looks beside them or behind them to see that it wasn't Christ who shooed them away like unwelcome dogs at a barbecue.

And, believe me, there are still people being shooed away. They are being shooed away right now. Somewhere on this planet--in this country, even--I can almost guarantee you someone is feeling that they have been (probably indirectly, mind you) told they are not welcome at that table as you read this. I'm not talking about any particular group of people here (unless you want to label the group as "those being shooed away"). I think you could think of more than three "groups" of people being shooed away from the table, if you tried.

So, the big choices are: Either you are okay with people being told they are not worthy of Christ's love, or you actively make sure everybody knows they are welcome at this table and that Christ's love is for them as well.

Inaction denotes acceptance of the former.

Should they stay? Should they go?

If you accept the latter of the two big choices given--that is, if you believe Christ's love is for everyone, is your congregation actively making sure everyone knows they are welcome at the table?

If not, do you have it in you to start working toward change within your congregation? Or would your efforts be better used in a congregation of like-minded people?

Should you stay? Should you go?

I don't mean to imply either your staying with your congregation or going away to another is the better choice. I'm honestly asking--if you agree the choices are either welcoming someone to stay with Christ or being okay with the fact they're shooed away, and if you feel welcoming is the way to go--how and where can you best be a welcoming force?

If you are of the opinion that there are people Christ doesn't love, and who are not welcome at the table, I don't really have a lot to say to you. I don't mean that I don't want to talk with you, but I'm not sure what I could say to you to change your mind on the topic, and there's nigh unto nothing (the "nigh unto" being there because I have a hard time saying "nothing", and "never" and so on) you can say to change my mind on the topic.

I know this isn't standard fare for my non-blog. It's just something that's been floating around in my head for a couple of days. Last night I discussed it with friends, and I'm wondering if this is something I need to be repeatedly asking everyone sitting at the table with me: Should we be letting those people be shooed away?