Monday, June 21, 2010

An Ordinary Thing (Like A Light Bulb)

Big, exciting news: I changed a light bulb in my car today!

I first noticed my left-turn signal blinking faster than usual the other day, and I figured I had a light out. Sure enough, when I got to where I was headed and check, no blinker working in the back.

I've been meaning to go get a bulb and replace the one that's out, but I've also kept forgetting I needed it until I was headed somewhere else.

So today, I was wanting to get out of the house, so I got in my car figuring I'd think of somewhere to go... and then I turned left.

And still I debated whether or not to take care of it right then. Really. I thought, well, I can take care of it after I go do this.

It took a moment to figure out this did not involve a this. So I turned left again to the auto parts store.

I'd like to note that I sweat something like a gallon as I did this little task. I miss nice days. We did used to have nice days once, right? Crazy hot.

Anyway, that's the big thing I did today. An ordinary thing like that.

Tonight a friend of mine is with her mother and sisters in a hospital while her father's blood pressure continues to drop. He doesn't have long, they say.

So while you go about doing your ordinary things today, if you're the prayin' kind, send up a prayer for my friend's father, that he is able to go in peace. Pray that my friend and her family can find peace as well.

You don't need names. Just tell God it's my friend and her family. She'll know who you mean.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No Wonder He Wanted To Fly Like An Eagle

It's Father's Day. There's a great story there. I'm not going to share it... mostly because every time I share it with anyone, they tell me there needs to be a movie on Lifetime about it, so I'm still considering writing the script and sending it off to those folks at Lifetime.

However, I will tell you the story of my trip to Metro North Mall the other day. It was the second time I'd been there in about a week, but the first time I just drove by--I was trying to find the closest GNC (which, it turns out, is not the one at Metro North Mall... the actual closest one I could hit with a baseball if I was standing in my front yard and threw it with some small fraction of Superman's strength. I mean, like a fifth of the fraction of his strength I'd need to hit Metro North Mall with that baseball standing in the same spot in my yard... and that's not my point and it's been way too long since that open-parenthesis, eh?), and I thought it was there. The place had to have been closed--I mean, yeah, I knew the place wasn't the hoppin' spot it was in the late 80s and early 90s, but I'd expected more than the ten vehicles or so I saw parked around the place. So I didn't go in.

A few days ago, I returned and actually went in. As it turned out, I parked at the other end of the mall from where I needed to be. This worked out well, because my shocked reaction was to walk the length of the place on both floors.

Ghost. Town.

Or, you know: Ghost. Mall.

I can't remember the last time I'd been in there. I mean, I remember the last time I'd been in there, but I didn't remember what year it was. I mean, I remembered what year it was at the time I was in there last, but I cannot now remember what year it was I was last in there.

Because blogging makes my writing English good.

Anyway, the last time I'd been there, I was there for the "Go For The Grand" finals in the northland. We had some kids on our team competing, and we'd gone to watch the finals there. I remember thinking the place was kinda dead and it was kinda said... but this last time I was there? Very dead. Very sad.

You see, back in the day, there was nothing in or near Liberty. In that sentence, "back in the day" means circa August 1985 to May 1990 or so. And "nothing" means "very little to see or do that was of interest to your average college student".

Metro North Mall was where I most often went to see movies while in college. It's where Gregg Elliott and I acted out the poster for White Knights, and where Jhoneric Campbell and Jennifer Sherburne crashed an burned trying to act out the poster for Jewel of the Nile about three seconds after Gregg and I did our thing.

Jhoneric and I wrote "Toxic Mall Rats", the award winning musical (in our minds) after a visit to Metro North Mall--and we used that mall as the template for the mall in the musical. To my knowledge, no dead body was ever found in one of the fountains, and no heavy metal songstress had a concert there, and the mall never exploded, but I still feel we captured the essence of that place.

Walking around that place the other day I kept remembering what used to be in all those empty spots. There has to be no more than 20 stores there now, and I really think it's closer to 12 than 20.

The first horrible blow was seeing the total lack of Mr. Bulky's. How are you gonna have a mall without a Mr. Bulky's?

No music stores (do they exist any more?), no place to eat (unless you count Topsy's... I think those places are like the cockroaches of businesses... they can survive anywhere... Metcalf South Mall had one the last time I was in there, and it had very little else), no book store, and only one of the four "big department store" spots is occupied.

It was horrible. It really made me kinda sick to my stomach, but the emotional one, not the "O to the M to the G, I am so gonna hurl" one.

And here's the spot where I ran into that guy I knew in high school. And here is the spot where they had the Santa Train or whatever every year (and maybe they still do, but just decided not to put it out for June), and here's the spot where Spencer Gifts used to be, and here's the spot where Duff's used to be (and where I first worked as a cook)... and on and on.

I get it, I get it. We need to have the passage of time so we'll get older and realize what idiots we were in our youth or five years ago or last week or whatever applies. But man, this whole "slippin' in the future thing" can suck.

Yeah, I know, "death of another mall," big deal. It's just... wow. Death of a mall I went to often during college. I think it's just a sort of an affront to the part of me that wants to be able to say, "This happened once. We did this." Of course, those things can still be said. Just without, you know, visual aids.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Secret Behind The "No Fear" Thing

Before I start, there's a poll over there to the left. You probably can't read it at all. Try clicking and dragging as if you were going to copy and paste. I still haven't worked out the issues with this whole new layout thing, and at the rate I'm going, won't get around to it before I change the whole thing again.

Anyway, there's a poll. As I type this, I don't even remember what it's about. I put it up the other day, but Google was being a freak about posting it for some reason, and I just figured it would show up when it showed up, and then I'd post something about it here. I just noticed tonight it's over there.

Now, back to this post.

I have probably mentioned it sometime in the past six or so years that I've been occasionally expressing my thoughts with as many embarrassing typographical errors as possible on here, but fear plays a major part in my life. Way too much of a major part in my life. I mean, in so many ways, I so could not care less about things, but in so many ways that's a huge lie.

Shut up. You're all dichotomistic. Don't try to deny it. Or argue that "dichotomistic" isn't a word. Look up dichotomy and then just look the other way like you do when I make up other words like... well, I can't think up any examples right now, but you know it's true. All of it. Not just the bit about the word-making-up-ed-ness, but the dichotomy thing, too.

Argh. Where was I?

Oh yeah: fear in my life.

It's stupid the role fear plays and has played in my life. More stupid that I've realized it and yet it still plays a huge role. As much as I don't care what people think, I'm also there, caring what people think. As much as I don't care who I make angry, I care who I make angry.

However, I can firmly say, fear plays a huge part in my life. I can't follow with, "And yet I'm so without fear." I can't think of many times I've been without fear... and you can probably change that to "I can't think of any times", were it not for my dislike for speaking in absolutes.

So as I look back at some of the highlights of my fear-filled life (the Brad Graham incident of 1985, college selection, and a whole host of things I'm afraid to mention (see!?!?)), I realize the whole "No Fear" thing probably started because I was hogging all the fear, and people were actually running out.

Don't get me wrong, I don't cower in fear at every little thing... I'm certainly less afraid of physical pain that I should be--and less afraid of the general "what will become of me" than I should be.

Really, I had a destination in mind when I started writing this. I swear I did. I'll let you know if we end up anywhere close.

Okay, for instance, the whole "Dad" thing (see Ruth's post here). I didn't want to bring it up, because I was afraid it was going to stir up sh*t. I don't mind that Ruth did, because I trust her judgement a whole lot more than I trust my own. I figured it she was willing to bring it up, it was probably okay. Then I just kick myself for not having the guts to bring it up. I just don't trust my judgement in this arena very well. I also don't trust my instincts. Just a side note there.

I mean, yes, there are times that I am not afraid to stir things up, especially if I very very very very firmly believe something is wrong. And there really do need to be that many "very"s in front of it before I'll actually grab the spoon and start stirring...

But for the most part, I think if I knew I could feed and clothe myself, and keep myself warm, I'd go live in a cave somewhere and only come out when people needed me for something. You know, like reaching something on a high-up shelf for someone.

Also, I'd like a cave with wireless internet, but that's really optional. People think this isn't so where I'm concerned, but there were several years there I lived without cable to save money... You'd be amazed at what I can do without if I have to. Especially if it meant there's less chance of me stirring stuff up!

Anyway, my fear-filled life was on my mind tonight. For some reason it came to me after I read this old post of mine from a few years back. Maybe there's a connection. No, wait, there is a connection, but I'm not going to share it for a secret reason that rhymes with smear and leer and bier.

So, um... Happy Father's Day to my dad, in the Great Beyond. Happy Father's Day to the many dads who quasi-adopted me throughout my earlier years (Mike Couch, Tom VanSkike, Les Taylor, Kim Harris, to name a few--and forgive me if I've forgotten any).

Now I have to go back and re-read this to see if I'm really gonna post it... (fear, you know)

Oh, and I have no idea if we ended up where I thought we'd end up!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

I had a quick couple of things I wanted to say, and thought I forgot one of them, but now I remember it. There is no reason for me to keep all of that in this paragraph, and yet I do.

First, I'm playing with the look of this blog. I'm not married to what it is right now, so if you hate it, give it time; it will probably change.

Second, my sister is finally blogging. There's a link in one of the side bars (currently on the right, but I might move it). Her blog is The World Needed Another Blog, which I think is a great title, and very "her". Also, she makes me sound like some sort of total j.d. in her description of her blog, so go check it out.

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging, already in lack of progress.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Another Jewell Visit

Twenty-five years ago today, I came to Kansas City for the first time. It was some sort of pre-registration event for incoming freshmen at Jewell. The Kansas City part was fairly short... and may have technically been a look from a slight distance, as we came across on I-70 and then headed north on... some road or another. If I had to guess now, I'd say 435, but maybe we did the 291 thing. Whatever.

Anyway, the date has always stuck in my head, as it was such a huge thing for me. I wanted to get out of Ralls County (no offense, Ralls County) so bad at that point, and I had an audition for a scholarship that day, and it was a huge deal. The night before I'd spent what seemed like hours perusing the Hannibal Public Library looking for a 4-minute monologue piece. In those days way before the internet, I had no idea how to find such a thing in my rural home town or nearby towns' libraries. June 7, 1985 was one of the first times I heard my mom drop the f-bomb, by the way.

I came in from my fruitless trip to the library in Hannibal, and Mom asked if I found anything. If you've seen that scene with Edie McClurg from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", what came out of my mouth was not unlike what I said to my mom at that point. However, my rant was about living in a small town and a rural community--just equally peppered with f-bombs as the one in the movie. Mom's response was similar to the one by Edie McClurg's character: "Well, f*** it." Well, similar in that it was short and had the f-bomb in it.

So I went to my trusty Apple //c and started adapting the floor show from "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" into a four-minute monologue. I stayed up very late working on that, and had to get up very early the next morning.

We had just gotten a handicap van (with a wheelchair lift), and I seem to recall the removal or the return of one of the swivel chairs in the back the night before. The library search, the conversation with mom, seeing the chair replacement/removal, and the hours spent in front of my computer with a paperback book beside me are the main things I remember from the day before.

I got a couple of hours sleep before we had to get up, get ready, and head for Jewell. In an ideal world, I would have slept in the van. However, I had a monologue to memorize. I'll cut to the chase on the audition: it was terrible, but luckily at that point to get a theatre scholarship at Jewell if you were male, all you had to do was be in the program.

I guess the Taylor family (sans Derek, if I remember correctly) came to our house, and we all left in the van from there. I remember Les pointing out a hotel he worked on when he was in the Kansas City area working. I still think of that whenever I drive by that place on I-70.

I don't remember a lot of time details. I know early on I had my audition, which started with a meeting with Kim and his son Kyle (well, the meeting was with Kim, and Kyle was there). Kyle was on his way into 2nd grade, and his head was shaved. I thought he had leukemia or something.

I know my appointment to set up my schedule started while I was auditioning. My mom met with Dr. Dunham for that part, and I arrived later. We were in the west cafeteria, not far from where me and mine often ate dinner every night over the next several years. Apparently Dr. Dunham found my mom entertaining enough not to shoo us away upon my arrival.

We didn't look at a lot of the campus (at least, it doesn't seem like we did... I was dead tired, so maybe I sleepwalked through it). I remember seeing Joy Mincey, because she had long black hair with a streak of red it in. This small-town boy was shocked that people would go out in daylight like that.

In honor of it being the 25th anniversary of my first visit to Jewell, I went on campus today. I took a lot of pictures of the quad, and my photo-of-myself for the day was outside the theatre. And I ran into Dr. Robinson! I was in her "Teaching Reading in the Secondary School" class in... 1989 or so. She was so excited to learn of another male middle school teacher... and I learned in the course of her conversation she has been teaching there for 31 years!

I walked around the library a bit, and went into the new-fangled Student Union. It's all very different. Blink, and 25 years pass.

Apparently, lots of other changes are on the way. The school wants to "modernize" the front of the library, so it looks more like the new Student Union front. Whatever. It's all good. I've got photos of what it used to look like.

I kept thinking how much has already changed since that day. I decided to go while I was on the other side of town, so just for fun I had the Garmin tell me how to get there. I had my phone with me. I was taking pictures with my digital camera. I wondered what that me from 25 years ago would have thought about all that, were we to bump into each other on the quad. But there were probably much more important things to share with that guy. Winning Powerball numbers, for instance...