Sunday, February 27, 2005

Here's my blog...

-- I'm still displaced from the computer I normally use, and I'm starting to get used to it. I really need to invest in one of those things you people call "laptops." Our store missed plan by like one billionths of a percent last year, so I'm not sure if a raise is in the future that will make that possible. I could be for the best, though. I've been doing a lot of reading lately and have slept better than normal. I'm sure the lack of computer stimulation has something to do with that.

-- Over the past couple of weeks I have had my fair share of the twins sneezing in my face unnanounced. Somewhere along the way the infected mucus from their lungs made it into mine, and I feel as if my lungs are full. I'm not coughing, but the need is always there. At the present moment I'm bombarding my system with Halls Vitamin C Drops, Riccola Cough Drops, Robutussin Cough Medicine, and this stuff called Vicam that you rub with a cotton swab on the inside of your nose.

-- When I finish this post I'm going to a surprise birthday party for Tim in Killeen. Someone already told him about it (not me) so It's not really a surprise. Some German restaurant. Tim is German.

-- This Thursday is the second annual UBC Skate Night, and I'm excited. Last year at skate night I weighed 284, was miserable, and woke up the next morning determined to get in shape. This year at skate night I will weigh somewhere around 224 (depending on how fattening German food is.)

-- Because of Tim's party I have to miss the Oscars tongight. Oh, well. Out of all the nominated movies and actors I've only seen "Ray" and have heard Jamie Foxx is a shoe in.

-- This Tuesday night is an exciting one for my hometown-- the season premier of "Nashville Star," which is kind of an "American Idol" for country singers. One of the finalists is Josh Owen who is a local legend. He's only just out of high school (my dad substitute taught him and let him play his guitar in class if everyone finished their work quietly,) but has been singing since he was three. When he was a kid he was on Star Search and the Arsenio Hall show. He was just a kid when I was in high school, but I was friends with his older brother, Scott. I taught Scott how to read music who, in turn, taught me to play the bass guitar. Last I heard Scott is a guitarist in Josh's band. Their dad also put up the fence in our back yard. Let's pray for Josh to win Nashville Star so I can have my claim to fame. Past winners were Gary Allan and Buddy Jewell, two singers who have had huge hits on the radio. One of the runners up last season was Miranda Lambert, with whom I used to go to church with and hang out with her family at their place. I'll introduce you as long as you don't embarrass me.

-- Later.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

My Interview...

This blog interview thing seems to be all the rave right now, kind of like Mambo #5 was a few years back. But I'm jumping all over it by answering the questions that Captain Rob Sparrow asked me. I think the best thing about being a celebrity wouldn't be doing whatever it is you do but to give interviews. That would be cool. So here I am. Being cool.

1.Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what will you be doing?

I'm notorious for not taking the long view of things. I spent the biggest part of my 20's moving from place to place every year, without thinking about what the next five or ten years might bring. All that to say this is probably the first time I've been asked this question that I've been able to give it some thought and come up with a pretty solid answer.

In ten years I can see myself still living in Waco. I'm not sure what I'll be doing, but there's an equal chance that I'll be a.) working at Barnes and Noble (hopefully in a higher and more well paid position, b.) teaching high school (I've lately been thinking of going back to school to really get certified and be intentional about being a good teacher.) c.) Teaching English or History at a community college (assuming I go back and work on a Masters.) d.) Being a career writer that everyone quotes or e.) Owning a bowling alley and running a used bookstore inside of said bowling alley and hanging out with my good friends Ed, Carol, Mike, Nancy, and Molly (aka Kyle, Jen, Ben, Jamie, Jason and Chisty and Blake and Karla (if I'm lucky.)

I will weigh 180 lbs., have well defined biceps and washboard abs, have a wife of five years who I submit to on a daily basis, three kids-- Joe, Ruby, and Coleman, a four bedroom house in Lorena or Robinson, and will be spending my Friday nights in the stands of a football game.

2. If you could go back in time and change any event in history that you wanted what would you choose to change and why?

I would have said screw the distance, I'm driving all the way to that city to ask her out.

3. You can spend a day with any five people that have lived past,present,or future and do whatever you want for the whole day...who would you chose and how would you spend the day?

I'm going to cheat on the five people part of this question because I couldn't narrow it down to five. But I also like the number five because six (including me) is the perfect number. So my list will include Robert, Jason, Christy, Blake, Karla, Kyle, Jen, Marvin Slaton, Tony and Melissa Herring, Brent, Susan, Casey, Luke, and Rachel Ray. Pick any five out of that group.

We would pick a place near Caddo Lake to go camping. The weather should be cold, in the 20's, and we'd all quickly retire to our tent, one that would hold all six of us. (This isn't turning dirty, just in case youre hopes were being aroused.) We'd stay up late talking about anything and everything. From midnight to about 3:00 a.m. there would be periods when the quietness would be interrupted by someone saying "are you awake," at which point the conversation would start back again. We'd all fall asleep around 3:00. At 5:00 we'd all start to wake up miserable from being uncomfortable and cold and decide to head back to the cabin we had rented.

I would make a breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and dr. pepper for everyone. Around 7:30, stomachs full, we'd head to the living room where we'd lounge around on couches and in sleeping bags. Tony Herring would start playing his classical guitar, lulling us all to sleep.

Oh yeah, it's still cold and it has started raining very hard.

We'd wake up around 11:00 to watch Napolean Dynamite or three or four TIVO'd episodes of Ed.

In the early afternoon we'd spend at least an hour around the telephone listening to Robert make prank phone calls and coming up with suggestions for who he should call next.

By this time it has stopped raining so we decide to go outside to play a game of football. We then come in to play a game of trivial pursuit. After the game we take a nap (by now it's around 4:00 in the afternoon.) When we wake up we shower (seperately) and go out to dinner-- mexican food, margarita's, karoake bar next door.

And that's my day. I know it's pretty detailed and long but it's actually a composite sketch of some of my best days ever.

4.Which member of your family do you most identify with? least identify with? elaborate as much or as not so much as you wish.

I most identify with my grandmother because when she was living we both felt that, in our family, we were the only sane people surrounded by a room full of crazies.

I least identify with my sister.

5. This book you are writing, what do you want to accomplish with it and at this juncture can you let us know a bit of what it is about?

The only initial thing I hope to accomplish is to finish it. I'd be lying if I said I don't think about it being published, but at this point it's far from publishible (or publishable?) so I'm just focusing on writing.

Initially it was going to be a collection of biographical essays about my entire life. As I started writing the first chapter (which ended up being the introduction) I realized that I could write and entire book full of stories about my life in church and church-related institutions. So that's what it's going to be about. My life and experiences as a person who has spent his entire life in church.

So there you go.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

In Case You've Been Wondering...

I'm still here. For some reason the internet hasn't been working at our house so I've been checking email and such at church and at the public library. Let's just say the public library is an interesting place to be. I've run into every imaginable type of person here. I think I might start hanging out.

I finished the introduction and first chapter of the book this weekend. So far I've shared it with two people and have received two thumbs up. Now I need to find someone random who has nothing at stake in shredding my stuff to pieces to see how it really is.

Monday I woke up, stood up, and fell over. Stood up again, fell right over. I finally gained a sense of balance and went about my day, but my head was spinning all day and something just didn't feel right. Ran 4 miles after work. When I got home and took a shower I laid down on the couch. After about an hour of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and my first ever full hour viewing of "American Idol," (I could have shot myself,) I decided I would stand up, walk around the corner to get a BBQ sandwich from Michna's before I came back home to watch a very special episode of "7th Heaven." (I'm determined to become reacquainted and emotionally attached to those Camdens before they go off the air this season.) When I stood up I promtly fell over. So instead of Michna's and "7th Heaven" I went to bed at 8:00 and slept until 7:00 on Tuesday morning.

Long story short... more head spinning, more dizziness. Jen Lake took me to the doctor who said I had Vertigo, it should go away on it's own, here's some medicine for the dizzyness.

The medicine has made me drowsy and extremely irritable today, but I at least has a sense of balance.

This would be the perfect place to insert a life lesson about balance, but I'm sitting in the public library and there's some scary people around, making it hard to come up with a life lesson. So I'll just say this: Be balanced.

After wondering if I should write anything else I just turned my head to the left and realized I'm sitting right next to the newspapers that have been placed on the poles. You know the poles I'm talking about? I think they are so no one steals the newspaper. I really don't think they have anything to worry about.

Hope your world is balanced and cool and all that jazz.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Blog With Bullets...

-- In case you are wondering, yes I am working on the book. But I don't have much of anything yet.

-- This post is an attempt to procrastinate. I told myself to spend three hours today, since I'm off of work, working on the book. I have spent much less than three hours. Three hours less to be exact.

-- Other things I'v done today to procrastinate:
Worked out.

Played several games of Bejewled

And Tetris

Had Lunch With Kyle

At Chili's Too

Where we talked about the movie we saw last night at church

I went to the store

To purchase the following items

Alright!!! I'm done with that. Back to the book....

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentines Day...

I've literally been busy the past few days doing nothing in particular. Nothing in particular is what has kept me from writing.

I had the greatest date ever for Valentines day and I challenge anyone in the entire world to top it. Don't even try, you can't. Instead of Kyle and Jen going out and getting a babysitter to watch the kids at home, I took Avery, Sutton, and Jude out on a date to the Barnes and Noble Kids Department and to Chic-Fil-A for some play time on the jungle gym while the parents had a romantic dinner at home. Lot's of cry stopping and snot wiping went on in my world tonight. This would have been a perfect night for me to lament the fact that I'm a third of the way there without a significant other. But the chaos of loving those three kids made that self pity a bit too inconvenient for me on this particular day.

I ate my dinner while I watched the kids play in the play room. I'm not sure if you've seen these play gyms kids are doing their business with these days, but they are freaking HUGE! They're as safe as all get out with about four feet of padding in between any possible surface that could injure, but the thing goes up about a mile into the air. Avery and Sutton had no problem climbing up the steps but Jude, whose legs are just a smidgen shorter than Sutton's, was having problems. Before long, however, he had discovered a way to use the safety netting on the borders of the contraption to leverage his tiny little body up the steps. I swear to you right now that I have never in my life seen anything so cute. He had all the adults who were watching in stitches. He had no clue he was the center of attention which made it that much cuter.

On the way home I stopped by H-E-B for some groceries. It was about 10:30 p.m. and there was a guy in the store buying a rose and a Valentines card. I saw him head to the checkout line and stop in his tracks, realizing he forgot something. Thirty seconds later I saw him walk back to the line, flower and Valentines Card were joined by a case of Coors Lite. This guy was going home to my kind of woman.

Hope things are well on that side of your screen.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Contribution to the Ash Wednesday Blogs...

Here is, more or less, the order of what you are taught in small town Southern Baptist Churches:
1.) God created the world and people. (In seven days, of course.)
2.) The devil tempted the woman to sin. She sinned and then made the man sin. The world became bad after that.
3.) Jesus loves little boys and girls, even though they are bad. He died because you are bad.
4.) Jesus came back to life.
5.) If you believe in Jesus and ask him into your heart you don't have to go to hell.
6.) Don't even think of becoming Catholic.

I was taught from a very early age that I wasn't Catholic. Catholics go through dead rituals. Catholics have to go through a priest to be forgiven for their sins. You don't have to do any of that. You have the Holy Spirit. You can go directly to God.

Most of those who taught me stopped just short of proclaiming Catholics hellbound. Most. But all things Catholic were strictly avoided. I suspect many people in my hometown didn't have more than two or three children because they didn't want people to start wondering if they had gone papist. Make sure your crosses don't have Jesus on them. He aint on that cross no more brothers and sisters! He is RISEN! There wasn't even a respectable Italian place to eat at in Tyler, that I knew of. If you wanted to eat the food of Rome you had to do it in the privacy of your own home, with the curtains drawn.

Just a side note: As a grown-up I've come to the conclusion that our antipathy toward Catholism probably had less to do with a theological conslusion of the priesthood of the believer and more to do with us not wanting to tell anyone our secrets.

It was in this world that my faith was forged. Where "you don't have to" generally preceded any mention of ritual. In that world Ash Wednesday was no different than Yom Kippur or Arbor Day. They were just things that occupied the space at the bottom of calendars. I may have wondered as a kid what these holidays were, but I dared not ask.

It was only a few short years ago when I saw my first person in town with the smudge of black on their head. By then I had heard rumors of what Ash Wednesday was about but I had thought that surely those who practiced such useless rituals at least head enough respectibility to clean their heads off with soap and water before they went out in public. I mean, please. Give me a break.

I string together many words at times extolling the virtues of growing up in a small town. This is not one of those virtues.

Ash Wednesday. The day we begin to prepare. Not for the empty tomb, but for the cross. It's a day where we think about our sin. About ourselves. About the very bad-ness that flows in our veins and is rushing in and out of our bodies with every breath we take. It's about me acknowledging who, and what, I am. I am dust. I came from dust and I'll go back to dust.

If you want to know where I am spiritually, I'll tell you. You will be my priest today:

Read some of my blogs and some of my replies to other people's blogs and if you can get past some of the methods I use to make myself look nice and good you'll see a person who is full of things other than faith, hope, and love.

There are days when I have to consciously remind myself that I'm a Christian. I'm not a Christian today because I believe in the resurrection, although there are many days when I believe in it with all my heart. I'm not a Christian today because I've chosen it or because I was predestined for it. I'm a Christian today because I've reminded myself that I am. I'm a Christian because of participating in a ritual that, according to my pastor growing up, isn't necessary.

For me, today, it was the most necessary thing in the world.


I'm groggy.

Late night at work last night. As we were closing there was a couple sitting in the cafe'. It was about fifteen minutes after we closed before they left, after me telling them three times we were closed. Man working on laptop. Talking on cell phone. Woman reading her US Weekly. well-Worn bible sitting ornamentally on the tabletop for all to see.

College-aged girl sitting on the table back in the kids department. She was a little kinder about leaving. She left alright. Left a stack of about twenty books, all of random genres, on the table to placed back in their respective positions throughout the store by Barnes and Noble employees. She'd been there all night. I came in at 2:00 in the afternoon and can't remember a time when she wasn't sitting there. Praying. Out loud. With a friend who stopped by to "disciple." And yes, well-worn Bible sitting on the table. She picked that up and put it where it belonged, by the way, at least literally and physically.

Antioch Community Church.

On a better, more guarded day, I would choose to let the church affiliation of said etiquette-offenders go unknown, taking the high road, loving my brothers and sisters and not being cynical or ironic or sarcastic. Today is not a better or more guarded day.

You ask how I know? No, Jimmy Seibert didn't stop by and confirm these people were from his church. They didn't wear shirts that displayed their church affiliation. I didn't ask them and they didn't tell me but, funny thing about it is that if you've lived in Waco long enough you know. You know what they look like (even though they all look different,) you know how they make you feel (although there is also great variety in that,) and you know how they talk.

But most of all you know what they say.

They say to a group of my closing staff, all of whom are either ambivalent or downright hostile to Christianity, that rules such as closing time doesn't matter to them. They say that Jesus' warnings against public displays of prayer aren't as important as their need to pray, together, fairly vocally, among a group of playing children. They say that as long as others are paid to clean up messes then messes can be made-- liberally.

I got home and read Myles' blog about Sojourners new "budgets are moral documents" campaign and probably overreacted a tad in my response. I was still angry at the Antiochers so I took it out at what I perceived as left-wing Christian (and yes, that's what it is) pretensiousness breaking into my night that had already been ruined by what I perceived as right-wing Christian pretensiousness.

God, why can't all Christians be just like me, think just like me, and act just like me? Please make that happen.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union...

The great thing about being on the winning side is this: When it comes to the extremely positive things that have been going on in Iraq this week, the Democrats are stuck in a position of having to say they are happy about the dawning of freedom in a country that has known only tyranny, while having a record of comments and votes over the past few years that if they were in power would have made that freedom impossible.

John Kerry was forced to watch a mother who lost her son, indeed, probably, the most important thing in her life, so that the lady sitting in front of her, who had lost her father under the regime of Saddam Hussein, could live in a country that is free embrace the Iraqi woman, all the while having on record the words "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." All the while knowing, whether he can bring himself to admit it to himself or not, that he and his positions are on the wrong side of history.

I think anyone who opposed our action in Iraq forfeited their right to weep with joy at the embrace between those two women.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


The past few days have been extremely draining for me but I wanted to just say thank you to everyone who, upon hearing me just mention that I'm going to take a stab at writing a book, have encouraged me to do it.

I had a wonderful weekend with very little sleep. My plan was to wake up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning to head to East Texas. I ended up waking up at around 3:00 and couldn't sleep, so I just got up, showered and left. It was quite an experience. I'll share more about it in the next few days. Had a great time hanging out with my friend Robert. If you don't know Robert, it's your loss. He is one of the most genuinely cool people I know. I swear if that kid were in Hollywood he'd be the talk of the town. I'm so glad he's my friend.

Sunday I headed back to Waco but stopped in Chandler to go to church and lunch with my parents and you'd better believe you'll be hearing about that soon as well.

But right now I just wanted to get something down since it's been a while since I've posted.

Sweet Dreams.