Sunday, August 31, 2008

College Football

I love college football. After all, it means something. The players aren't paid millions of dollars to play. At least, they aren't supposed to be. When I was a kid, Mother and I would watch college football on TV. She was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys too, but she loved to watch college football, especially Alabama. That's where she was from. She instilled in me the love for football. Who are my favorite teams? South Carolina, Clemson, Alabama, PC, and lots more. I have a problem when two favorites play each other like last night. Clemson played Alabama. Clemson was supposed to win, but Alabama did. That's another great thing about college football. Any team can win. Look at Appalachian State who beat Michigan last year. When I was at PC, I got in trouble with the football team about some stuff I wrote for the school newspaper. I insulted their intelligence. I stand behind what I wrote, but I am sorry that I wrote it, since it caused so much trouble against me. But putting politics aside, college football is fun. I love college football. Have I said that already? Well, I do. The season has begun. The sportswriters have already picked Oklahoma and Southern California to meet for the title of the best team in America. I think there are 11 games to go, so some team may surprise them. Let's go East Carolina.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My earliest memory is being holed up in a hotel in Biloxi MS with my parents and brother during a hurricane. The water was in the lobby, and we were on the 2nd floor. My father took us in the car back to New Orleans with the water over the tires. The scariest night of my life was in Columbia during Hugo. Oddly, my parents slept through the storm, but I was up and afraid. For years later, I couldn't deal with any wind or storm without anxiety attacks. Then Katrina came through New Orleans and destroyed my boyhood home. I have a very deep respect and fear of hurricanes. Now, Gustav is coming toward the Gulf Coast. I fear for those folks, and I pray that everyone gets through okay. God help us all.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Car Part 2

Okay. Two and a half hours later, I got my car fixed. They did an oil change, replaced the spark plugs and some other stuff. It drives better, and I hope it is fixed okay. It was $119. I don't know why I fret so. I lose sleep and worry about things. It's my nature. I guess that is why I am in and out of depression. I have good days and bad. The good days are when I am with my friends. The bad days are every other time. I try and not let the demons come out, but sometimes they do. They did last night. They did this morning. Now, things seems a little better, I guess. Don't let the demons come out again.

My Car

My car is sick. It is idling roughly when stopped. It doesn't have any pep, when I press the gas. I am hoping it needs a tune-up. I cannot remember when it last had a tune-up, specifically spark plugs. So, I think that is the case. My car turned over 161,000 recently. The body is rusting. I have had it for almost 20 years. I wish I could get a newer car, but can't afford it. Oh, I got the bill from my trip to the ER a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea how expensive that would be. It was over $2000. Somebody is getting rich here. They did cut the bill in half, as I didn't have any insurance. I have applied for financial assistance from the hospital, since I don't have a job. I am hoping they will be a little more understanding, and I won't have to pay $1000. But, I am in collections from other credit card companies, or their proxies, so one more debt won't be too unusual. I hate being poor. I am in a situation now, where I just pray somehow someone will help me. As the old Beatles song says: "It's getting better all the time, Can't get much worse."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Six Flags

Everyone has a place that means something special for them. Maybe a place where something really good happened to them. Or maybe something not so good. But, the place that has consistently been a special place for me is Six Flags Over Georgia. I know that might seem strange, especially since I have those places in Europe and Israel, as well as other places in the States and Puerto Rico, but looking back on a place that has made a big impact on my life and that's Six Flags. Why you ask? Well, let's look at it. I went there in high school and have the world's record for the number of people one can cram into a log and the log flume ride (7). After that, the ride said you could put no more than 4 people in a log. In the summer of 1970, I went to Six Flags with the youth group from Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. The people who saved my life. I was with Craig, Pam and Gail. It was like a foursome date. We had a lot of fun together, until we got separated by going for ice cream. Craig and I spent the rest of the day searching for Pam and Gail. We found out that the girls were looking for us, too. As they were looking for us, we found out later that we were both circling in the same direction behind them. At one point, Craig and I changed directions, and so did Pam and Gail. We decided to just go on the rides and enjoy the park without the girls. On the car ride, we looked off in the distance and saw Pam and Gail on another car far ahead of us. We yelled out to them and waved. They waved back. When we got off of the ride, there they were. 3 hours of being apart. It was quite amazing. When I was in college, I went to Six Flags. It was raining, and I went on the Scream Machine. The speed of the roller coaster made the rain feel like bullets. The brakes on the roller coaster failed with the rain, so there was an element of danger on it. It was great fun. On our way back to school, we got pulled on I-85 by a local cop for going 115mph. Thankfully, I wasn't driving, but the cop looks at us and asks if we had been to Six Flags. He had a little sense of humor. We had to take up a collection to give to him, so we wouldn't go to jail. When I worked at Belk, I went to Six Flags with my friends Del and Chris. On one trip, we went with my friend George to stay overnight. We were going to stay at a motel right by the front gate, but it was a dump. The air conditioner was broken, and there were no light bulbs in the bathroom. We ended up moving to the Red Roof Inn. When we were going back to Columbia, we got pulled over in North, SC by a local cop for going 40 in a 25 zone. Chris was driving and didn't see the 25 sign behind a tree on the side of a building. You see a little trend developing? Chris, Del and I went back to Six Flags in October. It was cold, and they had snow flurries. We wore light jackets, because it was a lot warmer in Columbia. We rode the rides but had to hold on to the ride through our jacket pockets. We would go into shops to get warm. One clerk thought we were stealing something and called security. We went to the haunted house. It was quite scary and dark. One guy started up a chainsaw right behind me. I saw my life pass before my eyes. We left the park freezing to death. I haven't been back to Six Flags. But, it has made a serious impression on my life. Mostly fun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Weather

A friend told me once that things are more important than the weather. He said that our conversation should be deeper than "How's the weather?" I suppose that is true, but on days like yesterday where we had good and bad, the weather is the most important thing. It started off with wonderful rain. It was drenching rain. It was rain from the tropical storm Fay. We are in a severe drought. There are water restrictions. There is worry that we might not have enough water for drinking and bathing. So, when there is a lot of rain, everyone gets excited. You see people walking around smiling, and you know why. It is raining. I guess those folks in Washington State can't understand why we are so happy about rain, but we just don't get much. It is a beautiful thing. But yesterday, things got ugly. The storms brought tornadoes. I have written earlier about my experience with tornadoes. Some folks get excited about tornadoes. I have friends who want to chase these things. I say no. I want to get away from those things. They don't excite me in the least. I say let's duck and cover. The storms came. A tornado went through Clemson and did some damage. I think there were others, too. Thankfully, there were no injuries, just some property damage. There were tornadoes where I am. I think this condo is built pretty well, but it is still scary. If I ask you how is the weather, I am not being superficial. I am truly interested. We had the good rain, but we had the bad storms. At least, it wasn't too ugly for us. Pray it doesn't get too bad today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Political Junkie

I am a political junkie. I grew up in a family of political junkies. My father wasn't so much, but my mother and brother were. Most of the people on my mother's side were politcal junkies. Some of them held political office. A few on my father's side also held political office. One of my ancestors was a man named Lord Delawar, which the state of Delaware was named for. I also have royal blood from France. I think all of this contributes to me being a political junkie. So, with the Democrats and Republicans having their conventions this week and next, I am really enjoying it. Is this weird? Yeah, probably. But, it is one of those things that make me up into my complex self. I can't say at this point, who I plan to vote for, but I can say that this stuff is fun. The conventions don't have much suspense anymore, since we already know who are the nominees, but there is always something that inspires, like Ted Kennedy's speech last night. When I had cable, I watched CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News all the time. I knew news. I don't have cable now, since I moved, but I still watch as much news as I can. Growing up, we always watched the 6:30pm news on NBC. Our house stopped for that time. I still watch that news. It is the thing that I do, and if I miss it for some reason, I feel like my life is incomplete. As my life has been shall we say "colorful", I don't think I could ever hold elective office. There is just a little bit too much stuff that I have done, whether chemical or illegal. So, I just don't think I would survive the scrutiny of reporters. So, I can be a political junkie without being in politics.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Road Trip

Yesterday, I went out to find something to eat. I really didn't know what I wanted to eat, but I had $5 to use, so I didn't want to go anywhere for more. So, I guess that limited me to fast food. But, what to eat? I didn't really feel like chicken or beef. I had fish the day before. I just didn't know, so I began to drive. I had read about a place in Greenville County called Pelham, where the county sort of started. Not too far from where I live. And I had an Uncle named Pelham, so off I went. I got to Pelham but didn't see the spot I was looking for. I continued on. I thought about the fact I had never been to Woodruff, SC and have friends there. So, I headed on to Woodruff. When I got there, it wasn't nearly as big as I thought. A lot of the storefronts were empty. They did have a KFC and a Burger King, but I just didn't feel like that food, so I kept going. I saw a sign toward Fountain Inn. I knew where that was and was thinking about heading back toward Greenville. I got on a winding road that was absolutely wonderful. My car is old now, but it really liked taking the curves fast. Nobody on the road but me. It was a lot of fun. But, I was getting hungry, but still no luck in seeing anything I wanted. Finally, I found myself back in Greenville, and guess what I ate? McDonald's. But, it was a cool trip. I have a friend named Thom. He has a job where he travels around the state selling and servicing ATM machines. He knows a lot of backroads in the state. Thom, the road between Woodruff and Fountain Inn is cool.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What If

I know that we shouldn't look back and second guess our lives. One could go crazy to second guess their lives. Your life should be a striaght line that continues. You can't go back and change things. You have to live and keep going. But, if there was a time machine, and you could go back, would you do it? Would you change your major in college to reflect the current times? Would you change your relationships? In the song "My Way", there is the line "Regrets, I've had a few, But then again, Too few to mention." I have had a lot of regrets, but would I change them? What if I had gone through with my proposal to Sandra and had actually gone into advertising and made a ton of money? I don't know if she ever read my proposal, but in a last ditch effort to win her back, I told her that I would get a job in advertising and make a lot of money to support her. I didn't go into advertising, although I did do a lot of creative writing to advertise products and services. What if I had never left Fort Worth and settled down with Kare? That would have been okay, but I never would have met my friends of today from Columbia. I never would have done my puppet shows or monologues. I never would have worked at Belk or Rich's/Macy's. I never would have met Wanda, Debbie (Ann), Del, Chris, Konnie, Joni, Aubrey, Ne'cole... The list is endless. What if Blue Mountain College had hired me to teach Theatre? I suppose I would have gone from there to teach elsewhere. I would have done what I was trained to do. I probably would have loved it. But, I also think that my life would have been stuck in that situation and not be as well-rounded as it is now. I could go on with this, but the point I am making is that one cannot look back and wish things were different. They are not different. They can't be different. You are the sum of your parts. You are who you are, for better or for worse. Whatever happens in the future, you at least have the experience of the past. Now, you go on. That's life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden

Joe Biden was named as Barack Obama's running mate and vice presidential candidate. I think it was a good choice. It was not a time to open up a can of worms with Hillary Clinton. The voters will come around after the convention. I don't want to get into a political debate right now, as I have not decided how I will vote. Historically, I have voted Republican for President. That may seem odd, since I consider myself more of a Democrat, but the Presidential race tends to me more about character and moral leadership than substance. It is too early to tell how I will go this time around. I met Joe Biden at an event at the State House last fall. He was running for President at the time, and he was holding a press conference at the State House. I was there. I was very impressed with Biden's ability to spout out facts and statistics. It was obvious that he was very smart. After the press conference, there was a time for meet and greet. Some people got autographs. I wish I did too, but didn't. When he came to me, I told him that I was a college rep for McGovern for President in 1972. He said to me that it must have been a very lonely job. We had a laugh about that, and also about the fact that our hair was both a lot longer than it is now. I found him to have a good sense of humor and personable. I had heard that he was aloof, but I found him to be the opposite. I know there are people who don't know Joe Biden, but I can tell you that I liked him, for what it's worth. You have to look at a VP as would he be a good President, if the situation arose? I think the answer is yes. Good luck, Joe.

Friday, August 22, 2008


This is my 200th post. A lot of stuff. Anyone reading them would find out a lot about me. Hopefully some words of wisdom along the way. So today, I wanted to write about something that brings me joy in my otherwise joyless life, and that is zoos. I love the zoo. Why? I guess it is because it is a place of solitude. It is amazing how much peace animals can give you. They may not even mean to, but they do. When I was a small child in New Orleans, my mother would take me to the zoo at Audubon Park. It was a magical place. Upon moving to Columbia, they didn't have a zoo at first, but the schoolchildren took up money with the motto "Zoo's Who's". I know. It didn't make much sense, but it was catchy. Happy the Tiger was the first resident of the Columbia Zoo that was renamed Riverbanks. That is a very good zoo. When I lived in Fort Worth, they had a zoo at Forest Park. It wasn't very good, but they did have some exotic animals. I lived about a half of a mile from the zoo, and when the wind was right... Oh, the smell!! When coming to Greenville, I found they had a zoo. It is not very big, but they have some interesting animals, such as lions, giraffes, elephants, lots of reptiles, and others. I went there yesterday and watched the female lion kick a ball like a soccer player. It was very funny. I have also visited the Berlin Zoo in Germany, which was notated in my Europe trip remembrances in July. I used to say that I worked at a zoo, which was Columbia Mall, but that's another story. But seriously, I love the zoo. It is a place to get away from one's problems and will put everything into perspective. A good thing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


First of all, let me say that I don't condone hitchhiking. I grew up in a much safer time. We didn't know about predators. If I wanted to get from point A to point B, I hitchhiked. This was in college, when I didn't have a car. I walked everywhere. I didn't know about it being good exercise. All I knew was I wanted to go places, and it was easy to get there. In Anderson, the college was a few miles from the mall. When I wanted to go shopping, I knew that if I walked slow along the street, with my head down, people would pick me up. Yes, I manipulated folks to pick me up, but they were also kind. They didn't have to do it. I went to a concert in Clemson with some friends. They told me that they would meet me after the show to go back to Anderson, but they didn't, and I was left to fend for myself. I spent the night in the lobby of a hotel and surprised the janitor the next morning. He had cut on the TV to listen to gospel music, and I woke up and yelled out at him for waking me. I got myself together and left the hotel to go back to Anderson, some 20 miles away. I tried to get picked up and finally did by three kids in a Cadillac. As I talked to them, I found out that they had stolen the car. I could see going to jail as an accessory, so I told them to let me out about 5 miles early. When I went to PC, the area was much smaller, so I didn't need as many rides. I also used the bus a lot. I would take the bus to Laurens to go to the movies. They had a movie theatre in Clinton, but it would show PG movies only. You could see R movies in Laurens. One night, I went by bus to see a movie in Laurens, but the last bus left before the movie was over, so I began to walk back to Clinton, which was about 10 miles away. It was dark, and I became disoriented. I got on a road that took me away from the road I was supposed to be on, so I ended up walking about 5 miles out of my way, after I realized my error. I headed back up the right road and got almost 2 miles from my destination, when I got picked up by a guy in a souped up car. He took me to PC. I was a little scared, as I had long hair, and he didn't. So, that about ended my hitchhiking career. I wouldn't do it now, because there are a lot of crazies out there. You just never know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Cars

Since college, I have had three cars. That doesn't seem like many, but I drive them into the ground. I actually learned to drive on a 1956 Dodge. It was black and white and had fins. It drove like a bus with a really big steering wheel. As I tried to get my driver's license, I took driving lessons from Baldwin. It was a good thing to do. We were going down the freeway one morning, and there was a lumber truck in front of us. I asked Mr. Baldwin if I should pass the truck. He told me that we either pass it, or we are going to die. Good advice, Mr. Baldwin. It took me 6 tries to get my license--4 times for the written and twice for the driving tests. I was trying to remember everything Mr. Baldwin had taught me. I tried to parallel park and did quite well, but forgot to take it out of reverse. I stepped on the gas to pull out of the place, and the car went backward and broke the backstop of the place. I looked in the mirror and saw the wood backstop fall. My mother then got a Plymouth Valiant. That was a good car. I didn't have a car of my own, until I got out of college, so I drove the Valiant when I could. I even drove it from Columbia to Anderson to see Sandra for the last time. My father never let me drive his car. I was a good driver. He just had reservations. When I got out of college, I worked for a year to buy my first car--a 1973 green Ford Maverick. I drove it from Columbia to Ft. Worth, and did that several times (1022 miles each way). It was a good car, but a little strange. There were times where I would cut off the engine, and it would remain running. There were other times where I would have to jam an ice scraper into the air filter to get it started. I had my only wreck in the car. I was coming off of the freeway in Ft. Worth. It had been raining, and the pavement was a little slick. I put on the brakes, and they locked. I slid into the car in front of me. I did $600 damage to my car and 50 cents to the car in front. The radiator was pushed into the car. There was some body damage. The car never really was the same. On my last trip back to Columbia, the engine blew up, but I got back. A mechanic told me that it was a miracle that it made it back. You know the scene in "The Blues Brothers", where their car falls apart upon getting to Chicago? It was like that. My next car was a Datsun Sentra. It was brown. I had that from 1979-89. I drove that car until I was about a block from home and heard a bang. I took the car to a gas station nearby and found that a nut had come off of a screw in the engine and had blown a hole out the back. They said that had it had blown upwards, which it should have, it would have killed me like a bullet. In 1989, I bought my current car--a white Nissan Sentra. It has over $160,000 miles on it, and is rusty, but it still runs. I rented a Kia recently to go to Atlanta for my Aunt's funeral and was impressed with that car, so that may be my next car, when I can afford it. Another million dollars I don't have.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One Voice

When I moved back to Columbia from Texas in 1979, I re-joined First Baptist Church. It had become the center of creativity for me. The catalyst was the fledgling Singles Ministry that I helped start. It gave me a lot of avenues to do things in, such as building my Bible character monologues. I had already done the personification of the cross, when I was in seminary, but now I got to write and present other monologues with the support of my Sunday School class taught by Nezza Howard. She saw that I had a talent for this, and that is where Hosea was born, which is the monologue I have done the most. We had a Singles trip to Ridgecrest NC, which is where I met Wanda. She and I hit it off almost immediately, as we were both creative souls. Our group learned how to make an impact in our community, and it was the start of our mission work, which we carried to Philadelphia, and later to Tennessee and Puerto Rico. But, one thing that we really excelled in was music. The church wanted to form a choir made up of College and Singles singers. We came together with a group of musicians that took our mission seriously. We got green polo shirts and navy pants as a uniform. In thinking for a name, there were many ideas, but we settled on "One Voice". The name came from a Barry Manilow song, and it said it all for our choir. We sang with one voice. In addition to my singing responsibilities, I also wrote a weekly newsletter for the group that combined news with stories. Each one was different and was called "The One Voice". They were classics. We became the concert choir for First Baptist and went to several churches in the area to sing. At Kathwood Baptist, one of our group fainted in the middle of a song, but we kept going. At Fort Jackson, we were served wine during a communion. Baptists don't drink wine. We drink grape juice. The choir was at the front of the church at the altar, with our backs to the congregation. The girls were passing the shot glasses of wine down the row to the boys, who were drinking them. The minister got tickled. We had a fun performance that night. Our choir director was Jon Blouin. We did a performance of "Joy Comes in the Morning" at Township Auditorium which combined music and drama. Our most ambitious project was doing a musical called "Celebrate Life" in Spanish and performing it in Puerto Rico on July 4th in a park in Old San Juan. It meant that we had to do the musical phonetically, as most of us did not know Spanish that well. We had to take three months of Spanish as a crash course, because we were also going to do Vacation Bible Schools at three locations around Puerto Rico. We did a dry run of the musical at a Spanish church in Columbia to see if they would understand it. It went well, so we knew we were ready. Just before we were to leave, Jon Blouin left First Baptist. The choir was put into a bit of a uproar, because Jon was our leader, but we realized that the choir was bigger than one person. R. D. Roberts became our interim director, and we went to Puerto Rico. We did the VBS events. I was in Fajardo. The Puerto Rico missions folks were supposed to advertise our concert on the 4th of July, but they didn't. So, we only had a few tourists there. That was a little disappointing, with all of the work we put into it, but we did it anyway. After we got back from Puerto Rico, One Voice did a few more concerts, and then we slowly disbanded. I still wear the green shirt with my memories.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I have dreams. They keep me alive. If I didn't have dreams, then there would not be any reason to live for. I am not talking so much about the dreams one has when asleep, although some of those can be very good. But, my dreams are all about what would make me happy. You see, happiness is the one thing in my life that is the most elusive. I am good at making other people happy. I give laughter to others. People think I am funny. Everybody loves a clown. But, I am not happy inside. So, what would make me happy? A few things. As far as work is concerned, I have three ideas. First, to own a store. It would be a store that sells pop culture memorabilia. Music, Autographs, Posters, Videos, Clothing, and other Memorabilia. I have enough of that stuff to last me at least 7 years without obtaining anything else. It is a passion I have had for many years. Without giving away too much on how I would make it a success, my secret would involve multimedia. So, why is this just a dream and not a reality? It requires money. More money than I have. Probably to the tune of $50,000. As far as I am concerned, it might as well be a million dollars. Banks won't loan money to me, since my credit is so poor. No one will take a chance on me. So, it is still a dream. Another dream is to work in a spot, where I can use my talent of finding people. Thanks to a job I had several years ago with the US Government, I was taught how to find anybody. On average, if you give me 20 minutes, I can find someone. It is like a game to me. Surely, there is somewhere who needs to find people. I can do that. Another dream is to perform. I have all of this experience as an actor. I have all of these Bible-character monologues. I wish I could make the two happen. Another dream is to be paid for my writing. Whether it be with songs or with prose. Surely there is somewhere out there who would like me to write for them. Being creative is a curse. We want to share with others, but we have to be discovered. That's why I hope someone reads this blog. To see what my talents are. My last dream is to love. I want to love someone, and for that person to love me. I want to have someone hug me, and to see me for what I am. These are my dreams. I want to be happy. Right now, I just dream.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ski Trip

We are in the midst of summer, so I was thinking about the cold. When I was a member of the life-saving youth group at Kilbourne Park, we went to the North Carolina mountains to go snow skiing. We took a large bus that thankfully was soundproof, because as we went through small towns, we waved at the residents by saying "Hi Grits". They would wave back. If they had actually heard us, we would have probably not gone skiing. We got to the ski resort, and most of us had never put on snow skis before. We took a brief lesson and off we went. There were three slopes--beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I spent most of my time on the beginner slope. It was a lot of fun, except for the fact that the only way I could stop was to fall down. I fell a lot. Later on in the day, some of us wanted to try the intermediate slope. I got up to the top and found myself sliding down the slope, as it was impossible to ski for me. I couldn't go side to side like most people. As the day was about to end, I took a shot at the advanced slope. I got up on the skis and did pretty well, until it was time to stop, and all bets were off. I slid most of the way down to the bottom. That was my skiing experience. I never tried water skiing, since I can't swim. But, back to our ski trip. We stayed that night at a motel in the mountains. The guys in our group wanted to have a snowball fight with the girls of our group. Things went pretty well, until the next morning, when we waked up to the news that we had destroyed a man's car convertible top with the snow and ice that caused it to collapse. The church's insurance took care of the bill. We didn't go on another ski trip. I wonder why?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Prayer Chains

We all have gotten those emails that say the person, who sent it to you, is praying for you. You, in turn, need to send it to everyone in your address book, including the person who sent it to you. That would mean that a lot of people would be praying for you, and you would pray for them. I must admit two things about this process. First, I do send it around to people in my email address book. Second, I don't send it to everybody. As I have said before, I am a firm believer that prayer works. I would be dead without prayer. Refer to my blog about the freezer incident. But, I also understand that not everybody believes as I do. I know that some people do not believe in prayer, much less in God. I have to respect that. I know too that it would be an opportunity to share my faith with those who do not believe, but I believe that prayer is so important that I don't want it to fall on deaf ears. I need prayer for many things. We all do. I am a firm believer that the more people pray for something, the more likely it will happen. But, what if I don't send the email to 7 people? What if I just send it to 6? I don't think that really matters. I also don't believe that something good will necessarily happen within a time frame. For example, if you send it to a lot of people, your answer to prayer will happen quicker. That means that you are telling God how fast He needs to act. Prayer, as with friends, is a comfort. We must pray for one another. Prayer is power. My prayer request, for those who believe, is that I might get a job, where I can use my talents, either writing or finding people. Pray for me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Down Day

Sometimes one must have a down day. I guess that is today. Yes, I know I have friends. Yes, I know I am loved. It is always nice to hear it, and I truly appreciate it. But, I am coming off of an illness that caused me to go to the hospital. I guess they will want some money for that, and I may not have enough. One does not budget illness, so here's hoping that they don't want much. The good news is that I lost a little excess weight that I had gained. Yesterday was the first day since Monday that I had solid food. I tolerated it okay, so I should be able to start building myself back up, whatever that means. My roommate is ill. I hope I didn't give him what I had. I don't think so. He sleeps a lot and complains a lot. I have a hard time with people who complain. Why? My father was a complainer. He had a very low threshold of pain. He would moan all the time, and I just kind of got used to his moaning. We never knew if he was truly in need of help, or that he just wanted attention. So, if I seem a little callous, I'm sorry. I am normally a very caring person, but I have a character flaw. I am not a mind reader. If you are hurting, tell me. Don't just lay there and moan. And by the way, if I say that I am hurting, please say you are sorry, or ask how I am doing. You don't even have to mean it. Just put on a front that you care. Okay, I now have that off of my chest. I feel better now. Thanks for caring.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Grooming

My father was a stickler for one looking good in public. I never saw him look bummy outside the house. Well, once I was a bit embarrassed, when we went to the beach and he wore shorts, sock and shoes on the beach. But normally, he looked dapper. He always wore a tie to the office, and usually had a handkerchief in his pocket. His hair, what little he had, was always in place. It was important to him to look good. When I was growing up, he always said to take a comb with me to make sure my hair looked good. I don't do that anymore, but I do carry a handkerchief. When I went to college, I dressed rather bummy, but that was the style of the day. After all, I was a card-carrying hippie. I didn't really have to think about what to wear. But, when I got into the workforce, I realized how important it was to look good. I say all of this because of what I saw last Sunday. I went to a book store and saw a rather fat man, probably in his 60's, wearing a t-shirt and polka dot shorts that could have been pajamas. He could have just woken up. His statement was that he didn't care, but it just looked gross. I have always been an individualist. I don't like anyone to tell me what to do from a fashion sense. And, I never thought I would say this, but my father was right. If you go outside in public, you need to look good. Good call, Daddy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Health Update

I am feeling a little better after a pretty rough night. The drugs seemed to work, and I hope to do a little solid food today. Being sick is an awful experience. I have lost a little weight, which is a good thing, because I was getting fat. Imagine that! I never would have thought I would say that, but it is true. Well, not much to say today. In the words of an Eagles song--"Take It Easy".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Food Poisoning

In 1976, I was living in Fort Worth, Texas. It was the bicentennial weekend, so nothing was open. I began to vomit and have diarrhea every 20 minutes for two days. I lost 10 pounds, and it took me several years to gain it back. I got enough energy to go to a drug store and buy Pepto Bismol. I drank the entire bottle in the parking lot of the store. Last night, it happened again. The difference this time was that I have a roommate who could take me to the hospital. I was throwing up and had diarrhea. First every 20 minutes. I knew exactly what it was. I took some Pepto, but it didn't seem to work very well. I asked Jimmy to take me to the hospital around 10pm. Before I could see anyone, I threw up two more times and had diarrhea once. Of course by now, everything coming out was liquid, as I had long before gone through any food in my system. The nurse asked me if I was going for a Guinness World Record in vomiting, but we decided that there wasn't a category for that. Everyone is a comic. They took some blood and gave me some fluids and some drugs. Around 1:30am, I left and we headed back to the condo. Jimmy went to the drug store and get my recommended drugs. I slept in the clothes I wore to the hospital, as I was too weak to change. Today, I am still pretty weak, but I am going to have to drink a lot of fluids. If I hadn't gone to the ER, who knows where I would be today? Maybe with Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac. They said my skin was grey upon arriving, but they got some color in my face. I don't have medical insurance, so the hospital said they will work with me. Not today though. I am chillin' today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes died yesterday. I first was exposed to him, when I went to see the movie "Shaft", while I was a student at Anderson College. I fell in love with the music, and the soundtrack album was one of my favorites. It was a mixture of R&B, Jazz and Funk. Then, I got two 8-track tapes of an album called "Live at Tahoe". The music was wonderful, and his connection with the audience really showed. With the advent of video, I got a couple of concerts he did. He was a genius with his arrangements of songs and bringing as much out of his orchestra as he could. He wasn't the best singer, but that didn't matter. Last May, as I was sending out requests for autographed pictures, I found out how approachable Isaac Hayes was. I wrote a note to him about how much I loved his music. He was very gracious by sending a personally signed picture, as well as a booklet on happiness that he was sponsoring. The booklet was put together by Scientologists, but I could see that Isaac Hayes had come to a mellow place. When he died yesterday, it was unexpected. But, I knew that he had become a part of the Heavenly choir. He had more music in him. He was planning a new album. I would have loved to hear it, and I will one day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Men Are Slobs

Is that true? Are all men slobs? Probably not. A friend told me recently that, from her experience, all men are slobs. I think there are degrees of this. So, let's look at me, since this is my world. What evidence is there that I am a slob? Okay, it is true that I only used a vacuum in my apartment 3 times in 14 years. It was 7 years, before I used it the first time. But, there was a reason for that. I didn't have a vacuum cleaner and could not afford one for quite a while. That's my rationale. Of course, I did develop lung problems, so the tidy people would say that was a result of living in a world of dust. My rationale? I had asthma as a child, and it was dormant for a while and then came back. Now, I am more dust-free, so I can breathe better. So, maybe my rationale doesn't hold much water. Then, there was a Sunday morning, when I was cooking beef stew in the microwave. I did what I was supposed to do, but I opened the container too soon after cooking, and it blew up all over the walls of the kitchen in my apartment. I cleaned off a little, but most stuck to the walls. That is probably why I didn't get my deposit back after I moved. To my defense, I grew up in a house with a maid much of the time. I was never really taught to clean. I am learning how to do it now. Dirt now bothers me. I may not make up my bed every day. I still may not be the cleanest person in the world. I am not Martha Stewart. But, I have found that there are dirtier people than me. We all have our quirks. Not all men are slobs. Women will probably disagree with me, and that's okay. Even though I may look disorganized, I know where most things are. If I don't, I won't admit it. I'll just be forced to look for it. So, to the one who suggested that all men are slobs (she knows who she is), let me prove it to you that I might not be quite the norm.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Important Conversation

It is said that 90% of what we say each day is unimportant. Frivolous conversation. If you think about it, that is probably true. There are some occupations where that percentage would be lower. Can you imagine a 911 operator answering the phone with, "Hey, how's it going? How's the family? How 'bout those Tigers?" So, there are some situations, where it is important to talk about things that matter. At least, things that matter to the other person. The problem is that often times we don't listen to what people are saying. "What"? Exactly. Or, you try and cover it up by just agreeing with the person telling you something. I worked with a guy in Electronics. People would ask him questions about cd players or TV's. He didn't know much about technical issues, so he would just agree with the customers. I wonder how many customers bought a cd player thinking it was a DVD player and wondering why it wasn't working right. They let him go, because he wasn't very smart. When I was told they were letting him go, I told them that it was his birthday that day. They had missed that important bit of information before letting him go. Another example of why one needs to listen. When my friend B.J. died, some people said they had no idea she had problems. They didn't listen. When I was having some serious problems, some people close to me wouldn't listen. If you make a conscious effort not to listen, that can be very hurtful, but that is probably another discussion for later. My father had a favorite sermon called "Are You Listening?". So, are you listening? I may be vague with some of my references, especially as it relates to love, as I have a very hard time expressing that. But, listen. Maybe you will hear something important. At least 10% of the time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Olympics

Today is the start of the Summer Olympic Games in China. 8-8-08. Apparently, the number "8" is good luck in China. Much like "7" is in the US. In many ways, these Olympics are coming off as being the sporting event brought to you by NBC with as much hype as has been going on. But, the Olympics goes beyond that. They are supposed to be pure sport, and let's hope it happens without any problems, but since it is in China, you know there will be protests. That is something that is not new to the Olympics. I don't blame anyone who wants to get on TV to promote their cause, but let's step back and think about how much personal sacrifice it has taken the athletes to get there. Most of them have spent their entire lives to get to the Olympics. Many have no personal life. All they know is a gym or a pool. Some have had parents who wanted their child to be a star. They pushed their children to be better than the other kids. I don't agree with this. If a child wants to be the fastest swimmer or the best gymnast, then okay. I also like the idea of just three awards--gold, silver and bronze. They don't give awards to each contestant. You see that a lot now in schools. Every kid gets an award, whether they come in first or last. They don't want to give any kids a complex. As someone who frequently was last in races, I can tell you that if I got an award for being last, I would never have tried to do better. A highlight of my life was when I ran the 100-yard dash in 9.3, although the wind was behind my back, and it didn't count. I didn't get an award for it, but I did get a lot of people with open mouths, when I crossed the finish line. I never did that again. I have also won awards for acting. They didn't give them to everybody, just me. Imagine going to the Academy Awards. 5 actors are nominated, and all 5 get the award, because they didn't want to offend anyone. That's not how life works. Some win and some lose. In watching the coverage, the NBC folks said that this might be the biggest opportunity for the US to do great in the Olympics. Some athletes from other countries know they don't have a chance. It is just a big deal for them that they made it to the Olympics. What a horrible thing to say. One great thing about sport is that everyone has a chance. There are always upsets. So, don't be all high and mighty and think that we are better than you. I know this is a lot to think about, so enjoy the games. And, if your team doesn't win, just think--they got a trip to China out of it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Letter Writing

My parents were very avid letter writers. After my Mother lost her sight, she would dictate her letters to Daddy, and he would send them. Her family used to write once a month to each other, as the "family letter" to keep up with happenings. After they started to die, their family letter died with them. All of them were written in their hands and mailed. Oooo, what a concept! Letters that were in envelopes and put in a real mail box. My parents never had a computer or access to e-mails. If they had, I suspect that they would have spent their entire day writing to their friends. It was important to stay in contact with others. When I was in college, I used to write to my friends, and they would write to me. Except for Sonny Smith, who I used to send cassette tapes, and he would send them back to me. We would record music and talk about whatever was on our minds. The "Walter Durst Radio Hour" was born on station "WOW", which stood for "Walter Oh Walter". Yeah, they were pretty funny, and I still have some copies. They were classics. With the advent of e-mail, letter writing has become something of a thing of the past. I have found that if someone doesn't have e-mail, I will not write to them. If I do, it is rare. I can count on one hand the number of people I write real letters to. It is an art that is slowly or quickly going away. The art of letter writing. Maybe because you don't have to pay for a stamp. Maybe because you forget how to write. At any rate, it is a lost art. Years from now, letters on paper will be collectible, if they aren't already. How much do you bid on a letter from Mary Frances Durst to Walter Durst? $500? Sold American!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I was reading this morning about someone I know named Angie, whose mentor named Tedd has died of cancer. Angie works in TV, and Tedd was her first news director who mentored her and pushed her to succeed. I was reminded of my mentors. There have been several people in my life who have mentored me in various areas. My drama mentor was Skelly Warren. He was filling in as my Drama teacher at PC, when my regular teacher went on sabbatical. Skelly was tough. I remember he taught me a great deal about concentration. During rehearsals, he would stand next to me and yell in my ear, while I was reciting my lines. I had to hear what he was saying but block it out at the same time. Despite his believing in perfection, he also believed in being as loose as you could on stage. We did physical exercises, as well as mental exercises. Technique was important, but the main thing was being a total person. My business mentor was John Brusack. He was the merchandise manager at Belk, when I was a buyer. He taught me many things about business, mainly about how to stay ahead of the curve and to make people want to buy things. He showed me how to be an innovator and be a merchandiser. But the most important thing he taught me was to never forget the people around you. You cannot succeed without the people. No matter how big your ego gets, you must know that you are nothing without the people who got you there. So, share your knowledge with those coming up. That way, you will live on through them. It makes all the difference in the world. Thanks Skelly and John.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Target Audience

A writer usually writes for a target audience. Advertisers usually advertise to a target audience. If someone out of the target group benefits, then that's even better. But, the target audience is chosen to appeal to a segment of the population that may want the product more than others. So, what is my target audience for this blog? It actually changes from day to day. I know, for example, that some people read my blog every day. I truly appreciate those folks keeping up with me. There are some blogs that I write directly to them. Other times, I write to people who probably don't read my blog, but maybe they will one day, or they might hear about it. I find it highly amusing that I will write something, and then I'll see it on the news. For example, I wrote about oil speculators inflating the price of oil, and they need to be prosecuted. Then, a week or two later, there were news people talking about the same thing. I don't know if someone read my blog and gave them an idea, but I like to think so. Since I am a rather private person and keep my emotions inside, most of my friends don't know about some things I have written about, as I find it very easy to write about emotions, just not voice them. So, getting back to my target audience. My target audience is you the reader. I thank you for reading my blog. I hope that it is thought-provoking and entertaining. And if you think I am being a little cryptic sometimes, you are right. Some people think I am very hard to figure out, but I am quite transparent. Don't read too much into me. Once you figure me out.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Greenwood SC

Greenwood SC is located about 45 miles from Greenville and about 70 miles from Columbia. It is where my Grandmother Durst lived, and where my father was born. My Durst ancestors started Greenwood. They were Germans who settled in South Carolina in the early days of America. They came to Charleston first and then headed inland. They came to an area close to modern-day Greenwood and were known as Palatines. As the years progressed, they moved a little further. Some went to what is now Edgefield. Others even ventured out toward Texas, but my family stayed around Greenwood. My great-grandfather started a cotton mill that provided jobs and economy to Greenwood. Later, he would start the bank, which one day became a part of Bank of America. My grandfather had the first car dealership in Greenwood. He and my Grandmother had four boys--James, William, George and John. John was my father. His father died in 1924, when my father was only around 13. There is some controversy on how he died, but the symptoms indicate a brain tumor. My Grandmother raised all four boys and sent them to college which was Clemson. She was a school teacher. She lived until she was 105, and everyone called her "remarkable". Greenwood is a relatively small town, but it has a lot of heart and history. I have a street named after me near Lander University called W. Durst Street. To be fair, there is a street named after my cousin Elizabeth called E. Durst Street. The sad thing is that today there are no Dursts from our family who live in Greenwood. They have all either died or moved away. My parents are buried in Greenwood, along with Uncle Jim and Aunt Claudia, and other Dursts. One day, when I die, there is a place for me in that cemetery next to my Mother. If you ever visit Greenwood, which I hope you do, just think about what it took to make the town what it is today. And, you'll also see the second widest Main Street in the world next to Buenos Aires Argentina.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Good Friend

As we have discussed before, friends mean the world to me. Since I don't have much in the way of family, my friends are my family. My friends Thom and Mary Ann Stone have allowed me to share their family for holidays and other occasions. They have been doing that for about 10 years or so. I have seen their children, Payton and Nathan, grow up. And, we have grown from Lego to Wii. My friends keep me young. They care about me, and I care about them. Sounds simple, huh? Yeah, maybe. But you see? I have a lot of baggage with people not caring about me. That brings me back to the walls. I recently did a survey, and one of the questions was about making friends easily. I said no, because of the walls. Sometimes, I open a door to a wall, and let someone in, or maybe I'll walk out for a few minutes, but then I will retreat back within the walls. Sometimes, I will even attempt to breach someone else's walls. That's when I make a friend. It isn't often. So, this brings me to a story. I have a friend named Joni. She has a lot of other friends. I worked with her at Macy's, and we became friends through work. She and I worked to bust a worldwide scam that targeted stolen credit cards and merchandise. We have a lot in common. When I left Macy's in December, it was at the same time that a mutual friend died suddenly. It really affected her. At his funeral, Joni and I shared a long hug and cry. It was a release, but also a sad time for her. A couple of months later, a friend of hers was seriously hurt, and I think she began to realize that maybe there was a need in her life to explore the fact that there was life beyond Macy's. Her life had been consumed with work. We began to talk. Mostly, it was via e-mails. Some were visits to Columbia or Augusta. A few were phone calls. Joni swore me to secrecy. She couldn't have anyone to find out what she was thinking. We have mutual friends that could have helped her with her decision, but she trusted me with my counsel and secrecy. Some would say that I have a character flaw as a gossip. But, Joni trusted me, and I didn't let her down. When she would talk to me and sound depressed, I would tell a mutual friend that they might want to e-mail her and say a kind word. I wouldn't say why, and they just thought that she was having a bad day. But, it was an attempt to just keep her spirits up. Two weeks ago, I got a little gift for her and brought it to her on the day that she told Macy's she was leaving after 22 years. That day, she was happier than I had seen her in a very long time. She saw that there was a life out there. It will take her a while to decompress, much like it did for me. She will do some travelling, and work on her house. She will help out her father and spend more time with friends. She is a special friend to me, and a very caring person. Maybe that is a trait that others had not seen in her, but I have. She cares about me and is a dear friend. After she left Macy's, I apologized to a couple of her friends who didn't know she was leaving. I said I was sorry that I had not told them about her decision before, and that I had to lie to them as to why I had come to Columbia or gone to Augusta to meet with her. Either I said I was antiquing or just hanging out. Their response to me was that they understood that I was a "good friend". That meant the world to me. I also wanted them to know that I could be trusted and am not a gossip. It is hard to be away from my good friends, and maybe that will change before too long. But for now, to all my good friends--thanks for letting me get close to you. If we work together at some point down the road, that would be great. But, we are family. I can't be any more sincere than that.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Magnificent Seven

There was a movie several years ago called "The Magnificent Seven". It was a western about a group of desperadoes who save a Mexican town from a bad man. It is one of my favorite movies. I also have a penchant for eye candy. So, what do those two things have in common? Something that I have never shared before. Before you call me a pig or some sexist person, let me say that the "magnificent seven" were women who I cared for or were in awe of. It started at Belk and went on through Rich's/Macy's. Since people came and went, the list was constantly changing. As a game of sorts, I would count each day who I saw that was on the list. It was very rare to have a complete 7. Most days, it was just good to have a majority of 4. There wasn't a real criteria for the list, but most were attractive, smart, funny, a real personality, and nice. They also were generally good people. Without offending anyone pro or con, I am not going to say who I had on the list, but anyone who knows me, and who I worked with, could make some good guesses. I have a character flaw of putting women that I like on pedestals. I can't really relate to people one to one very well. So, this was something of a fantasy. Nothing truly sexual. Just a wish. So, to all of those who were on my list, thank you for being nice. Most of them went on to a much better life and successes, so I would like to think I may have been a help in that by making them feel special. Who knows?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Solar Eclipse

Today, there was a solar eclipse in China. Just in time for the Olympics. They say that eclipses make animals go crazy for a little bit, and humans just go crazy. Maybe I can blame my craziness on an eclipse I experienced in 4th grade. I went out on our patio. They told us to watch it either with a pinhole in a shoebox or with majortime dark glasses. Of course, I couldn't get the shoebox to work, and we didn't have the required dark glasses, so I watched the eclipse as a shadow on our patio. It was kind of neat to watch the patio get dark in the middle of the day. But, I knew it still wasn't the same. So, on a dare from my neighbor Bruce Campbell, I briefly looked at the sun and saw the partial eclipse with my eye. Bruce thought it was funny, and I thought I was going to go blind. We both went a little crazy. Bruce and I used to do a lot of crazy things. We got walkie-talkies that had a pretty good range. We would play army in the backyard and use the radios. We found out that the frequency was the same as some private airplanes, so we staged a plane accident. We talked his sister Patti into providing screams. We told a pilot that we had crashed in a swamp. I don't know if they believed us. They probably thought we were just kids. At least, I hope so. Bruce and I, along with a couple of other kids, threw crabapples that would bounce up under cars going down the street, and the drivers would think that something was wrong with their cars. That was a lot of fun, until we did it to a police car. We didn't do that anymore. I think the best thing we did was the prank phone calls. We did the normal calls like--is your refrigerator running, but we did a classic. Totally at random, we called a woman named Mrs. Smith. She was an older lady. I identified myself as an employee of the phone company. I told her that we were having trouble with the line and needed to test her phone. She agreed. I asked her to tap the mouthpiece. I heard tapping. I then told her to unscrew the mouthpiece and tap at the plate inside the phone. I heard her unscrewing the mouthpiece and then tapping. I then asked her if she was in the kitchen, and she said yes. I asked her to boil water on the stove. She said that she had boiling water already, as she was making tea. I asked her to place the receiver in the boiling water to purify her phone. I heard a crackling sound and then the line went dead. It has been 40 years since this incident, but if Mrs. Smith is still living, I'm sorry we hurt your phone. But, us kids had a laugh. I blame it on the solar eclipse.