Friday, October 31, 2008

The Funeral

Today was a very long day. I got down to Columbia yesterday and spent the night at my brother's house. He and I left this morning to go to Charleston for my Aunt's funeral. It was at Sullivan's Island Baptist Church. There was a good crowd, and I was glad to see my cousins again. It is a pity, though, that the only time we see each other is at funerals or weddings. There is a wedding in the family in January, so maybe we will all get together again then. We have a big family of cousins, mostly living in the Charleston area. The funeral lasted an hour at the church. It seemed a little too long, but it was nice. We then went by motorcade to the cemetery in Mount Pleasant. I really got turned around, but thankfully my brother drove, and he followed the other cars. I think we would still be driving around, if we didn't follow others. The cemetery service was short and sweet. We then headed to my cousin William's house for lunch. The spread of food was fantastic. And very good. John and I left around 2pm, so we could get back to Columbia, and I could go on to Greenville. My car acted up on the way back here. I hope I don't have to get it fixed again. Mainly since I can't afford it now. I am pretty tired now, but I am very glad I went. As I said yesterday, Aunt Lib was the last one of my Aunts and Uncles. She raised some wonderful people. A quality of Dursts.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aunt Lib

I suppose it is unusual for four aunts to die so close to one another. Two of my aunts on my mother's side--Aunt Becky and Aunt Gladys; and two on my father's side--Aunt Grace and Aunt Lib. Aunt Lib died yesterday, just three days before her 100th birthday. She lived in Mount Pleasant, SC. Her husband was my Uncle George, who was my father's brother. He was the doctor for Sullivan's Island, and my cousin George inherited the business. Uncle George and Aunt Lib had 3 sons and a daughter. Aunt Lib had been ill in recent years, and it is truly a blessing that she has gone one to reunite with Uncle George and the rest of her peers in Heaven. But, it is also something that we, as cousins, need to reflect on now. With the passing of Aunt Lib, we no longer have any living Uncles or Aunts, as well as Mothers or Fathers. She was the last one. We just have us--the cousins. I am the youngest of the first cousins, which I guess says something about the ages of those older than me. I suppose some of them would take exception to my characterizing them as old, so I won't say that. After all, my cousin William is only less than a year older than me. As I said at Aunt Grace's funeral in Atlanta this summer, the Durst wives were very strong women. They had to be, because they were married to Durst men. They all had character and knew what they wanted to do. Aunt Lib's legacy is four successful and educated children. She insisted on their education came first. She loved the water, and she loved God. May we all draw from her strength in the days ahead. Thank you, Aunt Lib, for being gracious and caring. And, may God bless our family during these days and the days ahead.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guy Manual

I am going to tell you a secret. If you are a woman, this may be a surprise to you, especially since you have never seen it, but it exists. It is The Guy Manual. It is how guys know what to do or act. We don't usually share it with women, but it supports our actions. I cannot share everything in the manual, as some things need to be kept secret, but I can share some things.
1. We don't need to ask directions--when we are driving and looking for that special place, we don't need a map or GPS. We can just drive around, and we will eventually find it. How do we do this? We were in the Boy Scouts, and we know where the sun is in relation to where we are.
2. We don't need to look at a manual to put something together--we are smart enough to know if there is a screw and a nut, and then see a hole with grooves, then the screw goes in the hole. Besides, those directions are usually written in another language we can't read anyway, and the drawing looks nothing like the item.
3. We have eyes--if a pretty girl walks by, we are going to look at her. The woman may look at what the girl is wearing, but we can't tell you those details.
4. We are going to drive fast--that's okay, because we want to get home to you. And, if you believe that, I have some land to talk to you about on the coast in the water with a beautiful view of the ocean.
5. We will be your slave--because we want you to believe that we care.
There are more items in the manual. If you are a woman, don't try to look for the manual in our stuff. We read it, memorized it, and then burned it. No evidence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Store

Today is the grand opening of Simple Pleasures. It is a collectibles store in Simpsonville, and there is nothing like it in South Carolina. Not in Charleston or Columbia. Not in Aiken or Greenville. Why? Because it has things that no one else is offering. Like what? It has jewelry from the far corners of the world. It has things from Nepal and South America. Since most people can't afford to go there, the store has brought it to you. It has unusual candles and creams. There are gifty things that would be great for Christmas. There are one-of-a-kind lamps, including Dale Tiffany pieces. There are framed color photos from around South Carolina, including the mountains and the beach. And, my contribution to the store--my autograph collection. The autographs include musicians, movie stars, sports, politics, world leaders, and more. Some are framed, but most are not. A few are pre-prints, but most are signed in-person. Some are also inscribed, which adds to the legit nature of the autographs. Many are vintage autographs. This store, with its many parts, is a perfect place to come for that special Christmas gift that you can be assured that no one else has. If you want your loved one to have something unique and different, this is the place for you. It is located in downtown Simpsonville at 104 West Curtis Street, right across from the clock tower. Come and see. You will be amazed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

James Bond

I have written some about my love for everything James Bond. The movies, the books, the posters, the toys, the autographs, the music, whatever else. I have seen all the movies, most of them multiple times. I can quote dialogue. I can tell you what the names of the actors are, even the minor characters. I know some of the bloopers from the films. I have won trivia contests. I just love James Bond. For example, do you know who the first James Bond was on screen? Barry Nelson played him in a TV production of "Casino Royale" in the late 1950's. My favorite actor was Sean Connery. Everyone has their favorite, I guess, but Connery was tough who didn't take himself too seriously. Roger Moore started off very good, but he had two problems. One was the movies became something of a comic strip. The scripts were a little too fantastic. Who thinks that Bond could actually fly a space shuttle? The other problem was age. Toward the end of his tenure, he just couldn't keep up with the action. If you look at "View to a Kill", it is too obvious that a younger man was doing his stunts. Connery used a stunt man too, but at least he looked like Connery. George Lazenby played Bond in "OHMSS". Despite being Australian, I thought he did a good job. That film still makes me cry. Timothy Dalton brought a toughness to the part. He did a good job, especially in "Licence to Kill". I would have liked to have seen him go further. Then came Brosnan. I liked him okay, but I had a problem watching him run. I guess I am a little picky here, but he just had problems running. Of his films, my favorite was "The World is Not Enough". Now, there is Daniel Craig. The jury is still out on him. They say the new film is great. We will see on November 14th. As for my favorite, it is hard to say, because each one has its own merits, but I would go with "Goldfinger". Maybe "You Only Live Twice". Or "The Spy Who Loved Me". What about...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nice Day

In my otherwise boring life, I treasure those times that give me a nice day. Without sounding too down, the reason that I liked working in retail was because every day was different. If you were lucky, you could say that every minute was different. I have had jobs that were very rigid and was the same. You had to do stuff to humor yourself just to stay sane. For example, when I worked in a vault at a bank, it was an 8-hour job, but I did something only twice a day, so there was a lot of down time. I read books and listened to music. When I worked for the Census, we processed forms all day long. I ended up looking for weird names, just to keep my mind busy. I need a job to keep my mind busy, just in case you are out there. So, yesterday was such a day. I went by my Best Bud's house. Joni and I spent some time at her house. Her father came over, and I got to talk to him for a few minutes. He is nice. Then, Joni and I went out to Columbiana Center for a shopping spree. It was fun to get out with her and with other people. I had forgotten how busy a mall could be. Columbia Mall used to be that way, before it turned into a ghetto mall. After about 4 hours with her, we said our goodbyes, and I headed on back to Greenville. It is great to see the leaves change. I think it is my favorite time of year. Except for the Laurens County deputy that got behind me and followed me for 10 miles, everything else yesterday was nice. You don't dare going over the speed limit, and I didn't. Don't give him an excuse. So, Joni. Thanks for a nice day. No, my arms aren't too sore today. I'll be your slave any day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Interview

Well, I got to Columbia in the pouring rain. And, yes, without working windshield wipers. If you are ever in that situation, Rain-X works very well. So, I got to Columbia Mall and got to see some friends. Then, I had the interview with Sears. I thought it went pretty well. There are two jobs available. The first is in TV's. That is straight commission. That is like walking a tightrope without a net. I would love to work in TV's, but I also would like to know that I am getting paid and how much. The other was in Tools, Lawn Care and Sporting Goods. The lady asked me if I knew anything about that stuff. I sold Sporting Goods years ago, and I also knew the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver. That job is a hourly rate plus commission. This interview was the first one, and then they said there would be call-backs in a couple of weeks with the job starting November 15th. I really would like something that I can depend on financially, but we will see what happens. I have put in so many applications and expressed interest in others that I have lost count, so hopefully someone will take a chance on me. I then went to the old apartments, where I used to live--Ravenwood. The manager was excited that I might move back there. Then, I went to my brother's house and reported on my day. Then, I met Del for dinner at Richland Mall. If I move back, he will be my roommate, maybe. Then, I spent the night with thankfully no fire alarm at 4am. But, I woke up at 4am anyway. One curse of wearing glasses is misreading my watch. I thought it said 7, but it was upside down. I am going back to Greenville probably later this afternoon. I know that there are a lot of layoffs around the country, but surely somebody needs me. Do you?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Needing Help

I need help. We all need help. I try and not be so self-centered, because quite frankly it makes me mad that some people are just out for themselves and do not see others. There may be others very close to you that need help, but you have your blinders on and don't want to be bothered. Maybe you are just too cold. I used to be that way, but when I needed help, things changed. My life changed. I became a survivalist. There are people in my family, and some former friends, who think of me as a beggar. They don't like beggars. But, I am so close to being homeless, it isn't funny. So, what is the reality? Here we go. I have very little money, and I don't have a job. I am going to Columbia today to see if Sears will hire me and pay a decent wage. It is going to be raining, and my windshield wipers don't work. Is that dedication or just being stupid? I guess it depends on your point of view. My roommate informed me that my living situation in Greenville may come to an end at the end of the year. Without a job, I just try to survive. I am selling some stuff on the internet, and my autograph collection is in a store in Simpsonville. With hopes that some will sell, but it is not a done deal. Nothing in my life is a done deal. I suffer from depression, but I try to keep my head above water. If I do move back to Columbia, which looks like I will, how can I afford a place to stay? Maybe a roommate. Someone who I know. No serial killers nor smokers. Some place that won't cost much. I need a job that I can make a living. Where I don't have to ask others for help. It is the worst think for me to ask others for help. Some have been very nice and helped me. I guess they saw something in me that I didn't deserve. I need a newer car. Despite taking it to the shop 3 times, it still doesn't run right. Hopefully, it will take me to Columbia today. It won't last much longer. It will turn 20 next year, but I am afraid it won't see that birthday. Without cash or credit, how am I going to be able to afford a car? Without a job or a place to live, will I become one of our nation's homeless? I am becoming pretty desperate. I believe in prayer. I know God will provide, but God needs his people to help him help others. I pray that someone will help me. I need help.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Older People

Hopefully, everybody gets older. They tell you that you slow up, as you get older. There are some days that is true, and others when I feel young. In my mind, I am in my twenties or thirties. Then, I have to remind myself that is not so true. I think getting older is a conspiracy with asprin companies. If it weren't for us, they would be out of business. You can blame it on the cold or rain, but the aches and pains can come down to age. In my family, we have several people who lived well into their 90's. My Grandmother Durst lived to be 105. When she was asked what her secret was, she said "breathing in and breathing out". My Grandmother was a remarkable woman. She raised four sons pretty much by herself. Her husband died at an early age. She taught school to put her sons through college. They turned out pretty well. And they all lived a long life. My Grandmother was very opinionated. I still can't smell baby powder without thinking of her. When she would come to visit, she would stay in my room and drown herself with baby powder every morning. She made tomato jello for me, when I visited her house in Greenwood. I have trouble eating a tomato now. Never eat tomato jello. It will make you sick. I got mad with my father a lot, as he got older. Between the lack of hearing and the dementia, it was very frustrating communicating with him. I know it was frustrating for him, too, especially when he also had trouble moving around. I am not proud of losing my temper with him, but there is one thing that I am thankful for. During the last couple of years of my father's life, I got to know him and talk to him about his life. I learned many things about how he contributed to the lives of others, and how much he was a pioneer in Southern Baptist circles. It is easy to dismiss older people, because you are young, but they have been there before you. I have some stories to tell, too. That is kind of what this blog is about. I hope I can breathe in and breathe out a little longer. And, you wanna hear a little secret? The older you get, the more humble you get. That is what I have learned.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Plan

You know, I am a political junkie. And a news junkie. I love to watch the goings and comings of candidates. And, you really need to know what is going on, as it affects all of our lives. I also have some pet peeves. Most of them are about driving, but there is one about politics. When a candidate says, "I have a plan". They may have a plan to fix health care, or the economy, or some other program. Sometimes, they are specific about their plan, and sometimes they just say that they have a plan. So, here is my question. If they have a plan to fix the economy, for example, why do we have to wait until they are elected or not? If it is such a great plan, why don't they tell other lawmakers, and get them excited too? Then, those lawmakers will push a bill through. And, if it is a Presidential election, the country will feel so much better now, because their lives are better now, and they don't have to wait until next year. The country is hurting now. People have lost their savings. And their homes. And their jobs. If a candidate has a plan to make things better, then why keep it a secret until they get elected? Is the public so stupid that they can't see that the candidate just wants to get elected and then forget about the plan? There are always other issues that come up, and the pln is put on the back-burner. For example, there was a guy running for governor in South Carolina once who ran on the issue of eliminating property tax. He also had a plan to reduce car insurance. He got elected, but other things came up, and those two issues were never passed. Also, look at Bill Clinton. One reason he was elected President was that he had a plan for universal health insurance. Guess what? It never passed. But, if they have a wonderful plan to cure global warming, or a plan to give every person a job, or a plan to reform health care, I don't think I can wait until the Spring of 2009 or beyond. I am wondering where my next meal will come from. I have a plan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Watching People

When I was starting out as an actor, one of my teachers suggested that we watch others. How they walk and talk. What are their mannerisms? Do they use gestures, when they talk or keep their hands close to their bodies? Do they give eye contact or look away? You can learn a lot from looking at others. Then, you can use that to develop a character from what you observe. You would be amazed the people I have used for characters. Many have been people that I actually know. So watch out. But, you can watch people as a fun way to make the day go by. I have a friend named Gwen. She and I worked together at Belk in Columbia Mall. After we had lunch, we would sit in the mall and watch people walk by. Most were total strangers. So, we would make up stories about the people. Some were models. Some were spies. Some were criminals. It was a funny way to pass the time. Gwen moved to Virginia. I am sure she still plays the game, as I do too. I find others play the game, as well. It is not meant to make fun of others, but it is important not to let the ones being seen to hear you. Maybe it is part of the game to be dangerous. Don't get caught. The big part of the game is to not be prejudicial. Don't racial profile people. You just create strange occupations or characteristics. So, who knows? I may be watching you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Chill

Last night was the first time this season that I had to drag out my quilt and blanket. Also wearing my long johns. Since we don't do heat much here, I have to do what I can to stay warm. Thus, 3 layers of bed clothes and 5 layers of bed linens keeps me warm, at least for now. I guess it is to be expected, since it is October, but I have very little body fat to keep me warm. What fat I do have is in my midsection. Anyone who hasn't seen me in a while would be surprised about my weight gain, but so it is. Maybe if I go back to work, I'll lose some of this. Hope so, because I am not used to it. But, here is a clue for all of you not from here, it will get warmer. But, right now it is colder here than NYC. Something is wrong with that. This is Monday. A lot to do today. I have a lot to mail at the post office. I will need to go to Mary's collectibles store. It is not officially open, but due to a mistake in the paper, they are open now. If you are ever in Simpsonville, drop by downtown. It is called Simple Pleasures, and it is across from the clock tower. Okay, so much for the commercial. I have to think about moving. It is hard to believe. The good news is that most of my stuff is still in boxes. The bad news is that much of my muscles aren't as strong as they were this time last year, so I may need help or take a long time. Enjoy your Monday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Undisclosed Location

I am writing this from an undisclosed location. All I can say is that I am at a place, where I could watch the Clemson game, Alabama game, Applachian State game, and the Carolina game yesterday. I was in football heaven. A shout-out to JJ--I wish I had a tape of your national TV appearance. So, yesterday was quite interesting. Before I got here, I went by Fluor Field in downtown Greenville to catch a little of "Bo Hopkins Day". I didn't know he was from Greenville, but I knew he was from SC. Anyway, I heard a country singer that I didn't know. Then came The Out-of-Towners, which was a beach band. Some of the members of The Swinging Medallions were also there, so they all joined onstage with Bo for a jam of "Double Shot". It was really good and quite funny. A few minutes later, Bo was walking around, and I got to meet him. I told him that we had something in common, in that we had both worked with Burt Reynolds. I told him that I was in "Semi-Tough". He said he remembered, and I am not quite sure if he thought he was supposed to know me as an actor, but it was funny. Then, he said he was in "White Lightning", and I told him I knew. Then, he invited me to get some food. He was very personable. He headed on to find a place for a smoke break. BTW, he smokes unfiltered Camels, which I found to be appropriate. We talked a little further about a project that he has coming up that he is producing on Shoeless Joe Jackson. He seemed disappointed that I was leaving, but I had to get to the football. I didn't get an autograph, but I have a new friend. Everyone was Bo's friend yesterday. Did you know that he was in "American Graffiti"? Or the TV pilot for "Charlie's Angels"? Or "The Wild Bunch"? Yep, that's Bo. Not all of my teams won yesterday. That is usually the way, but it was a good day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Moving Again

It looks like I will be moving again sooner than later. My roommate told me yesterday that he will be probably taking a job in Clemson, which would mean that he is going to put this condo up for rent. That would mean that I am going to have to find a place to stay. I guess I will be moving back to Columbia, which is where most of my friends are. I have enjoyed being here in Greenville for almost a year. The people have been very nice, and the mountains have been very calming. The arts are very big up here, and there are concerts everywhere. It has just been a joy being here, but it is time to go. I can't be semi-retired anymore. I need to have some responsibilities again, despite that stress. So, if you are in Columbia, and you know of a job or a cheap place to stay, please let me know. I will be in Columbia on Friday the 24th and maybe into the weekend. I also hope I can get some help in moving. My body is not as strong as it once was. Oh, poor baby.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thanks Friends

I know that regular readers of this blog will know there is a familiar theme of the importance of friends. One of my many faults is that I have trouble expressing myself in person, but that I do very well expressing myself by writing. It allows me to think before saying something, at least usually. I have been known to write something without thinking about the consequences, but I am learning to edit myself. I have so much to say to people in person. Maybe I am afraid of rejection or just that they will laugh and think I am not serious. When it comes to my friends, I am dead serious. They mean the world to me. At the risk of embarrassing anyone, I would like to single out a few people who mean a lot to me, for one reason or another. Some of you may not know these people, but they are all a part of my soul. If I forget anyone, please forgive me. We may do another one of these in the future, so stay tuned. These are not in any real order. Here goes. Pam--she came along at a time when my world was quickly coming to an end. She showed me that I have self-worth. A smile can do that. Konnie--she makes me laugh, despite knowing we both were having tough times. But, she is also very deep. And she cared. Aubrey--the encourager. She is very old for her young age, and I mean that as a compliment. Maybe it is because she is from Ohio, or maybe it is because she is a creative soul. Joni--she is a listener. We have shared a lot in the last year or two. For some reason, she and I have a strong friendship. She is also one who cares. She has a kind heart. Thom and Mary Ann--my other family. When they saw I wasn't having a family Christmas, they allowed me to share their holiday with them. I share Easter and Thanksgiving with them too, as well as other times, when we can get together. They have been too kind to me without making a big deal of it. There is nothing like having a family. Talula--we have known each other since college, and even went to Europe together. She has a big heart and continues to care. Mary--another friend from college. We have rekindled our friendship recently, and she understands the issues I am going through. Another creative soul. Jimmy--another friend from college. He opened his home to me, when it was impossible for me to go on in my situation at Macy's. I fear I have outstayed my welcome, but I will always thank him for his kindness. Del and Chris--they might have their differences toward our music, but they allowed my songs to be turned into something people would like to listen to. Creativity sometimes can be a fighting word, and sometimes I have to be a referee, but I appreciate them, and we also have a lot in common. Ne'cole--a newer friend, but another who allows me to be me. In this world that I live in, it is hard sometimes to be me. I wish for you all the success you deserve. Farida--we may not talk much, but she has a big heart. Lenny--my other brother. Indirectly responsible for allowing the drama bug to bite me. I know I am forgetting people, but for now those are the people I want to thank. JJ? I hope your leak gets fixed. I want to see the records.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fire Alarm

Yesterday was not a fun-filled day. To the contrary. It was filled with one crisis after another. First, I had a nosebleed. It wasn't too bad, but it was bad enough. I decided to stay around the condo, rather than what I wanted to do. I wasn't feeling too good. I did go out to a cafeteria for lunch. Shortly after I got back, there was a knock on the door, and it was a man who had come to turn off the electricity for non-payment. I was shocked, to say the least, because I didn't know the bill had not been paid. I thought my roommate was taking care of it. I tried calling him, but he didn't answer, so I paid the bill to prevent it being turned off. Then, I talked to my roommate, and he was livid. He blamed me for the bill not being paid, and I was scared. I didn't know what his frame of mind would be, and whether violence would be involved, so I left. I grabbed a few things and drove to Columbia. I saw some friends. I visited with my brother for a while and got some advice on how to proceed. I don't know what will happen next, but I do have some options. So, I went to the motel to get a little sleep. At 4am this morning, I was awakened by the fire alarm going off. First, I didn't know where I was, but once I got myself together, I dressed and went outside. The police was there, but not the fire department. In talking to some other people, they said the alarm had been going off for some time, but the authorities didn't seem too concerned. About 4:30, we heard the fire department coming down the street, but they soon left, finding nothing. I got a couple of hours more to sleep. So, I am heading back to Greenville today with the hope of things being a bit better. If not, I may be heading out of Dodge. It is rather scary. I am working without a net. God help us all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Closed Doors

When you close your door behind you at night, are you the same person that you were at work or school? I would venture a guess that you are not. When I worked in retail, I acted every single day. I was not nearly who I was behind closed doors. I was much more outgoing. I was a leader. People liked me. I didn't second-guess myself. When I closed that door, I was much more shy. I didn't want to be around people. I wanted to be by myself. I am much better one on one than with a group of people. It is kind of a paradox, in that I have this talent for acting and public speaking. I guess I do, or at least people say I do. People who really know me say how surprised they are that I turn on, when I get on stage. But, behind closed doors I am a little different. Behind closed doors, some people are abusive of others. I don't think I am there, but I saw a little of that growing up. I don't want to say anything bad about my parents, but let us just say that my father was very conservative, and my mother wasn't as much, so there was a little conflict in our household. When you live in a home, where there is a preacher, things can get a little testy. If you are lucky enough to have a mother and a father, that is a good thing. But, if you don't, you make the best of your life and adapt. My parents, especially my father, believed in spanking. Today, it would be considered child abuse. Personally, I believe that spanking is a good thing, as long as it is not extreme. Children need to understand that they can't get away with stuff. Sometimes it is cute, but other times they need to understand that their actions can result in bad things. I am not big on spanking children in public. That can get a little too violent. There is a story in the news here about a preacher who disciplined a child in a school. The preacher got permission from the mother by phone to spank the child, and he did. Now, the preacher has been arrested for child abuse. Come on, people. This is another example of our legal system gone amuck. I haven't seen the bruises, but have we become so politically correct that we can't do anything without a lawsuit? I don't condone abuse, if it is done as abuse. But, if it is done from a corrective standpoint, that is another thing. Should my 8th grade physical education teacher been brought up on charges of abuse, because he used a paddle with those magic words--"Bend over and grab your ankles"? Should my father been brought up on charges of abuse, because he paddled me or used a belt or his hand? What about the time he slapped me across the face, when I was 15, for talking back to him? I would hope not. It was behind closed doors. I would like to think I am a better person today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Creek

I have written about the creek near our old house. It was about two blocks away. The creek was part of a waterway that snakes through Columbia. When I was a kid, I loved to play in the creek. I think it was because of what my parents and I did, when I was a child. We would visit the mountains, and we would wade in the cold streams. It was something we did. We didn't have video games or computers. We made our own fun, unless it rained, and then we played board games or watched TV. But, we spent a lot of time outside. The creek wasn't too deep. The water went up to your knees, but it was cool. There were also little hills around the creek. We would use the hills and the woods to learn to smoke. Not proud of that. I saw my first adult magazine in those woods. I also saw a snake and some big rats. But, the creek was still the big thing. It flowed under a bridge that crossed Belt Line Blvd. It was a four-lane road. Underneath the bridge was a flat concrete part of the creek, and it was fun to watch the water cascade under the bridge to another creek. The creek itself had a sandy bottom. Once, I was walking in the creek, and my foot went into a hole that had broken glass. It cut up my foot pretty bad. I limped home and got patched up. They didn't take me to the hospital. They would have today. Parents freak out much more today than back then. When I got a little older, I did a little playing with fire. I set a little wood on fire near the creek, and it got out of control. I tried to put it out from the water from the creek, but it wasn't working. I ran home and called the fire department. They came and put it out. Saved by the bell. No one knew I set the fire until today. I hope the statute of limitations has run out some 40 years later. It was an accident though. The creek pretty much went underground, as houses and businesses grew up around it and on it. It became a memory, but anyone who ever played in the creek knows what a special place it was.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Depth Perception

I was watching a street today, which runs in front of a shop in a small town. There is a traffic light at the end of the street. People were stopping at the red light halfway up the block, instead of going to the corner. Was it because they couldn't see the light from the corner? Maybe, but it was still strange. I got to thinking about it. Maybe they couldn't judge the front of their car to the corner. That would be pretty disturbing. I was reminded about something I was told, when I took driving lessons. The teacher told me to match the end of my hood to the back wheels of the car in front of me, and then I would be correctly behind the car in front of me. My father was a notorious tailgater. It used to scare my Mother. I once was in the car with my freshman roommate in college. We were going up the interstate and getting on the tail of the cars in front of us. I asked him what if the guy in front of us panicked and put on the brakes. He said that we would just fly over him and keep going. But, conversely, why do some drivers insist on being so far back from the guy in front of them? That really bothers me. Do they have a slow reaction time, in case they need to brake? That is hard to say, but I just think they have a depth perception problem. Whatever it is, please either speed up or get in the slow lane, so I can go around you. Thank you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Checking In

I don't know how many people read my blog on a daily basis. I would hope that a few do. When I write this thing, I think of someone to write to, but I don't really have a target audience. I write for my own therapy. After all, it is cheaper than a psychiatrist. Some days though I think I need a therapist of some sort. There have been many days in my life that I think it would be good if I just checked out. But, there is that saying that keeps me going--suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, I keep going. I know that life is not rosy behind closed doors. The best thing is to put a brave face on and pretend that everything is great. But, if I tell you something that might surprise you, would you feel sorry for me, or would you just dismiss it? Okay, here goes. Two weeks ago, I used the keys to get into the condo's storage basement. The keys were on a hook near the kitchen trash can. I put the keys back on the hook, after using them, and now they are gone. My roommate blames me for losing them. I don't know what happened to them. Maybe they fell in the trash. I don't know. I looked for them, but couldn't find them. I live here for free, but it is time to go. I can't stay here, when my roommate yells and wakes me up. He smokes constantly. Sometimes, he sleeps for two days during the weekend and complains he is tired during the week. I think that if he had a schedule to stick to, he would be a better person. Maybe if he exercised. I can't even carry on a conversation with him. If I ask how he is, he asks why do I ask? It is as though he is paranoid. I have appreciated this time of staying here. It has been a nice respite from the hell I lived in Columbia. The past 30 years of retail abuse has gone away. They say that if you work in retail, you can work anywhere. Nowhere in society is emotional abuse worse than in retail. I have become a much more understanding person of others after working in retail. I cannot understand my roommate. I am sorry to say that. So, to all of my Columbia friends, who might be reading this, I am begging you. PLEASE help me. I need a job, and I need a place to stay. And, if possible, I need someone who understands. I would rather check in than check out. God help us all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Domestic Terrorist

It is less than a month until the national election. Despite their pledge to not get dirty, the politics are not just dirty, they are down right ugly. I have to say that I have done some things to try and sway voters' minds, but nothing like this. So, when did you stop beating your wife? This mud-slinging has come to a head with an ad by the McCain campaign about Obama having a friend who is a domestic terrorist. Imagine that. The truth is that there is a guy in Chicago, who is a teacher now, but used to run an organization during the anti-war movement called the Weathermen. Other people call it the Weather Underground. Whatever you call it, it happened at a time that was very different than now. The word "terrorist" didn't exist during the anti-war movement. But it is a buzz word. A word that causes fear in peoples' minds today. What disturbs me is that McCain approved the ad, or at least he said he did. What happened to what the candidates are going to do for us now? Why doesn't Obama run an ad about McCain bombed innocent civilians in Vietnam? It could have happened. No one could prove it, because it was war. So, here is why I can't be President. Because I was a domestic terrorist. Toward the end of the Vietnam War, I was in the anti-war movement. I didn't bomb anything, but I did do non-violent stuff. There were postcards that one could send to the Pentagon expressing an interest in being a nurse. I got a bunch of those and put phony names and addresses on them and sent them to the Pentagon. It forced those people to contact non-existing people and thus slowed down the work of the Pentagon. I also advocated the impeachment and resignation of the President of the United States Richard Nixon. He ultimately resigned in 1974 over Watergate. That was a happy day for me. That was a different time. The FBI investigated me, as they did a lot of others, including John Lennon. A member of the Fab Four. All we were saying was to give peace a chance. Maybe we were idealists. Maybe we were naive. But, we were trying to make a difference. We saw things that were wrong and unjust. Maybe some of us tried to do things that were more violent. I don't condone violence, but if you were physically attacked, what would you do? Would you do what I did in junior high and just take it? Or would you lash out? There were folks in power, who didn't want to give up that power. There are far more checks and balances now. The media is much stronger. The tabloids are everywhere. We live in a different country. Maybe we have grown up more and found that change needs to come more through the system than to attack the system. Our country has matured. So to say that Obama has a friend who is a terrorist is to scare voters. Let's knock it off, guys. Talk about what you are going to do to make my life better. If you can't, shut up.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Smoking Mountains

I have written about my smoking life. Thankfully, I don't smoke anymore. I do think that I suffered some lung damage. I don't understand why people continue to smoke, despite all of the folks who have died from lung cancer and other illnesses. A lot of cities and towns have set up no smoking zones. Some have banned smoking completely. That must tell you something. My roommate smokes a lot. I wonder how much money he would save without smoking. I have heard that cigarettes are expensive. Also, the smoke gets in your clothes. I have been working with a friend to set up a collectibles store. She wanted me to bring in my concert t-shirts collection to sell. I was very happy to do that. They realized that the smell of cigarettes were all through the shirts, so they said they couldn't use them. I suppose that they could spray them with something to get rid of the odor, but the idea that I can't tell the difference sort of scares me. I guess I smell of smoke, too. What will it take for him to stop smoking? I have no idea. On one hand, I have a hard time being judgemental. I have tried to always think the best about people and not criticize. I have a friend who is in the adult film industry in California. I told her long ago that I would not judge her career, because everybody has to do something. I may not agree with it, but it is okay. As long as your heart is in the right place, everything else will fall into place. But, is there a point where I have to say something? Another reason why I can't criticize is that I know they have gotten that all their lives. They are tired of being told that something is wrong. I know, when I heard people telling me something was wrong, I usually did the opposite. I was tired of people telling me that something was wrong. But, when it affects money in my pocket, I get a little put out. You know, they say that everything you do somehow affects others somehow. I guess that's true. No matter how much you think you are doing things alone, you are never alone. So, smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette. And, if I hear you coughing, I'll know why.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Airplane Rides

One of my favorite movies is "Airplane". It is just so funny, and I can pretty much quote the entire movie. Another one of my favorite movies is "Airport". It is just so suspenseful. Another one of my favorite movies is "Air Force One". It has so much action. Do you see a trend here? I like movies about planes. Although, I didn't much care for "Top Gun". I think it is because I watched it so much in the TV Department at Rich's. I have flown many times. It does not really scare me, but I am a white-knuckled flyer upon take-off. They say take-offs and landings are the worst. The first time I was ever on a plane was Piedmont flying from Asheville to Louisville. I went with my father, and we landed at every little airport along the way. I remember them serving green roast beef, and they made steep turns. I flew a bunch in going on my trip to Europe. I have already written about the flight from London to Rome, where the plane dropped quickly, and I hyperventilated. I flew some from Dallas to Columbia, when I was going to seminary. I would usually take the red-eye, because it was so much cheaper. One landing in Columbia, the pilot landed the plane halfway down the runway and jammed on the brakes. We all cheered. Not for the pilot but because we didn't crash. I flew from Columbia to Puerto Rico. It was a long flight but a fun one. Especially, when we flew over the Bermuda Triangle. I flew on American Express from Columbia to Nashville. That was pretty scary, because a plane like that one had crashed the week before in Alabama. We flew pretty low so I could see guys mowing the lawn. We skimmed over the mountains. The flight attendant let me sit at the front of the plane. On the return flight, a guy played the guitar, and we had a party. And then last summer, I flew from Greenville to Richmond by way of Cleveland. The take-offs were nervy. The plane was kind of small, but we made it okay. I don't think anyone should take flying for granted, but it is kind of fun. Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Store

I have many dreams in life. Someone who will love me. Maybe a marriage. Being financially okay. Stop collection calls. Being appreciated. Being picked first for an athletic event. Doing a job that I would enjoy. Being a famous songwriter. But, one thing that I have wanted for a lot of years is to have a store. I first thought of it around 15 years ago. My father wanted me to sell my huge collection of music and memorabilia. I did do a little mail order and record shows around the Carolinas. I did okay. The last show I did was an antique show in Greenwood. I did pretty well for that four-day show. I have a friend named Fred Arnold. He had stores in Charleston and Columbia. He did pretty well. I saw stores in Charlotte and Atlanta. They did very well. Every used record store I went in, I looked around and gathered info as to presentation. What were they doing to make a go of it? I am not going to say, because it would give away my secrets. But, I knew that with my 30 years of retail experience, I could succeed. After all, everytime I would do something it stores, I would succeed. I just seem to have a knack for knowing what people want and how to present it. I also have a knack of selling things to people that they didn't intend to buy. So, my dream is to open a store that sells music and memorabilia. Posters, autographs, videos, books, records, collectibles, memorabilia, and more. I want a place that I can call my own. I have planned how I would do it and know it would work. Unfortunately, thanks to my financial situation, banks won't loan me money to do this. I have tried to get alternative funding, but that hasn't worked either. A friend named Thom Stone used to have a mattress store in Orangeburg. He was gracious to allow me to put a few things in his store, but he had to close a few years ago. Now, another friend named Mary Jennings is opening a collectibles store in Simpsonville. She is allowing me to put my autograph collection in it, as well as a few other things. It is the closest thing to a store I have had so far. Who knows what will happen with it, but at least it is a start. Maybe I can do my thing at some point. As for my other dreams, maybe later.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bob Dylan

I first really became aware of Bob Dylan in the late 1960's. After all, I was more in tune to the British Invasion. But, my brother gave a Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits LP for Christmas, and I just loved it. It also came with a cool poster. Even a barber shop in Columbia used that poster's artwork for a mural on the side of their building. I know Bob gets the reputation of mumbling through his music, but the thing I like about him in concert is that he never does his songs the same. He either changes the lyrics or the melody. So often when you see somebody in concert, they will sing it just like the record, or in the case of some people, will just lipsynch to the record. Remember Milli Vanilli? But, Bob doesn't do that. So, sometimes it is hard to sing along with him at his shows, and he forces you to listen. I have seen Bob twice. The first was in 1988 at the Carolina Colisseum in Columbia. A reggae band called Steel Pulse opened for him, and I was first exposed to that kind of music and really liked it. Then, Bob came on, and it was magic. I saw him again about 15 years later at Township Auditorium in Columbia. I don't normally dance in concerts, but I did this time--nonstop. After the show, I saw his bus pull away. I ran to my car to follow it out of town. I was running lights and doing 70 in town to catch up to it. I did and was riding alongside it. He was heading to Knoxville, which was his next show. I got about 10 miles outside of town, when I realized I was running out of gas. Had I had a full tank, I would have gone all the way, but I had to pull off. I honked my horn, and Bob looked out of the window of the bus and waved at me. Another magic moment. He tours all the time. If you get a chance to see him, please go. He is a legend.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Smoking Stuff

I can't stand those asthma commercials on TV. People talk about how long they have had asthma. Some say 5 years, 14 years, or all their lives. Okay, I have asthma. I don't have bad symptoms like some, but usually this time of year I will cough and feel a tightness in my chest. When I was a kid, itwas pretty tough around the State Fair time. They used to use sawdust around the fair that would cause me severe problems. They have since paved the fair area, so it isn't as bad. But, if I go near hay in the animal barn, I can start coughing. I also have chronic bronchitis. Some attacks can be severe. I have been known to separate a rib or two. I know there are some things I can do to keep that from happening. I have also used an inhaler. So, I say all of this to talk about smoking. When I was in junior high school, I thought it was cool to smoke. Unfortunately, my parents didn't share my feelings. I was too young to buy cigarettes, so I stole cigarettes from people's cars, if I saw them on the dash while riding on my bike. I also found half-smoked cigarettes on the ground at our high school from other students who had gone to their cars in between classes to smoke but couldn't finish them. I had a problem. When I got home, I would wash my hands in mouthwash and eat a bunch of mints to try and mask it from my parents. I don't know if they ever knew, but I think they suspected it. When I got to college, I wasn't smoking. But, in my junior year at PC, I discovered two things--small cigars and grass. I did a play that required that I smoke on stage. My Mother said that she found it uncomfortable to see me smoke. I told her that I didn't inhale and actually blew into the cigarette to make it glow. That wasn't true, but maybe she believed it. I continued to smoke off and on. I had my last cigarette in 1984. I just quit cold turkey. Thanks to my asthma, bronchitis and ex-smoker's lungs, I have a little problem breathing today. I also used to run for exercise. I used to be in top shape. Now, not so much. When I am around smokers now, I feel the tightness. I cannot judge smokers for what they do. I just know that I can't do that anymore. Kind of like drinking, but that's another story.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hearing Loss

What? My father was hard of hearing. It was very frustrating growing up, because his favorite word was "What?". I spent the majority of my life repeating what I said to him. When my Mother had her stroke, and her speech was slurred, I had to be the interpreter between her and my father, because he couldn't hear what she said. What? I am a product of rock and roll concerts. There are artists who have lost their hearing, because they stood next to their speakers. I have lost a bit of hearing in my right ear partially because of going to those concerts. The worst was The Who in 1989. They were in the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest concert. I went to one of those. We sat in a football stadium in Raleigh NC. On one side of me was the stage. On the other side of me was a guy who yelled right in my ear for 2 hours straight. I literally could feel my brain move around in my head. The sound made me sick, and I had to leave before the show was over. I also have a slight deformity in my right ear, where the canal is a little smaller than my left ear. What? I don't think I am as deaf as my father was, but who knows what will happen, as I get older. Speaking of getting older, I also find that it is harder now to get up off the floor, if I happen to sit down on the floor. I've fallen, and I can't get up. What? At least, my mind is young, even if my body is not. What?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

OJ Simpson

I woke up this morning to the news that OJ was found guilty of robbery in Las Vegas. 13 years ago, he was found not guilty of killing his wife. I have mixed emotions about this situation. But, there have been some parts of my life that have happened along with OJ's timeline. On my last night in the house I grew up in on Belmont Drive in Columbia was the time of the chase along the freeway between the police and OJ. That was 14 years ago. It was on my birthday of June 17th. I laid on the floor of our den watching a small TV. All of the furniture was gone. There was a lot of dust in the air in the house. I was glued to the TV. On the day that the verdict came down that OJ was found not guilty in Los Angeles, that was the last day of my work at Belk. We had closed the Columbiana Center store. There were a few of us still there who were packing up the store. This was the last day, and there was a big screen TV in the Men's Department where we watched the verdict. It was shocking. Do I believe he killed his wife and Ron? Probably, but there was a doubt. Fast forward to last year. OJ walked into a hotel room, where there were people who had some memorabilia of his, and he wanted it back. If he told friends to bring guns, there would have been a gangsta thing. A lot of the situation dealt with perception. OJ might have made a bad decision. Maybe there were guys there who wanted to make a statement. But, I don't think he was guilty of kidnapping. Now, there is the robbery aspect. Speaking as a dealer of memorabilia, I can tell you that I do not fear Paul McCartney flying over here to get back a backstage pass from his 1989 show that I have. After all, I own it now. I paid money for it. So, unless these dealers actually stole these items from OJ's house while he wasn't home, then maybe he would be guilty of robbery. His legal team will appeal. They will say the jury was tainted by previous events. They will probably try to play the race card. I hope they don't. But, I also hope OJ won't spend a lot of time in jail. If so, another prisoner might try to kill him. That would be a shame.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hot Springs

I was reminded of this story yesterday. A friend from Arkansas called me, and he mentioned having visited Hot Springs, AR. I remembered that my parents took me there on the way to a trip to New Mexico. I was probably around 8. Hot Springs has pools of hot water that are supposed to be healing. Of course, we had to feel them. I don't think we got completely in, but I do remember putting my toes in the water. I think that is what sealed the deal of me liking hot baths. I love to sit in a hot bath. It is so relaxing. I can just sit there and think about the important things of the day. I haven't been in a hot tub, but I would really like to experience the joys of a hot tub. When I told a doctor about my delight in a tub bath, he said that he would feel not quite as clean in a bath than in a shower. I suppose that there are opinions on both sides of bath vs. shower. If you don't have much time, then a shower would be the way to go. But, if you have some time, and just want to soak, go for the tub. I know the tub probably uses more water, although I have heard about people taking extra long showers, so that may be a mute point. I must admit to you people, and this might gross you out, but when I was in college, during my hippie days, I didn't bathe very much. I did use deordorant and some soap and water, but it wasn't the same as an all-over bath or shower. It just wasn't a priority in those days. I guess my baths make up for that. And, during those days, I didn't wash my hair much. Maybe that's why I don't have much hair today. Confession is good for the soul. And, then to conclude, let's go back to the hot springs. Near the springs, there was a cool stream. I was playing on the rocks of the stream and fell in, wearing my clothes. I remember that my Mother was not happy with me falling into the stream, because I had to change clothes, and she had to dig them out of my suitcase in the trunk of the car. So, two lessons learned that day--hot baths are good but don't go into the water with all your clothes on.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life's Challenges

When we came into this world, there was no guarantee that life would be wonderful. In fact, most of us cried as our first emotion. During our early years, we cried more. We cried for food. We cried at the doctor's office. We cried just to be crying. Then, we learned to talk. We learned how to whine, much to the disgust of our parents. Life made it hard for us to smile, but we tried to laugh. After all, laughing helped us cope with life's problems. If you put yourself in a happy place, things just seem to be a bit better. "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. " We all remember Mary Poppins. So, everyone has challenges. It may be where to go to college. How am I going to pass that test? Why won't anyone love me? Who are my friends? Or, it might be health issues. Or financial issues. I had, and continue to have, financial challenges. When Macy's stopped giving me raises, and costs kept going up, I could no longer afford to live. I overextended myself with credit cards, and couldn't pay them back. I have collectors call me every day. I don't answer the phone, unless you identify yourself as someone I know. It is a horrible way to live. I have thankfully had some friends help me get through the rough times. If it were not for them, I would have crashed my car into a bridge. Depression is an awful thing. I have lost people, who I thought were my friends. When I told them of my problems, they just turned their backs on me and won't speak to me anymore. Were they my friends to start with? I thought so, but we all moved on. I have learned to be more understanding of others. So, as bad as my life has been, I just put that stuff in a corner of my life and carry on. I use this medium to express my emotions. It is therapy. People who don't know me will read it and will think badly of me, or maybe admire me. Who knows? So, today there is another challenge. My dear friend Joni told me yesterday that her sister has been diagnosed with cancer. I don't know if they caught it early, but I pray that they have. Her sister is a very nice person with a family. I hope things will be okay, but it is a challenge. Joni's friendship means a lot to me. I wish I could be there today, so I send her a long distance hug. I hate to bring this up now, but I have told a couple of friends about my plans for my funeral. My father was a stickler for funeral plans. He was buried 9 years ago yesterday. His funeral was just what he wanted. In my funeral plans, I have asked my friends Thom and Mary Ann Stone to sing the song "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin. It could be described as my theme song. Look it up. When you read the lyrics, you will know my philosophy of life. There are challenges out there. Smile.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Beach

In South Carolina, we are lucky because we have all kinds of places that we can go for vacation and not have to travel far. For those who like the mountains or skiing, we have that close by. For those who like amusement parks, we have Carowinds and maybe Hard Rock. And if you want to go a little farther, there is Six Flags, Maggie Valley, or Dollywood. Of course, there is the zoo in Columbia or Greenville. There are other things around from museums to a safari park to water parks. Then, there is the beach. If you don't live in SC, you will think of the beach as Myrtle Beach. That is the commercial center of the tourists. If you want a more sedate section of the beach, you will go to Charleston. I have cousins in Charleston. They have lived there all their lives and love it. I used to go to Charleston 3 times a year, when I worked at Belk. I went there to unwind and clear my head. The beach will do that to you. And you don't have to go to the sand to go to the beach. It is just a generic term to see the ocean. It can be very calming. After all, scientists say we came from the ocean. I don't believe that part, but it is very magnetic. People are drawn to the ocean. I don't care much for what salt air does to your car, but the main thing is to be seen. You have to make a statement. Although, the residents don't have to make a statement. Just the tourists. So, if I could afford the gas right now, this would be the perfect time to go to Charleston. It isn't too hot and not too cold. It is just right. And if you want to go to Myrtle Beach, take a lot of money. Oh, and if you take a slight turn to the north, you can go to South of the Border. Confusing? Not if you are from SC. But that's another story.