Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Today is the first Friday after Thanksgiving that I haven't worked in retail in 25 years. Stores say that it can make or break their year with the sales from today. That's why they call it "Black Friday". From a retail person, today is a day that they dread. Customers come in and want something for nothing. Tempers flare. You can be stuck at a register for hours and not move. The store does all they can to max out the associates. One will ring while another one bags. If you're lucky. You tell customers they can't use their coupons on specials, but then that is why they are there early in the morning. They have come for the specials. The customers curse you and tell you they want to see a manager. You gladly call for a manager, but they are hiding and don't come. The customers then throw the coupons at you and walk away. Or else, they tell you that another associate took the coupons. I would ask for names, but they couldn't tell me who. Or, I would say that they could take the items to that associate to ring up, but I wasn't going to do it. If you call their bluff, they will back down. But, I have seen fights and customers getting hurt. Why? To save a few dollars. It isn't worth it. Maybe this year, with the bad economy, it won't be as hectic in the stores, but don't bet on it. I am just very thankful that I don't have to be in it. 25 years of that crap can be extremely stressful. I need a job, and maybe I will go back into retail, but it isn't worth it to take the abuse. My advice--everybody just take a deep breath. Read the fine print on the ads. And, give me my battle pay.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

Have you seen the Publix commercial for Thanksgiving? It is actually very good. It stresses the need to get together and express thanks to friends and family. This Thanksgiving is special for a lot of people. Despite the stress of a bad economy, we have a lot to be thankful for. So much has happened this year. One friend is going through a cancer journey, but she will be thankful for hopefully catching it in time. Another friend thought his cancer was terminal, but apparently he is going to be okay. I am thankful that I don't have to be at work at 5am on Friday for the zoo of customers. I am in desperate need of work, but I am thankful that the stress of retail has been relieved. This will be the first "Black Friday" that I haven't worked in 25 years. That can take a lot out of you. Do I miss it? Sort of, but life goes on. I have realized that there is life outside of retail. Anyone who has experienced that understands. Another friend also knows this feeling first-hand for the first time in almst 23 years. We have a lot in common. Most of all, I am just thankful for my friends. If you don't know that by now, you have not been reading this blog. This Thanksgiving, I will be spending it with Thom, Mary Ann, Payton, Nathan, and the good people of St. Matthews, SC. They have been gracious to open their home to me over the past 11 years or so. They have become my family, and I thank God for them. I am also thankful for a strong friendship with Joni. Despite knowing her for almost 12 years, it became real this past year. Several events caused it to become strong, and I hope it never ends. I also am thankful for Aubrey. She encouraged me to take a step that I needed to do before it killed me. She saw beyond my situation. Her strong faith keeps me going. I am also thankful for Mary, whose friendship has been since college but just recently has been rekindled. Her kindness has been much appreciated, and we hope the store will succeed. Simple Pleasures at 104 West Curtis Street in Simpsonville, SC. Sorry for the advertisement, but we need to get the word out. I am also thankful for Jimmy. He opened his home to me and allowed me to move to Greenville. It has been a time for reflection and experiencing new things. The mountains have been very calming. Now, it is time to get back into the game in Columbia hopefully, but I think him for coming to my aid. There are many others to give thanks. Forgive me, if I leave someone out, but here goes: Konnie, Talula, Peggy, Chris, Janita, Del, Phil, Betsy, Brandi, Farida, Ne'cole (thanks for letting me laugh), my Macy's friends, Lisa, Pam, and so many more. Thanks, guys. Most of all though, I must thank God for giving me another day. Give thanks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Secrets

Everyone has secrets. Some are secrets you don't want anyone to know. Others are national secrets that no one knows, except for maybe the CIA. Or the FBI. Or the President. Or the Vice-President. You see where this is going. But, we aren't talking about national secrets. We are talking about my secrets. I treasured the confidence that a friend gave to me for her secret. We worked through her secret for several months before she felt comfortable in exposing her secret. Trust is very important with keeping secrets. Another friend speculated yesterday that I have a lot of secrets. I actually don't have that many. Many of them I have written about in this blog. For example, the secret that I wasn't supposed to talk about with my situation in Israel with the CIA and Palestinian terrorists. At least, they said I couldn't talk about it, but I figure that 35 years later is long enough. But, what are my secrets? Well, I guess that if I told the deep, dark secrets in my life, people may be shocked or at least think badly about me. That is where the walls come into play. I have written before about my walls. Sometimes they are very high and thick. No one can get around them or over them. I feel more comfortable with that. But, sometimes I open the door wide enough to see inside. That is what this blog is about. Look inside. Maybe you will see a little bit of you inside that wall. But here is a taste of my secrets:
1. How can I find people so well? If I told you all of my secrets on that, then maybe no one would want to hire me, as that is an important talent of mine. But, I will give you a hint. I love puzzles. I love challenges. I love games. I treat the search as a puzzle, challenge and game. I also use a little luck. Sorry, I can't say anymore, because it is a secret.
2. What is going on with my personal life? If I told you, all of my walls would tumble down. Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing, but needless to say the old phrase "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" kind of fits. Yes, I love. I have loved many times over my life. Unfortunately, many of those times were a one-way situation. There are some secrets within this category, but maybe I can open up on them at a later date.
3. What about finances? My Mother, when asked how she was despite her stroke, would say she was fine. I wish I could say the same. My secret here is that I try and put a positive face on a very bad situation. When I asked a professional about would people know what was going on with my finances, she said only if I told them or wore a sign around my neck. I have told some about it, and some of those have felt worse of me. But, I will tell you a portion of my secret here: I am not doing well. In fact, I may be completely broke by Christmas without a job. My life has fallen apart in that regard.
4. How do I write or create? I really don't know. This is a secret that may or may not be known at all. The fact is that I know I have talents. I have a talent for writing. I also have a talent for acting. I also have a talent for seeing concepts that others don't. In some ways, it is like the cliche of "thinking outside of the box". I will have to think further on how I do these things. But, when I read something, that I have written some time before, I often do not remember writing it. Words flow from my brain to my fingers. I edit as I go. But, my secret of how I do this is in some ways a secret to me.
In summary, I have a few secrets. Maybe that maintains a sense of mystery. No, I haven't killed anyone. If you have any questions about my secrets, feel free to ask. I may even let you in on a secret, if you promise not to tell anyone. It is all about trust. Trust me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22

There are days that are burned into the country's memory. One of these is November 22, 1963. This was the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. I happen to be one of those who believe that Oswald didn't act alone. I believe there was a conspiracy. I know what the Warren Commission said, and I know what the FBI said, but there are so many unanswered questions that it boggles the mind how a lone gunman like Oswald could have done it. But, let's go back to that day. I was in school. We were carving green bricks. Another teacher ran into our room and told our teacher to cut on the TV. She did, and we saw the news that Kennedy had been shot. I dropped my knife and was glued to the TV. They let out school early, and I ran home to be glued to the TV all weekend. I think it was the beginning of my being a political and news junkie. My Mother and I saw Ruby shoot Oswald live on TV that Sunday. I remember she fell to her knees from her chair and yelled out "They shot him". She believed in a conspiracy, too. We watched the funeral on Monday, as there was no school. There was only one time that weekend that I didn't watch TV, and I went to our backyard and talked to my neighbor Bruce Campbell. But, that was just for a short time. I just had to get some fresh air. That was 45 years ago today. They are comparing Obama to Kennedy, because he has young children, and he is a young man. They are saying that Obama's White House will be the new Camelot. I hope it doesn't end the same way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

At Work

I need a job, and you can scroll down my blog to see my resume, but I wanted to tell you the story of a place I used to work at. I worked there almost 12 years. Although I excelled in my job by making areas succeed, they didn't seem to appreciate me enough my not giving me appropriate raises. This place is Macy's. In the old days, when it was Rich's, it was a lot of fun to work there. The associates laughed and had a good time. Then Macy's came along and things changed. It wasn't fun anymore. Associates didn't laugh anymore. At Rich's, my Lamp Department was the number one Lamp Department in the entire company. Macy's didn't have Lamps. I got the Luggage Department to be in the top five in our division. They even doubled our floor space. But, I never got a raise. So, I left the store, because the cost of living was growing faster than what I made. I had to resort to asking friends and family for help. Something I hated to do, but I had to eat, pay utilities and rent. It was an awful time in my life. I need a job now and know something will happen, hopefully soon. I asked Macy's a couple of times to come back, and they said no. I even got a letter from them saying I wasn't qualified. But, last summer a co-worker of mine had a stroke. Macy's wasn't the whole reason why, but it contributed. Then two days ago, another co-worker of mine had a heart attack on the floor. He had open heart surgery. Another co-worker died last year from a heart attack. Another co-worker had a heart attack last year. Now, I know that you can't blame Macy's on everything, but the place is a zoo. There are people there who don't know how to run a store. They need to recognize the fact that it is a business, but it is also a place that couldn't run it without people. People with lives. People with feelings. An old friend of mine once said there is a difference between being a merchant and being a store. A merchant knows how to do things without tearing down. They know how to build up people. If they build people up, the people will bend over backwards to do a good job. If you constantly tear them down and find fault all the time, then you will do nothing and not care about anything. Macy's will learn their lesson. Probably won't though.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Tribute

I skipped yesterday's blog, because of putting my resume up. I hope someone sees it, who can provide a good job for me, but I also needed to write something today. That is one thing about writers. We need to write. I wanted to write a short piece on a friend. He served Richland County and didn't get paid. He helped others, but very few knew his name. He was a gentle soul, but he could be mean when he had to. His name was Woton, and he was a member of the K-9 group in the Sheriff's Department. He was trained to fight crime, and served very well. He was very protective of his human partner. As he got older, he was retired from the force, but he lived in a loving home. He had done his work. Now, he needed help, as he had helped others when he was younger. He had some health problems, much like an older man would have. He couldn't walk around very well due to arthritis. He had some internal issues, but Woton was brave. Last week, it became necessary to say goodbye to Woton and allow him to go to doggie heaven. I believe that we will be reunited with our animals in Heaven. To Woton, and others in our lives, thanks for helping us. Thanks for giving us unconditional love. And to Woton...He Lived To Serve.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Resume

I thought I would post my resume here to help those of you give me a chance. I am desiring to move to Columbia, if possible.

Walter Durst
2530 East North Street 14-L
Greenville, SC 29615

AC Flora High School, Columbia SC, Liberal Arts
Anderson College, Anderson SC, A.A. Speech and Drama
Presbyterian College, Clinton SC, B.A. Fine Arts (Drama)
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth TX, M.A. Communications

United States Department of Commerce, Columbia SC, Special Places Clerk & Investigations
White Oak Baptist Conference Center, White Oak SC, Administrative Assistant
Belk Department Store, Columbia SC, Sales Associate; Buyer for Nine Departments; Credit Manager; Systems Analyst; Accounts Payable
Rich's Department Store, Columbia SC, Sales Associate
Macy's Department Store, Columbia SC, Sales Associate

School Honors:
Who's Who in American Junior Colleges, Denmark Society (Anderson College), Delta Psi Omega Honor Drama Fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega Honor Drama Fraternity, Student Affairs Council & Student Assembly (Presbyterian College)

Employment Honors:
Best Buyer Award, Sales Associate of the Year & Sales Support Associate of the Year (Belk), Number One Lamp Department for Company (Rich's), Top Five Luggage Department in Sales for Company (Macy's)

Acting, Writing, Collecting Pop Culture Memorabilia, Music, Internet
Acted in Four Films, Five Television Shows and Numerous Plays, Best Actor Award Columbia College--Columbia SC, Nationally Published Articles, Poetry, Short Stories and Songs

Public Speaking, Finding Lost People, Management, Word 2000, Windows Applications, Sales, Team Player, Able to work alone or with others with no supervision, Creativity

References Available Upon Request

Thanks for looking. Please let me know if you know of anything. I am looking to do something where I can be creative or to make a difference.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One More Thing

Oh, and one more thing. Could you agree to having air or heat in the condo? I sleep with 3 layers of clothes under 5 layers on the bed, because of no heat. I know you want to save some money, but if you cut down on your smoking or drinking, you should be able to afford it. Just a thought.

Open Letter

Today is another day. Oh, how profound. I do not normally write a blog to one person. If you feel that I am writing to you, then okay. Maybe I am. But, today is different. Today, I am writing a direct letter to my roommate. So, if you are not my roommate, you may want to skip today, or you can read it. Here goes. I have not had a roommate for a long time. Unless you count when I lived with my parents and took care of them. If you don't count that, it has been since college. Okay. When I moved to Greenville, my thought was to start a new life. To use my creative juices to do monologues. That door closed. Although struggling, I have been able to survive the best way I could. I haven't had a regular job, but I have been able to sell some stuff on the internet. I thought your friend was going to let me do that store in Easley, but I guess not. You and I don't communicate. I try, but you just don't. You shut me out. I would have thought you and I would have had some fun together, but I go to places alone. I do not feel that I had any intention to change you, but I did think you could have meet me halfway. You didn't thank me for paying the electric bill, so they wouldn't cut off the power. Instead, you blamed me for not paying the bill that I never saw. You blamed me for not taking out the trash and thus had ants and gnats in the condo. Despite you dropping food on the floor. I sprayed the condo, and they went away. I don't understand how you can have a regular bedtime and regular time getting up Monday through Friday, but on Friday night and Saturday night, you stay up all night and then pass out all day Saturday and Sunday. Then, you complain we don't do anything. We don't do anything, because I have a regular schedule each and every day. I do not appreciate that you yell out in the middle of the night several times on Friday and Saturday night and wake me up. I cannot judge your drinking, despite I am a recovering alcoholic and have no desire to drink, but why do you develop a raging hangover over the night and not sleep, and then you get mad at me for having a regular schedule? I need my sleep to function. I am here too. You are incredibly inconsiderate. You blamed me for losing the keys to the basement and laundry room. If I did, I am very sorry, but they were over the trash can, so who knows? Maybe I am being picky, but I thought we could be a team. I exist here. You are the king of the condo. That's fine. Your name is on the condo. You give me a little spot in the refrigerator. It would have been nice to have half of it, but that's not possible. I have let you use my utensils, glasses, and bowls. I tried to be considerate, but it is not a two-way street. At least not now. You complain about your body hurting. I am going to tell you a secret. My father constantly moaned and groaned. He was not really hurting. He just wanted attention. I would ask him what was the matter, and he would say nothing. He just wanted you to ask him. I had my fill with that kind of thing. I have no sympathy for people who moan for no reason but their own. I am sorry if that sounds cold, but that is the way it is. If you are sick, go to the doctor. If you need my help, I'll take you. But, if you drink to excess, and then have a bad hangover, sorry but that is your fault, not mine. Ever wonder why I have gone to Columbia so much? To get away from your smoke. I had no idea how much you smoked. Constantly. It has gotten in my clothes and fragile lungs. I have asthma and chronic bronchitis. I have been able to manage it recently, but God help you if I get an attack. You cough all the time. You blame it on hay fever. Could it be because of your smoking? Can you imagine how much money you would save by stopping smoking? That is your choice to change. Yes, I am addicted to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I can go through a $3 bag a day. But, I'll make you a deal. Cut back on your smoking, and I'll cut back on my candy. I have no idea if you will read this, but here is the bottom line to this diatribe. I really want to move back to Columbia, but right now I can't afford to. I see that it was a mistake coming here, although my stress levels have gotten a lot better. Between Macy's and my financial situation, my depression was too hard to take. I had to make a change. I miss my friends very much. I love my friends. Thom, Mary Ann, Joni, Del, Peggy, Konnie, Ne'cole, and so many more. I can't tell you how excited I was when Mary offered me a place in the Simply Pleasures store in Simpsonville. It was a place I could go to sell some of my stuff. And, I expect it will stay there for now. But, I can't stay here. I can't be sympathetic to your plight. I am sorry about that. I imagine you thought that I wouldn't have been here this long. But, you must tell me things. What is the status of the Clemson job? Tell me what I need to do. Do I need to move out? I have tried to get a job. But, things are not too good right now. When do you want to see Little Mountain? When do you want to do stuff? Why are you tired all the time? Why do you complain you haven't been out since I got here? If you do read this, I hope you don't do anything to me. Quite frankly, when you blamed me for the power bill not being paid, you hung up the phone on me. I was afraid for my life. That is why I went down to Columbia. Yes, it was a family emergency. It was my emergency. I had no idea what you were going to do to me. My friends said come home. This condo is not my home. It is where my stuff is. I need a home. I need someone to take me in and let me get my life back together. I need my friends. I hope you understand. God bless us all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Bond

I went to see the new James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" yesterday. Although I am a purist, when it comes to Bond, I liked this one better than the previous entry of "Casino Royale". Daniel Craig has a much harder edge about him. However, if you look at the first two Connery films, they are very similar in tone. I have been rather disappointed in the new series not using the traditional opening, but I was pleasantly surprised at the end credits of the new film, so maybe the next film will get back to the basics that has made the formula successful. James Bond is an iconic figure that seems to have shaped my life in many ways. After all, when I was born, the first Bond novel was published. It was also the year that Playboy began publishing their magazine. Do you see where this is going? No? Me neither, but I just thought I would point it out. I am not going to spoil the movie for you, in case you are going to see it, but it does have a lot of action. Some of the plot was a little hard to follow, but maybe they did that on purpose to carry it over to the next film. I kept thinking that the editors of the film should get an award for the use of all those camera angles and shots. It is quite remarkable. And, there are times that you are not watching the movie, you are in the movie. I can't imagine how hard it was for the camera operators to run around in the scene. I know some critics have said that this film is just an excuse for guns, knives and bombs, but sometimes you need an escape from the real world. I know I do. Good job to Barbara and Michael. James Bond Will Return.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Always Bridesmaid

You know the saying "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride"? At my age and never been married, some folks tend to wonder why. They start to jump to conclusions. They wonder if I am gay. They wonder if there is something wrong with me. They wonder, and then they go on with their lives. I have been blessed with a caring spirit. Ask anyone, and they will tell you how much I care about others' lives. I am someone's best friend. I am someone's brother. I am lonely. Much of it is my fault, I suppose. But, I care about others, and I live my life through theirs. I guess because my life is so boring otherwise. Others' lives are more exciting. They do stuff. They know people. They have fun. I used to have fun. But, I don't really have fun anymore. What is fun? Being with others that I love. Unfortunately, most never knew how I felt. Why? No guts. Fear of rejection. Shy. The walls were too high. Didn't know how. Oh, the excuses are endless. No, they are not excuses. They are reasons. At least, they are in my mind. My screwed up mind. My creative mind. I must say that without all of the lost loves that I have had over my life, I wouldn't have been able to write such good songs. Right, Chris? You know us suffering artists. Okay, here I go into my self-pity mode again. Sorry, it isn't my normal funny self. It isn't the person you see who cares about others and their situations. Maybe, it is because it is raining today. Rain affects people's moods. That is a scientific fact. But, I am at a stage in my life, where I care about others, and it would be nice if they care about me. I suppose some do, but on what level? As a friend? As a brother? Or, are people so wrapped up in their own lives that they don't see? See me? Some people care. Others accept being cared about. Still others just blow me off. There is no money in caring. In some respects I think of myself as a reincarnation of Vincent Van Gogh. If you don't understand, research him. No, I am not gay, contrary to what some Baptists might think. My excuse is that I haven't found the right person, but that's not true. I found many right people. I cared. I just never had the guts to say anything, and off they went. Some day. Maybe, when I am reincarnated again. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Car Crashes

I have written before how much I hate stupid drivers. It is mind-boggling how some folks just don't understand that, when they get behind a two-ton machine, they are not protected from others, nor do they own the road. We are all in this together. Every morning, I wake up to the news that somebody has had a car accident. Some are more serious than others. If you have to put on your makeup, do it before you get in the car. If you have to text somebody, pull off to the side of the road. That is what shoulders are for. Except in Mississippi, where they are different colors and keep you awake. And, if you have to change lanes, look before you do. You may be a taxpayer, but you don't own the road and expect others to bow to your needs. And, it goes without saying that if you are drunk, for God's sake throw up on the side of the road. Don't drive. My friend Pam was hit head-on several years ago by a drunk driver. She was in a VW and just two blocks from her home. She broke several bones and had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The drunk driver was unhurt. My friend Owen reached down to get something and ran into a telephone pole. He was killed. I have had other friends in similar situations. The bottom line here is that we need to pay attention. When I lived in Fort Worth, I was heading toward downtown on a Saturday morning. I was on the freeway, along with many other cars. We were at a speed limit ride, which in Texas means go for it. There are not enough cops in Texas to stop the speeders. So, just ahead of me, a guy decided to change lanes without looking and clipped the fender of the car in the lane he was changing to. Both cars put on their brakes. Everyone behind them jammed on their brakes at once, causing screeching tires, and a lot of smoke, but no one hit anyone else. We all stopped and looked at one another and smiled. Everyone paid attention to their surroundings. After our hearts calmed down, we started up again and moved around the wreck. We all worked together. There is a lesson there. Think about it, and get back to me. I'll be on the phone in the car though, so leave a message.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Art Films

Long before there were DVD's or Cable TV, there were movie theatres showing "art films". These films mainly came from Europe and contained nudity. The adult situations couldn't be compared to today's "adult films", but they were strong enough not to allow children to view. There were a few theatres in Columbia that showed these films, but the main one was the Five Points Theatre on Harden St. These films were shown in the late 1960's at the same theatre that would show childrens summer movies like cowboys and Tarzan. During the summer, parents would drop off their kids to see these movies. Many were sponsored by schools. But, during the fall and winter, this theatre would show art films. My brother was approx. 8 years older than me, so he was in college, when I turned 13. He didn't know it, but I found an old college ID of his. I changed a couple of dates on the ID and put my picture over his, and I was off to the theatre to see the art films. The ID worked, since I had to be over 18 to be admitted. I don't remember all of the titles, but two especially stood out--"I, A Woman" and "Seventeen", which had a tagline "17 for people over 18". It was a coming of age activity for me in my early teens. That is, until two things happened. The first was when I showed up at the Five Points theatre to see a movie and a strange girl was at the box office. I showed my fake ID, and the girl said, "Oh, I know your mother. She teaches me in Sunday School." I about freaked out. I tried to keep my cool, but underneath I was thinking "Busted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I went in that theatre, but I never went back. My mother never said anything, but I figured she knew. The second event was at the Palmetto Theatre downtown. They were showing "Fanny Hill". I went there as a 16 year old, and you needed to be 18 to see it. I began to pull out my fake ID, and the guy at the box office asked for my draft card. My what? I didn't have a draft card. Guys that were 18 had draft cards, and you had to carry it with you wherever you went. He knew that. I told him I left it at home. I didn't have it, and I didn't get it to the theatre. During my fake ID days, I had people tell me I looked young for my age. My stock answer was, "Yes, that's what everybody says." When I finally turned 18 legally, it was kind of anti-climatic. The danger of being discovered was gone. So where the art films. They were replaced by stronger things, but that's another story for another day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Playing Cards

I have an addictive personality. I am addicted to friends now. I have had several addictions in the past. My most notable addiction was to alcohol. When one recognizes one's addiction, one has to change. I changed, so that I know I can't drink again. If I do, there is no telling what might happen to me. Thus, I don't even want cold medicine with alcohol in it. I have been addicted to love, as per the Robert Palmer song. It is very important to me that someone loves me, even though I may be too stupid to recognize it. Addictions are also things for me that are fun, at least at the time. Some things may not be addictions to some, but they are to me. My Mother told me early on that I was addictive. James Bond and The Beatles are addictions. Making video tapes were addictions. Now, I have a bunch of tapes that I need to sell. If you are interested, contact me. One of my addictions was playing cards, aka gambling. When I lived in Texas, a co-worker's husband introduced me to the wonderful world of cards. Every Thursday night, a bunch of us would get together to play poker or blackjack for money. It wasn't a big stakes game, but one could walk away with about $100 at the end of the night. Five card draw, five card stud, seven card cutthroat, aces wild, dueces wild, and more. On one special surprise birthday party there, my girlfriend gave me a money tree with the stipulation that I wouldn't go in the back room, where the game was, carrying the money tree. She said she would never speak to me again. Of course, I did it anyway, and lost it. She and I made up. Kare was a very forgiving person, but she also taught me that I had an addiction. So, I stopped gambling. When Texas Hold'em Poker and Blackjack arrived on cable TV, I was there watching. I could watch without participating, although I yelled at the screen a lot. It was amazing how much satisfaction I could get from that. A couple of days ago, I got a note on Myspace from Konnie to check out Texas Hold'em on Myspace, and I did. I am now addicted to playing online against people all over the world. The best part is that I am playing with fake money, so I don't have to worry about losing my money, but I have found that I am pretty good. The one thing about addiction is that it never leaves you. It may be dormant for years, and then like a volcano, it erupts. Sorry, Kare. But, I am not using my money. Promise.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nine Lives

It is said that some people have nine lives. That is that there are people who cheat death, or should have died but didn't. I don't know how many lives I have, but there were several times that I should have ded, but didn't. This list may not be everything, but it will be indicative:
1. In the motel pool in Oxford Alabama, when I was around 6. My parents had gone into the motel room to answer the phone, and I was in the shallow end. I began walking and dropped off into the deep end. An unknown soldier grabbed me and pulled me out, thus saving me from drowning. We never knew his name.
2. In the 4th grade, when I got double pneumonia. I had a fever of 106 for 3 days. They tried everything to reduce my fever in the hospital from bathing me in ice to rubbing alcohol. After the third day, the fever broke. No brain damage, but my metabolism did speed up.
3. In junior high, I was riding my bike down a steep hill into a road in our neighborhood. I didn't see the car coming, and he swerved just in time.
4. In high school, I tried to kill myself 6 times by pills, suffocation, and a knife. Was unsuccessful.
5. In Texas, I was in a car accident. I was coming off of the freeway, and my brakes locked. I rammed into the car in front of me at a traffic light, but the car absorbed the shock. I was just bruised, but I couldn't drive in rain for a long time, as it happened on a rain-slicked road.
6. At White Oak, when I got locked in the freezer. I should have died there, but prayer saved my life.
7. At Rich's, almost being electrocuted, after I stuck scissors into a light strip that I thought was off, but it blew me across the aisle.
8. Other assorted almost car crashes, including the one recently on I-26, when I was one second away from crashing into a truck.
There could be others, but I am going to stop at 8. I don't want to cheat death again, at least not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm Invisible

Have you ever wanted to be invisible? Imagine hearing people what they really think of you. Or see what people really look like. I apparently can become invisible, when I am in my car. I was driving down I-26 last week, when I got to the Peak exit. This exit has a lot of accidents, because it has such a short entrance. A truck, towing a cart, came on the interstate. I was right behind him, and he didn't slow. I had to quickly move into the left lane, which had cars in it, and thankfully I didn't hit anyone, but it was a decision that if I had not made that second, I would be dead now. I wonder why people enter the road in front of me, when there is no one behind me. If they could wait just a bit longer, it would be smooth sailing, but maybe I was invisible. Is it because they are thrill-seekers, or is it because they are blind? Maybe a little bit of both. But, what if I had died but didn't know it? Could there be a parallel universe, where I could be driving my car, and someone is in another universe? I suppose we could find out, if I hit them. Could I use the defense that I thought I was invisible? Yeah, they would put me in a rubber room. Hey, good idea.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Favorite Trips

My friend Mary asked a question yesterday of what was my favorite trip I have ever taken. That was pretty hard, because I have always loved to travel. To experience new things. I like to get to a place, but sometimes the time getting there is more interesting. When I drive from Greenville to Columbia, I go on the country road, rather than the interstate. You can see a lot on a country road, if you have the time to get where you are going. I have lived a rather blessed life, when it comes to travel. My parents saw to that. For example, we went to New Mexico twice, when my father took us to Glorieta, which is just outside Santa Fe. During one trip, we went on to California and Disneyland. Thanks to family trips, I have been to 30 states. It is hard to pick out the best trip. Would be my Europe trip that I took in college? That was the biggest. Would it be my Puerto Rico trip? What about the trip to the World's Fair in New York? Or the trip to Six Flags in St. Louis? Or the trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg? Or the trip to Philadelphia doing puppet shows? Or the trip to Beatlefest in Chicago? There are so many. But, I picked one. It might seem strange, but then I can be strange. It was the trip to Atlanta, when I was in high school. It was a church youth trip. We got kicked out of the Atlantan Hotel for setting a room on fire and having an impromptu parade through the halls at 2am. We went on to Six Flags and crammed 7 people into a log ride made for 4. We hold the world record for that event. After that, they put up signs saying that there could be a maximum of 4 people per log. I guess they didn't like the log almost sinking or flipping over. That trip to Atlanta was a perfect example of my being a kid. Each trip I have taken has had its special qualities. I have such fond memories of wading in mountain streams and being up close to bears. I loved going to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. I treasure the smell of food cooking in Taos. The list goes on and on, but there are more places to go to. I hope I will find my next favorite place. Let's go.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Community Excuses

We have excuses for everything. No one wants to take personal responsibilites. It is always someone or something at fault. There is a study out now that bullies may have a disorder. Ya think? I was bullied every day for three years. It affected me greatly and almost killed me. Yes, I blame the bullies. I don't blame their brains. I don't blame their environmental situation. I don't blame any water they drank. I blame the bullies. I know that one of them have told me that they regret what he did to me, but there are a few more who haven't. Do they regret what they did to me? Do they even realize what a negative impact they had on my life? I don't suppose I will ever know that for sure, but it came down to the fact that they hated me and felt better for doing harm to me. They didn't know that they had a physical or psychological excuse to beating me up. Oh, it is okay honey to push Walter down three flights of stairs. You have a disorder. Oh, it is okay honey to push Walter over the breezeway into the bushes. You have a disorder. Oh, it is okay honey to hit Walter and bruise his arms. You have a disorder. Everything is an excuse. So, when are people going to step up and say they are wrong? Prisons are full of people who did wrong things. Are we raising a generation of people who can't accept they did bad? Just give them a pill and tell them that they are people too. I don't care who I make mad here. I am going to tell you something that makes me mad. The boys and some girls who did bad things to me during those junior high years affected me greatly and, in large part, negatively. As a Christian, I have learned to forgive them, but I cannot forget. I cannot use them as an excuse for me turning out the way I did. After all, much of my experiences I have used in my acting. People wonder where the powerful performances come from? It is from those years, where that emotion built up in my brain. I found a way to release it. Thanks Paul, Greg, Rhett, Gaines, and others who created me. You may have been monsters. Today, they would just give you a pill and send you on your way. You had an excuse.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Camp Greenville

I think my parents knew I got beat up a lot, when I was in junior high. They just didn't know it happened every day. They also knew that I had some behavioral problems. They put me in Boy Scouts to try and get me with some peers who wouldn't beat me up. Usually, that worked. But, I still had to go to school to get beat up. So, two summers, they sent me to camp. The camp they chose was Camp Greenville, which is located on the border of North and South Carolina in the mountains. Some kids would stay all summer at camp, but I only was there a week. The camp was sponsored by the YMCA, and it actually was very fun. I have a lot of fond memories of Camp Greenville. They have a tall waterfall there, where we could stand under it. They took us hiking, and we played football and baseball. There was one kid from Florida who could throw a baseball from the outfield and hit a stick at home plate. He had a rocket for an arm. I often wondered if he ever played in the majors. I don't remember his name, but he had a buzz cut. Once, they took us to camp overnight in tents in the woods. The next morning, the kids were talking about the mountain lion who came into the camp and clawed the tents. Apparently, it clawed our tent right by my head. I never knew it. I slept right through the excitement. In the camp, there were bunkhouses made with tin roofs. When it rained, it sounded like machine guns on the roof. I learned to sleep with a lot of noises around me. I have already discussed the vision I had at Camp Greenville of Heaven, so I won't talk about it here, but camps are very good for kids. There was a leader of the camp named Monk. He had a lot of interesting stories. One of the more interesting for me was that if you run over a snake with your car, nine times out of ten you will run over the snake's head. Why? Because the snake attacks moving things like tires. Funny how you remember things like that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Next Day

I was thinking, which sometimes is very dangerous, about all of the Presidential elections that I have voted in. The one yesterday was the 10th. You're that old? Yes, but only on my driver's license. I am not going to say who I have voted for, as I believe that is a private matter, but in counting up my votes, I have voted for 4 winners and 6 losers. I don't know if I vote for the underdog, since I can identify with that concept. But, I generally vote for the person I think will make the biggest difference, or the one who is most qualified. The office of the President is in many ways a ceremonial one. He (or she) is there to make the country feel good and secure. As I have said before, it is the Congress that makes the laws. The President can suggest how the Congress should proceed. Mr. Obama got elected by convincing America that he was the change candidate. Maybe he is. Maybe he will get a lot done, especially with a Democrat majority in Congress. A lot of people are cheering today. They are looking forward to change. They are looking forward to a new direction. Will we be disappointed when things don't get done quickly? Will the lobbyists go back to work and help cause things to get bogged down again? Only time will tell. When I met Joe Biden last year, I told him that I worked for McGovern, as he did. He said that was a lonely job. We had a laugh over it. But, in reality, politics can be a very lonely job. Just look at President Bush. It would be nice if we don't have to wait until January 20th, before something gets done. Mr. Bush, you are still President. Be the change President before Mr. Obama gets in. For today, there is a lot of cheering and tears. I hope that there will not be a lot of people copping attitudes. No gloating. Respect the history, though. As a lot of people are recounting Dr. King's "I have a Dream" speech, my dream is that there will be a next day. There can be laughter and tears. There can be happiness and sadness. There can be hope and fear. That is what being an American is all about. But, what happens the next day? May God continue to bless America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Drive By

I have to say up front that I do not think of myself as a stalker. I do care about people, and sometimes that is misinterpreted. I have also loved before. I got to thinking about a modus operanti that I didn't really put together about myself before. That is that I take comfort in connecting with those I care about, even though they may not be there. What do I mean? I go by places that are theirs. It also sheds light on my super shyness. Something that I try to control, but sometimes it just takes over. When I first met Pam, I fell in love. After all, she saved my life. I didn't realize until later that she was a catalyst, but at the time my brain equated her with my life. I was in high school. No girl had ever taken a real interest in me, since elementary school. I had started driving a car. She walked to and from school, which was about a mile from her house. That was before kids taking the bus everywhere. It was also not the same school as me. I would figure out when she would be walking home, and then catch a glimpse of her. I also knew where she lived, so I would ride by her house. A few times, she would see me, and ask what I was doing in her neighborhood. I was just say that I was riding around. Nevermind that my neighborhood was a couple of miles away. When I was in Texas, I had a car, but I walked everywhere. Kare's house was a block out of the way from the road I would walk from my dorm to the mall. I would take it. When she would see me and ask what I was doing on her road, I would say that it was safer than the main road. She didn't believe me, as she knew I cared for her. But, it sounded good. You see, I make excuses for my shyness. I guess I should be honest. If I was totally honest with Kare, I think I would still be with her, but I couldn't truly express my feelings. I did the same with Debbie and Wanda. I just wanted to feel close without making a committment. I don't consider it stalking, because they were my friends and knew that I cared about them. Can I say "love" instead of "care"? Sorry. It is actually the same for me. I still care. If you see me riding by your house, please don't be scared. The word "care" is inside the word "scare". Let me be scared.

Monday, November 3, 2008

One Day

Being a news junkie, this has seemed like a neverending story. It is the story of a man named Obama, and his next door neighbor named McCain. The two knew each other pretty well, but wasn't too fond of each other. Obama invited a man named Joe to move in with him. This made McCain madder, and he found a woman named Sarah from a place no one had heard of before to move in with him. McCain's wife was not jealous. So, they had a good time, you betcha. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama and Joe found that more people liked them than Mr. McCain and Sarah. At least, that is what they thought. They won't know for sure until after tomorrow. You see, the whole country gets to decide which household gets to move into a much bigger house, which is white. Mr. Obama has two small children. Mr. McCain's children are mostly grown, except for a 15-year old girl. For those of us old enough to remember the Kennedy children, we remember how alive that big white house was with little children running around. It was very sad though, when their Daddy went away, and didn't come back. I hope that if Mr. Obama wins tomorrow that his children have fun and are not sad. I hope that if Mr. McCain wins, Sarah won't come over much. She will need to go back to school for a few years. And, whatever happens tomorrow, I just hope that the rest of the neighborhood will stay together. So, make a decision tomorrow and vote. Who will be better for the country? Don't be afraid. And my one wish for the country--I hope that Mr. Nader won't show up. Al Gore hopes so, too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Political Ads

In about two days, we will go to the polls and vote. A lot of people have already voted, but I am a traditionalist, and I will vote on Tuesday. I know how I will vote in most races, but not all, including the big one. I keep going back and forth. I may just flip a coin, and I know that is not the way it should be. You should be passionate about who you vote for. It should be a time for a new direction. Unfortunately, since there is no incumbent, both main candidates are looking at a new direction. But, I just wanted to take a moment to discuss political commercials. Of course, everyone has seen the national ads. They are everywhere. One thing you immediately notice is they don't talk about themselves. They say bad things about their opponent. I guess they divert the attention away from themselves, since they have little to say about themselves. You may not know this about campaigns, but every real campaign has handlers. These are people who frame the message of the candidate. Very few candidates write their own speeches. These people look at polls and target audiences, and then frame the candidate's message. I knew a guy who was the main handler for the first President George Bush. He was known for shaping ads to make his candidate look good in comparison to his opponent, who was dirt. The country elected Bush, because they didn't want to vote for the other guy. If the candidate fears he or she is going to lose, they lash out at their opponent and say just about anything, short of accusing them of murder. Although, I think some candidates have done that before in their ads. The problem is that you can say just about anything about your opponent, and then your opponent has to defend themselves and get off of their own message. If you ever had questions about evolution, look at what happens to a dog, when he is threatened, and then look at a political candidate, when they are attacked. It is the same reaction. When I lived in Texas, those candidates were brutal, when they referred to their opponents. My favorite was a radio ad that I heard. The man said that his opponent was "no good". I think that sums it up. He didn't have to give specifics. All he had to say was he is "no good". I wish our guys today can be that honest. Who cares if a candidate voted with Bush 90% of the time? Maybe he is a Republican, as Bush is. Who cares if a candidate knows a "domestic terrorist"? Maybe he was just there. Just say that you are going to make our lives better, which you can't do without Congress, and say the other candidate is "no good".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What If

First of all, I want to give a shout-out to Thomas. Thanks for being here. Okay, on driving back to Columbia yesterday afternoon, my brother posed a question. "What if we had not moved to SC from New Orleans?" How would our life be different? So, I got to thinking. First of all, we Americans are a mobile people. We move around. If it weren't for movers, everyone would have settled on the East Coast and not ventured west. In some cases, like my ancestors, they moved inland to try their hand at growing things like canabis. I don't suppose that would be a legal argument today, but it is worth a try. So, we moved. When I was born in New Orleans, my father taught at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. My brother was in elementary school. When I was 5, and he was 12, we moved to South Carolina. I know Daddy wanted to move back to South Carolina, since he was from there, and he wanted to be closer to his family. But, it was traumatic for my brother and me. He had to say goodbye to his school friends, knowing he would never see them again. I had to say goodbye to my next door neighbor Paul Price. I have often wondered what happened to Paul. I saw my first egg hatching at Paul's house. I guess it was my first exposure to sex education. When it was time for me to choose a college to go to, my first thought was Tulane or LSU-NO, which is now New Orleans University. But, it was decided that I go to a school in-state, as it was cheaper. But, what if we had never moved to SC? Because of my father being a Baptist educator and minister, we probably would have moved somewhere else. Daddy was sought after for his work. Who knows where we would have ended up? After all, before New Orleans, they had been in Spartanburg, Asheville, Richmond, Atlanta and Houston. And that was all in 13 years. But, I do know that Katrina wiped out our house on Seminary Place in New Orleans, so hopefully we would have not had to experience that awful situation. I would just assume not to deal with any more hurricanes. I have been in too many. Every person goes down their path. Some of those paths are determined by their parents. Others are determined by their jobs. Still others are determined by their families. My path is still fluid. Hopefully, I will be going down a easterly path soon. But, as to conclude this rambling thought today in thinking about "what if", I would never have met my friends--Aubrey, Joni, Del, Chris, Konnie, Jimmy, Mary, Sonny, Pam, Peggy, Ne'cole, Richard, Lenny, Sandra, Talula, Louis, Steve, Judy, Paige, Vicki, Phil, Don, Ginger, James, Tommy, Thom, Mary Ann, Nathan, Payton, Buddy, Melissa, Cathy, Kare, Wanda, Rick, Hank, Craig, and so many more. I am so glad we moved. Sorry, Paul. I hope your life turned out okay.