Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Day

This is the last day for 2009. Good riddance. This has not been a particularly good year for me, although I have learned a lot. I am reading more. I am more tolerant, if that was possible. I am basically homeless, although I am currently in a shelter. I have seen who my real friends are, and those who aren't. A sad fact. I have seen where others' priorities are, and where mine are now. My faith has grown. My chirch involvement is back. So, 2009 has been about change in my life. Let us hope that 2010 brings more growth. A place to stay. Some income. Love? And maybe increased sanity. Happy New Year, everybody.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chattahoochee 2

I was in a movie with GAry OLDman and DEnnis HOpper called "Chattahoochee". It was the true story of a Korean War veteran who couldn't cope with the world around him. They put him in a mental hospital which was famous for its inhumnaity. I played Looney #4 and was in ten scenes. I would have been in more, but the two of my best scenes were cut out. I did get my picture on the DVD box twice.

There are a lot of similarities between my living conditions now and that movie. Thankfully, the physical abuse and the inhumane conditions are not similar. But, Central Casting would have a field day with most of the people there. For example, there is a guy who walks around all day with his head cocked at an angle. Or, the guy who doesn't speak and stands right next to you invading your personal space. Or, the guy who stands in a corner staring off into space. Beards prevaill. I shave, but most don't. Some guys talk to themselves. Others have anger management problems. Still others drink all the time. I can't judge these people, but it also is kind of upsetting seeing it.

So, if you guys want to make a sequel to the movie, come back to Columbia. We have the actors.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I know Christmas isn't for a couple more days, but I probably won't have access to a computer until Monday, so I wanted to take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I truly hate "Happy Holidays". I know why some say it, as they don't want to alienate anyone. After all, today is Festivus. Then, we are in Hannukah. Then, there will be Christmas. After that, it is Kwanza. How many more celebrations can there be? So, I don't want to alienate anyone either, but as for me, this is Christmas. We celebrate the 25th as the birth of Jesus, although it probably didn't really happen on December 25th. I have heard rumors that is was actually in April or some other time. It really doesn't matter what the day was. What matters is that he was born and later died for our sins, and rose again to show we have eternal life, if we believe. My Christmas this year will be strange. I may see some old friends (I don't mean they are old), and I will be visiting a friend in the hospital who is having surgery today. Christmas is a time of giving, and I plan to give of my time. So, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, or whatever you want to call it. But, just remember why we do this. Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I Want For Christmas

Anyone following this blog will know that I try and use 2-word titles for each entry, but I had to depart for this one. I couldn't think of how to express it otherwise. And, please note that I do not want to sound humorous in any way. After being homeless for over 3 months, and seeing people homeless for years, the humor has pretty much gone away. Oh, it is still there, but mostly in the form of sarcasm. After all, I was just almost mowed down by two drivers bent on killing one more homeless person. So, where is the humor in that? Also, this is not another self-pity blog. I am just being honest. If you can't handle the truth, as Jack Nicholson said, then just go on. Some of what I want for Christmas are concrete items that can be obtained. Others may be a little more lofty. In recent days, I have been thinking about my own mortality, so stay with me on this, and they are in no particular order:

1. Money. I have 4 cents in my pocket, and I am overdrawn at the bank.
2. Food coupons. My suggestion--McDonald's, Wendy's, Lizard's Thicket. Right now, I can eat 3 free meals a day, but that will change before too long.
3. A place to stay. For those folks mad at me, because I am not living at the duplex run by that ministry, I'm sorry, but my conscience is clean about that. It is actually good I didn't go, because my sickness would have been worse being there.
4. Health. I know why I need to make an appointment with the oncologist, but I don't know why I am having to go to a heart specialist next week. Unless it is because my father and mother died from heart-related issues. And, I am hoping my pneumonia will finally be knocked out by the drugs I am taking. But, if I lived in an environment that was a little cleaner and warmer, I think things would be better for me. I also have eye problems, where things are kind of blurry. But, who can afford anything without insurance?
5. Better Drivers. Drivers in Columbia are crazy. Enough said.
6. A Collectibles Business. All I need is $50,000 and someone to bankroll it. I have the stuff in storage and would love to get it out. I am sure the storage people would say so, too.
7. One More Day. Self-explanitory.

I guess that's about it for now. My address is: Walter Durst, PO Box 1464, Columbia, SC 29202. My email address is Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another ER

Just a quick note that I spent 10 hours in the Baptist Hospital ER today. It began around 1:30am. I had another bout of pneumonia, and they found a couple of spots on my lungs. Hopefully they are benign, but I have to go to a specialist. And, also a heart specialist. I hope they realize that I don't have insurance and won't be able to pay them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some Werds

I used to love George Carlin's humor. I still do, although he is gone. When I worked for the government, and somebody told me their spouse was gone, I asked when would they expect him back? And then, they'd start crying. Carlin used the word "werd" to describe strange or weird words. Words that we used without knowing why. Words like kit and kaboodle. What's a kaboodle? Words like refinish. If you refinish a table, don't you have to restart? I suggest you listen to Carlin's recordings. Yes, he uses profanity, but he is also very insightful.

I mention this, because of recent events. As an actor, I have been trained to listen and observe others. One thing I have noticed is how much cursing black males do, and how loud their voices are. I think it may be because of a lack of schooling, or maybe a habit, but it is like every other word is a curse word. MF this and MF that. Or, they use the "N" word to describe their pwn. If white people did that, they would be branded as racists, but it is okay for black people to do it. I don't use that word. Never have. Never will. It is offensive to me, but yet, in their culture, it is acceptable.

Another word I hear a lot is "liberry" for "library". They drop the middle "r". I hear that word across the board. Whites, blacks, it doesn't matter. People who are educated and those who maybe aren't. The word is "library". Maybe it is a lack of diction. Maybe people are lazy. But, it shows a lack of education.

One more word I cringe, when people say it, is "Valentimes". The word is supposed to be "Valentines". Where did the "m" come from? Did they miss February 14th in school? Get with it, people. Don't sound stupid. And then people wonder why our culture is going down the tubes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Racist

Several years ago, JB White's Department Store was sued by a group of black people because the store had a White Sale for linens. They had done a White Sale for years, but now some people wanted to make a name for themselves by suing the company. The suit was thrown out of court, but they had made their point. If there was going to be a White Sale, then there should be a Black Sale too. Of course, there isn't. If a store did a Black Sale, and white people objected, the whites would be racists. Not the store.

Our society is made up of a minority of individuals who are either very defensive or want to make a point, whether it is justified or not. You look at the Confederate flag flying on the State House grounds. Most people just think it is a part of our history, but a few vocal folks want it to be taken down. Nevermind, there is a monument to slavery on the State House grounds. There is also a monument to the first gynecologist in the US on the State House grounds. Personally, I take offense to the doctor's monument, because I am sure there are others in this state who have been the first in something, but I don't contact the American Medical Association and say I am going to boycott all doctors because of that monument. You see how stupid that would be?

So, I say all that to talk about racism. I have written before about my Grandmother Merrill who taught white kids and black kids in the early 1900's in Alabama. The Klan didn't like her doing that, but she felt it was the right thing to do. All of my life, I have been brought up to treat all races and cultures equally. We are all God's children. Red, Yellow, Black and White. We are all equal in God's sight. So, this past Sunday I was called a racist. I was in the Greer SC Christmas parade passing out stickers mostly to kids. I was trying to hit everyone, despite the numbers of people, and I was falling behind the rest of my crew. I passed by a black man and his son without giving them a sticker. The man yells out to me that I am a racist. I turned around and challenged him by saying that I was sorry that I had skipped over his child, but I had given out stickers to other black children further up the parade. He kept yelling that I was a racist. He didn't know me, and I didn't really want to know him, but I apologized and offered a sticker to his son. He said he didn't want it now, because I was a racist. I wished him a Merry Christmas and continued on the parade route. People who know me know I am not a racist. I never have been. But, it also upsets me when people try and throw that word out there without knowing the facts about me or my family. Generalizations hurt. Let's work to see everyone has people. As individuals. Talk to one another and maybe you will find similarities between you and others. And, please don't throw out terms. If you want to get past racism, don't be so defensive. Yes, I know that black people have suffered a lot of persecution over the years. So have I as a skinny white man with glasses and homeless. Don't talk to me about being a racist. I'm not and neither should you be.

So, to the man in Greer last Sunday--I apologize for missing your son with the sticker. And maybe you should apologize for your attitude. Let's shake hands and make this world a more equal place.

Friday, December 4, 2009

An Addendum

I love the word "addendum". Folks just don't use words like that much anymore. So, here is my addendum from yesterday's post regarding the encounter with one of Columbia's finest. At the entrance to the parking lot that I supposedly trespassed in, by walking through it, there is no sign at the entrance to the parking lot that says it is private property. Granted, it is in the back of some apartments, so it would be assumed that it is private property, but in actual fact, I could not have been trespassing if nothing was posted. I just thought I would point that out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Encounter

Due to my sleep position in the bed at the mission, I often get cramps in my legs. They are rather painful. We get up between 5:30 and 6 in the morning and have to stand outside in all weather, waiting for breakfast, when we can come back inside. So, when I go outside before breakfast, I take a little walk for about two blocks to get my legs working again. I also pass by a paper box and read the headlines of the day. I have been walking through an apartment parking lot to cut through from one side of the block to the other, especially if it is cold like this morning.

I noticed a police car on Main Street just sitting there this morning in the middle of the block, as I crossed the street and continued my walk. He followed me. As I came out of the parking lot, he continued to follow me. As I made my way back to the mission, he continued to follow me. When I got to the mission, he shined his light in my eyes and told me to come over and see him, which I did. He asked me where I lived, and I told him the mission. He asked me where I slept, and I told him the mission. Then, he wanted to see some ID, which I gave him, and he wrote it all down on his pad. He informed me that there had been some car break-ins recently in that parking lot and wanted to know if I knew anything about it. I told him no. He wanted to know why I was in that parking lot, and I told him about my daily walk for my cramped legs. He didn't appear to me as if he believed me. He then told me that if I was seen in that parking lot again, that I would be arrested for trespassing. So, I guess I won't be able to visit my friend Keith who lives there. Even if I wanted to.

I can't say the cop was harrassing me, since I have to look at it from his point of view. But, he should not jump to any conclusions either and think that I was trespassing. The moral of the story...stay on the public sidewalks.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Drug Test

Okay, so I had to go to the hospital, and they diagnosed me with pneumonia. They gave me a powerful antibiotic, which has just about knocked it out of me. So on Friday night, the mission had a surprise drug test for guys in my program, and I failed it due to the fact that the antibiotic gives a false positive for opiates. I told the tester about that, and he said he didn't want to hear it, and said I needed to see the man in charge of the program.

Today, I saw him. I brought it to his attention, because I didn't want him to think I was covering anything up. I showed him the sheet from the doctor about the false positive. He said he was going to have to do his own research.

Was he doubting my word? Was he doubting the pharmacist? Was he doubting the hospital? Was he doubting the doctor? It just seems strange that people can't trust you. And then, we have guys in there who are abusing the rules by bringing in radios and even a TV, when they aren't supposed to have them. I am trying to follow the rules, but I get punished. I know life isn't fair, but this is just too weird.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Visit

I haven't been able to shake my cold/bronchitis. It has been going on for over two months. I have been to the hospital ER twice. The first time, they took 2 chest x-rays, and said they looked clear. They gave me an antibiotic prescription, as well as one for a cough suppresant. I couldn't take the cough medicine, because it contained codeine, which makes me sick. After ten days of taking the pills, I was still coughing. Three weeks later, I went back to the ER. I couldn't breathe. They didin't take any x-rays, but they listened to my chest. They said it sounded okay, and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and one for pain. I had severe pain in my side from coughing constantly. I didn't get the pain medicine filled, since it was expensive.

So, last Wednesday night, I was standing in a line to get a shower at the mission, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I had not been eating much and had lost some weight. I also had not been sleeping much due to coughing and pain in my sides. I left the shower line and got to an empty toilet stall, where I sprawled out on the floor. A nice guy from our group of homeless guys ran downstairs to tell the people to call an ambulance. I had never ridden in an ambulance before, so this was a new experience. They took me the two blocks to the hospital, after running a heart strip and taking some blood, as well as my vitals. We got to the ER, and the doctor and nurses could not have been nicer. They took blood; did an EKG; gave me an IV for fluids and one with antibiotics; gave me some food and a sports drink; did some other tests; gave me two chest x-rays; and let me rest there. After all of that, they determined I had pneumonia. They gave me some high-powered antibiotics that seem to be helping. I also got some strong pain meds that have helped, too. Despite the fact that I made abundantly clear to everyone there that I was homeless, they looked after me, as if I was rich. They didn't blow me off like the first two times. They even let me rest in the bed overnight, even though I couldn't sleep with all the noise in the ER. What a way to usher in a Thanksgiving! But, I thank God for letting me get there when there were competent people there, especially Nurse Latesha.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

In thinking about Thanksgiving tomorrow, there is so much to be thankful for. I know that may come as a surprise to some of you, as if you know about my homeless situation, but just know that I am still thankful for some things. First of all, I am thankful to God. He has shown me many things that I have seen over the last few months. Things like character, humility, and the generousity of strangers. I am thankful for friends. Many of whom have stuck by me. I have seen that there are some who have abandoned me, I guess because of my situation. That's okay. I have also made new friends in the mission. I guess I wouldn't have even noticed them a few months back, but now I know them, and they are friends. I am also thankful for Oliver Gospel Mission which rescued me at my lowest point. They have identified with my plight and tried to get me going on the right road again. I am thankful for Mary, because she saw I needed help. Help is something that I thought I would never need, but she recognized it and got me started. I am thankful for Joni who has kept me thinking positive. There is a light at the edge of the tunnel. I can't think negative. I am thankful for my new church. It is my old church but what was old is new again. I am thankful for people I don't even know. They have taken an interest in me. So, I know that this holiday is to be thankful for what people have. I am thankful for what I don't have. Sounds strange? Well, if you have ever been in this position, you would understand. As you are sitting across the table at dinner tomorrow, be thankful that you are sharing your dinner with someone else, and think of those of us with no one. Have a good day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bath Taking

I have written sbout this before. I like baths. I adore baths. Showers are okay, but a bath relaxes one in a way that showers can't. It relieves the stress of the day.

But, I come with a plea. A bath for me has become a necessity. I need a hot bath desperately. To use the steam to clear up my lungs, and to use the heat to relax my aching chest and back. In addition, this cold and wet weather has gone straight to my core. I can't find anywhere that is warm enough, not even the mission, except for the brief hot shower at night. And, the mission does not provide heat for my floor. With just a thin sheet and blanket, as well as sleeping in long pants and a t-shirt, it just isn't enough. Even the library doesn't have its heat on. I had to sit down at the post office for a few minutes this afternoon, as they had heat.

If you are on or near a bus line, and you would be willing to let me take a bath at your house during the day very soon, please contact me at Thank you and my God bless you and your heat.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Passing

There was a guy who stayed at the homeless shelter. I didn't know his name. He was in a wheelchair, although some saw him walk occassionally. I heard stories about him. I don't know if they were true, but it was stuff like he was banned from the library for life. He smoked crack. He abused children. He liked to hang out in front of a children's dance studio. He did sing a country song in chapel about Jesus turning water into wine. He couldn't sing, and it was hard to listen to him sing it.

Last Monday night, he began to sing the song and folks in the chapel starting howling like dogs to drown him out. I was a little embarrassed for him, but he carried on. When he got done, one guy stood up and defended the singer. He said that the others showed a lack of respect. He was right, but he was so mad that he had to go outside and cool off. The staff publicly apologized to him.

Tuesday morning, I got up and passed by his bed. He had not gotten up, and I just said to myself to him that I was sorry for how he was treated the night before. I didn't much care for him, but no one should be treated that way. I went on outside to wait for breakfast to be served. A few minutes later, we got the news. The man in the wheelchair had died sometime during the night. He apparently had a weak heart, and it had given out on him. I can't say that his treatment the night before had caused his death, but there were several people the next day who were feeling a little guilty. And , maybe that was a good thing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Unknown People

I suppose everyone is known to someone, except for maybe the last survivor of World War II stuck on an island somewhere. But, most of the people in this world know somebody else besides them. They may not know them as friends, but they know them. Maybe, they don't like those people, but they are known by them just the same.

I bring this up, because there have been forces at work around me, by people I don't know, to help me. I know some of those folks, but most I don't. Is it God at work through them? Probably. Why are they even nice to me? An unknown. Because they care? I am not used to people caring about me. I have seen too much rejection. I hope I don't cry.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some Things

Okay, another apology is in order, so don't shoot the piano player. I haven't written anything in a week or so. But, I've been sick. After writing the previous blog, I had to go to the ER, because I couldn't breathe. Some more antibiotics (because they don't know how to cure me) and some pain killers to make me more comfortable (that didn't work). What I truly need is a good night's sleep. That's hard to do, when I am coughing for four hours straight. There is no air circulating in there, and I can't breathe. I must ask again--if you have an extra room, please consider letting me borrow it for a while.

I continue to look for work, but it is increasingly difficult. The unofficial unemployment rate in Columbia is 22%. It is hard to compete with that, but I may be making a little money soon.

I do spend a lot of time in the library. It is an oasis, however I can't figure out what the security or staff do. They have signs everywhere about not using cellphones at the computers, because it can be disruptive, but they don't seem to enforce it. But, God help you if you fall asleep while reading. The library was closed for one day last week, so some of us went to the State library to use their computers. It is a good little hike to get there. Nowhere is there posted the maximum time once can use the computer (an hour), nor how many times you could get on the computer (twice). I walked up there a third time, as the county library limit is 3 times, and was turned away despite them having open terminals. If anybody from the State reads this, please encourage the State library to post some rules where we can see them.

Well, I guess that about sums it up for now. Please continue to pray for me. I need all the prayers I can get.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Library

Today has not been a good day. First, I was awakened by a guy in the shelter who wanted to call someone on his phone prior to 5am. I told him to shut up, but he ignored me. Others in the sleep room were upset with him, too. Then, I went to the library to find some people cleaning and vacuuming the carpet, so I had to go to a computer terminal away from my favorite area. I am a creature of habit. Then, I broke a tooth. Then, I went to a job fair several blocks away, but they only had 3 companies represented--an insurance company, the US Army, and the city of Columbia. Hardly much variety. I went back to the library to watch my favorite TV show online--NCIS. It was the first new episode in two weeks, and I was really looking forward to it, since I don't have access to a TV. But, due to the continued vacuuming and not enforcing loud noise from people, it was almost impossible to concentrate. The library is closed tomorrow for some employee training. Why couldn't they have cleaned then? What do the library workers do all day, other than stare at their computer screens? When I was growing up, I was taught to be considerate of others. Between the guy this morning and the people in the library, consideration has gone out of the window. But, do I complain? No, because I'll be branded as a troublemaker. Any excuse to ban the homeless from the library is what they are looking for. So, I'll be a good little soldier and be quiet. At least, for now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adoptive Families

I don't really know why this is in my life, but there have been some familes who have taken it upon themselves to "adopt" me. Maybe, it was because I knew a family member well, whether through school, church or work, but these familes have shown me unusual kindness through allowing me to become a part of their family.

The first was the Wise family. I met them through Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. Mary Ellen Wise was close to my age and was a member of the youth group. Their house was only a few blocks from the church and was big enough to hold our youth group, so I was over there a lot. We mainly talked or listened to music. I even wrote a play about their family called "Birge for the Defense". Mr. Wise was an attorney. The Wises really helped me see that I had talent and self-worth.

When I got to seminary in Texas, there were two familes that made me feel welcome in their homes. The Brooks family and the Miller family. Paula Brooks was my Communications teacher at seminary. Her husband was a preacher, and they had a son named Mark who went on to be a successful professional golfer. They had me over several times for dinner. Then, there was the Millers. Mrs. Miller worked with me at Sanger-Harris, and she opened up her home to me and others to play games and watch TV. Our favorite game was poker. She also invited us out for picnics on Saturdays and Sundays. It was a good time to get away from the pressures of school.

More recently, it has been the Stone family in St. Matthews SC. I met Thom at Rich's, and we became good friends, since we had so much in common. When my parents moved to Laurens, Thom and Mary Ann invited me to spend Christmas with them, because I needed a family Christmas and no longer hand one. This is where the tradition began. They welcomed me into their home and lives. Soon, I was spending Easter and Thanksgiving with them, too. I became a part of their family, and they accepted me. This has been going on now for over ten years. I hope it continues.

I don't want to imply that my biological family ignored me, but these other familes helped me. I thank them as having a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

State House

Today's blog comes from the State House. It is a place where laws are written and tempers flare. They do have their share of decorum amidst the words. One thing I have noticed is that men on the floor of the Senate or House were coats and ties. Of course, they wear pants too. I can't help but reflect on the famous and infamous who have been in those chambers. The building has been in use since just after the Civil War, although they have remodeled the building a couple of times. You know the old adage--"If these walls could talk..."? What would they say? I shudder to think about it.

Our government in South Carolina has taken more than its share of ribbing and ridicule in recent years. Our leaders have been questioned about their leadership. I have had a lot of questions too. Overall, I believe that most of our leaders have good intentions to do the will of the people who they were elected to represent. If there are one or two bad apples in the batch, that shouldn't condemn them all. And, if anyone has had personal issues from years ago, that shouldn't be a measure of their character today, unless it is an ongoing problem, or it affects their job, such as the case of our current governor.

So, I sat in the Senate chamber, waiting for the proceedings to begin., hoping that it would be more interesting than the day before, although some fur flew then. The Senate was to act on some House measures and adjourn until January. I'm a politicial junkie. I live for stuff like that. Film at 11.

Sidebar--I wandered into the House chambers during a Senate recess. The House is much bigger than the Senate. And with more people comes this dull roar of voices. I think the word "chaos" says it all. They voted on a bill to send to the Senate, and then everybody was standing around and talking in groups. Based on the laughter and body language, most of the talking was not about state business. I guess I shouldn't be so cynical. Aftter all, these people represent local districts. They have fewer constituents than the Senators do. They seem more personable, but they also seem more fun loving. It was party time in the House. So, if these walls could talk, they would say "It's Miller time".

First Baptist

When we came to Columbia in 1958, we began going to First Baptist Church. I grew up in that church. My father baptized me in 1964 in that church. I have a lot of good memories from those early years at FBC. Boy Scouts. World record in the log ride at Six Flags. My Sunday School teacher who sold electric chairs to prisons. Dickie, Dirty and Jimmie. Being in handbells. "Good News" musical premiere. And so much more.

Then, my parents moved our membership to Kilbourne Park Baptist Church in 1970. I have written about that before of that move which literally saved my life.

But, in 1974, we moved back to First Baptist. They sent me off to seminary. They welcomed me back. I was a founding member of the Singles Sunday School. One Voice choir. Wrote the stewardship plays. Puppet shows for mission trips to Philadelphia and Smyrna. Puerto Rico mission trip. Bible character monologues.

But then, I moved to St. Andrews Baptist Church, and was there until recently, when I came back home to FBC. People have nice to me and seem to understand my plight. I was introduced as a new member last Sunday, and I was given a brick. I think it symbolizes how we are all a part of a greater place. Together, we can build a masterpiece. It isn't that a building is the church, but we are all parts that make up a church. I hope that I can once again help them in their work, and recapture the magic that I once had. We can never go back. But maybe, between my talents and their ministries, we can once again mesh together.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Fair

The South Carolina State Fair was in town last week. Actually, 10 days of fair. Every year, at that time, an area near downtown is transformed with rides, games, food and eshibits. The smell of cows and pigs combined with elephant ears and barbecue make for a bit of what the fair is like. When I went there as a child, there was a lot of sawdust around, which gave me asthma. They paved over everything, but this time of year still gives me breathing problems. In high school, we heard about the girlie shows. Supposedly, they were pretty raunchy in the smaller fairs like Newberry or Orangeburg, but I never went to those. I did sneak into the show at the State Fair, wearing my overcoat to make me look older, but there wasn't much to it. The fair has become more family oriented. The girlie shows went away. The games became more winable. The rides were less dangerous. The fair became more regulated.

One of the most scaredest moments in my life was going on a ride one night. I think I was around 9. The top of the ride closed up on me, and there was no seat belt, and I flopped around inside the ride for what weemed like an eternity. I screamed for them to stop it, but they didn't until the ride was over. I don't like to go upside down anymore. As I have gotten older, the exhibits have gotten more interesting. I went twice to the fair this year, working for Andre. It was fun watching the kids' faces and watching people. Recapturing the magic of the fair. It was good to eat an elephant ear, but I don't suggest you do it all the time, or fried Pepsi, but once a year is not bad.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Gotham

I know. I haven't done any blogs recently. Well, I have been to the fair, and I will write about that later. I haven't been carrying my notebook, which has all my writings in it, and I have been pressed for time with the library computer, so I haven't written anything here, but I was compelled to write something today about an incident that happened to me this morning. There is a restaurant downtown called The Gotham. It sells sandwiches and drinks, and it opens every morning at 7. It is pretty big, as it takes up half of an old dime store on Main Street. The ceilings are high and they have a lot of floor space. They also have 4 flat screen TV's hanging from the ceiling. It is a comfotable place to go, especially on a cold morning. Their stuff is a bit expensive. I only have $4 to my name, and a small coffee or tea runs $1.30. So, this morning, I walked in a little after 7 and sat down at a corner table. No one else was in there. A worker came over to me and said I needed to buy something to sit there. I immediately thought that this would take almost half of my worldly money, but I also had to think about being out in the cold, so I told him I would get a hot tea soon. He then got mad and told me to buy it now or get out. I realized that he had a prejudice against homeless people. About 30 tables in the place and 150 chairs. I was the only person in there. They hadn't even turned on the TV's or the lights, but I had to get out. Customer service or tact were traits he was probably not born with nor had he developed. I had flashbacks to the days where blacks could not be served because of the color of their skin. I had flashbacks to the days where long-haired guys could not be served because of their hairstyle or dress. Yes, I am homeless. I am sure that they have had a problem with homeless people using their bathrooms or panhandling to customers. But, I am a very civil person. I know how to act. I don't cause trouble. I don't want to tell people not to go to The Gotham. I don't what to slander Fred, the worker who told me to buy something or leave. I am trying to be cordial to everyone and not threaten anyone. However, there are people in this world who are still prejudiced toward others without getting to know them. Why? Because a few have ruined it for the many. I could tell you not to spend your money at a place like that, but I won't. You need to make that decision for yourself. All I am saying is be careful. And, if you see me freezing outside, because I don't have any money to go through the door, then may my epitaph be that Fred said get out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Observations

When it rains in Columbia, drivers pay less attention to pedestrians. All a lot of them want to do is speed through the lights to avoid having to test their brakes.

The State Fair is in town. I used to love to go there as a child, despite asthma attacks. I like to go every other year now. I guess I'll go this year for Andre.

Columbia is a very gray place, when it rains. It sort of is gray, when it's sunny. Give me a can of paint and a brush, and I'll brighten it up.

Without faith, I'm dead. I have to have faith that somebody will help me. Why hasn't that person come forward? I still have faith. I guess.

I really want to open a store. I know I could do well with my business plan. It would be a unique place to buy pop culture memorabilia like posters, music, autographs, and lots more. I just need a financial backer. It's not a pipe dream. It's my destiny. If you want me to email my business plan to you, let me know. My email is

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm Walking

There's an old Fats Domino song called "I'm Walkin'", but this blog isn't about that. It is about another homeless activity called walking. Unless one is lucky enough to have a bus pass, we walk everywhere. We get blisters. They hurt, so we slow down when we walk. So, it takes longer for us to walk through intersections, and guess what happens next? Cars try to run us over. I'm sure it's the car's fault and not the driver. So, the car honks its horn, despite us having the right of way. There is is great scene from "Midnight Cowboy" where Dustin Hoffman screams at a taxi--"I'm walking here". That's what its like. Or, you wait for a car to go by to cross the street, and they suddenly turn before you without putting on a blinker. Did he just think I was taking a nap standing up? No one around but me and him. Totally clueless. Then, there was the time I was crossing the street in the middle of the block. No one but me and an approaching car. I calculated the distance and determined I had enough time to cross the street. The driver sped up and tried to hit me, as if it was a sport. So, if you see me walking around, remember that I have the right of way. Take that into consideration, as you are talking on the phone and texting. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disco Music

I may have covered this before, but I love disco music. It is one of my guilty pleasures, along with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. You never really know what impact that stages of your life might have, until you look back on them. In the 1970's. it was disco.

When I first saw "Saturday Night Fever", I didn't much care for the movie, but the music knocked me out. I was working in a music store in Texas, and we plaed the soundtrack over and over again. Also at the time were The Village People and Donna Summer. This music was what our lives revolved around.

I would usually go to the local discos twice a week. Sometimes more. I would request them play "Macho Man" everytime I would go. Some DJ's would see me come in and hide that record. I had a bunch of disco 8-tracks and records. Also, I could do a great impression of Rod Stewart singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy". Too bad nobody filmed that.

The critics of disco will say that the music was over-produced or canned. So what? So is a lot of music today. It was just fun music. Fun to dance to, and fun to listen to. I even heard some disco on the oldies radio station yesterday.

Some people wanted to kill disco years ago. They revolted against it. Maybe that was good, since it gave that era defined perameters. But, if you want to hear something really good, search for Casablanca Records. Most of those artists, except for Kiss, most people today have never heard of. You might be surprised.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Wish

Let me ask you a question. Are wishes futile expressions? The reason I ask this is that my wishes may seem like empty chatter, but they are how I keep going day after day. Without them, I wouldn't have anything to live for. So, I am thinking that wishes are not bad. They are a means to express wants, desires, or needs. The bad part is that most people let you have your wishes, but they don't act on them.
So, what are my wishes? I guess you've read most of them before, but here goes (in no particular order). I wish for:
1. A place to live.
2. A store of my own.
3. Enough money to sustain myself.
4. Love.
5. If not my own store, then a good job.
6. Happiness.
7. World Peace (everyone has that one).
8. A Car.
9. Family and Friends would like me.
10. People to have faith in me.
I guess that's about covers it. Some are more concrete than others. I wish someone would read this blog.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pray For

My English teachers always said not to end a sentence with a preposition. So, what do we pray for? Health, Strength, Guidance, and Wisdom. Stuff like that. Is it wrong to pray for wealth? I don't think it is necessarily bad, as long as your heart is in the right place. I have been praying for others. As bad as my situation is, I know others need prayer, too. My prayers. Everyone's prayers. Prayer works. I'd be dead now without it. So, let's pray.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lenny Farmer

I have a friend named Lenny Farmer, although his first name is actually Walter. He and I were suitemates at Anderson College. He introduced me to Frank Zappa's music early on, and anyone who knows Lenny would find that strange. He and I were like brothers at Anderson. We were best friends. That was a jammin' suite that year with Steve Aaron, Mike Campbell, Ricky Branham, Louis Nexsen, and Lenny's roommate whose name escapes me. Lenny majored in music, and I was majoring in English. One day, the music professor asked Lenny to move the piano onto the stage of the auditorium to get ready for the next day's chapel. He asked me if I wanted to help him. When we got to the auditorium, there was a play rehearsal going on, so we sat quietly waiting for it to end. A student named Reed Bowman saw us sitting out there and asked us if we wanted to be in the play. Lenny didin't, but I agreed to do a small part. That play was "Up the Down Staircase", and that event changed my life. I dropped the English major and decided to major in Speech and Drama. And, as they say, the rest is history. Lenny and I went our separate ways after AC, but we stayed in contact. We both went to seminary. Lenny became a preacher for several years. He would later move to TN and go into business, but staying with his ministry roots. He became a big fan of The Cobbwebs, which I write songs for. Lenny is in a hospital today after having heart surgery a couple of days ago. All indications are he will be okay. If you have a moment today, say a prayer for Lenny.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Observations

Where is there a place where I can take a nap? The Library? They'll kick you out. The park? You might get robbed. Where? They need nap zones downtown, among other things.

Why isn't there anybody that will alow me to stay with them? It is a test, isn't it? I was never good at taking tests. My grades were evident of that. I'm actually a little tired of tests.

I hate hypocrites. One minute--I'm going to kill you. The next minute--I know church and can quote the Bible. So, which is it?

It has stopped raining and has gotten very windy. One friend told me that I was shallow for talking about the weather, when there were other topics we could be discussing. Another friend suggested that I should become a TV weatherman, because I knew a lot and was kind of goofy. I didn't know that goofyness was a requirement, but looking back on it--all of the TV weatherman I have know were a little goofy, even Stowe Hoyle. Look him up.

More Observations

There's something wrong with the national news, when they lead with the story about David Letterman being blackmailed over affairs, and the next story is the US stepping up their hunt for terrorists. Have we forgotten 9/11?

I hate bronchitis. I don't mind so much living by myself. At least, I can just hear myself cough. But, staying in a room with over 20 guys, and they have to hear me cough. Well, that's not so good.

I went to the ER for my bronchitis. When they found out I didn't have any insurance, they just did a couple of x-rays and perscribed some medicine. If I had insurance, who knows what they would have done.

When at the ER, I thought everyone seemed very friendly. Too friendly. When I'm sick, I don't really care what your first name is. Ask me five minutes later, and I won't be able to tell you what your name is. Sorry to say, because the female nurse was especially nice.

I watched a couple make out in the park. They seemed oblivious of what was going on around them, or they didn't care. It reminded me a bit of the summer of love that lasted six years (1967-73). The timing is debatable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Dreams

I dream in color. I have heard it said that those who dream in color are usually more creative than those who dream in black and white. There is not a real theme to my dreams. Some are action dreams. Others have people I know in them. Still others are dangerous dreams.

Most recently, my dreams have been pretty vivid. Recently, I had a dream, where I was helping Roger Moore as James Bond fight Grace Jones. Who knows why that was my dream, because often I dream about things that have crossed my mind that day, and I don't remember thinking about that. But, that's the great thing about dreams. They sometimes surprise you.

Without sounding too strange, I have been dreaming a lot recently about my friend Konnie. I have thought about her many times. She is a very good friend and a genuinely nice person. Maybe if she wasn't married... But, that's another story for another time. My Konnie dreams make me happy in an otherwise not so happy life, and they provide me with warmth in an otherwise cold existence.

For the most part, my dreams provide an escape, which I need staying at a homeless shelter. I usually remember most of my dreams. After my father and mother died, I would dream of them constantly. I thought I was going crazy, but thanks to the advice of a friend, I treated them as "visits", and they eventually subsided.

I once dreamed lyrics and music for a song, but I woke up without writing them down. That's a regret, because I think that's how McCartney wrote "Yesterday".

There are those who say they don't dream. I think they do, but they don't remember them. Dreams are good. I hope I have a good one tonight.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Library

Let's start and say the Richland County Public Library is nice. It has four levels. The basement is for children. Any chance that the library would be quiet goes out the window, because you can hear the children yell all the way to the top. I think it is a glorified daycare, and the parents haven't taught them about being quiet. They're just glad to be rid of them for about an hour.

When I was a kid, coming to the library was a cool thing to do. In fact, my first play was a Christmas pageant that was staged at the library. I was around 6m and I played a wise man. That was when the library was on Sumter Street. It has been torn down and replaced with a parking lot for First Baptist Church.

The newer library has computers to use. I do also read books sometimes. They have a DVD collection. Maybe one day, I'll check those out. It also is a place where the homeless hang out. On a day like Monday, where it rained all day, they were in there a lot more than usual. The library doesn't seem to mind much, unless they catch them sleeping instead of reading. It is possible to be banished from the library for a day, if they catch you sleeping. There are several plain-clothes security people in the library. I suppose that's good, except they can treat their jobs as being more important than they really are. There is a sign out front that says no food or drink in the library. They don't seem to enforce that rule, but God forbid you fall asleep.

If we didn't have the library, you would see a lot more homeless talking to themselves. One would get crazier a lot faster. There are also several satellite libraries around the city, but I don't think they have computers to use there, and I would venture a guess that they don't have many homeless there either.

So, the library can be a refuge amidst the chaos of the outside world. And maybe, some people will pick up a little education, too.

Being Sick

I have a little cold. Of course, when it's your cold, it's not little. I've been taking asprin and cough drops. I don't have enough money for cold medicine. One thing about living in a homeless shelter is that guys get sick. When you have 25 guys sleeping in one room, the chances of picking up a germ is pretty great. One guy, about a week ago, got swine flu. Everyone has been a little scared about that. I think they cleaned everything, so unless a new guy brings it in, the threat has passed. Although, a guy last night was experiencing some symptoms. Meanwhile, we are all just trying to make it. Some people are sick in the head, but that's another story.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More Observations

The homeless population in Columbia is not very big, but it is bigger than you might think. Some may not look homeless, but they are.

I wish the weather would make up its mind. Hot-Cold-Cool-Warm-Chilly, etc. It should be either it is or it isn't.

There is a guy in the mission I had to tell to leave me alone. Apparently, some people are afraid to say anything to him. I had to.

When it rains, some folks handle it better than others. There should be a warning lable on polyester jackets--don't get wet, because it takes a long time to dry.

Some people enjoy rain--construction workers. I like rain, unless it is cold and windy. It is also a good time to cuddle up with the one you love. Fill in the blank.

I just spent two hours at Bank of America. I needed a signature of a bank officer on a pension direct deposit form. Unfortunately, there was only one guy working there today. And on a Monday. Can't figure that out. They had five offices there.

New Beginning

Everyday is a new beginning with me. After all, I am trying to hang on for one more day. One more day. I live day to day. What does that mean? Day to day? Well, I just don't want to do harm to myself. I guess that's it. What kind of harm are we talking about? Take your pick. There are so many. Use your imagination. I know that there are people out there who want to sabotage my job search. My past actions from a year or two ago have contributed to that sabotage. I guess had I been smarter or had more money, the result might be different, but every time I put in my social security number on an application, they are going to run a credit check. So, no matter how great my resume is, something is going to kick out. So, I take responsibility for that. Then, there are the things I can't control, like other people. If somebody says something bad about me, word gets around. I've tried to do things on my own, but sometimes I hit walls. I know the world has changed. I am just trying to survive. I woke up today which is another new beginning. What's the prognosis? Day to day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Open Letter

Anyone reading my blogs over the last year or so will know of my deep desire for a second chance at life. I have sunk to about the lowest point any human could be, short of prison. I have seen many things that I wish I hadn't. My priorities have changed from enjoyment to survival. Many people cannot begin to identify with my situation. I am rather intelligent and very creative, but due to my situation, I am in dire need of help.

Yes, some people are probably tired of my begging for help. I guess that I would be, if the tables were turned. I feel like there is someone out there who might be interested in me. I wish that someone was you.

Over the past three weeks, I have shed a lot of tears. More than I have in a long time. I have sought counseling and rejoined a church. I have regained my will to live, and I feel better about myself. But, I need a job and the ability to move out of the shelter. I also need money to live on at the present time. And, most of all right now, I need somewhere more stable to sleep. Somewhere that I don't dread going to or fear for my life. Somewhere secure. I also miss not being able to sell my stuff on the internet and elsewhere, as it is all currently in storage.

I am not asking that you pity me. I'm only asking that you'll love me and help me regain my life. There are so many obstacles that I am feeling right now. It is a maze that I am trying to navigate. Hold my hand and guide me through the maze. I may even make you laugh, and you'll see what a cool person I am.

Thanks for reading. Please say yes to me.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Threat

Just a short note here today that I had another threat from an individual in the sleep room at the shelter today. He took exception to my brushing up next to him in a very small confined space. He made a comment to me that I won't repeat, but it was vile. I know these are just idle threats, and they won't do anything about them, but I told him I was sorry for touching him accidentally. He didn't want to accept my apology, as he is a thug. As I have said in the past, I like to think that all humans are basically good, but there seem to be those who just don't care to be in the least bit normal. One guy said many awful things last night directed at the mission leaders. If he felt so strongly about how much he hated it, why does he stay? And, why does he ruin it for the rest of us? And why does he say he has a house to go to and doesn't need to be there? It is a very strange place where I am staying now. Please help me get out of there. And away from the thugs. If I would say something to them, I would be coming down to their level, and I don't want to do that. I have tried to treat them with kindness, but they are truly vile people and do not belong in society, I am sorry to say. Okay, I'm all better now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Tired

There's a guy at the mission. I think his name is Greg, but we call him "dreadlocks", because he has them. He is the most vile human being I know. I was taught, from an early age, to treat everyone the same. It doesn't matter what color or ethic background one is, we are all the same. Another motto I have lived be is that I'll be your best friend but don't cross me.

At the mission, we have chapel every night. We sing, pray, and have a sermon. There are guys in there who will sing with the best of them. But, when they get to the sleeping room, they curse and disrupt others.

Greg is the worst. His vocabulary is very limited by the words coming out of his mouth. You've heard the expression "cuss like a sailor"? He could out do a sailor. He starts at 8pm and goes until 10:30 nonstop, and then he starts back at 4am, despite us not having to get up until 5:30. As he yells and curses, it draws others into the fray.

And the worst part is no one will do anything about it. We complain, but they let him stay. He is very disruptive, even during meals. I wish I could say something, but he would hurt me. Maybe not physically, but psychologically and emotionally. At my fragile state, that might not be too good. He is probably suffering from something, too. We just need to know what it is, and take care of it. Meanwhile, no one can sleep, and people wonder shy I fall asleep in the library.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Observations

If some people are heavy snorers, others are going to cough to try and wake them up. Meanwhile, those of us who don't snore or cough can't sleep for all the snoring and the coughing.

For a library, where you are supposed to be quiet, there sure is a lot of talking. I guess they didn't get the memo.

Walking is good for the soul but not for the sole.

Why do some people use profanity like every other word? But, sing gospel songs in chapel. Why do some people put on a religious show but are vile behind closed doors?

My friend Del and I took an impromptu tour of the Governor's mansion. We just got to see the first floor. I've been upstairs before, but with all the current scandals, I wondered if it is now the same as not seeing the second floor of Graceland.

Is there such a thing as a fictional autobiography? A book written by the person to put them in a better light than they may be. Traci Lords comes to mind.

My Walk

Last week, I told somebody about my dire financial need, and how I needed $130 to pay two bills--my phone bill that is my lifeline, and my storage bill where my stuff is kept. There was no way I could pay them. So, Sunday I got an anonymous gift, and I could pay my bills.

So, yesterday, very early, I took the bus out Bluff Road to the storage facility. It was a cool, crisp morning. I got a jacket and shirt from storage and paid my bill. Then, I looked at my bus map and realized it didn't come back by my stop going back to town, so I had to hike two miles to the nearest bus stop. I went through grass and mud, as there wasn't much in the way of sidewalks, and I had to dodge the traffic, since it was the morning rush hour. I made it to the stop and didn't have to wait long for the bus, but it does seem to me that they should run the going and coming on the same route. But, with all of the walking I have done over the last several weeks, two miles was a piece of cake. But, do you know the difference between Columbia and Greenville? In Greenville, somebody would have stopped and offered me a ride. Not in Columbia.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Anniversary

10 years ago this week, my father was very sick. I had seen him a few days earlier, and he seemed fine, although he had difficulty breathing and walking because of his angina. A few days later, he was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Due to his situation, he lapsed into a coma that was perpetuated by drugs. On September 28th, my brother and I went to Laurens to meet with heart doctor, and to visit Daddy in the hospital. Daddy was in the coma. You could squeeze his big toe, and he would react, but a machine was helping him breathe. My brother is a baseball fan, so he asked the doctor that if it was the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes against him, would Daddy get a hit and win the game? The doctor replied that he had 2 1/2 strikes against him, and then he said that if Daddy were to awake from the coma, he wouldn't know who we were, because his brain fuction was pretty much gone.

So, we left the hospital and drove across Laurens to the nursing home to tell Mother. She would have to make the decision how long to keep him alive. When we told her everything, she whispered "Let him go". My brother and I went back to the hospital and told the doctor what Mother had said. We said our goodbyes to Daddy and left to go back to Columbia. About the time we got home, there was a call from the hospital that Daddy had died. He had not hung on too long after being disconnected from the machines. He had not wanted to live off of machines anyway.

One thing he had done was to plan out his funeral and burial plans, as well as his obituary. So, my brother fixed the obituary, and my job was to call people. I first called the funeral participants and told them. Then, I called the family. And then, some close friends. Daddy was real big on organizing things, so it was a breeze to carry out his wishes. I suggest that everyone plan out that stuff, because your family will be upset, and anything to ease the pain is good.

The funeral went off without a hitch, and Daddy was buried in Greenwood on October 1st, near his beloved mother and father. Mouth would join him five years later, and there is a place for me next to Mother one day. I miss my parents. Daddy for his counsel, even though we fought a lot, and Mother for her humor and love. Thanks, guys.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Observations

Why do security guards try to act like they want to blend in with their surroundings? Either they have an earpiece or a walkie-talkie or a gun. They try not to be obvious, but sometimes they just can't help it. That's why I like watching the Secret Service around the President. It is very interesting to watch them operate.

My Mother and her brothers suffered from macular degeneration, which is a disease of the eye. I don't think I am there yet, but I probably have a cateract or two. If I had health insurance, I would get my eyes fixed. Maybe one day before I go blind.

They say the recession is over, and the economy is coming back. If that's the case, how come I can't get hired? Just wondering.

Not Bitter

Anybody that knows me may find this statement to be a lie, but here goes anyway. I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter about my living situation. I'm not bitter about my lack of finances. I'm not bitter about not having a job. I'm not bitter about my lack of a love life. I'm not bitter about my lot in life. It is just the cards we are dealt. Some are dealt four of a kind. Others have a full house. Still others have a straight or three of a kind. I have been dealt a pair of deuces. Now, if deuces were wild, I might be able to do something with them, but if we are playing nothing is wild, then my pair may not take the pot. I've seen a pair of deuces win it all, but it is very rare. So, I figure there is an outside chance that I could take the pot, if you believe. I used to be bitter about many things--family, churches, friends, and life in general. I was dwelling on "Why me?" But now, I have released all of that to God, and I know that He will get me through this and will take me to where I need to go. Proverbs 3:5-6. Look it up.

Have Fun

Two words that I use frequently as a substitute for goodbye. "Have Fun". I have a lot of friends that are having fun today and tonight. It may be fleeting, but they will feel good anyways. I have forgotten how to have fun. No one to have fun with. When I tell someone to have fun, it is my form of giving. But, when I need someone to give to me, fun or otherwise, no one does. Too many excuses. I have told some to have fun, and they look a little surprused, because they are not sure what I mean, but then a smile comes on their face, as if they think of a way to have fun. So, I made someone smile and have a briefly better day. In that vein, have fun and have some for me, too.

Don't Belong

I don't belong in a homeless shelter. Actually, no one needs to be in a homeless shelter. In a perfect world, there would be no homeless. Everyone would be taken care of, one way or another. I have begged some people to take care of me with no luck. I'm sure they have their reasons. I can be a productive member of socieity if given the chance. After all, I was before. There are guys in the homeless shelter who are thugs. Maybe they should be there. But, there are those of us with a higher than average IQ, and we are there for a variety of reasons that hopefully will be relieved soon. So, if you are reading this and live in Columbia (or its environs) and have an extra room, please let me know at Please help me and have a blessed day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Observations

If you spend any time in the library, you'll see the strangest sort of characters on this planet. From a guy who talks to himself to a kid who laughs out loud for no reason to people sleeping while pretending to be reading to babies crying and the mothers who don't try and shut them up.

I like late Summer afternoons in the park, despite now it is early Fall. You wouldn't know it by the temperature. Yesterday, a duck was eating. I saw the duck today, so he survived being dinner last night for the homeless who stay in the park. Today, there were two girls hanging out and taking a break from a city that is just a block away. I went to the park to take a nap, since I had been nodding off at the library, but the girls across from me kept me awake in the park.

And the question of the day is...why can't the cleaners (yes, the one without same-day service) get my order so terribly wrong? I took a pair of pants in there yesterday and told them I needed them today. So, when I went to pick them up, they brought out a "Superfly" coat with a big plaid design and big buttons. When I told the woman that it wasn't mine, she insisted that it was, because it had my name on it. They found my pants, and I let them keep the coat. It won't be Halloween for another month or so.

Library Sleeping

I have been in the public library and seen people sleeping. I've had mixed emotions about it from disgust to pity. But, now that I am homeless, it has struck me, too. Falling asleep at the library. The chairs are too comfy. So, it is their fault. And, I also blame it on losing sleep at the shelter. In a perfect world, I could get around nine hours of sleep on a perfect night, but that won't happen as long as those guys insist on being loud. The library doesn't like you sleeping in there. I don't blame them, but there just isn't anywhere I can go to take a nap. Oh well.

Acid Flashback

Having never done LSD (as far as you know), I wouldn't know about flashbacks (as far as you know). I might have read about them in a book. So, a friend yesterday invited me to the soup kitchen for lunch, and I went. After we sat down to eat, a woman stood up and started "singing" gospel music. It might have been good if she could sing or knew the words, but she didn't do either. She yelled it at a high pitched wail. Doesn't everyone know the first verse of "Amazing Grace"? "Wretch like me" rhymes with "But now I see". Ya think? She made up her own words that didn't rhyme. Then, she made another mistake by inviting another woman to sing harmony with her. Since she didn't know the words, the one singing harmony couldn't do that either. When we got outside, I asked my friend if that really happened, or did I dream it? He said it was real, so no acid flashback this time (as far as you know).

Hot Bath

Being in the homeless shelter, there are some things I truly miss. Things that most people take for granted. For example, there is no TV. I miss the nightly news. My favorite show is NCIS. It has started with new episodes, but I can't see them right now. Not even online, because we can't have laptops either. And, I can't watch the shows on the computers in the library, because I need headphones. Another thing I miss is music. No radios. I have to sit outside of a coffee shop on Main Street, where they play the oldies radio station. And, probably the biggest that I miss is a hot bath. I'm talking about a tub, where I can soak. A tub bath is great, because you can soak and think about your upcoming day or just the world in general. I have heard stories of people in the shelter going to a hospital just so they can have a decent bed and bath, as well as cable TV. It might be something to think about. Meanwhile, if you'll let me have a decent bath, I would appreciate it. Just for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Observations

If you are crazy, you should not be in a homeless shelter. Recently, we had a music group who needed some chairs. So, a few of the guys had to stand. A crazy man yelled at a guy, because he was standing too close. The staff didin't see the altercation, but I don't think they would have done anything anyway.

Why does the Greenville library have more public computers to use than the Columbia library? I'm writing on one now. I wish I had my laptop.

And speaking of Greenville, why are most of the museums free, when most of the museums in Columbia cost something? If you want tourists, say something is free. In just thinking through the tourist attractions, I think the State House is about it, even though it is closed on weekends, and you have to go through security. Then, there are the cemeteries, but you have to avoid the ants. Then, there are the churches, but some of them are locked. I guess walking is free, but they have people to tell you to move along, if you stay too long in one place. Oh, and a couple of museums are free one day out of the week or month, if you can remember.

More Observations

If a new city bus driver is going on her first route, please tell her what her route is. She went to the right initial pickup point, but someone told her she was wrong, so all of us that got on took a side trip around a block that we weren't supposed to. Then, she didn't know how the doors worked. Then, we made frequent stops. Then, a man in a wheelchair had a hard time getting on, because she didn't know how to use the ramp. The trip should have taken 20 minutes, but this trip took 45 minutes.

Speaking of buses, for a city this big, there needs to be more routes and more buses. There are too many transfers. I know the bus system is on shaky ground, but if this city wants to attract more businesses, they should think about a first-class bus system or light rail. And, whatever happened to the tram that used to run down Main Street? I know most of the stores are gone, but it could connect businesses with restaurants or tourists from hotels to museums. Just a thought.

When going into a fast-food eatery, they ask you is it for here or to go. Why is it that at one particular restaurant, I say it is for here, and she always hits to go? Does she want me to eat there? I think it is discrimination, because they have trays. They just don't want me to use one.

I got kicked out of Macy's yesterday, because I was visiting friends and not buying anything. With all the money I made for them in the past, you would think they would welcome me with open arms. But, Macy's is not about logic. Never has been. I've applied several times in the past year for jobs there. I'm told that I'm not qualified. 30 years of retail experience in all aspects of the job, and I'm not qualified? Kinda makes you wonder.

And, the biggest question for today is...why do some people say they are my friend but yet don't respond to my emails or phone calls? Friends are very precious to me, especially if you have read anything about my time growing up. No reaching out there to me.

And another big question for today is...when one enters the homeless shelter, you have to sign a paper saying you are a professing Christian. So, there is a lot of profanity in there. You are told if you use profanity in there, it is grounds for dismissal. At 4:10 this morning, some guys in the sleep room decided to wake everyone else up to have a conversation. Wake up time is 5:30am. When one told them to be quiet, they mocked him. So, when others complained to the managers, nothing was done. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of Christianity some people profess. I went to seminary and a lot of Sunday School classes. And, I just don't remember the Bible talking that is a requirement for Christians to be rude and crude. Maybe, it is in a different version, that I am not aware of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Music Artists

There are many artists that I like other than The Beatles or related bands. I know some people that only listen to that music, and that's fine, but there's more music out there to be more well-rounded, so here is a partial list in no particular order:

The Blues Brothers, David Bowie, Queen, Suzi Quatro, Chicago, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Eric Clapton, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Blood Sweat & Tears, Jefferson Airplane, Kiss, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Billy Preston, KC & The Sunshine Band, Barry Mainlow, Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Donna Summer, Prince, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Badfinger, Richie Havens, Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Goose Creek Symphony, John Mellencamp, Carole King, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Grand Funk, Cream, Three Dog Night, George Thorogood, Todd Rundgren, The Supremes, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, The Miracles, James Brown, Elton John, ZZ Top, U2, The Corrs, The Byrds, America, Phil Collins, Frank Sinatra, The Lettermen, The Kingston Trio, The Beach Boys, Neil Young, Ohio Players, Santana, Joe Cocker, The Band, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Tom Jones, The Doors, The Clash, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Fleetwood Mac, Charlotte Church, James Taylor, Boz Scaggs, Roger McGuinn, The Pointer Sisters, Abba, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, George Benson, Edwin Starr, Country Joe & The Fish, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Otis Redding, Rod Stewart, Ricky Skaggs, The Cobbwebs, Isaac Hayes, Peter Frampton, T. Rex, Herman's Hermits, KBC Band, Burt Bacharach, Tom Petty, Barry White, Van Halen, Yes, The Bee Gees...

And that's just for starters. So, download some of these artists, especially if you are not familiar with them. You may be pleasantly surprised. Of course, there is always John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Yoko, but that's another story for another day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Aware Care

And then there was one. I have been trying not to get absorbed in self-pity, but I see many things on the street. For one, most folks don't care if you live or if you die. They just want to get where they are going, and if that means they need to shove you out of the way, they will. Also, some people will say that they are praying for you. I know they mean well, but often times their prayers are not backed up by actions. Where in the Bible does it say that we must only pray for others? It doesn't. It says that we must help the helpless. Take care of those unable to take care of themselves. In other words, actions speak louder than words. I know there are those unable to do much, except pray. I appreciate those people praying for me. But, it is those folks who have much, who are not willing to help, and those are the ones I feel are just blowing me off. If I were to die today, how would they feel? Would they wish they could have done more? No, I don't think so. They would say I was alone, or wonder why no one would help me, when they could have themselves. The bottom line is people don't want to be bothered. It is their civic duty to be aware. They just don't have to really care. Aware--Care. That rhymes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Columbia Movies

Before videos, cable TV, or computer downloads, there were movie theatres. They were first downtown and then spread out to the neighborhoods. They were a place where parents could trust their kids to spend a Saturday afternoon, and it didn't cost much. As one got older, we got interested in more mature fare, or at least you tried to see it. Fake ID's or trying to look more mature than you really were. It became something of a game between you and the theatre manager. Many of them didn't care how old you were. They just wanted the money. Movies were an escape from life. For two hours (or more), you could go anywhere in time by going to the movies. It didn't have to be a blockbuster. Studios just made movies--good or bad. They didn't have to worry about market share or box office gross. They made movies for the fun of making movies. Sometimes, the little movies were better than the big ones. Low budget films, especially horror, were cheesy. They were short on plot but big on action. They still make movies like that, but they go straight to DVD. I used to see 2 or 3 movies a day. Even before multi-screen cinemas. Once I estimated that I had seen over 3000 movies. I don't know how many now, since the advent of video. I've seen some over 100 times each. Here is a rundown of the theatres that were in Columbia during my growing up years, and a few films that stand out at each one:
Carolina--The Sound of Music; Kid Galahad; Bruce Lee films
Ritz--A Hard Day's Night; Goldfinger; no comment
Palmetto--Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Good Morning and Goodbye (the manager wanted to see your draft card to get in, which you couldn't fake)
Miracle--The Green Berets; Love and Death; Rosemary's Baby
Fox--Bonnie and Clyde; Airport; no comment
Chateau 8--no comment
Carver--Kung Fu; no comment
Atlantic Twin--Tarzan w/Jock Mahoney; Lady in Cement; no comment (the manager refused me to see The Detective w/Frank Sinatra)
Richland Mall--The Glass Bottom Boat; A View to a Kill
Five Points--Cowboy Serials; Seventeen (used a fake ID a lot until the girl at the box office said my mother was her sunday school teacher)
Jefferson Square--Tora Tora Tora; Earthquake; Aliens
Gamecock--Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Columbia Mall--Airplane
Dutch Square--The Midnight Man; Live and Let Die
Spring Valley--Saturn 3; Pee Wee's Big Adventure
There were also drive-ins, which I didn't go to much, or I'll deny it, if you ask.

Some Observations

Did you hear the one about the Indian Chief and the Alcoholic? Me neither. I was wondering if you knew. Probably the Indian Chief said "How", and the Alcoholic said "Much". Now, wasn't that funny? Side-splitting humor? Or, "How long?" That's a rather personal question says Monty Python. The ramblings of a fool. Stop before I kill again. I'll also kill for a soaking bath. FYI.

I was in the downtown post office getting my mail. A woman was literally yelling at the clerk. She was mad, because she didn't get mail everyday. She was blaming the sorter, the carrier, and the postal service in general. She said that her neighbors got mail everyday, but she didn't. My thought was that maybe she didn't get mail everyday, because nobody liked her.

Why do some dry cleaners not offer same-day service? I took my pants to be cleaned, when they opened at 7am. They advertise cleaning on the premises. So, why does it take 36 hours to clean a pair of pants? If they offered same-day service, I bet they would have lots more business.

Why are there no convenience stores in downtown Columbia? There is a CVS open 24 hours near USC, but that's it. And only one grocery store, and it's not near most apartments and houses downtown. What do they do if they need something quickly? If I had the money, I would open one and make tons of money.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Customer Service

One thing I do pretty well is figuring out what a customer wants or needs and sets them up with it. Or, I try and solve a problem that a customer might have. I was very good in steering a person into buying something that they had not intended to buy. That is why my luggage business was so good. People trusted me, and I tried to be honest with them. I didn't blow people off. If I could help them, I would, as long as it also helped the company.

Case in point--a person would come into luggage, because they saw a five-piece set for $99 advertised in the paper. The set was what I used to refer to as "car luggage". It was okay to take with you to the beach, but don't fly with it, because it would tear up. So, the first words out of my mouth were "flying or driving?". If they said "flying", then that would eliminate an entire category of luggage, usually the one-price sets. And then, I would show them the good stuff. Start expensive and come down. Were they flying domestic or international? Were they using connecting flights? Were they going to be on tour or business? So many factors entered into our conversation. I knew my product, and I could sense my customer. I was always honest with them, even at the expense of making the sale, because I knew they would respect me more. That was my customer service.

There is not many of us. I was reminded of this from yesterday. I went into a store with the need to speak with a manager about a benefits issue. I found an employee who didn't look like she was doing anything, and I told her what I needed. She picked up the phone and called someone. Sor far so good, except she tells the person on the other end, "How do I tell him that?". She was told to call another number who was the HR person, and she said for me to call an 800 number, because they didn't do what I needed in the store. Okay, but why did she tell this associate to tell me? Why couldn't she had done it? She was in her office, because the associate caller her office, and she picked up the phone. Are managers so isolated that they don't want to help people? When I was a manager, I told my people to get me, if there was a problem. Don't try and fix it themselves. Although, I trusted a few of my associates to make a good decision.

Yesterday, the Human Resources person wasn't very human. I hope that doesn't start a trend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Respecting Others

I like people. I think that most people are good. There are some people who like to show off or try to take advantage of a situation, but for the most part people are basically good.

My parents taught me that we should treat all people the same. I can remember the days of segregation, but my parents didn't see color. They saw individuals. The first time I saw separate rest rooms was on our trip to California. We stopped at a gas station, and my father explained why there were two rest rooms for men. I also saw it at the movie theatre. There was an entrance for black people and another one for whites. It didn't make much sense to me. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in Alabama to teach black children. The class was at a different time than the white kids, but she knew that everyone needed an education, no matter what the color of their skin. Some people in the community didn't like her doing that, but my grandfather was a judge, so he protected her. Some in my family have had black cooks or maids and have treated them as one of the family. It is all about respect.

When I was in college, there was a blind student named James. He was black, and I was one of his readers. James was very intelligent. One Sunday, I invited James to go to church. When we got there, we were met by the ushers at the front door who would not let us come in, because James was black. James told the men that he was blind and couldn't see what color they were, so the ushers let us sit in the balcony. The next Sunday, James took me to his church, and I was welcomed with open arms.

That's what life in the South was like. Things have sort of eased, but there is always somebody with an attitude or an agenda who wants to press some buttons. It doesn't have to be a black man. White people like to cop an attitude, because they think they are better. Some black people cop an attitude, because they feel they have constantly been on the defensive and need to lash out.

I was working at Belk in Men's Shoes in the late 1980's. An official with a predominantly black organization brought in his son one Saturday to buy shoes. It was a very busy day, and I didn't know who was next. The man lashed out at me and called me a racist for not waiting on him next. I apologized, but he wanted to have me fired. He asked my name. When I told him, he backed off, because he knew my brother, who had been hired by the man to write his five-year plan. My brother had asked me to research and write it, which I did. I didn't have the heart to tell the man that I had written his plan. But, I think he was trying to show off in front of his son.

People, who don't know me, tend to think of me as an aloof, uncaring individual. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like being around people. I don't care what they look like, as long as there is respect involved. I have gone out with black women, as well as Asians, Hispanics, and whites. Others may frown on it, like the time Gwen and I thought we were going to be attacked in Batesburg. But, we made it out alive and had a good laugh.

My wish is that others would treat me with the same respect. After all, the world is a rainbow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Feet

My feet hurt. They have hurt for about two days, because I have done so much walking. When I was younger, I could walk five miles and not even think about it. Now that I am older, they hurt all the time. I really need to soak them, but there is nowhere to do that right now. My ankles hurt. My knees hurt. My hips hurt. But, mainly it is my feet. I have blisters on two toes right now, and another burst yesterday causing a lot of pain. I have band aids on my toes, as well as pads and shoe inserts. I would tell you that I am walking like an old man, but a friend of mine would tell me that I am an old man. No consolation there. So, if you see me out and about and want to know why I am walking so slow, it is because my feet hurt. I know most of you don't care, and I don't mean to complain. It is just a fact. My feet hurt. If I had insurance, I would make an appointment with a doctor. But, if I had insurance, then that would mean I would have a job, and I wouldn't have to walk 6 miles a day, and then my feet wouldn't hurt. So there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've Fallen

As children, we fall. We fall down. Our legs are unsteady. We are not sure that we can stand up, so we fall down. We don't trust our legs, or we don't know that we can stand up. Eventually, we figure it out. We can use our feet to balance our wobbly bodies, and then we stand. However, we continue to fall, but it is usually our choosing. We play football, and we fall down, but we get back up, unless we get hurt. We play baseball, and we fall down to avoid being tagged out. We also might fall down to hide from a disaster, such as a shooting or some other calamity.

When I was a kid, my parents gave me some unique experiences. They loved to travel, so we got to picnic in the Smokey Mountains by ice-cold streams with bears in sight. We got to be in Biloxi MS, when a hurricane arrived and flooded the lobby of our hotel. We got to go to Dodge City KS and Colorado Springs CO. We went to the Air Force Academy and Santa Fe NM. We toured the Grand Canyon and Disneyland. We went to Washington DC and the New York World's Fair. There were other places, too, but that's just my first 10 years. My parents didn't have a lot of money, but they provided for my brother and me.

Even after we were on our own, my brother and I would get words of encouragement from Mother and Daddy. The last thing my father said to me before he slipped into a coma was, "We love you, and we are proud of you." I didn't deserve it, but it was unconditional. As my Mother got to the point where she couldn't speak, she would just squeeze my hand to show her love for me. Sometimes, she would just about cut off the circulation, but I felt her love as an electric current to me.

In the past few weeks, I have fallen once again. I have felt alone, because no one has come to pick me up. They just walk around me. Some will ask me how I am doing lying on the ground, but when I tell them I'm okay, they say good and walk away without picking me up. Quite frankly, some of what has been said to me has hurt me deeply. I haven't wanted to show it for fear people will think less of me, but it has caused my emotions to be very fragile. So, I am asking again--please help me stand up. Let me lean on you for support. And maybe, I can once again stand on my own two feet.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oliver Gospel

When I was in college, and had much longer hair, I spent time in Atlanta with some folks in a house. We were all hippies and theatre people and just had fun. I also spent time in Dallas around that same time with some people who were "Jesus Freaks". It was nothing to be in one room, sharing food, and helping one another. As time went on, and my hair got shorter, I began getting into the business world. One day, I was walking on the street near the State House, and a man was trying to get money from pay phones. Two guys walked past him and yelled out "Get a job!" He tried to ignore them, but you could tell that he didn't. When I was in seminary in the late 1970's, I saw my first real homeless person (not a hippie) sleeping on a bench in Dallas. It was a bit of a shock, as the times had changed. The hippies had been replaced by the homeless. Now, I am a member of that fraternity. Last Friday, I entered a homeless shelter called Oliver Gospel Mission. This was because I ran out of money, and no one allowed me to stay with them, despite my asking many people if they would. Some had good reasons. Others just didn't respond. I called The United Way, and the guy there suggested I go live under a bridge. No lie. I have met some that do live under bridges, but I have the top bunk of a bunk bed. There are about 25 other guys in this big room. And, half of them snore. There are 2 showers, and all the showering is done at night. A few guys in the room are crazy, but most of them believe in God and just want to be respected. I do a lot of walking now that my car is gone, so I run into the guys on the street all the time. They always say hello and ask how you are doing. It is a comraderie. I have tried to dress nicely, since I am looking for work. A woman stopped me on the street over the weekend asking for money. I told her that I was in the same boat as her, being homeless. She couldn't believe me, and I had to tell her that there is nothing written on my forehead saying I was homeless, but I am. She smiled, and we parted. Life is very hard right now. No one said it would be easy. But, if you can help me out with a roof over my head, in a real house, please let me know. Meanwhile, be nice to those of us out on the streets. All we ask is a smile or a pleasant greeting. And, for the most part, we are not going to rob you. We just ask for some human respect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Adventure

Last night, I had a new adventure. Staying at the Oliver Gospel Mission. I must say it was not what I expected and was pleasantly surprised. The staff there seem to genuinely care about the guys needing help. The guys needing help have to sign a sheet saying that they are Christians, and at the chapel last night, we all broke into praise songs. It was a good environment. There are some guys there who are recovering from substance abuse. There are others who just got out of jail and have nowhere to go. Then, there are others who just need a helping hand, as they search for work. That's my group. Last night, the snoring was very loud in the room where I was. There was about 25 guys in the room, sleeping on bunk beds. My bed was on top, which made for an interesting way to get up there without a ladder, and I had to make sure everything was situated, because I didn't want to have to climb back down before morning. I got a locker with lock to put my stuff in. It is kind of small, but I feel it is secure. The only problem is that it is in the way of folks needing to get to the bathroom, as the hallway is very narrow. So, there are a lot of guys saying "Excuse Me", as they try to get by. You can only shower at night. I don't really understand that concept, but maybe it is because breakfast is at 6am, and you have to be out of your room by then. After breakfast may come a chapel service, but they didn't have one today, so I had to kill about three hours before the library opened, so I could use their computer. I can't have my laptop in the mission, and I'm not supposed to have a cellphone, but I do. There is no TV either, so I'll have to learn how the football games were later tomorrow. This is an adventure. But, I hope it doesn't last long, if someone will step up and let me stay with them. I am joining First Baptist tomorrow, so I hope that will help. I must say though, in closing, that the comraderie of the guys there at the mission is a good thing. Homeless people are not all bad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The News

Well, a lot has happened to me over the last few days. My car blew up, and I can't afford to fix it, so I am junking it tomorrow and getting a few dollars for it. I have been riding the bus everywhere or walking. I need to find a place to live, but with no money or job, that is a challenge. I called United Way, and they suggested I go live under a bridge. Yes, they did. I did talk to a shelter today that caters to men who are addicts. I don't know about that, but it looks like I may not have a choice, unless somebody can help me out in the next 12 hours or so. If anyone has a spare room in the Columbia area, please let me know. I don't have any money, but I should get a job soon. I have applied to a bunch of places in the last three days, and I have some good possibilities. I guess that's about it for now. I have a new phone. Please call me if you can help me. My number is 803-622-5674, but don't call me right now unless you can help me. Or, if you can throw a few bucks my way, my address is PO Box 1464, Columbia SC 29202. Thanks a lot for looking at this. Take care of yourselves and maybe one other person.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Day

Life is hard. There are no guarantees. If life were easy, folks would smile all the time. And there would not be a reason to have hospitals or mental facilities. There would be no need for drugs. No suicides. But, life is not easy. I know that. You know that. Most everybody knows that. So, I am writing this blog today with that in mind. Life is hard. It has been ironic to me during these months of crisis that I have lived my life as a caring individual. I have cared about others. I have cared about their lot in life. I have helped those with problems. I have given them a shoulder to cry on. But, when the tables have turned, these people have turned their backs on me. They don't want to be bothered, or I am an embarrassment. I have never said that I am perfect. I have my faults. But, I have also lost a lot of family and friends over this, because they don't want to be bothered. Some people have helped me either financially or emotionally. Some people have offered prayers for me. And, I thank you for that. Prayer is a force that has helped me stay alive. Whether you believe in prayer or not, I believe that prayer works. But, prayer does not give me a place to stay, in and of itself. Prayer does not give me a job, in and of itself. And now, I have come to the point where I can no longer afford to stay where I have been for the last few months. My car is about shot. I need to put a quart of oil in it each time I drive it, as it leaks profusely. Today is the day that I need to move out of the motel and into my car. I have looked at shelters, but have found they cater to drug addicts and criminals. Others cater to people with children or women. I don't fall into either of those categories. I know I can say that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Let's hope some prayers are answered today. God help me if they are not.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's Saturday

I love college football. I have my favorite teams, but if a game is on TV, I'm going to watch it. The interest probably came from my Mother. We used to sit at home on Saturday afternoons to watch football. Her favorite team was Alabama, because she was from there, and her brothers went to Alabama. We also watched the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoons. So, those were her teams. When I went to PC, I made some football players mad, and as punishment, I had to go to their games and sit in a special seat, so they would know I was there. That's another story for another day. But, I did enjoy being there and cheering on our team, even though they didn't win many games. So, college football season has started. Already, one of my teams has won their first game--the University of South Carolina. Clemson plays this afternoon. Alabama plays tonight. And, there are some teams that I just can't stand. But, if it is on TV, I am probably going to watch it. Case in point--Tulsa vs. Tulane. That game was on TV last night. Now, I almost went to Tulane, when I was looking at schools years ago. Mainly because it was in New Orleans, where I was born. But, Tulane has never been a powerhouse in football. And, they proved it again last night. Tulsa was all over them. But, I still wanted Tulane to do good. I usually go with the underdog, if the teams playing are not one of my favorites. That's because I have been the underdog most of my life. One thing I like about college football is that the teams don't usually quit, even if they are losing 55-0. It is a sense of pride that they have. Another thing I like is the players aren't playing for money, or at least they aren't supposed to be. Their school could get into trouble, if the players were being paid. Sometimes, one gets the feeling that the pro teams are just going through the motions, because they are going to get paid anyway. It is like in the Super Bowl. If a pro team wins in the Super Bowl, and a player sits on the bench the entire game, he will still get a ring. Somehow that doesn't seem quite fair. But in college, a football team is more like a family. Sometimes disfunctional, but a family nevertheless. So, the football season has begun. Yay!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another Hike

I took another 8-mile hike today. Despite the air being a little cooler, I still seem to sweat like a pig. In a way, I guess that's good. I do drink water along the way, but it does seem excessive. I made it to the post office and mailed off a signed Elton John cd to a guy in Australia. And, I picked up my mail, which included two autographed pictures from Shirley MacLaine and Pete Carroll. In the old days, it was said that Shirley used her secretary to sign her stuff, but this one looks legit. She even included a typed letter to me and referenced a funny story that I told her. I don't remember what I wrote to her that was funny, unless it was my Burt Lancaster story. I also went by a Jewish graveyard where my next-door neighbors are buried--Sam and Sylvia Savitz. They were our neighbors for about 30 years and were genuinely nice people. Their son Phil was close to my age. They had a jungle jim in the backyard and a pool table in their den. They also had a dog named Spot that was dumb as a post, but he was the neighborhood dog. Everyone loved Spot, although he barked constantly. I even have a cassette recording of something on TV that I made, and you can hear Spot barking outside. Spot even survived being hit by a car. He missed some fur from that accident. Eventually, Spot got sick and died. But, he led a fruitful life. I watched Spot, when the family would go on vacation. He ate Alpo, which was the foulest smell I had ever smelled. I hated feeding time. Anyway, back to the hike. I made it back to the motel. I really think the last mile is the worst. I got back and collapsed. I don't think I'll be doing that hike again any time soon. At least, I hope not.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

8 Miles

I did something this morning that some people would find crazy. Okay, I admit. I am a little crazy, but I saw what I did this morning as something of a necessity. And, it is all about my car. I have a 1989 Nissan Sentra that I should have shot and put out of its misery a long time ago. In the last couple of days, it has been leaking oil in quarts instead of drips. I took it to a mechanic yesterday, and he said that the drive chain is about to break, and there is a hole in my motor that can't be fixed without putting in a new motor. I had been driving my car for some time like this, but he told me that if the chain broke, my car would be finished. And, it is going to cost a lot to fix it. Money that I don't have. So, I have been walking a lot, like to the grocery store which is about a half mile away from the motel. I have always been a walker. I walked to school, when I was old enough to. I walked to stores in college, because I didn't have a car. It was not unusual for me to walk 3-4 miles a day back then. After all, I was also a runner, and I was in fantastic shape. When I got a car to go to Texas, I still walked to save on gas. About the only time I would drive would be to go to work or church, or maybe the occasional trip to downtown Fort Worth or over to Dallas. But, mainly I walked. I stopped walking, when I moved back to Columbia. I still exercised, but mainly it was at work walking to the stockroom and back. If it was a busy day, I could put in 3 miles inside the store, but it was stop and go. So, today I decided to test myself. I had been walking along the river about 2-3 times a week in the last few months and averaging 2 miles a day, but today was different. Because my car is scary to drive, and I needed to check my mail at the post office downtown, I decided to set out and walk there. It is about 4 miles there and 4 miles back. It took me a little over 2 hours to make the roundtrip. I did stop for a few minutes at McDonald's to get a bottled water, because it was a hot and humid day. As I have gotten older, I am prone to sweat more. Some say perspire, but I sweat. I got to the post office and picked up my mail, and then I set out to walk back to the motel. Going to the post office, there was a lot of hills I had to climb. Going back, I thankfully had some downhills. But, I discovered some things from my trip. First, there are a lot of interesting historical markers along the way that I had never read before today. Second, there are a lot of businesses that I didn't no existed until today. Third, Columbia needs more sidewalks on major roads, because I had to dodge some cars and had a fear I might be hit. Fourth, I was one of a handful of people out walking. And, maybe the most important thing I learned was my stamina. I had not walked a long distance like this in 30 years. I found that at the 7-mile mark this morning, my muscles in my legs started to get a little twinge. I was breathing heavy, and I didn't know if I could go on. From a runner's perspective, it was as if I had "hit the wall". You runners know what I mean. But, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on, until I got back to the motel. I will probably have some pain tomorrow from this. But, I found out I could do it. I may even do it again next week. I hear it is going to be a little cooler next week. I don't know what next week will bring for me. Quite frankly, I am pretty scared about my immediate future. But, at least today, I proved to myself that I could do it. Yes, I'm crazy. But, you should try it sometime. You will be amazed what you will see.