Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Style

When I was first writing poetry, everything had to rhyme. Even if the rhyme was forced. I had a friend named David Havird, who now teaches English at a college in Louisiana. David and I were in high school together, and he was a writer too. He taught me that things didn't have to rhyme. Then, I met James Dickey, who was a famous writer. He taught me about how words just need to flow. Forget rhymes. Poetry is thoughts. They need to have a rhythm, but not necessarily a rhyme. So, that is how I wrote. Then, I went to seminary and had to write a paper a day. I found that a conversational style worked best. What is strange is that now I write songs. Songs need to rhyme, so I have come full circle. I write about this, because I got a comment on my blog yesterday about my style. The anonymous writer said that the blog was interesting, but I needed to do paragraphs, because it would be easier to read. I suppose they are right, but it is not my style here. This blog is a series of ideas, thoughts, and stories. It is a capsule of my life. That's why I don't do paragraphs. It just runs along. If someone has a problem reading it, I am sorry. I have a friend who writes me without punctuation. Imagine how hard that is to read. But, his thoughts are heartfelt and genuine. That's what I try to do. Heartfelt and genuine. My style. See? I can be nice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Legacy

It is always difficult to look at a legacy, while one is still alive. Usually, that sort of thing is done by others at a later date, but I wanted to examine my legacy. Some people consider their legacy as their children. After all, the children are carrying on the name or work of their parents. Since I don't have any children, and probably never will, I can't say that children will be my legacy. In examining my legacy, I was thinking about all of the work I have done on stage, screen and TV. I may have given someone a laugh or a tear. I may have given someone a memory of something I did or said. Is that enough of a legacy? I suppose so, because when someone thinks of me, there will be that memory. Hopefully good. My legacy could also be in he work I have done for the church. Primarily with the beginnings of the Singles Ministry at First Baptist Columbia. Or, my legacy could be with being the first person to major in Communications at Southwestern Seminary, and that they had to create the major for me. Others have majored in it since me. I have been a trailblazer in many areas. But, I would like to think of my legacy in two buildings. The first came when I worked for the US Department of Commerce. My supervisor had worked for the post office, and there was some interest in opening a new post office for the expanding population of Northeast Columbia. My supervisor gave me the task of determining if there were enough people in that area to support a new post office. I did surveys and polls. I looked at maps and trends. After a lot of research, I determined that the Northeast did need a post office, and zip code 29223 was born. If I had come back with a different recommendation, who knows what would have happened to that area. The second building was Columbiana Centre. A mall was being planned for the Harbison area, which was another growing section of Columbia. It was 1988. I was on a buying trip for Belk with John Brusack (my retail mentor) and Bill Belk (VP of Belk Stores) in Chicago. Mr. Belk was there to meet with the developers of this new mall in Columbia. It didn't have a name as of yet. Just before Mr. Belk was to have his meeting, he showed me a couple of aerial photographs of the area under consideration. Each spot was on either side of Harbison Boulevard. The developers wanted the spot on the left side of the road. It was big and sprawling. The right side was smaller and more compact. I told Mr. Belk to go after the right side. He told me that it was smaller, and they wanted a big impact on the left side. I told Mr. Belk that the natural movement of people, coming off of a highway or going into a store, is to go to the right. The right side would be more successful than the left side. If you go into a store, look at the right first. You'll see more expensive stuff on the right than the left. It is a natural fact. So, my suggestions to Mr. Belk made sense to him, and he went to the developers and said they wanted to go with the right side of the road. That is why Columbiana Centre was built where it was. My suggestion. The left side went to Wal-Mart, and it just didn't do as well as other Wal-Marts. So, those are my legacies. A post office and a mall. Pretty good, huh?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

This is not a blog about self-pity. Shock!! Aren't most about self-pity? I guess a lot have been, and I am trying to get away from that. But, this blog is called "My World", and that is part of what I am. But, today I want to discuss positive reinforcement. What does that mean? For those who don't know, they are the ones I would like to address today. During this time of struggle in my life, both financially and emotionally, there have been a few people who have taken it upon themselves to build me up and keep me going. I am not going to mention any names, but they know who they are. They are selfless and caring individuals. The care about my well-being. They keep me focused on the big picture. Head to the Sky. Then, there are others who want to criticize. They criticize what I eat. They criticize how I dress. They criticize where I live. Some, I think, underestimate me. Others don't really know me. I have one friend who constantly tells me, if I had done this...this...this...this...and this like she had told me, I wouldn't be in this situation now. She is all-knowing. I don't want to criticize people like that, but if you do that to me, I am just going to shut down. Age might have something to do with it, too. The older you get, the more you feel you can criticize. I can take criticism pretty well. It comes from being an actor. I like to know what others think about me to a point. But, I am trying my best just to live one more day. Does that sound trite? Haven't I said that before? Yes, and I will continue to say it. I have struggled with many demons during my life. Some I have overcome. Others I have put in a cage with hopes they don't slip out. Still others live with me daily. The more one criticizes my life--the more the demons come out. And, do you know what stops the demons in their tracks? A hug, a kind word, a smile, and being an encourager. That's all it takes. I am pretty easy in that respect. So, thanks again to those who are my positive reinforcement. And, if you want to say something critical of me, okay. But, just think before saying something. I just don't need that right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pokey People

One of my pet peeves is bad drivers. I have written about this before. But, there is a segment of the population that really irks me, and that is Pokey People. These are people who apparently are afraid to drive but have to anyway. If the speed limit is 55, that doesn't really mean that you should go 40. Especially if you are the car in front with no one behind you. And, don't use age or sex as a reason for you to go slow. Case in point. I was on the highway yesterday. As you know, I don't like to drive on the interstates. I prefer two-lane roads. They are more scenic and safer. So, I am riding along at 55, yes 55, because my car doesn't usually go faster. And, I come upon two people in a car doing 40. It is the time of day, where there are cars coming the other way, so I can't pass. We went through a school zone, but the lights weren't flashing, and the car slowed to 35. I can't pass. We go through the school zone, and the car speeds back up to 40. I am going crazy. I can't pass. For a good 6 miles of this, I honked my horn and waved my hands. They were oblivious. We get to a town, where the speed limit is 35. They slow to 25. I can't pass. They finally turned into the Dollar Store parking lot, and I sped by. So did the other six cars behind me. Maybe by driving so slow, they were saving money for the store. But, they weren't old. They were actually two twenty-something people. Makes you wonder where they learned how to drive. They couldn't have thought that my rusty Nissan was a police car behind them. Maybe they were paranoid about not having insurance or too many points on their license. It is hard to say. But, here is an announcement to all those pokey people out there. If you see a white, rusting Nissan Sentra in your rearview mirror, pull off to the side and let the parade of cars behind you pass. Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

An Addition

Look at the blog below this, before reading this one. That way, it makes more sense. Of course, I don't make much sense sometimes. Please don't think badly of me, as to what I write. It is just how I feel at the moment. I may feel differently tomorrow. Who knows? But, here goes. I want to cry about my situation, but what good would it do? My Mother's family didn't cry. It showed weakness. I only saw her cry twice. We didn't cry. Crying is more of an emotional release for me, when I am happy more than when I am sad. But, I just want someone to hug me and say good job. Positive reinforcement. Don't tough love me. Don't say I am a complainer. I am a survivor, or trying to survive. I have used up five of my nine lives. I should have died years ago, but I am still here. For how long? Nobody knows. So, the question of the day is why won't somebody help me? I cannot help myself. I would if I could, but I can't. Too much time has transpired. Too little time to go. Be positive. Head to the sky. Yes, I know. There is more to do. Help me do it. Give me a miracle. Yes, I know I'm not the only one in trouble. Some have families, but they also have someone to talk to. Someone to hug them. Someone to cry with. Someone to laugh with. Someone to say it is okay to have these feelings. I have no one. I just have me. And, I'm tired of that. I am just very tired. Teach me to love again. Love life. Love people. Love me. Is that too much to ask?

What's Left

First of all, let me say that I am not whinning, contrary to an opinion. I have tried to live a good life. Looking back on it, I have had a lot of cool experiences, many of which I have talked about in this blog. The movies, TV and plays stand out. My writing songs have been great. Being nationally published was a thrill. Meeting a lot of famous people, and them knowing me, was good. Getting a Master's degree in Communications, which they invented for me. Getting to know some dear friends. Visiting Europe and Israel, despite being involved in a intelligence operation. Touring the US, and doing puppet shows in Philly and Smyrna. Being creative. Helping to start the Singles Ministry at First Baptist. The list goes on. I was the Candy Man at Belk. The Lamp Man at Rich's. And, the Luggage Guru at Macy's. Yes, there have been a lot of things that I have done in my 55 years that have been good. I hope I have helped others, and made their lives just a little better. Unfortunately, when I have needed help, some people have turned their backs. I have always felt that I cannot publicly note who has helped me get to this point. They know who they are. But, times have changed. You hear that your family needs to stick together. If you can't depend on your family, who can you depend on? I guess my family, with a couple of exceptions, never heard about that. They consider me a beggar. They consider me a loser. They consider me an embarrassment. Maybe I have read too much into why they haven't stepped up. Maybe I am just way down their list. Maybe they have to take care of their own first. That's okay. I have lived with it this long. As to those who I have helped, good for you. When I needed you, some helped me, but most did not. I have lost friends, or people I thought were friends, because I asked for help. Some have stood by me. And, I thank you for that. They said that I could go anywhere in the world with my Master's degree. They just didn't say I could get hired anywhere in the world with my Master's degree. So, what's left? I have tried to be truthful and live a good life. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs. I have a strong faith in God. After all, I have gotten this far in life by His grace. By grace, we are saved. I hope you believe that. I do. So, what's left? I would like to stick around this world a little while longer. There are other things I could do. Other things I can write. Other smiles I can give. Other lives I can touch. But, things are getting more difficult to exist. I have $200 in the bank with no job. My living space is going away. I only have just a few more days here. I cannot afford to live anywhere. I have no job. So, what's left? I cannot predict the future. I live very short-term. Day to Day. Moment to Moment. If there was a way to just end it all peacefully, without pain, I think I would do it. I know that there are people who care about me. They now who they are. Some have tried tough love to get me motivated. I am just whipped. I have been beaten down by those who don't care. I would rather not have comments, like at BJ's funeral, such as they didn't know I had problems. I have tried to spell those out here. So, what's left? If you feel that I have helped you, or you feel you can help me, please go to PayPal and send me a few dollars. My PayPal account is durst11@gmail.com. I will be eternally grateful. I am down for the count. There are opportunities out there for me. I know of a few, but I can't get there right now without financial help. Yes, I suppose I am begging. Sorry family. I need a miracle. I just want to survive one more day. This is real life. So, what's left?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Observations

I just wanted to say a few things today. I know I haven't written in a while, and I apologize for that. A lot has been happening lately, mainly having to do with moving. I still wish someone would let me stay with them, at least for a while. I am praying. First of all, I was in Macy's at Columbia Mall yesterday. I asked an associate what was selling, and he said nothing. I was reminded of how to spin anything, by a joke that came out during the Cold War between the US and Russia. There was a two-man race between the two countries. The US runner won. In the US newspaper, the headline ran that the US runner beat the USSR runner. In the Russian paper, the headline ran that the USSR runner came in second, and the US runner came next to last. There is a moral there. You can spin anything to your advantage. Also yesterday, I went to Wal-Mart, Target, Belk, and Kohl's looking for pajamas. Mine are torn, because of an exposed spring from my mattress. Do you know that you can't find pajamas? Wal-Mart had a few really ugly ones for someone much bigger than me, but nobody else did. There were "sleep pants" but no pajamas. Of course, if I wanted Spiderman pajamas, I could have gotten little boys pajamas, but I don't think I could fit into those. I am going to try K-Mart, but otherwise, I guess I'll have to go online. I don't like buying clothes online, so we will see. I know some folks sleep in the nude. I tried that, but it just isn't comfortable for me. Not to judge others. So, also last night I went to a rally for the "I Believe" license plate that they are trying to get past the courts in SC. I got to talk to Andre Bauer afterwards. He told me not to sell my Mother's wedding ring, as I would regret it later. I told him that I was close to doing so. He truly cares about my situation, and he is not a typical politician. As Joni told me, Andre is one of the good guys. He also gave me a pen, which may not seem like a lot, but it was a good thought. Thanks Andre. I know people care about me. It is just going to be a long, hard road that need to get on. Help me get the car started.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What's Important

As this seems to be the last week I will be living here at this place for 14 months, I was thinking about what is important with me. For some, it is status or reputation. How do others see you. Keep up with the Joneses. For others, it is money or job. Still others see family or home. Without sounding too mushy, I have found in this 14-month period (I was going to say exile) about what is important in my life. I have had a lot of time to reflect. I don't want to embarrass anyone in this assessment, and I am sorry if I do, but I just need to say it. The first thing is friends. I have written about this a lot on this blog. I can't name them all, but I would like to single out a few. To Aubrey--you give me laughs and inspiration. You have shown me the big picture and encouraged me to reach for the stars. To Thom and Mary Ann--you are my second family. I don't tell you enough how much you mean to me. I hope these laptop keys are waterproof for the tears I am shedding. To Chris and Janita--you understand my creativity and plight, and you don't judge me. Our distance may be great, but our closeness is right there. To Mary--thanks for letting me vent. You kept me going, when things were dark. To Peggy--I wish you would get a computer, so you could read this, but you have given me wisdom and care. To Del--you and I may not agree on some things, but you understand where I am coming from. Tolerance. To Jimmy--thanks for letting me stay here. We may not have done much together, but you allowed me to be here for this time. I wish you only the best. To Joni--thank you for believing in me and keeping me positive. You have showed me about life out there and not be consumed with the small stuff. After my friends, I have realized about the beauty of nature and the goodness of people. God has given us a wonderful life. When I have felt that I should check out, someone or something has come along to show me a lesson of life. I don't know what the future holds. No one does. Only God knows. He will direct me. Proverbs 3:5-6. I still need help in finding my way. Please help me. And, things will be better tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Moving Furniture

Well, I am back from moving some furniture to Columbia to the storage facility. I rented a cargo van from Enterprise, and it was much bigger than I was used to driving vanwise. I loaded it up last night with the stuff I am taking--a bookcase, my Grandmother's rocker, a stereo cabinet, a table, my bed frame, and the sign from the record department at Belk. I also noticed yesterday that a crack has developed in the windshield of my car. Years ago, some kids threw a rock at my car, and it put a hole in my windshield. I took it to a glass place which patched up the hole and didn't charge me anything. I don't know if it was the snow we had or what, but a crack developed yesterday, radiating from both sides of the patch. I fear I will need a new windshield, but I can't afford the $250 deductable from my insurance. Anyway, back to the move. So, I pulled out of the parking lot this morning at 7:30 to drive to Columbia. The side mirrors weren't set right, so I had a time seeing both sides of the van. I would like to personally apologize to the man driving the small car that I almost hit. After getting down the road a ways, I pulled off at a rest area and fixed the mirrors. It was smooth sailing after that. I got to the storage place and unloaded the furniture. My place is about full now. There is nothing left for me to put in there. What I have left is my clothes and necessities. It only took 2 months to do it all. I guess it would have been shorter, but I had to do everything in my car, except for today. Now, I need to find a place to live. And a job. And somehow $250 to fix my windshield. Or a new car. And a million dollars. Seriously, I feel good about what I have done. I know life isn't perfect, but I would like a break once. Just one. Bueller? Bueller?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Snow

We are supposed to have some major snow here tonight. I have heard predictions for up to a foot, although the general concensus is around 7". I would like to go on record that I am not a big fan of snow. When I was a little kid, it was cool. We got out of school. Even the hint of snow would cause people to run to the grocery store. Bread and milk quickly sold out. I wondered if it was a conspiracy between the stores and the weather people. If a store wasn't doing too good, they would call the TV station and ask them to mention snow in their forecast. Even if it was June. But, when it did snow, which wasn't often, it was a major event. I guess those folks in the North have become sort of blase about snow, but us folks in the South know it is a big deal. The first snow I remember was in New Orleans. It didn't last long, but it was still cool. The first winter, that we were in Columbia in 1958, it snowed 6". I remember actually being able to walk on a frozen bush in our front yard on Burney Drive. It was like frozen steps, and the bush didn't collapse. I don't guess I weighed much. We had snows along as I grew up on Belmont, but a lot of them was more ice than snow. We lived on a hill, so it was quite a challenge for cars to get up the hill. Most of them didn't. When I was in high school, there was a kid who lived across the street who wanted to use the hill in our yard as a sledding ramp. The hill would come down from the Savitz's house next door and then there was a cliff that became our driveway. He thought it was fun to knock all of the ice and snow from the hill into our driveway. I went out and told him not to do it, and he just laughed at me and went back to doing it some more. This went on for some time, until I got so mad that I went inside and took a steak knife out and went outside and told him that if he did it again, I would cut him. He ran back home and told his mother that I had threatened him. His mother told my mother, but after I explained the circumstances, the boy got in trouble for pushing ice into our driveway. Another snow I remember was the snow of 1973 at Anderson College. We got 18" then. It was on the ground for 10 days. We had fun sledding on cafeteria trays and pushing cars down the street. And, there was the snows, when I moved to Texas. I didn't think it would snow there, but one winter we got 5 snows in 6 weeks back to back. They didn't melt. They just compacted. That is where I learned to drive in snow. It is an acquired talent. There are people who think they can drive in it. Those are the folks who usually wreck. I was living at seminary and working at Hulen Mall, some five miles away. I called the store to see if we were open, and they said yes. The snow was so deep, I couldn't get my car out, so I proceeded to walk. I was in drifts upto my waist. I got to the store and found out it closed a few minutes before I got there. I was pretty mad. This was before cell phones. So, I had to walk back. I guess that's why I am not fond of snow now. They say it will be on the ground for a couple of days. It will be pretty to see, but I just hope I have enough food until Tuesday. And, get out of my way, when I am on the road. I know how to drive in it. Do you?