Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Romantic at Heart

This past Valentine's Day, just a little less than a week ago, I gave my beautiful wife a variety of gifts. Candy, flowers, and such were the truck that she found passed her way along with the requisite card. Actually, eight cards but who's counting. Amongst these many baubles was a small booklet I'd found, containing a variety of "cute" coupons that she could have and give to me over the course of time. Being a more sensitive male, I steered clear of the one I saw that was virtually all possessed with bedroom play and instead opted for the sweet, sensitive one which contained such tasks as breakfast in bed, foot rubs, and walks on the beach. What was I thinking?

Well, either way, I gave it to her and now I've got to be that oh-so-romantic man and step up to the plate. Just this past Sunday eve she passed along to me my first task, the task of writing a love poem to her. Now, let's just be honest: I'm not a poet. I've run across some old poems, love and otherwise, that I penned in my earlier days and, to tell the truth, they're awful. It's a sad commentary on how bad the offerings were at my high school which allowed these oozing pages of drivel to find their way into our student publications. But, I digress. I'm a man of my word, and I'm hoping it doesn't completely backfire on me, but here's a little poem, albeit rough, that I've composed for my sweetheart.

Untitled (I'm never very good with titles although if I had to drop one on this I guess I'd call it "A Day of Love")

Morning dew gathers upon silken petals
and feathered flocks take to a dim-lit sky
growing bright
Bright with hopeful rays of sunshine
but none so bright as the
Joy which she's brought to me.

Dappled oaks tremble in a noonday breeze
mossy boughs wavering
Signaling approval as the lovers
rest beneath their shade
The sound of laughter echoes
from the clear stream beside
But none so pure
as she's brought to me.

Pinks and oranges slowly fading to purple
casting curious images upon an eventide skyline
Gentle roaring waves, soothing, strong
caress the shoreline
Velvet sand soft between our toes
gazes meet as lips join
The most beautiful embrace to me.

I don't care who makes fun of me for tossing up poetry, I love you, sweetheart!

This is Priceless!

You just can't appreciate this until you've read the story!

Man Breaks Into Home Over Porn Screams!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Boy's an Animal!

I love Tyler's eyes on this picture!

Behold the Pop-Tart!

A Face You Can Trust?

For those of you who may be unaware, I have been a white, Caucasian male my entire life. On top of that, I've grown into a rather big guy. I stand somewhere around 6' 3-4", and weigh in at, well, let's just suffice it to say that I fill out my frame pretty good. Over the past several years, I've opted for a bit of a full goatee to fill out my face and hide my babyface. During this time, I've never, at least in my estimation, been discrimated against or really even looked at twice. On this past Monday that all changed.

Prior readers will recall that I currently languish in the world that is known as Christian retail. The good Lord has seen fit in His immense grace to provide me a position that provides for minimal interaction with customers but, on occasion, this protocol must be breached and I find myself asked to answer some questions or carry a large box out to an elderly lady's car. Traditonally, while this is not my most favorite time of the day, I'm okay with it. This leads me to Monday.

I was sitting at my desk, watching the clock at the bottom right-hand corner of my screen, willing the digital numbers to change more quickly, and I found myself summoned to our customer service area to help carry a package to someone's car. "No problem," I thought to myself and slowly, sleepily ambled over to the appropriate region of the store. I saw two older gentlemen standing at the counter, a medium-sized box before them. Almost immediately upon my entering their view, one of the gentlemen wrapped his arms around the box and said, "Let me see how heavy this is...Oh, it's no problem! I can carry this out!" I shrugged, smiled my assent, and headed back to watching the digits shift.

Not long after, the young associate who had summoned me walked back to my corner and shared, "That was weird, huh? They were going on and on about the one guy's arm not being able to carry it out and the other guy having some condition but when they saw you...!" I've got to say, this was a first. Sure I'm a big guy. Yes, I have the goatee which can tend to be a bit unruly. And yes, I'd neglected to shave for a few, okay, four days prior. But I work for a Christian bookstore! I was only left to sit and ponder. Was it me? Was it them? Hmmm....

Review: Something About Us - Michael O'Brien

I've been a fan of this guy for a long time, simply because he's got an amazing voice. This album has that whole Michael Buble/Tony Bennett thing going for it too! Check it out!

Bird by Bird...

In my hiatus from blogging here, I've been spending my time doing all sorts of things like interviewing people with mixed results, working, wringing my hands as I ponder the future, and, oh yeah, reading. My friend, Matt, recommended that if I want to write it is probably a good idea to read some good books on the subject as well as just read in general. So, the holidays behind us, I've started to work on that.

The first book I picked up on the subject of writing was Anne Lamott's, Bird by Bird. This is a book I've been wanting to get for a long time but just never did. Lamott's Traveling Mercies changed and challenged the way I think about a lot and I was excited to see how she'd impact my thoughts on writing. Finally, I picked it up and here we are, finished and discussing it.

The book itself is great, offering solid advice accompanied by Lamott's signature wit and self-deprecation followed up with a big slice of poignancy here and there. She is one who truly loves the craft and wants to gift all who are willing to try with the tools and encouragement to take their pens in hand and put them to paper. If you're thinking about writing, if you are a writer, or if you're just curious about the whole process, this is a great book for you.

But that's not why I write this. In one of Lamott's chapters, she breaks out for just a moment, offering an example of how writers intrinsically have a message within their work. She's not advocating the world of "after school special" writing but rather the simple idea that we write to share our worldview and our thoughts. Inherent within are going to be value and moral judgements. It makes sense. As she shares this example, I was hit with the proverbial lightbulb going on. This was one of those things that just made me go, "YES! YES! YES!"

She writes:

"I'm not suggesting that you want to be an author who tells a story in order to teach a moral or deliver a message. If you have a message, as Samuel Goldwyn said, send a telegram. But we feel morally certain of some things, sure that we're right, even while we know how often we've been wrong, and we need to communicate these things. For instance, I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality. I don't think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgivingly complex." (Note the italicized portion especially!)

Now, I'm going to leave you to think about that for a while. Stay tuned and I'll address my thoughts on it shortly!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Little Miss Sunshine

Okay, I'm sure we've all been there. It's one of those times where you simply give your ascent to a friend or loved one about some random thing or circumstance because either (a) they're going to win the argument anyway or, (b) it's something you're just not that worried about one way or the other. This was me but a few short weeks ago as my wife approached me with the suggestion/declaration that we were going to enter our lovely daughter, Peyton, into the local Manatee County Fair baby contest.

"It'll be fun! She'll do so great! And we could win $100 AND free tickets to the fair next year!" she enthusiastically shared with me.

Apparently, I'm an idiot. I nodded, smiled, and thought nothing of it. Yet, the closer the days grew to the actual event, I began to have a few misgivings.

"Are you sure?" I asked, "Don't you remember our watching Little Miss Sunshine?" She'd simply laugh off my concerns and we'd go our separate ways on the issue.

Finally, we come to the day. We roll out of bed early and head over to the local fairgrounds. Actually, we're there before the fair actually opens because the pageant starts that early. Thankfully, the younger contestants were being judged first. So, we pull into the parking lot and proceed to gather our belongings to head on in. As we're doing so, we began to take notice that there are a bunch of cars already in the lot. And we're watching some of these folks gather up their belongings and kids. They're pulling virtual wardrobes out of the back of their cars, touching up their children's makeup as they head down the dusty trail to the large tent where the pageant is to be held. This was a cause for concern as we pushed our stroller toward the tent of doom.

It really should be taken as a sign when the tent we were headed to was directly across from a large livestock area which was used for the judging of cattle and swine. This irony was not lost on me as I pushed the stroller into the bowels of the tent and found a seat. My son squirmed and tugged and tried my every ounce of patience as I waited for Erin to finish checking Peyton in. I took the few moments I had between Tyler talking, poking me, or making a run for it, to look around and check out the competion. Upon doing so, I felt it was time to go.

Turning one way, I was a woman enter with a bundle of clothing, a child in tow, and a virtual pound of regalia she proceeded to begin applying to her child. Looking the other way only brought my eyes to a young lady, this one not much older than four or five, her hair up in curlers, as her mother adjusted her outfit and applied a bit of blush to her cheeks. There was no place to turn that really held any new view. I instantly began to feel sick to my stomach. This was not right!

Before long, it was time for judging. My wife stood in a long, long line of women and men with their prospective children as they were paraded before the board of judges. I won't lie; there were some cute kids. It's just that they were all dolled up and dressed up and made to look far more uncomfortable than any newborn or one year old should. These kids should have been crawling around, spitting raspberries at one another rather than being made to smile for the judging panel! And before long, the judging was over.

It was a short while and the judges reached their decision. I know it's a shock, especially after you see the picture, that Peyton didn't win. And truthfully, she didn't have a chance one way or another. We came to find out that there were a number of areas she could be entered in, best hair, best eyes, best outfit, and some other random ones as well. We only opted for best eyes because the kid's got some beautiful eyes and well, we're poor so ponying up more money for more categories to help fund the fair didn't really make sense. This automatically took her out of any real running outside of the entered category. Bummer.

Needless to say, we won't be entering Peyton into any more contests anytime soon. We'd just as soon have her recognized for just being a cool kid as opposed to being put up on a butcher block to be judged. What a world! We're a bunch of crazy people!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

State of the Union

I am so, so, so very tired right now...