Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Uncle Royce

This week I went on a little adventure. I researched my uncle. Even though I've known him my whole life, even though he has been a staple in my life, and even though I knew his heart, I didn't know everything about him. I didn't know his childhood, for instance, his love of hunting, fishing, his meager years living through the Depression, his love of storytelling, and the way he played with his little dog Bubby Dean every night.
I didn't know any of those things.
When Aunt Shirley asked me to write his obituary, I went on a quest and found out the man I so highly respected and admired still had secrets - good secrets. It was a real joy to get to know him all over again, to learn he was everything I always knew and loved. But more.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love people. Because in all of God's creations, they are His prized possession. And the more of them I know, really know, the more I feel the same.

So meet my Uncle Royce:

Royce Thompson loved working with wood. It was his hobby. One of them.
Oak was his favorite wood. It was sturdy and beautiful and infinitely strong. He would work delicately and precisely, smoothing his hand along the fine surface, working in companionship with the grain, using the strength of the wood as the backbone of his creation.

In life, Royce Thompson was that oak.

Born to Loyal and Opal Thompson on Feb. 16, 1931 in Henryetta, Royce was the first of six brothers. The oldest. He stood tall and straight and lived his life in the same manner.
“He was very well behaved,” said Harry Treagessor, a life-long friend. “To his parents, he was very loving. He wouldn’t disobey them at all. You couldn’t find anything wrong with him.”
Harry lived for a time with Royce and his parents, boys who grew up on the tale of the Depression. They lived together, hunted together, fished together, even purchased their shotguns on the same day.
“We’ve been good friends ever since,” said Harry, who said he and Royce spent a recent hour reminiscing about their youth.
Royce participated in the Diversified Occupation (DO) program at Henryetta High School, graduating in 1949. He eventually would be a successful and well-respected business man in the flooring industry. Through the DO program, he learned the accounting side while working for August Burzio and the technical side while working for his father’s company, Thompson’s Floor Coverings.
At the age of 19, Royce married his childhood sweetheart, Rosemary Blakeley, on December 23, 1950.
“He was the best person I ever knew in my life,” said Morris Palmer. He and his wife Lola were close lifelong friends with Royce and Rosemary.
Two years after marriage, Royce welcomed his son, Randy, who became a successful computer operator at American Airlines.
“We took trips everywhere,” said his only daughter RaJeana, born April 23, 1965. “We went to Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and an across country trip from New York to L.A. It was just the four of us.”
Royce carved out a legacy in business, starting Royce’s Carpets and Draperies, a staple of the Okmulgee downtown for over 30 years. He had managed his father’s company until 1970, launching out on his own with a high-quality carpet business. He eventually closed his business to spend more time taking care of his aging father, who died in 2003, with his surviving brothers. He had lost a younger brother, Jimmy Thompson, at the age of 52 in 1992.

Royce had lost his wife on Dec. 19, 1989, two years after also losing his son. And for 15 years, he never remarried.
“We didn’t believe he would ever marry again,” said Glenn Thompson, his brother.
That, however, was before he met Shirley Hinds.
During a church camp held in Henryetta, Shirley walked into the kitchen and came face-to-face with her future husband. They were introduced by a friend.
“He told me, ‘I’ve got your (piano playing) tape in my car. I’m playing it,’” Shirley said, recalling their first conversation.
They fell in love and married a year later on November 20, 2004.
“He had such sincerity. You immediately felt this sense of being able to trust. He was so strong, so steady, so spiritual. He could make anything okay,” Shirley said.
They spent all their time together, working outside in the garden, playing with their dog Bubby Dean, and being with their family or friends or attending church events. And they loved working on projects together, singing and playing the piano together, and simply laughing together.
“He could absolutely crack me up. You knew when he was going to come up with something funny because he got that twinkle in his eye,” Shirley smiled in remembrance, loving Royce for the man he was. “I never felt so taken care of in my life.”

More than anything in his life, Royce loved reading the Bible. His passion in life was Jesus Christ.
He was baptized August 5, 1945 by Bro. Dave Crank and ordained as an elder in the mid-70s for The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn. He served the congregation faithfully and loved, above all, serving his Savior.

Royce passed away on Dec. 22, 2008 in Henryetta, leaving behind a family who greatly loves him, including:
his wife, Shirley of the home
his daughter and son-in-law, RaJeana and Robert Dobbs of Hobbs, New Mexico
four brothers, Harold Thompson of Henryetta; Glenn Thompson of Henryetta; Gary Giles of Indianapolis, IN; and Keith Thompson of Henryetta.
one sister, Sharon Wilkinson of Okmulgee
two step-daughters, Angela Hines of Tuttle, Oklahoma and Kimberly McCollom of Edmond, Oklahoma
three grandchildren
two step granddaughters
one step great grandson
and several nieces and nephews and other relatives.

The Knight, and a Man
By Randy Thompson
Jan. 22, 1971
(an excerpt from Uncle Royce's son's High School writing project)

“First, to be a knight, a man has to be worthy, proving that he can withstand punish and has enduring faith. This man I know is all of this and more. He has endured persecution and has been proven to be worthy above a shadow of a doubt.
“The knight has to be loyal to his kind or god the very same way this man does. A knight has to take an oath before being crowned knighthood so as to be loyal to his kind and guardian to his people. Also, he has to be meek with compassion. Again, this man, in comparison to the knight’s duty, is very much in the same manner. Instead of a king, there is Jesus, a king and a ruler in whom this man serves. He is meek with compassion and overflows, and best of all, this man is my father.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

ghost in the machine

Hey everyone, I meant to get back to blogging today. We even missed our Monday Fun. I never like to miss fun. But for some reason, a reason even the technical support at my domain host couldn't understand, my site just vanished for a day.
Perhaps it was on vacation.

It's back up now so I'll be posting tomorrow.

Sleep tight!

Tara Lynn

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

much love, from your grieved niece

Last night, my Uncle Royce died. Today, he lives.

He became so ill so fast. But that's over now. From now on, for eternity, he'll only know peace and joy and fun. He'll only be happy. He'll only ever smile, though he did quite a lot of that while here. He'll spend his days in glory and his nights will never again come.

Uncle Royce was a tall man, with straight posture and warm hugs. He always smelled like fresh soap and dignity. He talked softly and walked evenly. I knew him as stability, as the calm, cool presence in every kind of situation. He could sit so perfectly still. And in that stillness hold such ease. I never knew how he did that. I'm the fidgety type.

I have no memory, not one, of a moment he ever acted out in anger or selfishness. I've searched my brain. But even the thought of Uncle Royce being anything but kind stops short. He wasn't.

He walked a lot. I always admired that. His long legs took him to many places in many hearts. His knit shirt would be tucked neatly into his pressed slacks, his walking shoes laced securely, and off he went into his world of contentment.

One day, he met Shirley. And within an instant, a fire burned inside of him from then on. I never saw it dim, not even a moment, not ever with time. They giggled together. And I know he took some of that laughter with him.

I've tried to mourn for him, but I can't. I've only shed tears for myself, for Aunt Shirley, for my father, for my family, for all the souls my uncle touched. We lost something. He, however, has found it.

I have no way of knowing what he did today, though I'm terribly curious. But I know he saw his son again, finally, after 20-plus years of being apart, they finally embraced. And I know he met the Savior, perhaps sat at his feet, ever so calmly, ever so still, ever so much like only Uncle Royce could.

And then, just maybe, he took a walk. His long legs, stronger now, took him down the streets of gold, wearing his knit shirt tucked neatly into his pressed slacks with his shoes laced securely.

Today, Uncle Royce found life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fun

This Friday's laugh comes from the Red Green Show. This is what the Surgeon General means by, "Don't try this at home."
Or do. That could be funny, too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

7 years

A member of the New York fire department holds a picture of a September 11, 2001 attack victim, who was a New York firefighter, before a memorial ceremony in New York September 11, 2008. Throngs of family members of victims and others gathered in lower Manhattan for the annual ceremony. REUTERS/Chris Hondros/POOL (UNITED STATES)

Meet Tim, a 9/11 survivor from the 61st Floor. I first printed his story in 2001, reprinting again in 2006, and now, so we never forget, is Tim's story, which will always be a part of our own.


Tim Veldstra watched burning papers flap against the window from his view on the 61st Floor. It must have been an explosion. It could have been an accident. It had to be coming from the other building.
He walked out of the coffee room inside the World Trade Center, second twin tower, on September 11, 2001, and looked for an explanation. It was 8:45 a.m. on the infamous morning and Veldstra had no idea of what was happening.
He had been thinking about his wife and daughter back home in Tulsa when he heard a boom.
"It was like a ticker tape parade falling down in front of my window," Veldstra said.
He had flown into New York from Tulsa three days earlier on a three-week trip. Veldstra, a financial adviser, had been only briefly oriented with the building the day before.
"The first day up there the first thing you want to do is look out those windows," Veldstra said, concerning the World Trade Center. "We went around to all the windows on our break." From one window you could look down on Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Now beginning his second day and taking his coffee with creme and sugar, Veldstra left the break room and walked into the hallway to see a broken window and shattered glass on the floor. Believing an explosion had occurred in the other building, he walked around to the windows still looking for an explanation.
He was unaware of the dramatic sequence of events that had started their decent into history. The second tower, his building, would be attacked in a matter of minutes.
"I was in trouble and did not know it," but God did, Veldstra said.
Still on the 61st Floor, he heard the intercom system switch on and a man saying, "We need to evacuate the building. We need to use the stairs."
But where were the exits?

"I didn't see any exit for stairs, This was my second day," Veldstra said. He headed back into his office to grab his briefcase before heading to the exit. "Everyone else left everything - purses, wallets, laptop computers. They thought we would be back in a couple of hours."
Through the single door exit, he stepped into the small walking area.
"The staircase was no bigger than you would have in your house."
He had walked the sidewalks of New York his first night in town following a late dinner and had been shoulder to shoulder in a crowd. Now again he found himself in the midst of a crowd, many of them panicking, as they headed shoulder to shoulder down the narrow staircase.
"We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 60 there were people coming in. We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 59 there were people coming in."
Outside the narrow staircase now jammed with people, the world had begun watching. Every radio station broadcast the breaking news, every television program was interrupted, every life had tuned in to witness Veldstra's life.
"I had no fear at all. Some people did. Some people were terrified," he said.
Before he had left Oklahoma, Veldstra's trip had received a lot of prayers.
"My wife was just not feeling good with letting me go," he said. Every person they knew, every person they met, she would say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." They would go to Wal-Mart and see people they knew and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." Someone would call their house and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim."
As he walked down the stairs, Veldstra knew her feelings had prompted thousands of prayers on his behalf. When he had arrived in New York days earlier, he had called her the first evening, "See? I'm fine."
But now he understood.
The intercom switched on again. The man said, "Your building is secure," then incomprehensible words, and then a repeat, "Your building is secure."
The noise level in the staircase was too high, too crowded, too garbled for many to understand. Nonetheless, some turned away and headed back, perishing when the tower collapsed.
Veldstra kept on.
Feeling he had not yet found his explanation, Veldstra continued, one step at a time behind the person in front of him like the person in front of them, and so on, and so on.
The air had become muggy. It would eventually take him half an hour to climb down the tower.
Past the 31st Floor, Veldstra met with the second event.
Inside the staircase, the entire building moved from one side and then swing back to the other side, absorbing the shock from the second plane. However, inside, the wall to wall crowd knew nothing.
"People started screaming, pushing and shouting," he said. He needed to stop. he wanted to take a minute and consider stopping.
Up against the wall, Veldstra said people continued "coming by like a herd of cattle, pounding into my chest."
The panic had caused an increased pressure from people behind to move quickly. Although he considered stopping on a floor to escape the crowd, Veldstra started the descent again.
"We just kept going floor by floor by floor all the way from 61."

Less than 10 floors to go, smoke filled the already stuffy staircase. At Floor Seven, the smoke started and grew thicker as they continued down. Some covered their mouths with handkerchiefs or articles of clothing. He just prayed for an open door at the bottom of the staircase.
"I still did not have any fear, but I had all kinds of people praying for me," Veldstra said.
In the lobby, he was directed by security, firefighters, and police officers to head through the mall instead of exit out the front where feet of debris had been piled.
Now blocks away, the crowd was no longer pressed to keep moving.
Meeting up with fellow co-workers from Oklahoma, Veldstra and the group headed toward the hotel as he glanced up at the holes in the building, still unaware of what had caused it. Walking away, he heard a woman scream and turned around once more.
"There was something falling and I did not even know what it was," he said.
Then he comprehended. People were jumping out of the building.
"Seeing those people fall is the most sickening feeling. They fell so long," Veldstra said.
The seriousness of the situation met him at Ground Zero.
Although he would soon understand, Veldstra said he found it difficult to absorb the idea the situation had been hopeless for these people, so dire was the circumstance they leaped out the windows with no hope for survival.
A mile away, Veldstra and the Oklahoma group walked from behind several buildings to get their last chance at seeing the towers, but they had disappeared. The landmarks were gone, vacating the New York skyline.
"The first thing I see from the television in (my hotel) lobby is the plane flying into the building."
Now he had his explanation. now he knew what the rest of the world knew. He had escaped, thousands had not.
Veldstra said his experience is his testimony of God's goodness, a testimony he tells frequently since that day, a testimony he'll tell until his last day.

The World Trade Center site is shown Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 in New York on the seventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) are scheduled to visit the site Thursday.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Second time around

Facing the Giants guys are back again. Check out their new movie, "Fireproof", starring Kirk Cameron, coming Sept. 26.

Michael Monsoor: American hero honored

You probably don't know the name of Michael Monsoor.

Let's change that.

Here is a video tribute played during the Republican National Convention about Michael, a Medal of Honor recipient. Why don't you know him? Because our country's mainstream media, AMERICAN media, would rather spout statistics and rantings about the war, instead of praise the men and women in it.
So in St. Paul, Minnesota, inside the Xcel Center at the RNC, thousands sat and learned his name, while outside, protesters have attacked Republican delegates with poison, attacked their buses (while in route) with cement bags tossed over bridge overpasses, and broken windows in "peace" marches.

And act under the guise and abuse of their freedom, a freedom handed to them by Michael Monsoor.

Here's Michael.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Writing or something like it

I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.

- William Faulkner

Find out what you think. I'll help.

Tara Lynn


Class info:

Location: LaFortune Community Center/Kaiser Library

Tuesday nights: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
(beginning Sept. 9)

Wednesday mornings: 9-10 a.m.
(beginning Sept. 10)

Also: Special 5-week class especially for home-school children, age 12 and up.
Tuesday afternoons: 3-4 p.m.
(beginning Sept. 9)

To register, send email to

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The pen is mightier

They were mortal men, though made of metal not of this earth. The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were nothing more sensational or remarkable than anyone of us. Except one thing. They believed.
This wasn't about expressing a political view and being disliked, joked about on Jay Leno, gossiped about on the McLaughlin group, or broadcast on YouTube. Their act wasn't a media stunt, a sound bite, or a stumping speech. Their motivation wasn't from a Gallup poll or a Hollywood blockbuster.
They signed with their life.
This wasn't even a final act of redemption for a group of old men. Most were young, well-accomplished, highly educated, and seriously successful.

Out of the 56:
- 18 were under 40
- 3 were in their 20s
- 24 were judges and lawyers
- 11 were merchants
- 9 were landowners and farmers
- 12 were doctors, ministers and politicians

All were men with wealth and families, except two. They were men with their lives ahead of them and everything to lose. Yet, they signed. They committed treason, an act punished by hanging, an act performed though a British fleet anchored in New York Harbor.

This wasn't a boy's club, a place to sit and jaw and fan themselves while debating philosophy and economics. They would have no bodyguards to surround them, no armored car to whisk them away. They would sign. And their lives would cease to remain the same, if they lived at all.
And they knew it.
As Stephen Hopkins signed, his pen shaking, he said, "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

This is what they gave up.

Out of the 56:
- 9 died of wounds or hardships during war
- 5 were captured and imprisoned, each brutally treated
- several lost wives, sons or entire families
- 1 lost 13 children
- 2 wives were brutally beaten
- all were hunted down and driven from their homes
- 12 had their homes completed burned
- 17 lost everything they owned
- 0 defected

And because they deserve it, because we should know their names by heart, a little post signing biography. This is just a sampling of who they were and what they suffered:

- Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

- John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

- Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

- George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

- John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

- William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

- Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Special thanks to Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr who wrote such an inspiring speech about the men who gave away their freedom for our future. Thanks for offering more than just a history lesson. It's a glimpse into unabashed patriotism. And why we should expect no less from ourselves.
Read Mr. Limbaugh's speech
here. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Read it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Irregular quotes

Tara Lynn Thompson on Honesty in Medicine:

I recently went with a friend to the hospital. After examining her, here is what the doctor said, "I'm prescribing you some medication. After taking it, you will have terrible insomnia and won't sleep. Your strength will vanish. Life will feel like it is leaving you. You won't remember your own name. And because of swelling, you won't recognize your own face. Don't even try to eat, it won't stay down. Your joints will swell and you'll feel like Pinocchio before he became a 'real boy' and had rusty hinges for knees. You'll carry a brick around in your sinuses and your head may feel like exploding. You might want to warn your neighbors or any small children in the area because you'll be covered in a rash and acne. A suicide watch should be held around the clock. And if you stop taking it once you start, you'll pray a bus runs you down in cold blood. But you won't have a sore throat anymore. That should get better in about a week."
Actually, they said something like, "I'll write you a prescription for Prednisone."

For Kristin. May you never fill another prescription.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Endangering the species of men

I was told not long ago
by a female, friend, or foe
about the paradox of men
those hairy specimen

What they've lost and we can't find
A strength of character and mind
Leadership and heart combined
Someone wise and smart and kind

A timeless male of truth and grit
who tackles jobs and doesn't quit
He bares his teeth and stands his ground
and into dust injustice he'll pound

But instead, said she
we have a wannabe
not masculine or tough
but overly tanned and buff

their hair styled right
their teeth stark white
no overbite
their shirt too tight

She had a point, I must admit
the description too easily fit
men concerned with clothes and hair
worried by hangnails and skin too fair

Sipping coffee in their sandaled feet
wearing an ensemble complete
only sweating while in a gym
with the air controlled and the women thin

What to do, I really didn't know
But should on your path a metro show
Comment on their manicured toe
When they look down, go, go, go.

The Independent: Men effeminate due to fashion, says Kazakhstan President's daughter

Monday, June 23, 2008

The great and powerful OZ

(image from Warner Bros.)

The brilliance of the Wizard
(and a few general instructions thrown in)

- If there is a perfectly bricked yellow road, devoid of traffic and chewing gum, walk on it.
- When needing an excuse to do what you want, try "because, because, because, because, because."
- If going for a long hike across country, wear red, glittery high heels.
- Mapquest before traveling over the rainbow.
- Friends made of tin won't enjoy just singing in the rain.
- Never use the expression, "When monkeys fly," because they might.
- Skipping with your friends is a heart-healthy way to bond.
- Before crossing the street, look for motor vehicles and falling houses.
- If you take the shoes off a dead witch, make sure she's the only witch in the neighborhood.
- When pulled over for speeding, simply ask the officer, "Why, oh why, can't I?"
- You should never talk to strangers, unless they are made of straw, tin, or very curly hair.
- Take heart whenever it is offered.
- When trying to find yourself, check where troubles melt like lemondrops. If not there, check way above the chimney tops.
- Even without a brain, you can have good friends and a pretty girl.
- Hide behind a curtain, people never look there.
- If self-conscious about your size, add the word "great" to your name.
- People with green faces can never be trusted.
- Aquafina can be refreshing, as well as deadly. Drink responsibly.
- When crowds of people break into song and dance, there's no place like home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Living the Dream

Most people, when asked what they'd do with a large sum of money, say something like "take a vacation" or "buy a house" or even "pay off my bills." I'm not really into any of those things. I don't have money and I already take vacations, even if it means a good book, stretchy pants, and ten uninterrupted hours on my couch. I also have a home and, oddly enough, I usually even pay my bills. Well...most of the time.
If I had money, I'd do it differently. First, I'd drive 75 mph to Sam's Club, because fuel efficiency is for poor people. I'd go inside and purchase a Sam's membership, because using a friend's membership is for poor people. And I'd buy a container of blackberries, even though poor people can't afford $5 for 18 ounces of fruit.
Then I'd eat them.

The end.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Happily Ever After

Today, I was the server for the open bar at my friends nuptials. At last, a wedding that was all about me.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Heart Libraries

I made a new friend the other day - a Nigerian doctor here on a visa. He has decided to stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two reasons - racketball and the completely free, completely public, completely incredible library system.
What excuses do we use for a lack of education? I never know that one.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Next Season of Reality TV

For a little variety in reality television, a few ideas:

- The Amazing Waste: make garbage and litter, but do it quickly and in specific places.

- Prescriber: take these pills, if you survive, you move to higher prescriptions.

- So you think you can Stance: people stand around perfectly still. Until they start to drop.

- American Idle: do nothing. someone will enjoy watching.

- The Batchmaker: 25 girls bake cookies, one man eats the cookies.

- Smear Factor: take gooey substances, like pudding, smearing them on objects in a scary way.

- America's Next Pot Caudal: animals placed in a room filled with marijuana smoke. then judged on how well they walk.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Truth in Dentistry

There's a local dentist who is constantly romoted by local celebrities. The gist of the ads is how going to a dentist doesn't have to be unpleasant anymore. As I sat inside my dentist's office, under the glaring light, cotton shoved under my tongue, a sucking tube stuck in my mouth, and my dentist shoving a needle into my gums, I couldn't help but wonder, how the hell do you make this pleasant?

I'm tall. And I'm tough on crime.

My brother told me once God made me tall because my husband would be tall. I think God made me tall so I couldn't be mugged by short guys.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Truth: all that and a bag of chips

I thought I'd lost truth.

So I checked under the bed. I found a suitcase, an old canvas bag, and a box of beads during my "I'm going to make all my own jewelry" phase.

Truth wasn't there.

Perhaps, instead, it was stuck in my sock drawer. Other than my 37 pairs of white socks with various degrees of wear in the heel, nothing else was found.

Truth wasn't there either.

I rummaged my kitchen cabinets, jean pockets, sofa cushions, filing cabinet, storage closet, book shelves, trunk space, attic space, open space, and in the dryer.

Truth couldn't be found.

I took out an ad, one of those scrunched spots of ink in the back page of the classifieds. I wrote about my desire for it, my need for it, my thirst for one drop. And I included my email address.

Truth didn't respond.

I attended a political rally, sat on a church pew, went to work, took a class, took a drive, took a walk, took my blood pressure, no sign of it.

Truth was gone.

So tomorrow, and the day after too, about the time the sun rises, at the moment I awaken, I'm going to find it. I'm going to hunt it down with ferocity. I'm going to sniff it out. I'm going to grab everyone I meet by the shoulders, look them in the eye, and demand it. I'm going to beat back this diluted, politically correct, impotent limping excuse for what is real, what is reality, what is honest.
I'm going to rebuke and refuse this sycophantic, boot-licking, appeasing conjecture. And I'm going to strip it all down until I find truth - naked and untainted.

And I'm not going to rest.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What a gas!

Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Liberal. I'm ready for people to say what they mean and mean what they say. Or just shut up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Creamy, dry roasted, peanut-flavored purpose

I was hungry.
But just because the apartment had a refrigerator, didn't mean it had food.
My brother's place was a typical bachelor pad (this was premarriage). And visiting him periodically, I knew how to locate a few items, like dishes (in the sink), electronic devises (in every room), and everything else (in the closet). What I couldn't find was food.
He was out. I was there. And leaving wasn't an option. I had to stick it out for the evening. To survive this experience, I would need sustenance.
After hiring a detective, using a basset hound, and performing a Google search for "food in brother's apartment", I found a jar of Peter Pan - complete with a halo and glory light.
With a spoon, a clean one, and a glass of water, I leaned against the counter, intent on savoring my spoils. I dug in, dug the goop out, and shoved it in my mouth.
Peanut butter is one of those things you have to savor. Even if you don't like it, you have to. It doesn't give you much choice. It's so dry, so sticky, you must have a battle plan during consumption and a contingency in cases of contact with the roof of your mouth.
I had my water. I thought I was prepared. I was so wrong.
This wasn't peanut butter. This couldn't be peanut butter. This tasted like fat, like peanut flavored fat. It was like Crisco, but with a nutty hint.
What had happened to this Peter Pan? What was wrong with it?
I'm a health conscious individual.
Okay, I'm crazed with it.
I like authenticity in EVERYTHING - people, currency, and food. If I meet someone, I expect them to be themselves. If I'm given money, I expect it not to be counterfeit. If I'm eating peanut butter, I expect peanuts ground into a creamy or chunky spread. I expect peanuts and salt. And I expect nothing else.
In my house, peanut butter was peanut butter. It was the real deal. Take it to the bank. But this...this...inferior substitute was nasty. I decided to starve instead. There was nothing edible about it. In fact, I could no longer even call it peanut butter. From that point on, I called it fat with a peanut mixed in.
It's astounding, really, how easily we accept substitutions. Instead of friends, we have business associates. Instead of truth, we have politics. Instead of health, we have a pill. Instead of anything real, anything pure, we fill in the void with inferior replicas - synthetic, particleboard, genetically altered, fork-tongued doubles. And instead of seriously finding fulfillment, purpose, real worth in our lives, we settle for a raise at work, a bigger house, a younger spouse, a fancier title, a little fame, a lot of fortune.
In the end, all we really get is a nut flavored spread, instead of real peanut butter.
We could be living out lives with purpose in Christ, we could be exercising our talents, we could be amazed at how our dreams are small compared to God's dreams for us.
We could be really living.
We could.
Years ago, when I was a kid, I loved Peter Pan. It tasted good, went down easy, and satisfied my hunger. I had no idea something else was out there, something more real, more nutritious, more filling, more delicious, was just outside my box.
I'm not a kid anymore. I've experienced a little life, at least enough to recognize REAL people, REAL purpose, and REAL peanut butter. Anything else, including my once loved Peter Pan, is nothing but a cheap imitation.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The life and times of Gerdie

Gerdie is never late. She wakes with the sun, she sleeps with the moon. She always arrives on time.

Her birth name is Gertrude, a family heirloom that never quite fit. It was like a pair of shoes handed down three generations. By the time Gerdie got it, the sole was gone.

That's how she's always felt about her name. In fact, it was how she felt about everything, like she arrived a few generations too late. Born 60 years earlier, deep in the era of Dinah Shore and T.S. Eliot, her life would have been different, if not, at least, her CD collection.
Instead, she is encapsulated in the age of media overload and American Idol winners.

You could say that is Gerdie's obsession with punctuality. And you might be right. Then again, no one - least of all Gerdie - knows why she is always on time.

I met her on a Tuesday. She was humming a tune that sounded very much like "A Tree in the Meadow," a 1948 hit by Margaret Whiting. It was so faint, like a lark on a wind drifting from one gust to another. I wondered later if it had only been a harmonic ringing in my ears.

We didn't say anything. She was arriving at work. I was doing the same. She nodded and I nodded back. It was a greeting I've grown accustomed to over the weeks, like she is saying, "I already know everything you are going to say. Let's just get our work done."

I didn't take it as a slant. In fact, it felt more like a sisterhood. We were the only members of this society. Just her. Just me. Just our unspoken agreement to remain silent.

Without words, I've learned to read her movements, her moods, her tweets of frustration and her silent sighs in the afternoon. She has a sway to her movements like the offbeat rhythm of a jazz melody. Yet the job always gets done.

I'm a big fan of Gerdie. Or maybe it's her work ethic. I've faithfully greeted her every morning, nodding our understand as she soars to her task and I walk to mine. Piece by measured piece, she snaps together the puzzle of her work, the reason for her being. It's an instinctual craving, I think. I feel it, too.

Gerdie doesn't understand her purpose in life. At least not all of it. Yet she labors without a hitch, not knowing where it will lead, only that movement won't happen without action.

I admire Gerdie. She's a little small for her age and wears too much black. But she's building her future one small twig at a time. In the end, it could be a nest, or it could be a castle.

In honor of my little black bird who greets me each day. Thanks for the working companionship - you outside the window, me always beyond. I don't know your real name or your real history, but if we ever find a way to cross the communication barrier, this is what I imagined you'd tell me.
Just so you know, you are building a nest that will eventually destroy my porch roof. And I just refuse to stop you.
So build on Gerdie.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Me on air

Results Radio Show asked me recently to speak on the show about failure. When they asked I said, "Failure? Uh, yeah. I think I can talk about that."

The interview starts about three minutes into the podcast.

Here's the link:

Excuse all my "um"s.

Uh...okay. Thanks!

Monday, February 25, 2008

my favorite Martian

(Illustration by Brendon C. Thompson,

People keep asking where I've been lately.
Well...that's a funny story.

It was a Tuesday, if I recall. Though it felt like a Thursday, like Thursdays nearly always feel. I was driving to a friend’s house near Tulsa University, intent on my destination though somewhat distracted by a need to scan every radio station.
I turned into the first housing addition after the second light on the left side past the last entry, looking for house number 7810.
Then, as if rebelling against my repetitive station scanning, all the electronics in my vehicle went dead. A moment of complete and utter silence followed. Nothing sounded, not the breeze, not the trees, not a hive of bees.
Time had stopped.
I can't explain to you how I knew. I just knew. I didn't check my watch or listen for my internal clock or feel my aging stop. Time didn't exist because time no longer mattered.
Night turned white. A bright light overpowered even the deepest crevice in my vehicle, illuminating the interior of a Jeep I'd known for eight years, yet seemed like a stranger. I stared at my fingernails, seeking a site of comfort, of familiarity. Instead, they were glowing from the intense scrutiny of the ghastly strobe.
This couldn't be. This shouldn't be. But it was.

Yep, you guessed it. I was abducted by aliens.

That didn’t take that long though.

They took me to dinner at Charlestons. Me and my motley crew took an entire circular booth near the back.
I ordered the chicken with steamed vegetables, a mix of crunchy peas and too much broccoli.
They refused any earthly meat, opting for a side salad with a croissant and the chef’s soup special.
Then we went to Starbucks, had a decaf coffee, no crème, no sugar. And they left.

In all honesty, it was the best date I’ve ever had.

They dropped me off at my vehicle and scooted on back to their galaxy. They said it was a pretty long journey, being a few thousand light years away and all, and they still needed to run by the store to buy some cheetos and aluminum tubes of paint.
Reaching that awkward moment in the evening when it's time to say goodbye, but you don't want to create any miscommunication, I reached out my right hand for a shake. They opted to flip me the Vulcan sign while chanting, "Nannu, nannu."

Like a streak of lightning there as fast as it's gone, my little friends had vanished from the sky.

I got back into my jeep, determined to visit my friends. I was heading east, or so I thought, when I must have hit a rip in the space-time continuum. Instantly I was transported to Tulsa, Oklahoma, but back in the year 10,015 BC.
The earth was dusty and red with nothing but rocks and hills. I attempted to stop and figure out where I'd made a wrong turn when my tire collided with a nasty Neanderthal bolder.

Wouldn't you know it. I had a flat.

I can change a flat. But when you are a single female in a world some thousands of years before your time, it's a little frightening getting out of the car. Besides, other dimension or not, I couldn't use my cell phone because I was out of minutes.

It was up to me. I gathered a little courage, and climbed out, breathing air without a scent. There wasn't a whiff of anything anywhere. It was pure. I took a few deep breaths, sending that oxygen straight to my brain. It either reinforced my courage or gave me a zing of an air high because I felt just groovy.

In the process of unhitching my spare, two cavemen came along, lifting their dragging knuckles to motion that they'd like to help. I considered the options of allowing their chivalry or being dragged by my hair and graciously accepted.
Without a pause or scratch of their thickened head, they used the lug nut wrench and tire iron to finish the job and had me back on the road in no time. Again, it was that awkward moment of goodbyes. I tried the Vulcan greeting, feeling it a better option than shaking hands. They grunted something. We seemed to understand each other.

I decided I’d just reverse myself back into the present time. If I could drive forward into the past, I could drive back into the future. With a little directional guidance from my Cro-Magnon friends, I paralleled my Jeep through the dimensional rip and back to Tulsa, realizing I’d only lost about 17 seconds. I'd always been a good parallel parker.

It was then I decided to just head on home. I had oil smudges on my clothes from the tire and a few of my space friends during dinner had splashed soup on my shirt. I really wasn't presentable.

So I headed for the residential exit but got confused in all those cul-de-sacs and dead ends. I’ve been lost for six weeks.

A life like Leonard

Everyday I passed the sign.
It was posted in the hallway, thumb-tacked to the wall between the kid-sized bathrooms and adult-sized front desk. It read, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Since I was seven, since this was second grade, I believed it.
I didn’t, however, particularly enjoy apples unless cooked in butter, brown sugar, and topped with crust.
These days I’ve switched the apple with a cucumber – for the alkaline benefits. And I’ve never been a big fan of cucumbers either.
I prefer their more tangy, edgy, half-brother - the pickle.

Eating responsibly is an inherently adult trait. No more hands in the cookie jar. No more chocolate before bed. No more snacking on play-doe. No more being seven.
I’m not a child anymore. In fact, this year I turned…never mind.
My concerns have rotated from hoping mom packed something other than peanut butter and jelly for lunch to getting into better shape, getting another paycheck, fretting over Presidential elections, fretting over cancer predispositions, worrying about crime, worrying about my future, wondering why I'm really here.

It's what we call being an adult. Childhood is over. Now it's time to grow up and freak out about everything.
It seems being an adult isn’t all that much fun.

The other night I watched the movie, “Awakenings.” It’s an older movie, made before Robin Williams put on pantyhose as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and back when Robert De Niro still looked boyish.
Based on a true story, it’s about Leonard (De Niro), a man in a coma for 30 years who awakens after being administered an experimental drug by a shy doctor (Williams).
I’d never seen it before. If you haven’t either, skip this next part.
By the end of the movie, the drug begins wearing off, the paralysis and body ticks come back, and eventually one day Leonard stops moving again, back in his unresponsive world.

However brief it was, Leonard lived. Whatever time he had, he spent it. However unfair life was, he fought for it.
He loved life. Even though he had so little of it.
Leonard had a choice. He could use those few weeks of consciousness by mourning his lost childhood, distraught over his future, and overwhelmed by the damage inflicted on his life. He could have worried and fretted and feared away every moment given.
Or he could use that time to simply enjoy….well…everything, whatever he experienced, whomever he met, whatever the weather, no matter the circumstance.
He chose the latter.
Life isn't about wars between apples and cookie jars or about playtime verses bed time anymore. It isn't quite so simple.
But then again, maybe in our constant race to get somewhere, to be somebody, to accomplish something, to fix everything, to organize whatever, we've made it a tad too complicated. Why can't it, ever so often, just be about living?
He may not have gotten much to live, but I think Leonard knew a lot about life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the false identities of fear

I walked outside feeling the sun warm on my face.
And I thought, “Oh no, global warming.”

I got online to sign Al Gore’s visionary treaty.
And I thought, “Oh no, electronic pollution.”

I turned off the lights and sat on my carpeted floor.
And I thought, “Oh no, synthetic fibers.”

I went to my sink for a glass of cool water.
And I thought, “Oh no, chlorine poisoning.”

I dropped the glass, cutting my hand.
And I thought, “Oh no, staff infection.”

I began pacing my living room.
And I thought, “Oh no, sick house syndrome.”

I went back outside for fresh air.
And I thought, “Oh no, air pollution.”

I decided to take a drive to the country.
And I thought, “Oh no, automobile accidents.”

I took off down the street for a long walk.
And I thought, “Oh no, senseless violent crime.”

I decided to call a friend to ease my anxiety.
And I thought, “Oh no, cell phone radiation.”

I went back inside, shutting the blinds and windows.
And I thought, “Oh no, seasonal affective disorder.”

I stood in my foyer, paralyzed by fear.
And I thought, “Oh no, I’m paralyzed by fear.”

I sat down on the cold linoleum and began to pray.
And I heard God say, “No fear. Just trust.”

I walked outside feeling the sun warm on my face.
And I thought, “Oh yes.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Those red Jimmy Choos

There was a young lady who wanted a shoe,
If she could afford it, she wanted two.

But cut backs and drawbacks had emptied her purse.
She got so upset, she started to curse.

Outside she went, yelling at the sky.
Where old ladies and children were innocently nearby.

She covered her mouth and walked to the street,
Looking for a place she could bleepedy bleep.

She stood under a tree and started to shout,
But was interrupted by a neighborhood fella with gout.

“My toe’s the size of a melon, would you like to see?”
She replied, with annoyance, “What, are you crazy?”

She turned her back on him and started to spew,
The profanity came out first one, then two

“Hold it there honey, why so profane?”
“Don’t call me honey,” she said, “that’s not my name.”

“Tell me your troubles, maybe I can help.”
“Unless you have money, keep your advice to yourself.”

“Are you sick, hungry, lost or diseased?”
“No, but I’m about to kick you where you won’t be pleased.”

The man turned slowly, limping along.
He started to whistle a Barry Manilow song.

She plugged her ears but in her head couldn’t end
The tune of, “Ready to Take a Chance Again.”

“Look what you’ve done. That song’s in my head.
I hate Manilow. I like the Grateful Dead.”

He halted his limp and turned on his heel.
“I’ll stop whistling if you’ll tell me your deal.”

She rolled her eyes but finally agreed.
“My boss had financial trouble so I’ve been freed.

I need some shoes, ones I can’t afford.
Now, what in life do I have to live for?”

He considered her words, leaning on his good toe.
They made him irritated and decided to let it show.

“Let me get this straight, you want a pair of shoes?”
She nodded, thinking of those red Jimmy Choos.

“Here I’ve got gout, but feeling sorry for you.
Be thankful you can put on both pairs of shoes.
Did you not hear me? I’ve got gout.
And I’m not standing around, cussin’ about.”

He walked away, leaning heavily to one side.
She got a grip and went back inside.

A note to my readers

Since this is my blog, I get to write whatever the heck I want.
I've written story blurbs like the one following ("Charlotte and her pistachio crazed cabby") about a thousand times, give or take a few.
I just don't usually share.
Like nearly all writers, all unemployed specimens, and even most household cats, I've dreamed of writing the next great American novel, though I've considered learning Italian if it'll broaden my audience.
That hasn't happened.
I refuse, however, to give up the dream. Narratives often speak to me, even when people can't.
A good friend told me recently I should be writing everyday. Writing something I ENJOY.
That seemed like a new concept. The joy writing comes at the end of the day, after I've sent my resume to anyone with an email address, after I've applied for every possible freelance job, searched for freelance jobs not even listed yet, channeled freelance jobs in the future, attempted to travel in time to those future freelance jobs, and done 2.3 loads of laundry.
Then, after spending the day selling prospective clients on my freelancing skills and love/experience/thirst/knowledge/ease of writing, I just want as far away from a keyboard as possible. I want to read a book written by someone other than me or watch a movie written by really no one, as is the case with most movies.
I've decided my friend was right.
So here's what I'm asking of you: Keep reading.
It might be a bit odd at times, different than what I normally post, a little out there, a little in here.
But then again, it is my blog. And I get to write whatever the heck I want.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Charlotte and her pistachio crazed cabby

Charlotte climbed out of the vehicle, her legs weary inside control top pantyhose that rolled past the fat instead of keeping it in. Her black flats made a clog noise on the sidewalk, like the hoof of a horse. She wasn’t fat. She was just tired, and weary, and could maybe lose 12 pounds.
She leaned into the taxi’s passenger window, passing over a $20 and debating whether to let him keep the change. The drive had been monstrous. The cab smelly. And the driver had weaved more than once into the opposite lane, distracted by his sack of unshelled pistachios.
People should learn to eat potato chips, she thought. What was this world coming to when people couldn’t be trusted to snack responsibly?
Truthfully, she didn’t care. She was out of the vehicle, standing on the sidewalk of her apartment. He could start cracking lobster shells. She just wanted inside and to end this day.
“'Anks lay'e,” the cabby said, snatching the $20 with dirty fingernails, stained possibly by a previous snack. “Have goo night.” He stuffed the money into a mystery pocket behind his belly, keeping the shadows of his eyes on her. “No get," he said, moving his hand into a fist like grabbing air, "by gloom. Yes? Undstand? Uh, know?”
No, she didn’t know. She didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. She hadn’t known during the cab ride and she didn’t know now.
“What?” she said, the top of her head tipping in exasperation if not from the weight of her mud-colored hair clinging to her crown by jabbing bobby pins.
The cab grabbed at a handful of nuts, snapping the shells with those filthy fingernails.
“Gloom,” he said, the only word she had completely understood, while he popped a green nut into his mouth and rolling his black eyes out the windshield and into the heavens. He didn’t seem to have a neck so if had turned to see the dark sky better, she couldn’t tell.
Charlotte stepped back, a clumsy movement creating another hoof noise, and stood up as straight as her weary back would let her. A crack in her fifth lumbar vertebrae told the story of the night.
“Whatever,” she breathed out, shoving her purse strap back on her shoulder. She didn’t care about the sky. She didn’t even bother looking. It was grey. That’s all. Just grey. Like everything else. Nothing but grey. Her suit was grey, her purse was grey, her mood was grey, her life, or what was left of it, was just grey. Grey is nothing. It’s a little black, a little white.
If color represented life, I’d be in purgatory, she thought.
Charlotte turned, hoofing her shoes toward the grey stone steps that led to a shower, stretchy clothes, and maybe an entire bag of potato chips. She’d fulfill the cabby’s responsibility and eat them herself.
“Hey lady,” the cabby called, his nondescript, accented pronunciation slurring the sounds and spiking the pronunciation, making it sound like “holiday,” but with an “e”, not an “o”.
She kept walking.
She heard him. She could keep walking. She didn’t owe him anything. In fact, she should probably take back that tip. She took another clog step and turned around slowly, yanking out a particularly anal bobby pin near her temple.
She’d cut her teeth on southern charm. And in the south, rudeness wasn’t tolerated. Enemies smiled at each other, even while plotting war. So she couldn’t ignore him. Not yet anyway. The matter of seconds could swiftly change her mind.
She waited impatiently, the purse strap sliding off her shoulder again.
“Yeah,” she said, shoving the strap up again. Her legs ached, her head ached. She wanted to go inside and out of this - what did he call it? Gloom. The gloom would just follow her inside. But at least inside she could rip off these pantyhose, cutting their way to her rib cage and the salty Rueben sandwich she’d swallowed three hours ago.
“Gloom…” he said, leaning over the passenger seat and yelling out the window.
She could almost smell his raw, stagnant, pistachio breath from here.
“Yeah, the gloom,” she repeated with annoyance, about to lose that southern charm, rude or not.
“It only out'ide, see?” he pointed at the sky, the unlit buildings, the dimmed street lamps, the empty street littered with leaves and various remnants of paper from other lives, making a swift semi-circle with his pointer finger.
Her eyebrows met in the middle. What the heck is he babbling about?
“You no haf to take in.” This time he pointed to his throat or collar or maybe it was the faded logo on his red shirt that only said “sketbal”. "In," he said again, pointing to either his heart or an unidentified root bear colored stain on his shirt.
“You no haf to take,” he said again, slower and softer, instead of his previous yell, more like a repeated chant. “You,” he said again, his finger back into action and pointing at her. He held it there, like a branding iron against her consciousness. "No take." Then his finger turned upward, into the smog hovering just above the street lights. “Him,” he said, moving his finger higher into the sky, onward toward the Milky Way, toward undiscovered planets, or maybe toward something altogether more vast. "Him take."
That was all. That was it.
Charlotte swallowed past her dry belief. Was he saying what I think he’s saying?
The cabby smiled, the expression like that of a golden retriever. It was difficult to know if it was a smile or simply the pulling back of the lips. His mouth could be puckering from all the salt on the pistachio nuts, for all she knew.
But it looked like what one generally calls a smile. An honest smile.
The smile nodded, plastered on the head doing the same motion. Then he disappeared within the shadow of the vehicle and it rolled away, crunching litter and leaves as it departed.
Charlotte stood, half dazed, half confounded, halfway between the street and steps.
I think he was saying what I think he was saying. I'm almost sure he was saying what I think he was saying.
She finally looked up, into the grey, into the halo of darkness that shrouded the night. She couldn't see Him. She couldn't even feel Him. But maybe, just maybe, He was there nonetheless.
Maybe this place isn’t as God-forsaken as I thought.
She turned toward her apartment. Maybe I’m not either.
Charlotte walked up the stairs, the clogging of her shoes now a light, repetitive tap, her pantyhose forgotten.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sonic, My Love: a ballad by El Paulo

(A Valentine's love poem not for the high-cholesterol of heart, written by my friend El Paulo for all those tator tot lovers out there. Thanks El Paulo for this glimpse into your clogged artery heart. May your limeades be fresh, your fries be crisp, and your burger always have cheese.)

Oh! My dark mistress

Sonic, the evil one

Dark and twisted

Tasty and yummy

I long for you…

Yet resist you I must!

For you bring bad things


Yea, badness to my body

Yet the ride is so sweet

So smooth

So tasty!

Many drink combinations

Two are enough for me

Melinda and Aimee

Know me by name

Also Jeri and the new girl.

You think I’m kidding-

I’m not.

As though I were Norm

Everybody knows my name.

And gives me extra cherries

Really, that can’t be good for me.

What twisted genius

Opted to serve breakfast

Before when I drove by.

You were dark

Dark and foreboding!

In the first morning light

Yet speaking of evil

Soon to come.

Now you are open

And serve breakfast burritos

Loaded with unspeakable delight

Steak, egg, and cheese.

You tempt me

In my weakness

You shame me in my lack of discipline

And loathe was I to find out

On Memorial

It’s open 24 hours

It must not be so!!

I find myself pulled there

By its evil spell

I claw my way back

Away from its allure

Oatmeal for me

With dried craisins!


Lack of cash does not bar the door

The gateway it locketh not.

It beckons with credit

So easy.

Swipe and wait

On their bountiful goodness

The carhop brings the bounty

To my trembling hand.

Oh Sonic

Would that I could sleep next to you

And cuddle you in my arms

Despite the coldness of your concrete

You make me warm inside.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Quest for Faith

He stood there with his hand over his heart. This was the moment. This was the last step.

Soon, the end would come. The answers would come.

He'd know.

But for now, in this moment, he had nothing. No promise. No fateful conclusion. No prophetic understanding.

He only had the sweat on his face, the fear behind him, the fear before him, and his father near death.

Indiana Jones stood at this precipice. There was no way across, only endless nothing below. He needed to step out. But onto what? He must step, needed to step, was destined to step out.

"You must believe boy. You must," his father whispered, in a feverish delirium dying from a gunshot wound.

There, at the Lion's head, he had only once choice – faith. He HAD to step out on faith. There was no way across, no other option. This bottomless trial couldn't be jumped over, flown across, climbed over or ignored. His trust whip was useless.

He had to walk it, even into the middle of only air, even in the existence of nothingness.

He placed his hand over his chest, trying to still his racing pulse, and made the choice. Because it was a CHOICE. He decided to believe. Then, and only then, did he lift his left leg, stretch it out, and step into nothing he could see or feel, hear or touch, know or a understand. Nothing.

And that is where he found sure footing. There, before him all along, was a solid path, made of stone, immovable and unbreakable. It was carved into the very foundation of the rock.

From his perspective, this was giving up his life. But from a different angle, you could see the truth. He had been perfectly safe all along. That rock path had been there forever and would be there forever. But he didn't find it, not until he stepped out first.

Okay, so it's only a movie. A great movie, but a movie nonetheless. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. A timeless piece of cinematographic history.

But I watched it today. I sat here, fighting a constant trial that refuses to release me, wanting to escape to any other reality be it in a book or movie. And I watched this, seeking disillusionment but finding, possibly, a bit of clarity instead.

A friend recently told me to embrace inadequacy. Love it. Because that's when God moves.

"God can't use you until you're inadequate," she told me. "That's when God gets excited. Have you any idea how excited he gets?"

I didn't.

I sat there listening to her feeling every inch of inadequate and wanting more than anything to see God move. But that was days ago, an eternity it seems, infinite time in the realm of inadequacy. And yet here I still am, no sign of movement.

It's been a tough lesson for me lately. This whole business of faith. What is it exactly? How much are we expected to have? How often are we suppose to use it? And how far can it stretch before it begins tearing and shredding at the seams?

Who knows.

I can't say an answer has come. I reach the end of my faith only to find I'm expected to continue on. And somehow, by spoon fed grace, I appear to keep moving.

It's a mystery and a forgone conclusion at the same time. I cannot explain God but I can always depend on Him. I cannot determine His actions but I can always know His heart. This is the only thread of faith I have. And perhaps it's all that's needed.

I watched Indiana, struggling with this last trial before reaching the Cup of Christ, and saw myself. I wasn't standing there on the ledge. And I wasn't standing on that solid path to my future either.

I'm in the in-between.

I'm just here, holding my heart, trying to calm my racing pulse, feeling the sweat on my face, the clamminess in my hands, the trembling I can neither pinpoint to my stomach, knees, or knowledge.

I'm just here. I'm raising my left foot, preparing to step out, and finding the moment interminable in length, though it is nothing but a moment.

Because if my faith is right, and Jesus promises me it is, then this bottomless trial is nothing more than scenery beside a surefooted pathway. This is just the step before hitting solid ground.

Thanks Indiana. I needed that.

(Dedicated to Annie)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

When failure tastes like chicken

It's not you, it's me

I've had a few "just friends" conversations. Both from the giving and receiving end. There is no good way to say it. No good way to get it.

This is a big, red stop sign, punctuated by a red, hot poker. You aren't going anywhere. Stop trying to rev the motor.

Freelancing doesn't feel much different. Every time I send out my resume, my writing, my cover letter that's equal parts wisdom, equal parts wit, I'm courting that prospective client.
Basically, I'm saying, "I think I like you. Do you like me too?"

They look me up and down, consider it, and either introduce themselves or pivot on their heel and saunter off - flipping their hair (if they're female) or flipping you off (if they're male).
You just want a chance, a first date. Nothing overly elaborate. You aren't asking for a commitment, at least not yet.

This is a simple dinner of 500 words or so, maybe a sidebar for dessert. And at the end of the night, maybe a warm handshake and a phone number.

Too often, however, it's silence. It's complete oblivion. They don't know you. They don't want to. If you keep loitering, they'll block your emails and tell all their friends in gym class that you're lame.

Rejection sucks. And if you're working it right, sending out 20-plus inquiries a week, that's a lot of rejection fat to swallow. Soon, it starts tasting like defeat, which happens to taste a lot like chicken.

Before long, you'd rather skip the whole process, take a vow of writing celibacy, and forget about this freelancing gig. Maybe you aren't cut out for it.

Maybe so.

Or maybe you love writing too much to quit, maybe writing is everything you never knew you always wanted. Maybe failure - like success - is just part of the process, a real, necessary, refining, defining, illuminating, transforming, reforming, educational part of the process.

I'm not much for peppy sayings and motivational ranting. However, this quote from Thomas Edison, just seems to say it all, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

He knew failure, almost always, almost without hesitation, arrives early to the party without a hostess gift. It will come. But that doesn't mean it must stay.

Just so we don't feel alone, here are a few people who knew failure and rejection, but didn't stop until they also knew success:

- The Beatles - recording company turned them down, didn't like their sound, said guitar music was on its way out.

- Lucille Ball - dismissed from drama school, saying she was wasting her time and too shy to show her best.

- Michael Jordan - cut from his high school basketball due to a lack of skill.

- Walt Disney - first cartoon production company went bankrupt.

- Bill Gates - dropped out of Harvard University.

- Abraham Lincoln - suffered 12 major failures before elected President.

- Ludwig van Beethoven - his music teacher said as a composer he was hopeless.

- Steven Spielberg - dropped out of college, finally earning his bachelor's degree 33 years later (after an Oscar and a few successes like, oh, a little movie trilogy called "Indiana Jones")

- Albert Einstein - thought to have mental handicaps as a child.

- Marilyn Monroe - dropped by 20th Century Fox because producer thought she was unattractive and couldn't act.

- Barbra Streisand - debuted in a stage show that opened and closed in one night.

- John Grisham - first novel rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishing houses.

- Henry Ford - first two automobile companies failed.

We, my writing friends, are among the greats. So go on. Fail.

Just don't let it have the last word.

(Posted on The Writers Bridge,, to freelancers, writers, and anyone unwilling to give up.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Unemployment Mantra

I'm awesome, cool, stupendous
You should see me wash your winda's
Not a print, a streak, a spot
I'll heal your walls of dry rot
Rake and bag those pesky leaves
All for a minimal of fees
I can do everything, I can
With a spreadsheet, pen or dustpan
Clip your nails and cut your hair
Change your tire without a spare
Answering phones professionally
Instead of coffee, steep your tea
I can lift 50 pounds or so
Stocking shelves with sweet-n-low
I'll clean up spills on aisle nine
And leave behind a hint of pine
Don't worry 'bout that irate customer
I'll talk them down from their bluster
And by the time my charms are done
They'll refuse that full refund
I can preen and primp and sell
That sweater, stock or Toyota Tercel
Show me a family ready to invest
I'll sell them a condo in Budapest
I can 10-key 80 characters or more
Laundering those funds just offshore
They'll return in clean masses
Free of fees and even taxes
I'll cross all 't's and dot that 'i'
And feign ignorance when you lie
I'm great at everything, look no more
Hire me so I'll no longer be poor