Sunday, July 31, 2005

Get It Sorted!

I blame Annabel for today’s exertions. I have been reading about her efforts to clean out her garage and it was contagious. I spent all day cleaning out mine as well and now my car is safely parked indoors.

I had to move Charlie’s antiques that were stored in it to under the basement. One lift truck and many sore muscles later, I finally got it all accomplished. I am now going to turn on the air conditioner and collapse in my bed. I have had enough moving and rearranging for a life time.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sam and I

I had another birthday party to attend today. It was Charlie’s youngest son’s 34th birthday. He is a year older than me. He is autistic and still loves stuffed animals and toys for gifts. I dragged myself down to the dreaded Wal-Mart and purchased him a “Police Action Set”. It included handcuffs and he loves handcuffs for some reason so he was thrilled by the gift. He carried it around for most of the evening smelling it and thumping it with his index finger. He also loves cans of shaving cream and got quite a few wrapped in wrapping paper and tied with ribbons. I thought it was neat that the people involved would take the time to wrap those cans.

Charlie’s son also has to go see a movie every Saturday and to the mall. He hires Sandra to do this. I have known Sandra since I was a little kid as she is good friends with my mother. Sandra brought her granddaughter Samantha who I affectionately call Sam to the birthday party. Sam is eight years old and just loves me for some reason. She will not leave my side and will follow me everywhere I go.

I hadn’t had a cigarette for over two hours and was desperate. I didn’t want to smoke in front of a little kid and tried to sneak out without Sam noticing. She saw me step out Charlie’s back door and followed anyway.

I sat down on the back steps of the back door. Sam sat down next to me. It thundered loudly off in the distance.

“What makes it thunder?” Sam asked.

“Well, you see, there are these thunder gnomes,” I said. “When they get angry they stomp around their rooms really fast and disturb the air causing thunder.”

Sam laughed with glee.

“Stop being silly,” She said. “I know what causes thunder.”

“Then, why did you ask?” I said.

“I just wanted to see if you knew,” She replied.

The urge for a cigarette overcame my inhibitions. I reached into my pocket, pulled one out, put it into my mouth, and lit it. Sam watched intently as I did this. I stood up so the smoke wouldn’t disturb her.

“You know, smoking will kill you,” She said.

I took a few more puffs feeling guilty.

“Doesn’t it burn your throat?” She asked.

“No, you get used to it,” I replied. “It does burn the first few times you try it.”

“I wish you wouldn’t do it,” She said. “I don’t want you to die.”

I put out the cigarette on the pavement and put the butt in my pocket.

“I will never smoke again if you promise me you never will as well,” I said.

“Yuck, I ain’t never going to smoke,” She said.

“You promise not to?” I asked.

“I promise,” She said. “But you have to quit as well.”

I promised her I would never smoke again. I know I lied but I didn’t want to disappoint her as she so looks up to me.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Intimate Encounters of the Passionate Kind

We met at my brother’s wedding. I will never forget the moment she entered the room of the reception. She was my sister’s best friend during their childhood. I hadn’t seen her in years. Now, she was this grown and voluptuous woman. I almost didn’t recognize her.

My last memory of her had been this frumpy, young teenager listening to the Back Street Boys with my sister in her bedroom. Then, I had no interest in her at all. She said she had this terrible crush on me at that time but I never paid her any attention.

“You look so beautiful,” I said as she walked by. “You look so different.”

“Thanks,” She said as she looked back at me over her shoulder with a smile as she walked towards the band to dance.

I picked up a glass of champagne and took a sip. I watched her from across the room. I could see her catching occasional glimpses at me. We both smiled. I held up my glass towards her and she responded in kind. I was too shy to go over and start up a conversation.

The reception came to a close and everyone said their goodbyes and well wishes to my brother and his new wife. I watched as she walked out of the country club and got in her car. I thought that would be the last time I ever saw or heard from her again.

The next day at work, I was sitting in my office at the computer entering data from our latest research study. I checked my email and there was this enticing message:

I think you are cute. I enjoyed seeing you at the wedding last night. Let’s get together soon.

She had found my email address on the University’s webpage. I emailed her back and we set a date to go out after a few exchanges.

Our date went well. We went to a movie and out to eat. I spared no expense. I drove her home and we sat in her driveway. We kissed intimately and with great passion after a few awkward moments of indecision and silence.

“Well, I need to head on to bed,” She said. “It is getting late and I have to work tomorrow.”

“Let me walk you to the door,” I replied.

I got out of my car and walked around to open her door. We both walked hand in hand to her porch. We embraced and kissed passionately again at the threshold.

“Come on in,” She said as she opened the door and pulled me inside.

We were standing in front of her television in the den as she started to unbutton my shirt. I felt her soft hands reach inside it and embrace me. The feel of her soft, feminine hands on my back was tantalizing.

“I have waited for this a long time,” She said. “I have waited for this ever since we were teenagers.”

“Don’t you think this is too soon?” I asked.

She put her index finger up to my lips and told me to hush then she started to unbutton her shirt. She reached around and let loose her bra. We couldn’t undress fast enough between bouts of passionate kissing.

I will leave the rest up to your imaginations. I ended up married to this woman a few months later. It was a whirlwind of a relationship. We had many grand times and sad times as well. Those first few months of passionate bliss should be the ones I try to remember the most. I enjoyed reminiscing over them tonight and putting this one down on digital “paper”.

A Quiet Day Other Than the Weather

My power was out for most of the day. We had some severe storms blow through and linger for most of the afternoon. It steadily poured rain for hours. I sat in my lounge chair, smoked my pipe, and reread old issues of Model Railroader magazine. I reveled in the silence and peace. Everything was so peaceful after the storms subsided. The only sound was that of the rain softly falling and an occasional rumble of thunder.

Tonight, I was reading by candlelight in my den. I had all my windows open and the cool, night breeze was refreshing. Suddenly, the power kicked back on and the sound of silence was broken by everything electrical and mechanical whizzing and clicking back to life. The soft glow of flickering candles was washed out by the harsh, bright glow of incandescent bulbs. I was almost tempted to turn everything back off again and continue with reading by candlelight, but the lure of my computer and the internet distracted me. Like a moth drawn to the flickering flame of my candles, I was drawn to the fluorescent glow of my monitor to find out what had happened during my online absence.

A Forlorn Epilogue

We met at my brother’s wedding. I will never forget the moment she entered the room of the reception. She was my sister’s best friend from their childhood. I hadn’t seen her in years. Now, she was this grown and voluptuous woman.

“You look beautiful,” I said as she walked by.

“Thanks,” She said as she looked back at me over her shoulder with a smile as she walked towards the band to dance.

I picked up a glass of champagne and took a sip. I watched her from across the room. I could see her catching occasional glimpses at me. We both smiled. I held up my glass towards her and she responded in kind.

The reception came to a close and everyone said their goodbyes and well wishes to the newlyweds. I watched as she walked out from the country club and got in her car. I thought that would be the last time I ever saw or heard from her again.

The next day at work, I was sitting at my computer entering data from our latest research study. I checked my email and there was this enticing email:

I think you are cute. I enjoyed seeing you at the wedding last night. Let’s get together soon.

She had found my email address on the University’s webpage. I emailed her back and we had a date. I was ecstatic.

Our date went well. We went to a movie and out to eat. I drove her home and we sat in her driveway. We kissed intimately and with great passion.

“Come inside,” She said.

“It is getting kind of late and I…,” I started to reply.

She held up a finger to my lips and I got quiet.

“Come on,” She said as she held out her hand.

I remember standing in front of the bed as she unbuttoned my shirt. I was a nervous wreck. She reached inside my open shirt and hugged me. I pulled her ever closer. The feel of her soft hands on my back was tantalizing.

“I have waited for this a long time,” She said as she pulled me towards her bed. “I have loved you ever since we were kids.”

Well, I will leave out the x-rated parts but we did make love. A few months later I was engaged and soon to be married. I just wish those passionate first few months would have been carried out over the two years we were married. That would have been bliss.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

How Not To Find Love on the Internets

This happened years ago before I got married. I got in the habit of chatting on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) every night in a certain chat room. I was new to the internet and found it fascinating you could converse with so many people scattered across the world. I soon started to private chat with a lady with whom we shared a lot of interests and ideals. Within a matter of time, we were also emailing everyday. I looked forward to her emails and grew attached to her. She had also grown attached to me.

Emails blossomed into talking on the phone. The hard thing about this was that she lived in San Francisco, California and I lived in Alabama. I found a web dialing service called where I could make long distance calls for free over the internet. That solved the problem of the escalating costs of our multiple hour chats on the phone every night. I had an over two hundred dollar phone bill one month and it liked to have left me broke.

We exchanged many pictures and she was gorgeous. She would send me these cute little cards and letters in the mail that smelled of her perfume. She even started sending me gift boxes with compact discs, neck ties, and other things she thought I would enjoy.

We had been talking for months now very intimately. I had a long weekend coming up from work and decided to buy a plane ticket for San Francisco and fly out. I wanted us to finally meet. We talked on the phone about it and she acted VERY strange and tried to persuade me from coming. By this time, I had fallen in love with this woman and was smitten.

A few days after that I got a strange email from a man that shocked me. It went like this…..


I appreciate what you have done for Teresa (I thought her name was Patti.) I am her husband, Avery. Teresa lives in a house that I bought for her and I try to keep her up. She is not able to get around much due to her weight. Thanks so much for giving meaning to her life. She cares about you very much.


I went into to total shock. I had invested tons of time and money into this relationship and it was a total sham. Her real name was Teresa Coulter and not Patti. She weighed over 400 pounds and could barely get around. She was also twice my age. The pictures she had sent were of her much younger and less endowed sister. I felt completely betrayed and swindled.

I completely cut off ties with her after that but it continued to hurt deeply. She would send me countless emails everyday trying to get me to talk to her. I was not so mad about her age or weight but the fact that she had lied to me and deceived me. I would have been her friend and confidant if she would have been honest with me as I did enjoy our correspondence and communication.

A few years later, after I had gotten married, I got a strange phone call one afternoon. Rachel picked up the phone and then handed it to me.

“Sweetheart, it’s for you.” She said.

“Who is it?” I asked.

“Some man,” Rachel said. “I don’t know.”

“Jonathon?” The strange voice asked. “It's me, Avery, Teresa’s husband.”

“Oh, hello there,” I said nervously.

“I just wanted to let you know Teresa passed away this morning in the hospital due to complications surrounding her weight,” He said. “I lost the love of my life.”

I gave him my condolences and tried to comfort him. I really felt sorry for the guy but I had no feelings what so ever for Teresa any more. I know that sounds callous but I had never been betrayed like that in my whole life. I was sorry she had died but I had more feeling for Avery.

I hope this story is a reminder to be careful with whom you talk to or meet on the internet. Sometimes, people are not always what they seem or pretend to be.

Mozilla FireFox Rocks!

Okay, I found this browser by accident when using Blog Explosion. I have been using it a week and will never go back to Internet Explorer. If you ever use tabular browsing, you will be hooked. You can just right click on any link and open it in a new tab and not open a new window. You can easily switch between tabs as you browse page to page. Awesome stuff and it is a very small download. This browser is also much more secure as far as spyware and adware are concerned than Internet Explorer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Pay per View Player

Playa or Player is a slang term for men who get lots of women and sex.

Late this afternoon, I decided to walk down to the shopping center to the little Asian restaurant that surprisingly sells some of the best burgers in town along with fried rice and other things. This is the same shopping center where the Piggly Wiggly resides. I had called ahead and ordered two hamburgers, all the way. I walked down to pick them up.

I picked up my burgers and walked over to the bench by the Pig to sit down and eat them. Slop was sitting there as well. I sat down, pulled one out of the bag, unwrapped it, and took a bite. You could see Slop’s mouth water as he licked his lips. He watched me intently while wiping the sweat from his brow.

“You couldn’t spare dat other burger, could you?” Slop asked.

“Slop, get your own damn burger,” I replied.

“Come on, man! Dis brotha be hungry,” Slop said.

Don’t worry. Slop hasn’t been missing any meals.

I got quite full after eating only one and handed the other burger to Slop. You would have thought I had handed him a bar of gold he was so happy.

“I really owes you one my friend!” Slop said as he proceeded to engulf the burger.

By this time, George came pulling up to the front of the store in his infamous Dodge Diplomat. An elderly black lady climbed out of the car and proceeded towards the entrance to the Pig to buy her groceries. George turned off the car and walked over to sit down with us.

“Whazzup, my brotha,” George said as he held out his hand for me to clasp it.

I shook his hand as he sat down next to me and Slop. He reached in his shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cherry hinted cigars. He placed one in his mouth and then held out the pack towards me. I reached in and grabbed one as well. We both lit them up.

“George, I sho be needin’ a dolla,” Slop said.

“Fuck yo fat black ass, Slop!” George said. “You god damned lazy ass nigga!”

Slop just chuckled as always.

“You been speakin’ to yo ex-wife?” George asked as he turned to me.

“No and thank goodness,” I replied.

“I need to see about getting you two back together,” George said. “I ain’t talked to her in a while.”

George is under the delusion that he somehow knows Rachel and that they have spoken several times in the past. This is just hilarious to me.

“George, you would be doing me a favor if you just left Rachel alone,” I said playing along.

George leaned close to me and whispered, “Everyman has his needs.”

“George, if my needs get that bad, I have a perfectly functioning hand,” I replied.

George laughed.

“Yo ass know dat ain’t the same,” George said. “A man’s gotta get some lovin’ from a real woman.”

“George, when was the last time you had a woman?” I asked.

George got a big grin on his face as he blew out cigar smoke.

“I be a playa,” George said. “I be gettin’ some last night.”

“How much did you pay for it?” I asked.

Slop burst out laughing. George yanked off his cap and hit Slop with it trying to shut him up.

“Well, did you pay for it?’ I asked again.

“I only paid twenty bucks,” George said. “But it sho was some good pussy!”

We all laughed. George is a “pay-per-view” player.

“Well, man,” I said as I stood up. “I am gonna to head to the house and settle in.”

“I be talkin’ to Rachel tonight,” George said. “Keep a look out for her.”

“Later, man.” I said as I chuckled and walked on home.

The Day of the Phone

The day started out with only one snafu. I had left the air conditioner on high last night and my apartment was just freezing this morning when I woke up. I climbed out of my bed, donned my robe, and sleepwalked into the kitchen. I yawned very expressively with out stretched arms and proceeded to cook some bacon and toast. I also got a big pot of coffee going.

After breakfast, I shuffled to the back door to light a cigarette as I held a hot mug of coffee. I stood on my door stoop for all the neighborhood to see me in my robe adorned glory. I was still too sleepy to care.

The phone rang. I put out my cigarette and walked to the phone.

“Hello?’ I said.

“Andrew, this is your momma,” She said as she always does as if I would not instantly recognize her voice.

“Hey mom,” I said.

“Don’t forget we are going out to eat tomorrow night,” She said.

“I won’t forget,” I replied.

“I will pick you up at fifteen till five,” She said.

We said goodbye and hung up the phone.

I was having a hard time getting going today and was just mulling about the house. It was too damned hot to really get out and do anything. I even dreaded going on my daily hike.

The phone rang again.

“Hey man! It’s Doug,” The voice said.

It was my sister’s husband.

“I need your computer expertise,” He said.

He wanted to know if he should update from Norton anti-virus 2003 to the 2005 version. I told him 2003 did the same thing as 2005 and it would be a waste of his money. He would just get a flashy new GUI and probably more bloatware.

I hung up the phone.

The phone rang again an hour later.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Jonathon, did Doug manage to get you?” My father asked.

“Yeah dad, I helped him out,” I replied.

“Well, your sister had called earlier to see if you were home as Doug needed to talk to you,” He said.

“I got him straightened out,” I replied.

We hung up the phone.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rang again.

“Fuck,” I muttered under my breath as I can go days without the phone ringing.

“Is this *insert residents name*?” the female voice said.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Sir, I would like to know if you would donate a small amount to the Alabama Sheriff’s Girls and Boys Ranch association.”

I especially hate when I get solicited over the phone. I am on the “Do Not Call” list but not for profits can still call.

“No thanks,” I said. “And please take me off your call list.”

She was nice and said she would.

The phone rang several more times today but you get the jest of the story. I spent most of the day on the phone. Some conversations were quite pleasant though and I enjoyed them but I feel as if I were thrust back to the days when Uncle Bob would call ten times a day and not leave a message.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Onwards to the Stars

The scene is January 28, 1986. I was fourteen years old. I had just had my tonsils out and was home from school for the week. My father also happened to be off from work. I was eating a pint of strawberry ice cream as that was all my sore throat would allow. We were sitting in the den watching the count down of the launch of the space shuttle Challenger.

3…2…1…Ignition began, the booster rockets fired, and the great vehicle was lifted from the launch pad and into the sky.

“Isn’t that just incredible?” My father said.

The shuttle climbed ever upwards for what seemed like minutes.

“Challenger, go for throttle up,” The control person at NASA said on the television.

I looked intently at the screen as the great space craft picked up speed and soared into the heavens. It climbed ever higher until something went wrong. The steady trail of exhaust from the vehicle suddenly burst into a chaotic maelstrom of smoke and fire. The booster rockets went flailing about mid-air still alit and separated from the space craft.

“Dad?” I asked. “What happened?”

“Shit, son.” He said quietly as he stood up from his lounge chair. He paced back and forth in front of the TV screen.

I knew then that something grave had happened. I kept quiet and sat my pint of ice cream down on the coffee table. I was no longer hungry.

“I think the damn thing just blew to high heavens,” Dad said.

It is funny how such experiences seem so vibrant in your memory. I am 33 years old now and I can recollect that day as if it had happened yesterday. I can still taste that strawberry ice cream and vividly remember the look on my father’s face as it unfolded.

Today, as I watched Discovery go through the same process on the television, my stomach was in knots and the tension was almost unbearable. I heard that familiar queue to throttle up from many years earlier in my childhood. The shuttle continued to climb and finally made it into orbit. My eyes became wet with tears but I didn’t cry. After two and half long years we were finally back in space. Now, if we can just get those seven brave souls home safe and make space travel a routine affair again, I will be ecstatic.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Magical Birthday Gift for a Little Girl

If you have read my blog for any time, you have heard me speak of Charlie. Charlie is like an uncle to me and is my father’s friend with whom they are inseparable. Charlie is also the fellow who is helping me to renovate my new house at no cost.

Today was Charlie’s granddaughter’s eighth birthday party. She is very shy and reclusive. She has a hard time making friends. A few days ago, she was crying and telling her father, Alan, that no one was going to come to her birthday party. She was afraid she wasn’t going to get any presents. She has few friends.

Word of mouth spread and everyone who is associated with my father and Charlie came and brought their children. There were over 30 adults and 20 children. We didn’t have enough tables and chairs for everybody and many of us had to stand up or sit on the grass to eat. We just barely had enough hamburgers, cake, and ice cream for everyone. (I had to run back to the grocery store and buy another cake and some ice cream.)

Erin, the birthday girl, was overjoyed and spent hours running and playing with the other children. I also made a new, good friend in the husband of an employee of my father’s pharmacy. Everybody had a grand time and a little girl’s fears were quelled.

If I get up the energy later on, I want to write about the blog service Blog Explosion and explain why it is a waste of your time. I got over a thousand hits and numerous comments in just four days but there is a catch to this service that makes it completely useless. This write-up will probably be posted in the morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Violent Weather

Yesterday, we had one of the most intense severe thunderstorms I have ever encountered. The cloud to ground lightening was almost continuous and the thunder was immediate and deafening. This storm blew up out of nowhere fueled by the intense heat and humidity we have been experiencing lately. The fierce wind even blew my back door open and shattered a pane of glass in it.

At one point, I heard a loud crack and pop and it sounded as if a strike had hit the house. I raced upstairs but everything seemed fine. I just knew I was going to find the house on fire or something.

It did hit a neighbor’s house and caught it on fire. The wails of fire truck sirens filled the air as they hurried to the location. The fire brigade managed to put it out before there was any extensive damage other than from water.

After the storm had passed, my phone rang. I picked it up to find my father on the other end.

“Have you ever seen lightning like that?” He asked.

“Dad, that was pretty intense, wasn’t it?” I replied.

“I have never seen lightning like that,” He said. “That was scary.”

“Me neither,” I said.

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” He said. “I hear fire trucks all around us.”

“I thought the house had gotten hit but didn’t find anything upstairs,” I replied. “The wind did blow open my back door and broke a pane of glass though.”

“We’ll get a glass smith over in the morning,” He replied. “It cracked some glass in the door down at the drug store as well.”

Another residual pop of lightning fired nearby causing both of us to jump and the phone crackled with static.

“Let’s get off this phone!” Dad said.

We both hung up quickly. Later, I printed out the radar image of the storm and the special weather statement issued by the National Weather Service and took it to my father. We both find the weather fascinating. He greatly enjoyed this and marveled at what you can do with the internet.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Return of George

Man, my shot sure burned this morning. I think I have finally figured out why. Sometimes I can’t even feel it. Today, they called me back from the lobby almost as soon as I had signed in and sat down. I had just gotten the shot out of the refrigerator at my father’s pharmacy. The nurse remarked how cold it was but she injected it into my butt anyways. It needs to come up to room temperature before being injected thus the extreme burning.

After that ordeal was over, I proceeded to take my daily hike. The last leg of my jaunt usually brings me by the grocery store. I saw George’s dilapidated Dodge Diplomat sitting out in front of the Pig. It was good to see him as I haven’t seen him for days. I was starting to wonder if he had gotten another driving under the influence charge and was in jail.

George had brought a cohort to the grocery store in exchange for some money. He was sitting in his car in the no parking zone, smoking a cigar, and waiting for them to return. He saw me and motioned for me to come over. I walked over and leaned in towards his open window.

“Get dis brotha a beer,” George whispered.

“George, ain’t it kinda early to be drinking beer?” I asked quietly.

“It be da breakfast of champions!” George said excitedly with a huge toothy grin on his face.

I guess one beer wouldn’t hurt as he seemed completely sober.

I walked inside the store and bought a Gatorade and a Milwaukee’s Best Ice beer. I then got in the passenger’s side of George’s car and sat down. I handed George the paper bag with the beer in it. George cracked it open and proceeded to guzzle it down after looking around to make sure there weren’t any police in view.

“Why yo ass keep scratchin’?” George asked. “You got da cooties or somethin’?”

“I went camping last night and got eaten alive by some kind of bug,” I replied.

“Man, I don’t see why you white crackas want to go sit out in the woods,” George said. “You sho wouldn’t catch no nigga out in the woods at night.”

I laughed.

“George, surely some black people go camping,” I said.

“When was the last time yo ass saw a nigga in a tent?” George asked.

I sat there trying to recollect seeing black people camping. I couldn’t think of any.

“See?” George replied. “Like I said, you ain’t gonna see any niggas out in the middle of the woods unless dey be runnin’ from the police.”

I let out a hearty chuckle.

“Well, man,” I said. “I am gonna head to the house.”

“Stay cool, my brotha. Stay cool,” George said.

I walked on home before the heat of the day hit. It was good to see George alive and well and still going strong.

Camping in a Furnace

I went camping yesterday evening. I tried to wait until very late in the evening to go due to the excessive heat yesterday. It was still hot as hell even after dark and the high humidity compounded the problem. I was mainly interesting in sitting around a fire and looking at the country night sky. I was also hoping to see the last vestiges of yesterday’s thunderstorms as they died down after the sun set. Nether of these hopes panned out.

I don’t know why I torture myself sometimes but last night’s experience was not so fun. I was literally eaten alive by something as I slept. I have bug bites all over my body and have been furiously scratching since dawn to the point I am bleeding. Whatever it was that decided to make a meal out of me especially enjoyed the area around my ankles and groin.

As usual, I awoke long before daylight. The cool morning air was a nice change from the previous day. I lit my lantern, sat upon my cooler, and ate a bowl of cereal and a banana. I then packed my gear into the car and drove home. The sun was just coming up as I pulled into the driveway.

I have to get my bi-weekly injection this morning. I really need to go get in the shower and stop writing this. I have thirty minutes to get showered, dressed, and to drive down to the valley. Off I go.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Summer of Living Dangerously

Summer was a magical time during my youth. For most of the summer I would live with my grandmother on her farm but for six weeks my parents would send me to summer camp in the Appalachians. My brother hated summer camp but I loved it. Alex would cry when he had to go. I would cry when I had to leave. Camp was an adventurous time filled with hiking, overnight trips, trout fishing, arts and crafts, canoeing, etc. I also made some friendships that are still thriving today despite the great distances between us.

Summer camp was also a place where a boy could have his first experiences with things he shouldn’t have been doing at that age. My parents paid thousands of dollars every year for me to experience this and one summer I almost ruined it. I came close to getting sent home.

My counselor that year had the nasty habit of dipping smokeless tobacco. I and two other boys decided we were going to “borrow” a can and try it for ourselves. For this offense, you could be sent home and banished from camp. I and my two accomplices crafted a devious plan.

The tobacco was kept in a locked trunk but we knew where my counselor hid the key. I, Dave, and Pete decided to skip a period of class that day and would sneak in the cabin, open the trunk, and take one of the cans of tobacco and try it. We had heard you could get an incredible buzz or high from it and wanted to experience it. I managed to obtain a can and we sneaked behind the cabin to try it.

“Did you get it?” Pete asked excitedly.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the can of Kodiak tobacco.

“Who is going to try it first?” Dave asked.

“Let’s all do it together,” I replied.

I opened the can and we each took out a liberal pinch and placed it between our gums and teeth.

“Yuck, this stuff tastes nasty,” said Pete.

“Keep it in a few minutes,” I said. “You are supposed to get a buzz.”

Within minutes, my head started to swim with a feeling of euphoria. We all started laughing hysterically and couldn’t quit. It was quite a pleasant feeling in the beginning. By this time, Pete’s face had started to turn green.

“Are you okay, Pete?” I asked.

“I think I am going to get sick,” He said.

In our ignorance, we had all been swallowing the tobacco juice and not spitting it out. One by one, we each grew violently ill. We were soon heaving and throwing up.

Our counselor just happened to come back to the cabin for something and he heard the commotion behind it and investigated. We were caught red handed with the can lying on the ground beside us. At first, he was very angry with us and gave us a long lecture about what we had done.

“I ought to take all three of you down to the office and turn you in,” He said.

We pleaded with him not to. We all started to cry. The thoughts of what my parent’s would do to me weighed heavily on my mind.

“Okay, we will keep this to ourselves,” He said. “But if I ever catch you three doing anything like this again, you are going home.”

We all sighed with relief. We ended up having to do cabin cleaning duty every morning for the rest of our tenure there. It was a small price to pay compared to the beating my father would have given me if I had been sent home.

The Heat Is On

What a hot day! It was hot at dawn. I rolled out of my bed and opened all my windows for my resident wasps. They were buzzing at the glass and wanting out for the day to forage. The nest in my apartment just inside my window is thriving. There are now up to seven worker adult females assisting the queen. I counted over six capped cells with the larva inside metamorphosing into adults. They should hatch any day now.

The wasps never bother me and have become acclimated to my presence. I guess it must seem strange that I am harboring a wasp nest inside my home and encouraging its development. If I put my finger up near the nest, one of the workers will attempt to give me nourishment by secreting a droplet of liquid as if I were a larva. That is how accustomed they are to me.

After fixing a simple breakfast of cheese toast and coffee, I donned my daypack and walked the ten minutes down to the Pig to stock up on some more Gatorade. I had a feeling I was going to need it today. The heat index is forecasted to get over the hundred degree mark. I really should just give in and turn on the air conditioner but I hate the incessant drone it emits. It is right next to my computer desk.

I saw DJ RapStar having an animated discussion with Cap with Tag Guy. Cap w/ Tag was just standing there stoically as if he was ignoring him without any expression on his face. DJ RapStar seemed almost as if he were preaching evangelically he was speaking with such animation. I try to avoid any contact with DJ RapStar. The guy is racist and trouble with a capital T. I took the long way around the periphery of the parking lot to the grocery store and managed to avoid contact.

Having my backpack with me made me feel uncomfortable about wearing it into the store. I was afraid they would think I was shoplifting but I took a chance and left it on. They see me almost everyday down there and know I am a good customer. If George or Slop is down there, I usually get one of them to watch it and I set it upon a bench. George or Slop were no where to be seen today.

Upon checking out, I managed to get Virginia as my cashier. Linda’s line had a little, old, black lady with a buggy full of groceries. The little old lady was just starting to unload them. It would have been a lengthy wait.

Virginia is a surly cow. She has worked at the Pig for years and has never managed to get promoted above cashier status. She always insists on putting my items in paper bags instead of plastic. If you are walking, the plastic bags with handles are much more convenient. I asked for plastic and she let out a loud sigh as if this simple act was causing her a great deal of extra work. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying something as it wouldn’t be worth the ordeal.

It was a boring day today with nothing noteworthy to write about. I walked home in the oppressive heat and just sat down to write this. Maybe, if I get up the energy, I will attempt to write another story about my travels with Preacher Man. They are many more to tell.

My Experiences with Blog Explosion

A long time ago, a friend recommended and referred me to Blog Explosion. I took a look and even went so far as to sign up. I thought it was just a gimmick though and never went any further. A few days ago, I decided to take another look and try it out. It does work but you have to have a lot of free time on your hands.

I thought, “Cool, I will get to read some interesting blogs while I earn credits.” My elation over this prospect was soon deflated. The majority of the blogs out there are mind numbingly boring but it seems the authors have paid for credits or something. Their blogs are constantly brought up. I would have to sit there for thirty seconds reading completely uninteresting crap. It was about as much fun as stepping in dog crap and having to scrape it off your shoe with a stick.

There are also thousands of political blogs saying the same exact damn thing. It seems as if these authors take the talking points of either party and just post them into a blog. Thousands are doing this and it is another thirty seconds wasted. When I hit a political blog I could guess with uncanny accuracy what the author was going to be writing about.

My main goal was to drum up some more content on my blog via comments. I wasn’t so interesting in just visits. Comments give long time readers interesting stuff to read and allow you to interact with your readership. Comments give a blog a sense of vitality. The problem with Blog Explosion is that the majority of visitors only stick around for the mandatory 30 seconds and click away in their quest for credits. The interface with Blog Explosion also makes it hard to bookmark a page in your browser which is frustrating. I did find a few interesting blogs but I had a hard time revisiting them with Blog Explosion’s clumsy interface.

Anyways, I will probably still dabble with it over the next few weeks and see what happens. I certainly won’t be sitting in front of the computer all day and clicking those links though. I would rather have a life than a frequently visited blog.

PS – Everybody and their grandmother is posting about the new Harry Potter book. It reminds me of the hype surrounding a long anticipated summer blockbuster film such as the latest Star Wars. If I have to read another long winded post about how long you had to wait in line to receive Harry Potter at midnight, I will turn off my computer and go outside.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Heart to Heart with Slop

I had walked down to the Pig to buy a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. As I rounded the corner I saw HIV/AIDS Guy peddling his wares in the parking lot. HIV/AIDS Guy has the same spiel every time. He tells this sob story about how he is dying of AIDS and needs your spare change to keep him alive. He even wears an old ID band from the local hospital to prove how sick he is. Anybody with any common sense realizes he is full of shit. He saw me and made a beeline straight in my direction. “Fuck,” I muttered under my breath. He had seen me smoking a cigarette.

“Hey man, would you let me bum a cigarette?” He asked.

Everyone down at the shopping center knows not to ask me for a cigarette. I do not let people bum cigarettes. If you give one then everybody sees you as an easy mark and will constantly bug you for another.

“I don’t want to give a dying man a cigarette,” I said. “Your health is already bad enough. It would make me feel guilty.”

“Oh, come on!” He said. “One cigarette ain’t gonna hurt me that much.”

“Sorry man,” I said as I kept walking. “I couldn’t live with that on my conscience.”

I had used his spiel against him and felt vindicated for all that times I had to stand there and listen to his bullshit.

I walked on up towards the Pig and saw Slop sitting on the bench between the dollar store and the grocery store. I sat down beside him to finish smoking.

“You seen George?” I asked.

“Nah, I ain’t be seeing George for a few days now.” Slop said.

Slop was sweating profusely as always. He had a red cotton rag in his hand he was using to wipe away the river of sweat running down his brow.

“Slop, don’t you get tired of sitting down here in the heat everyday?” I asked.

“I don’t be havin’ anything else to do,” Slop said.

Slop is one of the laziest men I have ever met. I am always astounded that he manages to navigate his great bulk down to the shopping center everyday to panhandle.

“You don’t be havin’ an extra dollar I could borrow, do you?” Slop asked.

“Slop, you are on disability, right?” I asked.
“It be going to my sista tho,” Slop said. “I be helpin’ to see about her kids.”

“Well, you probably have more money than me and I get goddamned tired of you asking for a dollar every time you see me,” I replied.

Slop chuckled.

“I will be leavin’ you alone from now on,” He said.

“Now, for that, I will give you a dollar.” I said.

I handed Slop a dollar. He promised he would never bug me again, I didn’t believe him thought. I headed on up to the store to finish my shopping and then walked home.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Travels with Preacher Man

I had quit my job as a research technician at a major university and decided to enroll in one of those month-long truck driving schools. I took to driving a big rig like a fish to water. “You are going to make a damn fine truck driver,” My instructor used to say.

Within a matter of weeks I had that glossy new commercial driver’s license in my hands. I was itching to get out on the roadways and start making those big bucks. The lure and romance of the open road was calling me.

I applied to numerous companies and got several offers for starting positions. There was this one company with big shiny blue trucks and it caught my eye. They also paid well. I soon had a bus ticket in hand and was on my way to Mississippi to start my training. I was assigned to the Dollar General account and my trainer was called Preacher Man. I was going to live with this strange man for two months as he showed me the ropes. This made me apprehensive but the urge to get my own truck and to drive solo drove me ever forwards in my quest. (It was also refreshing to be away from the ever watchful eye of my then wife.)

Preacher man turned out to be an interesting fellow. Preacher lived dual lives. During the week he was a foul mouthed and brusque truck driver. On the weekend he was a mild mannered pastor at a small local church. Preacher was married and had three kids. A picture of his family was prominently displayed on the dash of his rig. Preacher Man also had an affinity for prostitutes who are affectionately called “Lot Lizards” in truck driver lingo.

I will never forget my first night as a long haul truck driver. No sooner than we had almost pulled out of the parking lot a demure female voice called out over the CB.

“Any of you boys looking for a good time?” She said.

Preacher picked up the CB and responded.

“I am up for a good time if the price is right.” He said as he took that picture off his dash and stored it above the sun visor.

I sat there in shock as I had never experienced something such as this but I knew what was going on. They negotiated for a few moments and then soon two young ladies were crawling into the cab of the truck with us. They looked like teenagers they were so young.

“Does your friend there need a companion as well?” One lady asked in reference to me.

The lady’s companion put her hand on my leg, squeezed it, and smiled.

“I’m married but thanks anyway.” I replied as I blushed before Preacher could respond.
Preacher Man drove back into the complex and dropped me off at the trucker’s lounge so he could take care of his business. I remember sitting in that lounge for what seemed like ages waiting on Preacher Man to return. “What in the hell have I got myself into?” I thought.

Preacher turned out to be an okay fellow but I never did like his occasional romps with Lot Lizards. The truck always reeked of sex after every encounter and it made me uncomfortable. I was overjoyed when I finally was promoted and took into possession my very own big rig. I finally had some privacy and some peace and quiet. Trucking did turn out to be one of the hardest jobs I ever worked though.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Comma Usage for the Comma Clueless

I was reading through some of my old posts this afternoon. I realize that I can be clueless as far as the correct use of commas. This is one aspect of my writing that I struggle with the most. I am always unsure of the correct point in my writings to place a comma. This drives me crazy quite frankly.

I have just pulled out my trusty Hodge’s Harbrace College Handbook and opened it to the chapters on the correct usage of commas. I laid it open and face down on my desk. I will endeavor to read those chapters tonight as I curl up in the bed before I go to sleep. Maybe I will finally get a clue as to the correct usage of commas during my readings tonight.

Sometimes, Marriage Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

I guess you only know how to act or not to act from experiences with your own parents. My parents always slept in separate bedrooms and had distinctly different lives going on. Both my parents were fiercely independent up until the time my mother got sick. They loved each other but they also kept a healthy distance. I only knew how spouses should act from watching them.

When I first got married to Rachel, it was total culture shock. Rachel’s father was completely pussy whipped by my mother-in-law. He waited on her hand and foot and complied with her every wish. My mother-in-law wore the balls in that household. I always felt sorry for the guy and would wish he would just run away or something. One time he did pack his bags and carried them with him to work every day with the intent of leaving. He would always come back home that evening with that bag in hand looking defeated.

Rachel thought I should act like her father. Of course this all didn’t start until after our honeymoon. I rebelled vehemently and this caused many screaming and arguing matches in the early parts of our marriage. She expected me to go to bed every night at a certain time. That was one of the biggest sources of contention that I remember. I enjoyed staying up late as I could be a night owl in those days. I liked to work on my hobby of Model Railroading after a tough day at work. I relished the time after the TV had been turned off for the day and all was quiet. The more she insisted that I conform to her wishes the more I rebelled. I told myself I wasn’t going to have some woman telling me when to go to bed. I was a grown man, God damn it!

“Why can’t you just go get in the bed and go to sleep?” I would ask. “I am not making any noise and keeping you up.”

“I can’t sleep without you in the bed with me,” She would reply.

“Rachel, this is my quiet time,” I would say. “This is time I want for myself. I spend every waking hour with you when I am not at work. Can’t I just have one or two hours by myself?”

“Fine, be alone then!” She would scream and go running out of the room to cry on the bed until she fell asleep.

Later in the marriage I learned to just give in and go to bed. I was finally broken. I left many projects on my hobby desk unfinished. I would lay in the bed as my wife snored watching the ceiling fan spin round and round for what seemed like hours. Eventually I would go to sleep with emotions of anger and resentment smoldering in my thoughts.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

To Porn or Not To Porn

George has been bugging me for weeks about bringing him some pornography off of the internet. He said he heard that you can find anything your heart desired and you can if you know where to look. I am not one much for porn as most of the women that are featured seem fake and unobtainable. My medication also completely blunts my sex drive so I have very little interest. George is interested in a different kind of porn though than that. Here is today’s conversation and what entailed.

“I be wantin’ to see some thick women off dem internets,” George said.

By thick, George means heavy set.

“What do dey call dem big bitches on there?” George asked.

“BBWs,” I said.

“BBWs?” asked George. “What dat be?”

“Big Beautiful Women,” I replied.

“Now we be talkin’,” George said. “How bout bringin’ some pictures down for me and Slop to look at.”

I laughed.

“Black or white?” I asked.

“I like ‘em chocolate,” George replied.

“How big do you want them?” I asked.

“Dat baby gotta have back!” George exclaimed meaning a big ass.

“George if I brought you a few pictures you would be constantly bugging me for more,” I said. “I don’t want to get involved in all of that.”

“Ah, come on, help a brotha out,” George said.

“George, get your own computer and get hooked up to the internet.” I said. “That way you can look all day if you want to.”

“Yo ass know I don’t know nothin’ bout computers,” George said.

I just chuckled and lit up a cigarette. We sat there for a few moments in silence as George mulled over his options to obtain porn.

“So, you ain’t gonna help a brotha out?” George asked again.

“Drop it George!” I said sternly as I laughed again.

George just laughed along and said something about going down to the county library to look. I would like to be a fly on the wall as that would be an interesting altercation. I am sure that would go over like a lead balloon with the resident librarians. I can just picture George trying to do it though.

Livin’ Large

I feel as if I live in the tropics. We are caught in a persistent and stagnant weather pattern. Everyday the heat of the sun causes thunderstorms to bubble up and fire. The humidity in the air is so thick you feel as if you could cut it with a knife. It rains for most of the day everyday. This leaves only a narrow window of early morning or late afternoon to complete my daily hike.

Today I left the house as the sun was first coming up. I must have walked around 6 miles. On my way home, I passed by Merl’s Diner and decided to get some breakfast. Merl’s is like a family owned Waffle House but the food is a thousand times better. I took a stool and ordered steak and eggs and a cup of coffee. I was starving and was living large by purchasing such an elaborate breakfast.

An elderly man was sitting next to me at the counter. He had a wiry, wild, and untamed beard. He looked like the stereotypical homeless man. He struck up a conversation.

“Sure looks like the Chattahoochee is gonna flood,” He said.

I had noticed that there were sandbags by the door in preparation when I walked in.

“If this rain keeps up, it sure will like it did in ninety eight,” I replied.

He took a drink of his coffee and then continued the conversation.

“Now the flood of sixty-two, that was the big one,” He said. “They had boats trawling the streets of downtown West Point the water was so high.”

“That was before my time,” I replied. “But I have heard stories about it.”

By this time, my food had arrived. The waitress sat down a plate with a huge steak on it with a side of eggs and a bowl of grits. She sat down another small plate with two huge buttermilk biscuits sitting upon it.

“I am never going to eat all of this,” I thought.

I managed to eat every bit of it and it was delicious. I placed a nice tip on the counter, paid for my meal, and bid the elderly gentleman goodbye. I then walked on up towards the shopping center were the Piggly Wiggly resides. I was almost back home.

Saturday is the busiest day of the week for the Pig. It was bustling with activity this morning. The flea market was also open and scores of people were perusing the stalls. The parking lot was just jammed full of cars. A day such as Saturday is the opportune time for the Piggly Wiggly groupies to make some extra cash through their various means. The activity and hustle and bustle draws them there like moths to a flame. I had an interesting conversation with George and I will post it as soon as I get it written.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Idle Talk over Two Rueben’s

I heard the familiar horn of my mother’s Honda in the driveway. It was pouring down rain but this didn’t daunt my mother’s quest for a meal out. My father says she is obsessed with eating out and food and she is.

I opened my umbrella and walked out to the car. She got out and got in the passenger’s side. She always lets me drive.

She had changed her mind and wanted a Rueben sandwich from Arby’s. She decided that eating at the White House Restaurant was too expensive for two weeks in a row. We are going to go once a month from now on.

I drove us down to Valley onto the main strip and pulled into the Arby’s. We both got out and made our way inside. She had to double check three times that the car doors were locked. I patiently looked on. She can be kind of anal and obsessive compulsive about those kinds of things.

Once inside we ordered, received our food, and sat down to eat. I try to make small talk but my mother is not one for talking much and especially not captivating conversation. We usually just sit there quietly as we eat our meal. It is a side effect of her mental illness. Sometimes she can surprise me though with her veracity and lucidity like she did today.

“I haven’t been to see Bob since last week,” I said guiltily as I took a bite out of my sandwich.

“Bob drives me crazy,” She said. “He is so country and always has that toothpick hanging out of his mouth. I don’t blame you.”

“Well, Charlie goes by there everyday after work.” I replied. “It makes me feel guilty.”

“They bought Charlie’s house,” She said. “He is just taking care of business.”

“I guess you are right,” I said. “I still feel guilty though.”

They had a television tuned to CNN inside the restaurant. They started showing a segment about the recent debacle with Karl Rove. My mother completely took me by surprise with our next exchange. She actually knew who Karl Rove and Valerie Plame were.

“Bush said he would fire anybody involved in that Plame leak,” She said. “I bet this just gets swept under the carpet and forgotten; the good old boy network in action.”

My jaw dropped and a look of astonishment came over my face.

“Have you been watching television?” I asked.

“No, I have been reading the Journal Constitution everyday.” She replied.

I have never known my mother to know anything about the news or current events especially politics. I have never even seen her pick up a newspaper. She tends to only read those trashy harlequinesque romance novels.

“What brought this sudden change in reading on?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I just picked up the paper one day and started reading it. I have been reading it for weeks now.” She replied.

We went to talk a great length about current events. We finally finished our meal and headed home full and satiated. Mom sure can surprise me sometimes and I like to see her get involved and be active. I hate to see her sleep her days away like she normally does. Maybe this is the first step of a period of renewed vigor and vitality. I certainly hope so.

Doom and Dread

I don’t feel like doing anything today but sitting in my apartment. I didn’t sleep well last night and am living up to my namesake today, grumpy. I am also feeling this impending sense of anxiety, doom, and dread. It is that feeling that something bad is about to happen. Nothing bad is about to happen that I know of.

I had a message on my answering machine this morning. It was from my father’s pharmacy. They are having computer problems again. This is a brand new Dell computer. Veronica seems to think it is a virus. Getting a virus is a pretty rare event especially if you have an anti-virus protection installed. I have a good idea that the co-pharmacist has installed a bunch of frivolous junk off of the internet like she normally does such as AOL chat programs and realplayer. Stuff full of spyware and adware. I tried to get my point across to them that the more frivolous stuff you install on a computer then the more unstable windows will get. The computer should just be used for filling prescriptions and submitting orders. Nothing else and that would solve all their problems. It normally takes some kind of human input to cause a problem if the computer was formerly running just fine. For some reason they can’t seem to grasp this concept though.

Every Thursday I go out to eat with my mother. Mom just called to remind me of this. She wants to go to the White House Restaurant tonight. For some reason I dread doing this as well. I would rather have a quiet meal at home. I don’t feel like getting out today. We always get the exact same thing every time. She gets baked shrimp and I get a ribeye steak. They never do cook my steak right and it is always over done. Maybe tonight I will try the fried seafood platter. Some nice fried oysters and scallops sound good to me right now. We live close enough to the Gulf of Mexico that fresh seafood is readily available.

Well, I am now going to drag my sorry ass into the shower and get cleaned up. I even dread doing that, especially shaving. I don’t know what has gotten into me today. I just wish these butterflies in the pit of my stomach would go away. I hate feeling like this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Drunk at Noon

“George, you are drunk,” I said.

George looked up at me with bloodshot eyes from the bench he was sitting on.

“Fuck off, ya white cracka!” George exclaimed and then started to laugh hysterically.

I looked around the parking lot to see if his car was here. It wasn’t to be seen. He apparently got a ride.

“George sho be fucked up.” Slop said sitting next to George.

“Fuck yo ass Slop. You fat mutha fucka.” George said as he began to laugh again.

“Hey man, let’s get you home,” I said. “You need to sleep it off.”

George unscrewed the cap off of a pint of whiskey wrapped in a brown paper bag and took another big slug.

“I be waitin’ for someone,” George replied.

I sat down on the bench next to George and lit up a cigarette. George fumbled in his shirt pocket to finally pull out a cigar. He put it into his mouth and I held up my lighter to light it.

“What’s going on man? You usually don’t get this fucked up,” I said.

“Dat bitch said she would meet me here,” George said. “Her ass ain’t shown up yet.”

“He be thinkin’ Yolanda gonna give him some pussy,” Slop said.

I gave Slop a stern look trying to shut him up as he was trying to escalate the situation. I know George is crazy and all but he looks out for me. He would jump in and help if something happened to me down at the Pig. I owe him a helping hand.

“Come on, man,” I said as I grabbed his elbow. “Let’s head to the house.”

George yanked his elbow away.

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere until I see that bitch!” George said loudly.

“How bout me and you get a twelve pack of beer and split it?” I asked. “Me and you haven’t had a drink together in a long time.”

By this time a big storm was coming and the thunder was getting ever louder. I walked into the Pig and bought a twelve pack of beer and then headed back outside. George saw the twelve pack and got up.

“You be my brotha,” George said as he put his arm around my neck and over my shoulder.

“Let’s head on to the house.” I said as we both walked to my car.

I managed to get George home in one piece. His elderly mother was standing at the door as I drove up. I apologized for George’s condition and handed her the twelve pack of beer. She understood and told me to take care. George likes to drink but I rarely see him three sheets to the wind. I just knew he was going to get arrested.

A Hot and Balmy Dusk

Yesterday evening I got a bug up my butt to go camping. Sometimes it just hits me like that and on the spur of the moment I bolt into action. I was sitting here in front of the computer bored, hot, and listless and decided to get out for the evening. I have completely run out of interesting things on the web to read and do.

I packed up my car and headed out to the country near Waverly. It was a long but comforting drive. I had all my windows rolled down and the smell and feel of the country air was invigorating. The winding country roads were also a joy to drive.

I finally hit the dirt back roads and made my way to my favorite camping spot. I arrived at the millpond only a few miles from camp to find the bridge almost flooded. What was normally a small creek was a raging river. Water was roaring over the stone dam and the water was almost up to the level of the roadway on the bridge. This bridge has been condemned several times over the years due to flooding. I debated over trying to cross. It would be a ten mile detour around the other way. I finally got up the courage to try my luck and slowly crept over the bridge. I made it over without any incident but it was scary to say the least. I had visions of me and my prized vehicle being washed off the bridge into the raging waters below me.

I continued to drive on up to the land my family owns. I pulled up into the meadow and started to unpack my gear. I noticed that someone had started building a deer tree stand for hunting in one of the big pines near where I camp. No one in my family hunts so I knew it was an interloper. I pulled a hammer out of the toolbox in the back of my car and pulled it apart and off the tree. I will have to keep an eye out for their return. It kind of disturbed me that a stranger was coming up here to such a deserted spot in the middle of nowhere. This is my secret place and I felt it had been violated.

I then pitched my tent and rolled out my sleeping bag. Once I was satisfied that everything was set up for the evening, I proceeded to get my fire going. I had brought several nice large logs of oak from home that I had split with my axe. This is perfect wood for a long lasting and burning fire. I have pretty much exhausted my supply of fallen dead wood around the area. Within minutes I had a nice fire going and was pleased with my ever increasing skill when doing this endeavor. I have got fire building down to a fine art.

For supper, I ate two tins of sardines on saltine crackers with a liberal dash of hot sauce. I didn’t feel like preparing any elaborate meals last night and that simple supper sufficed. For desert I ate some cinnamon apple crisp bars and drank a pint of milk I had in the cooler. I cleaned up after my meal and got settled down for the night.

Even thought the sun had set and it had grown dark, it was still incredibly hot. I looked at my thermometer and it read 81 degrees. Not the best of sleeping weather as your sleeping bag quickly turns into a sweaty mess. I decided to lie on top of my bag and hopefully would finally drift off to sleep. As I lay there, I could the mournful and lonesome call of a far off whip-o-will. It brought back flash backs of my homeless days. I finally fell to sleep lamenting all the wrong turns I had taken in life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I’ve Never Met a Homeless Republican

I rarely, if ever, talk about politics. The will be one of those rare moments. I just got finished reading a few politically charged exchanges on a blog and it spurred this post.

I have read thousands of political debates and discussions/arguments on the internet and each of the individuals in these debates is solidly entrenched in their respective corners. I don’t think I have ever read anyone concede defeat in such encounters. I do find reading these debates amusing from time to time but always find most of them pointless in that no middle ground is ever reached.

During my first college days back in the early nineteen nineties, I was solidly in the Republican camp. I listened to Rush Limbaugh every night and cheered on my republican constituents to take control of the senate and the house. This was before my mental illness established itself and before I had an experience with homelessness. I had plenty of money. I had a nice car. I had a stable living situation. I had inherited my family’s middle class status. I also inherited their politics.

When my mental illness established itself in my early twenties, my political landscape started to change. I realized that if it were up to the right, I would be thrust upon the streets and left to fend for myself if I were unable to take care of myself due to my illness. I realized that people would run to the aid of those with physical ailments such as diabetes or cancer but mention schizophrenia and people shied away. I fear most people see mental illness as a personal weakness of character and not an actual disease of one of our most important and major organs, the brain. It is easy to look at an MRI or X-ray and see a tumor but you cannot do this with a mental illness. That is why mental illnesses are so hard to diagnose.

My experience with homelessness was the final nail in the proverbial coffin for me as far as any right wing leanings I had. I realized that there is very little help for those of us in situations not of our making. There are safety nets for entities such as large corporations and businesses but little to none for those average citizens who are besieged by a debilitating mental illness. If you do not have a family who will support you or help you then you a quite frankly shit out of luck.

There IS help out there but it is not easy to find and often takes months or years to get. You have to become adept at maneuvering a complicated series of red tape, appointments, and interviews; most of the time you have to be destitute to finally receive this help. There is also the catch-22 when mental illness is involved in that if you are too sick to take care of yourself or think rationally then how in the hell are you going to fill out all those forms and make it to interviews and appointments? That is where your family becomes your last defense against insanity, poverty, and homelessness.

I have never met a homeless republican. I could be proved wrong and shown one but I seriously doubt that they are rational or possessing a sane mind. All the homeless people or formerly homeless people I have met online have been solidly left leaning and liberal many of them radically so. Your social and economic status greatly influences your political leanings.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Church Lady Exposed!

I had been on my daily hike today and rounded the corner of the Cherry Valley Shopping Center where the Piggly Wiggly resides. I saw George sitting in front of Fred’s Dollar Store trying to give people rides for money. I also saw Church Lady sitting in front of the Pig with a table and chair. She is getting upscale.

I walked towards George. He was talking to an older black lady who was holding a shopping cart. George left her alone when he found out she had her own car and had driven there. She made her way to her car.

“Wazzup, my brotha!” George exclaimed when he saw me walking over.

I wanted to ask George about Church Lady. He is pretty informed about everyone who hangs out down at the Pig.

“George, I need to ask you something.” I said as I stood next to his car.

“Get in da office.” George said as he opened the driver’s side door and sat down in front of the wheel.

I opened the passenger’s side door and sat down as well. The car reeked of cigar smoke. George took a big gulp out of a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 wine and then screwed the top back on. He then cranked up the car and drove over to a deserted part of the parking lot.

“Do you needs me to hook yo ass up?” George said as he turned the car off.

“What?” I asked trying to follow along.

“Wacky weed or pussy.” He said. “George be yo man.”

I wasn’t interested in marijuana or prostitutes even though George knew where these things could be procured.

“No, man!” I said. “I wanted to ask you about Church Lady. She is driving me crazy.”

“You didn’t give dat crazy, white-ass, cracka any money?” George said.

“No.” I said. “I was just wondering if she is legit.”

George laughed heartily and took another gulp of wine.

“Dat bitch be playin’ all da crackas dat come in da Pig.” George said. “Monte saw her buying a carton of cigs and some beer at Fat’s da otha night.”

George was speaking of Fat Albert’s convenience store. Monte is his cousin who sometimes comes down to the Piggly Wiggly to cash his monthly check.

“I knew it!” I said loudly with conviction.

“Don’t be givin’ dat bitch any money.” George said.

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” I replied.

“How bout buyin’ dis old nigga a beer?” George asked.

I handed George a five dollar bill and bid him farewell. I had a hunch about Church Lady and now my hunch had been confirmed. I was talking to a friend the other day on the phone who had the same feelings as well. Church Lady is full of shit and is playing people. I will feel a lot less guilty about saying no from now on.

A Prickly Experience and a New Nurse

My alarmed loudly sounded. I looked at the clock. I had thirty minutes to get to my doctor’s office for my shot and it is way overdue. I hastily threw on some clothes and ran to my car. I got in and drove directly to the pharmacy to get my shot out of the refrigerator and then on to the doctors. I signed in and took my seat in the waiting room next to an elderly lady.

“Weather sure did get rough yesterday.” She said in a gravelly voice as if she had smoked for years.

“It got really bad last night.” I replied.

“Did your power go out?” She asked.

“No.” I said. “We were lucky.”

“Mine was out when I left the house.” She said.

She went on to start talking about her grandchildren. She even went so far as to start showing me pictures of them. I tried to feign interest about these strangers I was being shown.

I heard the door to the back rooms open. I crossed my fingers in the hopes that I was next. The receptionist called my name loudly.

Yes! It was my turn! I always hate having to wait for something that takes five minutes. I walked back to the waiting room to find a strange face greeting me.

“Michelle had to leave.” She said. “I will be giving your shot.”

She was young and very cute. She looked just out of high school and nursing school. It seems just as soon as a nurse gets comfortable and proficient at giving my shot they leave. They have a hard time keeping gals down there as they work them mercilessly and with grueling hours.

I handed her the box with my shot in it. She opened it up and looked perplexed. She starting to unfold the directions so find out how to prepare it.

“Oh, shit! Not the directions!” I thought. “This is going to take an hour!”

“I can show you how and it will only take a minute.” I said hoping for the best.

She handed me the box and I showed her how to put it together. If you have never done it then in can be convoluted.

“Big stick!” She said after I had pulled my pants down to the side.

It felt as if someone was jabbing my ass with a sharp dagger. I winced from the pain.

“Are you okay?” She asked with a tone of concern.

“Yeah, just glad to get this over with.” I replied.

Just another day in the life of a man with schizophrenia.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

3:00 PM Update

So far, so good. Power is on and the internet is still up. We are going to miss the brunt of this storm I do believe. The hurricane is headed more northeasterly than I had thought.

Our biggest concerns will not be high winds but flooding from the Chattahoochee River if this rain keeps up. It is currently pouring down rain with a gusty breeze. It is almost eerily quiet though other than the sound of the rain pouring off my roof eaves.

History in the Making

Well, it looks as if Dennis is now category 4 and taking a more northerly course. It looks like Pensacola beach is going to get slammed. The rain shield from the hurricane is now about 100 miles south of me and moving closer. It is just about to overtake Columbus Georgia just south of me. I fear this is going to be a storm for the history books.

Ivan last year left us with many trees and limbs down. It took a week for me to cut up all the limbs with a chainsaw and to get the yard back to normal. I had a pile of debris six feet tall by the side of the road for pickup when it was said and done. We will just have to wait and see how far north this will impact us here in east central Alabama.

I will update weather conditions throughout the day as long as I still have power. I lost the internet/cable during Ivan last summer but the power remained on.

Currently, it is overcast with strong gusts of wind. The rain shield and first major outer bands will move over us within the next two hours. The weather will only go downhill from there. More updates to follow…..

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Church Lady, Go Away!

I awoke from a long nap and was hungry. I decided to walk down to the Pig and get the fixings for spaghetti. It was a hot and humid day. The heat wafting up from the road was causing mirages on the roadway and made the horizon shimmer. You could also hear the distant rumbles of thunder as summertime pop-up storms were beginning to fire. Cicadas were calling earnestly everywhere fueled by the heat of the day.

I walked past the flea market down below the Piggly Wiggly and stopped to look. They have tons of bootleg CDs and DVDs. They have all the current in-theater movies but they are low quality copies with mono sound. These are made by someone going into a theater with a camcorder and recording the movie. I asked what the ladies asking price was….five dollars a DVD.

“I’ll let you have two for $8.50.” She said.

“No thanks.” I said

The people that run the flea market are country come to town. They look like something off of the Beverly Hillbillies. The father scoots around in one of those powered mobility chairs you often see advertised on the television. He rarely wears a shirt and he constantly has a cigarette dangling from between his lips. The children are all running around with bare feet on the hot concrete.

I continued on towards the door to the Piggly Wiggly. All I needed was some cans of tomatoes, ground beef, and spaghetti noodles. Cap w/ Tag Guy was standing next to the coke machine as always and nodded his head hello. The tag on his cap went flailing about wildly as he did this. George and Slop were no where to be seen. I didn’t pay attention to the exit to see if Church Lady was out there.

I purchased my items and stepping through the automatic doors. I was caught completely by surprise. An ambush!

“Honey, can you spare some change for god’s work?” Church Lady asked persuasively.

She had a wild and fanatical look in her eyes. She held out a bucket with the picture of her church and a cross on it. She also held out a propaganda pamphlet with her other hand.

“My hands are full.” I said and they were full with bags of groceries.

“Set down your groceries over here. We need to pray so that Jesus can come into your heart.” She said. “Have you been washed in the waters?”

What she meant was whether or not I have been baptized. My patience with her has been growing thin as of late.

“No thanks.” I said firmly and started to walk away.

“God bless you and may Jesus walk with you.” She said loudly as if taunting me.

Church Lady is getting really fucking old as of late. I am seriously tempted to start driving to another grocery store.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Taking Action

This is the last time I will speak of this subject. I know my readers are growing tired of my incessant rambling about this. Keep in mind that this is a personal journal and something with which I organize my thoughts and put them down for posterity.

Uncle Bob was LITERALLY driving me crazy. The phone has ringed over ten times today as he seldom leaves a message. He then called my mother to see if I was over there. All this as he wanted me to get a box down out of the closet that held some insurance papers and wanted me to help him take a bath. I finally had to take action for my mental health’s sake.

I called a lady named Floreen who used to help take care of my grandmother before she passed away. (My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease and needed around the clock supervision.) She was very good and patient with cranky senior citizens. Bob can be a tad racist as well and I warned her. She said she would come everyday for 8 hours a day at $7 dollars an hour and see about Bob.

Now, I had to talk Bob into agreeing to go through with this. He is notoriously frugal, thrifty, and cheap. He is also very wealthy. I told him that I had a mental illness and that my health was failing over his constant barrage of demands and phone calls. I told him I was not a nurse or a home health care provider. I also told him about Linda and that she was willing to come and assured him that she was good help. He finally reluctantly agreed after much persuading. He really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter as he is not able to take care of himself at the moment and he needs someone who is trained in taking care of the elderly.

I feel as if a ton of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The constant ringing of the phone has ceased. I shall now go take a long nap in comfort and silence. I think I may even turn on the air conditioning for a change in celebration.

Tropical Storm Cindy or the Great Escape

I had to escape yesterday. The phone was constantly ringing and I was an anxious, anxiety filled, nervous wreck. I think it is time for another shot but I can’t remember the last time I got one. I need to call my doctor’s office today and find out when my last one was. I am not feeling very well mentally as of late.

Bob called at 12 PM and left a message that he had to be at the doctor’s office at 2 PM for a checkup. He said he needed me to come over and do some things right away. He didn’t give me any advance warning or notice. He expected me to drop what I was doing and had planned and to sit for the rest of the day in the doctor’s office. I muttered very loudly as the message was being recorded, “FUCK THAT SHIT!” I got really angry as he has a black woman who can take him but he has to pay her to do it and he is too cheap. She cleans his house and cooks his meals.

I quickly packed up all my gear, loaded it into the car, and got the hell out of dodge. I went to my old homeless stomping grounds where no one could find me. No phones. No people. No noise. No traffic. No Uncle Bobs. As I was driving there, the closer I got the better I felt. I could feel the anxiety melt away and the butterflies in the pit of my stomach dissipate.

I had also forgotten that I had tropical storm Cindy headed directly towards me. After I got the tent set up, I sat on my cooler and tuned my radio to the weather band. There were all kinds of watches and warnings out for my county and around central Alabama. Within an hour of setting up my camp it started to rain and RAIN HARD. It poured rain endlessly for hours. The sound of the rain was a roar on the fabric of my tent. The wind was also extremely gusty and really put my tent to the test.

I had not been there long until my stomach started to cramp. I had to go to the bathroom bad and I was caught in a downpour. A very compromising situation I might add. I waited until I couldn’t wait any longer. I donned my emergency poncho and ran out into the storm and driving rain to relieve myself. By the time I got back to the tent I was soaking wet. I took off all my clothes, climbed into my sleeping bag to get warm, and feel fast asleep. I didn’t wake up until early this morning. I guess I was just exhausted from all that has been happening lately.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Sadness and Tears

I started out this morning’s hike with bold intentions. I was going to make it to the big water tower near my old junior high school and then head back. I needed to get out in the fresh air and clear my head. I also needed a lofty goal that challenged me and took my mind off my current problems and circumstances.

Along the way I passed by Uncle Bob’s house. He lives only a few blocks away from me. I decided to stop by and check in on him. I rung the door bell and my cousin Jean opened the door and welcomed me inside.

“How is he doing?” I asked quietly.

“He is hanging in there.” She said. “He is in the bedroom.”

I walked into the bedroom where I found Bob sitting in the chair by the bed; the very bed that Aunt Jessie had died on.

“Hey fella, you doing okay?” I asked loudly as he can be kind of hard of hearing.

He looked up and held out his hands towards me. I held mine out and he grasped it with both his hands and held it tightly.

“I really appreciate what you have done lately.” He said. “I know it was not fun getting me up there and seeing about all that.”

“Don’t you worry about that.” I said. “We are going to see about you. You are family.”

“I went up there and went through hell and I came back home to find my wife is dead.” He said as he choked back tears.

My eyes swelled with tears as well and a few drops fell down my cheeks and splattered on the hardwood floor. I wiped them off and tried to regain my composure.

“We are gonna get through this.” I said. “We are all going to stick together.”

“Are you gonna get me to the funeral?” Bob asked. “I can’t take the visitation. I don’t want to go to that.”

“I will get you up there and we are going to stay with your brother that night in Acworth.” I said. “I have already talked to him on the phone. He called me this morning.”

“I appreciate it.” He said as he let go of my hand.

I told him goodbye and walked out of the room.
“Jean, you call me if you all need me.” I said as I gave her a hug.

I exited the front door and slung my daypack back on. I started to head towards the water tower but no longer had the will to hike. I solemnly walked the two blocks back to my apartment and wrote this.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

I am such an Asshole

I was just complaining about Uncle Bob and being an asshole. He is an 84 year old man who has just had open heart surgery. He is relying upon me to help take care of him. My cousin Jean found his wife, Aunt Jessie, dead in the bed this morning. She was fine yesterday and walking around. Dad just has called me. I feel terrible and horrible. What terrible timing as well when Bob is still very frail and weak.

I now have to drive up there and face him with a guilty conscience knowing how callous I have been when commenting about them. He is also going to be dependent upon me for getting to and fro from rehabilitation. It is going to be a tough few days I fear. I don’t handle deaths in the family very well. I just have not faced it very much in my lifetime. I shall now go climb in my car with a low hung head and begin the long drive to uncertainty, sorrow, and pain.

Monday, July 4, 2005

The Dreaded Call

I got the dreaded call this morning at 6:00 AM.

“Who in the hell is calling me at 6:00 in the morning?” I thought as I stumbled towards the phone.

It was Uncle Bob. These people have no understanding of privacy, civility, or normal sleep periods.

“Jonathon? Will you drive up here today?” Bob asked in his country twang voice. “I really need you up here as I need some help.”

Driving up there is a three hour drive.

“When are you discharged?” I asked standing there half asleep.

“Most likely Wednesday hereabouts.” Bob replied.

“I will get up there as soon as I can.” I answered kind of evasively.

Which meant that I would be up there first thing in the morning; I don’t want to spend the 4th of July on the road. I also don’t have the money for a hotel room and wouldn’t have any place to stay for two nights other than the chair in the hospital room.

I have plans for today such as our traditional 4th of July chicken barbeque. I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world even the second coming of Christ. My father cooks it and it is a family tradition and delicacy. Dad uses my grandmother’s special recipe barbeque sauce and slow roasts the chicken for hours over charcoal. My grandmother was often quoted as saying us grandchildren would eat a dish rag if it were coated it in this sauce. It is that good. There is a family legend where my cousin Clifton ate four halves or two whole chickens in one sitting back in the sixties that gets told every 4th of July on this occasion.

I did drive by the Piggly Wiggly earlier on my way to the convenience store. It was deserted and closed. Hey, even crack dealers have to get a day off from time to time. I did see George down at the convenience store playing the lottery. He has developed quite an addiction for scratch off tickets. That conversation will ensue after this.

George vs. The Government

This is an interview I had with George earlier today after my family barbeque had concluded.

“That goddamn white ass cracka is not my president.” George exclaimed as he sat on a bench in front of the Piggly Wiggly.

Cracka or cracker is a derogatory, slang term for white people in the south. I am chronicling my experiences from today’s earlier encounter so bear with me. Posts such as these play havoc with Microsoft Word.

“Who do you want as your president?” I asked inquisitively.

“That nigga lady, Condo Rice.” George exclaimed. He was really worked up over this.

“George, Condo is as conservative as they come. She is a puppet of G. W.” I said adding fuel to the fire.

“G. W.?” George asked.

“That monkey, George W. Bush.” I replied.

I am pretty neutral in political matters but I do think G. W. looks like a chimpanzee.

“Goddamn niggas don’t know dey place anymore.” He said looking frustrated and commenting about Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

“What do you think about Rumsfeld?” I asked.

“Is he a white cracka?” George asked.

“He is our secretary of defense and pretty white.” I replied. “He has a comb over.”

“Fuck that white ass cracka.” George said. “He don’t own this nigga.”

George was quickly growing tired of this line of questioning. I thought it was quite intriguing.

“Fuck all this shit. Will you buy dis brotha a beer?” George asked.

The intelligent portion of our conversation had ended. I bought him a Milwaukee’s Best Ice Beer and smoked a cigarette as we sat on the bench in front of the store. The sun slowly set and I was soon to head for home.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

War of the Worlds

I thought I would start doing a few movie reviews for fun and to add content to my blog. I will post these as I see them. If you haven’t seen the film then be careful as some of my reviews will contain spoilers. My next review will be of the Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning film Million Dollar Baby.

United States, 2005
U.S. Release Date: 6/29/05 (wide)
Running Length: 1:57
MPAA Classification: PG-13 (Violence, frightening images)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Cast: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson
Screenplay: Josh Friedman and David Koepp, based on the novel by H.G. Wells
Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Music: John Williams
U.S. Distributor: Paramount Pictures

I am sure many of you are familiar with the original radio production of H. G. Wells War of the Worlds. The original book was published in 1898. The radio production was broadcast in 1938. I have heard that it caused panic as gullible listeners mistook the drama as real. I can imagine how frightening that must have been. Imagine your world besieged by aliens and thousands are dieing by the minute. That certainly would cause panic on the streets.

Steven Spielberg’s earlier classics such as E.T. The Extraterrestrial or Close Encounters of the Third Kind are feel good movies where the aliens are benign and have come to befriend us. This movie is of a much different and darker vein. It reminds me of 1996’s alien invasion movie Independence Day. This is a dark and grim film until the end and the aliens seem indestructible and insurmountable.

The film’s protagonist is Ray Ferrier played by Tom Cruise. His children come to visit as their mother (Ray’s ex-wife) and her new husband must travel to Boston to see her parents. Ray is an inept father who has never been too involved with his children. Not only is this an alien invasion movie but a tale of a father’s redemption in the eyes and minds of his estranged children. The poignant scene at the end where Ray’s daughter is reunited with their mother is moving. Ray is also reunited with his son whom he had feared dead.

Ray and his children flee to escape the aliens and are helped by a character played by Tim Robbins. Mr. Robbins plays a slightly unhinged survivalist whom was formally a paramedic and in my opinion steals his scenes with Cruise. He puts in a masterful performance and his scenes were some of the most memorable of the film for me. There were several tension filled scenes involving him.

The ending is predictable as all such movies of this kind are. What other could you expect out of a summer blockbuster? The humans prevail and the aliens are vanquished by a cause that is very scientific. I don’t want to give away too much so go see the film if you are interested. The film is closed with a narration by Morgan Freeman who explains what happens to the Aliens.

I give this film 3 stars out of 4 as it was a fun watch and kept me interested. There were several notable performances such as Tim Robbins and Dakota Fanning. Certainly not of the caliber of Spielberg’s earlier works such as Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan but good none the less. An interesting one hour and fifty seven minutes.