Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Passing Thought

On the way back to work from Kroger this afternoon (go hot bar) I had a passing thought. Think about the people in your life who aren't the primary characters, but are still close enough you feel you know them: your cousin, your old roommate, your buddy from church. How often do we hear stories from their lives that are of life-altering significance, but allow our over-clocked minds to water them down to bullet points on gossip lists?

So-and-so lost a job. So-and-so changed jobs. So-and-so is expecting a baby. So-and-so's mother died. We can't exude empathy for everyone, can we? Walk a mile in someone else's shoes doesn't mean walk a mile in everyone else's shoes. I'm not saying we're wrong for giving little more than a passing thought when we here of these things in the lives of others, I'm just sort of acknowledging it with a raised eyebrow and my weight in the back of my seat. How strange it is that each one of us lives out an infinitely complex drama of our own, day by day and elbow to elbow.

The only thing deeper than that, my friends, is a deep dish meat lover's pizza from pizza hut.
Time to anthropomorphize my chihuahua for a bit and go to sleep.


Nothing too epic to report today, only another embarrassing bathroom experience.

(Yeah, you know it's a good post when it starts off like that)

So I go into the bathroom at lunch today and I could swear there was no one else in there when I went into the stall, certainly not a portly gentleman with white hair. At some point, I decide it is the perfect time to sing a couple of bars from 2pac's hit song, "Changes" in a high-pitched girly voice. I'm alone in the bathroom, right? Why not? And who do you think I run into the moment I exit the stall? Yes. It was a portly gentleman with white hair. How did he get there!? That isn't the type of thing you just casually overlook; I would have had to squeeze by him to get into the stall in the first place.

This just proves a long spoken truth: finance people are sneaky. Dangerously sneaky.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Thirty minutes.

This isn't an uncommon thing, these thirty minutes. I spent them today as I do most days, on I-40 or I-440. They are, if you are wondering, the thirty minutes in which traffic implodes on itself and I am left helplessly watching my fuel gauge die a painful death. Today,  I calmed myself with NC State's college radio station.*

I am tempted to restrain myself from going off on some witty rant about how much I hate Raleigh traffic because I'm sure we've heard or read all that somewhere else before. We are all well aware of the many manifestations of road woe, most of which has been better recounted by more capable writers, more capable bloggers, even more capable Sloans who also write blogs (example: my cousin's 2004 blog). In spite of this, I still have a rantacious itch after today.

So here is my beef - where is the payoff? I really just want a little payoff for the wait. I'll explain: if I'm going to wait for a half hour to merge onto I-40 from the beltline, I want there to be a sea of cars stretching out for miles before me when I get there. No, this isn't some sick traffic masochism, it's just because I find it almost as obnoxious to wait so long to make the merge and then watch as nothing else legitimately delay-worthy turns up. Within minutes I was zooming down the road not knowing who to be angry at and thus being angry at anyone driving near me - especially the guy with the gelled hair that looks like he's having a great day.

And what could be even worse than finding nothing at all? Finding that it was caused by a "wreck." Today the "wreck" that stopped traffic for TEN miles turns out to be a '98 SUV with a severely bent fender being eyeballed by two head-scratchers standing next to an similarly barely damaged Ford Crown Vic in the median.

Seriously? Who slows down to look at this? Is Monday night television failing you?

You know what wreck I would slow my car (and thus everyone behind me for miles) for? Maybe, maybe, this one:
An 18-wheeler, no, a 19-wheeler (why not?) with a flat bed carrying a blue whale skeleton being delivered to a museum in Maine collides with a oil tanker head-on and both of them slide into a firework truck which ignites and sends flaming, exploding whale remnants all over the highway and surrounding tree line.

As for the gentleman with the mildly inconvenient insurance claim ahead of him - yeah, I'm not impressed by your wreck, sir. My apologies.

*For those of you who listen to NC State Radio, does anyone else ever wonder if those "DJ's" really know what's going on? I'm not talking about on their show, during which they are obviously clueless, I'm just talking about life in general. Like, I'm not sure they know where they put the shoes they wore last night. If nothing else they do know one thing - How to find the single from that one band with the moaning lady in the background layered behind three lead guitars and a techno drum beat. On lockdown.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


At this point I'm just writing for the sake of writing. I have this thing where I know I should be productive and do something of great import, but I delay it thinking, "Another day I'll get some kind of better inspiration which will eliminate the risk of any wasted effort." Today was one of those days which I hoped would be incredibly creatively productive since it is the first Saturday I've spent entirely at home in weeks. The only two things I accomplished (it's 11:52 as of this writing) are getting my hair cut and washing a couple of loads of clothes.

Before you discredit me for my laziness, I'd just like to toss out there that I hadn't had a hair cut in nearly 2 months and my clothes have been lying in a pile in my room for half that time. Okay, not really.
Okay. Kind of really.

So, in that light, it was a fairly serious couple of accomplishments, I do believe.

The phone just rang.


Never underestimate how unsettling it can be to have a phone in your house ring just once at 11:55 in the evening.

I could imagine close to 1,000 different sinister scenarios that could be behind that phone ringing, but in the interest of saving time and reducing your perception of me as the paranoid type, I shall only describe one.


A crazed crack-head with a knife sees the house and thinks it looks nice enough to be worth breaking into. He plans for three days how he will do it. First he stakes out the property, taking note of all the entrances, who drives which vehicle, and when we will be most vulnerable to a crazed crack-head knifing attack. After determining that time to be exactly 11:55 PM, he takes the home number from the phone book and lurks in the shadows with his safelink cell phone, then gives us a ring. We are unnerved by the phone call but it distracts us from - THE BATHROOM WINDOW DOWNSTAIRS. He crawls in through the window and makes a B-line for the room in which I sit. Like a trained ninja, he hurls a throwing knife at me. The resulting struggle is later referred to in the papers as "The Four Oaks Crazed Crack-Head Knife Butchering of 2009." 37 people, four squirrels, and roughly 3,000 mosquitos show up for my closed casket funeral and burial service.

Of course, I'm not serious.

I am, however, checking the locks before I go to bed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Soda water and Salmon Bagels

Sunday Morning television blows my mind. It's like all quality programming is substituted for someone with a home camcorder filming regular people sitting in their living rooms talking about random garbage. This is the norm from anywhere between 8am-1pm. Apparently they also all have editing programs with effects processes first developed in the early 1990's. If I see one more neon blue background with credits rolling over it I may lose all hope in Sunday morning programming.

Which might not be a bad thing, maybe it's just one little way God encourages us to get up and go to church in the morning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don't You Tell Me What I Cannot Do. Can Not Do.

This is a brief one: 
THINGS I MISS ABOUT COLLEGE - 1 year and 4 months out

1. Learning. I know, cheesy - but I liked learning especially if it was a class I took out of legitimate interest. 
2. My Freshman and Sophomore Years. They were the best. 
3. Gratuitous amounts of unhealthy food and 0% fatty guilt. 
4. Brett Roach standing in a chair with a banana in his hand when I got back to our dorm room. 
5. The people I would talk to in the common room in Schwartz, (my dorm) most of whom I have forgotten the names of. 
6. UNCW's Campus, in it's former state of beauty. 
7. Sharing a meal with close friends in Wag.
8. Hanging out after CCF (aCRe)
9. Hosting a radio show with Devin. (A very ill-fated podcast)
10. Not caring that I didn't know what to do when I graduated.
11. Learning to play guitar.
12. Learning the meaning of growth in hard times. 
13. Yes, even Bryan's earliest attempts at learning keyboard. 
14. Being generally happy and mostly idealistic.

Things I don't miss about college:
1. Skateboarders. Dirty, stinking skateboarders.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Smells like 8-year old spirit

Yesterday, as I drove into Four Oaks I made a split-second decision to turn down the road that goes by the back side of my old elementary school. I must have driven by this road at least 4,000 times since the last time I actually went down it. For some reason, a random image from childhood flashed back into my mind, going to see a log cabin that some old man had lived in and had kept up as a town "historic landmark." If my memory serves me, we just sort of toddled into the one-room cabin and, upon finding nothing of interest there, toddled back out. I'm sure the old man felt he was doing some great educational service to us - the best I can do for him is remember it being there. It happened to be situated just across the street from our middle school soccer/football field (the middle school that I went to used to be on the same property as the elementary school). I would sometimes pause from running in the physical fitness test, or look up from a game of kickball and see it perched on its old stone foundation, watching us like a curious elderly gentleman sitting beneath a shade tree. Though it never served as a setting for a landmark event in my life, I still kind of liked it. Now it is just a memory of a memory, and I think that's why it was so surreal to see it yesterday for the first time in years.

Also, on that playground are lots of places that do serve as settings for landmark events in my life. There is the place where the old jungle gym was - where Bradley and I would play out imaginary games of Batman and Robin. There is the row of trees upon who's root I tripped and broke my other wrist (the first one I broke in pre-school playing duck-duck goose. I still have an aversion to that game). Then there was the tragic snack-time patio experience where I watched Mason, the bully, knock a lady bug out of Dale's hand and stomp on it. Dale cried - I cried. It was horrible.

One memory, however, troubles me the most. From the middle of the play ground I can vividly remember turning my head to the left and seeing what I swore to be the Bat Mobile driving down the main road past our school.  This would have been when I was in first grade or kindergarten, but I knew - I knew I saw the Bat Mobile - yes, the REAL Bat Mobile. I took great pleasure in bragging/telling all of the other kids in a tone which I usually reserved for speaking of ghosts or dead people or other serious things, about how certain I was that I had seen the Bat Mobile that day. As I stood across the street and watched the outlines of children at play project from my mind onto the empty playground, I grew more and more frustrated at my inability to conjure that specific scene. A few minutes passed and eventually I put the car back into drive and pulled away from the playground and my nostalgia; but I couldn't drive away from that curiosity, and the nagging question still remains:

Did I really see the Bat Mobile?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Belts are for Punks

I thought before I went to bed tonight I might relate a couple of humorous stories from my first week at work. The first day we took several breaks and, not knowing anyone and not wanting to sit in my chair for 15 minutes, I would get up, leave the classroom and wander about aimlessly. Around lunch I found myself with nothing useful to do and thus decided to go to the bathroom without bothering to consult my bladder as to whether or not it actually needed emptying. I walked in and there was another trainee standing by a urinal. As I walked into the stall panic struck me and I found myself legitimately fretting, "What if I can't produce enough pee to convince this guy that I really have to go?" Immediately I caught myself and laughed out loud at both the absurdity of the thought and at how seriously I had thought it. Needless to say, I think he took more notice of my unprovoked laughter at a toilet than he ever would of my wiz duration.

The second story is really just an observation I've made - we never really grow up. We get more knowledge and take on more responsibility but some constants will always apply that maybe we didn't consider when we were kids. Nowhere is this truth more evident than while eating at the "lunch table" with your coworkers - something I learned in that first week. I watched as 5 grown men aged from 23 to 29 excitedly emptied their crayon colored lunch boxes onto the table and, after rubbing their hands together first for good measure, dug in. Our conversation rarely touches on the performance of the S&P or wives, bills, etc., but, in all honesty, is much more likely center around who's sandwich or Gladware encased entree looks the best.

"Hey Nelson, what are you having? You gonna eat all that?"

So far the only differences I can discern from this setting and my experience in a middle school lunchroom  comes down to us having legitimate facial hair, a wardrobe requirement which includes a tie, and there being a bubble gum deficiency under the tables. Pretty much everything else feels familiar, and I'm just fine with that.