Monday, July 31, 2006
Southern bachelor nights
Went swimming tonight. I've lived in this town for almost a year and had never been to the city pool. An old friend, we'll call her Jamie, asked me to go. She reads my blog occasionally but says since I use fake names she can't ever figure out who's who.

Basically it was me, Jamie, fifty kids between the ages of three and sixteen, about fifteen parents, and one very cute (hopefully) eighteen-year-old lifeguard. As stated before, I'm no good at ages, so she could have been anywhere from twenty-one down to embarrassed-I-was-looking-at-her.

She kept looking at me, but it was probably more of a where-is-that-guy's-kid or an I-better-keep-an-eye-on-this-old-guy-who-keeps-gasping-for-breath look. I thought about yelling at some random kid from time to time. "Connor! Behave!"

All in all, I must admit it was a lot of fun. There were a couple of diving boards, a regular one and a high dive, a couple of slides. And I am sure I will have more than a couple of sore muscles in the morning.

And now it's time for more bachelor tales.

The other night, I was hungry, and began rummaging thru the kitchen for something to fix for supper. My first idea was to fix some fish sticks, macaroni & cheese, and green beans.

But I realized that I only have two pots, and one of them was dirty. I used to have three, but I think the handle broke off of one, or I used it to drain the oil out of my car or something.

Rather than quickly washing the dirty pot by hand, which I seem to have forgotten how to do, I decided to put it into the dishwasher. Along with the other dishes that were piled in the sink. So that idea was out, because I'd need two pots for beans and macaroni.

Back to square one, I remembered I had bought a big pack of Butterball sandwich meat, chicken and turkey, the last time I was at the grocery store. I decided to have a sandwich and a big glass of chocolate milk.

The sandwich meat was fine. However, my bread was two days old. And the chocolate milk was three. Right on that line of it might be OK to drink, but there's a fair chance it could make me sick. This, my friends, is an all too common situation in the life of the bachelor.

Remembering that I have a five-year no-vomit streak going, I decided not to chance the milk. So I put it back in the fridge. Then examined the bread. While it was definitely not what I would call fresh, there were no greenish or other abnormal growths visible to the naked eye.

Therefore, I went with the turkey and cheese sandwich. On two-day old bread. With a soft drink. I may run out of fresh bread and milk, and... clean pots. But I always have the fridge stocked with three or four different kinds of cokes. That's a staple.

A couple of nights later, my sister called out of the blue.

"Are you watching CMT?"
"No. Why?"
"Turn over there. George Strait is on Hee Haw."

Now there's something you don't hear everyday. Unless I unknowingly hit 88 miles per hour in a Delorean and this is indeed 1985. In which case I'm going back up to the pool to check out the lifeguard.

Does anyone remember Hee Haw? I can't even believe I'm typing Hee Haw. I'm sure at least a few of you do. As I recall, it came on here Saturday nights at 6:30. And my parents made me watch it every single week. I hated that show. And I got so sick of that stupid donkey.

Well apparently, I like it now. The show, that is. Not the donkey. I turned over there and George was singing "Amarillo By Morning." I watched the rest of that episode and part of another. And I've caught it on a couple more times since then.

As I was sitting here tonight, thinking about what I was going to post, Shane called.

"What are you doing?"
"Nothing much."
"Are you watching CMT?"
"No."
"Turn it over there right quick."

Yep. You guessed it.

Nothing says southern more than Hee Haw. Except maybe some fatback, fried flat potatoes, and blackeyed peas.

And nothing says bachelor more than two-day old bread. Except maybe globs of dried toothpaste in the sink. I don't know why they make it so hard to keep it on the toothbrush.

"Night swimming in her diamond dress. Making small circles move across the surface. Stand watching from the steady shore, feeling wide open..."
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Woven
She called today.

Someone emailed her. Someone who reads my blog. To tell her I might not be doing alright. And she might want to check on me.

She did.

We talked. For an hour or so. At first it didn't help. Then it did.

She knows me. She told me things I didn't want to hear. But I needed to hear them.

Something about her grounds me. Reminds me where I'm from. Who I am.

By the end of the conversation, I felt better. Stronger.

Knowing that someone cared enough to pick up the phone and call when they heard I was down.

As the conversation faded, we talked about having dinner one night this week.

Maybe we will. Maybe we won't.

Maybe we won't chat again for three months. Maybe it doesn't matter.

Maybe knowing she's there when I need her, really need her, is more than enough.

Maybe an unexpected phone call and a one-hour conversation with an old friend on a Sunday afternoon was exactly what I needed.

"Ain't it funny how you always find just what you need. Somebody must be prayin' for me..."
Friday, July 28, 2006
Sleep
Tonight will be the first night we won't talk
I'll wonder where you are
I'll wonder if you're wondering about me
I'll try to sleep
But sleep won't come

Tonight I know I'll lie awake in bed
I'll do my best to forget
But thoughts of you will keep running thru my head
I'll try to sleep
But sleep won't come

Tonight I know that time is going to crawl
I'm sure I'll pace the floor
And notice things I never noticed about these walls
I'll try to sleep
But sleep won't come

Tonight will be the first night we won't talk
I'll wonder where you are
I'll close my eyes and see you in his arms

And I'll try to sleep

"And there'll be no rest for these tired eyes. I'm marking it down to learning..."

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Thursday, July 27, 2006
Greetings from Boring, AL
Population, one. I'm Mayor Bone. Welcome to our town. My life.

My apologies for lack of posts. And lack of updates on my day-to-day life. A lot has been going on in my life, and in my head. And evidently the things that are on my mind have taken away any ability I may once have had to create moderately interesting posts. Recently, everytime I've tried to recap my day or my weekend, it ended up being about as interesting as a bingo announcer. You know, "Under the I... seventeen. I... seventeen."

I wanted to blog about last weekend. My Dad's birthday was Friday. I went to dinner with him and his wife, my sister and her husband. I wanted to blog about how much younger he seems now than he did five years ago.

For several years, Dad looked and acted ten or fifteen years older than his age. But now, his attitude is a thousand times better. He walks for exercise almost everyday. He's in better shape. For years, we bought him 2XL or even 3XL shirts. But he told my sister if we got him a shirt this year to get XL.

So much of life depends on our attitude. And he's proof of that. Now he seems younger. He has a lot more life. And he should. He's only 56. He seems happier. And that makes me happy.

While shopping for Dad's birthday, when shopping for anyone really, I sometimes like to reward myself by purchasing an item or two, or, six, for me. Somehow, Dad wound up two DVD's and a cap. I wound up with two DVD's and four CD's--Snow Patrol's Eyes Open, The Outfield's greatest hits, and a couple of Tim McGraw CD's I didn't have.

Sunday afternoon, LJ, Wolfgang, and I drove down to Kinlock. (Thinking it's weird looking at last year's post that we went almost exactly the same weekend.) We rode in LJ's Mustang convertible. When we got there and he was putting the top up, he mentioned that he'd heard a funny noise when he put the top down leaving his house. Turns out, the back window had shattered. Uh, yeah, that would be the funny noise.

Tiny pieces of glass were everywhere. It wasn't funny. But it was. WG and I would say things like, "I forgot to get the sunscreen out of the car. Hey, LJ, give me the keys.... Oh, uh, nevermind. I'll just climb thru the window." That went on the whole day, cause we're mature like that. If anyone can run something in the ground...

I also learned yet another new and astonishing fact about one of my friends. Kinlock has a falls you can slide down. Maybe fifteen feet high. The water is shallow at the bottom there. Only three or four feet. There are also at least three different ledges that people jump off of into the swimming hole. In my best estimation, they range in height from probably 20 feet up to about 60.

The water is obviously deeper where you jump off the ledges. Again estimating, it's probably between seven and eight feet. So we all slid down the falls when we got there. LJ and I swam over, climbed up and jumped off the lowest rock. After awhile, I noticed WG was just sitting and watching everyone. I approached him.

"Why aren't you jumping off the rocks?"
"I can't swim."
"Uhh, then why do you come here?"
"I have fun just watching everyone else."

I can't even begin to... I mean, I'm fine if you can't swim. I can't roller skate. But I don't go to the skating rink and just watch.

Although I will admit, there was one kid there, in serious need of a mansierre, who was providing entertainment for most everyone. He was spry. Doing flips off the lowest rock. I'm not even sure I could turn a flip on solid ground.

Monday was my sister's two-year wedding anniversary. Had lunch with her. She is excited about going to Atlanta next weekend for my cousin's wedding. Because apparently, she's never been to Atlanta! I know I raised her better than that.

Perhaps I'll regain my ability to be moderately interesting and engaging before I lose all my readers. But for now...

Under the O... sixty-seven. O... sixty-seven.

Please, someone bingo.

"I ain't got many friends left to talk to. Nowhere to run when I'm in trouble. You know I'd do anything for you..."
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What I miss
You know what I miss?

That feeling of security. The feeling that comes after you've been together awhile. When you know that no matter what problems arise, what petty arguments you might have, you're gonna work thru it. That you're on the same team. Fighting for love. Not fighting against each other.

Being on double dates and shooting knowing glances at each other across the table. Glances that say, "Can you believe these two" and "I'm ready whenever you are" and "Let's get out of here."

When she knows what I'm thinking. Even when I'm not thinking it. When I can't figure out what type of food I'm in the mood for, and she makes the perfect suggestion. And it seems she knows me better than I know myself.

I miss birthdays and holidays. I miss Christmas Eve, after all the family stuff is done. Coming back home, just us two. And just being. Talking. Hanging out.

That's my favorite time. When it's just us two. Almost to the point where hanging out with other people often seems like a chore.

Tracing the outline of her face with my finger over and over and over. So that if I ever lost my sight, I would still be able to recognize her.

I miss spontaneous road trips. Her falling asleep in the passenger seat. And me watching her and smiling.

Surprising her. Seeing that look of happiness on her face. Standing beside her. Carrying her when she needs it. Stepping back sometimes and letting her shine.

I miss knowing someone will be there. No matter what each day brings. No matter what goes wrong in my life, or what goes right. She'll be there to listen. To share in the joy and the pain. We'll be there for each other, thru the peaks and valleys.

Falling asleep each night knowing there is someone in this world who loves me with everything she is. Knowing she doesn't want anyone else. And neither do I.

That's what I miss.

"I think we should try. I think I could need this in my life. I think I'm scared. I think too much..."
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Over before it began
I remember it like it was twenty years ago. The day of the big fight. Cedric King, the reigning school bully. Against Billy Lansdell. The new kid. The transfer student.

Our middle school went from 4th to 7th grade. I was never sure why. Cedric had been terrorizing the halls and playgrounds all year. He wasn't that tall. And his eyes were not exactly straight, so it was impossible to tell if he was speaking to you. But he was built like a middleweight boxer.

Once I tripped him in PE while we were playing football. Everyone had always been afraid to tackle him. And I was sneaky like that. I was twelve. He was fifteen. His forearms were as big around as my legs. He got up and pushed me down and the PE teacher sent him to the office.

We laughed about it in the lunch line that day. He wasn't a bad guy, I don't think. Just a typical school bully compensating for shortcomings and insecurities.

Billy Lansdell was a big hulking figure. He was country strong. And shy. And still to this day, the only seventh grader in school history who legally drove a car to school. When you're 12 or 13, that seems cool.

Billy had transferred from a nearby school early that year. He never bullied anyone, far as I know. And always seemed a bit uncomfortable with the role into which he'd been thrust. Looking back, I don't think Billy ever really wanted to fight. It was everyone else who wanted him to. That year, he became our hope. Someone to stand up against the school bully. We left him no choice.

School was abuzz all that Friday. From the moment Billy arrived on campus, this day had seemed inevitable. Like two superpowers headed for a showdown. The atomic clock was about to strike midnight. And my seventh grade mind couldn't comprehend the magnitude of what might happen.

The fight was to take place in the schoolyard by the flagpole. My normal after school routine was to rush down to the 4th grade hall, and intentionally run into Keisha Cantrell. She was in my class, but would always leave that way to walk to the board of education, where her dad worked.

I lived for that blonde-haired girl to smile and tell me hi. But not today. I rushed out the main entrance and came upon a mob of students following Billy towards the flagpole. From across the schoolyard, an equally large mass of kids were approaching behind Cedric. This was it.

The two immovable objects met in the center of the school yard. Kids were yelling, cheering. This wasn't like your typical boys room fight where someone would inevitably step in and try to stop it. No one was about to stop this.

From my position, I couldn't hear what was said. And then. It was over.

All I could see was the crowd parting and Cedric and Billy walking away. Side by side. Smiling. Not a punch was thrown. What a letdown.

I never pondered why they didn't fight that day. Maybe they were both a little scared. Maybe some member of the faculty showed up and stopped it. Maybe neither of them really wanted to fight. Either way, Billy had stood toe to toe with him. That was a small victory.

I didn't stick around to think about it. Grabbed up my Trapper Keeper and ran down the sidewalk. The fight that never happened was over so quick that I knew there was a good chance I could still run into Keisha.

I don't recall seeing Billy or Cedric the next year when we made the jump to 8th grade and high school. Sometimes you wonder what happens to people like that.

"The angry boy, a bit too insane. Icing over a secret pain. You know you don't belong..."
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The hurt
Sometimes you have to suffer before you can write. Sometimes you have to get cut so that you can justly describe the pain. Sometimes you have to bleed to remember that you can still feel.

I didn't think it could happen again. I thought I was safely close to the shore. I thought my feet were firmly planted. But sometimes, you venture out further than you realize. And before you know it, a wave hits you like a brick wall, turns you upside down, and leaves you gasping for air.

And there's that old familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach. The emptiness and pain. It's been so long, I had forgotten how truly awful it feels.

I toss and turn all night long. Making deals with the devil to try and get some sleep. Because sleep is the only relief. But sleep doesn't come. No matter how many sleeping pills I take.

I feel like throwing up, but I can't. I feel like I should cry, but I won't. I vow I'll never let myself feel this way again. But I will.

It just hurts. And there is no cure. Except time. The slowest antidote ever created.

You win. I lose. But we both know you didn't play fair.

Not that anyone ever does.

"Make you stay wide awake. This is how a heart breaks..."
Monday, July 17, 2006
Co-ed showers
Hottest summer I can remember. Seems like it's been in the 90's every day since sometime in the spring. The highs are supposed to be near 100 here the next three days.

The heat is unrelenting. When you step outside, it envelopes you, warming every inch of your skin. It's like when you first get into a car after it's been sitting in the sun. I like to bask in it. For a minute or two. Then I'm ready for the AC. Not complaining though. I'd rather it be hot than cold.

A week ago Saturday, my AC went out at home. That night, I tossed and turned, throwing every piece of cover I had off the bed, eventually winding up much like I came into this world. Naked and whining. Someone came and fixed it Monday while I was at work.

At some point over that weekend, my computer contracted a virus. Norton wouldn't quarantine it. And by Wednesday, it had turned into like five viruses. So I had to wipe my hard drive clean and reimage it. That contributed to my lack of blogging last week. It was 10% computer problems, 90% writer's block. According to the latest Gallup poll.

Friday night, storms knocked out the power. It went off sometime after 10:00. After about an hour, I was getting really bored. But for some reason, I didn't want to go to bed until the power came back on. So I played games on my cell phone and even played my old Mattel football game. Some things are just more fun with two people.

Looking back, one might think it was not such a good week for me. Well, one would be wrong. Or maybe one would be right. Maybe I've lost my ability to be discomfited. Although by Saturday, I was beginning to wonder if I should leave the house.

In related news, the Taco Bell Corporation has seen a spike in its sales of chicken meximelts in the past week, as I have had no less than eight of the savory gustatory delights. And eight chicken meximelts a good week doth make.

Thanks to the Big Man for alerting me to the fact that I could still order them. Sadly, I never would have figured that out on my own. I had no idea chicken was so much more expensive than beef. Each specially made chicken meximelt is 60 cents more than its less tasty beef counterpart. No matter. I'm eating the extra expense and scarfing down meximelts like there's no tomorrow.

Saturday, I went to my first ever wedding shower. I thought showers were only for girls. Apparently, the new thing is to have a combined, co-ed shower. Or maybe that's just what my family decided to do. Taken out of context, those last two sentences are, um, odd.

At some point during the proceedings, my last remaining single cousin's fiancee offered to set me up with her 21-year-old college roomate. As I pondered the half-your-age-plus-seven formula, she added that said roomate is a music major.

Oh yeah, that makes a difference.

"Man, it's a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun..."
Friday, July 14, 2006
Safe
push you away
and slowly
you come back to me

i need your space
your indifference
it comforts me

you've never seen
my best face
never seen me shine

i could leave this
but i'll stay
think i'd miss your voice

if this is nothing
don't tell me
i'm good at fooling myself

if this is something
be careful
i'm no good at things that don't end

"That's all that I need. Yeah, someone else to cling to. Someone I can lean on until I don't need to..."

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I don't care if I never get back
"I've always liked Atlanta. And not just for the strip clubs." - Jon Stewart

I woke up Sunday morning around 6:00, to the world's loudest alarm clock. So I've been told by others who have heard it. And since it normally takes me a good ten minutes to even hear the alarm, I'm sure my neighbors love me. I had almost forgotten there even was a 6 AM. Been awhile since I'd seen it.

It's quite remarkable how much easier it is to wake up for a road trip than it is to wake up for work. I was excited. A trip to Atlanta to see my beloved Reds. A nice drive. A city I don't visit very often anymore. And baseball. Axl arrived shortly after 7. We were on the road by 7:30.

I wore a Reds t-shirt and cap, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. I put an extra pair of flip-flops in the back of the car, because I'm always afraid of blowing out a pair and having to walk barefooted thru a restaurant in some sort of Mentos commercial gone bad. Or worse, what if I had to pee? Public restroom. Me with only one shoe? That is a germophobic nightmare. I'd have to lop off my foot.

We made it to Atlanta in about three hours. Highlights of the drive included a train of five or six police cars lined up single file along an interstate on-ramp, taking off one-by-one like airplanes on a runway to chase down speeding cars. Because we all know, one of the most serious threats to society today is speeding. And besides that, the best time to catch someone speeding or drinking and driving would be Sunday morning around 10:00 AM.

Another highlight was when we reached the part of I-20 that is so bumpy and in such bad condition, it was making the CD player in my car skip unrelentingly. That's a fun ten miles.

Upon arriving, I paid $12 to park. It was around this time that I decided an excellent investment for my retirement would be to purchase a large parking lot. We walked to the stadium and purchased tickets. Our seats were down the left field line, fourteen rows up. Not bad. And we wound up sitting around a lot of Reds fans.

To me, Turner Field is rather boring. There's no view of the city skyline beyond the outfield wall. No view of anything really. It's fairly symmetric. Not a lot of history. Nothing distinguishing about it. It was part of the Olympic stadium built for the '96 Summer Games. The rest of the Olympic stadium was torn down and turned into parking.

Still, there's nothing like a day at the ballpark. College football is, and will probably always be, my favorite sport. But there's something about a summer day or night at the old ballgame. Eating a hot dog. Hoping to catch a homerun or foul ball. The seventh inning stretch. Seeing kids standing by the fence, hoping to get an autograph from some big league player. A game seemingly as old as time.

The Reds lost the game 8-3. Our best chance came when we put two runners on, down 6-3, bringing the tying run to the plate, and Griffey pinch hitting. But alas, there was no joy in Boneville, as mighty Griffey struck out. That's OK. Another great thing about baseball, there's almost always tomorrow. 162 games a year.

After the game, we headed downtown. We ate and watched the end of the World Cup at some Irish pub. A waitress with cute glasses and a tongue ring gave me excellent directions back to the interstate. She had a sort of a if-we-were-in-college-and-studying-late-at-night-we'd-probably-end-up-making-out vibe.

We got home a little after 8:00. The drive home was nice. I didn't even mind the ten miles of bumpiness on the way back. As we were about four songs into Axl's Steve Winwood greatest hits CD, and I was well past my Winwood limit, when the player started skipping.

As Axl took out the CD, I was certain there must indeed be higher love.

"Some people call me Maurice, cos I speak the pompatus of love..."

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Monday, July 10, 2006
I can't write
I can't write.

I've opened fifteen create-a-new-post windows (not all at once) and... nothing. Decided to take a break from the nothingness and fix some supper. Will blog more on the differences between and appropriate times to use "supper" and "dinner" at a later date.

I fixed Hamburger Helper. Cheeseburger Macaroni. Along with a delicious salad, composed of iceberg lettuce, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and a light raspberry vignagrette dressing.

And still, I can't write.

Imagine Pavarotti opening his mouth to sing and there being only silence. Michael Jordan taking and missing twenty jump shots in a row. Bobby Fischer forgetting the Grunfeld defense, going off into exile, forming anti-American opinions, and... Wait, scratch that last one. Bad example.

Imagine a bird grounded. Not being able to fly. Or sing. A fish not being able to swim. A cat with no purr or meow.

That's what it's like when a writer can't write.

"He says, Bill, I believe this is killing me, as a smile ran away from his face. Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star, if I could get out of this place..."
Friday, July 07, 2006
Frankenberry & chicken meximelts, where are you?
Pablo has learned a new trick. Or something. Where I live, the walls are pretty solid. I never hear voices or other noises coming from neighboring apartments. With one exception. For some reason, the sound of footsteps on the stairs carries from one apartment to the other. So I hear anytime someone is walking up or down stairs next door.

Apparently Pablo hears it, too. The other night, I was lying on the bed and he was resting in the bottom of his tank. I heard the neighbors walking on the stairs. As soon as I heard it, I noticed Pablo sprang to life and began swimming around. So I did a couple of tests when he was sleeping where I'd run up the stairs. Each time, he would be up and swimming around when I walked into the room.

I wonder if he has equated that noise to me appearing, since the first thing I do when I get home is run up the stairs and say hi to him. And I really wonder if this story deserved three paragraphs.

In other bachelor happenings, the other night at the grocery store I decided to purchase a box of Berry Lucky Charms. Since stores around here have stopped carrying my beloved Frankenberry (the only monster cereal I can find now is Count Chocula), I figured this must be General Mills replacement.

By the way, have you ever gotten a good look at that Lucky character? Take a good look at him sometime. He's freaky! If you saw him anywhere outside of a cereal commercial, you'd run for your life. But for some reason, you can get away with that look in the cereal mascot industry.

Anyway, I had my first bowl of Berry Lucky Charms yesterday. It was good. I just don't understand why they had to stop making Frankenberry. It seems they eventually end up taking away everything I love.

When I was in college, I would go to Taco Bell at least three days a week for lunch. And I'd almost always order three chicken mexi-melts. Tender chunks of chicken, three blend cheese, and fiesta salsa. Steamed and melted. Delicious! Not to mention they were less than a dollar each, which fit in well with my full-time-college-student-working-part-time budget.

So why did they stop offering them? I know they still have the capability. They still have beef meximelts. Still have chicken soft tacos. I see them on the menu. We all know they still have tortillas. I wish I had inside connections at my local Taco Bell. I bet if you knew the right people, they could still make you one.

It is this blogger's humble opinion that no matter what combinations of chicken, beef, steak, cheese, tortillas, lettuce, sour cream, refried beans, and salsa they come up with, there'll never be anything so tasty as the chicken meximelt.

Those are just two examples. There are hundreds. Or at least four or five more. And don't even get me started on TV shows. Would it kill TVLand to run a Car 54 Where Are You or Welcome Back, Kotter rerun some Saturday morning at 2 AM? I'm not even asking for a weekend marathon. Just an episode or two. Al Lewis is one of the most beloved actors in TV history. How about a little respect!

Uh... as you can see, there's not a whole lot going on in Boneville lately. Oh, except one little thing... I'm going to see the Reds play Sunday!!!

Sure we've lost six in a row. And sure it's in Atlanta rather than Great American Ballpark. And sure our bullpen sucks. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. The main thing is, I'll be there. And we're still in second place. I think. And Arroyo is scheduled to pitch Sunday. I'm excited!

Have a great weekend! And if you feel the overwhelming need to comment, I'd be curious to know, what products do you wish they'd bring back?

"There's a holdup in the Bronx. Brooklyn's broken out in fights. There's a traffic jam in Harlem that's backed up to Jackson Heights..."
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Tuesday's gone
If the names Duke Lavery and Sean Donely mean anything to you, IM me and we'll chat.

It seems the older I get, the less time I get to spend with aunts and uncles and cousins. The less I see certain friends. The difference may be ever so slight sometimes. But still, I recognize it. So these days, when I do get to see them, I cherish those times.

Lil' Bootay was home from South Carolina for the 4th. It was good to hang out with her Saturday night. The evening's activities included dinner and bowling with friends. And for some unbeknownst reason, me doing my best Joey Gladstone impression, making funny noises whenever I passed the ketchup, salt, and sundry other condiments and amenities to anyone.

Got to spend a lot of time with family the past few days. Saw my Dad on Saturday. Driving home, I realized that since I've moved, I only see him maybe once a month. And then, it's usually just meeting at a restaurant to eat. My parents aren't old, but... I feel like I need to make more of an effort to see him.

Overall, the weekend (meaning Friday thru Tuesday, even though I had to work Monday) was filled with much good food, multiple cookouts, and finally, last night, fireworks. Mom called and said some family was getting together at my fave aunt's house to shoot fireworks and that my uncle from Galveston was supposed to be there. I realized I had not seen any fireworks yet, and wanted to see my uncle, so I put on my pants and went.

I don't know how it is where you live, but here we put on our own fireworks displays. We know all the major fireworks by name. And what most of them do. We also know there has never been a firework created that you can't hold and/or throw, no matter what the warning label may say. Those labels are for children. Not wise, experienced pyrotechnicians like ourselves.

Some may say that's dangerous. I say, you haven't lived until a firecracker has gone off in your hand. Until you've accidentally caught a field, tree, or some structure on fire. Until you've driven down a country road and had bottle rockets shot at your vehicle by some future fireworks aficionado.

It has been my experience that these displays involve the males--I would differentiate here between men and kids, but when it comes to fireworks, the difference is negligible--picking out and lighting the fireworks. While the females sit in the yard or on the porch and watch. They may also occasionally applaud. Or maybe that's just my family.

As I was driving to my aunt's last night, there were many of these homemade displays along the way. When I arrived, I chose to sit and watch rather than participate in the re-creation of the discovery of fire with the other males.

As they shot the final fireworks of the night, the grand finale as it were, I turned to watch my seven-year-old cousin. She watched in wide-eyed amazement at the loud, colorful displays. All the fireworks in the world couldn't compare to the look in her eyes.

It was a perfect way to wind down the holiday. Although I ended up missing my uncle by seconds, according to everyone there. My last remaining single cousin, who is getting married next month, was there with his fiancee. She is the sweetest thing. As much as I hate to be the last single cousin, he could not possibly have done any better.

They had been to New York recently. My cousin told me they ate at the diner that Monk's on Seinfeld is modeled after and he thought of me. I like that I'm the biggest Seinfeld fan that any of my friends or family know. Really like it. Probably more than I should.

Driving home last night with the radio up and the sunroof open, I just wanted to keep driving. Take a detour and put in another CD and just keep going. To somewhere. Anywhere. But it was already 11:30. And I had to work this morning. Nights like that, I wish would never end.

But they always do.

"Are you alone? Can you talk to an old friend? Right or wrong, I had to hear your voice again. Unwritten law, protocol, says to leave the past alone..."
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Independence Day
"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in." ~ George McGovern

This morning
We woke up in a soft, warm bed
We slept in late because we were off work
They woke up in a place we can't imagine
A million miles from home
That is, if they slept at all

This afternoon
While we're eating more than we should
Laughing and talking with family and friends
They'll only be risking their lives
Like every other day
Just so we can

This evening
When we watch the sky for fireworks
And ooo and ahh at the explosions
They'll be watching, too
Praying they don't see any
Thankful to survive one more day

Tonight
Before we go to sleep
Our family safe and secure
Our biggest worry dreading work tomorrow
Will we think about them
Even for a second

We could never thank them enough
But let us never not thank them

Please come home soon

"If you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall, some gave all..."