Archive for February 2012

Love Letters

February 27, 2012

Molly Maynard knows how to lay down the guilt, and I’m glad she does. I’ve told people for a couple of years that the best show I’ve seen in this area was Tick. Tick… Boom! from Company of Dreams. I think it got topped this weekend.

Arts Boyd County produced Love Letters as a fund raiser for this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park. It’s a very simple, two-person show, where those two people sit and read the letters they wrote to each other over the course of their lives. The letters were funny and charming, dark and sad, and moving in every way. They performed this past weekend, and I got to see the final show on Sunday. It was a very simple set, consisting of two writing desks, and it was performed to a very intimate audience, numbering twelve. That was the only thing that I didn’t like: the audience size. While it was nice to be a part of such a small group, the show was deserving of selling out the theater all three nights it ran.

It’s now confession time. I had no intentions of seeing this show. I knew the synopsis: Two people sitting and reading love letters to each other. It did not sound at all interesting to me. I completely judged the book by its lovey-dovey, marshmallowy cover. Instead of seeing the show, I was just going to make a donation to ABC. I spent Friday night hanging out with my bestie. Saturday, I went to a concert in Ironton. While the performers were quite talented, most of the musical selection didn’t interest me. I planned to spend Sunday afternoon cleaning my guns and finishing laundry (or in the alternative, going to work, which I ended up doing after the show). Fortunately, I went to IHOP after the concert, where I bumped into Molly (the producer), the director, and a bunch of people who had just gone to the show. Molly guilted me into going, and I’m incredibly thankful for that, even if she did lie about it! Even though you don’t read this blog, thanks, Molly!

After the show ended, I went upstairs to give Molly a piece of my mind about lying to me the night before. After I had done that, she said the two actors would be up shortly. I stayed and talked to the other people that I knew there. After awhile, the actors came up and started mingling with the few of us that had come. The woman, Lynette, came up to me and addressed me as her Winnie-the-Pooh buddy. It was then that I remembered that she had sat behind me at a show at the Paramount in the fall. We had talked for about 25 or 30 minutes before the show started. She had recognized me from the shows I had done, and we just started talking shop.

At the end of the day, I got to see an excellent show and spend time with friends and people I barely know. I’m very grateful that Molly has a talent with guilt.

What was I saying?

February 27, 2012

Why is it that I can’t think of any of the wonderful topics to write about that popped into my head last week? You see, I have this problem. I used to think it was “ADD” (short attention span – thus forgetfulness). Now, I’ve come to realize that it’s called “being human”.

I’m pretty sure I had no intention of writing about the Academy Awards, since I didn’t watch them. Based on the comments I’ve seen on facebook, Angelina Jolie needs to eat something, Jennifer Lopez needs to cover up a little bit better, and the Academy gave the middle finger to sound technicians everywhere by giving best picture to a silent movie.

I know I feel that everyone should go to Rev. Bugg’s Sunday School class about why we worship the way we do, but I don’t think the people who read this blog are the ones who need to be concerned with it.

Jeremy Lin is still playing basketball, and ESPN realized the “chink” is not just part of a common sports analogy but also a highly offensive racial slur.

I helped a friend paint her bathroom, put up a mirror, and remove an old sink cabinet. In the process, the mirror fell from the wall and a water pipe broke. I was not responsible for either, although I did act like the Dutch boy for about five minutes.

I’ve dated as many woman in the past five months as I had in the previous five years. Hopefully, that’s a trend that will balance out soon.

I watched Love Letters at ACTC on Sunday. Yeah. That one will do. Expect a post on Love Letters sometime today!

Taxes and Shiloh

February 17, 2012

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that my taxes are done. This is the earliest I’ve ever had them prepared! I can now get on with my life without having to worry about them in April, so there’s one less thing to stress about!

Now I just have to get a bunch of work done before deadlines and find NCOs for Shiloh at the end of March.

Right. I haven’t said anything about Shiloh, which is still a month and a half away, probably the reason I haven’t said anything about it. I went to a meeting last weekend, and while I was there, I was given command of a company for the event. My first thought was that I would have to brush up on both my company and battalion level drill instead of just company level. Then it hit me when I got home that I have to find sergeants and corporals for the event, too. It turns out that I was the only person who registered for the company who had offered to be a sergeant, and there was one other who offered to be a corporal, although he now believes he may have National Guard training that weekend. I have a very short list of people that I trust to be 1st Sgt, and so far, two of them have told me they can’t. I’m now down to my last couple of choices and fully expecting both to say that they are committed to other units for the event. On the bright side, I get to command a company for the 150th anniversary of the battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburg Landing if you prefer). It’s going to be great to not have taxes looming over my head while I’m there!

2012 Grammys

February 13, 2012

I think the correct way to spell it is “Grammys” although it could be “Grammies.” For some reason, “Grammies” sounds like a snack food for British kids.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how to spell Grammys. I’m here to talk about the ceremony: the one I slept through. This was completely unintentional. I was exhausted and lied down for a nap around 4 or 4:30 and slept, with only one interruption, until 4 in the morning, when I went back to sleep for another couple of hours. I noticed a tweet during the half hour that I was awake that was something about Chris Brown dancing with bats. That’s when I first realized that I missed the Grammys.

So apparently, Chris Brown was performing at the Grammys. This surprised me, because I could have sworn that he was nearly universally disliked and still under probation. Apparently, that’s not the case, at least one the disliked portion. Here’s the mix in the form of celebrity Twitter feeds.  According to less-than-irrefutable sources, Rihanna and Chris Brown are even back together. Some writers didn’t feel the need to point why that the choice to have Brown perform is controversial. Others only referenced it as a way to say how much of a recovery his career has made. An article on the show celebrating the life of Whitney Houston didn’t bother to mention the irony of Brown performing.

A writer for Philadelphia Magazine got it. The first thing that clued me in on this Grammy performance, though, was a blog on HelloGiggles. The entry chronicles the response to the the abuse since it was first reported. It seems a lot of the sentiments expressed at that time haven’t changed either. If you really want to get your blood boiling, look at the comments section of the link to the report that Rihanna and Brown are back together.

The most disgusting part about it is the statement that Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich made to ABC: “If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us awhile to kind of the over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” I’m really sorry you had to go through that Mr. Ehrlich. I’m sure that Rihanna is also sorry for getting beaten and choked, because she would never wish that on you. I’m sorry…. but this is a little bigger than your awards show. This is society accepting and promoting a man who assaulted his girlfriend. You only have so much control over how many people buy his albums and request his songs on the radio, but you have total control over whether you have him a stage to blow off his crime against Rihanna and by implication, every other instance of domestic abuse. People may want him, but you should feel a bigger responsibility to society and the stigma placed on the true victims of domestic violence. You may have, but probably didn’t, lose ratings from not having Chris Brown on your awards show for the past two years, but you are not the victim of his crime. The victim was the young woman, who was left bloodied and unconscious from Chris Brown’s violent attack. All you saw was that he sold tons of music and you couldn’t have him on the show because he had a restraining order placed against him by an artist he physically beat. You couldn’t have him then because everyone would talk about how she wasn’t invited. Now that the restraining order has expired, you’ve jumped all over the chance to jump on the Chris Brown money-wagon. The worst part is that you did it on a night dedicated to the memory of a woman, who dealt with the same thing for a large part of her life. It’s like you gave a large middle finger to each and every person who has been the victim of domestic violence, and a pat on the back to those who committed it. Well, I’m sorry… but you’ve lost a viewer of future awards shows as long as you’re in charge of them.

Florence Green

February 8, 2012

I’ve blogged about World War I veterans before, but apparently, not on this blog. After some searching, I discovered that the last time I wrote about veterans of the Great War was in March of 2007, when the last American Navy and female veterans passed away in the same week. Frank Buckles, the last living American WWI veteran, passed away in February of 2011. Claude Choules died in May of 2011. He was the last surviving combat veteran of World War I.

Today I found out that Florence Green passed away on Saturday in King’s Lynn, England. She served in the WRAF (Women’s Royal Air Force) during the last year of the war. She was a mess steward at RAF bases in Marham and Narborough, England. The WRAF had women serving as mechanics, drivers, cooks, and office clerks in order to free men to serve in combat roles, according to the British National Archives. Florence Green was 110 years old. She was the last veteran of World War I. A generation has now passed on. It’s up to us now to continue the legacy of those who served in the Great War. Soon, the same will be said of World War II. Take some time to talk to a veteran about their service. One day, they won’t have the ability to share their experiences, and it will be up to us to keep their stories alive.

Doctor Who: The Mountaintop That Is Traveling With the Doctor

February 8, 2012

It’s 12:19 on a Wednesday morning. I can’t sleep. I was about to pop in an episode of Doctor Who, one of my favorite shows of all time, when I remembered I had started an entry on Sunday that I never got around to completing, because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take it. I’ve just decided to take it in both of the directions that I was considering! Here it is:

I was sitting watching Doctor Who Sunday morning, (Now you see why watching Doctor Who reminded me that this was here.) and a piece of dialogue jumped out at me. The set-up is this: Donna Noble had been caught up in a plan for an alien to use the Earth as a breeding ground for her arachnid children at the beginning of the previous season. She met the Doctor, who saved the day while introducing her to the concept of space and time travel. After their brief adventure, the Doctor went on his way, taking on a young physician named Martha Jones as his companion for the rest of the season, until she decided to return to Earth to continue her life. The following dialogue is from Series 5, Episode 2 “Partners in Crime.” This is all copyright by BBC, so hopefully they don’t shut down my blog and sue me for thousands of pounds.

Donna: Still on your own?
Doctor: Yeah. Well, no. I had this friend. Martha, she was called. Martha Jones. She was brilliant, and I destroyed half her life. But she’s fine. She’s good. She’s gone.
Donna: What about Rose?
Doctor: Still lost. I thought you were going to travel the world.
Donna: Easier said than done. It’s like I had that one day with you, and I was going to change. I was going to do so much. Then I woke up the next morning… Same old life. It’s like you were never there. And I tried… I did try. I went to Egypt. I was going to go barefoot and everything. And then it’s all bus trips and guidebooks and “Don’t drink the water” and two weeks later, you’re back home. It’s nothing like being with you.

This really stood out to me. Donna had one of those life-changing moments. She met the Doctor, who made her realize there was so much more to life than what she was living. She decided right then to change and truly experience the world around her. Then she woke up the next morning. She was in the same bed. The same alarm clock. The same morning news shows. The same cereal in the cupboard. Despite what she had seen and gone through, the rest of the world was the same.

She attempted to make the change. She made the first of the many trips she promised herself. It wasn’t what she expected, because it was exactly what she expected. In two weeks, she was back home, feeling completely let down by the experience. She chased after what she got a taste of, but she couldn’t recapture the experience, the feeling of it. Instead, she spent the next year looking for the Doctor in the hopes of finding him and traveling with him. He brought that feeling to her, and she believed that he would do it again. Of course, he does. After all, he’s the Doctor, and it’s scripted television.

There are always moments in life, these mountaintop moments, when you feel lifted up and excited and changed. The problem is, you go up the mountain, but you can’t live there. You can see all there is around you from the top of a mountain. You can see your options for where to go, what to see, what to do, but when you get to the top of the mountain, you have to make that choice of what to do and then do it. You can go back the way you came or you can strike out in a completely different direction. Once you’ve reached the top of the mountain, though, there’s no higher to go. You have to go back down. Worst of all, if you try to stay on top of that mountain, it will sink beneath your feet until you feel like that mountain you once climbed is now only a hill, and the amazing feeling that you had from being on it is a mere fraction of what it had been.

Donna never had a chance to stay on the mountain. The Doctor never stays, except for the seasons that the Time Lords had stranded him on Earth as punishment for breaking their laws. He always moves on after each adventure. He climbs a mountain and then searches for the next one to climb. That’s where his experience on the show differs from real life: he never has to deal with coming back down off the mountain. There are no consequences for his constant search for adventure. Donna did have to come back down. Egypt was supposed to be her next mountain, but the tour buses and safety guidelines and tourists and trash and everything else made certain that no matter what, she would not be able to get the same experience she had before. It was predetermined and planned. She needed the mountain, but she got a hill. She was so let down that she gave up on the search for the mountain and instead searched for the Doctor to take her away to his next mountain. No matter what adventure she found, she had to come home to bills and laundry, the two things that the Doctor and his companions never seem to have to deal with.

If she used the mountain as an opportunity to find a new, sustainable purpose in life, Donna would have profited greatly from her time with the Doctor. Instead she immediately began to look for the next mountain.

The reason that segment of the show stood out to me was because I had seen a lot of information about a church Youth conference in the past few weeks. The first thing I saw was on the blog of another Youth leader. He talked about taking over the position at a new church, and the kids kept asking about going to an event that they went to every year. He took a group. They had that mountaintop experience. The kids were fully energized and involved and devoted the entire time they were there. There were group sessions where the kids talked about their lives, and a number of the kids brought up things that they should be seeking professional help with. Because of the emotion of the event and the encouragement of everyone else, they delved deep into their souls and the psyches. Unfortunately, there was not anybody there equipped to properly handle some of the things that were coming out, and the kids opened up major issues that would need long-term professional guidance to deal with but without anything in place to help them once the weekend event was over.

It sounded like it was a true mountaintop experience, but then the event ended. Everyone came back home, and the Youth program continued as normal. The kids all wanted to know why every Youth meeting wasn’t like the event, and questioned their faith when they didn’t have that feeling every day. This Youth leader wasn’t alone. There were comments from Youth leaders across the country discussing dealing with the same thing. The events never prepared the kids to come back down the mountain. They were great for invigorating faith while the kids were there, but there was no direction when they came back to the real world of their families and school and chores and sitting in their Youth groups discussing life and faith without rock bands and emotionally charged speeches. Everything expressed at the event was that faith was always the mountaintop. At the event, there are no friends making poor life choices and trying to get you to make them, too. There are no deaths of people you know. The kids are in a sterile, isolated world, which is wonderful while it lasts. Unfortunately, you can’t live on the top of the mountain. You have to come back down to where you have to make hard choices and deal with bad things happening, or even harder sometimes, nothing happening. The event never prepared the kids.

As I was reading what these other Youth leaders had to say, I thought back to the time I went to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 1998. It’s a week-long assembly of Presbyterian youth from around the world. I was going into my senior year of high school. I had an amazing time. I had my first “girlfriend.” She was from Canada, and yes, she was real. We discussed life and faith in small groups. We heard emotionally charged speeches. There was rock-like music (as well as goofy music and legitimate, traditional church music). I don’t remember ever feeling the shock of suddenly being off the mountain though. I can think of a few reasons for this.

A  day before the end, I broke my toe while playing volleyball. I missed about a third of a day’s worth of activities. Because of that, I experienced more than just the joy and excitement of the event. I also experienced pain and loss. Because of the broken toe, I couldn’t meet the “girlfriend” when I was supposed to because I was in the first aid station. We were going to exchange information to keep in touch after it all ended. (Remember, this was before Facebook and AIM and ICQ were popular, so we couldn’t just look each other up when we got home.) I worried for the rest of the time I was there and the trip back that she would think I was a horrible person. Knowing what I know now about teenagers, she probably did at the time and has since completely forgotten that I exist. Still, I had things bringing me down from that mountaintop while I was still there.

When I got home, I started band camp the next day. (Yes, even with a broken toe. I re-broke it many times through the fall.) I was with my closest school friends again from 8 in the morning until 5 or 9 at night for the next two weeks. It was almost like being on top of another mountain, except I had my toe and 95 degree weather and the bee tree to keep it from being perfect experience.

I’d also like to think that what they told us at Triennium helped with it, too. We talked about life. We talked about going back to our churches, with the quietly sitting and organ music. We heard and talked about going back to school and friends and dealing with things in a more realistic manner than just being told to make the right choices. We did role-playing and actually made things difficult on each other. There was a mountaintop for nearly the entire time I was there, but I felt prepared to go back to life and the real world. I had direction and felt refreshed to take it.

From what I’ve read, that is what is missing from many of these Youth-geared events. The organizers know exactly how to bring kids to the top of the mountain, but then they leave them there. There’s no direction for making it back down the mountain or into whatever lies next.

Before I saw that blog entry, I had never heard about that event. It turns out that it’s an annual event held in multiple cities across the country. I read the blogs of a few other Youth leaders, who all said similar things and had similar experiences with other similar events. About a week after I read that first blog entry about the event, I got an email from my church. The church had received an invitation for our Youth to attend this event in a city about six hours away.

I decided to take a look at the information that was on their website. After a couple of hours of reading testimonials and hearing their promotional information, I decided to just let it sit in my inbox. That’s my equivalent to placing the Ark of the Covenant in a government warehouse or donating anything to a museum. Nothing they had waylaid my concerns, and several things brought up even more concerns than I originally had.

I want the kids in my Youth Group to have mountaintop experiences, but I want to make sure that when they do, they’re experiences that leave them with a good idea of how to get back down and live their lives. Life isn’t just one mountain after another. This isn’t Doctor Who, and I don’t want my kids to be Donna Noble. It can be hard enough for teenagers to be Christian without throwing that at them!

Be nice to me. I gave blood today.

February 3, 2012

I gave blood today. If you’re squeamish, you may wish to just read the parts in red.

Everything went as usual, although I declined the free ice cream. I’d really like to actually drop some weight! There were two people ahead of me, so I sat and waited for at least an era, if not an eon. I just sat and texted my best friend a couple of times while waiting. Eventually, they called me to come back for the testing. They asked me for my name, my address, my birth date, my name, my birth date, my social security number, my phone number, my address, my name, my birth date, my social security number and my name. Completely serious. I’m not exaggerating at all. They took my temperature (98.1 degrees), my pulse (84 bpm), and my blood pressure (118/64). At that point, the worker taking my numbers pulled out a plastic screen and covered the computer with a cloth. I asked when they started using the shields. (I hadn’t given blood since last March, so I didn’t know how many blood drives it had been through.) She told me that it was new. We started joking around about her needing protection from me and what did I have to protect myself. Finally she pricked my finger. Blood shot all over the screen. Turns out there’s a very good use for it! She said she had never seen that happen before. I figured it would be a quick donation! My iron was good. All I had to do was answer the questions on the computer. I confirmed that I wasn’t pregnant and was ready to donate!

I walked over to the table/bed, conveniently located next to the radio, and sat down. After a couple of minutes, someone came over to get me ready. I lay down, and they did their thing. I recognized one of the people waiting to give blood from my church. I tried to call over to him a couple of times, but he didn’t respond. Once I was stuck, I could tell the blood was really moving. After a couple of minutes, I could tell that my arm was getting a little numb. A couple minutes later, my feet started tingling. Then I was done.  They unhooked me. From being jabbed to filling the bag only took me about 4 and a half minutes. Most of that time, “Bad Romance by Lady Gaga was playing by my ear. (I didn’t want to deprive you of the experience I had while giving!) It was a new personal record, although I wasn’t too anxious to break my old one. I lay there for a little while and waited for my brain to become fully-functioning again. You see, I tend to get light-headed after giving blood, although I didn’t have any problems the last two times. Also, the last two times, I took 10-15 minutes to spill my blood. The nice lady who had brought me a couple cups of juice helped me over to the recovery table by holding the elbow from which I had just given blood. When I sat down at the recovery table, I was able to get the attention of the person from my church. We talked for a few minutes about skiing, and then he was called back for his testing.

I enjoyed a nice bowl of potato soup, a cookie and a brownie. (I turned down the ice cream, but I still deserved some sort of reward!) Once if had finished these, I was ready to head out the door and back to work. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the “Be nice to me. I gave blood today” stickers. I really hope I get through the rest of the day without having any clients come into the office!

I’d like to thank Grammar Girl for helping me out with the “lays.” No matter how hard I try, I never seem to get the tenses right for “lie” and “lay!”