Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adult Lock-in

At noon today, over ten thoused people in Boyle county were said to be without power, the National Guard set up a water station and traded guns for chainsaws, and the community continued to eek out of their cold and dark homes to provide helping hands. The Mayor has asked everyone to check on their next door neighbors to help alleviate the Danville Police Department.

In the wake of this State of Emergency, there has been an outpouring of charity and goodwill. Two shelters have been opened around town, volunteer clean-up crews are being assembled, and phone lines are busy with concerned citizens looking out for their friends.

There are several aged couples and myself staying at the Presbyterian Church tonight. Murmurings of this event being an adult lock-in have resonated in the church halls. The middle school youth group has a lock-in each November.

"Now remember, boys need to stay in this room and girls need to stay in that room. Blue and Pink. No Purple. I will be staying up all night on watch," I joked with a couple.

"Didn't you hear? This is a honeymoon sweet! And if you hear any snoring, it isn't me!" a male church member retorted.

We should have more adult church lock-ins. It has been fun seeing everyone filter in and out of the church without any scheduled 'programming.'


The ice downed branches and utility poles alike.

This is Main St. and 3rd, from a similar view as the banner at the top of this website. Darkness consumed the area, minus the atypical wafarer.

A neighbor's car was trounced by half of a tree. It will probably be totaled, with damage to her roof and rear window. The engine must still run just fine - maybe I'll make an offer.

This lonely lamp was the last source of light heading East on Main Street. Having walked back and forth from my apartment to church at night, the environment felt awkwardly similar to the movie, I am Legend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ice, an inch and a half think, covered branches the size of a pencil. Rain was steady for most of the last day, and upon impact froze to its victims. Trees are bowing to Mother Nature, some falling to the ground completely in adoration. Water was turned off, cell phone towers are still out, and no electricity equaled no heat. A lit candle will increase the temperature inside a tent by a degree or two. I played Risk with some neighbors in a small room with about 50 candles. We were very warm.

I woke up this morning to the sounds of limbs crackling off trees. As they hit the ground, the ice shuddered off with a sound of glass breaking. Silence.

I took a walk down Broadway and awed at the sight of downed electrical lines and demolished trees. I passed a house and saw an 8th graders finish his perfectly formed snowball.

"You having a snowball fight?" I asked.

"Eh, not really," he shrugged. I knew his disappointment.

"Here. You get one shot at me - no, not that close. Ok, have at it," I proposed as I spread my arms out like a winged target. He wound his arm, and heaved it as hard as he could.

Wwwoovvvsshhhh. Good aim. I did a rendition of the matrix and dodged my head out of the snowball's trajectory. It would have walloped me square in the nose. The kid smiled. We walked down the street, exchanging news about the weather and excitement about being out of school.

"Good to meet you," I said, "Maybe if you are here when I get back you can throw another snowball at me."

"No ducking this time, though," he shot back.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Miss Marilyn

This is a short story I wrote last year.

The halls were cold and barren, giving life to nothing, not even pictures or art. Corners felt lonely without the company of plants or fake trees. The lobby produced vintage couches and tables, but a modern area carpet - quite the contradiction. Vintage couches for vintage-aged folks finding themselves in the mess of modern times. The last place they ever imagined spending the last days of their lives was a nursing home.

I walked down those halls that day, noticing the lack of fragrances or colognes filling the air. I guess old people don’t wear them. My grandfather once wore Old Spice, but he wasn’t in a nursing home. I’ve heard that the one thing people who live to be 100 years old have in common is that they all never wore watches. I took of my watch and went in search of Miss Marilyn.

She was never in the same room. I guess the nurses had to keep busy somehow, or at least distract themselves from their urine infested breathing. They liked to play games, I thought to myself as I completed the circle, right back to where I started. It pained me to visit Miss Marilyn, and walking in those circles, clueless, didn’t help.

I took a deep breath, and paced counterclockwise back into the maze. Down the hall, I could hear a man shouting loudly. Upon discovering the culprit, for nursing homes are normally full of whispers and mumblings, tears started to well up in my eyes.

“Iffff…..I haddd……a million…..DAWLERS,” he sung. “I’d buy me…a…new….wife.” The African-American looked to be in his nineties, fragile, but full of spirit. Besides, he’d buy a new wife. He attempted another round of singing, slowly raising himself from the wheelchair, but his strength escaped him as he suddenly hit the seat. No one was in the lobby to hear him. He didn’t care. I couldn’t bare the thought of all the lonely, and seemingly ignored, people.

“Hey Marilyn,” I whispered softly in her ear. She was resting, like always. There was nothing - no response. Her eyes did open, though, but they did nothing after I waved my hands directly in front of them.

Miss Marilyn had a million pictures surrounding her. They were everywhere. On the window sill, tacked to the walls, and laying in piles on the nightstand, where they remained untouched for several years. Reality set in once the feeding tube monitor buzzed.

She was Miss Lewis County back in her youth. A smart, loving woman, she moved to New Jersey after getting married and then gave birth two children. She was a school teacher and horrific photographer, but the multitude of pictures she captured made up for it. The pictures were always of her children.

I’ve heard many stories about Marilyn. She is a corny and stubborn woman with charm to win over the most skeptical. Its probably this charm that draws me to visit her every once in a while. I usually show up unannounced, for Miss Marilyn doesn’t talk anymore. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51. Her son was in high school, and daughter in the 6th grade. Meredith took on many of her mother’s attributes, and that was another reason I went to the nursing home, for Meredith. What a tragedy, I thought.

I told Miss Marilyn what her son had been up to, graduating from college and all, recounting ridiculous stories that would have embarrassed her. No response.

I soon grew tired. Visits usually lasted about fifteen minutes anyway. I took a few steps back, turned to look at her, unaware of the movement wetting my cheeks.

I prayed a quick prayer, retraced my steps, and kissed her on the forehead.

“Goodbye Mom,” I said. “I love you.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Hobby

I'm not sure if I conjured this mantra, or morphed it from someone else:

"You're not really living if you don't s!*# yourself at least two times a year."

And, hey, I already have some of the necessary gear.

For better graphics, watch it here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Emotional Bank Account

I learned, while working with Eagle Rock School, that everyone has an emotional bank account. I'm hazy on what meaning they were trying to convey to students, but it has formed its own definition in my mind (I'll report on the actual definition later).

There are two new friends - equal bank accounts. When one suffers and leans on the friend for support, his bank account decreases while his friend's account increases. When one friend does something good for the other, his bank account increases. Normally this doesn't apply for acquaintances because they usually don't share intimate details about their life with one another.

People seem to be hiding much of their life-afflicted hurt. With traumatic life circumstances, they feel as if they can't talk to anyone - their bank account becomes severly overdrawn.

People avoid those who are hurting. Avoid them in the hallways, in class, at work. Like Lepers. Often times, this avoiding is subconscious, and the avoided begin to feel isolated.

People feel awkward around hurting people. What do I say? How do I act?

I have, at times, felt both sides of this coin. I have avoided people, and have been avoided. It’s all silly, really. A true, virtuous person closes the bank account and offers a hand whenever possible.

Has anyone encountered this term, emotional bank account?

Friday, January 23, 2009


Death, impossible without life.

Movement fills life's fragrance with joy and laughter,
running child-like through streams and over mountains,
meeting the thrill of the wind
with exuberance and delight.

There are triumphs, there are defeats.
There is love, and there is love lost. Pain.
Small steps. Big ones. Leaps. Running. Falling. Starting over.

Movement slows as the lake becomes still and overwhelmed.
Green film, preventing sunlight and
the company of fishermen.

Stop. Wait. Replay. Again. Silence.
Find. Let go. Remember.

Life, impossible without death.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Hardest Question

I have often wondered which was the hardest question I have ever had to answer.

Ethan, my Little Brother (w/BBBS), and I played basketball and went to see a movie last week. Midway through shooting hoops at the church I asked Ethan if he wanted to go see Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler. His eyes were widened and jaw dropped. Next thing we realize, we were juggling two large popcorns, two large drinks, and a pack of Goobers into the theater. Luckily, Ethan left a popcorn trail from the lobby so we wouldn't get lost after the movie.

Bedtime Stories was a blast, especially watching it with a youngster. They laugh more than adults do, and it’s contagious. I found myself watching the movie as a 5th grader, marveling at what it would be like to have gumballs fall from the sky. I wish it were easier to get back to that child-like wonder.

We left reciting our favorite lines. On the long car ride back to his house it was silent. Ethan was thinking. After about 5 minutes, I was confronted with the hardest question I have ever faced.

"Rob...Do you believe in Aliens?"

Now, I could have gone two ways with this one. Completely deny it, and make sure Ethan didn’t get caught up in any myths, or... tell him what I really thought.

"Um...Yeaaah, kind of, I mean..."


Oh boy, I thought. "Well, I think that there is a possibility that in a universe as huuuge as ours, there is a chance that living things are out there. They’re probably not those weird looking things with big ey-" Ethan cut me off and went into a 20 minute monologue providing definite proof asserting the existence of aliens.

Ethan has actually seen aliens. They had a big ship with exactly 400 windows and invisible doors. He actually got in a fight with one of them. He and his dad fended them off, though. If you need any more proof, check out the TV show Alien Tracker (I think).

I am thankful for imagination and wonder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Winning Team

When my teams wins, I say, "We won."

When my teams lose, I say, "They lost." Example: When the Eagles lost last weekend, I told many, "They lost, maybe next year."

This may be true for many people.

With the inauguration of Barak Obama, Democrats have once regained the top position in Washington. I am a registered Independent, and like discussing both sides of political arguments. Barak Obama is definitely the change I need. No more hearing Democrats whine and complain, and no more hearing Republicans defend. It's time for the Dems to defend and the Reps to whine and complain. I look forward to hearing each sides reactions to political events in the upcoming years.

We had Presbytery small group session at our church discussing changes to the Book of Order by the General Assembly, specifically regarding homosexuality. Several called the session a Holy Moment because we were able to discuss this hot topic civilly. People had a range of opinions. We'll see how the Transylvania Presbyter votes in March.

Regarding those hot topics. Republicans think they are right. Democrats think they are right. Finding the middle has been messy at best. The problem I see is, over the past 8 years, Democrats and Republicans both think the other is wrong for thinking they are right. Liberal and conservative Presbyterians do the same, but with a little more emotion.

What happened to the old adages of, "Agree to Disagree." and "Respect other's perspectives."
How could I learn if I didn't have an opposing side to challenge my thinking? I am thankful for perspectives on the entire spectrum.

Concerning McCain - I wonder if Republicans said, "They lost."