Package Arrivals

-cheer- My copy of the The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2000 is here! Time to be a good religion geek and devour this book. I’m almost finished with Baseball Prospectus 2001–a heckuva book if you’re a statnerd and love the American Pastime–and as soon as I finish that [probably tonight], I’ll start on the Discipline.

Maybe only Rick will get my geekiness on this…


Oh dear Lord, Justin’s going to be an uncle. That kid’ll be drinking beer by age 2. Justin will probably find a way to sneak a shot into his/her bottle…

Greedy Lakers

Okay, IJSM’s about me, but it’s not all about me. Here’s a column from my man Tony Kornheiser about his wanting the Sixers to win one game in the NBA Finals. Frankly, I think that’s selfish. Even if the Lakers sweep, they’re not the best team all-time. It would put them as the best playoff team in my mind, but when the Lakes win 72 in the regular season or eight straight NBA titles, I’ll pay attention.

I Can See Clearly Now…

…the rain is gone. Gone are the obstacles in my way.

It’s not a bright sunshiny day, because it’s 10:33 as I contemplate this, but as I have lots of things to think about and never can do this at home, it’s time to grab my keys and my cell phone, drive to a gas station for a little caffeine to keep me alert, and drive for a while. I’ve slept plenty today being sick, so I’ll be fine as long as I get to bed by 2:00 or so tonight.

Won’t be long–I think I have the Final Perfect Room Arrangement. Of course, I decide on this six weeks before I move…

Mmmmm … storms

Well, by now you should know that I like storms, and tonight’s no different. It got ugly here for a while, and we lost power once. [My roommate has profusely apologized for waking me last night; I’ve forgiven him.]

But we had quite a shock when we walked out–actually, Jared went outside to get something out of his car, and came back to my room laughing. I walked out with him: a pretty tall [50+ foot high, five-foot diameter] tree has fallen across one of the roads in our apartment complex. We’re not blocked in–it’s uphill from us. Assuming the rain will finally stop before dark, I’ll sneak outside and put my digital camera to good use.

Such power, strength, and beauty Nature has…


Yeah, I’ve calmed down…somewhat. =)

I’m at home, suffering through stomach insanity. Unlike Heather, I can’t trace the cause of mine [it’s evident to me that hers is caused by the caffeine she intakes by the bushel]. Oh well, I’ve got work at home with me that I can work on while I’m here, and I can also try to see if I can alleviate some of the pig sty that someone’s turned this apartment into…

Awake…for no reason

There are reasons to be awakened at 12:30 a.m. Among them are:

1. Your apartment being on fire.
2. The love of your life calling you on the phone, crying insensibly, waiting for you to listen to her.
3. A family member being suddenly ill.
4. Ed McMahon calling to tell you that the letter wasn’t a joke: you have indeed won a million dollars. Now, get out there on the front porch in the morning, preferably in a bathrobe, and smile for the cameras. Remember: look surprised!

But no, this isn’t why I’m awake.
Continue reading Awake…for no reason

Awake … for no reason

There are reasons to be awakened at 12:30 a.m. Among them are:

1. Your apartment being on fire.
2. The love of your life calling you on the phone, crying insensibly, waiting for you to listen to her.
3. A family member being suddenly ill.
4. Ed McMahon calling to tell you that the letter wasn’t a joke: you have indeed won a million dollars. Now, get out there on the front porch in the morning, preferably in a bathrobe, and smile for the cameras. Remember: look surprised!

But no, this isn’t why I’m awake.

No, I’m awake because my lovely, darling roommate [I’m trying to cut back on vulgarity, though it’s hard right now] called because, well, he doesn’t remember his PIN number on his new ATM card, and could I look it up for him?

I was awakened by the house phone ringing. At this time of night, I’ve learned to ignore that–it’s never for me. If it’s Jared, he’ll call my cell phone, usually because he’s too drunk to remember where he left his key, or something similarly banal. But no, this time he called–four times–on my cell. I had the ringer off [but the vibrating battery was still ringing], and only when the house phone rang did I awaken enough to ring it.

Seeing “3 missed calls” on the phone, I waited to see if a fourth came. I figured, “Hey, the apartment might be on fire, or ol’ Ed may have called Jared out for a brewski or two–ooops, it’s Sunday. Scratch that.” At the point that I closed my eyes, it rang again. Having almost passed into sleepyland yet again, I wasn’t really wakeful, and I was asked to look hither and yon for this.

I’ll be glad when mid-July comes. I’ll be rid of this inconsiderate rube who leaves cigarette butts–many of them–in glasses; wet towels on the bathroom floor; beer cans in the bathtub; cigarette butts in the toilet; the toilet unflushed, routinely; trash in the sink; dirty and clean clothes in front of the washer and dryer. The only part of the apartment that doesn’t positively reek of cigarette smoke and unwashed dishes is my bedroom. I “lucked” into this guy as a roommate a little more than a year ago, and he thinks he’s the best roommate since sliced bread. I think he’s got a few more things coming.

That, and he still owes me $40.

Ugh. Now to see if I can go back to sleep. If he comes in here to apologize, I think I’ll ask him why he didn’t get his lazy sack of skin home to look for it himself, rather than calling me four times. I mean, dang, how hard can it be to realize you’ve forgotten your blasted PIN and decide, “Well, rather than waking up my roommate, why don’t I go home and look for it myself?” But no, he’d rather not trouble himself.

Screw hiim. I know his girlfriend does often enough…

A Job Well Done

Tonight, our church’s youth group put on a show that had the entire audience laughing and thinking. I had a hand in it, but I’ve gotten much more from the work than I’ve given to it, for sure.

The whole project started as an idea by our choir director, Beth. She decided we’d do a spring musical tour, maybe three or four stops. So she pondered and prodded, never finding what she was looking for in a work. I finally piped up the words I’m so famous for saying, “Hey, I can take care of that.”

Predictably [after all, I’m a graduate of IJSM!], I was late in getting it finished. Beth and I cobbled together something that seemed pretty hokey, but it worked. We mishmashed five songs that are about as alike as taking a random selection from Abba, Steely Dan, the Rolling Stones, Blues Traveler, and James Taylor [yeah, it’s really that variegated] and pieced together some words to fit the middle. That was my part–to try to bring it together.

We were a week out from our first performance, less than that, really, when I got the second biggest shock in the past year: Beth had suffered a stroke. All the old feelings of helplessness and God-directed anger rose up again: Beth is in many ways my mother here in Huntsville, working to keep me in shape and out of trouble. We understandably postponed the first performance while replacements could be found.

To be quite honest, I was a bit miffed that I wasn’t asked to help out with the musical. I didn’t expect to direct it–I directed a children’s choir last year, and while the production went off pretty well, I’m not sure I had a whole lot to do with it. But it really felt as if Beth was the only one that knew I’d done much of anything with the musical. I know it confused the kids–in the first practice with our new directors, some of the kids kept looking to me for direction. As Beth and I often shared hand-waving duties [mainly because Beth can play the piano and I can’t, and when we are without our excellent accompanist, Rebecca, I get to flap around like I’m cool or something], I wasn’t surprised. Yes, it did hurt a bit. Yeah, it was frustrating. But I knew my role: to help with the drama. So that I did.

Fast forward to last weekend, when we all went over to Anniston. The kids were a bit nervous, understandably so. I related to them the story of the insanity that was MSMS’s spring musical my junior year–getting to see the stage on which we’d perform just scant hours before first curtain. Me, dumb enough to take on stage direction as well as a supporting actor’s role. All of us, running around like madmen. They laughed, and I think it calmed them a little bit. At least they listened when I told them to go somewhere.

That performance was good, but tonight’s was better. To be honest, they sounded horrible in warmups, which is always a good sign in any group I’m around, most of the time. Then Beth walked in the back of the sanctuary: the singing stopped, the choir stood, and the peasants rejoiced. I teared up, even though I knew she was coming.

The kids proceeded to turn out a performance I knew they were capable of turning out but unsure they’d ever let themselves perform. They were always too hesitant to just let loose and have fun–until tonight. Maybe it was the home crowd. Maybe it was seeing Beth. [I’d bet on ’em both.] Me, I just got to sit in my corner on the side of the stage area, give out one line when Charlie forgot the same line he always forgets, and laugh and watch it all.

That anonymity is something I both dread and crave. I have, shall we say, a healthy self-respect, and so I would like to get credit. I was a big disappointed when the kids passed out gifts to all the directors, musicians, and band members–all but me. I was happy to sit there in the corner and let everyone who well and truly deserved the accolades–those who walked in at the last minute and gave everyone–myself included!–some much-needed direction in getting the performance to restaurant-quality. At the same time, I knew the kids had decided whom would be recognized, and I wondered, “Did they forget all the practices I came to, staying late, forsaking my friends’ entreaties to do other things that would have been more fun than correcting bad projections and mumbling?”

After the performance, I tried to affix a blank look on my face as I took the sound system down. I went over it in my mind, “God gets the glory here. Fine for me to be in the dark.” To be honest, though, I wanted to reflect just a little of that glory back. I’m an imperfect mirror, and the words contained in that play are more God’s work than mine, but didn’t I deserve just a little credit for being there?

Beth came up to me. She knew. She congratulated me, I shrugged it off, but our eyes did all the talking. The look of gratitude was all I needed. The smile of a woman I love like my own mother…that’s all I needed. It’s all I wanted–some recognition, not necessarily public, that my time was indeed appreciated.

But now I’m worried, because Charlie came up to me afterwards, draped an arm around my shoulder, and said, “In case you’re curious, we’ve got something lined up for you for next weekend.” With that, he clapped my shoulder and walked off to talk to someone else. I’m seriously worried–I don’t quite know what that something is. In fact, they needled me about it later on, using lines from the play. [I’m going to get them for that!]

In the end, all I wanted was a thank-you. I got it–in the kids doing such a solid job, then thanking me later for the time I’d spent. The public crap–well, that’s all for show. The kids know, Beth knows, I know, and God knows. Who needs more than that? I thought I did, but thinking back on last year;s performance, I was rather embarrassed at all the “What a great job!” comments I got from parents and churchgoers alike. After all, all I’d really done was been there, waved my hands around in the air, sung a few songs, and acted goofy. I need to be thanked for that? To paraphrase Shoeless Joe Jackson’s persona in Field of Dreams, man, I’d do that for nothin’.

No, I don’t need the accolades, though they’re nice. This ego thing is something I’m slowly [and some days unsuccessfully] kicking to the curb. The accolades really reflect on the kids and the time they’ve spent. I could spend all the time I had, and if they didn’t put anything into it, you wouldn’t know it from the final output. The kids are going to come up with some way to thank me next week here in Huntsville at another local church, but I already got the thanks I wanted tonight: a job well done.