Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beat 'Em

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em; that's what I always say.

They don't want me, the visionless folks over at Guinness. They said no, that quarters in the nose doesn't qualify as a suitable world record category, so they've turned me down.

They said, in part:

Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record proposal for 'Most Quarters In The Nose'. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record.

We have considered your proposal carefully but regret that it is not something for which we are currently interested in listing a record. We receive over 60,000 enquiries a year from which only a small proportion are approved by our experienced researchers to establish new categories.

We realise that this will be disappointing to you. However, we have considered your application carefully; in the context of the specific subject area, and that of records as a whole and this is our decision.

Disappointing it is. Quite so. It would likely have made a lesser man weep; it almost brought tears to MY eyes. But I've never been one to buckle under the pressure of adversity and give up. Rather, I've always been of the persuasion that roadblocks exist only to provide an impetus for new paths to be forged.

And forge I shall.

You see, the fact that Amanda from the Guinness Records Management Team (she's the poor soul who was chosen to send the email that will prove the beginning of the end for the behemoth record tracker) sent me this denial email DOESN'T diminish the magnitude of the feat. That is, their failure to include "Quarters in the Nose" as a category in their records database DOES NOT mean that inserting 18 quarters into my nose doesn't qualify as the world record. In fact, I'm firmly convinced that there is nobody out there who has put more quarters in their nose than I (there's some guy on YouTube who got 14; he made it onto David Letterman).

So, in the absence of a verifiable challenge, I hereby declare myself the world record holder for the Most Quarters in the Nose (18 at one time, for those who are curious). And to certify the world record, I hereby introduce a new feature here on MyndFood: the MyndFood Extraordinary World Record Certification, awarded to those who demonstrate the ability to perform some strange and unique feat better than anyone else. Note, unlike Guinness (who includes boring records like the Longest Limousine in the World and Tallest Person Alive), we here at MyndFood are only interested in certifying strangely extraordinary and bizarre feats (like sticking 18 quarters in the nose).

Who says Guinness has the monopoly on World Records?

I'm dead serious here folks.

I've posted the video of my record winning attempt at inserting 18 quarters into my nose below (and on YouTube).

I'll accept nominations for world records via email. I'll review each nomination, and if you qualify I'll post the video here on MyndFood. I'll also publish a bio, as well as a short synopsis of the winner's story. They'll also receive a MyndFood World record holder certificate.

So tell others about it. Here's their chance to be famous!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tomorrow Already

I walked into the kitchen just now to pour myself a diet soda. Shawna was banging Tupperware around pretending to make dinner and Lex was sitting at the bar, chin resting on her palms, looking contemplatively up at the ceiling.

As I bent and pulled out the freezer drawer on our cool (but frustratingly inconvenient for frequent midnight ice cream runs) freezer, Lex said, "When am I going to be a Mom?"

"WHAT?!?!" I yelped, popping upright.

"I wanna have a baby," she said.

My stomach jumped up and wrapped itself around my windpipe. I tried to protest, but all that came out was a strange squeak. Shawna just chuckled.

I calmed myself down enough to ask why she wanted to have a baby.

"I dunno," she said, "it just sounds fun."

"Talk to your mother about that," I told her as I walked out of the room.

She scares me to death. She's working on addition and subtraction timed tests and on spelling four syllable words, but she's thinking about the future--the DISTANT future (I hope).

How do you stop it? Can you slow it down? I can't keep up with it all. It seems that just when I start to really enjoy a particular period in the kids' life, they move on to another phase.

It makes me want to cry. It feels like tomorrow already.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


All you music folks out there:

Don't forget to register for "Redefine: The Music Conference". It's sure to be one of the best this year, and at such a bargain price.

Go to to register and pay using your debit/credit card.

It's sure to be a fantastic opportunity!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I have come to the astute conclusion that there are two types of people in the world: those who fall asleep watching a movie, and those who fall asleep driving a car.

Lest that's too obscure for you, allow me to elaborate.

There are those who have never seen the end of a movie, who have read the top half of the same page in the same book every single night for twenty years. But put them behind the wheel of a car, and they'll drive two days straight, stopping only to refuel and to relieve.

Then there are those who have "Movie Marathon" trophies on their shelves ("1st Place-31 Straight Movies!"), who read every night until at least 2 AM, and who can work on the computer for an entire day. But those ones; put them behind the wheel of a car, and they're snoozing before the garage door is shut.

I'm one of the latter. Tuck me in by 10:30 pm, give me ten straight hours of uninterrupted sleep, let me shower, shave dress, and feed me a healthy (although not too hearty) breakfast, and put me behind the wheel by 9 AM, and by 9:40, I'm alternating between "Hellish Hot" and "Arctic" on the temperature selector; screaming along with Tom Petty at max volume ("I'M FRREEEEE--FRREEE FAALLLLIN'!!"); and dumping crushed ice down the back of my shirt, trying to stay awake. Once I even purposely rolled the fingers of my left hand up in the electric window, and drove from Bakersfield to San Bernadino that way (that, while excrutiatingly painful, was actually pretty effective).

I can stay awake though, all night, having slept only two hours the night previously, and worked all day, if you put a good book in my hand. In fact, I've done it before. Often.

There's something invigorating deep in the pages of a good story. Somewhere out there in the land of fiction there is this well of eerie energy that I seem to find almost from the first pages of the story. For others, though, that land of enchantment is a resting place, a place to ease back into rest and relaxation.

Put me in an enviroment though where I have to perform some physical function, but have nothing to keep me mentally occupied, and I can't stay awake. It's like, the "energy juice" that keeps me awake is only produced when I'm able to keep myself intellectually occupied.

On another, TOTALLY unrelated note: Sorry the writing has been so sparse here on MyndFood. I've been having trouble staying awake...Is it possible my writing isn't "itellectually stimulating" enough? Even to keep the AUTHOR awake...Oh well...

Monday, March 24, 2008


Happy Easter, all (or, as my friend Kevin put it, "Happy Wester [since we live on the West Coast]")!

I drove home from service this morning, and as I was driving by the Catholic church (which is packed out most Sunday mornings), I watched the parishioners begin to pile out of the church, and I noted that it was a little more crowded than normal. It's to be expected, I guess. It's just a little surprising. Because my experience is that Easter has very little real meaning anymore.

I found this article on the Net this evening. In a poll given in Britain a few years back, participants were asked questions about Easter, about it's meaning, and about Biblical events leading up to, and surrounding, Easter. The results were disheartening, but not really surprising.

According to the report, only 48% of those people polled could correctly identify that Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. A sample of answers to the following question were:

Q. What do Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday?
A. Chocolate...When He rowed into Jerusalem waving palm trees...Christmas

Yet churches are so well-attended on Easter. How is it that such a vast majority of people visit church on Easter, yet have no earthly idea why they're attending? It's certainly become more a tradition than a real desire to celebrate the greatest event, to date, in the history of mankind. Why is that? What's cause this perceived decline in understanding and reverence for such a meaningful event?

I'm tempted to fall into the old cliche "what has our country come to", but I think that's a little unfair. A nation is really an aberration; it's not real. The attributes of a nation or a society are really no more than a summation of the attributes of it's members. The culture, our environment, is not a creation of the "country", rather, it's the sum total of the actions, beliefs and habits of that country's citizens.

Which, in reality, makes the notion of a "country" somewhat dangerous. Ask yourself this: how many times have you, personally, said something to the nature of "what is this country coming to?". You've done it, haven't you? We all have, because at some level we've been lulled into thinking that the "country", our "nation" is bigger than we are individually. When in reality, the beliefs, patterns and values of the "nation" are just OUR beliefs, patterns and values. And if we feel that those beliefs and/or values are skewed as represented by society as a whole, it's because we, personally, aren't doing our job in correcting those patterns.

You see, the notion that the "nation" is going downhill is simply an excuse for not taking personal responsibility. It's far easier to say that the nation is in moral decline than it is to attempt to spread my particular flavor of moral integrity about, hoping for it to overtake our collective culture, for it to yank our nation back from the precipice of near certain disaster.

That's right: if our nation is truly in moral decline, if we, on the whole, have no idea what Easter means, it's because we aren't doing our job. I'm chagrined, I'll be the first to admit. After service this morning, I asked a whole slough of people to join us at the park this evening for a little party. I explained the true meaning of Easter to no one.

My point is simply this: we spend far too much energy "tsk, tsk"-ing the state of our country, but the blame extends to our individual, and collective, front doors. I'm to blame; I've done nothing to try to spread about the true meaning of Easter.

Are you to blame too?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guinness Update

Just a quick update. I've heard back from Guinness. They've accepted my application, and have confirmed that it's a "legitimate" application, which doesn't necessarily mean it's a winner, or that my "feat" qualifies as a legitimate record. It just means that they don't reject it outright.

They tell me I'll hear back from them within the next 2 weeks or so. They'll tell me, when they finally get back to me whether or not my feat qualifies as a new world record.

I'll await their response with bated breath. In the meantime, you can check out the video in the sidebar to the right.

You can also donate to my "Guinness Fund" by clicking the PayPal button.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The tooth came out. Last night. During church.

I was on the platform singing, and I happened to glance over at Shawna. She caught my eye, and motioned to her mouth, and then to Lex. I understood immediately. Lex grinned; I could see the gap from across the sanctuary!

I'm so excited--not so much that she lost the tooth, but that she lost it while I was otherwise occupied.

After service, Gentry and Lex came up to me. "Letsis lost her toof," he said, "and she's gonna put it under her pillow and get some money!" he said.

She grinned broadly, and showed me the gap. For some reason, I could tell that, with the loss of that tooth, she was finally comfortable in her 6 year-old skin, that she finally felt like she belonged.

I was happy for her.

Late last night, I got up and tiptoed into her room to check under her pillow. She'd put the tooth in a baggie, along with a handwritten note. She'd written a short note to the tooth fairy explaining that she'd lost the enclosed tooth.

I was touched, so I went and got a baggie, put a $10 bill in it, and wrote a brief note from the tooth fairy, congratulating her on her loss, and wishing her many more easy "tooth-losses." I stuck the note in the baggie, and replaced her baggie with mine.

I stuck the tooth into a kitchen cabinet, and I went to bed.

This morning when she got out of bed, she dug around under her pillow almost immediately. And there she found the note and money. She read the note, asked my help reading "congratulations." She looked thoughtfully at the note for a few minutes, stuffed both the money and the note back into the baggie, and went off to find Shawna.

I heard her in our bedroom explaining that she'd put the tooth and note under her pillow, and this morning she'd found the money and a response note. "The tooth fairy gave you ten dollars, huh?" Shawna asked Lex.

"No," Lex replied.

Shawna was silent for a moment, not sure what to say. I tiptoed down the hall, and stood just outside the room listening.

"No, the tooth fairy didn't come last night," Lex told Shawna. "It was Daddy."

"What do you mean?" I asked, sticking my head into the room.

"Well," Lex started, "first, you knew too quickly what that word "congratulations" was. And, I know your handwriting; that was your handwriting. It was YOU Dad."

I was dumbfounded. Shawna started chuckling. This is the same girl who, not a week ago, was arguing VEHEMENTLY that there most certainly WAS a Tooth Fairy, and now, with a few minor slip-ups, she knows the truth.

So much for letting her enjoy some of the fantasy of childhood. I ruined it without even trying.

I should have typed the note...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Already Clean

Shawna woke Gentry this morning, started the shower, and told him to undress and hop in-that he had to hurry to make it to church on time. Then she came into the kitchen and talked for a few minutes to Kevin and me as Kevin ate his third bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

After ten minutes or so, she went back to check on Gentry.

"Bubs!" I heard her exclaim, "What are you doing? Why aren't you in the shower?"

He was sitting naked on the bathroom floor, leaning back resting against the cabinet face.

"I don't have to take a showah," he said.

"Why not?" Shawna asked.

"Because," he replied, clearly exasperated, "I checked my feet and theow cwean."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Only Two Left

We have a house guest-a friend of mine, Kevin, a pianist to rival Liberace (without the bodysuit and cape), and overall musician extraordinaire. He arrived this morning, and we spent the day rehearsing for this week (we're singing at a conference). Gentry stuck with me while Shawna and Lex went and did "girl stuff".

We finished rehearsal, and so I brought Kevin over to the house to get his luggage in the house, and get situated. After he was settled, we sat down in the living room for a few minutes to catch our breath.

While we talked, Gentry went to the pantry, grabbed a fruit roll-up, and ate it while playing with his cars on the living room floor. He finished it and we were still talking, so he hopped up, went to the pantry and grabbed another. He finished that one and we (well, Kevin really; he's a talker, that Kevin) were still going strong, so he made his way back to the pantry and went for a third round.

As he opened the wrapper on this one, Kevin said, "Hey. Can I have a fruit roll-up?"

Gentry stopped and looked up at Kevin. He cocked his head, and squinted at him for a second, not quite sure.

Then he shook his head. "Thewe awe only two left," he said, as he moved back toward his toys.

We've tried so diligently to teach our children that others come first, to treat others with the highest level of respect.

I'm not quite sure Gentry's getting it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'em

"Reservation-shopping." That's what some gambling critics are calling the effort by the North Fork Rancheria band of Mono indians to build a $250 million casino on purchased property some forty miles from their tribal land.

And, perhaps that's what it is. To be fair, they don't have much of a reservation to speak of; apparently their property was taken some years back by the State. They're left with 40 acres in some backwoods in the foothills-hardly enough to build a casino.

But what of this idea, allowing Indian tribes to purchase land, making it "de-facto" reservation land, and thereby qualifying it for a casino? I didn't know it was allowed; apparently it is. And apparently it happens; quite often.

This one, though, is a hot one. The tribe has purchased 305 acres of land outside of Madera, CA, right along side Highway 99-a main traffic artery that runs the length of the state. They plan to build a massive Vegas style resort/casino on the property. And there a numerous folks who are incensed about it--for various reasons. Some because it's alongside a major highway. There's this fear that the highway will, over time, turn into a string of gambling establishments--an image California has tried long and hard to avoid (we'd much rather plant trashy $49/night Motel 6's alongside our highways here in Cali). Others say that it should be on THEIR land. Well, the truth is, our government TOOK their land, and gave them nothing in return. The least our government can do is give them a bit of an opportunity. There are some who worry about the traffic implications. Those folks have obviously never driven in Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or even Sacramento. If we're going to apply the "don't build it it'll cause congestion" standard to the areas surrounding our freeways, then we better get started, 'cuz we've got a lot of demolition to do in those cities.

But then there are some who are against it because "gambling's wrong." These are the people who truly amaze me. I, frankly, just do not understand this position.

They say you lose your money gambling, that it's a game of chance, and the "casino always wins in the end." All true. If that's the case, then, I'm hereby proposing a ban on all Hannah Montana concerts (not that I don't like Hannah Montana; I do. Lex would kill me if I didn't). But, if you pay the going rate for a pair of secondary-market tickets to see Hannah Montana (that is, the average rate for tickets to one of the concerts on her last tour), you'd be shelling out around $700.

My problem with that is that, in this situation, Hannah Montana always wins. She's guaranteed to get her $700 (that is, assuming she's the one who sold you the tickets). It's CERTAINLY not a game of chance: you have NO CHANCE whatsoever of getting any of your money back, so your chances are zero. In fact, if you think about it, you have a GREATER chance of walking away with some, or all, of your money if you take it all to Vegas, and put it on red at the roullette table (50/50 odds on red-I think), than if you drop in to see Hannah and friends.

The simple truth is, its a form of entertainment. And yes, it's a game of chance, but you have BETTER chances in roullete than you do going to see Hannah Montana. So if you're willing to chance losing it all, and you enjoy doing it, why is gambling so bad?

The truth is, I think gambling should be legalized across the board. Let anyone who wants to build a casino, build one anywhere they want to--just like a grocery store or a barber. And be rid of this atrocious monopoly on gaming that the Indians have.

Not that I'm a gambler; I'm not, I've never gambled. But it is, in it's simplest form, entertainment for it's participants. So, unless you're willing to be rid of the bowling alleys, the concerts, the golf courses and the movie theaters, we can't really apply that "it's bad for you" philosophy to gambling in an effort to restrict it from happening.

So I say, bring it on. Bring more of 'em. I welcome them!

Not Family

So you're not all family.

For the life of me, I can't seem to remember quite why it matters.

Keep reading, if you will...

Quote of the Week

"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with"
-Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I (dis)Believe

Lex is excited. She's got a loose tooth-just about ready to come out. For some reason, losing your first tooth is a rite of passage for six-year olds (at least for our six year old). It's her sole focus throughout the day; she spends every available waking moment pushing and yanking at the poor tooth.

Which is appalling to me. I hate loose teeth. I cannot bear seeing a tooth pulled. I think it's because of this startlingly vivid recurring nightmare I have where I lose all of my teeth overnight. I've woken crying before, the dream was so real.

Someone asked Lex last night what she was going to do with her tooth once it fell out.

"I'm going to put it under my pillow," she said as if this was the most obvious thing in the world (it is, actually; I'm not sure why they asked her). "Then the tooth fairy will come and give me money!"

It surprised me. I wrote at Christmas time that I thought she was past believing in Santa and the Easter gopher and the Tooth Fairy. Maybe I was wrong.

"Oh. The tooth fairy?" someone asked. "C'mon! There's no Tooth Fairy Lex!"

The look on her face warned of an impending storm.

"Yes. There. Is." she replied, daring any of us to contradict her.

We were quiet for a moment. Then someone asked what the tooth fairly looked like.

I piped in.

"I've seen her," I said. "She's about 5'8"; weighs-Oh, about 280; she's got a deviated septum that causes her to breathe through her mouth, and this nasty skin condition."

There were no takers. Lex thought about the question for a moment.

"Well, I've never seen her," she began, "but I IMAGINE that she's small-about this tall" (she held her hands about three inches apart), "and she has wings and flys around in a little purple outfit."

I've got to admit, if there WERE a tooth fairy, that's probably what she'd look like.

Some dissenter was still intent on proving Lex wrong.

"Ah! If she's that small, what does she do with all the teeth she collects? How does she carry them around?"

"She DOESN'T," Lex said, a little exasperated now. "She waves her wand, and TURNS THE TOOTH INTO MONEY!"

And I'm reminded: for those who believe, no amount of evidence is enough to destroy their faith. For those of us who don't, no amount of explanation is enough to cause us to believe.

Non-Virtual Suicide

How many teen aged suicides is too many? Is seventeen in one year enough, especially if they're all from one small village?

How many does it take before we're willing to acknowledge that there might be a problem? reported yesterday that, with the discovery of young Jenna Parry's body hanging from a tree in the woods just outside of Bridgend, South Wales last week, the teenage suicide toll in that small town has hit 17 in the last year.

The string of suicides was started by Dale Crole, an 18 who hanged himself in an abandoned warehouse last January. A few weeks after his suicide, a memorial page dedicated to Dale popped up on Bebo, a British social-networking site (similar to MySpace). In the months following, sixteen teenagers from the same small town have followed suit--many believe in an effort to have their OWN memorial page on Bebo.

The only common thread tying the teens to each other was their usage of Bebo. They didn't all know each other (although many might have been passing acquaintances). They weren't victims of the same circumstances or life situations. They were merely looking to gain a measure of "virtual notoriety" in their "other" world--the world of Bebo.

I've written about MySpace, and Lori Drew and Megan Meier enough so that you know that I personally feel that MySpace-- and online social networking in general--is pretty dangerous. It lulls it's participants minds into thinking that this virtual network of friends is the ultimate reality, and their "standing" in their Social Networking world is FAR more important than their real standing in real life.

But it's reached new depths when it's grip on teens is so great that they yearn for the stardom that comes with a suicide. How twisted must a mind to be to be willing to takes ones own life, in order to gain some measure of virtual post-mortem notoriety--not for anything substantive they've done.

Imagine killing yourself--taking your life--simply so that you might have a page on a website dedicated you. A page that will only be looked at by virtual acquaintances-those acquaintances who only know you as a postage stamp sized photograph and a few generic blurbs ("my favorite music is opera; I'm a Virgo; I like to lobster fish in my spare time...").

Will we ever learn? Why do we still allow our young teenagers to spend time in this dangerous world? I'm rarely in favor of legislating effective change (because that's a bit of any oxymoron), but I am in favor of us, as good citizens, taking some measure of responsibility for ourselves and for those who depend on us, and steering clear of those venues which have proven time and again to be extraordinarily dangerous.

I'm curious; I ask you, faithful MyndFood readers: has this reality, the danger of these Virtual Social Networking sites, caused you to restrict your visiting them?

Why (or why not)?

And, please: be careful out there. dangers lurk everywhere...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tomorrow-Maybe Not

Shawna and I have, as part of our Shegazelle inspired quest for financial security, begun selling most of our earthly possessions on Craigslist and eBay (email me for a complete list of items currently available; they include-but are not limited to-a gas-guzzling SUV, a bedroom set, some pre-fab granite counter top, assorted power tools, oodles of clothes-most, I'm ashamed to say, brand name, a chest-freezer, and part of my collection of signed, first-edition novels. That one makes me tear up).

We'd visited an estate sale in town a number of weeks ago, and purchased some items. We somehow ended up purchasing an entire set of china with place settings for six for $80. I don't think we quite realized what we had on our hands until we got home and started trying to figure out how to offload the stuff (we didn't like the china; nor did we need it). We jumped on eBay and looked about, and found that the stuff was a veritable gold-mine.

So we tried listing a few individual pieces, and did well; we sold them each for quite a bit. Then we got an email from one of the buyers asking what other pieces we had. I listed them out, and she made me an offer on the lot. We negotiated a bit (Shegazelle: you'd have been proud), and finally came to a price that was workable for us both (if you must know, we turned our $80 investment into $600 of income). The buyer lives in Southern California, and I knew we'd be driving through this week on the way to Arizona, so instead of risking valuable pieces of china being broken by the fine folks at the USPS, I arranged to deliver it.

We got out of town late--around 5 PM, and had to make a few pit stops on the way down, so we didn't arrive in Glendale CA until around 10 PM. I pulled up to my buyer's house, and Shawna and I sat for a few moments just staring. It was an absolutely beautiful place, classic architecture on an uncommonly large lot on a street lined with mature old aok trees.

I grabbed the china out of the trunk, and ran up to the door while Shawna, Lex and Gentry waited in the car (Mother and Dad were in their own car). I expected the buyer to open the box, quickly inspect the contents, thank me, and send me on my way.

I was wrong.

She invited me in, wanted to know if my family wanted to come inside and take a break. I told her no; I thought I'd only be a few minutes. We started unpacking the china, and she started talking. She was obviously relatively well-to-do. Her house was close to 100 years old, beautifully remodeled and decorated with an elegant, tasteful touch (she did the decorating herself). I commented on a few of the architectural details, and she, excited, began showing me around the house.

And-Oh, the piano. I'm in love.

A Steinway grand in medium gloss black, hand built in 1906. Amazing craftsmanship, unbelievable sound, and in PRISTINE condition. Quality not seen in pianos today--even in Steinways. I was in love.

She let me play it. I was blown away. The piano is probably worth somewhere in the neighborhood of a brand new fully-loaded BMW 750i, but she had no problem letting me play it.

I finally tore myself from the piano, not wanting to take advantage of her hospitality. She asked how I came about owning the china; I told her. She mentioned that she collects the stuff. I got the impression she wasn't eager for me to leave when she asked, again, if my wife would like to come in; I ran out and grabbed Shawna.

She came in, and the buyer began telling us about her foray into buying china. She has an enormous collection-probably close to 200 pieces. Large by any measure, but particularly for a woman who lives alone.

She showed us the collection, piece by piece. All were by the same manufacturer, all very pricey pieces-but then that didn't really surprise me.

Then she DID surprise me.

"I eat on this stuff every day, you know," she said.

We looked at her for a moment, then looked at each other.

She saw and chuckled quietly.

"Yes," she said, "I know it's really expensive and it's foolish; my daughter tells me I'm nuts, but I do. I use it every day."

"You see," she said, "I had an older sister that passed away a few years ago at age 61. She passed away suddenly. She went to the doctor and they told her that she had cancer. Four months later, she was gone. She was healthy up 'til then, but suddenly she was gone.

"My brother-in-law and I were going through her things, cleaning things up, packing things away, after she passed away, and he pulled out a fancy scarf from her closet. It was a really expensive scarf that she'd had for a number of years, but she'd never worn it. My brother-in-law pulled it out of the box and held it up for a moment. 'She never wore this,' he told me. 'She always said she was waiting for a special occassion to wear it; it never came'."

She paused for a moment, holding an expensive china dinner plate in her hand. Then she looked up at us.

"I realized then that life is meant to be lived. My sister was saving the "good" things in life for sometime later, but later never came. I'm sixty now," she continued, "and I might not wake up tomorrow. If that's the case, then I want my today to be lived to it's fullest. And so I use my expensive china, and play my expensive piano, and enjoy my fancy kitchen, and live in my house. It hasn't always been like this, but it is now."

With that, I learned an important lesson: I might not have tomorrow. So I'm going to live today as though there might not be a tomorrow; I'll have no regets.

Friday, March 7, 2008


We drove to Phoenix Arizona last night. We got in at about 5 AM, and we crashed out almost immediately. Shawna woke me late this morning, telling me that something was going on across the street.

"There are cops all over the place."

I crawled out of bed, threw on a sweatshirt, and went out into the yard to see what was going on. There were at least fifteen police cars parked haphazardly up and down the block, fire engines and an ambulance just inside the caution tape blocking off the cul-de-sac.

"A guy just drove by and told me I should get the kids inside," Shawna said, "because there's been a shooting. The shooter is still on the loose he said."

She took the kids inside, and watched from the backyard as I stood on the sidewalk, gazing across the street at the activity. A middle-aged guy in painters whites was pacing up and down the sidewalk just outside the caution tape, yelling unintelligibly into a cell phone. I watched him for a few minutes, trying to piece things together.

Suddenly, I heard screeching tires down the block. A small sedan came screaming around the corner, and careened it's way down the block, and pulled up to the corner. The woman driving threw it in park, and jumped out, car still running, and grasped, screaming, at the painter.

I realized that he was crying too. He stood there for a few seconds, weeping, trying desperately to hold up the screaming woman. Then he gently pulled her toward the front yard that seemed to be the hub of the police activity. As he lifted the caution tape to lead her over, the paramedics closed up the empty ambulance, and slowly crawled in; no work for them here. The woman saw, and collapsed, screaming uncontrollably to the sidewalk, that "it's not fair! My baby-O God, my baby..."

My heart turned to lead.

And at that moment, I realized that this is a sad truth: we are all hopelessly alone. How must it feel to receive a call from your husband that something's happened to your son and granddaughter, and to rush over-just in time to see the empty ambulance drive slowly away, and the "Incident Clean-Up" team drive up.

And to run toward the milling officers, hoping beyond hope that, perhaps, there's been some mistake, only to find that your deepest fears have all come to pass--that your 33 year-old son has shot and killed your 3 year-old granddaughter, before turning the gun on himself.

And as the waves of despair crash cruelly over you, enveloping you, you crumple, keening, to the sidewalk, and suddenly the crowds of people all about you recede into the background. The condolences are empty; the caring touches from strange men and women in dark uniforms are almost cruel in their disconnectedness.

It's just you, alone in your miserable despair. Because nobody else feels what you feel; the caring looks, and words, and touches, are driven more by a profound sense of thankful relief--that this is happening to somebody--anybody--else but them, and that, more than anything, distances these people from you.

And all around, life goes on; a male jogger on his middays run looks down the road as he jogs by, and continues his run. A woman in a black SUV, coming home for lunch, slows as she drives down the street, pulls into her driveway, and goes inside her house just up the street to eat her tuna salad sandwich. A family staying with relatives just across the street dresses, and goes off to have lunch. Detectives knock on doors, asking polite questions of residents up and down the street. Newsmen arrive, and begin inerviewing witnesses, and videoing your misery.

And you, only moments ago a contented mother and grandmother, weep quietly now. Because it'll never be the same. And nobody understands but you.

You're hopelessly alone.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Imagination, I've heard, is the vehicle which tranports those who have neither the will, nor the courage, nor the fortitude to go where their heart begs them go. An excuse for inaction, a way of assuaging that God-given drive to experience without risk or danger of loss.

Or maybe it's an escape, a world far removed from the all-too-real heartache that all too often permeates everyday life. The imagination is the most effective painkiller for those ailments of the variety which affect only the heart.

What then is fiction? A product, almost exclusively, of the imagination. Is it, then, an excuse for not living? Because living is not living at all if it's done in the mind only, at the full expense of the heart.

A well-told story is the product of a healthy imagination. But then if we make the assumption that a healthy imagination is a hallmark of one who is weak of heart and without courage, are good storytellers then all of timid heart, and lacking in courage? I would hope not as storytelling is among my highest aspirations.

No, I prefer to think of the imagination as a great explorer, blazing paths into uncharted territories, making way for the heart to journey to places it's only dreamed of, but could not go until the mind was able to fully imagine, or even experience, it. To imagine a story is merely to create the destination. Those with truly valiant hearts then apply their energies to finding that destination.

If I can imagine, and vividly depict my imaginings to you, my readers, then I have enabled those readers who have lion's hearts to reach that destination, to go to that place that their heart is calling them to.

Quote of the Week

"You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there"
-Edwin Louis Cole