Explaining The Sports Thing: or, why do I get so into something that doesn’t really matter?

My cousin and I are the only ones sitting at the table, our plates piled high with sloppy joe, mashed potatoes and baked beans. The headphones connected to our walkmen are plastered to our ears as we eat nervously.

The rest of the apartment’s occupants, my sisters and parents, are watching a movie in the adjoining living room. It has reached a particularly quiet, I think sad, scene, and everyone seems to be sitting wrapped in his or her own thoughts about whatever is happening onscreen.

Meanwhile, the game we’re listening to, the Charlotte Hornets vs. the Miami Heat, is winding down in the old Charlotte Coliseum. The bees trail by 3, and Glen Rice prepares to take the hopefully game-tying shot. This act itself comes with its own weight, as Rice had recently defected from the Heat team he is now trying to defeat, having departed on somewhat unhappy terms.

Rice receives the pass. The clock ticks through final seconds: 3, 2, 1.

Glen Rice for three!” our favorite announcer Steve Martin says. The buzzer sounds, crowd noise increases significantly, and Martin says “good!”

My cousin and I erupt simultaneously into hoops of joy and clapping. Once we calm down, we discover that we’ve upset the silence and everyone is a little concerned about what might be wrong with us. I’ve also lost my Walkman, as it’s been flung to the floor and the batteries dislodged, but at this moment I don’t care. He hit the shot!

I wonder why so many people get attached to team sports in this way? We sit on the clichéd edge of our seats, as if the outcome will cause us real harm of joy. And when did this sort of attachment really begin. Could it have existed before the presence of electronic media?

Certainly if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed, and perhaps been a bit annoyed by, my live tweeting during sporting events. I always work not to take it too far overboard, but for me having this form of interaction definitely enhances the experience. As a blind person, I enjoy the feeling that I’m in a sort of virtual bar with people all around who somewhat unwittingly describe exactly what’s going on to me, in addition to what the radio analysts detail.

When I first began getting into sports, my favorite was professional basketball. Specifically, I loved our Charlotte Hornets until they ripped my heart out!

Ever since, though, my and seemingly much of the country’s (US of course) favorite sport seems to be American football. Go Carolina Panthers! I’ve often wondered why this is, given its violent nature and the too-high likelihood that someone will sustain a significant injury on a fairly regular basis. In the last few years though, even my mostly non-sports-watching family will allow the TV to be dominated by this pastime on major holidays like Thanksgiving, and we can all sit around and talk strategy, wins and losses, etc.

I guess that longtime junkies like myself and more recent suplicants who have folded themselves into the sports-watching universe have realized is that cheering on this sort of athletic competition allows us to get at some primal pleasure that is deeply embedded in being human. We can get a pure rush of adrenaline, have reason to swear, throw things, and otherwise blow off steam as a game reaches either a favorable or unfavorable conclusion.

Whatever the reason, I think sports represent one of the best forms of escape we have available. So if I rib you about your team, remember that it’s all in fun. And please note my law that requires that you pull for the team in the city/state/region in which you were born. No Cowboys or Skins fans allowed in North Carolina!

I think the most fun I’ve ever had at a sporting event was when I attended a Bobcats/Celtics game in Boston. This was 2005, so the Celtics hadn’t yet gotten into championship form. I was so dismayed when Paul Pierce hit the winning layup that I yelled at passing fans as we made our way out of the arena. Catching our team on the road definitely gave me a stronger sense of pride in my hometown, though.

Do you enjoy sports? Have you ever been to a game. One where your team was playing away?

This topic inspired by one of my favorite writer friends on Twitter. Feel free to suggest other stuff you’d like to see me talk about, as I work to produce regular posts. Thanks.

Christmas Vacation 1: The Party

Well, this has been as good a vacation from work and holiday season as I could have expected. I am sad that there remain only three more whole days before I must return to the routine that has defined my existence for the better part of a year, but hopefully I will feel revived for having this experience.

During this last week plus, I’ve ridden in several cars, a Greyhound bus, an Amtrak train, and a Southwest Airlines plane. Now that’s the kind of travel I long for nearly all the time. Since everything preceeding my Tampa trip, which happened from this Thursday till Sunday, is basically standard; I’ll give a quick sumary of that. Then I’ll cover the trip in greater detail, perhaps in more than one entry.

Last Saturday, the 21st of December, gives me kind of a Florida preview weatherwise. In fact, it probably ends up being a better weather day than I even saw once traveling down south.

After making a fairly short journey to Fayetteville by bus, (Audio from aboard, I arrive and am taken to a small town near Lumberton to celebrate the second straight Christmas party with one of my good friends. Before leaving the Ville, we stroll along and do some window shopping, where I and the individual who has come to get me acquire trinkets for the gift exchange.

Because I am hungry, I opt to get two burrito supremes from Taco Bell as we make our way toward the country. Then, I sit outside chattering with my cousin and a couple of other folks around a stone picnic table at our host’s house while many others go back out to do some quick shopping. We marvel at the openness of that area, and how it doesn’t really block the incessant winds as a place with more buildings would.&lt

We stay out there till the rest of the party returns, then make our way inside where we remain for the rest of the day. Other than participating in the affore mentioned gift exchange, I eat a meal of spaghetti with meat, meatballs, and sausage balls. I also enjoy some homemade peanut butter type cookies from the host.

At the wrap of that evening, we took a couple of fun photos of us all, some being silly and some just sitting in neat rows on the couches and chairs. I think you should be able to see the one I posted on Facebook there. I enjo myself at this gathering, mostly just catching up with people who are becoming and some who had already been firm friends.

Sunday is another early riser, though I have managed to sleep well on the couch after having weird dreas. This time, my cousin, his wife, and I head to another rural town of Pinebluff, where my mom, next eldest sister, and some of my nieces and nephews reside.

Well actually, we first go to First Missionary Baptist Church in Southern Pines to attend service there. As they often do, our pastor opts for a fairly short, uplifting Christmas cermon. He mainly talks about the idea that we should find ways to cheer ourselves up during the holiday season, even if it involves bouncing around to some jazzy Christmas music. I am all for that, mainly feeling pleased that I have found ways to avoid the loneliness that often does plague me at this time of year.

I spend the following week in Charlotte, mainly because I need the transportation flexibility to ensure that I’ll be able to get to my flight on Thursday afternoon.

On Monday, my cousin and I watch bowl games and commiserate about life for most of it. My cousin then accompanies his wife on Tuesday to her parents’ house for a party. During this time, I decide to try and catch a differet movie from one I’d ever seen, taken from a rather comprehensive collection of described content. I pick The Book of Eli, but eventually shelf it as there seems to be endless violence and I am unable to understand the point. It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller in which someone is trying to hunt down and recover some important text that will save humanity.

Tuesday night is given to going to another party, this one a dinner breakfast that another of our longtime friends usually hosts. I post Audio of me unwrapping a gift I got from this party, which I now believe is a set of handcuffs. I can’t say I know what the meaning behind that is, but it gives us a good laugh.

Wednesday, Christmas, is a simple affair. We all have breakfast around the table, then head into the living room in my Aunt and cousin’s place for the gifting gathering. My youngest male cousin gets some nice stuff from his parents and girlfriend. I think my older cousin and his wife get something for nearly everyone, hooking me up with an iTunes and an Amazon gift card. And yes, I will do something for them. My aunt and uncle also help me with some dough to help with trip expenses. I, on the other hand, give to the charity that has helped me a lot in getting from that failed graduate school experience to where I am now, the Community Empowerment Fund. Their primary mission is to assist people who have become or are in danger of experiencing homelessness. I dig this. And I think I should promote the nonprofit organization that is doing research and working to strengthen support for those with my disorder, the Norrie Disease Association, to whom I shall give also. Being a board member of myself, I am well aware of the work we are trying to do.

I go with my Aunt to dinner at some other family members’ house, where I again eat only to capacity as I had on Thanksgiving. Then I just sit and take in the NBA games amidst the swirling mass of humanity.

And that’s about all for this entry. I will chronicle the happenings of my nice, relaxing Tampa vacation in an upcoming post.

Riding the Rails, and Happy iVersary

So, its been a little while since I last wrote in here, mostly because I’ve been in my own head trying to figure stuff out. Have I made much progress? Hmmm, maybe not. I thought I knew what I was going to do next but am now quite unsure. The only thing I know is that some kind of change is needed, and soon.

So last Friday was my birthday. The unlucky Friday the thirteenth, of course. On the whole though, I would have to say it turned out to be a great, much needed day in which I felt connected to others, and as if I mattered. I took what is probably my last day off for the year and bounced around Chapel Hill, enjoying the nice weather and fraternizing with those known and not yet known.

Then when I got home, I was pleasantly surprised by my fun neighbors who had decided to buy me some delicious cake and a fun birthday card, the audio of which I may record when I get back home. It says

Don’t just stand there,

And when you open it, it plays a snippet of Celebrate Good Times.

And finally for that weekend, I got to spend some time with my cousin. He and his wife came up to attend a wedding in Durham, and also took me to Texas Roadhouse where I consumed some great country fried chicken and mashed potatoes, both smothered in cream gravy. Man, I’m making myself hungry writing that. I wanna go back there for more!

At this moment, I’m headed to my hometown of Charlotte for another birthday dinner, made I think by my aunt and for me and my uncle whose September birthdays are relatively close. I don’t know what’s on the menu just yet, but look forward to it nonetheless.

I’m on a crowded Amtrak, where I can hear someone’s blaring music. I was about to say walkman, but then my 90s flashback ended. No wonder we all aren’t able to hear anymore!

I, on the other hand, am typing on my iPhone using the Fleksy app. I’ve had this thing, or at least some version of it, for a year as of tomorrow. Ice said repeatedly that it has changed my life, and that continues to be true.

In acknowledgement of that, I thought I’d quickly highlight twelve of my favorite iPhone apps, one for each month.

There of course is Fleksy. Admittedly, I haven’t used it much since April or so, but that’s primarily because I do my longform typing on the PC these days. It is great though, as I can just sling my fingers all over the screen in an approximation of the keyboard, and rapidly produce words and sentences.

My second favorite these days is a gaming app called Dice World. Is has helped kill many an idle hour at the workplace. Dice games of Farkle, Pig, yatzy, and a fourth whose spelling I’m not entirely certain of.

The third app is Amazon’s Kindle. My latest book reviews of up and coming authors attests to that.

Fourth would be the first I ever downloaded, Serotek’s iBlink Radio. I enjoy this one, because it gives me access to so much information in and about the blindness community.

The fifth, well sort of, is Facebook. I don’t know if I like so much what they’re doing to the side itself, and especially posting so many status updates in the notifications section, but I do appreciate that they now have an accessibility team that tries to make the app and associated experiences better for us.

Twitter is now doing similar, but I still prefer using the Twitterrific app, my sixth listing. They have a grey team who will respond if users report that they are having issues or wish to learn more about a function.

Speaking of responsiveness, I also sometimes enjoy using Earl, an accessible app that allows you to hear the news read by a dedicated electronic voice. The audio is pretty high quality, and one can control story selection simply by speaking to the device. It aggregates news from several major sources, and allows gathering of other sites as well.

My eighth, although I must admit I don’t entirely understand what I’m doing and why, is Solara. This is a game where you fulfill quests by using an ever expanding group of heroes to fight bad guys, and increasing the size and strength of your castle fortress. If anything, it too is a great time waster.

Because I’m tired and feel like it, my last four apps will be sports related. MLB At Bat and college football radio make for great audio of games, and are relatively accessible. NFL Mobile now works too, though I’m hoping they will make getting to the game fees less cumbersome soon.

For score checker apps, I use Sports Alerts, and another that I really like called Team Stream which pushes notifications whenever news becomes available on any of your chosen favorite teams.

If any of these interest you, they should easily be found in the App store. If not, let me know and I’ll find the link. More soon.

Sang With the Choir!

As Fred Hammond’s Jesus Be A Fence All Around Me blares out of my speakers, piped in via the iPhone, I find myself reflecting on the days of singing on various church choirs. It still makes me somewhat sad that my ability to harmonize well was one of the first things to go as my hearing has continued to deteriorate, and especially since I had become so good at it. I haven’t therefore sang on a choir since probably 2001? Doing so gave me some of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had, though.
It started with the children’s choir at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. I can’t really remember if we were required to join by the parentals or if we just opted into it, but certainly all of my sisters and I were a part of the choir at that time. Rehearsals were on Saturday morning, and one could get quite exhausted working and re-working the same song until we had it.
One of the most intense songs I remember singing in those early days was a take on the Hallelujah course.
“O Lord, o Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth,
O Lord, o Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth”
Man, that piece was intense! Mostly because we had to get incredibly loud to be heard above the pounding musicians and general roar of the congregation as they got into it and stood to bounce in the aisles. By the time we got to the final, extended, “O Lord, my God,” I’d be practically on my knees and voiceless. But it was so exhilarating, too, because of the reaction that tune inspired.
We continued singing with the church even as we aged, doing so first at different locations in Charlotte, and then the pinnacle of at least my experience with that choir, our 1992 trip to New Rochelle New York to perform for one of that area’s churches.
Our hotel was actually in White Plains, and the first thing I remember about arrival there was their constant assurance that White Plains was pretty much just like Charlotte. That may be, but they sure didn’t have no grits! When I asked them for some, they acted as if I were speaking another language.
We of course also went to, and promptly got lost in, Manhattan for at least a couple of hours. My cousin and I, along with a few others, had decided we were zonked and had had enough by the time they finally located the ferry that would take people to the statue of liberty. An 81-year-old choir member who had known times of much more aggressive walking put us youngins to shame, though, and went on the tour with the rest.
Somehow, a New Yorker managed to commandeer a city bus that took us back close enough to our White Plains hotel to get a taxi, where a driver tried to take us around the way because “I need more money to tickle my hands!” Uh-uh, buddy.
On that epic trip, we also went to see the Broadway play Jelly’s Last Jam, and quite a few of us had our picture taken with Gregory Hines in front of the theater in which that play took place. It was great.
That was probably the most extravagant trip I’d gotten to take with that or any choir. Once my folks relocated, at least most of us, from Charlotte in 1994, I never did join the choir in our new church home of First Baptist Missionary in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In 1996, after some trickery by my resource teacher at Pinecrest High School that luered me into their auditions, I did get to experience a different kind of choral singing. Unlike our church choirs, this required me to learn to blend in and use what to me sounded more like an operatic tone. I’m certainly not saying that either way is better than the other, just that they’re different kinds of singing. I think it’s good for a musician to be exposed to such variation anyway, and would say that my chorus instructor at Pinecrest did more to bring out my voice than anyone I’d ever known.
People submitted to sing the major solo in our final concert my senior year, but being the shy, confidence-lacking person I was, I didn’t bother putting my name in that hat. Still, he gave me the biggest solo and worked with me every other day for 30-45 minutes to ensure that I learned it.
Singing in the harsh spotlight that I could actually feel shine down on me, I’d rarely felt the flood of happiness that came from achieving that goal. And that’s probably the main thing I gain from any sort of musical experience, a sense of pleasure and fulfillment equaled by nothing else.
Onto the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where I participated on both types of choir at the same time. Now that’s some real fun.
The Unlimited Praise gospel choir traveled to Greensboro, Salisbury, and some points around Charlotte to sing at churches and such. Being a part of that choir gave me a community to belong to at a time when I really needed it.
And my cousin and I found out how valued our contributions to it were when we left due to a rapidly intensifying semester. They decided they wanted us to come with them for support at a competition in Rocky Mount, a town that makes one feel he is traveling back in time. We took an insane day trip that began in Charlotte at 4:29 AM and returned at 3 AM the following day. Hearing six different groups, including one from Long Island that stole the show, was great; but my favorite thing was the food. But isn’t that always the case?
In the University Chorale we never took long-range trips, because some knuckleheads were uncooperative the year before I got there. This left the instructor more inclined to just stay local.
We did, however, get to perform inside of a place called Oasis Temple. I’m not sure if that place has a religious background, but it’s very nice. I think we may have sang at a couple of other local churches as well.
I should probably find a church here in Durham, that is if I really want to experience that kind of connection. And if I do, I might still try and see if I can’t belt out a tune. I might have some issues with flatness or whatever, but hey I know some folk on choirs who are, um, tone deaf? But as long as they enjoy it, it’s all good! We shall see if any of that happens again for me in the near future. In any event, it was fun to reflect on. And as I close, the phone is playing Dottie Peoples, He’s an On-Time God, another foot stomper!

Feed Me!

It may be the one thing, well besides love, that we all need. We have fairly regular periods during which we get it, and not having it can cause serious issues. I’m talking about food!
It’s funny how our eating habits change as we age. I remember when I was younger, I was a voracious eater. Many in my family would call me “the human trash can”. I probably deprived my sisters of some needed nutrients, simply because of my willingness to consume the stuff they didn’t like. This willingness also meant that I got to enjoy junk food in what were almost certainly to large quantities before dinner.
During those days of fairly little money, we rarely ate out. Most big dinners were convened at my grandma’s house, where pretty much everything else took place as well. There, we’d have fried chicken, rice or some equivalent starch, and maybe green beans. Then, we’d finish it with a delicious home-baked cake.
Whenever we did eat out though, we knew it was a special occasion. Yes, as I noted in an earlier entry, most Easter’s were spent at my grandma’s as well. But every now and then, we’d go to a little place in Charlotte called Po Folks. It was kind of like Shonies (I have no idea if I’m spelling that correctly), but I guess a little cheaper. Man, I used to love those popcorn shrimp, hushpuppies, and fries. I think they turned me into a character like Bubba in Forrest Gump.
One of the coolest things about this place was its wishing well. You could put a coin in and listen as it twirled its way down, down, down. We’d all stand in line for a good five minutes, continuously dropping stuff in. I believe they used this well to raise money for local charities, a pretty good idea. At least we couldn’t dig in and take coins out, like some of us bad children did at the mall fountains you used to see back then. I don’t know of many places that still have those.
Anyhow, my eating at this location established an enjoyment of the local stuff. Actually, I’m not entirely sure that was a local restaurant, but whatever. I still like when I travel to seek out the smaller places and go in for a meal. I think this is more important now than ever, as our cities turn into one big chain.
Besides my enjoyment of shrimp, anyone who knows me knows that my other intense favorite is spaghetti. I really can’t say how or when this obsession began, except that it is probable that I’m actually an Italian baby, switched at birth. Wait, do Italians even eat as much spaghetti as we do here in the States? I know a lot of the attributed food trends we give to other countries are not nearly as observed therein.
Speaking of, yes of course I love pizza too. However, my bachelor lifestyle means I eat way to much of it and would likely be ok if I didn’t eat another slice for a couple of months. I usually at least try and get a supreme or something containing vegetables too, so I can pretend to be remotely healthy. I know that what I really need is to learn to cook.
So what are some of your favorite foods? Do you eat out often? I keep trying to cut back on that actually, as it’s too expensive, but I just enjoy the possibility, rarely fulfilled, of social interaction that exists inside of a restaurant.
With the start of preseason football on Sunday, I think tomorrow’s topic will be sports. Touchdown! I intend to write a mix of topical and daily posts, that is whenever anything of significant interest happs on a given day.

The Wedding, The Wetting, and Work

Friday:
Work. Or at least I used to call it that.
I punch the timeclock, grab a seat in the breakroom to listen to my NPR stories, then saunter onto the floor to start my day.
“Ok folks,” our supervisor says during our regular morning huddle meeting “we’ll begin by finishing what we were doing yesterday.”
That involved re-counting tiny round things, the nature of which I couldn’t identify. Ostencibly to verify that the number was correct, but more likely to remain somewhat occupied.
Ah, the summer doldrums return. Much of this week has involved working for small stretches, then waiting patiently for another task to be devised. The department to which I had defected the previous week no longer had need for my, or the others who had followed me, services. This is common at NIB-affiliated workshops, and especially as we await the end of the government funding crunch.
One of the results, and perhaps I’m not entirely displeased with this, is that we get the week of July 4th off without pay. Ah, of course I could always use the money. But at this point, I could also use the time for relaxation, contemplation, and preparation. I will still be up to quite a bit in the coming week.
So we make our way through the rest of the day in that vein, and I can barely suppress my cheer as I finally head for the door and freedom at 3:20. The duffel bag strap digs into my arms as I jostle myself aboard the Triangle Transit 700 bus that will take me to Durham Station, where I will then hop onto the free Bull City Connector for the short jaunt to the Amtrak Station.
Once at that ticket counter, I find that the trains are yet again sold out! Well the coach class seats are anyway, meaning that I will have to upgrade to business. I must show my appreciation to that agent though, as she asks me to hold off on the purchase for a minute while she attempts to squeeze me into coach somewhere. That was simply unavailable, and so I paid $47 instead of the usual $26 in the interest of just reaching my destination.
And I had only an inkling of what I was in for. This endless Carolina rain has and continues to reak havoc throughout the state.
The train departs Durham approximately 15 minutes late, but the time posted on the Amtrak iPhone app optimistically projects that we will make up much of this difference. But first a storm in the Triangle socks us, and then a much more violent storm screams in as we approach Charlotte. This last causes us to slow to what my GPS app tells me is between 7 and 10 miles per hour, meaning that it takes us nearly an hour to traverse from the entrance to the Queen City to its train station at 1914 North Tryon Street.
My patience is definitely gone by this point. I know of course that that situation is beyond their control, but am surprised that they can’t at least go 20 miles? I guess the tracks become too slick. I do make fun conversation with another passenger who says she’s been onboard since just prior to Washington DC. It could always be worse?
Once we finally arrive, my uncle collects me and we slosh through nearly knee-deep water. I say a prayer that my electronics will somehow survive the continuing deluge, and happily they do. In the car, Angel the poodle immediately says hi with tongue and tail as I make small talk with my uncle and cousin. My uncle, who is already zonked by this point, nearly takes us to the place where he and my Aunt used to stay off of Beatties Ford in the northwest part of town, instead of to my Aunt’s current residence near Providence Road. Luckily, we manage to slide on and arrive safely at our destination.
By this time, it is nearly 11 PM. I am saddened by this, because now I won’t get a whole lot of time to just sit and chatter with my cousin. Of course, I have to accept that those days are largely over with his now being married, a realization that I am fine with but just note as being another part of getting older and adjusting to change. We smack on a dinner of barbecue chicken and sides, yammer for approximately another half hour, and call it a night.
Saturday:
The vibrating phone pulls me to at 7 AM. I roll over, bring up the NPR News app, and continue listening to the stories from the day before. I’d tried to do so on Friday night, but a while after since they made longer no. So, I couldn’t deny that sleep was needed.
For breakfast, I have a hard boiled egg, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten that as they used to make my stomach protest but seem not to have an averse effect this time, sliced turkey sausages, grapes, and strawberries. Then I shower, put on my suit which if I manage to attach the photo one of my sisters took of me you’ll get to see, (yeah I know that some of you who only read my blog haven’t actually seen a picture of me) and headed out.
My mom says that the suit I have chosen has some red in it, which was my late Aunt and cousin’s mom’s favorite color. My mom has worn an outfit with red in it as well, in acknowledgement of her memory. I find that moving.
We reach the venue where the ceremony is to take place at approximately 10:20. It’s a recreational building at Charlotte’s Freedom Park where wedding receptions, birthday parties and the like are held. My uncle says that the architecture is some of the best he’s ever seen, with flat roofs and colors that blend in with nature. They even have it so that shrubbery grows right up against the side of the building, and the shaded areas are particularly effective in combating summer heat.
As we wait for things to begin, I chat with my Aunt and younger cousin while enjoying some mints provided by the couple. I like the little jar they come in, as someone says the seal is particularly strong and useful in camping or other outdoor areas. This may come in handy in a couple of weeks for me, as I have an exciting trip that may or may not happen then. Details forthcoming.
More friends and family trickle in, and we all note, only half jokingly, that we wish to do a better job of staying in touch. The first person I meet used to work with the Charlotte Beep Ball team on which I once played, but has baked the wedding cake for this gathering. Then I talk with another beep ball player who is one of the most energetic people I know. Finally, we all make our way back to our respective seats and settle in for the show.
To begin, they play snippets of Brandi’s version of Everything I Do I Do It For You, and another song I unfortunately can’t recall. I assume the couple is approaching the front of the room and the reverend ensconced there as these play.
Vows are exchanged, somewhat nervously but with a laugh whenever a little slip of the tongue or early reaction occurred. The whole thing probably took 15 minutes, but it’s as they wanted things, simple and to the point. I think they definitely still managed to achieve memorability, which was the most desired outcome.
Then there are the pictures. I bet photographers make the biggest portion of their income on weddings alone. Of course I’ve not yet had the experience of being groom, but it seems he and the bride participate in hundreds of photos. I and my family are shot in various group configurations with the newly weds, with me sometimes conjuring up smiles just from the amusing way they have to turn my head.
Once this is done, we reach my favorite part: the food! What? I have a delicious and giant meatball smothered in some kind of sauce, a couple of chicken tenders, a tuna sandwich, and some pineapples, along with a small goblet of punch. Licks lips. Then they rolled out the cake. I’m not exactly sure what that flavor was, perhaps German chocolate? I of course eat it with another big smile on my face.
And that is largely all of the substantive portion of happenings. My cousin and his wife depart for their weeklong vacation on the Isle of Palms, just off the coast of Charleston South Carolina. After making video statements to them about what we hoped their new life together would be like, (I sound silly and have a hard time speaking in a straight line as always, why can’t I speak like I write!) we all head out as well.
So as I tried to say then, I will again now. First, I again extend an official welcome to the newest member(s) of our family, as her folks are also included. My cousin and I spent many a night talking about the kind of person we would like to find and marry, and I feel that he is very blessed and fortunate to have found the one he has. I am excited to watch the ways in which they will grow and develop, and thank them from the bottom of my heart for the way they helped me both in finding and connecting to good times and in staying alive during the tougher times. I plan to do what I can to support both of you when I can, and especially as I hopefully begin to attain some financial stability. Here’s to Calvin and Corliss, many pleasant years together.

Summer Time

And the livin’ is… well ok I guess. I still gotta slog to work every day and manage to hold myself together through the 8+ hours.
No more lying on the floor nearly comatose, enjoying the cool, flowing air and the cadence of a well-narrated book. Or swimming in vastly overcrowded public pools with kids from every background. Ah, I really miss those days sometimes.
Even as we reach summer solstice and celebrate the longest day of the year, I think maybe nature lost the memo on that occurring. I’d initially dressed in a short-sleve shirt and shorts until I opened the door and was hit by a surprisingly cold wind. My trusty iPhone said the temperature came in at only 57 degrees as of 5:15 AM. Brrr! I’m thinking this particular season will be cold and wet, in contrast to the Sahara-like experience we logged last year. I want my heat back, man, because I’ll be missing it when old man Winter makes his return.
I’m slightly disappointed with myself for not writing at least something last week, but I just couldn’t come up with anything stimulating enough. I realize though that if I really want to do some sort of professional blogging, then I’ll have to learn to just sit here in front of the keyboard and dig stuff from the recesses of my mind. But I suppose it’d help in that situation that I’d be writing about some specific category.
Speaking of categories, or perhaps sections?, I’ve been moved to a different one now at the workplace and it’s actually turning out not to be too bad. I’m hoping things have stabilized enough now that the perceived immediate threat I spoke of recently has discipated.
The thing I enjoy most about that new section is the people. There are three of us in particular, and we can get onto talking about music from the beginning of the day till the end. The guy, who usually sits beside me, works in my previous section also, but I’d not really taken the time to get to know him. And the woman, sitting across from me, is also a pretty cool person who has started talking to me more and more as the week has gone on. She took Wednesday off and he didn’t show up today, each time drastically changing the dynamic and vibrancy of our discussion.
Hopefully this fun work environment will persist for at least one more week, and then I’ll head down to Charlotte for my cousin’s wedding. That’s going to be exciting, especially as I get to meet and fellowship with my family in the process. I can remember my sister’s wedding, the first non-traditional ceremony I ever attended, being quite good. I also went to a good friend’s wedding last year, where an outdoor reception featuring delicious food and a live band was had. I’ll be interested to see how this goes.
And that’s really all for now. I’m still working on my DC trip, which I keep pushing farther and farther back into July. I did find the blog post explaining how one registers for a tour of the NPR headquarters, so that’s definitely a start. I plan to have that happen some time soon. Back with more, probably next Sunday on how my trip to Charlotte and the wedding went.

Easters of Yore

Ok, I failed at posting every day already. But there’s a reason for that! I’ve just gotten this new PC, a nice Dell Inspiron 17-inch laptop, and I’m kind of trying to get everything up and running. I’m approaching that status fairly quickly, though.

I hope I’m actually getting this entry’s content into the right place, because at first the edit boxes didn’t seem to be labeled. I played around with the preview links, and now I think things are working properly.

Anyway, Happy Easter! I’ve enjoyed having Friday off this past week, and feel a lot more relaxed for it. It makes me tempted to petition for a four-day workweek, but I know those days are over. I suppose I’ll just have to enjoy the time off whenever it comes.

I did venture over to Dunkin Donuts, which isn’t too far from my neighborhood, on that Friday. I mostly had to learn where exactly the building was. The streets are at somewhat odd angles, and there is a set of widely spaced steps that one must ascend in approaching the entrance. No one came to speak to me as I sipped coffee and read more of The Aviator’s Wife, however it was good to just listen to the ambience of the people as they came and went.

Yesterday was spent chatting with neighbors while sitting under the glorious sun. One of the best things I can say about my little area of Duke Manor Apartments is that there is a strong sense of community here. I stay in E, the guy in D helps me with technology issues as he’s really good at that kind of stuff. The woman in C reads my mail, sometimes transports me to the grocery store, and is just generally a supportive ear. She doesn’t let anyone move in here to whom she hasn’t introduced herself. She’ll bound out to the truck and help you offload your stuff! And she saw me the first time I really stepped outside after arriving that cold January weekend.

And today I sit, listening to the Yolanda Adams station on Pandora and reflecting on Easter as a kid. I don’t think my nieces and nephews celebrate it in the same way we usually did, but then I”m not sure much of anything is the same for them.

First, we often went to the sunrise service. If I thought 11:00 AM was early to attend church, try 6:45! Many an elbow to the ribage was necessary to keep me awake while sitting on those hard ews. It was the one rare time, when I was quite young, that my biological male parent actually came along to church with us.

After that service, they would feature an awesome breakfast of eggs, grits, sausages, biscuits and gravy, orange juice, and fruit. Great, I’m making myself hungry at a time when I can’t do much about it other than having a bowl of frosted flakes.

Then, we would head to Sunday School, and finally to that 11:00 service. This was definitely the longest day of the year in my mind. I’m pretty sure I did often go to sleep by that point.

Out of the doors and onto my grandma’s house for dinner. The thing I most remember about this time is the endless photos we seemed to take. Each of us individually, in smaller groups, lined up against the piano, standing outside, in just about every configuration you can imagine. My face would hurt from trying to smile.

Then the kids would be herded inside while the adults ran around in the grass and distributed eggs for the anual Easter egg hunt. My Aunt would always include three plastic eggs among the edible ones: one with money, one with a prize that would allow you to select some extravagance that she’d pay for (my cousin got it one year and took piano lessons), and a third with a piece of paper that said “rotten egg”.

Because my cousin and I were blind, we would usually be taken around by my other Aunt, who is sadlyu no longer living. She would divide the eggs between us, even though my cousin couldn’t stand the things anyway and so his lot would just be redistributed among the rest of the kids.

I would venture to say that I kind of lost my afinity for boiled eggs because I ate like 9 or 10 of them pretty quickly one Easter. NOw they don’t seem so kind to my stomach. Give me scrambled!

The last time I even had something remotely resembling that tradition was back in 2011, when my Aunt told me to hop a train down from Chapel Hill, where I was in graduate school at the time, to join her for two services. We went to sunrise in Charlotte, then hopped on the highway to attend the 10:30 service in Southern Pines, NC. That was definitely a long day as well, but fun as it concluded with a delicious meal at Golden Corralle.

What are/were some of your Easter traditions? I’m sure they may have been similar to what I experienced, but well we all come from slightly different backgrounds. I hope you’re having a good one, in any event.

Intro Post: Old hats may wish to skip

So I realized that since I zapped that other blog, I no longer have an intro post. This means that I should try and come up with one, right? Well its as good a time as any to examine who I am, I guess. Those who’ve known me a long time might wish to skip this post, but maybe I can make it interesting for you, too.

I was born. I’m told the day dawned cold and rainy, but I’ve also been told that it was Friday, September 13, 1979. I know that last wasn’t possible, since the calendars say the 13th was on a Thursday that year. In any event, that kinda makes for a good story.

I have a rare genetic condition called Norrie disease, which results usually in total blindness from birth due to retinal detachment. It also causes progressive hearing loss, which has been the more adjustment requiring part of things for me. It’s all good though: I have not and will never let it stop me from doing the same crazy things I always do.

Hailing from the queen city of Charlotte, I grew up in a family of five sisters. For much of my early life, my only real male influence was my cousin who is about a year younger than my 33. My dad then came into my life during teen aged years, and he has certainly taught me a lot about what it means to be a good and honorable man. And anyone should know that one doesn’t have to donate sperm in order to be a good father.

I went to high school in a small town called Southern Pines NC, and while I complained at first about being out of the city, it was probably the best thing I had done to that point. It allowed me to find myself academically.

Eventually I returned to Charlotte to attend the major university there, going on to experience even greater academic success as a psychology major. What is it that they say about psych majors needing the most therapy?

After five aimless years just working in a sheltered workshop for blind folks in Charlotte and enjoying living with my cousin, I made the somewhat random decision to attend grad school. I did this at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I attempted to complete an MS in rehabilitation counseling and psychology. Let’s just say all that academic prowess I thought I had pretty much went out of the window. The program was supposed to take two years to finish, but I clung to that raft as it got sucked down the raging river for almost three. It wasn’t a total waste, though. Is anything, it showed me how not to adequately prepare for such an expedition.

Is I do make another go of that, I know now that I need solid, definable goals. I’m still working those out, but part of me is longing to do something in a journalistic capacity, as I had started to consider shortly after undergrad ended. I’m not really sure how to begin taking that from dream to occurrence, though. Just doing a lot of thinking.

And now I reside in Durham NC, where I again work at a sheltered workshop. The nice thing about this one though is that there is real potential for promotion, should I choose to take that path. We shall see how it all plays out.

Of course, there’s more to me than I could easily capture in one post. If you continue to read, you’ll see lots of stuff about books I like, my favorite sports teams, (I’m all about North Carolina except for the duke Blue Devils), music I love, and not surprisingly, the places I go. Feel free to chime in with questions or suggestions whenever you like. And most of all, enjoy.