Remember that moment in the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when Toto pulled back the curtain for all to see that the great and powerful Oz was … just a man. While not nearly as dramatic, here is a little peek behind my curtain …
I’ll warn you this is a little long … approaching 3,000 words … so feel free to skip it. In conjunction with the warning, I’ll also issue a humor alert … I have some real peculiarities that may make you smile, chuckle or even break out in laughter.
I have a confession to make … actually a whole slew of them … I’m 60 years old … almost 61. I am part adolescent … part redneck … part nerd … part geek … and quite proud of all four.
My chosen profession is as an Information Technology aka IT analyst and this year marks 40 years in the IT career field. The good Lord led an aimless young man into this career field and has faithfully provided for virtually every financial need through it for four decades.
The vast majority of my waking hours are spent in shorts, t-shirts and crocs (My crocs count just increased to 5 – may my flip-flops RIP) … I probably have more t-shirts than any other type of apparel … and I’m always looking for more (Salty Dog Café, Old Navy, Life is Good and one of my new favs Southern Fried Cotton). When work went to business casual, all my suits, dress coats, ties and dress shirts preceded me to the grave.
Almost 20 years ago on a trip with my wife, in a moment of mutual shared honesty, she told me over dinner that my comb over really looked dorky … ever since she has been shaving my head with a 1 or none every month or so. Last summer I discovered the wonder of the cordless beard trimmer (the second greatest technological marvel of the past few decades) and retired my scissors … being follicly challenged has resulted in ball caps, driving caps and floppy hats becoming a welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Remember those oval plastic change holders (I refuse to use the word purse) that you pushed on both ends and they then open down the middle … well, I am one of the dying breed that still uses them. I recently got a new bright orange one at the local Mayfield Dairy … BTW you would not believe how many ‘I remember when’ comments I get when paying for something and I pull that handy little holder out.
After five decades of always keeping my wallet in my back right pocket, last year I finally bought a slim line front pocket wallet and got rid of all that junk I carried in my wallet but never used … guys, really shouldn’t be so critical of women and their purse contents … take a look in your backpacks, briefcases, desk drawers, glove compartments, toolboxes and tackle boxes …
Let me interrupt the flow here and say … I love to collect pocket knives and small multi-tools …
You know those silicone bracelets … the yellow LIVESTRONG one being the most popular … love those things and I’m usually wearing one or two. Excited to find out you can now get a survivor badge you can add to the LIVESTRONG bracelet. I also wear a precious stones bracelet my daughter made for me with stones believed to cure what ails me … she made it for me, she believes it … that’s enough for me.
I prefer driving my decade old truck over my wife’s new KIA Optima. If you’re curious about what I like … just check the decals, stickers and front license plate on my truck. I prefer paper maps, atlases and I’m a MapQuest loyalist … no Google maps or GPS for me (although a budding interest in geocaching may change all that … ) I keep a kazoo in my truck console and have been known to secretly play it during my commute to lift my spirits. After finishing a drink or fast food meal … I then toss the crumpled bag or empty bottle over my right shoulder into the back of the cab … trash pickup is usually once a week.
Everywhere I ever sit down for any period of time has index cards, post-it notes, colored highlighters, and colored gel pens (Gotta love those Pilot G-2 .7 gel pens!) … and a cluttered pile of books, brochures and catalogues … I’m proud to say this apple didn’t fall far from the family tree.
Oh yeah, and I love Duck Dynasty, Swamp People, 19 Kids and Counting, Walker Texas Ranger, Arrow and anything NCIS or CSI. And we are anxiously awaiting the resolution of the cliffhangers for Castle and Bones yet absolutely shocked at how A&E let The Glades end. And we are slowly but surely being drawn into Longmire. I’m not really sure that either of us quite understands exactly why we watch Downton Abbey or Once Upon a Time and the jury is still out on House as we’re only about a dozen episodes into that long-running series. Yes, we have television … but not broadcast, cable or satellite TV … Yes, Idu Roku … it’s NetFlix, HuluPlus, Amazon or DVD … or its not seen in our house. And the fact that Jack is back has meant we did not suspend our HuluPlus subscription for the summer.
I do everything in my power to avoid paying over $8 a ticket to see first-run movies … and I usually succeed, typically paying $2.50 to $6.50 … and kids, make sure you eat and drink before we go … unless it’s a special trek to Movie Tavern.
Being a transplanted Southerner for nearly 50 years, my body runs on sweet iced tea, sweet and creamy coffee (let’s tell it like it is) … iced or hot, and biscuits. Keurig gets my vote for the greatest technological innovation of the last decade … and based on my DD Perks card and love of coffee and donuts (My favs … DDs Chocolate frosted, vanilla frosting filled bismarks and KKs blueberry cake donuts), I’m not too sure I didn’t choose the wrong profession …
Without a doubt the greatest improvement in our dining choices near home occurred when Bojangles moved in … that plus every local BBQ and boiled peanut joint. Hey, and I love visiting different farmer’s markets and farm stands with my wife and grandson. Local honey, sorghum syrup, bean salsa, bread and butter pickles and homemade jams and jellies beat brand name-store bought every time. And I have recently also become addicted to pecan pralines and bear claws thanks to Savannah’s River Street Sweets. But sorry … no green thumb here … unless infection has set in.
I do twitter … I blog … I do linkedIN … I e-mail … I surf the web. I don’t do facebook and I don’t do YouTube. And while the Bible doesn’t really spell it out … IMHO Apple is the forbidden fruit. Anything that puts the focus of ‘i’ on everything can’t be good for me. My personal PC of choice is a Gateway netbook and most evenings you’ll find me and my wife in our PJs (TMI warning: mine are typically colorful patterned boxers with an equally colorful t-shirt) and recliners, enjoying a cup of decaf Maxwell House, TV on, surfing, etc. on our PCs. My wife loves playing the computer games that have solo versions on her PC and Kindle Fire … nope, I don’t do computer game either.
That said, pencil and book in hand I do enjoy Sudoku and KenKen puzzles … with KenKen being my favorite. Sometimes I will get on a streak and do them daily for weeks and months … while other times I won’t even look at one for months and maybe even years … currently I am in the midst of the latter.
I am a photography nut typically taking a hundred or more pictures everywhere we go … am some time even photo blogging a day in the life of our family … much to their chagrin. My camera of choice is a point and shoot SONY Cybershot … and yes, I had to accessorize with a bright orange silicone case … and no, I never lose it.
I love going to Barnes and Noble, Lifeway and Family Christian (also love the bargains I find on www.gospelebooks.net) … so I can figure out what I’m going to order next on Amazon for my kindle (I still have the original black and white keyboard model – a gift from my sister many years ago). Most years I read 50-60 books (most faith based), my Bible, an occasional magazine and very rarely the newspaper … headlines on FOXNews.com and USAToday.com keep me up-to-date on the latest news.
Obviously, if you’re reading this, you know I love to write and blog.
I love the mountains (NC and GA) and the beach (Hilton Head and Jekyll Island), but as a rule don’t particularly care for the big city (although I’m growing fond of small towns with city squares, main streets and tree-lined sidewalks.) Big cities are a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.
I still have a Samsung candy bar cell phone … and still treat it like my first bag phone … leaving it in the truck most of the time. I haven’t embraced smart phones or touch technology … yet … we’ll see how long that lasts. Oh yeah, and I keep my appointments/diary in a 12 month weekly spiral paper pocket planner … with a backup on IBM Notes at work …
Even at 60 years old, I love and respect my parents and NEVER talk back to them … a characteristic of honor and respect I have been unable to ingrain in all my children. My Mom and Dad built a strong foundation in my life as a child and have together been an anchor throughout my nearly 61 years of life.
My grandson and I love spending time in the mountains with my folks at their cabin … favorite activities … visiting and talking, rocking chair marathons, walking to the pond, shooting the BB gun, watching old movies, driving my folks Subaru and going out to eat at the local restaurants.
I have one sibling … a younger sister. Before I was born, my folks wanted a large family. After I was born, they thought 4 or 5 kids would be enough. After my sister was born … they wondered why they ever started … an oft repeated family joke. That said, after all these years my sister, her husband and their daughter continue to be a huge blessing and encouragement to me, my family and our parents …
Why oh why I’ll never know, but despite all my peculiarities, the Good Lord has blessed me with an extraordinary wife … beautiful both inside and out … of 32 plus years … way beyond anything I could possibly deserve. I could not have asked for a more loving and devoted lifelong companion than the woman the Lord has blessed me with … the woman of my dreams.
When my fat fingers outgrew my original wedding band, I bought a five dollar silver one with a series of Christian fish symbols circling the ring to remind me that for our marriage to last and grow involves three people … God, my wife and me. Whenever possible, I love bringing my wife Starbucks (venti white mocha frappucino – no fat, no whip) and the fast food meal of her choice … much like McDs … she needs a break today.
And the Lord continues to fill my quiver … we have been blessed and challenged in raising four daughters to adulthood (admittedly, it was primarily my wife who has instilled in them all their good qualities) … they in turn have blessed us with seven grandchildren … although due to the miles and other challenges we can’t stay connected with all of them … and the Lord has also given us the blessing, privilege, honor and responsibility of raising our grandson who is about to turn twelve … whoever says parenting ever ends obviously never had children.
As husband, father or grandfather … well, there is definitely room for improvement in all those areas … no doubt I’m a bit more self-centered and selfish than I would like to admit. Help me Lord … help me!!!
I have no doubt that my grandmother, Nanny, through many hours on her knees at her bedside, prayed me into the kingdom of God. My regret is that she did not get to see and experience it in person … one of her goals later in life was to live to 100 … and that must have been how the Lord recorded it in His book. She’s been gone 20 years now … and the heavenly reunion with her is one I eagerly anticipate.
Most everybody in my family breaks out laughing if mail addressed to me comes from Home Depot, Lowes or Ace Hardware. Home Improvement … despite the letter count … is truly a four letter word to me. To say I am mechanically challenged would be a drastic understatement. While I do the essential yard work … it’s not one of my favorite things to do. I keep waiting for the cost of Astroturf, concrete or asphalt to come down. The only thing I probably like less than yard work, home improvement and repairs … painting.
Thirty years ago I told my wife that ceiling fans would not help the air circulation in the house … three decades later I am the proud installer of over a dozen ceiling fans … you’d think ‘I told you so’ would have been enough of a punishment for my three decade old work and cost avoidance comment.
Tim the Tool Man has nothing on me … except his personalized coffee mug at the local ER. I once put a ten-speed bike together only to have the cables fail to reach the handlebars … as my wife watched, I was almost knocked out by a kitchen window flower box that preferred the laws of gravity over the laws of attachment … my first ride on my Dad’s tractor with bush hog attached (I was an adult) resulted in two amputated blueberry bushes … and I once drilled a hole in my car radiator … don’t ask!
Yes, I fall a bit outside the macho image … BBQ is something you eat not something you do … and if I eat 2 steaks a year, it’s a big year … I eat mor chickn! … and a variety of other things.
I do cook a little bit … cookies at Christmas … creamy peanut butter pies on special occasions … scones and quiche for weekend breakfasts throughout the year … coffee coladas from time to time … and I’m currently looking for a new chili recipe to accompany my newfound favorite cornbread recipe.
I enjoy day hikes, visiting scenic, historic, educational and quirky places and events with my wife and grandchildren (gosh … sounds like I’m placing a personal ad) … hey, I actually enjoy shopping too … yes, I’m domesticated … and enjoying it.
I walk two to three times a week and need to get back to my dumb bell workouts (no snickers please). I have truly come to believe that rather than needing more years in my life, I need more life in my years. Walking and exercise is my means toward that end.
Contrary to popular belief, I’m not anti-social … I’m anti-large groups (and I do enjoy times of solitude). You will rarely see me at parties or luncheons with large groups where the goal is simply to socialize. Yet I do love connecting with other men one-on-one and in small group settings.
From a political perspective, I would probably be labeled staunchly conservative … although I would be the first to say that I don’t really see any political parties fully aligned with the teaching of Scripture, Jesus and the Holy Spirit … oftentimes the only voting choice we make is the lesser of two evils. And without a doubt, integrity is an issue across the board.
I no longer believe in macro evolution, billions of years, psychology, religion, public education, law or politicians … and yes, you would be right to interpret that as I once believed in all of them.
I have Stage IV Metastatic Colon Cancer, have been a cancer warrior for 7 years, living with a colostomy bag the past 3 years … after two years of biweekly chemo infusions I have gone without chemo for the last 60 weeks … and I am also scheduled for a ureteral stent replacement twice a year … yet I am at my lowest weight and I am in my best shape of the last two decades.
And even with all my peculiarities and challenges, I eagerly and joyfully confess
“Jesus loves me … this I know
Life is good … extremely good!”
Thank you Lord!!!
(written July 11,2014)
P.S. If this has been TMI, please accept my apologies.