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“Too Tall” Tree – The Story of My Eccentricities

27 Jun

When I was a kid, my mom always tried to get me to have other kids over to play. She talked about calling the kid down the road. She hosted birthday parties. She threw a Halloween party that became a famous event in our family’s history. All the time, she tried to figure out ways to get kids to the house. She even told me that she was shy as a child and never had other kids over. It was a regret that she did not want me to have.

Yep, my mom tried to guilt me into having kids over to play.

Sometimes, I agreed to it. However, most times I was comfortable playing alone and using my imagination. There were Hot Wheels that could be crashed or turned into a miniature NASCAR race. There was this awesome football game where you put a disc into the player, and the radio announcer told you what happened on the play. There was also a basketball goal where imaginary last second shots could be hoisted.

One of my favorite games was “Too Tall” Tree.image-2

I got a football and pretended that the trees were defenders. I had to get through them to score a touchdown. I did the play-by-play at the same time. Being a Cowboys fan, I named one of the trees after Ed “Too Tall” Jones. It was years later that I learned that Jones played college ball at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Anyway, I took the ball from center, and, when “Too Tall” Tree blocked my ability to pass, I took off down the field. It sounds weird, but it was a lot of fun when I was little.

I think my parents and other people thought it was weird way back then. I overheard people saying that I was selfish and did not want other kids playing with my toys. I guess that was the only reason they could think of why a kid did not want other kids around. Well, there was another reason. I was not comfortable around people.

All of this came to mind during a conversation with my wife. At some point, she asked, “You don’t like people do you?”

That is absolutely not true. I like all kinds of people, but, at times, I am still not comfortable around them. This is really true when it comes to strangers. I have never been good at starting a conversation with a complete stranger. I cannot think of anything to say. No witty comments come from the back of my mind. Simply, it is something that brings a lot of discomfort.

I do not start conversations with people sitting next to me on a plane. I do not start conversations with somebody at a bar.

Certainly, this has caused me to miss out on meeting some great and interesting people. I know that more than anyone.

During that same conversation, my wife asked how I have met people. That is a good question. I have met a lot of great people, and many of them have become my friends. Mostly, I have met new people through people who I have already known. That way they are not a complete stranger. In the modern business vernacular, that is called networking.

Of course, some people who have no problems approaching a stranger have started conversations with me. I met one of my best friends that way.

This is an issue that I have fought through all of my life. It was discussed in therapy, and it is something that I try to overcome. It is something that has hindered me through the years.

During my teenage years, I felt sorry for myself because I was not part of the cool kid groups. I did not get the messages that there were parties going on. There was this feeling of being left out. Another reason this post came to mind is because that feeling came back several days ago. There was an event that took place which I was not invited to. Internally, I acted like a child for a few hours, but it helped me put this post together.

I realize now, and knew deep down back then, that I was at fault for not opening myself up to people. If I had been more outgoing toward people who I did not know, then those people would have been more welcoming to me.

I have no idea if this post makes sense, and I have no idea how to end it. I know that I have missed out on some great people and some great opportunities. However, I know that there are a lot of great people in my life who would do anything for me just as I would do anything for them.

Am I still uncomfortable talking to strangers? Yes. I can barely do it, and I admire those who can. However, I have met a lot of people, and I like most of them. Like everyone else, there are some people who I can do without.



Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

Bad Mood Rising

11 Apr

I am in a bad mood and have been for the past several days. I have not felt like blogging, and I, for sure, have not felt like talking to anyone. When I get in a bad mood, I tend to shut down. That is probably not the healthy way to handle things. Actually, I know it is not the healthy way to handle things. At least, that is what my old therapist said.Therapist

Last night, I tried what a lot of people do when they are in a bad mood or are stressed. I had a few drinks. I understand that it is supposed to be relaxing. Well, it may be for most people, but it is not for me. It accomplished two things. It made me have a terrible night of sleep, and it made me feel bad this morning.

Here is the dumb thing. I knew that is what it would do. That is why I usually only have one drink at dinner or something. I like the taste, but I see no reason to drink more and have these things happen.

Besides that, alcohol is a numbing agent, and I really do not want to be numb. I like the full effects of natural feelings. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Bliss. Feeling all of those things to their full effect is living life to its fullest. I have always believed that numbing yourself to those things is cheating yourself.

I did not mean for this post to descend into a critique of ingesting adult beverages. After all, I like a glass of whiskey as much as the next person. I meant for it to be an explanation for why I have not written anything in a couple of days. Simply, I have not been in the mood. There are a few things floating around in my mind that will be coming soon. First, I have to get my mind right.

Remember: No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

4 Mar

I have been saying that line, or something similar for many years. However, it was not until today that I realized where I picked it up.

This winter, the South has been hit with some rough weather. There has been ice, snow and freezing temperatures. However, in this little pocket of the South, we have only gotten the cold air. No precipitation. People have been calling it the Snow Dome, a shield protecting us from the fate of others.

Whenever I read something about the Snow Dome, my mind goes to the 1980s and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the second best movie in the Mad Max trilogy. Today, the Snow Dome failed, and ice descended upon us. I took to Twitter and blamed Aunty Entity for hiring Max to fight Master Blaster, an event that ended the Thunderdome era.Mad Max

That sparked some movie quote exchange between me and one of the Twitter folks out there. That, in turn, led me to discover that the saying I have been quoting all these years came from that movie.

Remember: no matter where you go, there you are.

When I use it, people usually look at me like I am crazy. However, I think it is a profound statement that means we cannot run away from ourselves. We all have problems and issues that need to be resolved. We have worries. We have stress. We have psychological aspects to ourselves that we would like to ignore.

Some people think they can get away from all of that by moving to another part of the world. Some people think they can get away from all of that by getting away from the people in our lives and throwing ourselves into the world of others. Some people think they can get away from all of that by losing themselves in an artificial high.

However, we cannot get away from all of that because it is all part of who we are.

No matter where you go, there you are. We cannot run away from ourselves and our internal problems. We can only face them and deal with them the best we can. Sometimes, like in my case, a good therapist is the answer, but that is not the only way.

Each of us is unique, with unique problems and unique ways of dealing with them.

Just keep in mind the wise words of Pigkiller, who I have unknowingly been quoting all of these years.Pigkiller

No matter where you go, there you are.


30 Jul

We just finished walking around the neighborhood. As we did, I noticed a man through a window. He was working at his desk, and I began to wonder what he was working on. Was he writing the next great novel? Was he writing a letter? Was he blogging? At the moment, I am sitting by a window, and people are probably looking in and wondering what I am doing.

I like to think that people like what they read here. It’s a hodgepodge of stuff, but it comes right out of my head. Sometimes, It’s travel. Sometimes, it’s music. Sometimes, its stories from the past. All the time, it’s something that is stuck in my mind and needs to get out.

I am not sure what needs to get out tonight, so I will just go down the list of categories on this blog and type this first thing that fits.Scattergories

Academics – School starts back soon. That means inservice.

Agriculture – The other day, I got gas at the Farmer’s Co-Op.

Art – There is a guy named Art who works at Beauty Boutique, Necole’s store.

Biography – The last one I read wasn’t very good, It was about Ward Bond, John Ford and John Wayne. It should have been good.

Books – I just finished The Eye of God by James Rollins. It is the further adventures of Grayson Pierce.

Childhood Memories – Tonight, I mentioned that my parents had a Weeping Willow in their front yard, and I used to play under it.

Comedy – Nothing is funny, at the moment.

Community – I was named to the local Planning Commission. This afternoon was my first meeting.

Crime – Tonight, I found out that a guy I once knew tried to kidnap his wife and lock her in a closet. Hopefully, he will get what’s coming to him.

Did You Know? – I forgot about this category. It needs to be revisited.

Dining – Tonight, we had a home cooked meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green peas.

Dreams – Lately, my dreams have been less than memorable.

Government – Necole went to the DMV this morning. There is no reason they should be that slow.

History – I am getting my lecture voice warmed up.

Movies – We watched Batman Begins, and I realized that the guy who plays Joffrey on Game of Thrones was in it.

Music – We have a couple of concerts coming up – Don Williams and The Eagles.

Nature – There’s a great article about sugar in the latest National Geographic. Everyone should read it.

Photography – In a few days, we are getting more wedding photos made.

Rambling Ruminations – I think that is what this post is all about.

Relationships – I’m married.

Religion – I would like to write about it more, but a few things are better left unsaid.

Sports – College football is about to start, and my team, the University of Tennessee, is in the Southeastern Conference. However, you’ll never hear me chant S-E-C. I cheer for one team and hope the other ones lose every week.

Stupid Stuff – It’s an accurate description of this post.

Television – I’m waiting for Justified to crank back up.

Therapy – I used to go. I don’t anymore.

Travel – We just returned from California and will be heading to Arizona soon.

Writing – Am I the only person who doesn’t mess with those writing prompts?

3-2-1 Conflict

8 May

The few of you who have been reading this blog since its inception know that it started as a therapy project. I don’t go to therapy anymore, but this is still a good place for mental and emotional cleaning. The reasons for going to therapy were many, but there is no point boring anyone with all of those reasons. One reason is boring enough.

My therapist helped me understand that a major problem of my psyche was the avoidance of conflict. I would do anything to make sure conflict didn’t happen and messed a lot of things up as a result. It could be anything. If my friends and I were deciding on a restaurant, then I would go where they wanted to go – even if I hated the place. If there was something going on in a relationship, then I would keep it inside to not hurt her feelings. As you can see, I stayed away from conflict in minor and major situation.Conflict

All the time, I thought I was protecting the people around me. I was not arguing with them. I was not hurting their feelings. I was keeping everything calm. My therapist helped me understand that I was ripping myself apart by holding the conflict inside. I was ignoring situations that would eventually come to the surface. Instead of preventing conflict, I was putting off the inevitable and making things worse.

Here is a good example. I had been dating this lady for a while, but I was beginning to feel that it should end. Simply, it was a relationship that I didn’t want to be in anymore. I didn’t want to break up with her and hurt her, so I held on to those thoughts. Instead of breaking up with her, I started seeing someone else. Before I knew it, I was dating two people at once. Nice way to solve the issue wasn’t it?

It all blew up when they found out about each other. Instead of hurting one person a little, I hurt two people a lot. Wait, make that three people. I hurt myself, too.

That’s the problem with avoiding uncomfortable conversations, and that is what my therapist taught me. She also taught me that my voice is important and should be heard.

I hate conflict, and I hate uncomfortable conversations.

I hate telling a student that they are going to make a bad grade.

I hate hurting the feelings of the people I love.

I hate telling someone I don’t want to go to a certain restaurant.

I hate it, but I do it. I do it because it is the healthy thing to do. It may not feel good at the moment, but it will pass. Everyone will be happy again – most of the time. I do it because in real life conflict and uncomfortable situations cannot be avoided. I do it because it’s what people do, and the last time I checked I am a person. It took me a long time to understand that.

The Price of a Decent Burial

23 May

I like old movies. Maybe it’s because I am a historian. Maybe it’s because, like some people have said, I have an old soul. But, whatever the reason, I like old movies. I say that because it leads me into this post, but also because it makes me a little different that most of the people in my life that are my age. And, that leads me into this post as well.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is an old movie that I try to watch when I catch it on the guide. I have never seen it from start to finish, but I have seen it all in pieces. Kind of like Gone With the Wind. It has great quotes. Burl Ives should be in every scene. Elizabeth Taylor is at the top of the hotness meter – to the point that I wish the movie was made today so she could lose that white slip at least once.

All of that is great. However, there is one line by Paul Newman that has always struck home with me. While arguing with Big Daddy, Brick says, “I’m not worth the price of a decent burial.” When I find myself in the throes of a depressed state, this line plays over and over in my head. Since I find myself in that sort of state at the moment, that is what this post is about. So, if you are here for some movie history or a happy time, then you should probably stop reading now.

Like the movie character, there are times when I feel that “I’m not worth the price of a decent burial.” People see me as a financially successful person, but all of that came from the monetary seeds planted by my parents. Some see me as an involved member of the community, but I do a good job of serving on boards and committees without leading them. Others say that I am a good history teaching (which I believe sometimes), but that is really the only thing that I am good at. In fact, I can’t think of another job in the world that I am qualified to do. What’s funny is that I am pretty sure I got that job because the folks who did the hiring thought some donations would come with me. In short, if I didn’t have my last name and live in this town I am pretty sure that I would be a bust in life. On second thought, maybe I am already with a few frails and dressings to hide it.

Through the years, I have been told numerous times how useless I am. Perhaps, they didn’t mean it that way, but I took it that way.

You’re a man. You are supposed to know how to change a tire.

What do you mean you don’t grill? If you knew how to cook you would be married by now.

I can’t believe you don’t mow your own yard.

You sleep late and stay up late. Normal people get up in the morning and start accomplishing things.

I can’t believe you want to sit around and read when you could be up doing something.

The list goes on and on. And, it’s true. I’m not good at anything. I’m not good around the house. I’m not good with finances. All I am good at is filling my mind with information, and that is not enough in the eyes of many.

Maybe, I am just different from the people around me. I don’t see the importance of spending my time working in dirt or grease. I don’t believe in a supernatural being. I don’t care how other people live their lives and definitely don’t judge them for it.

It seems that people want me to fit in a cookie cutter pattern that everyone else has jammed themselves into. I just can’t make myself do it. Obviously, I need to go back to therapy.