All They Do Is Win!

Here’s to the Auburn Tigers, for winning the BCS National Championship!

Here’s to Gene Chizik for leading that team to the title, and for emphasizing the concept of Auburn Family. The buttons say it all: “AU Family: ALL IN!” And Cam Newton for being an outstanding player and quarterback, even if he is ditching Auburn early for the NFL big bucks. He was still beautiful to watch in motion.

Here’s to my friends in Auburn who were on Toomer’s Corner immediately to roll the oaks and scream “WAR DAMN EAGLE!” Unfortunately the city’s webcam was offline when I was trying to watch the celebration from NC.

But thanks to Facebook, I got the final record from friends:

And then the next morning, they couldn’t power wash the toilet paper away like normal because it was too cold! So this beautiful sight was left for them to enjoy a little longer.

And the Auburn Family yelled “War Damn Eagle!” to each other from car to car, stranger to stranger, celebrating for the next few days. I even got War Damn Eagle texts that seemed out of nowhere to me, but to my Auburn friends, it was far from random. One said, “We’ve all been screaming it for 24 hours!” Folks, that’s what you call “School Spirit!”

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Good Song: Beautiful

This song hits home for me in a lot of ways. I feel close to the message, and I know it has meant something to someone I’m close to as well in their personal experiences. Although I’m not depressed right now, I’ve had my share of struggle with that issue, but I’m relating to this song today for the theme of empathy. But in darker days it is also relevant for me. I think a lot of people don’t take the time to listen to Eminem’s lyrics enough to realize that he is not all offensive and crude. His music has a positive message more often than not, and he uses crudity like most people sprinkle their language with obscenities. I know when I am feeling heightened emotionally (good or bad) my potty mouth gets worse, so I getcha, Em. LOL.

Beautiful
by Eminem

Lately I’ve been hard to reach
I’ve been too long on my own
Everybody has their private world
Where they can be alone

Are you calling me?
Are you trying to get through?
Are you reaching out for me?
I’m reaching out for you

I’m just so fucking depressed
I just can’t seem to get out this slump
If I could just get over this hump
But I need something to pull me out this dump

I took my bruises, took my lumps
Fell down and I got right back up
But I need that spark to get psyched back up
And in order for me to pick the mic back up

I don’t know how or why or when
I ended up this position I’m in
I’m starting to feel dissin’ again
So I decided just to pick this pen

Up and try to make an attempt to vent
But I just can’t admit
Or come to grips with the fact that I may be done with rap
I need a new outlet

And I know some shit’s so hard to swallow
But I can’t just sit back and wallow
In my own sorrow but I know one fact
I’ll be one tough act to follow

One tough act to follow
I’ll be one tough act to follow
Here today, gone tomorrow
But you’d have to walk a thousand miles

In my shoes, just to see
What it’s like, to be me
I’ll be you, let’s trade shoes
Just to see what it’d be like

To feel your pain, you feel mine
Go inside each others’ minds
Just to see what we’d find
Look at shit through each others’ eyes

Don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked, just stay true to you
So don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked, just stay true to you

I think I’m starting to lose my sense of humor
Everything’s so tense and gloom
I almost feel like I gotta check
The temperature of the room

Just as soon as I walk in, it’s like all eyes on me
And so I try to avoid any eye contact
‘Cause if I do that then it opens the door
For conversation, like I want that

I’m not looking for extra attention
I just wanna be just like you
Blend in with the rest of the room
Maybe just point me to the closest restroom

I don’t need no fucking man servant
Trying to follow me around and wipe my ass
Laugh at every single joke I crack
And half of ’em ain’t even funny like

Ha! Marshall you’re so funny man
You should be a comedian, god damn!”
Unfortunately I am
I just hide behind the tears of a clown

So why don’t you all sit down
Listen to the tale I’m about to tell
Hell, we don’t gotta trade our shoes
And you ain’t gotta walk no thousand miles

In my shoes, just to see
What it’s like, to be me
I’ll be you, let’s trade shoes
Just to see what it’d be like

To feel your pain, you feel mine
Go inside each others minds
Just to see what we’d find
Look at shit through each others eyes

Don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked, just stay true to you
So don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked, just stay true to you

Nobody asked for life to deal us
With these bullshit hands we’re dealt
We gotta take these cards ourselves
And flip ’em, don’t expect no help

Now I could’ve either just sat on my ass
And pissed and moaned
Or take this situation in which I’m placed in
And get up and get my own

I was never the type of kid
To wait by the door and pack his bags
I sat on the porch and hoped and prayed
For a dad to show up who never did

I just wanted to fit in
Every single place, every school I went
I dreamed of being that cool kid
Even if it meant acting stupid

And Edna always told me
Keep making that face and it’ll get stuck like that
Meanwhile I’m just standing there
Holding my tongue tryna talk like that

‘Til I stuck my tongue on that frozen stop sign pole
At 8 years old
I learned my lesson then
‘Cause I wasn’t trying to impress my friends no more

But I already told you my whole life story
Not just based on my description
‘Cause where you see it, from where you’re sittin
It’s probably 110% different

I guess we would have to walk a mile
In each others shoes at least
What size you wear? I wear 10’s
Let’s see if you can fit your feet

In my shoes, just to see
What it’s like, to be me
I’ll be you, let’s trade shoes
Just to see what it’d be like

To feel your pain, you feel mine
Go inside each others minds
Just to see what we’d find
Look at shit through each others eyes

Don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked just stay true to you
So don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked just stay true to you

So don’t let ’em say you ain’t beautiful
They can all get fucked just stay true to you
So

Lately I’ve been hard to reach
I’ve been too long on my own
Everybody has their private world
Where they can be alone

Are you calling me?
Are you trying to get through?
Are you reaching out for me?
I’m reaching out for you

Yeah, to my babies
Stay strong, daddy will be home soon

And to the rest of the world
God gave you shoes to fit you
So put ’em on and wear ’em
Be yourself man, be proud of who you are
Even if it sounds corny
Don’t ever let anyone tell you you ain’t beautiful

Thanksgiving Recap

My Thanksgiving was awesome. I got to spend a few days at home with my family before heading up to Asheville to visit with a friend and his family. While at home, I got to spend a lot of time cleaning out my grandmother’s house, since she has just gone into a nursing home.

The people who live next door to her house have a dog that they keep in a lot in their back yard. His name is Sandy. He never gets fed or loved or brought in out of the cold. I fed him while I was there and put blankets in his little house to shield him from some of the cold air.

Sandy is slowing dying. He is starving. You can see each one of his ribs. He has frostbite from the cold. The tips of his ears are black. He may have cancer or some other terrible health thing going on. He has a growth on his stomach and some sores on his hips. When I take him food, he practically rips it out of my hands. He is a sweet, loving dog. He presses himself against the chicken wire of his lot to be petted and loved while shivering against the cold.

I have laid awake many a night worrying about this dog, but my mother forbid my from kidnapping him, which is what I really wanted to do when I found out that calling animal control would only result in him being left there or taken and put down quickly. The legal options suck. Many people have encouraged me to just take him. But what’s holding me back is the possibility that I may end up living in that house (rent-free since I’m unemployed), and I can’t very well steal the next-door neighbor’s dog and then show back up living with it next door. Particularly in a place where you are liable to get shot for being on someone else’s property — never mind taking their property.

Animal control either hasn’t done anything or hasn’t been able to find the people at home, because Sandy is still out there starving in the cold. My mom says she might try to talk to the owners to see if they’ll agree to give him up. I can’t understand why someone would want to own a dog they don’t care about and don’t want to take care of. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t want someone else to have it who would give it love and food and a warm place to sleep.

I didn’t grow up with dogs, but since I have owned one, I have not been able to accept animal cruelty or abuse in any way. My mom says things like, “You don’t just kidnap a child you know is being abused — you have to go through the proper legal channels.” And I think things like, “But that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you do have to take matters into your own hands.” It’s not like someone who is leaving their dog outside in the winter to starve, freeze, and die is going to hunt me down and press charges if I take it and give it something better. Right?

Anyways. I saw them feed him exactly once, by throwing a plate of scraps over the fence to him. His water bowls are all full of leaves and dirt. When I’m not there, my dad goes down and feeds him. Animal control has been called by several parties, but so far nothing has happened. The rescue agencies there say the only way they can foster a dog is if the owner willingly relinquishes it. And I’m also afraid that Sandy needs more medical attention and care than I would be able to pay for. So for now, he is still stuck out there, and we are doing what we can here and there. When he hears our cars pull into the driveway, he peeps his head around the corner of his little house to see if we’re coming with food and gentle stroking and soothing words. When we do, he looks up at us with huge, sad eyes and shakes.

After spending Thanksgiving dinner with my own family on the farm in Mount Vernon, I headed up to Asheville to hang out with my friend and his family for a few days.

The night I arrived, I met some of his relatives on their way out, and ended up with a glass of wine in my hand and sitting in the den watching Punkin Chunkin with my friend and his stepdad on the Discovery Channel.

Apparently watching Punkin Chunkin is a holiday tradition for them that I had never heard of. It’s some contest in Delaware where teams drunkenly compete to see how far they can launch a pumpkin, using various apparatuses. I can totally see why people get into this based on the engineering involved. But the whole time I was thinking, “I have family in Delaware, and there is no way they know about this type of redneck shit going down in their state.” It was pretty durn fun to watch, though.

After more pie and more wine and more Punkin Chunkin, the evening found my friend and I in his childhood basement bedroom, where I used to read the homework reading assignments from his history book to him, playing Candy Land Bingo and drinking Cold Mountain Ale (local brew provided by his mom, because she is awesome like that). And watching Friday Night Lights, which is a TV show we’re addicted to about high school football in Texas.

The next day we drove around town reminiscing about when we both used to live there, and marveling at the new things that have been built since we left, and dreaming about a time when we’ll be able to afford to live there again. Had to get back home for the Auburn/Alabama football game, which his mom made like a Superbowl Party, complete with our favorite beers and buffet of chili cheese dip and all kinds of other good things to eat. We all had our Auburn game day shirts on and were completely psyched when Auburn won. War Eagle!

That evening, my friend’s mom took us out for a night on the town. We went on a tour of local microbreweries just to check them out since we hadn’t seen them. We went to the Biltmore Estate for a little while to see the new village there. It’s called Antler something and there are all these little shops and a museum, where we watched a short video on the history of the estate. After that we went to the winery.

And from there we went to a restaurant on the square called Cedric’s, where we warmed ourselves up, had some beers and decided what to do next. Cedric’s is named after the Vanderbilts’ beloved Saint Bernard, and there are pictures of him all over. There was a pretty good live blues guitarist playing that night, so that was fun. But we wanted to go downtown. So we didn’t stay too long.

Once downtown, it was a tough call as to where to go. We ended up having dinner at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, because it was a new addition to the scene since we’d both lived there. It was very cool, and crowded, so we sat outside on the patio under the heaters to eat, and that was kinda fun. The waitress asked me and my friend if we were family because we both ordered the same beer and red meat dishes, medium rare. Had to correct her that in fact no, we are not related. This helped my friend’s efforts to look down her shirt when she was leaning over the table, and I will admit, her boobs were worth staring at. So no grief was given. She was one of those Asheville girls who you know can’t possibly be FROM Asheville but whose sexy hippieness isĀ  keeping her employed with good tips anyway. What? I’m not jealous.

The food there was good but the beer wasn’t that great, so we decided to go elsewhere before heading home. We wanted to go to Asheville Pizza on Merrimon to relive old times, but my friend’s mom said the bar they just opened downtown was cool. So we went there instead to check out the new place and scenery. It was cool. They have some new beers on tap which were good, and some new t-shirts, but they were sold out of those. It’s very industrial, but I liked it. We had some great conversation there, and some good beer. I got to have my old favorite — Shiva — which I had not tasted in years, and it was delightful.

Afterwards we stopped by the huge new Ingles on Tunnel Road (I can’t believe there’s a huge new Ingles on Tunnel Road) so my friend’s mom could pick up a potato to put in the homemade vegetable soup she was making for him to be able to take back with him. Then we went home and got ready to go back out.

My friend and I decided we had to go to Scandals to see what it was like now. We used to spend almost every Friday and Saturday night there at one or more of their bars, and we wanted to at least see a drag show for old times’ sake while we were there. It turned out that the multiple clubs we used to visit are all separate entrances now, so we just went to Scandals. We saw the drag show, and although it was not as fun as when we knew all the performers, it was still pretty fun. We still knew one of them.

It was a far cry from the days of sneaking underage shots through the mouths of friends and sneaking off to make out in various bathrooms and chain smoking in the pool room, but it was a fun night. We felt kinda old, though. We sat on the sidelines watching the dance floor, while saying things like, “Can you believe we used to come here and dance like that?”

Afterward, we went to Denny’s on Patton, which was always our old refueling station after a night at the club. We were going to get breakfast like we always used to, but there was a table full of redneck kids behind us making foul and hateful comments about some kids at the table next to us, and we had to leave so my friend didn’t beat the shit out of them. So we retreated back to Kenilworth Lake, to his parents’ house, for more Friday Night Lights and eating our take-out bacon and eggs on the water bed that I hate because it’s so hard to get in and out of. Seriously, you shouldn’t need abs of steel just for getting in and out of bed, for fuck’s sake.

Happy New Year!

One would think that being out of work would mean so much more time for fun things like blogging. Unfortunately, the universe took over my life for the past couple months, and I have been out of town more than I’ve been home. And away from a reliable computer with decent internet access more than not. Hence the reason for my being MIA lately. But I’m here now (for how long remains to be seen), and I’m blogging! Yes! Best way to ring in the new year! After this I’m going to do some catching up posts, but right now I want to go over the highlights and lowlights of my 2010, which I am not so sad to see exit through the gift shop.

This year,

1) I reconnected with more than one old friend, and I am a better person for it.

2) I got laid off from my job.

3) I moved out of my apartment and into a house I love but am close to no longer being able to afford due to number 2 above.

4) My grandmother went into a nursing home.

5) I started a charity project that has yet to make any money.

6) I traveled A LOT but only regionally.

7) I met some awesome new people at home and in other towns.

8) I fell in love for the fourth time in my life.

9) I let go of old flame number 2, to the best of my ability, which was the only one still hanging on to my brain.

10) I learned quite a bit about football.

11) I tried and failed to rescue an abused dog.

12) I was reminded that sometimes you lose no matter how great you do.

13) I was reminded that when life closes a door, it often opens a window.

14) I went to some really good concerts and music festivals.

15) I saw in person a dream come true for a friend of mine.

16) I witnessed the birth of (and helped deliver) my goddaughter.

17) I learned how to sew properly.

18) I developed relationships with extended family members that I am grateful for.

19) I learned how to cook the world’s best filet mignon in my own kitchen without using a grill.

20) I was reminded that life just goes on, no matter what good or bad happens. It keeps going. And I keep thinking of new adventures I want to experience and trying to figure out how to make them happen.

There’s a whole lot more that happened this year, but those are probably the main highlights, broken down to a basic level. I don’t make resolutions, because I think they’re crap. So I will leave you with the words of one Benjamin Franklin of rap legend (ha).

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”