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- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Friday, September 30, 2005

It's Been One of Those Weeks

I've had a hell of a week. Aside from everything surrounding Rascal it's been a full week. Here's a rundown of what I've been doing at work:

  • Redesigning the artwork for a series of devotional resources that my dad and I have written over the past few years
  • Preparing our new collection of Elements - backgrounds for digital presentations
  • Developing a presentation for one of our clients to be duplicated within a week (500 copies)
  • A stressful event
  • Developing the design for a client's new website
  • Gathering together, duplicating, and preparing many of our products for sale at an upcoming convocation
  • Trying to keep my head about me at work while in the midst of the emotional rollercoaster that is my life

Last night as my dad and I got back after a long evening, we found a message waiting for us from a person at EcuFilm - a division of United Methodist Communications (UMCom). They currently offer two of our dramatic videos (UMAC winners: Change of Heart and The Widow's Mite) and potentially our most recent Rite of Passage. After reviewing Elements they would like to offer it in their catalog and are interested in the now-soon-to-be-started volume two. Other good news is we are now in the early stages of developing our next dramatic production which should be released next June.

We're a small company but we're trying to do what we love and it feels good when others see the quality of our work and the value it can be. Just one example: Rite of Passage is about a dying church that needs to decide whether to be in "maintanance mode" or to "die with dignity" to help others to live. We heard a story about a local pastor who showed it to her church, they realized that the congregation in the film was a lot like where they were at, and they are now begining to turn themselves around.

I think we're doing a good thing. And it's exciting to see how people respond. It's been a busy week, a hard week, and it's easy to get bogged down with the stress. I'm proud to be working with my dad and doing what we do. As pessimistic as I can be sometimes with life and all its incarnations, I really am hopeful for whatever comes next. It's just hard sometimes.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Update: Why Can't I Catch a Break?!

I just got a call from the vet at the shelter and it turns out that in his routine checkup prior to the adoption he found that Rascal has heartworm. Not only would the months of therapy be expensive and uncertain, my mom's boss' sister (who is a vet) says that he probably wouldn't have a long life even with the treatments...

So, I'm left with a choice to make: a) adopt him and go through months of vet visits, injections, and therapies leading to an uncertain, most likely negative, outcome; or b) cancel the adoption and start this whole damn process over again. After going through the crap of this week I'm not sure I'd want to go through it again. But taking care of a sick dog right out of the gate is not what I had in mind and certainly isn't something I'm financially prepared for.


...option b...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Update: Rascal

As the day went on and the clock digitally ticked closer and closer to 3pm - the time I would have to leave to drive out to the shelter with enough time prior to closing - I got a little impatient.

The nice woman I spoke with yesterday was very kind and supportive and was happy to see me finally work things out and get Rascal. Today, I wasn't met with the same level of customer service. Yesterday I was told that there was a really good chance that the vet would get a chance to give Rascal a once over to make sure he was healthy and up-to-date on shots, etc. before coming home. When I called today, a different person told me that the shelter is having a rabies clinic which is tying up the vet all day and Rascal hasn't been in to see him/her yet. (This I am told by someone who obviously didn't even look at a file or anything to give me any case-specific information whatsoever.) So, because I am working late tomorrow, it looks like Friday will be the day.

I really hope everything goes as planned this time. These past few days have been so filled with emotional ups and downs that I'm physically weary from it all. Saturday I meet Rascal and my application is initially approved: excited. Sunday I get a phone call that my apartment complex rejected the adoption: heartbroken. Monday, after some persuasion, the property manager will consider it: hopeful/anxious. Tuesday I am told that Rascal is to be mine: overjoyed. Wednesday after planning on picking him up I find out that I can't until Friday: bummed. The good thing that comes out of this is that I'll have a large portion of Friday and the entire weekend to get acquainted with Rascal and for him to get used to his new home before I get back to my regular work schedule.

Why does it have to be so difficult?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My New Addition

As of this afternoon, I have been approved by all parties involved to adopt this lovable dog, Rascal.

Rascal is a sweet 6yo beagle mix (he's got a little rottweiler in him and maybe some hound too) that I will be picking up tomorrow from the shelter.

I've already gotten some things together for him - food, dishes, treats, a couple of chew toys, a place to sleep, etc. My sister-in-law is going to be making a blanket for him as a welcome home present. (She came with me over the weekend when I first met Rascal so she already knows how great he is.)

Sure, I'm a little nervous since I haven't had a dog since junior high and there will certainly be some adjustment for us both. But more than anything I'm just so excited to finally have a dog.

And I promise, I will post pictures of him in my photo gallery once he's home and I have a chance to take some.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I'm a Bit Wobbly, Myself

I was reading through some of the latest emails sent out through a mailing list I'm a part of and came across this article in NPR's This I Believe... series. I don't identify with Mr. Gup completely but there are certainly elements that resonate with me. And I just thought I'd share.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Getting to Know Me

My friend Beth, in her latest post, has challenged me to answer the following questionaire, so here we go!

5 things I plan to do before I die:
- Set foot on all 7 continents (just 2 to go!)
- Overcome my fear of rejection and take chances
- Fall in love - for real this time
- Have a family of my own
- Feel like I've made a real difference, even in a small yet meaningful way

5 things I can do:
- Juggle
- Sing
- Make people laugh
- Take nice photographs
- Put on a happy face

5 things I cannot do:
- Willfully hurt someone else in any way
- Express myself well verbally - unless I've written it down first
- Handle confrontation
- Get used to being lonely
- Know what's coming next

5 things that attract me to members of the opposite sex:
- A caring nature
- Sense of humor
- Someone who is creative
- Effortless interactions - a certain level of comfort with each other in communication, emotionally, intellectually, etc.
- Someone who is open and honest and genuine

5 things I say most often:
- "Thank You"
- Grumbling noises
- "Um" - and other stutterings
- (for Beth) "I understand"
- and "That's not what I'm saying" or "What I'm saying is..."

5 celebrity crushes: (in no particular order)
- Elizabeth Shue
- Heather Graham
- Meg Ryan - though I heard she's not as nice as she seems in real life, which makes me have second-thoughts (she hasn't spoken to her mother in about 10yrs)
- Janel Maloney
- Ashley Judd

5 people I want to do this:
- ???

Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Me, and Kevin Bacon

After last night's post and seeing how many of the AFI's quotes came from Bogart films, I thought I would challenge myself to see if I could link him within 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. So, here it goes:

Humphrey Bogart was in "African Queen" with Katharine Hepburn who was in "On Golden Pond" with Dabney Coleman who was in "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks who was in "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon.

Then for something a little more difficult for me, since I don't know his movies that well, I thought I'd try James Cagney. (It gets a bit harder when you are spanning the generations like this.)

Cagney was in "Mister Roberts" with Henry Fonda who was also in "On Golden Pond" and could follow the same route as before. However, I'll go with something else. James Cagney was an uncredited extra in "Mutiny on the Bounty" with Clark Gable who was in "Run Silent, Run Deep" with Burt Lancaster who was in "Field of Dreams" with Frank Waley (who went to my high school) who was in "Broken Arrow" with Christian Slater who was in "Murder in the First" with Kevin Bacon.

One more? Ok. Let's go with... George C. Scott is too easy ("Taps" with Sean Penn who was in "Mystic River" with KB), Jimmy Stewart isn't bad but we could go through "How the West was Won" with Henry Fonda. So how about we try Eminem. Well:

Eminem was in "8Mile" with Britney Murphy who was in "Summer Catch" with Brian Dennehy who was in "Romeo and Juliet" with Paul Rudd who was in "The Object of My Affection" with Jennifer Aniston who was in "Picture Perfect" with Kevin Bacon.

Another one with me, my 9th grade chorus teacher once dated Michael Tucci in college who was Sonny in "Grease" with John Travolta (and I could take it the "Broken Arrow" route but I won't) who was in "Face Off" with Nicholas Cage who was in "Gone in 60 Seconds" with Giovani Ribisi who was in "Saving Private Ryan" with Tom Hanks who was in "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon. Or when I saw the play "National Anthems" in London starring Kevin Spacey who was in "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman who was in "Sleepers" with Kevin Bacon. Or, not to drag this out, my old boss and friend Mike is friends with Stephen Baldwin, his brother William Baldwin was in "Flatliners" with Kevin Bacon.

If it's someone obscure I may need a little help from IMDB.com but for most well known actors/actresses I can do it. As you can see, I can get a little carried away with it and just keep going on and on.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I'm Such A Movie Nerd

This is something I've known for quite some time but it became clear to me tonight. On a Saturday night when most people my age are out with friends or spouses I find myself doing what I am often found doing: watching movies. Like my mother - though without as much skill - I have a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of actors and the movies they played in. Remember the whole "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing? Yeah, I can do that with just about anyone. Even I am within 4 or 5 through a couple of different ways. (Example: (1) my best friend from college was an extra in "Friday Night Lights" with (2)Billy Bob Thornton who was in "Sling Blade" with (3) JT Walsh who was in "A Few Good Men" with (4)Kevin Bacon. Or, I used to go to the same church as (1)Homer and Doris Gere, parents of (2) Richard Gere who was in "Pretty Woman" with (3)Julia Roberts who was in "Flatliners" with (4)Kevin Bacon. Etc.) And now, if you know me, you are too.

So anyway, I was watching "AFI's 100 Years 100 Movie Quotes" for three hours. During one of the commercials, the nerd that I am, I downloaded the 100 best movies list that they came out with a few years ago and I brought the laptop into my living room to watch the show and highlight the movies on the list that I have seen and mark the ones that I have. It turns out that I've seen 43 of the top 100 and own 15 of them. On top of that, I have a movie book that lists just about every movie with a description and lists every actor and director with a listing of all of their movies. In the back, there is a list of all of the Best Picture/Director/Actor/Actress winners since the beginning of the Oscars. Of those, I own and/or have seen 63 of them going back to 1938 with the movie "Boys Town" with Spencer Tracy.

I have around 220 or so movies in my collection - so many that some of my friends have said that I have more than their local video store. It's true, I have a lot of movies and I've easily seen countless more but there's just something about movies that draw me in.

A lot of people I know like to read as their favorite pastime. They read to relax and to unwind and can never seem to get enough. I've known my dad to read 2 or 3 books a week during vacations. I've never been like that. Don't get me wrong, I like to read. As funny as it may be, perhaps my favorite author is Nicholas Sparks because I get drawn in and can often identify with some of his characters. Some of my favorite books can be counted among the classics. Though I haven't read it since high school, I remember loving "Tale of Two Cities" and "The Great Gatsby." I've read "1984" and "A Catcher in the Rye" a few times. Though I haven't kept up with it lately, I'm about 2/3 of the way through "Robinson Crusoe" and I'm enjoying it a lot. But there's just something about movies...

I'm a very visual person and when I see a movie I am so moved by the camera work, the lighting, the set design, the overall style. I just get so drawn in when it's done well, it takes me to a totally different place. But more than all of that, and in conjunction with it, I am so moved by a well told story. Even though books allow you to use your own imagination, to me there's nothing like seeing the expressions on the characters' faces or hearing the words or allowing their actions to speak instead of a description. It's so easy for me to get right in there and feel like I'm a part of it. I can identify myself with so many little elemets of each character and I get tied up in their struggles and joys. It must be interesting to watch a movie with me because I'll be smiling with newfound love and with vulnerable sincerety. I cry during some of the meaningful parts and I feel the tension in thrillers. And I love it.

I remember during my freshman and sophomore years of college I worked in the microform department at the library and worked the closing shift on Friday and Saturday nights - I know, loser - and as I walked home I would imagine how it would look if my life were a movie: high shot of a lone man walking across the plaza under street lights in the cool autumn air, his breath forming steady, yet subtle clouds as he heads home. I would even hear some narration or other in my head too. It's crazy, I know, but that's how it was. And, perhaps, how it still is. I know it's somewhat unreasonable but I keep feeling like any day now is when the story picks up with me living my everyday life until... and then, who knows what comes next.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What's Next?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Later

I just finished watching a show on the National Geographic Channel that chronicled the morning of September 11, 2001. Even though I felt the pain and utter disbelief of that morning as I watched the fuzzy images through the tv antenae four years ago, and I felt the loss again as I watched the show today I became conscious once again of just how easy it is to let go and move on. I'm not talking about forgetting about it, just accepting it and going on.

I found myself feeling that way after the tsunami, and again recently with Katrina. There came a point when my rubber-necking, information-hungry, desire to see it all just shut off and I didn't want to watch any more news casts or read any more articles. I just needed to turn off the tv.

I'm not proud of it, but I have to be honest about it. It just got to be too much to hear about all of the pain and suffering. I grew weary of the blame games and the reports of irratic behavior. It became easier to just change the channel and watch something funny and upbeat.

I'm not sure I'm going anywhere with this other than to say that even though coverage may fade into other news of the day, and I may not be as outwardly affected by it, and I may not view everything through a 9/11 lens - or post-Katrina lens - like some might, I still feel my part of the heartache and carry it with me. Even if I do change the channel and move on.

Second Steps Are Tough Too

They always say, the first step is the hardest. Once the momentum gets started after the initial movement sailing is smoother. I would definitely concur. When I wrote the letter officially leaving the UMC it was very difficult. But I must say, second steps aren't always easy either.

Whenever faced with a new situation, I find myself extremely nervous, particularly when facing it alone. Growing up as a PK I moved a lot and was the new kid at school every few years. I had excitement and hope for the new school year and what I would learn and the opportunities I would have now that I was a year further in my career. However, I was always anxious too about how I would be judged by the other kids. Would I fit in? Is this really the right place for me? Will it be better or worse than the last one? Today felt a lot like that for me.

After a month of religious absenteeism I took the long-awaited second step that followed my withdrawl at the end of July: I visited a new church. In the past it had been a little easier going to a new church because I would be going with my family or I'd know someone else there. But this time it was different. Not only was it someplace totally new, I was going alone without so much as knowing anyone there. It was tough to psych myself up for it.

Arriving was like it would be at any new church: greeters welcoming and directing visitors over to the newcomers table, filling out a name tag, before heading up to the sanctuary for the service. People were much friendlier and seemed more genuinely welcoming than I had experienced elsewhere. The choir was better than most I've heard - other than the Marsh Chapel Choir at BU - the sermon was refreshing to listen to (no better or worse than any I'd heard before, necessarily, just different, and in a way that spoke to me more clearly and rang a little more true), and there was a stronger sense of community and yet more openness than I'd felt anywhere else. It was comfortable.

At the potluck lunch following the service I sat by myself, not courageous enough to sit down with total strangers yet. But that didn't last long. Someone at a neighboring table called me over to join her and her two young children. As she began to clean her little ones up, an older gentleman came over to introduce himself and we ended up chatting for about a half hour or so. He introduced me to the choir director - there always seems to be a shortage of male voices in choirs, particularly basses - and the pastor. All in all, it was an enjoyable time and I felt at ease. There's something to being totally anonymous too. No one knows who my family is. No one has heard of me before. I come in with a clean slate and people seemed genuinely eager to get to know me.

I'll be returning next week.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I know I don't have anything new to say that hasn't already been said elsewhere about Katrina but I just thought I would share some of my feelings about what's been happening these past few days.

Periodically throughout the day I'll check out CNN.com or turn on the news or listen to NPR to see what's going on along the Gulf Coast. Aside from the tragic loss of life and the large-scale displacement of so many, I ache when I learn of the violence, the looting, and the utter selfishness and disregard for everything. Granted, this is a very desperate time for everyone down there but does it really call for such a reaction as I keep reading about? I mean, when your family is starving or thirsty or exposed, by all means break into a store to get them food, water, and clothing to keep them alive. But when you are in the middle of a city that is under water, with no electricity, and it's going to be that way for an indefinite amount of time, why the hell do you need to break into a store and take a bunch of TVs and DVD players?

I was reading recently about the snipers targeting hospital workers as they attempted to evacuate patients today and the gangs and the random violence. It's too much. There's no reason for it at any time, but now, under these already dire circumstances, it seems all the more awful. There's a lot that needs to get done to help those affected. Why make it worse than it already is? It just breaks my heart to see how quickly people can revert to such behaviors and how quickly any semblance of civilization and society can disappear. Where has the sense of community gone? Why does it seem so difficult for them to work together to make life in the wake of this tragedy somewhat bearable as they try to recover? I'm not saying everyone is like this, I'm sure that the majority is not, it just pains me to see how widespread these horrendous acts are - they certainly get the most press, second only to the devastation and loss itself.

And then there is the terrible event on the al-A'imma bridge in Baghdad. Roughly 1,000 people...

I can't even begin to comprehend everything. Such destruction. Such a great loss of life. Such unnecessary violence. And it's not like it will one day simply be fixed. SE Asia is still working on their recovery efforts 9 months later. I've heard reports of people still waiting for relief from other major hurricanes 2 and 3 years ago. When I was in Cambodia 3 years ago I saw the effects of landmines and the Khmer Rouge in the craters and amputees even 30 years later.

I am overwhelmed...