Tag Archives: love

Batshit Crazy

I don’t normally use profane language, but I think it’s appropriate in this case.  The whole world has gone batshit crazy since the election was called last night. I was smart enough to deactivate my Facebook account before it turned any uglier.  I’ve already heard how awful it has gotten as the day has progressed.

Yes, I am a Trump supporter.  I have never burned a cross in front of anyone’s yard.  I have never beaten anyone for being a homosexual.  I have never sneered anyone wearing a burka.

Yet today, I am being told I’m a bigot, homophobe, and generally a horrible person (pssst… I’m really a pretty good guy).

I get the pre-election head-butting.  But when the dust has settled, we are supposed to shake hands and congratulate the other side.

When did it become ok to treat each other so terribly just because your chosen candidate lost?   This is worse than the Alabama-Auburn matchup each November.

I’m praying for you, America.  Praying hard.

 

Dragging Me Down a Path

I was born during the Vietnam “Conflict” in 1968.  My dad was stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida.  After serving a few tours, he was honorably discharged in 1970.  I never knew my dad before the war, but everyone talked about how nice and kind he was.  The only dad I knew was the violent alcoholic.  I was sheltered from this for a while, spending most afternoons and every weekend with my grandparents.  But as I grew older, the ugly truth was impossible to hide…the constant bruises on my mom couldn’t easily be explained.  Over time, my mom turned from the occasional Valium to dull her emotions, to a full-on addiction.

At the beginning of my 2nd grade year in 1975, my teacher sent home one of those leaflets from Scholastic with assorted age appropriate books.  I think out of guilt, my mom told me to order anything I wanted, no limit.  Taking her up on her offer, I circled what I wanted, amounting to about 20 books on the list.    She put the cash and the order slip in an envelope and I turned it in to my teacher the next morning.

A few weeks later, I came down with the flu and was staying with my grandparents.  On Monday afternoon, my mom came over to bring me my school work she had picked up, along with a big box with my name on it.  I opened it up and it was FULL of my books.  I was amazed.  Seeing them on an order form was much different than holding a box full of books on my lap.

I rushed through a week’s worth of school work in one day, and spent the rest of the week reading.   By the following Monday, I had finished every book and asked my teacher when the next order form would be arriving.   I was allowed to start going to the school library as often as I wanted/needed to check out books, instead of the once a week schedule for our class.  Sometimes I’d check out 2 books at a time, reading both overnight, and exchanging for more the next morning.

Reading was my escape.  The written word became my mind altering drug.  My mom and dad would start fighting at night, and I’d go deeper and deeper into the characters and the plot until I couldn’t hear them.  I didn’t see words on paper, I watched the stories unfold as movies in my mind, totally oblivious to the anger and violence that played out in the other room.

Over time, my parents’ situation worsened, with attempted murder charges filed against both my parents in separate situations.  Eventually they divorced and THAT was the best thing to ever happen to our “family”.

When I was in 7th grade, my mom remarried.  Steve had a Ph.D. in psychology.  He worked for the State of Alabama as a probation officer and part time as a marriage counselor.   Even though I was not allowed in his home office, I was a typical pre-teen and violated his rules.  I found a bookshelf in his closet with all his college textbooks and the papers he had written.  Over the next 2 years, I read every one of them.  I never had looked to textbooks for reading pleasure, but it opened up the world of non-fiction to me.  I may not be a psychologist, but I could definitely play one on TV.  FYI…It took weeks after finishing his Abnormal Psychology books before I could sleep without nightmares.  YIKES!

It was around this time that I first visited a book store.  I grew up in a VERY rural community, so the best we had to offer was a library (originally funded by Andrew Carnegie…the sign said so).  My mom was doing some Christmas shopping and we went to Birmingham to Century Plaza.  When I saw the store filled with books, the angels started singing.  I saw my destiny that day.  My dream job was a bookstore clerk.

Ok, maybe not the loftiest of goals, but things changed as I continued down the path of maturity, and along with that, so did the maturity of my goals.  In college, the neighborhood bookstores/coffee shops/hipster hangouts were gaining popularity.  My dream evolved into owning one of these awesome little places.  I’d grow a goatee, and have poetry night every Friday night.  The only requirements would be participants must only wear black clothing and sport sunglasses…inside…at night.

The big box book retailers killed that, somewhat odd, dream over the next few years.

Life began to blur…marriage, kids, career, divorce…the dreaming stopped, but the reading didn’t.  I tried to pass my love of reading to my kids, but it never became their passion.  I think technology has performed a clandestine attack of epic proportions on reading time.  Even though they are adults, I can’t stop myself from buying them books, that will collect dust and end up in a yard sale some day.

I married Christy in 2007 and the dreams started again.  We’re very aligned when it comes to setting big goals and chasing your dreams (and she loves books almost as much as I do).

I’ve wanted to become a writer for a long time.  People with whom I crossed paths with in life would tell me I need to write a book.  I would sit down at the computer and begin typing out my thoughts, only to go back and read what I had written in shame.  The voices of fear and self-doubt (Steven Pressfield called this The Resistance)  would tell me to delete that crap and go back to the TV.  I was an obedient servant.  Countless times, I would begin a new project, and walk away, producing nothing but mangled paperclip.

Now, this dream has a life of it’s own.  I’ve started the journey…this time more prepared.   Fear has been punched (kicked, slapped, body-slammed & fed to the pigs).  Fear hold no leverage over me.

I’m writing.  And this time, I won’t stop.  I couldn’t stop if I wanted to.   I don’t write because I want to be published, as Jon Acuff said, that’s simply a result.  I write because that’s who I am, not just what I do.   Words are the most powerful force in the universe.  The can evoke grief and pain, or laughter and joy.  Writers paint their canvases with the range of emotion and give birth to themselves over and over through their written words.

My dream has grown legs and is dragging me down a path filled with wild flowers and bunnies.  I’m not sure where the destination is, but I’m most definitely enjoying the journey.

Coach Angryman

I’ve coached sports for my kids for many years now, starting with my daughter’s softball team, my son’s football team, and now my step-son’s soccer team.  I get more joy out of watching kids develop and seeing their face light up when they do something that didn’t think they could do than just about anything.  

Last year, the soccer team I was co-coaching was pretty good.  We had lost a few games through the year, but nothing larger than a margin of 2 point.  Because our town is so small and we were the only team in our age group, we were able to represent our town in the area tournament.  

Right away we faced a team that beat us in the regular season and, again, they beat us and put us in the losers bracket of the tournament.  This team was extremely aggressive and fast.  They played right at the line of unsportsmanlike like, pushing and throwing elbows when the referees weren’t looking.  Alas, it’s one part of the game I do not like, but it’s not altogether uncommon in some towns.

We managed to win the remaining games and late that Saturday night, we faced the undefeated team yet again.  We lost to them in the regular season, and earlier in the day.  To say that confidence wasn’t high would be an understatement.  They were big, fast, and skilled…and a little bit mean too.  

I’m not going to drag the story out because it’s only setting the stage.  We beat the team by one goal.  Our kids played the game of their lives, every one playing above their skill level.  Unfortunately, the evening had a stain on it.  The coach of the other team was livid.  He yelled and screamed at his kids the entire time.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to inspire 8 and 9 year old kids that way.  To top it off, after the game he refused to line up to shake hands and to sign the official scorecard.  Wow.

Fast forward to the first game of this season, two weeks ago.  Coach Angryman brought his team to our humble field for the season opener.  The game was never in contention.  We won 10-2.  Again, he showed his proverbial rear-end by getting into a verbal altercation with the referee about missing an off-sides call that I couldn’t have made  where I was standing, and Coach Angryman was 30 yards further away than I was.  To make matters worse, one of our players decided to dish out a little of what he had been receiving all game (against our wishes) and Coach Angryman said some not so nice words to him after the game.  Not wanting things to escalate any further, I gave the young man a quick lecture about being the better person, and to ignore the other coach.  I had to fight my own inner Angryman not to Crane-Kick him, Daniel Larusso style. 

This past weekend, we traveled to Mr. Angryman’s city to play another team.  When we were walking to drop our gear on the sidelines, we saw him walking toward us.  The other coach leaned in and whispered, “Here he comes.”

He reached out his hand and immediately said, “I’m so sorry about how I acted.  I don’t handle frustration well and I was more than frustrated with my own team.  I wanted to apologize to you and the young man I said something to.  Where is he?”  We called him over and the coach stuck out his hand and offered his apology to him, saying he was a great soccer player and he should never have said anything to him.

Talk about a total transformation.  My opinion of this guy went from lower than dog poop, to respect, not because he apologized to me and the other coach, but because he humbled himself in front of an 11 year old boy.  He could have asked us to tell him he was sorry, instead he chose to do it himself.  

When we realize that we’ve done something inappropriate to someone else, how motivated are we to chase down someone and fall face first on the ground asking for forgiveness?  Someone doesn’t have to apologize to be forgiven.  But it’s awesome to see someone grow by lowering themselves, even old Angrymen…even me.

Be awesome!

Chris