Monthly Archives: November 2012

In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 1

All these posts going every day on Facebook got me a bit in the thankful mood…but there was no way I was going to keep up with that. So, I offer, here in its entirety, my 30 days of thankfulness! So, I’m thankful for…

30 life! I don’t know that I’ve ever taken it for granted, but the recent scare made me consider it all the more.

29 my wife! (and just for all you snarky folks looking at the numbers—it isn’t a countdown or a count UP, it’s supposed to represent the 30 days of November!) She’s better to me than I deserve! I love you, BJ!

28 my job. In this messed up economy which only looks to get worse, I’m glad to be doing something I enjoy: teaching creative writing to (mostly) pretty motivated students.

27 my daughter. Even though I’ve tried to convince her to stay OUT of the arts because it’s the pathway to a lot of potential heartbreak, she’s multi-talented and incredibly smart, too…if she’ll just apply herself I have no doubt she’ll be incredibly successful(on both counts!).

26 having a roof over my head. Even though I’d really like to sell my house in Oxford so that I can get my family all back under one roof all the time, I know we’re fortunate to have a home with electricity and running water.

25 my son. Also incredibly talented (can you say FIRST CHAIR bay-bee!) and smart, I appreciate the fact that he’s just as happy geeking out with me playing war games as he is doing anything else.

24 my doctor. When we first moved to Oxford, Dr. Will Dabbs was just the kooky doctor we took the kids to see. Over time, however, he’s become my doctor and my friend…and I DO trust him with my life!

23 facebook. Yeah, yeah, I know. I can hear all the groans now. But I’m of the age that I can remember life before social media and there are a lot of names on my facebook “friend list” that I didn’t speak with that much and that now I get to at least keep up with them now and again. For writer-types who dwell in caves, it’s nice. And even though I hid EVERYONE during the last election season—that’s over and I can now enjoy posts again.

22 technology. I’m a technogeek, I admit it. I love technology. And even though I’ve fought (and still do) the idea of me carrying around a cellphone, I LIKE what they are capable of…I just don’t want to have to carry it around.

21 my parents. I’m blessed to have the best set of parents in the world. How they managed to allow me to continue to live in their house when I was a smart-aleck teenager, I’ll never know. I’m thankful for the way they raised me and for the values they taught me.

20 my church. When you move around as much as BJ and I have, it’s difficult to get “settled” with a church family. We’ve been fortunate, though, in that every place to which our names have been on the roles, they’ve welcomed us with open arms: FBC Muscle Shoals, FBC Loretto, FBC Piggott, Yellow Leaf BC, and FBC Oxford.

19 my books. Yeah, I know this sounds like a very materialistic thing…and maybe it is, but I’m still thankful for them (and for BJ allowing me to surround myself with them). Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I do love to—when I’m in “thinking” mode—to just sit back and take in the surroundings of my books, looking at the titles and recalling the emotions of the read or the particulars of it.

18 BCW. Or Byhalia Christian Writers Group. I was shocked by the lack of anything remotely faith-based in Oxford (aside from the Churches, of course) and really expected to find multiple writers group in Oxford…I mean, it’s OXFORD, the home of Billy Faulkner. Byhalia, Mississippi was the closest group I could find…and they treated me like a long lost brother. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like (for various reasons—one of which it’s an hour drive one way), but I know they remember me in their prayers—and how can one NOT be thankful for that?

17 my bed. Traveling makes you realize just how much you appreciate “your” stuff. And while BJ made me buy a mattress for the apartment in Florida, it’s still not “my bed.” And being a reenactor, I sleep on the ground every now and again. Yes, I’m very thankful for my bed.

16 Spalding. Yeah, one of my alma maters makes this list. It’s not that I am NOT thankful for the others—I am—but Spalding has that special place in my heart, mostly because, I think, the admin and faculty there have embraced the idea of nurturing the writer. It’s the first “hall of higher learning” that did NOT scoff at the body of comic work I have.

15 Spalding peeps. So, yeah, I can’t mention Spalding without mentioning my classmates/colleagues who helped make the program what it is…and ALSO embraced my comic geekiness, some of them even sharing that. There are lots of names I could mention, but the Devil Dawgs (don’t ask—long story) are deserving of special call-out for my thankfulness: Marjetta Geerling, Kat Shehata, Karin Goodwin, Rebekah J Harris, Mary Knight (one of my favorite Yankees!).

(so this is longer than what I thought it would be…to be continued)

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Eric Shanower’s A Thousand Ships

I picked up Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships recently not just because it was on the sale table, but because the interior art (not the cover!) drew me in. Be warned, some spoilers follow (as if you don’t already know the story of the Trojan War.)

I wanted to really like this book. I wanted to be able to finish it and then run here and tell everyone to drop everything and go pick up a copy (likely on the sale table) and then love it. But I can’t really do that. Not because it’s bad because it isn’t…but there are some issues with it that unless you really REALLY like the story of the Trojan War, get in the way of the enjoyment.

Shanower’s art is, of course, very nice. It’s fun to look at in almost a fine art kind of way. Aside from the problems I mention below, it flows nicely and, if you’re not trying to keep up with any sort of story, is easy to read.

Yeah, okay…no it’s not. But I don’t hold Shanower responsible for all Greek names being difficult to pronounce (and thus read) nor do I hold him responsible for all of them looking alike. And they all look like they could be siblings (many are) and if he didn’t do little things like slight modifications to hair, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart. Many times I found myself stopping to look back at the panels before to try to figure how who was who. Because their Greek, they all have big honkers! (that’s noses!) Even the ladies! And all the dudes have long hair. It can get very frustrating.

Aside from all the names being hard to pronounce and read—which we kind of expect because it’s Greek—the story has very little in the way of captions and often the scenes shift and we don’t know it…or when we do, we don’t have any idea where we’ve shifted to! I mean, he doesn’t have to give us Chris Claremont style captions to let us know, but please tell us where we’ve gone when the camera shifts and different people—who look like the last people—start talking and saying more names we can’t pronounce.

But the most frustrating thing of all…after I’d weathered through all 200 pages…the blamed thing is continued. WHAT? And then I get to browsing around on the internet and find it is part 1 of … (get this) SEVEN. Supposed Shanower started the project in 91…I mean, the internet said it so it must be true! …and if it IS true, he should finish volume 7 around 2025? I don’t think I want to wait that long to finish it.

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A Heart Scare

Most of you reading this know me at some level. I don’t think I get many random readers here, not on the usual entries, anyway (there are a couple of my posts that frequently get random visitors…I may talk about those one day…but not today). So most of you know that I’m a pretty open book.

But, it’s a little spooky for me opening up to write this entry…so deep breath (now that I can do that again!) and here I go.

You see, I had a scare this past week and am just getting out of a few days stay in the hospital. On Sunday, I had a sharp pain in my upper back that knocked the breath out of me; I wasn’t doing anything but sitting down. It became painful just to breathe in deep breaths. I could still breathe, I just had to take shallow breaths. Well, me being in Florida, 750 miles away from my family and with no internet in my apartment, I called BJ and asked her to google a few things. The results came back as signs of a heart attack. Add that to the fact that my extended family has a history of heart related issues…add to that the fact that I just had a birthday that put me one more year closer to 50…and so decided not to take any chances and visit the ER.

Actually, BJ told me to go.

I’d had the pain before, about 5 or 6 times. Each time I’d just written it off as some sort of nasty back spasm that somehow knocks the breath out of me and makes it hard to breathe for several minutes. I know, I know…I’ve never claimed to be brilliant! The last time it happened, Brittany was standing near me and my reaction scared her even though I tried to assure her (I’m sure the look on her face was in the back of my mind this last time, too) I was fine.

And so as I talked to BJ on the phone about going to ER, I remembered I’d read of people have “small” heart attacks and not going in to the doctor…and I thought suddenly that could very well be the case.

So, the folks at Winter Park Memorial Hospital (who were all very fantastic, I might add!—and I say that because I haven’t gotten the bill yet! But the people were still fantastic!) took me in and proceeded to run tests on me.

Truth to tell, the test and testing hurt me more than the initial pain. I’m still bruised and sore as I type this. They drew blood from the back of my hand and I have six tiny holes in my right hand and two in my left. I had an IV in my left bicep (because my veins aren’t easy to get to) and one in my right forearm that stuck nearly straight down—they had to go deep to get blood from there AND they used a thicker needle. Yes, it hurt…and continued to offer a dull reminder that it was there the entire time it stuck there.

I’ll spare you the details of the tests, but the results were that I did NOT have a heart attack, but that I DO have Myocardial Bridging of the LAD. In a nutshell, we have muscles and blood vessels that surround/cover our heart. I have a vein that is supposed to be over the muscle, but in one place dips under the muscle. Every time that muscle squeezes—which it will continue to do as long as my heart is beating—it cuts off the blood in that one vessel.

Yeah—that was my first thought, too, but the doctors assured me that they do not need to go in and move it, that I was born with it and that it shouldn’t be life threatening…but I will be forever bothered with the pains that I now know where they come from and even will have the occasional “attack” (but not as in heart attack) like I had on Sunday and that I’m just going to have to deal with it.

And even though I told her NOT to come to Florida, I was relieved to see BJ when she walked into the room (thanks, JJ!). Needless to say…things were a little scary in the early part of this week.

I know there were a bunch of prayer warriors that I didn’t even know about—thank you for that.

The next post should be back to my normal blathering. 🙂

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