Friday, May 10, 2013

It was the end of March 1995. I had graduated from college and passed my state certification for education, qualified to teach pre K through 8th grade. We lived in a small two bedroom house in Alva, Oklahoma. We loved that town, but the town did not reciprocate with paying jobs. My two year old daughter was talking up a storm and we had just had our baby boy. Both kids had been by C-section, so honestly, we were waiting on the magic 2 week healing period where Lydia was cleared to travel so we could move.

We had survived college by stretching every dime as far as it could go, and this gave us a little cash to squeak by until we landed jobs. Our little house had turned into a storage unit of neatly packed boxes by the time I rented the Ryder truck. My father came over the day before and brought a guy I could pay to help move furniture.   It's funny how your memory locks in images.  I can clearly see the frozen waterbed mattress shatter in the back of the truck.  We had loaded it the night before and had an unexpected frost.  It was a tragic loss at that time.  Did I mention it was 1995?  

We loaded the truck, waived bye-bye to Peepaw and started the new adventure. We moved across state on blind faith we could land jobs and support the new family.


 Suddenly it is 18 years later. We found jobs.  We established ourselves into the community.  We achieved the American dream and raised two healthy children.  That new born baby is taller than I am. He is a legal adult. His senior Prom is this weekend (His final prom) and he plays 2 roles in the High School musical Little Shop of Horrors, which includes the voice of the plant, Audrey II. Yes he will sing in public! Then 6 short days after that he will walk across the stage and receive a diploma for graduating High School!

That is where irony steps forward. The day after graduation we are loading a long trailer, and moving back to Alva! Peepaw will haul the trailer, Lydia, Amanda and Colin will each drive a car and I will drive my old truck back across state to our new home. Amanda is in her final year of college and Colin will start his first year of college. The same college where both parents graduated, and met each other, and started a family.

Time for a new chapter in this story.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fictional Tale of Working Man Woes

The rancid odor of heavy Cajun spices spewed into my face as he leaned into my personal space. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded. If he hadn't backed away I could probably identify half the ingredients of his homemade Gumbo. I had met up with Roger at Wal-Mart during a six week contract to reset the store. It seems Wal-Mart treats assistant managers as bad as or worse than they treat the illegal Mexicans workers on payroll. Every year or two they get a note that they will be shipped to another town to supervise a crew of locals in moving everything in the place for the inconvenience of area shoppers. They are in foul moods and take it out on the special contract workers, all of whom end the work contract vowing to never work for Wal-Mart ever again. Somehow, staff found a way to abbreviate the title of Assistant Managers to Ass-Man and for Roger, the title fit. “I’m blowing my nose,” I said through a Kleenex tissue. “All the dust in the warehouse has my sinuses going crazy.” Roger stared hard at me then spit like the Big League chewing gum he filched out of the damaged merchandise box was real chewing tobacco. While Wal-Mart liked assistant managers to have a college degree, they don’t have high expectations for intellect, and Roger could have been a recruitment poster. This is your future after five years of playing baseball at Southwestern Oklahoma State University! Most of the “Ass-Man” guys complained they worked so much uncompensated overtime they made less than the sub-minimum wage wetbacks. Having only worked for Wal-Mart for the past eight years, Roger had yet to do the math. “Ain’t nobody ever tell you that shit’ll cause your dingus to fall off?” He demanded like a Drill Sargent at basic. “Blowing my nose?” “Hell yes, blowing your goddamn nose! One of the basics you learn in health science classes for real coaches, is using tissues cause a nasal backlog that can get infected and shit. This cause’s bad mojo to build up that’ll result in your dingus falling off.” “I have never heard blowing your nose is bad for you, or that it could affect a guys eh…” “Dingus goddmnit! No reason to be afraid of talking about your pecker while you still got one! You DO still have one, don’t cha?” he leaned in close again to ask the final question. The conversation had gone far enough. “Look Roger,” I said. “I appreciate the concern but this conversation is making me uncomfortable and I know HR does not want us talking about reproductive body parts.” “Well I be go to hell!,” Roger said in wonderment as he pushed the Wal-Mart baseball cap to the back of his head and sat on a packing box. “It’s either already done fell off or it’s always been too tiny to worry about!” “My dingus is just fine, I just don’t feel comfortable talking about this,” I replied hotly. “Lookey here kid,” Roger said in sincere tones. “I am trying to pass along the benefits of my collected wisdom. Now what I told you is a medical fact. Just think about it, real men just cover a side of their nose and blow without tissue. That’s a man’s method to protect his dinky, and if you ain’t careful you’re gunna lose your favorite lil toy.” I squirmed uncomfortably but did not reply. It seemed Roger was on a roll. “I mean, sure ain’t nobody but you wanted to touch it so far, but I got confidence that one day you will find a cute lil girl drunk enough to have a real by-God interest in you! She’s gunna get all worked up and petting will lead to kissing and kissing will lead to loss of clothes and then she will stop in shock and disappointment when she sees you gotta dinky-don’t instead of a dinky-do! And all cause you didn’t wanna listen to old Roger here.” He took a deep breath, and seeing I wasn't going to interrupt, "Just think of the mental shock in store for you one of these nights when you're just tugging away and suddenly you notice it came off in your hand! I can tell you right now doctors ain't got a stitch small enough to sew that little thang back on! If you gotta blow, blow like a man!" Roger got up off the box and looked satisfied with his good deed lecture for the day. I could only assume the little work break was over, since he walked away towards another group of contract workers and I silently vowed to myself to never again work for Wal-Mart.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I am on Facebook

A friend of mine told me he thought I should have a blog. He sent me some kind of link to a Facebook blog. I wrote the story he requested and sent him a link to the Big O (as I like to think of this site) and I got to thinking I should add a post or risk losing the blog space! So if you send me a friend request and friend me you might see something fresh and new... or something you hope to NEVER see again. You roll the dice you take your chance. Cris Campbell in Okmulgee OK

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ball Licking-Man Research Opportunity

Was hard at work today when it I saw that FINALLY the smart people at Harvard (They gave us G.W. Bush, right?) were offering to hand me sacks full of money to contiue my research.

But hey, this might not work out so be sure to hit up the T-Shirt store on the side of the page. With your help we will find the missing link in the fossil record and I am pretty sure it will be the Ball Licking-Man


Foundational Questions in Evolutionary Biology Initiative at Harvard University Invites Letters of Interest for Research Project Funding
Grants of $200,000 per year for up to two years are available for research projects designed to substantially advance fundamental questions in the context of evolutionary biology....

Posted on January 15, 2012
Deadline: January 31, 2012 (Letters of Interest)
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Two Weeks

It's been two weeks since my mother died. It is a miracle she survived for the past five years and every day was a blessing. See, Mom was a diabetic and she got gangrene and needed an amputation. But she also had a rash and "did not meet the criteria for surgery." So three Tulsa hospitals sent her home to die.

We didn't give up. I called a friend of mine who is a doctor in Oklahoma City and he had a team meet her in the ER at OU's Medical Center. They did not look for reasons to turn her away, but for ways to save her life. They succeeded.

I can fill the rest of this post with bitter and bittersweet stories of how universal insurance does not mean health care. I could share her painful last days. But instead, maybe I should tell you why she mattered.

Mom was a drunk. Nope, I am not exaggerating nor holding back. She was a drunk and she married a drunk and she hung out with a bunch of drunks. All of this creates a legacy I struggle to maintain and build upon.

My mother came to the realization she had a drinking problem while I was in high school. I always I suspect I had a bit to do with that realization when I verbally struck out one morning when I had myself been partying with friends all night. I never knew for sure, but it seemed as if shortly after that she entered Alcoholics Anonymous. Mom got sober and stayed. Like a lot of reformed drinkers, Mom got the religion to save others and she dedicated the reminder of her life to help others break addictions.

She was always dragging people home, and waking up to find her TV stolen and checking account wiped out. Mom found out not everybody who joins AA really wants to keep from drinking or using drugs! Her brothers like to say she had to kiss a lot of toads to find a prince. She did finally find that prince and he stayed by her side to the end, offering all the things she had wanted and missed out of in life. Together she and her reformed drunk husband joined with a few others and bought an old church and fixed it up for AA and NA meetings. Ending the need to track down meetings at various churches, city buildings or basements. That building allowed people to go to meetings in the small community twice a day seven days a week if they wanted.

Off of the power of that volume recovery sessions the local District Judge wrote for and got a grant to start up a drug court that has saved the lives of thousands of people. This program worked so well he wrote for a grant for a family drug court to help even more people. That worked so well he added a mental health court and wants to add a juvenile drug court! This judge and the Director of the mental health clinic claim none of those program would be able to succeed without that church that hosts all of those meetings every day. And that place was started by my Mom.

Several years ago she came to a community meeting I had started for service agencies in the area, and asked if we could help. The building was run as a corporation with a board of directors that make decisions on the use and maintenance of the building. All of the old guard that had bought the building and maintained the property were dying off. They were in danger of closing the doors. Several of the directors of those agencies and myself started attending meetings. I am the only one of the service agency people still attending and have been appointed to a board position that does not require a vote.

Since that time even my mother quit the program she started, due to health problems and the high level of tobacco smoke in the meeting rooms. She saw how stressed I grew working with the group and she urged me to leave several times, but like her, I saw the bigger picture, and somehow, without ever attending an AA meeting, I had caught her need to help save others. A legacy from her to me. Nothing tangible, nothing I can sell or trade or even take a picture of for others to marvel over. But a legacy that is bigger than ourselves.

One week ago there was a memorial service held at that old church. The room filled out with generations of people who testified that their life was changed for the better because my mother either helped them stop drinking and using drugs, or helped their children stop drinking and/or using drugs, or even a few who said they would not be alive today if it weren't for that old church that now hosts two meetings a day, seven days a week.

It has been two weeks and just typing this post my throat is constricted to the point I can barely breathe and once again I find tears leaking down my face. I will miss my mother. But her loss is greater to the world than it is just to me. In the final weeks of her life she was back in the hospital again. Her body was bloated from retained fluids that diminished her heart capacity to 10%. We learned later that was terminal condition. I went to visit her after work, as I tried to do every night I was in town. She had a smile and seemed more at ease. She told me a nurse had come in to check on her and noticed the AA charm on her bracelet and admitted she had a drinking problem but had stopped going to meetings because of her work schedule.

Had it been me, I think I would have asked for a new nurse and not the admitted drunk in the failed recovery program. But Mom pushed her laptop computer aside, sucked in a deep breath of oxygen so she could talk and asked the nurse when her break was scheduled. See, anytime two or more alcoholics get together they can have a meeting. That is how lives are saved, one at a time by somebody who is also recovering, still addicted and fighting the urge to relapse.

Thirty years since she stopped drinking and Mom was literally reaching out on her death bed to help HER caregiver find sobriety. That was my Mother. She died two weeks ago on Father's Day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I have mAnswers

OK all you hot chicks that are always pissed off about stupid people ruining your life. It turns out there is a way to solve the problem and you are sitting on the solution right now baby! Oh yeah.

There was a study released back in 2007 where Scientists had noticed that brains seem to have retarded growth in bad stress situations. So they naturally started wondering what would happen if they exposed brains to the opposite stimulus, and created stressful situations that caused pleasure. The result was they compared mice they isolated to mice they pimped out for sex.

I am SOOOO happy to report that study findings show that sex makes your brain grow! Oh yeah baby! So if you are bothered by the bovine plodding of the pimply faced store clerks or the smelly old man who holds up the check out line while he searches for his double value coupons, you KNOW what you gotta do cowgirl!

The study also had another interesting find. Mice that had been exposed to sex not only had bigger brains than the virginal mice, they showed less anxiety. This was shown by the fact that sexed up mice would quickly go to new food when introduced wheres virginal mice were more timid and anxious. It has been suggested that the sexed up mice were more ravenous due to increased activity, but I suspect the male mice reasoned it out. I mean after hours of sexual activity they probably felt there was nothing left that they could put in their mouth that would hurt them now. Then again, I am not a scientist. Just a man with a computer and a thirst to share.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Empty Nest

It's an odd feeling. After 19 years of obsessing and hovering, nurturing, protecting and providing for the first born... she is suddenly gone. Not dead or anything tragic, in fact it is wonderful that she gets to do what she has prepared for all these years and start her college life. She secured funds and created a plan that will provide her a good professional education at a good school.

Yes the house is quiet and haunted by memories of a lifetime of her growing up. Daddy's little girl took her last trip in a little three hour drive to a new and exciting life that holds all the promise of a future that we parents have always targeted. But I look in her room and see the long line of nights at work or play, with friends and alone. The long, deep philosophical discussions of right and wrong, good and evil. All ghostly and faded memories of a little girl that no longer exists.

Every time I see her from now on she will be a newer, more grown up, more educated, more responsible adult. Carving out her independence as young adults should. As all parents hope their children will.

With a flash of painful realization I see that my parental drive to raise a capable, independent and self sufficient adult daughter means the most tragic pain of loss for a parent. Because by design of nature she is clawing and scraping to gain independence FROM ME! Just as I clawed and fought to be free of my dependence of my parents so many years ago. Every achievement now will not be a shared victory but another wedge driven solidly between us, separating the little girl that clung to my neck and smothered me in sweet kisses. At one point her mother and I made up her whole world. Now we are like the old playthings of her youth, left behind to collect dust in the back of the closet back home. Sure, she will always look back with love and fondness, but for a short shining time in her history I was the greatest man in the world. I don't know when that changed but I knew for certain the time was over when I left her at college and she hugged her mother, kissed her boyfriend and waived goodbye to her father.

Hukuna Matata Bitches