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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let Love Rule

There are certain "holidays" that I don't know that I completely understand but when it comes right down to it I have absolutely no issue with. For example Flag day is celebrated on June 14th each year to commemorate the day the United States adopted our current U.S. flag. Makes sense now that you think about it doesn't it? Arbor Day is a holiday in April where people are encouraged to plant a tree. Seems simple enough, right? Peculiar People Day is an actual day celebrated in January each year. I know what you're thinking there is literally a day for anything & everything & you would be right. And while I'm thinking about it please don't forget there are only a few more shopping days left before everyone's favorite holiday National Beheading Day which comes up September 2.

Just because we don't understand each & every "holiday" doesn't mean we should judge their merit. That being said, I am struggling with a new "holiday" that is on the horizon. I'm sure we can all remember where we were when the World Trade Center was attacked. I was in an apartment in Daphne, AL getting ready to go to a doctor's appointment when I saw the second plane slam into the second tower & wondered what in the hell was going on. As the day unfolded I realized that this was something I would never forget & that life as we knew it would never be the same. Almost 9 years later I've gotten used heightened airport security but there's one thing I know I will never get used to...hate & judgement. I understand that the people that executed this horrific plan claimed to be doing so in the name of Islam. I also understand that just because a small group of radicals created one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history doesn't mean that all Muslims share this distorted belief. Finally I would be willing to bet that everyone that died in the 9/11 attacks were not all Christians. A number of faiths lost incredible people on 9/11/2001. All of this brings me to an event that is scheduled to take place on September 11, 2010 & was created by a group in Gainsville, FL. Of all the "holidays" I don't understand this newest one is the one I struggle the most with. A group of Christian radicals actually have created day that will be known as International Burn a Quran Day. Imagine if a town in India decided to create "International Burn a Bible Day." Can you imagine the outrage here in the U.S.?

I'm going to ask you to go back to your elementary school social studies class for a minute. Who remembers what the United States of America was founded on? I know elementary school was a while back for some of us so I will give you a second. The United States of America was founded on religious freedom. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM! One of the many things I love about being an American is that we have the right to worship how we want without the fear of persecution. Well @ least I thought we did. I believe it was French philosopher Voltaire that said, "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Rest assured I do not agree with anything that this "church" in Gainsville is doing but I thank God that I live in a country where this is allowed. When I first heard about this day the only emotion I felt was anger. As I've thought more about it the anger was quickly replaced with pity & sadness. I truly feel sorry for anyone that feels destroying another religion's holy book is a good thing. I've read parts of the Quran just as I've read portions of the Bible & I can tell you that the fundamentals of Islam are not that far off from the fundamentals of Christianity. Are there differences? Of course there are. But the foundation is essentially the same. Every group or religion has pockets of extremists. There are Christian sects that have bombed abortion clinics or killed people in the name of Christ. I'm not a person anyone would ever called a theology expert but I do know that both Allah & Jesus preached love & acceptance, not division & hate.

We live in a world where people are so quick to pass judgement or hate someone because they don't look the same or worship the same. Why would anyone allow hate in their heart? Having hate in your heart seems like an oxymoron to me. Doesn't burning a holy book on one of the worst days in our nation's history take away from the people that lost their lives 9 years ago? This poor attempt @ a tribute is going to take away from the memorials & actual tributes that are scheduled all over this great country of ours. Let 9/11 be a day of remembrance & a celebration of the lives that were lost this day. Burning the Quran any day is a great example of people taking advantage of the rights this country has afforded them. I hope those of you reading this do not support International Burn a Quran Day but more importantly I hope that you don't let one group's narrow mindedness cause you anger. Let's change the dynamic on September 11, 2010 & instead of burning a Quran why not read a couple of passages from it so you will have a better understanding of our Muslim brothers & sisters. Like it or not we are all sharing this space we call Earth & I for one refuse to let something like a difference in beliefs be the reason I choose not to like someone. Everyone that knows me knows my religious beliefs are anything but traditional. But I refuse to accept that a loving God would want us to spend one second tearing down anyone. Let love reign on 9/11 & as Michael Franti says, "Power to the Peaceful."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rise Above

It seems as if we live in a world today where the trendy thing to do is judge. We judge what kind of car people drive, what label they wear & even what causes they support. We are all guilty of this in one way, shape or form & I wish I could say I was the exception but I am not. I’m writing to you all today to ask you to join a movement. This may come as a surprise but I’m not asking you to rally for social injustices or even for a disease. Instead what I’m asking you to do is move away from the judging & let love rule. I know a lot of you are used to me asking for donations or volunteers or even for you to roll your sleeves up & donate blood but today I’m asking for something that each & every one of us has the power to do. Rise above the chaos; accept the fact that we can’t change everything & how arrogant it actually is to think we can. Embrace diversity. Reach out your spirit to others in a positive way so they too can feel the impact of positive energy. Life’s tough enough without holding onto anger & frustration because sometimes people don’t do what we feel they should. It happens to me all the time. But who am I to tell someone how to spend their spare change? Who am I to say just because you feel one way & criticize me for feeling how I do that I am any better because I choose to write about the fact that you’re more narrow-minded than I am. Talk about narrow-minded! I’m guiltier here than anyone because I had the choice to take the highroad yet made a conscious decision to let judgment prevail rather than rising above because I felt my way was the right way. Really? Maybe it’s the best way for me & when it comes right down to it that’s really all that matters. You have to do what’s in the highest & best interest for you which in turn should ultimately be what is in the highest & best interest of the planet. I want to live my life in a way that will leave this planet a little bit better than it was when I first arrived. We are all going to make mistakes & we are all going to pass judgment because guess what? We are HUMAN! All we can do is learn from these mistakes & recognize that we are all here for a reason & those reasons might not all be the same. In fact I would be willing to bet they are not. Remember only you can be the best you.

My cause is no greater than yours. I applaud your passion & appreciate the fact you have a cause. Your God is no greater than mine. Hold onto your faith & I hope it provides you with peace. I commit to you today that I will do my best to uphold the energy level I want to see in the world. I will commit to you today that in doing so I will try my best to ensure that the energy is always one that is in the highest & best interest for the planet not just me. I will also commit to you today that I will stumble & I will not always act with humility although I promise you I will try. Finally I commit to you today that when I do stumble I will not ask for your hand to pick me back up. I will pick myself up & learn from the mistake & make sure that my hand will be there for you the next time you stumble. In my last blog I asked you to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t know what your “change” is but I will share mine with you now. The change I want to see is one of hope & love. One that is not measured by the size of one’s house or the type a car one drives. One that has nothing to do with money or power. The change I want to see is one of inspiration & one where we all unite to hold up an energy that will literally impact the world on such a positive level that we will never want to go back to our old ways. I thank each & everyone of you for inspiring me to be a better me & I wish you two things…peace & love.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


"Be the change you want to see in the world" is a famous quote by one of the most inspiring men in our world's history...Ghandi. Let those words resonate with you for a minute & then remember that a small change can make a big difference. Literally in this case. Last week my faith in the world was dramatically altered & not in a good way. On two separate occasions people had an opportunity to help albeit in a small way but help nonetheless & these people chose to take the low road. What's really sad though is knowing that the two people I saw choose to be some of the lowest forms of life on the evolutionary food chain are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to someone wanting to make a difference. Allow me to share with you what I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness. The first moment that made my skin crawl was @ a local pet store. The cashier rang the gentleman (let's be realistic here...this is probably the only time this sack of crap is ever going to be referred to as a gentleman so I thought I would allow him is one moment in the sun) in front of me up & his total was somewhere around $8. This store always has a campaign going where you can round your purchase up to the nearest dollar to benefit a particular animal cause. On this day it was greyhounds. Rounding up to $8 for this asshole (see I told you the gentleman comment was a one time thing) would have required him to fork over, are you ready for this, a staggering...30 cents. Now I know what you're thinking, "It's just 30 cents Andrew. What's the big deal?" And if you actually asked that question out loud you need your ass kicked too. "Be the change you want to see in the world." You have an opportunity to help abused animals by donating 30 freaking cents & you say no!? I guess the change this guy wants to see in the world is none! As long as everything is smooth & average in this poor excuse for a human being's life then who cares if any other creatures are suffering. Have you ever seen an animal that's been abused? I hope you haven't because it is one of the most horrifying sites you will ever witness in your life. If you haven't consider yourself lucky. They say every cloud has a silver lining & rest assured this little situation does too. The local pet store I was referring to is that silver lining. Every week this store picks a "pet project" (no pun intended) & then donates the money they raise to that specific cause. On behalf of all of us that have rounded up time & time again I would like to say thank you for giving a damn! The world needs more people like you guys! "Be the change you want to see in the world."

The second situation I was "lucky" enough to be a part of was just as disturbing. I was in line behind a lady (same as the gentleman comment I can assure you) & when her total rung up she paid with cash. This store was promoting their literacy program & asking for any spare change. Hell they weren't even asking you to round up! Once the woman was given her change back (all 60 cents) the cashier asked if she would like to donate some change to their literacy program to which this absolute pathetic excuse for a human being replied simply, "no." I'm sorry did you just say no!? Let me get this straight. Little Billy has an opportunity to learn to read if people like you actually gave a damn about anything other than your sad self but it's way too much to ask for you to drop 60 freaking cents in the literacy jar. What change was this woman trying to be? The answer to that riddle is easy. Obviously she wants to see more illiteracy in this world. Our children are already having to live in a world that scares the hell out of me but the very least we could to is donate some spare change to help them READ!! Yet again though there is a silver lining. This store wants to help people learn to read. Knowledge is power & these people realize that & want to make the world a better place. "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Each & every day you have a chance to make a difference in @ least one person's life. Read that sentence again. You actually have the gift to make a difference in someones life every day! What an amazing opportunity we have as human beings! It's up to you whether or not that change is positive or negative. Something as simple as a few cents can make a huge difference because all those little coins add up. I promise no matter how bad you think your life or current situation is someone out there has it far worse. Why not help them? Would 60 cents keep you from eating dinner? Probably not. Would helping one child learn to read help make the world a little bit of a better place? Probably so. Michael Franti sings in one of his songs, "Reach out a hand to somebody needs a hand & reach out a heart to somebody torn a part. It's hard this livin' this life we've been given." Have any truer words ever been spoken? And keep in mind that the positive changes you make in this world don't always have to be monetarily. Reach out that hand to someone that needs it. Give them your heart so they know @ least one person out there cares. What's the very worst thing that could happen to you? Someone doesn't say thank you for your help is really about all I can think of & if you're giving or helping someone for a thank you then you need the most help of all. Remember, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Roll the dice Alabama

Guess what Alabama? We're losing!! We have a gambling problem & it starts with the people we elected & the gamble we took when we actually voted these idiots into office. The state of Alabama can't even afford to pay our income tax refunds in a timely manner but we can shut down a "bingo parlor" in BFE, Alabama. Baldwin County can't even afford to pay its teachers so they had to pass a 1% sales tax just to try & get in the black. All the while our wonderful Governor is dispatching his goons to shut down the big bad empire that is "bingo parlors" in Alabama. News flash Alabama...We need all the tax revenue we can get! Not only are we losing tax dollars but people are losing their jobs because of this prohibition mentality. We are already suffering with an economy that rivals the great depression & an unemployment rate that is tragic @ best. Why the hell are we trying to figure out ways to keep Alabama in the past?

Have you ever driven through a parking deck of a casino in Biloxi? Mississippi casinos are not taking in billions of dollars (yes that's billions with a B) every year by only accepting money from Mississippi residents I can assure you. Alabama residents are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in Mississippi casinos & the Florida & Georgia lotteries are taking in that much more. I understand we live in the "Bible belt" believe me I try to forget that every day but if gambling goes against your religion then there is a very simple solution to your problem. Don't go to the casinos! In case you forgot Alabama is part of the United States. You know the USA? The country that was founded on religious freedom. Freedom to express your views but not force them upon everyone. Alabama is the heart of the "Bible belt" yes but there are other faiths that make-up our great state. Here's a novel idea let's go back to the other core value that makes our country the greatest on earth. Drum roll please...Democracy ladies & gentlemen. Put gambling to a vote. Wow, what a concept? If the majority of people in the state of Alabama don't want gambling then I will gladly continue driving 45 minutes west & do my part to help stimulate the Mississippi economy.

Have you seen the two main players in the say no to gambling campaign? I'm sure you have but here's my take on our fearless Governor & Mobile County's own District Attorney. Let's start with the smaller fish of the two shall we? Of course I'm talking about Mobile D.A. John Tyson. Have you ever listened to this guy for longer than 5 seconds? The reason I ask is because he's like a bad car accident on the interstate. If you look @ it longer than 5 seconds you'll probably end up slamming into the car in front of you. How does this apply to Tyson? After listening to John Tyson for any more than 5 seconds talk about big bad gambling I am ready to slam my head against a wall. Hell this guy's campaign commercial ended with this line, "I'm John Tyson & I fight crime." He was running for district attorney! "I fight crime." Huh? As opposed to what? Fighting gonorrhea! This guy is more famous for his brother's role in Kindergarten Cop than anything's he's done in politics. And since I mentioned it is there a better line in movie history than Arnold saying in his broken English, "It's not a tumor!" We all get it John you want to make your mark on the state of Alabama. But destroying jobs & screwing up our economy is @ the very least an interesting choice. When you're living in the shadow of a family member whose most famous for playing the villain in a 80's comedy your life has to be somewhat disappointing. Now on to a man who I swear is doing everything he possibly can to morph into Ronald Regan & that of course is Governor Bob Riley. Now don't get me wrong, Riley has done some great things as governor. Hell I voted for him twice. And I can't argue with him that Ronald Regan was one hell of a politician. But this transformation is creepy. From his haircut to having way too much starch in his white dress shirt this guy is one day away from making his wife change her name to Nancy.

So let's review. Alabama is losing revenue because we appear to be trapped in a low budget Saturday Night Live skit. But guess what guys? As we watch our state fall farther into economic hell there isn't going to be someone that interrupts this disaster & says, "Live from New York it's Saturday night." Our beaches are black & our waters are closed. We need revenue from any source we can find & if that means allowing people to put money in a machine & pull a lever then by damn let them do it. John Tyson, go back to fighting crime & Bob Riley ride off into the sunset & let the last few months of your final term be ones in which Alabama begins to climb out of this economic hole.

Right now on the list of state priorities raiding "bingo parlors" should be well below saving our beaches. If the worst thing that is happening in Alabama is people paying to play "bingo" then I think our state is in pretty good shape.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oil Soaked Tears

It's easy to blame BP for what's happening in my backyard. After all they were the ones drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It might also be easy to blame President Obama for not standing by his campaign promise of no more drilling in the Gulf. Rest assured I do cast blame on BP but in the end they were just doing their job. It's not a job I agree with but nevertheless it was their job. And yes I do point some of the blame on our President but I mean come on how naive must I have been to think a politician would actually keep his word. Some of you might think I'm crazy for what I am going to say next but @ least hear me out. Do you know who I blame more than BP & Obama? The American people!

I remember talking with someone long before the oil spill & voicing my concerns about offshore drilling & my fear that it was only a matter of time before we as a nation began drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refugee. I told this person that I would gladly pay $50 a gallon for gas if it would stop drilling in the Gulf & prevent drilling in Alasksa. This person's response? "No way! There's nothing wrong with drilling in the Gulf." Really? Nothing wrong?! I beg to differ. Because so many people weren't willing to pay a little more @ the pump then we are suffering monumental consequences now. Where was the outrage before BP began turning our sugar sand beaches black? Where was the outrage when President Bush pitched his plan for turning the pure white snow of Alaska black with oil because we were too dependent on foreign oil?

In case you didn't know, we profess to be the most powerful nation in the world. What a joke?! Such a powerful nation that we can't stop our dependence on foreign oil. Such a powerful nation that we can't figure out how to stop oil from becoming more prevalent in the Gulf than grouper. We put a man on the moon! We helped bring down communist Russia & helped unite a divided Germany. We are the freaking United States of America for Christ sake & we can't stop thousands of animals from dying every day or beach town after beach town from shutting down in the height of summer because no one wants to sit on a beach that's covered in oil & dead dolphins. Five countries offered massive amounts of help to the U.S. within 10 days of the spill. Our response? "While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future." No need we cannot meet!!! Are you kidding me? I am beginning to question if there's even one need our Government can meet. WE NEED HELP! Asking for help doesn't make us any "less powerful." It makes us human. This is not a time for ego but rather a time to set bravado aside & stop giving other countries even more reason to think we Americans are a bunch of arrogant pricks. But you know something? I can't argue with any other country about our level of arrogance. Afterall we feel the need to be involved in everyone's business. Religious wars in the Middle East? Yep, we're there. Civil war in Africa? Of course we'll impose our will on you even though you never asked for our help.

This crisis is bigger than an oil spill but right now I don't care about religous wars in the Middle East or civil wars in Africa. Call me selfish but right now I want my backyard cleaned up before we go piss on another countries inadequacies. Did you know that it might actually be possible to stop the spill tomorrow? Apparently there is a way to cap this spill so that no more oil will spew into our waters & onto our beaches. The dilemna? If we utilize this method the oil in this particular well will be shut off for good. Yes you read that right. There is actually a debate that's going something like this. "Sure countless animals are dying every day. And yes more people are losing their jobs because our waters are being shut down which elminates the need for commercial fishing & tourism is almost non-exsistent. But come on. If we shut this thing off entirely we will never be able to get oil from this well again. We didn't become rich & powerful by giving a damn about animals or people so screw them! Let's hope we can get this under control & then we can use the oil that continues to flow so we can make even more money." I'm sorry did I say debate? Debates usually have two opposing sides & in this case I don't see anyone with authority offering a counter perspective. Please stop the oil! Please BP & the federal Government act like you give a damn!

Now how do you feel about drilling in Alaska? Have I gotten your attention? Imagine turning on your TV tomorrow & replacing the images of oil soaked pelicans with oil covered polar bears. Does that make you feel any better? Of course it doesn't. I am going on record right now that if we have to continue to be dependant on foreign oil to avoid something like this from ever happening again, I'm good with that. Are you?

I know I am being selfish with my requests but I don't care. I want my beaches white again. I want to see dolphins playing in the Gulf not washing out of it. I want to have to wait 2 hours again to eat @ my favorite Gulf side restaurant because it's so damn crowded; not walk in, have my pick of tables & then wonder where the "fresh seafood" is really from. I will pay $50 a gallon if it means I never have to worry about seeing another oil soaked bird or dolphin ever again. The question now is, "will you?"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Didn't Ask You to Go

I remember that morning when the phone didn't ring.

No flowers were in bloom and the birds would not sing.

You told me last night that you found someone new.

As you walked out the door I called out to you.

You didn't turn around or even say good-bye.

I felt so alone that I wanted to die.

You swore you'd never let go that you'd always hold on.

But now there's an empty space inside me, cause my heart is all gone.

Why you broke my heart is a mystery to me.

Your love once blinded me but now I can see.

I tried to convince myself it was all a bad dream.

People say life is never as bad as it seems.

But they've never been in love like I am with you.

As long as my heart beats I can love no one new.

I thought we'd always be together and we'd never grow apart.

Little did I know someone else has your heart.

Did you ever really love me? I guess I'll never know.

Just always remember I didn't ask you to go.

Get on with your life is what my friends say.

But how can I when there's an empty space in my bed where you used to lay.

Every time I try to let you go I break down and cry.

I always had wings but you taught me how to fly.

And life as I know it is probably through.

But what did I expect when I built my world around you.

Baby you are my heart and the reason I live.

My whole life for one more kiss that's what I would give.

The sun never shines; I'm always in the rain.

How could one person cause so much pain?

What did I do to push you away?

There's just one more thing you must hear me say…

But they've never been in love like I am with you.

As long as my heart beats I can love no one new.

I thought we'd always be together and we'd never grow apart.

Little did I know someone else has your heart.

Did you ever really love me? I guess I'll never know.

Just always remember I didn't ask you to go.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh Canada!

I'm mad @ Canada! I know what you're thinking, how could anyone be mad @ the country that brought us Alex Trebek & Celine Dion? Before we get into that I want to go on record that I am not trying to cause an international incident with our neighbor to the north. But after you read this if you want to stop watching Canadian Parliament on CSPAN I’m not going to try & stop you. This is 14 years of pent up anger & frustration & just like Celine, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now!”

I remember it like it was yesterday. Well if yesterday was the middle of December in one of the coldest places on earth. My roommate from college who just happened to be a French Canadian from Quebec City invited me up for a visit. I had never been to Canada & Patrick is awesome so it seemed like a recipe for success. So what if I was from the Deep South & didn’t speak a word of French. I mean how hard could it be vacationing in Canada? What is VERY hard Alex? There's only one kind of skiing where I'm from & it sure as hell doesn't include the word snow. But when in Rome, right? WRONG!

Patrick actually asked if I wanted him to teach me how to ski. That would be great I thought. The only problem with this simple plan is that Patrick has about as much business teaching someone how to ski as I do leading a prison riot! -Side note...See I wouldn't do well in prison for more reasons than you can possibly imagine. First & foremost I am just too damn pretty! Second? There is no second, I'm too damn pretty to go to prison.- So in Patrick's infinite wisdom he decides it would be best to teach me to ski @ night. At night!!! I didn't know it was even legal to ski @ night! Who the hell thought this was a good idea? 14 years ago I did. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that Patrick was a junior Canadian ski champion & I wasn't!

As we arrive @ the slopes (having now skied I feel I can use technical terms like slopes) I wasn't nervous. Patrick had eased all my fears with a simple comment, "Drew you're athletic so skiing should be easy for you." You know something? Patrick was right. I was (still am I think) athletic & like he said if I can play tennis & basketball why wouldn't I be able to strap two sticks to my feet & fly down a hill @ the speed of light? For some twisted reason this logic made sense to me. First we try the bunny slopes but there was a slight problem. I couldn't figure out the t-bar. It doesn't come with any instructions & maybe that's because the 6 year olds that were riding up the bunny slope could figure this out by themselves. I swear the Canadians sure know how to educate their kids because @ 19 & with an American education I couldn't begin to figure out this freakin' thing! So after several failed attempts on the easy stuff Patrick makes an executive decision. "I'll teach you @ the top of the mountain." Come again? There are so many things wrong with this plan that my natural response was, "Ok."

Sure the t-bar was tough but the ski lift made that seem like a day @ the park. Getting on wasn't an issue @ all. Getting off however presented a problem...or two. You kind of have to know how to stand up on skis in order to get off this ride from hell. Anyway, I fall off the ski lift right in front of where every person gets off the lift. After 8 skis to the ribs I manage to pull my self up so we can begin my awesome ski adventure. I didn't know that ski slopes were described by colors which indicates their level of difficulty. Apparently this one was a quadruple black diamond because it was the most terrifying experience of my life! I don't have a clue if a quadruple black diamond even exists but go with me on this. Patrick's brillant plan of teaching me to ski (@ night) on top of Mt Everst was flawed to say the very least. The top of the mountain was tiny & this did not look like a classroom I wanted any part of. Patrick said it would be easy. All I had to do was "zig zag" & I would be fine. Zig zag?? What the hell does that mean Bode Miller? Is that a technical term? I think zig zag is French "ski talk" for "American sucker."

So I zig but the zag doesn't go so well & down the hill I go. And just like Celine I am now "All By Myself." As I am racing to my death I remembered that I had these two random poles in my hand. To this day I have no idea what they are for but I had them so I was sure as hell going to use them for something. I chose to stick the poles straight out like I was trying to pick up illegal cable. This method did not even come close to doing anything good. It did however create a new problem. As I was loosing my balance I some how mananged to turn completely around. I am now going down a quadruple black diamond BACKWARDS! True story!! I am now staring up @ my "ski instructer" yelling every profanity I can think of. Of course he can't hear me because I just pierced the sound barrier. All he sees is his "athletic" American friend "showing off" on this Canadian beast. And even though he claims to not have been able to hear my cries for help I was able to hear him yell wonderful words of encourangement to me, "Stop showing off you stupid American!" Showing off!?!? Does being able to recite every four letter word in the English language constitute showing off? If so consider it showing off but if he was referring to my backwards skiing I need to learn a few French curse words! As I was thinking about how many people would come out for my funeral I remembered the only thing of value I was taught that night. If you need to stop quickly just fall over. And that's what I did. Fell. Hard. As I am laying in the middle of the mountain quickly learning how to pray a Hail Marry Patrick decides to come on down & do that fancy ski stop where they swish to the side & shoot all the snow up. You know the one? The one where those of us that can't ski want to shove one of the poles up the junior ski champion's ass! As I figured out a way to get up Patrick is kind enough to remind me again to zig zag. In case you forgot I am in the middle of the freaking mountain. I'm sure you can guess what happened next. You got it...I zigged but there was no room to zag. Back down the damn hill! Hill? That's a typo! It's a MOUNTAIN!!

Since I've now resumed my newest hobby I have some decisions to make. The decision I made ski. To ski like the athlete I am! To ski like my mentor the Canadian ski champion would want me to! So that's what I did. And God was it beautiful...for a moment. A very brief, beautiful moment. As I am sking I notice that I am officially breaking land speed records & this isn't a record I need in my life. Don't ask me why I decided to do what I did next but I promise it made sense @ the time. I thought the lower I got the safer I would be & the slower I would go. Even if you haven't skied I'm sure you know that getting lower only does one thing & it ain't slow ya down. If the speed weren't scary enough I look up & see the mother of all curves straight ahead of me. I now have another decision to make. Take the curve or die! Let's review what we've learned class. I can't ski straight so taking a curve @ warp speed isn't a strong option but I'm only 19 & the death option sucks! We have now entered the point of the night where legends are made. I took the curve @ warp speed like I had been sking all my life. I took the curve that would have made any junior ski champ proud. In fact I took the curve so well I became a little bit arrogant. Afterall not only did I conquer the curve, I had skied backwards. I am obviously a sking prodigy. As I am preparing how to handle the national anthem playing when I win a downhill gold medal for the good ole USA I decide to try one of those fancy stops. And that's when the dreams of Olympic gold died a very very painful death.

One leg understood how the fancy ski stop worked but the other apparently didn't get the memo. And that's when it poppped. And when I say pop I mean shred your knee, ride the rest of the way down the mountain on a stretcher, pop! As the ski patrol comes to my rescue I find the one person besides Patrick that can speak English in Quebec. The first thing this Canadian David Hasselhoff asks me isn't about my knee but instead, "Where are you from?" To which I reply, "Alabama." His response? "Oh ski country!" Up until that point I had no idea the Canadians were known for their humor. And by humor I mean this guy was a bastard!

I managed to survive 7 years before having reconstructive knee surgery (compliments of Canada) which included a 12 inch scar & two screws. Well three screws if you count Patrick's teaching!

Pat, you know I love you brother!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seize Life

We spend all our lives planning each and every event and for what? Because we are afraid of the unknown. If given two choices could anyone honestly say they wouldn’t run to the safest choice? No one will argue that it is an overwhelming and terrifying world we live in once we slip past our comfort zone. And no one is asking you to risk life and death. Live as if when you lay your head down at night that your life is complete. Scary? Sure it is because who can say they have completed everything they wanted to at the end of the day?

A complete life is not measured in years or even superficial accomplishments. What is the one thing more terrifying than death? Not living the life you’ve been given. Life is complete at the end of the day when you tell someone you love them. So what if you are afraid that someone doesn’t love you in return? No where is it written that just because you love someone that they have to love you back. Bottom line is you told them how you felt.

Hate your 8am-5pm job? Walk out the damn door. Can’t? Why not? What if tomorrow never comes? Do you want to say at the end of the day that you were miserable the very last day of your life? I hope not.

The great thing about life is that every day is a new beginning. One thousand bad days in a row can be erased with only one good day. But it’s up to you to make that good day happen. Where do you start? Look inside yourself. No one can make you happy but you.

Hate the rain because you get wet and your day is ruined? Be grateful you can feel one of Mother Nature’s most wonderful gifts.

Been too busy to call a friend? They know how you feel anyway right? What kind of stupid logic is that? 30 seconds. That’s all. “Hi. I miss you and am thinking about you.” 9 words in exchange for a day full of joy.

No one is asking you for a life altering experience. But when you don’t tell someone how you feel, or don’t appreciate Mother Nature, or take the stars for granted, or sit behind a desk counting down until 5 o’clock or even if you don’t take the time to tell someone thank you, I hope whatever it was that kept you from doing these things was worth it. And I hope that when you lay your head down for that last time you don’t expect anything in return.

When was the last time you seized a moment? Have you ever? Climb Mt. Everest? If you want to but what about going out at 3am and looking straight up? What about holding someone in your arms and having a meaningful conversation without saying one word? If you can look at billions of stars in the sky or more importantly hold someone you care about in your arms and not feel a since of freedom unlike any other than you died a long time ago.

Ride the Wave

Ride the wave with me. I'm not asking for much, I just want your soul. Ride the wave with me. It should be one hell of a ride but I can't promise it will always be smooth. Ride the wave with me. Will it crash? All waves do but rest assured that another will be right behind it & I will ask you to ride that one too. I know it isn't fair to ask this of you but I think it would be even more unfair if I didn't. Waves are powerful & empowering @ the same time. Anyone that knows the ocean will tell you, "never turn your back to the ocean." Today it's ok because from this day forward I have your back. Turn your back to the ocean & the only thing you will miss is the beauty of the waves. But fear not because I would never let you miss that moment. If you aren't there to see the wave I will make sure you feel it.

Ride the wave with me. What are you afraid of? The fall? Will it hurt? Yes it will. Why won't I catch you? I promise I'll try. Afterall the thrill of the fall is part of the thrill of the dance. Ride the wave with me. There is magic & mystery in every one. I am not foolish enough to promise you perfection although I wish I could. But if you really stop & think each wave will provide its own version of perfection. Ride the wave with me. No I don't know how this ride will end, but I promise it will be unlike any other. Ride the wave with me. I'm not sure I'm strong enough to ride it alone. However I wouldn't blame you if you said no. Afterall the only thing you have to go by is my word. I'm sure I've let you down before although it was never by design. I believe in you & call me crazy but I think you believe in me too.

Ride the wave with me. Is there really another option? I know there's lot to lose. After all I am a flawed human being who lives his life by riding waves. Though I've never ridden a wave quite like this before. Am I scared? Of course I am. Waves are beautiful when watching them from the comfort of the beach. While the beauty remains as we enter the water the feeling of security quickly vanishes. Will I be able to get back to shore? Do I even want to get back to shore? The pull of the current can sometimes be to strong to fight. It might even be better to just let the wave take you where it may.

Ride the wave with me because wouldn't you rather regret what you did do rather than what you didn't? And by the way, you won't regret this ride.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Enough is Enough!

Not only am I writing today to try & right an injustice, I am also writing because I need your help. As you read this there are groups of people that are threatening the safety of people everywhere. Your loved ones, my loved ones? Yep, they are in harm’s way. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time we take a stand against the evil minds that are destroying our nation’s roadways one car @ a time. It’s time to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! That’s right OnStar we’re talking about you!

I mean come on! Have you heard these commercials? They are the saddest most tear jerking commercials ever written. Let’s paint a nice picture, shall we? You’re driving down the interstate on your way to God knows where, listening to (& singing) Michael Bolton @ the top of your lungs. That’s right Michael Bolton! Yeah, like I’m the only one that loses all sense of musical taste when on a long drive. Show me a person who hasn’t belted out “Time, Love & Tenderness” & I’ll show you a person who hasn’t lived! Did I just say Michael Bolton? Because I meant Michael…Jackson. Oh hell that’s not any better & yes I have sung “Man in the Mirror” on many a car trip. Anyway back to the sadistic marketing minds @ OnStar. So you’re driving along listening to the radio when it happens. “OnStar Emergency.” At this point they’ve got you right where they want you. These devious bastards know we can’t change the station now because we have to know how this God awful situation plays out. Every time I hear, “OnStar Emergency” I promise myself I will be strong but I know it’s only a matter of time before my eyes are watering like a woman who’s just see the movie Titanic. I mean Rose swore she would never let go of Jack but we all know how that played out. And why wasn’t she willing to share that piece of debris she was floating on? Poor Jack is freezing his ass off as he’s chest deep in ice laden waters while Rose looks like she’s on a raft @ Club Med. I didn’t mean to go off in a different direction like that but I think we can all agree that Jack got the short end of the stick in this deal. Well, that & Leo DiCaprio is one hell of an actor!

Where were we? Oh yeah, “OnStar Emergency” So you’re driving down the interstate going @ least 70mph & then this happens, “I was driving my son Charlie to his favorite petting zoo when I lost all feeling on my left side. I knew I was in trouble because I lost my right arm 10 years ago in a magic trick gone wrong. I started to panic & that’s when I saw the school bus but it was too late. There was nothing I could do.” Now if this weren’t bad enough what does the OnStar operator do next? That’s right he wants to talk to Charlie. “So Charlie you like petting zoos?” “Yes & alpacas are my favorite. Please hurry. I love my Daddy.” Are you freaking kidding me?! “Don’t worry Charlie help is on the way. You should be hearing sirens now.” “We do! Thanks random OnStar person.” Sobbing uncontrollably yet? I know me too. Who knew little 4 year old Charlie knew what the hell an alpaca was?

How is anyone supposed to stay focused on driving while listening to something like that? If you ask me these commercials are going to do one of two things. One, cause you the listener to have a violent crash, reach for the OnStar button only to realize that your expensive European automobile doesn’t have OnStar. Now not only are you about to crash but you’re second guessing your decision to go with looks over the practicality of a GM with OnStar. Two, you find yourself driving straight to the nearest Buick dealership & trading that fine Lexus for an Enclave. Sure Tiger Woods drives one & now so do you! Newsflash, if you think for one second Tiger pulls into his gated community in a Buick you are kidding yourself my friend! I know Mikey the Buick salesman swore Tiger drives this exact car but it’s now time you come to terms with the fact that the ONLY reason you are now the proud owner of a car no one under the age of 90 should own is because of those bastards @ OnStar. Maybe that’s their plan. Life altering commercials equals substantial sales increases. If that is the ultimate goal I only have one thing to say, “ Well played OnStar…Well played.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From Within

It's funny to listen to comments & read Facebook drama & see just how unhappy most of the world is. In a world where we have oil washing up on our beaches & thousands of fish & other marine life dying every day some people still choose hate. In a world where the economy is @ an 80 year worst & the unemployment continues to rise people still choose hate. It took me a long time to learn that the opposite of love isn't hate but rather indifference. I can remember as recently as a couple of years ago getting caught up in other people's drama & having hatred for people because of things I felt they had done to me. Then one day it hit me. A good friend told me, "there is no right, there is no wrong." She went on to ask the best question I've ever been asked, "Would you rather be right or happy?" From that moment the choice was simple for me. I would rather be happy.

Drama @ work is something none of us can avoid. After all we do all work with people. But we have a choice to make. I remember going home @ the end of the day pissed about what this person said or this person did. Why? Why would I let someone else steal my joy? No one can make you mad. Anger & hatred comes from within. I look @ people that have been in my life as "friends" & how quickly they can turn on you. That is something that would have eaten me up inside a year ago but now I realize that those people are the ones that are creating their own misery, not me. I refuse to give anyone that much power. If I can't find love for someone then I refuse to let myself move toward hate. Instead I am moving toward indifference. I don't wish anyone ill will. People constantly throw stuff @ us because they are desperately seeking a reaction. How sad is that? If someone feels compelled to fight with me I choose not to engage. Save your fighting for something that's worth fighting for.

You want to bash me because you couldn't get the job done...go ahead. You want to attack me because you weren't given something you were never entitled to have in the first place...fine. You want to hate me because when you look in the mirror you don't like what you see & the path YOU'VE chosen to take...I can handle it. If casting blame on me makes you feel better about you then the only emotion I feel is pity. I hope one day these people will wake up & see that life is too short to always be on the attack when it comes to people.

I look around @ my life & there are people that continue to attack & hate me but for what? I wish I knew. I look @ my life & see a life that I wouldn't trade for anything. I have 2 parents that made my childhood as close to perfect as possible. I have a wife that as far as I can tell hung the moon & put the stars around it. I have 2 unbelievable 4-legged children that I know were sent from somewhere magical to make sure I smile every day. As long as I have my family I will never be able to tell you I have a regret. My goal in life is die with no regrets. I am happy to say as of this moment I have none. There were times when I thought I might regret a decision or looked back @ a failed relationship & thought, "I wish I hadn't done this or that." But you know what? Every broken dream, each failed relationship, all the trials & tribulations we go through on a daily basis makes us who we are. How could anyone ever regret being who they are?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It Happens!

What are the 12 most frightening words in the English language? Try these, "Don't get in the pool until we get all the poop out!" I actually heard these words spoken over the Memorial Day weekend. Allow me to explain. As we were finishing up lunch on the balcony of our condo @ the beach yesterday there was an incident in the pool. And yes by incident I mean some little bastard shit in the pool. I apologize for my bluntness but let's be real here, how else can I put that? I'm not sure if you understand the magnitude of what happened. There was a kid in the pool & he decided that of all the best places in the world @ that particular moment to take a crap it would be in a condo swimming pool! What makes this even more fun is the fact that his hillbilly ass family handled this like it was just another day @ the beach (pun intended). So before we move on & you hear the rest of the story let's paint the picture of these dumbasses teaching their kids the basics of potty training. Oh & by the way, the kid that ruined me for public pools everywhere was around 3 years old.
"Ok Bubba Jr we're going to the beach this weekend. Now this is a big moment for our sorry ass little family because we really should never be allowed to leave the institution. I know you're upset because I promised we'd take you to your first Klan rally this weekend but you gonna have to trust me that the beach is gonna be fun. At some point while you're having the time of your life swimming in something other than the blow-up pool you share with the opossoms @ Granny's house you might have to go to the bathroom. Now of course the logical thing to do in this case would be to tell me so we can go inside to the bathroom. But remember BJ we ain't logical people. When you need to go poopy I don't want you to worry about a thing. Just think of that big pool as a big ass toilet & let it go."

Fast forward now to the aftermath. Little Bubba has crapped in the pool which causes the rest of the hillbillies to scury like cockroaches when the lights come on. Unfortunately though Bubba Jr's younger brother left his ball in the pool. This causes obvious distress since this is the only toy he can play with that requires no thought. Just as the future star of cops leans into the water to retrieve this magical ball the 12 most frightening words in the english language are spoken, "Don't get in the pool until we get all the poop out!" I don't know about you but @ this point I'm thinking this is like the oil spill on crack. You could actaully see pieces of crap floating in the pool! Being the savvy rednecks that they were they decide to handle this situation themselves. The oldest son gets the pool net & begins fishing terds out of the pool. If this weren't bad enough, as he pulled each one out he would then throw them on the protected sand dunes! I'm sure when the people put the signs up stating not to walk on the sand dunes & that pets are not allowed on the beach they never once thought about putting this sign up, "Don't throw your baby brother's shit on the dunes." OH MY GOD! At what point do we not close down the whole pool & bring a hazmat team in? There aren't enough chemicals in the country of Iraq to make me feel comfortable about getting back in that damn pool.

Finally the maintenance crew comes down & begins taking over "Operation Terd." Now I am a firm believer that an employee should never say, "It's not my job" but who in the hell could have blamed these guys if they had said, "Screw it! We're out of here!" Afterall there's only so much shit (pun intended once again) a person can take!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Worst on the team...Yep that's Me!

How many times have you heard that Tiger Woods is an amazing athlete? Every member of the sports media has said it @ some point. In fact I think they might even be contractually obligated to mention that @ least once every time they talk about Tiger. There's no question that Tiger Woods is an amazing...golfer. I can't say for absolute certainty that Tiger is a good athlete much less an amazing one. I've never seen him hit a jump shot & I have serious concerns about his ability to hit a 97mph fastball. So what exactly is my point? It's actually quite simple. GOLF IS NOT A SPORT! I won't argue that golf is a game but a sport might be stretching things a bit. Allow me to explain.

Every spring the golf tournaments come out of the woodwork. What makes these tournaments great is the fact that you can be the world's worst golfer & still contribute to your team winning. That's right, best ball scrambles make bad golfers, drum roll please, slightly less bad golfers. What sport has a tournament where 4 people team up, each hit the ball from the exact same spot & then play the best shot? How does this make sense? Wouldn't you think that each person on the team would need to bring something to the table? So if I am horrible (which I am) & hit a bad shot who cares as long as someone else on the team hits a better one. Golf has A,B,C & D players. Take me for example. I'm a Y player. As in why do I bother even trying to play this stupid game?! See I said game. Not sport, game! Now I'm sure you may be thinking, "well Andrew you're obviously bitter because you are an awful golfer." I can only say one thing to that...Damn right I'm bitter because I'm an awful golfer! But I will say something now that might surprise you...I don't mind being the worst player on the team. In fact I kind of like it.

Take what happened in my most recent golf outing. "We" were playing pretty well. And yes I can say we because "we" were a team & just because I can only contribute once or twice a round doesn't mean "WE" aren't playing well. Anyway, "we" all hit our shots hoping to get a ball on the green. The other 3 guys hit their shots which weren't the best. @ that point they began complaining about how hard our next shot was going to be. That's when I chimed in & said, "we can play my shot. It's right there in front of the green." Well apparently hell had just frozen over because they look down the course then look @ one another & low & behold there's Andrew with a nice shot. The response from my good old teammates? "Well I guess we can play Andrew's shot." Are you kidding me?! You guess? Last I checked your shots sucked so you're damn right "we can play Andrew's shot!"

So why do I like being the team's worst golfer? Let's just say that any good shot I hit is a bonus. There's no expectation. All I have to do show up hit a few wild & crazy shots, get a few laughs & listen to others ask the same question every damn time. "Are you really going to play barefoot?" Seriously? Have you seen my game? How in the hell would shoes make one bit of difference? If I'm going to suck I might as well be comfortable, right? I have actually been known to hit a ball @ a 90 degree angle. If you're not familiar with golf there isn't a hole on the course that's 90 degrees from the tee box. In fact it's usually best to hit the ball straight ahead rather than due right. Who knew the only time my 10th grade geometry would factor into my life would be 90 degree shots on a freaking golf course. Anyway I would rather be the worst golfer on the team than the second or third best golfer. Who remembers those guys? The answer to that riddle is no one. I may be a bad golfer & nine times out of ten I am probably the worst golfer on the team (there actually is one person I play with that makes me look good so shut it) but @ the end of the day when my teammates, & God help us anyone else that saw our team play, are talking about 2 people on our team I can promise you they will mention the best player on our team & you guessed!

Welcome to the Cult...I Mean the Church

In a world where gossip reigns supreme, church is doing it's best to keep up. Barber shops, nail salons & churches have far too much in common these days. The concept of church @ one time I'm sure made sense but now churches are compounds. A place to keep people, especially young people, in a concentrated area where every thought can be influenced & our youth can grow up in a misguided world. How many churches these days have a gym? Or a summer camp for kids? Both are great concepts but I think it's better marketing for the church than anything else. What better way to keep people confined to the limited thinking of organized religion than to entice them to stay & bench press for the Lord?! What a joke!

These people actually live in a world where people are told you're going to "hell" because you don't think like members of a specific group. Are you serious?! I think Hitler lived by this thought process (or lack thereof) & he almost single handily destroyed Europe! The Christian faith is far & away the best example of church gone bad. How many Christian faiths will tell you that a person will go to "hell" if they don't accept Jesus as their Lord & savior? Savior from what? If you ask me we need someone to save us from the narrow mindedness of church goers everywhere. People that go to church profess to be loving & accepting people. Really? Are you buying this propaganda because I'm not. Any religion that states someone is going to "hell" for believing differently is a religion I want no part of. Why would an all loving God discriminate against anyone? Based upon the fundamentals of Christianity, "Heaven" is going to be missing some pretty impressive people. Buddha, Gandhi & the Mohammad are going to "hell" in case you were wondering. The Dali Lama...yep he's going South too. And if this truly is the case, I hope I'm going there too! A place that excludes these amazing people but includes Hitler & members of the KKK is not a place I ever want to see.

So let's make sure I understand this. You can be the worst person on the planet but on your death bed ask for forgiveness & you get a one way ticket to "Heaven" while I am stuck punching my ticket into the seventh layer of "hell." Why is it that church goers feel compelled to force their beliefs on me? Is there some sort of twisted quota these deranged lunatics have to meet? Is this Sunday "bring a sinner to church day?' Do they get a free meet & greet with Moses if they bring a new person to church with them?

I was taught from a very early age to think for myself & that if someone tells you that their way is the only way, then there's probably a better way. I'm not asking anyone to denounce their faith. All I'm asking for is some acknowledgement that there just might be more than one way to get to "Heaven." That is if there really is a "Heaven" @ all.