Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Teeth Thing

I think we know each other well enough now. I'm ready to share with you what I have come to call, the teeth thing.

I'm weird about my teeth. I've never had a cavity in my life and have always brushed twice a day. I survived braces, and headgear, and came out on the other side. However, about halfway through college I began having the dreams.

It's a normal dream. Sure it has its weird, dreamy things going on, but for the most part it starts out as a normal dream. Then, my teeth start rotting out. The dream continues along its normal story arc, but with the new twist of rapidly decaying teeth. They don't always rot out. Sometimes they straight up fall out. Sometimes they crack and shear into jagged pieces still stuck in my mouth. It's terrible. It's so real. I wake up checking my teeth to see if they're still there, always relieved that they are still intact. Weird, I know.

The paranoia has started to make its way into real life though. Two weeks ago, I went to Six Flags on the band trip. When riding roller coasters, one experiences what are called "positive Gs". This is the multiplication of the normal force of gravity. So, if you weigh one hundred pounds and are pulling 3 Gs, just for that instant, you weigh 300 pounds. This apparently affected my teeth. I first noticed it on the Mind Bender. When we would go through the loops, my teeth would ache! Are they pulling out of my head? Are they going to fall out if I continue to ride!? I'm weird about my teeth.

The current dental debate being waged in my psyche has to do with my new toothbrush. It has soft bristles. I'm usually a firm bristle kinda guy. I'm starting to think that the weak, soft bristles are not brushing thoroughly enough. Thus, they leave behind more plaque; slowly rotting my teeth. I get the urge throughout the day to brush.

I promise I'm not a looney toon. Just weird about my teeth.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quote of the Day




Me to my class: A single performer singing or playing is called a solo. Two people performing is called a duet. Three people are a trio, and four people performing together is called a quartet.


Suzy: I thought a quartet was a car!?


Suzy's friend: You idiot! That's a CORVETTE!







Monday, April 28, 2008

Demon Doggie

3:15 a.m. this morning. I heard Jenny crying in her crate. This is unusual- she normally sleeps quietly through the night. I drifted in and out of consciousness only to be awakened by her helpless cries. I put my robe and house slippers on and shuffled over to her crate. I opened the latch and she shot out like a champagne cork! She ran to the front door, which was closed because again, it was 3:15 in the morning.

Before I continue with this morning's tale, let me fill you in on a couple of Jenny facts. She never nudges her way into or out of things. If she visibly can't get past something, she stands there; be it the door to her crate or a wimpy lawn chair propped at the head of the deck stairs. Also, due to the busy street on which my house is located, I keep Jenny inside. If she does go outside, she's on a leash at all times. A couple of times, she has slipped away from me, resulting in ten minutes of chasing her all over the place cussing out loud as I run blocks and blocks.

Back to the action. I opened the front door. The storm door behind it was slightly open. She didn't even hesitate. She FORCED her way out the door and bolted down the yard to the right of my house as if posessed by some fierce, very fast demon. Fear. Shock. Visions of Jenny getting run over in the street. On top of that, she was naked, no collar! I actually contemplated going back inside and changing into more athletic clothing and tennis shoes in preparation for the chase. Instead, I followed her rather sloppily (in house slippers and robe) to the yard next door. I now understood why she was crying- I saw what fierce demon had posessed her- I caught her at a dog's (and a human's) most vulnerable moment: pooping.

After she finished, I advanced in her direction. At times like these she engages in the most annoying and infuriating game: let him get close to me and start thinking i'm going to let him leash me, then run away more. I lose that game every time. My instinct is to go get her! I worry that she'll run away for good. We stood in frozen standoff. Then, I went against my instincts- I started walking back to the house. It worked. Perhaps overcome by her own worry that I'd leave her out there, Jenny came flying at me. "I'm a genius! I'm the next Cesar Millan!" I thought. This thought was quickly smashed as Jenny flew PAST me and into the back yard. The chase was on again. I mumbled profanities under my breath, turned around in my now slosshy house slippers, and headed for the back yard.

Jenny was darting back and forth in the back yard. She has seen kittens, squirrels, and birds back here and never really had the chance to pursue them. I stood between Jenny and the house. Collar and leash in hand, I could advance in her direction, but alas, I chose the opposite again. Praying it would work like last time, I started walking up the stairs and pretending like I was going inside. She came. She walked right up to me and let me put the collar on her. I was incredibly relieved, wet and tired. I opened the storm door and tried the knob: locked. Jenny and I sloshed back around to the front of the house, went inside and collapsed on our respective beds.

It was safe to say that we were both, literally, pooped.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CityFest

The 2008 Auburn Cityfest was held today at Kiesel Park. I've never been, but really wanted to go this year because my good friend Lee was exhibiting his photography. This is a relatively new hobby for him, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the looks of his booth. Thrown together in about two weeks, it ended up being one of the most professional looking set ups out there. He had some great photography from his trip to Kenya this past summer. If he had a website, I'd include a link here, but he doesn't. Anyway, just thought I'd brag on him for a little bit.

I made a wager with my friend that I'd see six of my students while at Cityfest. I lost count somewhere around twenty four. I don't know why I'm so weird about seeing students in public, but I am. Perhaps it will pass after my first year is over. Anybody else feel me on this one? Or am I alone?


Friday, April 25, 2008

Check it off the list

I got to do one of those things I've always wanted to do today: blow glass. I went with the sixth grade to AU Explore. It's a day of fun and learning put on by Auburn University's Science department. There are "classes" in river bugs, making silly putty, the science of food, and many others including glass blowing. Now, it sounds a lot cooler than it actually was. I thought it was going to be the more artistic side of glass blowing. Instead, it was the nerdy side of glass blowing. These guys blow glass for use in science labs. You dream up a piece of glass you need for your laboratory (pronounced lah-BOR-a-tor-ee) and these guys make it for you. Still, there was a huge flame and semi molten glass so I, and the kids, were entertained.
There came a time in the demonstration when the head glass-blower asked if any of the teachers wanted to try. I jumped at the opportunity. I put on my shades as he heated up the tube of glass. My first attempt didn't work out so well. The second time, I did much better, blowing a bulb of glass that was around 28 ccs (according to the glass-blower guy.) I was proud of my work. I had done something that always fascinated me and that I had always wanted to do. I expected my artwork to be clipped off the tube and handed to me as a token of my achievement. Nope. He slammed the tube on the rim of an empty trash can, sending my perfectly shaped sphere of blown glass into a million pieces in the trash can. Is that what he thought of my glass blowing skills?

Jerk. I never liked glass blowing anyways.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Do you trust me?

Faith is believing in and trusting that which we cannot see. The whole idea of faith is in direct contradiction with the addage "seeing is believing". The world tells us that, in order to believe something, we must first see it. In His typically, atypical manner, God doesn't work that way.

I led the youth of Rocky Mount Baptist in a discussion about faith last night. We started with a "trust fall". One person stands on a chair (which is already on a stage). He faces away from the six people who stand below with outstretched arms. He must trust that these people will catch his falling body. He cannot SEE them, but He must believe that they will prevent his certain doom. I use the pronoun "he" because only guys participated last night. I couldn't get any of the girls to step up!

After the trust fall, I began talking about worrying. Worrying is an activity I engage in frequently (although I'm getting better at kicking this habit). When we worry, we're essentially saying "I don't believe that this will happen or that this event or action will be carried out." I'm the first to admit that I'll pray for the Lord to provide and then turn around and worry that he won't! Worry is the polar opposite of faith. Where faith says, "I believe that you will provide for me," worry says, "I do not believe you will provide for me." I want to do it myself, or see for myself that it gets done. In truth, when we cast aside our worries and give them up- faith steps in and takes over.

Matthew chapter 5 tells us that God clothes the grass with lilies. GRASS! He provides for grass, which is here one day and thrown into the fire the next. If He takes the time and energy to provide for the grass, we better believe he'll take the time and energy to provide for us! So don't worry, be happy. I dare you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hilarious

I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall last night. It was stinkin hilarious. I'd say it was a close second to the recent comedic giant that was Superbad. The guy that played Brian Fantana in Anchorman is in Sarah Marshall and just about steals the show. I'd sit here and tell you all of the funniest parts, but instead I'll just say- go see it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obligatory Blog

Shealy "tagged" me on the five things post. So, I guess I've gotta do it or the gods of the blogosphere will strike me down (or just delete my blog like Brooke's). Here goes:

5 Things on my to do list:
1. Wash clothes
2. Have a structured interview with one of my assistant principals
3. Get the dress rehearsal approved for our Spring Choir concert
4. Play with my dog
5. Finish this post

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. Chips Ahoy cookies
2. Hot pockets, yes they're small enough to be a snack
3. popcorn
4. triscuits
5. chocolate

5 Things I would do if I were a Billionaire:
1. Get certified to solo skydive
2. Give lots of money away
3. Pay off my car
4. Pay off someone else's car
5. Travel

5 Bad habits:
1. worrying
2. overthinking
3. grinding my teeth
4. being too much of a realist
5. being too soft on my students

5 Places I have lived:
1. Locke Circle in Hoover, AL
2. Oak Ridge circle in Hoover, AL
3. Belmont blvd. in Nashville, TN
4. Farmhouse Fraternity in Auburn, AL
5. The Oasis in Auburn, AL

5 Jobs I've had:
1. Sandwich maker at Blimpie
2. Youth intern at church
3. Banquet server on the General Jackson Showboat
4. Nashville Scene Street Team member
5. Middle School choir teacher

Now I'm supposed to tag other people. However, I don't want to.

THE END

Monday, April 21, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend

I spent the weekend on a middle school band trip. That one sentence alone should convey my current sense of exhaustion and mental instability, however, l'll get specific for those more interested readers.

In Atlanta, our first stop was at the "World of Coke" museum. Talk about shameless self-promotion. I think l'll open up a "Dan museum" and put artifacts up about my life and accomplishments, along with 65 different flavors of Dan that the public could sample. I mean, I enjoy a Coca-cola classic every now and then, but do they really need a whole museum?

We had lunch at ESPN Zone. Again, I love a good sports recap broadcast on ESPN Network, but a restaurant? I could get burgers and chicken fingers anywhere. They did have quite an extensive arcade upstairs. This, of course, a haven for middle school boys.

Next, to Turner field for the Braves v. the Dodgers. We sat in the nosebleeds and ate ourselves silly on footlong hot dogs, funnel cakes, and cotton candy. Ask any of the kids what the highlight of the evening was and what will they reply? Seeing Chipper Jones hit TWO homeruns? No. It was watching the drunk dude puke all over the place several rows above us. Moving on.

The next day was the competition in Chattanooga. Wait, what? I thought we were in Atlanta, doing Atlantaish things. Well, lets throw in a band competition in Chattanooga, just to keep people on their toes. The band did well and got excellent ratings from every judge. Then we went to an IMAX movie called "Nap time for the entire band and all of the chaperones: 3D!"

That night we ate at Medieval Times. This is one of those dinner and a show type deals. I thought it was AWESOME! Depending on where you sit, you cheer for a different knight. We cheered for the priest of Santiago- the black and white knight. We watched as they engaged in Medieval games on horseback. They jousted, they threw spears, a falcon flew around the arena. It was awesome. Then, it was revealed by Cedric the soothsayer that there was a traitor in the King's service. Thus, the games went from friendly competition to DEATHMATCH! Seriously, the knights were now competing for their lives in hopes that the traitor would just be killed I guess. They lowered nets to protect the audience from flying swords. This was the coolest part. Well choreographed fights using various period-appropriate weapons ensued. I was on my feet yelling and screaming! The Priest of Santiago won, but was then betrayed by the true traitor, Lord Chancellor so and so. The blue knight then rode out and battled him, eventually capturing him and sending him to the dungeon to be tortured.

The next day we went to Six Flags. I love roller coasters, but that's for another post on another day. We spent the whole day there and it was glorious. One of our students puked on the wheelie. I rode several of the coasters multiple times. I finally got to ride Acrophobia, which has been shut down EVERY time i've been to six flags in the last few years. All in all, a great day.

Did I mention that I had a suite to myself in Atlanta? This was the largest and most apartment-like hotel room i've ever stayed in, and I had it all to myself! I couldn't help but imagine that I was some sort of rock star, walking around my hotel room in my sock feet, just biding time until the show that night. Then, I wake up, realizing I have to go down the hall and awaken six middle school guys; tell them to clean the cheetos up off the floor; and take them down to breakfast. We have a long day ahead of us.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The New Do

I went in to Hairmasters today to get a run of the mill trim up. I met Melanie, who was to be my stylist. I told her what was my "usual" and things got underway. Melanie and I got comfortable with each other quickly and soon began to talk and joke. I started to ask her questions. I love asking questions to people who specialize in something about the area in which they specialize. The meteorologist in Nashville. How does wind work? My brother the landscape guru. What's the latin name of that tree? The nurse at my doctor's office. Will you once and for all explain to me what the two numbers mean in a blood pressure? So I began to ask her questions about my hair. What would it look like if I did this? With my hair type, could I pull that off? etc. Soon, these questions left the realm of mere thought and became more concrete conjectures.

Now I like to think I'm open to new things. That I'm not attached to any one particular thing or idea (with the exception of a few things on which I will never waiver: Christ as the Savior of us all, the life altering power of music, and the fact that my mom can cook better than yours). Melanie had a vision. She became an artist at work. I stepped out of the way. By the time the smoke had settled, I walked out with this new do:



Breathe. I know it's pretty drastic. What do you think? I know this is the first time many of you have seen my forehead, but what about the hair! Any comments would be welcomed and appreciated. Keep in mind, my self-esteem hangs on your words.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Telephone

I had another great night with the youth at Rocky Mount Baptist church. When I walked in, one of the younger girls came up to me and said, "Are you teaching tonight?"
I teach school. I teach every day. Why did this make me melt?
I went out to the playground to hang out with the youth a little before we started. I heard one of the guys say, "No we're not, Dan is out here, so we're not starting till he goes in!"
The kids are starting to give me ownership of this group. It's humbling. I love it.

We went outside today. How could we not? It was a beautiful day. We played a mutated version of "telephone". I called it Long Distance Telephone! I gave the message to the first person on each team. They had to run about thirty yards and deliver the message to their teammate, who ran back and did the same to another team mate, etc. This went on until the last person on the team got the message and ran down and delivered it correctly to me. It was pretty funny. I changed the game up a little and instead of running, the kids had to crab walk. Hilarious.

We talked about prayer. Talk to God. Straight up. Just talk to him.

It went well. I could see these kids starting to open up a little more. No, they didn't speak up about what they were thinking. And I don't expect them to right now. Baby steps. However, I could see it in their face. They're starting to trust. Thanks for praying. Keep it up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Give me Five!

Food. It's one of those things that everyone loves. You gotta eat, so you might as well find food that tastes great. Thus, I give you my top five greatest recent food discoveries!

5. Wing Night at Niffer's. My friends and I had been going to wing night at Buffalo Wild Wings, which is great. But, you've never experienced a wing night like the one at Niffer's. It's on Tuesday nights and it's all you can eat wings for 10 bucks. One flat rate- as many wings as you can eat (instead of a discounted price per wing). If you like em' saucy, Niffer's is the place to go.

4. MK's Asian Kitchen. I've been struggling to find good Chinese food in the Auburn area since I arrived here five years ago. I grew up on the finest in fast asian fare with New China in Hoover. There simply wasn't good Chinese food in Auburn, until MK's. It's in Tiger Town. Go. Eat. Relish in the fact that we finally have good Chinese food in Auburn!

3. Hardee's Jalepeno Thickburger. This is perhaps the finest burger one can get for three dollars and change. The jalepenos aren't too spicy, they're just right. You would spend the same amount on a Wendy's burger (square?) or a BK burger, and they just aren't as good. If you're a burger fan, this is a good one.

2. The Crab-cake and Avocado sandwich from Amsterdam Cafe. Voted one of the top 100 dishes to eat in Alabama, this sandwich is so good that you start missing it after the first bite.

1. http://www.freerice.com This is the coolest. You will be presented with a vocabulary word and four choices. If you click on the correct synonym for the highlighted word, the website's advertising sponsers donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. Keep playing, keep winning, every time you choose the correct answer; 20 more grains. Broaden your vocabulary, feed hungry people.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lords of the Flame

I spent the weekend cruising the Tombigbee river, fishing, shooting guns, eating meat, and drinking beer. Since when did I become a walking, talking, gun-toting, tackle box full of testosterone? Truth is, I'm not. And those of you that know me will agree. However, it is great once in a while for a man to get back in touch with his inner hunter-gatherer. And so, TB's bachelor party began.

A summary of the weekend's events follows:

We arrived to men sitting around a fire pit. At any given time throughout the weekend there would be... men sitting around a fire pit. We gaze into the flame as if some hidden truth awaits us amidst the burning embers. That truth never comes, only more staring.
Soon, the largest steaks I've ever seen come off the grill and the "dinner bell" rings. We head upstairs, gird our loins, and dig in. We were like old salty pirates, starving from months at sea, finally filling our bellies with the food of land lubbers.
After the meal, we went jug fishing. Jug fishing is my kind of fishing. It involves nary a jug and is conducted in a manner quite in contrast with what you might think of as "fishing". You see, earlier that day, two of the men that were with us took 85 "jugs" (foot-long sections of pool noodles with a yard of fishing line on them, baited with pieces of bream) and dropped them in the water to float idly downstream. Hours later, we reap the benefits. We took two boats and embarked on a home-made episode of "Deadliest Catch" (if you've never seen this show on Discovery, you aren't alive!). I man the spotlight, constantly scanning the river for fluorescent pool noodles bobbing rapidly with the weight of their captors. I spot one, keep it in my sights, we slow down and our ship's captain reaches over and grabs the noodle.
"Yes SIRRRRRR!" he cries into the night, announcing our catch to the competing vessel.
"Woooooooo!" we'd hear from the other boat, trying to keep up with our numbers.
This went on for about an hour. All totaled, we caught thirty four river catfish. I've never seen so many catfish in one place in my life. Jugfishing: my kind of fishing.
The next day, after a huge breakfast, we went "real" fishing. I suck at real fishing. We went to a large pond owned by a friend of the family. Ask me how many I caught. None. Isn't this supposed to be a "stocked" pond? Why am I so bad at this? Maybe it's one of those mental things. The fish can sense my discontent and thus neglect to bend to my will. Perhaps I've been watching too much Dog Whisperer. Needless to say, real fishing didn't turn out nearly as well as jug fishing.
That night we boiled 90 pounds of crawfish! That's a seventh grader's body weight in crawfish! Incredible. I improved my crawfish eating form, and stuffed myself silly in the process. Then, we shot guns. What were we shooting at? Nothing. Did that matter? No. The sense of empowerment one gets from discharging a firearm is quite... well... empowering. I am Man, hear me roar! What's that, you can't hear me roar? POW! Can you hear me now? good.
All in all, it was a great, manly man's weekend. But I can't help but wonder, what would an outsider think looking on our weekend from afar? Perhaps someone from another planet. They quietly watch as we engage in each activity and see something like this:
We sit and gaze into a fire
Steak and twice baked potatos appear
We sit and gaze into a fire
Armloads of catfish are harvested from the river
We sit and gaze into a fire
Hooks are thrown into the water, harvesting nothing.
We sit and gaze into a fire
90 pounds of crawfish appear
We sit and gaze into a fire
Chunks of lead are hurled into the night air at blazing speeds accompanied by a loud boom.

What is this mystery, this... fire? It brings forth such strange things.

Perhaps we had good cause to be drawn to its warmth and glow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Man Behind the Curtain

I went to see The Wizard of Oz tonight at Auburn High. It was fantastic! The cast, crew, musicians, and munchkins did such a great job. If you are in the Auburn area for the next two days I highly recommend you make an evening of it! Here are a couple of disclaimers though: there are some characters and events which may frighten very young children. i.e. "stay away from toto!" - little girl in the audience.

It's a bit lengthy, so prepare for a good two and a half hours. It's worth every penny though. These kids have worked so hard and should be proud!

I'm going to a bachelor party this weekend, so I won't be posting for the next few days. I know, I know, you'll just have to entertain yourself elsewhere.

I'm off to see the wizard.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Photosynthesis

Last Wednesday night, I helped my friend lead the youth service at the church where he is the music minister. It was incredibly spontaneous, but I didn't have anything else going on so I jumped on board. An idea came to mind- and something else took over! I love moments when I feel completely led by the Holy Spirit. Wow. It's like I'm not even there. I say things and come up with ideas out of nowhere!

My friend was not able to work with the youth tonight, and asked me if I would do it by myself. There was no hesitation. Another idea popped into my head, and the Spirit was off to the races. We ended up having a "Name that tune" style eating contest where one contestant bids that he could eat said leftover from church-wide dinner in "x" amount of bites. The second contestant either tops that, or challenges the other contestant to stay true to his word and eat it in "x" bites. It was hilarious. There were several "almost vomits". We then talked about Grace- the unmerited favor of God. Sang a few songs, prayed, and called it a night. It doesn't sound like much, but I could definitely feel God at work. Such a refreshing feeling and welcome break from the spiritual doldrums I've been experiencing lately.

I've done youth ministry for two summers at my church in my hometown. I know the kids, the parents, and the routines perhaps too well. I'm really enjoying ministering to these youth who are (were) essentially total strangers. We're starting at the beginning with each other; building trust and learning together.

So, if you're the prayin' type, pray for these kids. God has placed in my heart a new, strong desire to see these kids grow in in the knowledge and love of Christ. They are so spiritually young. Pray that the Lord will chip away at their barriers and inhibitions. Pray that the seeds that God is sowing through my efforts find the water, sunlight, and soil that they need to grow. (a spiritual photosynthesis, if you will).

Thanks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Service with a Smile

I spent the better part of this evening "serving" ice cream at Bruster's. It was "school night", which means they give us a slice of their profit pie and we in turn drum up business for them. I washed my hands, donned my apron, and got to work. Oh wait, did I say work? I meant stand around in the way of all of the regular Bruster's employees. All I wanted to do was scoop ice cream. Dad always said that scooping ice cream builds your biceps.

"Dan, I need a double chocolate chunk in a cone!"
"I'm on it!"
"Dan, I need a super swirly blizzard blast with hot fudge and caramel STAT!"
"You got it!"


That's the stuff of dreams. Needless to say, my biceps were left unbuilt. I scooped maybe six scoops total. Ho hum. That doesn't mean I didn't have fun. It's hilarious when students see their teachers outside of school. It's like we're celebrities. Do they not remember seeing me three hours ago? Have they no recollection of the 94 I JUST gave them on their Identifying Notes worksheet? Eh, I'm not complaining. A little celebrity goes a long way for the ole ego.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Real Reality Television

"Whose got laughs from coast to coast, to make you smile? A real live look at each of you, to capture all the style. You're the red, white, and blue. Oh, the funny things you do, America, America, well this is you."

I sit watching the latest incarnation of the greatest show on television: America's Funniest Home Videos. This, ladies and gentleman is REALITY TV. No scripts, no getting "voted off", just pure human hilarity. AFV is seriously one of the few shows (the Office, and Family Guy are the others) that causes me to literally laugh out loud. I mean pure, guttural, belly laughing.

I've followed this show from its meager beginnings, the Bob Sagat surge, the Daisy Fuentes fallaway and now the Tom Burgeron boom. I watch with pure joy at every crotch shot, every old person falling, every groom fainting, toddler tumbling, water skiing wipe out, and trampoline mishap. But, perhaps greatest invention that America's Funniest Videos gave to humanity is: the montage. A tightly packed series of videos based on a central theme, set to music, also of the same theme. Some of my all time favorite montages include: the cats doing stupid things montage, the guys getting hit in the crotch montage, the middle aged women falling off of boats montage. The list goes on and on, really.

**Stop the presses!**

As I type to you, nation, another episode just came on! Not only another episode, but an episode that Tom calls "the best show of all time". That's right, the "Best videos of all time" episode! I'm sitting with three other guys and we're filling the Auburn night sky with authentic laughter. People are standing up, pointing at the t.v. and laughing with all their might. It doesn't get any better than this.

Prove it? Watch and enjoy:


video

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Cater Connection

My cousin is in labor right now. At least that's the last thing I heard. She may have delivered by now, but as far as I know, she's in labor. As you may or may not know, I'm extremely close with my cousins. They are like extra siblings. If you asked me to think of a fond memory from my past, odds are it involves one of my amazing cousins.

So, one of them is having a child as I write. Wow- I can't even imagine. Here's what's so cool. I received a text from my dad today saying that she was in labor. Then I got a call from my cousin Reid (the cousin closest to me in age - most sibling like) saying mostly the same thing. At that moment, I knew that we were all thinking about Natalie. My brother and my cousin Michelle in Birmingham, Holly in Greensboro North Carolina, Lance in Birmingham, Reid in Durham, and really all of the Cater family scattered all over the place were thinking about Nat. It's kind of like the whole "stare up at the moon, wherever you are, and know that we're looking at the same moon" but way less cheesy.

I didn't even have to talk to them to know. I just knew. She was in all of our thoughts on this important day, and that made me feel good. Connected.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rained Out

As the clock neared "quittin time" yesterday, I was hurriedly asked by a coworker if I wanted to go to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Mets. Of course I wanted to! What's the catch? We leave now! I hurried home, changed clothes, fed Jenny, and left to meet Bob and Jay. Wow, Bob, Jay, and Dan- so monosyllabic.

We drove through a little rain on the way, but continued to think dry thoughts. We parked on what looked like a fifteen foot cliff. As we started toward Turner field, so did the rain. It wasn't terribly violent, just steady and wet. Bob and I were utterly ill prepared; so we needed to procure a poncho if we were to endure nine innings of this weather. We found an indoor souvenir shop and headed for the door.

"Sorry", said the twenty-something woman at the door. "Only five people in at a time."

Ok, I could understand that. They knew it was raining and that people wanted someplace dry to stand. They didn't want hordes of tomohawk chopping rednecks stampeding through the store. There was no cover directly outside the door to the store, so I went about twenty feet away to stand under some cover. I turn back only to see Jay and Bob waltz on in to the store.

"What the?"

So I walked back over there, pulled the door op-"sorry, only five at a time." She interrupted not only my train of thought, but my whole life at that moment. Despite the cold rain, i could feel the mercury rising. I walked back to the covered area. I stood for a few seconds and realized I was still getting wet. Looking back at the door, I watched about seven people walk in. Ok, this is rediculous. I lowered my horns, scraped my feet along the ground, blew smoke out of my nostrils and headed for the door one more time.

"I'm sorry!" She was denying me again. This seemed to be all she could say. Where's Ashton, because I think I'm getting punked. This was insane! I watched people file in, only to get shot down every time I tried.

Let's be honest, i'm not good at being mean to strangers. I showed some frustration, but didn't get outright mean. The FOURTH time she let me in, only after joking with me first. I was in no mood.

As we shuffled around in the souvenir shop looking for ponchos, an announcement came on over the speakers and the televisions. The game had been postponed. Rained out. In other words, "I'm sorry." There would be no baseball this night. We went to a pub and had dinner instead. In honor of the baseball game we didn't get to see, I got a bratwurst and some onion rings. (sigh) It just wasn't the same.


Friday, April 4, 2008

100 Things

Apparently, this "100 things about you" germ is going around the blogosphere. I have been officially challenged to write a post containing 100 things that you, the reader, may not know about me. After I write this, I'm going to CHALLENGE Brooke to an American Gladiators style Joust! Take that! I'm unsure whether I have the stamina to write, and you have the stamina to read 100 things. So I'll start, and when I get bored, odds are you will be too. And we will both know its time to stop.

Red

Red

Yellow

GREEN!

1. When I was very little, I had what was known as "sticky up" hair.
2. For years, parrots were my favorite animal.
3. I took two years of Latin in High school.
4. I've been playing guitar for 10 years.
5. My guitar is blue.
6. Most everything else I own is blue because
7. Blue is my favorite color.
8. I secretly want to be a rock star.
9. I just blew my secret about wanting to be a rock star.
10. My brother and I used to think we could run faster on our birthday.
11. My brother and I used to think we could run faster when we got a new pair of shoes.
12. When we were little, my brother and I thought being able to run fast was the ultimate in cool.
13. My brother once saved my life when
14. I fell into Mobile bay
15. Fireworks that hone in on members of my family are called "Cater chasers"
16. I am extremely close with my cousins
17. Zach Morris was one of my heros
18. Zach Morris is still one of my heros
19. I am an unofficial wedding singer
20. I was in a band in middle school
21. I was in a band in high school
22. I stink at coming up with band names
23. I also stink at directions, which is why I recently
24. Purchased a GPS system!
25. I once wrote twenty five things about myself
26. I like to sing
27. I was in show choir in middle school
28. and high school
29. and college
30. I'm embarassed
31. I really enjoy choral conducting
32. I used to be the music director at a small church in Notasulga, AL
33. I have had my dog Jenny for almost a year
34. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the woman that found Jenny on the streets
35. When we were little, my dad used to take me and my brother to our Memaw's house for breakfast on Saturday mornings.
36. On the saturday mornings that we didn't go to Memaw and Pawpaw's we went to Krystal.
37. My brother and I would spin around on the stools in Krystal.
38. Dad told us that the stools spun fast because fat people had been sitting on them
39. My dad is my real hero
40. I can only remember one fight between my brother and I that I would consider a win for team Dan.
41. I used to love riding my bike down the hill and skidding at the stop sign.
42. I popped tires doing that.
43. roller blades hurt my ankles
44. I once hit a homerun in little league... me!
45. My dad called me Homey after that
46. Or Homer Simpson
47. I was never as good at baseball as my brother
48. I was never that good at baseball to begin with
49. My senior year of high school was the best year of my life
50. I'm halfway to one hundred, are you bored yet? Feel free to stop, but i'm gonna keep going.
51. I once got hit by a car on my bike
52. when I was in college
53. I love fishing but
54. I stink at it
55. Deep sea fishing, now we're talking
56. I love sea food
57. I once threw up on my friend's sleeping bag at a sleepover
58. I've been to Israel
59. and Egypt
60. I went inside one of the great pyramids of Giza
61. I saw the birthplace of Christ
62. and one of the two supposed burial places of Christ
63. I believe in Christ
64. I am daily humbled by God's act of love for us, stinkin humans.
65. I've been skydiving
66. I've been bungee jumping.
67. My dad got a tatoo inspired by a symbol i brought back from Egypt
68. My mom is really stinkin smart.
69. But i think I beat her once at Jeopardy
70. My mom is also a better cook than yours.
71. I think i'm the only person left on earth that isn't engaged.
72. and i'm cool with that.
73. I've broken my wrist
74. My elboy
75. and my hand
76. i punched a guy
77. he was a friend, don't worry
78. we are still friends, in fact, he took me to the hospital
79. I love music.
80. that's why i teach music.
81. I support Barack Obama for president.
82. I just got a new cell phone
83. i have a short temper
84. Laughter is not the best medicine, Advil is.
85. I hate spiders
86. I was in FarmHouse fraternity at Auburn
87. yes, it's an actual fraternity
88. I once ate at Taco Bell while Michael W. Smith ate with his family.
89. I have done Youth ministry for two summers.
90. I lived in Nashville for a summer.
91. When I lived in Nashville, I lived about a block down from Ben Folds.
92. I despise the adding of "vegas" onto the first syllable of city names.
93. I've never been there, but I don't think I'd like the real Vegas.
94. I recently bought a new car.
95. It's a mazda, zoom zoom.
96. I got off of Facebook the day they allowed high school kids to use it.
97. My brother and I used to find old toys of ours, and smash them.
98. I used to have Billy Idol sunglasses.
99. I sunburn way too easily.
100. My childhood friend Trent just bought the house my family used to live in!

There, that wasn't so hard now was it? Brooke- get your giant Q-tip pole ready, because I challenge you to.... JOUST! Next, on American Gladiators!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gesundheit

I was walking toward the Fine Arts building on my way back from lunch when a student I taught first semester, but no longer teach passed me on the left. We'll call him... Jimmy.

"Oh Mr. Cater!" he exclaimed.
"Yo!"
"Can plants sneeze?" he asked.
"Huh?"
"I said, can plants sneeze?"

Perfectly positioned between myself and Jimmy is a large sapling, perhaps of the conifer family. What better way to find the answer to this riddle than to ask a plant itself? I cupped my hand to my ear and leaned toward the tree, hoping to catch it in the act of spastically expelling its nasal passages.

"I SAID, CAN PLANTS SNEEZE!!?" Jimmy must have confused my gesture.
"No, I don't think so," I replied.

Jimmy huffed and puffed, frustrated that his hypothesis had been so scientifically disproven.

"Well, I bet they sneeze underground!" he asserted as he walked away.

Ah, science.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don't Spend it All in One Place

I was in another teacher's classroom today and saw a very large glass jug that had perhaps been used for some sort of donation collection. This reminded me of something that happened to me a couple of years ago. Get a load of this.

An incident that has since come to be known simply as "the tsunami" had just occured on the other side of the world, killing many people and leaving thousands utterly broken. At the time, I was leading worship for Campus Crusade for Christ at Auburn. Crusade had planned an event called "Hungry for Relief" which called on Auburn men and women to go without lunch that day and instead give the money they would have spent on lunch to tsunami relief. It seemed like such an easy thing for us to be able to do. I found myself firmly backing this mini-movement. Here we are in America, cozy as can be, surely people would give up their lunch and donate the money to disaster relief. I decided I would make announcements about "Hungry for Relief" in my classes that day.

I went to Great Books II that Wednesday afternoon. I happened to be wearing a suit and tie because I was singing for Music Departmental convocation that afternoon (it's a big deal in music major world). I can't even remember the professor's name (see previous post), but I do remember that on Fridays he would wear black tennis shoes, black jeans, and a black windbreaker. These fashionable items, when worn together became known as his "ninja suit". But this was a Wednesday, not a Friday. Before class really got going, I raised my hand and asked if I could make an announcement.

"Sure, I guess so," said professor ninja.

"I am involved with a campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ here at Auburn," I said addressing the class. "As you know, a tsunami recently hit the coastline of the Indian ocean and thousands of people died. Relief efforts are going on now to help the people of this region rebuild their homes and their lives. Campus Crusade is going to send a group of people over there to do relief work, but needs to raise money for the trip. So, today we are having an event called 'Hungry for Relief'. We are asking anyone that is able, to give up their lunch today and donate that money to disaster relief. You can certainly give more money if you want, but we are simply asking for what you might spend on lunch. You can give at collection booths like that one," I pointed out the window to a table where two students sat behind a big plastic water jug. "See, you can even see it from here. Just stop by on your way out of class. I think this is a really easy way to contribute. Thanks."

I sat down, a little nervous and wondering if anyone would even consider giving, but glad I had said something.

"And what do you have to do with this project?" asked my professor.

"Nothing really, I just believe in what they are doing," I responded.
Professor ninja stood still, as if in deep thought. The class waited and watched. He walked slowly over to me and reached for his wallet.
"Do with this whatever you think is best," he said as he handed me a one hundred dollar bill.

My first thought: did this really just happen? Did he really just give me ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS? I looked down at the bill in my hand. Do I put it in my wallet? No, then it would seem like I want to keep it for myself. But if I put it in my pocket, it would look like I don't respect its worth; like taking a Rolls Royce through the Mickey D's drive thru. I folded it gently, then put it in my pocket.

My second thought: What trust! I could have been completely lying and just kept the money for myself. Bold move Ninja, bold move.

As i left class and headed for the donation jug, the greenback burned in my pocket. A much smaller version of me appeared on my left shoulder carrying a pitchfork and wearing horns. He urged me to keep walking, get on my bike, and ride away laughing. But, being the man of virtue that I am, I proudly walked up to the Campus Crusade table and told the same story to the students sitting there. I put the one hundred dollar bill into the jug along with my five bucks, smiled, and headed for my bike. As I rode away, my third and final thought struck me:

Damn, where does HE eat lunch?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Amateur Alzheimer's

I was recently reminiscing with a good friend about a beach trip we took in high school. But wait, was this the beach trip where it rained the whole time and Lee caught a catfish and slapped it against the sliding glass door? Was this the trip where we lit bottle rockets in solo cups only to hear a girl across the street exclaim, "I thought I got shot!"? Was this the beach trip where we carved an actual couch out of sand and lounged on it all day? Surely this was the same beach trip where we "cruised the strip" to prove to ourselves that this was something people ACTUALLY did.

After all the deliberation, I found myself astounded not at the fact that I've had a ton of fun at the beach with my friends, but that I CAN'T FREAKING REMEMBER which trip is which? Sadly, this has been a recurring thing with me in the last few years. I can't remember details of some of the most significant, and most fun memories I've experienced. It's starting to permeate other aspects of my life: movies I think I've seen, people I've supposedly met, prior seasons of Lost. Why is this happening? Should I eat some Ginko Biloba, or St. John's Wort? I can't even remember what those are supposed to do!

Perhaps this is why I've recently been referred to as a "headline guy". Why? Because I can only seem to remember the headlines of important stories.
Me: So did you guys hear that Muqtada Al-Sadr has recently called for his supporters to stop violence in Iraq?
Friends: Oh really? Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr?
Me: Uhm... he's a Muslim cleric that raised a militia in Iraq to.... fight.... for.... well... I don't remember.

I'm open to any suggestions on how to cure this ailment. Please submit wonder-cures in writing, because odds are, I probably won't remember it.