Sunday, December 04, 2016

On Monday, December 5, from 5 to 9 pm, if you eat at McAlister's Deli in Columbia, 10% of your bill will be donated to the Brain Balance Foundation of Missouri. This non-profit organization, for which I am a board member, gives financial assistance to families in need of the life-changing services provided by Brain Balance--owned by my dear friends Todd and Carolyn Pridemore. Brain Balance helps children who struggle with behavioral, developmental, and cognitive difficulties caused by an imbalance between the two halves of the brain. I personally know children who have benefited from this program and the results are real and miraculous. Please consider eating at McAlister's tomorrow and also consider donating to The Brain Balance Foundation through during the month of December. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jobs, Hobbies, and Arm Candy

Jobs, hobbies, and arm candy

I have written on numerous occasions about my numerous occupations. I love being a substitute teacher, a small-town newspaper columnist, a public address announcer, and a wedding officiantBecause my wife makes a good living at her job, I am able to do what I love without worrying about my income. For that reason, (and many others), I literally could not live without Bethany.

As much as I enjoy what I do, the hard truth is that I would not be able to earn enough money between my four jobs/hobbies (jobbies) to exist on. Eight years ago, I quit a decent-paying job as a retail store manager to become a stay-at-home dad. It was one of the best decisions of my life. However, once all three of our kids reached school age, I decided it was time to start working again. Despite having four jobbies, I haven’t managed to earn more than $7,000 in a single calendar year since George W. Bush was president. Thanks Obama.

I’m not complaining, mind you. Sure, I made a lot more money when I was working six days a week as a grocery store butcher while Bethany was in college studying to become an occupational therapist, but I wasn’t happy. I was paid handsomely for being the sales manager at an automobile auction, but the money did not make the stress-induced ulcer I developed go away. I set sales records and earned nice bonuses at the pet food store I managed, yet I quit without hesitation when we adopted Truman so that I could be at home to care for our two year-old son and for my dying mother. Money isn’t everything.

As a trophy husband I do pause to consider, from time to time, what I would do for money if Bethany suddenly got smart and left me or if she unexpectedly lost her job. Lacking a degree in education, I couldn’t teach full-time. Lacking a national syndication deal, I wouldn’t be able to rely on my newspaper column. There aren’t enough sporting events in all of Boone County to survive on the income of a press box announcer. And performing half a dozen weddings per year (mostly for free because I like to donate my services as a gift to the happy couple) won’t pay the bills either.

Oh, I suppose I could endure working in the depressing, windowless world of artificial light, bone-chilling cold, and omnipresent animal blood as a meat-cutter again. I’d hate it, but at least there would be food on the table. I could also return to the sales force, or get back into grounds keeping or burger flipping if I had to. I sure hope I never have to.

Ideally, Bethany will remain both gainfully employed and under the illusion that she could marry no one better than me.Although I’m grateful for my wife and her income, I wouldn’t mind being financially self-sufficient. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a 1957 Chevrolet two-door hardtop.

Honestly, money doesn’t matter to me very much at this point in my life. I’m getting older now, and I’m starting to think about the legacy I will leave behind when I am gone. How will my kids remember me? How will I be remembered by my friends? Will Ashland erect a statue of me in my honor?

In a hundred years, will there be anyone on Earth aware that I existed? As a writer, I would hope that my words will be remembered long after I’m gone. Hemingway, Kerouac, Twain, and Shakespeare shall live forever through their work, and although I cannot be compared to those literary geniuses, I would like for my words to live forever.

Whether or not I become wealthy at any of my jobbies, I hope that my contributions to society will have a lasting and memorable impact. And if I can somehow scrape together enough dough to buy an old hotrod; that would be pretty cool, too. 

Maybe I’ll ask my sugar momma for a small loan. Arm candy like this ain’t free, you know.    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Do I miss Facebook?

Greetings friends! I am happy to report that it has been nine days since I last checked Facebook. Nine days! The last time I went nine days without using the social network was in 2011 when Bethany and I were in China adopting Tiana. Facebook is banned there, not because the site is a massive time-suck and promoter of fake news, but because it is a platform for free speech--which communists aren't too wild about.

My reason for banning myself from Facebook is to preserve my faith in my fellow man. I refuse to be bombarded with lies, half-truths, and negative comments about politics and people any longer. Nowadays, when I talk to a friend, I have no idea whether he or she has recently posted some hateful nonsense online or not. And, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Since taking this break from Facebook, I have rediscovered the creativity that has been lying mostly dormant within me. In the last nine days I have gathered materials for building 10 new homemade musical instruments. I've begun building a three-string cigar box guitar with some improvements over my previous models. I have also managed to read Stephen King's "Misery" and have started reading Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." In the last nine days I've also written a newspaper column and a updated my blog a couple times. Somehow I also found time to sub at the primary school three times and attend a board meeting for the non-profit foundation I volunteer for. Oh, and I've spent some quality time, in person, with friends and family--without hearing a single insult or personal attack related to politics.

I'm starting to remember how great real life is compared to that virtual reality that 3 out of 4 people on Earth are stuck "living" in. Do I miss Facebook? No I do not.