on...topic: thoughts - introspective

Monday, October 6, 2003

they should be gone

Right about this time, thirteen or so years ago, a couple of years after I had begun to realize that girls were pretty cool when you really thought about it, I made a pledge to myself that this year would be the year I finally had a girlfriend for the first time. I made the same pledge to myself twelve years ago around this time. And eleven. And ten, I believe.

Then I stopped doing it. I believe a number of factors contributed to this, not the least of which was the thought that it probably just wasn't ever going to happen. However, I would like to think that part of it was the fact that I finally grew up enough to understand that just because God said man needed a helper for life didn't mean that I needed one right then and there, or that having one would magically solve everything.

I use this as an illustration. Even though I was reasonably mature for my age back then, I still had feelings that should have been gone by that time. Feelings of depression and worry about what other people thought about me ate away at me until I was absolutely convinced that people were scoping my every move. To this day, a lot of those same demons haunt me -- I still don't fast dance, for example. But I've finally been able to come to the conclusion that people tend to be worried enough about themselves to not keep a record against everything I say or do. That knowledge has benefited me greatly. It should be interesting to go to my 10-year reunion and see the looks on people's faces when they realize that I have actually changed a lot.

Ah, yes, and that's another thing. This website has in the past reflected the writings of a man fully convinced he was going nowhere. What's more, he believed that he had been nowhere in the past several years. Not only should those thoughts have been gone, they never should have been a part of my mind. Looking back, I realize that a fallacy of most people (myself included) is that we tend to have much too short-term a view of our past and future. By doing so, we can't see that which we've been able to accomplish.

But what have I done? Why, in the last year alone, I've formed my search committee and begun my research, became part of a praise team that performs in a church of 200 or so on a weekly basis, and started my career as a teacher. Not to mention that I finally did reach the dream of a certain new teenager -- I did find that girlfriend. And I fell in love with her, too. I have no doubt that I am certainly not spinning my wheels right now.

The aforementioned fallacy is even worse when considering the future; most people don't tend to think too far ahead, and thus set themselves up for a seemingly endless repitition of work, bills, duties, and occasional "vacations" that do nothing more than prolong the inevitable return to more of the same. It's then that phrases like "the good old days" get tossed around.

I've got news for you: I hope sincerely that these aren't the best days of my life. Good as they are, I know that if I have to look back on a time to say that it's the part of my life I would like to live over and over again, something must be wrong in one or more aspects of my life currently. Continual growth is a necessity to truly live life! In other words, the only way that I end up spinning my wheels is if I voluntarily let myself sink in the mud.

My life is not the life of most 26-year olds. Most have a "real" job and a place of their own by now. Many are married; some have a child or two. But that's not the life of this 26-year old, and it's taken me a long time to come to the conclusion that it's not a bad thing. The house and job and family will come with time, God willing. And even if He doesn't, He's still blessed me with more than I deserve.

So, demon vanquished. Fear conquered. No problems, right?

But there are other things that should be gone from a twenty-six year old man. The temper that still flares over things so trivial as the outcome of a football game. The selfish attitudes I have with my money and my time. And the worry -- yes, it's still there -- that I just might not be good enough or smart enough to make it in whatever I'm attempting and that this, this is the time when I fall flat on my face. And the list continues.

My 19th birthday is coming up in March. That is to say, the 19th anniversary of the day that I was born again. Perhaps these are still the marks of a spiritual teenager. But, like most of the time, I still can't shake the thought that I should have passed this point by now. And I realize that I am the only one to blame for that. God didn't move, after all. He didn't change.

Like every year, I still have a lot to learn. There are still things in me that shouldn't be there. But all in due time. The boy, exactly half my age, made a promise to himself that he had no ability to keep. But God worked it in his time. And I remain faithful that he will continue to do a good work in me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

the night of 1000 words

Here it is, my friends...the entry that will have you recalling the banner years of pressing on...where posts occurred every day, and sometimes more than once a day, and tended to be longer than just a couple of paragraphs. The entry so huge, it's filed under four, count 'em, four, categories.

Do I sound enough like an NBC promo?

So, anyway, it's two o'clock in the morning. And I will probably not be going to bed anytime soon, even though I have to get up tomorrow at 9. The reason why will be revealed at the end of the tale.

So, anyway, yesterday Kelly was over here, and I was showing her some of the stuff that I accumulated over the course of my Alabama BCM days. Stuff like the "One" awards that I got in choir, and the two Valentine's Day bags I made, and various other random effluvia. But, lo and behold, what else did I find in there but two gift cards that I had never used and had given up for lost!

One was for Pier 1, and was originally worth $50; the other was to Bed Bath and Beyond and was originally worth $100. Hey, money I didn't know I had! So what else would any red-blooded American male do with it? Shopping spree!

Okay, so that last part was said tongue-in-cheek. But still, I thought it would be fun to buy some new stuff for my apartment. Kelly was more than willing to go along with me. I found that she likes to see what I go for as far as gadgets and stuff.

Now, let's go ahead and be honest. I have a bachelor apartment. I fully understand this. And when I move in with the guys next year, I will have a bachelor's bedroom in a bachelor apartment. There isn't a lot in the way of frills with me. I have one ficus tree, and it's fake. I had two candles, one almost burned out and the other a tiny Yankee candle "sampler". I have one of those large checkers rugs, complete with checkers, for a tablecloth. So anything that I got from Pier 1 was bound to increase the girliness of my apartment by at least a few percentage points.

When I got to Pier 1, some slightly disappointing news awaited me. My gift card, because of it's being unused for so long, dropped all the way down to $22 in value. The BB&B card was still good for $100, though, so I was pretty happy about that.

I think I did pretty well for myself on the whole. My purchases for the day were:

Total amount spent: roughly $70. Actual money spent: $0! And amount still left on the BB&B card: $52.35!

A few notes about some of the purchases:

So since Kelly had girls' night out, I came on back home and got my purchases out and played. The waterwall is now set up and going. The candles (still unopened) and the holders are out too. I washed the pots; this got me somewhat inspired, so I've cleaned up the entire kitchen, changed the light bulbs in the overhead lights in it, ran the dishwasher, done laundry, and even printed out some pictures that were on my computer so now I have actual physical pictures of Kelly instead of just the ones on my computer. So the apartment, while not really any more girly, is definitely upgraded.

I realize that I probably could have made this same update in a matter of a few sentences, but I guess I'm feeling verbose tonight. Maybe it's a way for me to try to delay what's coming up today.

At approximately 9:30 this morning, Kelly is going to knock on my door, and I am going to take her to Jacksonville and put her on a plane that will eventually put her 6,000 miles away from me for five weeks. It's going to be one of the hardest things I've had to do. And at the same time, it will one of the easiest things Iíll do. She knows that she was going on this trip before she ever met me. She knows that it's something that she's supposed to do. And even though it's hard for me to put her on that plane, it's easy knowing that she's going where she needs to go.

Today marks twenty weeks.

Oh, and the word count, according to Wordís counter: 1000.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

from Birmingham...signing off

This is the last entry I'll make here before next week, because come tomorrow, it's time for the big move.

I can't believe that it's finally here. It's amazing to me what has happened in the past 14 months. When I got out of the MBA program, I was fully convinced that I wouldn't be staying long here; a job was just around the corner.

I will fully admit to the fact that there were times that I really felt that I was never going to go on with my life. Ding letters, failed interviews, and job listing after listing with "x years of experience required" saw to that. But then I decided once and for all to go back to school one more time, and things have started to pick up again. They have led to this moment, the moment that I finally take the next step in my life's journey.

I am looking forward to it. As I've said before, I don't regret the time I've spent here. I've been able to be closer to my grandparents in many ways, keep in touch with friends from Ozark and college, and even make a random road trip or two. But it is time for me to move on. I've had a long enough vacation.

This move will be a first for me in that it will be the first time I have moved someplace where I will be entirely by myself. For an introvert like myself, that is somewhat daunting. Nevertheless, I believe that I will be up to the challenge of meeting new people again. I know that there are people in Alabama who like me...hopefully, Florida people aren't too much different. :)

Anyway, I'll see all of you on the other side of the move, sometime next week, once I get stuff into place, groceries into the refrigerator, and the computer hooked up to the new sweet Ethernet goodness.

Sunday, June 9, 2002

what might have been

In response to Ginny's June 9th question, I definitely have. And I believe that things would be very different had I not gone to Alabama.

First, the decision I made to come to Alabama as an undergraduate had not only an effect on me, but I believe my sister as well. I could be wrong, but I believe that Brianna decided to attend Alabama in part because I had decided to go there. Among other life-changing events, she met her future husband there. Had I not gone, she might never have. Of course, that's all speculation.

It's possible that I wouldn't have become a Baptist if I had not gone to Alabama, simply because if I had never gone to Alabama, I would have never met the people who asked me one cold January night in a Baptist church that I was attending for the first time if I was interested in coming to the Baptist Campus Ministries. Based upon that, I might never have started attending Ozark Baptist Church back home.

I certainly wouldn't have met many of the friends that I came to know through the BCM, including, of course, my best friend. I wouldn't have had my heart broken in some relationships, because those relationships would never have existed. One would expect that to happen no matter what college I had attended. Specifics are the key here. The lessons learned are slightly different as a result of the situation that I was in.

As a graduate student going to Alabama, I had the pleasure of making more BCM and MBA-related friends and strengthening the bonds with those I already had for a couple more years. I met people that I looked up to while looking down at them. (Cryptic enough for you? It's really not, if you think about it.)

How would things be different if I had gone somewhere else? There's no good way to know, of course. I'd surely have a completely different set of friends, but I'd like to believe that I'd be as loyal to them as I believe that I am to the ones that I have now. I might be married right now, and working somewhere instead of preparing for one more round of grad school.

And on that line of thought, one could extrapolate this question easily. If I had made the choice to say, go to Texas A&M or Oklahoma instead of Florida, what would be different? There's no way to know, for I don't know yet what's going to happen to me in my four years in Gainesville. I certainly hope to make friends there. I may meet my future wife. I may decide that Gainesville's the best thing that ever happened to me, and stay down there. Everything I type is accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.

I will say this much: I believe that if God meets you where you are, that means that if you're willing, he can use you no matter where you've gone. I enjoyed my six years at Alabama. The memories aren't all good, but anyone saying otherwise about their experiences is either fooling or not challenging themselves.

I believe that I will do the best I can to do the same at Florida, and wherever I go afterward. And if I trust in God and follow Him, I believe that He will meet me where I am.

Monday, May 13, 2002

writing for...

Too many times in the life of this site, and more specifically in this blog, I have been reluctant to post something that has crossed my mind. I'm not too sure why; I want to say that there are multiple reasons for this. But I think that most of the time it's due to this feeling that I sometimes have: I have to write for the readers.

This, of course, makes absolutely no sense. It's my site, after all; I should be able to post anything I want to say (within the constraints of the law, of course) and not worry about what the 20 or so daily visitors have to think about it. After all, a blog can be thought of as nothing more than a stream-of-consciousness in Internet form.

So why am I averse to the idea of adding an entry along the lines of "Sometimes I crack myself up trying to do 'the robot' while listening to music" (true) or "yesterday I got a new golf club. It's a 60-degree lob wedge..." (also true)? Well, because frankly I'll wonder if you, gentle reader, will think I'm insane or extremely boring. Instead, I wait until I either have something "valuable" to say or some breaking news story in my life happens. Admittedly, neither is very common, and so the site undergoes a drought of sorts.

Of course, the ironic thing here is that the comments that this entry receives will probably tell me a lot about what people think about me and this site anyway...

Monday, April 22, 2002

fleeting

Today has been a long day. And it's not been a very good day.

This morning, I went to church and found that the brother of one of my friends had been killed in an automobile accident. I didn't find out anything more about it. I do know that he was younger than I am.

After I came home, I looked at a site featuring local news and learned that the grandmother of my childhood best friend had passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 84. She was something of a grandmother to me as well in my early years. She helped me a lot in my early walk with God. I'm glad that she got to be a great-grandmother, if only for a little while.

It's hard learning about something about the death of someone like that. Much less friends' relatives.

As a result, I'm staying down here for another day, and I'll head back to Birmingham on Tuesday. That's when I'll break my big news, too. There's really nothing preventing me from doing it right now, but I think that I'm going to hold off on it. My life is not the important one right now. A friend has lost a relative after she spent a long while here on Earth walking with the Lord. Another has lost one long before what we'd think was "his time". Both families are hurting. Prayers would be welcomed.

Life is fleeting. I'm excited about the prospects for my future, but I have to remember that my future isn't set in stone, and I don't know how long I have here. None of us know if we get our next breath. Let's be thankful for the time that we do have. Whatever time we have, it's short.

Monday, April 15, 2002

...here on German Mountain

As I type this, I am in the same spot where I practiced 3-point shots from the top of the key when I was young. My basketball court (who knows how many national championships were won on it) and goal were replaced with an outside office/storage area a few years ago.

The bedroom that I grew up in has long been changed. It was originally a porch before walls and a ceiling were added. It's now a walk-in closet of sorts. The bedroom that I used for most of my high-school years has been converted to have more of a guest-bedroom feel. The wall decorations that marked a boy's passage into manhood - pennants, news clippings of Alabama's '93 Sugar Bowl win, and other things that have long since escaped my mind - taken down, replaced with more formal decor.

The living room of my youth is now my parents' bedroom. The old patio that I played on when I was young - I still remember the how the cracks ran in the concrete - was replaced with the new living room, and later a deck was added outside of it.

All the pine trees that once stood so tall have been uprooted. Three of them once held two hammocks - one for me, one for my sister. The red top that grew near the old basketball goal is gone now as well. It was the only tree that my sister and I would climb, because it was the only one that had a branch within grasping reach.

This house and yard have undergone many changes during the time that I've lived here. But no matter what changes take place physically, it has never ceased to be my home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

From my corner of the world

"Yesterday was a different world, and I am mourning for it." -- August Wilson, September 11, 2001

This morning I peeked out the window. I wanted to make sure that the world was still there.

The scene looked just like it would any other late summer/early fall day. Going by vision alone, my little corner of the world had not changed. But everything had changed, and I knew it.

Until yesterday, there had never been an event to truly become this generation's defining moment. There had been moments when this nation had been moved, even called to action. But no one moment this side of Pearl Harbor had ever been the focal point of an event that would change the course of history forever until September 11, 2001.

Over the course of the past couple of days, a lot has been going through my mind. I think of the bravery of the individuals who are there right now, and of those who lost their lives in the initial search and rescue operations. I think about the people who were on those planes, who knew what was about to happen. I think about my friend who's on delta alert on a base in Louisiana right now. Yesterday was his second wedding anniversary.

I almost don't want to post anything about this, for fear that I may be trivializing the situation or all those involved. That is, those who are directly involved. Because we are all involved in this now. I don't claim to have all the answers. I won't even try to venture a guess as to all that will come from this. All I know is no one will ever be the same.

Pray for those who are searching. Those who are searching for more who are trapped. Those who are searching for those who committed these terrible acts. Those who are searching for courses of action. And those who are searching for reasons, and anything to hold on to in this time.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

When driving fails

I have not been sleeping well the past few nights. I was originally thinking that it had something to do with the fact that my grandparents keep the temperature hotter at night than I'm used to; I have a tendency to wake up at night if it's too hot. But I'm starting to think that it's got more to do with some oncoming stress.

I'm not used to not being in school at the start of a fall at all. I looked up Alabama's academic calendar and found that I would be starting classes tomorrow were I still there. I'm starting to wonder if I made the right decision to take a year or two away from school before I made the decision about a doctorate.

I'm definitely not used to not having something to do for an extended period at all. The last time that I can remember not having school or a job to think about was the summer before my junior year in high school. And even then I had football practice by this time.

Yesterday, I took an application to UAB for employment. The lady at the counter took my application and told me that they'd be in touch with me. Then I walked outside and got into my car. I wasn't ready to come back home yet. So I drove around Birmingham for a little while.

Driving has always been something of a relaxation mechanism for me. The thing is, what do I have to be relaxed from? If anything, I should be more relaxed now than I've been in eight years. I don't have one thing that I have to do tomorrow. But that's the problem.

This day, even driving failed me. I think that I would have enjoyed it more if I was looking around at neighboorhoods to live in or for new ways to get around town or something. This day, it seemed contrived, as if the only reason that I was doing it was to do something, anything. Which it basically was.

I turned left onto I-459 and headed for home.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Looking back...

Tonight is my last night in Tuscaloosa.

Have I really been here almost six years? That's a quarter of my life. It's amazing to me, really.

Tonight, I'm going to go out to my porch and sit in my chair and look out at the trees and the stars for awhile. Just like I did the first night that I moved into the apartment. Just like the night that I turned 22. Just like all those other times that I've done it. I don't know what I'll think about. Probably reflect on what has been and what's to come. Just like all the other times that I've done it.

Except it will be special, because it will be the final time.

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Old words

Six years ago, she meant a lot to me. I've never been in love, but at the time it was the closest that I'd ever been to being in love. We talked for hours on the phone about everything and nothing at all. I went over to her house often. We'd talk over there, sometimes walking hand in hand up and down the street that she lived on. I'd never experienced that before.

But I was just about to start my life at college, and I had to go. I told her that I'd write her when I got there so she'd have my address to write back. She promised that she would.

The first semester that I was at college was filled with letters. Even though I came home often, her words were always a source of comfort when I was here. And apparently mine to her were as well; she once mentioned falling off the couch laughing at my description of a bad day that I'd had. She'd had one the day she'd received that letter, but my words put it out of her mind, she wrote. I wonder what I wrote.

But of course time passes on, and distance is a hard thing to overcome. The feelings between us changed to that of good friends, and then to friends with time and distance between them.

Tonight while sorting through my life, I came upon all the letters that she wrote me. Old words that meant so much to me back then. And they still do today, because they give me hope that one day there will once again be someone out there that will think thoughts about me like those that she wrote six years ago.

Saturday, December 2, 2000

Christmas tree life

Ever noticed that you never see an ugly Christmas tree?

Doesn't happen, does it? Everywhere you look, whether the decorations are handmade or storebought, old or new, all one color scheme or a tremendous variety, it all looks right when it's on a Christmas tree.

Now, there are particular ornaments that come to mind (usually my handmade efforts as a child qualify here) that could be classified as "not-so-nice-looking". But even when you intersperse these among everything else, it all looks right.

I'm 23 years and change old now, and one of my favorite things to do still is look at a Christmas tree all lit up with all of the lamps and overhead lights turned off. There's something perfect about it, as if in that one moment everything is just right with the world.

I've sometimes wondered why that is. I guess that you could just call it part of the mystery of the season. But I prefer to think that we're more in the spirit to see the beauty in everything.

Translating that to the everyday, we need to see the "Christmas tree" in everything in our lives. It's hard to do on a day-by-day basis. I know. But you'll notice that there are people who can do it. You'll also note that they tend to be very happy and content with their lives. There's something to it.

I'm trying to live my life being content with it. I don't always succeed, but when I do, I find that I can find the "Christmas tree" in things.

Sunday, October 8, 2000

living for God, part 2

Passage: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

It's about this time in a semester (especially during the fall) that I start to get really down in energy. Tests, papers, and projects always wear down on me. I start really looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Why am I not more thankful for today? For the life I have now, and for the opportunities that are in front of me? If Jesus really did call us to have life and have it to the full, to what extent have I not taken him up on his offer?

Shows like The Real World give us a "peek into lives of other people." Which, the executive producers assume, we'd rather do than live our lives ourselves. How long did it take me to realize that we're letting other people live for us?

In Romans 12:11, Paul encourages Christians to not lose their zeal for serving God. And according to 1 Corinthians 10:31 (a verse I've quoted before) says whatever we do, to do it for God's glory. Therefore, doesn't it make sense to say that if we're not living for God, we're not experiencing life to the fullest?

In Life's Little Instruction Book, instruction #322 is "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same amount of hours in a day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." An addendum to that: "Don't waste the time you've been given." I'm as guilty as anyone else of letting other people live life for me. It's time for that to stop.

The cable is getting cut off tomorrow. But more than that...I'm going to try to stop living each day as if it's a chore and live them like they should be lived. As I said before, I'll live for God, and I'll go through life with joy in my heart.

Friday, October 6, 2000

23

Once again, today is my birthday.

23 years. You know, it doesn't seem like a very long time at all. And in another sense, it seems pretty long. I mean, I've only been working on this site now for somewhere around four years. I've been in college almost five and a half.

I'm usually pretty introspective on my birthday. I'm not sure why. It just always works that way. I guess part of me always is asking "what did I really do this year? What made this past year worthwhile? What did I learn?"

I mean, my sister and brother-in-law started a new life together, for the most part, anyway. Most of my college friends that I had when I was an undergrad have moved on and done the same. Moving on to new parts of your life seems to be the right thing to do as you grow older.

I haven't done that quite yet.

So as I type this, I'm thinking to myself, "What have I done?" But actually, this year, I think that I've accomplished a lot. I made it through the first year of the MBA program, which anyone will tell you is a feat in itself. I had a "real job" for the first time in my life this summer, and actually did all right at it. I didn't go under. I've lost 17 pounds and gotten in the best shape I've been in since high school.

I've also learned to be more open and outgoing around new people. (Thank you, MBA program.) I've learned to have some fun at my own expense and not take myself so seriously.

Maybe I've done more growing than I originally thought.

You don't usually grow very much physically after you're 21, so I doubt I'll ever be any taller. (I haven't grown much myself since I was about 15.) But I've got a lifetime to grow in other ways. Looking back, I think this year was a good growing experience, much like the other 22.

Many thanks to my family (love you mom and dad) and friends, without whom I wouldn't be who I am today. Many of you will never read this, more than likely. To those who do, thank you so much again.

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Parting Shots 2000

(or, some of what I learned this year)

Wow. Where do I begin? There were so many things that I could touch on. But I'm going to concentrate here on what the MBA program's first year gave me, because that was my life for the most part this year.

On one of my previous thoughts I talked about "touchpoints". I defined a touchpoint as anything, anywhere, or anyone that you can go to and feel at least somewhat comfortable around. This year one of the things that I learned was that the MBA program doesn't offer too many of these. It's not its fault; it's its nature to be difficult. Some of the people, however, became very good touchpoints. For possibly the first time, I've made really good friends in my classes. I think that that's because we all went through this together; we're the only ones who understand what we've managed to accomplish (well, the only ones at this university, anyway). And that's not just first-years (I don't know if you'll ever read this, but if you do, thank you so much for everything, Mandy).

I've been reminded once again that you really can't change your way of acting, even around new people. I'm still not that comfortable around large groups of people, and I don't know if that will ever change; much as I tried to be outgoing, I'm still not at the comfort level where I'd like to be. I've learned that not having that ability is kind of difficult in the business world. You need to be outgoing to really make it. Luckily, I've managed to learn how to pull off extroversion in two-hour or so spurts. It's still not easy, though.

I learned that business school isn't easy by any stretch. I've learned that Peter Robinson was absolutely right, and I recommended his book to practically every prospective student that I hosted this year. That is not to say that business school wasn't worth it. On the contrary, I think that it was, overwhelmingly so in fact.

And yes, I learned a lot about statistics, accounting, economics, organizational behavior, production and operations management, finance, management information systems, and yes, even marketing. And that's the truth. One of the big reasons that I came to this program was to get an understanding of the basics of business, and I think that I've done so.

What else has this program given me? For one, a new mindset towards solving problems. Before, problem solving meant having the problem and designing a solution to it, be it a computer program or a mathematical equation. Now, problem solving includes actually figuring out what the problem is. It's given me a whole new way of thinking about everyday things. I've had to learn a lot of teamwork concepts. Most of my projects in my undergraduate days were either solo or with like-minded individuals. Here, I've had to deal with people from vastly different backgrounds, and while I didn't normally take the lead on things, I did when I had to. I've learned even more about time management. I admit, I thought that they were feeding us buzzwords at the beginning of the year when they talked about it. But I've learned that sometimes it's impossible to get it all done the way you want it done, so you just need to do as good a job as you can on all of it, but make sure that it all gets done.

But what's perhaps the biggest thing that this program gave me this year was a sense of accomplishment. Not many people choose to go down this road, and not all of them make it. I started out with no business acumen, and I've come a long way since then. I feel that whatever decision I make concerning my career, I'll be better equipped to do it as a result of this year.

I haven't learned yet what I want to do with my life. Luckily, I've got another year to figure that out. :) I've got a few ideas running around my mind right now about what I want to do with my life that I would never have thought too much about before this year. We'll just have to see what the next year holds to see what I'll do with those ideas.

Friday, February 4, 2000

the ultimate Cinderella story

Yes, I know that by now we all know about how Kurt Warner and the Rams have gone from grocery store bag boys and NFL also-rans to MVPs and world champs. But think about a couple of things, if you will.

In ESPN the magazine's preseason NFL edition, according to analysis on every team's starters, the Rams were chosen dead last in the NFL. Dead last. Behind the Cleveland Browns.

Every starter had a one-line tag that summarized their worth to the team and a rating from 1 to 5. Kurt Warner rated a 1 (the only starting quarterback to get such a rating); his summary was "Okay Arena Football cred, so relax. Wait, yikes!"

Of course, we all know the rest of the story. They were wrong. Absolutely, positively, 100% dead wrong.

Now, I don't know about you, but this helps to restore my belief in the little guy coming out on top in the end with enough hard work. I mean, think about it. This guy worked at Hy-Vee last year. The Rams were 4-12. Things like that just aren't supposed to happen. And you can make your argument that they had a soft schedule. The truth of the matter is that when the playoffs were over, the only team in the playoffs who had not lost was the Rams. And the quarterback who'd rated a 1 by ESPN the magazine was the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl MVP. Too bad he didn't get to go to St. Louis to celebrate...he had a trip to Oahu coming up.

Wonder what he'll be rated next year.

Someone once said that you make your own luck. I tend to believe this theory, and I think that there is proof positive in this story. Yeah, the original starting quarterback had to be injured for Mr. Warner to get his break, and that's luck (in a way...I'm sure that Warner never wished injury on him), but he still had to make something of his chance. And he did.

The whole thing makes me feel, if not more confident, at least more hopeful that when I eventually face the real world, that I can come out on top too. I may not be a Super Bowl champion, but I can achieve my goals in life.

Wednesday, October 6, 1999

wish you were here

Today is my birthday. It really didn't feel different from any other day. But at the end of it, (that is, right now), I decided to take a look at my life and where it is. That got me thinking about people who've been involved in my life.

One thing that I realized was that this is the first birthday I've ever celebrated without my sister there. Of course, she's married and living some 12 hours away from me now. It's one of those things, I guess...she was up here with me for four years and seventeen or so before that, and now is when I finally realize all that she meant to me. I won't go into specifics, because that would take a while. Suffice to say that I miss her...

I looked back at this past month, in which I participated in the wedding of my childhood best friend (who married another good friend of mine, incidentally). I watched as they moved on into new parts of their lives.

And I knew that I wasn't as big a part of them as I used to be, nor would I ever be again.

That scares me somewhat.

But I know a couple of things from my time here at Alabama, both in undergrad and now...there's no way that everyone you know can stay in your life in the same capacity for all time. For that matter, no one really can. People change as time goes by...we all know that. I think that I was most amazed at that at my friends' wedding. I talked to people that night that I hadn't seen in five years or so. One of them had a baby and one on the way since I'd last seen him...another had been married and had a baby on the way. These were people that I grew up with...and now I'm more a memory than any integral part of their lives.

But another thing is that I don't forget them, and they don't forget me. I trade e-mails and phone calls with my friends, and I'm sure that one day it'll go to the point of trading Christmas cards and the occasional visit. We may be far apart, but one day we'll be back together again. At least that's my way of looking at it.

So I look out of my little corner of the world at the small mass of trees hiding the convenience stores from my view, and I reflect. I know that you're all out there...as I think about all of this, I wish that I could go into a place, just for one more night, where I wouldn't have to worry about all of this grown-up stuff. And all of you would be here with me. And I'd tell each of you what you meant to me.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

touchpoints

I am now an official MBA student. I've heard the magic word at least fifty times today. Growing up, you might have heard that the magic word was "please." But come real close to the screen...I'll whisper the real magic word to you.

Networking.

I've learned of the magic of networking today, amidst other things. Time management. Setting goals and keeping priorities. Being involved. I've been doing it since eight this morning. I'm tired.

I suppose that I'm tired somewhat because we were going all around today, trying to tie up loose ends and going to meetings. But I think that more of my tiredness can be attributed to the fact that I've networked all day today for the first time in a long time.

You see, I'm basically an introvert in nature. I generally will be quiet for the most part, even in "orientation" settings, maybe offering a comment here or there in the conversation so that people don't shovel dirt on me and put a piece of granite near my head. But I realized that today would be an important day for me. Today would be the day that I would make a first impression, with not one but over 60 other people, with whom I would be sharing the MBA experience of the next two years. The whole thought of it was about as overwhelming to me as the whole idea of MBA school altogether.

And so I tried to be an outgoing version of myself. And I did okay, I guess. But it was exhausting. It'll take a lot out of someone who's not very adept at doing stuff like that. And that's one of the first things that I've learned as an MBA student...

Networking = Tylenol at the end of the day.

Now, obviously, I don't think of this whole thing as just a headache. It was time well spent; I've now met at least 2/3 of my class in some capacity or another. The experience has given me something very valuable...what I like to call a "touchpoint".

Touchpoints don't have to be people. They can be anything, anywhere, or anyone that you can go to and feel at least somewhat comfortable around. For example, I went to visit a relative this past weekend. She lives in a place that I had never been to. But knowing that she was there beforehand and the weekend that I had while there helped establish a new touchpoint.

Computers are touchpoints to me. I feel comfortable sitting down at one and doing things like writing about the day off the top of my head, which is something that I don't even do with a lot of people. (I've decided to keep a journal of my MBA experience, a la a good book that I just finished tonight, Snapshots From Hell: The Making of an MBA, which should be required reading for anyone considering this track (and no, I am not getting compensation for this :) )).

People, obviously, are touchpoints as well, and there are countless other things that I consider touchpoints in my life. But for every touchpoint that I have, there are things that I am not very comfortable about. This whole networking thing is still one of them. I still am not enthusiastic about the idea of mingling with 50 or more people that I've never met before and knowing something about them when the day is done. It's fun, in a way...but it's also scary for me. But at least, for now, I've talked to most of my classmates and learned something about them. While I still don't know a lot about them, I know that I will eventually know a good deal about some of them, and I also know that I never know everything about any touchpoint that I have. That's one of the good things about person "touchpoints", also known as friendships in the non-Brandon world...

You don't know everything about each other, but you know a lot about each other, and yet you like each other enough to hang around together anyway. :)