Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chains: Shackled (beginning)

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.
-Jean Jacques Rousseau

I find it interesting how things in this life are woven together - like a giant tapestry. If we start to pull on a thread in one part of our lives, things start to unravel in another part. I came to a realization yesterday while driving home from a trip to Michigan, that the stress I have in one part of life is caused by the attitude I have in other parts of my life. All of my stress and anxiety is tied to the fact that I "need" to complain about and dwell on things I hate, things that bother me, things that annoy me. I'm overly sensitive. In my life, I spend too much time reacting to what happens to me. If someone makes me angry, I spend too much time thinking about it. If someone hurts me, I spend too much time dwelling on it. If something bad happens to me, I spend too much time complaining about it. And it's that very part of my personality that causes me stress when I worry about things that may or may not happen. That same part of my brain dwells on the details and the bad things that are happening to me.

When I'm complaining, I'm dwelling on the bad stuff that has happened to me in the past. When I'm stressed or anxious, I'm dwelling on the bad stuff that might happen to me in the future. If I wasn't sensitive to all the stuff that bothers me, I wouldn't be sensitive to the stuff that causes me stress.

It's all linked. So, in effect, all of these personality traits - my "enjoyment" of going off on things that bother me, my "need" to complain about how people have slighted me or hurt me, my "obsession" with how other people do things wrong - these, in a sense, cause the stress I have in other parts of my life. I make myself a slave to all my fears by dwelling on the things that make me angry.

So in trying to figure out how to be less anxious and less stressed, I realized that I need to be less complaining and less angry. I'm the only who has control over how stressed I am. If I want to be less anxious about life, I need to do something about it. I've always like this painting (based on a Mr. Boffo comic strip) that illustrates this pretty well.

"Handcuffed to the bars of a cardboard prison, he waits out his time like the fool he is."

This has always been real powerful to me because it illustrates how close we truly are to freedom - we just usually don't do anything about it.

I guess if I want to change some things about myself, I have to change some things about myself. I better dust off that bracelet that reminds me to stop complaining.

Our bad habits and bad traits chain us down - we all create our own prisons. What God has attempted to do is set us free from these things. If you look at our lives and all the things that Jesus said, all the things that Paul and the other apostles wrote about to the early Christians - these weren't rules...they're good things that help us live better lives. I've got some more to say about that, but that, but I'll save it for tomorrow, for the conclusion of this discussion. My brain is already starting to hurt.

More Customer Service Tales

We're in the AT&T store in front of the mall in Florence, and we've walked around for several minutes without anyone asking if we need help. But every time a young attractive girl with large breasts walks in she gets instant attention. Another arrow in the heart of customer service. If you need anything here, be sure to ask for Drew.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is this a joke?

I'm sorry - when I first saw the trailer for Beverly Hill Chihuahua, I thought it was a fake movie. Like something you might see on Saturday Night Live.  Nope.  It's real. 

If we're going to boycott movies, these are the kinds of movies we should boycott.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grandma Manchester

It's the odd little things you remember. You know how Grandma's house always has that certain smell? Well, the smell in Grandma Manchester's house was mostly coffee.  It was other things, too, that I can't place, but it had this coffee smell infused in the walls. I remember going to her house as a kid.  I didn't grow up on sweet cereal - we were a Cheerios and Cornflakes kind of house.  But Grandma always had good cereal.  Fruity Pebbles sticks out in my mind. And she always used to send away for stuff for me from the back of cereal boxes. I remember this one bank in the shape of a robot - when you put change in, depending on whether it was a penny, nickel, quarter, or dime, it would slide into one of its arms or legs.

When I stayed with her, I remember sitting on this massive cushioned swing she had out on the enclosed porch. And I think I remember playing Old Maid.

She had an immaculate lawn.

She liked the movie The Jerk - she thought the way Steve Martin danced was funny. I think she would catch it late at night, edited for TV.

At Christmas she'd do her trailer (she lived in a mobile home as long as I could remember) up like Bronner's - this massive Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. And she'd always buy the grandkids the same things. If one of the boys got sweatshirts, we all got sweatshirts.  And I think she was always an optimist. Even as I was growing out of XLs, she'd continue to buy me Mediums. Christmas afternoon with the Manchesters was always followed by a quick trip to KMart to exchange the stuff that was too small.

When I went to college she always sent me care packages.

She was very crafty.  She was always crocheting some new odd thing, or making needlepoint tissue boxes, or something.

I Love Lucy came on the TV yesterday.  People always said she had a lot of the same facial expressions as Lucy.  We watched it for a while. She did.

She was Grandma Manchester to me; Nor Nor to my kids; Ma to my Dad; and Eleanor to everyone else, as far as I could tell.

She was always going, though she'd had to slow down the last couple years. She turned 83 this year.  I didn't spend as much time these last few years as I think I should have. She left Thursday morning to be with God.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


It's been a long freakin' week.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Ah, the American Dream"

(I have to attribute that quote to Krista.)

Friday, July 04, 2008


We just got Oxygen on cable - isn't that the channel that's advertised as being for women? Anyway, Krista's been recording this show called Snapped.

I'm wondering...is there anything I should be worried about?

Lars and the Real Girl

I've become a firm believer in the idea that the less you know about a movie before you see it, the better.  We went and saw Hancock this week, and I'm glad we saw it on sneak preview night, before the word got out that Will Smith is actually one of the aliens he fought in Men in Black. (oops!)  Just kidding.  Seriously, movies like this are only better the less you know going in.  Unfortunately, studio execs think that they can only get people into the movies if they give away most of the plot, except maybe once in a while the surprise ending. And unfortunately, that may be true to a great extent. I realize that the less you know about a movie, the more likely you are to walk into a real stinker, but I think it's worth the gamble. Because then it makes a great movie so much more wonderful. Especially if the things you wouldn't have known about from watching the trailer make it so much more enjoyable.

Lars and the Real Girl is a lot like that.  We pulled up Comcast's On Demand to watch a movie and we had a choice between this and Be Kind Rewind.  I'm sure that's funny, but Lars and the Real Girl was worth jumping into without knowing anything about it. It's enough to say that it's a great film.  It's a movie about people.  A movie that makes you think.  But not too much - it makes you laugh, too.  If you get a chance to see it, see it.  It doesn't have any action.  And the humor is subtle...not the getting-kicked-in-the-crotch kind.  But the humor is so much more beautiful and funny if you don't really know anything about it going in.  It's about a social introvert (Ryan Gosling) dealing with being socially introverted.  His sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) does what she can to draw him out of his shell, but nothing seems to work.  Until...

But that would be giving the movie away.  See it.  Before you see the trailer.  Before you look at the website. Before you know anything more about it.  That's how we saw it, and it made it so much better.