19 02 2013

Views from the Jones Valley

Jones Valley Poetry Company

You are an adoptive parent, a foster home, for many. An alcoholic guardian of sorts with pain, problems, crippling afflictions, but with more beautiful wisdom than Your children will maybe ever know.

You are empty buildings and crumbling shells of your former self,

but You are progress.

When Sloss died, You almost did too. Part of You did. When racism ripped out Your guts, well, it’s been a tough 50 years, I know.

but You are progress.

Maybe You are tough luck, corruption, crime, poverty, and dirty streets, and problems, always problems,

but You are good people, real people, charitable and generous people. You are interested in art again, and music, and love. You are some of the best restaurants and venues the country has to offer. You are small revivals, pockets of vibrance and beauty and life.

You are growing-pained proof that something dead can begin to live again…

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I am not a Web Master

16 02 2013

I am not a web master. I don’t code. I don’t game and I have to use google to fix most of my computer problems. (which means I need at least one functioning computer or device. But I bet you already knew that.)

I am however a writer and I can run a blog. At least I hope I can. If you’re reading this than I probably can. Otherwise I’m just talking to myself, which is ok too.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. The answer is plain and simple, in the life and times of me, when asked to copy write for someone’s website I said no problem. That’s totally my groove.
Then they asked if I could maintain the website. Slightly more involved but ok I figured it out.
Wrench was thrown in the system when the asked me to attach a logo to the page.
First I was like *eye twitch*
Then I was all “surely he must be joking”

He wasn’t joking.

I am not one much for numbers. I can do geometry and physics. But don’t ask me to preform abstract algebra, calculus or any form of advanced trig. I only choose to accept dealing with numbers in applied science. And I’ll preform the 4 basic math functions all day long. But if you start telling me about words made from numbers, chances are I’ll start tuning you out and wondering why your teeth are crooked, or noticing that your eyebrow color does not match that of your hair color.

So no, I cannot just magically lick and stick a logo into a website header. Not unless there is clear edit and insert here button. I took one required computer class in college. All we did was copy and paste and cut and paste and beat the same dead horse every computer class since 2nd grade had taught us to do. I think I slept through most of those classes that semester.

I have this theory. All the nerds in all the world got together and decided to make things overly complicated when it comes to communication with computers. If I wan my background to be red. By golly why can’t I just code the word red instead of assigning it it’s own phone number. They did this to stay in business. Job security.

Heartless ninny muggins!

By now you might be getting the impression that I’m a little peeved. You might be right. I’m standing in silent condemnation of HTML. Even though it is presently letting me reach out to you dear reader. That is what is called irony.

Ok well I’m going to cash in on some sleep for the night. Good afternoon to my readers in France.



12 02 2013

Community… not to be confused with the awesome TV show by the same name, is defined by Merriam-Webster as:  “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” One of my favorite poets, John Donne, has a few words to say on the subject. You’ve probably heard it before but read it again.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

One of my favorite Biblical passages can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 whhiiiich states:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

No one should live their lives on their own. Sure it can be done. And solitude is a blessed thing to escape to every now and then. BUT it’s not healthy as a permanent situation.

One person has the power to change the world. But TWO people, two people don’t double those odds, they more than double them. Basically the influence of  1+1=10.

One can create a community. You’re probably a part of several without fully realizing it. Your family, co-workers, church group, bingo partners, college classroom,  knitting club, gamer enclave …etc. You have influence in these circles. But just as importantly, they have a strong influence on you. I have several jobs and full time school. I’ve been in a lot of social situations. However these communities were not life giving. This kinda left me out on a limb. Working and going to school and working and going to school with some power naps in-between. I was around people all day long but the social interaction was very draining. Creative juices ebbed. Something had to change.

So I seized what bare-bones spare time I have to involve myself with others in what I consider two very important areas of my life. 1. My faith. 2. writing.

I’ve joined a new Bible study. It’s awesome! I only knew one person in the group to begin with but it’s a fantastic group of ladies, we’ve all connected and I’m loving it. We are studying the book of Daniel, which to be honest has a lot more to it than I’ve picked up on in my previous readings. Reckon that’s why they call it a Bible study. Anyway we’re using Beth Moore’s Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophesy. It’s all about being culturally relevant without becoming spiritually irrelevant. And it has been such a blessing.

The second community is my poetry group. And as I promised to you in a previous post here I am telling you more  about it, or rather us. I recall telling you that we now call ourselves the Jones Valley Poetry Company. I even set us up a cool new blog site which I will now shamelessly promote. Check us out at jvpcompany.wordpress.com. Boom. Now that’s where it’s at. We started out just attending poetry class together studying under the incredible teacher I’ve mentioned before, Adam Vines. But then we started hanging out together. And poetry infused all of our meetings. Things just kinda went from there. We’re a fairly diverse group, however, our love of poetry and the city of Birmingham (which resides in Jones Valley) binds us together. We’re working towards cultivating love for these two topics within the Magic City (which has so much potential yet is widely misunderstood. Birmingham is trying to change it’s stereotype. A lot of times it gets a bad report. Don’t get me wrong it does reside within the top ten most violent cities within the US. And it by no means is the most gorgeous city out there. It has more the rustic or rather rusty charm about it. But against all odds, it’s trying. And we’re gonna help as much as we can.)

Communities, when faced with a common challenge/goal, get things done. When there are people there to support and encourage you, laugh when you laugh and cry with you when the world busts you in the face… it’s this human interaction that builds a home, a nation a world.

My communities are important to me. Be it my family, best friend, close friends, church family, writing group… they all have influence over who I am and how I’m interacting with the world. And Lord willing we’ll produce fruits that will touch and influence the lives of others.

That’s all for today,


Busy, busy, busy…

9 02 2013

Well now. I know I haven’t posted in awhile. Been super busy and kinda sick and just plain dried on up creative juices. The good news is I feel a little more caught up on my work, I feel better and I’m dedicated to making this weekend filled with lotsa creativeness. I come to you with a question though. Comment with your answer. What would you do in your town if you had 48 hours to yourself (you don’t have school work, or work work and are well rested), the wrench in the system is that you have to have fun without spending money (but you do have gas in your car). So what would you do? Would you sit at home and have a productive vegging session with netflix? Or would you get out of the house and explore? What areas of interest reside around you?

On the Fear and Fascination of Flight

1 02 2013

I don’t like airplanes, never have.

Well, ok I do have some fascination with them. My daddy is a private pilot. His daddy was a civilian pilot and I… I know enough about planes to get me back on the ground safely if my pilot (and co-pilot when applicable) were to suddenly find them selves passed out, heart-attacked or otherwise incapacitated (which just might mean I have a bigger problem on my hands.)

I do not all together hate the experience of flight. My family has actually collectively owned a little two-seater Cessna for well over two decades. It is in this plane that my daddy learned to fly. It is in this plane that my grandfather use to take me flying. It is in this plane that my daddy scared the crap out of me, on purpose.

I am afraid of heights. Actually, if you want to get technical, I’m not afraid of heights, nor falling from them. It is only of the guaranteed impact I’ll experience falling from said height of which I am a little trepidatious . I’ve heard it said before that short people like to stick close to what they know: the ground. And measuring in at a giant 5’2” (when I stretch,) I couldn’t agree more.

Due to the aforementioned you can imagine how much I was not amused when my dad decided he would try and freak my out by intentionally stalling our single prop airplane somewhere over Talledega county. I could have died and though I was going to. He didn’t tell me what he was doing. He just did it. Next think I know the motor is dead and the propeller is slowing to a halt right in front of my eyes. In movies when this happens the plane immediately drops out of the air and spirals into an atomic fireball on the ground. I learned a lot about lift and thrust that day.

Though I have flown in smaller aircraft countless times, I have only flown two commercial flights in my life. The first I was too young to remember but my momma assures me it happened. The second was my flight (round trip of course) to Italy. The sensation of flying is not particularly appealing to me. I do not like the floating weightless feeling that bottoms out in my stomach. I am also prone to pretty bad motion-sickness. However, I will never forget having breakfast with a first class view of the Alps.

Italy 2 027

Beautiful huh?

This whole post came about because my best friend was flying back to Hawaii after a visit to the states. Just like how my family has tracked my dad’s flights online I decided to watch her second leg from Texas to Honolulu. As the landscape of America crossed under her glowing green plane icon I tried to imagine what the view might look like. I of course have never flown over the western United States. Shoot I’ve never been more than 15 miles west of the Mississippi River so my entire imagined “flight was nothing but conjecture I’ve pieced together from postcards and video documentaries. I have a good imagination though so as the green splotch plodded on-wards it cheered my Saturday stuck on the fitness ball.

After much consideration I’ve come to realize that I don’t exactly hate flying. Recently Daddy and I took to the skies again in the Cessna. My stomach hardly flipped, I enjoyed the view (and reminiscing about my grandfather,) Daddy didn’t try and freak me out and even if he had I would have had my wits about me enough to realize he would never do anything to cause us danger. This should have occurred to my younger self but I’ve not been known as the most trusting sort so and have freaked on more than one occasion (which is why I didn’t learn how to swim till I was 12, another post another day…) Anyway here’s one of me and Dad cruisin’ around


A recent photo of Daddy and I flyin’ in the Cessna

That day I watched my fears turn to fascination. For the first time in my life I was able to experience a high altitude without being overwhelmed with the fear of falling. Irrationality and what-ifs took a back seat and I was able to enjoy the moment. I was able to have a great time with my Dad while doing something he loves,  it was pretty awesome.

I see a lot of travel in my future. Some of it might involve cars, trains, buses, motorcycles, horses or other  ground (or sea) worthy means of transport. But I see a decent amount of flight involved as well. ( I like to think this also involves a hot air balloon at some point in time.) I’ll still have to work around the whole motion sickness business. But where as before the thought of sky travel would have triggered anxious thoughts, now I just have two words to say…

Bring it.


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