Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 27, 2006

Life is kind of funny. Sometimes it can be "Ha Ha" funny. Sometimes it can be "peculiar" funny. Sometimes it can be "strange" funny. But no matter, it rarely ends up the way you want or expect.

I went to work early, again, on Monday, February 27, ready to get a head start on what was to be a very busy week. Around 6 or 6:30 a.m., I was barely even settled, I got a call on my cell phone. I saw that it was Mom. It was a bit strange for her to be calling me so early, but I had no bad thoughts. I mean, they never occurred to me. But I answered the phone, heard Mom crying and then heard the words I had feared for so long... "Dad died."

At this point, two years later, I don't really remember what my first thoughts were. I'm sure that evening if you had asked me what my thoughts had been when she said that I wouldn't have been able to answer you. All I know is that it seemed the tears couldn't come fast enough.

I think she might have tried to tell me how things progressed to that point, or maybe I heard all of that later, but we did talk for a few minutes. Of course I told her I would be home as soon as I could, I asked her if she had talked to my sister (I don't remember what she told me, but probably instinctively knew she and her family would be close behind me).

The first call I made was to my great friend Amy. She lives in North Carolina. I've known her since 1988. She is my best friend and then was only second to my Dad. So, naturally, she was the first to know. And in true best friend fashion fell over herself apologizing for not being able to be there for me. But, of course, I understand. I don't ever expect people to go out of their way for me. I never feel like I deserve it.

The next two calls were to a couple of people I was working with at the time, who were friends then. I called my boss after that. I don't remember when I called my next best friend Donna. I'd like to believe I called her then, but I don't know. If I didn't, I certainly should have.

I didn't take much time to organize my stuff at work before going back to my apartment. By the time I was there, the first round of tears were through. I began packing. Then I thought of something else. I called my friend Patrick, who lived a floor below me in my building. I was glad I caught him before he left for work. I gave him a key to my apartment and asked him if he would mind looking after the place while I was gone, which I didn't know how long would be. In true friend fashion, he did. I've forgotten what all was said, but I have no doubt our friendship was strengthened that day. At least in my eyes it did.

Finally I was off.

I had to drive 200 miles. The worst trip I've ever taken. And weird. For miles I'd be crying, for miles I wouldn't. And no matter, I kept thinking about the things I should have or should not have done. Should I have gone home that weekend? Should I have stayed another week? Should I have not fussed at him a little that day I was grumpy, fussed at him for no reason? Should I have done something to have prevented this from happening?

Who knows? I mean, it didn't matter because none of that would have changed the fact that he was gone. And I still have those thoughts. I feel stupid when I do, but I do. It certainly won't change it now.

Finally, I got home. A close friend of my Mom's was there and most of my Dad's brothers and sisters were there, some of whom were cleaning the house. I didn't understand that because they should be mourning, too, and who gives a shit if the house is clean. But when my Mom saw me we grabbed each other and the tears flowed again. After what seemed like hours, we let each other go and said things I don't remember. Family members were trying to make small talk. It's just one of those awful times when there is absolutely nothing to say, yet most people feel the need to say something. I can't fault them for that, I've been the same way before. Most of the time it's just enough for them to be there. It's the comfort of knowing you aren't alone.

Eventually, my sister, her husband and my nephew showed up. And there it was again. The tears.

The rest of that day is a blur. I don't remember when most of the family left. I don't remember what all we talked about. I don't remember what all I said or what was said to me. I don't even remember if I ate anything.

What I do remember is that after nearly 35 years of life I couldn't think of anything worse happening.

And at some point, I cried myself to sleep.

Monday, February 25, 2008

February 25, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006, was, to the best of my recollection, a regular day. I slept in. Once up, I don't really remember doing much. I think I went to the grocery because I definitely remember cooking that afternoon.

I had started Weight Watchers on January 3, and was actually still struggling with it at this time, even two months in. Anyway, I was trying a recipe someone had told me about. By the time I had it in the oven a former friend of mine (current then, but former now) called and asked if I wanted to join some others that evening. I said sure, I could save the meal I was making. Frankly, I'm not opposed to left-overs, especially if it's something good.

So, I ended up doing something (what, I don't remember) that afternoon, and headed out later.

Once there, it was around 6 p.m. or so. It had to be at least that late because I do remember it was dark. Before I went in, I decided to call Dad since I wasn't sure how late I would be out.

I think we actually talked for a long time, longer than we had any night since I had come back to Lexington after his surgery. We didn't talk about anything in particular, we just chatted. I loved having those kinds of conversations with him. Inevitably we would get to laughing over something silly. One thing that really got him going was the TV commercial for the movie "The Shaggy Dog." It was on while we were talking and he got to laughing at it. He told me there was no way he would be able to see it because he'd pop his incision open from laughing so hard. It was funny to me because he'd laugh, and then in between breaths he'd go, "Oh, Oh" like he was in pain and then he'd get to laughing again. My Dad had a great laugh.

Ultimately we ended the call. I told him I was sorry that I didn't come in that weekend, but that I would see him the next weekend. He said that was okay and that he looked forward to it.

I told him that I loved him. He said, "I love you, too."

I hung up and went on with my night.

It was the last time I spoke to him.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

February 23-24, 2006

That Thursday, Feb. 23, Dad still didn't get to go home, but when I talked to him he said he was still feeling really well and was really looking forward to going home.

On the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 24, I was working and my cell phone rang. I typically don't answer it while at work, but noticed it was home, so I answered expecting Mom. After I said, "Hello," I heard my Dad say, "WWWWWWAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUPPPPPPPPP!!!" You know, like those guys did in those old Bud commercials?

It was obvious that Dad was feeling really well that day. And he told me that he was home.

That was a great feeling. He was home finally, he was feeling well, and he was in great spirits.

We talked for a little while longer and then I got back to work. I actually considered just driving home that day after work instead of waiting a week, but I stuck with the original plan. I called Dad again that night and I slept well.

There was, however, one thing bothering me. I was scheduled to go in a few weeks to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for work. When I got back to work after Dad's surgery, I told my boss that I needed someone else to go for me, because I didn't want to be that far away from Dad until I knew his recovery was complete. That was just going to be too soon after for me. I had been in that position before. When I was working with UK Athletics I was in Texas with the women's gymnastics team. During the trip, Dad had emergency gallbladder surgery. It was a tough time because I wasn't able to get back quickly. Luckily, he was fine. However, I didn't want that to happen again. But my boss said there was no one else to go, and that I had to.

But at the time, Dad was good, so life was good.

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 22, 2006

Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 20-21) weren't great days. By that I mean I was at work but all I could think about was Dad. Everyone there kept coming up to me asking me how he was doing. Which was nice, but didn't help with the trying not to think about it.

But I did my work as best I could and kept living on. You have to.

Again, Wednesday, Feb. 22, was the same. I got through the day and went home. I was hoping with all hope that Dad would be home this day. There were some thoughts by his doctor that he might be able to go home by then, but unfortunately, they wanted to keep him around a few more days.

The worst part of that day was that it was Dad's birthday and he had to spend it in the hospital. However, when I spoke to him, which I had done everyday since I left, he sounded good, he was laughing, he said things were going well and that he felt better every day.

This made me feel good. But what I decided around this time, since he wasn't going to get to go home now until probably Friday, Feb. 24, was that I wouldn't drive in that weekend. I decided it would be best to just let Mom get him home and settled and then the next weekend I could come in and hang out with him.

That was his last birthday.

He was 59.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 18-19, 2006

This day was a good one. Saturday. Dad was a lot better and eventually got into a private room. I even remember him walking that day. Crazy, right? I mean barely two days later? And he was handling it well.

That evening when he was taking his first walk, Mom and I went down to the gift shop again. The shop had these small dog replicas. I mean like fit in the palm of your hand small. They weren't exactly bobbleheads, but the heads of them did flop up and down. Anyway, they had one of a Golden Retriever puppy that looked exactly like Sammy. So, Mom bought it for him.

When we got back upstairs to Dad's room he was just getting back from the walk and was worn out. Frankly, I don't see how he did it, but he did. He was strong that way.

The nurses and therapist got him back into his bed and once he got settles Mom told him that she had something for him. She pulled it out of the bag, and like a child on Christmas morning, my Dad's eyes lit up and he said, "Sammy!!" You know, it's little things like that you never think about much until they are gone.

He ended up having a few visitors that day and finally, in his usual fashion, he told me and Mom to go home, that there was no sense in us sitting there until late. So we headed out around 9 or so.

The next day, Sunday, he had another great day. He was recovering nicely, although he still had his chest tube in, but I believe by this point his IV was removed. The chest tube was the last connection to the surgery he had.

He was in good spirits. I had driven myself to the hospital this day because I was planning to go back to Lexington so I could get back to work on Monday. Mom and I went out at one point, grabbed a bite and went to Barnes and Noble, where she got a coffee and we talked about his recovery and how it would be at home.

Mom was still working at the time and once he got home she knew that she wouldn't be able to devote the time necessary to take care of him during the day. Luckily, they would probably have some home health come in during the days to check on him. This is where I should have stepped up and offered to stay a little longer. But for some reason I felt obligated to Host Communications. A company that certainly ended up letting me down.

Anyway, we got back to the hospital. I visited with Dad some more. Around 4 o'clock he was dozing off and I knew he was ready to take a nap and I wanted to get back to Lexington before it got too late. So before he went to sleep I let him know I was going. I hugged and kissed him as usual, told him I loved him and that I would see him again soon. He said the same. I grabbed my bag and Mom walked me out. I don't remember what we said to one another but I know I hated leaving. It hurt. At the time I didn't know why. I think now that it was because I was still scared.

I put my bag in the car and drove away.

I never saw Dad alive again.

My Short Film

This post is going to seem a little bit out of place in the midst of some other pretty heavy posts, but I finally got a digital copy of the short film I wrote and directed, "The Obituaries." This film was produced while in the Filmmaking Certificate Program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in the Fall of 2007. It is obviously a student film. But while there are things that I would have liked to have done differently, I'm still very proud of it.

Anyway, have a look and then hit me with some feedback. I'm trying to get better, so critical feedback is always good. By the way, I'd say it's a weak PG-13.

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 17, 2006

I must say I did sleep a little easier that night. Of course, Dad wasn't out of danger yet, but he had survived the surgery, so that had to be a good thing. However, he wasn't off the ventilator yet, so we didn't rush back in that morning. Besides, we had decided that it wasn't fair to Sammy to leave him at the house all day while we are at the hospital, and being so young and not house-broken yet, we couldn't impose on anyone to take him. So, we decided that it would be best to kennel him until Dad could get back home and felt like taking care of him again. And this way, he could run and play with other puppies. So, that morning we took him to his vet's hospital, where they also had a kennel. This was a good situation because he still needed a couple of shots and they could give them to him while he was there.

After dropping Sammy off, we headed to the hospital. When we got there, we plopped down in a corner and awaited the first visiting hour. Again, I had taken my computer so I had plenty to do.

At one point, an older gentleman walked up to us and introduced himself as a representative of the Mended Hearts Chapter 107. This is a group of folks who have gone through open-heart surgery. He talked to us about groups that we could join that would help us get through the recovery and maintain Dad's health. He also gave us a pillow to give to Dad.


This was for Dad to use when he coughed or moved or laughed, etc. He was to hold it against his incision to help prevent it from opening and ease the pain a little.

A cousin of mine, who was doing some student social work at the hospital stopped by to see how Dad was. We were talking and I told her about Sammy, and we got to talking about how great Sammy would be for Dad's recovery once he got home and settled.

Finally, the ventilator was removed and when we went in to see Dad, it was awful. He had absolutely no color. He was inclined as far up in a sitting position as the bed would allow. He was breathing hard but sounded as if he couldn't catch his breath. Of course, breathing hurt too much. He couldn't have anything to drink so Mom had to keep wetting this small swab for him to suck on. I had seen Dad in a bad way a lot in my life, but never had I seen him suffering as much as he was then. Of course, I knew what had caused it, but it didn't make it any easier to see him that way.

We didn't stay in the room long, and by the end of the day, I was ready to head home. I didn't want to leave him, but I just couldn't see him that way anymore.

I hoped the next day would be a lot better.

Monday, February 18, 2008

February 16, 2006

The day of my Dad's heart surgery came around really quickly. Of course, we had to be there at 5:30 a.m., so we had to get up much earlier to make it to the hospital by then.

By the time I was up, showered, dressed and had taken care of Sammy, I was already beat. And scared to death.

My Dad had been through so many surgeries in his life, with each new one he, himself, was concerned his body couldn't take another. And it wasn't difficult for me to think that surgery on his most vital organ could be the last straw. But I tried to stay positive if for no other reason than my Mom.

After we got there, a nurse escorted us -- me, my Mom, my grandpa (paternal) and three of my Dad's sisters -- into the Cardiac ICU to be with Dad prior to them taking him back.

When we got there, there were hugs all around. Dad was telling us about getting prepared for surgery. Even at times like this, he was full of good humor. "They shaved me from the tip of my chin to the crack of ass!" He had us all in stitches (pardon the pun).

Soon after, the pastor from our church in Henderson arrived. I don't attend church regularly. I was raised in the church, however, and have a strong faith. And while I don't pray everyday, these types of moments always help. So, Brother Todd said a prayer, we all said, "Amen," and continued our conversations until the nurse came to let us know how things would happen from that point on.

And then they were ready. We stepped outside the room as they wheeled Dad toward the hallway. When we got there, the orderlies stopped to give us another opportunity to say what we needed to say. I let my grandpa and aunts go first. Actually, I think one of my Dad's brothers had arrived by this time, as well. Then I stepped up. As I've said before, my Dad had become my best friend over the previous few years. As I've said before, losing my Dad was my greatest fear in life at that time. Of course, I think everyone was crying at this point, even Dad. I leaned over hugged him and gave him a kiss on the check. I told him I loved him. After Mom had her say, the orderlies wheeled him away.

That was when the worrying began in earnest.

The doctors and nurses try to give you an idea of how long a surgery will take, but they are never right. Sometimes it ends sooner, sometimes it takes longer. Regardless, when you are waiting and don't know what's going on, the time drags by.

My family and I secured a corner of the waiting room. I had brought along my laptop. Thankfully, the hospital has wireless Internet so I was able to check/write e-mails and just play around to take my mind off of things. I would have read, but I didn't have the patience for that in that situation.

I had started Weight Watchers in early January of that year and my aunts were asking me about how it worked. So, that took a little while to discuss.

By about 9 a.m., I was hungry, so my grandpa and I went to the cafeteria. I hadn't and unfortunately still don't see him that often, so it was really nice to spend some time with him, just the two of us.

We talked about a number of things that unfortunately the past two years have caused me to forget. However, one thing I definitely remember was our discussion of milk gravy. See, we were having breakfast and each of us had gotten some biscuits and gravy. I love biscuits and gravy, and yes, I remember I said that I was on Weight Watchers, but I figured what was happening that day was a "Get Out of Weight Watchers Free" card. Anyway, my Dad was a great cook. I think once he retired, he cooked more than my Mom, and I'm sure she didn't mind. She was a fan of his cooking, too. But his breakfasts were out of this world. He cooked everything. Fried Potatoes. Scrambled Eggs. Bacon. Sausage. Biscuits. And homemade Milk Gravy. I loved that gravy. So every time he cooked it, I would tell him that I needed him to show me how to do it. And every time he would tell me to watch him then and I'd know how. So, I mentioned this to my grandpa. Since he had taught my Dad, he began to tell me. And then he added, that Dad could show me how to do it when he got better.

As I said, the day dragged on. It got to the point that I had to walk around a little, so I went to the gift shop. And I found one of the greatest things in the world there. Have you ever had a Cow Tail? It's a candy, like a rope, of caramel with a white cream center. There also is a version that is not a rope. They are simply called caramel creams.


Except the ones I found were strawberry. And they were good.

Anyway, I was in the gift shop buying some of this candy when one of my aunts told me the doctor was ready to see us.

Holy crap...

We all went into the small "c0nference" room and awaited his arrival. Like most doctors, once he showed up, he was brief and to the point.

He told he it took a little while longer than they had expected because one of the veins they were going to use to bypass split a little so they had to do it again. But it was successful, and the doc said that Dad had the heart of a young man despite the fact he was 58. Although, 58 isn't old. Doc was pleased and felt that Dad would be doing very well in his recovery.

At least that was over. Now we had to wait for Dad to wake up.

We were able to see him in his ICU room even before he woke up, with all the tubes and breathing apparatus attached. And it would hopefully be that night that they would take the breathing tube out. It seems like I remember him in his bed, which was inclined a bit, still unconscious, with nothing but the sounds of the monitors beeping, the machines whirring and the ventilator doing it's thing. Dad had the control to a morphine pump which he continued to keep depressed.

But he was alive and doing well, considering.

And then we went home.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I just turned over to Comedy Central to watch Scrubs. It's the episode where J.D.'s dad dies.

Had to turn it off.

February 15, 2006

This was the first day of the end. My family and I didn't know it, of course, but that's exactly what it was.

Early on the morning of February 15, 2006, my Dad went to St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville, Ind., for a cardiac catheterization. For a great number of years, my Dad had been suffering from some form of emphysema. At least that's what I thought it was, but some breathing problems nonetheless. In December 2005 he had begun to develop some discomfort in his chest that he attributed to his breathing difficulties. After consultation with his lung doctor, the thought popped up that it might possibly be a heart issue, as well. Thus, the cardiac cath.

I knew in advance that this was coming up. While I didn't call my folks everyday, I did talk to them a couple times a week. Sometimes I'd even talk to Dad more often than that. Well, I had every intention of calling him on Feb. 14 so that I could speak to him prior to the procedure. For reasons I don't know at this time, I didn't. I was working at Host Communications at the time and it could have been because I was working on something that kept me at the office later than normal and by the time I got to my apartment I just pooped out. Or it could have been something else. Whatever it was, I didn't call Dad that night.

I got up early the next day to get some work done before the office officially got going. When I got to work, I realized what I had done (or not done, actually) and I called my Mom on their cell phone hoping I could catch them at the hospital, though before he was sent back to have the procedure done. I missed him. But I talked to my Mom. And my heart broke. She wasn't mad but she mentioned that Dad was a little disappointed the night before. Before they went to bed, she mentioned that he said, "I guess Brad's not going to call tonight."

I felt like the biggest ass in the world, and the worst son. Here's a guy, who in the past few years, had become more than my Dad, he had become my best friend. And I didn't call. My Mom wasn't trying to make me feel bad. It just came up when I mentioned that I was sorry I didn't call on the 14th and she just said he had hoped that I would.

Regardless, I missed him that morning. So, I told Mom to call me once the procedure was over. That morning was awful. Awful. Waiting while a loved one has surgery, a medical procedure or test is one of the worst, most grueling things you can go through. Especially if you are 200 miles away.

Finally, Mom called me a couple hours later, said he came out of the procedure okay. They were waiting on the doctor to come talk with them.

Turned out that there was, in fact, some heart issues that were causing his discomfort. A few blockages were found and they were significant enough for the doctors to feel that a bypass surgery was necessary.

At this point, as Mom is telling me this, I'm doing my best trying to hold it together while I'm sitting at my desk. Yes, I realize the prospect of heart surgery isn't a death sentence by any means, but you have to understand that my worst fear at that point in my life was losing my Dad. He had been through so many health-related issues in his life that it was a bit difficult for me to imagine he could actually make it through another surgery. But that was what he was going to have to do.

So, this time around I got to speak to Dad. He said that he was having the surgery and that it would be on Feb. 16, the next day. I asked him if he wanted me to come in, which was a dumb question because I was going to leave anyway. The 15th was a Wednesday so I would only miss a few days of work at the least. Dad told me I didn't have to. After talking to Dad I spoke with Mom again and I asked her the same question. Which was dumb. She definitely wanted me there. I told her that I had a few things to tie up at the office and then I would be there.

I immediately went in and spoke with my boss and told him the situation and he told me to go ahead and leave, to do whatever I needed to do. That made me feel a lot better. While I'm trying to put things in order and get some help from coworkers, a couple friends I had made there are work were continually telling me to just leave. Don't worry about all of that stuff, to just leave.

Finally, I got everything in order a little after lunch and headed to my apartment to pack. While there, I called my sister who lives in Richmond. I told her that I was almost packed and that I could pick her up soon. Well, she said she wasn't going. I won't get into that long story, but she said that she needed to stay with her family. Needless to say, I was very upset at this. And unfortunately she ended up regretting that decision (but at the time, how can you know?).

So, I left and went home. I don't remember exactly when I got away, but it was dark by the time I got to the hospital. Since he was already there because of the cardiac cath, they decided to just go ahead and admit Dad so he didn't have to worry about going home and then coming back the next morning. The surgery was scheduled for early on Feb. 16th. And by the time I walked in the hospital, they already had him in the Cardiac ICU, since that was where he would be immediately following the surgery. Mom was in the waiting room, along with one other person sitting on the opposite side.

We exchanged hugs and sat down to chat while we waited to go back to see Dad. The Cats were playing Georgia that night, and I remember texting my buddy Blake for scores. The game was still going on when we went back to see Dad and he was watching it. And he was in surprisingly good spirits. Oh yeah, he was also fussing at the Cats. They weren't playing particularly well, but they did end up winning.

Anyway, we spent some time with Dad after the game and then he told us to go home, like he always did. He hated to think we were just sitting around when we could be doing other things or resting. Eventually we left headed home.

On the way out, I called Blake who proceeded to tell me about a shitstorm that hit at work. I always missed that kind of stuff...

When I got to the house, I was introduced to Sammy, my Dad's golden retriever. At this point he was only a few weeks old, maybe a little over a month. But he was rowdy! And I loved him right away. He was so cute. Dad had set up this make-shift pen in the kitchen. He used the kitchen since it had ceramic tile. As I mentioned in a previous entry, Dad had bought him a ton of stuff. The bad part was that he wasn't house-broken yet. So, Mom cleaned that up, I refilled his water and food bowls and we played a little. Dad was supposed to have given him some medicine that day, which obviously he wasn't able to do, so I did that as well. It was some kind of liquid gunk in a feeder syringe. Sammy did not like it.

After talking a little bit Mom and I decided to call it a night since we were exhausted. Sammy whined a little, I think because he was being left alone and maybe because I was already missing Dad.

That was a long day, but the next was going to be longer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Doughnuts (or Donuts for those who conserve letters)

So, today I was on my way to Channel 27 (WKYT) with my boss. She was scheduled to be on the noon show to promote Teachers Who Made a Difference program. We passed a bakery on Winchester Road. She asked me if I had ever been there. I haven't but I've heard people say that the donuts are really good.

And that simple question reminded me of my Dad.

When I was a kid, my Dad often went to the local bakery to get donuts on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

There's nothing quite like a fresh donut first thing in the morning. I've always been partial to donut holes and chocolate milk.

My Dad liked long johns with chocolate icing. He also liked creme horns.

But regardless, Dad would buy donuts, and often would do it on weekday mornings, too, when he would come visit.

I might have a donut today in memory of my Dad...

The Strike is Over

Well, the Writer's Guild of America has signed a new contract with the producers and are back to work. I know a lot of TV addicts are very happy about this. As a moviegoer, I am happy that productions can start back up (ones that weren't canceled anyway... please put the "Justice League" movie back in the schedule!). But more importantly, all the non-writers who were affected by the strike can get work again.

What else does this mean? The Oscars live on!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who cares.

I'll still read about it in the paper.

But let me add this note: I have seen four of the five movies nominated for best picture, "Atonement" being the lone missed film. Without a doubt, "There Will Be Blood" should be the film of the year. I'm afraid "No Country For Old Men" will win, which would disappoint me highly. I'd almost venture to say that Daniel Day-Lewis should win the lead actor honor, but I can't because I haven't seen Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises." I like Viggo's work, especially in "History of Violence," so I'm not comfortable committing to Day-Lewis, who was phenomenal. And don't count out Johnny Depp.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hittin' the Rails

Back in January 2006, my Dad and I had been discussing taking a trip together later in the year. He had always wanted to take a trip by train. I had wanted to return to Boston (I had visited the city a couple times a few years prior when I was considering graduate school there). So, Dad and I decided to take a train trip to Boston. I decided the best time for me to go would be in late April, so I started mapping out a route on Amtrak that would take us to Washington, D.C., and then up the coast to Boston. It was inexpensive and would have been a great time for us to bond even more.

I can't tell you how excited I was about this trip.

But, unfortunately, we never got to go...

Sammy and Dad

Not long before this date in 2006, my Dad finally did what he had been threatening to do. He bought a dog.

For the longest time, he had wanted to get a "yellow dog." He wanted a companion, someone he could take with him on drives around town, someone he could play with at the house while my Mom worked during the day.

Mom didn't really want one.

Well, he called me one day in early 2006 and said that he'd finally done it. He saw an ad in the local paper for a pure bred golden retriever. He went down and got him. He was in love instantly. And it didn't really take my Mom long to follow suit.

When Dad and I would talk he would tell me about all the things little Sammy had done that day. Dad had taken him to a vet right down the road from their house, gotten him all the requisite shots and checkups, and had purchased him a large number of toys. It was as if Sammy was another child.

But it was great. In late 2005 and early 2006, Dad had been struggling with some issues he had been dealing with for a number of years, and I was happy to know that he had a new friend who could help him take his mind off the negative.

And Mom thought Sammy was pretty cute, too.

A great addition to the Duncan family. I couldn't wait to see him.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I Hate Wal-Mart

That kind of says a lot, huh?

And why do I hate Wal-Mart?

Well, it all started when I watched the documentary, "Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price." That film paints the company as a very community and employee unfriendly company.

So, I vowed not to shop there any more.

But that didn't last long. They lure you with their everyday low prices. And when you're there you have to watch out for falling prices because they reduce those everyday prices even more all the time. I mean, in this economy, who doesn't want to shop inexpensively?

And for a DVD/movie nut like myself, I can't often pass up the huge bin of $5 DVDs.

What's more, how could you really say anything bad about a company that embraced a young Natalie Portman after she had a baby there after her boyfriend left her in the parking lot of an Oklahoma store? (What? Haven't any of you seen Where the Heart Is?)

Watch the doc I mentioned above and you see why you can dislike Wal-Mart despite being nice to Natalie and selling cheap DVDs.

However, that's not the reason I have sworn off Wal-Mart forever. In the past three weeks, I have been to a Wal-Mart on two occasions and they have been two different Wal-Marts here in Lexington.

I went to the one out at Nicholasville and Man 'O War (I don't live close to this one but I was out by the mall to go to the theatre and wanted some snacks to sneak into the movie. Don't judge me, you know movie concessions are outrageous!). I only had a few items and was tempted to use the lane where you can check out yourself but they were all packed. All the normal lanes were packed but I saw the light on at Lane 1, which is one of those quickie, 10-items or less lanes. I walked around and even though the light was on, I saw nobody there. I decided to forgive that as maybe someone just forgot to turn the light off. So I stepped in the next 10-items line behind about three others. A couple moments later I saw a young man in one of those nice blue Wal-Mart vests step up to Lane 1. AWESOME!!!!!! It wasn't closed after all. So I quickly stepped over before anyone else could.

I set my four items on the counter and waited to make my payment. The young man, let's call him Fred (which was not the name on his tag), scanned my items. He didn't address me in any way. When he finished, he simply said, "That's $xx.xx." (I used the "x" because I don't remember the total.) I swiped my debit card. While I awaited the approval, Fred decided to carry on a conversation, and loudly I might add, with the guy who was handing out shopping carts. When my purchase was approved, Fred handed me my receipt and started scanning the items of the next customer. He never addressed me then, either. He was a kid, so I let it go.

A number of days later, I visited the Wal-Mart at Richmond Road and Man 'O War (this one is closer to where I live) to pick up a few items. This store does not have the "do-it-yourself" checkout, so I didn't have that option, but the line at the 10-items lane was very low, so I stepped up. "Cathy" was working the register while "Kathy" was helping bag. I wondered why there were two people at an express lane register and so I looked at their name tags to see if either was a trainee. The tags gave no evidence of that so I just figured they had too many working that day and that was the only thing to do. When I walked up, the two were carrying on a conversation. I placed my items on the counter, again just a few. The process was the same as before. Neither of them spoke to me, or even acknowledged that I was there. This time Cathy didn't even give me my total. So, I was a little upset. Since I was paying with my debit again, I decided for once to answer the question that greets you on the card-swiper machine. In the past it has said, "Was your cashier friendly today?" or something like that. I never answered it before because I would just automatically swipe my card and it would just advance to the "PIN-entering" screen. But this time, I was going to answer. And, dammit, there was a different question. This time it asked, "Was the store clean?" (or something like that). While I didn't notice it being dirty, I answered no. Cathy approved my purchase and handed me the receipt. While doing so, she never turned from Kathy and never stopped her conversation. If I had stolen something neither of those Chatty C(K)athies would have been able to identify me to the cops because neither of them saw me. For all they know, Prince could have come in, sang "Let's Go Crazy," played a guitar solo, finished with "Purple Rain," and left.

It was then that I decided to forever stay out of Wal-Mart. Now i'd rather pay an extra couple of dollars and go to Meijer or Target.

I hate Wal-Mart...

p.s. And how ridiculous is it that a store will not sell CDs that have explicit lyrics, but will sell R-rated movies? WTF?

Some Sunshine Amidst All the Gloom

I have been in quite a funk lately. You will read about that soon.

However, I saw something today that made me laugh, which hasn't been easy.

Thank you Sarah Silverman (and Matt Damon) for making me laugh today.