Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stolen from Nettiemac (part 2)

I warned you all...

Sorry, Nettiemac - could you ever forgive me?

4 jobs you've had in your life...

Kroger (17 years), Bonanza (2 years), Revco Drugs (1 year), Autumn Inn (6 months).
"I woke up. Then I went downtown. To look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore."

4 movies you could watch over and over...

"The Blues Brothers", "This is Spinal Tap", "Airplane", "High Fidelity"

4 places you've lived...

1. Wichita Falls, TX (birthplace, over 7 years)
2. Newport, AR (5 years)
3. Jonesboro, AR (15 years)
4. Hot Springs, AR (4 years)

4 TV shows you love to watch...

"Whose Line Is It, Anyway?", "That '70s Show", "Friends", "WWE Monday Night Raw" (yeah, I know, I am a sick man, but Cheech & Chong could never develop "Let's Make a Dope Deal" into a game show)

4 websites you visit daily...

1. Yahoo (for mail)
2. Blogger (for friends)
3. eBay (for collectibles)
4. Kroger (for my future)

4 of your favorite foods...

pizza, BBQ, chicken, & spaghetti (as long as it is not from Fazolis - obvious reasons)

4 places you'd rather be...

1. Coronado Beach in San Diego
2. Cayman Islands
3. Rincon, GA
4. Liberty, SC

4 albums you can't live without...

yeah, right. Out of approximately 2000 titles, I have to narrow them to 4? OK, here goes:
1. "Grace" - Jeff Buckley
2. "Every Picture Tells a Story" - Rod Stewart
3. "Disraeli Gears" - Cream
4. "90125" - Yes

Thanks, Nettie - this was fun!

Stolen From Nettiemac (part 1)

Sorry, Nettie, sweetheart, but I stole this from you.

10 years ago I was...

Getting promoted to assistant grocery manager, a job I held all of 5 months before getting promoted to grocery manager.

5 years ago I was...

Getting ready for the New Year, & waiting for a phone call from Human Resources to see if I would be accepted into the store management training program. I was also counting down the days until the wedding of the century (read: Tal & Sera's wedding).

One year ago I was...

In very deep sorrow, knowing that my soon-to-be-ex-wife just gave birth to who I thought was my daughter. And I was banned from the delivery room. A cop was on standby just in case I showed up.

Yesterday I was...

Working. And wishing I was doing something else.

5 snacks I enjoy the most...

1. Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies
2. Doritos nacho cheese tortilla chips
3. M & Ms with peanuts - the only one that matters
4. Reese's peanut butter cups
5. Bud Light (does this qualify as a snack?)

5 songs I know all the words to... I have to answer this one? OK, here goes:
2. DUST IN THE WIND / Kansas
3. TALK TALK / The Music Machine
5. BLACKBIRD / The Beatles

why these 5? Well, Wild Cherry's first album was the first rock album I ever owned, & the other 4 I have played on stage before. In 1979, at the age of 11, I played "Blackbird" on stage at a Holiday Inn for a guitar recital. It was my second guitar recital, but first with a vocal. Scared sh*tless would be an understatement, but it came off really well. I still play "Blackbird" to this day.

5 things I would do with a billion dollars...

1. Buy the rights to the Beatles catalog.
2. Buy a mansion with a huge room either in the basement or to the side of the house to put a recording studio in.
3. Help out my family any way I could. I would also put my nephews through college.
4. Buy a great big mansion for Tal & Sera, & buy Nettiemac anything she wants.
5. Drive to Fazolis & show off my newfound wealth to my ex-wife & go like this: "Na-na-na-na-boo-boo! You can't have some! Ha, Ha, Ha!"

5 places ideal for running away to...

1. Coronado Beach in San Diego
2. the Ozarks in NW Arkansas - the only good thing about this state!
3. Niagara Falls, Canada
4. Rincon, GA
5. Liberty, SC

5 items you'll never see me wear...

1. Suspenders - never again!
2. Bell-bottoms - never again!
3. Cowboy hats - never again!
4. a wedding ring - never again!
5. makeup - I wore makeup once for my junior play in high school, but I was young & needed the money...

5 best TV shows...

1. College football on Saturdays
2. NFL on Sundays
3. NASCAR, but only when football is not in season
4. "Friends"
5. "That '70s Show"

5 biggest joys in life...

1. my friends - I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have would go through every circle of hell with me, as I would for them.
2. my music collection. That's one thing that never lets me down, & it supports any mood I want.
3. my nephews. I have enjoyed watching these two kids growing into young boys. I am looking forward to seeing them grow into young men.
4. my faith. I have never claimed to be a religious person - more spiritual than anything. In this day & age, one would be foolish not to believe in God. My faith & my convictions have pulled me through many a crisis.
5. my job. When I first started working for Kroger, I swore that I would be there 6 months. I am almost at the 17-year mark. The pay is really good, but the benefits & the insurance package is tough to beat. The fact that Kroger has been around since 1883 helps, too.

5 favorite toys...

1. My Gibson "Flying V" guitar
2. My Casio keyboard
3. my Roland digital 8-track recording studio
4. my stereo system
5. my computer

Thanks, Nettie - part 2 to come. You all have been warned.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In the Face of Adversity... about something inspirational?

After Chicago stomped all over Atlanta Sunday evening, Sportscenter came on. Since I had to work all day Sunday, I had to catch up on the NFL scores. Let's see... Indy FINALLY loses, the Cowboys get stomped, Atlanta gets stomped, Houston FINALLY wins their second game, Minnesota loses for the first time in 7 games, and so on.

Then there was a story about Tulane University women's basketball team playing in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina back last August. There wasn't a lot of people in the arena, but what they lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm. I do not remember who they played, but Tulane won, 72-60, in what appeared to be a good contest. After the game, Tulane's coach expressed how happy she was to be home in front of the home crowd, but it was a Tulane player that got my attention. This player's enthusiasm was contagious! She expressed that it was good to be home, playing at home, playing in front of hometown people, and getting a victory over a tough team. She was just so happy to be home.

After that report, cueing back to the ESPN studio, sportscaster Stuart Scott stated this: "If you can't cheer for that, you do not have a pulse." Amen, brother. I actually got misty-eyed when he said that.

It is just a reminder that the best way to deal with adversity is to tackle it head-on. This year has been full of adversity, but everything is heading towards a resolution - some takes longer than others! It is also a reminder that no matter how rough my life seems to be, there are people who are in worse shape than I am in. I hired an enthusiastic New Orleans native who needed work & money. I knew that he wouldn't be with us long, but he worked very hard. He was very upset to leave us, and we were upset to lose him, but I felt proud knowing that I made a difference, albeit a small one, in his life just by letting him work for us. He worked very hard, & was a godsend for us during sanitation inspection time. I got a call from him not too long ago saying that he was home trying to put it all back together again, but he said that he would never forget what we did for him. He told me that he is definitely coming to Hot Springs for vacation next summer. I told him to look me up & we'll just chill out together. I can't wait.

It also makes me think, especially during this time of year, that (at least I hope) I have made a difference in someone's life. I wonder sometimes, but then I think of all the friends I have made over the years. One I have had for almost 20 years. Another one I have had for 15 years. Another one I have had for 5 years. The young lady I picked as my dance partner in the senior play when no one else would. The same young lady I danced with at my senior prom when no one else asked to dance. Another young lady named Seraphim who married my friend Talmadge & who is every bit as important to me as Tal. Another young lady I met 5 years ago at Tal & Sera's wedding who, especially as of late, keeps me going with her wonderfulness & thoughtfulness.

That is one thing that keeps me going - knowing that somehow, somewhere, & someway, I feel like I have made an impact on someone's life. "It's a Wonderful Life" has always been one of my favorite movies, and the final scene rings true for me. My ex-wife could never own what I have.

Coming up soon, my New Year's Resolutions! This may be a long post...

Later, and keep "Going for the One"...

Bolivar "Rock On, Tulane" Shagnasty

Friday, December 16, 2005

Will It Ever End??

Who knows? I am convinced of something - here goes:

"Born under a bad sign / I've been down since I began to crawl / if it wasn't for bad luck / I wouldn't have no luck at all..."

(apologies to William Bell, Booker T. Jones, and, of course, Cream)

I FINALLY contacted my lawyer today. I actually asked her if I would get my Christmas present this year: a finalized divorce. She told me not likely. Great - just what I needed - let's drag this on further, why don't we. Seems like there are a couple of glitches in the paperwork. Not to mention that my ex needs to fill out a "Quit Claim" deed. So I called my ex & let her know that we need these things taken care of ASAP.

I called her cell phone at about 6:30 this evening & asked if she had gotten in contact with her lawyer. She said that they were out. Something about the secretary was sick. Ask me if I care. I told her that if the deed was not done & personally sent to my lawyer on Monday, then on Tuesday I will call Arkansas BCBS & file insurance fraud charges against her. She asked me what in the hell was I talking about. I told her. I am shocked that her lawyer didn't tell her that this could actually happen. She tried to backpedal her way out of it. I told her that it's too late. It's real simple - give me what I want, & I will not file insurance fraud charges against her. My patience has run out (gee, after 15 months... what do you think?). I am tired of playing her game.

I may also search for a new lawyer. I paid all this money, and for what? This marriage should have been dissolved, oh, probably March or April of this year. And now, I am looking at still being married to this heartless, two-faced, backstabbing ______ (fill in whatever word you want) into 2006. What in the HELL is going on? I want some friggin' answers!

That being said, while I was on the phone to my ex, I felt my blood pressure rising. My co-workers saw it after I got off the phone. My face had turned so beet red. I felt it in my entire body. My family has a history of high blood pressure. I wonder if I am being affected now. I do know that this is the last thing I need.

I do feel a little better now. My Christmas tree lights are on. I have apple cinnamon candles burning all over the house. I have Clannad blaring from the stereo. I am in the zone, baby!

This is just a tough time for me now. Things are so much different this year during this time. At least, in 2004, I still had who I thought was my son, who spent the night with me every other night. I took him to his first Christmas parade. The temperatures were dropping, & yet he & I snuggled together with our coats & mittens & scarves on. I watched in amazement as he was amazed himself with the firetrucks & the marching bands. All the cool floats passing by, & of course, Santa Claus. I watched my son point at all these things with wonder & amazement. Needless to say, when we got to the car & I strapped him in, I turned on the engine, cranked up the heater, & he was out cold in seconds! That was one of so many nights with the boy that I will never forget. It hurts me to know that he will suffer the most from what his mother has done. I look for him to seek me out. I hope he does. I would welcome him with open arms, even though I know I will have to answer for what I had to do: let him go... I just hope that he will understand what choices I had in this matter. I felt it was the best for everyone, even though it wasn't best for me. I hope he knows that, even though I had to let him go, I loved him so much. He was my boy, after all. He was my son. And the paternity results that came in on March 4 changed that. I will always love him, no matter what happens between myself and his mother. I hope he knows that.

And now here we come - Christmas 2005. No family members surrounding me. This house feels totally empty. I have no idea what the future holds. I know that this house will have only myself in it come Dec. 25. My family is all scattered out with their own lives that they lead. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. I find myself trying to rush to 2006 and skipping Christmas altogether. I might as well be working, but we are closed on 12/25. So, I told my boss that I would close on Christmas Eve & open early the day after Christmas. It's just as well...

We make jokes about this time of the year & all the crazy Christmas songs that go non-stop from the day after Thanksgiving up to Christmas Day, but I had always enjoyed this time of year. It is supposed to be a time for family & for fellowship. A time for blowing the diets & letting it all hang out. A time for kids to marvel at their new toys. A time for grown men to eat too much & then pass out on their chairs.

It's really hard to work up any enthusiasm for the holiday season this year. But I'm trying. Just bear with me.

To my family - I love you all very much. I know that you all have plans with your loved ones this season, & I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

To my co-workers - your efforts & your thoughts & weird senses of humor are some things I treasure very much. Even though we clash from time to time, I am more than honored to have all of you on my and my boss' team.

To my closest friends - and especially Talmadge, Seraphim, & Nettiemac - you all keep me up and going when I would just as soon quit and give up. Your friendship means so much to me - I couldn't put a monetary value on how much you all mean to me. I just want you to know that I love you all, and to the three people mentioned above - expect a visit from me sometime in 2006. Get with me & let me know when a good time is to visit you all. I can't wait.

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Christmas.

Bolivar "just a little patience..." Shagnasty

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How I Spent My Last Vacation of 2005...

As you can tell from the title, this is about how I spent my vacation last week. So, to quote Greg Lake, "from the beginning..."

On the first day of my vacation, I woke up. Then I went downtown. To look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. On the second day of my vacation, I woke up. Then I went downtown. To look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. On the third day of my vacation, I woke up. Then I went downtown. To look for a job. Then I got a job. Keeping people from hanging out in front of the drugstore. On the fourth day of my vacation...

(insert Sister Mary Elephant here... OK, everyone together now... SSSSSSSHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTT UUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!! thank you.)

OK, on the serious side, I had a lot of fun on my vacation. Last Saturday evening (12/3), I went with my 1st Assembly of God friends to the Fish Net restaurant on Lake DeGray, & then went to see the Christmas lights at Iron Mountain. A lot of houseboats had their Christmas lights up, & it was pretty cool. And no one shoe-polished my car this time!!! On Sunday (12/4), I went to Rod's Pizza Cellar for lunch, & then I spent the rest of the day playing the part of the couch potato. Watched football all day. Got up briefly for beer, and that was it. Killer day! On Monday (12/5), I met a friend of mine that I burned a ton of Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, & Tangerine Dream CDs for, and went to a sushi restaurant for lunch. This was my very first sushi experience, and you know what? It wasn't near as bad as I thought! I did meet my buddy Smitty & the gang at Rockie's for pizza, beer, & Monday Night Football. The Seattle Seahawks made one hell of a statement, totally pounding Philadelphia 42-0. On Tuesday (12/6), I spent the biggest part of the day doing yardwork. I raked all the leaves out of my yard, only to see leaves cover it up again no more than 24 hours later. I went to Colton's for dinner that evening, watch a movie, then called it a night.

On Wednesday (12/7), I put up Christmas lights on my house - first time I have ever put up Christmas lights since I reached adulthood. I also put up my Christmas tree - that was something else. I went through crates of stuff looking for ornaments to use, & I found one crate that had my ex-wife's wedding dress in it. I was so tempted to throw it out, but I held off on it. Hell, she'll probably wear it again when she goes down the aisle with the Ultimate Hot Springs Redneck. It will amaze me if she chooses to wear white for this wedding, but hey, she wore white at ours (when she gets married again, this will be her second... third... FOURTH time down the aisle. Liz Taylor, watch out - you have competition.). I also found a picture that made me very sad. It was a picture of me & my ex in happier times - Christmas 1994. She is sitting in a recliner, I am sitting on the floor. She leans over me, & we are holding hands. Both of us seemed very happy at the time, wearing matching sweaters that my wonderful grandmother got us. What happened?

Anyway, on Thursday (12/8), I tried to contact an old friend of mine, but had no luck. I tried to contact an old classmate of mine who was in charge of the 10-year class reunion, mainly because I figured that she would be in charge of the next major classmate function - yes, my friends, your humble servant typing this post has his 20-YEAR CLASS REUNION in 2006!! OH MY GOD!! Has it been this long? Moving on, I went to Memphis to seek out some vinyl. The record stores in Memphis are drying up big time. I did get some Clannad, John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Ravi Shankar, and a rare LP by Peter Baumann, who used to play for Tangerine Dream. However, to sum up, those stores are drying up pretty quick. The selections leave a lot to be desired.

On Friday (12/9), I spent the morning packing my bags & paying the dreaded bills. I left at about 2 p.m. heading for Dallas. Brought a few CDs with me, especially Eric Burdon & the Animals (I especially cranked up "Sky Pilot"), Cheap Trick ("Voices" is one of my favorite CT songs), Enya's new one (could be her best...), Phish (the "Billy Breathes" CD is absolutely essential, as is their last one, "Undermind"), Sixpence None the Richer (laugh if you must, but their last CD, "Divine Discontent", is their best CD), & the great, great Captain Beefheart ("Trout Mask Replica" is that rare CD where it must be heard as a whole & not for individual cuts, of which there are 28 of them). I really enjoy how the Liberty handles the road - real sweet! I stopped in Greenville, Texas to fill up my gas tank, & I also went to Hastings, where I bought 2 more CDs - one by John McLaughlin & Al Dimeola, and one by Motorhead (isn't it strange how diverse my musical tastes are?). I made it to my father's ranch by about 10 p.m. Then I drove to Grandbury to see an old friend of mine (Princess A) & had dinner with her.

Saturday (12/10), I watched football with my father & met the Princess for dinner again. Watched as Reggie Bush wins the Heisman trophy. I still wished Vince Young had gotten it, but Reggie deserved it - he has been a dominant force all year long. So, congrats to Reggie. However, I was deeply saddened to hear of Richard Pryor's passing. Pryor's comedy brought me out of many a bad mood - you couldn't be sad listening to Pryor. I remember how happy I was the day his boxed set of his complete Warner Bros. recordings came out - I went & bought it immediately. The man made me laugh, he made me cry, & he made me think. His movies with Gene Wilder, especially "Silver Streak" & "Stir Crazy", are classics. He handled setbacks, self-inflicted they probably were, with humor & class. On his boxed set, there is a disc of leftover material & some new material, including a hilarious take on his multiple sclerosis. His "MS" ranks with his "Heart Attacks" as some of the funniest material I have ever heard. Richard will be tremendously missed, and when I return to Jonesboro, I will find my old buddy B.C., & we will have one hell of a toast to the funniest man I have ever heard - Richard Pryor. Farewell...

On Sunday (12/11), I got up & went to church with my dad & my stepmother, had lunch at Chili's in Grandbury with my stepsister, her husband, & their kids, and started on the long journey home, but not before I made my usual scenic route - Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie. Oh man! I bought some more McLaughlin as well as a bunch of Richard Thompson stuff. I passed on a Beau Brummels' boxed set that I may go back after (Beau Brummels' "Laugh Laugh" peaked at #15 back in 1964). I was looking for the new Allan Sherman boxed set, but they didn't have it, & it is only available via the Rhino Handmade label on the Internet. I may have to look up that website for it. I got home at about 10 p.m. & let everyone know that I was home.

On Monday (12/12), I watched TV most of the day, listened to my new stuff, went to Rockie's for the usual, & went to bed. It was a good way to rest up for my return to work, especially since I probably won't have another day off until Christmas Day. Bummer.

It was a pretty good vacation overall. However, since I had to take my vacation this late in the year, I did some thinking about my vacations for next year (I get 4 weeks paid). Since I have been with Kroger (March of 2006 makes it 17 years), I have never taken two weeks at one time. I may do it next year. Now - where do I want to go? South Padre Island, Texas? Coronado Beach in San Diego? Tallahasee, Florida to visit my cousin & her kids? The Carolinas to visit Nettiemac? Georgia to see the Glecks? Wow - since I will soon be a single man again, the list is endless. As usual, I am open to ideas.

Happy birthday to my sister, Kimbus Ambus, who turned 34 on the 3rd of December. Happy birthday, sis - I'll see you soon.

Love to all my family & friends. Take care.

Bolivar "Vacation, all I ever wanted..." Shagnasty