Just when I think I’m a good person, this happens…

I’d like to think of myself as a well-rounded, mature man who’s learned from the past, grown from his childish ways, and wears suits on Sundays. A man like this doesn’t have time for silly pet peeves.

picture of a mature man

This is a picture of a mature man.

Well, I have a ton of pet peeves. And this isn’t the first time I’ve posted about them either. Check this out. Geez, I’m really taking a step back, aren’t I? A more evolved man would talk things out, have a discussion over coffee and a scone.

But I don’t blame myself for this one. I blame the apartment building where I lived before moving to the house I live in now. And hey, don’t try to look up the Roundtree Apartments on Lebanon Road because you won’t find it! They’ve changed their name to something more trendy so they can charge double what I paid! “Only minutes from downtown!” They’ll say, as a giant guitar hangs above the main office entry way.

But back when I lived there it was super shady. Imagine coming home from work and one of three things happening:

  1. The scent of your downstairs neighbor’s dinner wafting up through the floors. Like, so strong you skip dinner because you’re stomach thinks you just ate.
  2. The floor shaking from a loud bang, and you’re not sure it wasn’t a gun shot.
  3. Wanting to jump in the pool but thinking it would just save time to inject yourself with some random disease.

There was also the matter of cars honking their horns at any hour of the day, and this is where I want to camp out for a sec. Say someone showed up to give a ride to one of your neighbors. Who cares, right? But instead of ya know, parking, getting out of the car, knocking on the front door followed by a “Hey so-and-so, I’m here to pick you up. Are you ready? Today is a great day.” No, no… it’s HONK HOOOOONK get your booty out here because I’m not coming up to get you.

How am I supposed to live in conditions like that!!?

Now I’m busy being an adult, with dogs that know I’m the boss don’t even know my name and a house of my own. I love the solitude of my back yard. The freedom of my own place. No stinky fish head curry cooking below! And honking? That’s a thing of the past!

But if you won’t be too judgmental, I’ve got a confession. I’m trying to be a good neighbor like State Farm wants me to be. My neighbors are making it hard, though. Every day around 215pm for the past couple of months, a car pulls in front of my neighbor’s house and honks the horn. Every. Single. Day. I’ll go ahead and say it: This is my Vietnam.

And I’m a horrible person because, well, the woman that gets picked up is old. So I constantly remind myself that this can’t last much longer. She’s pretty old.

I’m a horrible person, just don’t tell my dogs.

-Out of the Wilderness


When death knocks at a neighbor’s door

It’s been over 10 years since I left Tallahassee, Florida to pursue a burning in my heart that brought me to Tennessee. My delight in video production started way back when I was a little kid but it really grabbed ahold of me in college. Soon after graduating, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a local church youth group and a lot of what I did with them was make videos. Each week I got to know the kids better and realized they were a pretty special group.

Well, in this group was a young girl, I think she was in middle school at the time. She had short, curly, blonde hair. I remember how much she smiled and was friends with a lot of other kids there. She had a spark and you could just see it, that she would be a spark in a lot of people’s lives. I didn’t know how, and I guess no one did at the time. At that age, and even the age of me and my friends who were also volunteering there, it’s hard to know exactly what mark we’ll leave on the world. We were all so young.

A few days ago this girl, now an adult, was killed. The moment I found out moved in slow motion. It’s not like I knew her anymore, but still, it was a total shock. No one ever wants to hear of someone dying way too young. She was 24, the reports say. Her death continues to weigh heavy on me. I can still barely believe it, and don’t want to.

The sad news has reminded me how precious life is. I sit in the back yard, letting the heaviness pin me to my camping chair. I think about all the little concerns I have that, if I knew I was about to die, those concerns would not even be the very last things I’d worry about. They’d be so far off the list. One of my dogs lays about 10 feet in front of me, next to her frisbee. My other dog’s inside, under the sheets napping. My family in Florida is probably at the soccer field, baseball field, or eating lunch, or a few of them jumping on the trampoline, or swimming in a pool. I blink my eyes as my mind goes deeper and deeper into thought about what really matters. My faith. My family. My friends. My neighbors.

Then more thoughts about what I’m doing that’s a waste of time. What I’m doing that I need to keep doing. What’s important? When it’s my time to go, what I’ll be most proud of. Least proud of. What I’ll regret. Will I have been a spark in the lives of those around me; my friends, my family, anyone I work with?

I’ve tried to express the current state of mind I’m in, but maybe this quote I’ve heard before is more appropriate, “When you don’t know what to say, sing.” This song by Greg Holden is what I’m singing along to…

A few days have passed since her death. Clicking over to her Facebook page I’m reading comments on her wall, all confirming the spark she was to so many people. Because of Shannan, I’m not taking today for granted. I’m soaking in the sun and sights of kayaking downtown Nashville, and thinking of Shannan.

Hope you’re still a bright shining spark in Heaven.


My Dogs Might Be Smokers

smoking_dogSo one day I walked out to my back yard, as I often do, and saw my dogs loitering over by one side of the fence. I didn’t think anything of it. The next day, they were in the same area, loitering. The next few days, the same thing. I’m like, “Hey guys, if this was 7-11, you would’ve been arrested YESTERDAY!” Before I put up a ‘No Loitering’ sign assuming they were bumming for smokes, I needed to find out what they were so interested in.

Recon proved they were nibbling on something in the grass. I was like, “This can’t be good.” Long story short, I found out my neighbor has been throwing handfuls of “dog food” over the fence. I actually think it was cat food he’s been giving his cat who, for sake of privacy, we’ll call Whisker 1. Whisker 1 is a big cat. I know this because she’s an outside cat who comes over regularly. And by “comes over” I mean she catwalks by the fence just to get my dogs in a frenzy. They bark and the hair on their back raises up. To this day, they’ve never actually come in contact with Whisker 1 and if they did, she’d cat scratch them right back to where they came from. I mean, she may be big, but she ain’t no wuss.

Anyway, this situation was slightly bothersome for two reasons; one, he didn’t ask me and two, I don’t want my dogs eating random cat food. I like to keep them on a strict diet so they won’t turn into overweight Whisker 2 and Whisker 3. Problem is, I’m not a confrontational guy (well, unless it’s on the basketball court or football field). For the next few days, I went over in my head how to broach the subject.

Sadly, it always ended in me getting a wedgy.

More to come, good day!
-Out of the Wilderness