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I Carry It Around In My Heart

I bet many of you already know to what I’m referring.  I’ve read it in your blogs, gathered as much from the comments you’ve left here.  It’s a feeling that’s almost indescribable and I’m worried that I might fall on my face trying to communicate what it is.  It’s always with you, but there are certain times when that wave of euphoria gushes from within and promises to lift you above the everyday.   If scientist discovered a way to harvest it and turn it into a drug, entire cities would come to a screeching halt as the overdosed reached epidemic proportions.

Do you know what I’m describing?  That’s right.  The feeling a writer gets when he knows he’s written something that has significance.  A piece of work that has toyed with a readers emotions in some way.  A simple blog post that elicits a deluge of comments, a short story that causes their best friend to laugh uncontrollably, a poem that opens the tear ducts, or a novel that when finished compels a deep and lingering sigh. A writer who has experienced something like this, on any level, never forgets what it feels like and is always searching for ways to re-create it.  Does anybody know of which I speak?

I use that feeling like a shot of adrenaline sometimes, when the world is conspiring to bring me down.  I remember the praise of my awesome critique partners.  I think about my followers, those talented fellow writers who have linked themselves to me, and I to them.  I fall asleep at night with a smile on my face, recalling a recently written scene in my current WIP, imagining how my wife will react when she reads it for the first time.   

For me, this blog is the origin.  Everything I have accomplished so far stems from here, and from you.  My first baby-steps into fiction writing started here.  I have met, become friends with, and collaborated with, some truly amazing writers…and individuals, all from here.  My journey is just beginning, but I am confident that my foundation is a solid one.

I reached the 200 follower milestone last Friday.  Honestly, it kind of snuck up on me.  Not that I wasn’t paying attention to the newly arrived, because nothing could be further from the truth, I just didn’t notice the number.  Originally, I planned to throw another celebration to mark the event, but I have since thought differently.  I wrote when I celebrated the Mighty 100 that I wanted to focus more on generating content that would increase the number of comments left by the “like-minded”, and if I did that the followers would take care of itself.  If you build it…they will come. I’m going to continue on with that philosophy, but don’t worry, I have something really special planned to give-away when I hit 300.  I mean REALLY SPECIAL!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to try throw a little entertainment your way.  And if I hit a chord, please let me know.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the first commenter, or the 50th, they all contribute to that feeling we writers thrive off.

They say the home is where the heart is.  In my case, this blog is my home and I carry it around in my heart. 

Blog Love Gone Wild!

I must be doing something right here in the wondrous blogosphere, because I’ve been blessed with another wave of awards from my colleagues. And I try not to hoard these either, promise, but it’s like they travel in packs and jump you all at once!

It really is humbling when you think about it; a fellow blogger taps on your shoulder and asks you to stand up, out of the hundreds and hundreds of awesome blogs to choose from, recognizing you for the contributions you’ve made to this amazing community. What’s so great about awards is that it’s not only cool being honored by them, they’re a blast to pass along as well. The one downside to this particular part of blogging is that by choosing someone to pass an award to, I’m effectively not choosing someone else. I use these awards for one purpose, to shine the spotlight on those blogs who have opened my eyes to the world of “making words dance”, through their posts or comments left here. If you can do that, then there’s an award waiting for you somewhere.

My first award comes via the Portia Sisco and her blog, Thoughts On Writing, The Paranormal, And Anything Else That Goes Bump In The Night. This is a woman who really knows her stuff and how to use it to draw out your potential. Her blog is informative, thought provoking, and touching, all wrapped up in a very lovely bow. This is one blog you don’t want to miss! The award she passed along to me is the Super Comments Award (although I’m not sure why because all I ever write is, “Yeah…what she said”).

So in passing this along to a great commenter it was actually really easy to choose. Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment at a Time always leaves meaningful comments that not only acknowledges what a blogger was trying to say, but expands upon it as well. She is a rising star that will soon be shinning brightly. Check her out!

My next award is a repeat, but that’s totally okay because it gives me another reason to pass it along! Jen at UNEDITED is an amazing upbeat writer who makes me smile, A LOT! She tagged me with the Superior Scribbler Award (I think his tongue should be sticking out) and all I need to do here is select four other bloggist (is that a word?) to honor.

My choices:
1) Kat O’ Keeffe at Words, Etc. This is one organized dynamo whose determination is infectious.
2) Anne at Piedmont Writer. The snippets of her WIP are really fun to read.
3) Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword. Her sword may be dull, but her wit is razor sharp.
4) Sierra Godfrey. If you’re interested in some insightful and relevant observations about the writing process, this blogs for you.

Next up, the Sunshine Award that I received from the talented Leslie Vance. Going against my inner-child, the instructions implore me to do the following:
1) Post the award
2) Pass on to 12 bloggers that brighten your day
3) Link to nominees
4) Link back to givers.

You guys know by now that I’m not so good at following rules, so in the interest of time, space, and mental health, I’m trimming the list of bloggers I’m passing this onto down to four. They are:

1) Holly at 504 Main. Holly is just as comfortable demonstrating frugal crafting as she is composing eloquent prose.
2) Kristi at Random Daily Thoughts. Kristi’s book The Wolf Within was just released a couple weeks ago and her blog is definitely on my “tingle” list.
3) Tiffany Neal. Although Tiffany’s blog is awesome, she really knows her way around the Twitter universe.
4) Amy Holder at Written in Lipstick. Amy’s YA debut novel “The Lipstick Laws” comes out in 2011 and her blog is available right now! Truly enjoyable.

Will it never end? No not yet! I received The Soul Mate Award from Julie Dao and Lola. It’s a relatively new award and given to people who "get you". So obviously I have to give it to people who "get me." Rules are simple:

The rules:
1. Choose five followers/commenters that 'get' you
2. Write something fake (preferably not too mean) about them
3. Link to them, and link back to this post to comment your receipt of the award

So here are my five (5) Soulmates who "get me":

1) Julie Dao at Silver Lining: Julie turned down a golden opportunity to play Mulan at Disney World when she discovered the costume wasn’t green.
2) Sierra Godfrey used to be the costume designer at Disney World. She changed the Mulan costume from green because she felt it made the girls skin look yellow.
3) Kristin Rae at Kristin Creative: Kristin was the second runner-up to the women’s 2010 Olympic curling team.
4) Kimberly Franklin at Confessions: The Secret Life of a Writer: Kim loves to volunteer her time each summer as a camp counselor at the Outback School for Hot Boys.
5) Kristi Chestnutt at Random Daily Thoughts: Kristi is a distant relative of Bonnie Parker from Bonnie & Clyde fame. She is just a few credits away from earning her degree in Finance.

And finally (the crowd goes wild) my last award comes from both Anne at Piedmont Writer and Amy at Written in Lipstick.  It’s the Prolific Blogger Award. There are more rules to this award. I have to pass this on to seven others, (four), I must link to the blog from which I received it (I did), I must link back to this post from where it originated (I tried but the link didn’t work). Okay, the awards go to:

1) Sharon at Random Thoughts. Her blog is a fountain of useful information that I’m always bookmarking.
2) Gina Leigh Maxwell at Passions on Paper. I’m a fan of quantity over quality, but in this case you get both. Her Top Ten Reasons I Suck at Blogging is classic.
3) Lorel Clayton at I’m Blogging Drowning Here. She may be from down under, but she definitely knows which way is up. Good stuff a plenty here.
4) Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries. I really enjoy visiting Michele’s blog because she’s always so positive and offers a wealth of information for us newbies.

I guess that’s a wrap…except for one more thing. Anybody take a peak to the left and notice something significant (at least I consider it so)? *HUGE GRIN* More about that on Monday.

Everybody have a GREAT weekend!!

Watch D.O.G.S.

I first wrote this piece towards the end of 2009, but somehow never got around to posting it.  Now is as good a time as ever.

Last Wednesday was my first official DOGS day.  DOGS stands for Dads Of Great Students and it is an initiative spreading throughout elementary schools across the country and just recently adopted by my son’s school.  It’s a volunteer program where dad’s devote an entire day at his son or daughters school, performing a variety of activities.  It includes everything from walking the school perimeter keeping an eye out for strangers on campus, helping the teachers in the classroom with one on one instruction, monitoring the lunchroom and recess periods, and assisting with the loading and unloading of buses.  Although the program kicked off in early October, last week was my first opportunity to participate.  It sounded like a great idea and my son Boo was excited to have me sign up. 

The two of us arrived at school at 7:30 and while Boo ate breakfast in the cafeteria, I went through orientation.  I was given an hourly schedule, a walkie-talkie in case I needed to communicate with the principal, and a shiny vest identifying me as DOGS dad of the day.  Right away, I felt more authoritative with the walkie-talkie clipped to my belt.  I walked around campus taking slow, measured, commanding strides.  I even caught myself giving a pair of teachers a two-finger salute as we passed in the hall, after which I shook my head and muttered “Dufus” under my breath. 

The first duty of the morning is to monitor and help direct the fiasco they call the morning drop off.   The best way to describe this organized chaos is a combination of NASCAR and an old video game called Frogger.  Being a relative newbie to the morning activities I made the mistake of wandering into the “express lane” and almost wound up as a hood ornament on a SUV.  Most of the mom’s (and a smattering of dad’s) slowed down just enough to eject their children from their vehicle so they wouldn’t lose their spot in the procession.  The ones who were dropping off Kindergarteners parked their cars wherever they found an opening and walked the little tikes to their classroom.  The other drivers used these parked cars as slalom markers to navigate skillfully in and around, making sure not to spill a single drop of their morning latte.   

The morning rush had pretty much come and gone and I was just about to move onto my next assignment when a beat up ford minivan swerved to the curb, cutting off another car trying to pull away, and then jerked to a stop.  The van looked as if it hadn’t been washed, EVER, and exhaust fumes hung in the air all the way back to where the van had turned off Peabody Street.  The side door slid back and five children of varying ages spilled out onto the walkway.  There were three boys and two girls.  The youngest (girl) looked to be around six years old and the oldest (boy) was probably nine or ten.  Only one of them was wearing a jacket despite the morning chill hovering just above the freezing mark.  One of the boys was wearing camouflage crocs, with no socks.  The hair on all of them was unkempt.  Arriving a tad late, they all scattered and hurriedly headed in different directions towards their respective classes, the oldest boy towing the youngest girl behind him as she fought to turn around and wave goodbye to the occupant of the van.  Somebody inside the van slid the door shut and the vehicle was driving off before the door had even locked into place.  I continued to stare at it as it turned the corner and disappeared from sight. 

I already knew a good many of Boo’s classmates from coaching various sports teams and most sought me out on the playground or in the cafeteria.  It was fun to interact with them in a setting where I wasn’t trying to teach them a skill.  This was their world and I was the fish out of water, and they enjoyed showing me the ropes.  

I have to say that the childhood obesity problem that the U.S. is apparently in the midst of is not the fault of the school lunch system.   Boo and I both ate the school provided lunch and I ended up stealing food from other kid’s trays when they turned their heads.  There was a grill cheese sandwich that was as stale as a crouton, vegetable soup that was 98% water, 1% vegetables, and 1% mystery meat, sliced apples with caramel dip (the best part), and some corn bread that must have been held together by magic because as soon as I took my first bite it dissolved into a pile of flakes in my lap.  Mid way through the meal I stole a look to where the teachers were sitting and noticed all of them had brought a lunch from home.  That was definitely something they cold have warned us up front when we signed up, BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH!

I sat in on four different classes during the day and witnessed a wide assortment of teaching philosophies.  Everything from the uber-strict (“everyone pick up your pencil now”) to the more relaxed freestyle approach.  I could tell that some teachers were glad to have me with them for a brief while and had thought out what they wanted me to do, but I also got the feeling from some that I was an annoyance.  Nevertheless, in every case the students were thrilled to have me there and fell over themselves to try to impress me with their knowledge. 

The highlight of the day came in the afternoon when the 2nd graders were just about to be released for recess.  I was walking through a common area towards the playgrounds when I spotted a large brown dog about 60 yards away in a breezeway between the common area and the rear parking lot.  I remember thinking to myself, “who would bring a dog that size to school?”  Then I noticed a second dog, this one black and approximately the same size as the first.  Both dogs were unattended and wandering through the campus.  The brown dog turned and heading towards me and the black dog went the opposite direction, towards the parking lot.  I began walking towards the brown dog to corral it before the kids emptied out of the classrooms, and as I drew closer, I could make out its breed.  It was a pit bull!  Two choices quickly raced through my mind as the dog approached, 1) I could run to the closest bathroom and do something about what I had just deposited in my shorts, or 2) I could intercept the dog and do my best to keep it away from the children.  Suddenly the bell rang and a flood of kids started spilling out into the common area, but they hadn’t yet caught sight of the dog. When I was 5 feet away from the dog I opened my hands, crouched down on my haunches, and whistled.  Luckily the pit bull was completely friendly.  By then the kids had caught site of me with the dog and rushed over to see it.  Dogs, even normal dogs, can get extremely nervous when surrounded by a bunch of strangers.  But this was a pit bull, which added an instability factor of a zillion.  I calmly instructed the kids to back away and go play.  Most of them listened to me, but a few decided they weren’t going anywhere.  A teacher must have seen my predicament because the principal showed up shortly thereafter and we managed to lock the dog up in a fenced area around the compressors.  Animal control was called and then we walked the perimeter in search of the black dog, but it was nowhere to be seen.

At the end of the day, I had a renewed respect for teachers, admiration for whoever had thought up the Watch DOGS program, high regard for our school administrators who thought enough about the program to implement in my son’s school, and gratitude to my employer for allowing me to partake in it without having to take a vacation day.  It was a day well spent.  I have two more days scheduled this school year and I am already looking forward to them.

Still Climbing

I’m afraid I might have been misleading you, and myself, for the past couple months.

You see, the name of my blog CRUISING ALTITUDE, and the little blurb below it, leaves you with the impression that I’ve reached a point in my life where I feel comfortable leaning back and just enjoying the ride. That was certainly true when I created this site and took a measure of where I stood. A wonderful wife, three awesome children (two of which in college), a job I love going to every day, and interests (writing) that filled in the gaps. I had survived the turbulence of child-rearing, professional growth, educational commitment, job-relocations, community involvement, and multiple arrest warrants (okay, I made that last part up). My life really did feel like it was on cruise control.

Then something unexpected happened. My dabbling with writing started to morph into a full-blown passion. A simple blog entry turned into a short story. The short story evolved into a novella. The novella bloomed into a full-length novel. The novel spawned yet another. What would be the next logical step, an attempt at publication?

Since the first of the year I’ve made it my mission to pursue this to whatever end. Anything done half-heartedly will only result in disillusioned failure, so I’m all-in. Thanks to this blogging community I now have generous people working with me to critique my work *waves hi* as well as influence my development as a writer. I’m no longer content to sit back on my laurels and simply exist.

So, the auto-pilot has been disengaged and we’re climbing once more. Not to avoid any sort of bumpy air or to conserve fuel, but to move toward a better view of the stars. In the days to come I’ll probably change the blurb about me to better reflect my current state of mind, but I won’t be changing my blog name. Instead of representing where I’m presently at, it will stand for what I strive to attain.

I sincerely hope you’ll continue to fly air-DL. Wherever your ultimate destination may be, I’ll do my best to make it an enjoyable journey.

Drunk At First Sight Blogfest Entry

First things first, I’d like to thank Jon Paul for coming up with a great idea and hosting this Blogfest.  I know I’m a little early (pre-mature blogging…is there a pill for that?), but I’m anticipating a busy week and I wanted to make sure it got posted.  For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this is another scene from my first book (Slow Dancer) languishing on the shelf (for good reason).  If you wish to read the previous two scenes to learn the build-up to this one, they can be found here, Part 1 and Part 2.  I really hope you enjoy it!

Oh yeah…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

When the six of us pulled up to the Sunset club, the place was hopping.  It was busiest we had seen it all week and it didn’t take us long to find out the reason why.  Wednesday night was ladies night and all girls were admitted free of cover charge with the added bonus of all bar drinks for them were only 10 cents from 10 PM until midnight.  Andi and her two roommates didn’t know it, but they had just become our new best friends.

Inside we found the girls already occupying one of the large tables in the corner next to the front wall.  Andi introduced Gayle and Trisha to the guys, and I introduced the guys to them.  Andi was wearing a yellow blouse over the top of a light blue t-shirt and white shorts, Brandi had on a maroon and white striped tube top and a pair of dark green shorts, and Trisha sported a sleeveless red jumpsuit. 

The three girls immediately offered to go buy us some 10 cent drinks and after they headed off to the bar we secured enough chairs to sit all nine of us.  When they returned, before they even had a chance to sit down Billy and Mark grabbed Brandi’s and Trisha’s hands and darted to the dance floor.  “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees had just started thundering out of the speakers.

I sat down next to Andi on the far side of the table facing the dance floor, Kent and Ebe slid into chairs across from us. 

Within thirty minutes, our table was inundated with girls Andi and her roommates had met at the Regency.  The three of them had quietly spread the word that the Sunset club was the spot to be at that night.  Billy, Mark, Raymond and Kent began an endless procession shuttling different girls over to the dance floor.  Ebe had a group of girls circled around him, listening intently to something I could not hear.  Andi and I were content to sit in the corner talking and watching the fun. 

As the DJ queued up certain songs, I watched as Andi subtlety moved to the music, chair dancing.  That’s when a sense of nagging guilt began growing within me.  It bothered me that she was the only girl not dancing, because of me.

When “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps filled the dancehall, I swallowed hard.  I turned to Andi and asked, “Would you like to dance?”

“I thought you could only slow dance?” she responded, surprise all over her face.

“This one I’ll do for you.  Just don’t make fun afterwards.”

She smiled brightly and rose from her chair.  She took me by the hand and led me to a spot on the dance floor next to Billy and Trisha.  She began bouncing and swinging her hips as soon as we hit the wood floor and I instantly regretted my decision.

In making my gallant gesture for Andi, demonstrating my willingness to sacrifice for her, I forgot the number one rule of dating: Never deliberately do anything that makes you look like a dork! 

Even though the alcohol had taken the edge off and the song was one I really liked, I could still feel the same stiffness and awkwardness I always felt when I attempted to dance.   Andi moved so effortlessly, showing off her natural athleticism in a way that blended sensuality I hadn’t noticed before.  She did it all with such an innocent, carefree smile. 

I felt like the robot from Lost in Space

Andi gave no indication of noticing how uncomfortable I was, or hint that she was embarrassed with me out there.  Instead, she floated across the dance floor, teasing and playing with Billy and Trisha, then jumping back in front of me to bump hips in perfect timing to the music.  She was in her element, and she was happy.  Being able to be part of that was worth any discomfort.

As luck would have it, when the song ended the music transitioned to the same slow song I originally asked Andi to dance to the first night we met.  We both smiled widely at one another and came together.  She hugged me so tightly that it took my breath away.

“I thought you said you couldn’t dance….you liar,” she said into my ear.

“If you call that dancing then I have some serious concerns about your standards.”

She chuckled and then said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” I answered.

She gave me another squeeze around the neck and we lost ourselves silently into our song.

On the way back to our table, Andi pointed to her watch.  It was minutes before midnight and she decided we needed one more round of 10 cent drinks before the special was over, so she moved off into the crowd.

I no sooner reached our table than a commotion near the bar broke out.  I swung around in time to see a mass of people heading for the exit.  I scanned the crowd for Andi but couldn’t locate her anywhere.  Suddenly Mark came running up to me, wide-eyed and concerned. 

“Raymond’s in trouble,” was all he said and he was off moving towards the exit.  A moment later, I heard someone shout out the explanation for all the activity. 


Ebe and I were the only two at the table.  I scampered across the top rather than fight my way around, catching up to Ebe near the bar. 

Outside in the parking lot that fronted the club, a circle of on-lookers was starting to form around two guys standing nose to nose.  One of them was Raymond.  Billy was standing just behind and to the right of him, Kent was off to the left, and Mark was still fighting his way through the crowd.  The massive hooligan standing across from Raymond was four or five inches taller, at least 50 pounds heavier and solidly built.  He had unusually long arms with huge hands and particularly large knuckles.

As I muscled my way through the spectators who were all waiting for the inevitable first punch to be delivered, I noticed a dozen other guys standing behind Knuckles all sporting a lapel pin similar to one on his shirt.  It was a Sigma Epsilon fraternity pin.  

Raymond’s fraternity was Sigma Chi, universal bitter rivals with the Sigma Eps.

Walking up behind Kent I could hear Billy talking.

“--pick on somebody your own size, somebody like me instead,” Billy growled at Knuckles.

“What’s going on Billy?” I said, making sure to speak loud enough to be heard by everyone.  I stepped up beside him.

“Kent was asking this redhead to dance--”

“MY GIRLFRIEND YOU MEAN,” Knuckles yelled, not taking his eyes off Raymond.

“Not according to her,” Kent spoke up from the back.

“That’s between me and her,” Knuckles countered.

“Anyway, he started giving Kent a hard time and Raymond stepped in to smooth things out.  The Sigma Ep here had a problem with a Sigma Chi getting into his business, and here we are,” Billy finished explaining.  It felt odd having Billy outline the chain of events as he did, since he was usually the one needing rescue.

“I can take him,” Raymond slurred, doing his best to remain stationary but instead wavering like a thin tree in a brisk wind.

Stupid frats, I thought to myself.  I had watched Raymond endure months of hazing to become part of their silly brotherhood, now he was going to get his ass wupped because of it.  I could see the outcome being a foregone conclusion.  Raymond was stubborn and drunk enough to refuse to back down and rational talk would have little to no effect on the brute standing across from him.  Knuckles was about to kick the crap out of Raymond and in turn Billy would retaliate.  Mark would quickly join the fray, as would I.  Kent and Ebe would be next to worthless in the ensuing brawl, so it would be the four of us against a dozen of them.  I wished I hadn’t worn my favorite shirt.  Their groups only hope was if Raymond passed out before anybody threw a punch.

“A problem with my friend…is a problem with all of us,” I said directly to Knuckles.   

Knuckles answered me with only a smile.  The crowd had grown to maybe 75 people and calls to “hit him” were starting to ring out.

I felt somebody brush past me and watched as Andi emerged from behind us and walked straight up to Knuckles.  Using a hooked finger motion, she invited him to bend over so she could say something.  Obviously confused, Knuckles glanced back at his fraternity brothers, then back at Andi.  Eventually curiosity got the best of him and he bent over towards her.  She stood on the tip of her toes and whispered something in his ear.  He pulled away abruptly and looked down at her with an expression that was an odd combination of anger, and fear.  She leaned in and whispered to him again, and as she did you could see the conflict building in his face.  His glare shifted from Andi to somebody in the crowd, and following his eyes, I spotted Gayle and Tricia standing next to a redheaded girl who was defiantly glaring right back at Knuckles.

The brute blinked several times, and as he did the hardness in his face seemed to fade.  He raised his huge hands, palms open and facing outward, indicating an end to his hostility.

“You’re not even worth it.  Let’s go,” he said, turning away from Raymond and addressing his crew.

“You’re shittin’ me, right?” A blonde hair fraternity brother who was an inch taller than Knuckles but several notches lower on the evolutionary scale, cried.  “You’re not gonna let this Sigma Chi get away with that, are you?”

“YEAH, I AM.  IF ANYBODY HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT THEY CAN SEE ME!” Knuckles screamed angrily.   

His fraternity brothers quickly backed down, nobody willing to have Knuckles temper directed at them.  Slowly they all headed back towards the Sunset club, drawing more than a few boo’s from the now disbanding crowd.  The redhead broke away from Andi’s roommates and hurried to catch up with them.

Still stunned, we all gathered around Andi.  Nobody could believe we had escaped the confrontation without a scratch.

Kent watched as the redhead disappeared back into the club.  “That’s okay,” he called after her.  “My feet are sore now anyway.”

“What did you say to that guy?” I asked Andi, still astonished.

“He and a couple of his fraternity brothers are staying at the Regency.  I told him that if he threw one punch it would be all over the pool tomorrow that his penis is the size of my pinky.”

We all burst out laughing.

“Should we even ask how you know that?” Ebe asked.

“A little red headed birdie told me,” she explained, her smile adopting a twinge of wickedness.

We all continued laughing for several minutes, each taking turns giving Andi a well-deserved hug.  I saved mine for last and as the others starting walking back to the club I held her to me.  She whispered in my ear, “I couldn’t have them ruining such a cute face.  I hope you didn’t mind.”

I kissed her then.  At first just a quick peck that was impulsive and spontaneous, then again slower, more meaningful.  Her lips were so soft and moist, moving in unison with my own.  I savored the strawberries, cherries, and other fruits mixed with a bit of alcohol, as well as the taste of her feelings for me.  Our bodies pressed closer together, I could no longer tell where I ended, and she began.

When I leaned back to gauge her reaction, she kissed me.  The heart beating furiously in my chest, or the heat radiating from my touch, threatened to betray the cool exterior I attempted to maintain, but I didn’t care.  Time had no meaning within the span of that kiss, and really only one thing did. 

A single, two-letter word popped into my thoughts just then. It was one I’d used probably a thousand times before, but never with the significance I attributed to it now.  I wanted to say it out loud, shout it to the blue sky above, to hear what it sounded like with its new meaning.  But not to show it off, like a shiny new car or cheesy memento.  This was something that could only belong to…


Slow Dancer...Continued

For your reading pleasure today, I offer you another scene from my novel SLOW DANCER as a lead-in to this weekend’s Drunk at First Sight Blogfest. If you missed the first scene, you can find it here. This scene has never been critiqued, so I apologize for the gaffs. I’m also sorry for the length, but if I did my job, that shouldn’t matter.

Thirty minutes stretched into forty-five, and then an hour, but to me it felt like an eternity. Every effort I made to get the guys rounded up to leave was met by another excuse. Kent was in the bathroom. Billy just bought a fresh drink. Mark was dancing again. With every passing minute, I could feel opportunity slipping away and my patience was wearing paper-thin.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and tossed my van keys to Ebe, telling him to make sure everybody got back to the cabin okay; I was going to walk to the Regency. Ebe offered to drive me there then come back to the club, but at that time of night finding a parking space when he returned would be impossible and he’d be forced to leave the van on the street illegally parked. As we witnessed on previous nights, the Panama City police force took their parking violations seriously. I told him thanks, but no thanks; I’d rather not have my van towed.

It wasn’t too long after I left the Sunset Club that I began to suspect I had made a mistake. I had misjudged how long it was going to take me to walk to the Regency, but turning back would waste even more time. I could break into a jog to speed things up, but I knew it result in me being sweaty and out of breath when I eventually got there. I broke into a slow run anyway.

The late night air was sticky, but the constant breeze that found its way from the gulf felt cool on my slightly sunburned face as I ran. Passing by the other clubs, closed businesses, late night delicatessens, 24-hour liquor stores and assorted street vendors, I wondered if I appeared as desperate as I felt. Avoiding eye contact with people I ran past shielded me from the disapproving looks I imagined directed my way.

Almost a full two hours after I told Andi I would meet her, I arrived at the Regency. Coming to a standstill in the parking lot to catch my breath, I stood there bent over with my hands on my thighs huffing and puffing. I checked my wristwatch and it showed 2:45 in the morning.

The Regency was one of the newest and most luxurious hotels along the Panama City strip. Its seven floors towered over the much smaller hotels that surrounded it. Raymond and I had done most of the scouting for our trip, searching for options of places to stay while we were here. We learned the Regency had its own private pier out over the Gulf of Mexico and not one but three large pools for the guests to lounge around. However, the hotel was booked solid through the majority of the summer season and even if it wasn’t, it was one of the more expensive hotels along the strip and we quickly eliminated it as a possible choice.

As I entered through the swinging doors of the main entrance, a rush of cool de-humidified air greeted me, chilling the perspiration covering my body on its way out into the warm humid night. The lobby was immense and decorated by large leafy tropical plants scattered throughout. Three of the four walls were solid glass with the lone exception the head of the room where the check in/out counter resided. Just to the right of the counter was a hallway leading into the depths of the hotel. Several pieces of fake antique furniture sat in different corners of the room and seat benches up against the glass walls. Tucked into one corner was a TV stand with 27-inch television on top. It sat opposite a couch and a pair of cushioned chairs. The TV was on and tuned to a re-run of All in the Family.

Andi was nowhere to be seen.

I sat on the couch and pretended to watch TV, not sure what else to do. I didn’t know Andi’s last name, so trying to find out her room number to call would be fruitless, if the room was even registered in her name. There was no way to get word to her so she wouldn’t think I blew her off and stayed at the club. Short of pulling a scene out of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and standing in the parking lot screaming her name, I didn’t know what else to do.

After fifteen minutes of fruitless brainstorming, I decided to walk around the hotel in the thin hope she was waiting at one of the pools. I replayed our last conversation in my head repeatedly, trying to remember if she specifically said meet in the lobby, but I couldn’t remember. I found a layout of the hotel posted on a wall just around the corner from the reception desk and started my quest. I searched all of the pools, hot tubs, and common areas around the Regency, to no avail. Andi was not there. I reconciled myself to the fact that I was too late. I had blown it.

Dejected, I began my trek back to the cabin.

It was too good to be true, I told myself as I walked along the roadside. Something always messes things up; it was the story of my life. I could have easily been angry with my buddies for delaying me, but I couldn’t blame them for not wanting to sacrifice their fun for my wild goose chase. I debated turning around and camping out in the Regency’s lobby until Andi came down the next morning, but I quickly discarded that idea. How pitiful would that look?

There wasn’t a single stone, rock, bottle or can on the way back to the cabin that wasn’t spared my frustration via a swift boot from my foot. This was Charlie Brown’s revenge.

Arriving back at the White Sands I spotted my van parked in front of our cabin, in one piece. All of the gang were inside, passed out in their respective beds, in various stages of undress. I felt around in the dark until I located my designated bed, the couch. Even though I felt wide-awake, I lay down on the cool imitation-leather and hoped that sleep would find me to numb the disappointment. My only consolation was the possibility of seeing Andi at the Sunset club the following night, if she was still around. I held onto to that thought as I eventually drifted off into a restless slumber.
At first light, I decided to stop pretending I was getting any sleep. I always enjoyed solitary walks along the beach, so I fumbled for my shorts, a wrinkled t-shirt and my flops, then stumbled to the front door. Along the way, I stepped on the same open suitcases, old pizza boxes, crushed beer cans and various other booby traps I encountered when I came in the previous night. When I cracked open the front door the morning sun seemed to burst past me and light up every corner of the room, seeking out any dark recess. The penetrating light elicited more than a few moans and grumbles from previously sleeping bodies, so I quickly ducked out the door and closed it behind me.

Even though the sun was still low in the sky, I immediately regretted forgetting my sunglasses and my eyes went into a semi-permanent squint. As I stood there allowing my vision to slowly adjust, I became aware of someone was sitting on the foot of the steps leading up to the cabin. The tank top was a different color, but the smile was unmistakable. It was Andi.

“Hi,” was all I could manage to say, in a state of shock. My heart was racing and my eyesight instantly returned to 20/20.

“I brought you some orange juice,” she replied, rising from the stoop to hand me one of the two paper cups she was holding.

As I took the cup from her hand, I wondered how I had ever doubted myself. During the night, in between my brief moments of sleep, I let my mind run rampant with self-doubt and exaggerations. I relived every moment after meeting her in the club, wondering if her beauty was just my mind embellishing the ordinary, playing tricks with me because she actually showed an interest in me. After all, the memories I had of her were in a dimly lit room with strobes and colored lights. However, standing before me now in the unforgiving morning sun, she still astounded me. As early in the morning it was, there were no bags or telltale sleepiness in her deep green eyes. The sun was obviously her friend.

“Thank you,” I said, taking the cup from her. “How long have you been out here?”

“Not that long.”

“How did you find me?”

“You said you were staying at the White Sands cabins and that you had a van. There are only two vans’ here, and this one looked more like your style,” she answered, gesturing to my green van parked beside the cabin.

“I have a style?” I said sarcastically.

“Don’t we all,” she answered seriously, taking a sip from her own cup.

“I did come by last night, I swear, but it was really late. I couldn’t get my friends to leave right away and I ended up walking there from the club”

Her demeanor turned serious. “I wasn’t there. I ended up spending the night with Mike.”

My heart sunk. I tried as hard as I could to maintain the same expression, suppressing the crestfallen features that wanted to take over my face. I turned my head away from her and stared off into the distance. I absently took notice of a small wiry dog rummaging through a trash pile a couple of cabins away.

“I just wanted to come by and apologize, especially now that I know you that had to walk all that way,” she continued.

I could feel my resolve starting to falter, but I was determined not to let her see my disappointment. I had obviously misjudged everything, and all I wanted to do now was get away as quickly as I could. The dog, some kind of terrier mix, had scored what looked like an old steak bone and was carrying it away towards the beach. I turned back towards her and used my best poker face.

“Oh…okay…sure…I understand,” I stammered.

Suddenly, she burst out laughing. “I’m joking, you goober.”

I looked at her incredulously. She was kidding? I felt as if I’d been ganged tackled by emotional bullies, joy and jubilation hitting me high, while anger and embarrassment took my legs out from under me from the opposite direction. However unsure of myself I was before, had just been magnified by a factor of ten. I finally said, “Geez, that’s cruel! I think I just got whiplash.”

“I’m Sorry,” she reached out her hand and touched my arm. “I couldn’t resist. You didn’t really think I would do something like that, do you?”

“How would I know any differently? I barely even know your name much less anything else about you. And besides, you don’t know my kind of luck.”

The playful look on her face made it impossible for me to be upset with her, but her little joke did set off alarms in me that I knew I needed to give attention. I should be careful that I don’t lose myself in her so quickly, setting myself up for something like what had just happened. Just take it slow and maintain a certain amount of distance, just in case, I counseled myself.

“I really fell asleep on the couch waiting for you in our lobby,” she said. “We had been up the entire night before and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. My roommate finally came down and took me back to our room. I’m really, really sorry.” She seemed genuinely apologetic.

I climbed down the couple steps to the landing and sat on the stoop next to her, careful not to spill my orange juice and she followed suit sitting next to me, touching her hips to mine even though there was plenty of room on the step for both of us.

“So, why me?” I asked as I sampled the orange juice. It was luke-warm.

“Pardon me?”

“Last night. You said you had been trying to get me to dance with you. Why me?”

“Is there something wrong with you?”

“I don’t think so, but I’m kind of biased. I must admit though that I usually don’t have girls like you asking me to dance.”

“First off, you asked me, I didn’t ask you, and secondly, what do you mean girls like me?” The seriousness had returned to her face, but I interpreted it as a playful tone.

I hesitated a moment before I answered. Remember, maintain distance. I looked at her sitting there next to me. “Girls as pretty as you are,” I blurted honestly. Screw the distance!

Her smile returned and she looked into her drink as if she was attempting to see through the orange pulp to the bottom of the cup. “You think I’m pretty?”

I looked off in the direction that the dog had disappeared. Shrugging my shoulders I said, “You’re alright, but I really prefer older women. You know, late twenties to mid-thirties. I hear they really know how to have a good time.”

THUD! The punch she laid on my upper arm surprised me with its power, but I did well to act as if nothing had happened. I quickly looked back to her and the same playful seriousness had returned.

“You must have brothers,” I observed.

“Nope, I’m an only child. Why?”

“Then where’d you learn to punch like that?”

“Did I hurt your wittle arm,” she mocked me in child like voice.

“That was impressive how you avoided answering my question,” I said, ignoring her taunting.

“What question was that?”

“Why me?”

Her gaze returned to the mystery underneath her orange juice. “I just did.”

“Is that something you do often?”

She shot me a glance that told me the answer before she spoke. “No, never!”

“So then why me, why last night?”

“Your laugh…happy now?”

“My laugh?”

“Uh-huh. I was watching you with your friends. All of you were having so much fun. I don’t know how to explain it, but for some reason every time I saw you laugh, it made me smile.” Her eyes were transfixed to the inside of her cup.

I took a moment to process that. “That’s it? Just my laugh?” I prodded further.

“No, of course not.” She gave me a sideways-annoyed look. “Why are you so curious?”

“It’s very simple, there were over two hundred people in the club last night, half of them guys, and the prettiest girl in the club, who already has a date I might add, decides to pick me out. In the world according to Lee, that’s fairy tale type of stuff. So that’s why I’m just a bit curious about what drew you to me?” I answered slowly and deliberately.

She looked at me with an expression that I interpreted to mean she was struggling to make her mind. Finally, she said, “Okay. I already told you about your laugh. Another thing was the way you were dressed. You weren’t dressed to try and impress anybody and you probably could care less about what they thought about what you wore. But you weren’t sloppily dressed, just extremely casual. I can tell you’re not a slob and you take care of yourself.”

“How can you tell that?”

“Your toenails are neat and trimmed,” she answered, looking down at my feet.

My eyes followed hers down to my toes, which I unconsciously wiggled. “But you didn’t see my toes last night.”

“No, it just confirmed my opinion.”

I glanced over at Andi’s feet. She was wearing a .99 cent pair of blue flip-flops and her toenails were unpainted and perfectly trimmed. “Go on.”

“That all tells me you’re at ease with yourself.” She paused to see if I had any comment, and when I remained silent, she continued. “Next was the way you acted with your friends. I could tell you really listened to them when they were talking. You didn’t appear to be one of those people who just waited for their turn to talk.”

She paused again and looked at me, probably expecting me to say something. I responded by saying, “This is me waiting for my turn to talk.”

“Another thing,” she continued while suppressing a smile, “was that you didn’t ask a single girl to dance, nor did you try to strike up a conversation with one. That told me that you were either very very shy, or gay. But I saw you checking out girls, including me, often enough. So you weren’t gay.”

“I did ask you to dance,” I countered.

“Only after I basically threw myself at you,” she responded back.

I grinned at her and she grinned back.

“So, is that it?” I asked.

She returned her gaze back to her cup. “There was one other thing,” pausing for a moment, “It didn’t hurt that you were cute.”

My grin turned into a full-fledged smile. “You think I’m cute?”

“Not as cute as your friend with the curly hair, but your alright.”

I balled up my fist and made like I was going to punch her on the arm and she recoiled away.

“You wouldn’t hit a girl would you?”

“I’d hit one that could punch like you can.”

I lowered my fist and she righted herself, bumping softly against my side.

“Have any other questions, Mr. Fairy Tale?” she asked.

“Did you talk to Mike at all last night? I mean, golly, you sure saw a lot.”

“Mike’s a nice enough guy, and yes we did talk. Anything else?” she continued.

“I want to know this, where did you get a smile like that. I mean you should get a job with NATO or something and put that smile to good use developing trade agreements with hostile governments. One look at that smile and they’ll roll over and show you their belly.”

She looked back at me, trying desperately to suppress her smile. “I haven’t seen your belly yet?”

Now it was my turn to suppress a smile. “The days still young,” I countered.

She couldn’t contain it any longer and her smile took control of her face, its brilliance gave the morning sun a run for its money.

“You know there could be one other explanation why I didn’t ask anybody to dance or hit on any of the girls there last night,” I offered.

“And what would that be?” she took the bait.

“I could have a girlfriend back home.”

The twinkle in her eyes dimmed a bit and the contents of her cup captured her attention again.

“So I’ve been doing all the talking and answering all the questions, I think it’s your turn now,” she said.

“OK, shoot.”

“Do you have a girlfriend back home?” was her first question, looking straight at me for my response.

“Not even close,” I answered. Now it was my turn to check out the contents of my cup.

“How come?”

“Well, as you so astutely pointed out I have a severe case of shyness and I just don’t do well around girls.” I could feel my face flush a bit.

“You’re not that way at all with me.” Her voice was softer now.

I looked into her eyes. “And I’m as surprised about that as anyone. All I can say is that it’s more about you than it is me. Ever since you smiled at me when I came up to ask you to dance, I’ve been totally at ease, relaxed and confident around you. It’s a feeling that honestly I have never felt before. Usually I’m all tongue tied and clumsy around girls.”

“I feel the same way about you,” she said, leaning harder against my side.

The two of us were silent for a minute.

“So, how long are you in Panama City for?” I asked, already dreading the answer.

“We leave to go back Sunday. What about you?”

“Same day. I guess that gives us five days.” It was Tuesday morning.

“I guess it does” she said, looking into my eyes again. “What do you want to do first?”

“When I came out here I was about to take a walk along the beach, care to join me?” I asked as I rose from the step and reached out my hand to her.

“I thought you’d never ask” she replied smiling, taking hold of my hand and pulling herself up.

We headed off together towards the beach. Before we reached the sand, I reached my right hand out and took hold of Andi’s hand, which she willingly surrendered.

Fibs Revealed

Before I let the cat out of the bag regarding my tall-tales, let me first point you to a couple of contests going on right now you may be interested in.  The first is sponsored by Bethany and Suzette over at Shooting Stars in conjunction with Elana Johnson.  It’s the Fabulous Followers Giveaway and there are critiques and book prizes to be had.

The other is 100+ Blog Party hosted by The Girl With One Eye at A Squirel Amongst Lions.  She’s giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, so run…don’t walk.

Now, back to the business at hand.  It seems nobody guessed my one truth (big surprise), but it was interesting to see how many of you gravitated to the lie that you most wanted to be true.  There sure are a lot of romantics out there.  Here’s the straight scoop.

1.    I suffered a compound fracture in my left arm that necessitated 2 metal plates and 17 screws to put me back together.  As a result, I’m always setting off the alarm in airport security and I’m required to carry a note from my doctor explaining the situation.  False, but with some truth mixed in.  I did break my arm and do have the hardware in my arm, but it doesn’t set off the metal detector at the airport.

2.    I was driving a country road at night when a deer dashed in front of my car.  I hit and killed it, causing substantial damage to my itty-bitty Nissan.   Less than a minute after hitting the deer a pair of drag racing teenagers in their souped up cars came around the curve up ahead and nearly crashed into me.  I’m still convinced today that if I hadn’t hit the deer, I would have ended up in a head-on collision with those boys.  A complete fabrication.  I did hit a deer once, but there were no other cars around.

3.    Several years ago a friend of mine from work bet me $100 I couldn’t get in shape enough to finish a 5K charity run our company was taking part in.  I took the bet.  On the day of the race I ran the entire distance…except for the last ten feet.  I didn’t finish the race because I was so grateful to her for pushing me to get back in shape that I couldn’t take her money.  Another fib.  I did run a 5K on a challenge, but there was no bet involved.

4.    In high school, I used to have a problem with sleepwalking.  I also used to babysit for parents in our cul-de-sac.  Late one night when I was sitting for a family, I woke up standing outside on their front lawn.  When I tried to get back into the house, I found I was locked out.  When the parents showed up ten minutes later (lucky for me…cause it was cold out there), I told them I heard a noise and locked myself out when I went looking to see what it was.  TRUE!  If the parents hadn’t shown up when they did I was just about to knock on the kid’s window to let me in.  I made sure to never fall asleep again while babysitting.

5.    When we first moved to Arkansas, I lost my wedding band while we were boating.  I figured it ended up on the bottom of the lake.  Last year the family was boating again and my wife’s wedding ring came up missing.  We frantically tore apart the boat searching for it.  We found it wedged in a seat…right next to my wedding band.  Our rings had found one another.  Sorry ladies.  This was the sentimental favorite, but it’s a lie.  I did lose my ring in the lake, and my wife did lose her ring years later, but it was after the house flooded because of a busted water-hose.

6.    I have a severe peanut allergy and I almost died one day when I used a product intended to remove earwax that unbeknownst to me contained peanut oil.  Another complete fabrication, but interestingly enough there is peanut oil in some ear-wax removal products.

7.    I am 55 years old.  Close, but no cigar.  I’ll be 54 in December.

That was fun.  Thanks to everyone who gave it a shot.  I’ll be back later this week to prep everybody for the Drunk at First Sight Blogfest hosted by Jon Paul this Sunday.  I’ll be posting a scene that will serve as a bridge between my Love at First Sight entry and the coming one.


Awards Stampede!

I’ve been trampled!  It started off as just a few strays early in the week that suddenly morphed into this a mass of blogger recognition that flattened me like a bug under a shoe!  EIGHT awards from eleven different people in all!  I did my best to keep track of them, but one might have slipped away over the hill and I apologize to anyone who I possibly leave off.  I really, REALLY, like receiving these tributes, but when they come in bunches it can be overwhelming.  If I didn’t know any better I’d think that a secret blogger meeting was held without my knowledge and the grand poo-bah of bloggers decided to pull a cruel prank and proclaimed anyone with awards to hand out would send them my way.  Thankfully, things don’t operate like that around here.  Right?

Anyway, let’s get to it shall we?  Make yourself comfortable, this may take awhile.

First up is the most masculine award I received, which definitely earned the gifters beaucoup bonus points.  It’s the Creative Writing Award and this handsome looking plaque came from Julie @ Silver Lining and Nicole @ One Significant Moment at a Time.  For this award I’m supposed to post ten things that make me happy and unlike some other bloggers that will remain nameless *ahem*, I won’t be copying my responses from a previous award. 

1.   British romantic-comedies.  Four Weddings and a Funeral, Nottinghill, and Love Actually are all in my top ten list.
2.   Mountains.  I love climbing up them, enjoying the view on top of them, and skiing down them.
3.   Electronics.  You name it, I probably own it.  I enjoy playing with my    toys.      
4.   Positive people.  Their energy is contagious, and besides, people who always see the negative are depressing.
5.   Friday afternoon at 4:30 (quitting time).  I love my job, but I love my weekends even more!
6.   Readers & critiquers pointing out parts in my novels they found especially entertaining, surprising, or moving.
7.   Marathon days.  Those solidary times when I’ll spend all day either watching movie after movie, listening to non-stop music, or just reading a book.
8.   Watching my family succeed.  Whether it’s my son scoring a goal at a soccer game, or watching my other son graduate from college, or my daughter getting into a competitive program at her university, or my wife developing a new business interest.  As they go, I go.
9.   This blogging community.  There is always somebody here to pick you up if you sag, or nudge you forward when you hesitate.  I have forged some great friendships here that I treasure.
10. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  ‘nuff said.

I’m passing on the award to three bloggers whose responses I look forward to reading.  They are Lisa Marie @ Confessions of a Writing Mama, Anissa @ Anissa Off The Record, and Julie @ The Climb.  

Next up, a return to the frilly.  It’s the Stylish Blogger Award given with tongue firmly planted in cheek from Kimberly Franklin at Confessions: The Secret Life of a Writer.  The rules here dictate that I relate five fun things about me.

1.       I have no sense of smell.
2.       At the age of 7 I dove off our front porch headfirst onto a concrete sidewalk…just because.  That resulted in my first of a long line of stitches throughout the years.
3.       I can’t stand to wear clothes with holes in them, especially socks. 
4.       I don’t know how to type, but I can hunt & peck with the best of them.
5.       I’ve been to Mardi Gras…twice.  It really is as crazy and depraved as they say it is!

I’ll be passing this award onto three ladies who strike me as not only stylish, but whose inner-beauty is as equally as stunning.  Nicole @ One Significant Moment at a Time, Holly @ 504 Main, and Julie @ Silver Lining.

Here’s another recognition that’s gender-neutral, and it’s called the Superior Scribbler Award.  It was bestowed upon me by one of my “tingle” blog friends, the talented Kristin at Kristin Creative.  This award doesn’t require a pound of flesh, so all I have to do is pass it along to Tiffany @ Ranting and Raving For Your Viewing Pleasure, Thea @ Do I Really Want To Blog, and Portia Sisco.

The Quillfeather Award is rather unique.  I received this one from Jemi at Just Jemi and its conditions ask that I share the way I prefer my eggs.  If you catch me at Denny’s I’m partial to the Grand Slam with my eggs over-easy, but anywhere else I usually gravitate to a plain ole ham & cheese omelet.  How about you, Amy @ The Invisible Sister?  How do you like your eggs? 

I received the Creative Liar Writer Award from three different bloggers and I’m wondering if I should read something into that.  Many thanks, I think, to Kristi at Random Daily Thoughts, Natalie Bahm, and Matt over at Pensive SarcasmI’ve seen many versions of this award (see, I’m not the only one bending the rules), but I’ll go with the standard six lies and one truth.  Let’s see how good you are at seeing through my BS.

1.     I suffered a compound fracture in my left arm that necessitated 2 metal plates and 17 screws to put me back together.  As a result, I’m always setting off the alarm in airport security and I’m required to carry a note from my doctor explaining the situation.
2.     I was driving a country road at night when a deer dashed in front of my car.  I hit and killed it, causing substantial damage to my itty-bitty Nissan.   Less than a minute after hitting the deer a pair of drag racing teenagers in their souped up cars came around the curve up ahead and nearly crashed into me.  I’m still convinced today that if I hadn’t hit the deer, I would have ended up in a head-on collision with those boys.
3.     Several years ago a friend of mine from work bet me $100 I couldn’t get in shape enough to finish a 5K charity run our company was taking part in.  I took the bet.  On the day of the race I ran the entire distance…except for the last ten feet.  I didn’t finish the race because I was so grateful to her for pushing me to get back in shape that I couldn’t take her money.
4.     In high school, I used to have a problem with sleepwalking.  I also used to babysit for parents in our cul-de-sac.  Late one night when I was sitting for a family, I woke up standing outside on their front lawn.  When I tried to get back into the house, I found I was locked out.  When the parents showed up ten minutes later (lucky for me…cause it was cold out there), I told them I heard a noise and locked myself out when I went looking to see what it was.
5.     When we first moved to Arkansas, I lost my wedding band while we were boating.  I figured it ended up on the bottom of the lake.  Last year the family was boating again and my wife’s wedding ring came up missing.  We frantically tore apart the boat searching for it.  We found it wedged in a seat…right next to my wedding band.  Our rings had found one another.
6.     I have a severe peanut allergy and I almost died one day when I used a product intended to remove earwax that unbeknownst to me contained peanut oil.
7.     I am 55 years old.

For this distinction I’m choosing The Girl With One Eye @ A Squirrel Amongst Lions, Summer @ and this time concentrate, and Kristin @ Kristin Creative.

Bethany @ Shooting Stars awarded me the Silver Lining Award, which I already possess, but she felt I deserved two. :)  That was so sweet.  I’m not going to pass this one along again, but I wanted to mention it here.

And finally (a cheer goes up from the crowd), there’s the Beautiful Blogger Award from Thea @ Do I Really Wanna Blog?  Here are the rules for this one (which of course I’ll be bending).  I have to thank the person who nominated me for this award, copy the award and place it on my blog, link to the person who nominated me for this award, share 7 interesting things about myself, and nominate 7 other beautiful bloggers (which I’m changing to 3).  Phew!  This is getting really hard…because I’m really not that interesting.

1.     I know how to juggle.
2.     I could care less how the furniture is arranged as long as I have a clear line of sight between the couch and TV.
3.     I can’t stand yard work!
4.     I’ve been afraid to write certain chapters in my books… because I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off.
5.     If it wasn’t for my wife and family, I’d probably be a recluse like Howard Hughes…except without the money…and the peeing in jars thing.
6.     The first thing I ever wrote for anybody other than myself…was to impress a cheerleader.
7.     I have never made a choice just because it was the popular one.  If I see a crowd moving in one direction, I’ll always look the other way to see what they’re moving away from.

My selections for this award are Karen @ Eternal Moonshine of a Daydreaming Mind, Jade @ Chasing Empty Pavements, and Michele @t Southern City Mysteries.

*Breathing heavy*  This was a monster post and I appreciate those of you who made it all the way to this point.  If you haven’t already, please check out the blogs I linked here today.  They are all great reads!

Now go put some Visine in your eyes, I know I will.


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