The Story of Life as we Know It

We write the story of our life one thought, one daydream, one word at a time. I'm on my 50th draft of a story called "Barry" and it's very much a work in progress - red pens and Post-it notes everywhere. The older I get, the more I enjoy the revision process, asking "What if?" and "Why not?"

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Midgets in the Mist

At an Internet marketing seminar, I bumped into an old friend (literally), someone I worked with thirty years ago. Our conversation included a fond memory from the fall of 1987 when we made a trip from Birmingham, Alabama, to Marin County just north of San Francisco, to learn how to draw on what was one of the most sophisticated computer graphics systems in the world at that time. Exciting work.

On our first morning, the hotel fire alarm went off around 6 a.m. I staggered about, hopping into jeans and pulling on a tee-shirt and then made my way out into the hall barefoot where a dozen midgets were blazing a trail to the exit door. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. In the parking lot - where there were at least another dozen midgets milling about - I looked around for my friend, who should have been pretty easy to spot in this crowd. When I found her, she was standing next to Ron Howard, a.k.a. Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham (or as Eddie Murphy might say, Opie Cunningham).

I rubbed my eyes again. I blinked. After making his acquaintance, I learned Mr. Howard was directing a film called "Willow" that was shooting in nearby Muir Woods. Before 6:05 a.m. on my first day in California, I stood in an asphalt jungle with midgets in the mist, experiencing a California film-world fantasy. It was a wonderful, spontaneous prologue for a day of high-speed training on high-tech computer graphics. Now, it's a memory I laugh about with my kids, a memory I almost filed too far back in the file drawer.

Do you have a funny memory you can share with someone today?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Your Most Embarassing Memory

In a group setting, I was recently asked about my most embarrassing moment.  I have a LOT to pick from, but this was the first thing that came to mind:

My gypsy family moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Hollywood, Florida when I was eleven. We quickly bought a house, enrolled in middle school and found a new church.  Prospects at Sheridan Hills Baptist made their way down a long aisle during the benediction to stand below the pulpit. The preacher made this an important part of the service by introducing each individual and saying something personal about them.  When it was time for the DeLoziers to be presented, the reverend turned his back to the congregation and moved down the line in front us, shaking hands and speaking. “Welcome Fred,” I heard him tell my father. “God bless you, Joyce,” he told my mother. “Jim, son, we’re glad to have you,” he told my brother. When he stood in front of me, he said, “Barry, your fly is unzipped. I'll stand here while you zip it." Sure enough, while the congregation sang "Just As I Am," I stood there just as I was, shirttail hanging out.

What's your most embarrassing memory?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pressure Sensitive Synchronicity

Ever feel in sync with time? You know, you glance at the clock throughout the day and it's on the hour exactly?  Happens to me often.  I have no problems sleeping through the night, but if I wake it's always at 3:33 a.m.

I tend to be more of a "word" than a "numbers" guy, but I track a lot of figures for my business ventures. Sometimes numbers tell stories better than words. I recently had two mathematical improbabilities jump off the synchronicity meter.

The first happened driving between appointments, making a mental list of tasks to accomplish before leaving town. "Time to change the oil in my car," I thought, glancing at the sticker pressed to the windshield. My mechanic calculated my next oil change should occur at 48,327 miles. Odometer read 48,327 miles. I pulled to the curb to make sure I wasn't transposing a number. Spot on.

The second "coincidence" occurred a few weeks later as I unwrapped a single-cup coffee maker we received as a gift. My family - the wife, two kids and even the dog - were all in the kitchen as I set up the appliance. Like my windshield, the coffee maker had a pressure-sensitive sticker, this one over an LCD display window. As I peeled it off, I asked my oldest son what time it was, which he determined by reading the clock on our stove: 10:53. Printed on the sticker, to demonstrate the display, was the time 10:53. 

I'm connecting with pressure-sensitive stickers. 

Do you ever feel a sense of order with numbers?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Miracles 2009

Saturday morning, December 5, we awoke to a dusting of snow on our mountain, one day after my wife draped our front door with wreaths and garland. It's the first time either of us can remember having decked the walls in time to capture the "White Christmas" photo for our annual card. Such instincts, such impeccable timing comes with old age, I guess. I wandered the yard at sunrise, playing Ansel Adams. By noon the snow was gone except in roof-valleys and shady parts of the lawn. No matter. It was a blockbuster day for college football. Boys camped out in our basement to watch the SEC Championship game, not necessarily rooting for the same team. With Mom in her kerchief and I in my cap (of the baseball variety), we settled in our living room, fireside, to watch with glee as the Alabama Crimson Tide made reindeer mush of the Florida Gators. You should have heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" we sang to the tune of Rammer-Jammer here on our mountain. I love celebrating this Season of Miracles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When the Spirit Moves You

I was recently asked to teach one session of a Sunday school class for a diverse, intellectual group at our Presbyterian church, a weekly gathering of deep-thinkers, people much further along on their faith journeys than I am. I'm not easily intimidated, but this was outside my comfort zone. The class is engaged in an academic study of the Holy Spirit. I was asked to explore ways in which the Spirit is revealed through relationships. No text. "Make your own curriculum," I was told.

Okay. I like blank sheets of paper.

The date I was assigned was November 15, and while I reflected on the subject for weeks, I didn't gather resources until ... hmn ... November 13. Time to get busy, to pull 50-minutes of material together. We have a library in our home filled with books on theology and philosophy, so I wasn't worried about having adequate resources, but, "Where to start?"

Our family has a tradition of reading Daily Guideposts at the breakfast table before the kids go off to school. When I teach, I rarely use such devotional books, certainly not for deep, theological explorations; but for some reason, last week I went first to the breakfast room and not the library. I scanned the Guideposts index for "Holy Spirit" and found one entry out of 365 devotionals. Page 318. When I flipped to page 318, it was an entry written by Debbie Macomber for Sunday, November 15.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seeing Beyond Boundaries

My 91-year-old grandmother recently fell and broke her hip, almost one year to the day she fell and broke her other hip. It appears to be the final struggle for this Mississippi farm girl who has dealt with many challenges in her lifetime. Still a beautiful woman with olive skin and a square jaw, Granny has always been a faithful servant, forever in the background, cooking and mending, farming and tending to details for everyone but herself. Unlike me and much of her kinfolk, she's never sought the limelight, not once. Recently she told me how depressing it is to stop doing for others. "I lost my purpose," she whispered.

In the hospital the morning she broke her hip, while my parents and wife were tending to doctor consultations and surgery schedules, I did nothing more than stand beside her bed. Like a scene straight from William P. Young's The Shack, she told me I had the most beautiful colors glowing around me with a bright, blue stream flowing through the middle. "And, look!" Her eyes would dart around the space above my shoulders. "Isn't she beautiful?" she asked, smiling wide-eyed. "Who, Granny?" I responded. "My mother," she said. "See? All of my ancestors are here." I've never had such goosebumps staring at a blank wall.

Since that day, between long periods of anxiety and hallucinations and in the most feeble of whispers, she has shared some profound spiritual truths with this grandson. How appropriate that this dear woman - who all her life has served up plates of fried chicken and field peas with a pot-liquor better than any gumbo - would now provide such eternal food for the soul. I love you, Granny.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What makes you feel grateful?

Traipsing through narrow streets in Tangier last week, I was bombarded by toothless street vendors holding wooden camels and tin bracelets in my face, all with prices dropping faster than my stock portfolio. “No thanks,” I said, smiling and shaking my head, looking away at rooftops and stray cats. Then I saw him at the entrance to our restaurant – a young man blind in one eye, selling an accordion postcard with images of Morocco. My mind jumped to a scene in the film Slumdog Millionaire, the one where the young, blind beggar knows Ben Franklin’s mug is printed on a U.S. one-hundred dollar bill. “No thanks,” I repeated as I passed this boy and ducked inside to eat couscous and drink mint tea and watch belly dancers. He was still there when I came out, smiling, trying to sell his postcard. I gave him coins to equal the modest asking price, but though I didn’t take the postcard, I left with a permanent image fixed in my mind, one that makes me grateful for films like Slumdog Millionaire and blind boys with the courage to smile at strangers.