Four Links

It’s Saturday, so no point in doing in major blogging, but figured I’d share a few brief things:

One is this link my Google Alert sent me to a listing on Astro Auction for some Skylab-flown cassette tapes. I’m mentioning this link not because these tapes would be the perfect gift for me if someone were looking to buy me something, but, rather, because, in describing the tapes, the listing states: “Playing music from these tapes while on Skylab is a topic well detailed in the book ‘Homesteading Space’ by David Hitt.” Heh. I’m like an expert, or something.

The next is also from my Google Alert, even though it technically has nothing to do with me. This article about how the new Missile Defense Agency logo represents Obama as a type of the Antichrist would be entertaining enough as it is, but merited my notice because it cites “David Hitt, an intellectual property attorney and former 32nd degree Freemason with an interest in occult symbolism.” For the record, uh, not me.

This xkcd strip is apropos of nothing, but amused me.

Finally, I’ve set up a page where you can ask me questions. The responses are posted automatically to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I figured I would mention it here in case anyone had anything questions they would like me to answer. Questions answered so far are “What is your opinion on Space Elevators?” and “Do you have any tips for writings on perseverance and getting things finished?” Submitted questions in the queue include “What song lyrics sum up your life right now?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

Ten Years

To quote a Lori McKenna song: “It hurts for a reason.”

Today would have been my tenth anniversary.

Or, I suppose, is, in the same sense that Monday was still George Washington’s birthday, despite the fact that ol’ George himself left us a few years ago.

I got married 10 years ago today. The marriage endured three-quarters of that time.

Today should have been …

I don’t even know. A friend of mine celebrated her 10th anniversary last year with a trip to DC with her husband. In another world, we would have been doing something this weekend, something special. In a different world.

But not in this life.

Those who know me know at least parts of the story. For those who don’t, I respect her too much to go into it here. But we both did our fair share of contributing to the end. And in the end, I was the one who filed. I was the one who ended it. And that’s something that I have to live with.

I have to live with knowing how I hurt a newlywed bride, eager for her husband’s approval. I have to live with the pain we inflicted on each other over the next seven and a half years. Worse, I have to live with the memory of the good times in which that pain was set, with the memory of what was lost. I have to live with knowing that I gave up. I have to live with never knowing what might have been, had things been different three years ago, or eleven.

And it hurts. For a reason.

I was talking to a friend a while back who was going through a divorce, and she was talking about that. How hard it is. How much it hurts.

And I advised her, as someone who has been there, and come out the other side to the extent that you ever completely do, not to resent the pain. Embrace it. Treasure it. Value it.

Because if you can go through this without being hurt, you’ve lost something valuable of yourself. The hurt reminds us of the cost. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life. And you survive.

The hurt is the best thing to come out of it. Because as long as you remember that, as long as you can feel that, then you can hold on to the most important thing of all —

Never again. Never. Again.

The Song That I Sing

This is a song that nobody knows
I still can’t begin to describe how it goes
But it makes me cry or laugh right out loud
It’s a song that I sing when there’s no one around
It’s a song that I sing when there’s no one around
— Garth Brooks, “When There’s No One Around”

I discovered this song recently in my iTunes, and put it on my list to blog about. It ties in pretty well with this week’s Reconstruction topic, so this is as good a time as any.

The lyrics above really captured the point for me (and, conveniently, fit the topic, but the song is variations on that theme:

This is the man that nobody sees
He wears my old clothes and he looks just like me
Just one of the boys who gets lost in the crowd
He’s the man that I am when there’s no one around

This is a glimpse of the child that’s within
He’s so immature but he’s still my best friend
If he could learn how to fly he’d never touch down
He’s the kid that I am when there’s no one around

And the song struck home because it’s exactly what I hope is not true about me.

I sing. A lot. I sing while going for walks. I sing in the car. Heck, I sing sometimes walking through Target (albeit generally sotto voce — generally), especially if something good is on the radio.

I also, as I mentioned in the last post, sing badly.

That fact has no bearing on anything. I sing at improv shows. I’ve sung at work. Not only do I sing in the car, I sing in the car when people are riding with me. And I don’t wait until you get to know me to feel comfortable enough. I’ll sing in the car the first time someone rides with me. Because if you can’t handle me singing badly in the car around you, you don’t need to ride in the car with me, and you deserve to know that from the outset.

And that’s the point — my goal is to strive to be who I am. Because, ultimately, I am. So there’s no point in pretense. I feel no need to be in-your-face about that, but just to simply be.

My goal is for there to be no man that nobody sees. Character, they say, is what you do when there’s nobody looking. For me, there should be no difference. The man you see and the man I am in private should be one and the same. My character should be the same.

And I don’t want there to be a kid that I am when there’s no one around. Not because there’s no child within, but because he’s without, also. Yeah, there is definitely an aspect of the childlike to me, and I’m going to nurture that for as long as I can. But I’m also not going to be ashamed of it and hide it. That, also, is who I am.

So if you’re unfortunate enough to encounter me singing publicly — the song that you’re hearing? That’s the song that I sing when there’s no one around.

Think About Music

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Singing.”

Nomad: What is the meaning?
Uhura: What?
Nomad: What form of communication?
Uhura: I don’t know what — Oh, my singing. I was singing.
Nomad: For what purpose is singing?
Uhura: I don’t know. I — I like to sing. I felt like music.
Nomad: What is music? Think about music.
Star Trek, “The Changeling (And I have to mention Information Society’s Come With Me here, which is how I know this exchange.)

For some reason, this topic has been one that I’ve really been looking forward to. But now that it’s here, I don’t know exactly what all I want to say about it. The assignment is limited specifically to singing; I would probably have a lot to say if it were about the broader area of music in general. Music is a big issue for me; I’m very aware of the soundtrack of my life at times, I can communicate in music at times, music and mood are very linked for me. The irony is that, in all the creative arts, music is the area in which I have the least ability. I have varying degrees of aptitude for the written, visual and performing arts, but I have negative talent for music. I suck musical talent out of people around me.

The cool thing is, I’ve come to realize over the last year what a gift that is.

That sign is so me, which I’ll get into in Part II of this post later in the week. I take the sign’s message to heart — I’m not the best bird, but I’m still going to sing.

But God did give me other talents. For example, He gave me a talent for improv. I’m good at making people laugh.

And that’s important to note. Because I used to believe I had no talent for singing. The problem was, I was failing to put it in the proper context.

These days, I get to perform. I get to sing in front of audiences. As an improv actor, my job is to make people laugh. And, when I sing at a show, I assure you, people laugh.

I once thought my singing was a lack of talent. But when I found what I really enjoy doing, I realized that it’s actually a skill for being good at something I love.

And that’s the best talent you could be gifted with.

Various And Sundry 3: Variouser and Sundrier

Random stuff I’m writing about today:

— I was in the Barnes & Noble at the Summit in Birmingham Sunday. For the first time, I got to see a copy of the Smithsonian Atlas of Space Exploration, which includes Homesteading Space in its bibliography of essential spaceflight reading. When I was browing through the humor section, it occured to me that they probably also had The World According to Twitter, and, in fact, they had three copies of it. Amused and intrigued, I pulled out my phone, confirmed they had a copy of it, and went and found Black Men Built the Capitol on the shelf. Even without having a copy of Homesteading, there are three books in that bookstore that have my name in them. That’s kinda cool, and more than a little funny.

— Ole Miss students will be voting today whether to replace Colonel Reb with something else or to “remain the only school in the Southeastern Conference without a mascot.” The vote today is just yea or nay, the exact “something else” with which Colonel Reb would be replaced would be determined later. I wrote about my thoughts on this issue back during football season, and won’t go into all of that again now, other than the fact that I think it’s sad that Ole Miss is gradually losing having any unique character at all. However, I will share this mascot option that I’ve seen posted on Facebook.

Best. Trek. Novel. Ever.

— I taught kids again at church on Sunday morning. The materials were different this time; last time I had multiple activities to do with them, this time I was just telling a story. Part of my problem was that I got overconfident. The story was about David and Absalom, and I figured the studying I’ve done of David over the past year would help me, but, really, not so much. I also figured that my improv experience would help me ad lib some funniness that would make me more engaging, but, again, not really. I felt boring, and it was a lousy feeling. Just have to do better next time. And hope for better material.

— I went to the zoo in Birmingham Sunday also. Not that I didn’t have fun, but it was a bit more impressive 30 years ago.

— Stuff Christians Like: The Obligatory Lost Sermon: “But maybe you were unaware of the need to experience an obligatory Lost sermon. Maybe you didn’t even know that was an option. And with the show in its final season, you’re lost as it were with how to properly judge the quality of a Lost sermon. It’s almost as if you need a Lost sermon scorecard.” Now I kinda wish my preacher did this sort of thing.

— I’ve heard versions of this story about three janitors at NASA enough that it may be apocryphal, but I hope not. And it is a good reminder, not only for those of us in the agency, but for life in general.

— Two bits from “Overheard in the Newsroom:

Reporter: “A preacher just lied to me! Isn’t there a commandment against that?” Editor: “Was he Baptist?”

Editor to Reporter at Canadian paper: “Space crap is all the American’s can do right, and they are not even doing that!”

This picture by my coworker Heather may be my favorite thing thus far to come out of the 365project.

— I went to improv rehearsal last night, official improv rehearsal, for the first time in about three months. It was very good to be back. As I’ve mentioned, I’m working in shows Friday and Saturday night, to which you should come, so it was good actually being able to get some rehearsal in before working again this weekend. Probably the biggest thing to come out of the rehearsal was discovering that, even rusty, I’m still competent, though I’m hoping that being back in an actual show again will inspire a bit more than just competence. Last night, I karate-chopped my wife, pitched racist t-shirts, got hypnotized, and became a genius phrenologist via head trauma. All in a good night’s work.

The Nephew, The Proud

Saturday my family celebrated the first birthday of my nephew, Nathan.

My Nephew

At his first birthday party.

Improv Update

I said yesterday I would post an update on the improv schedule if anything changed, and now I am. In addition to the show on Saturday, February 27, at 7 p.m. at Kenny Mango’s Coffee in Madison, I will also be doing a show on Friday, February 26, at 7 p.m. at Ars Nova Theater in Huntsville.

For those that haven’t seen Face2Face before (and for anyone who has started reading my blog since the last time I did a show, months ago), we’re a comedy improv troupe. We make up scenes on the spot, based on suggestions from the audience. (And for the more timid in the crowd, we don’t bring anyone on stage or force anyone to do anything; you’re more than welcome to just sit back and enjoy the show.) We do a family friendly show of live entertainment. If you’ve ever seen the old ABC show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” we’re kinda like that. Only better.

I can’t embed them here, but there are videos of some of my work with the troupe on Facebook that should be publically visible. Ticket information for the shows hasn’t be posted yet, but will eventually be here.

Come check us out sometime!

Intelligent Design

So the cool thing about Facebook is that it tells you the things about yourself that it never occurred to you to wonder. For example, until this morning, I had never asked myself how people thought I compared, looks-wise, with The Huntsville Times. But, apparently, at least one anonymous person thinks I’m cuter than the local newspaper.

Now, as a former newspaper editor with extensive experience in design, it forced me to then evaluate whether I had ever come up with a newspaper design that I would have said was more attractive than myself. And, given how I looked when I was designing newspapers, I would say almost certainly so. To be fair, I can’t say that “cute” was generally what I was aiming for in publication design, but, then, I can’t say that “cute” is what I am for for myself either, so it all balances out.

Mother and Child

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Single Mothers.”

OK, to acknowlege the obvious — I’ve been varying degrees of single for over two and a half years now. And, so, yeah, I’ve had to rethink some thoughts on single mothers during that period for those reasons.

Along similiar lines, comparing divorce stories, it’s a very different experience with kids and without. So I have some thoughts there, as well.

That said, I think I’m going to save the bulk of what I have to say about those two subjects for Week 20, where they really fit a bit better.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to count among my closest friends a couple of single mothers, and their experiences have provided an interesting look at what it means to be a parent. In both cases, the parenting is very one-sided, with the fathers choosing to be indulgent rather than responsible. The dad gets to be the “nice” one, forcing the mom to be the “mean” one. Instilling discipline and responsibility are left entirely up to her, forcing her at times to do what’s right by the child at the cost of being liked.

I realize that that’s not solely a single-parent issue. Too many parents today want to be their child’s best friend, want to indulge their child, to make their child happy, at the expense of actually doing what’s right by the child. The children are happy in the moment, but suffer for it as they grow up. It’s a choice that parents have to make constantly, and often fall not at one end of the extreme or the other, but somewhere in the middle. The plight of the single parent, then, can make the dichotomy all the more obvious when they’re having to offset someone who does skew close to the opposite extreme.

My friends’ children are lucky to have mothers who are willing to make that choice, to put their child ahead of themselves. I hope that, if in some unlikely future I were to be a parent, I will have learned something from knowing them.