Farewell, Old Friend


My closest bookstore has gone out of business.

This makes me sad.

And the sad part is, it makes me sad not because the impact on me will be that great, but because of how my brain works.  I’m less sad about what it means for the future than what it means for the past.

I am, for those that don’t know this about me, an overwhelmingly nostalgic person.

I didn’t even go to that Books-A-Million that much anymore. Heck, I probably went more frequently to the Barnes & Noble I had to pass it to get to, simply because I had more reasons to go to that shopping center.

And there’s another Books-A-Million still open in town, so if I have Books-A-Million-specific needs, I can still go there.

Truth be told, and this is probably why the Books-A-Million is closing, I do the bulk of my book-buying online these days.

So the real net impact on me is pretty minimal. There are plenty of other options.

But none of those other options have the same memories.

I went to the store a week ago today, the day before it closed. I went mainly to see if there were any bargains to be had, but, being me, couldn’t help to be haunted by memories on practically every aisle. Many of happier times, a few not so much. Those aisles were touchstones of those memories, and it makes me sad that I’ll not be able to revisit them again, never be able to stand where I stood when … Never be able to look again where I saw …

And that’s silly, and I know it. But it’s who I am. And who I am will miss my Books-A-Million. I ended up leaving before the sense of loss swallowed me whole. The sense of loss over a bookstore I didn’t even go to that much anymore.

Silly.


I will add this, however — in the last three years, every book chain in Huntsville has had stores close except for Barnes & Noble.

Guess which is the only book chain in Huntsville to carry Homesteading Space.

Re-Pressed Memories


OK, this is another one of those posts that my sporadic blogging has caused me to be posting way too late, but I didn’t want to not.

Earlier this summer, I got to do a bit of time-traveling.

You see, this year, Ole Miss’ student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, turned 100, and a grand reunion was held at the university’s journalism school building.

Six years ago, we’d had a mini-reunion of several of the people I worked with, a sort of surprise birthday party I threw myself when I turned 30 (I knew it was my birthday party, most of the rest of the group didn’t). We’ve talked ever since about how we should do it again, and this time possibly plan far enough ahead to involve some of the more far-flung staff members who weren’t able to make it that time. When we found out about the 100th anniversary event, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

And, really, it was.

I saw friends that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and, even with those I see more often, it was really great seeing everybody together.

The DM staff my first two years there was a very close-knit group, and I think we all imagined we would be friends forever. Over the years, we’ve drifted apart some from time to time, but it’s very neat seeing how, almost two decades later, we always tend to drift back together. And, as I’ve alluded to here, it’s been a rough summer for me, and it meant a huge deal for me to be surrounded by old friends who still love me. During my time at Ole Miss, far more than my dorm room, the journalism building, and the friends I shared it with, were home, and it was nice getting to be home that way again for a couple of days this summer.

Nik Dirga, who, being in New Zealand, wasn’t able to make the reunion, wrote a cool piece about the anniversary anyway, and I have to brag that The DM was named the 14th best student newspaper in the nation recently.

View My Worst-Ever Haircut and Mull It


From a Plinky prompt: Show a picture of your worst-ever haircut.

david hitt high school photo mullet

My high school senior yearbook portrait

It wasn’t intentional, I promise.

To be sure, I went through a series of bad hair styles in late high school and through college, and, to a lesser extent, thereafter. Somewhere, there are probably worse pictures of the style in this picture, but it was the worst one I had handy.

In my defense, for what little defense it provides, I didn’t realize I was rocking a mullet.

I blame Jeremy Wells. Jeremy, you see, was my high school newspaper editor my sophomore year, and he was, to my young mind, awesome. He excelled at everything I wanted to excel at and more. And while he was a good writer, his main strength as editor was his design and graphics ability, proving that you could become a school newspaper editor on the skills I had instead of the skills I didn’t.

I wanted to be Jeremy Wells.

And that imitation extended to hair. I wanted long hair like Jeremy’s. So I decided to start growing it out.

Now, I did not want a mullet. To be honest, at that point, I didn’t even know what a mullet was. In fact, it wasn’t until probably a decade after high school that I really realized that I’d had one.

What did I want? Awesome long hair. Like hippie or rock star hair, but clean cut and respectable. That’s totally better than a mullet. Look, I was in high school, whadda you want? Shut up.

What I got was a mullet. That I kept for way too long.

And the irony was this. I was telling this story to someone recently, how I didn’t know I had a mullet and that’s not what I was aiming for, I just wanted awesome long hair like Jeremy’s. I pulled out the yearbook to show his picture to explain what I’d actually wanted.

And in that picture, looking at it again for the first time in almost 20 years, it turns out Jeremy Wells was totally rocking a mullet.

Sigh.

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Another Sunday — Mountain View I


This entry is part of my series on my on-going “church journey” that I’ll be documenting as it takes place. You can read about other visits with the “journey” tag.

And then there was the week I went all the way back, to the beginning.

I wrote last month about revisiting Southside Baptist Church, where I attended prior to my divorce, and the experience of what it was like to go back to a church I had been a member of but which I’d not been to in years. It was an interesting experience, and made me curious about going even further back.

So I went to Mountain View Baptist Church.

To the best of my knowledge, Mountain View is the first church I ever went to. Pretty much from the time I was born until I was in high school, my family and I attended Mountain View, save for a couple of years we weren’t living in Huntsville. When I was in high school, we moved to Southside because of the larger youth program. I’ve set foot in Mountain View only sporadically since then, but it’s been many years since even the most recent of those visits.

Nonetheless, the first words I heard upon walking in were “Hello, Mr. Hitt.”

I’m impressed anyone recognized me. I’ve changed quite a bit since I last regularly attended Mountain View, but there were still a few familiar faces, more than recognized me without introduction than vice versa, I should add.

These posts about churches that were once home are the hardest in some ways, because it’s easy to take for granted some of the details. What was it like? Well, in a hundred little ways, it was like Mountain View, you know? I could still find the area in the wood paneling at the front that looked to me like Sark from Tron when I was a kid. When I walked through the church, the library still had the collection of Tom Swift books that were old when I read them decades ago, sitting on the same shelves. They were evenstill using the same offering envelopes.

The music was a mix of old and new. It was the first time I’d been in Mountain View and not used a hymnal, and despite the fact that the first song projected on the new screen up front was a praise chorus, we still sang “Just As I Am” as the invitation.

The congregation was also an interesting mix — Mountain View was most likely the most integrated church I’ve ever attended, with several mixed families. I’m curious as to how the Mountain View broke the church race barrier more effectively than, perhaps, anywhere I’ve been before.

And, of course, the other thing that was different was the pastor, as tends to happen. The consensus has been that Mountain View has a tendency to drift more liberal with new pastors, though I think there has been some back and forth rather than a continuous trend. I couldn’t tell about the new pastor. I could tell preached loudly, in sort of an archetypal old-fashioned Southern Baptist manner. It distracted me from the actual content of the message, but was fascinating for a while.

Two people joined the church at the end of the service, and the church body voted then and there on whether to accept them. Also, before dismissing the congregation, the pastor asked whether anyone else had a word they felt called to share, which I thought was pretty cool.

Right now, I feel like I sort of got what I was going to out of visiting Mountain View, but can’t swear that I won’t be going back.

When I Fall


Welcome to autumn!

I wrote a post last year about it being the first day of fall, and wanted to do so again this year.

In fact, I considered just republishing last year’s post, but it just didn’t seem right.

Oh, sure, there’s all that good sciencey stuff explaining about the first day of fall being the autumnal equinox when Earth’s subsolar point crosses the equator. And my basic feelings about fall (which were also the subject of a Reconstruction post earlier this year) as, moreso than spring, a time of fresh starts and new beginnings still apply this year as well.

That said, yeah, this year, I’m just not feeling it yet. And I think a good bit of that is literal. There’s a particular sort of day I associate with the beginning of fall — sun shining, weather cooler, a slight crisp breeze — and so far, we haven’t had a day that just really struck me as being fall.

And that may be the reason that I’m just not in the same place emotionally, either, but I’m not. It’s harder at the moment seeing this as a time when new beginnings are right around the corner. And that’s not a bad thing at all, I’m going into the fall at a place where I’m actually pretty content with the status quo; I don’t feel quite the need for something new that I did the last three or so autumns.

Who knows, the weather may change soon, and I may get that old fall feeling again.

As it is, I’m just looking forward to seeing a little more color.

New Old School


I love when, every few years, they release original-trilogy Star Wars figures in the old vintage packaging style from 30 years ago. It makes me happy.

Releasing prequel-trilogy figures in packaging based on the vintage design? Seeing an 80s-style Revenge of the Sith card? Yeah, that makes me rather happy, too.

Expendable Pilgrim


I was interested in watching both Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and The Expendables.

I had to pick one to watch first, knowing it meant I might not get around to the other. Scott Pilgrim won, which in retrospect was the right choice. But when I watched Scott Pilgrim, I wanted to write about it. And based on what I wanted to say about it, I wanted to watch The Expendables, too, and review them both together.

That was the weekend before last. This past weekend, I watched The Expendables. And I watched Scott Pilgrim again.

I rather liked Scott Pilgrim, in case you didn’t get that.

Scott Pilgrim, you see, was a lot of fun. It had a good story, and that went a long way, but it was made well, in a way that was enjoyably whimsical. It was made in a very particular vernacular, to the point where, if you’re unfamiliar with that vernacular, you might as well be watching a foreign film. But if you are, it provides the comfortable intimacy of a story told by someone who knows you.

And that was why I wanted to go ahead and watch The Expendables, as well. My theory was that it, also, would involve its own vernacular, and might resonate in the same way in its world.

I should note, here, that while both movies are rooted deeply in the culture of the ’80s and ’90s, and while I’m very much a child of the eras they’re rooted in, I myself am much more a part of the Scott Pilgrim culture than The Expendables culture. To be honest, I’ve never even watched a Rambo movie all the way through.

Scott Pilgrim is rooted heavily in pop geek culture of that period — in video games and sitcoms and comic books and indie bands. There’s hardly a frame of the film, to use an archaic colloquialism, that isn’t fan service for citizens of that world. The Expendables is written in exactly the vernacular you would expect of a movie that includes Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Steve Austin. (And doesn’t feature a baby in a key role; that’s an entirely separate genre.)

I would say it’s a credit to The Expendables that it’s not quite as slavishly devoted to its vernacular. The scene with “The Big Three” is handled with just as big a wink as you would expect, but then, later in the film, there’s a point where I thought, “They should totally have had Rocky fight that guy instead.” The problem, however, is that the entire point of The Expendables is that vernacular; it exists pretty much solely as a super-potent distillation of the ’80s over-the-top (no pun intended) action genre. Arguably, it would be hard for the film to have gone too far in that direction, since that’s pretty much its entire raison d’etre. It’s a movie, written in a particular vernacular, about that vernacular. It’s fun and entertaining, but very WYSIWYG.

Scott Pilgrim, on the other hand, uses its vernacular as a medium for telling a larger story. It’s a story about relationships, and uses its very contrived world to tell a very real story. I identified with the movie in two ways — both the ambient references to a culture I was very familiar with, but, even more so, its musings on love and relationships. I lived more than a bit of both the context and the content. It was a film with heart, and not just the little eight-bit ones that show how much life you have left.

The Expendables was a couple of hours of fun viewing, Scott Pilgrim will earn a place on my Blu-Ray shelf.

Gerbils And Turtles And Cats, Oh My


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 post’s topic is “Pets.”

Soyuz and Apollo.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not really much of a pet person.

I had pets growing up — fish, cats, a mouse, a gerbil and a turtle that I recall off the top of my head. And, oh yeah, the chicken. The evil, evil chicken. (The chicken may be why I’m not much of a pet person, really.)

After I moved out, my family had a dog and lizards, but I didn’t really have much of a relationship with any of those.

While I was married, we had cats on more than one occasion — A pair of kittens, Padme and Amidala, in Eupora; a pair of kittens, Soyuz and Apollo, in Huntsville (in a case of kitten names imitating life, an attempt later to integrate Orion into the mix ended badly); and the welfare cats in Indianola, which we didn’t really acquire but which, as happens with fed strays, became ours nonetheless.

But living on my own, I’ve never had pets.

As much as anything, it’s been a question of time.

(Let me interject here that I’d really rather be writing this post about the malevolent chicken, but that’s not really rethinking anything.)

Pet ownership requires time to be of benefit. When I went through the divorce class at my church, one of the things they recommended was getting a pet so that you can come home at the end of the day and be greeted with affection. But even at that point, I just wasn’t spending that much time at home; not enough that I felt it would be worthwhile.

Pet ownership requires time to invest. Pets have to be cared for. They have to be cleaned up after. And all those things take time. And given that the benefit was going to be limited, I doubt the time investment would be worth the pay-off.

And those things scare me. The surface level, I’m fine with. I can live my life without pets, and be okay. But, you know, they say pets are a good practice for kids. And I’m still working through what it would look like if I were to ever have kids someday. And those are not encouraging signs. Now, that said, I would like to think that I’d be more willing to change my schedule for kids than pets. I stay busy because I’d rather have human contact than be home alone, pet or now. A family would sort of meet that need for human contact, you know?

But the part that scares me most ties into time also, and relates to the second issue, about taking care of them. And that is, the older I get, the more quickly time moves. I can come home and say I need to do something soon, and the amount of time that seems “soon” keeps getting longer and longer the older I get. And with kids, you really can’t do that. If you’re going to feed them “soon,” soon needs to not be measured in days.

That said, I’m trying not to get too hung up on that issue. It’s easy to be afraid, but plenty of people do just fine as parents at my age, right?

And, besides, age might actually help — after all, I was a much, much younger 11 when I raised the evil chicken.

Here Be Dragons 2


The other day, I wrote a blog post too boring to publish.

A new video game, Dragon Quest IX, came out, and I wrote a post about the existential crisis it caused for me.

See, I really don’t play video games or computer games these days. But I have a long history with the Dragon Quest series. So I had to decide which of these two traits would win out. Long story short, I bought the game.

And that’s very very very long story short. The second sentence of that last paragraph went on and on and on. I explained my entire history with the series, starting with when the first game came out and what was going on in my life when I played it, on through when the fifth and sixth games didn’t come out, all the way through the eighth game, with meanderings about replaying games and the ancillary games and the like.

But it ended up being this embarrassingly long love letter from me, who cares nothing about video games, to this video games series I spent half my life playing. Even if no one would ever want to read it, it was fun to write.

What about you? What are your lingering affections from your younger days that persist despite being something that wouldn’t interest you today?

(Have I mentioned that I am SO looking forward to Tron: Legacy in December?)

May 27


NOTE: I originally published this a year ago today. I’m republishing the post as it appeared a year ago, with a few additional thoughts for this year.


One of my quirks, I remember dates. They get lodged in my head, and I can’t get them out. Some useful, like birthdays (though I’m getting worse with adding those), and some not, like the anniversaries of days certain things happened. It’s a reflex, to the point where, apparently, it can be annoying.

Anyway, May 27 is one of those dates, from events that occurred in two consecutive years.

On May 27, 1992, I graduated from Huntsville High School.

Doing the math, I graduated from high school 17 years ago today, when I was about two months shy of my 17th birthday. In other words, high school is now just over half my life ago. I’ve lived more since that day than I had before. It’s just weird to think about; I certainly don’t feel twice as old as I was then. I’ll admit that my days at HHS are a distant and remote memory at this point, but I’m still young, right? From graduation until our 10-year reunion, sure, a good bit of time passed. But the reunion was hardly any time ago at all. And now the 20 is just around the corner. Where does it go?

On May 27, 1991, Beth Ladner died.

Beth was a member of my class at Huntsville, was a fellow part of the staff of the school newspaper, and ran against me for senior class vice-president. She was brilliant, pretty, and a genuine and easily likeable person, with a promising future, most likely as a marine biologist. She died in a car accident right before final exams.

And that fact has always stayed with me. This was high school, and final exams were huge — the studying, the stress, the work. If the accident had occurred a week later, she would have gone through all of that. And still been dead. The effort all in vain. We all know we’re going to die, and that it could happen at any time, but Beth’s death was such an object lesson in that. We strive, we struggle, we hurt, we laugh, we dance, we love, we cry — all for a tomorrow that one day won’t come.

Beth’s loss made us all the less. But the rest of us took final exams, and went on. And went to college. And married. And divorced. And had kids. And got jobs. And strived and struggled and hurt and laughed and danced and loved and cried. More of us have been lost along the way. But the rest continue to continue.

And hopefully the world is better for it.


May 27, 2010 coda — Since I wrote this a year ago, it has become one of the most-viewed posts on my blog. Someone even linked to it yesterday, and it was viewed a few times because of that. Because of that, I decided to republish it today in hopes of these words continuing to find homes.

It being a year later, I have to add a couple of additional thoughts since I first wrote this. First, and obviously, Beth was loved. I wrote this purely for myself, to let out what was in my heart, some of it had been with me for quite a while. I never really thought about it resonating with anyone else, and certainly never imagined people sharing it with others. But it’s been amazing to see how many people still remember her and still care. It’s an incredible tribute to who she was, and the lives she touched.

Second, perhaps less obviously but more importantly — you are loved. I can’t imagine it; if things had been reversed, if it had been the other candidate for senior class vice-president on that road that night, I can’t imagine that 18 years later anybody would be writing about me, and that so many people would still be reading that 19 years later. But, you know, I doubt Beth would have imagined that either. She’s been gone from this Earth now longer than she was on it. I doubt she would have dreamed that she’d touched so many lives, that so many people cared, so that more than her lifetime later, people would still be remembering her fondly.

The lesson of all of that? Yes, that Beth was loved. Yes, that she was special. But, also, this: Right now, there are people out there whom you have touched in a way you have no clue about. Right now, there are people out there who care about you more than you realize. Right now, there are people out there who will remember you long after you could dream they would.

Right now, you are loved, more and by more people than you know.