Leaving Home

“We gathered up our worldly goods, stole off in the dark, quickly as we could”

So I left Charleston. The world hasn’t collapsed. In fact, I think it’s gotten better. My wife accepted a job in Tennessee. We bought a house and moved here on the first of July. 6 weeks later and I’m feeling pretty solid about the move. My kid now has room to run around a yard and play. I’m not coming in late at night. I’m waking up early and making my kid breakfast every day. I putter around the house. I clean. I do yard work. I watch a sprinkler. And I’m calm. There’s no stress. Nothing to bother me. I get together with one of my best friends and his 3 boys and have play dates. I see my Inlaws (who live up the street) and have dinner with them. I sort of think that boring might just be good. I bought a lawn mower. I looked at bedroom sets. I watched the stars. I signed up for classes at the University of Tennessee. I’m happy. Thank you.

“And I apologize but I don’t know what I love more, you next to me there or the receding shore”

Advertisements
Standard

Fight the Horde, Sing and Cry, Valhalla, I am Coming

A couple years ago one of my closest friends died over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. It was quite the shock to me and his death still brings me to tears as I write this, I miss him so.

Just a month or so before his death I had made the trip with my new wife to the Washington DC area. We had seen our friend at our wedding but it had been quite some time since we were able to sit down and hang out with him. My parents also were living there at the time and we were excited to see them, the museums, my sister, and some of the local culture and history of the area.

As much as I loved doing all of those other activities it was really my time with my friend that stood out. My friend was one of those people that everyone liked. He was smart, funny, and kind. I had met him while working at the King’s Courtyard Inn here in Charleston. He was a senior in college, finishing up a degree in Marine Biology. We instantly hit it off. My other best friend also worked with us and there was never a dull moment around the two of them. We would take turns saying the absolute grossest things we could think of to one another, laugh about it, and promise to get a beer after work together.

After I moved to Memphis, my friend got a job working for the EPA. He was from Annapolis and he was excited to be working in DC and living back in his hometown in a job he loved. He was doing really well for himself and we’d stay in touch over email.

My other best friend, the guy mentioned earlier, called me up one morning. I was really excited to get the call as his wife was pregnant. Mike had some really great news for me, and two bits of terrible news. First off, his wife had had the baby. But it was very early at this point in the pregnancy, and on top of that they were visiting her family in Pennsylvania at the time. It was going to be a rough couple of weeks for them while the first born was in the ICU, in a different state.

The second part of the bad news is that our other best friend had been found dead that morning.

Every Martin Luther King Day weekend I try to remember my friend in some special way. I also try to be around my friends and loved ones. This year I went with a group to the mountains in North Carolina. There my friend’s parents let us use their cabin. We went on hikes, played in the snow, cooked a mess of food, played board and card games, and took shots in remembrance of my friend. The man, that while I cry because I miss him, I cry with a smile on my face because I knew him.

I love you, Pat.

  

Standard

The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: The Mayoral Race and Jobs

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 3: Jobs

Charleston is a city steeped in history. That presents all sorts of challenges. How do we as a city retain what makes us unique while moving into the second decade of the 21st century? I moved to Charleston (for the first time) in 1998. I was drawn to the fact that downtown Charleston still had beautiful and old buildings (there were a couple exceptions to this rule – the library on King St and the Government building on Meeting being the most egregious offenders). It was a city with secrets older than my country, waiting to be discovered. I’ve always been drawn to the fact that the Pirates never really left Charleston, they just became a little more genteel. I wasn’t the only person drawn to the area, as evidenced by Charleston’s population explosion and by the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit our city. Businesses have also come to call Charleston home.

Lately our Mayor has come out against Unions. He is the definition of a Blue Dog Democrat through and through. If you want to look how far right the Democrats have come, look at how they revere an anti Union mayor. Because he’s held power for so long I guess the Democrats have been looking past his policies and only see the letter next to his name. One of my biggest problems with the local party is that no one calls him out on his bullshit. Here’s the thing. Charleston needs Unions now more than ever. Our restaurants and hospitality workers aren’t going to be able to live in the city that they work in without unionizing. Our workers need better protection on the job. How many stories are there in F&B about a server getting fired because he or she didn’t reciprocate feelings towards a general manager? How much longer are we going to tell ourselves that the guy doing the dishes will one day own one of these corporations (restaurant groups)? How many more internationally owned hotels must go up, only to ship out the profits every night instead of letting some of that money come home with the workers? It’s our land, our city, and our way of life. Let’s keep it and stop selling our citizens to the highest bidder. Let’s vote for a candidate willing to support Unions.

Blackbeard’s crew faced better management than most hospitality workers

No candidate has come out in favor of organized labor. Thankfully with organizations such as BACE, the workers voices are starting to be heard (although I’d like a little more fire and brimstone in their voice).

Standard

The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: The Mayoral Race and Crime

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 2: Crime in the Holy City

A couple months back a friend of mine came to me and told me how she was drugged at a bar downtown, put into a taxi where she was driven to the battery, then put into another vehicle where she was driven to a North Charleston apartment complex, raped, put back in the vehicle, and dropped off (still drugged) in West Ashley in a neighborhood she didn’t recognize. She went to the hospital and completed a rape kit. Later, she spoke to the detective handling her case. She was told that there is one detective that handles the rape cases in Charleston and if there were cases such as homicides, etc, the rape kit could take months to process. It’s been 9 months and the kit has still not been processed, and she has resigned herself to the fact that it probably never will be.
My friend, and all victims of rape, deserve more than one detective investigating charges. Even when my friend called the detective and left additional information on the case (including a license tag number for the taxi in question) she was never called back. When she asked the detective why only one officer would take the rape cases for this city she was told that it made the male detectives uncomfortable to deal with rape cases.

There are many problems with crime in this city. Instead of dealing with them we have our police force out on King St on a Friday night making sure no one walks down the street with a beer, we have our investigators making sure college kids don’t throw a keg party, and we have a fully funded “livability” court making sure that I don’t rent my living room to a tourist on the weekend.

Hardy-Boys

Riley and Mullen solve the case of the loud music coming from a bar after going to their detective guide books.

Here’s a wake up call to our mayoral candidates: Our city and police department resources aren’t making the city better if they can’t fight actual crime. Stop using our officers for revenue collection. Use them to make sure our friends, our family, our loved ones, and perfect strangers aren’t RAPED and MURDERED.

Standard

The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: Mayoral Race in Charleston

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 1: I-526

First of all, I-526 is complete. This push to extend it is not only a waste of tax payer money ($720,000,000.00 dollars to be exact), but it’s also poised to destroy wetlands and farmlands. Am I the only one who remembers that we are a coastal city that sometimes gets hit by hurricanes and barrier islands and wetlands protect the city from hurricanes? Keeping Johns Island (the fourth largest island on the US East Coast) as a rural island with agricultural and fishing industries is not only good for Charleston’s food and beverage industry, it’s beneficial when the next Hugo decides to wreck havoc on this city. I know that wealthy people on Kiawah donate to candidates campaigns (as do real estate developers) but it’s time to stop this mad talk. Fix the roads we have now. Fix the roads on Johns and James Islands that don’t have proper drainage. Don’t destroy the natural beauty of Johns Island with another bridge. Don’t destroy estuaries and wetlands needed for shrimp and fishing industries. Don’t leave Charleston more vulnerable to another Hurricane. Don’t destroy the farms on Johns Island needed to supply our city with fruits and vegetables. The argument that traffic is bad on Johns Island and would be alleviated by building roads is ludicrous. It would behoove our candidates to read any one of the many traffic engineering studies that show that building new roads doesn’t decrease traffic. The other part about this that is terrible is the fact that many of these properties are owned, and have been owned, by black families going back decades. This is a culture that is going to be destroyed because some asshole who just moved here from Ohio has decided that it’s inconvenient for him to sit in traffic, despite being completely aware that traffic was a concern before he bought his new development house. Why are we catering to that? Why are we rewarding bad behavior? Let’s keep culture, farm lands, fishing and shrimping industries all alive. Don’t extend I-526. 

Every single person running for mayor has come out in support of extending I-526. 

Why is Charleston intent on destroying it’s culture? Stop the madness.

My mom and daughter playing patty cake on the back porch of our home on Johns Island

Standard

Race, Religion, Guns

Yesterday was a terrible day in Charleston. 9 people were killed while at church. The church was Emanuel AME Church. This is the oldest AME church in the United States. Denmark Vesey, leader of a slave uprising, was a founding member. It was burned to the ground shortly afterwards by white supremacists. The congregation had to meet in secret as black churches were banned, until after the civil war. The church has a long history of influential politicians who have been active in the congregation. Many black leaders have spoken at the church, including Dr King. The church supported the hospital workers right to unionize, even during threats of violence.  

It is against this historical, social, and political background that an armed, young, white man came into the church and murdered 9 people. This was a hate crime, just days after another hate crime (the murder of Walter Scott) was committed in North Charleston.
I don’t understand why a man would want to shoot another person or people but can we, as a collective group, stop doing it. Whatever your problem with someone else is, it’s not worth you or them being killed over. And then to kill, in order to make a whole community fear for themselves, is the most cowardly act a man can commit. Black lives matter is not just a hashtag to be taken lightly, but something we all need to wake up and listen to, we need to take in our hearts, and love our fellow people. White people, like myself, need to realize that we do have a privilege, through no merit of our own, but through the color of our skin, and that is wrong.

Standard

When I go to get my Shoes Shined, I Gotta Take Their Word:  Sympathy Weight

I came to college at 17 years old. At the time I had bad acne, braces, a terrible haircut, and weighed about 150lbs. Now I now what you’re saying. “150lbs is nothing to sneeze at”. Well I am also 6’6. I didn’t gain the “freshman 15” while not exercising like I had in high school. I played some intramural sports but never ran or hit the gym besides one semester where I swam about a mile a day.  

I didn’t gain weight until the summer after my sophomore year when I moved to Detroit and worked construction. There a steady diet of job site food, Gatorade, and physical activity at work coupled with working out at home finally put some weight on me. I bulked up to a respectable 215.

After college (the first round), I bounced around doing a variety of jobs. Some sedentary (selling health and life insurance in Detroit), some active (working in a warehouse in Mount Pleasant, giving pirate themed tours of the Charleston harbor, working carrying tourists luggage downtown). Some a combination (bartending and working the door at bars). My weight slowly crept up.  

Then it happened. I moved to Memphis. I loved my time in Memphis. The people are great, only NOLA has a equal music scene, I love the Memphis Grizzlies, etc etc. I would move back to Memphis. It is an incredible city. But… and here it is… Memphis does not have the walk ability of Charleston, nor Charleston’s access to more healthy food options. (I’m sorry Memphis friends and family, I love you). Eating healthy in Charleston, at least the majority of meals a week, is not a difficult task for someone with my socioeconomic status. In Memphis, it was. That and I stopped walking most places and had to drive. I got fat. Like pie faced fat. Like yo momma is so fat she looks like Mike. Like…that fat is going to lead to heart disease, have another French fry and pork sandwich you piggy. Piggy piggy piggy.

285lbs.  

Memphis weight gain

 
Meanwhile while all this had happened to me, my wife started running. Like running further than I like to drive. When I met my wife she couldn’t run a mile and now she was running the type of race self important people put stickers on the back of their Toyota 4Runner for.

Moving back to Charleston I looked around and saw all the good looking people and realized that I needed to get back into shape. I started doing crossfit at a local place (Crossfit Discovery on Society St). It was expensive but I was going about 4 times a week. I was getting into pretty good shape again and was having fun doing it. I dropped 50lbs and I was feeling great. Mentally I was doing fantastic, I felt like my prowess in the bedroom was on point, and I had the energy that I had when I was 22.   

Doing Crossfit

 And then it happened. I didn’t listen to the instructors and blew my back out. I went to the hospital where they told me that I needed to rest for at least a month and gave me pain medication for my back.

I’ve never been good at drugs. I’ve tried a couple different ones in my time, but the one I’ve been around most in my life is pot. If you want to see a large man curl up in a corner and not move for hours just give me one hit of weed. I am terrible at drugs. The prescription ones as well. The pain medication they prescribed, while effective at easing my pain, made me depressed. When my month of rest was over I tried to go back to Crossfit but at this point my friend had stopped doing it, I was depressed, and the cost of a membership was no longer viable. And the fear of blowing my back out also scared me.

All of that and I didn’t put on much weight. I was still walking many places and I was eating fairly healthy. I didn’t put on the weight until my wife got pregnant. It’s not like she started craving bacon wrapped moon pies all of a sudden (for one she’s a vegetarian). She started wanting biscuits and French fries all the time.  

And now I’m back up to around 255lbs again. But I’ve got a plan this time. I’ve started doing water aerobics occasionally with a friend (which is really funny to watch. My friend is a small lady and I’m a giant. I imagine it looks like a mastiff and a purse dog slashing around in a pool together). Eventually my back will get stronger and I’ll start swimming again to ease the pressure on my joints and trim some of this fat. 

My wife and I. She’s 8 months pregnant, I’m fat

 Meanwhile my wife, who gave birth 2 months ago, looks like a model. I don’t know what I did for my smart, accomplished, fearless, and beautiful wife to pick me but I’m sure glad she did.
  

Standard