Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 Random Things About Myself

There's a thing going around Facebook where you list 25 things about yourself. So I'm double posting it here.

1) I have lived my entire life in Nashville. I was born in the old Saint Thomas hospital and have lived my entire life in the southern and eastern part of Nashville. I love this city, the size, the general feel of the people here, just about everything about it. And as a result I've never really wanted to move. I think I could live in a big city and were I younger, I might give New York City a shot, but as it is, I love living here.

2) I have attended Otter Creek Church of Christ for 31 of my 37 years of life. Except for 6 years where I either didn't attend church or attended Belmont Church, I've gone to Otter Creek the entire time. One of the things that I really love about it is the sense of tradition that I have from going there. My great-grandfather was the first preacher in the Granny White building and my grandparents went there, as well as my parents for a time. I love how we honor tradition while still pushing the envelopes of what it means to be Church of Christ and a Christian.

3) I taught high school English for 6 years at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School for the Health Sciences and Engineering. I loved this job. I got to teach some of the best kids in one of the best schools in the city. We talked about literature, of course, but talking about that led us into discussions of race and life and politics and religion and all that other stuff you're not supposed to talk to your students about, but that's what they want to talk about. I had a great time doing it (except for grading papers) and miss it on occasion.

4) I'm married to my best friend. I know that sounds cliched but the honest truth is that Sheryl is the person that I want to spend most of my time with/person with whom I want to spend most of my time. When something good or bad happens, she's the first one I want to talk with about it. We were friends before we dated and that blossomed into the love we share today. I don't find myself missing the fluttery feelings of first love because as important as those are at the beginning of a relationship, they fade. And if that's what we lock into as love, then we're just fooling ourselves. So I love being married to my best friend.

5) I have a bad temper. When I was a teenager and adolescent, I used to lose my temper all the time. Got into fights, argued, all that stuff. As I got older, that fuse became longer and longer, but I find that it gotten shorter with my kids as I have pretty high expectations for them and their behavior. I'm working on controlling it as much as I can, but some days it's very, very hard.

6) My parents are divorced. When I was 11, my parents got divorced and 6 months later, my mom remarried. Now, my mom and dad's relationship had been over a long time before the divorce was finalized, but that was obviously a difficult time. As a result, my mom was also disfellowshipped from Otter Creek, because the divorce was not Scriptural (because of marital infidelity on my dad's part).

7) After leaving teaching, I was a technical writer. What that really means is that I helped write frequently asked questions for websites, as well as help files and such. It was a great way to get into the business world and honestly it was a place where my experience as a teacher gave me a great amount of credibility. It was also something I didn't like a lot, because it was very formalized in the writing and grammar, things that I really didn't like even when I was teaching.

8) My technical writing led to my work now as a usability engineer/user interface designer. One of the things you do as a technical writer is look for problems that people might have with software and anticipate the problems they'll have with it and write solutions around it. What I do now is design the software to not have those problems in the first place. It's a great job that feeds both my creative side and geeky side. Plus, I'm pretty good at it and enjoy it, both of which are nice bonuses.

9) I've been out of the US 3 times. Once to Canada on a brief business trip, and twice to Great Britain. The first time was in 2000 when Sheryl and I decided that we were going to do a trip like this before we had kids and just had a blast doing it. We spent 2 weeks going from London to Dover/Canterbury to Oxford to Edinburgh (Scotland) to Aberdeen (Scotland) to Inverness (Scotland) and back to London. It is literally in the top 5 memories of my entire life, behind our wedding and the births of our kids. The 2nd time to England was on a mission trip to Loughborough in 2004. We took Kinsey with us to go work with a church there, and Connor came along too, but he was in utero. This was also good, but very different in feel obviously. Through it, we came to know many people that are very close friends with us today and who are in our Life group/small group.

10) I love Jesus. Again, I know that's a cliche kind of thing to say, but I really do. Not just because of the salvation aspects in which I firmly believe, but also the example of his life. Too often it's easy for us to focus on the sacrificial atoning nature of his death and resurrection and the cute "golden fleece diapers" aspect of his birth, and forgetting that there was a life of 33 years in between those two where Jesus said some really important things. I love how Jesus tweaked the noses of the established authority while still loving people and still getting frustrated as all heck with them.

11) My favorite Old Testament verse is 1 Samuel 6:7 "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I had this one read at my baptism and it was a theme verse for me. I had horrible self-esteem as a child, and so it gave me comfort that God didn't look at my unattractive outside, but what was inside.

12) My favorite New Testament verses are Philippians 2:5-11: 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:

6 Who, being in very nature [a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature [b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

13) Sheryl and I have lived in the same house for the last 12 years. We moved in just before our first anniversary and rented from my parents for the first year, then bought. Several times, I've really wanted to move and get something with just a bit more space, particularly in the master bedroom and master bath area, but it's not too bad right now.

14) I can quote about 90% of the original Star Wars movie and probably 75% of the Princess Bride. My movie-going childhood was defined by Star Wars and the original trilogy. I also had an LP called the Story of Star Wars that had most of the dialogue, music, and sound effects and I listened to that over and over. My quotability of the Princess Bride comes just from loving that movie and loving the complete over the top cheesiness of it being done with complete seriousness. "Let me esplain.... No, there is too much, let me sum up."

15) My ability to hold vast amounts of useless knowledge in my brain makes me very annoying at trivia games. I don't have a photographic memory, but I can hold weird bits of knowledge in my head for a long time. Like, I can remember that John McTiernan was the director of Die Hard 1 & 3 and the directory of Predator, while Renny Harlin directed Die Hard 2, the Long Kiss Goodnight, and Cutthroat Island, the latter two starred his wife Geena Davis with Samuel Jackson and Matthew Modine (respectively). I don't know why I know that. But I do and when I play trivia games, it can be annoying, but my competitive drive makes me want to win every time. Hence, I don't play trivia games that often.

16) I'm a gadget/electronics nut. I love grown up toys. I love the cool iPhones and big screen TVs and the whiz bag things that we can do with gadgets now that would have seemed like science fiction 20 years ago. I like those things, but that can also get expensive so I try not to indulge that often, but on occasion I'm weak and give in.

17) I love snowboarding. For the last several years, I've gone out to Colorado with my parents and Kinsey to go skiing, but 2 years ago, I was introduced to snowboarding and I don't see myself returning to skiing anytime soon. For one the boots are much more comfortable. Secondly, it's an amazing amount of fun. I was never a skateboarder, but snowboarding is an incredible amount of fun. I never had to take formal lessons. My mom and dad showed me how to heel and toe turns, but beyond that, it's just been really natural for me. And I'm looking forward to going back soon.

18) I've always wanted to write fiction. Blogging and design work feeds a certain part of my creativity, but from a very early age I wanted to write fiction. The problem again goes back to my self-esteem about what I can do. A lot of the fiction that I've written has felt trite and pedestrian and so I haven't really devoted much time or effort to it. It's a confidence issue, as well as pushing past the crap that I would have to write before I get to something that might be decent.

19) I do tech/audio-visual work at Otter Creek and occasionally for the Zoe Group. About 6 and a half years ago, I started to doing tech work for Otter Creek as a part time job. It's something that I mostly enjoy, but I get a little tired of it sometimes. It can be a little more stressful than I would like it to be, but that's because I hold myself to such a high standard when it comes to mistakes. I coordinate and run both the sound board and the MediaShout (visual) work for Otter Creek. Honestly, while I'm good at both, I enjoy running MediaShout more than sound. Running sound can still occasionally feel like I'm in someone else's shoes, while I feel right at home running MediaShout, behind a computer doing visuals.

20) I've run sound at the Ryman Auditorium. A few years back, the Zoe Group partnered with the Temple Church praise team to do a Thanksgiving service at the Ryman Auditorium and because Brandon Scott Thomas felt comfortable with me, I ended up running the sound for the night. It was a very scary, but really cool experience.

21) My favorite literature writer is William Faulkner. I discovered Faulkner in 10th grade English when we read As I Lay Dying which I didn't understand at all. Stream of consciousness... point of view... perspective... My mother is a fish... None of it made sense. Then we read The Unvanquished in 11th grade and I got him quite a bit more. Then in 12th grade, I read Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, and Absalom, Absalom, as well as many of his short stories, and I discovered someone who finally didn't make me feel like an idiot for claiming to be a Southern. He was honest about the racism, and unflinching in his depiction, while also not condone it, but recognized it as a part of the Southern Heritage, never to be re-enacted. As a result, I had my students read him too.

22) I love video games, particularly shooters and driving games, and most especially, music games. When I got my Xbox, I made a pact that I wouldn't play while the kids were awake. I've gotten a little bit away from that and I'll play some driving games with them, and especially Rock Band where Kinsey and Sheryl will play drums and bass as well. It's incredibly fun. Plus we play it when our Life group comes over, after we get done with the Bible study and prayer time.

23) I do the laundry in our household. When Sheryl and I got married, we divided up the household chores. I took the outside of the house (excluding the garden) and she took the inside (excluding the laundry). Now you might think, "Why the laundry, Phil?" Because I can sit on my butt and watch TV while I fold clothes. It was a pretty easy decision. Now, that of course is not to say that I don't help out with cleaning the house, or Sheryl doesn't help with the laundry, but that's where the responsibilities tend to lay.

24) I would like to preach one sermon at Otter Creek. It sounds dumb, but I almost feel this "genetic" imperative to preach a sermon at Otter Creek, because of my great-grandfather preaching there. Now, I of course would like to be asked to speak on my own merits and not as a "pity" preacher, so it's not likely to happen, but I think it would be really neat to do that.

25) I don't know for certain what the afterlife will bring. I'm placing my faith that what Jesus said is true and that my desire to be as much like him as I can will put me in a place to be with him in eternity, saved by his grace. I don't know what that means for everyone else in the world, past, present, and future. But I feel like my calling is to show love to others and allow myself to be loved by them and by God. If I can somehow pull that off here on earth, perhaps God can show a little bit through me to them.

So that's 25 things. If you've lasted this long, I'd buy you a drink (non-alcoholic) but with the economy the way it is... well, you'll just have to be happy with a hearty congratulations.

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