Wednesday, December 01, 2021

to campbell, on your 10th birthday

This is the 10th in an annual series of letters written to my son, Campbell, who turned 10 in December 2021 - you can find the previous letters at the bottom... 

While I usually write it on his birthday, I didn't get the time to devote to it this year like normal, but I wanted to knock it out before the year officially ended.

Dear Campbell,

Your love for trains did not diminish, as 
evidenced by the 3000 Thomas and Lego Duplo
trains we have, and that stop all the world
if we are around tracks when a train goes by
First of all, kid, what right do you have being ten years old? How did that even happen? How on earth has it been ten solid years since you came to us via Mommy's tummy and God's divine hand? 

If you remember, you were actually supposed to be born two weeks later -- I think December 17th was your expected date -- but you decide to come a wee bit early... your mom had just gone to the hospital for a check up and the doctor said, "Hey Steph, you are having a baby tonight or tomorrow."  And there went the rest of our lives, huh.

Second of all, this year has been... well, I'd say insane but that's typical for our little family. Full of stress, joy, faith and much, much more. 

Usually I fill this note with recaps from the past year, starting with any pop culture things you picked up on... well, without going down that road too much, I can say this is the year you picked up on Top 40 radio.  Okay, so remember when Mom had the grey car, the Honda, and I had the red car? And you rode with me to all of your stuff in the red car?  Mom got a new white car, a Toyota SUV, so this is what you wanted to ride in all the time. Unfortunately, I had satellite radio in my red car, but Mom did not in the white car, nor did she have a CD player, so we listened to Magic 96.5, Mix 97.3, and (sadly enough) 103.7 The Q.

Taken at Ady's Racers in December...
you had a huge grin because it was
a pretty amazing day
And you became a huge fan of Maroon 5, The Wkend, Pink, Lewis   Capaldi, Adele, and especially Dua Lipa. As the songs caught on,   you just listened, learned, and sang -- and you know their other   songs too. When Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" comes on, you yell   "ROAR!" and when The Wkend's "Blinding Lights" played, you   holler "Save... Yo.. Tears for another day..."  You spent the first half of the year obsessed with "Blinding Lights", and the back half of this year all about up Dua Lipa. 

If "Break My Heart" is on, you want  "Levitating." If that one is on, you yell 'BREAK MY HEART!"  And   at bedtime for at least the back half of this year, you ask to hear both of those songs, and if there is time, "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele.  And you love "Easy on Me", but I'll be honest with you, I can only handle hearing that one the 38 times they play it per day. 

Of course, it can backfire a bit... we have to watch constantly what is on, as the song title and artist displays on the screen, and I'm not a fan of Doja Cat, whoever the heck that is, and I don't want you walking around saying "Oh My God" (the Adele song) or "[D-Word] It Feels Good to Be Me" (Ed Sheeran). It's bad enough you like to quote Justin Timberlake, saying "Rocka My Body". 

I'm so happy you love music so much. You are doing awesome with piano -- Ms Alaina loves having you.  You do gymnastics now, and you are doing so super good at the vault -- you love just running and hurling your body at a soft mat, which is terrifying to watch, but also fun to watch you come up smiling at a maneuver well done.  

We spend much of the summer at Alabama Splash Adventure - and you finally hit all the slides (except for the free fall slide, which is pretty much a plummet straight down -- you can't do that one right now because you sat up on it and thats bad news).  We spend 3-5 afternoons per week at Next Levl, to the point where they all know by name and give you high fives. We hit any combo of Whole Foods, Publix, Target, and Wal-Mart 3 or 4 times per week, and you love them all. Sprouts too, but the buggies are smaller and you have to walk with me -- and you can be a handful sometimes, champ. 

A lot happened this year in our world around us. It struck me and your mother both how perceptive you probably are right now at everything, and while we don't talk a lot of news around you, you undoubtedly have picked things up along the way. Joe Biden is our president. This note isn't to tell you what you should or shouldn't think based on what we believe -- but as you read this, whatever age you might be, I hope that you have learned from both of us that facts are important. Look at both sides. Then figure out what you believe, and then ask yourself why. 

A great moment in November when we met up with
my very good friend Lindsay in Hollywood Studios,
and it was so cool to have her meet my little family tribe.
FYI, Campbell, like when you met Heather a few 
days prior, you held Lindsay's hand, and was quite 
the flirt.

Sometimes though, faith is all you have... and I think we started to see some of that, especially in May, when I felt like you... well, you had a breakthrough.  RPM, your therapy, has had its ups and downs. Sometimes we walk out and I'm excited you've just done so well. Other times, its been a tad bit frustrating. And sometimes we leave, and I'm all like "Well, ok. Guess that was that."

And sometimes you bust through and say whats on your mind. Back in May, with Ms Lanae, she asked you the questions and you answered. You told her that you needed more Jesus in your life. You told her that your super power was C-A-R-I-N-G.  You said your mom was cool... and your dad too. You said you loved school. When asked if a boy or a girl would be better at something like engineering, you said "does it matter?" 

Along the way in those specific sessions, this also happened -- I'll just pull from the Facebook post I wrote on May 7, 2021... Steph and I have been saying for years that he has a lot to say, he just isn't sure how to say it. This week, I've watched him speak. I've heard what he's had to say. And I'm over the moon hearing his thoughts. Simple, some sorta philosophical, some random, some just black and white.

At RPM, his communication therapy, he spent time answering open ended questions, never being led to an answer, he said the following... and these are pretty much verbatim, not embellished for impact.
--"It is fine to hope I never grow up"
--"Old people think they know everything"
--When asked (as part of a conversation about stereotypes) if he thought girls or boys would be better at science and math, he responds, "I think it don't matter"
--"One hour is long for me"
--Regarding being emotional, "it's bad to cry too much" (he's a sensitive soul)
--"Screaming is not bad if you mean to agree to stop head from hitting on the wall"
--When asked what language he wanted to learn, he said "French". When asked why, he said "It is a Floody language". When asked what is 'floody' about French, he said "It floods your head with sounds."
--"I find it weird in life I sometimes smile..." (he didnt get a chance to finsh this statement, as someone interrupted, but I do wonder where he was going with this.)
Autism. Always presume competence. And underestimate Campbell Dollar at your own peril.

Campbell, we love you so much. We love that you still believe in Santa, even at 10--or at least you play it off. We love that you are using your imagination so, so much right now. We love that you sing constantly, that you are such a helper at school (to the point where the teachers have to tell you that they can handle the leadership part, and you can just sit). We love that you love on your friends Hillary and Jack and Lily and more.

We love that Kindness is a central theme with you. We know it means something.

And obviously I have no proof, but I feel it in my soul that you and God have a connection. Whether He talks to you, or you talk to Him, or (more likely, it happens both ways, your mom and I want you to never forget how much Jesus loves you, died for you, rose for you, and will never stop loving you.

When asked about places you'd like to go, you told Ms Lanae... "I want to go to Washington. And be president. And hit the world with kindness" (direct quote from C Dollar) We love you, son. Your Dad

Birthday letters to Campbell...

Sunday, September 12, 2021

the levity of donna tucker


The only picture I own with myself and Donna both
in frame. She's the one on the far left, holding the
finger gun to my head. Fun fact - with the three girls 
forming the semi-circle with Donna, I actually
went out on a single date with one, dated another
for about five months, and cannot remember the name
of the third. Ah college. 
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 ends,  I always find myself bemused by one anecdote that pops up in my head. On a day filled with chaos and tragedy and the unknown, with buildings burning and collapsing, and people losing their minds -- and rightly so -- there was one single moment of levity in that entire day... and maybe for several days.

Donna Tucker.

As a junior at Troy State, I met Donna as she was an incoming freshman. You know those people that you like, you enjoy being around, but neither you nor they put up any effort to really spend a lot of time together -- you see them around, are very friendly and genuine with each other, then you bid your adieu until the next time?  

That was me and Donna Tucker. She rushed and pledged Alpha Gamma Delta (my personal fave of the sororities full of girls who would never go out with me) and I was Farmhouse, so we definitely crossed paths routinely. Yet, we never got to know each other.

And that was okay. I'm not lamenting that Donna and I were never BFFs, or that she didn't pay more attention to me -- despite her beauty and her loud personality, I never really dug her romantically. She was just... Donna Tucker. Cute, funny, outspoken Donna. She loved Jesus, and I considered her a friend.

And when I graduated from Troy State in March of 1998, and then moved to Birmingham in August of that same year, she wasn't on my list to try to find and say goodbye to. Conversely, when she left Troy, she never had any reason to find me.  

Because that's how we are with people, and that's quite alright to be that way. We can't be besties with everyone, we just don't have time for it. But we can still be friends, good friends for coffee and conversation, without having to keep up with each other. Good friends for a smile and a laugh and sort of inside joke that's a callback to something long ago and even gas.  Like, for the car, not the Taco Bell kind.

You see, September 11th, 2001, was the last time I saw Donna Tucker, or heard her voice, or heard anything about her at all.  She may be single now, living in Tacoma. She might be a married stay at home mom to five kids over in Homewood. She could be a successful exec at an Atlanta area corporation, or an artist with an Etsy shop... I legit have no idea. I even tried to look her up on Facebook tonight, but found nothing.

Like all of you who remember that day, September 11th, was a crazy day. I saw the news about the plane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers (I was there a mere 3 years prior!) and watched in disbelief as another plane flew into the the tower, then saw the news coverage switch to Washington DC because there was an explosion at the Pentagon and heard there were more hijacked planes on the way to Disney World or Chicago or Los Angeles or wherever (it twas a blessing indeed that only four planes were taken, with only three getting to their intended targets).

I was working at 106.9 The Point, though you would know it now as 106.9 The Eagle (actually... I think at that time it was Oldies 106.9...) but either way, I was sort of interning with Rob & Shannon in the mornings as the events of the day unfolded. And around 9a, I still had to actually go to work on the other side of the building.

No one was really working, to be honest. Everyone sat in their cubes, stunned, trying to read stuff on the internet as page after page would load and crash, or not load at all, due to being overwhelmed.  MSNBC's page had the familiar picture of the South Tower with the explosion shooting from the side. Fox News page wouldn't even come up. I meandered my way through the morning and finally got to lunch, and had to get out of the office, even for just a minute. 

Of course, I knew gas was going to go up, because in times like these, it always did, so whether I was a reacting to the problem or was part of the problem, I headed for the BP station on the corner of Lakeshore and Columbiana to fill up my tank.

And as I stood there, mind whirling from everything, I heard, "Well hey David Dollar". I turned around, already knowing the face I'd see because the voice is so recognizable.

And I was right.

"Hey Donna Tucker," I replied, with a smile. 
"Been a morning, huh?" she said back, with words that seem empty, things you'd say as you passed someone familiar in a grocery store, then hurried past and then spent the next 1/2 hour scoping the aisles to avoid more conversation. No, Donna was real. It's all she knew how to be, really. 

"Yeah, you could say that," I chuckled with exasperation. 

Is this what we actually said? I have no clue. But it is the air of the words we chose. Friendly. Light. Fun. Authentic.

I asked her how she was, where she was, and she told me of her then-current life, which seemed pleasant enough.  She asked me the same type questions, and I answered in kind -- single, working, no I havent seen ____ but I've heard he's here -- and our conversation lasted no more than a few minutes, however long it took for my car and her car to top each top off with fuel.

We said our goodbyes, wished each other well, climbed into our respective vehicles, and our paths, that only slightly intertwined years before and had only for a moment touched on this day, then diverged out into different directions once again. 

It was the calm of my entire day.

I went home for a minute, back to my apartment. I shed a few tears as I watched more footage in my room. It took a deep breath, went back to my car, drove back to work and finished the day. The next few days were the same -- the radio station was like other stations, both TV and radio, with wall to wall coverage for at least three days. Even if I wanted to get away from the news, and there were times I was ready to leave it, it was all around me. At home, I could shut out the world if needed, but myself and my roommates Mikey, Shawn, Tom, Tommy, and anyone else there discussed it all at length. Probably needed to, just to voice our thoughts.

But Donna Tucker. For 7 minutes on September 11, 2001, there was no attack. There was no collapsing towers or thousands of lives lost.  For about 7 minutes, I had a warm, pleasant conversation with Donna Tucker.  It was exactly what I needed.  A friendly -- and beautiful -- face to look at, and a perky and wonderful voice to listen to when the whole world had collapsed into ugly and horrible. 

Strangely, Donna doesn't cross my mind often, and that's not an insult to my memory of her, as I can pretty much guarantee "d$" is never top of mind for her either... but she does come front and center in those front and center lobes of my brain on 9/11.

She was my levity.  She was my calm.

Thank you, Donna. And I hope you are well.  And as the world once again falls slowly apart, maybe another gas station meet up would be helpful. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

rush is right

 Rush Limbaugh died today. Here are my thoughts. They are my thoughts, and while I usually have no problem with dissenting opinions, if you decide to take this time to trash, insult, and make false claims, I'll just delete your comment. Simple as that.

One of the compliments I hear often when I discuss politics on a random thread, or the rare times when I post here, is that i don't make it personal, I come at it with facts in my pocket, and am amenable to changing my mind on certain things. It doesn't happen a lot, but it has happened. And sure, you may not agree with anything I say, and that's okay, sometimes even the same facts are used to strengthen an opinion on both sides.
Now, what I'm about to say may put one sentence in your mind that will be hard to forget, that being "Well, no wonder he thinks all that stuff he thinks". And I have no problem with you thinking it. Because I don't hold a belief in any opinion anymore without having reasons why. But it wasn't always this way, but probably in the last 10 years or so.
Where did I learn this? Rush Limbaugh. I've already scanned social media and seen some of the disgusting things said already, about "burning in hell" and "lies and vitriol" and such, and it makes me think back to what Rush always said -- you cannot understand his show by listening for one day, or even a week. He, maybe jokingly, maybe not, said you have to listen to his show for six weeks to make an accurate assessment.
In college, I was on the air for 2 hours every day at WTBF, playing the best of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, then worked the board for the first hour of Rush, from 11a to noon (CST). I was a Democrat, thought Bill Clinton was cool, and honestly, paid no attention to politics. Beyond six weeks, I listened for 9 months and while I wasn't sold, it taught me a different perspective... or, as I'm proud to say most people cannot say about themselves, it taught me there IS a different perspective.
Rush never told me or anyone who listened what to think. He was like all shows that did play a sound bite and he picked the context in which to discuss it, which left me with no option but to go find the full context -- and way more often than not, his context was correct.
All told, I've listened to his show pretty much daily since 1996, ended up voting for Bob Dole in my first Prez election, and have learned an infinite amount of history, wisdom, and strategies for debating and arguing my point. I didn't always agree with Rush, and sometimes he was bombastic. I would hear CNN take a Rush bite, or see people on twitter say "OMG RUSH SAID THIS EVIL THING" then see the "evil" thing and laugh, knowing the full context and weight of what was actually said.
He wasn't perfect. His nicknames were usually hilarious, occasionally too much, but many times on point. He had a Rx addiction problem many years ago that he openly discussed and took time to deal with. And no, he didn't make fun of Michael J Fox. He made a point about how Fox was being used by the media, a point that I agree with to this day.
Rush believed in American exceptionalism, and the pure belief that capitalism will help a nation thrive, conservative works, and that liberalism doesn't. Extreme positions? Maybe. But I'm not seeing a whole lot of evidence to the contrary.
The media overall hated him but wouldn't be where they are without him, playing those very same soundbites out of context. Hannity, Shapiro, Beck, would have had a much harder road had it not been for Rush. He lived in the heads of so many in the media, and even when they tried to compete (Air America anyone?) they failed miserably. By the way, I listened for a week to Air American. It was so freaking bad. Chuck D and some other dude spent a whole hour making "W Bush is so dumb" jokes. Like, what? Where was I?
Not until the advent of podcasting did Rush have any real competition -- and even then, it was a different medium.
I will miss Rush immensely. When he announced he had Stage 4 cancer last year, I knew we didn't have him for much longer. And when he came back on the air in January, I knew that his time was even more limited, and I smack myself for never trying to call in. He was my afternoon news update, a break from the I HATE TRUMP SO MUCH WAAAAA screaming that CNN, and even some parts of Fox, gave me daily.
Finally, Rush openly professed a love of God, and more pointedly, a belief in the fullness of Christ. So while Twitter is flush with "he's burning in Hell!" tweets from people who said the same about Billy Graham, if you have a belief in the Bible -- the whole thing, not the warm fuzzy parts -- then rest assured, Rush is having a pretty good day right now. (I've legit lost 3 followers in the 20 minutes since I tweeted about my mourning for his passing)
Thanks Rush for all you taught me. You get some rest now. After 25 years, I think your tens of millions of listeners and fans can take it from here.
your friend and loyal patriot

Thursday, January 07, 2021

late night you tubery: the music video

So I originally wrote this as a Facebook post over the course of an hour, but I realized it was way too long -- heck, I never read long FB posts, so why should you? Figured I'd copy and paste my ramblings here, and then if you wanted to come see them, then ok.

Here are my random thoughts... So I'm making the kid's lunch for tomorrow, and getting his supplements ready for the next few days. This is normally a task I'd knock out in 20 minutes, but it took me over an hour tonight. Why?

Well, I made the decision -- right or wrong -- to open up YouTube and let a music playlist go... and because I've watched these videos a ton, it knows what I want to see... and as each video played, I had some thoughts.

“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.  I love this video, but not for the reason you think... no, I love it because I love watching T.I. do that ridiculous dance he does. T.I. Dance gives me joy.  Also, this is a great parody of "Word Crimes" by Weird Al.

“Timber” by Pitbull ft Ke$ha. Was anyone else shocked when they found out that awesome female voice in the backup was the same voice that actually sang “brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack” in that ridiculous “Tick Tock” song?

“Cake By the Ocean” by DNCE. Anyone else still weirded out by whichever Jonas that is dropping the F bomb so many times?

“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. Has to go down as one of the best one hit wonders ever. Also does anyone else nearly scream the “Cut me out” part? real quiet “you didn’t have to” then loudly “CUT ME OUT!!!” This song is so great. The video is paint by numbers on acid. And if you don't like feet, the first 10 seconds of this video will give you the skeeves. 

but you treat me like a stranger and it
“Fireball” by Pitbull. Who put another freaking Pitbull on here? (Hint-it was me. I like Pitbull) Also, the “we’re taking we’re taking we’re taking it down/bringing it back” part is a bucket list item of mine to do on stage with a raucous crowd. One day. 

“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King. First up, Ron Schneider’s daughter. Wat. Second, this is an Incredible driving song. Great drums. Good for counting.

“Run-Around” & "Hook” by Blues Traveler.  Let’s be real. Anyone can learn “WAP”. You just say a bunch of raunchy words and try to have as little talent as possible. Blues Travelers songs take some real work to learn. And “Run-Around” and “Hook” is one of the best one-two punches by any band ever. “Hook” has Paul Schafer, but “Run-Around” has the Wizard of Oz theme, and is slightly more fun to sing. Advantage.

“Impression That I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. AAAAAAAHHHHH NEVER HAD TO KNOCK ON WOOD BUT I KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS WHICH MAKES ME WONDER IF I COULD... you know it. Keep going it. Flailing around enhances the experience. 

“Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger. I legit just laughed when this song started. It’s so stupid... and so freaking catchy... plus the lead singer (I found out later is Sean Nelson) looks like a total dork, which helps me relate. "Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding" is a line that just owns me.  And no kidding, I just hopped across the kitchen to the fridge to the beat of this song...

“Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three. It’s an outrage, nay, a scandal, that 4 Non Blondes get their suck tune** on heavy rotation on SiriusXM and I never hear this song. Cumbersome freaking RULZ. And I nearly blow out my vocal cords doing the raspy voice. Worth it.

**the song I reference here is "What's Up". I have determined that I hate this song more than any other song in the history of life. I deplore this song. Were I being tortured, I could endure toenail pullings and teeth drilling, but continuous play of this might make me tell the bad guys where the money is. Toss in my 2nd worst most hated song ever, "Get What You Give" from the New Radicals, and maybe my 3rd most worst hated song ever, "Anything By Cardi B with Special Emphasis on Bodak Yello", and frankly, I'm just going to die of awesome deficiency.

I have a hard time dealing with how
adorable she is in this video.

I have two fave songs in the whole wide world, ever. Like all time. Not ironically, like, legit 1a and 1b. 

“Love Song” by Sara Bareilles is one of them. This song is perfect. Flawless. And the video is also awesome. I listened to it, then restarted it so I could watch it before I went to bed.

Okay, that's it. I also saw "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley but forgot to write it down, so... next time.