Flashbacks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2014 by Phil Martin

Flashbacks

A teaser from an untitled work

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Oct. 14, 2014, Phillip’s Birthday

It’s been a while since I shared a teaser about the novel I’ve spent nearly two years writing mostly by pen and paper. Actually, I believe it’s been 20 days since I last sat on my bed and wrote several hundred words. Loneliness, busyness, sadness, and lack of motivation in my life lately have been the reasons for my three week hiatus from my novel. Luckily, I felt extremely motivated to share this teaser.

It is through strong and precise memories of dates and bad events that sometimes have caused my pain to feel more intense over time. That is why I have had issues managing my anger, a secondary emotion, towards those events and similar pains. I don’t always remember bad things. Some people have thought I am creepy for holding onto bad memories, especially for recording dates, but I don’t always remember bad things that happen to me. Oftentimes, I can recall something that made me laugh, like if my grandpa or mom said something funny. Sometimes I even remember certain plays from football games that didn’t have playoff implications for both NFL opponents. Also, I like to remember bad memories because I want the pain to drive me towards bringing justice to my life in other ways, such as my pursuit to enter grad school to become a licensed social worker. I also remember the pain of bad memories because I want to use the markers as a reference to see what I have learned or how much I have grown as I progress over time.

Memories of hurt and pain will serve my two main characters in a different way. Keep in mind that I just conceived this idea two nights ago at work! Arlan and Eleanor share a struggle; both are insecure with their body images. One doesn’t like their skin tone while the other one doesn’t believe they are pretty enough because of their frame and build and an ugly purple “splotch,” or birthmark on her face. In my novel, these two humans are trapped in another realm of existence. A prophesy reveals that the Arlan and Eleanor are destined to become companions so that they may share a purpose of restoring order and fighting evil with five other guardians who have powers just like the two. It is by flashbacks that these two young adults will better understand each other and end up sharing a bond with each other that eventually flourishes into a healthy romantic relationship.

The flashbacks begin as Arlan trains apart from Eleanor to manage his anger and deal with a “demon spirit,” if you will, that makes him more angry and has affected his physical appearance in a pleasant but deceiving way. He made a mistake that jeopardized her well-being and left him transfigured into a beautiful tall man with light skin and long dark hair.

While Arlan is banished from Eleanor and their talented five friends, Eleanor is left wondering why Arlan had always been obsessed with her. Before he left, she asked him, “Why are obsessed with me? Why do stare at me so intently? And, why do you watch my even little move?” She went on to say, “I don’t even know what I did to make you feel attracted to me like that.” Her question becomes a focal point of meditation Arlan uses to realize his discomfort with himself.

Eleanor finds help from her friend Ashlynn. Ashlynn, a beautiful blind young woman with curly blonde hair, can foresee the future through visions. Ash, also has a gift to see flashbacks of precise memories of other people and project them into other people’s minds through dreams and visions. It is by Ash’s abilities that Eleanor looks back through Arlan’s adolescence to understand his discomfort with his body image that she better understands his obsession with her. The death of Ruth, a beloved childhood friend of Arlan, at the beginning of my novel also becomes key to this part of the story.

Arlan also gains permission from Eleanor, who he thought was still dying, to live through her flashbacks. By Ashlynn’s abilities, Arlan learns about Eleanor’s discomfort of her body. He relives her flashbacks and sees how girls in high school used to tease Eleanor because she didn’t have a “model-type” figure to attract herself to certain young men or accolades. He sees that she was also bullied. He also learns of a failed relationship with another young man at the end of high school and through two years of college. Arlan also learns that Eleanor has struggled with her own obsession through the same time span.

Before I close, I need to note two things. First, Arlan’s flashbacks are based off of my own experiences from high school and how I have become self-aware of my own discomfort with my body image and my preoccupations. Secondly, the character of Eleanor is based off a young woman I met in college (which I have no form of association with), but Eleanor’s memories in my story are based of artistic license and assumptions I conceived from my own creativity.

In the end, I really hope I can find some time to finish the novel, refine it, and type it all out. The flashbacks and romantic developments between Eleanor and Arlan are only part of a sub-major story arc in my novel. The seven guardians, counting Arlan and Eleanor with their friends, have special abilities that are superhuman. The gaurdians’ abilities emerge as a strength out of the body image insecurity that they thought made them weak but makes them stronger. And, if you’re curious, Arlan can make himself vanish into invisibly, and Eleanor becomes a semi-solid being who can shape-shift into any living creature or person.

I Loathe the Thirteenth

Posted in Mental Health with tags , , , , , , , on October 13, 2014 by Phil Martin

I Loathe the Thirteenth

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Oct. 13, 2014

As the title reads, I loathe the Thirteenth of October. Much like other dates that harbor hurtful memories for me — like June 26, 2010 and March 29, 2012 — the eve of my birthday really bothers me now.

Go back with me on October 13, 2012, and you might understand my pain.

This was in the middle of my junior year of college, a very tumultuous and emotional eight months of life for me. A year before, my dad hinted about possibly making a trip to visit me at college three hours from home, a distance that is reasonable to deal with around a weekend. However, much like my sophomore year, my parents failed to visit me because of stupid excuses.

Farmland along the south side of the Ross County bike path west of my home. Taken by me on a walk Oct. 8, 2014.

Farmland along the south side of the Ross County bike path west of my home. Taken by me on a walk Oct. 8, 2014.

It gets more hurtful for me here. On Oct. 13, 2012, BGSU was celebrating its Family Weekend. So, hundreds of parents and family members would travel tens to hundreds of miles to see their loved ones in college. My campus ministry hosted a cookout and tailgate party for students and their visiting families. Here’s where it gets sad here. I ended up going to the tailgate party because the roommates in my six-person dorm suite either left home that weekend or were out with their families. This day is also when my extreme loneliness and emptiness became the most intense with me. So, to stave off the loneliness, I visited the tailgate party, but it was so awkward for me there. I ate a small lunch with my (arguably, only true) friend from college and his dad who came up from Columbus to visit that weekend. That was so awkward because my friend’s dad asked me where my parents were at, and I also looked around and saw myself lonely and out of place among the students and families with their smiling faces. I forget if I went to the football game afterwards or not, but it doesn’t matter to me today. The only significance about this two-year anniversary is the pain I suffered that day, like the many other lonely days of my adolescence and young adulthood.

Sadly, the story continues on the following day. My twenty-first birthday, Oct. 14, 2012, fell on a Sunday. Therefore, my campus ministry also hosted a special service for visiting families. Once again, I felt lonely and empty among the multitude of students and their families, with me jealous and hurting, wishing that my parents were there to meet my church peers, participate in the service, and see what all God was doing through the ministry. Another thing that tore me down was sitting behind the one guy I became jealous of that school year, as I said in an earlier post. He introduced his parents from Toledo to his friends and the one girl I had a crush on, who did not return my feelings . (She never told me flat out whether she liked or disliked me or not, but her shunning her face from me and her disturbed face whenever I looked or kindly waved at her tells us a lot about her feelings, or the lack of them, for me.) What makes this part of my memory so profoundly worse today is that the guy I have been jealous of seems to be dating this girl now. So, now I feel like a failure and that I am LESS than this guy who has always seemed intriguing to me and influential to others.

Another part of this depressing anniversary focuses on a $50 debit gift card. The gift card, my parents sent me through the mail. I believe it arrived to my dorm by the following week. I forget if my parents sent me any other gifts, and I didn’t care because I decided not to use the gift card. I was so disgusted with my parents and the loneliness they helped cause me, I hated them and the gift card so much. Rather than sending the gift card back home, I gave the gift card to a colleague, a guy who I will never consider worthy to call a friend. I regret giving this guy the gift card, not just because I was out of an easy $50. I couldn’t believe I gave this card to him. I could never wholly trust the guy; it seemed he and his intriguing friend kept secrets from me about the girl I had crushed on and they seemed to tell her my deep feelings for her that I shared to them. Also, three months later, in January, the guy I gave the card to began treating me subhuman. He began ignoring me; he refused to acknowledge me or greet me at church, and he quit responding to my text messages. Eventually, he said he wanted to “separate [himself] from me,” which made me feel like crap or some patient with an infectious and terminal disease because the girl and his friends ostracized me as well. Later on, the guy and two of his friends would do something egregious to hurt me. Their act was made without mercy, respect and honor. I am not sharing details of that fateful event, but I can say I continue to feel the sting of it today, which, as you have read, is strung to this anniversary.

In the end, I loathe the Thirteenth of October because two years ago I suffered intense loneliness. It also seems that through the following weeks and months, I felt absent of love, support, and community from the people I dearly wanted to connect with. I realize I’m not the only person in this world who has suffered from social isolation and such loneliness. I just want people to become aware of the pain that people like myself go through and not continue to ignore the underlying hurt by only simply reading what we express on the surface among the public.

Politically Enraged

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18, 2014 by Phil Martin

Politically Enraged

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 18, 2014

I stopped going to the first church I began visiting in August. My issue is that the church appeared to be too politically engaged. Personally, I am politically enraged with any church that believes the way you vote determines how Christ-like you are.

I grew offended when the lead pastor began knocking on President Obama.

On my fourth visit, the pastor requested the congregation to pray for President Obama because the pastor didn’t “believe he is a Christian.” Interesting. Now praying for leaders and those in authority over us is biblical (Read I Timothy 2:2). However, I felt critical that the pastor made it a point to voice his thoughts on Mr. President’s salvation. The lead pastor, myself, and no one in the church knows whether Mr. Obama for certain is a Christian or not. His salvation is between himself and God, not for any other man, who does not know him, to merely speculate because he is different than many past presidents.

On my final visit to this particular church, the lead pastor passively attacked President Obama once more. The lead pastor said that Mr. President hasn’t done any thing to fight for religious freedom in America. First, America was not founded on Christian values or to preserve religious freedom for Christians. The Bill of Rights of the United States legislates religious freedom for Americans to practice any religion they please or to have the freedom not to practice religion without grievances from the government. Secondly, I was the utmost appalled by the lead pastor’s ignorance because of other more important issues. Let’s see: Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, from Amsterdam to Russia to the great Far East, where women and children are sold and enslaved. There’s the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Millions of other native Africans battle HIV / AIDs and hunger annually. Millions of Americans suffer from homelessness and joblessness. Those are just a few major issues each of us could spare more time praying that God would make better of. Surely, the lead pastor would request for prayer on such greater worldly issues than worrying over whether President Obama is leading biblically or not. Surely. Surely not.

Oh, but the lead pastor’s ignorance towards the Black Church and his negative comments on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the deal breaker for me. For context, the lead pastor taught about how Christians should abide by laws (as Apostle Paul encourages us to do in Romans chapter 13) but to not abide by laws that are unlawful against the Christian code of ethics. The lead pastor intended to use Jim Crow laws (laws that promoted racism and discrimination in the 1960s Southern U.S.) as an example of unlawful laws.

Instead of explaining this point, the lead pastor read a letter written by Dr. King. King wrote the letter to other pastors while he was held in a Birmingham, Alabama, jail. Before the lead pastor read the letter, he made two very off comments.

First, he said he didn’t agree with Dr. King on many issues, except the letter. Interesting. I wonder what the pastor’s beef with Dr. King is. Most people, of all races I have seen, seem to appreciate, or least tolerate, Dr. King’s efforts of pushing for the end of racial discrimination and promoting diversity.

The second comment the lead pastor made was directed towards black churches. The pastor said he felt the Black Church needed a lot of help today. He then said, “Thank God for the black pastors that are left remain standing.” Of all the off comments the lead pastor made, this was the most egregious and threatening to me. His feelings of the church seemed to insinuate that the lead pastor, and many others who think like him, feel black churches are corrupt, ignorant, and straddling down the wrong path. If my projections of the pastor’s feelings are right, the pastor is ignorant. All churches are made up of people. People are imperfect and full of flaws. Therefore, all churches, no matter of what dominant race, are going to have flaws. So, the pastor’s concerns about the Black Church, while valid, felt like a focused and conspicuous attack against a group of people that are just different from him. (I wonder if the pastor has ever stepped foot into a church filled with predominantly black people.)

To end this post, I leave you with an explanation of my fiery commentary. Some people choose not to speak up when they feel wronged or when an act of ignorance has occurred. Well, frankly, I’m not those people. I don’t tolerate crap or ignorance. Really, ignorance is no excuse. The year of this post is 2014. We in America have come a long way to educate ourselves of the past and to grow from the mistakes of our forefathers. Therefore, there is no excuse for myself to tolerate racism or racially charged micro-insults and micro-assaults. Not in the world. Not in the Church. With all of this said, I leave to a new church praying that the lead pastor of the other church and his congregation would open their eyes and have a better understanding of how people who are different see the world and see God.

Proud to be Different

Posted in Clothing, Purpose with tags , on September 13, 2014 by Phil Martin

Proud to be Different

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 13, 2014

This post will be full of praise. I feel like I have found a temporary place of belonging, which happens to be my job.

I didn’t have much to admire about the good-for-now job I accepted in July. The new job was not my first choice after graduating college and considering a new career path. However, the thing I admire most about my job is its culture of diversity.

At work there are people of several different races and religions. We have people with different types of clothes, skin tones, and hairstyles. Of course, working near Columbus helps to make this diversity possible. Nevertheless, I actually feel proud to be different as a result. I feel happy to come to work each day, knowing I am comfortable among different types of people. I feel like I’m among friends, even though I do not get a chance to talk to most of my co-workers. I seem to fit right in seamlessly, which is very fitting for working at a warehouse for several clothing lines.

Honestly, I have felt so blessed over the past month for the diversity at work. I feel like God has blessed me with this job so I might, for once, feel comfortable with myself. Throughout my young adult life, especially being a minority among a majority of white peers, I’ve felt uncomfortable with myself. Many times, I felt like someone on the outside looking in. I have felt socially isolated at times because it felt like many people could not clearly relate with my life experiences. Most of the time I have felt ugly and undesirable because of my physical appearance. I am the guy who always wanted pale skin and long dark straight hair to feel beautiful and happy, like the attractive Bill Kaulitz of the past. To crush me even more, romantic pursuit has always been hard for me. A few young women in the past have said said they did not want to be a part of my life because they said “God has us on two different paths” or because “we are different” (whatever that is supposed to mean other than our most obvious difference). As you might read through this, I have not enjoyed the typical social life like others around me. But, that’s okay. My story must have a purpose since God has allowed it. After all the sadness of being different, I really do believe working at this job is by God working in my life and giving me what I need to thrive. (I guess He really has heard my complaints and cries about living in rural Southern Ohio after all.)

Because I have found a sense of belonging, I am not ashamed to wear my new red jogger pants occasionally. Ta da! I close this short post with a photo of the joggers:

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Personality I’m Looking For

Posted in Friends on September 3, 2014 by Phil Martin

Personality I’m Looking For

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 3, 2014

I want to be clear that I’m not looking for someone to date. I do not welcome any pursuits towards me. Very recently, I’ve gotten caught up in the emotions of young women and end up getting hurt. I know I am not ready to date any woman, nor am I in any position in life to make room for one. One problem is that I haven’t known what I’m looking for in a woman. However, I have considered a few personality traits I found attractive.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

No, I’m not saying I find a Cannonball Adderly fan to be attractive. (However, a fan of jazz is a plus.) I find people who have mercy for others to be attractive. I admire people who are quick to forgive, even if the fault is not their’s. When the fault is someone else’s, I love it when people show compassion to lovingly look beyond a wrong deed.

Speak the Truth in Kind

Another trait I find attractive of women are those who lovingly share the truth. I admire those who tell the truth without tearing another person to pieces or giving away their composure to anger. I’ve been a fan of those who kindly share the truth in this way. I also believe that there are ways to share the truth kindly without sugarcoating. Some people are not gifted in this; some are. I want to speak to women who are.

Tête-à-Tête

To add to the truth sharing piece, I also admire people who are comfortable and bold enough to tell me their concerns face-to-face. In Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus tells us to tell of our transgressions we have with another person privately face-to-face first. Then, you move down the line to bringing other people in who are well-equipped and have the best interests and care of both people to settle the dispute if the issue remains. This is the biblical model for resolving conflict. Unfortunately, people don’t always speak to others face-to-face first, which causes real pain. (Let me be the first to admit I too need to work on practicing this principle.) For women who can boldly and comfortably approach me with their issues with me, I have mad respect for them.

Evident Love for Christ

A big spiritual need in my life is to connect with other people who can spur me on to growing for my love and fascination for God daily. So, getting to know a woman who has evident love for God is a major deal. I say ‘evident’ because I want to know a genuine Christian. I don’t want to know a woman who is “Sunday-morning Christian” or only goes to church events to see her close friends. I want to know a woman who has a genuine love for God, who prays, journals, and speaks about God daily. A woman who loves Jesus more than she loves me is a keeper.

Like Ruth, Like Amos

If you’ve ever read the Old Testament books of Ruth and Amos you know that both people were fighters for justice of their people. Like Ruth and like Amos, I consider myself to be an advocate and fighter for social justice. I want to know a woman who sees beyond her own perspective and sees the hurt and suffering of people in this world from the lenses of their eyes. I want to know someone who has great understanding of people’s backgrounds and experiences — someone who is competent and sensitive of other cultures. Someone who can empathize well with others and fight for their needs and their rights is a major deal for me.

“Opposites Attract” Is a Lie

I do not put my trust in the saying “opposites attract”. From my experiences, I can attest to the fact that opposites do repel one another like simple magnets for a refrigerator. Many women I had been attracted to were hardcore gamers. Some listened to music other than jazz. Most were outgoing (which is very draining and challenging for an introvert like myself to contend with). So, I know I would probably be better off settling for a good woman who has many more similarities to who God molded me to become.

Unashamed

I close with a personality trait I believe is very critical for what I’m looking for in a woman. I want to know someone who is not ashamed of me because I look different. People have real prejudices of people of other races when it comes to mating. Some fear friends and family to know they are intimate with someone who looks different because they are concerned with their own image. Others fear they may not succeed or reach their full potential in life because they believe their partner may hold them back socioeconomically. These prejudices, I believe, are a mild form of racism against people who are different. These racist attitudes exist today as racism that is much more conspicuous than offensive speech and actions that people displayed 50 years ago. For a woman who becomes interested in me, she must not be ashamed of me for my outward appearance or socioeconomic status.

Happy to be Home

Posted in Friends, God's Love with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by Phil Martin

Happy to be Home

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Aug. 28, 2014

I feel much differently about my return home than I did in May. Remember how much I had dreaded coming back? Well, I’ve been able to see why I’m supposed to be home over the past three months. It’s like I’m finally seeing what God was preparing for me to endure over this weird summer.

At the beginning of the summer, I felt hurt by someone who seemed to react poorly to an innocent card. I sent cards to 11 people shortly after my graduation. In each of the 11 cards, I had handwritten a personal note thanking each person for how their interaction with me had blessed me at some point in my four years in college. I also included my graduation head shot (mainly so each person could remember my face over the coming years). Unfortunately, one of the 11 people did not appreciate the card. I was devastated. I felt that the way the person expressed their dislike over the card seemed cruel. I also felt that I suffered a few personal cut downs that were unnecessary. Although I feel less hurt by this person’s harsh and merciless rejection, I’m glad I’m not in BG right now. Their feelings of distaste and dislike would eventually come out in a different way — maybe more devastating to me. Even more challenging would be dealing with seeing the person at church events and being reminded of the hurt.

Aside from a personal pain, I had to get the car I’m driving repaired two weeks ago. Had I stayed in BG, I might have ended up stranded on I-75 or a small country road not knowing my car had a serious issue that needed addressed. My family also helped cover me for the repairs.

A third blessing for me being home is that I currently have peace about my future. I feel that God has restored my peace over the past few weeks. I may not be working at an ideal job right now. I may not utilize the four-year degree I have earned. I do, however, still have a great shot to succeed. My work schedule allows me the opportunity to go back to school 12 months from now. My eyes are set on pursuing a Master’s of Social Work at Ohio State or the joint program with Miami (Ohio) and Wright State, but I will also consider back-up plans at community colleges.

I now close in saying that I feel like I’m less of a failure now. At the start of the summer, I got caught up in social comparisons. It got to me so much that I had to leave Facebook for six weeks. I immediately turned off all notifications after creating a new Facebook account and re-adding around 40 people. I also have not typed up any statuses; statuses were becoming a poor way of me expressing hurt and pain. Now, I’ve gotten back to journaling and speaking aloud to God on my rides to work and church. This expression of my feelings is much healthier, like my work through counseling in college, and some of my frustration has been relieved. At this point, it’s almost like I’m still not on Facebook. I’ve just now won control over the site and social comparisons, not the other way around. Thus, I no longer feel like much of a failure in life. I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a 20-hour minor in Psychology anyway. My degree must mean something. I also have a novel to finish at some point in my life that means a lot to me as well.

Miscellaneous…

It feels so weird not looking forward to classes again. My sister and some of my friends have started a new year of classes this past Monday. I do miss that feeling of starting out fresh and re-energized.

I’ve been going to my new home church for the past four or five weeks now. I still like it, but I’m still trying to get used to the “small town church” culture. I am the only member who is an ethnic minority, and I am only one of a very few young adults. It still remains to be seen if I will feel like I can completely fit in, but I’m still giving effort to serve and be known. Possibly this Saturday morning I will help out the benevolence ministry at a local food pantry. In September, I also plan to attend a Thursday night lifegroup.

The First Visit

Posted in Friends, God's Love with tags , , , , on July 31, 2014 by Phil Martin

The First Visit

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

July 31, 2014

God gave me just what I needed, just what I asked for at my first post-college church visit this past Sunday. For this, I am so thankful and blessed this week.

Remember how scared I said I was about the church search process? Well, it is a very crucial process I need to get right.

Finding a church home and connecting with a community there is a major need for my life. Because of the remoteness and disconnection I endure living in my small rural village, I deeply long to connect with people. Because of the lonely nature of my job and the loneliness I feel each day, I need more connection to people. I still have my family, but I still need a support network of people from the outside. There’s just some things (like my own insecurities) I feel more comfortable sharing with people other than family. Another thing I need is to be a part of group of people similar to my age so that I can relate with the Christians around me and find more identification.

Meeting all these personal needs for Christian relationships with other people is something that remains to be seen right now. What I did discover at my Sunday church visit is that the congregation seemed friendly and welcoming. I was surprisingly overwhelmed by numerous handshakes, smiles, and greetings. Because of this marvelous first impression, I plan on coming back next week.

Despite the welcoming church experience, I have felt depressed this week about my lack of community in college. You might have heard of this saying: ‘You can have good grades, a social life, and sleep. But, you can’t have all three.” Well, I lacked a wholesome social life in college. To me, college was like a repeat of high school. Again, I made mistakes with people. Again, I did not know how to make friends well or interact well with the few I did have. And, sadly, again, I did not know how to approach a young woman in my life I had feelings for or felt attracted to. So, I often felt like an outcast among those around me, and my mind was riddled with obsessions over girls whom I was so cowardly to approach. A few people have also labelled me as the ‘quiet and creepy guy who treats pretty girls as subhuman because he’s afraid to talk to them’. With all of my social challenges going on inside me, I often felt lonely and alienated by others because of my loneliness. I would inevitably push people away; people would be turned off by me and run away and desert me or they would ignore me. People failing to meet my need for relationships, while I know they can’t completely meet, it all seemed too cruel. After high school and college — eight years combined of loneliness and social setbacks — I am really afraid of facing the same things in any church I go to. This real anxiety I have has robbed me of my peace in the past couple of weeks, and I almost have wanted to cry.

If you could pray that I could connect with this church well and commit to working through my challenges with God, please, that would golden.

Miscellaneous… 

My flags came in the mail last week. I have two of European countries because of possible family ancestry. Hanging above my bed is the flag of England, with its Saint George’s Cross (not to be confused with the flag of the Kingdom of Great Britain, which is the Union Jack) and the flag of Germany. I took down the flag of the U.S. state of Virginia, where I was born. That flag was poorly stitched.

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I may have to get a flag of Great Britain because I am somewhat of an Anglophile (not a big one, but I love Acoustic Alchemy, Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay for his Kitchen Nightmares, Genesis and Phil Collins, and worship artist Matt Redman).

I have a new outfit for the fall! I have a black cardigan (new), red tee shirt (new), red scarf (a year old), and black jogger pants. Red is my favorite color, and I love its color combination with black. Now that I have a ‘good-for-the-moment’ job, I can buy spiffy clothes from time to time. Yay! GE DIGITAL CAMERA

En route to pursuing entry into a Master’s of Social Work program, I will be volunteering at a local hospital. My volunteer orientation is actually this Friday (tomorrow). Yes! I’m excited to exercise my growing passion of helping people, while also growing in my social skills with people. Yes! Yes! I’m so excited now. [Insert cheesy smiley face here.]

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African slaves may have arrived to Virginia between the 17th and 18th centuries from either Barbados, New Netherlands (present day New York), or the Caribbean islands that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, according to an article I read this past weekend. So, other than being, obviously, of African descent and very possibly English or German and Powhatan Native American, I may be parts-Caribbean and Dutch. There possibly is a connection between myself and Holland other than liking the Dutch national football team for its orange.

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