Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Oasis

I stopped at our local Starbucks yesterday morning to pick up a coffee for my wife: Grande, two pumps cinnamon Dulce, non-fat, no whip mocha...

I do this Monday through Friday after I drop our son Chance off at school for the day. Figure it's the least I can do, since she's put up with being married to me for over 22 years now. Everyone at the Starbucks knows me, and most of the time they have Cherish's drink ready early. It's a great place with a great staff.

So...yesterday I pull into the parking lot around 9:10 in front of the Pizza Hut. A huge Semi pulls in next to me just as I'm getting out, blocking that exit. I make a mental note to go out the other way when I'm done. Go into Starbucks for the mocha. At least ten people ahead of me in line...yet the mocha is waiting when I pay...and everyone says to tell Cherish Hi. Like I said, a great staff.

I head out with her coffee only to find another truck parked directly behind my Jeep.(a 50th birthday present from Cherish)The driver unloads his last load, slams the back of the truck closed, and goes into the restaurant next door. He shouldn't be long, so I get in and warm the Jeep up. Couple of minutes go by, and he comes out. Gets into the truck. Anytime now. No problem. A couple more minutes go by...then a couple more. I strain my neck to try and look in the cab of the truck: He's not there. I get out and look around...don't see him anywhere. Strange...

I check in the Pizza Hut: No. The little restaurant: No. Starbucks: No. I check the rest of the businesses: Nowhere to be seen. I go back to the Jeep. It's been at least fifteen minutes now since he left his truck. Cherish's mocha is getting cold, and I've got to...well. I've already had four cups of coffee...enough said? I go one more round. That's when I see him. He's sitting outside of Starbucks...smoking and drinking a soda. I walk over. It starts off least on my part.



"Your truck is blocking my Jeep..."


"Would you mind moving it please?"

"Fuck you old man."

A million thoughts go through my head at once: He's at least twenty years younger than me...even sitting down, I can tell he's about six two-three and about two thirty to two forty...I've got an artificial left knee that needs to be replaced...broken bones in my left right knee is shot from years of over compensating for the left one...both of my shoulders are busted and need surgery...I've got three degenerating disks in my back...the nerve damage is killing me...and he said"Old man"?


"I said Fuck you, you latte sippin' old man."

I had a number of nicknames when I was on the job...none of them good. One of them was IA...Instant Asshole. The guys said I went from pleasant to prick in a heartbeat...some things never change.

I was able to persuade the young man, in a relatively short time, that he might have been in least about the latte sipping part. He decided to move his truck. Damn near ground the gears to death trying to get out.

I won't repeat the whole conversation...but I'm pretty sure he questioned my sanity...once or twice. It was gratifying to know that I could still be's my boyish charm...always endears me to people.

I was laughing about it by the time I got home...and told Cherish about it after I rushed to remember I'd had four cups of coffee. We both had a good laugh.

It was a big day for Cherish...I'm not going to say why...not my place on a public blog. But it was an emotional day for her. She left not long after, and was gone for almost three hours. She gave me a card when she got back.

On the outside, it read:

I believe
I believe in mind over matter
I believe in miracles and blessings, both great and small
I believe in the Human Spirit to prevail
I believe that hurdles in life are meant to be jumped over, not as something to stop us
I believe in possibilities

When you open up the card, it says:

I believe in you.

Beneath that, Cherish had written...

And I'll never believe that you are a latte sipping old man...
You're the best!!

Might be the sweetest card I've ever gotten.

Chance went to the community center that night with his best friend. Cherish suggested we go out to eat...just the two of us. We went to Norm's Garden, a little Chinese place close by.

We tried to remember, on the way over, the last time the two of us went out to eat...or anything else for that matter, alone. Neither one of us could remember when it was. Obviously, a very long time. We're always busy...short on money...working...and we have kids...and no babysitters. Chance is old enough to stay with just Crystal now, but we're just not in the habit of doing anything. Too many years of not having the option, I guess.

We sat and talked while we waited for our food. ..about everything. The kids...the future...just everything. It was wonderful. Best of all, I got to show off my beautiful wife to the world...and gaze adoringly across the table at her. I was never going to get married again. Ever. Then I met Cherish. I thought, when I met her, that she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life...and she's more beautiful today than she was then. Incredible. We ate...laughed...went home...and cuddled watching TV.

It was a great...the best night I can remember in a long, long time.

Our lives contain long stretches of desert. Some peoples stretches are longer than others. Drier. Hotter. Almost unendurable...but God always gives us an oasis every now and then. Sometimes they're big and last for quite awhile...and other times they're very small...and gone before you know it. The trick, as I see it, is...enjoy each and every oasis that you are fortunate enough to get. Appreciate it. Savor it. Fold it up like a treasured photo or poem, and stuff it in your heart...then you can take it out when you need to...on those long stretches of desert...

Life is the journey...not the destination.

My wife is my Oasis.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lost: Jacob have I loved...

ROMANS Chapter 9

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The name Jacob means "heel catcher"...the meaning is of one who who is willing to do anything to win. His name is later changed to Israel...he who wrestles with God.

Is the island the lone "constant"...jumping not only between time in one universe, but between all of the possible universes? Course correcting to make sure that each universe stays incorruptable? To make certain that no one can cross from one to the other? Is Richard immortal because he was chosen to maintain this island on it's journey?

Why is each leader chosen at an early age? Why is Richard not the leader, but only a caretaker? Is Jacob the title of the one leader? Or, is Jacob a title given to each new leader?

Is Daniel trying to find a time when he can protect Charlotte? Or, is he trying to find a universe where she doesn't die?

Is Aaron the Little Prince? His name means the high, or exalted he the new leader? Or is the little Prince referring to Locke?

Did Ben know that Widmore had broken the "rules" because he had already been to a future where his daughter was alive?

Was Widmore one of the original crew of "The Black Rock"?

What is the difference between free will...and predestination?

There's a few questions...let's hear some answers...oh, by the way...

It was very cool to see Jin...glad they kept him in the story...great actor...great character.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Moving the Box

Although this is being written with the current SAG issues in mind, the story is one that I feel is beneficial for all aspects of life.

I was at my dad's retirement party out at the plant when I was approached by a man I had never met. Very distinguished, about my Dad's age. Impeccable Suit. Tailored. Very expensive. Perfectly groomed. Hair as white as snow.

"Your Charlie's boy Chris, aren't you?"

"Yes sir, I am...and you are?"

"Harry a minute?"

The owner of my Dad's company wanted to speak with me. I didn't know how he knew who I was(I'm adopted and look nothing like either of my adoptive parents), or why he would want to speak with me. I was a little nervous, but I went. He took me off to one side at first, but the room we were in was pretty noisy. He motioned to an adjoining room. I followed him in, and he shut the door behind us. He told me a lot of stories that afternoon...about my Dad...and about his relationship with my Dad over the years. The one I'm telling you today is one of the few stories about my father that I had never heard from anyone else before. I don't think too many people knew about it...which is part of the story itself.

My relationship with my father had been rocky for a number of years prior to that day, culminating with my being kicked out of the house on my 18th birthday. I had lived on my own for a number of months before my Dad asked me to move back in.(That's a story for another blog) I had only been back for a few weeks, and we were still doing that delicate dance between father and son. Mr. Rothschild's conversation with me...the stories he told me...started me on the path to looking at my Father with the kind of respect that had been so sadly lacking on my part for a long time.

"Have a seat, Chris. You know...there's an awful lot about your Dad I bet you don't know. Mind if I tell you a few stories?"

"No, sir."

"Good...maybe you are as smart as your Dad has built you up to be. Do you know Nate?"

"Yes sir. He's a great guy."

"Yes...yes he is. Did you know that Nate was the first black man ever hired into the union out here?"

", I didn't know that."

"Did your Father ever tell you the story of how he got Nate hired on here at the plant?"

"No, he never did."

"I'm not surprised. Your Father has never been one to blow his own horn. One of the many things I've always admired about him. This goes back to the late fifties. Your Dad came to me in private. He did that a lot if there was something important on his mind. He said,

"Harry, it's time we got this plant integrated."

I told him he was right...that it was long overdue. I couldn't, however, appear to be behind it. My doing so would make that first man's life a living hell, or I should say, more of one than it was already going to be.

"You know you've got my backing Charlie,'re going to have to figure out a way to get it done. The old-timers here are pretty die hard racists...the newer guys that you've hired over the years aren't as bad, but we can't have a civil war going on on the job. And Wiley..."

"I'll handle Wiley. Just wanted to let you know what I was setting in motion."

"You have a man picked out?"

"Yeah. Fine young man. Name's Nate. Worked on our construction team on the last project. College degree. Family. Good church-goer. Clean as a hound's tooth."

"Good luck Charlie."

Nate came in the next day to fill out an application. Wiley, he's my sister's husband, and my top manager, saw him from a distance. Grabbed his application as soon as he left. Now...Wiley is dumber than a post. No, seriously...dumber than a post. Being my brother-in-law is the only reason he has a job. I love my sister, I really do, but why she ever married that...anyway, besides being stupid, he's very prejudiced. I couldn't figure out how your Dad expected to pull it off.

Wiley had the option of firing Nate at any point up to his ninety day probationary period ended...and it would have been just like Wiley to do it on day one as it would have been to do it on day eighty-nine. The few old-timers left at the plant were either friends, or stooges of Wiley's. I just didn't see it happening.

You have to remember Chris...there were still "White's Only" signs all over the country. People were being beaten. Dr. King hadn't given his "I have a dream" speech yet. Things were tough. Trying to break the color barrier anywhere was difficult enough, but in the oil fields? Still...someone had to be first...somewhere had to be first. I was really hoping it could be here. It would cause a nice little stir at the country club where no one wanted me as a member, but couldn't keep me out of.

Wiley came running to me, giggling like a buffoon.

"I'm finally gonna pull one over on Charlie."


"Charlie hates spooks. Hates them He just told Fred yesterday that he was scared I'd find out about this spear-chucker applying, and stick him with him, just to screw with him...and that's exactly what I'm gonna do. I want to assign this Nate to work every day...every shift, right next to Charlie...and you better not try and stop me this time Harry. Charlie's got it coming. I'm damn near blood to gotta take my side...just this once."

"All right Wiley. Whatever you want."

Days turned in to weeks. I tried to stay abreast of everything as discretely as possible...which wasn't that hard...considering Wiley would talk to me almost every day about how miserable his stooges said your Dad was.

The ninetieth day finally came. Wiley signed off on Nate's papers. He was in. I called your Dad in to the office after Wiley went home that night. I had to know how he'd done it.

Your dad had started the day before Nate even applied. Every union has its Judases. Guys that report directly to management. Your Dad, of course, knew exactly who they were. He made sure that one of them saw him get visibly upset and take one of the old-line, anti-union racists off in the back. The spy stood just outside to listen in. Your Father told the old timer that he had heard "some colored guy" was going to apply. He was scared to death that Wiley would stick that "spook" with him, just out of spite...maybe even let him make it through probation and get in the union. If Nate made it, it would make Charlie the laughing stock of the union. Your dad asked the guy if maybe he could have a word with Wiley...or at least help your Dad drive the guy out by making him miserable.

Wiley got the info that day. That's why he pulled Nate's application so fast. He changed a bunch of the schedules so that Nate had to work every shift with your Dad...and he told all of his buddies that Nate was not to be touched. Period. Getting revenge on your Dad was more important to him than keeping the plant segregated. It was brilliant. Truly brilliant.

"My dad must have laughed so hard in Wiley's face when he told him...wish I could have seen it."

"Your Dad never told Wiley."

"You mean Wiley never found out?"

"Eventually...but not from your Dad."

"Who told him?"

"It was about six months later at our semi-annual meeting between management and the union...which meant your Dad. Wiley couldn't resist getting in some digs at him. I kept waiting for your Dad to tell him off. He didn't. Kept playing it like he was pissed off about the whole thing. I don't think your Father would ever have told Wiley the truth."

"Then who..."

"Me, I'm afraid. Your Dad wasn't too happy with me about it either...but I couldn't take that smirk on Wiley's face any longer. You should have seen both of them after I told Wiley how your Dad had played him. Wiley looked like the whole world had just seen him with his pants down around his ankles. Your Dad...he looked mad. At me. Wiley left the room, muttering to himself. Almost tripped and fell on the way out. Your Dad chewed me out after Wiley left. Told me never to do something like that to him again."


"He was afraid that if Wiley found out, he'd have those old-timers make Nate's life miserable...try and force him to quit. Told me he'd hold me personally responsible if anything happened to Nate. Then he stormed out."

"Did they go after Nate?"

"No. Thank God for me, no. Wiley was far too embarrassed to let anyone know how your Dad had played him. He continued to act like he had screwed your Dad over. Only the three of us ever knew...and now you."


"I learned a lesson in business a long time ago. Life is about "moving the box" from point "A" to point "B". Getting the job done. For most people, however, their box isn't the's recognition...being noticed. They really don't care if the job itself ever gets done...just that people recognize their work. I learned early on that, not only did recognition not matter...sometimes it was better if no one even knew you wanted the box moved. The best circumstance was if you could get people to move the box for you...and think the whole thing was their idea.

Your Dad was one of only a handful of men I've known in my entire life who looked at that exactly the same way that I did. Your Dad was all about getting the job done. Period."

Mr. Rothschild told me a lot more stories that afternoon. I didn't find out why he took so much time with me that day for a number of years. Doesn't matter for this story...but I'm very glad he did.

That story...that lesson, has served me very well from that moment on...especially when I was a Deputy Sheriff in LA...and a high level bodyguard and then PI after my retirement. It's amazing what you can get people to do...especially if you check your ego at the door.

Some of you might be asking how this applies to the current situation at SAG. Check the latest news. Does what has happened, and continues to happen, sound like people are trying to get the job done...or be recognised for trying to do the job? I realize that in our business in particular, we tend to thrive on being noticed...complimented...stroked. We are, by the same token, the union best equipped to "move the box"...get the job done, without others ever knowing what it is that we are really trying to accomplish. We are, after all, actors.

I've tried to make this point before. I'll try again.

To all of the members of SAG:

Your brothers and sisters within the union are not your enemy. You only have one enemy. That enemy is the AMPTA. They may have moles, stooges and/or Judases in your midst...but those people are just pawns.

Meet behind closed doors. Formulate a long-term strategy that includes ALL of your affiliate unions. You may not be able to get everything you want this time. Do your best. But...if you unite with the other unions...if you can work together for a common purpose...then collectively you will have the strength to stand against the will be able to "move the box"...instead of being the box that is moved by those more their whim.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand... I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. "

Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My favorite Super Bowl of all Time!

I wanted Arizona to win...they lost in the last second...they aren't even my team. The Rams are. So, why was this my favorite Super Bowl of all time?

My son Chance stayed home to watch it with me. His Mom and sister went out to my wife's parent's house. Chance was invited to go. He loves going out to his Nana and Papa's of his favorite things in the whole world.

He told his Mom this morning he wanted to stay with me.

This is our first Super Bowl together. Our team lost.

But I won.

I thought nothing could top the Ram's first Super Bowl win. I've been a Ram's fan since I was a little boy. My folks took me to a Ram's game every year on the anniversary of my adoption being finalized. I met Lamar Lundy of the Fearsome Foursome. I was never so up as when they won their Super Bowl.

Until now. My team lost. I should be down.

But I'm the happiest man on earth. My son wanted to watch the game with his Dad.

We're going for a walk now...blow off some steam. He was cheering for the Cards too. He's pretty disappointed. I should be. But...

I feel like I just won the Super Bowl myself.

This was the best Super Bowl of all time...

Thank you son.

I love you.


About Me

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled more than a little rough around the edges...