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Richard Gibson
Thursday October 19, 2017

Dear library patrons everywhere,

First off, thank you for using the library. Without you, I wouldn't have a job, and, as little as it pays, I need my job.

But the pleasantries stop there. I have a bone to pick with you. For the sake of brevity, I will only here discuss the issue of book handling. If you check out a book, please remember a few things:

1) Somebody else will probably want to read that book after you. With that in mind, please be sure that you actually return the book. Eventually, you know. Preferably, return it on time. If that's not possible, we have no problem with levying fines against you. Be that as it may, if you want to give us money (feel free!), make it easier on everybody and just make a donation. Plus, you can put that on your taxes (maybe)!

2) The book from the library, by the very nature of it being a book from a library, is not a book that you personally own. Therefore, please take excellent care of it. In case this is difficult for you grasp, let me put it to you straight: While reading our books, please do not eat, drink, smoke, brush your hair, brush your pet's hair, or let a bird sit on your shoulder. Any of these actions can cause unpleasant things to enter the book, which the next patron (or, just as likely, I) will have to discover and, with great disgust, remove before being able to enjoy the book.

3) You should not add anything to or remove anything from the books. This includes, but is not limited to, adding things like food crumbs (though I appreciate your concern for my stomach), hair, rocks, leaves (not of paper, but from trees), and various notes to your friends. As far as things that shouldn't be removed from the books, this includes (but is not limited to) corners of pages, corners of covers, entire pages, entire covers, barcodes, spines, labels, or extras that come with the book.

4) Books can be difficult to define, so let me help you out: A book is not a coaster. A book is not a pet toy. A book is not a napkin. A book is not a sunscreen. A book is not a discus, shuriken, or any other throwing device. A book is not a pedestal or a way to prop things up.

Just so this isn't completely negative, let's move on to something that you can do with the books: Feel free to use bookmarks! Bookmarks are nice and useful. In fact, we have plenty of free ones that we would be more than willing to provide to you, an example of which is your check-out receipt with your due dates. If you do choose to use a bookmark, please ensure that the bookmark is no thicker than a single sheet of paper. This means no pens, pencils, tax forms, bills, food wrappers, food, or sticks. Also, whatever you happen to use, please remember to remove the bookmark before returning the book, including food and Playboy pages.

Thank you! If you have any other questions as to proper book handling procedures or conduct or what does and does not constitute a bookmark, please help yourself to some common sense. You can find it in the... actually, if this is addressed to you, then I suppose you lack much to begin with, and you'll probably have to borrow some.


Richard Gibson
Tuesday October 17, 2017

My Thoughts on the Holy Bible #2

MidCities church in St. Louis had a guest speaker last Sunday in Dr. Bill Edgar. I can't honestly say I remember much of his sermon, but it dealt with this passage, and I'm going to expound on it independently of (though obviously influenced by) his sermon.

Jeremiah 29:4 - 7 (ESV)
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Other translations use "good", "prosperity", "success", "well-being", or "peace" instead of "welfare". Turns out the Hebrew word is "shalom". You may have heard that word used as a greeting, but it does not mean "hello". Now that I've actually looked into the word, it is probably the best possible greeting you could give someone.

"Shalom" refers to a sort of physical and spiritual wholeness and completeness, which includes having good, healthy relationships with other humans and even with God. This "peace" isn't simply an absence of war, nor is the "welfare" simply having enough food and shelter. "Shalom" has a much deeper meaning, hence different translations translating the word in very different ways.

No, Jews are no longer in exile. They have Israel and Jerusalem. While the Old Testament does apply to modern Christians, no, most modern Christians are not in any form of exile. Most modern Christians are not even on the continent that contained Babylon, either. So how does this passage apply to us today?

There is a New Testament idea of Christians not truly belonging to this world (Hebrews and 1 Peter touch on it, as do other passages that I cannot currently find). Since we have been purchased back to God by the blood of Jesus, our true home is in Heaven, our true allegiance is to Christ, and we are exiles in this world. However, some people take this idea much too far and think that things that happen on Earth don't really matter or are not our concern.

Much of the Old Testament's value to modern Christians is as a book of examples (or commands, as many of the examples are negative because the commands were not followed). In this case, what did the exiled Jews do? They were told to seek the shalom of wherever they found themselves. Instead of hating their captives, they were told to do and want and strive for what was best for them.

So, if we are exiles in the whole world and the OT exiles were told to seek the shalom of their exiled home, we should do the same.

But what does this look like? Now that we know what "shalom" means, it's fairly easy. If you see someone that isn't physically or spiritually complete, help them find what they lack. This means to physically uplift everybody to give them physical shalom. Do they need food? Clothing? A job? A home? Medical help? You name it, you are commanded to give it to them.

If somebody lacks spiritual completeness, help them find it. Help restore broken relationships. Share the Gospel if they aren't right with God. If they're struggling with sin, help them there. You name it, you are commanded to give it to them.

So seek the shalom of anybody you meet. Since shalom is such a high state, they probably need something, so help them out.

Being a Christian is a high calling. I am constantly reminded of that. Recently, I find that I am being frequently challenged to do good for St. Louis and for those who live in it. Wherever you live, please join me in seeking the shalom of your hometown.


Friday October 13, 2017

I'm so tired. I still have 3k+ words to go in the ebook I am currently writing, and it needs to be submitted in 6 hours. I don't know why I can't get myself to just write when I know there's $200 at stake here. Proof? I'm here writing on Postplay when I could be using these precious minutes to add to whatever else is missing on the ebook.
There is something wrong with me. I do not know what, but I feel it. I keep on sabotaging myself. Playing games instead of writing. Looking at my Instagram feed or Facebook feed instead of working. And then I run out of time and I get angry at myself. I want a break. I want to be able to sleep at least six hours every night without feeling guilty because I did not write.
I want to sleep so I am not angry mot of the day. I want to be able to play with my kid and talk to the hubby when he gets home from work without having to do so with my laptop between us. The thing is, when I put it down, I feel like I'm slacking off - I don't understand it myself, because I don't really get any work done during the day. The thing sits on my lap and mostly I look for stuff on the net to distract myself with, away from writing.
I can't talk to anyone about this. They would think and say I'm just being lazy. Maybe I am, but I think there's something else. I don't want to be like this. I don't want to be this. But I can't get out of this toxic cycle. I fear someday I will just up and die from the exhustion. :/


Richard Gibson
Tuesday October 17, 2017

Wow, that sounds exactly like me. I hear you. I'm sorry that you're going through that. It's a good question: Is it laziness or something else? Hard to say, but it sure sucks, whatever it is. Good luck. I never found a way out and haven't written anything beyond a blog post in years.

Tuesday October 10, 2017

I miss playing the ukulele. I'm not really a good player, but I try. The thing is, I'm currently swamped with stuff I need to write. I'm afraid that if I touch it, I will lose precious, precious hours I'm supposed to spend on writing. :(

Here's a short write-up on why I play the uke. Maybe it would inspire someone here to take up playing as well. :)

Five Good Reasons to Start Playing the Ukulele

So you finally decide to play an instrument. Maybe you want a new hobby, or maybe the chick you dig likes music, or you just want to prove your friends that you can do something different. Whatever your reason, you can never go wrong in picking up the ukulele.

Why play the ukulele?

1. Easy. The ukulele has only four strings - that's two less strings to grapple with, compared to learning to play the guitar. The ukulele's nylon strings are softer compared to those of the guitar, so even kids would have no difficulty in playing it. Plus, the internet is swarming with ukulele lessons and tutorials you would be able to play a song in a matter of minutes.

2. Portable. Stuck in traffic? You can reach over to the back seat for the ukulele and play yourself a song or two. Try doing that with a guitar. Or a tuba perhaps.

3. Fun. The ukulele has a catchy, happy sound. Think Hawaiian beach party with the grass skirts and the cool drinks with the umbrellas on top with Jason Mraz playing “I’m Yours” on the background, or if you want a slightly more laid-back beat, then imagine Israel kamakawiwo'ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” And did we mention the different colors the ukulele comes in?

4. Cheap. For $30, you can get a good beginner ukulele. Once you have mastered playing, you can move on to the higher end ones. Of course those ukuleles will be more expensive, but by then you'd be smitten by playing you wouldn't mind spending a wee bit more.

5. Ukers are a happy, friendly people. The ukulele's sunshiny disposition must have rubbed off on them. If you're a beginner ukulele player, then you will find a lot of encouragement and support from the growing community of ukulele players on the internet.

Try it, you might like it! :)

Tuesday October 10, 2017

As mentioned in previous blog posts, I've been in transition for 14 long months. In order to make that work, luxuries had to be eliminated immediately, which I did - for the most part. We all have our "things" that we can't live without (which is very dramatic - as we all know, the more things you own, the more things own you - bonus points if you can name the movie that's from).

For me, things that I bought previously without a second thought quickly became luxuries. I went 14 months without buying a pair of shoes gasp! (sarcasm font implied) So it's not a surprise that the first thing I did after accepting my new job was to make purchases for things that I'd put off buying. Shoes were first. I clicked on with reckless abandon and it felt great!

However, the bigger lesson here is that over the course of the 14 months, I realize just how much I took for granted with a steady paycheck. It's actually liberating to see now how I managed to live without certain THINGS and even now, won't buy without thought.

I've always been extremely frugal, not paying full price for anything, whether that meant waiting for a sale, doing multiple online searches for the lowest price, or always making my purchases through an engine that offers an incentive - like eBates. (if you don't know about them and you shop online, you're missing out on $$ - if you're interested!)

The reality is - there are so many ways to take advantage of discounts, cash backs, coupons, etc - that we, as consumers, don't ever have to pay full price. That's not a lesson from being unemployed, that's a lesson from making the most of every opportunity. Whether financial or not - life's lessons are invaluable in terms of dollars and sense and while I am loving new shoes, more importantly, I love that I was able to persevere until the RIGHT role came to me.

Monday October 9, 2017

The Conclusion

But could she really do this? Could she look Tim straight in the eye and tell him I love you, honey, and talk about their wedding plans? Could she do it with Luke without giving up her soul?
Rain was pouring hard outside. Alex pulled her denim jacket tight around her, as she shuddered from the cold. If she left now, she could still save herself. But was she not damned enough to even be here, waiting? Get up. Leave before he arrives. If he does not find you here he would know he had lost you forever. He would know that he loved you more than you loved him, although he never admitted it. 

She guzzled her Coke, as if drawing strength from it. She had to hurry. If she were to see his schoolboy smile right now or the sparkle in his eyes her resolve would water. She looked up at the digital wall clock. 10:34:11.
She stood up and straightened herself. She smiled bitterly and looked outside. Cold rainwater would be good for her. Dragging myself over to the door, pushing the glass door open. I’m free.
From across the street Alex saw Luke, soaked, waving at her. She looked away and started towards the opposite direction. “Hey, Alex, wait!”

Alex walked faster, pulling her jacket tighter around her as the cold rain water hid her bitter tears. Hush, Alex. It’s over.

Sunday October 8, 2017

Part Four

She wanted him close, but she did not let him into her world. Luke did not know her, though he thought he did. There were text messages –
hello how r u
hve a nice day
hey hw about a kiss
I miss u but do not message me d wifey is asking for my fone
hi cn I hv a hug 2day
wer r u
– sent on the sly, furtive glances at work, and the occasional sneaking off for some time together, but there were no proclamations of love. It hurt Alex, but what could she do? They entangled themselves in a web, and neither wanted to wriggle free. Lovers, that’s what we would always be. But it wouldalways always be about our bodies. Our souls would never touch. They could not have each other wholly, fully, so they just contented themselves with hugs and kisses which always left them wanting more.
His kiss roused a primal, almost animal craving in her. Was it the way he chewed and sucked her lips? Was it the way his strong hands caressed her back? Or was it his scent that awoke in her recollections of home, and stirred in her memories of her mother’s womb? Alex took another swig of her Coke. Today, she was going to feel that animal craving once more. But this time, she was going to act on that craving, which is why she sat there waiting, feeling humiliated, irked, lost. Today she was giving herself to him, and he was late. God, Luke, why are you doing this to me? I love Timothy. Please don’t steal away my soul from me.