Category Archives: Writing

Loess Hills Road Trip

I’d like to just start with saying how completely impressed I was with Amanda Gorman, this nation’s first ever youth poet laureate and the poem she read at the inauguration on Wednesday. Wow! Goosebumps. I was one the people that rushed to Amazon and pre-ordered her book and made it the best selling book on Amazon. It doesn’t come out until September, so to tide myself over, I thought I would just put her inauguration poem down here, so I could find it and read it anytime I want:


When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.


Today I’m going to share what I would call auxiliary images from my road trip to the Loess Hills back in September. They are auxiliary because they were not taken at the Loess Hills and they also don’t fall into THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT either. These are pictures I took on the way to the Loess Hills and on the way back.

I do want to start with a brief history lesson. It comes from a question I had to ask when I stopped at a historic marker on the trip. A historic marker honoring Merle Hay. I’m sure many of you have driven on Merle Hay’s road and shopped in his mall, but do you know who Merle Hay was?

I myself only knew that Merle Hay was a war hero of some kind, but I didn’t even know from what war and what he did. Take a look at this historic marker in the cemetery where he is buried:

Loess Hills Road Trip

When I saw this, I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the picture. So I researched it and while it is maybe obvious to some, I didn’t deduce that the guy carrying the fallen soldier was Uncle Sam. Carrying Merle Hay home.

So who was Merle Hay?

He was the first or one of the first Americans to die in WWI. Here is his story from the Wiki:

When the United States entered the First World War, Hay was young enough to avoid being drafted. With his father’s blessing, he voluntarily enlisted on May 9, 1917. He was among 8 men from Glidden who enlisted that day. They were first shipped to Fort Logan, Colorado, then to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He was assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment. On 26 June 1917, the regiment disembarked the troop ships in St. Nazaire, France, as part of the 1st Infantry Division. By November 1917, he was assigned to Company F along with Corporal James Bethel Gresham and Private Thomas Enright. They were posted in the trenches near the French village of Artois. In the early morning of 3 November 1917, the Imperial German Army attacked. After an hour of fighting, Hay, along with Corporal Gresham, and Private Enright were the first three casualties of the American Expeditionary Force.

Two days later, on 5 Nov 1917, Enright, Gresham, and Hay were buried near the battlefield where they had died. An inscription marked their graves: “Here lie the first soldiers of the illustrious Republic of the United States who fell on French soil for justice and liberty.” Their bodies were eventually returned to their families and reburied in the United States. Hay was then re-interred in July 1921 in West Lawn Cemetery in his home town of Glidden, Iowa. The West Lawn Cemetery was later renamed the Merle Hay Memorial Cemetery. An 8-foot monument commissioned by the Iowa Legislature marks his gravesite.

Remember that story, the next time you are driving down Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.

Here are the rest of the Loess Road Trip auxiliary photos:

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

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Loess Hills Road Trip

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Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
I can’t figure out if this is brilliant, sacrilegious, brilliantly sacrilegious, or sacrilegiously brilliant. Hopefully there is a theologian out there that can assist me.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
This sign confuses me so much. So very much.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
I love this tiny mailbox so much. I want to bundle it up and take it home with me, but of course that is a federal crime.

Loess Hills Road Trip
Birthplace of Merle Hay – Now you know where he started and where he ended.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

I wish I would have gotten better pictures of the ghost town that is Carrollton, but it was just pouring down rain when I rolled through there. But I’m sure I’ll get there again some day.

Here is another history fact for you:

The first American military casualty in WWII was also from Iowa. Robert M. Losey was born in Andrew, Iowa. He was killed in a German bombardment of Norway on April 21, 1940. If you are doing the math, that is well before the United States entered the war.

Also semi-interesting fact. Andrew, Iowa is in Jackson county. Jackson County is named after racist piece of trash Andrew Jackson. Andrew is also named after racist piece of trash Andrew Jackson. Double fail for that town.


This is your reminder that this week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is HOBBIES:


HOBBIES can be all sorts of activities. Collecting things. Making things. Building things. Destroying things. So much, much more. Just remember the words of Norman Bates…

As you should know, the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic PSYCHO is tied for being my favorite movie of all-time. Think about the scene is PSYCHO where Marion Crane and Norman Bates are eating supper together in the backroom of the Bates Motel office, with all of the birds that Norman has stuffed.


In the darkened room, lit only by the light from the office spilling in, we see Norman placing the tray on a table. Mary comes to the doorway, pauses. Norman straightens up, goes to lamp, turns on the light.

Mary is startled by the room. Even in the dimness of one lamp, the strange, extraordinary nature of the room rushes
up at one. It is a room of birds. Stuffed birds, all over the room, on every available surface, one even clinging to
the old fashioned fringed shade of the lamp. The birds are of many varieties, beautiful, grand, horrible, preying. Mary
stares in awe and a certain fascinated horror.


Please sit down. On the sofa.

As Norman goes about spreading out the bread and ham and pouring the milk, we follow Mary across the room. She studies
the birds as she walks, briefly examines a bookcase stacked with books on the subject of “Taxidermy.”


She notices, too, the paintings on the wall; nudes, primarily, and many with a vaguely religious overtone.

Finally Mary reaches the sofa, sits down, looks at the spread.

You’re very… kind.

It’s all for you. I’m not hungry. Please go ahead.

Mary begins to eat, her attitude a bit tense. She takes up a small slice of ham, bites off a tiny bite, nibbles at it in the manner of one disturbed and preoccupied.

Norman gazes at her, at the tiny bite she has taken, smiles and then laughs.

You eat like a bird.

You’d know, of course.

Not really. I hear that expression, that one eats “like a bird,” is really
a falsie, I mean a falsity, because birds eat a tremendous lot.
(A pause, then explaining)
Oh, I don’t know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things…
taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because… well, I hate
the look of beasts when they’re stuffed, foxes and chimps and all…
some people even stuff dogs and cats… but I can’t… I think only
birds look well stuffed because they’re rather… passive, to begin
with… most of them…

He trails off, his exuberance failing in the rushing return of his natural hesitancy and discomfort. Mary looks at him,
with some compression, smiles.

It’s a strange hobby. Curious, I mean.

Uncommon, too.

I imagine so.

It’s not as expensive as you’d think. Cheap, really. Needles, thread,
sawdust .. the chemicals are all that cost anything.
(He goes quiet, looks disturbed)

A man should have a hobby.

It’s more than a hobby… sometimes…
a hobby is supposed to pass the time, not fill it.

Happy photo harvesting!


I didn’t get a short story done last week. So hopefully I will get two done this week or the next or the week after.

A short story
Christopher D. Bennett

(This story is autobiographical, but exaggerated for feeling, rather than being 100% factual. Or look at it this way, this is how I remember it. It might not be exactly how it happened. Don’t ask me what is true what isn’t. In fact, don’t ask me anything about this story.
No names are changed. Nobody is innocent.)

I pulled my Lumina into the corporate office parking lot. Today was going to be a big deal. I had been the General Manager at the Campus McDonald’s for over a year now and hadn’t received a raise yet. Today was that day because after pestering my boss, the owner’s son-in-law for several months, I had finally been granted a Performance Review, an event where raises are handed out.

I don’t want to say that I was arrogant walking in the door. I wasn’t the current golden boy. I had been briefly, but like everybody else in the kingdom, eventually your shine dimmed and a new golden boy took your place. The current golden boy was new to the company and was an old family friend. Golden Boy actually seemed pretty high speed, as he did actually have successful restaurant experience in Des Moines and Kansas City. He also had a reputation for dipping his quill in the company ink, but that is story of his fall from grace. That isn’t this story.

Things being what they were, I felt I was at in at least a decent position. Almost all my numbers were good and the numbers that weren’t good, were trending in the right direction. Campus was the hardest store to run because it had the least sales. You couldn’t just throw money at problems and hope they went away. Every dime counted.

I walked into the office and was greeted by Bonnie. She was an older woman and friendly, but not super warm. She told me that they would be with me in a moment. So I had a seat and waited.
After a few minutes Son-In-Law came out of a backroom and motioned for me to come in.

I followed him and he sat down on a table opposite of me. Next to him sat the owner of this chain of McDonald’s, The Senile Old Man.

The Senile Old Man always seemed like a nice enough chap. You next to never saw him because half the year he was in Arizona and the other half the year he was doing whatever it is that millionaires do that have entrusted their son-in-law to run the business. The few times he actually came into Campus he seemed to wander around staring at the lights. If I didn’t know who he was, I would have been inclined to call the police and see if there had been a recent nursing home breakout in town.

I honestly have no clue if he any clue if he had any passion for the burger business that had made him filthy richer. I do know that Senile Old Man loved light bulbs. If there was a light bulb out, he would let you know. If there was a light bulb going out. He let you know. Not in a polite way. It was as if you had failed in some meaningful quest.

When he opened a brand new restaurant, he changed the light bulbs in the lamps that faced the street every day for 2 weeks. He would drive by every night, until he found the light bulbs he liked.
He wouldn’t care if you were running a meth lab out of the back room, as long as you were doing it under the proper illumination.

When he did finally bumble his way to talking to you about anything but light bulbs, it was usually about Son-in-Law’s athletic accomplishments.

“You know Chris, he beat Nebraska with a foot.” He once told me, with a twinkle in his eye. Then he repeated the phrase a couple more times. I’m not sure if it was for emphasis or if he had forgot that he had told me this already.

Sometimes it was hard to talk to him. In fairness, he wasn’t completely senile, but on the other hand, he was getting there. In the room I was sitting in waiting to hear about my raise, I had sat through many a meeting where he meandered around a point for several minutes. Not necessarily coming to it. Not necessarily having one. Meanwhile sitting next to him, the twinkle in his eye was rolling his.

The Senile Old Man badly wanted to retire. He had a successor plan put in place for years now. He would overpay his son-in-law and his daughter. Then eventually they would buy the chain of McDonald’s from him and then he would spend the rest of the years he had left in Arizona.

Unfortunately for him, his son-in-law was seemingly never going to be approved for ownership by corporate McDonald’s. You could say lots of things about Son-In-Law, but you couldn’t honestly say he was a hard worker.

As little as I ever saw Senile Old Man in my store, I only saw my direct supervisor Son-in-Law barely more. He had a skill of scheduling meetings for right when I was off for the day. Then he wouldn’t show up. I would call him. He wouldn’t answer the phone. Then he would call back. Say he was on his way. An hour would go by. I would call him again. He would say that he couldn’t make it and reschedule for another day. On that day, we would have the same dance.

I knew that I wasn’t necessarily well liked by these two. I did have a brief moment as the Golden Boy, but that time had passed. However, I did feel like my accomplishments would need to be at least noted. Acknowledged.

Even the worst economics student can tell you that a yearly raise that is less than the inflation rate actually serves to decrease your buying power. Essentially demoting your economic worth. I was going to be satisfied with two-three percent raise, but knew I was worth more. I had been making the General Manager minimum for over a year.
And, I was worth more than that. Even an egoless assessment told me that my numbers were better than half the General Managers in the organization and they were all making better than me.
I had the best drive-thru times in the organization.

My food cost was the best in the organization.
My labor percentage was under goal.
My Full Operation Review scores were in the high 80s and low 90s. My surprise visit scores were even higher.
My Secret Shopper scores were the highest in the organization.
The store had lost $70,000 the year before I took over. My first year I had cut that number to $30,000. Meaning the store actually broke even if you took out the annual Dasher Management fees they charged each store to pay for Son-in-Law’s six figure salary and company Escalade.

I had the best young management staff in the organization. Granted, none of those people were destined to carry on in the service of Dasher Management, but they were there. I trained them.
The Performance Review started out like I anticipated. They went over all my numbers. They were good. They were better than most of the stores.

Then they began to praise my management staff. I might have the best management staff in the organization. They were smart, caring, competent, and mostly leaders.

Then the Senile Old Man closed the file folder that contained all the paperwork that they had that related to my store and placed his decaying old hand on top of it.

He took a glance at Son-in-Law and then looked back at me and said:

“You have a good staff and you have good numbers, but… we just don’t see it.”

This was the first sign that the performance review wasn’t going to go half as well as I hoped.

“What?” I stammered out. I knew the Senile Old Man didn’t like me. Many rich people don’t like me. Not all rich people, but there is definitely a sect of rich people that, on a subconscious level, don’t like it when poor people disagree with their opinions and have (GHASP!) the audacity to tell them. The Senile Old Man was definitely a card carrying member of this sect. He like to speak (incoherently). He liked to hear himself speak, in the way men of inherited wealth like to hear themselves speak. He liked other to hear his words and ruminate on them as if they were a great gift of wisdom.

Senile Old Man did not offer many great gifts of wisdom. Unless it was about light bulbs. Even when somebody holds your job in their hands, there is only so much biting of one’s tongue one can do.

Even with this known disdain, I still was surprised and confused.

“You don’t see what?” I asked.

Son-in-Law placed his hand on the file at this time. It almost felt slightly rehearsed, their physical doubling down on my numbers.

Then the following came out of his mouth:

“All of these numbers are good. Some are great. But we just don’t see it.”

Maybe he thought repeating the Senile Old Man’s words were an adequate explanation, but it wasn’t an explanation at all.


Senile Old man piped up again, “We just don’t see how you’re responsible for these numbers and your staff.”

“It is like that just happened, despite you.” Son-in-Law added.


Son-in-Law continued, “We just don’t see any passion for the business in you.”

I couldn’t argue this at all. While I loved many of the people that worked for me and even the ones I didn’t like, were at least interesting, I loathed my job. I would have taken any job that paid in the ballpark that wouldn’t have led to a gap in health insurance. I would have gladly scrubbed port-a-potties 40 hours a week for similar pay and immediate health insurance.
Sometimes you get in a rut in your life and you blink an eye and a year has went by. You didn’t have time look for another job because you were working 60 hours a week at your current job that you hated.


It was at this point Son-in-Law’s demeanor, which up to this point had been somber, started to perk up.

“Yeah. Like how much you love playing on the slow pitch softball team! If we could get that kind of passion out of you for running your store… that is what we want.”
I did enjoy playing softball, but it was hardly a passion. If they thought I truly cared about that, it caused my brain to crash. They knew absolutely nothing about me. Or about any of my true passions.

Then the Senile Old Man opened his mouth and played his ace card.

“Listen Chris. I like you. But I’m starting to lose respect for you.”

If he could have, or if he would’ve thought about it, he would’ve followed this with the phrase, “Checkmate.”

My head began to swirl and I’m not sure I paid any attention to the next 5 minutes or so of the meeting. There might have been a moment that Senile Old Man made a claim that he could take a dump in a box. Take that box to Campus and it would be a better General Manager than me.

That could be my imagination because I was immediately taken back to a night a few months before on the strip in Las Vegas. I had been sent to Las Vegas with a $40 per diem to the McDonald’s National Convention with a bunch of middle-aged ladies that spent the entire trip playing penny slots.

The only other General Manager in the organization that was not infatuated with staring at a slot machine at all hours was Brown Nose. I ended up spending most of my free time sightseeing with Brown Nose.

Brown Nose also didn’t fit in with the rest of the General Managers because she was younger than them and clearly didn’t come from the blue collar background.
One night, near Caesar’s Palace, Brown Nose started setting up shop on Son-in-Law. He was lazy. He didn’t know what he was doing. He wasn’t very smart. He was the product of nepotism. On and on and on.

I mostly listened and then I opened my mouth and let the following words foolishly escape:

“I like Son-in-Law, but I don’t respect him.”

Now here I was. Back in the present. Hearing my words being parroted back to me from the craw of Senile Old Man.

As my mind slowly returned to the present, Son-in-Law was proudly going into the details of how they were going to reclaim me.

“… And that is why Golden Boy is going to be working with you to get you where you need to be.”

“Uh-huh.” I said and then I gathered up the pages of my performance review and walked out of the office. I felt like I had been struck by a car. Only I was more in shock than the time I actually was struck by a car.

This was the most thorough backstabbing I had ever received.

As I sat down in my car, I thought about how I really had no clue who I could trust in this organization. I really needed to get a new job.

I looked at the first bad performance review of my life. I knew I was going to be burning this as soon as I got home. I started the car. Headed home. Never more demotivated in my life.

2 Types of People

Two Types of People

A short story


Christopher D. Bennett


He wasn’t the type of person that was nervous about missing his flight, so he would get to the airport 45 minutes before his plane’s scheduled departure. He had a checklist in his mind of all the things that could possibly go wrong.

All the parking lots are full.

The line at ticketing was too long.

The line at security was too long.

He got selected for special screening by TSA.

Yet he could never really make himself care. It wasn’t just that he had made it despite cutting it a little close to departure time that gave him joy as he found an empty seat near his gate. It was that he was also the type of person that was a people watcher. There were few better places in the world than an airport for him to pretend that his fellow homo sapiens were in a zoo. Caught in their native lands and transported to this place for his amusement.

He even wished that he would be allowed to throw food at some of these people. He was also that type of person. The type that is smugly secure in his own sense of superiority. The type of person that some of his friends called an elitist.

He wondered, with a look on his face that certainly belied his thoughts to any observant person that was looking at him as if he was in a cage, why he found his other humans fascinating. They really shouldn’t be all that interesting. After all, there are only two types of people.

It was his paternal grandfather that had often looked at him and said, “There are only two types of people in the world. There are men and there are women.”

This phrase was often uttered by his grandpa when his grandma was on his grandpa’s case about helping her in the kitchen or because he had failed to complete some task that she had assigned him. It was a statement made out of love. His grandparents shared a special kind of love that he had never seen in any other people. He supposed that their special bond could only be forged in the fires of the Great Depression and World War II, but he also supposed that he wasn’t really sure what his grandpa was trying to say with this phrase. Other than men and women are different.

He did know that there were only two types of people.

  • Men
  • Women

Only he knew that he didn’t know that.

His maternal grandfather was a different type of guy from this paternal grandfather. His paternal grandfather was very calm and sedate. He thought long about decisions and was slow to act. His maternal grandfather was type of guy that would fly off the handle and make rash decisions. He would often have outbursts of verbalism that he would regret by the end of a day. He could be described as a scrapper. He was always looking for an angle. Not necessarily a con man, but he would definitely take every inch that he could.

He had a very vivid memory of his maternal grandfather negotiating a nickel off a pound of a cut of pig at a meat locker when he was a kid.  He and the clerk had a very heated exchange before the clerk gave him the nickel discount. At the time, it seemed the clerk waivered just to get rid of him.

After his victory, his maternal grandpa bent over and looked him in the eye and told him, “There are two types of people in the world. Those that get taken and those that do the takin’”.

It dawned on him that this meant that there actually had to be 4 types of people in the world.

  • Men that are takers.
  • Men that get taken.
  • Women that are takers.
  • Women that get taken.

While it was possible that all takers in the world are men and all the people that get taken are women or vice-versa, personal experience told him that this wasn’t true. There are definitely four and only four types of people in the world.

He stared across the terminal. The sun was blaring in through the windows on the opposite side of his seat. It made it almost hard to see.

An elderly woman across from him began digging through her purse. Her hairstyle reminded him of his mom. He hoped this lady didn’t suffer from some of the same peccadillos.

It was a position he couldn’t defend rationally, but it always bugged him that his mom salted her ketchup. Very clearly, he was very staunch in this position, the proper way to eat French fries is to salt the fries.

At 10 years old, in Mondt’s Diner he had come to this conclusion. He had never once remotely wavered on this position.

He and his mom had stopped there for lunch after his haircut one Saturday morning. They had bother ordered bacon cheeseburgers with a side of fries. His mom dropped a healthy amount of Heinz ketchup (at least she knew the proper amount of ketchup to use) on her plate and then picked up a green glass salt shaker and dispensed a way too large amount of NaCl on top of the red glob of goodness.

She had, he was certain, engaged in this abomination her entire life, but this was certainly the first time he had noticed.

“Ummm…. What are you DOING?!?” he stammered out.


“That!” He pointed at her plate in disgust.

She gave him a quizzical look.

“You are putting SALT on your CATSUP!” When he was 10 he spelled ketchup, catsup.

“It’s good that way.” She paused. “You should try it.”

She grabbed the salt shaker and moved it menacingly towards his plate. He pulled his plate away from her and covered his ketchup with his hand to protect it.

She stopped. Put the salt shaker back on the table.

“Listen,” she started, “As you get older you are going to find that there are two types of people in the world. People that salt their ketchup and people who salt their fries. I’m telling you this now, but what you will have to learn for yourself is this… what does it say about a person, what they salt?”

It didn’t take long for him to cement in his opinion. The type of person that salts their ketchup is a bad type of person. His older sister had a boyfriend that salted his ketchup. He knew right away that this new beau was not a good person and he celebrated the day they had their last fight.

Hitler salted his ketchup. Now there is no historical evidence to suggest this, which he knew of, but he had no doubt that it was true.

He liked his mom. He was certain that she eventually would come around. But she definitely played in the realm of darkness when she salted her ketchup.

He guessed that must mean that there are actually eight types of people in the world.

  • Men who are takers and salt their ketchup.
  • Men who are takers and salt their fries.
  • Men who get taken and salt their ketchup.
  • Men who get taken and salt their fries.
  • Women who are takers and salt their ketchup.
  • Women who are takers who salt their fries.
  • Women who get taken and salt their ketchup.
  • Women who get taken and salt their fries.

That was it though. There are eight different types of people.


His Galaxy 6S rumbled in his pocket.  He dug into his pocket and stared at the screen. He had received a text message from his girlfriend.

“Where do you want to eat tonight?”

He had a direct flight home and she was picking him up from the airport. While he was pretty sure he might, maybe, kinda, sorta, love her. He did not want to have the where-do-you-want-to-eat-tonight-conversation.

He knew there was no way to win this conversation. He wanted pizza. He knew that no matter what he suggested first, she would want something else.

He texted back, “I don’t care. You can pick.”

She texted back, “I don’t know. Isn’t there anything you want? ;-)”


“I’m not feeling pizza.”


“Try again.”

He thought about it. Then something else occurred to him. Maybe the only two types of people in the world are people that can make decisions and people that cannot. His girlfriend definitely could not.

This seemed to be a good theory, but he knew that his two grandfathers and his mom were all wise people.

So the truth must be that there are 16 types of people in the world:

  • Men that are takers that salt their fries and can make decisions.
  • Men that are takers that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
  • Men that are takers that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
  • Men that are takers that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
  • Men that get taken that salt their fries and can make decisions.
  • Men that get taken that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
  • Men that get taken that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
  • Men that get taken that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
  • Women that are takers that salt their fries and can make decisions.
  • Women that are takers that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
  • Women that are takers that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
  • Women that are takers that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
  • Women that get taken that salt their fries and can make decisions.
  • Women that get taken that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
  • Women that get taken that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
  • Women that get taken that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.

There are 16 types of people in the world. No more. No less. Although he could make a case that the type of person that salts their ketchup probably also cannot make decisions. Maybe there are only fourteen types of people in the world.

He texted back, “Getting on the plane. Will decide when I get in.”

He knew this was just punting the painful conversation down the road, but that was okay. Today he didn’t feel like being the type of person that made decisions.

As he put his Galaxy S6 back in his pocket a guy in skinny jeans and an ironic 80s band t-shirt sat in the seat next to him.

They exchanged a brief glance as if to say, “Hey, I acknowledge that we both exist and are sitting in close proximity to one another, but we don’t have to make a thing out of it.”

Then the guy reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone 6.

Great, he thought. This is that type of guy. An Apple fan boy.

Over the loud speaker a falsely cheerful female voice belted out, “Now boarding Zone 3 for flight 1576.”

Good, he thought, he didn’t want to be the type of guy that lied to his girlfriend. Even about little things. Even better since he didn’t want to sit any longer next to the type of guy he was sitting next to right now. Hopefully they weren’t anywhere near each other on the flight.

As he grabbed his carry-on he had one last thought, “That guy is probably one of the four kind of guys that puts salt on their ketchup.”

Surprise Ahead! Reboot

My friend Anders recently did a project where he wrote one short story a week. The point isn’t that you will write 52 great short stories, but it is really hard to write 52 bad short stories. Any way, I should I would try the project myself. Hopefully I’m not the first person to do this and write 52 bad short stories.


A short story


Christopher D. Bennett

Age 40

Donna had just finished hastily packing the station wagon up for what she was hoping would be a one way trip back to her nothing hometown of Boone, Iowa. She wasn’t looking forward to going home. It isn’t as if her dream of living on the west coast had been a complete failure. It wasn’t as if she thought that the townies would look down on her.

Look, its Donna! She thought she could make it in the big city and she failed. Came back with her tale tucked between her legs. Probably still thinks she is better than us…”

She knew many of her old high school friends might look at her that way. She knew that many looked at her constant “look-at-me-on-the-beach” social media posts as her way of making it look like she had accomplished more with her life. She had gotten out. She had made it halfway across the country.

Truth is that she just loved the beach and that meant maybe she did overshare the glossy-shiny part of her life.

So what?

Just because she had 6th period English with somebody in 11th grade didn’t mean that they needed to know that when she wasn’t on the beach, she was often cowering in a corner, bleeding from the mouth, because her husband Alex had turned the psychological beatings he took at work into physical beatings for her at home.

People don’t Snapchat their miseries. Do they?

So she had put the best face on her existence for her social media acquaintances. Lots of beach pictures. Lot of pictures of her three children.

Marie, who at 16 was a heartbreaker. Which at that age meant she was in the ballpark of lean and her skin wasn’t too bad. Marie was the person who had given her the strength, with just a look, to finally leave Alex. Even if it was in the middle of the night when he was still at the bar, or wherever it was he spent his long weekends when he didn’t come home.

Dennis, who was 15. Troubled and shy. His conception coming in an alcohol induced haze shortly after the birth of Marie. She wouldn’t give Dennis up for anything, but she also knew that if he wouldn’t have been born she would have left Alex years ago.

A single mom with one kid seem doable. Two kids seemed too much. Maybe it made her weak, but like a sucker, Alex’s sometimes charming ways always made her put her chips back on the table for another losing round.

Then there was the baby Jeff. He had been born several years after Marie and Dennis. He was hopelessly attached to her, but at the same time seemed to be completely oblivious to the hell that had been her every day existence.

When she got the offer from her aunt to go back to central Iowa and throw the reboot switch on her life, it was only Jeff’s reaction that concerned her. Marie, for her youth, was so much stronger and independent than she had ever been. Dennis sometimes was an alternate target of abuse from Alex. He was so backwards and socially awkward with his “dolls” and “comics”. Where Alex, at least he considered himself, was the essence of cool. It embarrassed him to have his friends see one of his kids was anything but. He even secretly wished that Donna had cheated on him. That Dennis wasn’t his blood. But in his rare honest moments, he knew that if she had, he would’ve killed her in one of his rages.

Jeff, in his youth and naiveté, was the only person in the city of San Diego, or probably the whole of the United States, or the North American continent, and heck the planet earth that thought Alex was in the ballpark of cool as Alex himself thought. Or at least did think when he was young and before Dennis’ dennisness had zapped some of that ego from him.

Fortunately for Donna, Jeff saw the whole thing as an adventure. He didn’t seem to wholly understand that they were travelling halfway across the country in an attempt to never see his father again. She realized that and felt the slightest twinge of guilt that Jeff was going on this trip under what was essentially a misunderstanding.

Whatever it took to get there, she told herself. She could straighten out Jeff when they were safely out of the shadows of the Rocky Mountains.

Donna tugged on the straps that held down everything that they would take with them one more time. In her earnest thoughts she knew that she didn’t actually know if the straps were tight or even on correctly. They seemed good enough to her.

Securing things with straps had always been an Alex job. It was one of the few of his manly duties that he had been good at. A skill Donna knew could be easily replaced.

Donna looked in the car. Jeff was already napping in the backseat. His head resting against Dennis. His face glowing in the light of his phone.

Marie came out of the house with one last bag of things that “couldn’t be left behind”.

Donna put her arm around Marie and they both looked at the house.

Well. This will be the last time we ever see this place.” Donna said, trying to sound like she wouldn’t miss watching sunsets on the deck even through violently induced puffy eyes.

Marie was less emotional. She held up her right hand and then extended her middle finger.

Donna was slightly shocked. This was not a gesture for ladies. At least not what her hopelessly old school mom would’ve considered a gesture for ladies. Then it dawned on her that in this moment, this was the right gesture. She let go of Marie and followed suit.

After holding the pose for a few seconds they looked at each other. Smiled. Marie wiped a solitary solemn tear from the corner of Donna’s right eye. Then they got in the old family station wagon and left the house that had never been a home basking in the glow of their tail lights.

2 Days Later – 1,771 Miles to the East

Fluffy was hiking in his woods. Fluffy. What a stupid name! But he had to face the facts that his stupid name wasn’t the cruelest trick that fate had played on him. But he also had to face the fact that he was never going to get to punch fate square in the face. No matter how badly he knew and everybody he knew, knew it had it coming.

He took off his favorite hiking hat. A trucker hat with a boxing chicken embroidered across the front, which was fashionable when he had purchased it, but probably looked kind of stupid to most people these days. Not that he cared. He gave up caring what humanity thought about him years ago. But even if he was into fashion, he would never give up this hat. It had taken him a long time to get the holes cut in it so it perfectly allowed his giant ears to pass through.

Fluffy reached his paw up and scratched his left ear. Strange how no matter how angry he was with his lot in life that a good ear scratching put his head right again.

He suddenly couldn’t even remember why he was so angry. The forest always calmed his nerves and reminded him how his life was actually excellent in numerous way. He didn’t know anybody else that owned their own forest. And such a unique forest. In fact, it was the only forest made out of raspberry trees on the planet. Despite everything else in his world that was going against him, he was not without means. Not only did he have his own forest, he was able to construct (he assumed because many of his earliest memories were a haze at best) an abode that could only be described as a castle.

He had even given it the name Carrot Castle. It wasn’t without regret that his favorite homestead had a name that was so on the nose that it got into a fellow’s whiskers. But it was in his youth that he had given the brick building its moniker. As he matured he had become quite a bit better at naming things. At this point though, the name had stuck and hiring a PR firm to re-launch his house under a different name seemed the height of ludicrous. Especially when he didn’t like people being around that much any way.

It was all a moot point anyway. The thick thorns of the raspberry trees kept anything that wasn’t covered in fur away from his second home. You could double down on the mootness since nobody outside of a few of Fluffy’s woodland friends even knew of the existence of Carrot Castle.

While he was deep in his thoughts of occasional self-pity Fluffy had wandered close to the edge of the Raspberry Forest. Near a poorly maintained county road that lead into the south end of Boone.


Fluffy, even if he didn’t have superb hearing, couldn’t have missed that sound. He ran over and stuck his head out between two raspberry trees. Sitting in the middle of the county road were several suitcases. Speeding north was a station wagon with California plates. Its occupants seemingly ignorant to their loss.

If Fluffy were a cliché tortured literary character this is where he would have dropped his still burning cigarette to the ground and crushed the butt with his heel. He wasn’t though. Furthermore, he had never been bit by the nicotine bug. Never even understood it. Even if he had, he had no clue how he would have been able to suck on a cig, without his giant front teeth getting in the way.

Without the cigarette as a prop to show his frustration, the best that Fluffy could do was let out a barely audible sigh.

Fluffy had, what some might describe, as superpowers. He didn’t like to be showy with them because they had yet to give him a semblance of the shadow of joy. Once anybody found out about them they tried to shove their own agenda down his throat.

His right wing friends would argue that he should use his powers for stomping out illegal immigration. His left wing friends pushed him to try and end gun violence. Neither one were practical or helpful suggestions.

In fiction it was easy to imagine a scenario where a being with superpowers could use them as a force for good. But in the real world, where Fluffy spent his waking hours, fighting crime wasn’t really practical.

For starters, it is next to impossible to predict when crime is going to go down. Then how many crimes actually end with a chase where a bad guy needs to be apprehended? Next to none. In Fluffy’s world, crimes are committed. Then somebody has to investigate that crime and then the person is arrested. Goes on trial. Goes to prison. There is not much room in any of this process for a being that can fly or run really fast. At least not in a way that expedites the process.

Yeah, there are criminal activities that certainly fall through the gaping cracks of what is laughingly referred to as the justice system. Fluffy couldn’t deny that on more than one occasion he would have liked to have dealt out his own brand of street justice to pedophiles, rapists, child abusers, white collar board room scum, and racists cops that hid behind their badge to murder private citizens.

But it sure was easier to daydream about that than to actually take a couple of frat boys and their rohypnol stash out. After all, he wasn’t a sworn deputy of any law enforcement organization. If he did what he wanted to do the people he felt needed to be punished in the way he felt they needed to be punished, he would be a criminal as well. If not ethically, definitely legally.

Seeing how technically he wasn’t even a citizen of the United States or any other nation on earth, if he got caught giving a pedophile a onceover he probably wouldn’t even be given the benefit of a trial before he was put down.

Even with the immensity of his skillset, he felt impotent.

I can’t do great things.”

He didn’t know where this thought had come from, but it made him angry. Then he looked at the baggage strewn across the county road.

Another involuntary thought crossed his mind.

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

He cursed quietly under his breath.

His thoughts had been invaded by a stupid self-help meme that one of his buddies had posted on Instagram. A quote by Napoleon Hill superimposed over a sunset.

When he saw it in his feed that day, he had vomited in his mouth a little bit. He had placed a mental strike against his friend. Two more of these and he would be unfollowing @nightofthelepuslover with extreme prejudice.

But he also knew that fate conspired against him. Placing him at this spot on the planet. At this coordinate of time. Somebody with his skills. Seeing somebody that needed help. Not in a great way. In a small way. That he could help them greatly. A reminder from a meme.

Fate. I’m going to punch you square in the face someday”, the words more falling out of his mouth than shooting out of his mouth.

Fluffy took a couple of ginger steps out from behind the raspberry trees. He sniffed the air. Took a couple of looks around. Sniffed the air again.

Then with a speed that was both sudden and shocking. He bent down and picked up the baggage that had been left behind by the speeding station wagon. Even with his superior strength he could tell that there was some heft to these bags. He shouldered them. Stopped for a second to see if he could talk himself out of what he was about to do.

He couldn’t.

Then with breakneck speed he shot like a bullet north after the station wagon.

With his superior speed. He was able to catch up to the station wagon in a matter of seconds, but then he realized he had no clue how to stop the speeding car. Furthermore, how would the driver react to seeing a being that looked like.. well… looked like he looked.

There was no point stopping now. It was a stupid idea, but he had jumped in with both feet.

Fluffy ran up alongside the station wagon and knocked on the driver’s side window.

The driver was a woman that was clearly in her own world of thoughts. At first it didn’t seem to dawn on her how profoundly weird it was to having somebody or something knocking on the window of her car that was speeding along at 60 miles per hour.

She slowly turned her head. Then she saw a six foot tall rabbit. Running alongside her car. Carrying all of the family’s baggage. Wearing human clothing. Knocking on her window.

She did what was possibly the most natural thing for her to do at the time. She slammed on the brakes and screamed.

Her three children in the car woke up immediately. Confused about what was going on. They were a menagerie of unhelpful inquiries.

Donna did the best explanation she could. She pointed at the six foot rabbit that was now standing in front of their car. Marie screamed. Dennis’ mouth just hung open loosely. Jeff mouthed the word, “Cool”.

Fluffy thought that all things considered, this could have went better. Things could have went much, much worse though.

Donna told everybody to stay in the car. She made a visual survey of the car to make sure that all the windows were up and all the doors were locked.

Fluffy could smell the fear in the air, so he tried to calm the waters.

Your luggage fell off your car. A few miles back… I’m just returning your luggage.” He spoke loudly, since the windows in the car were still rolled up and the idle sound of the station wagon’s engine wasn’t anybody’s definition of quiet.

Fluffy put down the luggage in front of the car and slowly took 2 steps back. He felt like a criminal somehow. He decided to just slink back into the woods and delete his Instagram account. Maybe add @nightofthelepuslover to his list of beings that were getting punched in the face.

Then Donna slowly rolled down her window. Just a crack. The sound was barely audible over the engine.

Thank you!” She called out. She extended a five dollar bill through the crack.

She knew they actually probably needed that five dollars. She had drained what there was in her joint checking account, but to describe that amount as little was flattering the word little.

Fluffy saw the money. What an insult! Humans!

He snorted. Took a couple steps towards the window and did his best to growl “Keep your money!” Then turned and started to walk away.

Donna silently thanked God that he hadn’t taken the money.

She rolled down her window a little bit more and called out, “Wait. What is your name?”

Fluffy stopped. Looked back at her.

Flu— Superfluff.”

He wasn’t sure where that came from, but before he could think about it he ran back into the woods.

Back in the car Donna and her family finally exhaled. Then the car became agog with noise and observations. Finally Donna quieted the car. Everybody got out and they put the luggage back on the roof. Then they drove towards a place that everybody now considered to be a lot more interesting.

In the woods Fluffy watched from a distance as the station wagon pulled away. Even though he would deny it if anybody asked, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his furry face.

However, there wasn’t time for patting himself on the back. He needed to get back to his other home and his other life. His life as a three pound pet rabbit to a ten year old boy. In a hutch. In a back yard. In the middle of Boone.

Superfluff Chronicles No.1 – SURPRISE AHEAD – Age 10


A short story
Christopher D. Bennett
Age 10

Write what the pictures tell. Pictures are of a family in a station wagon driving down a road and the luggage that has been strapped to the top of the car has fallen off.

At a small town, in a planet called Earth, in a Continent called North America, in country called U.S.A, in a state California, in a town named San Diego. The Reeds packed for a trip. They were going to everybodies dream Spot Boone, Iowa. Mom Says, “Get in the car Marie, Dennis, and Jeff. But on the way the luggage comes off. Then Superfluff came along picked the stuff with a single claw. He ran at supersonic speed. Superfluff saves the day, when he catches up with the Reeds. Superfluff changes into his secret Identity as Fluffy as a rabbit, and a pet.

RWPE Y2 #1: Reflections

Year 2 started out with a bang! Lots of submissions! First time submitter! Welcome aboard Alicia Vermeys!

Here are the submissions for REFLECTIONS:

Christopher D. Bennett

Alicia Vermeys

Dawn Krause

Julie Johnson A

Julie Johnson B

Mike Vest

Shannon Bardole

Dawn Poetry Submission:


She can’t be too careful anymore,
Her memories have opened up that door.
Watching the tide bury her castle,
Wasted dreams are now just a hassle.

Who she once was when she ruled the world,
That girl is gone, reality unfurled.
Demons in the people she has met,
Subdued emotion, hearts do forget

A bitter thought will eventually melt,
After all the suffering is dealt.
Time to build new castles in the sand,
Learn from the past, take time by the hand.

I’ve been to the cave that houses the new and improved Random Theme Generator. The new generator is fancy and shiny and… it doesn’t work. So I walked over to a different cave and fired up old reliable. It did not disappoint. Here is the theme for this week:


This is one of the technical themes. It is hard to set a real value on what is a “long exposure”, but I would say at a minimum, the shutter speed should be longer than 1/15 of a second. I would recommend trying an exposure of at least a second, but as always, you are free to interpret the theme in whatever way you see fit.

A look back at last year’s LONG EXPOSURE submissions:


Proust No. Eight

1 word or short phrase answers for the rest of the questions.

Your favorite virtue?


Your favorite qualities in a man?


Your favorite qualities in a woman


What you appreciate the most in your friends?

Follow through

Your main fault?

Disinterest in money

Your favorite occupation?


Your idea of misery?


If not yourself, who should you be?

My better self

Where would you like to live?

In the country.

Your favorite prose authors?

Your favorite poets?

Your favorite heroes in fiction?


Your favorite heroines in fiction?

1 of my own creation.

Your favorite painters and composers?

Painter: Klemmer


Your heroes in real life?

My friends

Your heroines in real life?


Your heroines in World history?

Any woman that lives under sharia law.

Your favorite food and drink?

Oklahoma Joe’s and Pepsi

Your favorite names?


What I hate the most?


World history characters I hate the most?

Any tyrant

The reform I admire the most?

Health Care

The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with?

I’d be satisfied with being as good at basketball as I used to be.

How I wish to die?


Your favorite motto?

Matthew 6:21

That concludes my look back at 2010.  We may have to do this again next December.

Proust No. Seven

Becky Perkovich correctly gave 1 of the 4 possible correct answers to the Christopher D. Bennett Trivia Question:

Q: What is Christopher D. Bennett’s favorite movie?

A: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Proust Quote

“Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.”

Confessions Question

Your idea of happiness:

2009 Answer

Proust Questionnaire Number Ten

When Becky chose her question she said that she hoped to get a “real answer”. It is the kind of disrespect that would normally cause me to cancel her email subscription to this journal.  However, since it is the Christmas season, I will allow it to slide.  All of my answers are real and real is a stupid word.

Actually, it has nothing to do with the Christmas season.  I just sat through an Advent Study where there was frequent discussion about how we become “better people” and have more “peace” during the Christmas season.  I couldn’t really relate to the conversations and hardly ever contributed because I don’t feel that I have more peace or become a better person during Christmas.

I can’t figure out if that makes me an absolutely terrible person or a person of unsurpassed greatness. These are the only two options.

As this question relates to 2010, this question will need to be thought of as “what made you happiest in 2010?”

That is an easy question to answer: Evie.

To extend the answer to this question just a little bit, let me tell you a few tales.

I’ve known for quite some time that Jen and Derrick were trying to have a baby, but the thoughts of me seeing them as parents didn’t really start to materialize until early January.

I was at Derrick and Jill’s parent’s house for Marla’s birthday party.  Sort of.  I was kind of a late addition to the invite list.

Nothing earth-shattering happened while I was there. I would find out later that before my arrival Derrick and Jen had told his parents and Jill that they were pregnant on that night, but my arrival had extinguished all the conversation about the baby. They must have hated me for showing up, but this story is about me and my happiness.  It was the first time that I noticed that Jen was not smoking. I noted it, but didn’t jump to a conclusion.

Later in January Derrick, Jen, Sara, and I attended a Brandi Carlile concert. It was the time of year where we were starting to make plans for the big Iowa State-Kansas State game in Kansas City. We had attended the game the previous year.  Despite some awkwardness to the previous year’s trip (staying at the Bates Hotel, my cousin offering us drugs), I was looking forward to making the trip this year. Possibly with the addition of a couple of new people.

I was talking about how we would make this year’s trip better while we were parked in Sara’s driveway when Derrick utter the following cryptic line:

“I’m not sure if we will be able to make the trip to Kansas City this year.”

He would offer no explanation.

Before the Brandi Carlile concert we dined at the Gateway Market. I noted that Jen drank water.  Jen still was not smoking. In fact, Derrick had yet to have a cigarette.

During the Brandi Carlile concert, Jen went to the bathroom about 14 times.

I was certain now that Jen was pregnant. I waited for the rest of the night for the announcement. I was certain that this was the perfect night to make the announcement. I was certain that they wanted to tell Sara and I together.

The night ended without an announcement. I went to bed confused.

That week I met noted filmmaker H. Richard Stauffer.  He is Frank’s friend. He was working on a musical number in the area.  He invited Jesse and I to come watch him in action on his set. We agreed.

The next day, Sara announced that she would be in Ames for clinicals on the exact same day that Jesse and I were going to be watching the great H. Richard Stauffer in action.  I have had a goal of photographing him since I first met him, but that is a story for another day.

We set up a lunch meeting with Jen and Derrick. I resolved to shaft H. Richard Stauffer because I was pretty sure that at this meeting Jen and Derrick would announce a pregnancy.

I was right, as I sat down at the table, Derrick said: “Hey Chris, we won’t be able to go to the Kansas State game this year. Jen is pregnant.”

There was merriment.

We made an appointment to photograph the happy couple before they became a couple “plus one”.

1 of 6

The next happy moment came a few months later. I’m not sure of the exact month, but I know that it happened before Jen, Derrick, Sara, Cousin Amy and I ate at The Open Flame.

I plopped down on the chair in the Gorshe living room and for the first time I saw a blob on the television that would turn out to be Evie.

While we waited for Sara and Cousin Amy to arrive, we watched the video 3 times. Then we watched it twice with Sara in the room and Cousin Amy waiting for us in the car due to her cat allergies.

I would watch the video a few more times a few weeks later when Jill was back in town. It never really got old. Nor did the gnawing feeling that the video could use background music ever go away.

The next joyous moment came in late August. I have never been to a baby shower, but I got talked into co-hosting a shower with Sara.

My part of the shower was to make sure it was cool enough for guys to attend plus make whatever Sara wanted to happen magically happen. I believe I came through on both fronts.

Gorshe Baby Shower

Gorshe Baby Shower

Gorshe Baby Shower

Gorshe Baby Shower

We found time to cram in one last photo shoot of the Gorshes before the blessed day occurred.

5 of 6 Alternate

Then there was nothing but waiting.

The Iowa State-Kansas State football game came. This was very close to the due date. I was worried that the baby would come while I went down to Kansas City to watch the game. Not really sure why I was worried. It is not like I had a job in this process, but I was antsy nonetheless.

Then my fears seemed to be coming true.

Derrick texted me: “Are you in Kansas City?”

I texted Jill that I was in Kansas City and never heard back.

These two incidents are seemingly innocuous, but in the mind of a…. well in my mind, they spelled “baby on the way”. Let me explain.

Derrick never texts. Derrick is the Chris Bennett of 2007. He hates texting. He can’t stand it when other people text him. It costs him money because he doesn’t have a text messaging plan.

Only once before this day had he text messaged me. That text consisted of scatological humor. In fairness, it was a parody of scatological humor. I believe Jen had to help him send this text.

It seemed very strange to me that out of the blue he would send me a text message. I responded back in the affirmative. He never wrote me back.

Why had he texted me?

I also make a habit of sending text updates about Iowa State games to Jill. She always texts back with appropriate responses: “Yay!!!” or “That’s terrible.”

Why had she not texted me back?

The answer seemed obvious to me. Somewhere in the Mary Greeley birthing center, Jen was bringing the newest Gorshe into the world. Somewhere on I-35, Jill was speeding down to Ames to see her niece or nephew for the first time.

I watched the entire game with this feeling in the back of my head that as soon as the game was over I needed to get back to Ames.

After the conclusion of the game I called Derrick. To my great surprise he answered his phone. He didn’t have any news. He was just genuinely interested in whether or not I had went to Kansas City.

The great rush back to Ames was called off. Jason and I went to Oklahoma Joe’s for supper and the best barbecue I’ve had in my entire life.

I had made plans with Jen and Derrick and Sara for the following Tuesday night. We were going to give them the baby advice book that Sara and I had put together with pictures from the Baby Shower.

Then Tuesday came along. I spent the morning at work texting Jill about the new Maroon 5 album.

Then Derrick called.

“We aren’t going to be able to do dinner tonight.”

“Why is that?”

“We’re at the hospital. Jen’s having the baby.”

I spent the rest of the day texting Jill, all the while dancing around the only topic that could possibly be on either of our minds.

A little after 4 Derrick called with the joyous news. Evie was born healthy (like a lot babies) and adorable (like very few babies).

I just kind of stared at the clock at work for the next couple of hours waiting for Sara to arrive.

Finally 6 o’clock came. Sara showed up. I sent 1 last text to Jill that I was leaving work and going to the hospital. I figured that was safe ground.

She texted back how excited she was to be an aunt and it was a relief to finally be able to talk about it.

Sara and I got to the hospital and got to see and hold Evie. This was my happiest moment of 2010.






Of course we also got to take this picture too:

6 of 6 Alternate

This concludes the wordy portion of the Proust Questionnaire for 2010. Congratulations to Jen. She just became the 5th person to reach the 100 journal entries about her plateau.

Proust No. Six

Dawn Krause correctly answered the Christopher D. Bennett Trivia Question:

Q: Christopher D. Bennett bowls on Monday nights. What is the name of his bowling team?

A: Patio Pros.

Proust Quote

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.”

Confessions Question

For what fault have you most toleration?

2009 Answer

Proust Questionnaire Number Sixteen

I have thought about this question for a small amount of time now and I’m pretty sure that my answer isn’t the same as in 2009. Mostly because I haven’t had to deal with that fault very much in 2010. Although I’m not sure I dealt with it much in 2009 for that matter.

The best I can do is just start writing. See what spills out of my brain. Then you will be responsible for scooping it up off the floor and we will call it an answer.

It is easy to list the faults of others that bug me to no end. I can’t stand laziness. I can’t stand ignorance. I can’t stand dishonesty. I can’t stand tardiness. I can’t stand boringness. I can’t stand cliches. I can’t stand unoriginality. I can’t stand neediness. Worst of all, I can’t stand bad taste. I would probably be willing to hang out with somebody that was lazy, as long as they listened to good music and watched good movies. Somebody that reads bad literature and watches reality television has a longs ways to go in being a proper human being in my eyes.

If I was more of a magnanimous person, I would hate my own faults. I don’t hate my faults.

There are three really good reasons for why I don’t hate my own faults.

1. My faults make me who I am. They might make me who I am as much as my good qualities make me who I am. Maybe even more so. Humans are are a cynical bunch and they usually see the bad in people before they see the good in people. I’m not sure if this is instinctual or a defense mechanism that allows humans to reject other humans before they are rejected, but I see it happen on a daily basis.

“I mean, could you really imagine me hanging out with somebody like her… she thinks Desperate Housewives is cerebral television!”

Think about it. How often do you hear gossip (another fault I hate) about other people?

“I heard that Joe was completely faithful to his wife last night. Plus, while he wasn’t canoodling with some hussy in a cheap hotel,  he helped his children with their homework. Then he shoveled his elderly neighbor lady’s sidewalk. She didn’t even ask him.”

2. I have perfectly good excuses for my faults. I eat too much. Yeah, but that is because I’m living life and I have so many people in my life that are such good cooks that it would be a crime to let their good cooking go to waste.

I don’t exercise enough. Yea, but I just don’t have the time. I’m going to shaft on a friend because I need to go spend an hour in the weight room? I know I could lose some fat, but at the same time I worry about becoming one of those guys that is too ripped. I see them at the gym (when I go) and they don’t look like happy people. It is possible. I have a real quick learning curve. I might do a set of squats one night and wake up the next morning looking like Lou Ferrigno.  Nobody wants that.

I spend too much money on movies and music. Do you seriously think that is a concept?

I buy books and never read them. Well, they should have been written better.

I’m an elitist. That is a flat out lie. Just because my standards make it look like you don’t have standards doesn’t make me an elitist. It means you need to try harder.

I don’t write enough.  Yeah, I’ve also never killed a man in Reno just to watch him die. There are only so many hours in a day and I waste about 6 of them sleeping.

You can justify anything. Yeah…. and?

3. Having faults gives me places to improve and allows me to connect with other people that possess similar faults on a base level.

I think the best way for me to answer this question (since it is the Christmas season) is to answer the question which cardinal sin is the easiest for me to understand.


Excessive sexual thoughts.  I’m not sure what would be defined as excessive. However, I don’t really have much toleration for rapists or people who touch little children.


Failure to use one’s gifts. I’m sure there are people that would accuse me of this sin, but truthfully I’m not as talented as you think. (Also why Pride isn’t a big problem for me.) I really hate laziness. I enjoy having a good time. In fact, I enjoy having a great time. However, there is also a time for work and I can’t stand the lazy guy on the crew.  I think you will note that many of my friends are hard workers. Yeah, there is Willy. The truth is he only cultivates an image of laziness. Nobody is lazy that runs 100 miles a week. Sorry Salmon.


I just had a brief email conversation this week on Pride and why it is considered the Great Sin. There was a small amount of debate on whether Pride was really all that bad.  My answer is “YES”! Pride is the desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self. I absolutely cannot stand the “one-upper”.  “Yeah, that is good pizza, but back in MaComb…” I don’t mind confident people, but people that are so arrogant that they can’t acknowledge the greatness of the other people lucky enough to share their air, can bugger off this mortal coil.


To resent that another person has something that your are lacking. This is a more understandable sin for me. I don’t struggle with it personally, but I can understand how somebody can look at me and feel that somehow they were shorted. They didn’t get my deep reservoirs of talent or incredible good looks. In fact, (due to my incredible humility) I try not to shove my greatness in the face of other people. We are all lesser creatures in some regard.


Inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. I know quite a few people that have anger management issues. While I understand that there are proper times to be seething with rage: the ref blew a call and cost Iowa State a game, Congress won’t pass a bill to provide health care for 9/11 First Responders, somebody touched your Godzilla without asking (begging for) permission… But there are other times in life where you find yourself surrounded by cops because a friend called a ticket nazi a “soulless mother fudger” and you are given two choices “let it go or go to jail”.  These are situations created by Anger that I don’t find it so easy to tolerate.


Excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power. I’m not too keen on this one either. I have a long standing hatred of rich people. Probably why I know so few of them. I guess that leaves…


The over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. I have no choice to be most forgiving and tolerant of this one. I’m American.

Christopher D. Bennett Trivia Question

Since most people are probably already neck deep into Christmas activities, I’ll make this one extremely easy and I’ll accept up to 4 different answers. I’ll give extra credit for anybody that can come up with all 4 acceptable answers.

What is Christopher D. Bennett’s favorite movie?

Proust No. Five

Jason Baier correctly answered the Christopher D. Bennett Trivia Question:

Q: What brand of camera does Christopher D. Bennett

A: Sony. I also would have accepted Minolta with a lengthy explanation of how Sony bought out Minolta. If anybody would have listed Sony, Minolta and Holga, well there wouldn’t be words for how I would feel about such a person.

Proust Quote

“Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.”

Confessions Question

The military event I admire the most:

My 2009 Answer

Proust Questionnaire Number Sixteen

This answer won’t make me popular.

I’m actually quite surprised by this question being selected. I’m not really big into the military. I don’t even have much of a family history of military service. My Grandpa Bennett was too young to serve in WWI. He was too old to serve in WWII. My Grandpa Paris served in WWII. Stateside. As a cook. Even though he was entitled to a full military funeral:  The folding of the flag and the Three Volley Salute and the playing of Taps. None of these things were done at my Grandpa’s funeral. This still burns some members of my family. I bring it up not to tear old wounds, but to show how military isn’t a big part of my family’s existence.

The one member of my family that had extensive combat and military experience was my Uncle Dean. He served in Vietnam and he was exposed to toxic chemicals that slowly ravaged his health and finally extinguished his life.

I don’t even have many friends that have military experience. Even one of those few friends had a terrible experience in the military. Ending with his bunkmate committing suicide.

Even when it comes to war movies, my favorites are decidedly anti-war: Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Hotel Rwanda, Three Kings, Schindler’s List.

I’m not anti-military, but I also don’t get all jonesed up about the military.  I understand that its existence is a necessary evil, but at the same time our military is way too large. Do you realize that if you take the actual numbers, over 50 cents of every tax dollar spent goes to support the military? You’ll see figures that put it at 20 cents, but those numbers misrepresent how Social Security (among other things) is funded.

All things considered, I would rather 50 cents out of my tax dollar be spent on helping sick children. Helping sick old people. Helping sick middle-aged people.

Maybe a dime or so could go to keeping the military industrial complex welfare machine alive. Many of our technological advances have come through military research after all.

I understand that we need a military. We need it to press our (read Corporate America) economic interests in the world. It is also used on some level to protect us from the evil forces of today. Although if you told me after the Cold War ended that a few years later we would be engaged in a seemingly neverending War on Terror, I would have said, “Shut your mouth George Orwell!”

While I am very pleased with the recent retraction of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and I admire the heck out of Iowan and Medal of Honor winner Sal Guinta, the military event that occurred in 2010 that I most admire was the ending of military operations in Iraq.

The war began in March of 2003. During its peak, there were 165,000 American soldiers in Iraq. About 4,400 American soldiers died in Iraq. We will never know for sure, but it is estimated that 100,000 Iraqis were killed. Don’t just skim past that number. Where I come from (a little place I like to call Christianity), a human life isn’t less valuable because it isn’t American. Or Muslim for that matter.

I make this a separate sentence because I want to make it clear that I don’t consider the waste of life to be anywhere near on par with the waste of money, but as I write this the war on Iraq has cost this nation $747,323,475,195 and made us not even the slightest bit safer.With lack of Wall Street regulation and mind-blowing levels of corporate greed as contributing factors; our economy has been a casualty of this war.

With the ending of military operations in Iraq, there are less than 50,000 American troops left.

I know that is still a huge number and I know that we aren’t going anywhere. Just like how we are still in Germany, Japan and Korea. However it is a movement in the right direction. A movement to hopefully returning the United States back to being a nation of peace. A move back to being the “city upon a hill.” Yep, that is Jesus talk.

Christopher D. Bennett Trivia Question

Christopher D. Bennett bowls on Monday nights. What is the name of his bowling team?

Leave your answer in the “Comments” section of this journal entry.