40 Before 40: 10-6

Let’s call these will be my liberal arts five. If I could only get the tax payers to support the rest of my goals too, I might be able to accomplish them…

  • Grow a beard
  • Of all my goals, this may be the hardest to complete. Not because of money or time or effort, but because of Gary Chapman. Physical touch is one of the five love languages and will essentially cease during the time needed to properly grow a beard.

    And while I’m atypical, I’m not quite THAT atypical.

    I’m thinking the beard growth will be for a minimum of 30 days and will only allow me minor trimming on the neck area. This should get me through the itchy puberty looking stage and will let me know how much of a man I really am.

    I have this feeling it won’t go well. Odds are, if I were able to grow a decent beard, I would have by now. I’m pretty sure I would never have made a proper Old Testament prophet.

  • Get a real shave from a real blade
  • One of the benefits of growing a beard will be shaving it and I’ve always wanted to have real shave. And by real, I don’t be mean using a razor at all, but a true blade. One that has to be sharpened by a 75 year old man with shaky hands before we get started. I want the musk smelling shaving cream applied with a brush and I want it followed with a hot towel.

    Might have to head to Mayberry to stop by Floyd’s place. He always seemed to give the best cuts & shave. Plus, the two combined would only cost $2.25.

  • Run for public office
  • When I first got out of college, I thought I could change the world. Janet was teaching middle school and making a difference and I wanted to as well. We actually teamed up and took her class to a Clemson game to show them what college was about and to plant a small seed that college is a legitimate possibility anyone.

    After a few years, our trip was shut down, mainly due to school politics. I thought maybe I could change education system and contemplated running for school board. But reality set in. I was a 24-25 year old with no kids in the system and no idea how politics really work.

    Now I’m 33 with one kid in and another about to enroll. And I still have no idea how politics work. And I don’t care to know. But one thought still remains – what really happens on the public side? How are decisions made, and implemented? What information truly is available? Would I respond differently if I had different information available to me?

    All these questions remain and I’m curious to see how I’d handle things.

    Now – I just need to find a position that no one wants and put my name in the hat.

    What would I do if I won?

  • Read and discuss a literary classic
  • They say knowledge is power. And I like knowledge. And I like power. Seems to be a match made in heaven.

    Somewhere through high school and college, I realized how to “do” class. Class has a tangible objective – “A” and my idea was to do what was necessary to earn that “A”. No more. No less.

    And I did pretty well. I stumbled a bit on the way, but I graduated – with greater than a 3.0.

    But one thing I lost was the joy of the ride, especially in non-major classes, like English. I was even happy to walk with a “B” just so long as I was done.

    But I feel like I missed something. I either never read or never enjoyed the required reading – like the classics. I’m not up to speed on Twain or Hemmingway or Dickens or Shakespeare.

    And I would like to be. I’d like to know what it is about Shakespeare that has inspired hundreds of thousands to write, create, and love. I’d like to know what troubled Hemmingway and Wilde and see how that transpired in their works. I’d like to see life through Dickens or culture through Fitzgerald.

    And I’d like to be able to bounce my ideas of someone else – to truth them and debate them. There’s a reason their writings have lasted, and will last, for as long as they have. And I’d like to know what it is.

  • Act in a play
  • I have a bit of ham in me. From both my love of barbecue to my being an only child. I have this desire to put people at ease – and hopefully laugh while doing it.

    My best bet is a comedy put on by the local theater company. They could probably find a part for me – somewhere. And I think it would be grand.

    In my past, I have performed in two or three talent shows (all in elementary school), mock trial (high school), and a few skits (college and soon thereafter). But that’s it. I’ve never stood in front of a paying audience or seen my name in a playbill. I’ve never changed outfits or tried to memorize more than a line or two. But one day – maybe.

    I’ll need time, but that seems to be a common need. And we’ll see how important this is by the time I give it.

With these five, it leaves only five to go. It won’t be long until I’m required to no longer write, but act.

I’m nearly ready.


If Only I Had a Goat

In honor of today’s trip to Charleston, I hereby bring you the story of last year’s trip.

About this time each year, Janet and I head two hours north to Charleston as a Christmas/Birthday present to each other. We typically stay in Downtown Charleston, but last year thought we ought to try to find something a bit more secluded and laid back. We were tired and were looking forward to a relaxing weekend of good books, food, and time together.

In preparation for our trip I headed to vrbo.com to find lodging and Janet headed to the library to find reading material.

After looking through most of the listings (I am a professional researcher), we settled for a quaint little place on the Awendaw River, about 20-30 minutes north of Charleston. On the river with a small dock, wifi, and a soaking tub. It was perfect.

We had dinner lined up for Seewee the first night followed by a day in Downtown and an early dinner at Poogan’s Porch for the second night.

Since we weren’t going to have breakfast like most of the hotels in Charleston, we even picked up a dozen Krispy Kreme’s on our way through.

We followed the directions just as they were written – seemed like it took forever to get there.

We find our landmarks, make our turn, and meander down towards the river.

The first thing we notice is a yellow house. The directions say pull past the yellow house and the cabin will be on the river.

Well – the cabin was on the river. And so was the yellow house. Matter of fact, the cabin was essentially an outbuilding to the yellow house. An outbuilding that was facing the screened porch of the yellow house. A screen porch containing a treadmill and bagged garbage.

We fought through our initial worries, put on a smile, and unloaded the van.

The cabin appeared to be missing a few things, like window treatments and an indoor shower. On the bright side, it did have a soaking tub – that needed to be soaked in Clorox.

Needless to say we were disappointed. We walked around for a few minutes hoping to have something change our mind. I’m not sure if it was the barking dogs, the pseudo screened porch gym, or the outdoor shower, but nothing made us stay.

We now had three options: stay, go home, or find new lodging.

I walked up to the yellow house to speak to the owners, trying to explain our situation. No one home.

I tried calling the number on the rental agreement. No one answered.

I even tried emailing the owners. No one responded.

We then realized we never formally paid for the cabin. We were to meet the owners and pay when we arrived.

We felt terrible. We decided to write a sincere note explaining our predicament along with the Krispy Kremes and head back into Charleston.

I hurriedly packed the van while Janet wrote the note. We paused to ponder the donuts – left them – and then left the cabin.

As we headed back toward Charleston, we again attempted to contact the owners. We felt bad and wanted to speak to them in person – and make anything right that needed to be made right. Again – no one answered or responded.

We decided to continue on our trip. We found a Downtown hotel at a reasonable rate and figured we’d learned our lesson.

Until the next morning.

When we decided to have a peaceful morning spent reading.

We couldn’t find the books. We checked the room. No luck. We checked the van. No luck. We checked the van again. No luck.

We then realized we left them in the cabin. Four of them.

Rather than head back out to Awendaw, and face the owners, we thought we would just replace them. Until the library wanted well over $50 per book.* We can’t afford that.

*Apparently there are stocking fees and administrative costs – you can’t just jump on half.com or amazon and grab new ones. Only they can order them. Racket.

We then swallow our pride once again and decide to attempt to contact the owners. Again, no response.

We were then debating whether or not to cut the trip short, thinking the hotel room and meals would offset the cost of the books, or just driving back out the cabin and grabbing them, hoping no one would see us.

As we are figuring this out, the phone rings. It’s the owners. Cold Sweat.

As we speak, I tell them of our plight. Weekend away from the kids. Christmas. Birthday. Disappointment. Too close. Not what we were expecting. Etc…

The owner blows it off like it is no big deal.* She then goes on a tangent about the property and the work needed to keep it up. Her mother-in-law then makes an appearance in the conversation.

*Thinking this is not her first experience with renters jumping ship

Then it really gets weird.

She proceeds to tell me about a bunch of goats they are currently keeping on their property and how these goats are eating everything (shocker). She’s clearly frustrated about her goats and is using me as her sounding board.

Then she offers me a goat. Would I like to have a goat? While you’re here picking up your library books, would you like to take a goat home with you? Your kids would love to have one. It would be awesome.

I politely declined by telling her that while my girls would love to have a goat, they aren’t really allowed in our neighborhood.

She says “Okay” rather nicely and we part ways. Never to cross paths again.

And that concludes the story of how our nice, peaceful weekend nearly ended with us taking home a goat.

40 Before 40: 15-11

Shocker – still none of the goals have been completed. However, I am not deterred. Below is the next list of five:

  • Be a guest on a radio show
    To me radio, especially sports (talk and/or play-by-play) radio, is still one of the most honest and nostalgic forms of communication. There is something almost romantic about being heard and not seen. It allows you to fill in the blanks and put yourself in the middle of the conversation. It breeds imagination and adds much more to the visual highlight.

    In addition, very few television announcers have given me goose bumps, but radio calls can still nearly bring me to tears – Braves Win! Larry Munson. Shot Heard Round the World. Vin Scully.

    Back to the goal – I think I have been on radio twice – once to share a quick opinion and once to answer a trivia question. My sentiments on the opinion didn’t quite get across (shocker – me not expressing myself properly), but I did answer the question correctly. Only problem was I had to drive 45 minutes to pick up my prize – $10 off at a local restaurant. I would’ve needed to spend more than $10 in gas, not counting my time, to get the coupon. Needless to say, my radio experiences have not been great.

    But I think I could change that if it was more of a relaxed, back and forth setting. Not quite sure what the topic would be – maybe 40 before 40, sports, religion?

  • Own an orange blazer
    I want a new blazer, and it must come in one of two colors – orange or green. Let’s be honest, I will never earn a green jacket, know anyone that does, or financially qualify to get one. And even if I did, what the crap what we talk about? Thinking BBQ and religion are not big topics in Butler’s Cabin.

    Unless it’s with this guy:

    As such, I think I will go with the orange version. And it will be AWESOME! Not sure how to qualify, but worst case is I buy one from M.H. Frank (may cost more than my trip to Italy).

    Good thing blazers button and don’t have to fit over the head because my head will be too freakin’ large for any article of clothing to fit over it.

  • Never join Facebook
    Facebook is a previously established pet peeve. Already there are places using Facebook as the only source of login or use. And I’m afraid it may grow.

    But who’s to tell me I must use one product in order to use another. Who cares if they “team up”. I should have the right to pick and choose which products I support – and which I don’t.

    Also, my disdain for the masses has been previously established. And the more people try and force me to use something, the more I am going to push back.

    P.S. – if I haven’t spoken to you in multiple years – it may be for a reason…

    Follow me on twitter @willypowellpe

  • Host/Coordinate a concert
    I love music. The art, the creativity, the making of something from nothing. Some people appreciate watercolors and others literature and others photography. My thing is good, solid, well made, and honest music.

    And I want to help artists get their art out to the world. I want others to see and appreciate music the way I do. And there would be no better way than to have someone share their art in your home.

    More and more musical artists are building their fan bases through small, intimate shows rather than the larger, heavily produced versions. I’ll let you know when one will be staying at Chateau Powell.

  • Spend the night on a boat
    Cruises don’t count. Neither do all day & all night fishing charters.

    I’m thinking more along the line of White Squall. A schooner that needs my help. Or maybe a sailboat moored off the coast somewhere. I don’t know – and don’t really care. I just want to spend the night on the water in legitimate quarters.

    Hopefully it’s as peaceful and romantic as it sounds. And hopefully my bride is with me – for those same reasons. My luck it won’t be, but that’s okay because either way, a goal will be accomplished.

And then there were ten…

When a Pineapple Sours

Let’s harken back to the days of middle school. Good friends, great hair, better teeth, and silk jackets. Everybody loved middle school, right?

School was only as good as your buddies in class and your teacher. Well, one year I had it good. Class full of friends and the best teacher. Not because she taught the best, but because she was the female version of this guy:

Fresh out of college and a former babysitter of mine. I knew her (and she knew me) – and I was the envy of the class. A class full of kids worshiped me!

To make it better, this was also the lunch class, so we had extra time with the teacher and each other.

At some point during the year, boys remembered to be boys and we started pulling pranks on each other. Silly stuff really, but it made you stay on your game. If not, you were bound to end up busting a ketchup pack or sitting in someone’s food.

Food like pineapple.

On one particular day, our table decided to pull the pineapple in the chair trick. We gathered all the pineapple chunks we could muster and placed them in the lone empty yellow chair – hoping, maybe even praying, the future user wouldn’t notice.

He didn’t. He and his light gray cotton, sweat pant material shorts never saw it coming.

We had so much pineapple in the chair, the entire bottom of his shorts were soaked. The light gray suddenly became dark, dark gray. But only on the bottom.

Apparently is was only funny to everyone else. He was not amused. And neither was my teacher.

At that point, our paths diverged. The kid rounded up some new shorts (and probably underwear) from somewhere and we were called to a conference. The teacher was no longer happy. And she no longer looked cute, but scary.

And I don’t do scary. And I don’t do trouble. I speak a mean game and can be snarky, but disappointment eats me up.


My stomach was now in knots.

She brought everyone back to class and made us wait in the hallway, where she would soon conduct our conference.

Now I’m really a mess. I’m starting to get the cold sweats and my knotted stomach is making funny noises that hopefully only I can hear.

The conference begins and I’m sinking lower and lower, doing the best I can to not throw up or mess my pants. I would so like to be anywhere else – preferably the bathroom – alone.

As I’m doing my best to hang on, a girl returns to the class late from lunch. She stops just outside the doorway and breaths in deeply. Her nose crinkles and face sours – “Damn! One of you boys stank!”

And proceeds to head into the classroom.

Apparently that was enough to break the tension as the teacher concludes the conference, sends us back to the class, and never mentions it again.

She didn’t need to. I had learned my lesson.

Never wear lightly colored cotton shorts to school.

Worst Feelings in the World

Let’s be honest. Some things in this world aren’t much fun. Some involve chores (aghast – responsibility) and others just general uncomfortableness.

But there are times when the most uncomfortable of situations would be welcome. And that’s this list:

Below is a list of the 10 items most cringe worthy.

  • Warm toilet seat
  • Cold water from an old sponge
  • Middle of the night stomach churn
  • Bumping into someone sweaty
  • Shaking a wet hand
  • Being hit with a sneeze
  • Used, warm Kleenex
  • Missing hygiene needs (soap, tp, towel)
  • After hours knock on the door
  • No chapstick on a cold, windy day

and, for good measure

  • Listening to a USC fan gloat

Okay – what did I miss?


  • Blue lights in your rear view mirror
  • Cracking a joke about someone only to realize they were in ear shot
  • Mud between your toes
  • Warm spot in a cold lake (makes you wonder why it’s warm)

Coming soon – the worst feeling from middle school and the worst feeling on the first day of classes

What Happens When I’m Done?

At some point Forty Before Forty will come to an end. Either through hitting the age deadline or finishing the goals. At that point, the question to be raised will be “What Next?”.

What will happen when the Forty Before Forty campaign ends? I’m not sure, but after watching Tangled the other night, I’m not all that worried.

She has one dream, not forty. And she is worried she’ll have nothing to look forward to once she fulfills her dream. To begin to flush out her concerns, she speaks to the ruggedly handsome Flynn Rider. Here is his response:

Find another dream.

So what happens when Forty Before Forty is over? Not sure, but I know God will put another desire on my heart.

And we’ll go from there. I may even blog about it.

40 Before 40: 20-16

The list keeps rolling out and hopefully I will be able to complete at least one of these soon.

Also, I have some exciting news about 40 Before 40 that I want to share, but it’s not quite ready yet. I hope you’ll like it and share it with me.

So – here’s the next 5, bringing the total goals to 25.

  • Attend a European soccer game
  • I’ve seen two Top 10 teams battle in football and basketball, I’ve seen the 49ers play in their heyday. I’ve been to NASCAR races and I’ve even been to Fenway.

    But nothing will compare to the passion and excitement of a European soccer (futball) match. It is nonstop singing, screaming, shouting, and jumping. Pure noise for 90+ minutes and can only be witnessed live.

    Maybe I can tie this in with one of my other goals, like eating my through Italy, or solving a community problem, or part of a mission’s trip.

  • Take my children on a missions trip
  • Speaking of mission’s trips, one of the best gifts we can give our children is to help them gain perspective on how well we have been blessed and how others have need.

    We try to help them see this by giving and sharing with those in our community, but the local needs are far different than global ones. The need for food or shelter is slightly different in Beaufort County than in rural South America or Africa. The education is different. The lifestyle is different.

    And I want them to be truly thankful for what they have and also see the joy in sharing put of their plenty. Plus, I could use the reminder too.

  • Wear the Tiger Mascot outfit
  • I’m starting to wonder if I have a fetish. First the Santa outfit and now the Tiger. But I think it has more to do with the chance to make kids smile and laugh – without freaking out their parents.

    I’ve taken the girls to a few Clemson games now and the Tiger is the hit, outside of the cheerleaders. And let’s be honest, you’ve got to tread lightly around them or else you’ll be the crusty old man. And at that point, the cheerleaders are freaked out, the wife is jealous, and the kids are crying.

    Anyway – the opportunity to be part of the tradition that is the Tiger, making kids smile, and potentially losing a few pounds is something I want to do.

  • Cater an event
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    Well, greater trust has no one than this, to ask you to cook for his friends. People will allow you to borrow their cars, clothes, tools, and money. But relinquish control of the dinner menu. No way.

    I’ve had the opportunity to cook a bit for work and at BBQ competitions, but I am looking for the chance to cook for a wedding or a party – and receive payment in return.

    I would like to make money cooking. That is ultimate trust, and I would be honored.

  • Jump out of an airplane
  • This is my adventure goal of the set – to jump out of an airplane and free fall. But just for a second. Anything more than that would freak me out and make me think the chute isn’t working.

    Then I would enjoy the quiet descent. It would be magnificent, especially seeing the area and God’s creation as we come down.