Thursday, September 30, 2004

In Sickness and In Health 

I made the afore-mentioned visit to my doctor this afternoon. A quick examination prompted a verdict: strep throat. The doctor gave me a prescription for horse pills....I mean penicillin. That part took about two minutes.

He said, "long time no see Brian. Whats up with you"? I gave him the one minute rundown of my life as he sat there and stroked his handlebar mustache. He asked me if I was depressed. I stumbled around but then finally acknowledged that I probably am. He then glanced at me and said, "you aren't sleeping much are you"? Once again I had to admit that truth. He asked me how much sleep I was averaging a night, and I told him it was about 3-4 hours. The good doctor spent some time explaining to me why this was not a good thing. First of course, it leaves me weakened and open to infections, like the one I have now. Secondly, lack of sleep and depression feed on each other. When you are exhausted it is hard to fight off depressed feelings. When you are depressed it is hard to sleep. Its a double whammy. He asked me to consider taking a pill to help me sleep. I've never taken any kind of pill like that. After some discussion, he prescribed Lorazapam and told me to play around with the dosage until I found one that would allow me to sleep all night...every night. I'll give it a try.

He broached the subject of antidepressant medications but acknowledged that my situation might be temporary rather than persistent. We agreed that we would re-visit that topic in a couple of months. I am pretty resistent to the general idea of using medication to control my mental state, but perhaps I should at least keep an open mind.

Leslie is right in her comment on my previous post. Like a lot of men, I don't go to the doctor unless I really feel sick. Usually I go when someone razzes me into it. I thought about this some today. I'm uncomfortable in a doctor's office. I don't like being there. Sometimes I have to go but it is always with some reluctance. Why is that? Maybe I'm just afraid. Perhaps I don't want to hear what the doctor has to say. Maybe ignorance is indeed bliss. This works fine when you are young and healthy. But as I grow older I will probably need to confront this tendency.

But for now? I'm just glad he didn't break out the rubber gloves.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Atom and Eve 

A few Wednesday vignettes:

Patrick was eating dinner with my parents yesterday. They apparently had a prayer and somehow the conversation turned to Adam and Eve. Patrick listened to the others talk and then piped in, "We wouldn't be here without Adam". My mom of course readily agreed with him. He added, "The Adam is the building block of life. We learned that in science class".

Some of the kids at school don't know my name yet. So a common thing for me to be called is "Mr. Dean". I asked one of them if that was James Dean, Howard Dean, or John Dean. He of course didn't know who any of those people were. He said, "you know, like the sausage guy".

I've not been feeling well. I have a nasty sore throat/stuffy head thing going on today. After the school nurse got on me a bit, I made an appointment with the doctor tomorrow. I haven't been to this doctor in seven years. The last time I visited him I had a prostate infection. He gave me the "rubber glove treatment" for the first and only time in my life. UGH! Double Ugh! He asked me to come back in a couple of weeks and let him check it again. I never did. Hopefully he has forgotten!

I've been listening to two new CD's. One was a gift from Steph that she surprised me with at our lunch meeting, Bob Schneider's "I'm Good Now". The more I listen, the more I like it. The other was an impulse purchase: Ray Charles "Genius Loves Company". His duet with Elton John on "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" is superb, and so are most of the other tunes.

Such is my life this mid-week!


Moving On 

My son's principal is leaving her position next week. She has accepted a central office job in another school district. Patrick forgot his backpack in my car this morning, I took it to his school, and dropped by her office. The walls were bare and all of her things were in boxes.

This principal's name is Janet. I wrote about her in this post last summer. This lady is no ordinary school principal. She has been at this school for 15 years. She hired almost every teacher in that building. The school bears her indelible imprint. She is also one of the finest human beings I've ever known and one of the best friends I've ever had.

She and I worked closely together for five years and those years left their mark on me. It seemed sometimes as if we thought as one mind. I'm selfishly sad to see her go. One of my comforts in Patrick moving to middle school was knowing that she would be there. She would look out for him and take care of him. But it was time for her to do this. She deserves to have a job after all these years where she can actually eat lunch sitting down.

Her new school district is getting one helluva administrator and an even better human being. They probably don't know yet how lucky they are, but I do.

Good luck Janet. If only all of us could make the kind of mark that you have in your career, this world would be a much better place.


Monday, September 27, 2004

You Just Don't Care 

Let me introduce you to the wild world of school administration. In this world the teachers think you're a cupcake and parents think you're a Nazi! When it comes to student discipline, there is simply no way to make everyone happy. Of course, I love it anyway!

This isn't my first experience with this so I knew what to expect. Parents, teachers, and students all see the classroom and school experience much differently. Its the nature of things. My skin is a lot thicker than it used to be and that is a very good thing.

In the great cosmic sense, all of the above-mentioned groups all want the same thing. Teachers want kids to learn. Most teachers value their students and do everything in their power to help them. Parents want their kids to learn. They love their kids and want the best possible future for them. Most kids want to learn and be successful in school. There are other things they want to do as well, but most kids want to experience success in the classroom.

In my experience, about 10% of the kids in school are responsible for about 90% of the discipline problems. I'll get to know that 10% very well. Its a mistake to think that all these are "bad kids". I have met very few students that I thought were beyond redemption. Part of our responsibility in the school is to try and turn these kids around.

Some discipline issues are easy. You bring drugs or a weapon to school? You're gone. You punch another student or staff member? The rules are clear....you've earned a suspension. If you steal things, vandalize property, or sexually harass someone, its pretty clear-cut. It is other areas that cause disputes: a kid talking too much in class and being disruptive...a child that simply refuses to do their work...the adolescent who is quietly defiant but not boldy disrespectful. I approach these issues with two minds. I want to help, persuade, or cajole this kid into behaving properly so that he can learn. I also have a responsibility to help provide a classroom environment that allows other kids to learn as well. One student cannot be allowed to disrupt the learning of others. Teachers have this same conflict in their classrooms. They want to help all the kids, to teach all the kids, but can't let just one student disrupt it for everyone else.

Let me relate a couple of recent stories to illustrate things:

Friday afternoon I met with our special education department to discuss student discipline in general, and a few specific students in particular. An emotionally disturbed student had been sent to me the day before for being disruptive in class. I assigned him detention, called both of his parents at work, and let him know that he was skating on very thin ice. One of the teachers insinuated that the reason I didn't suspend him was because....he played football! I let her know that I didn't care if the football team won a game (its middle school!), didn't know if this kid was a good player or not (and really don't care), and that my decision had zippo to do with his athletic prowess. I was going the extra mile to try and keep him in class. If he chooses to continue to misbehave he will suffer more severe consequences. I thought it was worth one more shot. Its really as simple as that.

Ms. "T", you're wrong. Every decision I make is based on the rules of the school, what you've related to me about the student and his behavior, and my own judgement. Some of what I do is an art, not a science. Sometimes I misjudge and wish I'd done things differently. But I'd doing the best I can in the most honest, informed, ethical way I know how. I'll do everything in my power to assist you in having a proper learning environment for your students. But sometimes you have to do your job and let me do mine. You may be right, but then again I might be.

Today I suspended a student from school. His teacher was writing up a minor discipline form which basically just documented that the student and teacher had discussed the problem. He got right in the teacher's face and yelled repeatedly, "go ahead, write it up, I don't care"! I thought his short-term suspension was appropriate. His mother didn't quite agree. She asked, "how will this help his academics in school"? I told her that it probably wouldn't help at all but that his behavior was way out of bounds and there are consequences for that. She yelled at me, "you just don't care" and hung up on me.

Ma'am, I do care. I care about your son. I want him to stay in the classroom and learn everything he can. I want him to reach his potential. I entered this profession almost 20 years ago with the goal of helping kids. I still strive for that goal. But your son must understand that there are consequences in life for everything that we do. It is important that he learn that now, and I'd rather have him learn it from me than from the backseat of a police car. He's also not the only student in school. I have to think of the other children in that classroom and how they react to seeing a classmate be so abusive to their teacher. But do I care? Hell yes, I care.

Excuse me please. I need to eat a cupcake while practicing my one armed salute.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

New and Old 

Today I had lunch and a first-time meeting with my friend and fellow blogger, Steph. She picked the place and time, and drove up from Oklahoma City to see me. She thought we would miss the crowd, but she didn't count on the droves of Southern Baptists crowding the place after church! But we braved the crowd and ordered our Mexican food. The building that houses the restaurant is the same building where I started working many years ago. Of course, it was a steakhouse then.

It was delightful to meet Steph for the first time. She was cute, funny, personable, and easy to talk to. I found myself telling her a few stories that make me blush now that I'm sitting here at home. Its like..."did I really tell her THAT"?!! Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad she invited me.

As we were chatting I looked over and saw a familiar face. Of course I had to tell Steph the story that went with the woman at that table. This caused her to tease me and she even threatened to blog about it! On my blog! So I'm beating her to the punch here.

Lets call the woman "L". About 25 years ago I met her on a blind date. My best friend ("B") had met her best friend (call her "F") and asked her out on a date. "F" would not go out with my friend unless he secured a date for her friend "L". This is where I come in. He wheedled and persuaded me to go along, sight unseen. A blind date! What the hell was I thinking?

When we met that night I was decidedly not attracted to "L". That is putting it charitably. But what can you do? We loaded into my dad's Pontiac and headed to the drive-in theater. "L" and I occupied the front seat and the other two were in the back. The two in the back were making out like..well..teenagers. I on the other hand was doing everything in my power to avoid it! At one point I announced that I was going to the concession stand. She said, "oh, I'll go with you". I quickly said, "no, thats ok" and left her in the car. When I returned she was turned around talking to the loving couple in the back. Both of them were giving me unpleasant looks. For the only time in my life I understood what teenage girls must've gone through when paired with an aggressive boy. She kept trying to make contact and I kept trying to avoid it!

"B" and "F" dated for awhile (without me of course!) and then "F" began dating another guy...what the hell, lets call him "J". Since "F" worked late nights at a nursing home, "L" and "J" would drive around town and wait for her to get off work. During those evening drives they developed a relationship. One night they picked her up from work and told her the bad news....they were now a couple and she was dumped! By her best friend!

"F" was understandably upset by this turn of events. But a short time later she was driving around town and ran into a really nice guy. Lets call him....me. We began dating and...drum roll please...eventually got married. As for "L" and "J"? That was the couple sitting across from Steph and I in the restaurant today.

You gotta love small town life.

UPDATE: Steph posted her version of our lunch here. She is as gracious as she is lovely. Its always interesting to hear about yourself through someone else's eyes!


Time Warp 

It really struck me the other day that I am almost exactly where I was seven years ago. My beard has a few more gray hairs, the kids are older, and I'm working in a different school, but the similarities are striking. Its like walking into a restaurant you haven't visited in a long time. The decor may have changed, and the waitresses may be different, but it all comes back to you. The menu looks the same, and the smells coming from the kitchen take you back to a day gone by.

Seven years ago I lived in a house not six blocks from where I live now. I'm shopping at the same grocery store, eating at the same places, talking to the same people, and dealing with the same struggles. I'm working as a middle school administrator again. I'm a single dad again, with all the joys and frustrations that entails. My parents were helping me with the kids, just like they are now. My mom was pressuring me to be active in church and I'm resisting, just like she is now. I was spending a lot of time sitting in my recliner in a dark, quiet room thinking about my life....and yes, I'm doing a lot of that again now. I was struggling to be a good dad to my kids in spite of my inadequacies, and that chorus is repeating itself. I felt incredibly lonely, in spite of being surrounded by people from the moment I wake up until the moment I lay my head down on my pillow at night. Some of those old feelings creep back in sometimes now.

I found joy in some seemingly insignificant, very small things then and some of those things have the same effect now. I ached to be wanted and loved by someone I could feel the same way about, but was petrified of commitment. Oh yeah, I'm back there all the way. I lost my self completely in my work in those days. It wouldn't be hard to do that again now. I dreaded the weekends in a way that most people look forward to them. I'm not quite to that point yet, but I have my moments. My sleep patterns were erratic and irregular. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in quite some time. I could feel happy back then yet have this small ache that never seemed to quite go away. Oh yes, that ache is there now. I didn't want anyone's pity, but I wanted someone...anyone...to understand.

Seven years flew by. They were good years. I enjoyed my life, loved my wife, enjoyed my kids, loved the jobs I had, and had quite a wild ride. Now I'm back here again. Sometimes I wonder if I've had my allotment of happiness. After all, some people go throught their entire lives without ever finding it.

In spite of what you might think, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm a big boy, I've made my mistakes, and contributed to my own current state of affairs. I'm pondering the myriad of lessons I can learn from this experience. Sometimes I think I have it all figured out and other times it feels like I don't have a clue. I focus a lot on the kids and their needs and rebuilding my own self-confidence. I've met some new friends and kept in touch with old ones.

I will make it just fine. I'll thrive and survive in the long run...of this I have no doubt. In the meantime, welcome to the time warp!


Friday, September 24, 2004

Weekend Roundup 9/25/04 

Pissed Kitty has a lot of things that she wishes she'd never heard. Steph is very happy that she got to hear some great music last weekend.

Alithea just has to be honest. So does Sweety....her boss is an asshole.

Love Donnaz can't believe that Cat Stevens was barred from entering the U.S. Naomi Blue is having a hard time with this too. Well, you know its a "Wild World"!

Jack watched beheading videos and wishes that he hadn't. I don't think I could watch them. I'm not all that squeamish, but such unbelievable inhumanity is more than I can take. I think I'd rather go through what Frani did.

Andie Pandie is expecting a new baby..very soon. Chuck has found a nurse to deliver it.

Dave lost his father and Carol lost her mother this past week. Please keep both of them in your thoughts and prayers.

Faith really enjoys "girl talk". Cheeky Squirrel enjoyed having "steak for tea". Jen didn't enjoy writing out a check for her speeding ticket.

Ellen celebrates her 50th birthday! Woohoo! Rob isn't all that happy about getting older.

Erin plays the part of the pursuer. Tara can show you a different face, depending on the situation.

Terri knows that money can't buy happiness. Ginger knows that all kids aren't loveable.

beFrank took some fantastic celebrity pictures at the Emmies. If you haven't visited his blog, please check it out. Anyone who can get that close to Sharon Stone without being arrested AND take a picture is someone I want to know. Flax took some pictures as well...of Hurricane Ivan damage on a personal level.

Riri might be dealing with a hurricane and well....hurricanes. Snowball has to deal with her ex. Ugh!

Brenda has a dilemna about Christmas shopping early. Molly doesn't have a dilemna, but she does have some advice for you. Listen up!

Diana knows what she is really afraid of. VegasBaby isn't afraid of ice, but she doesn't much like it.

OkieDoke interviews a U.S. Senate candidate. Kevin, from Wizbang, has a captioning contest about a presidential candidate.

John has a question about crackers. Kristine questions her decision to watch "The Fear Factor"...while eating.

Kim is going to her sister's wedding. Annabel Lee notes her niece's sibling rivalary.

Dave Goodman has some scruples. Becky has a new pair of "non-mommy jeans".

Tammy wonders if cheating on the internet is really cheating. Perhaps Dwayne is wondering what to name his next car.

Lisa was wowed by "Man On Fire". I just rented it tonight, and Lisa's review makes me anxious to see it! Elisabeth doesn't need a man to be on fire.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Remembering Jerry 

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago about my visit to the place where I began my teaching career. Included in that post was this:

Many other memories came back to me during that short drive around campus. One of them is extremely sad and others were quite funny. I'll address those in future posts.

This is one of those future posts.

I once had a young man in my class named Jerry Don Hurst. Jerry was a good-looking, blonde-haired teenager who sat in my American History class. He was friendly and gregarious, but had a somewhat shy manner. Jerry was in special education classes and often struggled with the reading demands of the class. Nonetheless, he persevered, worked hard, and was on track to graduate. He was enjoying all the activities that go with being a senior in high school. He was one of my very favorite students. We laughed and joked together all the time.

On a cold, wintery Tuesay morning I made my way to work. I went in the door and immediately knew something was very wrong. Kids were crying in the hallway, and the first one I asked was unable to tell me what was wrong. Another teacher stopped me in the hall and gave me the shocking news. Jerry Don was dead. He had been murdered the day before. I was too stunned to speak and I felt tears flooding my eyes. I made my way to my classroom, closed the door, and sobbed. I then opened the door to allow students to come in. This was a small school and everyone knew Jerry. Most had known him since he was in kindergarten.

The details of the murder shocked me even more. Two young men were under arrest for the crime. Both of them were my students as well. I had all three kids in my class just the day before. Now, one was dead and the other two were in jail for his murder. One of the alleged murderers was stunning news to me. His name was Danny and he was something of a quiet introverted kid. He had suffered from a potentially fatal disease and had long experience with hospitalizations. He was always pleasant and polite to me. The other kid was named Quincy and he was something of a sneaky troublemaker who had been suspended for various offenses many times, none of them violent.

Danny had briefly left our school and attended a nearby high school for a couple of months. While he was there they were cleaning out the chemistry lab and he stole a very old bottle of potassium cyanide. The use of such dangerous chemicals was common in the chemistry classes of yesteryear. He then came back to our school and shared news of his discovery with his friend, Quincy.

That Monday afternoon the two of them poured some of this deadly poison into a glass of soda and offered a sip to unsuspecting students who congregated at the convenience store across the street. They were turned down by several kids. Then Jerry Don crossed the street and approached the store. They offered him a drink. He at first declined. They apparently said something like, "oh c'mon Jerry. Just try it"! He put the cup to his mouth, took a small sip, and apparently sensing something wrong, spit it out. It was too late. Within seconds he fell to the ground in front of a parking lot full of kids. An ambulance was summoned but Jerry Don was dead by the time they arrived.

Danny and Quincy fled the scene, hid the bottle of cyanide, and went back to Danny's house. When the police arrived they were lifting weights...as if nothing had happened. They led the police to the bottle of poison and were arrested on the spot.

Jerry had a sister in school. She was a freshman that year, and was on the cheerleading squad. She was a beautiful young lady and loved her brother. I remember her unashamedly hugging him in front of all her friends. His mother was an elected county official, the tax assessor I believe. He had many other family members in the area as well. The community was in shock.

I attended Jerry's funeral service that Saturday and sat with a group of students. If you've never been to the funeral of a young person, it is difficult to explain the emotions of such a scene.
A couple of hundred students were sobbing in the jam-packed small-town church.

A week or two later I wandered into the busy school office and saw Jerry's mother standing quietly waiting her turn in line. I stopped and talked to her, and she told me that she was there to clean out his locker. I got his combination from the secretary and walked down with her to his locker in the "senior wing". I helped her go through his things, not really knowing what to say or if I should say anything. She gathered his personal things and I returned his textbooks to the office.

I was the student council sponsor that year. The student council raised money annually through school dances and t-shirt sales to fund a $500 scholarship for a deserving graduate. My kids proposed renaming the scholarship to the "Jerry Don Hurst Memorial Scholarship". The principal graciously approved the suggestion.

In May of that year, I stood before over 500 students and parents in the packed school auditorium to present the scholarship. As I began to explain the change in name I felt my voice choking. All I got out was "Jerry"... The auditorium erupted in applause and I felt that overwhelming burn of emotion from head to toe. I wiped away my tears and awarded the scholarship to a very deserving young woman.

Jerry's sister was back at school that year and the next. I saw his mother around town occasionally. She wore a big button with his picture on it every time I saw her.

The two murderers both pleaded guilty. Quincy pled to first degree manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison. There is no telling where he's at now. Danny was convicted of first degree murder. He is still in prison. You can see his picture here. He is up for parole in a couple of years. He still looks a lot like that kid that sat in my class. He's been in prison his entire adult life.

Jerry planned to be a welder. He would've been a good one too. He liked working with his hands and always saw a project through to the end. He would've been 30 years old now. He always liked the girls, so he probably would've had a wife or a girlfriend. He might have had children. You probably could've found him going fishing in his pickup truck.

A internet search found this small memorial to him:

Jerry Don Hurst Murderd Feb 20th 1992Nephew to Linda (AKA Garlin) Gram25Jan 31st 1999Friend to many in TC
Jerry Don, I haven't forgotten.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

In Their Shoes 

As I did my routine of hall, lunch, and playground duties I watched the students walk by. I observed them laughing, talking, and playing with each other. I noticed the small, quiet kid sitting alone on a bench. I made note of the natural leaders who had a "following". There was the "straight A" kid doing his math homework at a table after school....not even waiting until he got home. There were the smartasses who wanted to make everyone laugh.

What was I doing in grades 6-8? Where would I have fit in this social scheme? As I drove home this afternoon I thought back all those years ago. I finished 8th grade almost 30 years ago. I can tell you who most of my teachers were, who my coaches were, and who my friends were. For fun, I pulled my dusty yearbook from the shelf.

This 8th grader was a painfully shy, skinny, kid. He had a few close friends but was far from being in the "popular crowd". In those days the social groups included the "socs", "hoods", and the "goatropers". I didn't fit in with any of them. I sat quietly in class. I did all my work. My only "B" that year was in Algebra, but I brought it up by the end of the year. I laughed at Mr. Nero's jokes even when they weren't very funny at all. I was scared to death of Mrs. James. Little did I know that I would be her boss some day. I had a major crush on Ms. Barnard. Oh my.

Then there was Patty Russell. I was totally smitten by Patty. I wrote her a note asking her to be my girlfriend. I carried that note around for weeks without ever working up the courage to actually give it to her. She had this wonderful smile that just made me melt every time I got near her. I stood at a school dance gazing at her across the room, unable to make my feet move to go ask her to dance. She signed my yearbook like this:

Mr. Morgan was my basketball coach. He was a big guy...about 240 lbs. I can remember him sitting in a chair in the middle of the court and telling us we would run until, "I got tired". It didn't seem like he was getting too tired. I broke my nose in practice but wouldn't tell anyone. I didn't want my season to end. I never got it fixed, and you can see the little ridge to this day. I can feel it when the weather is cold. I was a scrawny kid with a pretty good shot but little physical ability. I won the free throw contests in practice but rarely got into the games that year.

The Vietnam war was coming to an end as my classmates still talked about being drafted and sent overseas. We did nuclear war drills by evacuating to the locker rooms underneath the gym. Britney Spears wasn't even born yet. The Watergate scandal was fresh on the national mind and Gerald Ford was president. I remember Chevy Chase doing imitations of him on "Saturday Night Live".

I loved to attend high school athletic events. I worshipped the older athletes and made every excuse to be around them. I watched the high school basketball practices when my practice was done. One of the guys on the high school team was a guy named Ward. One night I was walking home from a high school football game with a friend. Ward and some of his buddies pulled up in a car. He leaned out the window and asked, "tired of walking"? We replied in unison, "yes"! He smirked and said, "then try running", peeled his tires, and left us in a cloud of dust. Asshole.

I was so skinny that my mom worried about me. Every day she would bring a big steak sandwich and a protein-enhanced chocolate shake to school at lunchtime. I would run out to the parking lot, meet her, wolf down the sandwich/shake combo in the car, and run back in. It didn't work, I was still skinny as a rail.

I was starting to mature. The year before I was distinctly aware of my lack of pubic hair as I changed clothes in the locker room. It seemed as if I were the only one who was not quite "developed". But this year...I had hair! I could change into my gym clothes without standing in a corner unashamedly. That was the theory anyway. I kept doing it out of habit.

My friend Bob and I got into a game of "kiss tag" with a couple of girls who lived near his home. We chased the girls, and if we could catch them we could kiss them. In Paula's backyard we played this game for awhile and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Then Bob's little sister had to mess it all up. She felt left out and wanted to play. She threatened to tell the other girls' parents what we were up to unless she could play. Obviously, her brother couldn't kiss her. That left me, and I didn't want to! The little game had to end.

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a teacher never crossed my mind. I thought about being a historian. I fantasized about being married to Patty. I dreamed of a future that had little connection to what I eventually became.

There is still a lot of that kid in me...more than I'd like to admit. So as I observe students strolling down the hallway, I try to remember that they are all individuals with their own stories. I try to imagine myself in their shoes.

I was once there.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Today I suspended a young lady from school for five days. "A" is a 6th grade girl who is almost 14 years old. I had met with her a few days before to talk about helping her avoid retention again and I knew then that I would be seeing her again.

The school day had hardly got started before "A" was sent to the counselor for being disrespectful to her teacher and disruptive in class. She continued this pattern with the counselor and I became involved. She was sullen and defiant with a conversation punctuated with "whatevers", SO?, and shoulder shrugging. Her home phone had been disconnected. I sent someone out to her house to try and reach her mother. No luck. After almost an hour of conversation we tried to send her back to class with the understanding that these issues would be dealt with later. That didn't work out.

Thirty minutes later she was back in the office. She had walked into class and announced loudly, "I'm not going to do anything in here today". She was disrespectful to this teacher as well and to yet another teacher who walked her up to the office. I told her that she had left me no choice but to suspend her from school. It didn't seem to faze her one little bit. With no parent available we still had to supervise her the rest of the day. She spent a lot of time following the counselor around.

After lunch she suddenly remembered a phone number where her mom could be reached. By this time she was soft-spoken and in tears. She asked me to reconsider her suspension. I told her that I couldn't do that....that her suspension was not because I didn't like her or was mad at her. Her suspension was for very specific behaviors that she couldn't undo and I couldn't overlook. I called and mom came to school. We met in my office where mother and daughter did a lot of shouting at each other. Sigh. Her dad is in prison and mom informed her that they would visit the prison this weekend so that he could "whip her ass". I'm sure that will do a lot of good.

This problem didn't start today...they never do. "A" has a long history of hospitalizations, personal crises, medications, and a troubled home. She has a gigantic chip on her shoulder that she is daring the world to knock off. I look at her age, her history, and her placement, and know that the odds of her graduating high school are incredibly slim.

Part of me just wanted to grab her and scream at her, "can't you see where you're going? Don't you understand? Can't you see that this path you are on will affect you forever?" I could feel my heart pounding underneath a calm, professional exterior. Another part of me wanted to hug her and take her home. I wanted to show her that there are people out there who really care. I want her to know that the world doesn't have to be this harsh, troubled place that she inhabits. Damnit.

She'll be back next week. Those problems won't go away. I think of things we can do to help her in school. I think about referrals to professional counseling and after-school help with her classwork. I think about mentoring and other programs. Of course, the realistic, experienced part of me knows that this probably isn't the last time I will have to deal with her. At this age the die is hard to uncast.

She doesn't respect her parents or herself. Her issues are overwhelming. I think of my own struggles....and I'm an educated man with lots of family and support. How is this kid with none of these tools going to be able to handle the anger, bitterness, and chaos in her life? Her hurdles are much higher than mine have ever been.

I gave my kids an extra long hug tonight.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Hunting Season 

I was watching television earlier this evening and saw several advertisements for hunting gear. As the fall rapidly approaches, hunters around the state begin to prepare. They are getting the appropriate licenses, buying camouflage garb, cleaning their guns, and scouting out their favorite locations. Many approach this season like an athlete approaches a championship game. You only have a brief window of time to achieve your goal and you have to make it count.

I never went hunting as a kid. My dad was not a hunter and there was never a gun in our home. None of our close relatives were avid hunters. But of course we knew lots of people who hunted, and I grew up hearing many stories.

When I grew into adulthood and got married I discovered my in-laws were hunters. Many of my best friends loved to hunt. I lived in the country on private land that was lightly hunted. My house became a destination of choice for all the hunting enthusiasts in my life. They'd show up with all their equipment, spend hours getting ready, go to bed early, and come back with tall tales of close calls. A few times they were even successful! I usually found a way to resist their entreaties to go along. Sitting out there shivering my ass off to shoot a deer didn't sound like much fun to this guy who grew up in the suburbs.

But one year I got curious enough to see what all the fuss was about. A friend came over to my house and spent the night. We got up very early and headed out to the woods. We split up and I headed near the creek than ran through the back of my family's ancestral farm. I sat in the cold, dark Oklahoma morning and tried to make myself feel comfortable, rubbing my face with the heated gloves I wore.

After a time I began to lose interest a bit. I broke the hunting rules. I sat down on the log and lit up a rather large cigar. Even I knew that the scent of the cigar would scare off any self-respecting deer from my little perch. I didn't really care. As I smoked contentedly and tried to keep warm the sun began to rise. I sat there and admired a most impressive Oklahoma sunrise and hummed Foreigner's "Cold As Ice". As I so often do, I pondered my life and existence. It was so quiet and peaceful. It began to occur to me that this was a huge part of the charm of hunting...being on the woods, on your own, on par with the creatures that roamed there. The cold faded slightly as I traced the sun's slow rise.

Then I heard a sound and looked in its direction. Across the creek, perhaps 150 feet away, a deer ran slowly and stopped just for a moment. My rifle was resting against the log and I made no attempt to pick it up. I just...watched. The deer cocked his head slightly in my direction and took off running. It only took him a couple of seconds to disappear completely. I was perfectly fine with that. I finished the cigar (which seemed to last forever), and made my way back to my house. My friend joined me shortly after. We shared our stories (he saw nothing although he was sure he heard something), ate a hearty breakfast, and began a day of relaxation.

I haven't been hunting again since that day. That was over 15 years ago. But I can still remember that morning like it was yesterday.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sunday Afternoon 

I decided to give Blogrolling a whirl. My ever-growing blogroll was starting to feel messy and unmanageable. We'll see how this works.

Somehow I dropped from being an "Adorable Rodent" to a "Lowly Insect" in the TLLB Ecosystem in a matter of hours. My ranking drops from the 3000 to 10,000 and I have NO inbound links. Is Dan Rather in charge of documenting links over there? Yikes!

Looks like a big day for N.F.L. football fans. I'll be cheering on my Dallas Cowboys against Cleveland. The Cowboys' quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, is 40 years old and he looked pretty good last week. Yes, there is life after 40!

I went clothes shopping with my mom and Aubree last night. I love to shop, but my mom takes it to a new level. Every single item from every clearance rack in Dillards passed through her fingers. Three hours later we walked out with our hands full!

We'll spend today just trying to beat the Oklahoma heat wave!


Friday, September 17, 2004

Weekend Roundup 9/18/04 

Frani gets prompt service from city workers. How come I always see four city workers here manning one shovel? Anastasia has the opposite experience with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Snowball had a similiar experience. This is almost universal. Does anyone live somewhere where DMV employees are courteous and service is prompt?

Mignon offers a beginners guide to French kissing. Have to give the French credit for something. It doesn't sound like Jen would had the opportunity to have this kind of fun on her first Match.com date. Its hard to French kiss someone who is talking about cars.

Jack uses 24 email accounts. How does he keep up with all those? I think I use around four. Carol would be happy if her son could just keep his car. My sympathies are with Steve. Having your car stolen seriously sucks.

Amanda refuses to quit (via Jadon). Flax is just trying to ride out Hurricane Ivan. My thoughts are with her and all those affected by this storm. John just marvels at the awesome power of nature.

Paula outlines her vision of the perfect guy. Wow. Miss Mita has found the perfect pair of jeans.

VegasBaby shares with me a love of autumn. I am soooo ready for the crisp, cool air of the fall season. Aawk certainly doesn't have this kind of feeling for his boss.

Sweety finally gets a new...er, different toilet and discovers "drop art". Speaking of toilets, Pisser seems to be attracting a lot of shit.

LoveDonnaz eulogizes the late, great Johnny Ramone. Shelli laments the loss of her blogroll.

Erin defends the honor of those who use online services to find a date. Check out Erin's picture. She's a cutie! Jennifer defends a classic old house that is to be torn down for.....a parking lot?

Lisa counts her blessings...and her friends. Shara was not blessed when her car was assaulted by paintballers!

Caitlin did a little high stepping. Becky would do the same if one of the snakes in her yard surprised her.

Will celebrates his one year blogiversary. Tara celebrates her friends even during a time of loss. Stop by and tell her "how do you do". You'll find few classier acts online.

Biting Nails finds it necessary to remove a blog from her blogroll. The only thing Andie removed was buffalo burgers from her stove.

Doing a little Christmas shopping early? Chuck has found the perfect gift for those fans of "The Godfather" out there. Give yourself a gift by reading this from Esther. Absolutely beautiful.

Molly gets her 3000 mile "checkup". Becky advises you to check up on her mix of cover songs.

Stephanie thinks "No Child Left Behind" sucks. Diana thinks holidays suck. Gasp!

Kim has a new idea for recycling. Where are those nail clippers anyway? Mary Lou has ideas about all the projects she needs to complete. Yikes!

Enjoy my friends, and have a great weekend!



Another week of work down. This week really flew by! I can't believe its Friday already but I'm not complaining!

The weather here appears to be slightly confused. The month of August was fairly pleasant and mild. The past week its been hot as hell. Today, temperatures reached over 95 degrees. Ugh! I did my customary two hours of lunch duty outside and felt like I was being slow-baked.

I did have a little excitement this afternoon. I was doing bus duty and standing at the area where buses pull in and students load. Parents often want to pull into this same area to pick up their kids, and I usually place myself in the way physically to prevent this from happening. A car pulled up in spite of my waving them off and the driver jumped out and took off running. I told the lady in the passenger street that they couldn't park there and she said, "you'd better follow that guy. He's my son and he is very upset. Someone threatened to whip his little brother and he wants to do something about it." I turned my head to see her son, a large guy in his late teens, yelling and cursing and looking for his brother's antagonist. I rushed over and put myself in the way between him and the group of students he was yelling at. He said, "some kid messed with my brother and I'm going to kick his ass". I said, "no you're not. You're getting back in that car. You aren't allowed to threaten students here". At this point we were almost chest to chest. This lad was almost as big as I am and very irate. Eyeball to eyeball, he told me, "fuck you, I'm an adult and you can't tell me what to do". I replied, "if you're an adult, you're not acting like it. Adults don't try to fight middle school age children". He charmingly replied, "fuck your children".

Normally there are about five of us out on bus duty. As all this was going on, I scanned the crowd of hundreds of kids and could not find another adult in sight. I clicked on my walkie-talkie and spoke, "This is Mr. S. Please send security to the bus area as quickly as possible. Stand by to call the police if necessary". He made a remark about not being afraid of the police. But the whole conversation he kept backing up and I kept walking toward him. At one point his fists clinched and in a surreal moment I thought, "this kid is going to take a swing at me". But he kept backing up and ended up at his car. His mom tried to help calm him and he sat down inside. Just at that moment the side doors of the school burst open and the principal, vice principal, security guard, and several teachers came running outside. The calvalry had arrived...a little late, but they were there. The principal talked to this "adult" and his mom and quite sternly told them that such behavior was not permitted on our campus. The situation defused and they drove away. Whew! Nothing like a little adrenaline rush on a 95 degree Friday afternoon.

Aubree has soccer practice tonight and a game tomorrow. Soccer will be a big part of our weekends for the next couple of months.

Have a great weekend everyone! Weekend roundup to follow.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

More Personality Stuff 

Keeping the somewhat odd theme of finding out more about myself I took the short version of the Enneagram test. What is the Enneagram you ask?

The Enneagram is a nine factor personality system that is sort of a historical mutt, many different influences. The nine factors are - orderliness, helpfulness, image focus, hypersensitivity, detachment, caution, adventurousness, strength, and calmness.

Main Type
Overall Self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism74%
Type 2Helpfulness82%
Type 3Image Focus70%
Type 4Hypersensitivity58%
Type 5Detachment54%
Type 6Anxiety74%
Type 7Adventurousness70%
Type 8Aggressiveness50%
Type 9Calmness70%
Your main type is 2
Your variant is social
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

This isn't too far off the mark. I'm surprised I didn't score higher in the "hypersensitivity" category. I'm a lot more sensitive than I like to admit. I often go to great lengths to hide that something bothers me or has hurt my feelings. Perhaps that aspect shows up in my uncomfortably high anxiety score. I'm also a little intrigued that I didn't score "ultra high" or "ultra low" in any category.

I'm not sure how much you learn taking these little tests but it is food for thought.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I met today with a kid who had been disrespectful to one of his teachers. He is a "retainee" in the same grade as last year and apparently has a major "tude". His tone and manner with his teachers is very negative and isn't going to work for them or for me.

He was tearful and regretful as I talked softly to him about what it means to respect other people. As I outlined the consequences of any future incidents he nodded his head and said "yes sir, I understand". I told him that if he could be respectful to me he could certainly do it in the classroom. He promised to do better. We'll see.

I called his mother and informed her about what was going on. I'm never shocked anymore, but her reply did make my mouth drop a little. She said, "I'm sorry about the way he talked to his teacher. I understand completely because he talks that way to me all the time". He does? You let him? Why? He's not quite 13 years old yet! How does a 12 year old get the "whip hand" in a relationship with one of his parents? I'm a far-from-perfect parent but it'll be a cold day in hell before one of my children gets to talk to me that way. She's lost him and it is highly unlikely that she'll ever get him back.

I've seen this happen time and time again. I've always been curious how it begins. Letting the little stuff slide? Too tired to deal with it? Thinking "oh, its just a phase". I once had a mom call me and tell me that her 13 year old refused to get out of bed and had told her to "fuck off" when she tried to get him up to go to school. She was upset and looking for advice as to what to do. I know what my mom would've done...a bucket of ice water on my head and a few missing clumps of hair (yeah, I used to have some). I ended up driving out to the house and waking him up myself. Later I thought that doing that just reinforced the point...mom wasn't in control. It took someone else to make this young child behave.

Respect is a major building block for all future relationships in life: employment, friendship, and romance. If a kid loses that, how does he/she end up? Unemployed? Abusive? In prison? Its very sad indeed.

Love your kids like crazy. Be willing to do anything for them. Be their protector and advocate...but demand respect and be willing to give it.


Rockin Out 

I have a confession of sorts to make. I like to sing in the car. I don't mean that I just hum along as I cruise down the road. I crank it up, cup my hand as a microphone, and belt it out! You can almost gauge my mood by my car music behavior. If I'm sad and contemplative I either turn the music off and let my mind wander, or I turn it down so low that it serves as a background for my thoughts. If I'm in good spirits I turn it up and let it rip! Today was such a day.

For some reason music was in my soul all day. I walked around school humming to myself. I sung quietly to myself walking around on lunch today. I had a little spring in my step. I was high-fiving kids as I passed them in the hall.

I hopped in my car, swung through "Happy Hour" at Sonic, and headed home. I slid one of my homemade CDs into the stereo and cranked the volume until the windows rattled. During my 25 minute commute I totally rocked out! I entertained myself by singing:

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love by Wilson Pickett
Free Fallin by Tom Petty
Beth by KISS
Cowboy by Kid Rock
Its A Long Way To The Top by AC/DC
Here Without You by 3 Doors Down

Yeah, I know...eclectic to say the least! Before I knew it I was pulling up to my parent's house, picking up the kids, and heading home. There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday afternoon commute!


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Falling Through The Cracks 

This morning I went out for my typical morning duty. Parents were dropping their kids off at school and buses were unloading. Hundreds of kids flooded the concrete area that serves as a playground near the backdoor of the school. Some of them were sitting at the tables talking, others were playing touch football, while some were working on their jump shot.

As the kids lined up to go inside for their first class I noticed a young woman sitting on the concrete with her head in her hands. She was quietly sobbing and I leaned over and asked her what was wrong. With some difficulty she told me through her tears that she just didn't want to go to school. She couldn't verbalize an explanation...she just didn't want to be there. I asked her to walk to her counselor's office with me and chatted with her on the way up the long hall. From her appearance, demeanor, and manner of speaking, it was obvious to me that this child almost certainly fell into that broad category of kids in special education. I asked to see her class schedule and saw a traditional student schedule...all regular classes. I asked the counselor to investigate what was happening and then dropped back by her office 20 minutes later.

Several things were happening with this child. First of all, she was classified as "M.R." (mentally retarded) and had been in regular classes for a week. Its little wonder she was lost, frightened, confused, and full of anxiety. Secondly, her mother was in the hospital today preparing to give birth to a new sibling. She had spent the night at her aunt's house.

The director of our special education department came up, visited, changed her schedule, and took her down to spend the rest of the day in classes that were more suited for her. The girl was unsure if she wanted to stay in school but agreed to give it a try.

At lunch I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around, and received a full hug from this child. She told me, "Mr. S, I love my new classes"! This was my warm and fuzzy moment for the day. I returned her hug and told her to come see me if she ever needed anything and that I was there to help.

This little lady had fallen through the cracks for an entire week of school. I had already discovered another child on Friday with similiar issues. Its so easy to happen in large schools. Kids slide by and people think that someone else is taking care of the problem. Its not just "special ed" kids. How many students out there are placed in schools, classes, and programs that are not at all in their best interest? How many kids who don't qualify for special help slide through their school years without ever learning the skills that are so necessary to function as an adult in this society? Its not just kids either.....adults can fall through the cracks as well.

I dealt with another kid today who could be an example of this as well. He had been retained in 6th grade. His dress and hair style don't quite fit in. He looks like he has a permanent scowl attached to his face. A teacher had pointed him out to me last week and I've made it a point to stop and talk to him every time I see him. He's always said nothing...maybe just a nod. Today at lunch he came and sat down beside me on the bench outside and spent 15 minutes explaining the finer points of 4-square. I was silently thinking "gotcha...connection established"! A couple of hours later he was sitting in my office after losing his temper over a pencil in class. We had a nice long chat about anger control and what to do when you're frustrated. I warned him of the unpleasant consequences that such behavior could bring and that I would be the one bringing them. This kid has big-time problems. But at least he listened and responded to me. I'm going to start doing a weekly grade and behavior check on him and will sit down and spend a little time with the guy every week. No guarantees of results, but you gotta start somewhere.

So many people out there ....kids and adults...just need someone to give a damn about them, pay attention, listen to them, and give them guidance. There are way too many cracks around with people falling in. In my own very small way I'm trying to patch over a few of them.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Meandering Monday 

After a few days of mystery, most of the students in my school now know who I am and what I'm doing there. Rumors from the first few days of school included the notion that I was an F.B.I. agent, a C.I.A. agent, a bodyguard for one of the teachers, or a very well-dressed security guard.

My head is now peeling after being sunburned last week. Ugh!

Aubree donated $6.00 of her minimal allowance to the Special Olympics when we drove through Krispy Kreme. That shamed me into adding $10.00 to her donation. She said, "Dad, money isn't everything. Those people need it more than I do." This was a seriously proud moment. I was so flustered that I went the wrong direction on the turnpike and took us 15 miles out of our way.

I dealt with a 6th grade boy today who was calling another boy "faggot" and one of the girls "she-he" and "girly-man". Don't ask...he was a little small to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in disguise!

I talked to an old friend today who invited me to rejoin the alumni group of Principals Academy. I think I'm going to take him up on it. They usually have excellent sessions and it is a great opportunity to network with colleagues from around the state.

I watched the Blues Brothers tonight...one of my all time favorite movies. It still makes me laugh after countless viewings. The scene where they sing "Rawhide" and "Stand By Your Man" in the country bar is priceless. "What kind of music do you usually have here"? "Oh, we have both kinds...country AND western"!

Patrick's teacher called me Friday when he wasn't motivated to work early in the day. I talked to him on the phone, gave him a stern lecture, and the teacher wrote me that he worked fine the rest of the day. I told him, "I had better not be getting any more calls at work because of you". He didn't bat an eyelash and replied, "Dad, its not me thats calling you"!


Sunday, September 12, 2004


I was going to write a September 11th post but then I read this by LoveDonnaz. He really says it all. All of us should honor those who lost their lives so senselessly on that day and keep our vows to never forget. Those who lost their lives that day and their families are in my thoughts today.



More than once I have taken the Meyer-Briggs personality test and it always comes back the same. I am an INFJ (Introverted,Intuitive,Feeling,Judging). Translation? I'm a shy, perceptive sap who thinks too much! While I take all these "tests" with a grain of salt, it is remarkable how accurate they can be. A few tidbits:

"There's something rotten in Denmark." Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends . Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.

INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates."

This rings true for me. I've had relatively few friends in my life. I've had a large number of acquaintances, professional colleagues, and people I socialize with. But I can count on my hands the number of people in my 43 years on this earth that I would really consider a "friend".

Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership.

I'm not sure about the "charisma" thing, but I have an interest in all those areas except for "religious leadership".

INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis.

I do think that I am perceptive about how people are doing around me. I play close attention to small cues and am not often wrong. Often I just feel that something is going on even though I can't quantify it. My problem is not in understanding people. My problem is knowing what to do about it once I understand it.

INFJs, like their fellow intuitives, may be so absorbed in intuitive perceiving that they become oblivious to physical reality.

Oh yes. I'd be a great forester if it wasn't for all those damn trees. I'm focusing on the big picture while the little things are tearing up my life.

Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously; it's not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.

There is more truth in this than I'd like to admit. I want to be a fun-loving, extroverted, life-of-the-party guy that others are drawn to. I love being spontaneous as long as I can plan it out! Sometimes I can pull it off but it never quite feels right. Lee has told me that I'm a "chess player" in life...planning and trying to anticipate everything. She's not far off the mark.

While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.

My mom still likes to tell me that when I was a kid I'd have a group of friends over playing basketball. Suddenly I'd just disappear and she'd find me reading a book in my room. I'm not that bad today, but there are times when I really like to be alone with my thoughts. It almost feels like a physical need. When I am around people I have a strong desire to make everything "ok" and that can be tiring.

I remember reading about Ronald Reagan that he was very warm and friendly with all those around him and had genuine empathy for their problems. But Reagan was extremely difficult to get to know. Even those who had worked with him for 20 years would say that they really didn't know and understand the guy. The number of people he could count as intimates was small. Sometimes I feel like that. I really do care about people and want to help them, but its extremely difficult for me to let them reciprocate. Its like I'm afraid if they really know me they won't want to be around. The number of people I've totally trusted in my life is very, very small. I trusted Lee totally..100% but even she sometimes had to work very hard to "get inside".

So what to do with all this insight?


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Picture Party 

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is this case, here is a small novel!

Aubree, "Wendy" and Patrick enjoying a swim last weekend.

Aubree and "Wendy" having a blast at the beach

Aubree just as we're leaving for her first soccer game.

She wanted a picture with her name on the uniform showing.

Looking a little flushed and tired after the game.

Aubree likes to be on the other end of the camera as well.

This was taken at a birthday party for one of Aubree's soccer friends


Yet Another Weekend Roundup 

Here we go again! I'm featuring quite a few blogs that I haven't linked to before. Enjoy!

Linda (from Biting Nails) forgot her husband's birthday. Don't you hate it when that happens? Zandria probably won't forget the sight of public urinals in Amsterdam.

Fakeppy is on the South Beach diet but isn't crazy about all those green vegetables. I can't blame her there. On the other hand, J. is crazy about her new baby! Stop by and congratulate her.

Olympia has a new system of classifying her blogroll. The "cliterati"? Gotta love it. I think the ever so lovely Lisa and her Fantasy Friday post would fit in very smoothly in that category.

Insane Reality has an ambitious list of things she plans to blog about. I'm looking forward to future installments. Fishbucket had an ambitious dream. An affair with John Wayne? Well now little darlin, you just come right over here. (tipping hat)

Eric posts about the keys to a good long life. Cheeky Squirrel uncovers evidence of musical crimes. Who the hell are the Scissors Sisters and why are they blaspheming a great Pink Floyd song?

Key Monroe finds an eery resemblance to herself in photo that comes with the picture frame. I never have that problem. The men in those photos always have hair! Geoffrey finds a lot of things to take pictures of on his daily commute.

JustPeachy likes to buy books on writing. Stephanie likes guys who are the "handsome of the handsome". Sure they look good, but can they blog? Hey, we all need to have something going for us.

Jen is down to "only" a few thousand hits a day after her Jennifer Hawkins traffic explosion. To think that I knew her before she hit the big time! I didn't know Diana when she got caught cheating, but I'm sure she would've been interesting back then too.

Jen found a quiz that I definitely won't be taking. I'll never be able to do what Tara's husband did either. Well, I did successfully chip out of a sand trap once, but that was long ago.

Dawn has scheduled surgery on her arm. She's in my thoughts. Riri has agony of a different kind. She wonders if she'll lose friends if they read what she writes on her blog.

Harry knows something about Harrison Ford that you don't. Harry? Harrison? Maybe he has the inside track here. Joel would like to know exactly what has become of Osama Bin Laden. For that matter, so does Kim.

John Strain finds that fast food employees don't always pay attention. I can empathize John. They are probably former students of mine! VegasBaby would never make it in fast food...she thinks too much and wonders about the origins of things.

Wizbang posts a cool picture of soldier who haven't forgotten 9/11. Faith wishes she could forget "Superbabies"

Snowball got an unexpected birthday present. Andie didn't need a birthday to pick up some nice fuzzy slippers.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Star Trek Quiz 

Being an old Trekkie from way back, I couldn't resist taking this quiz. ( via Dave)

You're a Human!
You're a Human! Inquisitive and mellow, you're an
explorer at heart.

What Star Trek Race Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Early Years 

When I took the kids swimming over Labor Day weekend we drove through the town where I had my first teaching job. I began at Checotah High School in 1986 as a newly minted history teacher. The week before school started the assistant superintendent called me and told me that I needed to study for a driving test on Friday. Why a driving test? He said, "oh, they didn't tell you. You'll be driving a school bus route" A bus route? I went and practiced driving around the parking lot, took the written test, and drove a school bus for the first time on the streets on the first day of school!

My first teaching contract called for a salary of $14,000 per year. My extra bus driving duty added a few thousand to that. We rented a small house in town for $250 a month and I drove a 1965 Dodge Polara to work each day. It flooded almost every morning when I attempted to start it, so I always had a screwdriver handy to stick into the carburetor.

I reported for work a few days before the start of school, unlocked my room to find a small wooden teacher's desk, a motley collection of student desks, and a filing cabinet with a drawer missing. The principal said, "I could've sworn there was a teacher's chair, a podium, and some shelves in that room". Other teachers later told me that they scavenged the room when the previous occupant left the previous May. I began working on my room and lost track of the time. I realized that it was about 7:00 p.m. and everyone else was gone. The campus was completely surrounded by a rather tall fence with barbed wire on top. After walking around I found a section where the barbed wire was partially missing on top, threw my briefcase over, and climbed the fence in my new slacks. Riipppp! I notice that the fence is gone now.

The fieldhouse is named after a teaching colleague of mine from those days. He was the longtime girl's basketball coach and quite a character in his own right. I recall him chasing a female student around campus with a paddle when she mouthed off in class and refused to submit to his oft-given corporal punishment.

Memories flooded over me as I drove the kids through the parking lot, looked at the windows of my old classroom, read the marquee, and noticed the changes in the area around the campus. I thought about my first period class that first year. They were juniors and the class was American History. I can picture the textbook, the layout of the room, and a large number of the students. There was Terry, the very bright laugh-a-minute boy with some issues hidden deep inside. There was Stacy, the cute little cheerleader who (believe it or not) walked up to my desk and asked me what "69" meant to the rather loud guffaws of the other students who put her up to it. I can remember the flush on my face that must've matched the one one hers. There was Michael, whose smile could light up a room, and who is the only student I ever paddled. The experience left me very unsettled. There was Ray, who would go on to drive a tank during the first Gulf War. One of my classes sent him a case of toilet paper after we read there was a shortage of it in the field. There was Jerry who joined the Navy and came back to visit me at home every time he came home for several years. Tracy often came in tired from studying in the car at night...the only place he could find peace in a house with eight other kids. Tracy went on to play 10 years in the N.F.L.

That class persuaded me that I should allow them to have a Christmas party the day before we dismissed for the winter holidays. Against my better judgement I allowed it. As I wandered the room munching on holiday cookies a familiar smell wafted into my nostrils. Bourbon! I confiscated several cups of "punch" and marched a group of kids to the office. Several claimed they had no idea what was in the cups. One of the dads believed it until he took a sip from the cup on the principal's desk. Other teachers ribbed me for years about it. "When you throw a party, you throw a PARTY"!

Many other memories came back to me during that short drive around campus. One of them is extremely sad and others were quite funny. I'll address those in future posts.

In many ways I've come a long way since those days. You could fill books with the things I didn't know about teaching and kids back then. Hell, you probably still could! I still had a headful of hair even though my hairline was slowly starting to recede. I had no idea of the life that was to unfold for me.

But in other ways I'm much the same. I still love my job. I love going to work in the morning. In spite of all these years and everything that has happened, I'm still a bit of an idealist. I like believing that what I do every day makes a difference. I enjoy spending my days in place devoted to learning. I'm not the curly-headed kid with chalk dust all over his sleeve anymore. Life has dealt me some wonderful blessings, excitement and adventure, and some almost unbearable heartaches. I've matured, learned, and grew up. At my very core I still have the same values and beliefs as that kid who walked in that door all those years ago, wrote his name on the chalkboard, looked at those kids, introduced himself, and began telling some very bad jokes.

Go Wildcats!


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The First Day of School 

Today was the first day for students to attend my school. I arrived at 7:15 a.m. and there were already a large number of kids milling around outside ready for school. My day went something like this:

7:20-7:45 I grabbed my walkie talkie, donned my shades, and headed outside to do morning duty. I chatted with a few of the kids and stood as buses and parents dropped off their children. I've worked in middle schools before and I'm always struck by the huge variations in kids. There were little girls that looked no older than Aubree. There were boys with facial hair who looked like they should've been in high school.

7:45-8:30 Kids wandered around the halls with their schedules trying to find their first class. I helped as many as I could even though I didn't know where they all were myself! Parents and late arrivals needed to know where to pick up schedules. One young man was very upset that he had been retained in the 7th grade. He wadded up his schedule, tossed it on the floor, and refused to go to class. I picked up his schedule and walked him to class. Once inside the room he threw the schedule in the garbage can. I pulled him back out and told him, "unless you can recite that schedule to me from memory, you'd better be able to show it to me when I ask for it the rest of the day". He grumbled and put the schedule in his notebook.

8:30-9:00 A young man who was suspended at the end of last year came in with his mother. He was required to conference with me and sign a behavioral agreement before being allowed to enroll in school. After a lot of "yessirs" and a nice chat with his mother I sent him on his way to the registrar.

9:00-11:15 Out in the hallway for one of several "change of classes" supervision. I took up my spot and chatted with kids and teachers. Quite a few students tried to look surreptitiously at my ID tag to see who I was. No one actually asked. I had time to check my email and browse a few websites. I scanned the morning newspaper and did a little paperwork. Patrick's teacher called and he was having a rough morning at school. She asked if I would chat with him and I did so for a couple of minutes. From the note he brought home it must've done some good.

11:15-1:10 Lunch duty! Four lunch periods. Four groups of kids playing basketball and four-square outside. It was a warm, sunny, and slightly windy day. My head got rather sunburned and is a little sore right now! Maybe its time to invest in one of those stylish men's hats I've never worn before. After two hours out there my feet were sore and my head hurt but I really enjoyed myself. I chatted amiably with some of the kids and showed off my jump shot a time or two. I found a young man sitting by himself and looking rather sad. I plopped down next to him and had a talk. He was a 6th grader and was really having a difficult time. He told me that he just felt "lost" and didn't really know anyone. I reassured him that he would make friends, things would get better, and that if he needed anything to come by and see me.

1:10-1:45 - Some kids needed help getting to their classes. My knowledge of the building had improved quite a bit since the morning and I was actually able to help several of them. I helped the registrar resolve some attendance questions over who was actually in class.

1:45-2:40 - I was starving! I realized that I hadn't eaten and the cafeteria was closed. I dashed down to the local Quick Trip and grabbed a sandwich and a soda. While I was eating my sandwich a teacher came into my office with a cell phone. It belonged to a student and had started ringing in class. She gave me the phone and I asked her to write a discipline referral on the student in question. The cell phone rang four times as it sat on my desk. I answered the phone! The first time there was a brief silence and the other party hung up. The same thing occurred on the second. The third time I answered and introduced myself to the caller who didn't seem to want to chat with me at all! After a bit of walking I found the student and brought her to my office. I informed her of the school's policies on "wireless telecommunications devices" and showed her the possible consequences in the student discipline code. My options ranged from a reprimand to 10 day suspension. I informed her that I was keeping the phone and that her mother could pick it up from me. Any further incidents would result in suspension. I called and left a message to that effect for her mom. A 13 year old with a cell phone...whats this world coming to?

2:40 - 3:30 Bus duty! A little confusion reigned as kids tried to figure out which bus they were supposed to ride. But overall it was a pretty smooth departure for the first day of school. Four kids missed their bus and I brought them to my office so they could call home for a ride. I went back outside until the last of the students left the parking lot. The ladies in the office teased me about my sunburned head. I gathered my belongings and headed out the door. Whew!

Time just flew by today. This job is going to keep me hopping!


Monday, September 06, 2004

My brothers and I (circa 1986!) A rough looking crew eh? None of us really look a lot alike. Now I'm trying to figure out where this picture was taken. Hmmm.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Physical Attraction 

A friend emailed me this link to Match.com's physical attraction test. This is supposedly based on research into what attracts people to each other. After giving my reaction to a number of photos, they gave me this feedback:

Favorite Qualities
Your choices suggest a woman over 45 may be a little old for you
You seemed interested in dating a woman at least 25 or older
Mainstream, lovely women
Sharp, narrow chins
Wide and angular "diamond" or heart-shaped faces
So-called "Ecto-Mesomorphs," with narrow chins and nicely angular faces

Favorite Looks
There's a reason why you can't keep your eyes off a beauty pageant. We describe a lot of the women you found attractive as "Beauty Queens," because of their flawless beauty and winning smiles. These women usually have long, shiny hair setting off a face that is either rectangular or heart-shaped. They have very feminine features like thin noses, big eyes, and full lips, conveying a strong, confident look rather than looking delicate or fragile. Even though they look like the "Girl Next Door," they tend to look mature for their age and lack the "cutesy" appearance of more "girlish" women. Although very popular to look at, most men are sort of intimidated by this type, which is probably why only 1 in 3 (31%) say they specifically seek out these women.

You might head to Europe for your next vacation to see more of the "Mediterranean Beauties" you also seemed to like in the photo test. These women, from a variety of ethnic groups, share dark hair and an olive complexion. Because of their flawless complexion and very full lips, they have to wear little makeup, which adds to a sense of natural beauty. About 1 in 3 men (30%) share your excellent taste!

This isn't too far off the mark. I do tend to be attracted to mature, a little mysterious, and sultry women rather than "cute" ones. I do tend to like feminine features and the "big eyes" is something that always gets me going. Actually, when a meet a woman its almost always the eyes that either attracts or repels me.

This was the example given of the type of woman Match.com believes that I would be attracted to. Not bad!

Apparently, this is the type of woman that I would be attracted to but believed would not be attracted to me. Hmmm...perhaps!

I ran into the ex wife of an old friend in Wal Mart yesterday. She's close to my age, has a nice figure, is very cute and friendly. She was being slightly flirtatious but I wasn't feeling an attraction. Why? Many guys would be. Most of them my age certainly would.

I've written before about this topic but it always fascinates me. Why are we attracted to some and not others? Match.com has done a nice job narrowing things down but there is so much that goes into it. I'm honestly not attracted to that many women, but when I am..whoa!! What do they have that appeals so much? I've been attracted to women of different shapes, ethnicities, sizes, ...you name it. Whatever "it" is they seem to have it!

I tend to like brassy, confident, perhaps a bit of a "tude". I like women who are playful and have a sense of humor. Other than that, its a bit hard to pin down. But isn't that part of the fun?


Saturday, September 04, 2004

I'm so proud! Aubree was the first "student of the week" this year at her school. She was so very excited. She ran to the car when I pulled up waving this at me. Yay!


Friday, September 03, 2004

Weekend Roundup 

Its the weekend already! Time for another tour of my favorite blogs. Whats going on out there you ask?

LoveDonnaz waxes poetic regarding Spongebob Squarepants while Claire regales us with yet more tales of her trip to Italy!

Some people just get all the fun. The lovely Diana gets unsolicited one-way phone sex. If she is seeking clarity it looks like she found a little ;). Sweety has excitement of a different kind. She can't wait to get started in school. Congratulations..you go girl! Vegas Baby has a love affair going with Travis McGee but it sounds like her husband will understand.

Andie Pandie cut her hair and is loving it! I remember when I used to do that...I think. Kenny doesn't sound nearly as happy about buying a bra.

Faith didn't have the best of days. A peaceful weekend sounds just like what the doctor ordered. Xeno needs a lap to curl up in.

Retro Girl is very concerned about the approaching Hurricane Frances. Just Peachy from I Am, I Said is also very worried. My thoughts and prayers to both of you!

MishMish is doing a wedding countdown while it sounds safe to say that Annabel Lee won't be doing the same after this date.

Erin wonders if a certain someone is reading her blog. Honey, I feel your pain on this one! I can tell you from experience that you never know who might pop up. Read my blog..are there any other blogs out there where TWO exes comment? There is no telling who is reading Jennifer's blog. She appears to have a look alike namesake. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Steph overheard a really bad pickup line. I guess I'll cross that one off my list! She also celebrated her birthday this week! One of these days we'll have that promised lunch and drink to celebrate!

At least the line Steph heard was harmless. Shelli got approached by someone who sounds like a real sleeze. The weirdos in this world!

Ginger didn't feel well and had to miss a class at school. Bless her heart! Missing work when you're a teacher is a pain in the ass. Good substitutes are hard to find and you usually find problems piled up on your return. I'm glad she was able to come right back! Tara is much happier about September's approach. It sounds like she loves autumn as much as I do!

Jen writes a heartfelt post about how giving a phone number changed her life. Jen's post inspired me while Mary Lou's did the same and made me want to "hunker down".

Becky finished her book. Yay! Kim wonders about people who willingly do the job of emptying Porta Potties. Ugh!

Dawn Olsen is 99% certain how she's going to vote and can tell you why. I think Mark Kleinman's vote is even more than 99% sure.

Ellen reminds me of my mother's admonition to always wear clean underwear. That advice has served me well all these years even though I haven't been in a serious car wreck. Kimmotion is thinking about an inspection of a different kind.

Some Girl has some proseltyzing neighbors who think they should be able to impose their views on her. When did she move in next to my mom? (just kidding!) Like Riri, I wonder how any religious or political belief could justify the purposeful killing of children. Bastards.

Snowball has sound business advice. I'll keep in mind when I'm dealing with difficult parents this year!

There, that was fun! There are so many good bloggers out there that its hard to know where to begin and end. I look forward to doing it next weekend!


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