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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Who's Got Your Back? 

In a recent conversation with a student I asked him why he'd want to associate with a gang. His answer? He shrugged and said, "I know someone always has my back".

I don't remember knowing about gangs when I was growing up, but I understand the concept of someone "having your back". You had your buddies. They looked out for you. They stuck up for you. They lied to the girls and said nice things about you. They sympathized when you thought your parents were too strict. When you thought the teacher was a jerk, so did they.

The first friends I can remember were Chris and Mike. We all lived within a block of each other in a suburban tract-style development. We were always at each other's houses. We usually made the six block walk to school together. Can you believe now that first graders used to walk alone six blocks to school? Baseball was our game. We usually played it in Mike's backyard. If you hit it over the fence into the neighbor's yard, you were out. No one liked climbing over the fence and risking being yelled at by his grouchy neighbor. Over two fences? A home run. I saw them almost every day. We fought each other and fought together against others. We swam in the nearby creek when we weren't supposed to. We collected pop bottles to sell. We ate mulberries in the woods until we were sick at our stomachs. We worked on our bikes together. My first crush was a girl named Cheryl. Chris and Mike had crushes on her too. All three of us used to walk her home and compete for her attention. When she put "love" before her name on a Valentine's card to me, I couldn't wait to show them. I was crestfallen that their cards had the same thing.

Mike was quiet and good natured. Chris was feisty, always getting in trouble for something. I remember him getting paddled for singing, "Someone's Knocking At the Door" when the principal knocked on the classroom door.

Mike lives in this area and I hear he has a good job and a nice family. I haven't seem him in more than 20 years. I'm not sure about Chris. Years ago he came to me looking for a job when I was the vice principal of the local middle school. I didn't have anything for him, but we did have a nice chat. He's lived a hard life, lots of drugs, a short stint in prison.

My family moved across town and I developed other friendships. Johnny lived one street over and he and I became inseparable for a couple of years. We seemed to bring out the worst in each other. His parents were very religious and very strict. Johnny seemed to spend half of his time grounded. I never saw a kid that was grounded so much. His mom never seemed to like me much and I was kinda scared of her. I wouldn't knock on his front door....I'd just hang out in the park across the street and wait for him to come out. We discovered an access to the city sewer system and would go down there in the dark with a flashlight and walk the tunnels. We straddled the water (Ugh!) that ran beneath our feet and tried to scare each other with stories about the monsters that might be around the corner. We walked the streets with a lawn mower and made money for sodas and candy. Johnny taught me what the word "fuck" meant. I argued with him when he told me that my parents did it. Johnny moved away when I was in sixth grade and we lost touch. I'm not sure what ever happened to him.

Bob came to my school when his family relocated from Iowa. He quickly became my best friend and would remain so for many years. We were an odd couple, he and I. He was charismatic, funny, outgoing, and drew people to him. I was shy, quiet, and reserved. He was a better athlete but I was a more skilled one. He could outrun and outjump me but I could beat him in basketball. It drove him nuts. His father was an alcoholic and he spent a great deal of time at my house. During the summer it wasn't uncommon for him to stay more than a week without going home. I also spent time at his house and his mom called me, "my second son". His sister had a huge crush on me that was unreciprocated. We played basketball together, rode bikes all over town, chased after the same girls, and got into our share of trouble. We were inseparable on weekends and during the summer. Sometimes I brought an extra friend in or sometimes he did. But it was the two of us at the center. We dreamed of opening a sporting goods store together...he would sell fishing/hunting stuff and I would do the athletic wear end of things. We vowed that we'd be friends forever.

As we grew into our teenage years our friendship had some shaky times. I changed schools and both of us developed other friendships. I was into athletics and he was into cars. Both of us were into girls, but he had far more success in that area than I did. Girls were drawn to him. I usually ended up with his girlfriend's friend. I was making plans to go to college. He was making plans to find a job. He slept with my girlfriend while I was away at college. I forgave him and he was the best man at my first wedding. We hung out as married couples during my 20's. We were so different, but the friendship of youth still held strong. He cheated on his wife a lot and I often chastised him for it. He didn't seem to mind. I was teaching and working on my master's degree. He seemed to bounce around from job to job. We had a huge row in a misunderstanding about an air conditioner. Things haven't really ever been the same. He came to visit me once when I lived in Louisiana. I saw him at my brother's wedding and my sister's funeral. I've seen him a couple of times since he moved back here....once at his daughter's high school basketball game. I still love the guy but we've drifted far apart. I don't think he understands my world at all and I know I don't understand his.

I've met many people in the years since, but there are no friendships as intense as those of youth. We knew each other at the core. There were no pretensions, no false niceties. There was no hiding my fear of heights, my squeamishness, or my sensitivity. I knew when their parents fought. I knew when their dads drank too much. I knew what they were afraid of. I knew what girls they had crushes on. We knew who could ride a bike the fastest, hit a baseball the furthest, shoot a BB gun with the most accuracy, or hold their breath the longest. We laughed together, played together, fought together, and shared the experiences of growing up.

We had each other's backs.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

The weather has been beautiful here the past few days. Naturally, this is the week I go back to work. During Spring Break? Crappy weather. Week after Spring Break? Warm, balmy breezes, blue skies. Whats up with that?

My cable internet connection has been giving me fits for a couple of weeks. One minute its fine. The next its out completely. Then its exceedingly slow. Grrr. The cable guy just left my house after discovering the problem is "in the line". This is a good thing because he was talking about charging me for a service call had the problem been inside the house.

Aubree has a science fair project to complete. Actually, Aubree and I have a science fair project to complete. Its due in about a month. I don't have a clue right now what we're going to do.

Patrick goes to the first round of Special Olympics this Saturday. Words don't describe how excited he is. Right now, he's outside making a good attempt at doing jumping jacks. He tells me, "I'm in training Dad." He changes his tune when I mention that perhaps he should lay off the dessert while in training.

Tuesday morning I went for a scheduled meeting at our district office. At least I thought it was scheduled. I was sure it was. It was on my calendar. The people at the district office had no clue what I was talking about. I went back to my school, checked the flier, and...umm, the meeting was on Thursday.

My mom likes to hand me xeroxed articles about what people should do when they are coming out of a relationship. Most of these articles are culled from her monthly reading of women's magazines. Her most recent offering? A three page article called "The Rebound Man", which discusses the way men and women treat the breakup of a marriage differently. My mom is about as subtle as a sledge hammer. Its either give me articles to read or tell me "stories" about people she knows. I know she is trying to be helpful, but it does grate on the nerves sometimes. Of course, maybe she knows something. She's been married for 44 years. Then there is me.

There are other things my very conservative mom likes to remind me about. One is online relationships. I've got a couple of xeroxed articles about that too. Another is the evil of hanging out in bars. Every bar fight, murder, or bust in the local newspaper prompts a retelling of the event and her ever-present reminder that "nothing good comes from hanging out in a bar."

My pick for the college basketball championship? It has to be North Carolina. They are well-balanced, have great athletes, and an outstanding coach.

"Name That Tune" in the previous post was so much fun I might do it again sometime.

You know how sometimes you have "blogger block"? I'm just the opposite right now. I have posts galore flying around in my head. So much to blog, so little time.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Listen To The Music 

This little meme has been floating around for a couple of weeks now, but I'm always late to get in style. Better late than never! I loaded up my entire music collection into my jukebox, randomly shuffled the tunes a couple of times, and took the top 15 songs. Listed below is a snippet of lyrics from each one. Care to play Name That Tune?

*UPDATE- Correct answers are in red. Thanks for playing!

1. Nobody made you do it, no one put words in your mouth
Nobody here taking orders when love took a train heading south
.

"If God Will Send His Angels" by U2

2.Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by

"End of the Innocence" by Don Henley

3. I was always reachin’, you were just a girl
I knewI took for granted the friend I have in you.

"The Search is Over" by Survivor

4. And I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man

"Whats Up" by Four Non Blondes

5. I got no kick against the west coast.
Warner brothers are such good hosts.
I raise my whiskey glass and give them a toast. I’m sure they know it’s true.

"Katmandu" by Bob Seger

6. They are the first to come and the last to leave
Working for that minimum wage

"Stay" by Jackson Browne

7. Wish I was back on the bayou.
Rollin’ with some cajun queen.
Wishin’ I were a fast freight train,
Just a chooglin’ on down to new orleans.

"Born On The Bayou" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

8. When I give my heart it will be completely
Or I’ll never give my heart

"When I Fall In Love" by Nat King Cole

9. The Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal are mine to see on clear days
You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze

"I Can See For Miles" by The Who

10. He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day
When the New York Times said God is dead

"Levon" by Elton John

11. very since she broke your heart
You seem so lost each time you pass my way
Oh, how I long to take your hand
And say "Don't cry, I'll kiss your tears away"

"Hey There Lonely Boy" by Ruby and the Romantics.

12. I'll give you black sensations up and down your spine
If you're into evil you're a friend of mine

"Hells Bells" by AC/DC

13. Just a' urchin livin' under the street
I'm a hard case that's tough to beat

"Paradise City" by Guns N Roses

14. Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that

"Hey Hey, My My" by Neil Young

15. I opened doors for little old ladies
I helped the blind to see.

"No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Alice Cooper

Not a bad CD if I burned these songs. How many do you know?

Correct answers will be updated tomorrow night!

You guys rock!

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Stop Thief! 

I returned to work today and we discovered that someone had stolen the backstop from the baseball/softball field. Thats right...the backstop. The whole thing. Its probably twenty feet across and fifteen high. Solid metal with mesh fencing. How the hell does someone steal something like that? There was nothing left but some very large holes in the ground.

This was no teenage prank. Some guys with some pretty serious equipment removed it. At first we couldn't think of why in the world someone would want to do that. A backstop for your backyard field?

Then we realized the amount of metal in the backstop. Apparently, metal is selling for a premium price these days. There have been news reports of other metal structures disappearing. Cut it up with a blow torch, load it up, and go sell it.

Of course its a pretty crappy thing to do. This was a kid's field. Who knows when/if the thing will be replaced. Someone enjoys a few stolen bucks. Some kids don't get to play ball. Assholes. (pardon my French)

A stolen backstop. Now I think I've really heard it all.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Crystal Ball 

I've been thinking about the future lately. Actually, I've been thinking about thinking about the future. A recent email from a teacher at my previous school discussed a trip to Phoenix last spring. Just a year ago. My future seemed clear then. I was deeply involved in my school's improvement project. Yukking it up at the Phoenix conference. Having fun with friends. Thinking about camping trips that summer. I would not have conceived of where I am now just one short year ago. I had no clue.

A friend in another country made predictions for my future in a recent IM chat. Her predictions sounded good. A successful relationship. A book deal. A good life. From her lips to God's ears.

I like to think about the future because I don't like thinking about today. I like to think of a time when life won't be such a struggle. I like to think of a time when I won't be sad. I like to think of a time when I can be at peace. I'm an optimist in many ways because I haven't given up on that future yet. I can't give up on it. I have to believe.

I recently had lunch with a very cool blogfriend. It was the first time we'd met and I had a great time talking to her. While I was taking her home, a familiar song came on my car stereo. Its a song I've listened to a lot in recent months. The song rocks and the lyrics are great. "Crystal Ball" by Styx pounded through my speakers. I listened to it again on the way home.

I used to like to walk the straight and narrow line
I used to think that everything was fine
Sometimes I’d like to sit and gaze for days through sleepless dreams
All alone and trapped in time.....All alone and trapped in time
I wonder what tomorrow has in mind for me

Or am I even in it’s mind at all
Perhaps I’ll get a chance to look ahead and see
Soon as I find myself a crystal ball.....Soon as I find myself a crystal ball
Tell me, tell me where I’m goingI don’t know where I’ve been

Tell me, tell me, won’t you tell me
And then tell me again
My heart is breaking, my body’s aching
And I don’t know where to go
Tell me, tell me, won’t you tell me
I’ve just got to know
Crystal ball.....There’s so many things I need to know

Crystal ball.......There’s so many things I’ve got to know....Crystal ball

The future has two facets....the things I can control and the things I can't. Getting a doctorate? Writing a book? Parenting my kids? Buying a house? Those are all things I can control. I make the choice. I set my priorities.

The challenge is in dealing with things that I can't control. Its the challenge for all of us, isn't it? How we deal with death....accidents....disasters....crises....and yes, a broken heart. How we deal with those things also detemines the future. I'm charting my own path each and every day I wake up. I'm making progress, even if its hard to see sometimes.

Even crises and heartbreak can have a silver lining. I think these are the times when a person grows the most. We reflect. We learn. We ache. We hurt. We make progress. A new person comes out. Like a phoenix rishing from the ashes. A nascency.

I can see its outlines out there. Its hazy and unclear. Its both scary and exciting. Its there waiting for me.

I think I'll become a much stronger man than ever before. More secure within myself. Able to live without the embracing love of a woman if I have to. At peace with who I am. A better father than ever before. More in tune with my kids. A stronger, more confident leader at work. A man who some day will be able to tell you exactly what he wants out of life....and exactly what he is looking for in a mate. A guy who can embrace the loneliness that his life sometimes entails. This guy has overcome his guilt and shame. A man who finally in middle age lives up to ALL of his potential. When the Grim Reaper chases him, he will fight like a tiger and then die a satisfied man who knows he made a difference.

He's also a little more cynical and less easy to trust. Naivete has been washed forever from his eyes. Someone who is damn well determined not to be hurt like this ever again or allow his kids to feel that piercing pain once more. Not again. He's still a romantic, but realizes that someone saying "I love you" doesn't necessarily mean to them what it means to me. He's got a slightly harder edge behind the nice guy exterior...his armor.

Thats what I see out there when I rub my crystal ball.

Happy Easter everyone!

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Weekend Roundup 3/25-3/26 

I've had Spring Break the past week. Other people in blogland have had a lot going on. Sit down. Pour some of your favorite beverage. Put your feet up. Wiggle your mouse finger. Take a look at some of the best posts in blogland this week. You know you want to!

Joe makes his secret romance public. So does Michelle, the object of his affection.

Veronica has a new look. Vegas Baby lets us look at a baby pic.

Dot thinks she might like to work in retail management. Restless Angel thinks she might as well have stayed in bed.

Thomai shares her favorite movies. Janine shares a story about her cat and her toothbrush.

Kathy had blogger block. Stacey had a blog takeover.

Angel is home alone. Rachel is home and having problems sleeping.

The lights went out for Mary Lou. I lit up when read Vickie's post about being remembered.

Can men and women just be friends? Ask Laine. Should spouses have matching cars? Ask Tara.

Monica shed some tears. I shed some tears after reading this post by Ellen.

Andie gets her weekend off to an early start. T Marie got started in her new job.

Darla wonders about risks. Ginger wondered what was in her brother's head in this story.

Aka Monty got a (ahem) romantic missive from an internet suitor. Annabel Lee had men raining down all around her.

Safiyyah makes a call for restraint. Joan needed some of that restraint after she got her hair cut.

Faith told a secret. John tells about his running obsession.

Chaotic Serenity got hit on in a different language. I might hit on some of Blogbudsman's list of the sexiest women alive.

Caren shares some pictures from Germany. New Wave Gurly shares the story of Jimmy Jet.

Cindra lets us get to know her better. Justin got to know some new bands.

Satisfied Spouse just isn't satisfied right now. Not feeling satisfied blogging right now? Okie Doke has some words of wisdom.

Vince surfs the subway. Undergraduate surfed through her mail.

Love Donnaz is ready for the new Star Wars movie. Nicole is ready for "The Today Show" every day. (scroll down)

Flax tells us about a fence project and her dog. FlyGirl tells us about setting down roots.

Stephanie is feeling jealous. Red Headed Gal is feeling good on a no-hangover morning.

Inky shares a sunset picture. Dwayne shares a softball story.

Jennifer made a phone call...and he answered. Shelli wasn't happy with this phone call from her HMO.

Steph reminisces about her mom and hitchhikers. Skittles has some memories of her own.

Wanda says goodbye to winter. Kim might disagree with her.

Veda shares some of her favorite authors. Nameless shares her disgust with her sister-in-law.

Anne remembers her parents getting a divorce. Liz remembers the one that got away.

Diana has a love/hate relationship with beads. Scorpy's husband and best friend don't have a lot of love between them.

Nikki lets us in on a first time experience. Kristine has experienced a lot of high points.

Cedia wonders about the pill and libido. Wonder where some good blog fiction is? Look no further. Go posthaste to Edge's 3rd installment. Then go read the first two.

Blogger ate my first installment of this post. I'm not sure, but I think cars driving by might have heard my reaction. I hope this version is as good as the first.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends. Try and stay out of trouble. Ok?

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Who's Reading? 

Like most bloggers, I wonder about who reads this little corner of the web. Who are these people, sitting in front of their computer monitors who take the time to read my daily dribblings? How did they get here? Why do they stay? What is it about my site that interests them?

Tara and Kathy both mentioned "lurkers" in recent posts. They wondered perhaps the same things I alluded to. This site receives hundreds of unique visitors in any given week. Who are they?

Let me tell you who I know for sure reads this blog:

This leaves quite a few unaccounted for. There are some that have read this site for months but never commented. I've never interacted with them. I'm flattered by their attention. I'm curious who they are. I wonder what they think. Do they have blogs of their own that I might enjoy reading?

Our lives intersect out here in this cyberspace world. Many of us pour out some of our innermost thoughts for all to see. I can feel you reading my words. I see you out there. Is there something I can teach you? Something I can learn from you?

Something I wrote intrigued you perhaps. Maybe I made you laugh. Maybe I made you cry. Maybe I put a smile on your face. Maybe I made you ponder something in your own life. Maye I just amused you. Maybe I made you think, "what a goofball!".

Hello out there.


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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Could the weather possibly have sucked any more for my Spring Break week? Its been gray, cold, rainy, and dreary every day this week. It may be a break, but its not Spring! I actually had a couple of projects outside that I wanted to do this week. It looks like that is not going to happen.

The week hasn't been a total loss of course. I cleaned out a closet that made me cringe every time I walked by it. I gave the hardwood floors in my house a good shining. I cleaned the mass of paperwork off my desk. I washed all the bedding in the house. You just thought I was laying around on my ass all week!

Its nice to have a break from the routine. I've been able to talk to friends.....new and old. I've taken a nap or two. I've shopped for groceries without the kids tugging on each arm saying, "Dad, can we have some of that"? I've had lots of time to think. Thinking can be a dangerous thing for me. I tend to overthink and overanalyze everything. So far, I've been successful in not doing that. I feel a tingle of excitement. Possibilities exist. Thats enough for now.

I told Aubree I was making spaghetti for dinner tonight. She said, "Dad, I love you, but you don't cook spaghetti all that well. Mom made it better." I replied, "yeah, but I sing while I cook and entertain you". She giggled and said, "you cook better than you sing, Dad"!

An addendum to the post about my old softball team: We were running short of players at one point. My manager at Domino's Pizza offered to join the team and I let him. He was a forceful personality, very bossy and domineering. At work he bossed me around, but on the softball field I took great delight in turning the tables. At one point I vigorously admonished him for an error he made, and he said, "Brian, you are enjoying this way too much". He was right! This was almost as good as becoming a school administrator and evaluating teachers that had taught me! That was delicious.

I needed a new cartridge for my printer. I hate the idea of spending as much money on an ink cartridge as my printer is worth. My dad has been using this refill kit to refill his ink cartridges, and he told me to bring mine over. We injected the ink in, recovered the opening, and all looked well. Ten minutes later I had black ink all over my hand...it was leaking! I ended up making an Office Depot run and getting a new cartridge. Grrr.

Songs that have been in my head recently?

"Don't Look Back" and "Smokin" by Boston
"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon
" Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors
"Take It To the Limit" by The Eagles
"Before You Accuse Me" by Eric Clapton
"The House is Rockin" by Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Almost Paradise" by Loverboy

Patrick's doctor told me, "don't say he's disabled. Thats not a proper word for him. He's just quirky. Bill Gates is quirky. Einstein was quirky. Patrick may be able to do things some day that you can't imagine right now". Powerful stuff. Quirky sounds right. Patrick hates most music and complains about it when I play music. His exceptions? "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" by Jan and Dean. "Grandma's Featherbed" by John Denver. "Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook. "For Those About to Rock" by AC/DC. Of course my musical taste is widespread as well. I guess that makes me quirky too!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Site Redesign 

I've thought for months about doing something to jazz up my blog. I didn't really have the technical wizardry to know what to do. Today I accepted the gracious offer from the lovely and talented Ginger to liven things up here a bit. I'm pleased with the results! Thanks Ginger!

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Out of the Blue 

I picked up my phone yesterday and checked my messages. A woman's voice leapt out of the phone and said, "Brian, I'd know that voice anywhere even after all these years. My friend and I have been trying to track you down for a long time. You must call me back so that we can catch up. Can you believe that its been 20 years since we played softball"?

Aaaah, the memories. Twenty years ago I was wrapping up my bachelor's degree at Oklahoma State University. I was married and living in a small apartment. My wife worked in an office at the university, and the girls from that office decided to form a co-ed softball team. Boyfriends and husbands were recruited. Several professors from the philosophy department decided to join up. The ages ranged from 18 to people in their mid 50's.

They asked me to manage the team. Yes, it was a co-ed team. Yes, it was all for fun. But I have a competitive streak now. I REALLY had a competitive streak back then. I'd been involved in sports my entire life. These people were so laid back! I stood at home plate during practice and hit balls into the outfield only to see them harmlessly drop near the philosophy professor who had beer cans strewn around his feet. "John"!, I yelled, "could you stop drinking beer long enough to catch a few balls"? He good naturedly yelled back, "yeah Brian, just for you I'll do that".

We had to have uniform shirts. The philosophy department sponsored us and we all wore shirts with "Friends of the Forms" emblazoned across them. I remember the professors explaining what it meant to me. I just can't remember that explanation now.

On my team, games were a great reason to party. Drinking before the game in the parking lot. Beer in the dugout during the game. Team parties after the game. We partied all the time and tossed in a few softball games. The middle aged philosophy professors were the wildest partiers of all. I turned to "John" to substitute him into a game and he couldn't stop belching and giggling. I put him in anyway. He struck out without the bat ever leaving his shoulder!

We often used the clubhouse at a local mobile home park for our team parties. We had a lot of team parties. We got drunk. We danced. Some people may have groped or kissed teammates who were not their spouse or mate. I wouldn't know anything about that of course.

I actually did work on an education during this time period. I got my degree, did my student teaching, and headed off into the professional world. I got a master's degree. We adopted kids. I lost track of the old crowd.

Then I get a giddy message on my answering machine. I follow up with a phone call, and Debbie and I chat for about 45 minutes. She still lives there. She knows what happened to everyone on the team. Who split up. Who lives where. Who cheated on who. Where they work. Things about their kids. I lap up all the gossip and think back to those times. A time before responsibility and work. A time before kids. Go to class, play softball, deliver pizzas, and go party.

Now if I can just remember what the hell "Friends of the Forms" was all about.

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Twisters 

Last night my mom shanghaied me into taking her down to "The Farm". Even though I make regular visits there, she has to see that everything is ok. The thermostat has to be turned off now. Toilets have to be checked. In the middle of a rainstorm we made the hour drive down there.

After checking out the house we drove down the road to pay a visit to my great aunt. Della is 92 years old, lives alone, and is still very spry. While visiting in her living room we saw the "Tornado Warning" icon on TV. A tornado warning was in effect in the town we had driven through about an hour before. A storm was blowing through but appeared to be headed away at a pretty rapid pace. We decided to go ahead and make the drive back.

Aubree was sitting at my parent's house watching TV as well. She saw those tornado warning signs too. She recognized the towns they mentioned and knew we were in that area. She frantically tried to call me. My cell phone was out of its service area. When I reached civilization again I called back. She said, "Dad, are you ok? I've been so scared! My hands are shaking. I don't know what I would do if something happened to you and Patrick. Where would I go? I was praying that you were all right". She also worried about her dog, home alone in the back yard. I reassured her that the skies looked fine in the area we were driving through. She calmed down but insisted on talking to me for the remainder of the drive back....just to make sure.

She didn't grow up here like I did. Twisters are a fact of life in this part of the country. I've seen hundreds of those tornado warnings. The fear just isn't there for me anymore. I respect the damage they can do. I've seen an entire town destroyed by one. I've seen houses five miles from here with the roofs ripped off like a tin can being opened.

I tried to explain to her the concept of "odds"....the fact that the odds of our little house being hit by a tornado is very small. I tell her that I spent the first 35 years of my life here and that a tornado never hit this town during that time. She's not buying it.

When I was a kid we once ran to a neighbor's cellar during a tornado warning. Three families stood shoulder to shoulder down there while the winds howled and the rain poured. The cellar filled up with water up to my waist. That was about as scary as the tornado itself. After that, my dad decided that we would hole up in the closet under the stairwell. Twin mattresses would be drug into that closet and we all had to hide out in there. Not my dad though. He would stand outside on the front porch and watch the storm. When I was a teenager I sometimes joined him. I know that its a scary thing, but the forces of a storm are something to behold.

We did tornado drills in school. We all would file out into the hallway sit down with our backs to the lockers and put our hands over our heads. Of course we also did nuclear war drills too. For those you crawled under your desk. I'm sure those desks would've been a great deal of protection.

We lived in Louisiana for awhile and made it through hurricane season. Hurricanes have warnings that are days old. You hear when one is coming. People being making preparations. In Washington, there were earthquakes. No major earthquakes hit while I lived there. There aren't any warnings for those.

I'm sure that Aubree will be telling her kids the same kinds of things that I told her last night. In the meantime, there may be a few nights huddled in the closet.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Mouths of Babes 

No, not that! Get your minds out of the gutter ;)

One of the teachers in my building gave her kids an assignment to write me a letter. I received a large sheaf of handwritten, decorative letters from her class. Reading the letters made me laugh, smile, and even tearful. I was touched.

Among the quotes:

"What exactly does a Dean do"?
"Can you get us a volleyball net outside"?
"You're a terrific dean. Even if I tried I couldn't be better than you. But I can get you out in 4-square"
"I think you're flirtatious with Ms. X" Me??
"I would like to thank you for looking out for us outside and inside"
"You keep the bads out and in trouble and that is good"
"I want to thank you for getting people suspended. They deserved it"
"I know you break up fights. Is that all you do"?
"I like it when you stop me and ask me how I'm doing"
"I got into a fight and you were nice about it even if you did suspend me"
"You are nice, kind, funny, and caring"
"You always seem happy"
"We have a lot of fun trying to get you out in 4-square"
"Thank you for checking up on my grades and making sure I do the right things in class"
"There isn't one life skill that you don't exhibit"
"Thanks for being such a great dean, friend, and 4-square player"
"You're the only dean I've ever known"!
"You're a great person to look up to"
"You treat us like we're human beans" Hehe.



I'd give that one an "A"!

We're all in this thing together....all of us human beans!

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Weekend Roundup 3-18/3-19 

Lets have a look around the blogosphere. Lots of great posts are just waiting to be read. Join me?

Chaotic Serenity pays touching tribute to a friend. Vickie pays tribute to the angels in our lives.

Cedia wonders whats up with the hotel she stayed in. Inky wonders whats up with her commenter who was full of shit. (scroll down to "I poop thereafter I need therapy"!)

Red Headed Gal had a sober Saturday night. Darla is looking for an occasional Saturday night without her teenager.

Dawn got her stitches out. Vegas Baby finally got to post again.

How much attention is too much? If you know the answer, take Monica's survey. Take it even if you don't know the answer! Joe had some bang-up answers to my interview questions.

Molly discusses impulse control. Janine discusses crisis management.

Faith thinks she could be pregnant....got another explanation for her? John thinks that cell phones can be used for more than talking.

Blogbudsman answers my interview questions. So does Jack. Both do it extremely well.

Jen's ex is now engaged. I wonder if he suffers from "little man syndrome"? Tish has the goods.

Ginger defends the teaching profession. Caren defends the superiority of German cooking.

Vince tasted pasta and amore. Joan was tasting a little wine...just a little.

Annabel Lee had a good second date. Tara had a good time at the beach.

Anne reminisces about candy. Pop rocks anyone? FlyGirl reminisces about hearing the neighbors having sex.

Kristine has her basketball tournament bracket filled out. Janet was happy with the amount her insurance company filled in on her check.

New Wave Gurly wonders where her spring break went. Love Donnaz wonders why alarm clocks aren't designed better.

Veda played a fun game of "Name That Tune". Mary Lou played a question/answer game.

Cindra reminds us with a poem that we need to slow down. Stephanie reminds us that grief takes many forms.

Scorpy has a countdown going. Michelle has the stages of a woman's life in pictures.

Edge keeps the torch burning. Funky Cowboy was burned up about the way his dentist treated him.

Rachel notes that Jane Austen isn't always right about friendships.

Kim gets to meet some local bloggers. Stacey was worried that she was blogged out.

Jazzy touches herself. Restless Angel probably wanted to touch the "customer from hell"...but not in a nice way!

Steph's brother is back home, safe and sound. Liz's husband had a car wreck and she feels guilty.

Jennifer hates asking people for money. Cheri hates not feeling appreciated in her job.

Charkey has messages in her bedroom. "C" has other ideas in her bedroom.

Katriana is headed for Dallas. Peaches is headed for bed...on her three year old's orders.

Brenda has learned a few new things. Christine may need to learn some things, but there is one thing she is "The Queen" at.

I have one small request. Please try and comment on one of these posts. Just one. Fair enough?

It is Spring Break my friends. Spring Break! Have a mahvelous weekend. OK?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Its Wednesday already. Two days until Spring Break! One of those days doesn't involve kids. (parent teacher conferences). Gotta love it.

Aubree's name was in the local paper for making the "straight A" honor roll again. She was proud of herself and I'm proud of her!

I've become enamored of the security video system we have installed in our school. I've solved a couple of mysteries using it recently, and today was able to prove a student's accusation that a teacher "grabbed me, jerked my arm, and pushed me into the wall" totally wrong. I did get a perverse sense of pleasure being able to call the irate mom back and invite her to come view the video with me. She declined.

In the process of looking at the video I came across myself wandering down the hall after the bell rung.



Is that a man on a mission or what?

There is one issue I hate dealing with at school. Bathrooms! I hate bathroom issues. You can't win. If you allow students to go the bathroom whenever they want, you might as well shut down instruction and just go to the bathroom all day. When you restrict it, you have problems with kids that legitimately need to go. We've tried to crack down on having too many kids in the hallway during class. Some of our teachers took this to mean a blanket ban on bathroom passes during their class. That doesn't work well with 90 minute classes. Parents are irate if their child doesn't get to go whenever they want. Teachers are irate if their learning time is a revolving door of kids who want to hang out in the hall for a few minutes. Our kids have student agendas that have passes. When their passes are gone for the quarter they are done. This seems reasonable in that it makes the kids prioritize when they really need a pass. Still, no system is perfect. Grrr. I hate this issue.

I was at my parent's house this evening and a discussion was being had around the dinner table about Benjamin Franklin. My dad brought up that Franklin was something of a lady's man...he was considered very charming and was the cause of many rumors. My niece piped up and said, "Ladies man? He's fat, bald, and ugly"! Patrick was sitting next to me, put his arm around my shoulder, and said, "Dad you're a little fat, all the way bald, but not that ugly". This caused all of us to burst out laughing. Aubree, ever the charmer, leaned over, hugged me, and said, "Dad, you are not ugly". Thanks kids!

You know something I really dislike? Going to McDonald's (food I don't like anway) and being asked to "pull forward and we'll bring your order out to you". Half the time the forget me and I have to go inside. If I wanted to go inside I wouldn't have used the drive-through window. Fast food should be fast!

As I was leaving work today I pulled up to a stoplight. I turned my head to find a woman staring at me in the car next to me. I smiled and she winked at me. Winked! Then the light changed and we both drove off never to see each other again. Too funny.

Mary Lou sent me a postcard during her trip to Oregon. What a nice surprise! Thanks!

And how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Beware the Ides of March 

Julius Caesar was so warned by a soothsayer. On the Ides of March (March 15) he ignored the warnings, went to the Senate anyway, and was murdered by his friend Brutus and other conspirators. Et tu Brute?

Caesar was betrayed on March 15, but betrayal isn't confined to one day a year. Brutus' come in all forms and fashions. How many of us have never felt the sting of betrayal from someone we trusted? There are few things other than death than can hurt quite so badly.

I felt betrayal at the loss of my marriage... I still feel it. It was the betrayal of thousands of "I love yous" and promises of of a lifelong partnership. It was the betrayal of the dream I believed in and cherished. She may even feel the same...perhaps I betrayed the idea of who she thought I was.

This is far from the first time I've been betrayed. Many years ago I was a college student who was dating a girl who had dropped out of school and was living in my hometown. My best friend was also living and working here. I heard from each of them that they occasionally saw each other during the week while I was gone. It was ok. They were just friends. They were just grabbing an ice cream cone or hanging out talking on the front porch. After all, she was my girlfriend and he had a girlfriend of his own. One day he and I were driving down the road and he said, "I have something to tell you. I've been sleeping with your girlfriend". I was stunned. I wouldn't have believed it of either of them. He said, "you wanna kick my ass? Just pull over up here and I'll let you". We pulled over and I exited the car with full intentions of doing just that. Instead, we just talked. She had no idea that he was going to tell me, so that confrontation came as a big surprise to her. She tearfully apologized and promised to never do it again. In the end I forgave both of them. I know....stupid eh?

Most betrayals are that dramatic though, are they? The small ones can hurt just like the big ones. I remember telling my school counselor something in confidence only to have a teacher remark on it to me the very next day. I believed I could trust her....and I couldn't.

The promised promotion that went to someone else? The family member who betrays your trust? The person who promised they would be there for you and was nowhere to be found at a critical time? The person who is always so nice to your face....then you find that they are trashing you behind your back? Betrayals all.

In this life we come to rely upon people...depend on them...cherish them...and trust them. It is those very people who can do the most harm. If we choose to trust the wrong people it can come back to haunt us.

And not just on the Ides of March.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

My Interview 

I took up T Marie's challenge and submitted myself to answering whatever questions she came up with. Here goes!

1. Being a jobseeker makes me curious, I know you're in the education field now, but what other jobs have you held in your lifetime? What was your least favorite?

My jobs? My first ever job was as a busboy at Sirlon Stockade. Remember those? I made the princely sum of $2.30 an hour and worked my way up to dishwasher and finally cook. I also spent four summers working at my dad's company, a large corporation. I spent a lot of that time as a computer operator on those big huge mainframes that took up a whole room. Remember card readers and those big tape drives?

I spent several months working construction on a golf course. We were installing a sprinkler system and I spent a lot of time with a shovel in my hand. I also learned how to operate a backhoe and a bulldozer.

I worked for about six months as a convenience store clerk in a very poor neighborhood. Talk about getting a different slice of life. Shoplifting, food stamp scams, etc....I saw it all. The beer delivery guy once turned the corner with a huge load of beer, it tipped over, and it all crashed down on a Corvette whose owner was buying cigarettes from me. The car owner screamed a guttural scream and I thought he was going to assault the poor beer guy.

I spent three years delivering pizzas part-time for Dominos. That was a lot of wild experiences too...some good and some very bad. I was robbed, propositioned by a housewife and sorority girls, made to stand outside in the freezing cold, and met a few celebrities.

I spent 18 months working for Volunteers of America as a program supervisor for their programs that aided mentally ill children. It was a full time job that probably shouldn't have been one. I had plenty of time on my hands but I loved working with the kids. I ran a respite program for severely mentally ill kids that placed them in temporary care of a trained couple. I taught parenting classes for awhile. I ran a Saturday recreational program that took those kids to all kinds of fun places.

The least favorite? Probably the convenience store clerk. I disliked my boss...it could have something to do with all those polygraphs he kept making me take.


2. Being a single parent is difficult, what has been your biggest single parent challenge?

Probably the biggest challenge is managing time. Right now, if my parents weren't helping me I don't know what I'd do. My job requires some evening hours and the time I get off work is sometimes out of my control. Then I try to have some semblance of a social life. The orchestration of simple things can be very stressful. I pray that they don't get sick. My dad's health isn't the best and he is unable to be around sick children. So I have to take off work and burn my sick days. Then I hope I don't get sick and need those days.

3. We've enjoyed your fantasy cruise idea. What else would you do with those lottery winnings?

1. I would go to every school I've ever worked in and endow them with a healthy chunk of cash. The money would go to materials for teachers, student scholarships, and technology.

2. I would pay off all my own debts and the debts of my family members. I'd make sure my parents and my brothers were set for life.

3. I would set aside college money for my kids and my nieces as well as a trust fund that would fund a comfortable, yet not extravagant, lifestyle.

4. I would set up a mini Bill Gates style charitable foundation to fund worthy causes. My priorities? Prenatal care for poor women. Early childhood development programs. Programs that promote citizenship among young people. After school tutoring and recreational programs for kid.

5. I would surprise people who have been there for me with large cash gifts. A couple of childhood friends. A few of my old teachers and coaches. Some of my teaching colleagues who helped me in immeasurable ways. Friends who listened when I had nowhere else to turn. Some of them are on my blogroll.

6. For myself? A nice house but not a mansion. A sports car and a Harley. A home theater and a great library. Lots of travel.

4. Tell us your favorite quote and why?

There are so many. Answering this question took quite a bit of thought. But I've always liked this one by William Shakespeare:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once.

Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,

It seems to me most strange that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.

I like this one because I want to live life without fearing death. I want to live, laugh, learn, and love. When my time comes...it comes. The only regret I want to have is that I didn't have more time to live, laugh, learn and love some more.

I also loved Mel Gibson's line from Braveheart in the same vein:

All men die. But how many men really live?


5. I've been inspired by your interaction with the students you work with. Tell us what teacher or administrator made a difference in your life and why?

There were several. I'll give a brief vignette on each one:

1. Mrs. Foshee, my 1st grade teacher. She was a very sincere, loving woman. I already knew how to read by 1st grade and she encouraged my love of reading. Our tiny school didn't have a library, but she had tons of books in her room. Often she would suggest that I read one.

2. Mrs. Howard, my 4th grade teacher/principal. She saw things in me that I didn't see. She would write me encouraging notes and leave them on my desk. She told me once, "you're a special boy. You have your eyes in the clouds and stars. You are going to be someone important some day." When we moved across town and I changed schools she continued to write me notes occasionally care of my new school.

3. Mr. Nero, my 8th grade Civics teacher. He was also my basketball coach and the first coach that believed I had any talent at all. He was an inspiring teacher who kindled my interest in current affairs and government.

4. Mr. Hutchings, my high school math teacher. He was a young, humorous, gregarious guy. He took an interest in me as a person and advised me on everything from girls to college selection. When I thought about being a teacher I thought of him.

5. Mr. Davidson, my high school basketball coach in my sophomore year. He was also the junior high principal. Every so often he would invite me to his office, buy me a coke, prop his feet up, and just chat about life. I admired him a great deal.

Ok, that wasn't so bad. If anyone else wants to try I'd be happy to send you some questions to answer. Just leave the request in comments or shoot me an email.


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Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Blog Cruise 

In a recent post I mentioned that I had fantasized about winning the lottery and taking the entire blogroll on a cruise. The invitation would of course include the significant other of said blogroll member. What do I imagine would happen on this cruise?

Edge would be dressed in a natty suit, sipping a martini at the bar. He's got Charkey and FlyGirl on each arm, and is regaling them with stories of his travels.

Jen and Christine would be sitting at the corner table getting progressively soused with each passing drink. Hard to tell if they are flirting more with each other or the buff waiters that keep serving them their drinks.

John would be in his workout clothes going for a jog. He wants to have a good time but doesn't want to get out of shape for his next marathon.

Chaotic Serenity is looking sexy in her new bikini. She's lolling about in the pool, chatting amiably with the crowd gathered at poolside. She notices the guy looking at her cleavage but she doesn't really care.

Ginger is lying on a chaise lounge and her hubby is rubbing suntan lotion on her back. She knows the yearbook deadline is approaching, but is trying to put it out of her head.

Kathy is wearing a sarong and is entertaining a small group on the deck with some of her best dirty jokes. She's had a few drinks but doesn't want to get TOO drunk. She lights a cigarette and walks away with the crowd still laughing in her wake, heading for her personal masseuse.

Faith is sipping a tall glass of fruit juice, relaxing and enjoying the balmy breezes and warm sunlight. She's chatting on a cell phone with her daughter making sure she is ok. The guys are all flirting with her but she's playing hard-to-get.

Jennifer would get invited to sit at the captain's table. She knows he just wants to get in her pants but she likes the view of the ocean and the room. She flirts coyly with the captain, just enough to intrigue him. Erin is trying to be loyal to her boyfriend but she does enjoy looking at that handsome guy at the next table. She tries to calm her passion by thinking about lesson plans for next week.

Tara and hub would be hosting a card game at one of the tables. She's not really the jealous type, but she does punch his arm when she catches his subtle glance at particularly sexy female blogger. She's taking notes and will write a helluva post about this when she gets back.

Nameless would be there revealing her name and her face. She'd be taking in all of the nightly shows and dancing the night away. No one would notice when she slipped away for a covert tryst.

Darla would be taking everyone's picture. She'd resist at first, but I'd talk her into singing karaoke.

Stephanie and Chuck are making everyone gag...errr smile happily with all their marital bliss snuggling and cuddling.

Vickie would be inspired to write poetry by the scenic sunset.

Annabel Lee would be deciding if she should give her phone number to that cute guy who keeps buying her drinks.

Steph would be trying to catch a baseball game on the satellite TV. By the time the game comes on she'll have passed out from drinking too much Jim Beam.

I've hired Eric Clapton to perform on one of the nights. Cindra will be on the front row singing along with every song. That bra that landed on stage couldn't be hers.

I've also brought Barry Manilow along to perform just for Stacey. She passes out when he asks her to come on stage and sing along with him. Janine will be there to perform all the necessary first aid.

Jack knows he's losing sales by being on this cruise. He consoles himself by flirting shamelessly with all the sexy blogger babes.

Joe Cool insists that the band play Garth Brooks' "The Dance". There are no shortage of dance partners for him.

Kristine and her damn digital camera would catch everyone in their most embarassing and compromising moments. We'd try and get revenge but she and Rodney seemed to have locked their cabin door.

Vegas Baby and Love Donnaz would take over the jukebox. Sounds of Jimmy Buffett can be heard in the furthest cabins.

I'd want to borrow the book Anne was reading. She'd resist at first, but my charm would eventually win out.

New Wave Gurly would be listening to Buddy Guy on her IPOD. She'd be singing loud enough for all around to hear. She doesn't sound bad either.

Inky would be fending off the guys...but not too aggresively. After all, its been awhile.

Mary Lou and Phyllis would be cracking everyone up with their stories.

Caren would want to talk about politics, but I'd get her drunk and ask her to dance. No knitting needles for you in this condition girl!

T Marie won't believe me when I tell her that she was dancing on the tables the night before. But I've got the pics to prove it!

Shelli will be making liberal use of my crack team of personal masseuses.

Vince and the Park Ranger are dancing the night away.

AKA Monty whispers something in my ear that makes me spew my drink out laughing.

I'd keep telling Didamo and Lisa , "you aren't in Utah now baby"!

Jazzy is enjoying a stroll in the moonlight.

Diana would be wondering how all this could fit in her new book. I'd notice her looking at me over her sunglasses and would wonder what she was thinking.

Some Girl and her hubby are sampling the vintage wines and enjoying watching the rest of us make fools of ourselves.

Gladys will be wondering if her antics on this cruise are going to get her in trouble. They won't.

Veda will be elbowing the DJ out of the way. Her taste in music is much better.

Scorpy will be thinking, "my list of bloggers that I've partied with is going to be huge now". I'd think about flirting with her, but one look at Ray makes me think the wiser of it.

Dawn and Roy will be enjoying the gourmet cuisine and the fine liquor.

Kim will be showing us Americans that Canadians really know how to party too.

Thomai will be giving yoga classes and looking great doing it.

I'd be hanging out with Ellen and Curtis and she and I would be swapping school stories.

I'll hear Cedia saying, "its only 3 a.m. Whats wrong with all you party poopers"?

Joan will volunteer for the hypnotist and SWEAR she didn't do all those things.

Janet will be the first one off the boat at the exotic ports-of-call. You'll find her at the beachside bar.

The Yankees aboard will enjoy hearing Brenda say, "y'all".

Sallie would be burning through storage disks with her digital camera. She has enough to spend the next year playing with the images in PhotoShop.

Flirt would be collecting donations for someone in need and she'd be doing it with style.

Rachel is looking spiffy and elegant in her new evening dress. I ask her to save me a dance but can't seem to get through the coterie of guys lined up for her.

Wanda would be cleaning house on the slot machines.

Cetta would be watching "The Godfather" on the huge screen TV and reciting all the lines.

Blogbudsman would be wishing he could've brought his Harley along.

Sweety would be charming and enchanting and would be practicing her ever-improving English. She'd get inebriated and have to do a little drunken blogging.

If I left you out please forgive my oversight and fill in the blanks for me!

Now about buying those lottery tickets......

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Weekend Roundup 3-11/3-12 

*Yawn* I woke up unexpectedly at 4:30 a.m. this Saturday morning and decided to finish up the roundup post. Start clicking. You won't regret it.


Darla hates Martha Stewart. Red Headed Gal hates organized religion.

Cindra has a funny kid story. Joe's story may not be funny, but it is accompanied by a quiz at the end.

Ellen is going whale watching. Caren is going to Germany.

Blogbudsman reminds us how life in the 90's was. What? No cell phone? Undergraduate shares one day of her life in 2005.

T Marie demonstrates that "voracious sexual appetite" and "turning forty" can be used in the same sentence. Anne demonstrates that growing up in the same house doesn't mean that you remember things the same way....maybe it just means you're in denial.

Inky reviews the latest episode of Survivor. For the record, she doesn't like the girl with armpit hair. Molly reviews ten things that she has done that you haven't.

Chaotic Serenity is a little bit under the weather. It was the weather that made Janine slip and fall.

Veda has been doing some historical research. Mary Lou was researching the beach.

Janet isn't in good hands with Allstate. Andie just wanted a beer and fries in her hands.

Read this post by Vickie before your next argument. Once you've got that down and want to try it out...well, just run over and refer to Restless Angel as a "kid".

Creative uses for the word "fuck"? Cedia can help you out. Creative thinking about skirts? Ask Jen.

FeistyGirl waxes poetic about kissing. Vegas Baby is waxing poetic about her job.

Jack dislikes group projects. Denise dislikes people who bail on dinner after weeks of planning.

Vince answers some questions. Tara does too. Check it out!

Steph has a lead to her dream job. Sweetie was looking for a lead to her brain!

Jennifer got paid to get rid of her old cell phone. April needs to get paid after spending a ton of dough having fun last weekend.

Stephanie tells a scary story. Flax tells a story of taking her mom out.

Nicole is looking for some sexy songs. If she was looking for sexy drawings she could ask Kristine.

Charkey has built up a great wall. Gladys wishes she could build a wall between herself and the "moronic power-tripping jackwads" she works with.

Christine wanted to be noticed. Aka Monty got noticed by Russell Crowe....and his sweat was all over her.

New Wave Gurly will get it done.....when she gets around to it. Frani might get it done in Maui.

Stacey and her sister are very different people. Leslie and her father spent years apart but have a great relationship now.

Joan is grieving over the loss of her fish. Liz isn't grieving but strep throat has invaded her house.

Want to see a picture of last year's blogger reunion? Edge has it for you. I wouldn't mind seeing pictures from this "Chocolate Fantasy" shindig that Nameless is attending.

Kathy has been thinking about romance. Katriana has been thinking that she needs to simplify her life.

Rachel considers getting an annulment. Shelli considers why her daughter punched a boy.

Faith worries about her daughter's lack of a father figure. Diana worries that she is a gourmand.

Annabel had a hot first date. Jazzy has a date with her husband.

Kim talks to God and doesn't ask for much. Erin had to talk to the judge and pay a fine.

Ginger shares some pics from her recent production. John shares why he blogs.

Love Donnaz reminds us about WD-40's uses. Snowball got reminded about her jury duty in a rather humorous way.

Scorpy has a whine-fest. Veronica isn't whining....she is happy that her silks were soiled.

Have a magnificent weekend. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. If you do, tell me all about it!

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Unpacking 

I arrived home this evening, changed clothes, grabbed a bite to eat, and settled in for the evening. As I survey my little house something nags at me. Its the boxes. Always the boxes.

I've never fully unpacked since moving in here last August. At first I had a good excuse. I would be moving in a couple of months to a different house. When that plan fell through I just found other reasons not to do it. I don't have time. There isn't room in the shelves and cabinets for all this stuff. I might be moving anyway.

In my dining room there are three boxes. They contain various dishes, pots and pans, clothing, and other assorted items. In the corner of my kitchen there are two large boxes of kitchen stuff. Three more boxes adorn the floor of my closet. They contain pictures, cards, office supplies, and various mementoes. A box of CD's sits on my dresser. Another one lies on the side of my bed. There is one in Patrick's closet and two in Aubree's.

My mother always tells me that I'm going through the stages of loss. One of those stages is denial. Its not just a river in Egypt. Am I just ignoring the reality of what happened? Am I subconsciously trying to tell myself that this is just a temporary situation? There might be some truth to it. There are a lot of things in those boxes that are painful to look at. Hundreds of pictures, dozens of cards and notes, souvenirs from trips. I don't look in the boxes often but I know those things are in there. I can feel their presence when I lie in bed at night. I look at those boxes in my closet every morning when I'm buttoning up my shirt. Sometimes I find myself needing something that I know is there but I just can't bring myself to open the box and look through it. I know I'll come across that picture or note, that item bought on a vacation, that Christmas card. Is it worth the risk to find that elusive Eric Clapton CD?

Some day I will unpack. It won't be just boxes.

Maybe I'll just need that spatula.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Wild Wednesday 

I dealt with three young men this morning who were in possession of "HighTimes" magazine. The magazine was a like a hot potato, "I was holding it but HE gave it to me"! They fumbled all over themselves trying to pass the buck. Too funny.

A female student tells several others that she is going to pull another girl's hair after school. They follow her out to see the great event. She walks up from behind, yanks the girl's hair, pulls her backward to the ground, cusses her, and then takes off. Her reason? "People keep telling me that she is sayin stuff". Her mom to me...."there are two sides to the story you know". Me to mom..."Yes there are, and I've been listening to both of them for the last 40 minutes".

The song I couldn't get out of my head today? "Dream On" by Aerosmith.

Every time I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It goes by, like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay
Yeah, I know nobody knows where it comes and where it goes

I know it's everybody's sin
You got to lose to know how to win
Half my life is in books' written pages

Lived and learned from fools and from sages
You know it's true All the things come back to you

I know there are other dreamers out there. Wanna see a killer video of Steven Tyler performing this song? Click here and scroll down to the "Dream On Performance Taped At Berklee School of Music Commencement"

I must say that a confluence of people and events have me in a most chipper mood this midweek. Hey world? Bring it on baby. I can handle it! A job interview? I'll kick ass. Sex? Oh yes. Money problems? I can handle it.

Of course its easy for me to be brave until the dreaded weekend. Did you hear that? Dreaded weekend. I do fun stuff on the weekends. I enjoy the kids on the weekends. But when I feel sad and depressed, its almost ALWAYS on the weekend. Pardon my French, but that sucks ass. During the week I feel vigorous, in charge, on top of things, in control. On weekends I slip into a foggy funk. Argh. Some day soon I want to be able to look forward to the weekends like everyone else does.

I don't drink wine all that often. But tonight a glass of wine sounds heavenly.

Aubree informed me that the winner of the "Safety Poster Contest" at her school receives $100 ($75 for 2nd place and $25 for third). She stood while I was washing dishes and said, "Dad, I'd love to win the $100. I'd give $50 to you because you do so much for Patrick and I. You haven't gone to the bookstore in a long time." *Gulp* *Wipe tears* *Hug daughter*


New doors and opportunities are on the horizon. Am I ready to embrace them?

My pictures are down on the blog because I decided not to renew with the company that has been hosting my website service for the last few years. A very good friend has offered web space to me, so hopefully I can get pics back up again. Thanks Kathy!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Temper, Temper 

One of the things that comes with my job is dealing with angry people. Few things can get people upset like issues regarding their children. I understand this and empathize with it. However, one of my duties is to tell people things about their kids that they don't want to hear. This can make them angry and I often get the full brunt of that anger. Sometimes it is directed at me and other times it is just frustration with the entire situation.

Today I suspended a student for being disrespectful to two of his teachers. He had a referral for disrespect on Friday, another one on Monday, and one again today. He's been suspended for it several times before. He is perhaps the angriest, most disrespectful kid I've been around in awhile. He's incapable of admitting that he's ever done anything wrong. He argues with his teachers constantly, berates them and other students, uses hand gestures to signal his disinterest in what he's being told, uses profanity liberally, and generally just refuses to do classwork or behave as directed. One day last week I took him with me for two hours of lunch duty and kept him in my office all afternoon just to give his poor teachers a respite. I can handle him fine, but I don't have to do it in a classroom of kids....a captive audience. I counsel and cajole him daily. I know his home phone number and his mom's cell phone by heart. I've talked to her dozens of times. I've urged her to seek more professional assistance for him.

Today, I'd ran out of tricks in my bag and was compelled to hold him accountable for his actions. I'd warned him just yesterday. He wasn't really upset...he knew it was coming. I played phone tag with his mom and she finally reached me while I was supervising 15 kids in after school detention. She launched into a profanity laced tirade, alternating between screaming at him and at me. She finally screamed, "why don't you just kick him out of your fucking school? Thats what you fucking want to do, don't you"? I told her, "ma'am, I'm doing everything I can to keep your son in school. The problem is that HE isn't doing his part". She screamed at me again, "you just always believe those fucking teachers don't you. Those goddamned teachers are just as disrespectful as he is..probably more!"? She hung up, called back a few more times, and is appealing his suspension. Go for it lady.

Lovely lesson for the boy eh?

This wasn't quite as good as the guy who compared me to Hitler (he even did the salute when he left my office...poorly I might add). It doesn't come close to the guy who knocked all the papers on my desk onto the floor. At least she didn't call me a "fucking asshole" like one very sweet lady did.

If you work in any capacity dealing with the public you will come across angry, unreasonable people. You just will. I've worked as a busboy, a convenience store clerk, a golf course maintenance man, and a pizza delivery guy. In each of those jobs I saw people lose their cool...many times over very silly situations.

One of the great strides I've made over the years is to not take things personally in my professional life. I used to take EVERYTHING to heart and would ponder it all for days. Now I understand that some people are frustrated, can't control their anger, and sometimes just don't know how to deal with difficult situations. Go ahead, call me an asshole. I can take it!

The good news is that for every profanity laced tirade, I have ten productive conversations with parents who care about their kids, want them to behave and learn, and seek solutions in their child's best interest.

A good night of rest and I'll go back for more!

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Am I The Only One? 

Some random thoughts tonight....am I the only one who:

Well? Am I?

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Command Performance 

Aubree gave a wonderful performance in her church choir's version of "Nic at Night" (based on the story of Nicodemus). She had a solo part in the show's final song and her tiny voice filled the church sanctuary. Forgive me for sounding like a proud father, but the girl can sing. She looked and sounded like a little angel up there.

To see this performance I had to make one of my rare church appearances. Same sanctuary I sat in when I was her age. A lot of the same people. A lot of those people's kids. Quite a few of their grandchildren. A classmate or two. A former basketball teammate. All of them looked older. Then again, so do I. My mom dutifully pointed out who everyone was and peppered the conversation with the latest news on which were getting married, divorced, or lost their job.

I felt strangely removed from all that. I focused on my daughter and her friends on the stage as they performed with such vigor and enthusiasm. Who is this girl growing up before my very eyes? She's been through so much but she looks so happy. I fought back the tears as I sat next to Patrick who was very quiet throughout the evening. He sat with his arm around me for most of the show.

Its been an oddly emotional weekend. I can't quite explain it. I posted recently about just feeling more emotional about everything. That was front and center this weekend. I spent a lot of time with the kids doing fun things and time by myself at night. Is this the emotional beginning of something new or just another act in my own inner personal drama? Whatever it is.....it feels good. It feels bad. It feels sad. It feels inspiring. It just feels.

The kids and I were driving down the road and Aubree put in the Ray Charles CD. She hated it at first (old people's music!) but now often wants me to play it (She loves "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" and "You Don't Know Me"). It came to my favorite song..."Somewhere Over the Rainbow"....and all three of us were singing it loudly. She leaned over, touched my arm and said, "Daddy, you're crying. Why"? I didn't even realize that I was.

It may be confusing, but I know what I felt a couple of hours ago.....

Pride. Joy. Awe.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Weekend Roundup 3/4-3/5 

What are some of the blogosphere's best writers up to? Click and find out!

Cedia has a question for women to answer....a hypothetical one. Have any questions about the mathematical abilities of women? Ask Annabel.

Joe had a row with his ex. Naomi is ready for a row with just about anyone. Its that time of the month.

Some Girl discusses someone's crush on her husband. Gladys discusses her views on the Academy Awards.

Inky feels like Violet. Fly Girl feels "spacey". Too much Nyquil can do that.

Shelli didn't get her bid in quickly enough. Who can pass up an auctioned pancake? Darla might've bid too, but she hates money.

Jazzy craves stability. Vickie reminds us that ambiguity is not always a bad thing.

Sally remembers "Big Mama". Ellen remembers fun times with Sharon.

Faith wishes she could stop coughing. Scorpy wishes she hadn't bent a nail.

Wanda shares "The Boob Poem". Restless Angel has some things she wants to share with her customers.

Vegas Baby doesn't hate spring anymore. Janine hates all the bad things that seem to be going on right now.

Joan enjoys her traditional "Attitude Adjustment Hour". Stephanie's attitude was excellent after receiving her Valentine's Day gift and making a profit in the process.

Feisty Girl is back to her pop-tart lifestyle. Kat's life is going through some changes.

Chaotic Serenity has fond memories of her grandmother.

Ginger has some rules for bloggers. Anne wonders what would happen if her blog were discovered by her family.

Leslie had a guest for dinner. Caren could come over for dinner in her new shoes.

New Wave Gurly can tell you where she's been...and hasn't been. Fran knows where she is going this weekend.

Darla hates money. Aubree hated cutting her fingers.

Jack relates how finger length can tell the tale. Jen relates some previously unknown things about herself.

Kim had a sperm pancake. Christine had feverish dreams.

Erin is discovering the joys of 8th graders. It sounds like Cindra had a fun activity for her 8th graders.

Dawn has a blogiversary. Stop by and wish her well! T Marie has a problem with her car.

Rachel lost her cat, Ariel. Charkey lost her internet connection for awhile.

Vince writes about food and her body. Janet writes about living with her parents.

Edge is feeling all grandfatherly. Sallie was probably feeling cold. Brrrr!

Zandria is moving back to California. Mary Lou isn't moving, but she is doing some travelling.

Veda writes about a musician friend. Dwayne writes about people who insist on using cell phones in church!

Steph's daughter sums things up rather nicely. Aka Monty has a few things she'd like to say to moronic drivers.

Tara is feeling under the weather. Diana is feeling frustrated while she searches for paperwork.

Chuck says bloggers are exhibitionists. You can't strut your stuff if you can't get online. Right, Cetta?

Nameless does some self analysis. John does an analysis of the 70's.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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