Friday, April 29, 2005
The weekend is here! The best posts from some of the best bloggers await you below. Enjoy!
Enjoy your weekend and DO try to stay out of trouble. Ok, you don't have to unless you really want to!
Thursday, April 28, 2005
To me the kiss is perhaps the most intimate, erotic, and personal act of all. There are few things that can stoke my fire like a long, sensual kiss. You know that feeling you have the next morning after you kissed a lot? Your lips feel worn and slightly tingly? I love that feeling. I like kissing before, during, and after sex. I like kissing when no sex is involved. I like playful kissing with laughter mixed in. I like the soft brush of the lips when there is time for nothing more. I just like kissing.
One of the most exciting things about meeting someone new or starting a new relationship is that first kiss. It can be just as exciting when you are in a relationship with someone you are still strongly attracted to. Before you have the kiss there is that moment right before. You know the one I'm talking about. Your eyes meet and lock. The slight lean of the head. You both know at that exact moment what is coming. I love that moment. Its all a blur for a fraction of a second. Then you are kissing. The taste, the sensation, the friction....you are in the moment.
A good kiss starts off soft and sensual. Your lips brush and then lock. You feel her mouth open slightly. Yours opens as well. The tips of your tongues dance and play with each other. You are not in a hurry.....you are savoring the moment. You pull even closer as the kiss intensifies. You don't think its possible to get any closer, but you do. A full French kiss is incredibly exciting. The sensuality becomes frantic. You simply cannot kiss deeply enough. You are as one and time seems to stand still.
I've kissed enough women to know the difference between a good and bad kiss. The worst kiss is perhaps the one that isn't returned. She allows you to kiss her but she doesn't kiss back. She stands there open mouthed and lets you do as you will. Maybe she kisses back but with so little intensity that you are left wanting so much more.
The best kiss? You are in synch together. You know without words what to do next. The fire burns in both at the same level and rises together. It is those kinds of kisses that you never want to end. You don't want to let go. Not for a second. You could hold that moment all day and night. Its to be savored for every possible second.
Thats what I'm talkin about.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Aubree's science fair project is due tomorrow. We've spent around 12 hours working on her model of the solar system. Picture a big box. The inside is spray painted black. A hole is cut in the front of the box and a flashlight is mounted. The flashlight is the sun. Modeling clay was used to make each of the planets (Saturn was a challenge) and they hang suspended from the top of the box by fishing line. Facts about the planets festoon the outside of the box. Hat tip to my friend "T" for design suggestions!
Speaking of Aubree, this is her latest school picture:
My oh my. She is growing up quickly!
My brother Kerry announced his wedding day.....the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend . Congrats to him and his lovely wife-to-be. He is 38 years old and this is his first marriage.
Patrick received a fishing pole and a tackle box full of fishing gear for his birthday. He's ready to go fishing this summer! Of course, Aubree informed me, "Dad, if you think I'm standing anywhere near Patrick with a fishing pole in his hand...you're crazy!"
He also has a Darth Vader voice changing mask. Do you know how many times I've heard the Darth voice saying, "you don't know the power of the dark side"?
Patrick got to drive my brothers 4-wheeler, with me on the back of course. Just two words describe the experience: rapid acceleration.
In case you didn't know, lawn mower motors are very hot. I have three badly blistered fingers to prove it. Ouch.
Thanks to all for the comments on the previous post. I seriously think I have blogland's best commenters. You all rock!
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I moved out of our house last August...the house we planned to stay in for a long time. This was the place where we were going to set down roots. Those roots turned out to be pretty shallow. One year ago I wasn't even possibly envisioning that things would be like this.
In one sense its just a legal formality. Documents, paperwork, the seal of the court. The government now knows what the rest of us have known for months. Its all legal-like, all black and white. Words on paper. I'll get a copy of it in the mail. It'll be signed by a judge and have a nice official looking court stamp on it.
Those documents don't begin to tell the story. My life was not about division of property, legal names, and who gets to keep the damn house. This was a fairy tale that turned into a nightmare. It was a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experience for all concerned. My dream is dead. On Friday it just gets a proper burial.
Had you asked me about my marriage even a year ago I probably would've gotten all smarmy and syrupy on you. We had a great marriage....we told each other so all the time. We had the marriage that other people should be jealous of....just ask us. All the right things were said all the time. We were settled in for the long haul. Yes, there were some cracks in our perfect marriage armor....I wasn't so naive as to not see them. But we loved each other and we would work through those minor little difficulties. Oh yes, we would. I was so fucking naive. (pardon my language)
Lee and I used to play a little word game that dated back to our long-distance relationship days. We would often say, "could you have imagined ____ years ago that.........". "Could you have imagined two years ago that we'd be married?" "Could you have imagined three years ago that we'd be living in Washington?" We'd always chuckle and have a good laugh at how fate had brought us together. Now the game has a new twist. "Could you have imagined two years or even one year ago that we'd be divorced and living thousands of miles apart?"
I've spent much time analyzing how it could've gone so wrong so fast. I wish I could present a nice easy answer and tie it all up together. A friend told me recently that, "closure is a myth." She may be right, at least in this case. Those answers just aren't going to be there. Am I better than I was last August? Much. Am I still sad? Yes. Do I miss her and our life? Of course. Do I still love her? Yes. Do I wish I had been a better husband? God, yes. Am I moving on with my life? Yes, but sometimes it feels glacial. Am I a better person than the guy who drove away from our home last August? I think so, but I have much to learn and improve on. Do I want to love someone that way again? Without a doubt. Am I in hurry to do that? No, I'm scared shitless.
I'm 43 years old and now a twice-divorced man. This is not how I envisioned life and love as a young boy. You fell in love, you got married, and lived happily ever after. Well, I've done the first two. Life is not that fairy tale. You can fall in love, you can make promises and vows, and then the hard part begins. Relationships are hard work, and I think I spent too much time shining the exterior to a fine glean and not nearly enough time under the hood making sure the engine was running smoothly.
This is no time to cast blame. She certainly has her faults and weaknesses and I must forgive the cruelty with how all of this came down. But I too must bear my responsibility for what happened. I wish I was the man that people sometimes think I am. The two of us failed at our most awesome responsibility and many have suffered because of it. Maybe it couldn't be helped. Perhaps what seemed like minor incompatibilities really weren't so minor. Maybe all the "what ifs" that run through my mind wouldn't have made a difference. Maybe. Forever maybe.
I know that you can't see the road ahead if all you do is look in the rear-view mirror. I'll take those papers and file them away. I'll do the things I must to build a future for myself and my children. I'll do what must be done.....I've always done what must be done.
By most life expectancy charts I have a little over 30 years left to make my way in this world. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. I know its up to me to spend those years in a way that is positive. I can spend the rest of my life hiding in my little house and feeling sorry for myself or I can strike out anew. I can continue living what Thoreau called "a life of quiet desperation" or I can find that elusive peace within myself that has eluded me all these years. I'm not just doing it for myself. My wonderful children haven't deserved this and I owe it to them to make the second half of their childhoods as good as possible. Kids always pay for the sins of their parents and mine are paying my tab right now.
D-Day is coming fast. I can feel it. This marks an end and a beginning. The end of my beloved marriage. The beginning of a new life. A life that I may not have wanted but is out there just waiting for me. Opportunities to be the man I can be, opportunities to love again, opportunities to grow....they are all just waiting for me. Will I have the courage, the initiative, and the drive to seize them?
I was playing a random selection of songs on my jukebox while writing this post. A favorite of mine by the Eagles leapt out of my speakers and it seems to be appropriate. I can remember seeing them perform "New York Minute" in the days after 9/11.
He had a home
The love of a girl
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfold
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
If I've learned anything, I've learned that truth. Everything can change. In a New York minute.
If you find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
If I am lucky enough to find someone to love me again, I will hang on tooth and nail. If that damn wolf comes to my door again, I'm not going down without a fight. That bastard has got me for the last time if I have anything to say about it. I will do a much better job of nurturing a relationship in the ways that count. I'll be a better lover/boyfriend/husband. I'll take the bitter lessons I've learned so harshly and use them in a positive way. Maybe then, D-Day won't have been such a horrible waste.
So how does a person spend a day like that? Quiet reflective night at home facing it head on? A wild night on the town? Find a project to keep busy so you don't think about it? I don't know...I guess I'll play it by ear. In case you don't know, that is Brian-speak for putting off decisions.
There are many people I'd like to thank for easing my transition to this new life. If the measure of a man is the quality of his friends and family, I am blessed indeed. I want to thank my fantastic parents who were there for me in a way I never expected they would have to be. I'd like to thank my brothers who have been wonderful to me and my children....I am so proud of the men they've become. I'd like to thank Marlane who offered me love and support in the darkest of hours. I'd like to thank Jen who offered me friendship, good times, and more after I arrived here. I want to thank Steph who was always there with supportive words,a quick wit, a set of football tickets, and even a shipment of delicious cookies. My friend "T" has offered me friendship, companionship, a sympathetic ear, and hours of frank talk, and I thank her for all of it. I can't thank Kathy enough for her friendship, her love, her wise words of advice, and her honesty. I have endless gratitude to my universe of blogfriends, too many to list here. So many of you have been there through comments, emails, chats, cards, and phone calls. I won't embarass you, but you know you are. Even though we have never met, you are very special to me. I just hope some day I can possibly repay this avalanche of love and support that I've received.
I quoted someone as saying, "closure is a myth" above. D-Day is about as much closure as I'm going to get. I guess that is something. Its what I have to work with. On Saturday my life begins anew. Patrick Henry was quoted as once saying, "if this be treason, make the most of it". I'd like to paraphrase Mr. Henry. If this be my life, make the most of it. Please raise your glasses and toast with me......here's to making the most of it. *Clink*. Cheers.
Monday, April 25, 2005
The lawn had not yet been mowed this year and it was difficult going. The tall grass and weeds made the riding mower work a lot harder than it is used to. But all the work got completed...the yard, barnyard, and corral mowed. The house got power-washed. The inside got cleaned and dusted. The kids ran around playing games.
I always like going to "the farm". It was beautiful with the green of springtime and the sky was clear blue. Its different out there. I feel rooted and connected whenever I am there. I spent thousands of hours as a child playing in those pastures and in those barns. I climbed on the tractors, played games in the hayloft with my brothers, and fished in the nearby ponds. My grandfather and his brother once owned all the land on both sides of the road of this section for as far as you could see. The road is known locally by my last name. My grandfather and his brother started out here almost 80 years ago. You can feel the history everywhere you turn.
My grandfather had a 7th grade education, but was a curious and learned man. He bought boxes of books and his family spent the long winters reading science fiction, literature of all kinds, math and physics, and history. Of the children that grew up on this farm, one became a university math professor, another was a college president, and a third was a world renowned geophyicist. The last one is my dad. I love the combination of real world commonsense farming and a respect for "book knowledge".
My grandfather was a striking figure as I was growing up. He was soft spoken; I don't remember ever hearing him raise his voice. He was out the door at sunrise, came in for lunch, and worked outside until dinnertime...every day. Dinner consisted of beef or chicken grown right there and vegetables from the garden. After desert he would go out one final time to check on the cows. Then he would settle in his ever-so-familiar recliner, read an ever-present book, watch the evening news and turn in for the night. The next day he would repeat it. When I spent summers there I enjoyed the rhythm of life.
I enjoyed riding in his pickup with him through the pastures. He knew every inch of his land. He knew where that missing cow would turn up. He knew when it was safe to drive his pickup through the creek and check things on the other side. He would take us down the "slate bar" and we could look for fossils in the shale. He seemed to know everything about an astonishing variety of subjects. His home was the first in the county to have electricity....the tower he built the windmill on still stands. He knew when the fish were biting and what to use to catch them. He knew when the pecan trees needed extra attention. He was the master of his domain.
Saturday was shopping day. We would go into a nearby town, my grandmother would be dropped at the grocery store, and he would head down the local feed store. It was at the feed store where the locals interacted. He would order a few things, peel some bills from the huge wad of cash he always carried, and chat with the other men about politics, the weather, and cattle prices.
His presence is unmistakable at the farm even though he passed away when I was a young man. The barns and sheds he built are still there as are the tractors I remember him driving. Old car frames, trailer parts and various other mechanical contraptions sit out in the pasture....you never knew when he was going to need them.
I grew up as a suburban kid and going to "the farm" was such a grand adventure. It still is.
(The bad ending to this story is that all the mowing must've stirred up a lot of pollen. My throat and eyes burned while I was there. I woke up early this morning and my eyes were swollen shut and I was totally congested. I ended up calling in sick to work today. My childhood allergies come roaring back to bite me once again. It has been eight years since I've experienced spring pollen in Oklahoma. I can't say that I've missed it!)
Saturday, April 23, 2005
If its Friday evening, so it must be time to work on this edition of the weekend roundup. Please get comfortable and enjoy with me the best from the best.
There ya go. That should do you for awhile. Enjoy these posts and leave one or two of them a nice comment…ok? Have a fantastic weekend my friends!
Thursday, April 21, 2005
I picked "T" up at her house last night and went to an authentic Mexican restaraunt nearby. We shared a platter of fajitas and sipped on delicious margaritas. This was a perfect way to start the evening! We drove to downtown Tulsa and headed to the Brady Theater, the concert venue. The "Old Lady on Brady" is a historical landmark in Tulsa, seats about 2800 people, and provides for an intimate concert experience. There really isn't a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are very nice.
J.T. didn't disappoint at all. Some singers have voices that fade with age, but his was strong and it was difficult to tell the difference between him and the James Taylor I listened to in the 1970's. He mixed a few songs from his "October Road" album, a handful of folk songs, and most of his classic hits. I loved the live version of the bluesy "Steamroller", rocked to "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), and sang along with every line of "Shower The People". Even though I've heard it a million times, "Fire and Rain" moved me the most. A single tear trickled down my cheek and it felt like the song washed over me.
"Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground
Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you, baby, one more time again, now"
Fire and rain indeed.
I've received a few honors and awards in my career, but tonight may have been the most meaningful. A year ago I had no idea I'd even be here. I was hired in the summer and began working in a position that didn't exist before I arrived.
I'm a newcomer in my building. Many people have toiled there for years before I arrived to make my school the place that it is. There are teachers, counselors, and administrators that work their hearts out each day trying to make our little corner of the world a great place for kids to learn and grow. I feel a little guilty to be receiving an honor that could go to so many. I just came in and tried to pitch in and do my part.
That I was nominated and chosen by the teachers makes this recognition so rewarding. These are my colleagues that I try to support through my work in the office. To be so honored in a building with such outstanding educators....well, I don't know what to say.
Aubree was my "date"and she spent time doing her hair, picking out a pretty flowery dress, and dabbed some "glitter" on her face. She looked like a little woman. She spent part of the evening sitting with the wife of one of the other honorees and the rest of the time on my lap. She had the camera and was taking great delight in taking pictures of everything that went on.
My principal gave me a flattering introduction by saying that I was, "a talented and gifted administrator, a genuinely nice guy, and quite the man about town." I told her afterward that I loved that last part! I could feel my face burning as the superintendent of schools placed the medal around my neck. As he was draping it over my head he laughed and said, "well, at least I don't have to worry about messing up your hair!". After all the handshakes I started to walk off the stage and the school board president said, "this little girl is trying to take your picture". So I stopped and posed for Aubree and let her snap one off. Aubree met me at the bottom of the stairs, hugged me, and said, "congratulations daddy, I'm proud of you." Gulp. That means more to me than any award.
Afterward, I mingled at the reception and shook a lot of hands and gave a lot of hugs. Quite a few of the teachers came out to support me and the other award winners. Aubree sipped punch and mingled right along with me.
Two nights Two events. I feel wonderful.
I've seen a lot of rain. Its nice to have some fire too.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tonight I am going with my friend "T" to see James Taylor in concert. I've never seen him live, but I've enjoyed his music over the years. It should be fun!
Tomorrow night Aubree is going as my date to the Spring Awards ceremony where I will receive the "faculty member of the year" award for my school. She is way excited to be going with me.
Patrick's 13th birthday is this Saturday. Thats right, I am now officially the parent of a teenager. Geez.
Me to Patrick a couple of nights ago, "Patrick, how could anyone want to live in this room of yours? Its a disaster area!" Patrick's reply? "Someone who doesn't mind living in chaos." Laugh or cry? Sometimes its a toss up. I laughed.
Yesterday I suspended a student for slapping another student in the face without provocation. Her reason? Some of her friends "double dog dared" her. How can you turn down a double dog dare? I said, "what would you have done if they triple dogged dared you...killed him?" She said, "you don't understand, its a thing with our club". My reply...."you've joined another club now. The suspended club". She didn't seem to like that membership nearly as well.
Two days in a row I've had male students pull or let their pants fall all the way to their ankles and then strut their stuff in front of a couple hundred other students. This answer the burning research question. Today's boys prefer boxers.
A girl that I suspended last week told me that her mother said about me, "I'd like to just rub his bald head really slowly until it shines." Thats the best offer I've had in weeks!
Aubree and I have to work on her science fair project this weekend. Now we just have to figure out what the project is. I love how she tells me, "you need to figure out what my project is going to be dad."
Another Aubreeism...after playing Neopets on the computer for almost two hours she headed to bed and told me, "you need to go feed Wendy(her dog) dad." I said, "um, you've been playing with your virtual online pet for two hours and haven't fed your real pet?"She got upset and stormed out of the room. Aaah, kids.
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Today marked the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I suspect many of us remember where we were on that day like Monica or Monty do. Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the Columbine school massacre. That day isn't difficult to remember either.
On April 19, 1995 I went to work like any normal day. I was still married to my first wife and was vice principal of the local middle school. Oklahoma City is about 90 miles away. I was sitting in my office talking on the phone when my secretary interrupted. She said, "Mr. S, there is something happening in Oklahoma City. You need to come see this". We had a small television in the storage room in our office, and I crowded in there with her and several others. I was stunned to see images of this building in Oklahoma City with the front shorn off of it. Having spent some time in that area, of course I recognized the building. The federal building?
Someone in the office remarked that one of our teachers had a brother that worked in that building. I sat out to find her and could not locate her in her classroom. Her car was in the parking lot, but she was nowhere to be found. After searching, I found her working on a computer in another teacher's classroom. There was no internet in the classroom in those days....no one in our building yet knew what was happening. I pulled her out, took her to my office, and tried to keep the quiver out of my voice as I informed her what was happening. She burst into tears and asked to use my phone. After a frantic hour or so she was able to talk to her parents and discover that her brother was out of town that day.
The day wore on and all of us were watching TV and trying to keep our teachers informed and the students calm. Facts were very few that day....just scenes of carnage and stories of bravery and heroism. I remember thinking, "what kind of person would do something like this"? This is quiet, dusty, little Oklahoma. The scene of a terrorist bombing? The center of the world's attention?
Firefighters and police officers from my hometown raced down the turnpike to help. My school raised money for the victims. As in so many tragedies, people pulled together. I was proud of my state, my people, and my country in the days following. Why does it take a tragedy of this magnitude for that to happen? I was angry at Timothy McVeigh. By what right did he destroy so many families, so many hopes and dreams? To make some political point? It still makes me angry today.
Six years ago I had moved to Louisiana, and for the only time in my adult life I was not working in the education field. I was a supervisor for a national non-profit organization (Volunteers of America) and worked out of the New Orleans office. Once again, a secretary rushed in and told me that something had happened at a school in Colorado. The building was surrounded by police and there had been shooting inside. As details emerged I was horrified. A couple of high school kids did this? Murdered their classmates in cold blood? I knew of previous school shootings but the sheer magnitude of this one left me stunned.
I found myself wishing I was still working in education. Schools across the country were on alert. I felt like an outsider and I wanted to be back on the inside....thinking somehow I should be there to help. I applied for a teaching job the next month and would be back in the education fold that fall.
Columbine changed schools in this country and beyond forever. You can still feel it today. Metal detectors were a hot item. Security guards were hired. School discipline policies were radically changed. "Zero tolerance" policies swept across the country. Students became something to fear in a way they had never been before. No one in my field wants to be the one that misses the next school killer. The relationship between kids and their community schools became different. I regret that. The positive thing that came out of it was an increased awareness in paying closer attention to troubled kids.
This time of year always fills me with sadness. Oklahoma City marked an end of national innocence...it could happen here, it did, and it would again. We weren't immune to the violence we'd seen and heard of in other places. Columbine changed our schools forever.
Where were you?
Monday, April 18, 2005
- John Grisham ("A Painted House" and "A Time To Kill" are my faves)
- Clive Cussler (I'm a Dirk Pitt wannabe)
- Nelson B. DeMille (love "The General's Daughter and "Plum Island")
- Vince Flynn
- Patricia Cornwell (why is it that Kay Scarpetta turns me on?)
- Shelby Foote (the most readable Civil War books ever written)
- Studs Terkel (amazing the imagery he paints by just talking to people)
- Stephen Ambrose (among the best at writing narrative history)
- David McCullough
- Bruce Catton (can you tell I like reading about the Civil War?)
- Larry Bird (unstoppable in his prime)
- Michael Jordan (it may be twenty years before we see another one like him)
- Pete Rose (as a player, not a gambling manager)
- Brett Favre (one of the gutsiest players I've ever seen)
- Emmitt Smith (another gutsy player, old school guy)
- Sean Connery (we bald guys have to stick together!)
- Mel Gibson
- Denzel Washington (check him out in "Glory")
- Robert DuVall
- Robert DeNiro (one of the most versatile actors ever)
- Kathleen Turner (her "Body Heat" performance still sizzles)
- Halle Berry (she's hot and she can act too)
- Nicole Kidman
- Michelle Pfeiffer (I fell in love with her in "The Fabulous Baker Boys". Be still my heart)
- Jamie Lee Curtis
- Abraham Lincoln
- Benjamin Franklin (they don't make them like this anymore)
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Andrew Jackson (the first "people's president")
- Mark Twain
- Steak (its whats for dinner!)
- Beef enchiladas
- Chilli (the spicier the better)
- Pickles (kosher dills please)
- Dr. Pepper
- Iced Tea w/lemon (nothing better on a hot day)
- Rum and coke (pour me a double please)
- Mojitos (yum)
- Strawberry margaritas
- "Led Zeppelin IV" by Led Zeppelin
- "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd
- "Abbey Road" by The Beatles (some prefer "Let it Be", "Sgt. Peppers" or the "White Album", but I like this one. )
- "Hotel California" by The Eagles
- "Unplugged" by Eric Clapton (one of few who sound better "Unplugged")
- Cheers - one of the great ensemble casts ever.
- Hill Street Blues - I was riveted to it for years
- West Wing - only show I watch regularly
- The Honeymooners - "to the moon Alice.....to the moon!"
- Gunsmoke - corny, but what can I say?
- Grilling food
- Skinny Dipping (its part of my wild side)
- Four Wheeling
- Fishing (give me my favorite spinner baits again please!)
- Bacon cooking (the sound just goes with it)
- Coffee brewing (I drink coffee, but it smells even better than it tastes)
- A woman's scent (use imagination here)
- Pipe tobacco (even though I don't smoke a pipe)
- Movie popcorn
- Train whistles
- Crickets chirping
- A soft whisper
- A school marching band practicing in the morning
- Water lapping on the beach
Sunday, April 17, 2005
I can still see Paul walking into my room, grinning at me, at saying, "Hey Mr. S., you STILL think you can beat me one-on-one?", or "can I play with the digital camera when I'm done with my work today?"
Paul wasn't a classically "good student". Most of his grades were in the "C" range. But he was a curious kid....just curious as hell. He loved technology and his face would light up when he got to learn something new about computers. I taught him U.S. History and Yearbook/Journalism and he was easily one of the students I enjoyed the most. The kid couldn't stop smiling if you put a gun to his head. He was a born leader....a natural. He was the best athlete in school. He was warm and genuine. He was mischievous as he could be. The slideshow I put together for his funeral illustrated one of his stories. One day he took the lawn mower out and spelled out his name in the grass of his front lawn. Just for the hell of it.
He kept asking me to be the basketball coach the next year. Who could have imagined that neither of us would be there? I told him that my style of coaching would run everyone off...that I demanded full court pressure and running. He thought that was hilarious and told me, "thats the way I play anyway. You'll have to tell me to STOP running."
In yearbook class, Paul was the camera guy. He loved the digital camera. He learned the nuances of every setting and knew them better than I did. When someone else wanted to use the camera they had to go through Paul. He didn't want them messing up HIS camera. I can remember him saying, "be sure and use this button to turn it off when you're done. I don't want you running the batteries down."
We were facing a yearbook deadline and the track and field page was the last page to be done. No matter how we worked it, we needed at least one more picture! There was no time...we needed a picture right then. We were mailing this installment off right after school was out. Paul was a track athlete and he said, "Mr. S., I'm in track. Why don't we take a picture of me running. That should work...right?" So he and I stepped outside and took the picture below. It took several takes to get it right. We were both laughing hysterically. He said, "c'mon Mr. S, I'm getting tired of all this running!" We snapped the picture below. Thirty minutes later it was in the yearbook digital file.
A month after this picture was taken Paul would be dead. When the oncoming car slammed into his passenger side door he didn't stand a chance. He was gone....just like that.
I worked feverishly on the multimedia slideshow for the next few days. I sat at my desk all day at work surrounded by kids. They helped me sort pictures, select stories, and pick the music. We laughed, cried, and reminisced together. Paul's funeral service was done in the Shaker tradition and our little gymnasium was totally packed. The entire school district dismissed for the afternoon to attend. I sat in a chair with a computer cart in front of me and watched almost 100 pictures of Paul flash by while "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart, "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton, and "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas boomed out of the speakers. His mother, father, and sister sat a short distance away, and I watched them laugh at the silly pictures and stories and hug each other.
We were given a red ribbon to pin to our lapels when we entered the funeral service. At the gravesite we all walked by the whole in the ground and tossed our ribbon on top of the casket. A couple of his classmates tossed basketballs in. Some people tossed in $20 bills. I stood there and looked at that casket for a moment. Inside that wooden box was the body of a boy that was a big part of my life. He was in my class just a few days before. I love all of my kids but I loved Paul in a special way. He got under my skin.
Keep resting in peace my brother and never stop running.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Blogbudsman discusses snooping and privacy. Jack discusses keeping an open mind.
Caren knows what she wants for her birthday. Sallie knows she just wants to feel better.
Faith narrates a slice of her life. Sally narrates a conversation between herself and a very unhelpful legislative aide.
New Wave Gurly gives us a concert review. I’m sure Charkey will get good reviews after she sings at a wedding.
Red Headed Gal is off to Paris. Andie will soon be off on a road trip with her parents.
A church visitor made Monica a little nervous. The guy on the prowl didn’t make Vince nervous. She just ignored him.
Janine talks about her grandparents. Ellen talks about letting experts do their job.
Cindra had to break out the air freshener. “Silent but deadly” required it. At least that didn’t happen on Stacey’s night at the ballet.
Sweety just had an English exam. Tara just discovered that she owes the I.R.S.
Curtis discusses a fish fetish. Mary Lou discusses being prepared.
Joe’s little girl is growing up (scroll down to Babygirl aka Princess is growin' up). When Sleeping Mommy’s children grow older she wants to be a homeroom mom.
Stephanie saw “Little Saigon” and loved it. I’m loving Vegas Baby’s saga of her “National Lampoon Vacation”.
Restless Angel has an antisocial hamster. Lewis has a funny streak. Don’t believe me? Just listen to this.
Mystic Spirit discusses sexual triggers. Chuck discusses the phenomenon of women faking orgasms.
Ever wanted to read a Funky Cowboy post? Do it now! Wanna take a quiz…or two? Check out Candytuft.
Feisty Girl’s husband got a promotion. T. Marie will probably get one too once she learns how to swim in the deep end.
Vickie shares how to be a winner. April shares a fortune
Red discusses blog add-ons and offers to let you steal hers. Babs discusses imagination and idle time.
Fly Girl talked to an old flame. Annabel Lee talks to a lot of rabbinical students.
Steph is so ready for her girl to come home. Shirazi isn’t going home. He’s going to Mong.
Satisfied Spouse feels the need to chill. Aka Monty feels the need to ask a few questions.
Chaotic Serenity dealt with a blizzard. Scorpy is trying to deal with her mother and its not easy.
A.J. shares a hilarious story. Cyn shares a tribute to “D”.
Edge ponders a road trip. Leslie ponders a trip to a cabin by the river.
Darla wrote a note to her husband. Joan wrote a note in her diary when she met her husband…43 years ago.
Ginger talks about books. Maureen talks about wanting to take off.
Jazzy sees shades of gray. Laine saw a guy named Joe and is intrigued.
John is running in the Boston Marathon. Diana wasn’t running but she was doing yoga.
Kathy is a material girl and has her price. Kristine is a girl with a loose tooth and innovative way to get it out.
Anne remembers her father the way she wants to. I remember Dawn of course and I’m glad to see her back again!
Rachel was too sexy for her work. Shelli thinks “Pussy Galore” was sexy.
Gladys put her boyfriend on notice. Dwayne put a misbehaving junior high kid on notice.
Inky writes about sex and the prairie. Sara writes about an upcoming school board hearing.
Alithea presents her new film. Wow! C presents a shower picture of herself.
Grace plays the image game. Love Donnaz plays “share that tune”.
Mimi’s mom and her boyfriend discuss marriage. Wanda discusses changing her blog.
Your finger is worn out from clicking but you’ve enjoyed these posts. Have a great weekend my friends!
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Why invest all that time(several years) and money(over $15,000) you ask? I have enough education to get a good job right now. I can be a teacher or administrator anywhere in the state. I take professional development classes and attend conferences to keep me up to date on the latest trends. I can certainly make a living for the rest of my life without taking another class or doing another research paper.
Several things make the idea attractive. I would be in the position to become a school superintendent or some other central office job. The paycheck is considerably larger and more doors would be open to me. I would have the opportunity to have a leadership position that would affect a great many kids. Of course, there is also an ego thing. Having "Dr." appended to your name certainly lends an aura of prestige.
So why hesitate? The time and money commitment would be enormous. Most of my meager resources would go toward paying for my classes and related expenses. I'd be away from the kids more. Even when I'm home I would be spending more time on classwork.
I'm frankly scared at the idea of having to do a doctoral dissertation. Conceiving it, writing it, re-writing it a zillion times, defending it before a college faculty. Me? I'm just a guy who knows a lot of history and is pretty good with kids. Thats rarefied air for me. Could I do it? Would I just fizzle out at the end and fall short?
I'll wrestle with this decision for awhile longer. There is no great hurry. Part of me thinks that if I don't start soon I never will. I'll give it a lot of thought in the next few weeks.
Don't worry though.......I'll still let y'all call me Brian :)
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Testing, testing, and more testing. My week has been consumed with testing. Tomorrow is the makeup day for the state tests. We have around thirty kids that haven't been tested and we simply must get them in school and tested tomorrow. If we don't test "x" number of students it doesn't matter how well we score. Our margin for error is exceedingly small. If those kids don't show up in the morning we will be calling or even paying home visits to get them to school. Its the fourth quarter and the heat is on!
|Your Love Style is Eros|
For you, love is all about the passion!
And chances are, you're currently in love.
You have a strong physical response to love...
And you are great at committing
(As long as the person makes your toes curl!)
I was selected to be one of two members of our faculty honored at the district's Spring Awards ceremony. Support staff, students, and parents will also be honored at a ceremony next week. The fact that I was nominated and elected by the entire faculty is humbling and flattering. There are so many excellent educators that work at our school and I'm honored to be given this award.
Ever used a power washer? I'm stripping the paint off one of my mom's rental houses and the power washer rocks. It is going to save me many hours of stripping paint by hand.
|Your Seduction Style: Ideal Lover|
The song I couldn't stop singing today? "The Show Must Go On" by Queen. It chronicles Freddy Mercury's battle with AIDS, but I can relate a lot to the lyrics. The show indeed must go on.
Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking, but my smile still stays on.
Whatever happens, I’ll leave it all to chance
Another heartache, another failed romance
On and on, does anybody know what we are living for?
I guess I’m learning, I must be warmer now.
I’ll soon be turning, round the corner now
Outside the dawn is breaking
But inside in the dark i’m aching to be free
The show must go on
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Rewind to nine years ago. I was months out of my first marriage and was approaching the dating scene again. I was invited to a Valentine's Day dance, set up with a blind date, and double dated with a police officer friend who also had a blind date. Double blind date! I wasn't thrilled by my blind date and spent the evening thinking that I would much rather be with his date. I had known "K" for several years. We'd taken master's degree classes together at night school. She was an administrator in the same school system I worked in. In fact, she was the principal of my son's school. She was very attractive, intelligent, and had a great sense of humor. Whats not to like?
A couple of weeks later I found myself in her office on school business. We talked about the "double date", and by the time the conversation was over I had asked her out on a date. We spent a very nice evening together, laughing and talking until the wee hours of the morning. I also had a long distance dating relationship going with a woman in Louisiana (who I eventually married) and told her about this upfront. She said it wasn't a problem. We were, after all, just old friends who had decided to start dating.
The day after this first date she showed up at my house unannounced. She had bags of gifts in her hands. A stereo for me (I'd mentioned during the conversation that my wife had taken my stereo when she moved out). Sets of clothes for the kids. Toys. Games. I was flattered and grateful but also a bit uneasy. This seemed like way too much. She said, "I just was out shopping and thought I would pick up a few things for you and your kids".
Our second "date" was in the form of a trip to the state basketball championship tournament. A group of administrators from my district were going and we were all going to share a suite in a nice hotel. Shortly after our arrival she whispered to me that she had gotten a room for "just the two of us". I can't deny that I was a bit excited but also a little embarassed. These were my colleagues and direct supervisors we were staying with. But what can you do? We spent the night in the room, attended the basketball tournament the next day, and came home.
Things began to move in many directions that made me uncomfortable and seemed to escalate by the day. She arranged her school's respite program so that I would have babysitting on a weekend night so that we could go out. She called my principal and asked her to send me to out-of-town conferences that she would also be attending. She was waiting at my work each morning I pulled up with breakfast in hand. Cookie and flower boquets began landing on my desk with alarming frequency. She called me at work multiple times a day. She drove 40 miles round trip to surprise me with a take out meal from my favorite restauraunt.
I then began to notice her driving by my house at odd times. I'd look out the window and see her car pass. I lived deep in a residential neighborhood and knew that there was no plausible reason for her to be driving up and down my street. On one occasion she said, "I just happened to be driving by your house last night and saw a red Buick in the driveway". It was my grandmother's car. I didn't like the feeling that I was being watched.
One day she invited me to her school for a meeting of a committee both of us served on. When I arrived in the office her secretary winked at me. I was puzzled but not for long. When I entered her office she told me that the other committee members wouldn't be arriving because they hadn't been invited. She locked both doors and yes....your mind is going in the right direction. She wanted to do the wild thing right there in the office. I could hear kid's voices and footsteps in the hallway. I knew the secretary (whose mother was my secretary!) was in the know. It was a little too much for me and I'm no prude. Repeat it...I'm no prude! She told me about masturbating(and more explicit things) at work. Once again, I'm no prude, but this was a bit much for me. She is the only woman I've ever been with who was more "risque" than I am. That is a strange feeling. Did I mention I'm not a prude? :)
After a few dates, mentions of Las Vegas weddings and children were dropped liberally. She seemed to be everywhere. The flattery I enjoyed and the ego that was enjoying being stroked turned into increasing trepidation. I kept thinking that this lady was fun to go out with...I just needed to dial things back. It didn't work. I started pulling back. She pulled the other direction even harder. This whole little drama playing out right in my hometown.
I decided I wanted to end it but didn't know how. I haven't done many "break ups" and dreaded the thought. I don't like hurting people's feelings and I knew she would be devastated. But I reached the conclusion....this thing just wasn't going to work for me. She couldn't just "date". I gathered up the courage all day and called her one evening. In very gentle tones I told her that things weren't working out, I thought she was wonderful and all, but that I just didn't think it would be wise for us to see each other. She asked if we could be friends and occasionally go out as friends. I said yes and immediately regretted it. The next morning a mega-email was waiting for me with almost desparate pleas. She called my boss and asked her to intercede. She called my close friend. She even called my mom! So I called back and restated what I'd said the night before. God, I hated it. Doing that is just not me. It took one final phone call with me being a lot more brusque than I've ever been with a woman in my entire life to finally end it.
Word spread through my school district that I had "dumped her" and "broken her heart". My own secretary would barely talk to me. I got dirty looks for months from other secretaries and a few teachers. I couldn't explain why I'd done it, so I kept my mouth shut and took the heat. The hard part was that I really liked her and felt bad for how things turned out.
In the ensuing months my relationship with Lee became gradually more serious, and less than a year later I'd be getting married and moving out of state. Now I'm back. I know she is here....she's still employed in the system, but I haven't run into her yet. But I think about it every time I walk into the grocery store or Wal Mart.
Ok, maybe not fatal attraction, but certainly my weirdest ever relationship experience.
Monday, April 11, 2005
I wish I could claim that I've always been enlightened when it comes to gay people. When I was growing up the term wasn't even commonly used. As an Oklahoma boy I heard dark references to "homosexuals" or "homos". I didn't actually know anyone that fit that category. "Those people" existed somewhere else....like California. Depending on who you listened to, they were dark, depraved souls or poor, misguided people who went astray. I was an adult before I met anyone who was openly gay. They didn't seem dark or evil to me....they actually seemed like pretty much everyone else.
As a young man I learned to avoid any behavior that might be perceived as "homosexual" or "gay". Patting a teammate on the back in a ballgame was cool. Touching a guy in any other situation was not. Crude talk about girls in the locker room? Better join in lest someone think you were "off". Listen to the wrong kind of music? Look out. God help you if you had a voice that was a little high or had a lilt. Discussion about how disgusting homosexuals were? Think up a few extra adjectives to make sure that you weren't remotely considered "one of them". Girls may not be aware of the unwritten rules of male bathroom behavior. You stand at the urinal and you look at the tiled wall. You don't look to either side if there is another guy there. To do so could lead to school stories about how, "he was looking at my stuff in the bathroom. He's probably gay". This is true even today. I'm so thankful that many restaurants post newspapers above the urinals. A guy can read the baseball scores instead of looking for cracks in the tile.
It is not uncommon for me to see schoolgirls walking down the halls arm-in-arm or even holding hands. They hug and kiss their friends. This is verboten for the guys out there. Most young men, especially, live in fear of being tagged with "being gay". This is the way of the world even though things have improved since my younger days.
I think the biggest revelation for me was to learn that people are not defined exclusively by their sexual behavior. Many people out there engage in various "kinky" behaviors in the bedroom but their identity is not tied to their sexual acts. I would hate to be judged solely by the things I enjoy beind closed doors. I love sex with a beautiful woman and have my own quirks and preferences. Gay people are not given the same luxury. The gay men and women I've met in my life work hard in their jobs, pay taxes, contribute to their community, love their families, and are loyal friends to those they care about. All of us deserve to be judged as individuals. For what we do....for how we treat others.
We are more than who we choose to be with, who we choose to love, and who is in our bed at night. Gay or straight. Rich or poor. Black or white. We all inhabit this little speck of a planet for a very limited time. We should spend that time uplifting each other, respecting each other, and loving each other.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
In fourth grade social circles a girl getting a note from a 5th grade boy is a big deal. This is a boy whose name I've seen and heard before....the honor roll, picture in the paper with the principal, basketball, etc. Apparently he is considered quite the elementary school catch. She told me, "all my friends are soooooooo jealous! I love it that "A" is jealous. She's mean to me and she really likes this boy and he likes me instead".
You know what comes next. "Dad, can I call him please?" I hem-hawed around and she asked, "why couldn't I call him? You call your friends. Why can't I call mine?" I grumbled but relented. First she had to call a girlfriend to get her courage to make the call. Then she sat on my front porch and chatted with young "D" for about 10 minutes.
This may date me a little, but when I was growing up girls just didn't call boys...not good girls anyway. No girl ever called for me at home the entire time I was growing up, not that I had all that many girlfriends. It was understood that making contact was the boy's job. We had to make the call. If you were a shy boy like I was this was a problem. Girls were expected to be demure and wait for those phone calls. Boys and girls learned their respective roles and what was expected from them. I remember my youngest brother receiving phone calls after I was long gone from the home and my mother being outraged by it. "That girl just called here for him. Can you imagine that? Do you think her parents know that she's calling boys?" The times, they were a changin'.
Girls calling boys is widespread and common now. I work with kids and have observed this change over 20 years in teaching/administration. Girls are often the initiators of a relationship now. A high school girl once told me, "if we had to wait for the boys to call, nothing would ever happen. They are too tied up with their computers and video games."
On a personal level I'm not complaining. I've always been attracted to aggressive women and would not be offended at all if a woman called me. Hell, I'd like it. But with my daughter I could feel that upbringing flood back into my head. "You're a girl", I wanted to say. "You don't call boys....they call you". Not to mention the fact that she's only 10 years old. Ten years old! My interest in the opposite sex at that age was limited to finding out if they could play baseball well enough to join our playground games. I attended the same school she attends in 4th grade also. The boys had a "no girls" corner of the playground. The girls of course took great joy in tiptoeing past our chalked lines. We'd yell and chase, and they would giggle and run.
Its not uncommon for her to refer to a guy on TV or in the movies as "hot". Her interest in boys has been steadily and slowly growing right before my eyes. She's so tiny and still seems so young. Is it really time for all this to begin with her?
I know its part of growing up. I guess maybe I'd like to hang on to the little girl that plays with her dolls and video games just a little bit longer.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Cindra wasn’t sure what day it was. Nicole isn’t sure its necessary to shower every day.
Frani was eavesdropping in the hotel lobby. I would’ve liked to have eavesdropped on Faith’s workout session.
Angel was home alone and not sure if she liked it. Caren is pretty sure that she’ll like the next Harry Potter book.
Sally wonders why her senator is so hung up on doggy bag wine. Vince wonders if her sense of smell is TOO good.
Fly Girl has some thoughts about friendship. Chaotic Serenity has some thoughts about her computer breaking down.
Joe Cool has some ambitious projects in mind. Andie’s project? Get rid of those pesky cockroaches.
Grace is supposed to look after herself…its written in the stars. Janine got to look at some awesome sand dunes.
Sallie is learning Macromedia Flash. I wish I could learn to take pictures like Lewis does.
Restless Angel shares a memory about losing a camera while whale watching. Ginger shares some pictures of Scout.
New Wave Gurly has a set of songs that would warm things up. Sounds like a soundtrack for Laine’s latest adventure.
Chuck finishes up his 100 things list. Sleeping Mommy wishes someone would come finish her laundry.
Jack takes my latest post and expands on it. To share or not to share your past with the significant other in your life? I’m glad Liz decided to share some pics of her little one.
Satisfied Spouse thinks about being scrumptious. Gladys thinks about leaving her job.
Erin caught some 8th grade plagiarizers. Ellen wishes she could catch her cats making all those messes! Think hairballs.
Stephanie wonders if there is a ghost in her house. Vegas Baby doesn’t have to wonder how horses drink anymore.
Monica isn’t going to see Pat Green in concert and has a good reason. Blogbudsman has a reason for being skeptical of the prison escapee and the warden’s wife.
Vickie talks about being well grounded. A.J. talks about hitting herself.
Stacey discusses her father’s health. T. Marie discusses her daughter’s procrastination….and her own.
Mary Lou thinks getting older is a gift. Naomi Blue thinks underwriting is boring.
Tara’s blog has a new look. Aka Monty’s house will probably feel different after she gets rid of her stuff in a garage sale.
Babs shares a junior high school memory. Mary wishes she’d remembered her gym bag.
Wanda had some problems with a finicky Jeep. At least it didn’t get broken into like Annabel’s car did.
Phyllis is enjoying the Spring. I enjoyed this childhood pic of Inky.
Anne dreamed of “The One”. Christine dreams of having sex that she wishes she had.
Edge discovered that scars are not all bad…not at all. Shelli discovers that having a bad tooth IS bad.
Wanna know more about tampons? Ask Kim. Wanna know what was on Janet’s report cards? Read about it here.
Charkey has recorded a CD. This playlist of April’s doesn’t sound like it would be a bad CD.
Scorpy had an argument about money. You’d have an argument with the Funky Cowboy if you tried to stop him from going on his cruise!
Kathy was told she needed friends her own age. Steph is headed with a friend to Dallas.
Rachel stays within her safety net. Red Headed Gal is trying to decide whether to keep her children in church.
Wanna know what nutsacks are? Ask Snowball. Wanna know what to do about a paper cut? Ask Veda.
Shirazi discusses dealing with trolls and flamers. Love Donnaz discusses album art.
Spring has sprung. Hopefully our sleep cycles are finally adjusting. Enjoy your weekend my friends. Try not to get into TOO much trouble!