Friday, February 29, 2008

Moment of Truth 

The latest reality TV rage is “Moment of Truth”, a show in which you win money by answering questions truthfully. In the video Lauren reveals infidelity and a preference for her old flame, answering truthfully and moving closer to big money. But she answered affirmatively to the question, “are you a good person?”, an answer that the lie detector found her to be untruthful on. Now it looks as if her marriage is over and she won not a dime.

Honesty is a virtue. Everyone says they want honesty in their relationships. We want to know where we stand. We want to know our partner’s inner thoughts. We don’t want any secrets standing between us. We want to peer into their mind. We want the truth.

Or do we?

Jack Nicholson bellowed in “A Few Good Men”, “You can’t handle the truth!” Sometimes that is true. Do you really want to know if your husband sometimes pines for his old flame? Do you need to know about a one night stand he had on a business trip ten years ago? Do you have to know that she has thought about leaving you? Should you know if she sometimes fantasizes about your best friend? That he really hates your mother but just plays nice to keep the peace? That she doesn’t find you all that attractive anymore? That he would cheat if he thought he could get away with it? That she idly imagines a future without you in it? That he only stays in the marriage for the sake of the kids? That she hates her life but doesn’t see a way out? That he is depressed that his life hasn’t turned out the way he had hoped?

Maybe you would want to know. I’ve always thought I would prefer to know the ugly truth as opposed to a pretty lie. But do we need to know everything? Do we even need to ask everything? We are funny creatures, you and I. Even the best of us has things we would just as soon that others not know and that includes our mate. We get angry, sad, wistful, depressed, etc. and thoughts flit across our minds. There is bad in the best of us and good in the worst. Does confessing it all make us better?

Could a relationship REALLY handle absolute 100% truth?

You can go too far with this honesty thing if you are not careful. I think I’ll take a pass on my shot at winning big money on this show.

I’m a good person. I swear.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek and I can’t believe it has been a week since I blogged.

Aubree has a school dance this Friday, the only middle school dance of the year. Of course she thinks this means new clothes. After some discussion I think it now means just new shoes. It’s a middle school dance! It lasts for two hours! You don’t need a new outfit just for that!

There have been a number of stories in the news in recent years about female teachers having inappropriate relationships with students. I am definitely struck by the double standard involving female teachers who do this as opposed to their male counterparts. There is a fascination with the females, websites like this, and a sense among many that this behavior isn’t nearly as bad as when it happens the other way. My take? Either way, it is not only illegal but a violation of the care and trust placed in teachers. I’d fire any of these “hot teachers” in the blink of an eye.

But yes….I do have a fleeting thought of “where were teachers like that when I was in high school?”

There was a very attractive female art teacher in my high school. I never took art but I was tempted to.

Patrick is now working for an hour a day in the Oklahoma Aquarium. I think this will be a very good experience for him. I do tease him by asking when he is going to clean the inside of the shark tank., telling him that I’m sure those are very nice sharks. He’s not buying it.

A source of irritation to me recently? College recruiters texting high school athletes during the school day. They know these kids are in school and are not supposed to be using their phones. Can’t they do this in the evening?

Cell phones….the scourge of my work existence.

So how is YOUR week going?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek and…..brrrr! A cold wind is blowing and freezing rain/sleet is in the forecast. As long as there is no repeat of the ice storm I can live with it.

I will be attending a national conference in Nashville this July. I haven’t been there in many years. The conference is supposed to be an excellent one and I am very much looking forward to the trip.

Speaking of trips…why am I humming “Viva Las Vegas”?

I was amused by some of these questions. My favorite? “Why can’t you tickle yourself?” Haven’t you ever wondered that?

My friend Vickie hasn’t posted in awhile and I hope she is ok.

I have class this weekend. Our basketball teams also play in the district tournament. The weekend will undoubtedly be very busy.

A townhouse for a cool $64 million? How much would that be per month on a 30 year mortgage? At 5.75% it would be a low monthly payment of 373,486.63. I wonder if the carpeting is in good shape?

I have read or am reading books by the three major presidential contenders left this year. Does this make me an informed voter?

So how is YOUR week going?


Sunday, February 17, 2008


In this article in the current edition of Atlantic Monthly the author makes the case for “settling”, giving up on the idea of the perfect man and marrying someone who does not measure up to your previous ideals. She looks at herself and many of her friends and decides that they would have been better off marrying Prince less-than-charming than potentially being alone for the rest of their lives.

My first reaction was definitely in the negative. How many times have I told myself or been told by others not to “settle”. You shouldn’t just be with someone to avoid loneliness. You shouldn’t marry someone out of fear of not being able to find anyone else. You shouldn’t overlook flaws that will cause problems down the road. You can find Mr. or Mrs. Right if you are patient. I have actually been on the other extreme of this, taking small flaws and magnifying them, dreadfully fearful of being in a relationship that didn’t work out, thus causing pain all over again. I was the hyper anti-settler.

I guess it comes down to what you mean by “settling”. If you mean that you should take the first guy/girl with a pulse who doesn’t make you want to run screaming the other way and marry them then I think “settling” is ridiculously foolish. We don’t HAVE to be with someone. There is peace and happiness that can be found outside a relationship. To marry someone just to have someone seems to be a recipe for failure.

On the other hand, if by “settling” you mean coming out of the fantasy, “Prince/Princess Charming” ideal of a mate and being willing to accept a few flaws, then yes, “settling” is not such a bad idea. How many people do you know that spend many years turning down prospective dates/mates because they don’t meet the ideal? I knew a woman who had the list written down and it was extensive….”must go to church every week, must be at least 6’2”, must make at least $50,000 a year, must be very good looking, etc. She turned down some very nice guys who didn’t meet some of her qualifications. If by settling you mean that she should’ve considered the nice guy who made $35k, then by all means she should’ve settled. I once had such a list. I threw it away.

Those of us who have been down the marriage path before know that it is not perfection that will make it work anyway. There are no perfect people, no un-flawed men or women, no unblemished husbands or wives. The author makes the point that you are looking for a “partner in crime, someone to be with you in the trenches”. You need someone who can overlook some of YOUR flaws. This isn’t settling. It is accepting the idea that marriage and family require compromise and the ability to work together. It isn’t all wine and roses and it is the ability to cooperate day-to-day that makes or breaks the marriage anyway.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Midweek Meanderings 

Midweek? This is one of those slooowwww moving weeks.

I got to work this morning and a student was waiting at my door. She said, “I need to talk to you.” I unlocked my door, we both sat down, and I looked at her, raised my eyebrows, and said, “yes?.....” “ I haven’t had my period in a long time. I think I’m pregnant”. “I see. Have you talked to anyone else about this?” “ No. “Don’t you think you should?” “I am. I’m talking to you.” I made some calls, connected her with people who could help, and then started my day.

Later a teacher’s personal cell phone came up missing. He gave me the names of two likely suspects. Unlike the above situation I wasn’t nice and sympathetic. I said, “guys, I want that phone. I want that phone today. I want that phone in one hour. Whatever you do, I want that phone. In one hour if I do NOT have that phone I’m calling you back in here and we are having a very different conversation. For one hour I ask no questions. In one hour and one minute I will ask LOTS of questions. I’ll get answers. I’ll act on those answers. One hour. That’s it. You are dismissed.” Fifteen minutes later they walked up and handed me the phone. I honored the deal I made. The teacher got his phone back.

I love this job. I really do. Even on days like this!

Aubree idolizes one of the cheerleaders at my school who she met during football season. She gave me a stuffed animal to take to this student as a gift. I saw the girl, handed her the bear telling her it was from my daughter and how much my daughter admired her. She burst into tears and said, “Mr. S., I was having a really bad day until now. Thank you!” She wrote Aubree a nice thank you card which in turn thrilled her.

Is it time to go to Las Vegas yet?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Although I am definitely something of a romantic, this is not my favorite holiday. Maybe it is just too contrived for my taste. Still, it is nice to acknowledge the love in your life. So…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So how is YOUR week going?


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Old Blue 

I was taking Aubree out to spend a night with a friend last weekend. The drive took us past a large colonial house, one that we have been past many times, one that I know well. On the drive back I slowed down as I drove past and I thought back. Thirty years ago I stood in that circle drive with my dad looking at a light blue pickup. The truck’s owner was someone known to us, someone who attended the same church. I was excited as I fingered the wad of bills in my pocket.

I was looking for my first car. I had some money saved from my summer job. It was hard to save a lot of money when you were making $2.30 an hour, but I had several hundred dollars tucked in my pocket. My dad had agreed to match whatever I saved to purchase my first vehicle.

The owner of the truck quoted a price of $650. I gulped, thinking of the $300 in my pocket. I wouldn’t have quite enough. We got into the truck and started it up. He had been using it as a work truck and there wasn’t anything special about it. Still, I was excited at the prospect of having something that was MINE. I had been driving family vehicles for awhile, but like every teenager I wanted my own. The truck was almost in my price range, the motor appeared in good shape, and I could be leaving with that day. My dad turned to the owner and asked, “how about $600?” He looked at me, probably saw that anxious teenaged face, smiled, and said, “sure!” We sealed the deal and my dad drove it home while I drove his car. I had my wheels, a truck which I would drive for the rest of my high school years and well into college.

Once we arrived at home I couldn’t wait to take it for a spin. There was just one tiny problem. The truck had a standard transmission and I had never driven a vehicle with a clutch. I had seen other people do it plenty of times. How hard could it be? Just push down the clutch and shift. Right? My new truck had a “three on the tree” transmission which I practiced shifting just sitting in the driveway. Not so bad. I took off with a lurch, awkwardly shifting the transmission as I drove through town. It was going fairly well until I came to a stop sign on an incline. Every time I started to release the clutch it would roll backward, which is difficult when another car is right behind you. I drove near where I attended school, came to a stop sign, and was seemingly stuck. Every time I let the clutch out the whole truck would shake violently and die. Very embarrassing. Several friends drove by and laughed. Finally, my basketball coach pulled up beside me and asked, “what’s the problem Brian?” I demonstrated for him and he burst into laughter. “You goofball, you’re in third!”

I gradually became proficient at shifting gears and was able to drive about town without embarrassing myself. I did discover a chink in my truck’s armor. Sometimes the gear linkage would get stuck and you could not shift gears. The remedy? Take a hammer or wrench, crawl underneath and give the linkage a good whack. If the clutch got hot it would lose pressure, flopping around uselessly until it cooled down. One day I was driving down the road and heard a huge “clang”. When I looked in my rearview mirror the entire exhaust assembly was laying in the road.

With all its problems it was still MY truck. I put seat covers in. I replaced the gear shift knob with a big wooden ball. I painted the rusty rims into a nice white. I learned to change my own oil, to adjust the clutch, to repair a hole in the muffler. I added an AM/FM radio and an 8-track tape player, listening over and over to Boston’s first album, Kansas’ “Leftoverture”, “Led Zeppelin IV”, and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors”. I cruised town with my friends, took the truck camping and fishing, drove it back and forth to school. I took girls to the drive-in movies (right Terri? ) and went on wild rides down quiet country roads. It was known among my family and friends as “Old Blue”, Brian’s truck, his source of pride and sometime frustration.

It may not have been much but it was my truck, my first wheels, my first real tangible object of freedom and independence. Many years and many cars later I still think of those days, curly hair blowing in the wind, a man in the making, a boy with his first big toy. There have been a few times where I thought I spotted it. Could it be? Is it still on the road? Surely by now it is a scrap of metal somewhere. Still, like all boyhood dreams, it never really dies.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek and I had to remind myself what day it was. Whew!

I accompanied one of our classes on a tour of the local jail. This facility is the size of a large shopping mall, long white hallways with pods. There are no bars to be found anywhere. The pods look like dormitory rooms, with bunk beds, dressers, and common eating and bathroom areas. The deputy explained to us that prisoners were far better behaved than when they kept them behind bars as was true in the old jail. Freedom to roam is based on behavior inside the jail.

The kids were amazed by the display of jailhouse homemade weapons. It is truly amazing what some could come up with. Just think if they used that kind of determination and ingenuity in productive ways.

Basketball seasons makes for some very long days at work. I’m just sayin’.

Terri and I have booked a spring break trip to Las Vegas. We will be staying in the MGM Grand.

Hmmm….whatever shall we do in Vegas? J

So how is YOUR week going?


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Happy Birthday Aubree! 

The day has finally come. Aubree is officially a teenager. Of course, she has been thinking she is one for some time now, but today it is official.

The little girl I could once hold in one hand is now...gulp...a teenager.

The accompanying picture is of her celebrating with birthday money. She definitely knows what to do with that.

Happy birthday sweetie!


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