Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moaning Over Moving

Helped a friend move a bunch of stuff from his apartment to a new house. Ugh. Moving. It really is as annoying as a task can be. For me, the worst part, truly, is the deception. Whether moving from the dorm at the end of the year or from my own apartment to our house, I always got that feeling of, "There's not much left. It will take maybe 30 more minutes." One year later, I'm still rummaging through crap that I had forgot I had and pausing to consider keeping it. I know I forgot it ever existed, but does that mean I should throw it out?

The answer is "yes, and with great haste." But that never happens. In fact, there are few things that are really worth saving after they've been lost then found. Pirate booty is always worth hanging on to, unless of course it is cursed. Instead, it is the answer to why you haven't felt anything in years and you rot when the moonlight hits you. More money or goods that could one day be used for money (movies, CDs, my mother) are worth stowing away as well. But since these are so rarely discovered during the Great Moving Adventure, moving still a tornado...that hurls you into power lines and destroys your house...that you just moved in to.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Internet and Lost Homework

On Monday night, my internet cut out on me. I wish that were the beginnings of an amazing saga that would entertain you to the point of wetting yourself, but not luck. Dry pants for you. It through me off though, and I didn't get to blog yesterday. But it gets me to wondering: why is it that technical support that talks you through every possible trouble-shooting step has such a thick accent? It doesn't bother me so much, the work gets done and nobody gets hurt, but honestly. If companies are saving money by hiring out people from India, wouldn't the phone bill be enough to make that venture not worth it? Maybe the cost of calling people has come way down from where it used to be, but whatever. It still seems like a mighty big hassle.

Yesterday, I called the company to get my internet back up and running. A guy had already been to my house and said that the wireless signal was strong and that I shouldn't have a problem (grr). So I called the company and talked to a nice, script-reading technician named Shawn/Sean. He took me through all the steps that I had done the night before, then told me to take off all the DSL filters from the phone jacks. "Wouldn't that disconnect us?" I asked. He assured me that it would, but, lucky me, I could call them back on my cell phone. Oh joy! Called back on my cell, had to talk to a whole new person who took all my information down again and listened to my sob story that I had told twice before. Long and short of it, they can do nothing for me. Internet is still out, and somebody has to come by today. Stupid.

Speaking of stupid, I tried to find a fold full of student papers this morning. I keep them in a groovy Chuck Norris folder in my room, but when I went to get them, the folder was gone. Bah nuh nuh! I wandered around the room, checked the trash and was convinced that a student had jacked my Norris folder. I swore vengeance with a round house kick to the face. Ten minutes later I remembered that I took the folder home last night and left it in my car. And I brought my wife's car in this morning. Blast. Now I must prepared to round house kick myself to the face. It's gonna hurt, but that's how Chuck would want it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nap Time and Catch Phrases

Had some friends come to visit over the weekend (which is why there was no Friday post), and I was transported back to a more collegiate feeling time when bed was a place where you went when you could not longer keep an eye open. Unfortunately, I haven't the energy of the collegiate bed-evader. Saturday was dreadfully sluggish, but because I had just enough to do, I didn't really get a chance to recuperate. Sunday gave more opportunity, but I didn't use it all that well. To top it all off, I didn't go to bed early last night, either. I planned to, but I actually didn't feel sleepy. Instead I kept reading Watchmen which is thrilling me more every day.

This is one of the few Mondays that I didn't dread coming to work. I guess "dread" isn't the right word. I love my job, and all the more this year. This is partially due to just plain awesome people that make the career world go round. The big thing happening now is that my cubicle-mate has a new catchphrase: Wiccan. How it started being used is a little foggy, but she'll often start singing, "I like to Wiccan, Wiccan." It definitely makes watching Madagascar a different experience.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Death and One Funny Thing

Over the course of a week, I heard of two deaths that really bothered me. One was the brother of a former student, the other a great friend's grandmother. This stirs all sorts of feelings and thoughts, as death seems to do. But the real beast of it is that I've not said hardly anything to those who lost.

My dad died when I was four. Throughout high school and the early part of college, I was crumpled if I thought about it for more that .3 seconds. I know the sorrow that death brings, that insensitive, numbing lukewarm feeling that wraps around the body and suffocates. I often told myself that one reason my dad died was so I could help others who faced something similar. But I haven't.

All of a sudden I'm loaded with an insecurity, a lack of confidence about what to say when I know that often, people don't want to hear anything. They want to know that somebody is praying, loving, being a safety net in the event that they need to gush.

I need to suck it up.

On a totally different note, I heard somebody call Shihan a bad mamma jamma yesterday...and he was serious.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sun It Rises.

First day of school, officially. I drove in around 7:10, the earliest I've left the house in a little while. Even when I did leave this early, the sun was still coming up early enough that I didn't get the whole sunrise is amazing feel. Today I got to experience that again.

I love sunsets, and they seem to carry more charm and romance, but the sunrise has a bonus. When the temperature is in the mid-60s, a low-lying level of mist ducks between the houses as I drive over the 27th street bridge, and the sun blankets the city in a sherbet hue. With every breath, life reaches farther down my body until it taps my left toe and my body shudders. The gray skitters to nowhere and is gone, and the clouds divide the sun into beams as strong and majestic as the Almighty. And Heaven is on the horizon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Steak, Jazz, and Desire

What a day. I think the time I was home and conscious was less than 45 minutes. Despite the hectic schedule, yesterday was a blast...well, from the afternoon on it was.

The evening, and the reason I wasn't home at all, brought my wife and me to Omaha to see her dad. He was in town on business and we were so close it would be a shame to no go see him. We went to Anthony's Steakhouse. Normally, I don't get all excited over steak, but the cuts were so massive, you had to get a little excited over the big meat. Amy and I split a sirloin that came with a potato, soup, vegetables, and as much bread as we wanted. It was all mighty tasty, but what made the night complete was the jazz band in the lounge.

It's not often you see a full 12+ person group playing old swing/jazz. It was awesome. When we finished force-feeding ourselves, we waddled over and listened for another half hour or so. It was a moment that makes me think of how much I should practice any given skill. Why don't I practice more? My guitar is picked up maybe twice a week, my writing the same, my camera only on special occasions, though they are all things that I want to be excellent at.

It's hard to make practice fun I figure. It's the same reason my students don't do homework or read or journal. I don't dare give the time excuse for this, I could make the time, but to work solo is something enjoyable only on rare occasions, when I feel driven and crazy.

Alas, I am lazy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Long Day.

Much tired. Write tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Inspiration Station

I just got done meeting with some of the teachers that are helping with my General English classes. Wow. They have rocked my feeble clerk world. The ideas that they have for these kids is incredible. It's weird, but I feel kind of small around them, not sure of my place in this whole academic scheme. Regardless, life is awesome because of them.

This summer I went to a two-day workshop about including all students, regardless of ability, in your classroom. It's part of a push to not only include kids with special needs, but training teachers to work together to make the classroom an environment that is best for all your students. These people I'm working with are so awesome that I can't imagine somebody not wanting to have more help with a class. In fact, the thought of running a class solo while knowing a second brain is there ready to jump in is rather sickening.

The ego is a horrid thing, and mine is huge and bizarrely hideous. But cooperation makes it happen. The tragedy of "mine" and the impression of being able to do it all is mind-blowing. The world changes for the worst, people spout philosophies of working for the best, and so many continue to hoist the world over their heads expecting it to never crush them.
School hasn't started yet, and I'm already thankful for these teachers and their help. I hope I help them as much as they do me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And Time Slips By

Do you ever think it odd that time moves the same as it ever did, but once you try to hang on, it accelerates until you find yourself in a totally new day, new week, new year? In addition to this (I'm assuming) common feeling, I slam against an anxiety as I constantly evaluate the time remaining to prepare for a task. Point in case: getting ready for school.

On Tuesday, I came to the school to begin my beginning-of-the-year preparations, Wednesday was mostly meetings, and Thursday has been nothing but meetings. And so, my time has slid out of sight. But just yesterday, I told myself that I had a full week to get my act ready. Today, I feel freaked out like I've lost too much time. One day's difference has me on edge, feeling smothered but teetering.

I've often felt like pressure produces my better work, but over the last year or so, this anxiety and related stress makes me want to do nothing at all. I need an escape of some kind, just an evening of nothingness. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll get one for quite a while now.

In other news, I found out yesterday that the brother of a student I had last year died this last weekend. The ultimate monster to meditate on, second only to life. I don't think I'm up to reflect on it at this point. Another time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not as Good as the Book Part II

So, a couple of days back at school and my predicted conversations didn't really take place at all-except for with Bryan, but the conversation wasn't how I thought it would go. Way to predict, me. Regardless, my thoughts continue, and the idea of movie/book comparisons is still one that has been digging into my brain with thumb-tack-like fingers.

First, it seems that whenever a book is taken and made into a movie, finding a reader that isn't excited is like finding a poodle in an elephant stack. This might be because a reader loves the work and knows that it will have a greater exposure if taken through the Hollywood reamer. This in itself is a statement to the power of Hollywood: we know that people are more likely to watch a film than spend the time to read a book. We know it. After the movie is released, however, readers begin the gripe session of the season. As I mentioned yesterday, this usually grows from the major differences between the two presentations of the original. I would think that most people would just accept the fact that a film studio will do as it pleases with the source material. They'll change it, you can count on it.

Second, why does one medium have to reflect the other with such purity? Maybe it's because of copyrights and whatever, but one idea, one story is rarely complete and never perfect. And even though there are one jillion and seventy-three movies and books that should not be tampered with, there are scores upon a brazillion that can be made better. It seems that people become very afraid when source material is marred and rightfully so. I would hate if something I wrote turned into a Frankenstein's monster that gets out of my hands and haunts me for the rest of my days, leaving wishing that I had never had the idea to begin with. But honestly, how many times does the public see something or read something and think, "I think that Taye Diggs should not have smiled at all. The film would have worked better," or "I just wish that Shakespeare didn't kill off everybody in Romeo and Juliet." But once an author or director finishes a work, people won't touch it with a half-score foot rod. We'll talk about things plenty, rip it to shreds over coffee, but to change something seems like a sin without pardon.

The ultimate tragedy, though, is that I don't know how long these debates and arguments will go on. Eventually, the majority will cease to read entirely and spend time only absorbing without reaction as we head closer and closer to Idiocracy. It's happening, don't deny it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not as Good as the Book

Today I go back to the school to get ready for this next school year. Among the conversations I'm sure I'll have over the next week before students arrive, I dread one in particular. Over the summer I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Good stuff for the most part. As the summer drew to its close, I checked the movie out as well. Not so much good stuff.

I think English teachers in general like to talk about how a movie never is as good as a book, but this time things seem different. When I watched Beowulf, and enjoyed it, I knew that my colleagues would not be such fans. "Beowulf sleeps with Grendel's mother? I don't remember that in the book." But it didn't bother me. I thought it worked well because the fire dragon always seemed like this weird thing that somebody just added to the end because they couldn't think of a way to kill off the hero. So the getting it on with the sea hag made the last chapter of the film work (though I think she should have died at some point).

With The Kite Runner, a different problem rears its boring head: the film follows the book almost perfectly. And it's dull. What makes the book interesting is Amir's own guilt over everything that he has done to his friend/servant, Hassan. But the only reason one gets to see this is the first-person narrative. The film covers every event in the book, but it's all just stuff happening. Nowhere in the movie does one get the feeling of Amir's guilt. Instead one sits through a movie that feels like forever but doesn't take enough time to make anyone care.

I dread the upcoming conversations. I'm know that everybody will agree the the movie wasn't as god as the book. But I don't know that everybody will see why. I think an English teacher curse is to love a book more without taking the time to care why.

To be continued...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Did You Hear That?

Why is it that one's own voice, once recorded is no good? I've listened or watched myself preach plenty of times and I always think, "Do I really sound like that?" And every time, I'm told that I do. Creepy. But the big thought, the real question, is, "If we don't sound like we think we do, what happens to one's impersonations?" I pick impression-able fruit from many stylistic trees from Brian Regan and Patrick Warburton to the people in my social circle. Often, I think I do a pretty good job. But this thought shook my confidence to nothing. What if I'm really no good at it at all?

I try not to think in terms of "What do people think of me now?" or anything like that. But it is a bizarre moment when you question a fair chunk of one's comedic fuel. To my students especially, I sling about the diction and phrases of favorite comedians and personalities. Do they sit back and whisper to each other, "Doesn't he realize that he does a horrible Jeff Goldblum impression?"

The worst part, really, is that there's nothing to do about it unless I go obsessive-recording my own voice until I think it sounds like what I want to impersonate. I can see somebody walking in on one of these ridiculous sessions with the question etched in his or her face, and I would have to make something up because it would be far too embarrassing to admit. Furthermore, this is the type of thought that I never know is legitimate or not. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I'm normal or not, if I am the paranoid freak that I'm sure everybody thinks I am. Soon, I'm going to be huddled in a corner, whispering in strange voices, conversing with myself with as many different voices as I can muster and conspiring against those that look at me in strange ways, ready to scream, cry, and laugh all at the same time before they come to take me away ha-haaa.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Standard Beginnings

Most blogs seem to begin with a post about why they are blogging. And though it pains me to copy-cat so blatantly, it is the undoubtedly the first monster worth meditating on.

I always enjoy writing, but I so frequently feel no urge to do it. I'll begin a story, or book in some cases, write my little brain out for several weeks or months, but before completion, I bail. I lack follow-through. My guess is that I don't know what I'll do with a work once I complete it-so I don't complete it.

I started writing a lot about two years ago. Before that, I didn't care at all. It was when my good friend from high school moved to town and we started talking about books, writing, expression, and the like. It was thrilling and inspiring. As we spoke, stories and concepts floated into my brain like that stray black hair that rides the waves in a hot tub, and I couldn't get away from it. Soon, another friend suggested a writer's club, a new outlet of creative energies. We began and got to work. I chronicled my some of my substitute teaching days, fiddled with a novel, a short story or two, and eventually dove into a book idea that I thought promising that still dominates my thoughts. But something happened. She moved away. He is loaded with projects. I lost my drive.

I'm here for accountability. I feel the need to write, but to write in a place where I feel I need to. My meditations will hopefully amuse and inspire as my friends have amused and inspired me.

Welcome to Monster Meditation.