Tuesday, December 30, 2008

teachers' pay

i got this email years ago. i used to think that it was hilarious and sad and pointedly cynical. now, it probably needs adjustment.
Teachers are paid too much!
I'm fed up with teachers and their hefty salaries for only 9 months work! What we need here is a little perspective. If I had my way, I'd pay teachers babysitting wages. In the end, that's all they really are - glorified babysitters. Obviously, kids aren't learning anything from them.

That's right. Instead of paying such outrageous taxes to keep teachers living in style, I'd give them $3.00 an hour. And, I'm only going to pay them for 5 hours, not for all that luxury "planning time." So, that would equate to $15.00 a day. Each parent should pay $15.00 a day for these teachers to babysit their children. Even if you have more than one child, it's still cheaper than private daycare.

Now, how many children do they teach a day - maybe 20? So that's $15.00 x 20 kids = $300.00 a day. But remember, they only work 180 days a year! I'm not about to pay them for all that vacation time! So that's $300 a day x 180 days = $54,000.

To be fair, there are some good teachers out there who have lots of experience, a solid record and a maybe a master's degree. Maybe we could agree to pay them minimum wage. We can round that off to about $6.00 an hour x 5 hours x 20 children. So that's $6.00 x 5 x 20, which comes to $600 a day. $600 x 180 days.

Wait a minute! That's $108,000 -- there's something wrong here!

so, now, let's adjust it to the new minimum wage rates. $6.55/hour x 5 hours = $32.75 per day, per kid. 20 kids is a generously low estimate; in today's classroom and economy, that's likely to go up by 3 kids next year. that's $753.25 per day, per teacher. yearly salary, $135,585. when the minimum wage adjusts in july, the uptick will be a shade north of $150K.

sounds good to me!

Monday, December 29, 2008

get it right!

man, i can't keep flight info straight! first, i thought i had a direct flight. wrong. then, i thought i was supposed to leave today. wrong. finally, i thought my flight left at 7:30 tomorrow. wrong.

flight takes off at 6:00. looks like i'd better get to bed and get some sleep. after packing. and calling three people i said i'd call tonight. and making sure that i have someone to pick me up from the metro station. and taking a shower.

it's gonna be a long day tomorrow...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the last two

the last two nights have been really interesting. i'll start with recent, and work my way back. last night, i met up with two friends from high school. ok, that's not entirely accurate. i was friends with them in high school. mike and mark were in scouts with me. mark's my age; mike's a few years older. mark and i lost touch shortly after high school; mike wound up dragging me kicking and screaming into greek like. we've kept in touch pretty well over the years; i even got to stand for him when he married his wife. suffice it to say that it's hard maintaining a conversation when you can't all three really participate, more than listening to the stories. that's one of the funny things about meeting up with old friends over the holidays. you always find yourself in a situation where someone is the odd one out. someone is enjoying himself, but simultaneously feeling left out of the "old times" stories when they start talking about people you don't know or don't remember real well.

case in point, the night before we had a mini high school reunion of sorts. yeah, our reunion passed already. a year and a half ago, but that's beside the point. some of the people at the get together had stayed in touch far better than others. for example, living together and going to the same college. that helps. the stories are still funny, you still feel welcome, but left out just the same. it's weird. i guess that's one of the things about not being in a small town for one, but still trying to keep up as if that's the case. were it not for the interwebs connecting and reconnecting people we've lost touch with, i don't know if i'd ever run into any of these people again. is that a good thing, or a bad thing? i'm not sure. what say you?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

all my exes live in texas

[disclaimer: this stream of thoughts was not brought on by any of my exes. i swear.]

a few weeks ago, i got a text from a friend. "[insert ex's names] just proposed to [ex's new squeeze]. why do i care?" i tried to make her feel better, but i'm not so sure if i did. the short conversation came back to life in my brain when i happened to run into [ex's new squeeze] at christmas mass. she's someone that i went to middle school, high school, and college with, but it's been more than a few years since we'd spoken.

so the rambling in my brain began anew. why do we care so much about our exes' love lives? is it that sense of lost hope, even though the feelings for that person have long since faded? i went through my brain last night as i struggled to fall asleep.

i was talking to my favorite brunette about this last night, relaying the story of [friend with the ex]. we came up with a few theories. first and foremost, we are genuinely happy that they've found love anew, albeit with a twinge of regret because of our extinguished hope for it to be us. however, our happiness for that ex isn't free. it comes with conditions. that regret grows into other emotions when we know the new flame, either because it's someone he/she knew while dating us or a mutual friend of ours. another condition is when it's the next one. becoming the last one sometimes hurts, but it balances out when we stop looking into the past.

by staying in our present and looking towards the future, our past can no longer haunt us inexplicably. being happy with ourselves makes hearing about exes' love successes heavy on the good, light on the bad. that wave of romantic nostalgia is fleeting. there's a reason it didn't work out, and besides, you've gotta love the one you're with. if you're any good at this dating game, you get closer and closer to your target with each missed shot. consider each new flame as an upgrade of the snuffed ones.

as leda puts it, "your ex already had a shot. it didn't work out. no sense in worrying about it."

a tale of two flights

i'm not nearly as disgruntled as i was last night. however, if northwest were to ever crawl to washington for bailout money, i'd meet them on capitol hill with jeff gillooly and tonya harding them. "no delays" quickly turned into an epic fail on all fronts. i'll take the cramped legroom on frontier or spirit over the lackadaisical ground portion of those two connecting flights to get me down south.

first flight, d.c. to memphis tennessee. flight was supposed to leave reagan on time. took them 25-30 minutes of sitting in the gate with the doors buttoned up to fix a light on one of the wings. no big deal, just going to shorten my layover in memphis. i didn't want any memphis bbq anyhow. i'll just eat my clif bar on the plane. well, we land at 7:30 with few minutes to spare for many on the plane to catch their connection elsewhere. the poor girl across the aisle from me had 10 minutes to switch planes. that turned to five as we sat 10 feet from the jetway with no one on the ground crew to guide us in. as i looked around the cabin, i realized that nearly everyone was really anxious about getting to the gate on time. everyone that had to catch another flight had a small window to begin with, but this seemed unusual on a full flight. i thought i had a short turnaround with my flight leaving at 7:50 theoretically, but mine was actually the most leisurely stroll. turns out, i didn't have to change planes. just flight numbers.

second flight, buttoned up in the cabin, sat on the runway for close to an hour. why, i'm not sure. sat next to a 17 year-old kid from small town wisconsin. talked to him for most of the flight. man, i was tired, but conversation on a plane was better than passing out uncomfortably or trying to read or watch a sopranos episode on my laptop, not knowing if i was going to see lots of blood or boobs. flight landed around midnight, i did fall asleep for the last half hour or so i guess. quick pick of the baggage and in the back of the vw on the way to 8207.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and we're taking flight....

tom cruise famously raced jets in top gun on his rice rocket bike. cary grant ran from a biplane shooting at him in north by northwest. mike myers and dana carvey argued at the end of a runway in wayne's world. myself, i have a spot to go nearby that i can watch the planes take off and land with impunity. seems to me that it's awfully hard to get near a runway these days, and gravelly point at reagan national airport is a ready made park at the north end of the runway.

i've been there several times. first trip, cold weather, curled up on my crash pad in the bed of the danger ranger sharing a sleeping bag with her when we first started dating. we talked for what seemed like hours, alternately between serious and silly topics alike. before we knew it, the park was closed at 10, and i had to trek her back to vienna. or maybe just her car. we've been there since. on a nice long fall bike ride during the daytime. families picnicking. kids running around. flag footballers tossing the pigskin over the roar of DC-10s and 727s.

so for the first time in my revamped life in d.c., i found myself wondering as my flight took off, "what memories are being made below me right now? a new couple like we were getting to know one another? a couple of old, married folks? or just some teenagers looking for somewhere to ride their bikes or wreak havoc or be stupid without being hassled?"

Monday, December 22, 2008

matching bruises

against my better judgment, i went down the blue run to warm up. i had second thoughts, but she said i could do it. turns out, that run was pretty much ice. my heel side turns had become nonexistent in the off season. toe side, i picked back up pretty quickly, but finding that soft(er) patch of ice to make the turn proved more difficult than expected.

as i've been told repeatedly, when the conditions are good on skis, they're great on a snowboard. conversely, when they're bad on skis, they're horrible on a board. proven right yet again.

i smartly made the best of it by working on linking my turns on the bunny slopes before attacking anything more challenging again. i think i got my turns back to where they were at the end of last season. i attacked a long, narrow green repeatedly by the end of the day. it was different every time. i used the terrain to my advantage to make those heel turns, but i'll need to get them solid before i get comfortable with any speed. i'm more or less plowing the whole way down any semblance of a steep grade.

all things told, i kept it together pretty well for the amount of falls i took. she was awesomely patient and ditched me for a while to ride two runs to my one. she always met me at the bottom and told me funny stories about gumbys hitting on her on the lifts. at the end of the day, my final fall to my knees left me with a sore neck...and a hankering to get back out there for some more.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the brotherhood of justice

'80s movie rewind time. this week, what started as no one responding, regrets or otherwise, turned into four lovelies showing up simultaneously and robert joining us shortly. netflix had already delivered, so i was watching it regardless. i was glad to have company because man, this movie was worse than i thought!

if you've not been blessed to have seen this movie, let me give you the brief synopsis. rich boy keanu reeves leads a band of vigilante other rich kids in their school's quest to get rid of vandals and potheads...presumably because marijuana is the worst drug every cultivated, and it actually causes insanity. kind of like a g-rated version of lean on me, without the bad ass principal with a baseball bat. predictably, they get out of hand, his girlfriend catches wind of it, half the school cheers them, half the school fears them, and there's a gut check.

first off, don't expect an oscar-caliber performance. this is keanu "whoa, my name means rainbow" reeves. his girlfriend is played by lori "i made out with uncle jesse on full house, who also said whoa" loughlin. finally, kiefer "my dad smoked pot in a movie once before i became jack bauer and rid the world of all drugs and terrorism, picking up a nasty heroin habit along the way" sutherland makes a stellar appearance as the dude trying to squirrel in on keanu's girl. it's predictable, '80s after school special in every sense of the genre. the lighting is worse than in most home movies, and the acting is only slightly better.

oh, so at the end of the movie, there was a "based on true events" tagline. oh, really? yup. even made time magazine!
June 10, 1985: Fort Worth, Texas
Several prominent senior-class members were excluded from graduation ceremonies at Paschal High in Fort Worth last week. Earlier that day, seven seniors and one junior from Paschal were indicted on a total of 33 felony and misdemeanor charges in a bizarre vigilante scheme that involved arson, bombings and threatening another student with a gun.

The indicted teenagers, among them honor students, athletes and a cheerleader, belonged to the Legion of Doom, a society supposedly dedicated to purifying the campus of drug users and petty thieves. The Legion may have grown out of the school's efforts to improve discipline. At least four members also belonged to a Paschal organization called the Ambassadors, a now disbanded group of 29 top seniors assigned to patrolling the campus and encouraging others to attend classes. Legion members, mostly wealthy youngsters from prominent families, prowled less well-to-do neighborhoods at night, firing shots at one student's home, exploding a pipe bomb on another's car. A fire bomb tossed at a black student's house failed to hurt anyone only because it fell short and ignited in the front yard. Said a classmate: "These pillars of our community (were) doing worse things than we will ever do in our lives."

invite some friends over, pop some beers, and drink every time someone makes a bill & ted or speed joke as it relates to the movie. if their comment is misplaced, they drink. great fun will be had by all!

c'mon, pump!

when i got my truck way back in the day, gas was about $0.91 a gallon. that made a fill up a shade less than fifteen bones. pretty cheap by today's standards...

until today! as i was filling up today, i found myself cheering the pump on, "c'mon; stop, stop! ok, now....stop!"

and when it did, my wallet danced a jig in my pocket. $19.99! first time i could pay for a tank of gas with andrew jackson for years. six years actually. i looked it up, and did a little math.

on another i'm-trying-to-reduce-my-carbon-footprint note, my monthly gas bill is about a third of what it was in february. this whole carpooling thing is working out well!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

asdf jkl;

sometimes i wish they'd just leave us to teach. no interference about content or mandates or testing. tell us how well they need to read by the end of the year and (gasp!) let us use that so-called expertise they require of us but rarely let us use.

i'm not sure where that came from. my fingers just rolled with it. i guess i've got some pent up angst over not being allowed to teach something fun this time of year. the kids are mentally checked out, and we've got four full school days until winter break. i'm barely here myself, though i will admit getting out of bed in the morning is far easier this year than it was last year. that brings my career batting average to .500 i guess.

i suppose we'll have to see how the rest of the year pans out, what with testing and all. i really should get out of here while the last rays of sunlight are still on the horizon. doesn't look like we'll be seeing much of mr. sun this winter. at least the weekend forecast calls for a few rays...

Monday, December 15, 2008

who throws a shoe? honestly...

so, in case you missed it yesterday, an iraqi journalist threw his shoes at dubya yesterday when he made a surprise visit to baghdad.

bush brushed it off, "i don't know what his beef is." this appalling lack of knoweledge of arab culture astounds me. now, i didn't know that it was such an insult until baghdad fell in 2003. i remember videos of iraqis smacking statues and posters of hussein with their shoes and learning about the insult.

i was going to get into it more, but the BBC beat me to the punch. read it here.

the discussion below the article on al-jazeera is a little bit more telling about how insulated he is from the realities of his international disrepute.

36 days until this cyst is out of office...

Friday, December 12, 2008

cookie monster!

cookie swap time is coming up this weekend. as such, i've been a baking machine. what's that you say, mr. j? you're baking now, too?

relax. even i can't screw these cookies up. i'll leave the cupcakes and more complicated things to my better half. for now, i've got these cookies dialed. hell, i even memorized the recipe. if you don't have an electric mixer, stop reading. seriously, you won't be able to make these cookies without one, unless you can make a meringue without one. in which case, kudos to you!

2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 350. line cookie sheets with parchment paper. set aside.

separate the egg white from the yolk carefully. save the yolk for a sick baby chicken, make some creme brulee, your choice. me, i just tossed them at the squirrels. (no, not really.) begin beating the egg whites in a metal mixing bowl until they get some air in them, kinda foamy. add the cream of tartar. begin adding the sugar slowly, a few tablespoons or so at a time. when you've added half the sugar, add the vanilla extract. finish adding the rest of the sugar. by now the mixture should be white. keep mixing (on a pretty high speed) until the meringue is smooth, tight, and shiny. it should form small peaks and hold its shape pretty well. fold the chocolate chips into the meringue.

dole out the cookies-to-be with a teaspoon onto the parchment paper about an inch apart. these cookies will not spread out a whole lot. i was able to fit about 2 dozen on a sheet. put them into the oven and turn the oven off.

yes, i said turn the oven off. do not open the oven, don't peek, don't poke or prod. leave the cookies alone overnight (actually, it's only a few hours, but you can't overcook them.) when you wake up in the morning, the meringue will have dried out, and you'll be left with a crispy, delicious, cotton-candy-melt-in-your-mouth delicious treat.

snow day tales

i realized that i hadn't gotten a good story out of my budding writers in quite a while. i gave them a prompt today along these lines, "The weather forecast for today called for seven inches of snow. Boy, were they wrong! What would you have done if today was a snow day?" so while their little pencils are scratching out fun kid stories, i told them i'd pound out a big kid story too. here goes:

I woke up this morning and looked out my bedroom window. Snow was everywhere! I hurried out of bed to turn on the television to see if we had school. After a few minutes, I got my answer. SNOW DAY!

First, I called my friend Jedd. He's a teacher, too, and he wants to go play in the snow. I think I woke him up, but he said he would be ready when I got to his house. Next, I got all my snowboarding gear ready. New pants, warm hat, dry jacket. Oh yeah, and my snowboard too! I picked him up, and we began to drive to White Tail. Just like last year, the park was empty when we got there. There's nothing like not waiting in line and getting to ride everything I want. One time, I fell and did a cartwheel with my snowboard on my feet. That hurt! Finally, at the end of the day, Jedd and I got some chicken fingers and tomato soup at the restaurant. When we finished eating, we loaded up the car and drove back. We had so much fun; I can't wait to miss school again!

so, this little work of fiction, i'll share it with them. what would you do if you had a snow day? oh, you live in florida? too bad! move where the snow is, and take a snow day...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


access to climbing being what it is, here i get my thursday session email from urban climber magazine and this video is linked in it. if you're not a climber, this'd be a good view into the psyche of the rare breed we are. if you are one, well, i think it's just a pretty damn good video. warning. it is a long one without a whole lot of climbing in it. this is the video they showed at LRC this weekend.

Heart of Stone - HD from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

glorious weather!

by show of hands, how many of you sat around the house like lazy bums when you finished your homework in elementary school? middle school? high school?

that's what i thought. exactly zero.

it struck me, yet again, yesterday that kids of this young generation at my school aren't overweight and lazy because they overeat. they're overweight and lazy because they don't play outside. i know kids live in this neighborhood. you'd be hard pressed to find one playing outside at their house. i'm sure in this day and age of parents' paranoia over anonymous bogeymen doing God-knows-what to their progeny that they're a little less likely to let their kids play in the front yard. with that logic, you'd think that you'd hear a little more noise and such coming from backyards. nope. yesterday afternoon, it was like this neighborhood was empty, with nary a kid behind any of the doors. i know that's not the case. parents are too stressed and overworked to leave work at a reasonable hour for their kids to get out to play. no wonder this generation's favorite answer for, "what's your favorite thing to do?" revolves around games made by nintendo, sony, and microsoft, not spalding, russell, or wilson.

once in a blue moon, i'll see kids out playing in the leaves, but never out riding their bikes. maybe the streets are rougher in suburbia these days than they were back when i was a kid, but i doubt it. my best friend alex lived around the block from me. we'd hop through neighbor's yards to get to one another's houses. our parents weren't petrified of us getting bitten by the neighbors' dogs or getting sued for trespassing because we knew each other. i took those same dogs for walks after school each day...er, they took me for walks each day. i remember us falling off our bikes, falling off trampolines, getting into scrapes with other kids in the neighborhood. this kid matt that lived on my street got hit by a car at least five times to my memory. on his bike, off his bike, skateboards. come to think of it, maybe his mom should've been more concerned...

Monday, December 8, 2008

rock tour

whisperings and rumors finally came to fruition yesterday. there are boulders in them thar hills. i got to climb on them. hooray!

no names. local crag. access related issues, high traffic would be detrimental to climbers' access. like kids looking like we were doing something wrong, we disappeared into the woods on the social trails near the river. i'd been tramping around in these woods a time or two on my own, but not with the guru of the crag.

some of the boulders we walked past, i'd never considered climbing. it was like a new roll of bright pink tape had been laid all over the rock and bright blue matting beneath it. now i know that established climbs exist. i don't have the first ascensionist's vision. maybe next summer with a back of my brain idea to go climbing in rocklands, but not yet.

i climbed well. i shivered. i got to know some locals that climb outdoors. it was the luck of the draw pretty much and paying attention to the message board. talking to this cragger yesterday, i discovered that the open invite was unintentionally directed at me. i'm glad i received the message. a few projects now ready to go down next time i get a free, dry weekend day. who's with me next time?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

remember a story about a bridge?

it was nine football games ago. the gators lost to ole miss. it was an ugly day here too. torrential downpours and community service. anyhow, i helped build a bridge. it's 12 feet, and it's still there. the national parks service added the handrail, but otherwise it looks pretty much the same as when we built it for adopt-a-crag in september. i got to pull out my whole bag of carpenter tricks. 'twas fun.

Friday, December 5, 2008


flashback to my first year teaching. we're reading a story called the emperor's egg. it was about penguins. think march of the penguins without morgan freeman narrating. this is pre-penguin documentary. i'm trying to explain how the male penguins transport and protect the eggs. i have an egg between my ankles, demonstrating how they slide down hills. on their bellies. laying on top of desks, tyler walks in from his reading group, does a double take, and says, "i'll wait outside."

marvelass. that's how i tend to teach, jumping on desks and such. can't do that this year. or last. one little guy that can't handle that sort of excitement.

today, that changed. i challenged my math class to get all their work right. boring work, but it got them motivated. the prize? push-ups by the teacher. long story short, i owed them 25 push-ups at the end of class. you'd think that i played tag on the playground or raced them to the fence and back or shaved my head for charity.

nah, i'd never do anything like that...

Monday, December 1, 2008


on a day when i was worn out from a weekend of running around and cooking and cleaning nonstop, mother nature fittingly gave me a day to relax. what would i have done had the weather been glorious as the three prior? drove three hours one way to west virginia to climb rocks, no doubt.

voicemails at 11:30 on a school day are rarely good news. "mr. j, your glockenspiel is broken in your transaxle filter. there's also a unicorn jumping around in your muffler that has punched several holes in your catalytic converter. this fix will cost you your left arm and your firstborn daughter." imagine my surprise when it turned out to be my parents on an earlier flight. e.t.a. 2:30, four and a half hours of cleaning time ahead of schedule. oh, well. guess ma will just have to see my apartment at its finest!

weekend couldn't have been better. i tried too hard to get them out of the house and doing stuff around this bewitching beltway town. we traipsed around woodley park, walking to the national cathedral. we visited with family in rockville. we watched college gameday and took in a few exhibits at the american art museum/portrait gallery. there were a few wicked cool new exhibits, and i got to feel like an art expert walking around one i'd already seen. "the juxtaposition of this adams photograph plays quite nicely off o'keefe's muted colors and use of the same subject in middle-of-nowhere, new mexico, don't you agree?" [insert haughty brahmin laugh]

best of all was that little holiday they came up here for. the meal was better than last year, even if my stuffing didn't all make it into the oven. it was about family and gratefulness for another great year gone by. things to be thankful for in the upcoming year; i just can't wait to see how they pile up.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving, succinctly

never really knowing much of a blessing growing up, i picked up two along the way. succinct though they were, they've stuck with me since the first time i went to philmont at the age of 14, or since my last meal at ye olde delta shelter. the only thing that these two leave out is the ever-present love in all of our lives, be it from family, friends, or that special someone we've been lucky enough to find.

first, philmont.
for food, for raiment, for life, for opportunity, for friendship and fellowship, we thank thee, O Lord. Amen.

i think that one is still in my brain because i used to say it to myself before every meal that i didn't eat at the delt house in college. that one didn't lend itself very well to solo recitation. it needs the voices of about 50 guys
Creator, we bow our heads,
grateful for life and this daily bread.
Help us contribute to all human good,
out of our Delta BROTHERHOOD.

can you guess which word we stressed in a louder, whiter version of barry white? happy thanksgiving to you and yours. may your blessings be numerous and your woes be few!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

east coast shreddin'

this is what we have to look forward to when it ain't quite snowing, but the weather's cold enough to keep the snow around.

soon, i will regale you with tales of injuries and triumphs on the man-made snow-covered slopes of extreme southern pennsylvania. joy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

under the influence

how appropriate a title for a snowsports movie! she and i have determined that the rough around the edges trinity of rock climbing, snowboarding, and surfing seem to have a pretty similar following. how so? watch any video highlighting these sports.

she and i went to a viewing of an backcountry skiing movie called under the influence on thursday. people watching galore. there was a distinct dichotomy among the ski bunnies and board bums. with the guys, it was easier to pick out the differences because womenfolk tend to dress better in d.c. regardless. skiers were preppier, on average. aside from a top-dollar jacket/fleece, the snowboarders were decidedly more like surfers and climbers. facial hair, unkempt hair, dirty jeans, beanies, ball caps. she commented to me, "that girl doesn't look like she's ever been on a mountain," as one tottered by in high heels and a cashmere sweater. "skier," i replied. ah ha!

"i've met snowboarders who used to be skiers, but never a skier who used to be a snowboarder," the emcee opens with. chuckles all around. then the video begins.

oddly, the movie focused on extreme skiers. i find the adjective extreme to be rather cliche these days, with everything from backyard wrestling to ironing getting that tag. i don't consider any of the trinity to be extreme, unless the participant makes it so. going to the top of 12,000 ft. peaks to ski down faces that are about 80 degrees vertical with a strong risk of causing an avalanche? yeah, i'd say that's extreme. that said, these guys were more like the trinity than the preppier ski lodge crew splitting the room. dreadlocks, loud colors, working only enough to support their skiing/snowboarding/climbing/surfing addiction...

under the influence indeed! if you're a disciple of one of the trinity, check out a video from one of the other three. myself, i've seen a few of each. climbing videos clearly resonate most with me because it's my passion. snowboarding would quickly become an obsession if i lived with real mountains and real snow. surfing, same deal if i were two blocks from the beach. what do you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

poetry corner

my kids had to recite a poem in front of the class and analyze it today. i know that they had help thinking about it, but i'm still very pleased with some of their interpretations about autumn and it's symbology in this poem. ("symbology? i believe the word you were looking for is symbolism..."

happy fall, y'all.

Autumn Season by Flora Elliot
I like the autumn season
When Thanksgiving Day draws near
With air so crisp and biting
And sky so blue and clear.

Wild geese are winging southward
In a slow and graceful vee;
The squirrel at last is resting
In his hollow in the tree.

I always feel Thanksgiving
Is the turning of the key;
One door is shut behind us,
But another opens free.

what does the last stanza mean to you? let's see if you're smarter than a third grader...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

here we go again!

there's nothing like the excitement of a roomful of eleven and under students, already at free rein to talk amongst themselves. what my normal florida, excited-at-the-prosepect-of-snow reaction should be turns to, "there goes the rest of the day!"

of course, even with flurries, it's no different than teaching when the weather changed during the school day in florida. the same lecture applies.

"y'all have seen rain/hail/thunderstorms/snow/flying pigs/raining frogs before. let's all take a look out the window for a minute, then we're done being excited about it until school's out. capiche?"

i had to conceal my excitement over the weather change. of course, it's a lot easier when the flurries aren't sticking. now, when we get some measurable snow, i just might pee my pants this year because i've got a snowboard, waxed up and ready to go.

a million little pieces

way back when, i read this book. i wasn't in the best place in my life. lately, it's come up repeatedly in discussions, so i feel compelled to share my thoughts on it from way back when.
In case you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about James Frey's "memoir" A Million Little Pieces. Curiosity finally got the best of me, and I borrowed it. It was slow going at first because his writing style was hard to get used to. The further I got, the faster I read. Partly because I didn't have to stop and think about who was saying what, partly because it became more intriguing. I found myself laughing out loud at his interactions with his fellow patients and the staff. The descriptions in the book are haunting and vivid. His fellow patients are real, and come from a broad spectrum of society. Mob boss. Boxer. Steel worker. Judge. It holds to some of the stuff I taught. Addiction doesn't care if you're black, white, rich, poor, man, woman, child. You abuse, you're done. Simple as that.
With the brouhaha over the fictive parts of the memoir, I found myself wondering at points in the book what was made up. There were certainly parts of the book that I am convinced were complete and total bullshit, but then again, I've not been in his shoes before. Since I can't relate to the anger that addicts felt upon finding out about the embellishments or bold-faced lying, I can't help but wonder if there would've been the same outcry or hope if it was written by someone else as a work of fiction.
Never having dealt with substance abuse myself, I can't relate to those aspects of the book. The struggle the overwhelming need the craving the Fury...Sorry, I guess Frey's style got into my head. Hell, I've never taken anything harder than booze, and certainly not to the point of abuse. The most I've ever drank in one night was the better part of a fifth of SoCo, and I'm still being told details of that evening.
"Words can't say this. The one word love means too little for what it is. It means everything and that is still not enough. It doesn't communicate even a fraction of the feelings involved. Love. The word is not enough for what it is. Love. Love."(316)
The part of the book that I related best to was when he fell for Lilly. Being in love is about the only addiction I've ever experienced. Always wanting to be with that person, never wanting to part. It's awesome and it's powerful and it's draining and it's exhilarating all at the same time. When you lose it, you crave it and fear that you'll never find it again. I suppose it's an addiction that most everyone wants, and it seems to be awfully hard to find sometimes. Each time you're lucky enough to find it, your mind and heart race with all the possibilities it poses. But each time you're unlucky enough to lose it, the pain seems more intense than the last, though you build your walls and defenses and it sadly becomes easier to deal with. Thus a vicious cycle begins. Each time you meet someone worthy of your love, it's harder and harder to let yourself go and just be.

you read it? your thoughts, please. being in love then and being in love now are worlds apart, and i'm curious how your view may have changed (especially if you read this review when i originally posted it on myspace).

Monday, November 17, 2008

sunday morning coming down

since the weather in morgantown, west virginia was bad and getting worse, the organizers of the trek to cooper's rock bailed on the trip. perhaps this weekend, we'll try again. waking up groggy and deflated from a blowout win, i expected a lazy sunday.

no, wait, i didn't. climbing! hellacious wind gusts overnight left the rocks nice and dry and the temps somewhere around 40. perfect. tromping down the leaf-strewn trail with my crash pad and a beginning of the day stranger, we searched for the fabled long wall and easter egg boulder. i'd tried in vain to find them this summer, but was appalled by the stench of raw sewage runoff from a spill earlier that week. i bailed about 100 yards from where i wanted to be.

there was no mistaking long wall. it was...a long..wall. well done and creative, you first ascensionists. the highball warm ups were more like free soloing, but the holds were good, even if the face was scummy from mud runoff. scrubbed 'em down, and topped 'em out. if it weren't for graffiti, i'd have sworn i was at lrc. good grippy texture, nice flat landing. sent a few lines there, including one that we refused to grade because the grades at this microcrag are all over the board. the prettiest line we had was technical and tested our footwork and contact strength. tim sent it first and i took away some moves with my ape index when i sent.

easter egg boulder was home to only two problems. first one, pull off the jugs to slopey slap-happy slabbing. dynamic to static moves. i'd liken it to udge, nudge, or grudge plus a move. not that i've done any of those three, but... the other one, didn't much try it. too small of holds for me, and my fingers were getting pretty tender from the schist and crystals. for pictures, check on facebook.

a good half day. anyone who comes to visit might actually get to boulder now. not a destination crag by any means, just something to futz around on if the weather's decent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

oh, metro!

i love people watching. a short one from yesterday morning.

headed to foggy bottom, teething toddler screaming bloody murder. as soon as i get on the train, i'm making faces at this kid. he immediately stops crying, starts bouncing and giggling and chewing on his little bitty rattles and toys and such. kind of like growing up going to mass with mom, except i was a little less reserved since it wasn't a stodgy church.

five metro stops later, his parents say thank you, little guy waves goodbye, and i set out for my epic walking adventures.

good grub, good stuff!

today i had a frat boy meeting, again. this colony re-expansioneering is a helluva time gobbler. that makes three events this week alone. i'm hoping it settles soon so that i can honor my commitment. i like my free time. i like my 80s movie nights with my better half. i like riding my bike. i like climbing. i realized something last night. i'm not the intense delt i used to be. the guys i keep up with have moved on with their lives, in that it's not the sole focus of their lives. do they hang out mostly with delts? yep. is it a result of our days at 1926 west university avenue? most definitely. i find that the guys i keep up with up here are almost anti-delts in their commitment to those days past. i was asked last night where the 10 or so boys of ol' florida were at the alumni events i've been to recently. absent. that's where. we'll work on that.

anyhow, the weather was supposed to be awful today. i walk out of the meeting, and it's a sunny, windy day. for some odd reason, i decide to kill my time by walking from foggy bottom to capitol hill. for you non-locals, that's about 3 miles as the crow flies. as you may know, i do not sport black feathers. it was a pretty nice walk. i passed a couple of protests for the G-20 summit, saw about a million dc cops, and ambled past a proposition 8 rally in front of the capitol. it was a nice day for a protest.

by this point, i'm starving. sandwich? nah. burrito? nah, too hit or miss. bar food? probably....WAIT A SECOND. good stuff? i like where your head's at. if you're not a top chef devotee, last season had a contestant named spike. kind of polarizing, but he opened a burger joint in capitol hill. i'd heard the buzz, and for once, i happened to be hungry and in front of its doors.

best. burger. ever.

i liked it so much, i went back after the game and had some fries and onion rings and a milkshake. all delicious. i've been craving a good burger for a while now. i think i might be a new addict.

Monday, November 10, 2008

a tale of two cities

first, an old article from slate magazine. it was written in 1993 when the clintons were moving to the district. they updated a few things, but their primer of the city for president-elect obama seems pretty accurate to me.

done? ok, good. it's funny to me how the article references some in the city that come here for political jobs or financial jobs or just the hell of it that never venture outside of their safe little enclave. this is a two city kind of town. i love the diversity. i'm glad that some of my friends live in columbia heights and shaw and the u street corridor. i'd never have ventured to chinatown or black cat or artomatic in the east side of town without them to guide me along the way. sure, there's the hip, trendy parts on the east side, and i've hit them up too. this city is far too diverse to not try to breathe in all of its uniqueness. i find more in common with the eastsiders than the northwesters in mentality and personality than i do with the yanks that populate most of the rest of the city.

it's that slower, southern speech that makes me feel at home. it's not name dropping. it's weather talking. gonna be a cold one today. it's not work work work. it's gotta get home to sunday dinner with the family. working enough to get by, but not enough to get ahead.

life is more than just work. it's football in the fall and laughing children at the park and singing in the rain and listening to street music and eating ethnic foods and listening to different points of view and reading in the sunshine and laughing at tourists and....

Friday, November 7, 2008

rabbit lovers, part deux

in my new recipe series, here's an easy breakfast casserole that you can make for the masses or just your small lil' family. i prepped it last night for our staff breakfast this morning. 'twas a hit. i doubled it since it was for so many, and i'm glad i did. all that's left is about one spoonful from a 8" x 16" casserole dish.

one cup of dry grits. don't use instant.
one cup of shredded cheese. i used sharp cheddar, but you could make this all kinds of delicious with different cheesy blends. sargento makes that pretty easy!
two eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of butter
seasonings to taste.
optional: bacon, sausage, home fries, chili peppers. use your imagination.

cook the grits according to package directions. stir often to keep them from sticking to the bottom of your pot. when they're done, add the other ingredients to the grits and stir well. if you just dump them in, the eggs will probably poach instead of combining to thicken the grits. when you have a uniform, delicious solution, pour into a greased casserole dish.

you can bake it right then in your preheated 350 degree oven, or put it in the fridge overnight. either way, my recipe said to bake it for an hour. that seemed a bit much since everything was pretty much cooked already. i don't know if it holds together better after an hour because i only left it in for 45 minutes. i got so many compliments on it, and yes, it was that easy.

well, except for the butter jumping out of the pot and skittering across the floor. (no, i didn't put it back in! i had more in the fridge, thankfully.) you know how much of a pain in the neck it is to clean butter off linoleum? i don't recommend trying it yourself. well, the butter on the floor nonsense. i do recommend making this for yourself. i bet it keeps real well, and you could eat on it all week long for breakfast. it's probably not very low in calories or saturated fat, but what delicious foods are?!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


sorry to be on a downward spiral today, but i got a bit of bad news today. some of you may know him, some may not. i've got a very close friend named brian. he is a walking warrior, the very embodiment of "the few, the proud, the marines." he and i have known each other since middle school, but it wasn't until high school that we became more than friends, more like brothers. we've walked our different paths in life: mine to college and calm stateside jobs, his to parris island, south carolina and exciting top secret missions. when our paths reconverge as they sometimes do, it's easily apparent that we've been close. it's been a few years now since i've seen him, but that's merely circumstantial.

he spent the better part of three years in japan, jumping out of planes, and diving beneath the waves of the sea of japan. trained austrailian troops way down under. he's been to iraq three times and come home safely each time. he's now in afghanistan, trying to help stabilize the mess its been in for the last 30 years. i got an email today that's made me sick to my stomach and brought this war on terror finally home to my life.

he was on his way back from a mission when an IED destroyed his humvee. he suffered a major concussion and some serious bruises. some others with him weren't as lucky. he'll be fine, and will be returning stateside in february. i rarely ask for them from my friends because he's been safe thus far, and the prayers watching him to date have kept him in one piece. say a prayer for him and his unit tonight, that they make it home safely. i surely appreciate it.

closed minded people

some friends of mine had joked, some quipped seriously, about moving to canada if mccain was elected for another four years of republicans. hell, slate magazine posted a parody video about it! if you missed it, see below. it hasn't even been 12 hours since barack obama has become our first african/american president elect. oh, how the tide has turned!

aside from the elation many feel over this historic election, the anger others feel confounds me. in the short amount of time since it was called, i have heard no less than 5 people within my seven degrees of separation call for moving to canada, costa rica, et al, all because of barack's election.

aren't we all americans first? last time i checked, this wasn't republicanistan, nor is it democratia. i've not traveled outside of our borders too often (four whole days in america lite), but i know by osmosis that beyond isn't as comfortable and easy as these threateners-to-leave make it seem. the only reason it's nice in those countries for you is because you're a prosperous american. you have money. you can afford to make it nice and insulate yourself from the day-to-day realities of many of the people in the world. except of course for canada. it's just effin' cold up there.

so if you're mad, shut your mouth, and act like an adult. a country full of eric cartmans we are not.

"screw you guys, i'm going home." this is america, not trey parker and matt stone's south park, colorado. grow up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

new age exit polls

this is my third presidential election. i've never been exit polled. the cnn and foxnews folks should look to facebook status updates for their exit polls from now on. well, at least for the young folks. if my friends are any indication, obama wins by about 80 points...

i got up at 6:30, was out the door about five minutes later, at the polls by 6:40 i'd estimate. the line was down the block and almost around the corner. i'd say close to 200 deep. i read my magazine cover to cover, shivered a little, and cast my vote. 7:30 i was walking back to my apartment to eat breakfast and get ready for the day. thank GOD it's all over.

yeah, that's not so realistic. here i sit in this bastion of american democracy, mid-atlantic fall descending upon us, foreboding mood outside. i ought to go watch the results roll in, but i'm a victim of inertia right now. she's ill, and most of my other area friends are going to watch the results at the hawk and dove, a capitol hill bar that is apparently THE place to be on election night. i'm not too keen on going into the district because of the weather and my recent bout of experiences with metro's punctuality.

anyone want to go to the arlington drafthouse with me? anyone?

happy election day!

a little humor from my favorite news site. get out and vote.

Friday, October 31, 2008

random movie quotes, halloween edition

we decided to watch the cheesy 80s slasher flicks, in honor of all hallow's eve. all the movies we weren't allowed to watch back when we were kids. understandably so because they would've scared the pants off us!

1) "I just asked you to do one thing, to stay awake and watch me and to wake me up if it looked like I was having a bad dream, and what did you do, you shit?"

2) "Did you know a young boy drowned the year before those two others were killed? The counselors weren't paying any attention... They were making love while that young boy drowned. His name was..."

3) "I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


as usual, an entertaining evening in the district was ruined by a long, silver train. when i go into the city in the daytime, i never have problems with missed trains or long delays between them. the later it gets in the evening, the longer the waits become and the more asinine metro's policies become. last night, waiting for a transfer at metro center, two empty trains passed through the station without letting any of the 100+ people on the platform on. i know they're trying to stack up their trains at the line termini (plural of terminus?), but it seems awfully wasteful at the same time for them to not carry passengers when metro is still open! a trip that took us 30 minutes to get into the city, transfer included, stretched out to 75 minutes back out. c'mon metro!

because i didn't get home until 11:30, it's going to be a long day. i had a scarf on when i left my house...i think. somewhere in between picking up my bag and walking to my car, i lost it. how it fell off in less than 100 steps without me noticing, i'll never know. i sure hope it's not a harbinger of things to come today...

on another note, i had a good spot to watch the drag race last night. the queen that won the race would've given usain bolt a run for his money. and yes, the queen in question was wearing high heels. the post covered it, too, so my coworkers didn't think i was crazy when i described it.

this was last year's race. if you remember, i went and had a blast then also.

happy halloween, y'all!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

commuting + tomfoolery = carfoolery

the last two weeks, i've been in a funk at work. it's carried over to home, too. i'm just tired all the time. work is a stressful drag, even though i have a wonderful class this year. as was the case my third year teaching, i couldn't ask for a better class. even my troubled-is-as-troubled-does is having a helluva good year. i'm feeling mighty optimistic that his improvement from the beginning of second grade to the end of third will be monumental. it's early yet, but the first set of crossroads have passed.

thursday morning, i figured out one cause of my general malaise. i was pretty much sleepwalking to work in the mornings. i am a social creature and having someone to talk to in the mornings about something besides work wakes me up better than coffee. i had that in florida with my mother hens. they'd ask about this and that, pick my brain about who i was dating, what i did over the weekend, where i was going climbing next. how i miss that normal banter that makes me feel like a human instead of a robot! back to the present, my morning commute this year has restored that interaction to a large degree. the days that i carpool, i am more alert throughout the day. i get to bullshit about life outside of school with a friend before getting to school and talking shop for 10 hours.

small story, laughter is better than caffeine. time to go watch some football. chomp chomp.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

attention, rabbit lovers!

that'd be those of you that read this that like rabbits so much you eat like them. i'm even going to share this with some of you that don't necessarily read this. if you're new to my ranting and raving, welcome. disclaimer, i'm not a vegetarian, nor have i ever tried to be. i think this soup is quite tasty; i have made it twice in the last 3 weeks. here's the second incarnation. i preferred this one, she preferred the first. i think a combination of the recipes might make it the best.

first, equipment. sharp knife, oven, cookie sheet, large saucepot, some sort of processor (i use an immersion blender, but a normal blender or food processor would work nicely too).

half of a butternut squash
half of a cooking pumpkin
one box of vegetable stock
4 small potatoes
1 cup half & half
cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, various other spices as you wish.

cut the pumpkin and squash in half. remove the seeds and pulp. rub with olive oil and bake for 20-30 minutes. just enough to soften them up. while they're baking, peel and quarter the potatoes. when the gourds are softened up, cut, peel, and cut them into chunks. this takes a while and some serious elbow grease. make sure you have a sharp knife and some patience.

add the vegetable stock and vegetables to the sauce pan. sprinkle cinnamon over the mixture enough to leave a thin film. boil them as if you were making mashed potatoes. when done, process them somehow (here's where my immersion blender came in handy.) blend it all together in the sauce pot, adding the cup of cream. vegan folks, i reckon you could use soy milk?

ladle into bowls with a teaspoon (or so) of honey. a little cayenne pepper really makes it great.

the previous recipe, i didn't use a pumpkin. i used a few sweet potatoes and the whole butternut squash instead. the regular potatoes gave it a better texture in my humble opinion, but she said the sweet potatoes made it sweeter (and thus better). you be the judge.


Monday, October 20, 2008

seriously? seriously!

after the whirlwind weekend of driving and relaxing and yoga-ing and strolling and bicycling and visiting, emphasis on wind, i realized that i had not a speck, not a crumb of food in my refrigerator to take for lunch this lovely fall day. that aside, i've learned in this new routine up here, it's best to plan around the climbing schedule when it comes to food shopping. when i've gone to the grocery store after climbing, i spend approximately 3,152% more than if it were a normal night. that's just a ballpark figure; i'm still double-checking my figures. i think it may be a tad too low.

back to the topic at hand. i needed grub at the grocery store. off i went. the first stop is always the deli to get my quality luncheon meats and cheeses for delicious sandwiches for lunch. recession or not, i'm not gonna skimp on my sandwiches. store brand cold cuts (or worse, prepackaged ones!) just don't cut the mustard. last night, empty shopping cart in the deli with my reusable shopping bags that i'd resisted purchasing until this year. now i'm actually in the habit of using them.

again, i digress. i get my delicious deli meats, virginia ham and swiss cheese this week. a loaf of dark german wheat bread and spicy brown mustard await the pairing at home. i do the rest of my shopping, searching in vain to replenish my nutella supply, and head to the checkout. when i arrive, i pull my bags....er, bag out from underneath my purchases to bag my groceries.

wait, a second. i had two bags in my car. i had two bags in the parking lot. i had two bags at the deli...somebody stole one of my bags? seriously?

seriously. it's a dollar, folks. i appreciate your desire to be more green, but stealing to accomplish that end? that's like ecoterrorism on a smaller scale. earthfirst activists blowing up logging trucks. but much smaller. you do know that the very same store where you committed your petty larceny sells the very same bags brand new?

i guess i'll be buying a shiny new one for myself. ooh, maybe i'll get the limited edition redskins bag while you use my grimy, year-old stanky one. take that!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


i've tried my best to be a good yoga student. i learned how to breathe properly, how to move slowly in poses, how to try being present in the moment. with accomplished yogis guiding my way, i still always struggled to clear my mind and relax during the active parts of classes.

when i went to class in the park with my favorite yogi, i struggled to shake the sleep from my brain. more often than not, i couldn't stay for the entire class and had trouble focusing on more than my watch, lest i be late to meet my parents for lunch for example. if i made it to the end of class, it was usually because i arrived late, and i was playing catch up limbering up. struggles.

i took a class at school last year for eight weeks on mondays. simply being at school would not allow my mind to clear. stresses of the day were hard to shake when i was still in the place that housed them. the best i was able to do was fall asleep at the end of class. snoring.

saturday afternoon, i finally was able to clear out stresses. with an inexperienced yogi. perhaps it was my self-conscious nature at previous classes that held me back, but i was absolutely relaxed and mind cleared throughout the class. balanced. mind focused on peaceful settings. mountains out west. boulders back east. toes in the ocean. fingers in the snow. it finally convinced me that i can do yoga on my own. all i need is a mat, and i have my balcony to sharpen my focus. i'll see what i can do starting then.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

puppy love

i often wonder how my kids will turn out. no, not biological kids. none of those in my life yet. there's a few more steps in the path between me and munchkins.

how my students will turn out. my first year teaching i was sure that i was going to stay around alachua long enough to see my first class graduate from high school. different plans were clearly in store for me. i'd even gone so far as to plan to take out an ad in the santa fe high school yearbook for their senior year. maybe i'll still do that. let's see...they'd be in eighth grade now. i think. four more years!

it's funny seeing the kids in my class interact with one another and wonder who will still be friends beyond this year. which friendships will fail, as they often do. which ones will flourish or begin anew, much to the surprise of those around them now. i think about the friends i ran around with in middle school, in high school, in college. they couldn't be more different. as kids change, so do their friends. some of my best friends in childhood were from the neighborhood or scouts. i couldn't tell you the names of many friends from elementary school, excepting the few that wound up at my high school.

what train of thought led me to this wondering state? last night at the gym, two of the kids on the climbing team were goofing off with one another. he clearly had a crush on her; she was completely oblivious to his flirting, likening it to normal friendship. that body language gave him away. his goofy grin when he looked at her; her annoyed sighs when he wouldn't stop bothering her. they'll probably remain friends if they keep climbing. something more, who knows. on the playground today, i saw two of my kids from last year. neighbors and friends, they'd make a cute couple.

in high school, that is. now, that's just too weird to contemplate.

a.k.a. i'm a nerd

museums are fun. there's a ton of them up here. she and i went museum hopping yesterday. we were on a mission to see two new exhibits. i guess that's what happens when you actually take in culture. you can pick and choose what you want to see. only want to see one exhibit at a museum? have at it. you ain't missing nothing.

so, museum number one. natural history. last year, checked out some of the permanent exhibits and a kids' photo competition. it was a lot of fun. probably more for the company than the rocks and minerals. this year, there was a new oceans exhibit that just opened. it. was. rad. there's a right whale hanging from the ceiling. there's a giant squid and a coelacanth. a reef tank with a skittles bag full of nemo's friends. excited kids running amok. on a whim, checked out the butterflies exhibit too. not nearly as big as the exhibits i've seen in chattanooga or in south florida, but it's small size meant that the hundreds of papillons were right in your face.

museum number two. american art. it's paired up with the portrait gallery, where we've previously seen the hip hop portraiture exhibit. there was a new ansel adams and georgia o'keefe exhibit. this makes two adams exhibits we've seen in the district. this one was really cool because of its juxtaposition with o'keefe's southwestern paintings. it was really awesome to see the pieces that clearly shared a subject. ansel's photography was less impressionistic that georgia's, but it was fairly obvious that the subjects were the same. as usual, i was fascinated by his work and fairly amazed that there were more shots of his that i'd not seen before.

it was nice not being harassed as locals in our day of touristing. perhaps it was the backpack and sneakers. perhaps it was the baguettes and cheese for a picnic lunch. perhaps it was asking real tourists to take goofy pictures of us on the mall. most of all, it may have been the only-a-tourist-will-wear-this t-shirts we bought at a kiosk in the ballston mall. i should do that more often!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

reflections on a year past

whew! had i not been so crazy busy working my students today, my mind might have wandered where it ought not. they're off to p.e. now, so i do what i usually do at the end of the day. leave the lights off and chill out until they leave.

a year past. last year, today was the second monday in october. columbus day. yesterday was the day i rolled back from hound ears, relaxed and stressed all at once. you see, i had this date with a girl i'd met very soon after i relocated. fate intervened, and our paths kept crossing. she and i had tentative plans for a lunch and museum date the following day (that'd be today, folks, stay with me.). stomach butterflies worsened due to traffic snarls delaying her arrival at our meeting spot. we were far past lunchtime, and had to hurry through the museum. the natural historians kicked us out, and we found our way to chinatown. a chill, brief afternoon date turned into seven hours or so, ending with the sunset on the mall.

it's been an epic journey since then. travels together. family. friends. weddings. a funeral. easy meals. banana pancakes. eighties movies. delicious cupcakes. snow. rain. sunshine. it amazes me how much has changed in a short year. with the five years beforehand to compare to, it's like i'm not even the same person.

early morning phone call to start the day. i can't wait for dinner tonight or our museum-hopping planned for monday.

Monday, October 6, 2008

pretty fly

"fly. that's the only way that i can describe those shoes, benjames." thanks, margarita. that's the only way i can describe my exhausting weekend of catching up with climbers old and new. wish the weekend and the climbing wasn't so abbreviated.

pretty fly morning of climbing. warmed up on a nemesis. prettiest 20 foot boulder line in the field. The Heretic. three years in the making, it finally went down. followed soon thereafter by Honzo Blade. and thus began my assault on tiny, tiny holds. i closed out the morning, sending the hardest problem i've ever climbed. The Unforgiven. credit card-thickness crimp near the top. V7. maybe i'll turn into a V8 climber after all. ten months progression between grades. as long as i stay healthy, that is.

following a lunchtime snack, i worked hard the rest of the day. no sends, but good progress made on some wicked cool lines. if the weather's nice next year, i might even get a few more of them. i guess when you shoot for the stars, invariably, you'll miss more often than not. i think in the competitive atmosphere, a little sandbagging is needed to actually get those 10 climbs in before the end of the day. there's no way i can crank at my limit for an entire day. that's alright though. pictures to follow when i get them.

fly friends around, new ones by association. dinner at black cat, good beer afterwards. yelled at by the campground folks for being up too late and having too much fun. next morning brought too much dew and slow moving friends. great southern breakfast, pack up and hit the blacktop.

long drive there and back. more fun on the twisties in the daylight, golden rays of sunlight trickling through the almost-changing fall leaves. hairpin turns aren't quite as hair-raising without fog and deer around each one. handled more adeptly by my new whip, but still far short of the two-seat roadster i secretly wish i could whip around those curves in. better yet, the bike i know i'll never hop on.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a sense of belonging

for the longest time, i had trouble forging bonds with the new gym crowd. i knew few names, and far fewer knew mine. last night when i left the gym in my final pre-hound ears training session, the majority of the people i was climbing with knew who i was and conversely, i knew who they were. it felt a little more like the grg of old.

my plans of dragging a few dc folks along with me to boone were for naught. turns out it'll just be me and a nouveau grger on the road in my blue hatchback. she's good people. seems a lot like one grger that i often wind up climbing with because we have similar styles. i do enjoy the trips with people i hardly know. it ain't the first one, and i doubt it'll be the last...

Monday, September 29, 2008

silver lining

in mourning last night, amidst big ten faithful, i got a dig on a buckeye without even trying.

waiting in line for the bathroom when i first got there, a buckeye turns to me and asks, "what's the deal with the 'thank you' and 'you're welcome'? is it a penn state thing?"

it took me a second to realize that he was asking me not because i was at the penn state bar, but because i was wearing a penn state hat. i had no idea what he was talking about, this being my initial encounter with the happy valley crew.

as i corrected his incorrect assessment of my allegiance, his face fell, "i have no idea. i'm a gator."


Sunday, September 28, 2008


up and down day. my gators lost.

i built a bridge yesterday. that's right, i built a bridge. as part of adopt-a-crag, the mid atlantic climbers and the access fund did some trail work yesterday at carderock. this was the sixth year for adopt-a-crag at carderock, and in the past, i'm told it was little more than spreading mulch. from many scout service projects, i recall that spreading about 60 cubic yards of mulch is not what most would call fun. i was bound and determined to get on the crew that was building and moving and digging rather than the ones that were pitchforking and dumping load after load of mulch.

it was slow going at first, beset on all sides by subterranean rocks to prevent setting the rebar. we managed to find some gaps and with some creative cutting, we managed to level out our twelve foot bridge with some simple trigonometry from an engineer and pure grunt carpentry. predrilling nail holes became the modus operandi. my nail setting skill returned from my decking days with rance and didn't need the predrill, much to the chagrin of the dewalt-wielding fellow builder.

the bridge treads didn't lay out perfectly. there was going to be a big gap that wasn't quite wide enough for one of our foot treads, but far too wide to space out the rest of them to fake it. so i had to rip one of the treads to 2 5/8". perfect with the circular saw. the teammates were summarily impressed. i'll find the pictures online somewhere and share them with y'all.

that aside, i went 7-3 in my college picks. i've been having a good season. georgia lost. 'bama won. ohio state won. illinois looked good, but penn state won. that took the sting off a little bit. being surrounded by rabid fans who think by appearance that you're one of them makes any game fun. it was especially so yesterday among the happy valley faithful at rhino bar. espn kept showing our gator lowlights though.

at least i built a bridge.

Friday, September 26, 2008

fifty weeks

mind blown. i still can't quite wrap my head around this one. i'm not sure what to write or what to share. i've written several paragraphs below this one about this and that and deleted them all. as i've said before, i'm not sharing too many details about us. if you want to know, all you've got to do is talk to me. it's not like anyone reads this blog anyways!

speechlessly happy. dumbfoundedly lovestruck. i guess that's about all i can say. everything else is for she and i to discuss.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

all things considered

strike one, slept in until seven this morning. oops. i don't like hurrying in the morning, even less so when someone else is depending on me. i had to pick up casey at 7:20. mcdonald's southern style chicken biscuit and a sweet tea is not the way i usually choose to start my day.

i made my lunch last night. strike two, it's still in my fridge. i realized the problem as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at school. fortunately, i was able to order out for lunch on the playground. it showed up with five minutes to spare for my lunch period. fortunately times two, the guidance counselor scheduled an introductory lesson after lunch for me today so i was able to quietly eat my sub & salad while she taught.

all things considered, strike three could've come anywhere. nothing major anyhow. here i sit at home, bored and waiting for that third one to come in, high and tight.

sure hope i don't whiff on it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

mmm, sulfur!

i'm a writer for a music website called jamsbio. well, sort of. i was a beta writer. once they stopped paying for contributing, i kinda quit doing it. more important phish to phry. the premise of the site is that certain songs are linked to memories in your life. listen to a song, tell a story to go along with it. interesting concept, no?

whilst on a bicycle ride today, mind a-wandering, i connected another sense to memories. the beginning of my ride was hella fun. zipping along a paved path, twisting alongside four mile run in breezy wooded glory. much fun. except for that god-awful smell. sulfur. it immediately linked to several happier memories in my past. thank goodness! here it is, my moment of zcent.

the ball fields in north lauderdale were next to the water treatment plant. every fall (or was it the spring?) i played ball in the asphyxiating stench of sulfur used or released in the treatment of raw sewage. i loved playing baseball, bad as i was, so my young mind came to associate that smell with baseball. the smell of the non-potable sprinkler water used municipally at most city and county parks always brought me back.

when we moved to coral springs in the last month or so of fifth grade, i quickly realized that living less than a quarter mile from the treatment plant would put that smell in my nostrils for the majority of the days i played front lawn baseball or football or rode my bike. it was then that i also started camping in boy scouts. any of you that've been to camp seminole in davie (few in number for sure!) know that the water we were supposed to drink and clean with was tainted by the same resident of number 16, periodic table. it took a few years before my taste buds would adjust to the shock of such a vile elixir, nevermind my body to the simultaneous shock of a cold outdoor shower and the sensation of not getting clean in tainted water.

i'm not really sure where the stench came from today. dog poo fermenting in four mile run. industrial runoff along west glebe road. stagnating water. straight up raw sewage. who knows. all i can say for certain is that, pretty as it was, i'm probably going to avoid that route until it cools off and that cooked putrid olfactory assault subsides to less nausea-inducing levels.

Friday, September 19, 2008

oh, climbing magazine!

from this week's dispatch. a how-to guide for gals and guys unwilling to be hit on at the climbering gym.

Tech Tip - Sport - Welcome to the Jungle (Gym)
by Krisitn Bjornsen

Seven tips for warding off plastic predators
YOU FEEL EYES UPON YOU — is that panting you hear? You flee to the bouldering cave . . . but you’re cornered. Any second, the lone, roving male will pounce, turning your once-pleasant session into a socially awkward morass. To avoid such scenes, you visit the gym at weird hours, but even this doesn’t always work. However, there are some simple ways to repel the mack-inations of even the most persistent rock Romeos.

Before you start, prepare to identify your foe. Five distinct species of male inhabit the rock gym: Skin Monkey (usually shirtless, aggro, and prone to grunting); Smarmot (an unctuous, PepĂ© Le Pew-like creature who uses pick-up lines like “Nice rack!”); Chigger (doesn’t take “No” for an answer); the Coach (sprays unsolicited “technique tips” that might make sense); and the bona fide Nice Guy, who wants only to climb and maybe meet someone. While this last type deserves friendly honesty (because, hey, the gym still beats the produce section, the bar, or — heaven forbid — The Sims for meeting people), the former four must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. I recommend the following seven tips. (Note to randy gym d00ds: these pointers will provide insight into how not to meet women.)

1. Evasive Maneuvers
With practice, you can learn to spot an incoming predator (you’ll likely smell the Axe Bodyspray, with nearby climbers scattering). Once alerted, activate your impenetrable “Estro-Shield,” in the form of several female friends, avoiding eye contact with your stalker as you immerse yourself in the group.

2. Dress for (No-Molest) Success

Wear actual clothing. That means no whale tail, “Juicy” short-shorts, or sports bras that could double as pasties. Basically, the only
visible jugs should be on the wall, and if you dyno, nothing should pop out. I know, I know: women should be able to show off their
bodies — this is the age of female empowerment, blah, blah, blah. . . . Ah, right, because when a girl stems while dressed like a Pussycat Doll, that’s just what guys are thinking: “Wow . . .she’s so empowered.” [See Sporting Life, Climbing No. 269, p.42, for the Fleshfest Self-Evaluation Scale.]

3. Say Hello to My Little Friend!

Climb with a guy friend, especially a burly, angry-looking one — you know, the Tony Montana, protective-older-brother type. “I’ll often climb with a male friend, which usually keeps the creepy guys away,” says the trad climber LeeAnn Stevens, of Boulder, Colorado. “Although it does keep away the sexy, rugged ones, too.”

4. Authorized Personnel Only

Guard your safety zone. One tactic guys use to pierce your personal bubble is the Belay Loop Sneak: Casanova finishes a route using an autobelayer and unclips the carabiner from his harness. But rather than simply handing you the biner, so you can have a turn, he “helpfully” attaches it to your belay loop, his hand coming dangerously close to (even grazing) restricted areas. (Anecdotal evidence reveals that males only do this when the autobelayer awaitee is female.) The Belay Loop Sneak is not acceptable, and you should quickly intercept the carabiner or grabby hand with a swift, karate-chop motion. Same goes for the Chalk Bag Sneak and the ever-cheeky, figure-8-loosening Finger of Forwardness.

5. Shrinkage

Outclimb them. This frightens away 98 percent of male suitors.

6. Tell the Truth

Patent lies like “I got a man!” “I have SARS,” or ”¡Estoy loca!” will eventually be uncovered. Instead, just be blunt. At Yosemite’s Camp 4, where the horny-dude vibe is “worse than the gym,” says big-wall climber Lizzy Scully, “I generally just smile nicely at [my would-be suitor], reply to his questions with one-word answers, and then either walk away and find a friend or, as I did in one extreme case, say, ‘Excuse me, but I’m trying to climb. Please leave me alone. Thanks.’”

7. Jock Block

Wear headphones, which act as a Do Not Disturb sign. If a roaming predator still attempts eye contact, look anywhere but directly at him (i.e., ‘What is that fascinating splotch on the ceiling?’). And, of course, avoid high-risk climbing times, such as student-discount night and “Swingers’ Sunday.”

For the Guys: Coug-Alert!

Fit climber dudes are like catnip to on-the-prowl females of a certain age. Cougar warning signs include: inordinate amounts of brightly colored makeup; rock shoes that match the pants (that match the shirt, which matches the chalk bag . . . ); manicured claws (I mean, nails); and batting-eye requests for Beta or a spot. After the latter, “She inevitably breaks into small talk, and then asks, ‘So, do you climb outside much?’ followed by, ‘You have to take me!’” says one of our male sources. To make your escape, respond with, “I don’t have any outside plans right now,” and then back slowly away. (Don’t run, lest you trigger the cougar’s hunting instincts.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

i can't

this pace of life the last few weeks is wearing me out. i need some r & r. after a weekend spent at home for barely more than to sleep, i've got another busy one coming up. lord help me make it to october 4th!

Monday, September 15, 2008

changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

down south, bouldering is king. at least among my friends. sure, there's shiny bolts to clip and i've heard of splitters to plug gear in, but the number of boulderers i know far outnumber the ropers. practically no one climbs top rope outside, aside from sussing out moves on a tough sport route before attempting the redpoint.

the people are different too. yesterday, i was privy to the climber genre war that only presents itself in online forums. i went toproping. met up with some folks from a local climbers' listserv. missy was curious why i had to get up so early, and consequently go to bed somewhat early on saturday night. i surmised that it was because of the difference in age and life station between myself and my expected climbing partners. my guess, 5-10 years older, married, families, perhaps kids, unlikely to boulder much.

survey says...87 responses, our number one answer!

not only was i the youngest in our crew, i'd also been climbing for the longest. it still strikes me as odd that i'm a good climber among certain groups. i've been humbled by the rock around here a time or two since moving, only to be confused by how easy the routes were yesterday. granted, none of them were sustained throughout, but i put most of them down in short order. one of the routes was a 5.8 called butterfingers. maybe 20 feet off the deck was the crux move, a mantle to a sloping ledge. from the ground, i knew exactly how to negotiate it. i cruised the route, and had to show those on the ground (including my belayer) several times how to make the move before i hit terra firma again. any boulderer friend of mine would do that move in flip flops without a problem. the biggest problem yesterday was the seeping rock; otherwise, i might've tried more than just the one 5.10 that was dry and full of sustained, crimpy, footwork-intensive, slabolicious climbing. perhaps when it cools off and the rain rain goes away for another day or week i'll head back to sugarloaf and be a climbing phenom again.

then again, maybe not. it sure is hard to crank when there's no one to chase...

Friday, September 12, 2008

keeping afloat

it ain't easy learning the ropes all over again. i'm staying afloat. barely.

climbing and cycling are keeping me sane. we went for a nice, long bike ride on sunday in gorgeous weather. my place to old town alexandria. stopped for lunch by the river. laying around in the grass, watching people walk their dogs, push their infants in strollers, playing beach volleyball, stroll with their spouses, talk with their grandparents. grandsons in matching getups with their grandpas. young moms teaching their toddlers. old folks in their sunday best. locked the bikes up, checked out the torpedo factory and the plaza on the river. street musicians and balloon animal makers. kid smile producers. birds birds and birds. shakespeare lovers performing a midsummer's night dream.

heading back north along the potomac on mount vernon trail. water break at gravelly point to watch the planes take off at reagan. families everywhere. bikes everywhere. subarus with sailboats on trailers. tahoes with speedboats. a taxing final three or four miles through rosslyn and some neighborhoods to get back here. two bikes sit in my apartment now, hers and mine.

started bouldering again this week. lots of power lost in the top roping hiatus, but i think it'll return reasonably quickly. i'm gunshy about the left knee, but it ought to be in fighting shape by the time hound ears rolls around.

here's hoping anyhow...

Sunday, September 7, 2008


last night was the first time that i felt somewhat at home when i went out in d.c. in case you missed it, the Gators played the hurricanes last night. if yesterday's weather was any indication of how the game would play out, hanna was all bluster and no substance. clear skies by gametime, there was actually a little fall feel by dusk. that calm after the storm that is my favorite thing about big ol' tropical rain makers.

anyhow, when i walked into the bar, i'd made two new gator friends from the metro. lo and behold, i run into an ex-delt. this guy i genuinely thought well of, until he kept doing dumb stuff and got himself kicked out. so, i'm standing there, drinking pitchers with him when jedd shows up. round about the second quarter, the boss and her entourage showed up. i run downstairs to the head, run into another dc delt, and a stranger approaches me. she knows a few of my friends, and we'd actually crashed on the same square of carpet down in chattanooga in december whilst on a climbing trip. lee's accommodations are so lush! by the time the game was over, i felt like i actually knew a few people in this town. granted, most of them were friends from elsewhere, but what else would i expect when i go to watch the game with gator alumni?!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

d.c. politics saturation

the funny thing about this city and the surrounding 'burbs is how saturated with politics everything is. everyone has an opinion about this or that and feels the need to share it when a tiny opportunity presents itself. case in point, last night as i shopped for the contents of a care package for an old friend. he's a marine, deployed in afghanistan. it's his fourth tour overseas; the previous three were in iraq.

i asked romona the cashier to keep my two bags of stuff separate, as one was a care package for a marine. we got to talking about his duties and deployments when out of the blue, "well, he's got bush to thank for that!"

silence. crickets. i didn't know how to respond. many of you don't know brian. he's a character to say the least. as long as i've known him, all he wanted to do was serve our country. as i thought more about it, it became clear to me why i'm so conflicted about the war.

do i think we were misled into iraq? more than likely. do i think that guys like brian bemoan their multiple deployments? absolutely not. if it weren't iraq or afghanistan, it'd be some other theater and far more covert. he'd be bored as hell stuck behind a desk, and while special ops guys are an anomaly, it is what he signed up for. he wouldn't still be at it after 11 years if he weren't good at it, and sad as it is, there's plenty of work for him to do. we're in too deep in iraq to cut and run. i don't think there's an easy answer, but i'm glad that there's been more positive news lately. hopefully, we can help straighten things out and our next president gets all the credit.

Monday, September 1, 2008

fall saturdays are here at last!

after a summer of lazing away on my bike or reading in the sunshine or climbing the rocks, football season just plain snuck up on me. i can't wait for the big games to come along, oh, next week.

start off the day walking around eastern market. people watching, sidewalk musician listening, art appreciating. go to the deli, munch on an incredible chicken salad sandwich, read a book in the sunshine.

walk down pennsylvania avenue towards the pour house, orange and blue around me. belly up to the bar, and make some friends while waiting on bubba and liz. rawls & mary pam show up first. watch some of virginia tech's first half before our game kicks off. worry a little in the first half, then the gators pour on the points effortlessly. say my goodbyes to the friends old and new, walk towards the capitol with the happy couple.

hop on my bike and take off down pennsylvania, weaving through tourists and tour buses and traffic. past the capitol dome, museums, the white house. cross the key bridge back into the old dominion and take a beverage break. weather couldn't have been nicer. low 80s, cloudless skies. eight mile ride or so.

hit the showers, lay around on the couch, watching football. if i can't be at the swamp, i guess saturday was a damn fine alternative. go gators!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

fauxtography? oops!

yesterday, whilst i was trying to get my room situated and squared away, i was wasting time on the class computers, trying to differentiate them for the kids. what should i use for computer wallpaper? why, my photos, of course!

rather than have the URL in the address bar for them to see whenever they use the computer, i googled "fauxtography" to see if it would appear. (if you've been hiding under a rock lately, check out my pictures. the link is at right, "my foray into photography".) first result that came back was a definition from the urban slang dictionary. being inquisitive by nature, i checked it out to see what they had to say.

first definition of fauxtography:
Fraudulent photography. News images that have been faked by various means, generally to promote an ideological agenda or to manipulate the emotions of the viewer...The word was first used to describe the doctoring of photographs by Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj during the Lebanon War of 2006, and has since been generalized to mean any dishonest or faked news photo.

Methods for creating “fauxtographs” include: using Photoshop (or similar software) to digitally alter the photo; photographing staged scenes or simulated news events and presenting them as real; interfering with or manipulating photo subjects to creat a “more effective” picture; adding inaccurate and/or misleading captions.

well, that certainly doesn't apply to mine, though the etymology is certainly where i came up with the idea, albeit two years after the word was coined. my photos are all natural, no doctoring necessary. the second definition was more concise, but pretty much the same idea of propaganda. let's see that final one:
the crappy pictures of the sky or dead plants that scene kids take with their digital cameras and call it a hobby. They say photography is their passion, but we all know it's really fauxtography.

ah, we're getting closer to the point. one, i'm not a scene kid, so that doesn't work. two, no pictures of the sky or dead plants. three, i know that my crappy digital camera doesn't produce amazing art. does being self aware of this make this definition fit more or less? too late to change the name of the phlog now. oh well. time to go find some dead plants or rainy skies or crying puppies or something else emo...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

school daze

oddly, i'm not too tired this week from getting up early. my overly bright bedroom helped me keep close to my school sleep schedule all summer. however, my energy level to actually work in my classroom this year is low low low. i'm struggling to get it all together, as usual, but this year seems slower than most. moving classrooms and begging borrowing stealing materials since i changed grade level is eating up a lot of time. then, of course, my attention level is decreasing my focus. a summer spent being lazy for the morning, checking email, watching the daily show, resulted in a lack of industriousness. no matter how many times i felt motivated to do a lot in a day this summer, i never managed to finish a manageable task list on any of them.

this does not bode well for the intensity that i've gotten myself into. i'm simultaneously excited and terrified at feeling like this is my first year teaching all over again...

Friday, August 22, 2008

why michelle rhee is ill-suited for the job

this isn't the first time i've heard of something like this, but it's certainly one of the most misguided and broadly applied to raise attendance and test scores. what am i talking about? paying kids to do well in school. no, not by their parents, as it were. by a school district. first off, a little background. michelle rhee is the oft-maligned school chancellor for d.c. public schools. since taking office, she's closed schools, fired teachers, reassigned many more. she's a reformer, and the press seems to have a love-hate relationship with her policies and ideas.

so, i see this on the news last night.
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced plans yesterday to boost dismal achievement at half the city's middle schools by offering students an unusual incentive: cash...Now they are introducing a program that will pay students up to $100 per month for displaying good behavior

the biggest problem i see with this is that it switches motivation to do well from intrinsic to extrinsic. intrinsically, we do things we enjoy without obvious external influences. the best students are intrinsically motivated and actually enjoy learning. granted, the targeted kids don't have much of either, but is giving them an extrinsic reason to learn in their formative years really the best solution?

she reasoned in her press conference that this will prepare them for the work force because school is their job. this is where the parents come in, not the government. school is school, not a job. it prepares you for society and (hopefully) a job later in life. parents are the ones that are supposed to instill the value of education in their kids. sure, i knew kids who got money for good grades in middle school and high school. they did what they had to do to get good grades. did they retain much of what the learned? i doubt it. my parents never even considered such measures, nor did many of my friends'. those friends and i are the ones who still read books for pleasure in adulthood, can carry on intelligent conversations, and take pleasure in being well-informed. i'd venture to guess that many of the intelligent young professionals that populate this great city fit the same mold.

i had a student in florida several years ago that was wholly unmotivated to work hard or participate in school. he bounced between the homes of his oft-jailed father and his never-quite-sober mother and his grandmother. my year with him, he was mostly with his mother, and it was all he could do to make it to school on time with a good night's rest and something to eat for breakfast. he had repeated first grade and was still far below grade level in most subjects. during career month, the students all had to learn about what they wanted to be when they grew up. his lack of motivation in school showed, "why should i pick a job? i'm just going to go to the mailbox once a month just like grandma."

no, it's not easy to motivate kids these days, even with good parenting. that's the point, there's no easy solution to making kids want to learn. great teachers, role models, and parents all fit into the equation. school chancellors that make it rain so the kids behave? not likely.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


since high school, i've been rootless. the longest span i've stayed anywhere since then was two years each in room 27, the laurels, and 3913 with lee. moving is apparently in my character. mind wandering today, bored in class, i realized a few things.

i wish i weren't so rootless. growing up in south florida, my classmates uprooted and moved quite a bit. not often somewhere to a new school, just bigger and "better" houses trending westward and northward towards parkland. i'm thankful that my roots stayed put for ten and a half years, then about eight more until college. my new friends around here are locals. by locals i mean that they returned to their hometowns, more or less, following college. i'd venture to guess that aside from it being expected of them, most of their friends did the same. it sure makes it easier to go home (or near there) if your good friends do the same. while my roots have become more like spanish moss, theirs are like oak trees. it's hard settling roots in rich soil when you're used to the silty sand down south. tropical trees grow slowly in mid-atlantic winters.

i miss roots. i do miss the familiarity of home, though in my case, it seems the old adage is true, "you can never go home again." not because i got kicked out or my folks wouldn't love to have me, but it's never the same. the nostalgia of what it was overshadows what it's become.

Friday, August 15, 2008

my first car

what should be elation over driving something a little sportier, a little roomier, a little newer quickly turned to sadness last night, thanks to a chevy silverado commercial. you know the type. "i've had this truck since i was 16, and i'm 120 now. it has 2,000,000 miles on it, and it still starts right away." the thing that hit me hardest were the guys that had less than 180,000 miles on their trucks. less than my danger ranger. i remember going home for the chili cookoff, her first tailgate, nights spent asleep in the cab or in the bed, hauling ridiculous construction or landscaping materials, getting stuck in mud or sand, going coast to coast. now she's gone. abandoned to a new home. rolled off into the sunset with someone else behind the wheel and a fistful of c-notes in my pocket.

there's an alan jackson song about his first car called "first love." it tells about how excited he was to get her at 15 years old. he sold her to a pilot in north carolina and was a wreck. many years later, he still holds a special place in his heart for that old car. his wife and daughter find it many years later for a christmas gift. i used to think it was ridiculous. now, not so much.

comment me a story about your beloved (or not so beloved) first car and when you had to let go. small comfort maybe, but it might make me feel better...