Sunday, January 28, 2007

(untitled 130)

I woke up to the insistent clanging of my twin-bell alarm clock at 6.45. I'd gone to bed late the night before - foolishly late. I always remember being tired in the morning, but somehow, it's hard to bring that to mind when I'm talking to friends at 2.30 AM. I'm never talking about things that are critically important, either. I just feel a need to keep talking and not go to bed. (Sometimes, I even dread going to bed, and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps that's a topic for another day.)

I digress.

I woke up to the insistent clanging of my twin-bell alarm clock at 6.45. It looks like one of those clocks you see in old cartoons - the kind that you activate the snooze feature by smashing it with a rubber-tipped mallet. My mallet wasn't within reaching distance, so I had to settle for manually hitting the snooze button. I hit it several times, since I just wasn't ready for my day to start. I wasn't looking forward to going to school. The weekend felt like it had gone by too quickly, as though it had gone past at double speed. By the time I looked at the clock again, it was already 7.10. There wasn't going to be time for a shower, and that wasn't going to help things at all. This was going to be a rough day.

And then I remembered that it was Sunday. A contented smile creeping across my exhausted and sleep-disfigured face, I fell back into my bed and asleep.

When I woke up again at 9.45, I felt a certain uneasiness about getting out of bed. I didn't have anything to be worried about, but I felt that if I got out of bed, I'd set a chain of events in motion that would lead to pain, suffering, and general discontent on my part. E-mail was going to play a pivotal role in this crisis, and I knew it. I could just feel it. From the safety of my bed, I cast a glare at my computer, knowing that within its silical catacombs, it held the key to my undoing. I had a meeting at 10.30 and knew I had to get up to start preparing, but the portent of an evil e-mail kept me cornered in my bed.

By 10.15, I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer. I needed to get up, out of bed, and face the day. I flipped open my laptop and stared at the screen through bleary eyes, dreading my fate. The computer, sensing my trepidation, prolonged my agony by taking an extra long time to connect to the wireless network. Eventually, Google Talk vomited out the e-mail that was going to ruin my whole day. I squinted at it, so as to properly read my fate.

"1/1 - Slate Magazine: Today's papers: A Surge of Discontent - Slate Magazine today's papers A Surge of Disconte"

Not surprisingly, today was a mostly ho-hum, ordinary day. Looks like the morning e-mail sets the tone for the day, after all.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

(untitled 129)

Actual phrase on my frozen Freschetta Naturally Rising pepperoni pizza box, opened at 8.31 PM, MDT:


What a ridiculous world I live in.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

(untitled 128)

I was crossing the street near my apartment the other night when I saw a car coming in the distance. I don't think of myself as a particularly morbid person, but my mind jumped to the possibility that this car was going to hit me, or at least steer toward me and try to hit me. Obviously, I needed to be prepared for this possibility. I imagined myself leaping toward the curb as the car smashed into the fence. My heart still pounding, I look through the shattered windshield to see what maniac would swerve so far out of their way to hit me. The door flies open, sending my heart rate back through the roof. The driver, his head bloodied by the impact, steps out of the car, pulling a handgun from within his jacket and aiming it directly at me. I hit the ground as a bullet flies past me. In an instant, I realize that I need to wrest this gun from the madman; he's clearly not going to stop at anything to kill me. I make my way toward him, dodging the hail of bullets he's firing at me. The police arrive to see me with his gun, insisting that I don't want to shoot, but I will if he tries anything funny. How am I going to explain this to the police?

All of this takes place in the five seconds it takes for me to step onto the sidewalk and start moving around the fence.

I excel at creating imaginary situations. I imagine I'm not the only one. However, I'm probably among the small minority that feels that I have to be prepared to deal with these same imaginary situations. I go to great lengths to plan out my reactions. I wouldn't want to be unprepared in case a hijacker wanted to kill me. These situations aren't limited to near-death experiences, though. I also have to prepare for women to walk up to me and profess their undying love. How do I let them down gently? Alternatively, if these are women I'm interested in, how do I respond in a way that's dashing and debonair?

Mine is a hard life, really. I have so many realities to deal with.

Friday, January 19, 2007

(untitled 127)

Lavish just pointed out to me that "we're all growing up." I think I've realized that for a while subconsciously, but it's still a little strange to have it pointed out to me like that. I just turned 24 this last Saturday, which isn't all that old, I know, but it does mean that I'm moving along in life. I'll be out of school (well, college) in a few months. I'll be looking for a job soon. I'll probably end up in a high school teaching 15 year-olds about US history and why the sinking of the Lusitania may have been a British conspiracy, after all.

Student teaching has been particularly eye-opening in this respect. It's easy to forget how old you are when you associate primarily with people your own age. When you start to spend your days with high school sophomores, you realize what an age gap there really is. (I can only imagine how this is going to feel to me when I'm 40.) It's just a strange feeling to be perceived as an "old" person now. I wear a shirt and tie every day to school. Isn't that something adults do? Can't I just wear a nice polo shirt and call it even? And what happened to my first name? Losing my first name places me squarely in the adult camp.

It's not all bad, of course. I'd much prefer to be an adult than to be 15 again. I don't mind taking responsibility all that much, but the sense of my upcoming loss of freedom does get to me a little. I'm already working 13 hours a day with the jobs I have. I imagine myself living on my own, doing nothing but grading papers and watching SportsCenter with a single tear running down my cheek, looking back wistfully on the days when I had friends who would come over and watch Scrubs with me or play games. I'm really not ready to move away from here just yet, and I'm terrified that's what my future is going to bring me.

Wow, these last few posts have been pretty dark. I'll write something happy and upbeat next time, I promise.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

(untitled 126)

This is how Toothpaste for Dinner chooses to recognize my birthday. I'm flattered.

Friday, January 12, 2007

(untitled 125)

I've turned into a walking cliche, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

For those of you not fully stepped in my life, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that I started student teaching this week. It's the culmination of my undergraduate career, and I'm pretty excited about it. It's hard not to be excited about something that you've been looking forward to and working toward for the last four years. I've had countless hours of practice in my classes, and I finally get a chance to try things out in a real classroom setting.

As I suited up on Tuesday morning and headed to my school, though, a wave of uncertainty came over me. This is nothing new for me; every time I go through a major change in my life, I have nagging doubts telling me that maybe this isn't the right thing after all, and wouldn't I rather be at home in front of my switch-controlled fire with a cup of hot chocolate and my copy of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. (In case you're wondering, the answer to that question is always yes. It's true for nearly everything in my life, though.) I plugged along the snowy road to Timpview High, though, and marched resolutely into my class.

After two days, I'm starting to wonder if those nagging doubts didn't have a point, after all.

The classroom setting is completely different than anything I'd imagined it would be. I'd forgotten what it was like to be in a high school. There are things that I remember with fondness, like carrying around a planner with your school colors and mascot on the front and with pointless inspirational platitudes scattered within (like "be a safe haven for thosee in need of security. The return will be substantial," which I found by literally opening to a random page). I remember having classes that end at bizarre times (like 11.21 and 1.53) because classes last 52 minutes and your passing period is six, not five. I remember making a lunch every day and putting it in the fridge the night before so the sandwich wouldn't get all stale. What I didn't remember, though, was the fact that students try to dodge learning at every chance they get. Everyone told me that kids try to listen to iPods and send text messages during classes. I didn't realize that it was exactly as prevalent as they said it would be. I don't think I've been in a single class that didn't have a kid either surreptitiously (or so they thought) listening to an iPod by running the cord up their sleeve and putting their hand to their ear in what they clearly thought was an innocent manner or hiding their cell phone in their lap to send a clandestine text message or seven. I didn't realize how easy it is for a class or thirty students to get off track. I didn't realize that as a student teacher, the students immediately recognize that I'm not the same as their regular teacher and treat me as such.

I came home from school on Wednesday completely dejected and ready to quit. I'd been told that student teaching was hard, but after a day like that, I was ready to be done. Forget the last three and a half years. Forget all the work I put into this. Forget all of the education classes full of emotional and feel-good tripe that I endured. I was ready to switch majors and find something else that worked.

Yet that same day at work, I found myself thinking about my kids. I couldn't stop. I still have some of them pop into my head, and I haven't even been to class today. (Timpview had teacher inservices today, and they only lasted for about thirty minutes. Who knew teachers wanted to get out of school as much as students did?) I sat there, sweeping and mopping, thinking about all of the students I work with - even the ones that were driving me crazy by listening to iPods and playing on cell phones. Some of them were even playing StarCraft on the school computers. Whose idea was it to install StarCraft on school computers, anyway? It was just strange for me to be thinking about these kids, many of whom I'd only known for a couple of days. I've heard countless tales of teachers saying that their pay was awful and the school system was horrid but that they stuck with the profession because they loved their students so much.

And now here I am, doing and saying the exact same thing. I'm at a loss to explain it. I'm a cliche - something I've spent my whole life trying not to be. And strangely enough, I don't mind it at all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

(untitled 124)

I know too much for my own good.

I know that sounds arrogant, but it's going to grab your attention, which is why I put it first. Based on certain recent events and conversations, I'm learning that I know a lot about what I want in life, and what a bad thing that is for me. I'm referring here to the arena of dating, something that's been on my mind increasingly over the last few months. As I date more and more women, I find more traits that I'd like to have in my future wife. One ex-girlfriend taught me the value of straightforwardness (two, actually). One taught me that I can't be around someone who thinks I'm smarter than she is. Another taught me how important sarcasm and wit are, and still another taught me just how much my emotions really matter to me. Every time I associate with a woman, I make a mental note as to what traits I am and am not looking for.

Clearly, this is what dating is all about. It's a trial run, of sorts. It's very similar to trying on different articles of clothing and seeing what fits. If you find a pair of straight-cut jeans that don't quite fit, you wouldn't go out of your way to buy another pair of them. (No pun intended.) If you don't quite like the way you look in a turtleneck sweater, you won't buy any in the future. To me, dating is the same way. The problem lies in the fact that I tend to reject women in my mind before giving them a fair shot because they don't match up with my list. I probably miss out on some great opportunities this way. I might meet an attractive woman with a nice smile, quick wit and keen intellect, but if she listens to Rascal Flats, she's done for. (No offense to those of you who listen to Rascal Flats - country music just has a negative place on my list. Indie rock, however, earns one a lot of points.) This might be the same as my refusing to wear jeans because I don't like the way one pair worked for me. Most might not work for me, but there might be one pair that would do wonders that I'm refusing to give a chance.

I don't wear jeans, in case you were wondering. I also don't date those who don't like my style of music.

I've found women, recently, who have met nearly every qualification I've got on my list. Both of them stomped all over my heart - one inadvertently and one unwittingly. Despite all the time I've spent creating this elaborate list of characteristics The One is going to have, it just doesn't seem to be working. The more I try to think things through, the worse my situation seems to get - and that's a statement I'm not restricting to the dating world.

It might be time I gave jeans another try. I am going to insist that they be straight-cut, though, and this time the pun is intended.