Sunday, April 29, 2007

In Which Our Boy Shakes Off the Blues

Here it is, nearly one pm on Sunday, and I sit to take a break from a whirlwind of activity. Yesterday, Ripken roused me from sleep at 7:15. I let him out, made coffee and perused the papers (Tribune and NYT). After a bowl of cereal, I ran to the hardware store to buy a pair of waterproof gloves, climbed the ladder, and cleaned the gutters. The recent rains had reminded me that this needed to be done, because all of the water running off the roof cascaded into the open bedroom and living room windows. This was not good.

But, yesterday was beautiful, so, yanking funky muck from my gutters in the warm morning sunshine was actually kind of pleasant. After that, I decided to wash all of the blinds in the house, since that has not been done for nigh on eight years, and they were getting a little dingy. It takes quite some time to do that. As a matter of fact, I only did about half of them. I watched a little bit of the Cards-Cubs debacle before running back to the hardware store to get some plumbing supplies to fix a minor problem with the bathtub. The hardest part about that was buying the right size cotter pin, but, I did.

I was getting a bit hungry, and had been thinking about lo mein since Friday afternoon, so I wizzed buy China Chef to pick that up. Back home, I had the end of the game on in the background, as I fixed the tub and finished some more of the blinds. In between, I also did some laundry.

From about seven to nine, I finished making all of the changes to the first draft of the novel on the computer. Of course, in a few weeks, it will be time to work through the second draft, but I am glad I can say I am making progress. At nine pm, I lay down on the sofa to read. An hour later, I woke from a short nap to trudge off to a proper sleep in the bed.

This morning, I took a bit more time with the papers, did some cleaning in the car port, then mowed the lawn. I still have to go grocery shopping (next on the list). I also hope to get some grading done, work on a future assignment, and play softball this evening. The sunshine sure does perk a brother up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In Which Our Boy Contemplates His Old Age

I was sitting on the sofa the other day, trying to decide whether to get up and eat something or continuing sitting on my duff, when it dawned on me that I am going to be a sad old man (whenever I become an old man). I can only hope that Monkey is around as long as I, so she can keep my miserable backside moving. When she's not around, I sometimes can't get motivated to do anything but go to work (and that is hard going sometimes). I can't even be bothered to blog (yet, here I am...progress?).

It has rained alot this week, that always puts me in a foul mood. Mostly, however, I think I just get a bit blue and self-absorbed when she's not around. After all, she is an integral part of who I am. Without her, it's like a piece of me is not around. I know I sound like a Shel Silverstein poem (or...ugh...a Nick Sparks book), but, it's true.

Come home, Monkey.

I've been reading Atlas Shrugged. It's one of those "I always wanted to read it, but it's so goddamn long" kind of books. I really thought it would be dry and didactic, but, so far, it is pretty captivating. The characters are intriguing, and it has (even though it was written well after and is not quite so futuristic) this sort of Fritz Lang-quality that I like. Maybe I am way off base on that one, but, it's the best way I can describe it.

Also reading High Fidelity. The Nick Hornby book they made into a movie with John Cusack--you know, the one in which Jack Black got his "big break". I hate the movie for that. I mean, the Jack Black character in that movie fits the bill perfectly, but, has anyone noticed that that is all he can do? It's the same damn character in every movie. He's even the same character when he's playing with Tenacous D. Hello! That's not acting, that's just him being him. Can't wait to see him on Inside the Actor's Studio telling all the first years to "be in the moment." That's actor speak for "I don't know how to act." But I digress. The book is actually pretty good. It's British, so, it is far different, on some levels, than the film. Which is a good thing. The most appealing thing about this book is the main character's straight-on analysis of himself as a guy in a relationship (any semi-committed relationship). I am finding him highly entertaining. Is it a book that has a universal appeal? I don't know. Is it great literature? Nope. Am I digging it? I am.

For those keeping up (which I haven't been). I updated The Fingers of Time. I know it's been a few weeks, but I have been busy. I threw two posts on there. Three sections total. Enjoy, if you want.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

In Which Our Boy Makes Some Tough Choices (and Some Pie)

Monkey's birthday is Monday. We had dinner last night to celebrate, since she will be in Lincoln on Monday, and I will be traveling there on Monday night to settle on the house on Tuesday. On Friday, after a short one or two with Capt. Morgan and Coach B, I came home and made a pie for Monkey. Her choice of desserty-thing on her birthday is always pie...always apple. So, on Friday I made a pie. But that's not all I made.

I had to decide which of the positions I had been offered I would take. I chose a newer school which operates on a block schedule. It will be a new experience (beyond the fact that it is a new school for me). The block schedule entails teaching each class in a 90 minute period, instead of a 50 minute period. This will take some getting used to. But, I really felt a good vibe from the department chair and the principal that I interviewed with, and I had to go with my gut. I don't think any of the possible schools would have been a bad choice, but this one just seemed like the best one for me. So, I have a job and a house...let's move, already!

In other, related news, I found my pants.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Which Our Boy Discovers He Has No Trousers

My pants, they're a miracle
You know their strength
You know what they feel
when I move they do a dance,
everybody loves my funky pants
--Corky and the Juice Pigs, "Pants"

Well, let me tell you about my week, so far.

Monday after school, I drove up to Lincoln. Five and a half hours. The first four hours and fifteen minutes were great, but I burned up Iowa in my sleep and shot somnambulantly across Nebraska Highway so fast, my tail lights are still trying to catch up with me. I somehow awoke at the door of the rental version of Monkey House Nebraska (it's not even a nice place to visit--except for the Monkey). I got in, opened up my garment bag to hang up my suit, iron my shirt, and prepare for a relaxing hour of chatting with Monkey and reviewing my interview notes. I was emotionally drained, as well as tired, since I had pretty much listened to four hours and fifteen minutes of NPR coverage of the Virginia Tech atrocity, which had happened that morning.

When I went t o hang up my suit, I noticed that it felt a bit light. That's when I realized that the pants were not with the jacket. The dry cleaners had not returned them with the coat when Monkey picked them up. This was a problem.

I nearly went into shock. Luckily, I only experience a brief flash of catatonia before Monkey and I dashed off to the Target, which was closing in mere minutes, where I bought a $99. linen suit off the rack. It was quite a whirlwind of emotion. Not the worst of which were, perhaps, my feelings about the possibility of having to wear the pants of some random frat boy, but that's a-whole-nother thing.

Tuesday was a long day of interviews (I wound up with five) and driving. I was finished interviewing by 4pm. I was back on the road to CoMo by 4:30. I felt good about all of my interviews.

This afternoon, I was offered three positions (with a possibility of a fourth, but it's a matter of timing). Now I have to decide. What a wonderful difficulty to be in!

And, to top that off, the Deadliners kick off the season with a doubleheader, and the weather is awesome. (We were rained out of our Sunday league, earlier this week).

All in all, an awesome week...except for the thing about the pants.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In Which Our Boy Prepares to Sell Himself

The week past was chock-full of sponsorship business and phone calls to and from Lincoln. I have a big fortnight coming up, as this Tuesday will find me in Lincoln for four job interviews. Next Tuesday will find me back in the same town closing on the house.

I have been trying to do some homework for my interviews this past week and weekend, as well, but Monkey and I are entertaining some guests from the west, and I don't have a whole lot of time. I did go up to school for a few hours this morning to get some things done. I hope to spend a few hours tonight doing some more preparation.

I'll leave here on Monday after school, interview on Tuesday and drive back that evening, to be back at school on Wednesday morning. Whew! Wish me luck!

I will keep you posted.

Monkey brought back some pics of the house this weekend. I'll post when I have a minute.

Thanks to ComoProzac and his musical pipeline, I am lately digging on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Feist. Check 'em out!

Monday, April 09, 2007

In Which Our Boy Gets His Ass Up Off of the Sofa

Sunday was the opposite of Saturday. I mostly did errands (cleaned the house, grocery shopped), and, except for a poorly conceived trip to the library (closed for Easter, silly), it was a pretty good day. Took puppy for a short chilly walk around the lake, and watched a crow chase a red tailed hawk up Hinkson Creek. Pretty awesome.

I did manage to skip the return of Sopranos Fellowship Sunday, however. I had a bit of work to do to get ready for school today, and I got engrossed in the latest episodes of Planet Earth. This is one nature show that puts Jacques Cousteau out of mind. The cinematogragphy is amazing. They pulled all the stops out for this one. It is amazing enough watching great white sharks flying through the air as they ambush fur seals, but to watch a night attack by a pride of lions on a full-grown elephant was brutally unique. One thing you do get from this show is a real idea of how rough life on Earth really is. We humans are so far removed from the reality of natural life on our planet that it is not even funny. Don't get me wrong. I am more than content not to have to worry about getting yanked out of my house by a patrolling cougar, but, as I putter to work each morning, it would be beneficial for me to remember that every robin has to kill a worm to survive, every red tailed hawk has to take down some sparrows to make it through the day. That's just the way it is. "Nature, red in tooth and claw," said Tennyson. He was right.

Today, I finally finished East of Eden. Boring Election and Monkey are correct. It is an awesome book. I haven't yet decided if I like it or The Grapes of Wrath better, but I think I am leaning toward Eden. It is just so well-written. Artfully conceived, beautiful prose. A sprawling and heart-wrenching story (I do love those). And a clear philosophical through-line. How have I lived so long without reading this book? Steinbeck, indeed, rules (along with Flannery O'Connor, Louise Erdritch, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and a host of others).

In addition, basketball was cut short tonight because I torqued my ankle...again! It hurt like a bitch, but it is behaving itself, at the moment. I predict I will not only be able to walk tomorrow, but I'll be able to play in the first softball game of the season on Sunday. That's right, loyal reader, the season starts this week. I'll be playing on two teams, a Sunday co-rec league with some folks from work/school and the old Wednesday Deadliners league. Of course, I will only be able to play in a few games before it's off to Lincoln with the Monkeys, but I plan to have a bit of fun and drink a few beers while I can.

The annual MAP testing starts tomorrow for us. The No Child Left Behind-mandated, state-devised assessment of whether we is learnin' the churlen good is always a fun time for everyone. The best part is constantly explaining to the kiddos why they have to take the test, knowing full well that the only real answer is, "Just because you have to." It means nothing to them, simply because it has no direct effect on them. It is not a graduation requirement. It does not alter their grade in any way. They have no stake in the test at all. The real wonder is that so many of them do it without question. Jesus, they don't even get their scores back until their senior year. Maybe I ought to grade their papers on the same schedule?

The saving grace for this episode of the school year is that it only takes two days, now. When I first started, we used to take a full week to do the testing. It was brutal. A death march of testing.

On a completely unrelated topic: why is Don Imus still on the radio?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lazy Day

Wow, today has been a blur of nothingness. I haven't done a damn thing but move some dirt around and read. It feels good.

This week was tough. Coming back from the break was hard enough, but we had some incidents with unruly and troublesome kids that made things even more difficult. Did have a nice dinner with some friends on Wednesday, and we had an election for mayor and city council and such on Tuesday. As you might expect, Boring Election abstained, deeming the offices, races, and issues "boring."

Other than that, the hair is growing in slowly, and Monkey and I have been apart since last Saturday. That is what makes things really hard. We've spent a lot of time apart in the past, but it never gets easier. Part of me (honestly, most of me) is waiting very impatiently for the school year to be over. I want the house to be settled, the painting done. I want the move to be underway. I want to live with my wife, again. Full time.

I think I'll have Chinese for dinner. I don't care if it's loaded with salt and fat. As a matter of fact, that's why I want it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Dawn of a New Season

To begin, it is like Christmas for me this morning. Tonight at 6pm Central, the St. Louis Cardinals host the Amazing Mets of New York as Major League Baseball opens its 2007 season. This may be my favorite day of the sporting year.

As if in agreement that today is a red letter day, this morning is beautiful. The cardinals are singing, the sun is up, the wind is down, and the grass is dying to be cut. Of course, it appears that about two inches of rain has fallen since I have been gone, so the grass may have to wait a day for the ground to firm up. Imagine my disappointment.

Before grass is cut or baseball is viewed, I have a bit of grading to finish up before school resumes on Monday, so I should be spending some time in my classroom today. That shouldn't take too awfully long, if I can stay on task. Getting there, as you know, is half the battle, anyway.

And finally, I have only one picture of Monkey House Nebraska. This is from the county assessor's website (or some such). Monkey and I were unable to take any pics ourselves, since the batteries in the camera were kaput. This is not the first time our batteries have let us down. Rechargable batteries tend to get a bit weak after a number of rechargings, and after several years, it appears that we are due some new ones.

As Kilgore Trout is fond of saying, "So it goes."