Friday, March 27, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Another installment of poems I wrote some time during college:
Anticipating the Equinox
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The other day, I uncovered some writing I did in college. It is fun to look back on the time of my life when I wrote every day. Now I tell my students they need to write every day, and I watch Brooklyn 99 on Hulu. I cringed, I laughed, and I decided I want to share a lot of it on this blog- but maybe not all at once. This place has become mostly an archive. I look back every now and then at past posts and smile. With that thought in mind, this blog is a win.
In honors of Valentine's Day, I thought my first Jon:the college years post could be a love poem. This was written some time between 2001 and 2002:
The coward on love
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
When was the last time you went a day without eating sugar?
Excluding the kind that gives life to a piece of fruit or attracts a bee to a flower, I think I have gone years with daily intake of some sort of processed sugar. It's in the obvious stuff like soda, ice cream, certain cereals, but it is also in the not so obvious stuff; bread, salsa, some hamburgers, and just about every juice you can buy. Now, this is plain for everyone to see. I'm not reporting any groundbreaking information or attempting to do so. I don't expect the last few sentences to be anything you haven't already read on a different blog or a health magazine you get for free because you subscribed to a celebrity gossip magazine.
Wait, wait. My worst fears are coming true. This post is going to sound preachy! oh man.
I may just delete it, or I may keep writing since I'm listening to the latest St. Vincent album and I'm feeling jazzed. Oh fuckshit! People are going to think I am being preachy because I mentioned a popular indie-rock artist casually in my writing... I should delete that bit too. Sun of a gun, this is becoming difficult. Perhaps if I push towards the point it will turn towards a picnic.
So, with that in mind, I have decided to try and not eat sugar or caffeine for the past few days. I started off doing a sort of vegan adventure and now I am solely slurping my smoothie/juice diet. It is quite a change for me. I always ate well and have a talented wife who cooks a variety of delicious meals all the time so I never concerned myself with my diet. Then, due to various circumstances, I started contemplating addiction in a new light. My thoughts ran the gamut: How can I be sympathetic to addicts? I have never been addicted to anything, and I don't see why they are. Addiction is not a choice. et cetera et cetera. I was just reading and witnessing addiction and processing the information through my sugar and caffeine fueled brain. Then a small bird landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. It said that certain products I was consuming daily are addictive. It also said that I have a chemical dependency to those items and they control me. Their grip has been marketed to be tight. Their lingering lure has been fed through my nostrils. Their processed pinch tickles a bit. I did not like what this bird was telling me.
Then, the anti-consumerist in me took hold. I freaked at the idea of some corporation pumping its product full of sugar and/or caffeine in order to lure more consumers (and teenage ones at that!) in and I was one of those consumers and they were luring me in and I needed to explode their headquarters from a helicopter. Then I took a deep breath.
Enjoyment. The hedonist in me whispered from a nearby hammock. Isn't the meaning of life to find enjoyment in all things? Your palette (which I always imagined was the flat bit of your tongue, is that right?) should be stimulated with the things you enjoy. Your body should dance to the music you enjoy. You should read the silly books about dragons you enjoy. What else is there in life?
It's a fair point.
But it didn't swing the scale in the dietary decision I made. And let me tell you, sugar and/or caffeine and/or gluten and/or the other things I haven't been eating have really messed my head up. My energy level is fine, my belly is fine, my dreams are crazy, but my head is constantly throbbing. I'm not a big headache guy. If my head starts to hurt, it's usually from dehydration or reading in the car. When I do have headaches, I just take a deep breath or get fresh air or pour a cup of coffee. However, when I have shunned coffee from my diet for the first time in 5 years or so, I am witnessing the effect it has on me. It is amazing. And while that headache throbs most hours and in two days when I am done with the juice diet, I am going to drink coffee again, it is empowering.
I control my body. Not that weird wizard on the starbucks cup. Not the keebler elf. and not Ben nor Jerry. Some day, when I am kicking back, living a life of leisure and have a basketball court in my yard I will stop drinking coffee. Or fuck it- maybe I won't. No- I will. Because the whole importance of all this is that these fucking drugs that are in my food that I eat all the time and my drinks that I drink all the time have potentially taken control of my thoughts. Now, today, without them, their lingering dying artifacts are gripping my temples as I try to flush them out with beet juice and banana pulp; they hold on tight. And that tight grip is throbbing. Its alright though. I remember being little and having a tooth hang on by a little sinewy string. It dangled from my mouth like a limp, useless corpse. It too broke free as will the caffeine and sugar fists. My head will not hurt tomorrow and my conscience will be pumped up.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
He wondered why he even traveled to the outer districts. Sure, he understood the need was there and the job was there. However, at the end of the day, would there be any bread left for Jon?
He drove thirty minutes west towards the outer district. The trees grew up around him until he suddenly passed into a giant field. On the outer edge, he saw it- the outer district training center. Today, he would need to prepare the citizens of district 11 for an important task in their dim futures: Venn diagram completion.
Commissioner Venn had created a full proof system. With two swift strokes of his fountain pen, he showed each trainee how they were different, but not unequal. They were all the same in some ways, but do not forget that we are different... separate.
Jon had long accepted the fact that each district had their own ways, but when the bell rang they all made the same sound. The cacophony of district 11 was no different than the blabbering of district 8 or the chit chat of district 17 or the howling of district 2. Jon had built an immunity to it- at least on most days.
Today Jon requested, asked, and then demanded his trainees' silence. He had dimmed the lights, closed the blinds, and allowed them to shift their metal seats loudly across the tiled floor. Each time they asked for more, he knew he was losing control, and as he had been trained- you have to control the game to succeed. As the opening credits to the classic To Kill A Mockingjay played, Jon stood high on a desk and made one final move for respect. Suddenly, he had silence. Some traineees logged out, placing their heads on their desks, others picked up their pencils and began their training. He had done it... barely.
The peanut butter and jelly desegregated in his mouth. He chomped down in silence- a short rest before the training would restart. The importance of the Mockingjay might be lost on most students, but Jon had to control the room again for those who would learn to love it as he had learned to love it decades ago in similar metal chairs on similar tiled floors and awaiting a similar result in fate's arena.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Warn Sir Jon that his adopted liege lords wear smiles with sharp teeth and send him on quests they would be loathe to venture on themselves. He should know, too, that among his young masters their may be an Arthur, but there are also morphlings sent by the dark mistress to suck his blood, crush his spirit, and laugh at his dreams... Still, if, with his light armor and untempered steel, he can survive that barren frontier, he will learn wonderful secrets and sharpen his craft and cunning to become a true knight. If he can endure, he will one day find honor upon the field, loyal colleagues at his side, and quests beyond imagining. Goodspeed, Sir Jon!
Yet another lesson to carve into the storm battled wood of my life-tree.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
So recently I have been doing substitute teaching work. There are a great number of issues I have with the work, but there is one great part of subbin'. Every night I come home and can have a beer, watch some TV and relax. I don't have to lesson plan or stress or worry about much and it feels great. In fact, recently, since I don't get Comcast Sportsnet, I have been getting a bit bored. And so, I thought I would try and write about my disposable daily experiences in order to keep a log. Then, I thought maybe it would be fun to write about them as if I were in various universes I enjoy visiting. While this might sound like escapism, it's really something entirely different- and that something is fan fiction. So, here is my first entry into my substitute teaching fan fiction storylog.
Jon knew he was traveling East as the sun pierced his windshield. The kingsroad was quieter than he expected at this hour, as he drove by Sir Duncan's, Jon debated stopping for a warm mug of dark cream to help thaw his bones. No! tardiness would be a mark of death with his faceless masters. It was a risk his dripping eyes would blink away. He carried on, reminded of the words of his bride's house sigil: the early bird.
Upon arrival he was handed a scroll with his day's chores. They were lengthy at first glance and Jon became as confused as a Dothraki in water. He was used to a way of sheet working and screen viewing and such tasks took little explanation. Here, before him was something new... something exciting.
As he leafed through his mission, he learned he would be spending the day as a squire for a young master. A squire's duties are not to be overlooked. He must see to his master's every need and be sure his master is fully capable of indulging in the full gain of education. Pencils must be sharp as a dragon's talon and pages must be turned as swiftly as a king's reign. It is the squire's duty to keep his master apace with his peers and not allow him to fall behind. As while the war is still early, Jon knew important victories were had in a king's youth as much as in his old age.
When he finished his master's scroll, Jon's brow lifted in excitement. He realized his day would be a rarity in the realm of his craft. He would be squiring for a master in a steel chair. The steel chair masters were often well aware of their unique attribute. They excelled above many of the other players in the game as they had already accepted and embraced their individuality. In a realm in which trying to fit in and be absorbed into the mass was such a commonality, the steel chaired patrons of the realm had long left that trivial and ridiculous concept in the dust. Jon hoped Sir Alan would be such a master.
It did not take long to realize, this was the case. In a quick minute, Alan had grabbed his squire's instructions and read through them disapprovingly. "Young squire," he beckoned, "these scrolls shall treat us fairly today, but take not- my name is misspelled in paragraph two. We cannot have such mistakes." Master Allen spoke confidently and with a candor unseen in these lands. Squire Jon was entrenched in the mid-lands; a place of vanity in which the house sigils were commonly colored blue to represent a desirable, yet unattainable, image of cool. Master Alan, caped in a green hooded windbreaker, continued to speak, "Furthermore, my locker needs opening."
At that, the squire bent down and quickly fiddled through the three number combination hoping it would work. It did not. Squire Jon was no locksmith. In fact, he rarely carried a key to anything except his front gate. He reversed it, knowing that in some parts of these lands, clocks ticked backended. Again, it did not open. Master Alan peered over Jon's shoulder, instructing him as his shaking fingers spun left to right to left again, and with a single clink- the iron lock sprung. The day had just begun and the squire knew he would have to be on his toes with this one.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Is there a place in the world where people are just happy to appreciate things as they are? Where they read an article or story or poem and instead of criticizing it, they say, "wow, someone put a lot of effort into making that... Good for them!"?
What is the air like in this place? Would it be as fresh as a cracked orange? It wouldn't need to be. People wouldn't criticize smog. They would think about how great it is to be able to travel anywhere they want affordably or how useful electricity can be.
What is the food like there? Would it be made with the love and care of a Grandmother preparing Thanksgiving? It wouldn't need to be. People would realize, despite the bland taste, the nutrients were still giving them useful energy.
What is the classroom like there? Would the students quit moaning about homework and calling Shakespeare, "stupid?" Would they embrace the concept of knowledge and treat their peers with respect? Would they come to class on time and apply themselves in hopes of discovering something new? It wouldn't need to be.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
This week I had an assignment for class. I am ashamed to say I scoffed at it. To understand why, I need to explain that the past 6 months I have been writing lengthy papers about educational theory and connecting it to the classroom. That seems to make sense when pursuing a masters degree in education. So when the first assignment for my spring semester course was to:
write a poem that starts with "I am"
I was a bit shocked. I was a bit confused. I reread the syllabus and made sure I wasn't missing the analysis part or the essay accompaniment for the poem. That was it, just what you read above- write a poem that starts with "I am...". So tonite we sat in class and waited as nervous hands of graduate students that spend their whole day speaking in front of audiences slowly volunteered their voices and I am poems were recited. It was great. Every one was different and I learned so much about my classmates. And it was enlightening and applicable and easy- well except for that bit of nerve-building needed to raise my hand:
Monday, December 31, 2012
1. At the tail end of the year (last night) I watched a movie called Temple Grandin about an autistic woman who accomplishes great achievements despite having a number of difficulties she must overcome. She says, "every time you see a door, you should walk through it." That works well for her, and I think more people should give it a go.
2. The value of something should never be viewed as how much the price tag says it costs. That might be the cost, but the value deals with how much your life will be improved and, ultimately, what happiness will come from the investment. Furthermore, if you are already happy, you should buy less stuff.
3. Books, unlike any other system of communication, are whole complete worlds created for so many different types of enjoyment.
4. The frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex, typically associated with decision making, does not fully develop until around the age of 25. I learned this in two different circumstances this year. Once, in a car with a dad whose son is in his early twenties and once in an educational psychology classroom a few hours after overhearing high schoolers talk about how lame books are.
5. Weddings are great. the best part of this stage of my life is the abundance of Celebrations for Love.
6. Would you rather sit and watch a campfire, or sit and watch a river flow by? surefire debate starter/no wrong answer
7. Things that are hard usually get easier once you stop thinking about how difficult they are. This is true for me when I stand up in front of high schoolers and try not to sweat and stutter.
8. I am slowly approaching the day in which I don't feel silly wearing a full brimmed hat on a regular basis, but moving away from the age in which I don't feel silly with a moustache.
9. The Circle of Life is more than just a song about the jungle. It's also a song, that if you use it right, can ignite any type of party.
10. its a shame about the Big East.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
I'm in a culture slump. No, that's not a good term. Let's see if one appears. I am sitting with a tightly clenched jaw listening to people talk about education. Heck ya its important! someone just said. Stimulate it! Tough argument to combat. But then, the more I seem to listen, the less anyone ever talks about anything besides job training and guiding students towards where the jobs will be. That is fair. True. I don't have much of an argument here except the fact that no one should look at their life as a job. I hate that message. Hate is not the right word- disagree- denounce- dial-down maybe. Perhaps, in the light of attempting enlightenment, educators should allow other ideas to emerge. It is frustrating to have a whole country's worth of policy makers feel so strongly about something and have that something be shallow but also have everyone's best intentions at heart. Maybe it has always been this way and I just ignored it. I like to think that at some point people embraced learning because they wanted to figure things out. Not specific things like how to format the processor to upload the database to the server, but things. Just things. Those people that maybe want to make connections and learn new things that they can connect other things to so more connections are made and eventually they possess a broad world view and utilize that view to make wise decisions, including maybe some decisions about jobs and money, but other decisions too- ones that have nothing to do with jobs. Why aren't those people important? Why can't we encourage eighteen year old kids to do that? For every vocational school that tells them they can be making this much money by this date if they study this degree at this school, maybe there should be a person letting them know that if they buy a fuel efficient reliable car they can probably see a good deal of the country inexpensively by following these steps and maybe trying to talk to these sorts of people and avoid these sorts of people, but still spend less than what one semester of career training costs. That choice is a valid educational choice. Anyone that claims otherwise has seen a different country than me. And maybe if we encouraged this sort of education, one where money is just a tool utilized to reach your goals instead of a goal in itself, people will be more willing to share. I don't know, that is somewhat drastic, but I've seen it, I like it, and I want to teach it.
I'd like to fill out a fafsa and fly to Finland with the funds. Maybe there is value in that. I feel like for every beer bong drank in college, there should be ten American teenagers talking to Finnish citizens about life, and making connections. If we can't trust them, they're only kids, they might get taken, then we teach them, train them, and educate them that the world is a beautiful place and filled with beautiful people. Does this sound like an asshole writing jibberish about bullshit? When I reread it I come close to almost hitting delete, but it's 4:30 am, and I have nothing to do until 6 am, so I am going to keep it up.
I know, I get it- people need jobs to survive... but moreso I think people need to quit being so predetermined... I am all for people making an educated decision to follow a career path- heck I am enrolled in a path like that as we speak- BUT can everyone settle down a bit about the necessity to teach these youngsters job skills. If they are taught critical thinking skills, I feel like a logical next step would be the youngster realizing that s/he needs to get a job... or no, a life. Get a life in which a job is a part. But it is just a part if you want it to just be a part. Or if you are really passionate about this job- heck go for it. I don't want people to sit there thinking I am being anarchistic and plain silly with this because I am being serious. I don't think your job should rule you (unless you come to that decision on your own accord).
Monday, September 3, 2012
A little bird told me that 50-60% of people will be unable to determine what is being described in the passage above. The enjoyment arrives with the realization. OR is the enjoyment knowing that you figured it out when 50-60% of readers can't. You are better at reading and figuring than other readers may be if you believe these numbers. You did it, you know what will soon begin to sag. You grinned a gap toothed grin. It feels good right?
...Well ...honestly, I think I preferred the feeling of just figuring it out. I remember it. It took me about 2 minutes and then a light spun on and I said, "no doi!"
Monday, August 6, 2012
A man spoke to me a few weeks ago. He was addressing the incoming graduate students as part of a lecture on an endeavor we are all about to begin. It is a dangerous journey filled with deceit, violence, and gum chewing. He told us it would not be easy, but it will become easier with each day. He said we should look at it as an education, but not forget that we are acting within strict guidelines. He told us to buckle up and cover our asses. He was preparing us for student teaching.
As the man went on and on about not kissing the high school students and not hitting them with yard sticks my brain wandered. I found myself in a classroom with a trampoline for the floor and 5 fingered hands on the ceiling fan. Each misbehaving student in my class would be bounced from his seat up towards the ceiling where the arm of the fan would spank his hiney. He would fall back to his desk and begin his assignment. My classroom also had a vegetable garden, and each girl in my classroom that wore some sort of outfit that allowed her classmates to know the color of her undergarments would have to plant and grow a vegetable that was a matching color to that of her bra or underpants. Pink tomatoes, purple eggplants and leopard printed zucchini would all grow within my learning environment and then donated to the local food-bank as part of a lesson on building relationships within the community.
The man continued to speak though. I jotted a few notes down. They said things like, "TB test required. Find out what TB stands for," and "August 28-put head down, motor through." The whole while I was thinking of if I cannot show this man the respect of focused listening, how could I ask for my students to do so for me?
Then he dropped some words that hit me hard. He mentioned what century we are living in (21st) and that the times have changed. He promised us that students would be googling our names and looking to see what sort of beer pong photos there are of us on facebook and if we want their respects we should wipe ourselves from the internet. I was excited about the facebook part, figuring it might be healthy. Then I realized that maybe a student would stumble across the silly babblings of this site. Here they are talking about student's underpants and how they downloaded music illegally! How could this person be the one teaching my little Vesuvius?!
I am struggling with the decision. The only teacher I ever had that was on facebook had a profile picture of him flicking off a road sign that said Republican St. He was a great teacher. I was 30 years old in his classroom though. There will be little paste sniffing fourteen year olds all hopped up on boner juice and Justin Bieber gossip that may read this blog. you know what...
let 'em. Ain't no one learning from being kept in the dark. In fact, I'll tell them right here: one time, when I was your age, I threw a spitball at a student teacher in one of my math classes. And you know what, it was less than five years before I realized what a bozo I was. I also made fun of a peer for being real pale and looking like a vampire (before that was cool) and you know what, I still regret that all the time- really seriously regret it. You know what else? I was scared to just be myself and tried desperately to be someone I thought would appeal to my peers. I tried all sorts of illegal acts and made dumb decisions and hurt a lot of people I loved and I regret that about as much as Adam Sandler regrets Jack & Jill.
So- I was hoping this catharsis would help and I think I will keep this site functioning. It always makes a good story to get fired from your job for writing something stupid on the internet.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Anyway, I think it finally sunk in during a very transcendental moment in class yesterday. I have been taking classes to learn how to be a good teacher, and yesterday we were focusing on the importance of school wide initiatives to improve academics and behavior. As we discussed these techniques, in the back of my head I heard Steve Jobs say to me, "See- you need a closed system where things flow seamlessly from instance to instance." It was weird. I had just had a conversation with someone about how I don't care enough about computers and business to want to know how important Steve's corporate and technological actions were. I wanted to know about his thinking, the funny thing was, I just hadn't scratched below the surface of his preaching. He wasn't just talking about computers and devices needing to exist within a closed controlled system which flows so seamlessly a six year old can operate it- he was talking about humanity. Well, maybe that is taking it a bit far, but he was talking about more than computers and the Apple company (I think). And if he wasn't, I like him more now imagining him hiding civil philosophy within an ipod.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I recently read a report saying it was important to eat much less monocalcium phosphate if you have bad knees. I found this as weird, but the knee is a complex joint and monocalcium phosphate is a complex ingredient. The report went on to say that your Azodicarbonamide intake should be much higher than Calcium Peroxide intake if you want to keep your monoglycerides at a relatively even level. Monoglycerides help in the war on folic acid, so it is important to keep them happy. However, if your monoglycerides become partially hydrogenated, it is a cause for concern. There is a strict list of what you should and shouldn't partially hydrogenate if you are concerned about colon health in any way. For instance, the colon reacts similar to a cranky infant if it is overrun with partially hydrogenated soybean oil, but it is as happy as a clam if it itself is partially hydrogenated. A little TLC will accomplish this. Furthermore, don't mess with disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate because that is a real thing that actually exists that someone created to promote color retention in frozen tater tots.
This report caught my eye mainly because of its headline "Palmitate and Beta Carotene are Silly Words."
Thursday, June 7, 2012
As I was writing this last night I had a hunch it wouldn't make it into the exchange of vows at our wedding ceremony. However, it is a true statement of my love for my wife:
If at any time, you are called upon to rescue the Universe from space invaders, I will fight beside you. And when I can no longer fight, I will write you long letters and shoot them into the stratosphere with my mail-ray.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
Lodged up there between the back few molars, somewhere around the ice-sensitive teeth, is a grape skin. Stuck there since you sat down. Burrowed between your gum and tooth. No man's land. A strained tongue pulls at it fruitlessly. Stop lights turn red, radio stations air advertisements you don't hear. Only listening to the scraping of a thumb nail in the back of your mouth. Then, lifetimes later, a right turn, perhaps at high speed. You straighten the wheel, shift gears, and relax. The sweetest meal swallows down to your stomach. The tiny little grapeskin works a smile.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
So, I was reading through some* words I wrote last November as part of this great event and stumbled upon a part that I am going to delete, but feel as though it should see the light of day somewhere. Statements like that are what blogs are for. Statements like that are what CB radios are for. Statements like that are what most of the cable channels I see are for. So, before the delete key was struck, the ctrl-C key was struck and then some more keys and then the ctrl-v: