Thursday, November 30, 2006

99

About a year and a half ago, I finally gave in to Darron.

Give in? How did you 'give in?' you might be wondering.

Of course, there are 1001 homoerotic jokes I could respond with, but it was about 1.5 years ago that I finally decided to blog because of his constant nudging. Darron has always been (and probably always will be) the biggest proponent of my writing and the biggest instigator of trying to get me to write. He even subjected himself to being a focus of my writing last spring...and he has played the patsy for many, many of my jokes and comments along the way.

But it is interesting to look back at the last 1.5 years, and see all the writing I have done because of this blog. Starting with a discussion of burritos all those many months and blogs ago, who knew how far I would come and how many blogs I would have written by the end of 2006. A lot of shit has happened in this relatively short amount of time.

And although I go in and out of every day convinced that one of the reasons the Bible was created was because people like me do nothing but waste time and space and add nothing to the world us...I look through all the things that have happened and all the things I have learned and grown from...and I'm proud to look back and say "I am about to leave the land of double-digit blog posts. And I'm probably a better person for it."

So, here's to Darron and my 99th post...next we meet, I will be part of the century club.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

L Stands for LAME

A word has been hitting me lightly again and again the past few weeks. Sometimes the light hitting turns into a pound...Pound...POUND. The doubt creeps in and BLAMO; there it is, right in front of me:

Underwhelmed.

You might be used to underwhelm's cousin, overwhelmed. You see, people usually talk about how OVERwhelmed they are with work, or how nice people are, or by an outcry of affection. Yes. I used the word "outcry."

But seriously, this semester, I have been UNDERwhelmed time and time again by my students. I swear to the God of All Things Lazy (excuse my paganistic sidebar), I have been struck, hit, pounded, smacked, doused, hosed, and saturated NUMEROUS times with the most pathetic excuses and lack of any sort of effort or desire to do anything.

This came to a head tonight when I had to have a conversation with a student who confronted me about not having time to do a pair-work project (that she has TWO WEEKS PLUS CLASS TIME TO COMPLETE). I had to discuss for fifteen minutes the following two (I thought self-explanatory) points:

(1) Group work is a part of college course work if she likes it or not, and
(2) She must follow ALL directions if she would like to get a good grade, not the directions of her choosing.

After I thought I got through to her that these two points were non-negotiable, she laid the following on me:

R: I'm the oldest student in the class.
Me: Ok. And?
R: Old people don't like to follow directions.
Me: I'm not saying that you're old, but do old people like to get A's?
R: Yes.
Me: Well, maybe, you should try to follow directions, then.
R: Yes, but I'm older than everyone else in the class. They are all young. I can't work with them.
Me: Well, I think you knew your age when you signed up for the class, and seeing as how group work and being able to follow group directions are key components of a college education, I think you might want to follow the directions, ALL OF THEM, that have been assigned to you.

That was the cake topper. "I'm old." I could have walked out of the class right then and given up. I just want someone to impress me this semester, and it isn't happening. I don't remember being so lazy as a college student. I mostly remember being drunk, but that is neither here nor there.

All YOU lazy non-comment-leavers... give me some SERIOUS suggestions that I can ignore.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Manasseworld.com Hits 10,000 Hits

It's a hit.

Now if I would just update the damn thing.

Turkey Day and Frank...The Wizard

I feel pretty lucky to now live by my sister and nephews. I can share the holidays in a way that I never really got to experience when I was growing up: by messing with my extended family.

It's amazing how life really does change from "child-like" desires to "adult-type" ones. Jake, my nephew, lives to play. He's five, and we moved from playing catch, to basketball, to building a puzzle, to bike riding, back to catch, back to basketball, to a board game, to reading, and back to basketball again. That is a full day.

My other nephew, Mason, is about 1.5 years old...and he is just happy to grunt and point and hug and kiss. So, I might have more common with him.

Anyway, while I was bike riding with Jake, we got to this part of our route that had a mini-road block. Basically, it was a curb. To get over the curb, Jake had to get off of his bike and walk it...while I could basically just go over it.

Jake: Uncle Mark...How can you do that? How come you don't have to get off the bike.

Me: Magic.

Jake: (Eyes Widening) Magic? What kind of Magic?

Me: (Quickly searching for ideas) Um...My watch is magic...so it lets me ride my bike over the curb.

Jake: Whoa...really? (Eyes REALLY open...jaw dropping). Where did you get that watch?

Me: From a wizard.

Jake: Wow...a wizard? What's his name?

Me: Um...Frank....Frank the Wizard. He lives in Canada.

Jake: Canada? Wow. Why did Frank...

Me: Frank the Wizard.

Jake: (Way into this now) Sorry Uncle Mark. Why did Frank the Wizard give you that magic watch?

Me: Because I killed a dragon for him.

Jake: Was it a talking dragon?

Me: Of course! He could breathe fire...and everyone knows that fire-breathing dragons can talk.

Jake: Oh my gosh...how did you kill the dragon, Uncle Mark?

Me: Well..I told the dragon lots of jokes...and the dragon kept laughing...until the dragon couldn't breathe anymore. So, Frank the Wizard was so happy, he gave me this magical watch.

Jake: Whoa!!!! How old is Frank the Wizard.

Me: 255 years old.

Jake: Wow. That's pretty old. Frank the Wizard is older than my mom and dad.

Me: (Laughing) Yup.

Jake: So when he dies, he comes back to life?

Me: Yup.


Jake: (Searching to pick out JUST the right question) How come Frank gets to be a wizard?


Mark: Because of his parents.

Jake: His parents? Who are his parents?

Me: Oh...Bob and Mary.

Jake: Frank the Wizard has parents who's names are Bob and Mary?

Me: Yup.

Jake: And they live in Canada, too, Uncle Mark.

Me: Yup.

And to set the stage for him to go back and be able to fully retell this story to my sister...I quizzed him on some of the facts. He got them all correct, and we raced home.

He brought up Frank the Wizard three times in the next few hours. And while part of me obviously was just having fun, I was so enamored with Jake. The look on his face when hearing and thinking about this fantasy was so sincere, so honest, so fully of wonder...that I realized not only how truly thankful I was that magic did exist, but also how lucky I was to experience it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The things one thinks about while eating at Coco's...

So I'm the kind of dude that doesn't mind, and often prefers, doing things alone. I'll go to movies, restaurants, even bath houses by myself...

In case you were keeping track, I was kidding about one of those previous places.

Anywho, even I...this guy...thought it was a bit much this morning to be eating breakfast at Coco's before class and to be subjected to listening to Three Dog Night's One Is The Loneliest Number.

Let's look at the lyrics, shall we?

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
Yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know
`Cause one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest number,
worse than two
It's just no good anymore since she went away
Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday
One is the loneliest, number one is the loneliest
Number one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest, one is the loneliest
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
It's just no good anymore since she went away
(Number) One is the loneliest
(Number) One is the loneliest
(Number) One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
(Number) One is the loneliest
(Number) One is the loneliest
(Number) One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do


All this after being greeted by "JUST one?" when I walked in. Do they ever ask "Just two?"

Seriously, is there anything more depressing than sitting alone, eating breakfast, did I mention: alone, listening to a song about how lonely it is to be alone?

I was eating my eggs and laughing out loud at how terribly pathetic the situation was. I was the crazy guy in aisle five, seat two...just chuckling by himself. It made me think of other songs that could have come on:

The Top Ten Worst Hypothetical Songs Titles To Hear While Eating Breakfast Alone

10. Where did you bury the body boogie
9. Seriously? Just one? (a capella version)
8. Don't choke, no one is around to heimlich you.
7. Sitting at the counter is for you, you, you.
6. You must be a horrible person shuffle
5. You should probably take your food to go go
4. Reading the news blues
3. Not very popular polka
2. Friends make everything better and anyone eating breakfast alone right now is really missing out.
1. Fergaliscious (Just a terrible song to hear at any time)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Deadening of Emotions

I'm 30. Almost 31 now. I grew up in southern California during Showtime. The Lakers in the 80's were unstoppable, and my father was a sport fanatic. If he wasn't watching sports on TV, he was reading about them...or watching either my sister or me play soccer or basketball. Competition. Our lives were about passionate competition.

It's odd to think back about crying and being emotional as a kid. I just remember caring so much about my family, my friends, and winning. I remember winning was such an important aspect of my personality...and I was so used to the Lakers winning...that I actually cried, deeply, and for a long period of time when they DIDN'T make it to the NBA championship. They won five times in ten years, but it was when they lost to Houston in the '86 Western Conference Finals, that I distinctly remember running to my room, falling down onto my bed, and sobbing. Over a game. A game that was completely out of my control.

A few years later, as a member of an NJB basketball team, my team hadn't lost all year. We were in the state semi-finals, and we, too, were upset and lost to a team that we were killing at half time. When the game ended, I couldn't comprehend what had happened. To me, losing simply was not an option...and once again my young emotions got the best of me. I cried, uncontrollably. The unthinkable had happened. To this day, I still hold a grudge against the entire city of La Habra.

This competitive spirit stayed with me for years. I have never been what I or what anybody else considers as "athletic," but I had always managed to hold my own because of simply wanting to win so much...until I tore my ACL playing pick up basketball in college. The day I tore my knee up, it seems I instantly tore my desire to want to win because when I came back and started playing again, I realized that it didn't matter how much I wanted to win. I just wasn't as good anymore. And the losing...all the losing was getting to me. To cope, something inside of me shut down. I became less emotional because caring so much and constantly losing wasn't something that I could handle. My competitiveness started dying.

I waited all year to watch CAL play USC last night in a college football game. CAL, as usual for them, lost a big game that they needed to win. And the reason why I write all this is because I wanted to care. I wanted them to win. But for fuck's sake, my passion about it was gone. And what the Hell is life without passion? I'm dead already if I am afraid of the lowest lows and the highest highs. I shouldn't be afraid to care out of some subconscious desire of "not wanting to get hurt" even if it is over some stupid football, basketball, or baseball game.

But that's just it. It isn't just the games. It isn't just competition. I'm 30, and I am terrified of wrapping myself up in anything emotionally. I'm sick of feeling disappointed. I'm deadened to the idea of some thing or some person being able to control my level or degree of happiness. So I go along every day, protected from any real emotional turmoil because I am WAY to smart for that, right?

CAL lost last night, and I want to care about this much more than I do. I didn't think it was a life or death kind of game. But shit...maybe it was.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You Driving Me Crazy...

So I have been lax, but not relaxed if that counts for anything. I haven't blogged, logged, jogged, nor grogged (ok, I have done that) in oh-so-long I feel myself sitting here thinking What crazy shit that has happened to me the past few weeks do all my non-comment-leaving-blog-faithful need to know?

I need a good story. I need something to get people BACK to my blog...something that will make them...YOU...return to me, opened-armed, welcoming...motherly.

As an overview, I have had a 60-year-old woman ask me out. Yes. 60. Of course I played the man-she-could-have-been-hot-in-the-1960s game. Wouldn't you?

I have had a student tell me (1) that she cheated on a test, and then when I wrote her up for telling me, she said (2) it is MY fault that she cheated because she didn't know it was a test even though the paper handed to her said TEST at the top and everyone in the class was quietly taking the test, along with her.

I have also had the unique experience of having the following conversation in one of my lower classes when trying to practice conceding/rebutting information:

Me: ---, I heard you don't like Mark's sweater (I tug on my sweater). Is that true?

---: (silence)

Me: ---, did you hear me? I heard you don't like Mark's sweater (I tug on the sweater again). Is that true?

---: I guess so. But I don't know how much he sweats.

Me: Um...no...not "Mark is a sweat-er" "Mark's sweater...this...this thing right here."

SIGH

But this isn't why I write. I write because when I was driving to school last week...I saw this tow truck on the side of the freeway helping a broken-down car. I thought about what a noble profession tow truck drivers have. They drive around all day and help people out. People must love them. It could be raining....people might have had car trouble in a "bad" area...and BAM, this tow truck guy comes along...and saves the day. No real preparation needed. They become these easy-going saviors.

Maybe I could be a tow truck driver. I would still be helping people...and I bet they make more money. Errrrrr.

But wait. Tow truck drivers don't always help people that call. Sometimes they tow people that don't want help. They take cars away, unknowingly, because some sap parked in the wrong spot or without a parking pass. The driver didn't want help...unwittingly, his car had been moved.

People must hate tow truck drivers. All they do is pick up and take away cars of people that don't want any help. I would never want to be a tow trucks driver and take someone where they DIDN'T want to go.

I kept driving, thinking about how the same person, doing the same job, could simultaneously be a goat and a hero...depending on the time, the day, the perspective.

I smiled, because although I just left a class where I talked about the appropriate use of commas, semicolons, and conjunctive adverbs for ONE HOUR...and people yawned...and Yawned...and YAWNED...and even though I felt like I was the worst teacher that ever "laced-them-up" in a classroom...I thought that maybe I took those students somewhere they didn't want to, but had to, go. Maybe they didn't know their brains were in the red for years when it came to this subject. They liked being there...but it was my job to move their lazy asses. I wasn't a hero. I did what I had to do to fit a greater need. I shouldn't feel "bad" for being a boring asshole. I just shouldn't...

...because as I walked out of the class...one of my students on the side of the room called me over. She needed help with one of the comma questions. She needed help because she was stuck.