Saturday, September 21, 2002

I've caved in and made one of these lists about me. I'm breaking it into fourths, or 25%, or .25, or a ratio of 1:4.

1. I’m frightened of clowns, especially this one, courtesy of Michael. They had better be frightened of me.
2. I’ve been to every state but Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut. I’ve also been to Mexico, Canada, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Belgium, France, and England, but I’ve never been to me.
3. I love Shiner Bock beer from Shiner, Texas. It is the perfect blend of good beer, cheap price, and non-barfability.
4. I can only raise my right eyebrow independently.
5. When I dream I’m flying, I usually have to flap my arms.
6. My sister pushed me out of a big rig truck when I was about six, knocking out my front teeth and cracking my skull. I screamed for some time and looked like a vampire for about five more years.
7. I damaged her left eye by throwing a broom stick from our tree house. I basically knocked out her eye. She screamed for a huge amount of time and had to wear a patch for some time.
8. I can’t stand touching foam, like the egg crate stuff on some beds. I tore off a fingernail when I was younger, and the exposed part stuck to some foam.
9. Every day I look more like my mother’s father, a man with perfect pitch.
10. I don’t have perfect pitch.
11. I sing in the shower as if I had perfect pitch. I am the Pavarotti of washing.
12. I have never smoked a cigarette. I know I would be addicted the first time.
13. I own 25 Pop Swatches, 15 currently work. I am wanting more.
14. I bought a lottery ticket while living in England. I didn’t win, so I’ve never bought another.
15. Halloween is my Christmas.
16. I laugh at the death of Bambi’s mom, yet I cry wildly at the end of “Accidental Tourist”.
17. I had a perm. Once. Curly hair should only be on certain areas of my body.
18. I always eat spoiled food. I can’t help it.
19. I could eat burritos for every meal, preferably smothered in queso.
20. Reading T.S. Eliot poetry is like eating a rich dark chocolate.
21. I wish my name was something sexy like Antonio Banderas. It sounds so bold and exotic, unlike Glenn, which sounds like the anaerobic bacteria in a pond.
22. My nose was broken in the fourth grade, with a few more slight arrangements from walking into doors, fights, etc.
23. Now that I’m out of the closet, I love describing a guy as ‘dreamy.’
24. I am the funky monkey of the body odor world. Wearing watches on my sleeve gives me the opportunity to see if I am getting too funky.
25. I am not a size queen, as I have a tremendous overpowering gag reflex.

Friday, September 20, 2002

I miss the adrenaline-rush danger of an Uzbek shower. While I lived in Uzbekistan, I went through a progression of deadly shower experiences. Showering, like crapping, varies according to the local customs. My roommate here in New York makes do with the nasty cheap toilet paper, I'm a Charmin Ultra guy. Nothing is too good for my ass.

With my first psycho family from hell, they had a small room with a 5' ceiling. I would slouch my way towards bathing Bethlehem, which consisted of two rusting drums filled with water. I had to fill both with water from the canal below the house, the same canal that was filled with leeches. One had an open flame underneath one drum, the other was rippled with condensed moisture. I would take a pan, mix it from both barrels, splash it across my body. Lather, rinse, no repeat. Shaving was an incredibly painful experience, and splashing too much risked the collapse of the mud walls around me.

After I was taken away from the scary first criminal devil family (Peace Corps gave me the standard "We're sorry we stuck you in a criminal family that actually tried to kill you" speech), I was placed with a wonderful family that had a more modernized system. It also had the two barrel system, but they were both overhead, and they both poured into one spray hose. This family was a good family, and so was the shower. It had no pressure to speak of, and the pressure from each tank was dependent on elevation. Head: Freezing. Testicles: Boiling.

That finished training near the capitol. From there I moved to the historical city of Samarkand and the enclosed home of Kurbon-aka. Kurbon and his wife were nice enough, except that they had the predatorial instinct of James Bond villains. Honestly, every time I heard Kurbon-aka speak, I expected him to say he was taking over the world with something he just digested. He simply had this really great villainous voice, especially as he was layering my soup with more dill. They had a western style toilet, but they had filled up either side level with concrete so one still had to treat it like a Turkish toilet, just more of a stretch. Their shower was like a fiendish 007 plot with this insanely modified faucet. If you turned it too much, it would break off and shoot scalding water across your whole body. Traditional Muslim families don't appreciate your scalded red body streaking out of the bathroom into the kitchen. It's just not done, even if their hot water tank just sloughed off your hide.

My final family, my family by which all others are judged, was an amazing family. My real family has always put the fun in dysfunctional, and this Uzbek family showed me this entirely different perspective. The parents didn't fight, the two sons (and myself as the adopted son) were always sure of love, and I cherished every meal with them. Every morning and every evening was spent with them, preparing food, cleaning house, huddled together for warmth. My host parents chopped and burned their fence during the heatless winter in order to make sure we had hot food, and even in the coldest times of that winter, our conversations were always warm. I still miss them.

And yet the showers were even more dangerous. This was a famous Krushchev era apartment building, which meant each shower had the infamous kalonka. A kalonka is this amazing little Soviet water heater mounted on the wall next to you. I would turn this broken valve with my pliers, light the roaring gas burner, and jump in the shower. This was not an adjustable system, it was either wildly on, or off. As I took the shower, I had to frequently increase the cold water, as the hot water continued to heat until it vaporized. At that point, if I wasn't finished, scalding jets of steam would erupt from the shower head, blistering my skin. I had a friend named Brian whose kalonka exploded, burning his ass. He had a hairy ass, or he did until the flames smoothed it.

Yet I miss it. As I was showering today, I was reminding myself that nothing in life is certain, even a shower. It's exhilirating, it could be good, it could be disastrous, it could really toast my ass. I'm still going to do it every day.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Roommate Dan's ultrachill friend Jessie visited us a few weeks ago. Very charming guy who let me watch his Krispy Kreme tattoo get drawn on his arm. I've never seen a tattoo be drawn on, so I was fascinated. Plus my friend Jen had a FASCINATING story about cats. Jessie just put up pictures of our Swanktuary, so go to his site and take a look. His photography is some of the best I've seen in a long time.
I'm teetering on the fulcrum of a decision. On one side, life is too short to not be happy. I've seen people slave away at something in the sad hopes of being happy later. On the other side, the rewards from brobdingnagian levels of effort have always been more satisfying to me. I know that my life is richer because I've had to dig deep inside to find the resources. There are other options besides teaching that are available to me, they could make me equally happy, and would probably produce more money.

I vividly remember how terrifying junior high was to me. My hormone fueled adolescent angst overwhelmed my brain completely, and I was terrified of gym class. I was most definitely not the jock; that was my sister's job. I was smaller than a lot of the kids, and I didn't realize that having a brain was a bad thing. Within the first week, I had incurred the wrath of the local gang when my brilliant English teacher told the class I had wiped out the 40 point curve because I was the only person who made a perfect score on a test. I became a very good runner at that point in life.

It is also one of the most important chunks of my life. It is where I first began to conquer my fears, stand my ground, and define my own beliefs. Junior high is where I began to have real friends, where I had my first kiss, and where the chest hair started to show. It is where I learned that I could be a geek, yet also have friends that weren't geeks. I also made it through physical ed and dodgeball.

I can name quite a lot of bad teachers, and a few amazing teachers who showed me the wonders of blood types, Lord of the Flies, and playing Dr. Von Hapsburg in some horrible play. My voracious appetite for information today results from that period in my life. I am going to stick with the teaching for now, because I know that many of my favorite teachers probably also had problems when they started. However, I also will periodically step back up on that edge, see if I'm happy (or if I will soon be happier), and if I am helping these kids. Now I'm off to get some more coffee and grade a pile of papers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Poking, poking, poking. It is one of those things that makes me absolutely crazy, and it is entirely my fault. I am responsible for my goatee. If I don't trim my upper goatee back occasionally, the hairs begin to poke at my upper lip. This makes every SINGLE movement of my lips irritating, from the slightest smile to every word uttered.

The most embarassing part is that I just bought a new beard trimmer last month, as the old one was so worn that it was simply depilating my face. The battery just died as I realized that the little hairs were poking, poking, poking. Now I can't find the charger for the dratted beast, the hairs are poking, poking, poking, and I can't believe I've done this again. I will find the charger some place totally random - the freezer, inside a shoe, or maybe in the little shrine I have to Krispy Kreme donuts. Logic has no place in my filing system of life, although my whiskers tell me I should work on that system.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I guess my day could have been worse. I could have been kicked in the nards by an elderly woman in a very public scene, the loft could have burned down to the ground with the smoking charred remains of my dog settling amidst the ashes, or Suechinda the psycho girl stalker from the early 90's could have tracked me down again.

While writing up my lesson plans for one hundred kids over the weekend, I really felt good about some of the lessons. I had materials, real world examples, good ideas to make them THINK. It all failed miserably, as if I had simply thrown papers into the air, randomly hoping the kids would pick them up. I know I need to just relax, but I so desperately want to help these kids. We just got the scores in for our school, and less than six percent of last year's kids passed the minimum standards for the state. Every lesson that they don't understand, don't listen to, or don't care about is another nail in their future, and I'm feeling responsible.

When is Friday? Soon?

Monday, September 16, 2002

One other thing, then I'm off to bed. For Christmas, I am doing something I've wanted to do for years. I'm going some place tropical with friends, as I've never been fond of winters. You wouldn't know this from the places I've lived, but I hate hot summers and cold winters. I really should move somewhere like California, but I also like the conversations better in miserable locales. At the moment, it is Scott and Michael in the group, but we're open for a few other people. The more, the merrier. Any suggestions for something cheap and tropical?
It's 8:15 pm and I'm pretty certain it doesn't bode well for the week that I have only finished three lesson plans. I had all these grandiose plans to crank out a week's worth of brilliant lessons over this long weekend. I should be doing them right now, instead I'm blogging. I did do laundry, buy groceries, and consume vast quantities of alcohol. I'm not dreading four days of teaching, but I'm also not looking forward to it. I just feel resigned to the whole thing, which shows me that I'm still not back up to 100 percent. My sense of humor is still a bit down, if not absent.

Things I am looking forward to this week: season premiers of Buffy, Enterprise, and a party at Nick and David's house on Friday. Plus the resumption of coffee drinking.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

My friend Frank's blog lured me to this quiz.

i am extremely intelligent and very wise. i think logically and rhetorically in order to get problems solved. if i'm not mad now, i'm getting very close.

target="new" title="we're all mad here">how mad are you?

this quiz was made by href="" title="cracked but sweet" target="new">piksy