Attempting to pull me away from my ps4 and the latest Batman game, my siblings have kidnapped me this morning. We are currently heading south to Hilton Head Island, SC to enjoy the next ten days biking, golfing, and avoiding the occasional shark attack.
Compared with our Orlando vacations, Hilton Head decided is a welcome change of pace. Biking, golfing, swimming and eating encompass much of the island’s entertainment. And while fishing and kyaking are available by reservation — I’ll discuss these in a future post — the point of Hilton Head is to imagine a vacation without schedules, roller coasters, or hour-long queues outside of Space Mountain. I’ll post pictures of the resort and the island over the next few days with a proper write-up of our adventure after we return. See you later!
Honestly, this next post was devolving into a tirade about parents and report cards until I realized that its summer and frankly I just don’t want to go there. Everything is electronic and online nowadays so parents and students can track the student’s progress weeks before they receive their report cards by mail. Not all parents are comfortable with the program or forgo checking until June. As such, I’m still receiving emails from parents asking how their daughter received this grade instead of that grade in this subject. Some even request meetings, which can erode into the parent venting their frustration at the teacher. I received one such email on Tuesday, and dread crept a little into my heart. Conferences like these are part of the job, sure, but once summer commences, even one additional second worrying about grades or fretting over angry parents becomes an intrusion, like a car alarm in the middle of the night.
In order to recall my missing mojo, Kevin, Bree and I decided that yesterday we would have an adventure. Thus, the next day, we drove to Northern Virginia to spend the day at Kings Dominion, one of Virginia’s premier theme parks and roller coaster factory. Most theme parks choose two paths when attempting to draw in summer crowds. The first involves creating a ‘world’ or an ‘adventure.’ Disney does this rather well, creating a traditional thrill ride but attaching a story or theme to heighten the emotional experience. Hollywood Studios’ Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror is a good example. By linking the idea of the Twighlight Zone and ghosts to a simple freefall ride, you create suspense as guests become part of the story. They relish the thrill, and as such buy more T-shirts.
True adventurers have never been plentiful. They who are set down in
print as such have been mostly business men with newly invented
methods. They have been out after the things they wanted–golden
fleeces, holy grails, lady loves, treasure, crowns and fame. The
true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and
greet unknown fate. A fine example was the Prodigal Son–when he
started back home. — O. Henry, “The Green Door.”
Jumping into the car on the last day of school terrifies me. For teachers, summer vacation can prove a daunting enterprise particularly if you happen to be single. “Balderdash!” you may shout in a Victorian accent. “I have a 9 to 5 job throughout the entire year. You teachers have it lucky what with this summer vacation nonsense. Pip pip cheerio. Fish and chips.”
Well, let’s field that common misconception first. Imagine you have trained your entire life as a scientist or a writer. After graduating with your Masters degree, you find jobs in short supply due to . . . let us say because of a ‘recession.’ You take a job as a teacher in a high school, which slowly consumes your entire life. You teach all day, and on nights and weekends, you plan new lessons, create tests or grade grade grade until your fingertips are permantly stained red with misplaced commas and imbalanced chemical equations. This is your life. These kids, their needs and their dreams, become your life. Tunnel-vision within a textbook.
A thank-you note for a weekend visit where everything went wrong.
As a devout introvert, weekend visits are chimerical, that is rare and often terrifying. Attending family parties, being forced into polite but shallow conversations, and eventually seeking out a quiet place to hide and read or play games . . . the whole ordeal taxes my mind and spirit. Shame, guilt and anxiety build even if I do manage to escape to my comfort zone. Am I running away from my problems? Do I dislike the people with whom I surround myself? Maybe I’m afraid of crowds . . .Talking to two or three people at once is stimulating, but add half-a-dozen and the conversation nose-dives into general pleasantries or rehearsed opinions about sports. At worst, the conversation devolves into a lecture with the more competent speaker assuming the role of professor.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the boys and I had the opportunity to visit the San Diego Comic Con. Having just returned with oodles and oodles of pictures of cosplayers, figures, and convention halls, I’m a little behind with my post about the con itself. Luckily, while I organize myself and the details of the trip in my head, I wanted to post this little vignette from one of our afternoons at the con. Rodney, Shannon, Kevin and I had just spent six hours in the convention center and eager for sustenance (as Thor would say), we left to grab a sandwich and a beer. En route, Rodney relayed a brief story about a rather awkward party he had attended years ago. Considering myself a seasoned dabbler in the storytelling trade myself, I could not stop myself from criticizing . . . a little:
“And that’s the end of the story? You just left?” I asked, juggling my backpack from one shoulder to the other. “Lame.”
Three accounts. Three computers. If I thought it would improve my chances to heft some of the house’s scattered PCs — outdated, abandoned, or consumed by spiderwebs — down to my room, I might have risked electric shock and wolf spider bites to heave the towers into my room. But I had three accounts, thus only three computers.
The other members of my party were working across the street at Katie’s new house, knocking down trees and feeding the sap-soaked limbs into the chipper, giving Mother Nature the ol’ Fargo-special (as I call it). Thus, the task of procuring tickets to the Comicon fell to me.
Now, we’ve attended comic book conventions in the past here in Baltimore and DC. These are typically low-key affairs, occupying a single floor at the Baltimore convention center, which — to quote the Hulk — is puny in comparison to its counterparts in DC and Boston. Still it manages to stock the panels with some pretty awesome writers and artists: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Don Rosa, and Neil Adams to name a few that I’ve seen (Batman and Uncle Scrooge fanatic that I am).
I added a wordpress app to my Smartphone and decided to test drive this bad boy at St. Augustine’s Cracker Barrel (I’m a rebel like that), seeing that my Mom and sisters are visiting the local outlets and the intermitent Floridian deluges are stoppering any attempt to sightsee the city’s copious forts and gator farms. Soooo … I’m posting tons of photos over the next several weeks in part because Disney saps the life out of you but mostly because I’m rather lazy writer. Thus, if you’ve developed a healthy lassitude to the written word, enjoy! If not, well read War and Peace or better yet my other blog posts – some are even longer than a Russian novel so go crazy you kooky sesquipedalian.
Every visit to Cracker Barrel deja vu haunts you. We ate at three of these places and the wild assortment of candy, talking toy tucans, and 'I love Granny' t-shirts look the same regardless of zip code.
“For the last time,” I sigh, “I have no idea what kind of wood they want. If it’s not written on the sheet I gave you, the pieces can be made from cardboard for all I care.”
I tapped the ‘sheet’ — a square piece of cut cardboard, where Mom and her carpenter had scribbled the dimensions of various planks and decorative trim. The sheet wobbled atop a stack of wood samples like the roof of shanty poked with a funnel cloud. The guy behind the register was not particularly blind, but I felt that calling attention to the list helped to establish my incompetence.
“Well,” the old man said, returning my sigh as if vying for a Grand Slam, “well, do you want to call them? See what they want to do?”
I pause for a few seconds and pretend to consider the suggestion, soaking in the fact that I’ve made authority figures out of nothing more than pronouns. ‘They’ could be the Queen of England (using the royal plural) or the NSA, scouring the guy’s phone records. Or perhaps our alien overlords. That’s the power of obscurity. Besides, specifying my employers as ‘Mom and Dad’ just sounded lame.
Work in progress
Over the past several months, my folks have undertaken a massive home renovation project. We plan on taking our small undersized kitchen and expanding it into a culinary workshop that would make Gordan Ramsey sit up and beg. ‘How?’ you may ask?
Mostly, it seems by totally rearranging the whole damn house into a lifesize Escher painting. Currently, I have little to no knowledge of the location of cereal, forks, television remotes, the Lazyboy, salsa, chips, pots, soap dispenser, can opener, or the front door. All are lost or currently buried beneath bins, boxes and furniture.
You see for years, our current kitchen has abutted next to the ‘good’ or unused dining room. Nearly every home has one, a well-polished table adorned with silver candlesticks and untouched silverware, relics which mothers maintain in mint quality as if the queen might stop by one day unannounced for tea. Our own dining room was an ersatz museum collection of fine china, dark ebony tables, Polish tea cups, Belleek vases, and grinning Hummel figurines. Needless to say, if the queen did stop by for a cup of Earl Grey, digestion would prove difficult with hundreds of small frozen children exchanging blood-red posies, laughing maniacally in their small ceramic wheelbarrows from dust-caked bookcases. Teaching before a room of bleary-eyed kids and . . . well, it’s no wonder I’m so anxious. Anyway, we rarely ate or drank anything in this dining room, even just to spite Mom, who despite our professed phobias screamed bloody murder at any sign of drink or beverage on her ‘nice wood floors.’
Fear them . . .
Yeah, the whole trip felt like that . . .
Of all the nonsense that befell Unity over the following months, nothing frightened me more than the sight of the kids stumbling to the edge of the highway, ready to play Frogger with speeding yuppies from Kingsmill and weekend historians.
The man behind us shouting on his cell had already called the police by the time we left the deli. Ms. Jane was screaming for the kids to return when he noticed us. Ms. P and Catherine were still buying snacks on the opposite end of the plaza. Sporting a greasy comb-over and a haunting odor of Axe body spray, the man – who I will forever christen as Little Pesci – addressed me first, obviously mistaking me for the leader of educational band; although it was Ms. Jane who answered.
“Are those your children?” he asked. He had this way of saying ‘your’ like an old woman in a Pollyanna movie, as if only the children’s guardians would possibly summon a pack of middle school students from rushing headlong into traffic and playing dodgeball with a Buick. That fact that he happened to be right only proved the guy was a total prick as well as an idiot. Continue reading