To Sail or Walk

Summer is drawing near, bringing with it Floridian vacations with family, cookouts amid 90 degree afternoons, and an opportunity for a little soul-searching.  I’m not sure how other teachers begin their summer.  Alcohol and long morning naps surely are incorporated in some way.  My Aunt Sue often visit us in June and July when we were kids, before she retired after nearly thirty-years teaching science in Arkansas.  She would bring large plastic bins — the size of pound-cakes — filled with a powerful concoction of alcohol and fruit-juice for which my mom would ceremoniously clear a place in the family freezer to harden overnight.  The next day the two of them, Mom and Aunt Sue, would extract ice cream scoops and dig out the slushie mixture with the same care and joy as a miner unearthing a golden cache.   They’d sit out by the pool and while away the day until they’d be too exhausted or drunk to move.

“My summer has begun!” Aunt Sue would shout.  “No kids.  No grading.  This is the life!”

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Water Strikes

  “Alright everyone, I’m only going to explain this to you once so pay attention.  The motion you make with the oars requires minimal effort.  It doesn’t take much to move these vessels, but you have to follow instructions.  If you do not, I will give you three chances to fix whatever you’re doing wrong and then . . . the coach comes out.  The coach is six-foot two and a nasty SOB.  He will get in your face, and trust me, you do not want that.  I am strict and demanding, but you will learn the correct way to paddle today ladies and gentlemen.  I will not hesitate to send you back to shore if you slow us down by not following directions.  Do not force me to let the coach out, gentlemen.”

Dan, our kayak instructor, finished his tirade with a long hard stare at Rodney and me.  Instinctively, I turned around.  Not seeing any spider, snake or shark, I considered that Dan had already singled me out as the ‘problem child’ of our little excursion.

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Adventure Hilton Head

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!

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TTWA: Plath on Xanex

TTWA Assignment:  Write a poem by Sylvia Plath on antidepressants.  

Ha, okay.  So, this one’s a bit of a challenge for me, as I’ve never read much of Plath’s poetry.  In fact, that which I do know stems from her feminist roots, daddy issues and depression-induced suicide — which I might be able to glean from the assignment anyway.  Providing antidepressants to tortured artists has always intrigued me every since I saw that Dr. Who episode with Van Gogh (Watch it, yourself.  It’s excellent.).  Imagine Van Gogh happy and successful, but the world without Sunflowers or Starry Nights.  Which is more important: human life or immortality?  

Anyway, I based this poem after Plath’s ‘Daddy,’ which after reading it seems poor taste considering it’s Father’s Day here in the States.  Then, I thought . . . well, if a young troubled Sylvia received treatment at a young age, then she might think more kindly of her father.  We might turn this poem into a Hallmark card . . . 

Dear Daddy

You do not buy, you do not buy
Any more, black shoes, dad.
They do not fit, the wrong size
For thirty years, you buy my clothes,
In this dress, I can barely breathe.
This fabric makes me sneeze
Achoo. 

Daddy, I’m gonna kill you,
if you keep buying sweets.
Chocolate, cakes, Thin Mints.
I feel heavy, a bloated bag, God.
Oh, this diet ruins my life.
Feelin’ big as a circus seal. 

Did you hear, Daddy?
There’s a big dance in the town
In a flat, that got me thinkin’
Of boys, boys, boys.
Even though we have so little in common.
I hope he calls soon, my Polack friend. 

The black telephone rang near the root
of my bed, just as I thought, ‘Screw it.’
He asked. And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through waiting.
You warn me to be careful and sober.
But your voice just can’t worm through. 

Post-dance, Twilight movie.
Monster killed one man, then killed two——
Ew, the sparkle vampire watched Bella sleep.
I’d let Edward drink my blood for a year.
Seven after ten and home, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back in Lazyboy now. 

There’s only one man in my big red heart
And if the whole village hates you.
If the world dances and stamps on you.
I will always be there for you.
Daddy, daddy, with this poem, I’m through.

TTWA: World Peace or Toilets

Waterfall City, from James Gurney’s Dinotopia

 TTWA Assignment:  Briefly but convincingly, state why world peace is better than indoor plumbing.

Imagine you are one of the last man or woman on Earth.  Mother Nature has finally conquered mankind, our cities, our roads, our airports, and our ice cream parlors.  Despite the loss of internet and ice cream, the planet has ascended into a new Eden: wars died out with much of the human population, parasitic organisms and their resulting diseases died with the world’s population of Homo sapiens, fruit and the few remaining livestock provide ample food, and land is plentiful.  In fact, humans — those that still remain — choose to live wherever they feel at ease — that is as far from one another as possible.  In such a world, where competition and infighting no longer exists, where the multitudes of the human population can no longer pollute the planet, indoor plumbing is no longer a neccessity.

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TTWA:  Email to parents

TTWA Assignment:  Part 1) You are a coach who has just cut an 11-year-old girl from the team.  Write an email to her parents, explaining why.  Part )  Now you are the school principal.  Write an email to the coach who cut the girl from the team, explaining why he is being fired.

Emailing parents is a necessary but irksome job for teachers.  The risk to upsetting someone is rather high.  I once used the word ‘generosity’ to describe a bumping a deserving student from a C+ to a B-.  The parent then replied a day later that her child ‘worked hard’ and did not need any of my ‘generosity.’  Sometimes you learn the hard way.

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TTWA: NSA Conversations

 TTWA Assignment: A friend of yours at the NSA calls.  She says that for just one hour, she will let you listen to the conversations of any two people in the world.  You accept.  Whose conversations do you listen to and what do they say?  Transcribe the conversation.  

Okay, I’m going to get my inner geek on and say George Lucas and Peter Jackson.  Ironically enough, both created epic sci-fi and fantasy trilogies, beloved the world over, and both followed up these wonderful movies with prequels that heavily relied upon CGI instead of old-school props and set-design.  These secondary trilogies are relatively less beloved.

I often wonder if the two men every phoned one another and compared notes.

PJ:  CGI gophers, man?  Seriously?  Didn’t you learn anything from Jar Jar?

GL: Your one to talk.  The Five Armies was basically one long Pixar film, man.  Where’s the models?  The orc costumes?  Hell, I’d settle for a real horse.

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