Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thoughts On All Hallow's Eve

Yeah, right, like I have thoughts...

First of all, I'm sorry if it upsets you, but I come down on the side of "pro" when it comes to peanut butter kisses (sometimes incorrectly referred to (by me, usually) as Mary Jane's... mainly because the people who make Mary Jane's also make these... and they're essentially the same thing). A picture, to clarify:

So... When I'm to a weight I'm happy with and can eat candy without worrying about keeping myself from my goal, feel free to send yours my way if you don't like them and receive them as a gift or in your trick-or-treat haul.

Apparently there is a program to send your extra candy over to the troops. It's an evil plot by dentists to "own" Halloween, but whatever. More info at

As I type, I realize it's time for the older kids to come around getting candy. At least the batch that just came to the door (9:10 or so) were all in costume, actually said "Trick-or-treat" and actually said "Thank you," without a parent there to coach them. That was nice.

Now, I know I have a sign on my door that says, "Sorry, folks, the doorbell is DEAD. Rap your bony knuckles on the door, instead!" And I realize from the street, as a parent, you might assume it said something like, "Go away, costumed freaks--I'm not even home!"

But, here's the view from the street (or from almost-to-the-street):

This kid earlier tonight was startled when I opened the door and said, "Oh! My dad said it didn't look like anybody was home. There was no car in the driveway and your lights aren't on."

Well, first: notice the garage?

Second: Wouldn't the spooky decorations lead you to believe I'm home.

Third: Wouldn't the cool lights in the windows be a bit ruined by all the parlor lights being on?

Fourth: Not related to the kid's statement, but I realize this picture is also evidence that this is probably my first time putting that fake cobweb stuff up. It's true. I've never used it before. I figured I could use it this year to make it seem like all the actual cobwebs were fake, too.

Fifth: Oh yeah, and there are too lights on! Notice the kitchen light on? What is it? Chopped liver? No, because chopped liver is not luminescent! (Oh, and props to me for spelling that right... I just checked.)

Anyway, I'll be up later than my new lights-out-by 9:30 bedtime. I figure kids might still be coming around for another hour or so (9:26 now), and I'd rather not have eggs on my house (not that they won't do it after 10:30 or so, but at least if they come by to get candy first, I can try to ward off revenge later).

Tomorrow is All Saint's Day. Today in church we had a moment during a prayer to say the names of saints (here meaning people who have passed on that we want to remember--there's more to it than that, but I'm going with that short version with a long caveat after). Here's my list, but probably very incomplete: Patsy Riggs, Lois Cottrell, Jimmy Cottrell, Deana Mae Horn, Harland Gregory Riggs, Brad Graham, William "Bud" Hickerson, Jan Ewens... and anybody I'm forgotten to add here.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So, This Is What Passes For Christian These Days, Is It?

I read a story tonight I didn't want to read. Every cell in my body was telling me not to click the link, at yet I clicked it anyway. And then I read.

--->CLICK ME<---

(If you don't read it, this post might not make a lot of sense... but that's okay. You can move on from this post and have a life free of this article. Seriously, consider not clicking.)

In answer to the question I used for the title, I'd say, "No, it isn't." But at the same time, who is letting this pass for Christian?

It's not a trick question.

Answer: Christians.

What to do with this sort of thing? I would like to say I wish he'd commit suicide. I'd like to say I wish horrible things upon him. I'd like to pile up all my anger and rage at people who are so hateful in the name of Christianity, melt it along with a lot of iron, make a giant cannonball out of it, and shoot it at his head at close range.

Seriously, I would really like to say that.

But here's the thing: This guy is just as welcome to Grace as I am. He's just as included in it.

So then I can't just get my hate on back at him. I can't just let my anger flow out in his direction until I get tired of it.

Seriously, I can't. I mean, I can, but what good will that do? I mean, yes, it will feel good in the short term, but at the end of the day, hate fuels hate, and it won't change anything.

I guess I'm more upset at all the people who will just shrug and do nothing... or tell themselves there's nothing they can do.

For real, people, how many Christians out there think this is not what Christianity is all about? You've got to start speaking up, and you've got to start speaking up three years ago yesterday, if not sooner!

I'm no biblical scholar, so I'm not able to say, "Look, let me walk you through all the confusion on this issue." But for pity's sake, google it or something!

So what to do about this guy? That he has anything to do with the education of children is sickening to me, to say the least. That he is on the school board and says this kind of happy horse hooey is infuriating. Maybe Step 1 is to write to everyone that can do anything about it and asking them to do something about it. Maybe Step 1 is to write a blog on your blog that is sometimes read by more than five people, and hope for the best. Maybe Step 1 is to mail him a Bible without all the references to Christ's teachings about love redacted.

One thing I do know is a whole lot of people are giving their permission with their silence. A whole lot of people are allowing people like this guy to define Christianity for the world. A whole lot of people need to get a whole lot more verbal. How many suicides will it take? Is there a maximum acceptable number? (I don't mean all of them, and I wasn't really asking you anyway, Mr. McCance.) Should I put a counter up on my page somewhere?

Hmm and haw all you want, but while you're hmming and hawing, other people are speaking out loud and clear for you, in the name of your religion.

Ranty? Yes. Preachy? Yes. Do I care? Not about being ranty and preachy.

So I read it. I want to figure out a response that comes from a place of love and not a place of rage and hate--but I don't want it to be like a wet noodle attacking a steel door.

And mostly, I want to say, "Please stop telling everybody this is what all of us Christians think."

Now, on a happier note:

--->CLICK ME<---

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two More Shopping Months 'Til Christmas!

I hope you've all planned what you're getting me for Christmas. But first, let's talk about the treats you need to get me for Halloween.

Well, actually, all I'm allowing myself of late is less than 2 ounces of dark chocolate a day... and 16 raisins, which--according to some sites--equal a serving. Oh, and prunes, but I don't think they're very sweet.

So back to Christmas...

Oh, wait, whose house am I going to for Thanksgiving? Or whose houses? Don't bicker, just work out a schedule and I'll stop by and partake of each meal.

You know, providing it's part of "the plan" that I'm trying to eat by.


Are these holidays gonna suck or what?

Anyway, I really just wanted to note that in two months, it will be Christmas. Two months used to mean something when I was younger. Now it means a very short time.

When I was younger, two months was roughly equivalent to a million years. I've rambled about this elsewhere. I just thought it could bear noting again.

That reminds me--you know when you have an accident or, say, slip and fall in the bathroom at school one summer day (there's a post a few years back about that), and time seems to slow down? Apparently it really doesn't. This study basically figured out your brain is just taking in a lot of information instead of slacking off like it usually does, and the act of remembering it all later makes it seem as if you were suddenly collecting data at a much faster rate. Turns out you were collecting just as fast, but throwing less of it away.

I heard that on NPR back in August, and I keep meaning to talk about it--because I've had a couple of moments like that in the past six years or so, so it's interesting to know that my stupid over-active mind actually kept track of things for a little while.

Yeah, where was I?

Oh yeah, nowhere. There wasn't really a point to this post. I just realized it was two months until Christmas, and wanted to share.

Nothing really exciting to report. Parent/teacher conferences are halfway over. The first night was last Thursday until 8:00, with work on Friday. The second half are this Wednesday until 8:00, with school on Thursday.

Binxy's Birthday Bash is Saturday, so that's exciting news to report.

Oh, and I have no plans for Halloween, other than hanging out at the house, passing out candy to trick-or-treaters... and hoping no students egg my house, so I don't have to go to prison for beating them up.

Okay, there, I've posted again. Those of you who wished for this may now acknowledge that "Be careful what you wish for" now applies.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oh, And There's This...

First of all, I love going back and reading my old post and finding glaring typographical errors. It reminds me how irritatingly imperfect I am at both typing and copy-editing. ::sigh::

Anyway, I'd been meaning to share this for a while, and keep forgetting: Apparently blogger has a whole "stats" option now (and probably has for some time, but I didn't notice).

This means I can seriously sit for hours and just read different stats about my different blogs. There is seriously something wrong with me that I find this a semi-sane thing to do while at home, but I really do.

My "Why I'm Wearing Purple" kept climbing up the chart in "most viewed" back on the 20th, as more facebook friends shared that link. It was interesting to watch. Well, interesting to me, anyway.

It's still not the most read. My farewell to Ms. Ewens is currently the most popular.

And I think the people who view me from Korea are the ones that leave the junk comments that are obviously spam links to bad sites. I mean, that or they enjoy looking at rambling English with many typographical and grammatical errors. Maybe they're learning how not to speak the language!

Anyway, that's what I'm doing when I'm not answering e-mails, responding to comments, answering the phone... when I'm not doing anything, really. I'm on here, looking at the stats for this blog and my others.

Yes, I'm so lame I need crutches.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Channelled Patsy Today

Today as we were getting ready for Hannah's party, I was asked if I had any balloons. I asked if they were wanting to put them out front so people knew they had the right house for the party.

Upon confirmation, and upon admitting I had no balloons, I channelled my mother. Her problem-solving, her belief that you don't know you can't do it until you try, and her creativity were at-hand, ready for me to solve this no-balloon issue.

So I went to the guest bedroom, looking in the closet there, where there were some brightly-colored t-shirts that had been used to pack dishes in when I moved. I didn't know they were there, but I figured that closet would be the most likely spot to find something I needed. On the way to the room, I saw some red plastic cups that had been on the counter for a while now.

I knew I had scissors... and there it was: I'll just make something to hang out front. It will be bright, and should get the attention of anyone who drives by.

It didn't take us long, and Kevin cut himself on a plastic cup in the process, but we did it! (You can jump over to today's post on my photoblog to see the creation, if you'd like.)

Of course, Ruth parked right next to it and didn't see it. But I still feel like I channelled Patsy today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why I'm Wearing Purple Tomorrow (Okay, Today, But After I Sleep Some)

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because there are students in my school who are afraid and alone--even more afraid and alone than all the other students, who very often are also afraid and alone.

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because there are students in my school who are part of a minority group that, as I've heard it put before, don't have people in the same minority group they get to go home and cope with at the end of a day of coping on their own--in fact, they might have less support at home than they would among classmates.

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because yelling "F**king faggot" down the hall gets you sent to the office only to be sent back to class a very short time later during the same class period. Maybe the "punishment" would have been the same for yelling "F**king n***er" or with some other racial epithet filling in for the second word, but I doubt it. Because it's very visual to be of another race. Sometimes it's very visual to be of another religion. I'm wearing purple tomorrow for those in the school who feel they have to stay invisible, not visual. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because it's not okay to bully anyone, ever, in any circumstances... unless it's a teacher bullying a class to get the kids to 'fess up to which student threw that paper wad. Then it's okay, but not preferable.

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because, statistically speaking, in a building with hundreds of kids, there are kids struggling with who they are and are getting messages from all over the place that who they are is something worse than being a murderer or something even worse than that... like a teacher or something.

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because I have too good of a memory of what 7th grade was like. I didn't get that gift of forgetting that so many adults seem to have gotten (although I can sorta slide it on like sunglasses if I'm in a hurry, and want to ignore how they feel).

I'm wearing purple tomorrow because I want all students to know that no matter how bad it gets, it gets better, and I want them to stick around to find out how right I am. How right I am about everything, not just that. But mostly that.

I'm wearing purple tomorrow. I hope you are, too.

Spirit Day, October 20, 2010

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Some Things You Need To Know About JEC

I have a this friend. He isn't really me while I try to confess to you I have some sort of issue or problem, and he isn't you while I try to get you to figure out it's really you I'm talking about. He's an actual friend. And this post is about him.

We'll call him "JEC". He'll know I'm talking about him, and that's okay. Friends of ours will know I'm talking about him, and that's okay, too.

I just wanted to document our friendship. He's one of my oldest friends, and I had a long phone conversation with him today, and I decided I wanted to write about him today.

When I was a young man of 18, fresh out of a town with a population of 669 people and three months out of a high school comprised of three small towns, I went to college in Liberty, Missouri. It was the furthest I could get away from Ralls County without actually leaving the state--or, that's how I thought of it. I think I could get out a map and find a college that would fit the bill better... but I digress.

I moved into Browning Hall on--if memory serves--August 31, 1985. I just checked. That was a Saturday. I can't remember for sure if it was a Saturday I first made that trek across the state or not. All I know is I moved into Browning Hall, first floor, west wing (room 116, I believe) on that day. I knew my roommate. I'd gone to high school with him. I'm inwardly laughing at my hypocrisy right now for almost telling the Senior I know that he shouldn't worry about knowing anyone when he goes to school--I couldn't stand the idea of a random roommate when I was 18!

Anyway, a couple of doors down there was this room that was tagged just like all the other rooms with the room number and the names on it. In very short time this was replaced with a paper covered in band names I'd never heard of, drawn all... 1985-punky, I guess. I remember the moment I saw it while walking down the hall. If I'd had car doors to lock, I would have. It was one of the first moments I realized I was in totally new territory.

That first weekend, my roommate was not there. I believe he'd gone early for football camp, and had a girlfriend back in Ralls County, and he went back to see her that weekend. I had my apple //c, and I sat with my dorm room door open and worked at my computer. It seemed to work as a way to get to know people. They'd stop by and ask about my computer, make conversation, and there it was.

The door at the end of the hall was very loud. You could hear whenever anyone opened it. So I'd keep my eye on the door so I could say "hey" to whoever walked by--or, if I heard a room door shut, I'd know their room was somewhere before mine (I was about halfway down the hall, directly across the hall from the payphone (younger readers, ask your parents what a pay phone is... and have them explain a collect call while they're at it)).

At one point, I heard the hall door open and close, and nobody walked by. There had been no door-closing prior to or not long after the sound of the hall door opening and closing. Perplexed, I got up and went to my dorm room door and leaned out to look down the hall.

JEC was leaning out his door, looking down the hall, presumably to figure out why my door was open (light from outside would have been spilling out into the hall, you see). He immediately jerked his head back in the room and slammed the door.

I shrugged, thinking "It's one of those guys in the freak room," and went on with my life.

JEC and his roommate Patrick (another great college friend of mine) had taken to calling me "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Man", because I looked a bit like Vincent Schiavelli, who was in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (I think this is the reason, anyway--I'd typically get him as "actor I most look like" back then--although once I was told I could play Tom Hanks' brother...).

Anyway, what was happening while I was shrugging was JEC turned to Patrick and said, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Man just LOOKED at me!"

By the way, I think before I die I want that on a t-shirt.

Anyway, that right there sums up a big part of JEC. But, of course, that's not all there is to him.

We became close friends in college, and were in many shows together at Jewell. We've written ridiculous musicals together, and were frequently sounding boards for one another's projects. We've mapped out a soap opera spoof series together. All this was years ago. I don't know how much JEC writes any more. I know he gave up reading at some point, even though he's the reason I read Sara Paretsky and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. He now claims to hate reading. I don't know what happened. Or maybe he just pretends. He's the epitome of the Vonnegut quote, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." I think that quote about JEC a lot.

I think the best way to describe being friends with him is saying it's like a well-kept secret. His friends know how kind he is, how soft-hearted he is, and how he does not like injustice and does not like people treated poorly. However, the reason I don't use his name here is so he can continue to pretend to be something other than that. Sometimes, even his friends have to remind themselves of it. Plus we love him, so there's that.

After college, we lamented our lack of college-required jobs together often. There were times we'd talk on the phone and he'd point out we were acting like gossips by saying, "You know, there needs to be a picket fence right on this phone line." He loved my line that I wanted to say to Bette Midler when she was in town: "I don't know if you remember me or not, but I've seen all of your movies."

He wished me dead in a blog the day I nearly died. Because of that incident (and his reaction to realizing he'd wished me dead and I ended up in the emergency room nearly dead), I met the then pastor at my current church.

And I can't hang out with him without laughing. I can't talk to him on the phone without laughing. And I can't get away with things with him--he's not afraid to call me out.

So there it is: I love my friend, and I want him to know it today while we're both on the same planet, so he can read it and complain to me about it. I think I need to write more of these while the subject is still here. And JEC is a good one to start with.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Because I Don't Know What Else To Do

I'm really in a good place. Oh, there's an issue with my foot I'd rather not have to deal with, and things could be better in the scheduling department, and the school year isn't going like the best ever, but really, I'm in a good place.

For one thing, I'm feeling good--probably more because I've eaten right for two days (two days... seriously, and I have this natural high from the feeling of accomplishment... I'm such a loser). And maybe it's because things are still generally okay.

Whatever, I really am in a good place.

Granted, I'm really tired right now and have to wake up in the morning to help family move, but it's all good.

Wow, I didn't mean to make this a long rant about how I'm doing okay. I just wanted to preface this next bit with, "No, really, I'm doing okay."

What are we up to now? Five suicides in the last three weeks? I think that's the last stat I read. All related to bullying with some "gay" or "faggot" thrown in for fun, mind you.

I don't know what else to do. I don't let the word "gay" go by at school without addressing the "don't do that"ness of it. I can lecture and rant and threaten detentions and deliver detentions and do my part to make sure the detentions are served and on and on... and I still feel like I'm holding up my hand and saying "Stop" to a tsunami.

So I'm just going to share this:

Use it for good. Thank you.