Tuesday, August 30

Arizona

Goofy songs stick in my head. If I stare at clouds long enough they look like balloon animals. I swim until my fingers wrinkle. I drink until my teeth numb. I erase and rewrite until it's just the way I want it to be. I sing in my car. I drive with my knees. I kiss with my eyes closed, but sometimes I still want to look.

I wish
I wish
I wish
you
were
..here.
[Listening to: Bloodhound Gang, "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo"]


Saturday, August 27

I Ain't No Glamour Boy

A couple of weeks back the club I had kinda been making a home out of on Friday nights more or less imploded under the tides of managerial idiocy and coworker politics. One minute I was there chatting up Bartender Christina and the next everybody working there had either walked out, been fired, or was asked to leave before they uncerimoniously shut the place down.

The bad part about it for me was that after so many weeks of enjoying my status as a regular, I was suddenly left without a place to go. This lead to me boucing around aimlessly last week searching for a suitable replacement, with inevitably dissapointing results.

So as this Friday night drew near I decided that I would employ a different approach. Mainly because I realized that it wasn't so much the place that I was drawn to, but rather the people I had met along the way. Plus -- I've started to realize lately that I do a lot of complaining about how lonely I am, but I don't ever really seem to do much to change that fact. So instead of just driving around and throwing dollars out the window, I decided to hang out at home, do what I could to maybe network myself a little, and not really go anywhere until I actually had somewhere worth going.

Oddly enough, this led to a friendly invitation to a club I'd never been to before from a MySpacer I'd only met the day before. You never really know how things like that are gonna turn out, but the vibe seemed casual enough and the night was young, so why the heck not?

The problem is, apparently you can take Dan out of his regular Friday night spot, but you can't take the Dan out of me -- because while I was sitting at the bar waiting for her to show up,
I met another cute bartender.
[Listening to: Living Colour, "Glamour Boys"]


Friday, August 26

Nobody LARPS Like Rob

Having a bad day? Can't seem to find a way around the dark clouds that trouble your skies? No sure where to turn next and just wish you had something, anything that could give you a little escape from it all?
Here, give this a try.
It was the second picture on the page that had me spitting my drink in laughter, but I suppose when it comes to things of this nature everyone finds their own favorite.

I mean, it's not gonna solve world hunger or make all of your boogeymen run and hide forever -- but sometimes you gotta just take the smiles where you can get them, you know?
Or at least that's what I thought before
I got to the last picture in the set...
[Listening to: Sia, "Breathe Me"]


Tuesday, August 23

I Stand Corrected

In a totally unexpected and yet exceptionally cool move, I received a message the other day from none other than the infamous and beautiful Page 73 Girl informing me that (contrary to a thought I had harbored a while back),
She indeed does know I'm alive.
[Listening to: Prince, "U Got the Look"]


Monday, August 22

East On Ellis

It should have rained last night. Maybe it did - it's hard to tell sometimes. Maybe I just wanted it to rain. Maybe it was raining for me, and I just didn't want to be out in it all alone.

The sounds fill the room so much that you can choose which ones to block out and which ones to let through. Everything's a game that fills time. Everything chews on the moment until you find yourself somewhere else. How long does it take until you can make yourself believe that the air conditioner is drowning out the television? The faucet dripping? The lack of conversation? The silence?

She used to hum. Tap pencils, turn pages. Spoons would play their own rhythms against coffee mug ceramic. Sheets would rustle. Voices carry. There was this one spot in the hall that creaked just a little if you walked over it. Creaked just enough.
Now there's nothing.
Some nights you don't notice. Some nights you take the steps forward. Some times you're able to fill the room with so many voices and sounds that it's almost like nothing else matters.
Everything's a game that fills time.
I don't know why last night was so hard. I still don't have a reason why everything seemed to be made of sharp glass, and that nothing could be turned up loud enough.
All I know is that it should have rained.
[Listening to: Staind, "Right Here"]


Sunday, August 21

Tickle's All That Remains

So I just finished watching Zach Braff's Garden State...
I liked it,
I didn't like it.
I mean, the message worked for me and I sorta connected to it emotionally -- but the whole time I was watching Natalie Portman's performance, all I could think of was
"Man, Annakin would have killed this bitch hours ago."
[Listening to: Cradle of Filth, "Nymphetamine"]


Friday, August 19

The Culling Song

I hate when I start thinking like this...

As a result of unexpectedly low student counts and overzealous fiscal projections, there's been a lot of talk floating around the school lately about the very real possibility of job cuts across the board. Nothing's official yet, but the writing on the wall is exceptionally ominous, especially when you think about just how long and dry a summer it turned out to be.

But worse than that was this train of thought that ran through my mind this morning, this sweater-thread begging to be pulled that left me taking a hard look at all of these bills and all of the money I really don't make doing this job, and it isn't too long before you get this little voice in your head saying,
"Would it really be the worst
thing in the world if it happened?"
Nevermind the fact that I've never really been able to survive corporate life, or that it would take time to find a new gig -- The simple truth is that if I were to end up without a classroom to work in and had to go back into the private sector, I could easilly pull upwards of ten to fifteen grand a year more than I'd ever make as a teacher.

Then I start thinking about all the sharks swimming around my bank account, all the "private number" calls from the credit card companies that I let go straight to voicemail, all the times it seems like I've got to make ten dollars stretch for two weeks, and an unfortunate sense of ..logic starts to emerge.

At the same time, It's not like I do this gig for the money. Or perhaps it would be better said that I stick with this job despite the money -- because no matter how much I might complain about it sometimes, I really do love what I do.

Problem is, the mortgage company doesn't give a shit. Problem is, all the love in the world isn't going to come up with a car payment. I'm certainly not the only one in the world with money troubles, and there's plenty of people out there who don't even have jobs in the first place. It's not like I'm standing here trying to say "woe is me" -- it's more like I sometimes really resent the crossroads that this job tends to put me at when it comes to money.
Just let me be broke in peace, yo.
[Listening to: Waylon Jennings, "Luchenbach Texas"]


Wednesday, August 17

Seven Gallons of Gasoline

...for twenty bucks.
There are other things in this life I should be worrying about right now. There are so many other worries running through my head – but somehow this is what I carry into the office with me.

The weird thing is that for a brief moment I wondered out loud if that was the key I had been missing out on all along. If that was the secret to surviving this life – only freaking out about the things that society created for you to freak out over. As if George W and his cronies had started their stupid war just so that every morning my frustrations could have a focus, a singular place where I could aim all that energy instead of putting it inward and wondering about the quagmires in my own life.
Like I could even be that mercenary.
See, you tell yourself not to let it get on top of you. You say that this is the bed you’ve made, this is the milk you’ve spilled, these are the cards that have been dealt.
This is the life you have...

But some days there’s nothing else you can do. You spend a whole day thinking about something in one way, clouds of wistful memories, remembered traces of touches just out of reach. You can’t help but type the address, you can’t help but look through the pages, you don’t want to stop the flood from coming.

And then it calls you on the phone and everything’s different.

Even if it was just for the moment, the scar is still revealed. The reality rains down through the holes in the roof and there’s no way to ignore just how lost you have become. There are things you feel that have nowhere to go. There are things say to that have no one to hear. It’s like someone has died, even though they’re still there.
The world that I miss
..the reality I’ve created.
[Listening to: Goldfrapp, "Ooh La La"]


Thursday, August 11

My Week Beats Your Year

I guess word's getting around about my antics in class -- when I came in this morning to work there was an anonymous note in my mailbox with a list of song requests for me to sing:
  • I'm a Little Teapot
  • Dont Cry For Me Argentina
  • I'm So Pretty
  • Rain in Spain
  • I Could Have Danced All Night
  • Freebird (of course)
  • Black Dog
..biyatches
[Listening to: AFI, "Your Name Here"]


Wednesday, August 10

Hey Mambo

Well, it's finally happened
I've turned into Fritton.
Not the "corrupter of youth sleep with your students" Michael, but the "serenade the lunchlady with showtunes what the heck's wrong with that crazy guy in the striped shirt and bandana?" Michael.

I teach 8th grade Language Arts. 13 and 14 year old sacks of hormones who could generally care less what school has to say to them in any way shape or form. I'm charged with getting them to write strong 5-paragraph essays and answering questions identifying theme, main idea, and supporting details from reading passages. None of which any of these kids really wanna hear boo about. So instead they tend to get unruly and crazy, and if you let them get on top of you nothing ever gets done because all you ever spend your time doing is pulling back and forth trying to get them to finish the work you need them to do.

So my strategy for years has always been the same. Be crazier than they are. Cut them off at the pass by showing them that nothing they can dish out even comes close to the amount you can sling right back at them. In the past, I found myself doing that by appealing to their realities (Three years ago I did a unit called "Gang War" where I split the class into different 'gangs' and put them in antagonistic situations they had to think and write about -- and even though the kids truly responded and got something from it, the school flipped out and I got into a lot of trouble), or playing to their own interests (last year whenever we successfully finished a unit I would show them a horror movie that was somehow loosely related to the subjects we were working on -- again... huge trouble).

This year I have to be a lot more careful, there's a lot of eyes watching me with concerns about my style and consequences if I step "out of line" -- but beyond that, with the new promotion standards in this district I need to be a little more direct in terms of the things that these kids sometimes fall short in, even though it might mean that I don't get to do so much "life lesson" work as I might want to.

The answer I've come up with so far this year has been a strange one:
This year in class we're doing
a lot of singing and dancing
.
I've been telling the kids that one of the biggest keys to life is to let go of your fears and take the kinds of risks that can reap rewards. To not be afraid to not know how to do certain things and ask for the help you need. If you have trouble writing essays, lets take the risk of exposing yourself as being under-educated and work on getting better. If you can't spell, then risk looking a little dumb to get the help you need. It's a lesson that I'm trying to instill in my own life in a lot of different ways, so I'm hoping that we can try to learn these things together.

What it's coming out as is that I'm doing a lot of singing out loud and dancing in front of the class, and making them do it with me. Today I had them singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and then we did a cha-cha line around the room. And while a bunch of them think I'm an utter loon, a lot of kids are leaning in and listening, trying to figure out where I'm coming from. It's a cool feeling to see them starting to check it out -- but this whole approach is taking a hell of a lot more energy than any of the things I've done in the past, and I quietly worry that I won't be able to keep it up all year long.

Still, it's given me a place to try and focus a lot of this energy that for the past few months sometimes just hovered around and didn't know where to go. I'm hoping as we get past all the introductory stuff and move more into the actual subject matter that I'll have hooked a bunch of them into the idea so that as the year bogs down into the boring stuff we have to do that they'll connect the dots to the original message I've been trying to give this week.

The weird thing is that since I'm pouring so much of myself into this right now, it's infiltrating everything around me. All I've been doing so far is singing goofy songs to them ("Doo Wah Diddy", "Just a Gigolo", etc.) and now I find myself listening to that stuff all the time. Today on my break I've been listening to Dean Martin just because all this swing music I've been singing makes me think of some of those old Italian crooner numbers of his that I've always loved.
Me, the cheeseball headbanger
blasting "Volare" from my desk.
I don't know -- it feels like I'm rambling on here, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm kind of surprising myself this year with what is in essence a brand-new approach. Now granted, a lot of things have really changed for me in the past few months. I'm walking a lot of new paths that I haven't ever really walked before (or for a very long time). The uncertainty of it all is both the cool and the terrifying part about it all at the same time. It's almost like because of the things I've lost or blown away, work has become that much more important to me than it may have ever been before.

Then again, I'm a passionate guy -- I always seem to dive into things heavily and make them into crusades and missions sometimes even more than they need to be. It's a weird line I walk sometimes, and perhaps now that I've seen what happens when I lose control of it and it comes crashing down I'm finding myself wary, easy to question things that maybe shouldn't really have to be questioned at all.
I love this job.
I love what I do.
I guess in the end it's just that it's hard not to think about some of the other things in my life that I've truly loved, and what happened to them when I started to lose perspective..
-- screw that noise.

*turns up the music*
Hey goombah, I love a how you dance a rhumbah
But take a some advice paisano - Learn how to mambo
If you gonna be a square you ain't a gonna go nowhere
       --Rosemary Clooney
[Listening to: Dean Martin, "Ain't That A Kick in The Head"]


Tuesday, August 9

I Guess That's What I Am

I got home from work at about six last night, made a phone call, cooked dinner, laid down on the couch for a moment to rest and then woke up in the exact same place to the sound of an alarm clock going off in the other room this morning.
I have no idea what happened.
[Listening to: P.I.L., "Rules and Regulations"]


Monday, August 8

Lunchboxes

Up late, up early -- it's always the same. You get excited no matter how apathetic you'd like to be about it. It's the first day of school. My classroom is mostly set up and I've got a farily good idea of what I'm gonna do the first couple of days, so that should go well -- although to be honest it's always chaos in a bottle until things settle down anyways.

But more important than another year of teaching is the fact that it's also a huge day for someone else:
My little boy officially starts kindergarten this morning.
There's really no way to tell you just how excited I am about it and yet how bittersweet it is that I won't be there to see it when he takes those first steps. It's just sort of the state of things, I suppose -- that grand naivete that makes you think you'll always be there for these sorts of milestones, only to have those unexpected clouds of reality take them away from you.

I mean, it's not like I'm not going to be involved at all -- it's just that it's kind of a bummer that I can't be as viscerally connected to the actual moment as I might like to be.

Still, I'm totally jazzed and will be there the first chance I get this afternoon to ask him all about how it went and who he met and if he liked it and if he wants to go back and all those cool things that always made it hard for me to sleep the night before a day like this.
Knock 'em dead kid
Daddy's proud of you.
[Listening to: R.E.M., "Fireplace"]


Sunday, August 7

Space Monkey

Have you ever experienced one of those supreme ironic moments -- those places where all the music stops and you're suddenly caught by your own tail wondering just how long you've been sitting on top of a realization without actually making it?

I just spent the better part of my afternoon putting
together a piece of pre-fab furniture while David
Fincher's "Fight Club" played on in the background.
[Listening to: Ram Jam, "Black Betty"]


Saturday, August 6

The Endorsement

So the other night I'm hanging out at the club with bartender Christina, having a great time as always when the conversation takes an unexpected turn and she tells me what you said to her the night before.

And although it certainly felt good to hear, it caught me totally off guard
Maybe because she was looking me dead in the eye,
but more perhaps because of what it actually was
I still don't know quite what to make of it, I guess because I didn't really believe that was the way you felt. And there again comes the strangeness because it seems like what I really should be concerned with is Christina's reaction -- but here I am still focusing on the other side

If I did have a tumor, I would name it Marla.

I don't know -- It's like I know that I need to let go of things, I know that I need to take my hands off the wheel for a while and accept the fact that I can't control or fix everything that goes on in my life -- but I can't seem to ever fully get there when so many things still seem so conflicted and unsettled.
Marla, the little scratch on the roof of your mouth
that would heal if only you would stop tonguing it

...but you can't.
[Listening to: VNV Nation, "Arena"]


Wednesday, August 3

Someone Somewhere Somewhere

I feel like I've been a total ghost lately. Translucent, like I'm there but not quite fully. It's been strange -- but at the same time it's just sort of the state of things. I find myself tied up for huge chunks of time every day and then more or less spacing out afterwards. It's not like I'm doing nothing at all -- I've been running again and working on some new guitar tracks for DIV (not to mention all the things I've been working on to get ready for the return of the school year next week), but somehow I can feel myself detached from that sense of... connectedness that usually helps me to get through it all.

Ever since returning from NYC there's been sort of a change in the pacing of everything, this sense almost like all the serious things in my life are now demanding attention and focus, and unfortunately in many of the areas I'm having to deal with I'm finding myself unable to affect the changes I want. Dealing with pissed off mortgage companies and banks brings a totally different sort of empowerment than the one I was feeling when I was gallivanting around the Big Apple imagining futures untapped -- and perhaps it's that contrast overall that's turned me away from being as online, as available, as social as I normally am, even though contact, affection, and validation are probably the feelings I've been craving the most lately.

Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to ask where I've been or what's been going on. I'm still around, I still answer the phone and return the emails. It's just that I've got a lot of things going right now that seem to take the majority of my focus away from anything else, and then afterwards leave me with questions and contemplations that for whatever reason I choose to face alone.

It strange, because all of this processing of my own shit feels like something necessary for me to do, and yet the isolation that it brings makes me feel lonely in ways I don't like. It's like I'm creating my own hole and then wondering why I keep getting into it.
And of course on top of all this I'm broke,
which doesn't do a lot for my spirit either
Still, it's the friendships I have that help me to get through it all. The message boxes and phone tags, the moments taken and the drinks bought. So appreciated, more than maybe anyone really knows.

Besides, it's not like I'll be down here forever;
I just have some things I need to
take care of right now, you know?
[Listening to: Dark New Day, "Brother"]


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