Archive for December, 2009

Ten Honest Things

December 8, 2009

Alright, sis, I got your tag…I’m supposed to write an Honest Scrap post, telling 10 honest things about me… You know, I think the older I get, the more things I feel like I can’t be completely transparent about. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but the more people I get connected with, the more people my words can affect, and so I just can’t share everything. But here goes my best shot:

1. I read the Twilight books and liked them. Well, I still haven’t read the last one, so don’t tell me what happens. But I think they’re pretty good. I don’t get what irks people so much about popular novels. It’s almost like some people presuppose that if it’s popular, then it must not be worth much. Then even when they read something genuinely good, they can’t appreciate it because they were already primed to dislike it. I also don’t get how some of us Christians get worked up about anything that smacks of magic or witchcraft or whatever. I know what the Bible says about practicing those things, but that’s not what folks are doing here. They’re just reading a story. And I think it’s really well written. Didn’t like the first movie. Thought the second one was much better.

2. I really don’t like country music. How I grew up in Mississippi without liking country music, I don’t know. But I just don’t like it. It’s too twangy for my tastes, and often it’s really cliche. Of course, so is most jazz, hip-hop, and rock music, but I like the sound of all of that better. Most of the time I listen to whatever plays on the top 40 stations. I’m sure that makes me uncool to not have more definite preferences in music, but maybe I’m just uncool.

3. I am determined to regain the six pack abs of my high school days. Growing up in affluence tends to make you vain, and just like you don’t have to be rich to be greedy, you don’t have to be gorgeous to be vain. It’s wired into me at this point. Having admitted that, I’m still going for it. I’m eating broccoli and carrots and salads and drinking lots of water and protein drinks and running and swimming…you get the picture. I’ll probably get close to the shape I want and then quit because it’s just too much work to keep it up long term. But it’s fun to be in good shape for at least a little while.

4. I like to lay out and get a tan during the summer. This one’s an extension of number three. I can rationalize and justify it with comments about how vitamin D is good for your heart, your bones, and your mood, but then I also know skin cancer’s not good for any of those things, so I’ll have to watch that. But I still think there’s nothing more relaxing than going out in the middle of a summer’s day and just soaking up as much of that light and heat as I can. It’s more relaxing than a hot tub or a massage, I think.

5. I haven’t been able to read my Bible much for several months. That’s a big deal for me, because studying the Bible has been like an occupation for me since I was 16. But nowadays, reading the Bible just reminds me how much my spiritual journey has led me to view so many things differently from how others around me see things. Every page of the New Testament stirs my desire to see things done differently than how things are done, yet I feel powerless to effect the change that I want to see.

6. I’d like to teach more white kids again. I know I shouldn’t admit something like that because it’s just so noble to work with underprivileged, “at-risk” kids like I do every day. But I don’t really think I’m making much of a difference. These kids come from such a messed up culture, replete with broken families and dysfunctional home situations, that I don’t think my time with them is making much of a dent in their world. In fact, I think I seem totally irrelevant to most of my students, because why would they internalize stuff they learn from a guy who is so completely different from them? On the other hand, I see them sit enraptured listening to a black co-worker of mine as he talks about…whatever! And they hang on his every word. I feel like his opinion on stuff sinks in for them like mine never will. So I think I need a little more diversity in my classroom. Right now it’s almost all black, with a few imports from Mexico thrown in for good measure (they’re the best behaved ones of them all).

7. I still wish I had a super power. If I could stop time, I could get tons done while everything else in the world just stands still. Or if I could read people’s minds, I could get so many questions answered so easily. Then again, I can think of quite a few downsides to that gift. Super strength would be nice, or super speed. Invisibility from time to time would be useful. And of course there’s flying. Who wouldn’t love to be able to fly? No matter how old I get, I still wish I had a super power, with or without the cape.

8. Music moves me to tears when nothing else can. Although I am a very sensitive person, more sensitive than most straight men that I know, I find it difficult to allow the emotions of something get to the surface until I can be alone, and even then I may not be able to do it. It takes me time to process things that are important, so my emotions usually lag behind a bit. But when I get inside some really good music, almost any kind, everything comes oozing to the surface and I feel it all. It could be an orchestral piece, it could be just a song on the radio, or even a Publix commercial (man, those things will getchya!)…as long as there are some stringed instruments in there somewhere marking the emotion of the moment, it’ll probably find it’s way inside.

9. I wish I had theme music. This is an extension of both numbers 7 and 8. When I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Then I wanted to be Superman. Then I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Then one day I came to realize what all three of them had in common: Theme music by John Williams. Finally it dawned on me that what I really want is for John Williams to write me some theme music, and just have a full orchestra follow me around and play it at the right moments. Better yet, let them play a score for my entire life, so I can feel all the right things at the right times. I can cry when something sad happens, get excited when something cool’s gonna happen, and even become alarmed when something bad is getting ready to happen. How convenient would THAT be?!

10. I love being married, and having kids. No matter how unimpressive your career choices may be, and no matter how inconsequential you may feel to the rest of the world, you know there are a few people at home for whom you are the world. You set the tone of life for a handful of people, and that’s a powerful job to have. It’s very fulfilling, and I pray that God will entrust me with a very long time to enjoy it all.

Alright, Cat. There you go. Ten honest (if not entirely rosy) things about me. I’ll have to give some thought to whom I will bless with this honor. Thanks for thinking of me.

Vacations are good.

December 1, 2009

Holidays are great. I’m learning to appreciate them more and more. I’ve never been a “special occasion” person. I’ve always been more of an every day kind of guy. But the harder work gets, and the more responsibilities I get, the more I get what vacations are about. I guess I vacationed from blogging for a bit, too. Too busy livin’.

First, the swim team that I coach hosted a swim meet comprised entirely of other small teams like our own. It’s a fun meet, and very little pressure. While last year was a bit hiccupy because I didn’t know what I was doing, this year went great. I even got to sing the national anthem in front of a couple hundred people (well, they were turned around looking at the flag, so that made it easier). We didn’t win the meet–didn’t even come close, actually, but we had a good time anyway.

Next, the fam and I packed up and headed to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. April and I got to see New Moon, which, having read and enjoyed the books, was way better to me than the first movie. And the audience participation made it really fun. The first time Taylor Lautner pulled his shirt off, girls all over the room gasped and one whispered “There it is!” The whole movie flowed better and the effects did a good job of translating some stuff onto the screen from the book. I am told I HAVE to see The Blind Side as soon as I can, too, so that’s next on my list. I always get a kick watching Sandra Bullock because I know my dad fixed her teeth once.

Next I got to go to the Big Easy for a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, an organization which probably requires no explanation. A good friend of mine is working to establish himself in the field of Biblical Studies, and he wanted a wingman for the conference to help him navigate the lingo and the nuances of that world. Turns out, he’s got his way figured out pretty well already. So I just sat in on a few readings of papers (most of which were snoozers, honestly) and shopped for souvenirs for my girls.

My morning runs were great! Since our hotel was a few blocks from the river, I got to run down Canal Street, then along the Mississippi River for a mile or so, then back through the French Quarter, past dozens of fun-looking shops and famous restaurants, then back to the hotel. I picked up some authentic Mardi Gras masks for my girls (who subsequently kept them on for several days after I got home!) and a cute Saints shirt for April.

New Orleans has got Saints fever this year like you wouldn’t believe! As soon as I pulled into town, just as I was passing the Superdome, I heard “WHO DAT? WHO DAT? WHO DAT SAY THEY GONNA BEAT THEM SAINTS? WHO DAT?” and then of course a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” That was alot of fun. In fact, in one half hour period I heard local radio stations play three songs which mentioned the Saints, including one called “I Believe in the Power of Love,” which features a line about the Saints going to the Super Bowl. Growing up in Mississippi, the Saints were our closest team, so they were our team. Plus, my folks went to school with Archie Manning and his wife, so we root for his team. Bill made sure I had a good Cajun meal at Mother’s before we left. The Crawfish Etouffe was fantastic!

The rest of the week was hangout time with family. My baby sister Catherine (who is almost done with Dental school now) hosted the extended family at her new place for Thanksgiving. The food was excellent, as it is every year, and like always I ate so much that there was no room for dessert. The kids had a blast playing with cousins (so did I) and the weather was great. Hanging out with cousins is another one of those things that you appreciate more as time goes on. It somehow gets more meaningful every time. There’s something about being with people who knew you when you were just a kid and so goofy all the time. Once you’re grown up, getting together with them reminds you of what it was like when life was simpler, less stressful. Sigh.

Well, we had some good hangout time with April’s folks and with mine, plus we threw in some shopping and a second showing of New Moon, so it really felt like a vacation by the time we were done. Funny how it takes three or four days to fall into vacation mode, and it’s too bad that you don’t get to start the trip at that point. But I’m still glad it comes when it does.

Now it’s back to work and juggling schedules…but only three weeks before we get to go back again! Looking forward to more R & R. Vacations are good.

Oh yeah, and the Saints beat the Patriots. Where I’m from, that’s beginning to look like one of the signs of the apocalypse. We may not have to wait until 2012 🙂