Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Today while speeding across town to pick up my sister because I got out of class late, a random memory shot off in my brain.

It was a flashback to 8th grade. I was living with my sister then, and my father had to pick me up every morning at her house to take me to school. My dad worked third shift, in another town, so he had to leave work as soon as he got off and book it to get all the way to Shelby, and back to my Middle School. He was always late, making me always late; sometimes it was definitely his fault, and sometimes it probably wasn’t. I was always in trouble for being tardy and I always hated being in trouble and I probably saw three recesses all year for all the damn detention I got for being late.

It was the week of proficiency testing and we’d been getting it hammered into our skulls that we had to show up for school. And you had to show up on time because if you didn’t, the test would start without you, and the world as we knew it would cease to be or somesuch. I understand now what the school wanted; most kids were doomed to fail the tests at least once, and the worst kids would have to take them a dozen times before they finally passed, and they didn’t want lousy students to miss a chance to just squeeze by. But at the time, showing up on time seemed like a divine command akin to “Thou shalt not murder,” or “Thou shalt not burn thine textbooks, no matter how much more useful they’d be as kindling.”

Anyway, as I stated previously, I was always late. But this week I couldn’t be, and I’d given my dad a long speech about the subject. I would NOT be late to class. So, of course, day one of proficiency testing, the old man shows up late to my sister’s house. I’m pissed.

I threw a fit. You know how thirteen year old girls are. I freaking bitched him out. Told him to speed if he had to, but I’d damn well better get to school on time. I could NOT be late; I wasn’t going to deal with another week of detention for HIM. And God knows how I’d catch it for being late during Proficiency Week; didn’t he know how important it was? Didn’t he know anything at all?

He sped. I could tell he felt bad, but I didn’t let up. I decided that I’d keep bitching until we got to school. I’d make him get there on time. I’d bitch the pedal right down to the floor. And it worked. He did speed. He sped like I’d never seen before; he sped like I’ve never seen since. And probably because he was speeding so fast, he didn’t see the German Shepard running out into the road.

He hit it. There was a horrifying smack on the car. The dog could be heard whelping. I didn’t give a damn about proficiency testing anymore, or detention, but what could be done? The dog ran away. He wasn’t killed instantly, but judging by the blood and fur on the car, he was probably dead soon after. Dad decided to keep driving; we were only maybe a mile from school. He would go back and speak to the people who owned the dog after I’d gotten to school since it was so damn important I got there on time.

We didn’t talk on the way. We never talked about the dog afterward either. But I felt so bad about it that I think I didn’t eat for a week. I remember not being able to sleep or think straight. I kept asking myself whether getting to school on time was worth a little dog’s life? I loved dogs. I knew what it was like to lose a dog and I kept wondering which of my classmates dogs I’d killed because I wouldn’t be late for school during proficiency testing.

I hated a lot of people: my mother for leaving my father and making me live in Shelby; my father for always being late; myself for being a brat, knowing full-well that I was one, and making the old man speed. I wondered then, as I often wonder now, why an innocent should suffer for someone else’s crimes. The truth was that both my parents and I were guilty, but what had the dog done to anyone? The suffering of an innocent has always been intolerable to me; and to know that I was personally responsible for such suffering was unbearable to me.

I learned a lot of things that day. I learned that it’s not as important to get somewhere on time as it is to be a safe driver; a lesson, of course, I suspend constantly, particularly as I sped across town to get my sister today. I learned that being an insufferable brat, even if it’s partially justifiable, really isn’t worth the suffering that being an insufferable brat implies; a lesson, of course, I suspend constantly, at least a hundred times a day.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I had a good weekend for the most part. I actually had fun at my cousin's baby shower Sunday. For one thing, we didn't play any stupid games. I had my picture taken a lot; not so good. My only real point of pride on that matter is that I literally rolled out of bed as we were walking out the door to get to the shower, so if I normally look like hell, I sure as hell looked like hell in those pictures. It makes me happy to note that my children will never have to wonder what happened to mommy's good looks.

Last night sucked, by contrast. I had my first paper in Roman Republic, and I didn't understand how to do it. So I stressed about it for an hour or so. I ended up turning in something lousy, but I figure it's okay since it's only worth 2.5% of the final grade. Considering that turning a paper in usually gets you a solid C anyway, I can't take too bad a hit on it.

Today has gone quickly and well. I've eaten peanut butter and sour candy all day. I feel quite properly lower class. If there were kool aid in my belly and a car up on blocks in my lawn, I'd be sure I'd gone back home to Kentucky.

Speaking of which, my cousin Bruce Hopkins recently wrote a book about our Appalachian ancestors. It's called Spirits in the Field: An Appalachian Family History. From reading an early chapter, and the author's notes, I'm not sure the writing is of the highest quality. It seems strained and subject to the usual problem that so many of my relatives face; a damnedable urge to prove that they're not stupid hillbillies. Hence, I suspect, our affinity for superfluity in locution. But Appalachian history, as seen through the eyes of actual Appalachians, is an interesting topic, and one generally ignored by American historians. And, maybe I've only seen the worst bits so far. Though I've never met him, I hear Bruce is a terribly nice guy, so maybe I've been harsh in rushing to judgment. I ordered the book, so when it comes, I'll probably update all you disinterested souls on how it turns out.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Frustrated with myself.

My tongue needs to consult with my brain before making declarations.


Friday, September 26, 2003

In the same vein as earlier, I suppose, I have to say that I really like high school football games. Not so much the football itself; I've never cared much about that. But rather instead because of the opportunity for social observation they imply. I don't have a lot of chances to be around high school kids anymore.

The funniest thing I heard tonight reminded me a lot of my own high school days. At my school we always had a big Band vs Football controversy. While this exists at many schools, at my school it actually meant something. Being a small, rural school with an abnormally large band and an abnormally bad football team, the Band lobby had unusual power. But in any school, of course, the band never cares about the football team.

So tonight, it was the first quarter and the other team scored fast. Then one of our boys intercepted a pass, ran eighty yards, breaking several tackles in the process, for the tying touchdown. The crowd was on its feet! The band struck up a celebratory rendition of the fight song! And over the roar of it all, I overheard one of our band members telling one of the kids from the other band in a dry, disinterested voice: "Yeah, so anyway, as you can tell, our drumline totally sucks."

I like my niece. We have similar ideas about small talk. It mostly sucks, but when you have to engage in it, shoot straight for the most inane of inanities. Today we talked about school size. About how my high school was small and my college is large, though not so large as many colleges. And how her high school at home has more kids than the deaf school does. It was inane. And we gloried in it. We smiled and exchanged those rare signs I'm clever enough to understand. Brittany's good for that.

I never really noticed until today how happy it makes me that my dogs greet me when I pull in the driveway. They were both inside today, on account of the threatened rain, and so I pulled in and no one was there. It was lonely. Normally I think of the dogs as getting in my way. But when they're absent, it's abnormal and cold. I like my dogs.

It's only slightly strange that I've written two paragraphs around liking things that it's only quite natural to like. Remember that I'm a big fan of an old country song that starts: "I love little baby ducks/ old pick up trucks / slow-moving trains / and rain."

I can't find the exact quote which describes my mood at the moment. But it's a G.K. Chesterton to be sure. Something along the lines of describing ordinary old white-picket-fence suburbia, and concluding that it was: "...all of the little things God dreamt of when He was creating the world."

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Day two was good. I woke up quite early this morning because, after having had to take a sleeping pill the night before I was strung out and tired all day yesterday. I felt like a dork going to bed last night at nine o'clock, but hell, I was dead tired and I needed to.

I got to school early today, and in an oddly social move, decided to talk to this girl in my Roman history class that I don't know. She ended up being pretty nice, which had the negative effect of making me even more social. So I spent the entire morning talking to people. I actually even told stories to people in German class, which is unusual because I usually only talk, quietly, to Jared and Tiffany.

Anyway, I picked a good day to be freakishly outgoing. Because this week is Welcome Week, we had this club fair thing out on the Oval. Jasmin, Nikki and I had to watch the History booth. But we really didn't do a lot of watching. I got one kid to sign up for the ListServ and that was it. It was all right; I didn't care. I had a good time. Not only did Jasmin, Nikki, Brian and I have huge Sticky Hand battles, but I managed to stuff down a free hotdog and insult a priest. The priest thing was accidental. He was at the Catholic Youth Association booth, or something like that, and I went over with Nikki and said hello and all. A few minutes later, I went walking by with April, and he looked up at her and said: "Would you like a free prayer card?" And I was like, "No, thank you." And he said: "Aww, you don't need prayer?" And, of course, I knee jerk responded: "No, not really" and kept walking. Damn. And I like Catholics, too.

So, after Welcome Week festivities, I had to teach Ohio History. I did a lousy job. Right lousy. But I don't think anyone minded. I was fast, and expedience is better than substance with a substitute teacher. The only really troublesome part was when this evil bitch lady, who I knew from Comparative Religions a few quarters ago, came in late, interrupted me and asked for one of the handouts we were apparently out of. I told her that that was all I had, so if she wanted, she could get a copy of mine after class. I went to restart the video, and she walked up to my desk, and took my paper. I saw her do it, but I didn't want to cause a fuss, so I didn't say anything. In any case, what a bitch!

And then I came home. And that's all I've done so far today. Week one of school completed; All is well with the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

My first day of school was good.

It started off a little frustrating. I had a hell of a time knocking the sleep from my head. I had to take a sleeping pill last night, so I still had that drugged effect going on. But I got ready and left a little early to get a good parking spot.

Well, was I ever naïve! I’ve never seen the parking lot that bad before. I ended up 10 minutes late to my first class because of the damn parking lot. But I didn’t feel too bad for it because, first of all, my professor knows me pretty well and that I’m hardly ever late; and second because, in my next class, German, the professor was half an hour late for the same reason. Stupid incoming freshmen; we have over a thousand of them this year, I guess. That may not sound bad, except when you consider that

After German, my friend Tiffany and I went to the Cafeteria. Nikki pointed out how there was free food upstairs. I saw a girl from high school in the Cafeteria, it was her first day, so I invited her to come up with us. It feels so 80’s to have to distinguish people named Tiffany by last initial, but they’re both Tiffanys; so my friend from college is Tiffany E. and the one from high school is Tiffany T.. We all got free food, notably ice cream, for welcome week. Nikki forced me into doing some sort of splatter art thing, so I forced the Tiffanys and Jeff to do it. Jeff wasn’t as annoying as usual today.

I wish April would’ve been there, but I think she had to leave early for work anyway. I had a really good time though. It feels sort of good knowing a lot of people on campus. It’s annoying too, of course. Anonymity is nice in its own way. But the absolute and total lack of jitters I felt for school this year verges on the ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I'm dreading the start of school tomorrow. I went to get my books tonight. Only spent $60, but I could've saved $30 of that had I ordered online. I consider it my $30 lazy tax.

I need to start writing my article about Europe. 500-700 words. Weeee! I'm so not in the mood for writing. I haven't even been keeping up my blog.

Here in a few minutes, April's coming over "to go shopping" with me. Basically, I'm buying pens and she's buying binders. She's very excited about it all. But I consider it another definite step toward the start of school, and therefore I dread it. Not that I love "shopping" anyway.

I need to brush my teeth and I don't want to. I brushed them once today, and my inner child keeps telling me that once is enough. But considering the spices I ate today, once is not enough. I don't want "nipple," as Rory and April call it.

I'm bored. And boring. Distracted. Apathetic.

My only happy thought at the moment, is that my grandmother's friend from Belgium heard my atrocious German and promised to send me a few German books in the mail when she gets home. That's pretty cool. I wonder if they'll be the equivalent of Dick and Jane books; I hope so, I might stand a chance of reading those.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

So today was the long-awaited Cedar Point Day. It was happy on a number of counts. We did all of the usual things of course; we rode most of the important rides. And we recorded our traditional Cedar Point Day song. This year, after long deliberation, we settled on “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary. We were told by the guys working the counter that they had never actually heard of anyone ever choosing our song. It was very nice.

I’ll leave April to tell about Danny’s lizard adventures.

We came home early because Danny wasn’t feeling all that well. So we ended up playing Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and 007. Early in the game in Monopoly, I could’ve squashed Rory, but as usual, my sense of fair play, inclusiveness and charity screwed me over. No, I let him stay in the game, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t win it. I ruined that game on two accounts; I gave up early. Usually I stay and fight, clawing and kicking, until the bitter end. But today I was tired. I was kicking ass at Trivial Pursuit, but Rory ruined that one; after putting all the loose pies down his pants, he flipped the board. It was just as well; “kicking ass” in that particular game just meant that, with as tired as we all were, after a good half hour’s play, I was the only one who had pie. 007 was like old times. I like that Danny usually sucked more than me though I was always the worst at Perfect Dark; I hate that damn game.

Now that Cedar Point’s over, there’s nothing standing in the way of the end of summer and the beginning of school. That’s damn depressing.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Today’s been a frustrating and wonderful day.

I woke up a little late, but not overly late. I left the house a little late, thanks to a particularly persistent telemarketer, but not overly late. I started the drive to Columbus, but quickly found myself stopped at a Random Roadside Checkpoint (the very presence of which not only slowed me down further, but annoyed me on account of its draconian anti-constitutional existence). I had to speed to get to Britt’s school on time; and when I did, she was late and I had to wait. As we left, road construction had backed up traffic all the way down Morse Road. It took me half an hour to get onto 71 again. And as I drove out of town, I noticed that I was low on gas. I stopped at the Pilot station in Sunbury which, as everyone in the world apparently knows, always has the cheapest gas. It took me another half hour to get gas and get back onto 71, and I don’t know how many accidents I narrowly averted in the process.

But I finally got Brittany home okay. I called my mom to see if she still wanted to go to El Campesino’s tonight. She’d forgotten that we’d made plans and already made dinner for herself and my father; notice, not for me. I was annoyed by this, but pleasantly surprised to find that my grandmother’s friends from Belgium had arrived on time. Apparently, my family is having a huge, and ultra-rare party tomorrow for them. I’m annoyed by the fact that I’d already promised weeks ago that I’d go to Cedar Point tomorrow; it isn’t fair to cancel the trip, everyone’s gotten off work and is all excited about going. But this is the first real family get-together my family has had in fourteen years, so it’s rather a slap in the face to miss. It’s also almost certainly the last family get together my family will ever have. If they’d announced the damn date at a reasonable time, I could’ve rearranged my plans. But being my family, they waited until yesterday to settle the date definitively, and so I’m screwed.

Anyway, I went to see Marie and Elsie at my grandmother’s house. Marie is my grandma’s best friend, and my mother’s namesake; grandma says they’ve been friends since before they started school together, which means they’ve been friends for over sixty years. I’ve never met Marie before because the last time she was in America, my mother was still pregnant with me. But apparently she’s been following my life all this time from afar. She talked about pictures of the little blonde-haired girl, and the little white-haired boy (my brother Brett). She was proud of the fact that I’m a university student, which is apparently a bigger deal in Europe than it is over here. She made me speak wobbling French and German to her. She teased me for being so educated and having such poor foreign language skills; she said she spoke five languages fluently and hardly graduated high school. I liked her a lot; I tend to like people who are intelligent and hostile to education. I liked her daughter Elsie too. They told me that I looked Belgian, like my mother. Almost no one says that I look like my mother; everyone claims me for my dad’s side of the family. They both gave me hell for not visiting them in Tongeren.

Tonight, Rory, Danny and I went to a movie. It was called Underground, I think, and it was kind of stupid. But I liked it okay. I was going to go to April’s afterward, but I called home first and found out my mom was sick. I want to be here when she’s sick, so I came home. She seems a little better now, though it worries me that she can’t sleep. Speaking of which, I probably ought to go and try to get some sleep tonight myself so I’m not dead tired all day tomorrow at Cedar Point. I hope it’s cold enough for a long-sleeved shirt!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

I'm kind of happy after my meeting with my professor. I don't feel like such a tool now that I have better instructions about what I'm doing. I am, of course, still such a tool. But it's nice to not feel like it. Plus, he gave me fifty dollars for teaching the class. I'd been expecting less than twenty. I guess he understood how much it must suck to look like a tool in front of your peers. Hazardous duty pay or somesuch.

In a little while I have a history club get together. I don't really want to go to that one either. I don't know why I'm so down on going out lately. I just don't feel like it very much. I want to stay home and read books and tell the world to bugger off. Sure, that's my attitude in general, and has been for years, but it's particularly potent right now. I'm just generally unwilling to deal with the outside world. I'm in full Gollum-mode, at present; fully satisfied in the company of only my own twisted countenance.

But I am looking forward to going to Cedar Point on Saturday. I want it to be long-sleeves weather. I want it not to rain. I want the wind to be present, but gentle enough not to shut down the rides.

I'm really enjoying the coming of Autumn. Yesterday, on the dogs' and my walk, it struck me suddenly that I'd been stepping on quite a lot of leaves. They weren't really quite brown or yellow or orange yet, but everything was beginning to look slightly less green. The sky was even that peculiarly Ohio-in-October shade of grey.

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of active love recently, and all of the many ways I fail at it. I've been thinking about how I put my pride above everyone else's well-being. I know that everyone does that. And I feel it would be sort of narcissistic to claim myself a graver sinner than anyone. But I've been examining my own life of late, and I can see how depraved I've become. I need to turn over a new leaf, but I don't have the motivation just yet.

A rebirth requires first a dying to self. I can see in my thoughts a semblance of this dying to self. My aversion to others; my obsessive psychological battery of myself; my self-loathing; my need to get away; all of it makes sense in the light of dying to self. But I know that I'm not that spiritually advanced yet. I'm glad if I've put a foot on the path, even if it's only a tentative step. All that remains is to take another step, and another, and it's never so difficult to continue as it is to begin.

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you may be swept off to." - Bilbo Baggins.

Q: What's the difference between a Frenchman and a piece of toast?
A: You can make a soldier out of a piece of toast.

Poor Frogs. I really do feel bad for them. Before the second world war, it would've been ridiculous to tell that joke. The French were always soldiers; among the nastiest of soldiers, too. My great-great-uncles, George and Louis Sherwood, were American-French. When Louis heard about the outbreak of WWI and the danger to mother France, he ran away to Canada to join the war. When the US finally entered WWI, he deserted, came back, and joined the American Navy. George once single-handledly liberated a town in the Phillipines (a very small town, as you might well imagine). And George and Louis' father, Adolph Sherbouttete, from Alsace-Lorraine as you can tell from his name and worldview, moved to America because he was convinced that France and Germany could never get along for very long, and he wanted to spare his children the suffering of constant war.

When I was in France, I talked to these two French girls about politics. Jody said that I gave them a pat answer; but I was genuine enough in it. They asked how I felt about President Bush and the War on Iraq and I said that I didn't like the president much, but he was better than our alternative in the election. And I didn't know about the war; all of the early signs led us to believe that it was necessary. But history will reveal all. It may well be that the president was wrong, intentionally or not, and the war was unjust. But it may well be that the president was right, and it was cerainly just to depose Saddam Hussein. Only time will tell. They laughed at me, and said: "What do you mean time will tell? How can you wait?" I laughed too, and said I didn't have a choice. They agreed with me, and said that they didn't have a choice about Chiraq either. No one liked him, but the other option was LePen, a racist, and veritable fascist. It's interesting that so many of the world's elections are ruled by choosing the lesser evil.

I have to go to a meeting now with the professor who's class I'll be teaching next week. I really don't want to go. I really don't want to teach that class. Irritating.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Yesterday was a good day. April, Mike and I went to the Ashland County Fair. We ate ice cream, rode rides, and petted goats in the goat barn. I really had quite a lot of fun. Best time I’ve had in a long time.

Today I had to go to a history club meeting. We started work on our constitution. It doesn’t say much. But at least we have one now.

I’ve been working on my German yesterday and today. I remember more than I thought that I did, but the program I’m using really doesn’t seem to stress grammar much and grammar’s the most important part of what we do in class. I heard today that they’re going to start teaching Hebrew on campus this spring; I’m pissed! I mean, it’s great that they’re adding a new language and all. But I wanted to take Hebrew, and I’ll be long gone by spring! At least I’ll be taking it in Columbus, so I’ll get to learn it.

Outside of that, I’m just wasting away my time whining about school starting up. I don’t want to go to school. My books look okay and all, but school’s so boring anymore; same professors, same students, same classrooms, same old same old. I’m really looking forward to transferring and being lost and lonely all the time. It fits me better to be the latter way.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

It just dawned on me that this is fall. All of the obvious signs were here before. It’s September after all and I’m getting ready to go back to school; football’s started up and the weather has finally started cooling down. Everything has been looking very fall for a few weeks now, but I hadn’t noticed it.

I like fall. I always have. Even though it means the pain of having to go back to school, fall has always been my favorite part of the year. It’s not too hot, and it’s not cold enough that I have to scrape ice from my car. Nature starts turning brown and orange, which, despite my family’s obsession with the Browns, makes me curiously happy. Autumn makes me think of some of my happiest times in childhood, when the frantic freedom of summer began slowly winding down to the cool hibernation of winter. Spring smarts like a bee’s sting, but autumn is like a lullaby.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Somehow, though history books may record it slightly differently, I think one of the few genuinely saving graces of the late 20th Century may have been the truly and consistently pro-life writings of Pope John Paul II. While he wasn’t the first man to notice Western society’s death instinct, the breadth and depth of his writings on our Culture of Death have done more to demystify, and combat, that death instinct than any other single individual’s efforts.

I’d like to think that history will remember JPII well. And it may be that the course of history itself has been altered in the positive for his sake alone. But the history books will probably not remember him well. History is often written by the nastiest of souls; and, insofar as to the victors go the spoils, and insofar as I really doubt the Catholic Church will be able to stem the ever growing Culture of Death, the written legacy of Pope John Paul II will probably never equal the living legacy forged through the man’s life.

But the Culture of Death still waxes strong. Our more advanced and sophisticated neighbors in Switzerland recently ruled, for instance, that forced sterilization is acceptable in "extreme" cases. Remember that Switzerland is a majority Catholic nation. Of course, that doesn't mean much in Western Europe today.

The church today is in such a state. The Protestant Reformation was all about replacing Holy Tradition with a new reading of Scripture. But the Liberal Revolution of the modern Western Church makes no such pretensions. It's best summed up by this quote from newly-elected gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson: "Just simply to say that it goes against tradition and the teaching of the Church and Scripture does not necessarily make it wrong." Well then, my dear bishop, what in the hell does it mean?

It’s a hard thing for an American to place their hope in the third world! But therein lies our hope. It's perhaps not so surprising in the end. Our Lord wasn't born in Jerusalem in her glory. He was born in humble Bethlehem, in an Israel brought low. As St. Paul wrote: "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

You are Peace
You are Peace.

You are at peace with your self and the world
around you. You have balance in your life and
exude tranquility from every pore of your body.
People are constantly asking you "what is
your secret?"

What Emotion Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, September 12, 2003

I kind of like the Ellen DeGeneres show. It beats Oprah anyway.

School starts in slightly under two weeks. That’s equal parts happy and depressing. It’s happy because I really do like school most of the time when I’m actually going to it. It’s depressing because I never really like it so much that I wouldn’t rather be staying at home. In any case, I’ve got enough money in the bank to buy my books, which puts me ahead of most of my peers, so I don’t suppose I’ve got the right to complain.

It might be good for me to have my life relapse into something more resembling normal. This summer has been anything but normal. I think in retrospect I’ll look at it as a very transitory period of time in my life. But for now, I’m mostly just tired and worried and trying to carry it all off with an expression of boredom.

Last night, I read a story that I’d started in Europe. I was in Germany when I wrote it and I think it very much belonged in Germany somehow. Maybe it was the Black Forest rubbing off on me. I’m going to reprint the story here, in total, for reasons which currently escape my rational mind. I never finished it – don’t read it expecting a point or a plot; I only had maybe ten minutes to work on it. I’d started writing with only a vague idea of an allegory over something Jody and I had been talking about – something that I’d taken offense to, something about appearances I believe, something that has no relevance to my life, or anyone else’s life, right now. But somehow, it just seems appropriate for my mindset at the moment, and I have a quite irrational need to share it outright:

“Once upon a time there was a dark and gloomy forest, in the midst of a dark and gloomy kingdom, which, neverminding the constant drizzle of the rain and the bitter cool bite of the wind, and the constant screeching of long-clawed birds over the tops of the trees, contained in it one little house which was very warm and very light, and very, very quiet.

The house was quaint, as they say now, and not atypical for its time. It roof was a shade of red, and its outside walls were something of a green. It wasn’t a particularly bright red or green, mind you, but there was a warmth in them absent elsewhere in the forest. The great, large door in the front of the house looked rather golden from a distance. But up close, you could see that it was only a rather spectacular shade of wood; a sort that you couldn’t find in our world if you looked today. The door knob, a large one, which can unfortunately often appear a little intimidating at first, was of a strong brass cast. And of all the things in the house, the bronze door knob was certainly the most unapproachable. This was poor luck, indeed, as a door knob is generally the first contact a visitor ought to have with a house, and a house such as this seems to cry out for a better introduction.

Indoors, the house was somewhat curious. There was a table for dining much grander and larger than would normally be required for such a tiny domicile. But the table didn’t appear to be at all out of place. Rather instead, it looked almost as if, by some unnatural grace, the table had always been there, from the beginning of time even, as if the walls themselves had somehow just grown up around.”

Reading that story made me happy. It reminded me, oddly, of a particularly retarded G.K. Chesterton tale. And thinking of the comparison made me even happier. I’m thinking of writing the story again – maybe even finishing it this time. With a different house, of course, which looks a little different, but which is essentially of the same stuff. And with a slightly different point, with a more universal application to it; an application that’s maybe even relevant. I like the little house in the dark and gloomy forest; I even like the dark and gloomy kingdom. When was it that I got so sophisticated that I decided I didn’t like the old standards anymore?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I'm a jerk today. I decided I'd rather stay home and read than go to a meeting. Technically, I'd already announced that I couldn't go to the meeting because I had to pick up my niece, but my niece emailed last night and asked me to pick her up later, so I really could have gone. But I read the Brothers Karamazov and a couple of Flannery O'Connor short stories instead. Frankly, I think I got the better deal out of it.

Gah, I'm one of the rare people in the world that regularly shirks responsibility to stay home and read. It all started in first grade, when I feigned illness to stay home and read my little orange-book biography of Ethan Hale. I'm such a nerd.

Did I ever mention that I named this blog after the Flannery O'Connor story (named, of course, after the Psalm), "Why Do the Heathen Rage?"

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I am at Angela's house. April complained about my toilet music, saying that it sounded like the shit from Rosemary's Baby. And Angela said that I shnarmed chakes with that music. But she's wrong. I'm just playing my trumpet in the bathtub.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Last night, April and I decided we were going to go play pool. I drove to her house, picked her up, and we went to Ashland. But the place was already closed for the night. I guess this shouldn’t have surprised us. We are talking about Ashland after all, and ninety-nine percent of places close down before nine o’clock. The remaining one percent close by midnight. Everyone has to get up to milk the cows in the morning, so it doesn’t really make any sense to be open past nine.

So, we went to Mansfield to get slushies. We went to one gas station, and they had almost no selection so far as slushies go. So we went to Walmart, where April assured me, they have a good selection of slushies. Alas, when we got there, the slushy machine was broken. So we were stifled again.

Another night of frustration for April and I, who seem to never catch anything when it’s opening and/or functional.

I came home and was sick for a while. Then I read some. I woke up today, ate, played video games, and read some more. Now I’m blogging. I never have anything to do. And I love it. It’s truly lovely.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Blogger seems to be having trouble today, so I doubt this will end up posting. I tried to post twice yesterday and it didn't let me. I think Rory might have destroyed Blogger's servers in an evil attempt to keep his picture, in my last post, from being moved down the page. Well, we shall see about that, boy!

In the meantime, here's the horrible picture I promised to Mike.

So, yesterday, Mike and I went to Friendly's. Jody and Kate invited me, but mostly I talked to Mike anyway, because of the vast chasm between our booths. It was fun. I don't know why Mike doesn't like blue hair. It's really the hottest color. My friend John's best friend Rocky was our waiter guy, which was almost strange in a way. Though, I guess it isn't that strange. I just don't like ordering around people I sort of vaguely know in that I met him twice kind of way.

Yesterday, I got into a fight of sorts with the security guard at my niece's school. I haven't really been in a fight with an authority figure in a while, so it was memorable. Basically, I think he's friend's with my niece's old bus driver. He gave me shit about my driving her, so I reminded him about how the last time my niece rode the bus, she was given to an unauthorized person, and went missing for three days. He accused me of being a golddigger, so I asked how far he'd go to make sure his kid didn't go missing again. He gave me a dirty look, so I drove, unauthorized out of the security check. I was half surprised he didn't follow me. Of course, he probably didn't want to cause a scene, because it's a parental right to arrange for a child to be picked up from school, and he probably could've gotten in a lot of trouble for harassing me about it.

Anyway, yesterday was fun. And today's been uneventful. And tomorrow will very likely be the same. I'm almost half-excited for classes starting up again. But only half.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Sorry I didn't get this up for you last night, Rory, I fell asleep.

And, erm, sorry I'm posting this April, Rory threatened to chase me with spiders if I didn't.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

A strange day already.

I awoke to a call from the professor I wrote about yesterday. I guessed wrong about the class being cancelled. Apparently, he can't make it to class the first day, and he wants me to take over for him. It's not as impressive as it might sound. Basically, I'll be handing out syllabi, taking attendance and starting a video. Highly skilled labor, you know. But hey, I get paid for it like a real teacher! I'm going to feel like a total ass, and probably look like a total suck up. So, it'll be fun. I hope I know some kids in that class. According to course availability, there are only like 16 of us in there. Hopefully, I know all 16 and they can have a lovely time making fun of me for helping out a professor.

Also, I thought I had to get my niece from Columbus today, but when I happened to glance at my calendar on the wall I saw that I'd written the date down for next week. It made more sense for it to be next week, since I couldn't go to the history club meeting next Thursday because I had to get Brittany. So I called my sister, got an answering machine. IMed her and got an away message. I made a last ditch calling attempt before driving into Shelby to bother her in person, and glorious day, happened to catch her in the house. She told me it was the wrong day, and I whinged about having had to wake up early when I didn't have to. It was good.

The really depressing news of the day is about my other niece, Brianne. A few weeks ago, we had the police check in on the family Brianne's, supposedly, been staying with. They told the police that the baby was born August 6th, that it's a boy, he's healthy, and Brianne hadn't given him up for adoption. My sister's friend at the welfare agency checked up on the case, sort of...erm, illegally. Turns out that the baby is a boy, but he was born July 7th, and that Brianne gave him up for adoption at the hospital to the family she's supposedly been staying with. And of course, no one's seen Brianne for several months. It's such a messed up situation. Apparently there's a six month rule in the state of Ohio, by which Brianne could demand her child back. But since no one's talked to Brianne, it's doubtful she knows this even if she wants the kid back. I worry about her because it's such a difficult life to be 19, to have had a baby, and to have lost that baby. Particularly to someone she trusts. With everything else she has to deal with, and don't get me wrong, most of her problems are entirely her own doing, I can't help but feel badly over it. It seems unfair that some people have to be so disadvantaged in life, and some others are given so much right from the start.

I had quite a lot of fun at Dave and Buster’s. I think it probably must take a lot of alcohol to get me drunk. I won a lot of games. It was good. We played kazoos and took bad pictures on the way home. Very good times. Amanda and Brooke flashed truckers as we drove down 71. Then they all got paranoid as hell that the truckers were boxing them in, and Angela thought the cops were coming once. I wasn’t so worried; it was dark, I doubt the truckers even saw them.

Amanda and I fought about Ja Rule versus 50 Cent. 50 Cent is unquestionably better.

I’ve kind of screwed myself over on tomorrow. I can’t remember what time it is I have to pick my niece up. And I’m not sure if I have to sign her out or anything. I need to wake up early to call my sister. Meh. I hate waking up early.

Additionally, one of my professors called the house tonight while I was out. I have the feeling my class is going to be cancelled, and this is exceedingly annoying because I really need the American history credit. Well, at least I’m going to Columbus soon anyway, and can make up for it there.

I don't like the first season of Perfect Strangers very much. How did Head of the Class remain on air so long?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I've been sick recently. Have a fever I can't seem to shake. It's not enough to arse me into going to the doctor. It's not enough that I can legitimately complain about it very often. It's just nagging. But tomorrow's looking up. Angela, Amanda, Brooke and I are going to Dave and Buster's. It'll be the first time we've been all together for a long time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Today has been a much more peaceful day than I've generally spent recently. I'm really quite glad for it.

I didn't really do a lot. But I did take my niece to move into the deaf school in Columbus. I'm really very happy she's there. It's the best place I can imagine for her. Generally speaking, I don't like institutions. Particularly boarding institutions. But in Britt's case, it's a very good thing. I can't help but sort of grin with pride when I see random staff members catch a glance of her, run across campus to hug her, and start signing much faster than I keep up with about how glad they are that she decided not to go to a hearing school after all. I'm looking forward to living with my niece later this year. When I was younger, I knew a lot of sign language. I could keep up with almost any conversation between any of the deaf people I knew at the time. But over the past decade of signing exclusively at holidays, I've forgotten almost everything I ever knew.

It's an odd thing, but for the first time in my life, I feel this responsibility to be a good example for someone. Living with my sixteen year old niece isn't going to be much like having a kid. But I will be responsible for her while we're together. I just want to do a good job of it. I want to show Brittany all of the things in my world that are good; the things that I most want her to try for. I want her to see a college campus, and I want her to see a concrete example of someone who's actually a bit like her (yeah, I know I'm not deaf, but I do come from the same working class background in which the only college graduates I ever knew were my obnoxious teachers), going to school and having a good, successful and minimally obnoxious time of it. I want to show her stability. I want to teach her how to spend a perfectly boring Saturday afternoon at home, sipping perfectly boring chocolate milk, reading a perfectly boring classic novel, and enjoy it.

I know how naive that is. She's sixteen already, and mostly mentally formed. And I'd be lucky to have that much success if I were to have my own infant to work on for sixteen plus years. But I like Brittany. Even if she never falls in love with the Brothers Karamazov, I'm happy with her. I think she's done a good job with her life so far. She's a smart kid, and independent as hell. And unless she really makes her mind up to fail, she seems to have that magic touch which is just bound to succeed. And she doesn't require my approval. I like that.

Other things aren't looking up. But I'm happier, and that's nice.

Monday, September 01, 2003

You're Ireland!

Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this
makes you intriguing.  You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as
worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice.  You're good
with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato.
 You really don't like snakes.

Take the Country Quiz at
the Blue Pyramid