Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is not how easy it was

When I get determined, I get determined. I began shoveling at 8 a.m. and by 2:30, with the help of Lossine and Abu, we finished. It was slow moving but with six hands moving dirt and wheelbarrows from 1 till we finished, we moved rather quickly. The dirt is now in the edge of the pool. It needs to be flatted out, but at least now it is in the backyard. I feel like I worked out at the gym for seven straight hours. Exhausting.

I have nothing but respect for anyone who does such work on a daily basis. Of course, I feel good doing physical activity but with a full work week of it I imagine I'd need a hospital. I see why we've invested machines. And ants..they're amazing. They build, rebuild, and continue to build. I was just filling a pool and I'm pooped.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Although it was not easy, Jacob did sleep a little over the last two days. When I uploaded the video, I found another Dylan original. Here he is as baby Godzilla. Notice the concentration. Seems like yesterday he was on Monster Island. Now we've got Jacob and Sean aging rather quickly. It's all good, and beautiful. Beautiful and good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I was human last night and chilled out with my nephews to watch BOLT, about a superhero dog who learns his superpowers were a fiction of Hollywood and he needed to tap into his canine reservoir to find heroicism from within. Sean's giggles, especially with the Hamster, Rhino, made the movie experience more special. After a day of yard work, it was great to unwind to a good Pixar flick. With Pixar, you can never go wrong.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'll be what i eat...

Well, CNY Hoffman's and Heid's, it looks like Fairfield has a hotdog stand and there I can be what I eat -- a super weenie. Yep, it's time to think about my future and the first video I found is this hotdog stand. It offers me hope about my transition, although I'm unsure I'll dine there too often. Then again, without family to feed me, I may be there more often than I anticipate.

I'm a mustard guy, though. I don't need all that fancy stuff.

Friday, May 27, 2011


There is no noise to accompany this.

I am frazzled and counting down for many reason. I'm also exhausted and frustrated. But, this too shall pass and I will be a better man because of it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm so right brained

The issue I have is that I don't have enough left brain in me to follow the specific rules and instructions as they are laid out in linear ways and are understood by everyone who has jeopardy smarts and become mesmerized by facts. I am much more enthralled with my imagination and making things work through exploration, trial and error, and improvisation. Consequently, my two-wheeled bike falls apart. I am always missing the screw that holds it all together. I need to learn more from the left side of my brain. Right now, I am feeling like my entire head is paying for the fact that I'm not a detail-oriented fellow.

Ugh. I'm lost by what any knowledge is these days.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On my way

I do like to sing things my way, but sometimes I have to be a part of a larger system and sing in the chorus of others. It's good for me. I have never been a pro with harmonizing, but I try - really, I do.

I listen to Frank here and do look forward to having a reflective space soon where I can sing "I did it my way, sort of, but from learning how to compromise the notes yodeled by those with more expertise."

The point is, I'm participating in the music. That's a good thing. Before Wonka could open his chocolate factory, he had to be apprenticed somewhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As I lay me down to sleep

I thought it might be smart to find a lullabye to fall asleep to because I never can fall asleep anymore. I hit many links and each was more obnoxious than the previous. This, however, is when I decided it was a horrible idea to find a lullabye to fall asleep to. Counting sheep with these dingleberries was a very stupid idea. I think I will now be awake singing Bah Bah blacksheep for the rest of the night.

The older I get, the more I wished I had magical powers to make things happen in an easier way. Zap my wand and I'm asleep. Zap my wand and I'm bathed. Zap my wand and my jiggling fat disappears. Zap my wand and I can run on the beaches of St. Augustine every day.

But I don't. Instead I have online cartoons that distract me from falling asleep.

Baaaaaaad idea.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keeping my writing in perspective

Many of the young men I've worked with in Syracuse and in Kentucky arrived through Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. I remember the first time I found images online and shared them with Dinka men in my Clarksville home and they thought my laptop was magic. "How do you get pictures of that?" they wanted to know.

I watched videos of Kakuma last night before I went to bed as a way to keep the lived experiences at the forefront of my mind while editing my work. I still find it bizarre that I lived in a world where I can compose noises of my everyday in reflection of life, while others live without electricity, shelter, and access to a better life. It is is a strange world, indeed. I try to make my mark in it, I guess, by learning from individuals who arrived to the U.S. and are trying to make sense of our fast-paced, commercial world. Both realities exist simultaneously and I'd debate with anyone about which was in more real. They both are and it is our responsibility to make sense of it. At least we are in a space that provides opportunities to learn about other ways of being.

Even so, it doesn't become easier to process the realities of disparities. It is healthy to pay attention to them and to ask myself everyday, "What can I do to make it easier for others?"

I suppose that is why I wanted to be a teacher and why I continue to think about the world as I do.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Frying Pan

While traveling through the British Aisles, Amy Parton made us mixed tapes. We rented two cars to get about - first we began with Princess Di, but she was too big, so we settled on Fergie. One of the songs was Evan Dondo's "Frying Pan," and it became symbolic for our summer sojourn.

I've often said that trip to Denmark, then England, then Ireland, then Scotland, back to Cambridge, England was the last big youthful hoorah in my life and listening to this song, the entire adventure comes back to me. We were in our late twenties studying Shakespeare and working with international students from around the world as we read, went to pubs, and enjoyed the English city.

I can remember, too, having my windows open in my dorm room and hearing the Italian tourists as they ran around the city intoxicated. The song will forever be imprinted on one of the greatest summers ever and I listen to the lyrics with memories of complete freedom. Ah, youth.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Woot Woot! Jack!

I took Abu and Dylan to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4, in 3D, and paid for the glasses. There is something wrong with my eyes because I don't see in the third dimension. Abu jumped the first time something protruded at him, but all I saw was a typical flat screen.

As with the other movies, the plot twists and turns and Jack makes out at the end. He definitely is an anti-hero extraordinaire and I guess I appreciated the eye candy of mindlessness. The mermaids were hot - another angle on classic mythology. I think I like the Caribbean fish-women more than any other they've been portrayed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Please, Nikki. You know your Uncle's cool.

Doing laundry is not my strong point these days and I wear what is lying on the floor. I'm lucky to dress at all, so when Nikki, my 9th grade niece, makes fun of my sense of style, I simply borrow the words of Meggie Masten, class of 2001, and say, "bite me."

You hate me cuz you know I'm all that and a bucket of chicken. You envy my look and my moves. That's right. I'm on to you.

You know I'm too school for cool. Or is that a bad thing?

For a live performance, give me a call. I know So You Think You Can Dance is about to premiere and my mother's ganglion shoulder is in need of repair, so I post my audition video to make her proud.

What? You know u jealous.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

a voice from my past

In 1992, when I studied in London, I lived with a girl named Rachel Moriello. At the time, the two of us confessed to one another that we imagined that we'd one day be abducted by UFOs and used for extraterrestrial experiments. It hasn't happened to either one of us yet, although we still have plenty of time to be kidnapped in our lives. Rachel was a theater major and moved to LA to pursue a theatrical/acting career, and currently she owns a voice business where she uses her smooth, voluptuous, and inviting vociferation to do radio and television commercials. Above is one she's done for eHarmony.

It's funny that a voice from my past can also be a voice presently on my television. Although it was almost twenty years ago, I still hear Rachel's voice quite often inside my head as a guiding spirit to this journey - a call of friendship from my past. I think it's wonderful that she now makes noise in a professional way. Her voice has always been a beautiful sound to my ears.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I love to believe in hope

Sandra Athans, a phenomenal educator in Chittenango, New York, returned from the International Reading Association conference in Florida and presented me with a signed copy of Linda Sue Park's A Long Walk to Water that tells the story of Salva Dut.

I stopped everything yesterday so I cold read the book and am very grateful to Sandra for thinking of me and sharing this story - it is an excellent text to teach to middle school youth and to show them the possibilities of the world. In addition, it is a story that might help them, like American adults, to see that our life is not the life others on this globe.

"Do you see that group of bushes," Salva's uncle advised him. "You need only to work as far as those bushes."

It was this advice that kept Salva Dut alive so he would one day make it to the United States and begin his project to heal Sudan. I am a stronger man for having the opportunity to read his journey and I am truly appreciative.

Thanks, Sandra.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

seems appropriate (and symbolic)

I love when I see the Syracuse forecast and it is rain for the next seven days. That's the city I know and love. The rain isn't what's bad, it's the gray. Yesterday, I was invigorated by it and I went for a run. It felt good to run in the rain. Today, it looked colder and less inviting. Still, it's good for the May flowers.

Wait. It is May. Perhaps, it's good for the June flowers. By then, we'll all be on the Ark with pairs of animals.

But at least we have this good ol' classic. Sing it up, peeps. I know you want to.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In case you missed it...

First, get through the commercial. Capitalism is still doing what it does best (and I'm thankful, because it provides me footage I can share on my 2011 dedication to noise).

On Sunday morning, during my coffee, I saw this and grew temporarily excited. Yes, I'm a cult follower of Willy Wonka and have used the movie as a metaphor in my life. I was excited to see how the characters aged, although I was perplexed by the fact that I'm aging, too. It is surreal to think about our milestones and how transient they are.

The wallpaper tastes like wallpaper! Violet had to go to school when she was still blue. Augustus sounds exactly the same. Charlie's losing his hair. The mom is wrinkled! Ouch.

Either way, I post this to welcome Monday and to wish you all a good work week. I hope you eat at least one chocolate bar, and if you're really lucky, you find a golden ticket.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am further than I was yesterday

I was thinking about Finding Forrester last night while writing and retreating into a book. I was thinking about the need for some knowledge seekers to also be knowledge gestapo who find pride and hubris in belittling what others know. I'm a lousy teacher, I suppose, because having the right or best answer was never what I was after. Instead, I pursued the potential every kid had for arriving to the answer that worked best to them.

Perhaps this is why this scene resonated with me when I first saw it. I wanted to be Jamal-like throughout my education and to have the ability to recall information that was valued by those who policed what it was to be known. Yet, my aptitude has never been with facts. Instead, my skill has rested upon working with facts to compose new meaning.

With this said, I completely understand all that is wrong with the "professor's" game-play here and I loved that he was called out on his own pride. I have empathy, however, to all youth who aren't able to buck wits against such ego.

This brings me back to where I stand philosophically with learning. Is it more important to drill into youth what needs to be known according to a traditional standpoint or to create a scaffold for students to grow with a desire to know more? I think the latter works best. And so...

I'll kick myself out of the room to learn more from Jamal.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

a dirty movie

We live in a world where there's a movie for everything. I found this today after my father graciously brought, via a friend, a vat of dirt to use as filler in the crater in my back lawn. Four years after I bought the house, the hole where a pool once was will eventually be filled. There goes my personal pond.

If you feel inclined, come over with a shovel and do a couple loads in the wheelbarrow. At the pace I discovered today, the pool should be filled by February, 2014. Or, if you have some kind of machine to help me move the dirt, I'd be glad to borrow it. I'm sad that the truck didn't fit through the gate so the dumping could have taken place in one quick push of a hydraulic button.

If it rains as it's supposed to, we might even be able to sponsor a mud fight in my driveway. That is where the dirt currently resides. Well there, and in my fingernails, hair, and in the cracks of my ankle socks.

I am Pigpen. Pigpen I am.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I am greasy

I haven't showered. You could oil a bike with my hair. I'm writing and writing and writing. Meanwhile, I know that there's this big bowling tournament in Syracuse because every time I go downtown, there's all these women with matching bowling shirts and bowling balls walking the streets. My greasy hair and these women reminded me of Grease 2. I post this video in that honor.

Sorry about the delayed post, however. Blogger was fixing a problem and uploading noises weren't available until just now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

under a rock, trying to find my way out

Another theme song for my writing and mind. With this in my ears, however, at least I can tap my foot as I revise, resubmit, rethink, and reconfigure what it is I'm writing.

This is not a good feeling at all. But, I'm trying to stay focused and on top of the world as much as I can.

In the meantime, send positive energy into the universe so, hopefully, I can receive some. The noise in my head these days is a lot of self doubt and frustration. I'm doing the best I can.

wrong dog, similar idea

I set a goal to grade until I fell asleep last night. I was almost to that point when I realized I forgot to post. I scanned many videos, until I found this one. The dog on the couch is not Baby, but the title "PhD's perfect night of grading," would look similar to this. Laptop. Dog at side. And Lord of the Rings on the television. Of course, I'd prefer a bottle of wine with the movie and grading.

Alas, the t.v. remained off. There was no wine. My computer was at rest. And the dog...well, I'm guessing the dog is lying on my bed where I should be. She's been m.i.a. for a while, so she's probably zonked out and snoring in the back room.

Grading may be the worst part about teaching. For real. ASSessment!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time's Change

This caught my attention yesterday. I think it captured my eye only because history seems to matter more when you get older and when you're able to place your experiences into context of all the experiences before you. That's when it becomes miraculous to think about what led to what.

In a culture of constant stimulations and much play time for youth, I actually thought most of their responses were more on top of the world game than might be expected. It's hard to blame youth, because they know the American way (and will continue to know this way) until they gain knowledge and, perhaps, reflect on global history.

Truth is. History won't sit stlll and new shit will happen. It's inevitable. When they grow up and tell the next generation, it will seem just as distant.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yep, down i count

(Note: this is best read when set to the music I've provided)

Foreigner's final count down popped into my head as I set out to unleash my activities for Monday morning. Tonight will be my last LeMoyne class. Students will present their projects and I will collect twenty of them to grade in the next two days. In the meantime, I printed out six chapters of my dissertation to edit and will meet on Tuesday to see how pathetic I am. When I finish grading, I need to tweak two chapters that I've neglected because I am not a strong writer until I am on top of what it is I'm writing. This needs to be a top priority.

Meanwhile, I've heard from colleagues at Fairfield wondering when I'm coming. They asked, "Did you sell your house yet?"

Well, I haven't even thought about it, other than listening to opinions and making mental lists of what needs to be done before I leave. I can't think about it quite yet, although I look forward to changing my brain's trajectory. I love my house and its proximity to family. I love the work I've done in Syracuse. The thought of having to leave it all behind does not thrill me, especially since I've not had an income or professional sense of self while I returned to home sweet home. It seems sad that when I will be making money again, I will be gone. Unfair, actually...but, c'est la vie.

I will be humming this song for the next month (only to return to it again in the fall when I have to defend this booger).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom, This is your mother's day card

I went to Walmart to get a card. Big mistake. Saturday nights at Walmart are not how to spend an evening after writing frantically all day and trying to meet a deadline to, pray-to-God, hopefully get closer to finishing this dissertation gig. Walking the aisles, especially the card aisle, made me hate reproduction, the birthing of children around the world, and the fact that moms are silly enough to raise children in the first place. After twenty minutes of being bumped by mullets and screaming kids, I said, "forget the card. She'll understand"

So, I found this video card online that is more honest than any card I'd purchase for $2.49 anyway. If you want, Cynde, KC, and I can fist fight over breakfast. Better yet, we can do something to piss dad off and that will make for a memorable day. I will film that and post a video like these two sons.

Happy Mother's Day. I love you, Mom! I really do! It's just that I'm not good at picking out cards.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

To get a whistle to your day

My brother-in-law Mike, Dylan, and I were able to hit the court yesterday in front of all of our fans. Actually, Baby was our fan, but she ran off and I couldn't find her. The birds liked our moves, though. We could have used cheerleaders.

I'm proud to say that Dylan beat me in PIG, and two rounds of HORSE. He nails that backwards shot every time. I'm too tall. I can't lean backwards enough to see the basket and I always miss. In my next life, I'm coming back with more skills to dribble and shoot. I'm lousy at doing both.

But look out Globetrotters. Cicero's in the house.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Because Jane is Real

As a kid, I watched the Jetsons and didn't think much about it. I have a memory, however, of their video screens ringing and the use of masks to cover their face so they appeared to be more kept than they actually were. I think this resonated with me because I tried to picture my mother smoking a True Blue 100 while video chatting with friends. Back in the 80s, one could hide behind a long chord and a telephone. You existed as a voice. But, because of SKYPE and other software, we've entered the day of face-to-face chatting, which makes me think about the need of having a refreshed face nearby so you look look when someone calls. Bed head would be unforgiving.

I had to meet with my students for this summer on video yesterday and I greeted them with a George Jetson face. I explained that it still is surreal to me to communicate with video, but I know it is the wave of the future. I understand that many flatscreen tvs already are equipped to be videophones, so the day is coming.

Total Recall.

Tools change. Needs don't.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

thinking about the globe as i write

I am editing the chapter of my participants' histories and, as a result, I am thinking about my reality of posting online every night, checking my cellphone, avoiding my television, thinking about the 1100 research articles I've read to write about the experiences of youth, reflecting on the countless experiences I've had when traveling overseas, and I'm amazed by how much I don't know. Moreso, I'm feeling fortunate to have had the life I've had, especially in regard to the rest of the world.

I can't seem to get my head around the fact that we live as we do, but the way we live is highly abnormal around the world. It is the exception to the rule and if we were to take a vote, Americans of the United States would be the oddballs. We're the most alien to what global cultures know as truth, yet we control almost all the truth that gets told.

I'm sort of happy that Obama has chosen not to show the photographs of bin Laden's death. I think that shows integrity and prefer being part of a nation that has some pride and dignity with handing its leadership. I think his choice is smart.

In the meantime, I want to find a way to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From the files

I was looking for a clip for a friend, when I came across these shots that must have been taken when I was still living in Kentucky and while I was visiting home. I'm guessing it's about seven years ago, but I could be wrong. Maybe six.

It cracked me up when I came across it. They made me laugh out loud. I have around 44 tapes of footage. I wonder what else I got...but you know what? I don't have time to find out....


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I forgot National Poetry Month

I just realized it's May and I failed to poetically display an array of spoken words. (April was poetry month. My bad).

So, I found this: my student teacher, Janel, at last Fall's poetry slam where I judged at Syracuse University. I love this and scored it well (even before I knew her). Fast forward, I watched her teach THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN for six weeks this spring. I didn't make the connection that she was in the slam until midway through the placement. She was a ball of energy and her theatrics were irreplaceable as a teacher.

I post this in memory of last month and with knowledge that she, on Friday, turns her portfolio in so i can give it a grade! Ha!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Brilliant Monday Morning Revelation

I've got a tiny head. I was thinking about my dog (RIP), Juliette Catherine Alannis Madonna Potato Head Olivia Houdini Scrappy Doo Dennis, and how her pinhead was too tiny for her sausage body, when I realized, wait...I have a pinhead, too. My head is too tiny for my Ripley bulk.

It reminded me of the scene from Beetlejuice where the voodoo man shrinks the head while waiting in hell. When the head is shrunken, suddenly I see myself and its proportions as staged by Hollywood.

Yep. That's what I've got to say this morning. In the meantime, I'm entering a two-day marathon of craziness.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breaking the record

The School of Education gave me free tickets to the SU lacrosse game against #1 Notre Dame. I was fed, given great parking, and part of the record crowd AND UPSET over the fighting orange. It's a great sport to watch, especially when the team was hot and on top of the game.

Word to the father who sat behind us, though. Your sons, and their friends, were out of control. I'm not sure if I'd want my ten year old kids cussing and throwing things at the Notre Dame fans. And when your boys were told to sit down and relax by several other adults in the crowd, I don't think it was smart for you to stand up and tell everyone they should move if they didn't like the way the boys were acting. Finally, the father and the posse of boys got up and left, leaving trash everywhere. The whole thing was obnoxious and the parenting was absolutely pathetic. I was embarrassed for all of them. Ridiculous.