Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This one will be a biggie

Since I've left my undying fans hanging with no new blog updates for a whole five days, todays will probably be a long one. Its not going to be long just because it will be a string of updates in my life (although some of it will) but it will also contain some of my thoughts about various media and people I've been taking in lately. I will split these into mini-chapters for my readers sake, just in case you need to take a break and can easily come back to it at some point.

The Man in Black
In the movie High Fidelity (still one of my all time favorite movies, banging soundtrack) the main character Rob at one point is talking about how he's not the smartest guy in the world, but he's read some heavy books. After he names a couple of said books he says, "...but I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash's autobiography "Cash" by Johnny Cash." This line has always made me want to read this book and until Christmas this year when I was handed a Barnes and Nobles gift card, I never made that a possibility. However, I've started reading this finally this week and I'm starting to agree with Rob.

The book isn't in any specific order, it essentially is Johnny Cash trying to tell the story of his life, but getting sidetracked by other stories in his life and then he sweetens the package with some of his own philosophies. I think the interesting part is he often talks about how he is Christian and friends with Billy Graham and such, but he still comes off as a man I wouldn't mess with. (At one point his family is taken hostage by gun and hatchet point and he stays calm and cool and ends up kind of befriending the criminals... well you know what. I like this book so much I'm not going to ruin it for you. Go buy it, its less than $10 paperback.) The reason this is weird to me I guess is because of the stereotype I've assigned Christian Country stars (and most Christian musicians, not all mind you) as either backwater hicks, complete wusses, or high and mighty. Cash is so down to Earth. You never feel like he's a hick, (although he worked on a farm the first 15 or so years of his life) he's definitely not a wuss, and he's so down to Earth he probably could talk to Al Queida about Christianity and leave not only alive, but with a couple conversions. Anyway just one quote from the book I've really enjoyed: (There are literally hundreds in this book I've loved)

On why he wears black today when originally it was for the Vietnam War and all the people dying in the world: "Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don't see much reason to change my position today. The old are still neglected, the poor still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we're not making many moves to make things right. There's still plenty of darkness to carry off." (p. 86)

Fill in the bubble with a complete circle in number 2 pencil
We've started the state's mandatory standardized testing this week. So far its been fairly smooth besides me having to come in early. I've always detested (and I think its true for everyone except the authors) standardized tests. Current trends show that these tests are a huge reason why schools that perform badly aren't getting better. Teachers can't be creative or teach anything interesting because the administration is breathing down their necks to produce good numbers so the school receives more funding. Since they aren't creative, the children aren't learning anything because they come to despise school. The state (and country) loves being able to take away a persons name and give them a number to be identified by.

Another reason for the sad state of education is the rise in school violence in the past fifteen years. Finally the children that were babysat by the television are snapping, grabbing shotguns, looking up bomb recipes on the internet, and going to their schools and reeking havoc. The schools answer to protecting the other students... run the school like a prison. Barbed-wire fences, security guards, strict curfews are just a few ways that children are being force into a heavily mandated system. I'm scared for the future or literature and movies because we're turning this world into a colorless, overly polluted, hate-filled plain. I don't know what the solution is. Perhaps the parents need to pay more attention. Recently here in South Carolina a child was turned in by his parents because they found him ordering bomb supplies from the internet and he had kept a year long diary about how he was going to blow up his school and why. Because these parents paid attention, they saved countless lives.

Some of my kids
I found out that two of my kids this week, age 15 and 17, both have children outside of the group home. I can see how this chain of violent behavior can continue because I'm working in one of the links. I know both these guys mean well, but they are bringing a child up in the same habitat they were brought up in, and if statistics are correct, their kids will be coming to the alternative school in twelve years. The government hands out free money, but a lot of times this just solidifies the poverty. Why would someone want to get a job that pays them barely anymore than the government pays them for free? I'm not ready to discuss this topic in depth yet, but soon enough I will.

For the first time since I've worked at this place I had to save face in front of the kids today. I still say the school yard in one of the most brutal places anyone has to survive in life. Kids will tell you what they think and not hesitate about it. Think about this mentality... then think about how this would work with kids that if only they were 18 would be considered criminals. the first advice I got at this job was "They are going to find things to make fun of you for. Don't show any quiver or sweat cause they will eat you up." They've already tried to make fun of my baldness, my misfitting glasses, and my "white person" way of talking. Well I took the kids outside to play basketball today and was nailed in the crotch with one of the balls. Everyone was looking at me, but I just said "wow that was a close one." However my head was screaming "NOOOOO!!!!" My stomach wanted to throw up, my legs wanted to give out, my heart wanted to explode, and sweat came pouring from my forehead. Had I fallen, I would've been hearing about it until June.

My job status
Today I was half heartily offered a summer job, but since the principal wasn't willing to discuss money or hours I'm going to have to turn it down. The other teachers said it was smart, because they had been roped in to do it for free a couple of summers which means I would probably get paid dirt. I think I'm going to run this job out till June and maybe get a job with the post office. They start out more than I'm getting paid, they actually pay me more for my degree, and I get awesome benefits. I think I might try to get my masters degree with an online school. One of the teachers I work with was telling me about where she does her work online and it sounds like a great possibility as long as I can motivate myself to do the work.

My Marriage and Wedding Plans
I've noticed many of my friends who have recently been married have been having troubles/issues/fights normal in the first year (and some lifetime) marriage issues, and somehow Sal and I have thus far escaped any real issues. We often have conversations about old friends in horrible relationships and marriages and try to figure out where they went wrong, why don't they get out, or why did they get in in the first place. Luckily for us we agree on most stuff and know when to let the other get themselves a little gift or something. It's very 50/50 on our part. We don't try to change each other, we speak up when something is bothering us, and we actually listen to what the other person is saying. (This is the main reason most relationships are crap)

As far as wedding plans go. They are falling into place. Sal is flying back to St. Louis in a couple weeks to make some final decisions, we have the place booked, and we have the guest list. (Rough draft) My biggest issue was coming up with a wedding party. I either wanted no wedding party or I wanted a huge one because picking this can alienate some people. I know feelings are going to be hurt, and I know that I won't hear the end of my decision ever, but I'll tell you the formula I used to pick my party.

A) You were automatically disqualified if I haven't talked to you in the past two months. I had some people I would've had in my party six months ago that just aren't there anymore. Its not that I don't like them or I don't want them to be in it still, but I've tried calling my old friends a couple times, I've tried emailing, and some of them just have never gotten back to me. You don't want to have someone in your wedding party if you aren't sure if you will have any contact with them within the next couple years. (Just going by what the trend in contact has been)

B) If you are out of town, will be out of town, or are a maybe I had to knock you off the list just for simple planning purposes. This eliminated some choices I would've loved to have like Allyn, Sean, and my cousin Ryan. Al lives in SLC now and it would be very expensive for him to fly into St. Louis for a couple days for my wedding. I understand that and don't think any less of him for it. (Although you should really find a place with a less disgusting lake) Sean is going to be working at a camp all summer in Colorado and although he is going to be able to come to the wedding, who knows if he would be able to get a tux, come to the other planned activities and rehearsals. My cousin Ryan, since I was a child, was always going to be my best man. There was no way around and there was no one else that could replace him. However Uncle Sam says otherwise. He ships out to Iraq a day before the scheduled ceremony and I wish him luck, thank him for his service, and pray for a safe journey.

C) Those I don't think would be interested, I.E. my brothers. All three of us have always hated formal occasions. We've always hated them more when we've had a role. I'm not going to put them through that kind of torture. Hell, if being the groom wasn't essential to my wedding, I probably would skip it was well.

So my wedding party was picked based off of how much contact I still have with you, how long I've known you, and how much contact I feel I will continue to have with you. So here it is, in digital form my wedding party.

Cory-The Best Man- Cory and I met in one of my first Mizzou English classes my first semester sophomore year. We've screamed our way into the hearts of many professors and have this somewhat sick, almost homosexual, way of reading each other's minds. For instance, I knew his eye color... he asked me Sallie's and I hesitated for a moment and then guessed. (BTW, I guessed right) He's one I plan to have with me the rest of this weird journey in life and at some point he will probably convince me and Sallie to share a condo with him. (He already makes me refer to the sunroom as Cory's room) Plus, it's Cory. Come on, thats going to be one great wedding toast.

Matt- He's the brother in law, and although I'm sure he isn't the first to jump at having formal responsibilities, he means much to my wife and to me. For one, I'm one of Sallie's few, if not only, boyfriends that Matt has taken an instant liking to. This is probably because A) I wasn't dating her yet (although first kiss was only hours away) when we first hung out. And we bro-ed out nerd style hitting Star Wars and video games whilst drinking great beer. He's one that not only do I know I will have in my life forever, but he's one that I don't have a choice whether or not to have him in my life forever.

Eric and Ryan- These two belong together on my list because they came as a package deal into my life. It started Sophomore year of high school when a formorly shy Dan entered a class and just said "screw it. I'm going to talk and make jokes and we'll see who will be my friend.) As soon as my last name was read out, Eric started giggling and I had my target for the man I would befriend. We started joking around and having a good time and then he invited me out to play Walleyball after school. Now Walleyball is already a hilariously dangerous sport (especially when a 6'1" clumsy oaf like me is playing) but then pulling into the parking lot with long flowing blond hair and a headband was Ryan. From that point on until I moved into the place, us three went to every party, concert, and sporting event together. If my car didn't crap out on me in college I would've still hung out with them all the time. They lived just a bit too far for the bike. However, the two weeks I was in St. Louis in December, they were my main bros. They came to the first wedding as my very last minute representatives. (I didn't know we were having wedding parties until 8 pm the night before.) They have called me and facebooked me every couple weeks just to check in. Its tough to have a long distance friendship, but by God these are the guys that know how to do it without wasting too much time on the phone.

So anyway, thats how I picked the wedding party. I understand for some to be angry at this list, but I only had a couple slots and I had to pick some I knew would be able to come through, not only now, but for life. So that's my extreme update for today. Questions, comments, and opinions are welcomed.