Thursday, March 26, 2009

A "Twittery" post

Since I only have a few minutes and I don't have anything pressing I really want to write about, and also since I just checked out a few Twitter sites for the first time yesterday, ah, well, I'm totally defeating the theme of this post with this long, run-on sentence. Here goes...

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Jonny used the potty for the first time yesterday. He went pee pee and poo poo. It turns out using M & M's as a reward was effective.

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Jonny also dropped the F-bomb for the first time yesterday. He first did it at dinner and his mother calmly explained that it was a hurtful word. Later, during his bath, he said it again. I not-so-calmly told him if I heard him say "fuck" again I would wash out his mouth with soap. His lips pouted and he almost cried, but he said he wouldn't.

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I asked him where he heard the word, but he couldn't remember. I've never said it or any other swear word in his presence.

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It's hard to blame him for saying it. It is a fun word. It just rolls out of the mouth like an avalanche.

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In fact, I've become such a non-swearer that once this winter after slipping on the ice, with no son or students present, I yelled out "fiddlesticks!"

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I personally don't find swear words offensive, but still don't want my son saying them.

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I imagine Jonny as an obsessive compulsive adult who can't go to the bathroom unless he has M & M's to eat afterwards.

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Today is finally warm and sunny. It feels like spring.

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I'm reading
Suttree by Cormac McCarthy. Beautiful use of language, but I need a dictionary to make sense of it. My favorite new-to-me word from this book: Nates - buttocks.
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Another cool new-to-me word, even though it wasn't in Suttree: tintinnabulary -- like the sound of ringing bells.

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Pet Peeve of the Day: Having to apply for jobs District by District instead of county by county.

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That's it. Time to go for a walk!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The latest schtick

Spring break is here in the heartland. Of course, it's only spring in the sense that there is more daylight than darkness. The weather is still cold, gray and nasty. Especially yesterday when I got caught in a killer storm walking back to Esther's place from the library.

I've been spending the week in Sycamore with Esther and Jonny. When they got home from daycare yesterday I swooped my son up in my arms and said, "It is so good to see you on a Tuesday!" I hadn't realized until moments before how rare that is. I think Esther's enjoying the adult company. Or at least the home cooked meals.

I'm using two hours of library Internet time a day to apply for teaching jobs. I also plan to put a curriculum vitae together and try to get a job teaching at a community college. Although the pay is not as good, the thought of not having to deal with parents, out of touch administrators, discipline problems with students, and endless bureaucracy is very appealing. Plus, the subject matter would be a little more challenging. I've realized in the last 8 or 9 months that I miss research and writing. Maybe because I'm better at it.

Ten years ago I imagined the perfect life for myself would be to write 3-4 hours a day, read and do research until evening, cook a good meal for my family and spend time socializing until bedtime. I'd like to work towards that end. How to do it. Re-focus on the writing life. This is nearly impossible now with the demands of teaching.

In other news, 2009 is an odd year because there are no big travel plans in the works. In the spirit of downsizing and communitarian spirit, I am going to explore my backyard as much as possible. I've got all the maps of forest preserves in Kane and Cook Counties and am already systematically visiting them when I have the chance.

Here's a link to some pictures I've taken on recent forays:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2249902&id=30820390&l=39aac3591e
The places featured in this album include:

Helms Woods (Kane County)
Crabtree Nature Center (Cook County)
Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve (Cook)
Spring Lake Forest Preserve (Cook)
Bluff Springs Fen (Cook)

I don't have any "attack" plan for Kane County. I guess I'll work from township to township. But Cook county divides its forest preserves into nine zones, and I not only plan to hike or bike every trail in every forest preserve, but will try to use public transportation (Metra rail, mostly) to get to them.

Other local plans for the year are to canoe the rest of the Rock River from Prophetstown to the Mississippi River. For those not in the know, from 2005-07, in weekend and day trips, I have canoed every navigable branch of the river from its sources through Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin and on to Prophetstown, IL. But I have to admit, ever since Lake Koshkonong, the trip has been difficult. Power boat traffic makes dangerous wakes and there is a lot of traffic on the river. I think I'll plan the rest of the trip so that I'm on the water in the early morning or early evening hours when the traffic is lighter.

I will also ride the entire Fox River Trail and maybe, time permitting, walk or ride the Grand Illinois Trail . Either that, or a long section of the Ice Age Trail from West Bend to Janesville. Again, for this trip I would only use public transportation (Metra, Amtrak, and Greyhound) and hitchhiking to get to and from the trail.

Planning costs nothing. But the beauty of these ventures is their relative inexpense. I already have the equipment. Transportation costs are minimal. And friends and family can join me for most, if not all of it.

Speaking of money, I better get back to job hunting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life is like that sometimes

Life is like that sometimes. It sure is. In a time when I should be panicking and fretting about the future, having lost my job, I'm not worried.

So much of the past couple months were spent worrying about my future employment that when I identified and eliminated the stress, interestingly, about a month before I got the fateful news, it was as if a heavy weight were lifted off of me. It was like how I felt on a thru-hike, when, in rare opportunities, I hiked without my pack. The body was so used to the pack burden that to hike without one was to fly!

Worry is not my natural state. I think I'm one of those people who takes things as they come and deals with life's situations as they present themselves. I've become less so in recent years as relationship mistakes and parenthood give me more pause to consider over decisions. But recognizing something outside of my control, and realizing that worry over it changes nothing, is still fairly easy to do, and I feel lucky to have the sense to recognize this. It will probably add years to my life.

So, in these times of searching for employment in a very competitive job market, I'm not worried. If a job comes along -- great! Even better if it is a good fit for me and everybody else. If not, I and those around me will get by. If my credit goes to hell, oh well. I've been paying everything off on time for so long. There's nothing they can re-possess. And they can't take away my health or the love of friends and family. Money has never had any power over me. Nor will the lack thereof.

It is spring. There are trails to hike. Flowers to smell. A toddler son to watch in amazement. A lifelong love to foster. A warm bed. A roof overhead. Food. Books. Life is grand.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Movies!

Here's a list of all the movies I've watched through Netflix so far in 2009, each with a mini-review.

Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story - I love outsider art and song poems are way out there. I like the Errol Morris stylings and character studies of people associated with the genre, including people who submit poems and the "big" names in the business.

Goodbye, Columbus -- I haven't watched it yet. It's based on a Phillip Roth novella I read last year.
American Drug War: The Last White Hope -- A bit sensationalistic and scatter-brained for my tastes, but I like the little bits of personality the director throws into the mix.
Charlie Wilson's War -- A taut thriller with just enough humor to add life to it. The dialogue is snappy. Not one ounce of fat on this baby!
Powaqqatsi -- I love this entire trilogy, including this second one, which focuses on mostly urban scenes of life south of the equator. The visuals of different religious rites were stunning. As usual, Phillip Glass's score is loopy brilliance.
Nip/Tuck: Season 1: Disc 1 -- Overly-stylized soap opera dreck!
The Great Lie -- Haven't seen it yet.
Naqoyqatsi -- This is the last in the qatsi trilogy and is different from the other two in its use of computer imagery. Very trippy, but not as soul-stirring as the other two.
Entourage: Season 1 -- A guilty pleasure.
River's Edge -- This movie stars a young Crispin Glover and Keanu Reeves as small-town friends of a guy who strangles his girlfriend to death for the fun of it. This movie was darkly funny, but also a tongue-in-cheek indictment of the media.
The Sopranos: Season 2 -- Another great series!
Ratcatcher -- Incomprehensible Scottish accents. Even more incomprehensible plot. Avoid like a plague.
The Heartbreak Kid -- I saw the original starring Charles Grodin years ago. This re-make is funnier.
30 Days: Season 1 -- Although Morgan Spurlock is a little too preachy for my tastes, this series is a good concept executed fairly well.
Sicko -- Michael Moore strikes again with a documentary that should be seen by every member of Congress. Health care reform is needed. Now!!
At Close Range -- You'd think a movie with Sean Penn and Christopher Walken in it would be good, but no.
The Four Feathers -- This was part of my Heath Ledger weekend and the least favorite of the three I saw. Although well-acted, the drama was a little too heavy and action sequences a bit dodgy.
Ned Kelly -- My favorite of the three Ledger movies I saw. Ned Kelly's life is given a historically accurate treatment.
Saved! -- Funny movie about life at a Christian school. Exposes some of the hypocrisies of evangelism without being preachy.
The Dark Knight -- Yeah, there's a Chicago connection, and, yeah, it's a good movie, but I don't think it lived up to the hype.
The First Year -- A documentary about first year teachers in Los Angeles. I could relate to many of the struggles these teachers go through.
Ordinary People -- Filmed in a north shore suburb, this Best Picture Academy Award is a little dated, like Kramer vs. Kramer.
The Milagro Beanfield War -- Daniel Stern is a god. I loved the book and though magic realism gets many props, this movie is just pedestrian. Robert Redford, unlike Clint Eastwood, should have stuck to acting. Gotta work on the pacing, bro.
Confessions of a Burning Man -- Mediocre documentary about the annual desert art extravaganza.
Michael Palin: Himalaya -- Python funnyman hits the mountain trails. Palin's off-the-beaten-track sensibilities also appeal. Free food if you're Sikh.
Land of Look Behind -- Mediocre documentary about Jamaica.