Category Archives: Just Random Stuff

A Buggy Little Adventure

This day was supposed to be awesome. Bec planned an excellent all day date with her sister Ann and me. Bec and I would start by going to church, then meet up with Ann, head to St. Croix State Park, have a picnic lunch, then hike a 5-mile loop by the river.

Here is how the day really went.

Bec and I got up early, and did what the morning wants people to do. Drink some coffee. Take a shower. Walk the dogs. Not necessarily in that order, but you get it. Then we made the 20-25 minute drive to St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul. Some folks would take what happened next as an omen of some sort. We, however, did not. We made it before the service started, so that’s a bonus, but as we were getting out of the car we were greeted by this little gem in the car next to ours:


We met up with Ann at around 10AM and headed about 2 hours north, northeast to St. Croix State Park. The foliage was gorgeous pretty much the whole way up Interstate 35, with bright yellow, rustic oranges, loud reds, and sumac turning a dark crimson along the sides of the road. Basically, there was all kinds of beauty everywhere I looked. When we got to the park, we had a picnic on an overlook with this view of the river:


And this view of my delicious Summit Porter:


But, sadly, that is all we were able to do at this state park, because we were being eaten alive (I mean almost carried away like an alien abduction) by mosquitoes. We got quickly into the car and drove through the rest of the park, like good little lazy Americans, using fossil fuels to see nature’s beauty. We did stop at two other places in the park. One was an overlook where the river looked like this:


I also saw a loon after we heard it diving and splashing around in the weeds by the edge of the shore, because the last place we stopped looked a bit like this:


So we drove, sadly, back toward the Cities with only a picnic under our belts. But then Ann had a wonderful and brilliant idea: Fort Snelling State Park! We all agreed that would be a fine time. And it could have been with cool stuff like this memorial for the Dakota Indians who were imprisoned during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862:


Or this cool historical marker (I’m a sucker for historical markers):


Or the fine company: HarrisButts

Or the natural beauty of a river island (Pike Island): Clearing

I could have had a good time pretending I was Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn or Becky Thatcher (if she ever got to do anything cool, besides have the hots for Tom), but there were also lots of these little bastards:

So as I said at the beginning today was supposed to be awesome, and it was. I had so much fun picnicking, hiking, and being abducted by mosquitoes… oh, wait… I learned something today: ALWAYS WEAR MOSQUITO REPELLENT WHEN HIKING IN MINNESOTA. ALWAYS. DOUBLE ALWAYS. AND TRIPLE. I kept saying, as we were walking, “This is what hell is probably like. You are with people you love, doing something that’s supposed to be super fun, but there’s one thing really horrible about it. You think all the while, oh, this isn’t bad, but then there are the mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are Satan’s minions, torturing us.” I think I just thought the last sentence of that and didn’t ever say it out loud, but now I am saying it, because it is true.

But I really did have a great time with two fantastic women. In fact, it was one of the most fun days I’ve had in a long, long time. I’m re-learning flexibility. But I’m also learning to WEAR BUG REPELLENT!

Much Needed Break: That Didn’t Last.

I am back. Look for insightful and gritty words to follow.

What I Would Do In Another Lifetime

I often spend time wondering or fantasizing about what I would do if I had another life to live. I waver between on the one hand really applying myself and being something great like a surgeon, or an artist, or some other brilliant and hardworking genius, and on the other hand I wouldn’t mind going a very different, non-traditional path like being a bike messenger, or a barista, or an intentional homeless wanderer. Any of these latter options sounds appealing because I wouldn’t be a part of the rat race. I wouldn’t be responsible for other people’s success. And I wouldn’t have had to go to college and try to make life-impacting choices at the age of 17. How the hell is a 17-year old supposed to know what she or he wants to for the rest of life? So before we are old enough and responsible enough to even join the military, let alone drink a beer, we are expected to decide who we will become and what our vocation will be. It makes zero sense. As for me, I love what I am doing, but I wish I could do a million other things.

I have also spent time considering a career as a long-haul trucker, but I am not sure that I could deal withe being away from Becs for that long at a time. I have a friend from high school who posted this as his status: “i’ve come to realize the only time i am truely happy when i’m not with my kids is when 18 wheels are singing their song as miles roll by.” I envy him for his freedom on the road. I want to hear the wheels sing on the road, and to feel the wind on my face as the miles tick by. This is probably why I prefer to ride my motorcycle or drive when I go on vacation. I love to watch the road pass by and know that I am headed somewhere. It doesn’t really matter if the road is leading me away from home or back. Either way, I know I am headed somewhere, instead of sitting still.

I don’t envy him the feeling of being sad when he’s away from his kids, as he’s posted in multiple other posts. But I do envy the fact that he has children. Multiple times in the past few weeks, I have found myself either dreaming or fantasizing about having children, or a child. I’d be a good mom, Bec has already been a good mom, and together we’d make excellent moms. Why can’t my health insurance pay for artificial insemination? Why can’t I just swallow my pride and use a turkey baster? I have multiple people who’d be willing donors if I could just pay for the service. I could adopt, but I can’t afford that either, which is way more criminal. There are so many kids who could use healthy and stable homes. Why does it have to cost so fucking much to get a child? Oh, well.


Sometimes a Body Needs Silence

It was enough just to sit there without words. โ€”Louise Erdrich

Today promises to be chock full of goodness, like that candy bar that’s chock-full-o-nuts, whatever candy bar that is. I am again at Starbucks, but today I am working on my fat studies presentation. In an attempt to get this finished before I leave for the conference, I have set aside today to work. I should be grading my students’ essays, planning for next week, and commenting on the many rough drafts that are in my bag. Instead, I am setting all of that aside in order to work on this paper. I am writing about the way middle school and high school students perceive their fat teachers and peers.Unfortunately, none of the research I have done really has anything to do with what I want to write about. Most research I am learning pretends that people don’t exist until they reach college. Middle schoolers and high schoolers and their teacher (by default I suppose) are non-entities. We simply don’t exist on the academic radar.

Even the data base known as ERIC contains no articles that I can find about the status of fat kids, their teachers, or their school environment. However, in my search I found countless articles about how schools are trying to contain the obesity epidemic. I have a few thoughts about that: (1) Stop making PE one of the first classes we cut. Just because of the nature of the subject, PE gives students time to exercise and unwind from the pressures of school. Statistics show that people eat more when they are stressed. (2) Make all students have PE everyday. Most schools only provide PE once a week. For example, the school my mom teaches at gives their students 20 minutes of PE once a week. (3) Stop cutting recess in order to provide more instructional time. We learn how to be people at recess. When we cut recess, we not only cut exercise time, we also cut the time in which children learn self-governance, discover problem solving, and figure out how to interact with their peers in a non-contrived environment. (4) Feed students healthy food. Vegetables are as inexpensive as meat. Beans and rice are less expensive than any other foodstuffs. If each student got some beans and rice, a green vegetable, and a pint of milk, they’d have a pretty decent meal. And it wouldn’t be “fat topped with cheese floating in grease,” as Bec’s kids used to describe school lunch. (5) Allow children to walk to school and to play outside, and give parents the training they need to provide excellent snacks and meals at home. Sometimes the very things we fight against come from ignorance, lack of time, and a weak support system. So, I suppose instead of penalizing people for things beyond their control, we should help them avoid those things.

I came here craving silence and found myself having a conversation with someone I generally can’t stand. This conversation, however, was pleasant and fulfilling. I still crave the silence of reading and writing, but I am glad I didn’t pass up this opportunity. This ends up being on of my biggest problems: I’d much rather have good, enriching conversation than do anything else. It’s probably something I should work on. Or I should have found an occupation where that is an admirable quality instead of a deterrent to success.

The outlook for silence looks bleak. Next weekend (October 1-3) I will be in MN with two of my closest friends. The next weekend (October 8-10) holds my father’s and Bec’s birthday celebrations, and a friend is coming in from Kentucky. October 15-17 is a potential silent retreat, but the next weekend is filled-up with fall break, a ghost tour, and a Halloween party, all of which I am super excited about. I am going to spend the day with my mom in her classroom on that Friday. The next weekend is empty for now, but November 6 (when I was supposed to run my marathon) is Amy’s big birthday bash. The weekend after that, November 12-16, means that Bec and I are going to MN to see the boys. I need about 75 fewer things to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

As busy as I have been, I have still find to contemplate spirituality. I always find time for that. What I am finding is that I need to listen more (hence the need for silence) and talk or comment less (hence the need for silence).

Going Away. New Focus. And Changes.

I am going on a week-long road trip to Nebraska and Minnesota, with a little swing through South Dakota to liven things up. I am not taking my computer, and I plan to only sporadically use my cell phone. This means two things: no blog entry this week and hopefully a lot to write about next week.I am actually looking forward to being detached for a bit, or as Bec’s sister Susan says, “It is ok to be inaccessible.” In my heart, I know it is okay, but in my head I keep thinking I will miss something important. I know this isn’t true. And, if I do miss something, will it be the end of the world? No.

When I return from my trip, there will be approximately three weeks until school starts. Hopefully what you will begin to read here will be a more academic look at things related to teaching, theology, social justice, etc. I started this blog to discuss ideas, and it has morphed into a weird combination of journal and goal setting, which I will still do as well. However, I want a better portion of it to be more focused, direct readings of current events, books I am reading, and life circumstances that will cause us all to think more critically, myself foremost.

Finally, I also wanted to thank everyone for making a relatively rough birthday better. Your kind words and happy thoughts were just what I needed. I am working on becoming the person you think I am! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am starting to do that by changing the focus of my running form pure pleasure to raising money for a cause that is important to me. You can support my efforts in fundraising for Riley Hospital for children by going to this website to donate money. I want to raise $1000.00 for them, and right now I have $25.00 raised, which I donated myself. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Pitch in.