Sunday, August 31, 2008


I'll admit it. I'm a gamer. I like video games. I always have. My brother and I grew up on Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt for Nintendo. I then upgraded to a Super Nintendo, then a Nintendo 64. In high school I was the proud owner of a Sega Dreamcast, a short-lived console soon overshadowed by the Microsoft Xbox. After Dreamcast went under, I gave up on gaming. I went to college and lived with my two best friends in an apartment. The three of us went in together on a big screen TV. We had heard that playing video games on big screen TVs was bad for the TV. Thus, no video games for the first two years of college. I'll shorten the rest of college by saying that I didn't own a video game system then either. Then, last year I bought a used Xbox 360. Life changed. Video games now are more like movies that you can control. It's crazy. I've been immersed in several in-depth story lines and intense battles that were waged right in front of my television. Go ahead, judge me.

Well, a couple months ago my Xbox began to freeze up and act weird. Eventually, I stopped playing it for fear of what we in the know call "the Red Ring of Death". The Red Ring of Death (or RRoD) for TOTAL nerds, is an indicator on the front lights of the Xbox that basically mean: you're screwed. If a console is afflicted with this terrible ailment, the Xbox must be shipped off and the owner receives a refurbished console. I know, I shuddered too the first time I was told about it. Weeks later, my nightmare came true. Chandler turned my Xbox on to find a flashing red ring. It was curtains for gaming at my house.

Yesterday, I got curious about this mysterious red murderer of Microsoft merchandise (say that five times). As I do when I want to know just about anything, I looked it up on Wikipedia. I learned that the RRoD was three of the four lights flashing. I seemed to remember four lights flashing. I turned my Xbox on and sure enough, four flashing lights. Turns out, four lights simply means that the Audio/Video cable is not connected. I looked behind the machine, found the unplugged cable, and reconnected it. And as I did so, I reconnected with a part of me that has been missing lately: the wide-eyed video game loving kid!

Chandler has already bought NCAA football '09 and is currently playing USC's 08-09 football schedule. This very detailed "Dynasty" process involves calling fictional high school football players and recruiting them! It's insane.

So my Xbox isn't dead. I'm very happy. If you need me, I'll be playing video games... all day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Darndest Things

Me to my students: "If you could be anything in the whole world, what would you be?"
Student: "I'd be a unicorn, because I could fly."
Me: "I think you are referring to a Pegasus."
Student: "Unicorns have a horn, and can fly!"
Me: "Did you know they poop rainbows too!?"
Student, in 100% excitement and total belief to her friend, wide-eyed: "Unicorns poop rainbows!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Share the love

I was overwhelmed today. Not overwhelmed by work, or students, rather overwhelmed by a feeling. I was driving home from Burger Night and thinking about the volleyball game I had attended earlier this afternoon. Over half the 7th grade girls volleyball team is in choir. I went to see them play Opelika this afternoon.
Anyway, back to the drive home from Burger Night. I SO BADLY want my students to love and believe in the power of music as much as I do. But, therein lies the problem. I'm trying to instill something in these kids that I myself cannot even put into words. It's almost like attempting to teach someone how to love. I think it comes down to simply showing them. There are no words I can say to these kids that would make them suddenly fall in love with choral music. I must show them. But how? I'm learning. A lifelong love of music is not something I can teach someone quickly. It may not even be something that I alone can teach them. Perhaps I'm only planting seeds right now that will continue to be nurtured in later years and in later choirs. I can only hope so. Man, I love music.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Out of Shape

I just finished "running" for the first time since the ankle break. I have been wanting to run for weeks. Chandler was going for a jog, I was already wearing running-ish clothes so I thought I'd tag along. If tagging along involves keeping up with someone, then tagging along I was not. I've been doing nothing but eating burgers and watching movies for the last two months! My body feels gelatanous and my blood feels like it's sludging through my veins. It felt good to get out there and be moving more than I have been in two months though. About halfway, I had to start walking. My ankle just isn't 100% yet. Frustration.

A friend of ours just invited Chandler and I over for dinner tonight. Nothing washes down a late August jog better than... chili? This might be a bigger mistake than running with a jacked up ankle.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I love my...

Welcome back to the second edition of I love my Mondays. I'm going to have to dig deep for this one. I mean, everyone hates Mondays, but today was one for the record books. I was awakened mid-dream, which is almost like waking a sleep walker, or taking the virtual reality headset off of someone: dangerous. Right after I got to school at 7:15, there was a knock on my back door. It was one of my practicum students from the University, fifteen minutes early. Now, I don't like to speak in the morning. My dad used to get mad at me because I was silent in the morning. This girl talked my ear off. We went to college together (term used loosely), so we knew each other. Still, I wasn't up for so much cheery conversation that early. Her presence, however, reminded me that I had practicum students coming at all. This added stress. I then remembered (or was reminded by my computer) that I had to teach the special ed class that afternoon during my planning period. Added stress. Later in the morning, I spent an hour in the hallway trying to keep kids quiet as we waited for the storms to pass over.
Later in the afternoon, I got an email saying that all after school meetings were canceled. Well, I had scheduled my choir parent meeting for tonight. This meeting is super important. I look at it as a sales pitch. I need to sell these parents on the whole idea of Choir. I've already sold their kids, but I needed to sell them and get them pumped about supporting and participating in the choral program. When I received the email, I went ahead with plan B. I sent an email to the parents informing of the cancellation. I changed the date on my website. I then found out that I didn't "have to cancel if I didn't want to." .... really? The damage had been done. No parent meeting. I was a little upset, but it's probably for the best. I'm not sure many parents would've ventured out in this weather anyways. I say all this to say that it's kind of hard to think about things that I love on this Monday. However, I know that I am abundantly blessed by the Lord, so here goes:

1) I love Mellow Mushroom: Nothing helps you better wind down after a long day at work than a pint or two of a top dollar brew, for not-top-dollar. Every Monday and Wednesday, Mellow does "Pint night" where all of their draughts are two dollars. Respect.

2) I love my "surrogate" nephew:

I stopped by my good friend John's on the way home from Tuscaloosa yesterday. I finally got to hang out with his son, Matthew. He's awesome. He might be the cutest kid I know. His parents call me Uncle Dan. He dances when I sing. He pushes a dump truck until it crashes into furniture. He can throw a tennis ball harder than I can. This picture was taken shortly after our Axle Rose impersonations.

3) I love my guitar: While I was visiting, John played a recording of some songs I had recorded at camp this year. I was going through some nice equipment that made my voice and my guitar sound really good. I get proud when my guitar sounds really good. It's one of those weird things. Maybe I'm proud that it sounds better than it should, given how much its worth. I don't really know, but it makes me very happy when she's recorded right.

P.S. Don't ask me why the first section of this post is underlined, as if it were a hyperlink. Somehow, it got linked to the picture. Placing pictures mid-post is one of the more frustrating things I've experienced. LJ, any advice?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Perfect Union

One of my best friends, Daniel, got married yesterday. It was incredible. I didn't even have to sing! I just wore a sweet tux, got gifts, and had a blast. It's way easier and less stressful than being a musician at a wedding!
If you know Daniel or his new wife Mary Catherine and you know how much fun the two of them are together, then you can probably imagine how much fun this wedding was. The rehearsal dinner was held at Chuck's Fish in Tuscaloosa. Kind words were shared, fond memories retold, drinks hoisted, tears shed (Lee), and good food eaten! We then went back to the hotel for what you may call the afterparty. We slept late the next morning and had chick-fil-a nuggets in the groom's suite. Later in the afternoon we went for pictures and then it was time for the wedding! It was just surreal. I've been to many weddings, and even weddings of friends. It is a whole new ball game when this friend is one of your lifetime best friends. I was beaming with pride, love, and just joy! I felt 100% sure that these two people were meant to be together. Here are a couple of highlights that made me say to myself "man, I love my friends."
A) Mary Catherine processed down the aisle to a string arrangement (two violins and a cello) of "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the movie Once).
2) and maybe this is a common thing, but these two pulled it off really well. Towards the end of the reception, during all the dancing, Daniel and MC left the room for a while. When they returned, they had changed into "street bride and groom". MC wearing a pearly cocktail dress kind of thing, and Daniel in a black T-shirt, black blazer, and jeans. They made a grand re-entrance and continued dancing like nothing had happened. They were rock stars.

They leave tomorrow on a 50 day trip around the world. Some honeymoon huh? After their trip, they'll drive out to Pasadena, California to begin their new life together. I'm really sad that they will be so far away. That sadness is, however, overshadowed by the pure joy I feel for the two of them. So congratulations Daniel and Mary Catherine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Me Whining

I once heard a theory that the lunar cycle has something to do with the behavior of school children. I haven't checked the lunar cycle lately, but my sixth graders were annoying as all get out today! Can any other teachers out there back me up? What was the deal!? At one point when a student was clicking his pen over and over, I snatched it from his hand and threw it across the room (halfway serious, halfway in jest). I usually can handle four classes of sixth graders. It leaves me completely drained and annoyed by the end of the day, but I can survive. Today, on the other hand, was different. After first period, my patience had dried up. Guess it was just "one of those days". I'll stop whining now.

Tomorrow is going to be awesome.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I love my...

Welcome to the first installment of "I love my Mondays", where I discuss a few things in my life that I really love right now. Let's begin.

1. I love my pencil sharpener. Last year, I had the crappiest pencil sharpener in the whole school. I would have to stop class to wait on kids that were taking forever to sharpen their pencils. No more. My new pencil sharpener is like a mix between a major home appliance and a power tool. It will sharpen a brand new pencil in four seconds.... "and the U.S. takes gold in Olympic pencil sharpening!"

2. I love my alma mater. I recently heard that if Auburn University were competing for itself in the Beijing Olympics, we would be sixth in the medal count! What!? War Olympics!

3. I love my new counter space. Yesterday, my dad came down to Auburn to help me extend the counter space in my kitchen. We went to home depot and bought a four foot section of counter top (similar in color to the existing counter). We cut it up and installed it. Is it perfect? No. Did we punch a large hole in the kitchen wall? Yes. Does it get the job done and look really good for two amatuers? Yes! Thanks Dad!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I am but a small voice

I spent this week doing what many choir directors nationwide are probably doing: voice checks. It's essentially taking inventory of my choristers. A band director knows pretty quickly what he or she is working with (twelve clarinets, eight flutes, six trombones, etc). It's not as easy with a choir. A choir director can pretty much only see that he has x number of boys and x number of girls. From there, he must hear each singer individually to get a sense of things like range, tone, confidence, and overall ability. It takes time. I like to spend five or six minutes on each one. I take the one on one time to get to know the kids a little better. What do they do in their spare time? Do they have any pets? Things like that.

The main thing I've noticed, and it seems to be true for most of humanity is that people are really shy about singing. I do voice checks in my office, separate from the rest of the class. My students are still shy and nervous about singing in front of only me! Why is this? I understand that some of these kids have never sung in a choir before. I'm asking more along the lines of: Why is it an innate thing in humans to be self-conscious of their singing voice? It has caused me to ponder many lofty questions this week. Does our singing voice represent some guarded place deep within us that, once it is out or gets heard, we can never have back? But people sing in the shower, in the car, on the toilet. Are we born thinking that a singing voice is a rare delicacy of which only its owner is allowed to partake? Why are these kids coming into my office with sweaty palms, stiff shoulders, and wandering eyes? I have not yet found these answers. Thus, I'm left with a broad, yet beautifully simple conclusion: the human voice is a sacred instrument. Were it not, it would be far less guarded, protected. So, when people sing for us, perhaps we should feel honored. They are letting us into a secret place within them.

"Music is the purest form of art... therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music... The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside."
- Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet, playwright, and essayist

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another great thing about the olympics

Another great thing about the Olympics is that it is giving us a two week respite from all the political hype going on in America right now. Everybody just take a deep, Beijing-smog-filled breath. Ahhh. Go world.

Happy Birthday Lee.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Now are you Nervous?

Wow. Today was awesome. First day back with students. It was a "blue day" which means I see all four of my seventh grade choir classes. These are kids I taught last year in sixth grade choir. It was great to be able to call roll by just looking at each kid and already knowing their name. It was immediately comfortable and fun. We goofed off, went over rules, talked about what to expect in choir, etc. It was great. I was only slightly nervous this morning (compared to last year, non-existent). I was telling the kids that if it looks like you're not supposed to touch it, don't touch it (mainly speaking of electronics, etc.) I was explaining that, for some reason, electronics attract a large amount of dust. It went like this: "i'm keeping the keyboards covered because they attract a lot of dust. If you've ever noticed, electronics attract a lot of dust. I don't really know why. It must be the..." "SATELLITE!" said Kenny (a very large, hilarious black boy). "Yes, eletronics attract lots of dust because of the sattelite," I reiterated. Great success. We had a faculty meeting right after school and you should have seen us! We were all exhausted! "I look like I've been running through a jungle," one teacher said. "Yeah, you do look kinda jungly," another responded. We survived, nay thrived. I love my job.

Ok. Who saw the men's 4x100 relay last night!? Holy moly. I love the olympics. I was jumping up and down, screaming, going crazy. America.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I've got a pair of headphones. Not earbuds, but headphones. They came in a recording kit I received years ago. They are "studio quality" headphones with the padded, faux leather covered part that goes over your ears. They are really good headphones. In fact, I've had a couple different roommates repeatedly ask to borrow them. Once, my roommate Josh borrowed them. He was getting in his truck with them and didn't get the whole (extremely long) cord all the way into the truck. He drove around that day with the last few feet of the headphone cable dangling out of his vehicle. They survived. They are really good headphones. I was just listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and I swear I heard someone turn pages, or accidentally bump a music stand. Every time I listen to music with these headphones, I hear things I've never heard before. It could be something as small as an egg shaker part or an entire guitar riff that until that very moment went unnoticed. They are really good headphones. Everybody needs a pair of really good headphones.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What a difference a year makes

This time last year, I had no clue what I was doing nor what I was getting myself into. I was about to enter my first year of teaching, fresh out of college. My approach was one of "let's get a year under the belt and then use that experience to guide the future of your career." That is exactly what has happened. My evil plan was carried out quite well. I now have a great sense of direction, motivation, and excitement. A plan, or at least more of a plan. I'll be honest, it feels great to not be a newbie this year. Yet, I still need help. Today, my dear friends Shealy and Holly used their female teachery skills to pimp my bulletin boards (which went undecorated last year, blah). Thanks you two! So I think I'm ready. But am I ever really ready? Who knows. Allow me to get really cheesy for a second. It has been really cool to see teachers getting excited about their jobs. To see teachers that are truly passionate about connecting with, and impacting the lives of kids. And that's how I feel. I do what I do because I love music and I love kids. Ok, enough of that.

Next topic. THE OLYMPICS! Holy crap I love the Olympics! I'm watching the opening ceremonies right now (of course, delayed from their live air time). The passion, the pageantry, the Chinesians. All political issues aside, the Olympics, no matter where they are held, are a chance for the whole world to come together. I love those Visa commercials that say "Go World". I mean yeah, I love America. But, Go World! For me, the Olympics are about the world community. Knowing that most of the world is watching the same thing. It's like a guarantee that there will be good TV on for the next two weeks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I hate shopping.

I have a disability, a directional disability. Seriously, if there were a test of some sort, I would fail. I can walk/drive into an area, have a conversation with someone, and then not remember how to get back out.
Pair that with a supermarket like Target, and I'm done. Here was my afternoon: I left school to go to The Apple Tree, a teacher supply store recommended by a friend. It's in Opelika, so I thought I'd just find it in my GPS (the aderol to my directional ADHD). My trusty GPS couldn't find it. So, I criss-crossed downtown Opelika for about fifteen minutes trying to find it. When I went inside and found the music section, it looked like a pack of wild hyenas had attacked it. There wasn't much left. I got a couple things and, after a ten-minute check out with a less than competent cashier, got back in my car. I then went to Target to get some things for my "new" bed. I think that most women are genetically created to know their way around places like Target. On the other hand, I walked in and wandered around like an idiot. Do they set the sections up just to frustrate me? Shampoo should be RIGHT BESIDE soap! Peas and carrots. Oh no, I had to weave down like eight aisles to find the shampoo. (I know what you just thought, shampoo for your new bed? No, dummy. I needed some other things too). I was tired, hungry, and frustrated. I worked straight through lunch today. I got started on a project and just kept working until I had to be somewhere at 1:00. This definitely contributed to my supermarket grumpiness. But the fun doesn't stop there. I'm about to leave when I notice that a hurricane is just chilling outside of Target. My own personal rain cloud. Screw it- I walked with my buggy to my car in a straight up deluge! People in their cars probably thought I was contemplating suicide, that was the look on my drenched face. I gingerly drove home to find my mailbox sitting wide open, wet mail cowering in the small inadequate cave. It was a pretty miserable afternoon. But there is salvation. Burger night. Thank you Lord for Burger night. Have I told you about Burger night? Eh, that's for another blog.

"I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?" -CCR

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

We were moving out. Senior year of college. There was a nice, big bed in the back room and with the next chapter of my life still undecided, I took it. Had I not, who knows where it would be. This is the bed I slept on for the past year. Almost twice as big as any bed I've ever slept on for any extended period of time, I was moving up in the world. The bed belonged to an older fraternity brother of mine, we'll call him Brad. Brad left Auburn to go sling drinks on a cruise ship or something. A while later, another fraternity brother, we'll call him Riley, moved into my house mid-senior-year. So, Riley borrowed the bed from Brad. Brad entrusted Riley with his bed. Riley leaves town to co-op somewhere. Lease runs up. Neither owner, nor trustee of the bed is present to claim it. Thus, I take it under my wing (or my whole body) and sleep on it for the next year. Then, out of nowhere my roommate, we'll call him Daniel, gets a phone call from Brad saying he's trying to track down his bed (the same bed that he ran away and abandoned two years ago!) Long story short- he'll be moving to Virginia (in like eight months!) and wants his bed back. Really? That's like me leaving a dog somewhere, running away for two years, storming back through town and demanding it back from it's friendly, well-meaning owner. Needless to say I was resistant. He offered to sell it to me... for four hundred and fifty dollars! What!? He wouldn't have even had a bed to be selling had I not taken it from the house! For all he knows, it could be in a dumpster somewhere.
It all went down today. It really couldn't have happened any better. It ended up being move out/in day for my roommate situation. Daniel was moving out, and my new roommate, we'll call him Chandler, was moving in. Brad was storming through town expecting to get a check from me. No ma'am. I called him and told him the house would be open, that my room was the first on the left, and that he could take the bed. I wasn't going to be there, I was out running back to school errands. I came home to a misshapen pile of clothes and other belongings lying vulnerable and exposed. My bed had been taken. I didn't even have to see the skeezer that took it. Hilarious.
I got a twin bed from another friend, we'll call him Lee. I've slept on a twin bed my whole life. Me and a twin bed are like chocolate syrup to ice cream. It's going to be fine. In fact, it's going to be even better. It made my room larger. If you ever come over to my house, please don't laugh at the tic-tac on which I now sleep.

Monday, August 4, 2008

DBBP 2008

What a weekend it was. With cast off and friends in town, we were headed to the beach to celebrate Daniel's last days of single-hood. The cast included Daniel, Lee, Matt, Paul, and myself. We took my car, and I proudly drove with my right foot! We arrived at Matthew's beach house to an overcast sky and white-sandy beaches. Of course, we made a pit-stop at the Tom Thumb for necessary supplies. It was a good night. I can't remember the last time I've been with this exact group of guys. We've been best friends since middle school and had years of hilarious stories to recall. The next day we hit the beach. I ventured out into the ocean to get my butt kicked by the huge waves (a favorite beach past-time of my brother and I). There was a lot of seaweed, but who cares, you're at the beach. After about ten minutes, I felt a long piece of seaweed brush against the back of both of my ankles. This was not, in fact, seaweed; but a gelatinous marine creature bearing tentacles covered with stinging nematocyst cells eager to inject their toxins into my flesh. Great, pick on the gimpy guy. This was no accidental brush with a stray jellyfish tentacle. I got raked on the ankles by a straight up jellyfish. After vinegar treatment and a couple Advil, the stinging subsided.
That night we went into Destin to dine at the Crab Trap. Not only does it boast mountains of steamed crab meat, but it's also the spot where several of us "picked up" three girls from St. Louis many years before. We stuffed ourselves with fine seafood and headed back to the house. I'll leave details to your imagination, but know that we had quite an excellent time.