Tuesday, March 20, 2012

God, Tony Daniels, & the Spoken Word Through the Pony Tailed Man

            It may come as a surprise to a few that I was once was quite religious and even a little pious. All through my high school years, I followed a strict religious code as set forth by the United Methodist Church and my budding moral self. I even considered going into the clergy as a youth minister until I spent my summers working at a Methodist Youth Camp. It was a one of the most powerful experiences in shaping who I am today but it also greatly affected how I began to perceive organized religion. I am not a big fan of it but certainly respect others viewpoints on this.

            My questioning faith doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in a higher being. I just don’t necessarily fall into everyone’s beliefs. For instance, I don’t really believe that one God, out of nowhere, is going to pick me to have a conversation with.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t believe that God or whoever he/she is will speak through others.

            This afternoon I had one of those moments. I don’t know what’s up with me but lately I have been fighting off a major funk. Things are going great for me on the Kim/kids front, the next big thing is progressing nicely (I’ll share what it is later in the month), I have pretty much made dialysis my bitch finally.

            Work has been frustrating and getting me down. I go through this a few times every year.  I know it will be fine but the school grind is getting on my nerves. Most of this pressure comes from feeling powerless. I feel like I am a decent teacher that is always aware there is always room from improvement. Not all but many of the kids are acting out and being quite the a-holes and there is not much I can do about except take it and then write them up. (Not that I’d actually do anything, I was raised better than that). Still it’s frustrating to politely redirect a kid for being late and they cuss at me or mock the way I walk. I have to model better behavior and be forced to be the bigger man. I don’t work well when I am forced into anything except taking the last slice of pie.

            It was also unveiled that our performances are going to be linked to End of Course Tests rather than the Georgia Graduation test. This is a good thing except the powers-that-be are going to start evaluating me on the progress my sped kid do.  Uh oh.

            Now, I am a huge proponent of mainstreaming my sped kids into the regular classroom. I love co-teaching especially when matched up with the right teacher. Every class gives me roughly 10 or so SPED kids to keep up with. Most of these kids are on the ball and give me no grief at all. On the other hand, there is always about 3 or so kids that come to school for reasons other than education. I am guessing they must really dig the lunchroom’s pepper steak and yeast roll combo. Did I mention our evaluations with merit pay are going to be based on performance too? Say goodbye to the St. Augustine Honeymoon with Kim. Hello, Staycation over at the Day’s Inn in Vidalia and their glamorous Onion Festival.
Welcome to Hinesville's Finest B&B. Want some Chex Mix?

            Those-Powers-that-Be also filter our internet like crazy so I have to wait until I get home to check my Facebook and other sites. Sometimes I can sneak onto my phone and catch a quick read but for some reason my phone kept dropping internet today.

            I think I know why. Growing up on a college campus, I got to be friends with students who were older than me. A few of those people I actually look up to like they were my real big brother. Tony Daniels is one of those two people. Tony sent me a message on Facebook and I had to wait until about an hour ago to finally read it. After the day I’ve had, this video made a much larger impact now then if I have been able to watch it this morning during planning. Thanks, Bubba. You always know just what I need to hear to fight the good fight. And thanks to whoever is in charge up above that prompted my friend to send this my way. I plan on sharing this at work tomorrow.

            Now if someone will share some lottery numbers because I have a wedding to plan.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In Which We Learn How Bingo Leads to Love....

Last night, the kids went to church which means Kim and I had the opportunity to have a “date night.” We grabbed that sucker with both hands tightly. I was starving but could tell Kim had her heart set on sushi. Not any sushi but the one at Fuji.

Fuji is a special place for us because that was where we met face to face for the first time last year. Somehow it has become that place that all couples refer to as “our place.” We dine there every so often. Every time we eat, Kim always loves to point out how nervous and reserved I was.

I always play this comment off but it always tickles me on a secret level. I was nervous. Her picture was stunning and way out of the league I was used to playing in. Kim always says she was just as nervous as me but I find that hard to believe. I had not been that nervous since my theatre days back at Young Harris right before I’d walk onto a scene.  

Kim and I met on E-harmony a little over a year ago. Coming out of bad relationships, we were both more than a little trepidations about the whole dating thing. I also recognize that while I am a nice guy with noble intentions, I can be a little “off the wall” and hard to take at times. Up to this point, I had my offbeat sense of humor dialed down to about a 2 as compared to its normal rating of 38.

Kim and I were in the process of getting acquainted through e-mails and we both were being quite honest but also quite reserved. Today marks the day that I realized just how sharp witted Kim is and began to relax a little bit.  
OK, it took us a bit to get this relaxed around each other...

We had been swapping e-mails about our interests. Do you like to travel? How did you end up in Savannah? What do you do in your time off?  Simple questions that are a hint of our personalities but still very much camped out in the safe region of familiarity.

I guess that was when Kim got brave and decided to damn the torpedoes.  She had sent me an e-mail stating her obsessive love for bingo. Needless to say, I was not expecting this from a single, young mother of two. It threw me for a moment. BOOM! went the joke grenade and I a big smile went across my face as I realized this girl was not just beautiful but also funny.

That gave me all the nudging I needed and began to amp up my sense of humor too. I believe my response involved the opening line of “You had me a G8, B5, & D4.” It was on after that and has been going on ever since.

Wookies need love too.

A year ago Kim came into my life followed by the two little ones which made the biggest change in my life yet. It’s been also the best. Kim hits all the big points with me. She’s gorgeous, very intelligent, talented but most of all, she is funny. Don’t let the sweet mom act fool you. She has a wit that is on par with my little sister and possible even Susan Scarbrough. (My highest praise). Best of all, she gets my sense of humor and lets me, be me. (Which is no small order at times)
Party City & Toys R Us is never a good place to take me.

Thank you, Kim for taking a chance a year ago. It changed both of our lives and made me the happiest man on earth next to an old lady playing Bingo with her lucky troll doll and an unlimited supply of fluorescent Bingo pens.

I8,        L2, O3, V4,  E6,         Y4,  O8,  U9

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Regrets, I have a few.....

            Teachers rarely just get to teach. On top of all the basic requirements, I have a duty post during my planning period. It doesn’t sound that bad but mine is to monitor the cafeteria line in the lunchroom. I hate it.

            The upside is that I enjoy my walk in front of the building every day. Ever since my first year, I have always commented to myself how lucky I am to have a campus with palm trees and live oaks everywhere. I find them beautiful and they always make me feel like I am home.  The azaleas have started blooming and that always gets me psyched for spring. Out of the entire flora down here, I think azaleas are my favorite.

            Whenever I see the azaleas start to bloom, I have the same memory. I was in 9th grade and we came down to Savannah for the weekend in the family station wagon. In my high school days, I wanted to be an artist so I spent most of my free time drawing or painting. About this time I had gotten into watercolors and was even taking lessons from one of the Big Guy’s colleagues, Vee Brown. I loved every Tuesday afternoon with Vee. He wasn’t just a good artist and great teacher but he also enjoyed people. He had no problems listening to ramblings of a 14 year old Robby. Often we’d discuss science fiction/fantasy movies and Vee would always make these amazing sound effects to accentuate the conversation.

            Once the Big Guy told me a story about how Dr. Hale once stopped Vee and asked him to make the sound of a DC-10. Vee didn’t miss a beat and replied,” Landing or taking off?” Then did both.

            Vee was working with me on landscapes and I just wasn’t getting it. My primary focus had always been acrylics but now we were on watercolors and that is a whole different game. I couldn’t get the hang of it. Vee suggested I paint something that had meaning to me.

            I had decided I’d work on the landscape during the Savannah trip to Grandma and Pop. My subject would be my grandfather’s azaleas. I always loved how bright they were and the driveway would almost be a flowery tunnel of pinks, whites, red and oranges as we’d drive up to the house.  

            Later on during Saturday, I had done all my grandparent chores like washing the LTD, helping Pop out in getting the garden going, and mowing. I finally had some time for myself so I sat down to paint. It did not go well.

            Watercolor is working with layers and I just couldn’t get my eye to match up with the process. What I completed was a dripping, pink and white mess. I was getting ready to ball the damn thing up when I heard my Pop whistle behind me.

            “Buddy, (he always called my buddy) you’ve got some eye there.” He said with a proud grin.

            I was shaking my head in disbelief, “Pop, it looks like crap and you know it.”

My grandfather shook his head and made a hissing sound. Pop was a master of many sounds to show disagreement. The hissing sound would usually indicate a strong dislike of the most recent comment said.

“You are just not looking at right. You take that picture up to New York City and get one of the crazies pay you top dollar for that.” Pop paused and continued, “It’s just all about how you look at it. You see crap, son. I see art. I can’t do that. “

My Pop was like that. He could see the beauty in life that people miss. He always joked about how he could never draw a straight line or be an artist but in his own way, he was our own Michelangelo. The reason we had these amazing azaleas was from all the time Pop spent working in the yard. Even though he had a 3rd grade education, he’d taught himself about gardening, cross breeding, and even created some different types of plants just by experimenting.
At the end of every trip, Pop would arrange and cut several pieces of azaleas along with his prize winning camellias in a box lid lined with wet Spanish Moss. He’d wink and tell me that’s the secret to keep ‘em alive for the 7 hr. trip home.

Those azaleas were a canvas for Pop to paint on and he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces I’ve ever seen. I’d have about another five years to watch the master work. I foolishly spent that time not learning from him but going to the Mall and enjoying the perks that Savannah brought a stupid kid isolated in the mountains.

People always ask about my sister and me and I am always quick to say Mary is the smart one of the two while I am the PR guy. I’ve know this since she was a middle schooler and it goes all back to this. Mary had written a poem for class and picked Pop and his azaleas as the subject. To show transformation, Mary wrote about how beautiful and bright the flowers were when Pop was younger and healthier. As he grew older, his azaleas also showed the signs of aging. They were bright but not  as bright. They began to grow out of shape and a bit wild until they finally they were not in their prime  just like Pop.

We are probably about a a week or so before the azaleas are in full bloom. It makes me feel good to see them arrive because I know spring is around the corner and soon everywhere is going to be lit up in a vibrant floral explosions. I'm not only ready for spring but also the memories I get experience about my Pop. If I can corner Roni and Jude long enough, I'll might tell them about my grandfather and how he'd paint with flowers instead of paint.
  Part of me wants to also use this as a tale of warning and to be sure to pay attention to all these little details that families pass down. After a few minutes of thinking about how I'd share it, I just shake my head and move on. Artists are rarely appreciated in their own time.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better

My sister often jokes that her main job in the family is keeping me on task which is no small affair. Though, I have never been diagnosed w/ ADD, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that I have it. I am thrown off center easier than a cheap compass. On the day of my wedding, I actually quit dressing so I could put together a kite because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I get these amazing notions but rarely finish them to completion because something shinier comes along and distracts me.  
There's a squirrel?

            I started this blog over a year ago for a few reasons. 1) I wanted to begin writing stories about the Savannah that is shrinking away. 2) I needed to learn how to write in a way that would be entertaining. 3) I wanted to work on my storytelling skills and document the all the crazy shit before Hollywood steals my story.

            The Five Year plan for the Afternoon Tide was to compile stories and eventually a pod cast to show case aspects about Savannah that we are losing. In the process, I also have another project where I create my tour. The whole thing goes to print; I quit teaching, and become a quirky man about town.  Easy Peasy.

            Well, folks, it’s been over a year but today I walked out of the Bull Street Public Library with an armload of research and an article to write. The next big thing is underway and I am pretty psyched. It hit me just what a geek I am as I poured over old Savannah Morning News clippings dating back to the 30s and 40s. Several times, I could hear the Big Guy whispering over my shoulder about not sneaking any free copies out of the library. I felt at home.
I suspect my new home away from home.

            That’s how things are going for me these days. I feel at home. Distractions pop up like that stupid dog on the old NES Duck Hunt Game yet somehow I am staying on course. I honestly thought I’d be getting the Tide off the ground back over the summer but life popped up with my hemo-dialysis training.  I tried to get back on track once school started but I spent my fall and most of the winter trying to get down how to properly stick myself. I made it through and now am back on track.

            It amazes just how much things can change within a year. Last Saturday was my one year anniversary with Kim. We spent it over a romantic dinner of Dos Sequis Amber and the worst nachos I ever had while we waited to pick up the kids from a friends’ birthday party at Frames and Games. Afterwards, we rushed to the KIA dealership so I could pick up my new (pre-owned) Optima to replace my now dead Nissan.

            I have been laughing at myself ever since because while I love my new car, it was pointed out to me this morning at school that Robby is now driving a family car. I guess my transformation to the Dark side is now complete.
I am very excited about Bring Your Jedi to Work Day

            I have made a lot of changes and major decisions in my life over the past 12 months. For the most part, I feel like there were the right ones for me to make. In spite of obstacles, I just keep plowing on and staying on task.

I get a lot of ribbing and jokes about how the love of a good woman can change a man. I don’t deny that at all. Kim’s influence over me has been a major positive in my life. What we share has made me a better man than I ever was before. I also know that I finally figured out what just is important to me and I know that I can accomplish those goals.     Good things are happening because I am making the right choices and following through. Feels good.

I have sat back and realized how much I have changed several times over the past year. Today it really hits home as I find myself surfing the internet looking at funny family car window decal stickers. You’ve seen them. The stick figure family doing various things like being Georgia Fans, surfing, or with Mouse Ears. It has taken me a few days of searching but I have discovered the perfect Family Decal for me. StarWarsSpoofs.com has actual characters so I am pretty psyched about showing up to work next week w/ Han Solo (me), Princess Leia (Kim), Ahsoka (Roni), and Li’l Boba Fett (Jude). That should get ‘em talking in the break room.