30 December 2006

Afternoon respite

Lounging and enjoying a glass or two of dry red wine is very nice indeed. It helps put off the more frustrating thoughts about the upcoming New Year. Only one more day until 2007, and I'm ready to start a new year. However, I could use a little more time before returning to school. This last semester was an arduous trial without a real planning period. This next semester will be one step more difficult, a fifth level of French to teach. Please, send help.

20 December 2006

French ogre

I must have been Mr. Mean this semester. Although I don't teach so that I get Christmas cards or little gifts, it is nice to be remembered. Perhaps the stress of teaching an extended schedule shortened my patience just a bit too much.

There was one in 85 that did think of me as other than a grumpy giant. Thanks. I appreciate being remembered more than you can realize. Teaching isn't really a thankless job, and I'm glad that sometimes I reach students beyond the classroom. Joyeux Noël à tous!

27 November 2006

Holiday doggie dangers

What a harrowing night!

Whilst I worked away teaching French to my students, my dog decided to eat a small Christmas ornament. Don't assume he was home alone. My father, bless him, could not begin to keep up with my dog who, if a toddler, would be in the midst of his terrible twos. Despite grandfatherly vigilance, my Beau chomped on a tiny glass snowman and ingested a few little jagged bits. However, it wasn't until nearly 6 PM that the dog decided to regurgitate those bits onto the floor.

Panic sets in quickly.

Being a father and a pet owner, the adrenaline can get going just as easily when either loved one is in a potentially dangerous condition. I was on the way to the vet and speed dialing the clinic's number in less than 5 minutes. Fortunately my decade trusted veterinarian was able to reassure me, and instead I needed only to stop at the drugstore for some stomach remedies and to monitor my dog through the night.

Fortunately, within a few hours the vomiting tapered into to peacefully puppy sleep.

Thank goodness for generic pink bismuth, bread slices and patience.

19 November 2006

Surprise, surprise

Well, my extremely wonderful and generous boyfriend, coupled with a nice translation job has helped realize part of my holiday wish list.

The kids and John will receive custom engraved iPods in their stockings this Christmas: (Product)red nano for my daughter, silver nano for my son, and video for John. I don't know that much else will be under the tree, but I think Santa will get rounds and rounds of applause this year.

Those of you out there wondering what to get now that this is done, there's always room for iTunes gift cards or an introductory eMusic subscription. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

09 November 2006

Youth Today

They are so worth it! Trust me. I've been lucky enough as a teacher to see many students that I'm glad will be running the country when I'm in my twilight years. But today, I was given the reassurance that open-minded, well intentioned, concerned young people are out there. Even one a school year gives me hope. I know the hope isn't lost.

02 November 2006

For my hero N...

When you receive your teaching license and a principal gives you a classroom, they tell you that students will consider you a role model and that you will serve as a mentor to young people. What they don't tell you is that some of the students will think of you as more than that: friend, brother, father, hero. That last one is a stunner.

This year it really has hit me just how intently my students watch and observe me. They want to know everything about me, and I don't really want to let them all see too much. But sooner or later you get students that, basically, you love. There are certain ones that you care so deeply for that when they hurt, so do you. When they laugh, you can't help but smile. When they triumph, you rejoice. I care about all my students. I want them all to succeed. But every now and again, I have one or two that I want to see make it to the moon, to the sun, to farthest, brightest star. They come in small waves, students whose future it's as if I can see it laid out before me, little signposts ahead where they can stop and be great. Somewhat selfishly, I hope they'll look back from that future greatness and maybe nod or wave in thanks.

What kind of student inspires that esteem from a teacher? It's sometimes the child who speaks French like a prince of Versailles and could be a great artist. Another one wants to be a Navy pilot but decides to go to Tech. Other times it's the girl who decides the teacher's alma mater will be hers, too. Once it was the boy who took his own life, and you couldn't foresee or stop the tragedy. Or it can be the boy who wears cool pants, plays guitar and gets arrested.

In some ways, they become like my own children though I do not try to supplant their parents. Because I am the teacher, I cannot be a friend. They trust me, so I do not betray them...ever! Instead, I awake at 2:15 worried whether my recommendation letter was good enough, whether that unbearable sadness is over now, whether that one is safe at home.

So to all teachers, tread lightly. Know that you are someone's hero. Love your students like you would your own children. Be careful. Be honest. Don't try to be cool. Be kind. Keep high expectations. Reserve disappointment and show it with care. Direct criticism toward improvement.

For N..., thanks for the hard work, the trust, the music, the stick figures, the finished homework, the laughter, the respect.

02 October 2006

Cable's new anti-hero

Dexter on Showtime (www.sho.com) is the latest interpretation of the anti-hero from the cable network.  Starring Michael C. Hall of HBO's Six Feet Under, the series realizes Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter.  I've never read the book, though I've read "slasher" fiction before.  It's well acted; however, I don't care for all the narration.  It would almost be better I think if Dexter just spoke directly to the camera.

Despite the presence of chopped and mangled victims in some scenes, it's really not the most gruesome thing on television.  Not actually seeing all the gore makes for better mental imagery that I can edit myself as needed.  Definitely, the show targets a more intellectual audience and less the teen market.  The parallel with the evil serial killer makes for an interesting plot line that I hope will carry it well through the season without being over played.  Let's hope there series keeps quality without cashing the gore check.

28 September 2006

Holiday wish list

  • my parents to be here for Thanksgiving
  • my children to live here with me and to visit their mother only every other weekend and half the school vacations
  • my boyfriend to have a job he enjoys within 50 miles of our home
  • an iPod Nano for each of my children and my boyfriend
  • a 14 karat gold class ring for my graduate degree that I earned 6 years ago
  • tickets to Paris for my children, my boyfriend and me
  • Trading Spaces or While You Were Out to refurbish and restyle my classroom
  • a clear heartworm test for my dog Beau
  • regular, small translation jobs that pay well


Now that the cool winds swirl down upon me from the North Georgia mountains, I find it difficult not to look upon the might-have-beens of the year as it draws to a close. Another year has passed where I did not travel to France. Another year has passed where I have not taken any courses to renew my teaching certificate. I feel as if I am in a kind of limbo but not knowing either what lies beyond the boundaries of that limbo. Work is challenging only because there is not even a second to breathe between classes. My own lack of organization leaves me struggling with small mounds of paperwork to complete at home on a nightly basis. Only seeing my children every other weekend and my boyfriend only two days a week leaves me emotionally drained.

However, I am on the road to repair, even if only in the most literal of senses. After more than a decade since chipping the pearl in it, I have sent of my university class ring to be replaced. The watch that my boyfriend gave me and that I broke by accident is finally on its way to the warranty center to have the crystal and batter made anew. My car will have a new visor soon thanks to a solid warranty from Hyundai. So on a very material level, all is not in limbo, simply in a wait queue or in postal transit. By the time the holidays approach in earnest, perhaps my outlook will have changed for the better.

22 August 2006

Windows everywhere

It seems that as Vista approaches, Windows is inserting itself everywhere through the Windows Live interface.  One can even access a blog through Windows Live, as I'm doing now.  I'm not sure what has become more pervasive: Windows or the government.

16 August 2006

Hoya makes the world better

Tonight I watched Charles Gibson on ABC News tell the world how my classmate, Dikembe Mutombo, had built a hospital in DR Congo (formerly Zaire) in honor of his mother. I remember at my graduation from Georgetown's School of Languages and Linguistics how my grandfather had gone up to the herculean basketballer to congratulate him on his success on the court and in his education. Peeved would hardly begin to describe my emotion when I had wanted my grandparents to focus on my academic achievements. But in the end, I see how much Dikembe Mutombo has done for his home country, for the image of the NBA, for the reputation of professional athletes, for the betterment of humanity. I'm proud to have shared a classroom with him, proud also to call myself a Hoya of the Class of '91, proud to live on the same planet. Congratulations, Congo, on your new hospital.

13 August 2006

Airport security

After watching news events unfold over the last few weeks--Iraq, Lebanon, Britain [pick a website, any website]--I find that the pundits, politicians and podcasters have reveled in the FUD (fear, uncertainty & doubt) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FUD] that makes for great ratings but little useful information. In a report on local news in the Atlanta area, a soundbite hit the proverbial nail on the head for me: authorities need to be looking for dangerous people, not potentially dangerous things. Denying a baby it's pacifier, keeping a teenaged boy or girl from his or her iPod--now that's crazy. I understand security, but I don't understand paranoia.

06 August 2006

La rentrée / Back to school

Tomorrow begins another year of teaching. This will be No. 12 for me. I am getting older every day. Yikes! For the first time ever, my schedule is simply chocked full of students. My day has no room for planning as I am on an extended schedule...for the entire year! The good news is that I have 6 students going all the way to French V. I may very well get that AP class next year. In the meantime, I'm going to have to stay on top of my lesson plans, so that I don't get overwhelmed. Fortunately, only 3 out of 8 of my classes are comprised of students completely new to me. The rest are all students matriculating to the next level of French studies. Being the only French teacher at my school, I have the great advantage of observing students as they mature and another in developing a strong teacher-student bond with them. It's going to be a very good year; I can feel it.

05 July 2006

Superman Returns

Last Saturday the four of us went to see Superman Returns. Mr. Brandon Routh is a great Clark Kent and a super Superman. Kevin Spacey was maniacally convincing as Lex Luthor. What intrigues me most is whether Warner Bros. will keep Jason White in future installments to this newest incarnation of the Superman universe. I am a big fan of the Son of Krypton, especially in movies and on TV. My only regret is not building the comic collection during my youth. At least there were my best friend Evan's copies of DC comics to peruse as often as I could. My advice: go see the movie, even if only to drool over the Man of Steel.

13 June 2006

Sun & art

Apart from reading while I sun beside the pool, I enjoy sketching the environment whether man-made or natural. With some mental editiing, I removed the fencing, safety equipment, picnic table and the rules sign. I liked the composition.
Then I decided to paint this scene. Finally, I cracked open the travel watercolor set that my boyfriend John gave to me this past Christmas. The little paint pans were difficult to open with my fat fingers, but after getting it all setup, I think I put together a nice little painting. But for proportion and balance, I believe the sketch is superior.

09 June 2006

You say it's your birthday?

Well, it's my birthday, too (and Donald Duck's). A whopping 37 years I've been on this Earth. Today my boyfriend surprised me with a ring. It's not a "commitment" ring, but it's beautiful: titanium with a blue topaz stone. I love it. My children gave me funny greeting cards. Thank goodness there were no ties or belts or wallets. For the most part, this has been a day like any other. Do I feel any older today? I don't know if it's just today, but I do feel that in the last year, I have aged. There are ten extra pounds that have crept back around my waist. They've got to go. All the bad carbs need to get out of the house. So do I. More walks with Beau, more swimming at the pool - and not just sunning - and perhaps, I can whip myself back into some kind of shape. There's no way I'm padding my midsection like I used to do. I don't want my daughter to start calling me Santa Claus again.

07 June 2006

Gay terminology that you might not know

Geritwink [dʒє-ri-twiηk], n. The aging queen who dresses and behaves as if the two digits of her age were reversed, i.e., a 51-year old with the exposed midriff and short shorts, prancing about as if she were still 15 (from Indo-European ĝer-, to ripen, grow old + Gay American slang twink, a young, fit and attractive male, usually with less-than-average intellect, possibly from the Hostess brand Twinkie snack food).

30 May 2006


In my first four years at Northgate, Page and Marie would accompany me to school on teacher planning days only to claim they were bored out their minds, they hated coming with me, that all the other children of teachers were allowed to have so much more fun. Today, however, by the simple whim of an anxious father, I kept them with me all day rather than taking them to their grandparents by lunchtime. Page and Marie clung to me throughout day like socks to a sweater fresh from the dryer. I coaxed them into making rounds to say hello to teachers that knew them and to introduce them to a few new faces. We made a little movie theater in my room using the DVD player and the large projection screen. They ate their Lunchables and snacks and helped me clean my classroom. Their only lament was that they weren't going to be spending all my planning days at Northgate with me. God, I miss them so terribly every day. Two years seems like torture, but they will pass.

28 May 2006

« A Brand New Car ! »

If only these had been the words of Bob Barker.
Instead, it's what I acquired on my own last weekend. "My own" meaning that I signed the loan papers all by myself. John only came along with me to help finagle a lower monthly payment. Fortunately, I was also able to get a good trade-in value for my old, road-weary Saturn.
My new Elantra is kind of sexy and very fun. The hatchback gives some room for Beau when I take him along with the kids and me. It drives easily with tight handling and sporty suspension. The kids like riding in it and are enjoying the "new car smell" as much as I do. To top it all off, the warranty will last as long as the loan!

27 May 2006

School's out for summer!

Working with students is very rewarding, but I needed a freaking break from the business of teaching. With all the personal upheaval I've felt at home relating to the recent custody hearing, I've found school to be especially taxing the harder I've tried not to let my personal life interfere. I've leaned on my students, and honestly, without their support, I wouldn't have got through the ordeal. Although my own children are with me only 1/3 of the year, I had 65 others with me 5 days a week professing their faith in me as a teacher and a father. I really do have awesome students, and I'm grateful to have worked with all of them this year.

08 May 2006

« Bachelor » dinner

I'm not exactly a bachelor, but I have too many nights home alone. When money is tight and there's not much food to go on at home, I've learned to improvise.

on medium-high heat warm 3 Tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet
add 1/2 a sweet onion chopped and "sweat" it in the pan
add one Idaho potato diced with skin
add 4 Tbsp random chopped herbs (I used parsley, oregano, lavender, rosemary and sage)
let this sautee until the edges of the potato pieces turn white
then add about 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (I used a California blend)
next I added two Boca brand frozen vegetarian Italian sausages
then 1/3 cup liquid (I used water and Grey Goose vodka)
cover and let simmer until potatoes are tender enough to cut with a fork
MMMMM...Was it good!

1/2 a multigrain bagel... toasted
about 15 or dark choclate chips (I used Ghirardelli 70% cocoa baking pieces)
1 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
place the chips on the freshly toasted bagel and then "nuke" that for about 10 to 15 seconds
then shmeer on the peanut butter
[Anyone who claims this isn't delicious is lying out his ass!]

22 April 2006

It's been 9 days...

...since I lost the custody hearing with my ex-wife over our children. It's been nine days of despair.

07 March 2006

Kennel cough

Training a new dog so that he can be successfully acclimated to your home is a challenge in itself. Throw in some rambunctiousness along with just a touch of stubbornness, then add a case of kennel cough, and you've got the makings of a very long night indeed. Beau, my new dog, is a sweet addition to our home. He's good natured and seems to learn quickly. However, when he came to sounding as if he'd cough up a Mack truck, I got very worried. Thank goodness for the doctors at Dogwood Veterinary Hospital (www.dogwoodvet.com) who assuaged my fears over the phone and Beau's cough in their clinic. Dr. Johnson's calm advice during a 4 AM call helped Beau to get some rest and me to get some peace of mind. At least I was able to clean up the phlegm and vomit without too much difficulty. The medines seem to be helping him, and everyone is getting some needed rest.

11 February 2006

New Technology

Getting a new computer may seem like a great step, especially when its predecessor had actually died; however, setting up the new computer is not treat when you've data to recover all messed together in some crazy dump of an old hard drive. Next step during this coming week will be cleaning up data off my kids computer that served as an interim device for me for more than a month. The tax return is wiped out, but I've got a good machine having taken a little less for video card at 128 MB of RAM there, but with a faster Intel processor. It's a Gateway, which is a brand that has served me quite well in the past. Now I hope that when Windows Vista hits the market, this computer will be adequately equipped to handle the upgrade.

iPod update: over 1500 songs and more than 1200 photos in only 7 gig of data. I love it!

05 February 2006


I love my new video iPod.

29 January 2006


Te amo, corazón is a nice song, easy to hear, but a boring video. Prince's music has always been a delight to me even if at times only because of its variety in style and complexity. His abandonment of sexual funkadelic has not diminished his abilities as a songwriter. Still, the flavor of his music videos could become bland. If he can put out a good dance video next, with some popping choreography, it would be a good move. More than likely, I'll buy the album and not simply to keep my collection intact.

07 January 2006

Gene Shalit needs to learn to separate criticism from dimwitticism

Please read this article and view the clip linked there before reading my post: http://www.glaad.org/action/alerts_detail.php?id=3849#. Thank you.

Normally, I'd just let inflammatory comments slide. Although my family might accuse me of soapboxing from time to time, it's not my style to do so.

Gene Shalit certainly has every right to his entire opinion of the film Brokeback Mountain and his characterization of the roles there portrayed. However, as a respected media figure, his choice of "sexual predator" was not the best. I would even agree the nascent moments of Jack and Ennis's sexual relationship were very aggressive, and one could certainly describe it as violent, but Mr. Shalit's cleverly coined quotes demonstrate more a misinterpretation of gay male relationships. Instead, the accusatory label obfuscates the intention of the film by categorizing and marginalizing homosexual men.

The two men that Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger carefully ensconce in their performances are but one microcosm of male sexuality, and by no means does this film serve as an example of how all men are - gay, straight, bi or whatever. The fierce debut of their affaire reflects their fear of the rest of the world; the infrequent trysts are the more like the installments of Harry Potter novels - addictive, intense, too few and far between, understood to have an eventual end that hope tries to keep at bay but cannot.

Humbly, I would submit that this film by Ang Lee is not so very different than Robert Mulligan's film adaptation of Same Time, Next Year. The lack of much comedy in Mr. Lee's film is a good mirror of the lack of humor that most Americans have one the subject when they remember that being gay has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, show tunes or home makeovers. It has everything to do with men loving each other and having sex with each other. Brokeback Mountain is more about choices that all people make concerning relationships, love, marriage and family. Because the two lead characters are men who want each other, a lot of people will choose not to see this movie. Unfortunately, Mr. Shalit's choice of words may mean that even more will not.