Mr. Jay Falls, English Teacher Extraordinaire

On one of my essays, my eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Falls, wrote: “Like a world-class athlete, a writer like you should write every day!” (It was something close to that, anyway—I can’t seem to locate A Day in the Life of a 40-Year-Old College Freshman right now. I do still have it somewhere.)

Mr. Falls was a bit of in inspiration to me; at the very least, he was a wake-up call of sorts. I’d been fairly good at writing ever since that experimental creative writing course my school system tried when I was in third grade—the Developmental Writing Program, it was, or DWP. We learned to use adjectives and adverbs and big vocabulary words and our writing as a class became insanely flowery. By eighth grade, though, my writing style had finally begun to gel, and Mr. Falls noticed and encouraged that.

He was the teacher who passed out the list of “Demons” —I forget how many there were. Twenty, or 40. Anyway, they were the two, too, and to; which and witch; who, which, and that; there, their, and they’re; lay and lie; allot and a lot; et cetera. He was also the teacher who read Poe’s The Telltale Heart aloud and with such dramatic fervor that the entire class could practically hear the disembodied heart beating beneath the floorboards. He was the teacher who told us about the girl who chewed gum while playing volleyball and choked and died—and on a team he coached or assisted, I believe. He was the teacher who called me out in front of the class for ordering too advanced of a book (Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) through the Scholastic Book Club, and made me defend my selection. He was the teacher who told us about the Kent State shootings and made us all cry at the injustice of it all.

He also took me and a group of other decent writers, both from our advanced class and from the “normal” class, to the Power of the Pen contest. In this contest, each student had 40 minutes to write a coherent essay on a topic which wasn’t revealed until the beginning of the time limit. None of us placed, but we all felt like we’d accomplished something just by having been asked to be on the team. —Come to think of it, though, the team did attend the regional competition in Kent; so, we either did better than I recall, or the regional wasn’t an invitational sort of competition.

That regional competition yielded one of the best alliterations I’ve ever come up with, mainly because it was a 20-minute-long collaboration amongst the whole team. We were sitting in the auditorium before the competition, waiting for Mr. Falls to go onstage, collect our folders, and return to pass them out to us. As he proceeded up the stairs with the throng of other middle-school English teachers, he caught a toe on the stage and tripped. Of course, we were all watching him and giggled, saying, “I hope Mr. Falls doesn’t fall!” Which, after some giggly discussion (yes, even the boys giggled), became:

I hope Mr. Falls doesn’t fall through the floor with his folders because of the flab that runs in his family.

And the fact that I can still remember the exact phrase after 15 years should tell you how impressed with ourselves we were.

Anyway… Mr. Falls, wherever you are, here’s to you.

As a side note…

It’s really weird to come across someone’s images folder and surf through it. (Caution: Some adult content. Some disturbing content. Some random content in Italian.)

Growing Up

Aunt Sammie, Michael, and Anne: February 2004

Oh my goodness. My little cousin Michael is an adult now, and has been for some time. He’ll be 20 in October. Wow.

I never had a real sibling growing up, so back then, Michael was the closest thing I had to a brother. He’s eight years younger than me, and has some psychological/behavioral issues—so, although I always loved and respected him, it wasn’t until he was well into his teens that I felt I could connect with him in a “grown-up” way.

Of course, after Mom married my first stepdad, I had two stepsisters and two stepbrothers, but only felt even remotely close to my one stepsister, Dawn, who was two years older than me. And once I was in college, Mom married Gary, at which point I got Philip as a stepbrother. He’s two years younger than Michael, but more socially well-adjusted. (Well, maybe I should just say he’s not autistic like Michael and leave it at that.)

Anyway, I didn’t really have the same kind of relationship with any of my step-siblings like I did with Michael, because I never really lived with them. I only lived with Michael until he was about four, but after Mom married Tom and we moved out, we still came over to visit every Sunday after church, and sometimes during the week. Then, when Mom divorced Tom, we moved back into the same apartment complex and would see or talk to the rest of the family multiple times a week. We were really a close family back then.

Now, look at us. Mom and Gary in Parma, me in Toledo, Sammie with her significant other in South Carolina, Michael nearby in a boys’ home, Memaw dead and gone, and none of us really keeping in touch very much—except when Mom and I talk every now and then, and visit on holidays and special occasions. There’s something kind of sad about that.

But I’ve strayed from my point, which was how much my little cousin Michael has grown. My goodness.

*shakes head*

Carpe Diem

I would now like to apologize for being such a damn whiner in my last post.

I spent some quality time surfing around Tomato Nation and reading random long-forgotten personal sites in my bookmarks. Ended up reading Eric Schroeder’s blog, and got an earful (screenful?) of what I needed:

its that time of the year again: time to LIVE. that’s right, no more of this crap i’m doing now. you’ve heard the arguments before, but i’ll present them again:

make it a day. why? today’s not just any day. some people get married today. some people die. some have their first child. imagine having your firstborn son or daughter today! you’d always, always remember it as one of the happiest days of your life. so the fact that you’re probably not having your first child today doesn’t mean that you can’t make today one of the most memorable and happy days of your life.

so live for it. don’t let it pass you by. what can you say you did today? sit in an office, talk on IM, is that all? some people died today. and they don’t have ‘today’ any more. sometimes i feel like i need to seize and take hold of today just out of respect for those who can’t.

so make it a day. do something great. look at a calendar and know that you lived life to the fullest each day. don’t fake your way through life. don’t eek your way through life either. take it, grab hold, and live it.

So, enough whining. I have a kitty on my lap, music on my WinAmp, and friends on IM. All is right with the world.

Feh.

I don’t know what my problem is. I feel all blah. To be a little more specific, I feel extremely bored and disconnected. I think my attempt at marathon websurfing is my brain trying to combat my disconnectedness.

FYI, my definition of “bored” isn’t necessarily “there’s nothing to do,” but more of “nothing I can think of sounds good.” I mean, I could go make some candles, or I could put my clothes away, or I could exercise or practice my mellophone, or I could try to find something on TV. I could even go eat. But none of that sounds good.

I feel physically bleh, too, which isn’t helping. Either the Slim-Fast low-carb snack bars or the sugar-free Halls cough drop I had at work today acted (as promised) with a “laxative effect” —eww. Actually, it’s more of a grumbly-gassy-slightly-queasy effect for me during the day, culminating in said final effect upon arrival home after work. On top of that, my lower back’s been all funky and feeling out-of-place for the past couple of days (and nights); and, of course, once I got that all stretched out and cracked and popped and what-have-you, my left ankle / heel / Achilles tendon started feeling all funky and tight and making me limp. I have no clue what I did to make it do that. And the back of my neck/shoulder hurts, too, like something’s grinding wrong. Oh, and don’t forget the band-aids on my right thumb and left toe where I’m trying to finally stanch the wart epidemic I’ve been experiencing. (Don’t worry, they’re common warts. Says so on the Compound W box.)

Am I a freaking wreck, or what?

I’m gonna go find something to do. Hopefully. Blah. *sigh*

I Need More Reading Material

There’s something pathetic about this. I just spent an hour surfing off of strangers’ blogs and websites, looking for some new daily online reading material. I have about three friends who update their blogs regularly, and a couple strangers whose blogs/sites I find interesting. But I need… newness.

I enjoy being a bit of an online voyeur, reading about strangers’ lives and tribulations and what-have-you—but only if said strangers have interesting web design skillz and the capability to write a coherent paragraph. This counts out anyone under the age of 19 (for the most part), anyone who regularly types in 1337 (that’s “leet” for you non-geek-o-philes), or who uses “u r” or “cuz” or “wuz” or any such thing.

Strangers’ sites I’ve located today (or previously) that I enjoy reading:
+ Maniacal Rage
+ etherf@rm
+ Authentic Boredom

And… um… that’s it. I require more intellectual stimulus. Gah.

Yay, Quiz!

I don’t usually do quizzes, but this one wasn’t too stupid…

1. FIRST NAME: Diana

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE: Diana Prince, Wonder Woman’s alter-ego. The story goes that Mom was pregnant, watching 70’s TV, and Wonder Woman came on. She thought about it, and decided Diana was a pretty name.

3. DO YOU WISH ON STARS: No, but after I played the song “Moon” with the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps, I was known to gaze at the moon for a few months and wonder what my corps-mates were doing.

4. WHICH RESTAURANT IS YOUR FAVORITE? Right now, Ruby Tuesday’s. Mmm, low-carb cheesecake.

5. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY: Really hard? When my Mom and I were standing by my Memaw’s hospital bed, and Mom started singing the lullaby Memaw made up for me when I was little. Although I’ve also been known to mist up while I’m listening to drumcorps CDs.

6. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING: Usually.

7. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT: Ham.

8. ANY BAD HABITS: I pick my nose when no one’s looking, among other things.

9. WHAT IS THE MOST EMBARRASSING CD ON YOUR SHELF: Depends on who’s looking. Could be Boston or Kansas, could be Janet Jackson’s debut album, could be my barbershop quartet or BGSU Men’s Chorus CDs. I’m not terribly embarrassed about my eclectic musical taste.

10. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I doubt it, but maybe.

11. ARE YOU A DAREDEVIL: No.

12. HAVE YOU EVER TOLD A SECRET YOU SWORE NOT TO TELL: Only to a third party who had no connection to the secret-originator. Sometimes you just have to tell, and telling someone who doesn’t know and doesn’t care is your best bet.

13. DO LOOKS MATTER: Sometimes, and depending on the situation. Sometimes not.

14. HOW DO YOU RELEASE ANGER? I get all pissed-off and sulky until I realize how stupid I’m being.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE? Oh, Jeebus, don’t make me pick! Um… maybe Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?

16. DO YOU TRUST OTHERS EASILY? Not generally, but possibly more than I should.

17. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AS A CHILD? My Smurfs and my Hot Wheels / Matchbox cars.

18. WHAT CLASS IN SCHOOL DO YOU THINK IS TOTALLY USELESS? In retrospect… totally useless? None. My least favorite was probably Social Studies (or History as I got into middle and high school), although I now wish I knew more of what I didn’t pay attention to back then.

19. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? I used to keep a paper journal, but now I just use this. Sometimes I still write things down that are too private to share.

20. DO YOU USE SARCASM? Who, me?

21. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A GUY/GIRL? Notwithstanding the fact that I’m no longer “looking” for a guy… a sense of humor and overall acceptance of who I am.

22. WHAT ARE YOUR NICKNAMES? Aaron calls me Boobie-Doobie (after a Bill Cosby bit we listened to once on 8-track). My Mom used to call me Boogie when I was little.

23. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Um… now that I’m not quite so obese, maybe. If I was confident I wouldn’t end up on Faces of Death or Max X.

24. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No, but I do untie them before I put them back on.

25. DO YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE STRONG? Yeah, but odor isn’t everything.

26. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Oh, jeez. It really depends on my mood (and whether I’m eating low-carb), but I used to be partial to Denali Moose Tracks.

27. SHOE SIZE? Women’s 10 or 11, depending on the shoe. Men’s 8 1/2.

28. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLORS? They’ve been changing lately. I really like the light green that my webpage is right now, but I also like dark reds and burgundies and hunter green and navy blue. Again, it kind of depends on my mood.

29. HOW MANY WISDOM TEETH DO YOU HAVE? Four, and one’s coming in sideways.

30. WHO DO YOU MISS MOST RIGHT NOW? Nobody in particular, but if I had to pick someone, I’d say my Memaw.

31. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE YOU SEND THIS TO SEND IT BACK? Well, I snicked it from Sheryl, and that leaves about three people who might see it and respond, of which maybe one will when she gets back from
vacation.

32. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The sound of my too-loud computer humming.

33. LAST THING YOU ATE? Three cheddar bratwursts and a slice of leftover low-carb pizza.

34. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE: My Mommy!

35. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX: Overall build. Muscular, slight, chubby, tall, short, medium.

36. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON THAT SENT THIS TO YOU? Sheryl is the bomb-diggity.

37. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? Not too bad. Got a little bit of a headache, but the Aspirin-Free is chasing it away.

38. FAVORITE DRINK? I dunno. Seems like it should be water, since I drink so much of it lately.

39. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK? Amaretto Sour.

40. FAVORITE SPORTS: To watch: skateboarding. To play: I liked soccer and field hockey in elementary school. Since then, I haven’t really played any sports. Maybe badminton, which I haven’t played since high school gym class.

41. HAIR COLOR? Brown.

42. EYE COLOR? Hazel-blue.

43. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I did until I got a staph infection from a rogue cigarette ash blowing into my eye at a concert. After that, I got some more stylish glasses than I had in high school, and realized that glasses weren’t so bad, after all.

44. SIBLINGS? Step-brother, Philip, 17.

45. FAVORITE MONTH? *thinking* Don’t really have one. Weather-wise, probably September.

46. FAVORITE FOODS? Used to be pasta. Now, I don’t know. I just kind of eat because it makes me go.

47. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The Last Unicorn on DVD, I think.

48. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR? Day? Uh… *shrugs* I dunno.

49. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings, if I had to choose between the two. I’d actually prefer weird endings that make you go hmm.

50. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, most definitely. Drumcorps. Plus, heat isn’t physically painful like cold can be.

51. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs. Long, drawn-out, squeezy hugs.

52. RELATIONSHIPS OR ONE NIGHT STANDS? Duh. One-night stands are weird and ungood. Even strange relationships are better.

53. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Beth, when she gets back.

54. WHO IS LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Any one of a (small) number of people who don’t read my LJ on a regular basis, or don’t have one themselves.

55. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Asimov’s Caliban by Roger MacBride Allen

56. WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? “Last Dead Mouse” with a dead mousie (title of a Mighty Mighty Bosstones song, and purchased at one of their shows).

57. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Currently, Scrabble. I didn’t used to like it so much when I was a kid.

58. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? *thinking* Channel-surfed with Aaron. There wasn’t crap on last night. Ended up watching part of Dateline, I think.

59. FAVORITE SMELLS? Valve oil and diesel fumes. Heh. (That’s the drumcorps nut in me.)

60. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP? “How much longer can I sleep and not be late to work?”

61. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU AND ONE THING NICE ABOUT THE PERSON: Ganked this from Sheryl. She’s almost always willing to give you stuff if you need it and she has it, or help you do stuff if you need help (like parsing an RSS feed).

Unproductive Evening

Spent all day at work chomping at the bit to get home and work on web page / drum corps stuff. Got home, ate dinner, messed with my computer a little, got bored, went upstairs and read on the couch, fell asleep for an hour, woke up with the cat asleep on me, then watched American Chopper and 20/20 (with the cat still sleeping on me).

I’m only just now getting down to researching more on RSS feeds and planning to create one for my alumni site, even though it’s rarely updated. WTF. It’s purely for my own benefit—I don’t expect anyone to actually take advantage of the Saginaires Alumni Association syndication.

I’m tired but not sleepy. :-/  Blah.

Girlfriends Rock

Got to spend an evening with Sheryl. It’s been a while since I had an evening of chillin’ and discussing schtuff in general. Went to Wally World (aka Wal-Mart), went to Sheryl’s apartment (where I freaked out her dog somehow), finally went to my place and talked about RSS feeds and geeky stuff and girlie stuff and kitty stuff.

Yeah… we need to hang out more often, yo.

Memorial Day Parade

…went well, overall. After leaving the house at 7am, I did zone out on the way up to Novi and missed my exit at the I-475/23 split, and had to backtrack down 23 from Michigan to get back on 475, losing about 15 minutes or so. Then, of course, Mapquest failed to mention that 8 Mile Road was under construction at the I-275 ramp, so I had to do a U-ie in the “Authorized Vehicles Only” lane to get on 8 Mile coming from the other way. All told, I was a good 20 minutes late to meet the hornline. At least they waited for me, though—we were all meeting at the end of the parade route, and carpooling to the start to save us all some headaches after the parade.

Our brass caption head and his brand-new wife were off either getting married or starting on their honeymoon, so we faked our way through warm-ups. That was pretty fun. We also got to fake our way through F-Tuning—anyone who’s heard a marching band or drumcorps warm up just before a performance, facing backfield, playing six chords in a row, you’ve heard it before. (Beth, I’m sure you’ve heard it. Donna too, if you still read this thing. Dan, certainly.) No sheet music for us, just listening to our drum major rattle off notes to play.

“OK, concert pitch. We all start on F, then you guys stay there, and you guys go up to C and stay there, then you guys go to A, then you go to D while they stay on F and you guys go to B-flat, then baris go to C and…”

Confusing, sure. But fun. Oh, so fun.

The parade itself was… long? Weird? Yeah. Two miles or so, which isn’t killing, yet also isn’t comfortable. And apparently Novi has no actual downtown area, so we just marched down a stretch of 10 Mile Road. There were stretches with gobs of people, then smatterings, then absolutely no people for a good quarter-mile. We did get to chill out in the spots with no people, though, which was cool.

Senior corps is increasingly different from Junior corps. In Junior corps, all members are expected to stay at attention during the entire parade, be intense, eyes front, watch your posture, no smiling and waving, etc. Remember, this is your time to practice basic marching technique, so make the most of it… blah. Yesterday, we all did stay in step, and we were serious when it mattered; but once we’d played through the parade tune a few times, we had no qualms about calling back to the drumline, “Cadence or taps for a while? Our chops need a rest!” The baritones also switched which hand they held their horns with every now and then, since their left hand would get tired from holding the horn down at their side after a while. And topping the category of Never In A Junior Corps: our tuba player, Russ, unabashedly answered his cell in the middle of the parade. 🙂

By the end of the parade route, we’d played through Moorside March at least seven times, and once we got to where the TV cameras were, I’m sure we sounded like the freakin’ Salvation Army band. But we made it.

And my lips are still swollen.

After the parade, we all drove our own respective vehicles to Pizza Hut, where we overtook the joint with no one having called ahead. The one server and one pizza cook suggested we all go with the buffet, for the best service. They weren’t very happy with us.

It had been a long time since I met up with a bunch of music folks at Pizza Hut. Back in high school, Mel and I used to do Pizza Hut all the time with our woodwind section (and we left the best tips, though it was all change). Anyway, it was also great to get to actually socialize with these people I’ve been rehearsing and performing with for a while now. I did that a little at the picnic after the Birmingham parade, but not so much as at Pizza Hut. I finally got to hear different corps stories—I think that, by now, Paul knows all mine and I know all of his, since we’ve carpooled to so many events over the years. 🙂

And, best of all, I was home by 2:30. Rock on.

Next parade: Frankenmuth, June 13. Definitely finding a carpool buddy for that one.