Friday, April 28, 2006

Small Town Surprise

Like John Mellencamp sang in the song “Small Town”, “I was born in a small town” and I was raised in a small town. There are many who say they would hate living in a place like where I grew up. I can understand that, I used to hate it, too. But residing in a small town offers some incredible sublime blessings.

A few days ago, I returned to the family homestead after my night run. I really don’t enjoy running, but I’ve starting running about four times a week as a way to try to get back in shape and loose a few pounds. Actually, I really don’t run—I “fat man jog.” Anyway, the sky was completely clear and you could see stars and constellations from the backyard. I sat down on the steps of the patio. I remained still and listened. I heard dogs barking in yards half-a-mile away. I heard the different television programs people were watching a few blocks down the street. Just a block over, people were having some sort of dance party; the radio was turned up and I caught the glimpse of bodies rocking to the music. I heard sounds of rustling grass of an animal running through a plot of forested land nearby and I felt completely at ease as the wind rustled through the trees. I felt totally at peace. It was a moment of serene rest. I felt connected to all those around me. It was a small town surprise; something I needed but did not expect to receive.

Many people think that small towns are a total joke and that everyone who lives in one is either a hick or a redneck (there is a difference). There is some truth to that, but small towns aren’t a total joke and even though everyone who lives in one might be a hick or a redneck, some of them are quite classy and intelligent hicks. Small towns have been deconstructed and disrespected by the post-modern culture that surrounds us and threatens everyday to invade our lives. People look at the way Normal Rockwell and Frank Capra viewed the heart of America and say, “That’s nice. But that was a different time and in many ways a different place.” That’s not true. Places from a Rockwell painting or a Capra film are still around. In many instances they are thriving. Should you ever visit one, don’t take it for granted because small towns are full of surprises.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Small Things Matter

Yesterday, I was reading a blog by a friend. He has some very interesting ideas that he shares and sometimes he tells really fascinating stories. Like myself, he is wrestling through his salvation with fear and trembling to have an honest faith. He told a story about something he did when he was younger. The story kind of expressed guilt over what he had done. His story reminded me of a story from my own life. I wrote him back telling him about the story from my own life that his post reminded me of and suggested a small action he could take.

Today I found out that my little message inspired him to do the thing I suggested and resulted in something positive. When I learned of this, I was amazed. Quite frankly, I still am.

All we have in life is a moment. We are guaranteed nothing more. What we do with each one of those moments is up to us. There are thousands of different things we could do in those moments: write a letter, talk with a family member, send an email, go for a walk, take a drink, go on a drive, play a game, fly a plane, teach a life-lesson to a child, shoot a bird with a BB gun, jump off a bridge, watch television, steal a stop sign, sleep, make a sandwhich, each pankakes, work productively at a job, work unproductively at a job, eat at a buffet then force ourselves to vomit what we just eaten, follow our careers, etc., etc. etc. However, whatever it is we do, all we have is that moment. Once that moment is gone, we can never get it back. Some choose to use those moments for evil gains. Sometimes I do, too. But, I try very hard to press out the best from those moments that I can no matter what it is that I am doing.

I've tried very hard to live a life of meaning. I know that life has purpose and meaning, but living one's life so that that purpose(s) and meaning(s) happens is incredibly difficult. I mentioned this in a previous post, but life is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to you. We all face hardships and trials. Bad things happen to good people. Many times bad people seem to prosper abundantly while very good people seem to struggle with no end in sight. Life is hard and living, that is truly living, is incredibly difficult. It is so much easier to just exist. Existence is easy. Existence doesn't require much work. That's what many people do during their lives. I've done more often than I would like to admit myself. But living, that requires so much work. In fact, to truly live requires one to "work" every moment of every day that is presented to us. It is far from easy, but it leads to a life most abundant.

Yesterday I had a moment to respond to story that a friend wrote. I could have taken that moment and done something else, but I felt led to respond. It was a small thing, perhaps one of the smallest. Today I learned that the little thing I did, led to a good thing happening. One small moment of my life that didn't take much time at all made a difference in someone's life who lives far away from where I reside. That is amazing.

We get so caught up sometimes thinking about the big things. There's nothing wrong with that. The big things are important because they affect us all. However, if you choose that you want to live your life (and not just exist through it), don't forget the small things. Small things matter.

Friday, April 14, 2006

No Courtesy

Today I was informed that Teach for America doesn't want me as a member of their Corps. I received this notification by a form email.

It is kind of disappointing that they didn't select me, but not that much. The thing I find interesting is that they decided to tell me this by a form email. I've received lots of form letters in my life. I've also received a number of phone calls from people in power letting me know that they decided not to cast me in a show or that they had hired someone else for a job I had applied for and was really wanting. However, this is the first time in my life that I have ever received a form letter via email notifiying me of my rejection. Not only that, but there were these links included in the email that one should be able to click to get more information. Well after I click on those links I'm told I can no longer access that information because I've been deleted from the system. Good grief.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

An Update of Sorts.

A few weeks ago I wrote about this enchanting woman I met. Here's the update in the story. Eventually, after some serious research on my part I was able to get her phone number. I called her and we had a very pleasant conversation. She said she wouldn't mind getting together for dinner of something, but because she had started a new job she wouldn't be able to do it that weekend. Well, fast forward a few phone calls and emails later and there has been no response. I think she was just being nice. I understand completely, but it was great for once to overcome some huge odds and take a chance. Too bad it didn't lead to something else. But such is the story of my life.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

America's Pasttime is Past.

The new Busch Stadium in St. Louis opened this past week. The first Cardinals home game hasn't been held, yet but will be played very soon. The new stadium isn't even completely finished, yet. There are several sections of seats that won't be completed until about halfway through the summer. Once it is completed the new stadium will hold about 6,000 less seats than the old stadium. Not only that but there are more box seats and private seating rooms than in the old stadium which means more rich people can watch the game in private, but average Joes are out of luck. The cheapest ticket price is around $14 and at the old place you could get a ticket for about $9. A hot dog costs $5.50, a bag of peanuts $3.25, and a cup of beer is around $9. Also, the state of Missouri and the City of St. Louis gave huge tax incentives to the Cardinals organization to stay in St. Louis and build the new stadium. Oh, if you're hoping to come see a game in St. Louis this summer-unless you've already bought your ticket-you're out of luck because tickets were sold out the day they went on sale.

I love the game of baseball. It's one sport that I could have played for a very long time if I had wanted to. I grew up playing baseball and watching Cardinals games on tv. Baseball used to be America's past time. Fathers used to bring their sons to ball parks across the country on Saturday afternoons because even if they couldn't afford a ticket to get into the game they could watch the game from fences outsides the park. Going to a baseball game used to be a family affair. You could spend a day at the ballpark, buy a few souveniers, and if you made sure you didn't eat much until you left the stadium later that afternoon, an entire family of 5 or 6 could go to a baseball game for less than the ticket price for one person at an amusement park. That's not the case anymore. An average, blue-collar, hard-working famiy can't really afford to go to many ball games. Of course, even if they could they can't get in because all the tickets are sold out because the owners wanted to make more money so the put in less seats and gave more of those seats to people who could pay $100-$200 to watch a game.

It might not seem like all that big of a deal and maybe it's not. But, it's a sign, though--a sign of the times. A sign that we as a people are loosing our identity and national spirit. Baseball used to be as American as apple pie, but I'm afraid that now America's past time has past.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I found out today that I didn't get this one teaching job I applied and was interviewed for. It has bummed me out a bit. I had a great interview and I was really wanting this job. I'll just have to keep sending out those resumes, cover letters, and applications.

The book I'm reading, though, has cheered me up some. It's a comedy about the Apocalypse entitled GOOD OMENS and is written in the vein of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. It's not Biblical at all, but for some reason I have found it amusing. It's that warped sense of humor in me.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Determined to Teach and the Honor of Men

This past Tuesday (Mar. 28th) I had a job interview. It was for a school in the general vicinity of where I was raised and am currently living. The position was for a high school English teacher for next fall. They need too hire a new English teacher for two reasons: 1. one of the teachers currently teaching some English classes is actually a home economics teacher and since next year they are expanding their “home education” curriculum, she won’t be teaching English. 2. the State of Illinois is now requiring all high school seniors to have four years of English before they graduate so there will be more students taking English next year. My interview went really well. I got along with the two gentleman interviewing me and they were very impressed with my teaching portfolio (let me tell you, it was wonderful to have someone other than a friend or family member look at that thing—I put so much work into it). I’m kind of hoping I get this job. If I do, it would (hopefully) allow me to get a place to live in for next year before the summer, keep me from antagonizing over what I should do during the summer, and allow me to still act in some plays next year. But, if it doesn’t work out, there are still other options.

For instance, on Wednesday (Mar. 29th) I went to Washington University in St. Louis to interview for Teach For America (TFA). TFA is a highly selective program that places recent college graduates and other young adults in schools where there are teaching shortages, mainly in inner-city schools and very rural areas such as in the Appalachians. Those who are selected and offered a position agree for a minimum two year commitment. If I’m selected for the program, I’m hoping to be assigned to either Ohahu, Hawaii or Phoneix, Arizona. I learned this past year that I really don’t like Winter much anymore, so if I’m going to move far away I want to go somewhere where it’s warm all year long. I’ve never been to Hawaii or Arizona so it would be a grand adventure. I’ve known enough people from those places to know that if I move there, I might end up staying in either one of those places permanently.

As for the TFA interview process, the morning started off with each of we 12 interviewees teaching our 5-minute lesson. You had exactly 5 minutes to teach a lesson you had prepared before hand. My lesson went well, though I wasn’t able to make any concluding remarks. I did a thing with prefixes and suffixes. Following the lesson, we were divided in groups and had a problem solving session (also timed). Then we listened to the two interviewers talk for about 30-minutes. Paperwork was taken care of. Next we had an individual problem-solving assignment. Finally, the morning came to a close with the assignment of our personal interview times. I ended up with the last interview time of the day, which wasn’t too bad because my interview ended up lasting about 45 minutes when it was supposed to be around 20; I think the lady interviewing me was fascinated by my background.

I still don’t know where I’ll be in the fall, but I’m pretty sure I do know what I’ll be doing. I’m determined to teach.
I may sound sexist saying this, but I was wondering today: do women have any idea what honor is? You talk about honor with a man and he knows what you are talking about. You try to talk about honor with a woman and she thinks you’re either having delusions of grandeur or that you’re either stubborn or proud. It is true that honor might seem like stubbornness, pride, or a combination of the two, but honor isn’t any of those things. It is something completely different. Honor is something that all men have, though sometimes it is beaten and battered from us. Honor is the reason that men who normally never shed a tear fall apart while watching RUDY or BRAVEHEART or FIELD OF DREAMS. It’s not that those movies are sad. It’s because they all have something to do with honor.

When Adam realized he and Eve were naked in the Garden, I don’t think he was ashamed because he was naked. I think he was ashamed because he realized and understood that he had done something dishonorable before God.

Females have sometimes asked me, “Why do you do such-and-such?” or, “Why didn’t you do such-and-such?” or “Why are you like that?” The answer many times is simply, “It was the honorable thing to do.” The usual reply from the female in question, “I just don’t understand that.”

Can women understand honor? What do you think?