Friday, October 28, 2011

Only In Dreams

Sometimes there are nightmares.

Sometimes there are dreams where you know you're in a dream.

And other times there are dreams you wish would come true.
That is what happened to me last night.

I have a friend who will shut you down anytime you start a conversation by saying, "I had this dream last night..." He will stop you before you get any more out of your mouth. Before you even finish your sentence. He doesn't want to hear about your dreams. He doesn't care about your dreams. And so I got used to not talking about my dreams. But as far as I know he doesn't read my blog (or even know it exists), so I will continue on with writing about my dream.

I had a dream I was at a Happy Hour at some bar I have never been. It was a small, crowded pub-type of place. And as I looked around, I realized I knew everyone there. It turned out it was a private, invite-only meet-up. As I started to talk to the people there, they started hugging me and smiling and they seemed honestly happy I was there. One of them asked if I wanted a beer. Of course I did. So I went up to the bar and the bartender asked for my name. He looked at his list and saw I was on it, and gave me a free beer. Everything was all paid for.

When I asked one of my buddies who was paying for the whole thing, he told me Mr. Moore was paying for it.

Mr. Moore? Our former teacher? Wow. It had been so long! It was at this point that I realized who these friends were that I was hanging out with:

Yes. It was the cast of "Head of the Class." In my dream I was part of this class. They were my former classmates. And it was perfectly normal in my dream. I started asking where Simone and Darlene and Arvid were. I hadn't seen them since we graduated! Eric pointed me to their table. I sat and chatted with all of them. It was so great.

But just as I started to ask Jawaharlal about the new movie he was directing, it all started to go sideways. Someone behind the bar pulled the fire alarm and we all stopped and looked at each other. Should we evacuate? Should we try to put the fire out? Should we stay put and finish our pints? But the alarm got louder and louder. Everything got more blurry. It was hard to see, as if the place was filling up with smoke...

And that's when I realized it was only a dream. That's when I realized that "fire alarm" was just my wake-up alarm. That's when I realized I had to get up for work.

I was so sad. I didn't want that dream to end. I wanted to continue to hang out with my friends. But it was not meant to be. Only in dreams could I hang out with my IHP classmates.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writing Music

What kind of music do you listen to while you write?

Please don't tell me you're one of those people who needs total silence while they write, because that's just... bizarre. I can't do anything in total silence. Even when I read I need something in the background (just as long as it's not people talking). Music has been a part of my life in one form or another forever. I am what you would call an avid music listener. I can't drive in a car, sit in a room or drink a beer without having some music going. Most importantly, I can't write without music.

So what do I listen to? I guess it depends on my mood, or what I'm writing. At the moment I am listening to hardcore: Damnation AD, Agnostic Front, Integrity, Youth of Today, etc. I've been in a sour mood all day, so this music is helping me maintain. Although, if I wanted to get out of this bad mood, I would put on something a bit more... mellow. Something like the Pixies or the Velvet Underground. If I want to be sad, I know that Counting Crows will do the trick. Or Sarah McLachlan. When I need to be picked up, I usually go to the Eagles of Death Metal, the Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, or something similar.

But my go-to music is usually always grunge and rock from the 1990s. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, Soul Asylum, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, the Smiths, Catherine Wheel, Garbage, Jane's Addiction, the Lemonheads... the list can go on and on and on. I'm not sure what it is, I just enjoy this music most. It inspires me, it makes me mad, it reminds me of great times, it brings out my best, it makes me happy, and it helps the words flow out just that much easier. I think part of the draw to this music is that I became a writer in one sense or another while listening to this music. There are some amazing memories that this music pulls out of me, and that always helps my writing.

Even if I'm writing an assignment for school (either as a teacher or a student), I still need really great music to accompany me. I have never been one of those people who listen to classical music or instrumental music, but I am also not one of those people who knocks "word-less" music. I dig on that stuff. But it really doesn't inspire me. And that's what I need when I'm writing. I need inspiration. My buddy Danny turned me on to a new shoegazer band called M83. They're pretty cool. I used to get into the shoegazer scene back in the day, mostly bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. M83 fits right in to the "old guard" of shoegazer bands. And it stirs the same emotions.

So what kind of music inspires you while you're writing?
I'm always on the lookout for some cool new tunes!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stern But Caring?

I just found out that my 10th grade Biology teacher died last week. I heard rumors that he passed away, but I never had any proof. The man that tormented me, that ridiculed me, that still shows up in my nightmares is dead.

I was going to say Ding Dong The Wicked Bastard Is Dead, but that would just be mean, so I won't go there.

According to his obituary, he was "a stern taskmaster, but was a caring mentor and genuine inspiration to scores and scores of his students." Really? I definitely felt the stern taskmaster bit. Every. Single. Day. But a caring mentor? Nope. Not from this former student. Maybe it was because I wasn't an athlete. Maybe it was because I was a smartass. Or maybe he just hated me.

The second day of class he asked each student to write their name on a small card that he would use for attendance. He told us to put our last name first, followed by our nickname. Without thinking, I put "Chaz" after my last name. Why wouldn't I? EVERYONE called me Chaz. It had been my nickname since seventh grade. People called me Chaz so often most of my best friends didn't know my real name was actually Charles. Well Mr. Dempsey wasn't having it.

He kept me after class and told me that was not an appropriate nickname to be used in class. I tried to argue my point, but he cut me off. "I can tell you are going to be the one student that gives me an ulcer this year. I always have at least one, but I don't usually find out who it is until at least the third or fourth week of school."

I just sat there. Probably with a smart ass look on my face. It wasn't the first time I had been held after class by a teacher. It wasn't the first time I was being reprimanded by a faculty member. It wasn't the first time a teacher called me "trouble." He moved me to the front of the class, next to a girl he said would "hopefully rub off on me." She definitely rubbed on me, but not off on me. But that is a different story for a different time. She was a smart girl, he said, and I would thank him for it by the end of the school year.

About a month into the classes Mr. Dempsey told me to stay after class again. He didn't ask me to stay after. He told me. I honestly thought he was going to tell me I was doing better. I honestly thought he was going to eat his words from early in the year. I honestly thought he was going to move me back to the back of the class with my friends. None of that happened. Not by a long shot. Evidently I did something he didn't appreciate. He told me the next time I acted up, he would take me out in the hall and make sure I never acted up again. "And if anyone asks, I would tell them you spit on me and I had to take action."

That was a threat, right? I definitely took it as a threat. I was petrified. My big ass Biology teacher just threatened to beat me up the next time I stepped out of line. I wasn't sure what to do. I told my friends, who laughed. I told my girl friend, who cried. And I told my dad, who immediately called his buddy the vice principal. The next morning I was asked to come down to see the VP and explain exactly what my teacher said. And I did. I didn't really like being a tattle-tale, but my livelihood was at stake. My life was at stake. My wonderful good looks were at stake. I just wanted the vice principal to know what my teacher had said in case something did happen to me. I didn't want my teacher reprimanded, because I was afraid that would make things worse for me. He agreed to keep it to himself, but he did need to put it in writing and put it in both my file and Mr. Dempsey's file.

Great. And of course, by the time I arrived in Biology class, he knew all about it. "It seems you have some friends in high places" he said as I walked in. I honestly don't remember much about Biology class other than that smart cute girl I sat next to, dissecting a frog, and Mr. Dempsey. His attempts at making me a better student didn't work. I didn't learn anything from him. I loathed him. He was a son-of-a-bitch. He was a horrible teacher. He would write notes on the board and we would write them in our notebooks. He would lecture and we would listen. He never moved from behind the counter at the front of the room. He would hobble around in my nightmares barking orders at me and threatening me over and over and over. And he never called me Chaz.

But now he's dead. And I'm a teacher. And every day I strive to be the exact opposite with my students as he was to me. You want to be a smartass? Feel free. I was ten times worse than you will ever be. So I won't yell at you after class. You want to be a slacker? I get it. I was a slacker before you were even born. So I know how you feel. You want to be called some bizarre nickname? That's cool. How do you spell it? I will not threaten you for being yourself. Or trying to be yourself. Or trying to figure out yourself.

Rest In Piece Mr. Dempsey. I hope to see you on the other side.
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Childless Chaz

When I was twenty years old (or somewhere around there), I decided that I wanted to have six children. I never really cared what sex they were, just six kids. On a farm. In my mind it wasn't really a working farm, since I really don't know anything about farming, but I like the idea of having a farm. Animals, and lots of land and a barn and a tractor... how great would that be? I also love the idea of life in the country. I find that people are so much more friendly in rural areas. They help each other out more than in the city and they seem to care more about one another. What a great place to raise my kids!

But things happen. Things change. Things get in the way. The way my life has turned out, I'm not sure if having children would be such a great idea. Would I really want to raise little human beings in a tiny apartment full of too much stuff and not much money? Would I be able to feed and clothe them? Would I be able to feed and clothe myself if they were fed? My friends with children tell me, "you'd find the money if you had kids." Well where the hell is that money? I want to find it now. I don't want to have a kid and then try to find this magical money. I would like to be comfortable financially before I have children.

"If you wait to be financially stable before you have children, you'll never have children."

Okay. Then that's that. But there's no way in hell I'm going to attempt to raise children in a paycheck-to-paycheck environment. When I think about my life and all the ups and downs and twists and turns it has taken and I think about all the melancholy and depressed days I've had, I'm glad I never had children. And I'm okay with that. I'm not ever going to have children. Ever. And I'm okay with that.


I am.

My kids would hate me right now. Or I would hate them. I think about what I might have done if I had children when I lost my job back in June 2010. I would have had to do something. I couldn't just collect unemployment and wait to hear back from the dozens of applications and resumes I sent out. I would have needed to do something. And more than likely whatever I did would have been something I didn't want to do. I would have worked in a factory or worked as a janitor or worked as a delivery person or worked three or four part-time jobs just to afford to keep my children alive. And I would have never seen them.

Looking back at the list of jobs I would have been forced to take, I realize it makes me look like a snob or something. It makes me look like those jobs are beneath me and anyone who has one of those jobs is a sad excuse for a person. But that's not how I feel. I have no problem doing any of those jobs. But I have gone to school for over twenty years and I would like all the tuition I've paid and all of my degrees to work for me. I want to do something I love. And I love to teach. I don't want to work on a line. I want to teach.

So it's either be selfish and follow my dreams, or put my dreams on hold and work to make money and pay the bills. I hate that those are the only choices available. I hate that I can't get paid enough doing something I love. I hate that I have screwed everything up and made horrible decisions to bring me to this place. But at least I'm not dragging my children down with me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

These Last Few Days

I have been so miserable these last few days.

My commute to and from work gives me a lot of time to think and reflect and self-loathe. I need a change. I need something different. I need to move. I need a new car. I need to get rid of all the junk in my life. I need to get the hell out of here.

I think it might also be the time of year. Autumn makes me anxious. Whenever I'm in my car and I feel the cool morning air or I see the rusty colored leaves or smell the remnants of a really heavy rain, I just want to drive and drive and drive until I don't recognize the landscape anymore. Fall, more than summer, is the best road-trip weather, in my opinion. I want to drive somewhere new. I want to drive somewhere clean. I want to drive somewhere with unlimited possibilities. I never have any destination in mind. Anywhere but here. This time of year has always done this to me. Even when I was a child I felt the need to run away from home in the fall.

And this season has been no different. I'm afraid that one morning I'm going to get up with my alarm, take a shower and put on my work clothes, grab my three oatmeal bars and a mug of orange juice, get in my car and just drive. But this time I won't be driving to work. Sure, maybe I'll start out as though I'm going to work, but then my car will take a different turn and then another and by the time I finish my mug of OJ, I won't even know where I am.

Do I really want to run away? No. But I just feel this urge inside of me to do exactly that. My car will be in control. My subconscious will be in control. My heart will be in control. I have a job I like a lot and an apartment and a wife and family here. I have walls full of music and books. I can't just leave them here. I can't just shirk my responsibilities. I can't just run away. I'm a grown-up. Grown-ups don't run away. Grown-ups suffer through the choices they've made. They make the most of the hand they're dealt. Grown-ups grin and bear it. Grown-ups just deal with it.

But these last few days... I don't even know.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

One of Those Mornings

I'm flipping the channels. I've been searching for something, anything and I end up watching the last part of Scent of a Woman.


I've been up for an hour and a half. I went to bed six hours before that. The highlights they're showing on ESPN this morning are the same ones I fell asleep to at 2 a.m.

I am starving. I don't really have the energy to make eggs or pancakes. There's a couple boxes of cereal, but no milk. But I'm starving. My stomach feels like it's eating itself. Then I remembered: Individually Wrapped Hostess Snacks.

Breakfast has been saved.

Disaster avoided.

I am ready to take on the day.

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