Clue-by-Four: Ramblings of a Jock Dork

A Bizarre Love Triangle: The Man of Action is Back

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity, Jock Dork: It's Who I Am by Wingnut on January 17, 2011
 
 
 
 

Guess who’s back
Back again
Shady’s back
Tell a friend
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back
guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back..

 

                                                                                                                -Eminem

My comeback is way better!

I decided that my birthday gift to myself is finally giving myself permission to write again. [This is, of course, after giving myself the gifts of booze, comedy, booze, women, booze, massage, and booze]

Many wild rumors circulate as to the nature of my absence. Some speculate that I have been living the life of the Sultan of Brunai, relishing in nightly debauches with the many members of my harem.

This accusation is absolutely false [I am not in any way, shape, or form a sultan1]

Others speculate I have grown tired of passive-aggressive Twitter drama and weary of openly being an asshole. Also untrue. I can assure you, I’ll never be uncomfortable being a pretentious, pompous, preening prick [As evidences by my need to alliterate].

There have even been those that even speculate that I am in a re…re…re…relationship [Yeah, not sure I can say it again so don’t ask me to]. My reason for absence is, however, closely related to my reasons for not being available for relationship consideration:

I have dedicated the last five months to being the best teacher and colleague I can possibly be at my new school.

[Please note: This is only one of the reasons in the relationship department. I’ll save those for future writings2]

Being a Man of Action Requires Personal Sacrifice

One of my favorite motivational speakers, Eric Thomas, says you have to want success as much as you want to breathe. Hold your breath for a few moments and think about what that feels like the longer you hold it. Multiply that by the “don’t die” reflex and you have a better idea of what he’s talking about.

It isn’t enough for me to be a “pretty good” teacher. If you know anything about me, pretty good just isn’t enough. I play to win and love winners3. Besides, I’m working at a charter school now. I don’t have tenure; job security is based on personal growth and performance. I am also working with a new student population and have to rapidly adapt everything I do well to meet their specific needs and cultural nuances.

I am not the type of person who can phone it in. My days are long and my free time is dedicated to spending time with my kids, staying fit, and, every now and then, getting out or a little free time with friends4.

I Won’t Do You Halfway

Writing and relationships have a few things in common, the largest of which may be time requirement. When I was in a rhythm at my previous job, I had a lot of free time. My grading was streamlined, teaching a well-oiled machine, and thinking a factory of ideas [or fountain of bullshit, depending on your point of view].  But I wasn’t creating curriculum; I wasn’t reinventing teacher @ClueXFour [Though I did perfect #badteacher].

That was then. I am now in a constant state of reinvention. I demand success from myself. To reach a place where I can be happy with my pedagogy, I have to dedicate an inordinate amount of time to the pursuit of mastery. Outside of that, I have time to engage positive stress release at the gym, eat, and pass out…that is if I’m not behind on planning and grading [Which is almost always].

Care to tickle these keys?

My blog has become the neglected girlfriend. There was a time when it was easy to make time for her because it fit into the natural ebb and flow of daily life. There was a time when our relationship was relatively uncomplicated and I could meet her needs. But, as much as I want to sit down and stroke the keys softly with my fingertips, thoughtfully edit her body repeatedly, and gaze longingly at her in the spent aftermath, I just haven’t had the time.

I know what they say: “If you really want her, you will make the time.” In many cases, that is true. But, in some, including mine, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I want to write; I ache to write; I need to write. It’s not a matter of want, but matter of priorities.5

Likewise, with relationships, I know what my time demands are and what I have available. It isn’t much. Being a textbook Capricorn [I reject the notion your “new” Zodiac], I have an innate drive to succeed. I play to win and, theoretically, I hope my next relationship will have the key ingredients to win.

However, one of those ingredients has to be the mental and physical availability to successfully navigate the natural ebb and flow of any relationship. With my job continuing to evolve, I don’t have either and I refuse to half-ass a relationship. If I can’t dedicate the time and energy required to participate in a relationship, I’m not going to pretend that I can. I would only be fooling someone else and myself.

Does this mean I don’t go out from time to time? No. It just means I am up front with this with any prospective evening companion. [This undoubtedly attracts the label “player”. So be it. Such labels are a semantics argument for another time].

Personal Fulfillment is All That Matters

I know this is not a choice some people can make, but it is the choice that I make. I do not judge those who need that other person to make them feel whole and complete. All I am saying is that I am OK on my own because there are other things that drive me:

  • Watching my girls develop and mature into fine young women fulfills me.
  • Thinking and planning to open the pathways to learning for my students fulfill me.
  • Being the kind of friend who people in need can truly rely on to be there in times of crisis fulfills me.

While I’m sure I would enjoy some aspects of a relationship, the extra burden and pressure of being a successful boyfriend would pull too much away from other areas and I would no longer find fulfillment in any facet of my life because I would be spread too thin. Sure, a relationship isn’t supposed to be a burden or pressure. But, let’s be honest. It requires time and if you have none, it is a constant battle to tread water. I’m not good at treading water6.

That Bizarre Love Triangle that is Blogging

This is not to say that it will be that way forever. Just for now. At least I’ve begun writing again, just not at the torrid pace that defined the beginning of Blog-Year  One.

Thus, I reinitiate the love triangle that is writer-blog-reader.

I’ve missed you.

Welcome back.

.

.

.

.

.

Footnotes:

  1. Though lately I’ve bore a striking resemblance to Charlie Sheen, minus the three-ton liver]
  2. Every now and again, it is me and not you.
  3. See https://cluexfour.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/winning-the-yankees-way-life-lessons-learned-from-george-steinbrenner/ for an example of what I think of winning.
  4. In the words of robot on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, “Is that code?”
  5. Like I said, sometimes it is me and not you.
  6. Apparently I’m good at the dog paddle.
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ClueXMIA: The Job Hunt and Emotional Exhaustion

Posted in Jock Dork: It's Who I Am by Wingnut on August 3, 2010
[Disclaimer: This post is helping me release some frustration. It will not be edited and probably contains tons of errors because, when it comes to freewriting, I often don’t pay attention to exactly what I’m typing]

I don’t understand how some people have been at this whole unemployed thing for prolonged periods of time without losing their mind [Actually, as I understand it, many people have].

When I went through this last year, I had a reasonable belief that I was going to still have a job at my current school in September. This year, I know that there is no job available. The emotions are very different and it has clouded many of my decisions over the past couple months on issues such as dating.

I know the current economy has created this situation for a lot of people, but there is something about the whole thing that just feels emasculating. I know there is less of a stigma today, but it sure doesn’t feel like it when you are actually saying, “I’m unemployed right now.”

Funny thing, a number of years ago, I wouldn’t have cared much about uttering that phrase. I was perfectly insulated in my self-impossed joblessness [largely due to depression]. This is different. I have worked very hard to become a dedicated/talented educator. I have done much to become the man I want to be. [This process contributed to the downfall of Ex-Fiance #1]

Last year, I was on the verge of buying a house [completing the sense of manhood…I understand that it doesn’t necessarily define being a man…it’s how it feels to me people!]. Now, I’m sliding backwards.

I am normally a positive person, but the repeated rejection has been difficult to swallow. After going on about a dozen  interviews and filling a total of 40+ applications, I am feeling drained.

Even when I nail the interview, I’ve been edged out by a slightly more viable candidate.  I sent a “Thank You” note to one principal who wrote back. She explained that I couldn’t have done any better in the interview, but got beat out by a slightly better candidate. She even recommended me to another principal in the district [with which I interviewed Friday] and asked that I consider applying in the future because she would be happy to have me as a staff member.

I don’t know whether I should feel uplifted by that e-mail, or depressed that even best hasn’t been good enough. What I do know, it is a swirl of emotions that I have not experienced in many years and would appreciate going away very soon. It is hard for me to completely articulate everything I feel.

Dating:

  • For the moment, I have called a complete moratorium on dating. I suppose I can still have “fun”, but I have nothing to offer anyone emotionally right now.  I am focused on being the best dad I can be and a good friend, when I can be.
  • I have also had to pull away from viable opportunities because of geographic concerns. My geography is undetermined right now and I have been applying for almost every available position in a 150-mile radius. In my opinion, if I did not take this into account when dating someone, it would be dishonest [I don’t believe in the “worry about it later” approach because then people get hurt]. I’ve had to cut off opportunities before anyone got emotionally attached because it was the right thing to do and the fair thing. I cannot encourage someone to fall in love with me, only for me to move to a distance of 100 miles, especially when they are tethered to geography because of other responsibilities.

Blogging and Twitter:

  • With the exception of the current blog, I haven’t had a whole lot of emotional energy or focus for writing anything. I have a lot of ideas, things I want to talk about, series to finish. I just can’t get up the mental energy to sit down and write.
  • I am finding ways to keep my mind of my current situation, which includes playing a lot of golf, going to the gym, hanging out with my daughters, and playing some video games.
  • Mental time is dedicated to tweaking things about my job hunting process to further gain an edge. For example, I just dropped $50 on two e-books on education that were written about one of the districts I’ll be interviewing at this week. I’m going to read as much of the important parts as I can after my interview tomorrow. If I can figure out what my interviewers are looking for specifically, I can tailor my answers to meet their needs. Basically, I’m cramming [This is what it’s come to]

I am working on shaking this funk. For the moment readers, I ask for your patience with my blog and tweets. I will be periodically MIA for a bit longer while I try to shake this funk and get back to being me.

With any luck, I’ll be employed and back to writing on a regular basis.

But don’t worry, I’ll still be reading and will comment from time to time over the next couple weeks. I may post some poetry or may even go back and post some blogs from when I was a blogger-in-training. 😉

[To those I’ve discussed the collaborative project with, I’m still piecing together my angle. I’ll be in touch tomorrow]

“I’m a Good Person and People Like Me”: No Stuart, You are King Deusche! (Shouting Part Two)

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity by Wingnut on June 3, 2010
 
 

No matter how often you say it, doesn't make it true!

Issues of Self: I’m OK [Though I’m really a hot-fucking mess]

It amazes me sometimes the things we will shout about ourselves in an effort to maintain the thin veil of our own sanity. Much like the bloated statements about how “fantisterastic” a relationship is, these statements are fraught with all sorts of fault lines, the smallest which can fracture at the slightest glimpse of its reflection. [Reflected image = Epic Sanity Fail]

That “glimpse” is what people fear most. To look in the mirror means having to admit that their fool-hearty attempt to pass the “I’m OK” test has been futile. [Fuck I need to fix my fixation with the “f”]. Acquaintances and new friends are often unaware of these cracks. They believe what the people say about themselves without too much questioning. Little do they know [I once taught a whole class on “Little did he know”1], each firm declaration of self is really a subconscious confession of the opposite.

Those a little closer to the precipice or within the inner circle are more astute observers and can adequately evaluate each “self-statement” for its “complete bullshit” levels. Every so often, they might even call the person on it [This is often followed by “friendship Armageddon”] (more…)

Counterpoint: Unfollow Friday Questions Remain

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity by Wingnut on May 20, 2010

(Disclaimer: All comments need to be civil. They may be edited at ClueXfour’s discresion if there are any that are about people, not ideas)

I had to laugh as I saw the trending hashtag Tuesday, considering the blog drama that occurred on May 14. Now, it is probably pure coincidence, especially since the tag is horribly misspelled. Probably…and, since tomorrow is another #FF, this issue will likely continue to fester.

First, let it be said that I’m all for a positive blogging community, though, initially, I had to learn how to walk the line when I wanted to challenge someone’s opinions. It is a very fine line, let me tell you, and I crossed it more than once. I sincerely hope the community never disintegrates into the nonsense you can see in the comments section of almost any CNN.com story.

However, I question the moral high ground that the boycotting bloggers are standing on. Now, I’m not saying that people don’t have a right to choose who they associate with. By all means, you are allowed to pick who your friends are and aren’t. But, to make the statement that we will not promote any blogger who engages in negative statements or personal attacks opens our own ethics up to a slippery slope.

Opening question: How can we take a moral stand against this sort of blogging when, in our own blogs, we attack, ridicule, and make fun of people ourselves?

 Yes, we keep them anonymous by giving them silly initials or nicknames. But, our behavior is not far removed from that which we claimed to abhor in others. Do we not use their words and actions in ways that are, at their best, impolite?

I’ll go a step further. Our blogging behaviors are, at times, suspect because we rarely invite the subjects of our blogs to come defend themselves or explain their side of the story. We don’t invite them to expound upon our crazy or idiosyncrasies to others in our circle of influence. Nor do we inform them that private conversations [text, phone, or e-mails] will become exposed to analysis, criticism, public debate, and ridicule. We don’t tell them that making fun of them is our entertainment.

Make no mistake, I am OK with what we all write about. Not only is it entertaining, it’s therapeutic for the author and the reader in the shared experience. I believe that through inquiry into someone else’s flaws, we come closer to identifying our own. The shared experience is the most important thing about what we write about. That is what creates our sense of community.

Thus, I cannot, in good conscience, stand on higher ground knowing what I write, and will continue to write, about. To me, this seems hypocritical.

How This Situation Equates to RL:

 I can stop being friends with the perpetrator [not that I was before].  I do not feel, however, that it is right for me to tell someone else to terminate a friendship with another person. I wouldn’t do that in real life, why would I do it online? Someone else is allowed to make their own judgment as to who they want to be friends with.

I’ve heard it said by some that they don’t want to even “see” this person’s name in their Twitter stream. Again, how realistic would that be for a real life? I’m a regular at a country bar near where I live in Orange County. There are real life people who are just as hurtful as the blogger in question, often worse. It is safe to say, I don’t like them.

Do I like seeing them? Not particularly. However, I know that by being a member of the OC country scene, I have to accept that they will be there and I have to be OK with it. What is the alternative…try to get them thrown out? At least I don’t have to talk to them or listen to what they are talking about. The same can be said about someone else’s blog. Sure, you see the link in a RT, but you don’t have to click on it.

Back to the bar and my friends who still associate with those people. I don’t stop being friends with them. Sure, I may avoid talking to them when they are around the object of my dislike, but that does not prevent me from ever talking to them at all. I just talk to them when that person is not around, or I wait to talk to them at other venues.

Options:

It’s a part of blogosphere, just as it is a part of real life. The only option you do have at the bar is to leave. The Twitter equivalent would be to stop tweeting and reading tweets for a while.

There is one other option, however. You can embrace the hypocrisy of our blogs loudly and proudly. I’m totally down with that.

Hi, my name is JD…and I am a sometimes hypocrite and oft times giant whale penis.

Thanks for stopping by.

Postscript: Extra concern

 It also alarms me because what limits have we established amongst ourselves behavior we will turn our backs on. This all started because of verbal assaults online. Does it stop there? What if one of the bloggers engages in behavior that hurts another blogger offsite? The victim has been traumatized and is devastated. It didn’t happen in the blogosphere, but is far more egregious than anything that has happened online. Then what? In some of our own blogs, some of us even admit to similar behaviors. So, by unfollowing, are we being consistent or is it just more hypocrisy.

The Clutter Singularity (part 2): Baggage, Trash Cans, and Other Junkmeres

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity by Wingnut on April 1, 2010

“He brings stuff out, so he can have room to organize things. Then he throws the junk out, and moves the other stuff back in.”

–Dan May

For those of you who have been waiting, here are the first three levels of junk:

Carry-on Baggage of Junk – We all have some level of junk that clutters how we communicate, think and interact with the world around us. So, there has to be a designation for the amount of junk which seems normal for a person to have. This level of junk is “tolerable”. It’s the kind of junk you can overlook because the other person has so many other amazing qualities and the junk does little to interfere.

For example, if I believe the hypothesis that all women are crazy [Trust me, they are], then this is what we call “Cute Crazy.” My best friend NE’s wife clearly falls into this category of junk. She’s the first to admit that she has AWS [Attention Whore Syndrome] and that her gender is plum loco. But she’s a very sweet crazy that my best friend finds endearing. Part of it must be that she has a good awareness of what her junk is and has been busy sloughing off excess junk (It’s amazing how you can get rid of junk, when you work on it. Part 4 will highlight how people can do this).

Awareness is the key to reducing and maintaining the amount of junk to this desirable level. But, that requires personal responsibility, which, we already know is in short supply. [Responsibility + Modern Interpretation = Someone else’s job]. Thus, the population at this level of junk is relatively small and, I think, dwindling by the hour.1

Out of sight, out of mind. RIGHT?!?!

To my knowledge, I have never dated a woman who has only had this amount of junk. Sigh…A man can dream. [This may say a lot more about me than I would like to admit]2. I would thank God every day if I could marry a woman who had so little junk. [Apparently, 99% of men would be happy with this. Of the women surveyed, they overwhelmingly agreed that this was still too much junk].3

Single, City Junk Can – When the junk gets to abundant that a carry-on bag is insufficient to carry it, it must end up in being stored someplace where it is, usually, out of sight, out of mind. However, for this to still be a functional level of junk, there has to be a regular emptying of the can. Ideally, a person seeks a proper outlet to get help in cleaning out their junk.

A therapist, for example, is a good resource to help a person debrief and dispose of junk in the proper receptacles. A friend or family member can also be a useful resource [That is, if they understand the definition of those terms (See upcoming blog called: Eew, You Dripped a Little Sadness and Disappointment on Me)]

This is what most often happens with “new” junk or “temporary” junk. The other night, for example, I was dealing with some relatively new junk involving my father’s overall health and my status as an employee next September [Also in ailing health]. As such, my junk can was overflowing and I knew I needed a few people to help me identify, let go, and remove the junk [again, refer to part 4 for further details]. That night, I had a few acquaintances4 ask about me and took a genuine interest in providing a little comfort, which can go a long way to help someone deal with temporary junk. After talking to a few friends the next morning and hitting a few softballs, my junk had been disposed of properly [In fact, talking to JK exposed some junk that was “hidden” behind the trashcan from a couple of years ago. I recognized it and also disposed of it as well].

Notice the key point here is AWARENESS that the junk exists, embracing it, and taking proactive steps to dispose of it. I could affect the junk level in my life because I took responsibility for its cleanup. More and more people in our society have a different set of expectations for their junk “pick up.”

Because we have embraced a culture of entitlement, victimization of ourselves, and blaming others, many of us expect other people to clean up the junk for us. “It’s a City Junk Can right? It’s the city’s job to pick up my junk.” While, this may work for curbside trash pickup, I can assure you that they don’t pick up your junk, unless you call them and ask for their help. [Imagine that, you have to admit to your junk and ask for help…and there’s nothing wrong with calling College Hunks Hauling Junk (Yes, this is an actual company)]56

As a result, people often are “waiting” for someone to pick up their junk long after the can is full. Eventually, this junk will begin to rot and smell, which makes the clean up a longer process. While this will not arbitrarily guarantee a trip on the “Crazy Train” (Click link for details), an unchecked pileup of junk may hasten the departure to the higher levels of junk to a lead time of about four hours…or, in some cases, four months.

When he shows up at your yard sale, you know you have some SERIOUS JUNK!

Personal Junk Storage Unit (The Clean House Event Horizon)—There comes a point where the junk gains enough mass that it begins to collapse on itself, tugging gently on all of those people in an immediate radius. This occurs when the junk build up is the result of clutter a person has been continually storing and hanging onto to for months, years, decades. Often times, some of this clutter ends up in the back of closets, basements, and personal storage units. Out of sight, out of mind right [and the further you’ve repressed it, the better]

This occurs because a person has not cleaned out their City Junk Can regularly and are still waiting for someone else to do it. While there is hope for clean up, it can only be obtained via therapy, friends, family, and the key…AWARENESS. There is still time, but it is limited because, as it passes, a person runs the risk of dropping past the event horizon and into the black hole where they spiral rapidly toward the higher levels of junk. At this point, even the Clean House team may not be able to effectively remove all of the clutter [I would be very frightened to see what is available at some psychological “yard sales”].

PJSU Example: Imagine a person who recently exited an unhealthy relationship, moved to a new place, started a new job, gave much of her social support network, and lost her father, all in the period of the last year. Yeah, that’s some serious junk that has compounded over a period of time, if one doesn’t handle it appropriately, that is.

Junk Awareness is what can motivate our example to dial 1-800-JUNKHUNK [not the actual number]. People who are unaware or in denial will not, and may never, dial. They are constantly telling themselves, “Everyone else has the problem. I don’t have one. I know full well who I am.” This person may even seem functional in most areas of their lives; but, inside, they are always stumbling over the junk they have acquired. As an outside observer, this can be an amusing comedy of errors. [Most standup comedians make a career out of selling this junk]7. To those within the inner circle, however, it can be a periodic junkmare that lashes out with fangs and claws. While not lethal, this junk attack is often draining and scarring on those who fall victim to these outbursts.

Nothing is more awkward than when one of these junkmares shows up at the worst possible moment, like the middle of having sex…

Girl, who is now crying: “I’m sorry. I need to stop. I was fine until I got on top of you. It reminded me of my ex-boyfriend [with whom she had been broken up with for months]. I miss him so much. WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!

Half-naked me, moving back to my side of the car: ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Car stereo: GOING OFF THE RAILS ON A CRAZY TRAIN!8

These junkmere’s aren’t just limited to intimate encounters, however. In fact, often times, we have friendships that can be a walking junkmere. These people are sometimes the Eeyore in our lives, always draining their friends with their “junk.” They will ask, “How was your day?,” then proceed to interrupt and spend the rest of the conversation talking about their “junk.” The problem is, they never have a “good” day or there is always “drama” in their lives.

I had a friend, who we called Eeyore, who was going through a rough time. With a little help, he could have sorted through the junk in his life and made it through, a little stronger for the experience. Sadly, he opted for alcohol and bar fights…He was on the fast track to owning his own Municpal Junk Truck (MJT and the other two levels of junk will be featured in the next installment).

Uh oh...He spotted us. Drop his junk and RUN!!!

Footnotes:

  1. Some say by the minute. Others argue, it’s already gone.
  2. This is a troubling idiom. I claim to not like admitting to it, then freely admit to it there. So, maybe I like admitting it?!?!
  3. No such survey was conducted, however, we all know it’s based on actual truth.
  4. For me, defined as people I only see at IC, at the gym, or on Facebook. It was nice of you to ask if I was doing OK. Thanks for asking.
  5. Sadly, there is no Hot Babe Junk Hauling. However, I’m a little scared of the women that might be on the truck.
  6. Therapists are not “automatic” junk haulers, as most people believe. If they were, they would be worshiped like Rockstars…Oh to dream.
  7. And, for that matter, this blog. Are you listening Maxim magazine? I have plenty of junk to share!!!
  8. I so wish I was making this up.