Would you hire me?

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My name is Steve Lively, and I’ve been in education for over 17 years, most of which was at a small-town public school.  I teach English, if that happens to matter.

So.  I hear you’re selling your house?  Will you hire me to be your realtor?  How about just the home estimate?  I spend much of my time at home.

I understand you need an engine replaced in your 1957 Bel-Air convertible.  Beautiful vehicle.  Just gorgeous.  Will you hire me to put it in?  I’ve ridden in many cars.

It’s come to my attention that your roof is leaking?  Wish to pay me to do that for you?  Water is bad when it comes to stuff like that.

I noticed your neighborhood is lacking in security.  Might you consider me to be your night watchman/security council?  Lots of bad-looking dudes lurking around neighborhoods these days, boy.  I’ve seen them.  They’re a disaster.

That wound looks fresh.  Let me get my, er, uh, stitching tools and I’ll clean you right up.  I’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy AND ER.  Don’t worry about the bill.  For now.  Believe me.

Some credit card companies are hounding you about a bill you paid?  Hire me, and I’ll defend you in court.   I know about money and stuff.  Lawyers.  That Judge Judy, though, is a nasty woman.  Private server.

Your next-door neighbor just informed me that she’s seen you inviting multiple women into your home while your wife is away at work.  You old dog!  Women are beautiful little creatures, aren’t they?  I know!  No one can make a better sandwich, boy.  I know.  I can’t really help myself either.  Anyway, need help with that?  I’m very respectful of women.  At least, the young, skinny, attractive white ones.

I hear the city is considering a multi-million dollar road renovation that will turn your quaint little two-lane street into a four-lane causeway.  Well, that’s just business.  I’ve actually got a lot of land.  No, not here.  Well, wait.  Maybe here.  So much land, ya know. My companies typically come through early and under budget.  I’ve got some new buildings going up in…wait, what were we talking about?

That toothache?  I can fix it.  Let me tell you something.  And I’m being totally serious here.  I got a corn kernel stuck in my teeth once when I was a kid.  These rigged movie theaters are in bed with the dentists.  And if you don’t believe me, you should.

Just hire me.  Trust me.  I know stuff.  I can do it.  Emails.

Forget the fact that I’ve spent my entire life not actually doing any of the above things.

Forget that my resume would hit the the bottom of everyone else’s trash can for these jobs and responsibilities.

You just have to trust me.

Trust that I can do it for you. The best job.  Because I have balls and I say what I mean.

I mean, let’s look at this.  ISIS, right?  Terrorism.  Jobs are going to other countries.  Disaster.  Stamina.  Wrong.  China knows what we don’t.  Those thugs in the Middle East?  They figured it all out before anyone.  Technology?  It’s just a disaster.  So very sad.  Putin.  There’s a leader.  33,000 emails.  He and the north Vietnamese.  They were at a Miss  America pageant at one of my casinos one time…

ahem…

Forget that.  They’re just all trying to destroy my brand and my name.

Remember this:  The other guys who want to work for you are crooks.  They’re crooked.  They’re rigging the system against me.  You could be next.  Choose me.

The vote is next week.

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The Story in the Clouds (2013)

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I walked out of night class feeling pretty wonderful, believe it or not.  Only 60% of the enrolled students attended, but that was not what merited my demeanor.  I had also consumed an iced coffee–admittedly to keep myself going strong–but I don’t think that’s what attributed to my high spirits either.  I think I actually helped some students that night.  Perhaps I can get to why that was a surprise in another post.

Indiana late summers are usually sticky.  Some clever local weathermen once used the term “humiture” to attempt to define the combination of the actual temperature plus what the humidity added to that.  Perhaps to non-natives, this was bizarre.  Perhaps what it “feels like” should be the only number reported.  Anyway, this particular evening was void of humidity and the sky was bidding farewell to the sun for the day.  This produced my favorite color–that shade of not-quite orange mixed with not-quite strawberry and not-quite plum–and I slowed my walk to the car to absorb nature’s impromptu gift to me…rather, to us all.  Embedded in the brilliant sky were thin clouds of varying shades of gray.  This canvas now had a pallet of color options beside it to create anoter masterpiece.  The clouds, though, are what struck and inspired me.  Two specific clouds, squarely placed in front of me, were stacked like hamburger buns–the air between baring only a thin chimney curl.  It was a sight that might have made Nathaniel Hawthorne smile. 

Seeing this H on its side reminded me, of all things, of a Simpsons episode where, I believe Lisa and Bart (and perhaps the muted baby) sat cloud-gazing on a day similar to the one displayed during the show’s opening credits.  The children were discussing the shapes the clouds made–as children whose entertainment venue is exclusively out-of-doors.  The format of the joke is that Lis sees a formation that appears to the viewer as vague and indecipherable at first, only coming into focus throughout the explanation or analysis.  Then, Bart I believe, says he sees one that looks like (this isn’t accurate, I haven’t seen the episode for years) a local legend on horseback.  The scene changes to his POV and we see a precise version of what Bart just reported.  It’s funny to see how Lisa, the prodigy, creates with her imagination, and her academically disinclined brother can only see with clear, specific images and no imagination needed.

Remember When? (Oct. 10, 2016)

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Remember junior high school?

Remember when kids in the school identified candidates for student council?

Remember when those nominees were all recognizable, as in you either knew them from class, from the hall, from elementary school, or they happened to be a close friend?

Remember when those candidates would post campaign signs in the hallways and bathrooms?  Remember how sometimes those signs had an innocent rhyme or pun in order to garner the vote of the undecided.

Remember when it was the day to vote?  Perhaps you were all brought to the gym or auditorium and hands were raised.  Perhaps everyone filled out a paper ballot during first period.

Now…

Remember when you voted for the school bully just so he wouldn’t punch you while you quaked and stood at your locker?  Remember when you voted for that big dude in school because he was so proud of how many girls he fondled without their permission in the hallway?  Remember when he was kicked out of class for making sexually suggestive remarks toward the young substitute?  Remember when his dad came to the school and got him out of severe trouble?  Remember when he joked with you in the locker room after gym about some alleged private sexual engagement between him and a female classmate?

Remember how you wish you had been that guy, and that you idolized him and thought, YEAH…this guy needs to be in charge?

Remember thinking that this is who represents all of the students’ moral goodness and intelligence?

Remember thinking that this is the guy at my school who, even though his past is a bit unsavory, will no doubt change any of his inappropriate behaviors and vocabulary once he’s elected?

 

October Warm-Up (Day 1–“A First”)

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In the spirit of practicing what I preach, here was yesterday’s first warm-up writing.  This, and the 19 to follow, are obviously rough drafts that may or may not find their way down Revision Lane someday…

Day 1 – A first

This was a first that speaks to my nervousness around the opposite sex.  I had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 or 12 at most.  I know I was still in elementary school.  My mom took us to either King’s Island or Cedar Point for a day about once a year.  We have some family in Ohio, and we must have made a weekend out of it–not entirely sure.  Anyway, my older brother was either on his own or with a friend that summer day at the park, so I was left with my mom.  We were in line for a ride I called The Octopus.  That may very well have been its name, but I distinctly recall this multi-legged ride with spinning cars  at each end to be white with red stripes.  

I can remember thinking it would be fun to ride this ride with my brother and not with my mom.  I sensed that she was pretty much over riding rides at this point in the day and her life, so I probably said something like how I didn’t want to ride the stupid Octopus.  Whatever I said was typically ignored or not met with adult conflict.  No.  My mom looks around and sees a girl about my height who is standing alone a few inches behind us.  

“Young lady, would you like to take my place and ride with my son?”

She clearly had not been asked such a question in her life.  Her gaping mouth suggested that no one had even ever referred to her as a young lady.

By this time we were being rushed forward toward the entrance gate to the ride.  The guys operating that day couldn’t have known I’d just met this girl seconds earlier when my mom accosted her in line.  Later, I remember looking down from my vantagepoint and seeing my mom’s cryptic grin–something that, then, made me think she was pleased by seeing her baby grow up.  Nope.  It was definitely because she got me in the end for back-talking her.

The girl was as forgettable as this tiny memoir.  She had long skinny legs and our knees touched once or twice as the motion of the mid-air car swayed us around.  I’m sure I didn’t talk to her.  I told the story several times at school the following year and probably even wrote about it then.  

It’s well over twenty years later, and I can still see those bare skinny knees and my mom’s devilish grin a few dozen yards below me.  

Finding Your Legal High

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A week ago, my nephew and I had a brief chat that has since redirected (and refocused) my goal.  I had my laptop open and was skimming through the novel I started writing last November during NaNoWriMo.  I mentioned the word count (something like 36K) and he wanted to know what it was about.  I gave him some of the major points I could recall, but then I began thinking as I was talking.

I’ve had numerous excuses to explain why it’s not done: teaching HS and evening classes, family obligations, computer malfunctions, buying a house, etc.)  Where do those get me?

I do most of my writing within the confines of the month of November, but I never push myself as much during the other eleven months.  When I write–when I REALLY write–I get a rush that is unequaled by anything else I know.  I don’t mean to suggest it’s even in the same ZIP code as playing with my children, seeing my wife’s face when I’ve been a part of her happiness, or even getting through to one of my students about anything whatsoever–those are different “highs”.

No.  Writing, though, gives me that positive surge that reminds me how life should feel all the time.  I’m completely grateful for everything I have achieved in this life so far.  I do not often realize how good I truly have it.

But I want to take this just a few steps further and write a book good enough for a publisher to want to try to sell.  That’s been a goal for something like 15 or 20 years, and I’ve not pushed myself hard enough for it to happen.

I talk to my students a lot about the “fixed mindset” versus the “growth mindset.”  I commonly remind students that growth is always possible if you want it badly enough.  I’d be a hypocrite to say that I’m just not good enough to be published.

Imagine a world where everyone loved what they did for a living.  Imagine a time where people sought out their goals and didn’t always play it safe.

A Week at Indiana University (Day .5)

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Good evening (depending on when you’re reading this), everyone!  I’m in a dorm at Indiana University.  I’m 39, and I’m fulfilling a childhood dream of going to, staying on, and being in Bloomington.

I’m here for a teacher workshop.  The details of such may not interest you, so I’ll keep that stuff to myself for now.  If time allows, I’ll blog about the actual conference separately after we get started tomorrow.

For now, I just want to write a few words about getting here.  The dorm where I’ll call home for the next four nights is about 10 x 12 with a shared bathroom with the neighboring dorm.  I’ve always pictured dorms to have bunk beds (because all of the ones I’ve been to had exactly that number), but this is a single.  It’s conceivable that these may be utilized by sophomores or upperclassmen, but I have no way of knowing for sure.  There weren’t any hangers provided (like one would find in a hotel closet).  All of the furniture is natural wood–quite sturdy too.  It makes me speculate how many IU students have used this desk, that bookcase, and the wobbly dresser over the years.

Is this too boring?  I think so too.  Well, I’ll wrap this up and potentially get something more intriguing along later.

Toodles…

Tennisball

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Tennisball

When I was in the womb, I’m told, I attended a few Dodger games a Chavez-Ravine.  A few years later, a picture of me indicates that someone encouraged me to wear a Yankees shirt.  When I was six, the St. Louis Cardinals played the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series.  Mom and I watched those games in Indiana, and I became not only hooked on the Redbirds but also an immense fan of the game.  I played in an organized league of some sort from age five through fifteen.  The tail end of my career is not worth discussing, but being on the field during a game was always the highlight of my day.

Throughout my childhood, my friends and I typically got together and played at either the nearby elementary schoolyard or the empty space between my house and my friend Mike’s house. It became a rectangular baseball field—or perhaps, baseball played on a football field.  I’ve never measured the lot’s size, but it seems to me that it was about fifty yards of fairly even terrain.  Conveniently, there were two bushes placed against each house, which served as our first- and third bases.  Home plate was usually signified by an unused glove or extra hat.  The pitcher threw north, and batters tried to hit a ball south past the alleyway and over my elderly neighbor Mr. Brines’ fence.

By about the time I was seven and my brother was on the brink of teenage-dom, we were instructed not to use a regular baseball during our games.  While we hadn’t broken any windows, we had to use a tennis ball as a substitute.  Obviously, this felt inauthentic—that is, until the first one of us connected on a softly tossed pitch and sent that green Penn Number 1 sailing high above the trees several yards beyond Mr. Brines’ fence line.  The tops of those trees must have been thirty or forty feet in the air.  The summer wind would make them dance left and right, creating a moving target for my black Louisville Slugger aluminum bat.

At ten years old, I stood at the north end over my makeshift home plate and faced one of my best friends, a freckled red-haired kid named Jason.  With no helmet on and batting gloves completely unnecessary, I urged him to send one to me that I could launch.  Our rules for home run derby allowed ten swings or five outs, whichever came first. Any ball hit that didn’t make it over the garage and beyond the alley was considered an out.

Very distinctly, I can recall squeezing that bat and awaiting the frayed tennis ball.  I focused on Jason’s freckled countenance and mimicked the batting stance repertoire of some Major Leaguer, daring Jason to toss it into my wheelhouse—a term our coach had ingrained in our heads during every practice and game that summer.  I wanted to hit one out so badly.  I shifted my eyes from his pasty grin to the ball he held.  I didn’t miss that first pitch and sent a towering ball over those dancing leaves.  That afternoon, at ten years old, I felt I conquered summer.