Monday, August 29, 2005

Not enough chairs for all the butts...

Well, this Sunday we had to set up our chairs for church as we normally do. But when it came time to take them down after the service, we were asked by the school administration to stack them up outside the classrooms down the hallways on the other side of the building. Normally we merely stack them in the nearby smaller hall, and this little request added approximately 30 minutes to our take-down time.

So I asked the school staffer on duty what the deal was. The answer boggled the mind.

This particular school is expecting an increased enrollment this year of about 400 students more than last year. 400 more students are 400 more than this school can fit in its current situation. So, they ordered modular classrooms to put in the bus circle, but they decided to wait until July to order them, so they will not be up and running until November. Now, for some reason, it appears as though they did not order any chairs to put in the modular classrooms. Or did they? Friendly staffer guy at the school on Sunday said there were chairs for the new classrooms in boxes in the gym. Okay… so why do our chairs have to go in the regular classrooms down the hall? No idea. As usual, the parishioners get screwed. According to one school administrator, there are plenty of chairs, according to another, there are not enough. No one seems to know what’s going on, but somewhere in the midst of all this confusion, there seem to be nearly 400 chairs less than they need to take care of all their students and the 900 happy church people who pay to use the cafeteria every week.

For the life of me, I honestly think they ordered 400 kids worth of temporary classrooms, but didn’t bother to order the chairs to go along with them. They just figured that the good ol’ Catholics would be more than happy to move chairs from one end of the building to the other every Sunday at 7:00 AM and afterwards until about 1:00 PM.

I’m sure the principle is probably thinking something like, “well, once they open up the next middle school, we can take down the modular classrooms and have our nice neat stack of chairs for the churches to use like it was last year.”

Foolish mortal.

At the rate the area is growing, those temporary classrooms are here to stay. The next school will get built too late and will be overcrowded in 3 years just like this one. Just buy some more chairs so everyone can be happy. I mean, use the money you get from the fact that the church rents the place for 6 hours every week. Shoot man, I happen to know that there were schools in the same county giving away chairs last spring!!! Hundreds of them!

On a related note – I’m sure glad I’m not a middle school principle in northern Virginia right now. That’s got to be the worst job ever.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Continuity dispite discontinuity -or - "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

I am beginning to wonder what kind of sense of humor the Almighty has. I feel as though I am moving forward and my life is progressing nicely. But no matter where I look, I find examples which seem to point out that I am in a place / time / situation remarkably similar to places / times / situations in which I have been in the past. Let's take a look, shall we?
  1. I am currently living in a dorm with a bunch of other people living in a dorm. As is required for the first week of dorm life, I am being amazingly accessible and easy to talk to. I want to make friends, mingle, and get to know people without judgement. We had an ice cream social. They are planning a "game night." Prior to this I was living with my parents, so of course I left stuff that I need at my parents' house. I have no way of getting there to get it for at least another 9 days. First week of college. I've been here before.
  2. As a requirement of my need-based financial aid, I am working for the "Student Life Office." The Dean has given me a job: i am responsible for writing / editing the weekly newsletter to be posted online every Monday. That's right folks: I am writing the bulletin. As most of you are aware, I have done this in the past as well. I was actually pretty happy to be rid of it at my last post (right before I "resigned"), but here I am again. Stretching deadlines and checking for typos.
  3. I began seeing a beautiful woman immediately before she moved away to attend school in another state way too far away. Hence, not only am I about to begin a rigorous class schedule, but my thoughts are preoccupied with my own current state of self-denial. I have been here before. It sucked then, but it sucks worse now. (I'm 28 friggin' years old - this ain't supposed to be happening...) Thank God for the internet. Online chatting has come a long way in ten years, but it still can't compare with actually seeing the person with whom I am conversing.
  4. I am occupying the rather inactive period of time between moving in to the dorm and the beginning of classes by drawing super-heroes of my own invention. The current masterpiece is a tough-as-nails female anti-hero. She is more than the law can handle, but there is good underneath the ultra-violent exterior. Hmmm... similar to the last time I was doing this, I am drawing on sub-standard paper with sub-standard pencils because I left all my good stuff at home.
  5. I am in a genuinely open state. This is the kind of thing that only happens after you've had the opportunity to question yourself just enough to be sure that you are unsure. I am here in my dorm room waiting to learn; waiting to be challenged. I want my current understandings of the truths I have held to be dashed upon the ground and give way to understndings that open up riches as yet untold. I have been here before too. It turned out poorly. Instead of opening my mind, I closed it. Instead of expanding my world, I restricted it. I am glad to have another shot. Will the outcome be different this time? Or will I simply fall into a different form of closed-mindedness? We shall see.
  6. The possibilities at this point are endless. The mind boggles. All sorts of new and exciting frontiers are opening before me. I felt this way 10 years ago - almost to the day. They say 30 is the new 20. That makes 28 the new 18. I'm happy I'm not 18 again, and I'm happy that 28 is giving me another, wiser, more capable run at something great.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A good reason to buy a color printer and some photo paper... the picture directly below.

Here are my godsons. I think Evan is on the right and Jacob is on the left, but we can't see Evan's birthmark (which is behind his knee on his left leg) so I'm not 100% sure. They're identical, but I think Jacob takes after his mom and Evan takes after his dad. That makes no sense, but still...

Monday, August 22, 2005

List Mania!

In case none of you has noticed, I enjoy making lists. It is a convenient way of organizing thoughts on the page and a great way to give yourself the impression that your life is under control.

The most famous list is, of course, the shopping list. Long before I had ever heard of a “to do” list, I knew the importance of the shopping list. I mean, who are these people who venture into a grocery store or a shopping mall without a clear list of easily identifiable objectives? Make a list dang it! You can amend it at any time!

That’s the great thing about lists; you can add to them. You can cross things off of them. They change as you change. As objectives are achieved, they are removed. That leads me to my favorite list: the “to do” list. This list has many variations. It can simply be a list of tasks that you want to get done within a certain time frame, or it can be something more expressive. Take, for example, the following list:
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • India

At first glance, it appears that I have listed four countries that just happen to all begin with the letter “I.” But this list says more about me than that. This is a popular variation of the “to do” list. This is a list of places I want to see and enjoy before I die. My actual list is longer, but you get the picture. This list says something about me. At some point, I may actually make it to all of these countries, but maybe Italy or India strikes me in such a way that I wish to return and deepen my experience there. That country would remain on the list, while the others might get crossed off. The new list would say something about me as well; it would reveal in some way that my experience has changed, and therefore so have I. The “to do” list is like that. It has many levels. Within each “to do” list are the multiple lists of other things to do in order to bring those goals to fruition. Two years ago, I decided that “Own a house” was high on my list of things to do. This created a whole new list of things “to do.”

I have all kinds of lists. Places I want to see, people I want to talk to, dreams I want to come true. My favorite smells, tastes, sights, textures and sounds. Lists of what I did, what I will do, and what I might do. Some of them are in my head, others are written down. They are all dynamic.

I give you, therefore, a short list of my favorite lists:

  • My “Church Music of the Week” list
  • Any of my “to do” lists
  • My “turning points” list
  • My “favorite people” list
  • My “dreams” list

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Got to get back to basics

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon here on Your Daily Zuke. Recently, this has become somewhat of a diary page. This is distressing to your Zuke. Keeping the world appraised of my comings and goings was not my intention when I decided to keep this blog. What ever happened to all the “Zuked up observations” that I promised?

Well, to put it simply, it can be hard to Zuke something up. It takes time, effort and some creativity. Sometimes I am up to it, and other times not. Let me put it another way: it is easier to simply tell what the heck I’ve been up to than it is to give you a true daily Zuke.

Please keep this in mind when checking out my posts. If you see me slip into “diary” mode, give me a heads up so I can reinvigorate ye olde Zuke. Your Daily Zuke is supposed to be mildly entertaining. I plan to work better to achieve the appropriately mild level of entertainment that characterized this blog at its inception.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A day that surpassed every expectation.

I woke early. I had an appointment with the Financial Aid office at school. Yes. It was a little last minute, but good things are always better when you prolong the anticipation. The appointment was at 9:00 AM so I left at 7:00.

I arrived at my destination at 8:30 as planned. This gave me ample time to get my "usual" at the "Everyday Gourmet" in Takoma Park. I highly recommend. Get the coffee and an egg and cheddar sandwich. This was the day's first victory.

At the appropriate time, I meandered to the school and walked up to the Financial Aid office, it just so happens that the registrar is also the Financial Aid contact. He's a shorter man, probably 5'6" or so. grey hair lingers about his temples and the back of his head, but other than that, bald. We sat down and discussed my options. He treated me like I didn't know what the hell I was doing, which was true. So that was a good thing. Bottom line: I should get 90% of my tuition paid by need-based financial aid. The rest I can cover with a small-ish loan from Sallie Mae. I am set. Loving life. The day's second victory secured.

On the way back home, I called Chimera and we arranged to meet for lunch. I happened to know that she, being unemployed and preparing to depart for school, had nothing else to do that day. Lunch = victory # 3.

Lunch wasn't good enough for two unemployed students with nothing to do, so we went bowling. Yes bowling. Now, I was handilly defeated in both of our games. But overall, it was fun and certainly counts as a victory. The Fourth victory.

Bowling was over and still the better part of the day to go. Hmmm... Ice Cream. Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Cherry Garcia on a Waffle Cone. VICTORY IS MINE! Number five.

Not done yet. That killed all of about 23 seconds. (I like my ice cream. I'm all over that stuff. A little too much though. The flavor stayed in my beard till the next morning - victory!) I hadn't seen Wedding Crashers, but now I have! Damn funny movie. I might have to see it again. Vince Vaughn's machine-gun improv is too quick to catch all at once. Victory!

Still hours left in the day. What to do. Drive around in the rain. Check. Ahh... an unknown pool hall in Annandale. Let's try this place out. They have wings. They have good beer on tap. I'm told they make a good Cosmo. They have a special deal: rack up a food and drink bill of $25 or more and you get three free hours on a pool table. VICTORY! Sweet victory. Well not at pool. I'm better at pool than bowling, but not much. I claim victory nonetheless.

By this point (11:24 PM), a certain contented and pleasant exhaustion has set in; not unlike after the dinner on Saturday following the trip to Sandy Point.

Totally spent, the day ends with the secure knowledge that Chimera's last day here in the D.C. area was full to overflowing. And that was the point. My main rule is to never turn down an invitation to go out. I've added a second: never go home before the day is done. How many victories was that? I lost count.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Don’t save anything for the swim back to shore - or - "LEAVE IT ALL OUT ON THE FIELD!"

Time for an update. I've had a hell of a week, and it just keeps getting better. I keep telling people that, if I seem a little out of it, it might be because I've been going non-stop for five days now. Ich bin todmüde! I'll give you a brief (and not too detailed) synopsis.

Friday - Let's start by heading out to the ol' townhouse and powerwashing the deck and porch in preparation for sanding, staining, and painting. Follow that up with a raucus gathering of friends old and new that went late into the night (or early into the morning, whatever).

Saturday - Barely awake, five of us (all of whom were going on less than 5 hours sleep) head out about noon-ish to hit the beach at Sandy Point. Overall it was a blast. We could have done without the jellyfish, though. Everyone got stung at least once. Some of us twice. H got hit bad. Unwilling to end the day without some grub, we came back and had dinner. All of us were tired as hell, but unwilling to leave early. I got home around midnight.

Sunday - 6:00 AM rolls around and I have to get up to go sing at three Masses. The air conditioning was out at the school where they celebrate Eucharist - so I was hot. Oh, and Joe was there to celebrate Eucharist with the community. The new boss is friends with him. That was an excellent surprise.
My mother's birthday is this week, so the fam and R - my sis's man - went to dinner at ye olde Chinese Restaurant - the House of Chou.
I was all settled in for the night, when someone suggested getting together for coffee or something. I never turn down an invitation to go out - so at 9:30 PM on Sunday night - out I went. It was a blast, and I got home about... hmmm I don't entirely remember, but it was late. At least 2:00. There are benefits to being unemployed.

Monday - Promised Mom I'd clean the kitchen cabinets and replace all the old hardware. Not a big job. I had some good help so it went fast. Actually, Monday shaped up to be kind of a chill day. Video games, dinner, TV, sleep. Good to go. But Tuesday made up for it. How much can you pack into one day? Tuesday was a personal best for me.

More on that later.

HA! Leave 'em wanting more.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Something Snappy

I admit it. I’ve been avoiding discussing the party-thing that happened a couple Saturdays ago. To be honest – it was fun watching all the rumors, explanations, innuendos, etc. unfold without my input. The credit goes to Termite and Chimera for most of that. Though House’s tenacious search for details is certainly amusing.

So. Let me paint the picture… (insert cheesy flashback music here – probably a harp or something…)

That afternoon, the two young ladies who have taken up residence in my basement had just begun to move in their stuff. Consequently, boxes were strewn about the basement and that was about it. I did leave them my television and xbox (which I plan to reclaim as soon as I graduate), so that was available for the use of the guests.

I need to thank H and V for their suggestions for the food. While it may appear to some that I did not take them to heart, you two were instrumental in redirecting my thought processes in a more productive direction – namely, frozen prepared food that you just need to heat up and eat. Hence, the choice of a nice big frozen lasagna – yum. I began working on it just an hour or two before dinner-time.

When I say “working,” what I really mean is, “I put the lasagna in the oven and started drinking.” For some reason, our God in Heaven saw fit to reveal to me a largely unused bottle of Absolut Vanilla Vodka which I had previously hidden (and forgot about) under the frozen broccoli. By the time Termite, Chimera, H & J arrived, I was feeling fine.

From there, eating and drinking ensued. We were outside, we were inside. We listened to bawdy music that Chimera brought over. We played Uno with “Family Guy” Uno cards which inspired tons of Stewie, Quagmire, and Peter impersonations. All of them were dead on! (Or was I drunk?) We ate lasagna and I grossed everyone out by sharing some of mine with my bulldog (okay – so maybe I shoulda used a different fork at least). I then took the whole bunch downstairs to show them what I referred to as, “my new favorite thing.” You see, apparently, one of the renter ladies is something of an artist. For one of her projects, she did a plaster cast of her own nude chest. This was one of the things she decided to move into the basement earlier that day and place (no joke) on the MANTLE of the FIREPLACE. Yes – I would call that a conversation piece.

Well, since we were there, and all of us were of the same persuasion, we commenced to playing video games. Well, actually, we only played one game. It is one of those fighting games where even the novice can feel the thrill of victory by pushing all the buttons really fast. We had a blast. We were loud, apparently. [This is where H showed up and apparently rang the doorbell. None of us heard it and she left. We suck just a little bit for that.] Almost of one mind, we all got up and decided we were finished playing games – video games that is.

Here’s where things start to get fuzzy for me. That is some things are fuzzy. Others stand out with remarkable clarity. We all head back upstairs. We turn the music on again (the same song) and went outside to converse and drink. At some point, H & J departed and Chimera, Termite and me continued our conversation on the back porch. Deep talk of course: this means I was talking out of my ass. This happens much more easily when I’m inebriated. Fortunately, Chimera is equally adept at calling me on it no matter what her current level of impairment might be. (Apparently she was pretty well impaired – as evidenced by her multiple failing attempts to walk a straight line.)

To close, I will merely state that Termite headed home, while Chimera (just a little too drunk to drive) decided to remain and sleep at my house. This, when coupled with comments made by my bloggin’ buddies, has given rise to all sorts of speculation. None of which I want to address right now. HA!

This mirror is broken! It is reflecting poorly...

I have been slacking off in more ways than one. I have not been posting nearly as often as I am able. I have not made much headway as regards the financing of my education, I have not repainted the rails on the front porch of my townhouse, nor have I cleaned out my parents’ basement as promised.

On the other hand, I have been occupying my time with rather mundane and useless tasks that nonetheless allow me to pretend I’ve accomplished something. Examples of this include:
  • Moving furniture around the house randomly and without planning much. I learned the intricacies of this most useless of tasks working for my first boss at the church. He loved to move stuff around, then put it back. More accurately – he loved telling me to move stuff around, then put it back.
  • Preparing for the eventual move to school by shifting my possessions from one box to another. Corollary to this task is the reduction of my possessions by careful analysis of the contents of each and every box. In my defense, I do need to reduce my level of “stuff” by about 50% in order to fit it all in my room at school. However, if I don’t have my discounts, grants, and loans sorted out – the point will be moot.
  • Busting my younger brother’s chops. My parents have pretty much exhausted themselves over the past decade in this task. So I figure I can help them out by stepping in and giving them a break. Does he listen to me any better than to them? Nope. It is irritating to watch your younger brother shoot himself in the foot. You can try to warn him, but that only works if he listens. Still, I tell Mom I berated him for his inaction, and she says, “Good job!” Ahhh… the glow of false accomplishment.
  • Cleaning stuff that has no business getting cleaned. It does not make any sense to clean the underside of the trashcan lid. It is going to be skuzzy and germ ridden approximately 2.7 seconds later. But I didn’t let that stop me! Imagine – this is what I choose to do instead of locking down my financial aid! Hmmm… it occurs to me that my brother may not be the only one shooting himself in the foot.
It’s no fun when my own posts warp themselves before my very eyes and focus in on my shortcomings.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Deja Vu... Why do I get the feeling I've been here before?

I've been flying below the radar for few days. After Saturday night, I needed a day to recover, and that happened to be the same day I had to move the rest of my crap to my parents' house for the month.

Since I've been here, I have done the following:
  • I arranged one room to resemble the way my living room was set up at my house.
  • I have set up another room almost exactly as it was when I lived here in high school.
  • I've come to realize that both my younger brothers have a lot of growing up left to do. As awesome as they can be at times, they can be really dumb an instant later. I guess that goes for most people, but if A raises his voice to my parents in a tone that can only be defined as "adolescent" one more time...

Add up those three items with the fact that I'm living with my parents again (I never thought I would be in that situation ever again) and I'm feeling like I've stepped into the past. In this house there are things which have litterally not moved in 10 years or more. I'm not talking about furniture here. I'm talking about the torn up cover of The Stand (Stephen King) which I just found in the drawer where I left it about 13 years ago. Now - the dresser has changed rooms a couple times, but the torn cover remains in the drawer. Weird. I found a picture from my senior prom (May 1995) buried at the bottom of a drawer in my old desk. It was in better shape than the pics I have in my photo albums! The past few days have been like that.

As I clean and move things around for my 'rents, I am unearthing various bits and pieces of the past which foment nostalgic reminisces. I hope I don’t regress to my teenage self; unhelpful, argumentative, lazy, etc. etc.

Anyway, I'll give ya'll a few hours to chew on this, then I'll come back with something snappy from the party my "friend" threw on Saturday. S/he and everyone apparently had a blast! ;^)