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Blog Entries posted by EleCivil

  1. EleCivil
    My first year teaching, I taught 4th graders. I then followed them to 5th grade, then 6th.
    These same kids are now 7th graders. I'm not in the classroom anymore - most of my day is spent riding a desk - but I still make time to visit that class.
    Today, I noticed that about half of them were wearing mismatched socks. You can easilly tell that these particular kids have been mine for 3 years straight.
    I was wearing mismatched socks as well. When the higher-ups questioned me about it, I said that my one white and one black sock was a Taoist religious expression, symbolizing yin and yang - an expression of the dual nature of man and my personal attempts to strive for balance. Their eyes glazed over and they let me go on my way. Point: EC.
  2. EleCivil
    True story:
    Student 1: "Mr. Civil, Student 2 just tried to bite me!"
    EC: (Turns and glares at Student 2) "I knew it!"
    Student 2: "What?"
    EC: "You're a vampire! I've been saying it for years, but does anyone ever listen to crazy old Mr. Civil? No. Well, now they'll see that crazy old Mr. Civil isn't really all that old. I mean, crazy." (Rolls up a newspaper into a cone.)
    Student 1: "What are you doing?"
    EC: "What must be done. Hold still, Student 2, you're going to feel a slight stakey sensation."
    Student 2: "I'm not a vampire!"
    EC: "That's exactly what a vampire would say."
    Student 1: "That's paper. The stake has to be made of wood."
    EC: "Well, paper is made from wood pulp...which is made out of wood. I'm sure the transitive property applies to vampire slaying."
    Student 2: "I'm not a vampire!"
    EC: "...You sure?"
    Student 2: "YES!"
    EC: "Oh. Well, then. Stop trying to bite people. Now, where were we? Math? Yeah, let's do some math."
  3. EleCivil
    This might be a long one. I'm going to preface this by saying that this is all the opinion of EleCivil, the eccentric weirdo whose advice you probably should not heed for any reason. It in no way represents the views of the site admins, etc. etc. legal stuff.
    I recently got an email from someone telling me that they enjoyed my short story, Fistfights with Flashlights - this was a short story that I wrote while in the middle of Leaves and Lunatics, when I was about 18 years old. To be honest, I remember almost nothing about it. It's about 90% autobiography, 10% fictionalized. I wrote it in one quick burst and then submitted it without going back to edit or even re-read it once. I then deleted the file and have never gone back to look at it again. As such, I can't speak for the quality - it was pretty much just an hour of catharsis. I haven't thought about the story in a LONG time, but this email brought it to mind, and I wanted to reflect a bit.
    One of the major themes of this short was religion, and how it can mess with one's perceptions of the world. Specifically, it was about how, when I was a kid, I believed in things like demons, possession, and the apocalypse, and how that screwed with my head to the point where I was deathly afraid of the dark, carrying a flashlight with me at all times to scare away any demons that might try to possess me. I used to read the book of Revelations and compare it to current events, searching for signs of the coming rapture and subsequent end of the world, which I was eagerly looking forward to. Yes, I was six years old and my main hobbies were Eschatology and awaiting the end of the world.
    But the part that I wouldn't - couldn't - admit to anyone was that I was a skeptic when it came to the existence of God. I felt it, but couldn't even admit it to myself. I didn't think God was real. I didn't think that he sent his son to die for me, and in fact I found the idea of parents sending their children to die for them to be terrifying - if God, the source of all morality, sent his son to be tortured and killed by the bad guys, would my parents do the same to me?
    Now, there's some cognitive dissonance there - I fully believed that Satan and his demons existed and were out to get me, but I was skeptical about the existence of a God that wanted to save me - but come on, I was six. And let's face it - it's easier to believe in perfect evil than perfect good. You can SEE perfect evil every day. Perfect good is something far rarer, and there wasn't a lot of it going on around me.
    So to summarize my childhood beliefs:
    There is a devil who wants to get me.
    There are demons who work for him who are roaming the Earth looking for me.
    The world is going to end any day now.
    God can save me, as long as I believe in him.
    I believe in God a little less every day.
    Therefore, my only hope is that the world ends or that I die soon, while I still sort of believe in God, so that he won't condemn me to an eternity of torture for not believing in him all the way.
    This is what was running through my brain every day, every night. I couldn't turn it off - everything reminded me of it. And keep in mind, this is all before I started thinking that maybe I was gay, and even MORE of an abomination in the eyes of the only entity that could save me. Holy shit, no wonder I attempted suicide as a child.
    I still called myself a Christian and told myself that I believed until I was about 17. I wrote Fistfights with Flashlights when I was just starting to admit to myself that I was really an atheist, and that WANTING to believe in something can't make you start believing in it. Making that admission - giving myself permission to admit that I didn't believe in the religion of my parents - was the biggest relief I have ever felt in my life. Why? Because if I didn't believe in God, I didn't need to believe in any of the things that scared me - the devil, demons, hell, and the apocalypse - I didn't have to spend my life waiting for death. I didn't have to seek to end myself to please a God that could never be pleased with me. (This is a theme I revisited in the later chapters of Laika.)
    Back to the reader response - the writer of this email wrote that he assumed I was a non-believer, and identified himself as an atheist. This gave me pause - I haven't sat down to really consider my religious beliefs in quite some time. I try to make it a habit to "re-draw my map" - attack my own philosophical and intellectual views with logic to see if they hold up, or if they need to be reconsidered...but I haven't done that with religion in a long time. So, what's the best way to sort out one's beliefs? Stream-of-consciousness writing! Hence, this blog post.
    I suppose I am an atheist, in the dictionary definition - I do not believe in any gods, and do not follow any religions. But at the same time, I don't fit in with the "New Atheist" movement that's been gaining traction, lately. I've read the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins, but I don't really agree with their view that, as Hitchens wrote, "Religion poisons everything." If you read my above experience of being driven to self-hatred and suicide by religion, you might be thinking "What the hell, EleCivil?" but hold on.
    I don't think religion makes a big difference one way or another in day-to-day life. I tend to see human goodness on a whole as a bell-curve distribution - about 5% of us are completely evil psychopaths, 5% of us are completely good-natured saints, and the other 90% are somewhere in between. And I believe that there are religious people and non-religious people in every segment of that progression.
    The religious guy who gives half his income to charity and goes on "missions" to distribute medical supplies in disaster zones? If he wasn't religious, he'd probably be doing the same thing, but in the name of "humanism" or "personal conscience." The atheist who is found with a pile of torsos in his basement, who claims he went on a killing spree "just for kicks"? If he were religious, he'd be doing the same thing, but instead claiming that he killed them in "a glorious cleansing for the Lord!" The religious guy who hates gays because "the bible says it's wrong"? If he were an atheist, he'd still hate gays; he'd just say he hates them "'cause it's gross!"
    I don't think religion (or lack thereof) can turn people "good" or "evil" or "open-minded" or "bigoted". I don't think it has that much power. I think we are drawn to our beliefs and come to define them by our innate qualities, not the other way around. There's a saying that if you ask ten preachers to interpret the bible, you'll get twenty different interpretations. Thanks to a blend of archaic language and confirmation bias, we will always see what we want to see in religion. If you read the holy text of your religion and see a call to help your fellow man and live a life of service, then you were probably going to live such a life even if you had never seen the text. Likewise, if you read the holy texts and see a list of people you should dislike, you were already looking for a reason to dislike them.
    Or, to put it more simply - Douchebags are gonna be douchebags. Amen.
  4. EleCivil
    Santa came to my school the other day to eat lunch with the kindergarten class. They borrowed one of my bases-of-operation (I don't have my own classroom, so my materials are hidden in various caches in three or four different buildings around campus) for this event without telling me. I walk in, looking to pick up some books I need for my next class and see Santa. I say hi. The kindergarten kids look over at me, gasp, and shout "HI, MR. CIVIL!!" then run over to hug me and ask me to do magic tricks/juggle for them.
    That's right. Surreal as it sounds, in one small corner of the world, a simple reading teacher can rival Santa Claus.
    Of course, now I'm paranoid that the man himself has a hit out on me. I keep turning around, expecting to see tinsel-covered piano wire stretched taught between two fur-lined gloves.
    I think it's been right around a year, now, since I've written anything outside of school work. I don't know if that's going to change any time soon. I'm starting to feel the muses jabbing at me, again, but I'm not there yet. I don't know.
    It's Christmas break, and I'm sitting around in my coat, gloves, and hat because I'm too damn broke to turn on the heat. I can see my breath in my apartment. I swiped a few bags of mint tea from the teacher's lounge before leaving, and I'm sipping that to stay warm, too. Just four more months 'till Spring.
  5. EleCivil
    So, I had this idea for a Halloween costume: I'd grow a goatee, and go as my own evil twin from a mirror dimension. But here's the thing - not that many people are nerdy enough to get it. (Blue, help me out. I know you've got my back on this one.)
    What I've noticed is that people seem to interpret my "costume" differently based on their own backgrounds. As a man with a shaved head and a goatee dressed all in black, people have mistaken my costume for the following:
    Wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin:

    Actor Brian Cranston:

    Comic book character Wee Hughie:

    And of course, the Satanist, Anton LaVey:

    Simply from their guesses as to what my goatee-costume was, I can tell which of them reads comics, which of them watches wrestling, which of them likes Breaking Bad, and which of them has a secret shrine to the demon Baphomet in her basement. Pretty cool, yeah?
  6. EleCivil
    I'm on hiatus from writing.
    Well, not completely true - I'm writing stories for my remedial reading students. I hate, hate, hate the books provided by the school. They're either too high-level for the kids to understand or they are too kiddy and uninteresting, or they're all about rich, suburban white kids that my kids can't relate to, so I'm writing my own.
    In other words, work is kicking my ass all over the place, and I'm kicking it right back. My 8th graders read like 2nd graders, and I've only got a few months to change that. I've got to make words more appealing than the street corners, and that's taking all my time and creativity. I'm tapped.
    In other news, I'm going to a private premier screening of "Waiting for 'Superman'" - a documentary about inner-city charter schools (like mine) - and I was invited to attend a conference/discussion afterward. Presumably because I'm a badass. You know, in an educational way. Fun times!
  7. EleCivil
    I got my first teaching job two years ago, right out of college. At the time, I posted this:
    "The school has no art, music, gym, recess, or extra-curriculars. These were all shut down because of low test scores.
    The school itself is on the verge of being shut down by the government (depending on this year's test scores)."
    Bruin Fisher replied with this:
    "Cool. You will hit the school like a tornado. Its grades will shoot through the roof, the kids will become well-motivated, the arts courses will be re-established."
    I have my suspicions that Mr. Fisher might be a psychic. Or a witch. Here's what's happened:
    The incompetent teachers and abusive administrators were kicked to the curb.
    We now have art, music, gym, and an after school program.
    We put on school plays every six weeks.
    Our test scores have shot up, making us one of the best performing public schools in the area.
    I don't have the data from other teachers, but my kids went up an average of two and a half grade levels in the last year.
    I'm happy about the test scores. But seriously, who cares about test scores? Any educator you ask will tell you how ridiculous standardized tests are. Until kids have standardized lives, standardized parental support, standardized health, and standardized neighborhoods, standardized tests will always be BS.
    Yeah, I teach my kids to read. But you'll know which ones are mine because they'll be smiling. They'll be the ones juggling and performing slight-of-hand tricks. They'll be the ones wearing goofy hats and reciting poems while standing on one foot. They'll be standing on tables and role-playing characters from fiction and history. They'll be singing their answers and reading aloud in different accents every day.
    Officially, I'm going against the curriculum. The administration and the government say that I'm supposed to take kids who can't read and teach them how to fake it well enough to bluff their way through a standardized test. But when no one's looking, I close the door and teach them to read.
    Screw the tests. Screw the standards. Let's teach.
  8. EleCivil
    I was working on Leviathan Rusts earlier today, after watching The Big Lebowski and splitting a pot of coffee with a local DJ (Yes, it's always a wacky adventure!). So, amped up on caffeine and with a head full of surreal scenes and strange dialogue, I had one of those Eureka Moments. The entire plot became clear to me. The beginning, middle, and end all aligned before my eyes, and the characters' arcs all fell into place.
    I had some basic ideas and a first chapter written, but now it's all pieced together. And I'm thinking this might be my best story, yet. I'm excited. I love it when a plan comes together.
    Of course, now I've got to tweak the first chapter some more. Remember when I said in a previous post that it would be released in December '09? Don't count on it. I mean, there's still a couple days left in December, but I'll still need to get it edited, and then it'll probably be a few days until The Dude and the CW Web Guys get it upped. So, January 2010. A new story for a new year.
    After all, anyone who's followed my stories before knows better than to believe me when I mention a deadline, right?
    If you want some hints about what it'll be like, read on. If you'd rather be surprised, stop here.
    Last chance.
    No, seriously this time.
    Don't say I didn't warn you.
    First, a recap:
    Leaves and Lunatics - My first attempt at writing a novel/novella/serial story. At the time, I was aiming for Nifty Archives quality, because that was about the extent of my experience with net fiction. I started writing it when I was 17 and fresh out of high school. It was a somewhat sappy romance story with a lot of editing mistakes and some plot points that still make me cringe. The story didn't really go anywhere. But it did have some characters that I like. I rushed the ending because I had the idea-seeds for Laika and I wanted to get started on it.
    Laika - My second serial novel. As I explained in the Afterward, I played around a bit with symbols and theme (socks = freedom). It fits a lot of the characteristics of a screwball comedy - A central romance, romance across cultures/socio-economic strata, fast-paced dialogue, false identities, some physical comedy, etc. I wasn't as happy with the ending as I could have been - I kind of ran out of steam, and the last couple chapters fizzled out and included some scenes that didn't really go anywhere. Still, I'm happy with how it turned out.
    Now, my current project...
    Leviathan Rusts - The third in the "L series", it takes place in the same "universe" as the first two stories. Keep an eye out for returning characters. It takes place about six years after L&L, and about two years after Laika. The main characters are college aged. It does not take place in Curson, MI or Gordon, OH, but in a new city - the college town of Milkthistle, OH. The protagonist may be difficult for readers to relate to (except for one or two of them, who might get him right away).
    As for genre...well, it's different. At some points, darker than Laika. At others, lighter than L&L. That's as much as I'll say - you can see the rest for yourselves. Here's some hints.
    Update: First chapter has been sent to a (potential) editor.
  9. EleCivil
    Leviathan Rusts
    Everyday Adventures of a Social Misanthropologist
    ?I love you the way I love the efficient digestive system of the invasive zebra mussel."
    ?Rent?s due. I need it in my hand by sunset, or I kick your ass to the curb, then back in here, then back out to the curb, again. Why??
    ?Because you?re just that hardcore."
    "A guy doesn?t get any?relief?for as long as you, and he ends up simultaneously mounting and head-butting a Coke machine out of sheer frustration. It's the first corollary to Moron Theory. And you?re far too dignified for that."
    May is one long, full-scale taunt of a month. Simply calling its name forces thoughts of uncertainty. Will the weather be decent, today? It May. It fluctuates from violent to peaceful, from overcast and deathly quiet to glaring and buzzing with yellow jackets, all pollen-drunk and petal-blind. So goes the mood of its human inhabitants, equally flower-gorged. Equally beauty-stricken. Equally surprised by the sunbeams stretching for their hibernating eyes.
    December 2009

  10. EleCivil
    No one told me that when, over the course of 23 years, you accumulate roughly eight metric assloads of books, you eventually have to MOVE eight metric assloads of books. To a third floor apartment. With no elevator.
    Sweet Fancy Moses, this is gonna take forever.

    Yes, those are all books.

    But on the plus side...I've got a lot of books.
    Also, I've got a new place that's fairly close to my new job. Best thing about the new place? I can finally get broadband access. Up until now, I've been scraping by on my gas-powered 56k connection.
    "Our aspirations are wrapped up in books,
    Our inclinations are hidden in looks."

    "Wrapped Up in Books" by Belle and Sebastian

  11. EleCivil
    I got a job. Just in time, too, with less than two weeks before school starts.
    I don't want to give too many details in a public post like this, because I wouldn't want to be recognized (hit me up on AIM or YIM if you're that curious about the details).
    Here's what I can tell you:
    I'm a reading teacher for a mix of elementary and middle school students (that's right - my designation is "EleMiddle." Heh.)
    It's an inner-city school with 99% of the population below the poverty line. Many of the students are homeless, parentless, or penniless.
    It's a very poor school in a very poor area during a recession, so I'll probably be laid off at the end of the school year, regardless of performance.
    The school has no art, music, gym, recess, or extra-curriculars. These were all shut down because of low test scores.
    The school itself is on the verge of being shut down by the government (depending on this year's test scores).
  12. EleCivil
    I'm trying to give up swearing. It's not that hard - it's not like I was a big fan of the profanity, anyway - but I figure that it'd cut down on my chances of saying something that could get me fired once I'm actually teaching. As such, I've been throwing around some rather colorful euphemisms, lately. They tend to make bystanders do double-takes (which, I'll admit, is true for a lot of the weird stuff that I do). Here are some stand-outs:
    "Matt Lauer!" and "Mothra Faulkner!" were both mentioned in previous blog posts, but they're worth repeating.
    "Grinnin' Bedlam!"
    "Andrew 'Old Hickory' Jackson!"
    "Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum!"
    On the writing side of things...
    -Wrote the first two and a half chapters to a "Laika" sequel, but I absolutely hated it. Consider the project scrapped indefinitely.
    -Wrote three poems, currently posted in the poetry board. Used one of them to win a local poetry competition (the prize was a blank book with the words "Carpe Diem" inscribed on the cover).
    -Wrote the first six chapters of a sci-fi/urban fantasy story. It has two secondary characters that are probably my favorites out of everything I've written, and I'm having a lot of fun with building a plot around a home-made mythology. I don't know if I want to post this one, though.
    -Wrote a few pages and a decently workable outline for a new AD/CW story. Don't expect to see anything of it for a while - I'm still kicking ideas around.
  13. EleCivil
    I passed student-teaching with an A, and I'll be getting my degree on Saturday.
    My students wrote me goodbye letters on my last day. Some of my favorite lines include...
    "Mr. EC the he has a cool hat." [sic]
    "The best thing Mr. EC did was freestyle rap with [X] in the computer lab, then drop his pencil on the floor like it was a mic."
    "I thought Mr. EC was really weird at first." [i find this one funny because I thought I was really weird the whole time.]
    "Mr. EC needs to keep being a straight-up G."
    "Mr. EC needs to come teach at the high school next year so I can have him again."
    "Mr. EC looks like the Hitman [see below], and that game is awesome."
    One student included a drawing of the ninja turtles, in which he misspelled both "Ninja" and "Turtles". But that's okay - I only had that student for science, not language arts.

    Pictured: Mr. EC prepares to serve as detention monitor.

    I went to the awards ceremony for my graduating class. No one told me that it was supposed to be a formal affair, so I came dressed to my usual slacker standard (purple and black checkered t-shirt with a large skull on one side, slightly frayed and baggy black pants, a black fedora cocked jauntily to one side, and my trademark macaroni necklace). Once I'm inside, I notice that every other guy in the room is wearing a suit, or at least a collared shirt and a tie. Heh. Oops. It reminds me of my freshman year, when I came to the invocation (presented, unbeknownst to me, by the Mayor) dressed in a similar way. The difference? This time, I was wearing my noodle necklace with confidence.
    At one point, the president of the student body came by to say hi, and did a kind of double-take. He asks "Why didn't you dress up?"
    I shrug, look around, and say, "Hey, this is how I always look. Why'd everybody else feel the need to change?"
    He opens his mouth, pauses, shakes his head, and mutters "I wish I was as cool as you, Civil," before walking back to his seat. I'm positive he was being sarcastic, but the whole interaction still made me laugh.
    Anyway, awards-wise, it turns out I'm going to graduate Magna Cum Laude (which probably isn't half as fun as it sounds). It was funny to see the reactions in the crowd when I went to get my honors tassel and they were all looking at each other as if to say, "Wait, the dude with the pasta necklace? Really?"
    The Curse of Greyface in action, ladies and gents. Ain't it sad?
    Now, on to looking for a job! When I find out what state I'm moving to, I'll let you know.
    "We are a new faith,
    We are a new face,
    We are everything
    In this world that personifies change."

    "A Necessary Change" by Trunks and Tales

  14. EleCivil
    Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything in here, huh?
    Well, I've got a fairly good excuse, this time - with my commute added in, I'm working about 13 hours every day. For no money. In fact, I'm paying about 10k for the privilege of working 13 hour days. That's right - I'm student-teaching.
    I've already finished up with my stint as a language arts teacher. Right now, I'm teaching science. Starting on Monday, I'll be teaching not only general science, but for one hour a day I'll be teaching forensic science - crime scene investigation stuff, like DNA fingerprinting, blood spatter analysis, and fingerprint lifting. This means that I get to stage crime scenes around the school, drawing chalk outlines and leaving bloody footprints and such. Fun, but it doubles my workload. I'm looking at 14-15 hour days, now. My 8 hour shifts on the weekends are like a vacation. I'm pretty much a coffee-fueled zombie.
    For more of my wacky, school-related adventures, check out the thread "8th grade is more exciting the second time." at Codey's World.
    A pothole ate one of my tires, the other day. Actually, not just the tire - the entire wheel was mashed to oblivion. I couldn't even change it - I had to call AAA, who actually had to chip away the old wheel with a chisel. The pothole had to have been at least five inches deep, and it stretched across an entire lane of a two-lane road - there was no way to avoid it. AAA had had so much business because of that pothole that they had a guy stationed there, so it didn't take much time. The mechanic suggested that I send the wheel to the city, so that maybe they'll get to work on that ridiculous pothole.
    True telephone conversation:
    EC: What are you doing?
    Friend: Drinking coffee, listening to techno, working. You?
    EC: Same, except replace "techno" with "NPR."
    Friend: ...
    EC: I mean, "punk." I'm listening to punk! Uh, hooray for anarchy. I'm definitely not listening to Garrison Keillor talk about Lake Wobegon, right now.
    Friend: See, this is why I can never tell when you're being sarcastic.
    "If ever I would stop thinking about music and politics
    I would tell you that sometimes it?s easier to desire
    and pursue the attention and admiration of 100 strangers
    than it is to accept the love and loyalty
    of those closest to me."

    "Music and Politics" by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy

  15. EleCivil
    I've been driving around to various historic locations, getting pictures for a travelogue I'm writing for an Ohio History course. It's a lot of fun. I'm seeing a bunch of towns, cities, and even parts of my own city that I never usually see.
    Here's a picture of me at Fort Meigs, watching suspiciously for the British Navy (Camy, I'm looking in your direction - you'd give me a heads up if you guys were going to give it another go and put us colonists in our place, right?).
    [image removed]
    Also, I've been given a student teaching assignment. Looks like I'll be driving for more than two hours every day for four months. So, that'll suck, but once that's done with, I'll be done with college. For a while, anyway.
    My placement is way out in the boonies in Michigan. It's weird. I'm used to the Big City ™, with our graduating classes of 600+ and our businesses that are open past nine. To get to my placement, I have to leave the city, then drive through roughly thirty miles of corn. Fun stuff, right? But it'll be cool to see how a rural school differs from the urban and suburban places that I'm used to.
    Funny story, though - I'm at the school with my adviser, waiting to meet with the cooperating teachers. We're both dressed in black suits, and I'm wearing a black fedora, cocked jauntily to one side. A student walks through the room, sees us, does a double-take, and just mutters "Whoa." I think she thought that we were there to erase her memory to cover up extraterrestrial activity. Or maybe sell some bootleg gin at the school's floating craps game.
    Anyway, I've gotten a look at exactly how much work I'll be doing for these next few months, and it's not pretty. Don't expect to see much of me between January and June.
    "Wisdom, it comes, but age don't unlock it:
    You've got to spend all the passion you've found.
    With more change in their heads than in all of their pockets,
    Some can show you the way to slow down."

    "Bones" by Christians and Lions

  16. EleCivil
    A friend of mine recently joined the Navy. He was in town the other day, so we (and a couple others) went out to a karaoke bar to hang out. Now, for as long as I've known him, he's always thought that it would be hilarious to get the whole group together and perform a boy band song on stage. The rest of us figured, hey, the dude's home from the Navy - we ought to indulge him. This was the day it was going to go down.
    So, we get a turn, and saunter up to the stage. He's already close to falling-down drunk (and he's completely tone-deaf even when he's not), so we know how great we're going to sound.
    As I'm stepping onto the stage, he bumps into me, and I bite my tongue. Hard. Like, broken skin hard. Honestly, it felt like I just bit off half of my tongue. It hurts like hell, but, hey - the show must go on.
    We get up there, and we pick the song "Bye Bye Bye" by *NSync. It was popular when we were in middle school, so we all knew it. The music starts, and I open my mouth and begin singing.
    There's a gasp from the audience, and in a few seconds I know why. No, it wasn't because we all suck at singing (though we do). It's because there's blood pouring from my mouth, dribbling down my chin in fairly large quantities. Needless to say, I also sounded goofy as hell, because the whole of my tongue was nearly numb with pain.
    In short, it may have been the most violent performance of an *NSync song, ever.
    A few hours later, as we're getting ready to go home, we notice that our Naval friend is missing in action. One guy goes to the restroom to see if he's in there. He comes back, laughing, and says "He's in there puking his guts out into a urinal, because some guys are smoking up in the stall."
    He stumbles back to the table, puts his head down, and stays in that position for the rest of the night. People at the table behind us entertain themselves by trying to bounce quarters into his exposed plumber's crack.
    Being sober, and therefore the designated driver, I carry him out to my car, Bride-of-Frankenstein style. Now, he hasn't been in town for quite some time, so I don't know where he's staying, and he's in no condition to tell me. Hell, he's in no position to point. I glance at the clock and see that it's two in the morning, and I think to myself:
    "What DO you do with a drunken sailor,
    Ear-ly in the mornin'?"
    I considered dropping him off on his grandmother's lawn. She lives close to me, so it was convenient, and it had the added bonus of making for a rather amusing story when he woke up. I decided it was a bit too cold to be leaving him on the lawn, however, and he ended up spending the night in my bathtub (because he wasn't getting anywhere near any carpets or furniture, heh).
    The next morning, he said "Man, that really sucked, but you know the worst part? We never got a chance to sing. That would have been funny."
    "We did." I replied.
    "What? Awww, I can't remember it!" He groans, gripping his head. "Were we good?"
    "There wath a lot of blood." I shrugged.
    "Oh. Cool." He says, looking rather confused. "Wait...why do you have a lisp, now?"
    "Becauthe the front forth of my tongue ith gone."
    "...Oh. Damn, I missed a lot."
    (Actually, most of my tongue is still there. It's just got a giant scab across the front. My whole mouth tastes like pennies.)

    "Bye Bye Bye" by *NSync

  17. EleCivil
    It's begun! I'm ahead of my daily word goal, so I'm happy. I'm hoping to hit 10,000 by midnight, tonight. I know I won't be getting nearly as much writing done during the school/work week, so I'm sneaking my laptop into work on the weekends to write during down time.
    If you'll direct your attention to the right of this post, you'll see that I've added a word-counter-ma-bob to the side of the blog. Feel free to berate and/or badger me if you don't see the number on that thing increase for a couple of days.
    You can click here if you want to see my NaNo profile, story synopsis, or an excerpt (once I actually post an excerpt, that is).
    The coolest thing about NaNo is the community. There's a fairly large number of us in the metro area, so we meet up at the local Barnes and Noble to talk books, writing, and geek culture. If you've never tried it, there's still time to get started - you're only a day or two behind. Just check out NaNoWriMo.org, and check the forum for your regional lounge to see if there are any meet-ups happening in your area.
    In other news, remember that six hour long standardized test I mentioned a couple posts ago? I passed it. I've got another three hour long one coming up on the 15th. Big fun, no doubt.
    "Picture a scene in your mind
    Look at all the people and take note of the setting behind
    Listen, watch, and wait
    A plot begins to take shape..."

    "Storytelling" by Belle and Sebastian

  18. EleCivil
    Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, I've started writing again. It's rough going. I've never written this dark before, other than Fistfights With Flashlights (At least, I think - I wrote FWF all in one shot over the course of an hour or so, with no editing, no second draft, and I have yet to read it again). And, because of the nature of this new story, I keep putting way too much of myself into it. Every couple paragraphs, I've been stopping, thinking "Man, this is getting too personal. I've got to stop," closing the Word document, and walking away to do something else for a while. But I keep coming back.
    On another note, what's the deal with people and sidewalks?
    My college's campus is fairly open - a lot of grass and trees, with just a few sidewalks cutting through. I was walking from one side of campus to the other when I noticed that everyone else - EVERYONE ELSE - was crammed together on those little sidewalks. I was the only one crunching through the fallen leaves. The whole time, I was thinking, "C'mon, guys, if you're not going to kick through these leaves, what's the point of having trees around? Other than the whole oxygen thing, I mean." Humans are weird. I guess I still like 'em, though. They did invent non-dairy creamer, after all, and I do love some non-dairy creamer.

    As far as I'm concerned, mankind is redeemed.

    "We're going down, down, down
    To the bottom of everything,
    Just to see how dark life can get."

    "Down, Down, Down" by Daniel O'Sullivan

  19. EleCivil
    Last night, I dreamed that Michael Cera and a dude I knew in high school were fighting for my affections, after an especially well-played, small-scale prank of mine caught their attention. I ended up choosing the dude from school, which made Cera kind of jealous. Then terrorists took the building hostage, so we had to put our personal feelings aside, team up, and fight them off. Which we did. It was the best dream ever.
    So I wake up, realize it's a dream, and think "None of that was real. That's too bad."
    Then I get to work and realize that the prank that I played in the dream - a simulated bloodless coup in which I seized control of my workplace - actually did happen. Last week (this was my first day back to work since), I waited until my boss was out of the building, then printed/posted some flyers informing everyone that I was the new boss, that I was to be referred to as "captain", and that everyone needed to salute when I walked into a room. There was also a list of ten or so new rules that I'd instated, placing limits on time machine usage, changing one group's job description to "Marching in formation while playing brass instruments," and so forth. I get to work, and I hear everybody laughing about the posters, quoting lines from them, and...speculating about who could have done it.
    That's right, I forgot to sign my work.
    But, come to think of it, that makes it funnier - there have been coups, before...but have there been very many anonymous coups, where everybody stands around going "I think some guy might have seized power, but I'm not sure who it was."? The only major down side is that nobody's saluting me. Yet.
    "And my politic is that dancing is
    The only cause worth fighting for
    Because after the revolution,
    Every intersection will be a dance floor."

    "Stop Being So Cool and Get Silly" by Wingnut Dishwasher's Union

  20. EleCivil
    So, the other week, I called off work to take a six hour long standardized test. Three hours of Science, three hours of Pedagogical Theory. Fun. And I get to do it again for Language Arts in November.
    Here's the part that really sucks: I've been asked to play some classical guitar for my college's annual Arts Festival. However, since I'm taking all this time off of work to take these tests, I can't get off of work to go perform. Sonuvawench, right? Well, whatever. They told me I could come play next year as an alumnus.
    Oh, speaking of performances, I got to play the part of "Handsome Young Lover" in a one-act adaptation of "The Lady or the Tiger" performed for some middle school kids. That's right - I had to pretend to be lusting after not just one, but TWO girls. Heh. It was fun. I don't get into the drama stuff that often, but I don't mind hammin' it up on stage every now and then.
    In other news, I'm writing again. This time, however, I'm going to wait until I've got a fairly large chunk written before I start releasing chapters. My goal is to have a regular release schedule with this next one, rather than my old "Two chapters in a row, then four months of nothing, then another chapter, then two months of nothing, etc." schedule.
    SO! It'll be a while, but it's coming.
    "And as the spotlights fade away,
    And you're escorted through the foyer,
    You will resume your callow ways,
    But I was meant for the stage."

    "I Was Meant for the Stage" by The Decemberists

  21. EleCivil
    I came to a clearing in the woods, a small sunlit patch of rabbit-bitten blades, over which the blue was struggling through the insatiable leaves. As a branch broke under my foot, there was an explosion of birds, feathery shrieking shrapnel sent flying across the canopy gap. Further up, jets from the nearby airfield scurried across the sky, bushy tails dragging behind them. Jets, surpassing the birds in speed, size, efficiency, capacity...every category but beauty.
    Whispered "Why are you migrating, you jealous, straining beasts?"
    The birds made sense, but from the humans, no answer. Never any answer.
    "Where are you running, great-and-mighty self-escape artists?"
    And they fled from my questions, fled faster than the birds as they moved to escape the violence of my errant step.
    "Why do you fear me, oh self-made masters? Have you, too, mistaken me for your predator?"
    "Am I your predator?"
    Am I...
  22. EleCivil
    Yesterday was my birthday. I'm 22, now. Only a few more years until social security kicks in, right?
    I skipped class, half because it was my birthday and I wanted some time off and half because the class was going on a field trip to the zoo and I got lost on the way, and ended up spending 3+ hours driving around until I realized I had crossed state lines and was nowhere near the correct city, let alone the zoo. Yeah, my navigation skills are...non...good. On the plus side, though, I got a new music stand and some new (nylon) guitar strings for my birthday. Just in time for a show next Monday. New nylon strings = like the sangin' o' the angels themsalves.
    The summer semester ends in a couple weeks, so I'm preparing to go into final exam/project insanity mode. You'd think after the previous 8 semesters, I'd've learned to NOT put everything off until the last minute, but...nope. I'm resilient in my procrastinatin' ways.
    I had to read Nineteen Minutes for a lit class. UGH. Avoid like the plague. It reads like a Lifetime Original Movie ™.
    Little Brother was awesome, though (thanks for the suggestion, WriteByThySelf).
    Anyway, once I'm out of school, I should be able to find some time to write, again. My next semester's going to be easy - It's my last semester of on-campus classes, so it consists of all the random classes that I never got around to taking. I should have plenty of time to get creative with myself (that's not innuendo).
    "Now I know what I was born to do -
    I was born to hang out with you!"

    "Birthday Song" by Captain Chaos

  23. EleCivil
    Test results, today. Bad news - I'm gonna keep on tickin', so it looks like I'll have to actually do that pile of homework that's been building up next to...that other pile of homework that's been building up.
    The doc says I'm good. Apparently, the chest pain was left over inflammation from that case of e-Syph...er, strep, that I'd had earlier. The arrhythmia is harmless. All it does is make my pulse speed up and slow down a little at random intervals, rather than holding a steady beat.
    That's right. My heart's a nonconformist. It pulsates to the beat of it's own...um, beat.
    ...Should have seen that one coming, actually.
    "A rebel's embrace shall give us a taste
    Of truth that is masked by a sly poker face.
    A spirit is well and alive...
    Live and we will survive."

    "A Rebel's Romance" by Mischief Brew

  24. EleCivil
    So, I got out of school last week. Looks like I'm still maintaining a 4.0.
    I started summer semester this week. I need to take five classes over the summer and 5 over the fall to graduate on schedule. I've never taken a full load over the summer, before. It's insane. All the summer classes are accelerated - a whole semester's worth of work, compressed into ten weeks. Papers and projects and gobs of reading due every day. One of my classes is double-accelerated - two four hour long classes a week, with all the work squeezed into five weeks. Matt Lauer, it's the first week, and I'm already behind on work.
    My summer classes:
    Theoretical Approaches to Reading and Writing
    Teaching Reading Through Literature to Young Adolescents
    Integration of the Arts in Education
    Introduction to Theological Studies
    Spanish Guitar 2
    Heh. You can tell I'm nearing the end of my degree - most of the classes have really long names.
    Also, on the chest-bursting front, I went in to get an EKG. As I'm checking in, they ask for my religious preference. In case I need a quick funeral or something, I guess. I tell them I'm a Druid (reformed, not orthodox).
    Some samples of dialog from the preparations leading up to the event, as I was lying nearly nude across a table:
    Nurse: "You look kind of tense." (*squirts goo all over my chest and begins to stick electrodes to me*)
    Me: "I don't do this very often."
    Nurse: "I do!"
    Me: "Is it more fun on your end?"
    Nurse: "Oh, yes. Hey, your ribs are too bony, I can't get this thing to stick. Speaking of which, when I take these off, it's going to rip out a bunch of your leg hair."
    Me: "...Neat."
    Then they get to the actual EKG part. It's the same technology used for ultrasounds, to see babies while they're inside the womb. Which gives credence to my "incubating an alien" theory, I think. Anyway, they stick this dealie to my chest, and I can see my heart on the screen. It's incredibly detailed - I can see all the little valves opening and closing, the different parts pumping and flexing. The sound is amplified, too, so I'm clearly hearing the funny "squish-POP-thump" and thinking "Holy hell, that's the thing that's keeping me alive."
    Weird experience, over all. I get to find out the test results next Friday.
    "And hearts aren't made of glass,
    They're made of muscle, blood, and something else.
    And they don't so much as break as bend and tear,
    But we have what it takes to keep it together."

    "Bikes and Bridges" by Defiance, Ohio

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