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Archive for the ‘Life in the Valley’ Category

My first time back in awhile. Put on your seatbelts. Commencing rant.

Sitting in a faculty meeting today, the leader of the meeting (read: boss) was defending the use of clicker technology in classrooms. Basically, use remotes (students and instructors) to increase interaction in classrooms. Good idea.

Then, she stated, “this might sound sexist,” to which I thought to myself “good reason to not say what you’re going to say.” She continued on, explaining that male students love the idea of having a battery-operated remote in their hand, that they learn better with the classroom resembling a living room where they are channel surfing. The fifteen or so instructors chuckled (men included) at the remark. Yeah, good one. Let’s all laugh at a joke meant to say guys are basically dumb-asses, that the idea of having a remote is fucking inherent to our identity as a man. I didn’t laugh.

Then, with the response overwhelmingly positive, she continued, “that and bacon. There must be something about the Y chromosome that includes liking remotes and bacon.” Insert numerous personal stories about husbands and bacon or personal male testimonials about putting bacon on everything. Nice. So, men are dumb-asses who are defined by their desire for an unhealthy meat that they apply to everything that goes into their mouths while they consume entertainment from their television sets.

A friend commented (jokingly) that he puts bacon on bacon. Fair enough. I said “gross” audibly. I guess that was my mistake. When a group of people all agree, if you think different you should probably just agree even if you don’t agree. Immediately 15 pairs of eyes were on me, the new guy, first time ever speaking in a meeting. “You don’t like bacon?” as if they should check between my legs.

“Well, I am a vegetarian.”

There was a strange moment of confused silence.

(What, a vegetarian? What does he eat? Is he a man? But, he seemed so normal, so cool, so man-ish?)

I did not make any value judgments. I didn’t even say the reason(s) for my dietary choice. The meeting moved on… for about 90 seconds.

The group quickly returned to the topic. Anecdotes about meat (God wouldn’t have made animals with meat on them if he hadn’t wanted us to eat them! Really? We should be talking about God in this professional setting, you’re probably right. Especially because the people in the room with theology degrees know and eat meat… oh wait, that’s me) and jokes about vegetarians ensued. I was silent.

Until the third or fourth joke (why are we talking about this? Don’t we have things that pertain to our job to discuss?), when I acted.

“If we weren’t supposed to eat animals, they would be faster!” Good logic, we usually do eat animals we can catch in a foot race like Elephants, Black Mamba snakes, Spiders and Sloths. Nor, do we ever eat animals that would beat us in a 100-yard dash, such as, Rabbits, Deer or Sheep.

Then I mumbled (too loudly), “Some humans are slow.” The laughter, which had been rolling along nicely for a few minutes with some momentum kept up, until what I said sunk in and abruptly stopped. Everyone looked at me like a creep. I never know when to call people on ignorance or not, but now I looked like a cannibal (which I’m not because I don’t eat meat).

The meeting then moved on, but I did not. I was pretty fucking pissed. Yeah! Let’s all laugh at the guy that’s different from us! Let’s all feel better about eating ourselves into a heart attack! Hooray! Faculty meetings are such fun!

End rant.

Commence critical thinking.

Why in the world is it okay to assign gender roles based on diet? This happens more than we realize, probably. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but most of my old friends from Fresno look at me with an odd expression and then make a derogatory comment when they find out about my dietary choice. It is about gender for many people. Men eat meat (and, apparently, can’t control themselves around a nice looking female, love to have a remote control in their hand, drive trucks, scratch and enjoy football just because).

Why does the (known) presence of a vegetarian demand defense of carnivorous habits? I made no ethical or practical or health claims. I simply stated I was a vegetarian. And, the room full of carnivores responded with jokes and defenses mechanisms as if I had attacked their very way of life.

The most basic question: Why did we need to discuss these matters at work? But, that I won’t expand upon.

I will be further interacting with these thoughts and questions this weekend. If you don’t like reading about gender (which seems to be one of my favorite topics, recently), then tune in next week when I (maybe) talk about something different. No. Nevermind. Keep reading. Better yet, comment!!!

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Hello

I don’t think I was ready. It had only been two hours, isn’t there a longer waiting period? I mean, she was brand new. Brand New.

We waited until the others had gone. We were crashing the family’s party, welcome guests, but guests nonetheless. The room resembled a waiting room, but the air felt like a party. Someone had brought cookies. I ate two.

In the nervous anticipation, Jack talked about politics and religion. He couldn’t be asked to hide his excitement, and he likes talking to me about taboo subjects. It was appropriate, after all, she needs a better world like we do. We were welcoming her and we might as well brainstorm a few ideas to make this place a little better.

Jake’s bearded face, tired, gave instructions. He’s good at that. You might as well do something you’re good at when it’s two in the morning. We followed his orders, leaving out the “yes sir.”

When it was our turn, we made our way down the corridors, turning right and then left. Nurses joked at the station, I thought of things to say, things I never said. Jake’s beard revealed a sly grin as he opened the door to reveal his two girls. One was neatly wrapped in a blanket, a new human of minute proportions. The other was ragged from giving life, in great spirits and suddenly more experienced on this earth than anyone else in the room. Her disheveled bed-clothes were rumpled and covering the war zone, but the perfect little girl in her arms was peaceful, happy, alive.

When Violet was first brought to her mother, she was crying. As Kathleen reached out to take her she said “Violet” in a way only a mother can, Violet stopped crying immediately and accepted her mother’s arms without fuss. Kathleen is a mother.

Jake watched the procedure and greeted his daughter with a beard. Good man. Violet later let Jake clean up her dirty diapers. Jake is a father.

I had to pry Violet from Nikki’s arms; I wanted my chance. I confirmed that she was perfect as I looked into her eyes and watched her gnaw on her hands. The contrast between the starkly sanitized room full of instruments and the breathing bundle in my arm was striking. Do we need all of these tools to bring life from life? Violet’s knit hat fell off and esoteric questions gave way to the practical. The hat was replaced, her thick, dark hair hidden from view. The white flakes stood out against her brown skin, her dark eyes seemingly endless.

I’m hoping she remembers me, I was wearing my maroon corduroy pants. I whispered my name in her ear. I think my chances are good. Welcome, Violet Ruth, welcome.

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Love Sharing

I have been immensely enjoying the Elephant Journal recently. Their cheeky, socially-minded hippie ways get me every time. I’m amazed at their commitment and also often amused at their delivery. It’s worth checking out.

Also, my good friend Justin, is something like a blogging superstar. He has been accumulating links from the interwebs for our browsing purposes almost everyday. He is heading to D.C. to work with Sojourners and will likely be the first Asian-American president. Seriously, though, you should check him out, he’s destined to be awesome.

Other things I happen to love right now:

That it’s almost Fall
Running, yoga and other physical activities
Being in the same town as my family
That someday soon I will be gainfully employed
That I will soon have a little friend named Violet
That within a week I will know the gender of my first offspring
Falling asleep to the sound of an Ent meeting
Josh Ritter’s The Golden Age of Radio album
My recent success at the game Dutch Blitz
The Ramona Falls album
That I will be seeing Bon Iver live in a graveyard at sunrise with some of the world’s best people

Positive is as positive does.

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This is a group blog.

C.J. and Jordan and Me.
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Here we are. Well, we aren’t all here, Jordan is outside with a smoke. That’s probably best. Smoking, while bad for your lungs, is good for your funniness. Just ask Jon Stewart.

C.J. is researching Mark Driscoll in order to mock and then cry because people actually listen to that frat boy and his dangerous rhetoric.

Where is here? Echo Street Coffee. The finest coffee establishment in this good-coffee-starved town, to my knowledge.

C.J. say something to the people.

“It’s good to be in Burbank Johnny” (with hands raised signaling a touchdown)

Great, now this is just getting silly.

Jordan has joined us.

Jordan say something to the people

“Toes on the noes, bros.”

What type of dog should CJ get and name Princeton and put in his newly purchased yard (house included)?

A Corgi? No.

Jordan wants to be a hairless Venezuelan canine of some sort.

CJ: Jordan, how is you domestication coming?

Jordan: Oh, great. Mac n Cheese, I also clean, do laundry and sometimes dust.

Jordan: How insane is Mr. Bolt for breaking his own world record?

Wait for it…

Jordan: USAIN!!!

Tim: (apparently not getting the joke) He is though.

Jordan: Other-worldly.

CJ: Sing it Bright Eyes, sing it.

Tim: It’s not Bright Eyes that’s singing

Jordan: Conor Oberst

Jordan: It’s all one man

Jordan: What do you think Jake and Kat’s baby is going to look like?

CJ: Armenian?

Tim: German?

CJ: She’ll probably grow into her limbs.

CJ: Jordan, do you know that you suck at Fantasy Baseball

Jordan: It’s an off year.

CJ: It’s an off year

Tim: Are we really talking about Fantasy Baseball?

Tim” I had to say that because I typed that I said that.

Photo 13

(more…)

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I had breakfast with an old friend yesterday. It felt better than most meals. Gentle tugs at my heart, my mind never compromised. He’s a hell of a guy. He guzzled green tea and I sipped black coffee. It was terrible, but the company was worth it. It didn’t make me feel like flying, it made me feel like walking, securely in the realm of this earth, my place.

Floating down the Kings River has become one of my favorite past times. It’s cheap, free except the beer. It’s gentle, it’s relaxing, it’s a nice temperature. Sometimes we float by folks who are inclined to yell pleasantries like “show your tits” or “are you gay”. I respond with chants of “education” or “testosterone”. If I come back with a bloody nose one day, you’ll know why. Mostly, I don’t yell, I soak up the laughs and find quiet places to breathe. Delirium sets in and Jordan’s parents make us dinner for our trouble.

Driving my in-laws up the coast this weekend. I’ll take the wheel unless Nikki feels sick. When I reach for my sweater I’ll think of you. You’ll probably be sweating. The fresh air is probably good for the baby, I’ll ask Nikki to breath more than normal, to stash some clean oxygen for later. Can’t wait to play some sweet tunes for my in-laws. If we talk politics, I’ll probably concede. I always do. Nikki never does, God bless her.

Visited a camp I love. I love it; it sits close to my heart, getting nudged with each pump. It still fails. It always will. The camp, not my heart. It is a miserable sexist, manipulative, nearly-racist mess that I can’t get out of my system. My sisters were there. I felt protective. Not because of the high school boys with their bad haircuts, changing voices and hormonal impulses. But, because of the middle-aged, moustached man that thought he knew everything. He was the speaker. He wasn’t connecting. He loved hell and that he isn’t going and that some people are. He doesn’t know. He says he wrote a Seminary paper on hell, so he knows things. I thought “I write seminary papers.” Maybe I know. I don’t think I do. I told my sisters they don’t have to agree. They didn’t.

Gonna get some culture tonight. Bike Hop. It’s Art Hop but on your bike. I’ll know one person and then I’ll know many. That’s how this stuff works. Since the move I haven’t found my helmet. I’ll be careful.

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Drove by a sign on the highway yesterday that was advertising the “First Annual Tea Party.” Wasn’t there one many years ago? It seems like there must have been otherwise I’m having a hard time understanding the significance of middle-aged rednecks (the sign was hung on the self-proclaimed “Redneck Trailer Store”, I’m not making this stuff up) getting together to buy teabags and then throw them at each other (or whatever it is that they are doing). Our education system failed years ago.

I also caught up with an old friend, whom I love. His family shoots guns on Christmas to celebrate Baby Jesus in a Manger. This is nice and all, but I’m unsure of my gunmanship, excuse me gunpersonship, and shouldn’t go for fear of being mocked and forced to hang out with the women in a sort of gender purgatory saved for those unclear of their special man-ability to shoot guns at things.

Just saw a man ride by on a tandem bicycle with the back seat empty. Now, I want to run after him and trade him for my normal bicycle because Nikki and I would be totally bitching riding around Fresno on that thing. It hurts to see such unintentional bitchingness go unused.

I don’t know of anyone in the world as hip as me who has not read that Dave Eggers book (except my friend Everett because he doesn’t read that much but is way more hip than me, but he probably has read it because he is way more hip than me). You know the one. Seriously, other than Harry Potter’s wizarding ways, I’m pretty sure that A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius has been read by more young 20-somethings than any other book this century. But, Michael Jackson’s memoir is scheduled to hit stores this Fall, so Dave should enjoy it while he can. We are Generation Thriller.

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