Thursday, September 29, 2005

Everyday, Everyday, Everyday I Write the Book

I stole this from a YouthWorker Journal article. It's a quote from a Patricia Hersch. I expounded on it this morning for a small bit in my reading class, though I'm not quite sure anyone knew what I was talking about. Maybe I should've just read the article.

In the vacuum where traditional behavioural expectations for young people used to exist, in the silence of empty homes and neighborhoods, young people have built ther own community. The adolescent community is a creation by default, an amorphous grouping of young people that constitutes the world in which adolescents spend their time. Their dependence on each other fulfils the universal human longing for community, and inadvertently cements the notion of a tribe apart. More than a group of peers, it becomes in isolation a society with its own values, ethics, rules, worldview, rites of passage, worries, joys, and momentum.

A community of isolation. A tribe of peers and nothing else. Whereas community is about living together and needing each other. It's about give and take and take and give. It's about sharing, caring, hurting, lifting, tearing, biting, borrowing, lending, sending, receiving. And it's about extending as a basis to (although not necessarily only the method to) receive. Tribality is about extending social needs, based on short-sight vision of what our social needs are. And has been already eloquently stated before, it exists because of the vacuum, the community stepping out of the daily lives of teenagers with expectations that either the youth are raised or are being raised well by the media conglomerates and beaurocracies, neither of which is remotely true or healthy.

This is as true in the urban areas as the suburban or exurban or rural areas. As adults have withdrawn themselves from the youths' lives, we have abandoned them to neglect, and not of the benign sort either. One of my most vociferous (and not in the benign way, either) students took one vocabulary word today and was able to run with it. The word was monitor. I used neglect as an antonym. She knew what that word meant, and although the semantic link between monitor and disown is shaky, it is real for her. The question now is, of course, "Who raises these half-children? Who now supports and gives insight and sends and receives of themselves - and not just financially and not just socially - for the welfare of the 'Not yet a woman, not still a girl?'"

I feel overwhelmed. Honestly, I do. And I care deeply. And I feel like I'm making very little progress. And I don't know where to go from here. I have a mound of papers on my desk that need grading so that my students will receive their feedback, but I'm exhausted. I'm physically sick and have been for the last two weeks now. And may be for some time extended. I, again, barely have a social life anymore. It's been a week since I've posted anything here or anywhere else.

But, God is good. I know that I have to be taken care of in order to care for others. And he cares for me even when I feel that I've neglected him. He will get me through this. Just as sure as he got Timi a new job. As well as Alisahmnotuglylikeyou.

I'll post my drunken co-worker's dialogue about Protestant individuality v. Catholic structure as soon as I can clear it all in my head.

Love y'all.

White Sox won the flippin' pennant, baby! Tomorrow, the flippin' World Series (if we can reverse this slide!)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

You like me, you really, really like me!!

Being the comments um... attention-gatherer that I am (I probably shouldn't use the word that I feel so natural using. Probably because I feel so natural using it.), every once in a while (translation: everyday) I check out my site meter page to find out how many people come to visit me, where they're live and where they came in from.

Surprisingly, not many are coming, presumably, from porno pages. Which probably explains why I have such sparse traffic. Well, that and the fact that I don't try real hard to bring others in to this page and I don't work hard at maintaining those relationships. Especially now.

One day while doing a less regular search of - where you get to type in the name of your blog and find out who's linked to it, etc., - I was delighted to find out that someone had me linked as a must-read, even though I didn't know her. A friend of a friend of Timi's said she's been a longtime visitor, no-time caller. Since none of the members of the 5-fresh crew's had time recently, she seems like a good sister with some lengthy (a compliment in my view) commentaries on what it means to be a Christ-follower in this generation. And she listed me first on her list (of course because I'm the best of the best. Right??). And she stone-quoted Arrested Development. So, if you ever thought what Mr. Left Cheek might sound like if he were a she and a black she at that, check out Spirit's Footprints in the Sand.

But I was wondering why all this rash of people had come to visit me from the Youth Specialties Blog Ring page. So, a few days later I'm checking technorati again and I spot a link in their page. duh! But check this, I made the list for, quote, "Jason gets the Most Random Post of the Week, I think!," unquote. Turns out that the conversation between Timi and my parents that exists only in my bloggery was fairly entertaining. Although apparently not enough that people would leave comments, but still!

Let me also say, I hate the way this blog looks in IE.

Oh, and Christine-Canada is still on some sort of self-imposed Sabbatical, but she left a riff that could take several enjoyable weeks to read. Bon apetit, mes amis!

the language for it is older
than any tongues, any fodder
any odder than that split in half
that moment where we can't
what is in pain
without living it over again
skeletons eat their own
there's ground dust enough
to prove
blood don't give life
as much as soothes
when there's no life left,
no living outside the flesh

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Hey, get your mind out of the gutter.

I'm broke. Just got the best-paying job of my life and already I'm broke. Payday's Friday, but it'll still take at least two months before I feel on level ground financially.

I don't have a social life anymore. In fact, I shouldn't even be doing this. But I need to do some grading (finally) and last week I spent a couple hours with my friends. And then I got chewed out for not spending more. Yeah, that really helped.

I'm going to bed at 9 or 10 virtually every night. I don't always sleep straight through. But I wake up at 5:30 exhausted and in dire need of coffee. Which is a whole two blocks - a shower and an hour of rummaging - away. When I get some money, I'm going to hire Mr. Coffee as my personal valet.

We're (my church) in the process of hiring a new youth leader. Thursday we get word on whether or not we can begin the interview process. Of course I want God's timing on this and I want the right man (Yeah, I'm a sexist. Alert the media. A Christian wants male pastors!) , but seriously, my entire youth ministry consists of trying to get dudes to play pickup basketball in the parking lot without actually advertising it and a Sunday School that consists largely of one family of four girls. I'm only partially kidding. There's also a young ladies discipleship that I'm really proud of and certain events and whatnot. And I really love my church kids, but they're too busy with their livestock and property and getting and giving away marriages and all.

Timi stood me up yet again. The funny thing is, she calls me, most the time. She talks. I talk. She's never at a loss for words. Which is cool with me, I don't like doing most of the talking on the phone (Really, even in the class) and she does allow me to speak my mind - usually. But she'll inevitably be caught in an intersection, or at the grocery line or whatever and she'll say, "Can I call you back in a couple?" And I think it's understood that a couple means a moment or maybe, maybe, a couple hours. Well, she doesn't call back. I think one time she tried to prove me wrong on this, but for the most part, she'll pick up a whole new topic and call me again in a couple weeks. Often, she'll just text it. "I got a lobotomy today. It just gets worse and worse."

My best blogger friend Christine went on a bloggatical. I'd email her, but I'm on a emailatical.

Oh, and I was deathly ill (crybaby I am also) this last weekend. I need to do grading. Buh-bye.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

This is lame. I'm doing a Gabi. Posting on one blog and then on another. Normally, I would just give a teaser, but Xanga's just so difficult to comment on, and everybody here is scared of it. So, without further ado about nothing, my fifth post about my travels, in full:

I would add Timi to my list of women who denied me dates, except that I don’t remember where I placed that thing.

Timi, I knew this much, lives in Delaware. As I looked at the road map, I noticed the peninsula was right above the Virginia Beach area, where my brother was getting married. Of course, I didn’t realize that she’s north of the peninsula itself and as a result is several hours away still. But she stood me up for family. Which is, after all, a way to stand me up - I suppose.

I’m not sure I would’ve wanted her to meet my family. I already told her about my *ahem* eccentric father. The after-effects wouldn’t be devastating (Timi is a survivor, after all. She’s not gonna give up. And I know I can already take just about anything thrown my way.), but the moment could easily be wrenchingly bizarre and humiliating. Though good fodder for future logs.

Dad & mom size Timi up.

Dad (out loud): Oh, that’s quite a catch you got there son! When’s the wedding date?

Me: Catch? No, dad. Don’t.

Timi: Me, catch? Exkyooze me?

Dad: Hommina hommina! She’s a fiery one!

Me: No! Listen. We are not an item. She is not my girlfriend…

Mom: Ohhhh… Is she your special friend, Jason?

Me: No! She is not my special friend. We are not in any way romantic relationship or anything. Today is my first time meeting Timi...

Mom: Jason! Did you call for a… (Looks back at Timi. Almost whispers.) escort?

Me: Mama!!!

Timi: What?? Jason!!

Brothers and sisters-in-law (Laughing so hard they’re spitting out lunch): Jason knows her from the internet.

Dad: (Looks at Timi) How old are you?

Me: No!! I know her from our blogs.

Dad: The frogs? What the heck are your frogs?

Mom: Jason, does the FBI know about this? Are they going to come looking for you?

(Timi has already left.)

Me: See what you guys did? She left!

Mom: Well, if she would already leave you, she wasn’t your real friend anyway.

Brothers and sisters-in-law: Oh man. We haven’t laughed this hard since we don’t know when. Thank you, Jason. Thank you, Timi.


Maybe I should work on some of these other issues before the next family wedding. You still in, Timi?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Let's roll back the clocks and...

pretend that this is still Saturday, September the 10th, 2005 and our friend Gabrielle Brown was still celebrating, one way or another, her 23rd birthday. At least for this moment. Let September 11th worry about itself.

Below is a cheap variation of a card I gave the Weezer about an hour ago, just before the ultimate deadline. It might go behind the one she got from her insurance company, but still...

Happy birthday Gabzilla!

You always bring the house down.

If you hadn’t noticed, I used fancy schmancy Broadway [actually, Georgia here] font and put it in size 23 [actually, huge font].

The things I won’t do for internet friends. And now, of course, this looks like internet stuff from the mid-90’s, back in the day!

Love and peace,


Friday, September 09, 2005

Michelle Watch

After the weeper that was the "Shelter from the Storm" (apparently, not from the old hymn, but from the Credence Clearwater Revival song that Garth Brooks managed to mangle, but only after Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters tried their hand at a similarly uninspired read from the same band. The names of the respective songs escape me. But what was Robert Randolph doing in the background for the Dixie Chicks and their lame and irrelevant politics?), I started flipping around the idiot box. Yes, Friday nights alright for idiot-ing at the Cheek house.

I briefly stopped at another awards show long enough to find that it's called "Fashion Rocks." The name is a misnomer. It's like how Christian radio used to (if it doesn't now) mute the guitar parts. The first act was DC, who promptly performed a strippers medley in maternity wear. But I could barely hear what they were singing. Or the music. CBS used to be the geezer station, right? Are they still worried about suffering someone's eardrums? Because if they are, they should've lowered Beyonce's level to Michelle Williams and whatsherfaces combined levels. Must have been a big mistake by some rookie to actually put Ms. Knowles-Z's voice all the way in the front, no?
Yes, another one. Before long I'll have my own lame Michelle Williams page and there's nothing you healthier nerds can do about it.

Somebody gave David Bowie a black eye and apparently left him shaken. Like to meet that sissy who has no respect for effeminate, miming unbelievably gifted songwriters.

Then again, it was probably just another stunt. What an artist.

Time may change me... indeed. It's a losing battle.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This is bogus. i don't have time for capitals anymore. i wrote this originally at my xanga. so, how's that? you actually get leftovers from my xanga. i swear, i'll have real writing up again soon. but until then:

teaching, first few days:

the kids are some work, but i'm liking them and the whole working thing. what i'm NOT caring for is the scheduling and all that. in our large school, the whole operation voted and decided that they should go for longer but fewer periods. which was probably a good thing for them. fewer prep periods, but longer lunch and prep periods (the periods between teaching periods that the teachers are able to actually prepare for teaching another class - or else go to meetings. or poo. whatever's of necessity.) and longer times teaching with fewer distractions. it all works out so that they're not actually working more hours or anything.

but that's for the other teachers. we have to teach six periods out of the seven. they have to teach five. yeah. and our students are supposed to have an extra period for art or gym (we're all pulling for gym. dang, they need some excess energy valves.) they don't have that either.

so, we stay late to get our meetings and preps and all that. which, in itself, isn't bad. if i didn't want the extra hours, i probably wouldn't want to be a teacher. but i need some breaks in the middle of the day. it's a bit of work, being in charge and letting them know i'm in charge, right alisa?

oh, and all told, every day we're teaching an hour longer than the other teachers and an hour longer than we're supposed to and an hour longer than the program wants us to. all of our classes are double-periods, so that means that we are in front of the same kids for close to two hours when it's supposed to be, tops, an hour and a half.

ehhh, enough complaining. most of my kids know, by now, that i'm there to be their teacher and i will fight to give them a fair chance at education, everyone in the class starts out with A's (a purely mental approach, i assure you), and i'm a pretty funny guy who can't stop speaking in AAVE (ebonics for the layman or lame woman)

so, it's everything is everything now.

gotta go. love y'all. bof of you.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Top 50 from the year I graduated high school

1993, baby!!

Truth of the matter is, I didn't listen to the radio much in high school, or for a while afterwards. There wasn't a lot that got me by the collar. And I was getting deep into some really good, underground, but Christian stuff. I had already known for a few years about Steve Taylor, but about this time Brainstorm Records was releasing some of the best records I had ever heard in my life. No joking. Adam Again's Dig is still my personal favorite record. Daniel Amos recorded the Beach Boys / Beatles-influenced Motor Cycle, the 77's finally had a terrific album out called Pray Naked (we will not talk about the controversy that generated with the Christian record distributors). And radio was doing what radio's generally best at, pap.

1. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
I used to be a big pop junkie. I loved sentimental crap like this. Honestly, I don't think I've changed too much, except I don't care for
2. Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team
Hey, my t-shirt!
3. Can't Help Falling In Love, UB40
Who better to refashion classic pop into raggae? Heck, my first versions of quite a few songs were by UB40.
4. That's The Way Love Goes, Janet Jackson
Ok, was this from Rhythm Nation? Didn't care as much for that album. "My name is Janet. Jackson if you're nasty."
5. Freak, Silk
?? Ok, I lied. I like pop music. But, honestly, I don't know everything. Or even near it.
6. Weak, SWV
Sisters With Voices. Always got 'em confused with N***** with Attitude and Single White Female. I think they were somewhere in the middle.
7. If I Ever Fall In Love, Shai
8. Dreamlover, Mariah Carey

Honestly. Help me out here. I know it had some high notes in there somewhere.
9. Rump Shaker, Wreckx-N-Effect
That was on my list for years and years. Especially in my work as a janitor. "Make you vacuum." Riley was the stuff. He not only practically invented New Jack, he also helped to forge
10. Informer, Snow
11. Nuthin' But A "G" Thang, Dr. Dre
Yes, the beginning of the end of the great hip hop era.
12. In The Still Of The Nite, Boyz II Men
Yeah, buddy. Man, one of the greatest songs of all time. And they did it right.
13. Don't Walk Away, Jade
14. Knockin' Da Boots, H-Town
R. Kelly's really taken pop-r&b up some levels in maturity, ain't he?
15. Lately, Jodeci
Jodeci? Oh, wow. They've always been under my radar. I'm such a putz.
16. Dazzey Duks, Duice
Brought 'em back to the populace.
17. Show Me Love, Robin S.
Is this that "What is love" techno song?
18. A Whole New World, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
Oh, wait. This was Disney Soundtrack magic. Ick! Sorry, ladies. Don't care for this either.
19. If, Janet Jackson
Seriously, I'd post a picture. But she just looks TOO much like Michael.
20. I'm So Into You, SWV
You know, if I heard these songs on those commercials for compilations, I would instantly recognize them. Alas...
21. Love Is, Vanessa Willlams and Brian Mcknight
I wonder how many of these tracks BabyFace produced?
22. Runaway Train, Soul Asylum
The funny thing is, almost every one of these songs would be classified as Urban/R&B/Rap. This may be the lone exception - with the possibility of UB40. But neither track would be classified as rock, really. Now, of course, I've noticed that 'country' is hitting the charts. My question is, if the Contemporary Christian Music market lags behind the general market by about 5-10 years, then why are they taking their sweet time on changing their formats? There's definitely enough high quality
23. I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me), Expose
24. Ditty, Paperboy
25. Rhythm Is A Dancer, Snap
Yep. Compilation.

26. The River Of Dreams, Billy Joel
OK. Confession. Loved this crack.
27. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), Proclaimers
OK. Confession. Still love and pogo to this track.
28. Two Princes, Spin Doctors
Yeah, I used to love this pablum. Still a bit of a guilty pleasure.
29. Right Here (Human Nature)-Downtown, SWV
I guess they weren't 1 Hit Wonders. Hmmm... Wha' happened?
30. I Have Nothing, Whitney Houston
Right with ya, Whitney. But I ain't following your lead, girl.
31. Mr. Wendal, Arrested Development
Yesssss!!! Dang cursed gangsta rap.
32. Have I Told You Lately, Rod Stewart
'Til we have Faces...
33. Saving Forever For You, Shanice
34. Ordinary World, Duran Duran
What? They hadn't OD'd on coke by now.

We're hungry like the wolf.
35. If I Had No Loot, Tony! Toni! Tone!
Ton-ey! Toani! Toenee!
36. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), Meat Loaf
Illll... That was some crapalappa. This song makes me wanna curse.
37. Slam, Onyx
38. Looking Through Patient Eyes, P.M. Dawn
Too patient. Sorry, man. Rap fans couldn't sit down no mo'.
39. I'm Every Woman, Whitney Houston
Good song. I think!
40. Baby I'm Yours, Shai
41. Come Undone, Duran Duran
42. I Don't Wanna Fight, Tina Turner
43. I'd Die Without You, P.M. Dawn
44. Whoot, There It Is, 95 South
The other T-Shirt. That and "I believe in the Big Bang. God said it and 'Bang', there it was!"
45. Hip Hop Hooray, Naughty By Nature
46. Another Sad Love Song, Toni Braxton
Yeah, not that sad? (P.S. Oh my goodness. She done gone pimped out. Like literally. Couldn't find any images that weren't pornographic.)
47. Will You Be There, Michael Jackson
Who's he talking to? I'm too old.
48. Comforter, Shil
49. Good Enough, Bobby Brown
Nope. Not really.
50. What's Up, 4 Non Blondes
And I cry sometimes... and I take a deepbreath

Friday, September 02, 2005

Abridged Traveblogue, Pts. 2 & 3

If you wanna catch it, you gotta go to my xanga site, 'cuz this just don't make no sense.

And somebody do me a favor. I know you're out there. Leave a comment. It just gets so lonely.

I kept asking to go to the lakefront. When I found out, I felt like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes.

Some parts did leave me chilled, and the obvious joke of Don Johnston watching Don Juan and running a Don Quixote...

Chris is really cool, and I am so glad and blessed to know her and to befriend her. I would never want to jeapordize that friendship. Not that she'd make a nasty enemy, it's just that I would lose so much.

Don't ask me to convert that to metric.

Toronto also has ugly buildings.

Both times I went through customs they asked how I met my friend.
"Internet," I answer sheepishly.

This time, however, I'm only going at 10 mph over the speed limit... I guess this is my conservation effort. Giving to the cause... I feel so much older...

Small room off the highway. Took me a while to go to sleep with all the passing trucks. It was a good chunk of my budget. I would've peed all over the linen, but it smelled like someone already beat me to it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

God speaks out of the whirlwind?

I'm sure many of us have seen this travesty of news reporting. (If you haven't, pay attention to the circled words and note the difference of the subjects in the accounts.) I do realize that these accounts come from two different news sources. And I don't believe that they are indicative of overt racism. But then again, racism has historically played a large part in the Human Storm - the struggle in the aftermath of the physical storm.

I really don't know what else is left to say of this. Every blog in the English and French-speaking North America by now has something on this. And many are much more educated on it and devastated by it than I am.

Christine has an ex- trying to leave that region. My brother's honeymoon is cut short because his ship is sailing to join efforts to somehow make relief possible.

And the fact of the matter is, I somehow feel less attached and less able to help than with the tsunamis, which didn't directly affect my country. But I saw images there that I could not forget. Much the same as with 9/11 and I was watching on live tv when the second tower was being struck and much later when people were jumping out of windows. Catastrophe. Do I feel less burdened for my own people?

What is it, whenever something horrible is happening in the world, US news media always ask how many Americans are affected? How will we get out of it? How many Americans are in the line of fire?

I mean no offense by this. But there are wars being raged in all parts of the world on a daily basis. Innocent children and civilians are being bombed the hell-over, people are evacuated from their homes because of feuds that rage longer than anyone can dare to speak of, blood-money is the chief currency of the local economies and has the ears of the law-makers and -enforcers (including in this my own Humboldt Park, though to a lesser extent) the world over. And all we care about are a substantially smaller field of Americans?

I know that people will be pissed with me over this, but: how many Iraqis have died in Iraq since the war started v. the amount of US soldiers? I don't want to take life for granted. And I think it's my patriotic duty, as a freedom-loving, hot dog-eating, Coca Cola-drinking, and certainly church-going American to draw our attention to life at all stages, regardless of color, creed, sex, money or even nationality.

The Lousianans who stayed behind largely did because they couldn't afford not to. They were too poor to leave, so they decided to ride it out. The looting began because people were on the precipice of civilization. And while some understood the necessity before them and struggled to provide for their families, neighbors and selves (as in the pictures above, of both blacks and whites doing the same thing, with different judgements made of their actions), others descended on insipid lawlessness like the children from Lord of the Flies. Why? Because that's human nature. I'm not sure that the thin green line between civility and safety and chaos and flood waters is of much comfort and reassurance in the light of such utter sadness and darkness.