What follows is not a tale of woe, but nonetheless a cautionary tale worth telling.
Having had pizza for dinner last night and not being the total glutton that I can be, I managed to save some for today’s lunch. Before putting it away last night, I cut it into three pieces. My girlfriend suggested four and I countered with two. With an eye towards compromise, I cut it in three and went to bed.
After teaching my first class in the morning, rather than do errands like I had planned, I marked some students’ compositions and decided to have my lunch. I didn’t even consider having anything besides the pizza. I know my neighbours to the south are feasting on Turkey, but I was totally focused on the pizza.
Because I marked my students’ writing, I was starving by the time I got to the pizza. I didn’t bother to heat the first slice up. I devoured it while the other pieces were in the toaster oven. Yeah, I love cold pizza. I also enjoy cold hamburgers, and other foods that most people demand be hot. I am not quite sure why this is, but that’s the way it is.
The second piece got rather hot in the toaster oven. I thought I was paying attention, but there are so many distractions in the kitchen. The flyers with all the “Black Friday” sales appeared at my front door and I had to go get them. I also decided to clean up the coffee maker from the morning–by the way, what do you do with your coffee grounds? Are they good for plants? By the time I got to the second slice it was steaming hot. I didn’t burn it, but a few seconds later and I might have had it extra-crispy. If not for judicious blowing, I probably would have burnt my tongue.
The third piece had a bit of time to cool down, and it was just right. I enjoyed that one the most and felt sufficiently energized to get back to the virtual classroom. Truth be told, I almost went out for pizza tonight. Is it wrong to eat pizza two days in a row? Have any of my readers done more than two days in a row?
If you would like to comment on your own pizza story, that would be awesome.
It really couldn’t have been more Wednesday than that. There wasn’t even a smattering of Thursday, and trying to catch a glimpse of elusive Friday was out of the question. So, it is rather surprising how it turned out.
I was just sitting there minding my own business (as is often the case) when a student messaged me with a question–perhaps it was urgent. It is so hard to tell with modern forms of communication. I was probably trying to watch an Aging Wheels video on YouTube, and probably didn’t want the interruption.
However, I decided to answer the student’s question. It was about a relative clause that seemed to be missing some parts–it was in fact a reduced relative clause. I answered briefly and got back to my video. It was then I realized that perhaps I had better address the subject with the entire class.
This resulted in a pretty challenging and informative class that I could do as a guided discovery. It also shook me out of the teaching rut that I was in. I had planned something totally different for the class, but changed it last minute to follow up on this idea. Looking back on my plan, I am sure what transpired because I listened to a student’s question was the much better option.
It is getting harder to find Perfect Moments amid this pandemic, but I am sure this is one of them.
I am back to working from home full time. For the past twelve weeks I have been teaching a hybrid schedule. All mornings were at home and three afternoons were spent in the socially distance conscious classroom with a mask on.
I think the company did a good job of trying to ensure safety–despite the students’ best efforts to circumvent it. However, the city went on lockdown. Initially we thought we might be exempt, but when they said schools were exempt, they didn’t mean our type. Ours have fewer students, fewer mingling opportunities, and staggered starts. I guess that doesn’t really matter.
As for me, it is bittersweet. Seeing the students in person was a good way to get to know them. They displayed different character traits in person. They also bonded with other classmates differently. They are bonding online, but there is something different about face to face interaction–albeit two metres apart and covered in sanitizer. However, not having to commute is pretty awesome. I miss some of the music, some of the radio news, and some of the company when I drove my girlfriend home, but I don’t miss the bad drivers, the red lights, and the phantom construction that used traffic cones to reduce lanes for no particular reason.
I wonder if I will be able to go back to the way it was?
For those of you still working, have you adapted to a new way of working or do you want to go back to the old way?
If you remember my post from a couple of days ago when I wrote that I sold a picture, I should let you know I am still pretty happy about it. By poking around the website, I have discovered that the buyer is somewhere in Copenhagen. So Thank You Copenhagen.
In the later part of the morning, I was sitting comfortably in my living room watching the snow gently fall onto my deck. It was a beautiful scene that had my mind waxing lyrical about winter, white Christmas, and the delicate beauty of nature.
Then I went out to take care of some errands and the slippery and slushy nature of snow reared its ugly head. At least my students will have something to talk about tomorrow morning….and I will need to shovel.
I don’t know exactly when, but I remember the phrase “side hustle” becoming popular amongst my coworkers. And I must be clear, it was the word the became popular. Most of them were already engaged in some kind of extra work. Some taught private students, some taught online, some played music, some tested video games, some worked at the beer store, and some wrote. The universities and school boards paid, but the rest of us were living hand to mouth.
As for me, I really don’t have a side hustle. I worked extra when I could, and I rarely turned down a chance to substitute for someone–there are some people I wouldn’t work for, but that’s a story for another day. If I somehow managed to catch lightning in a bottle, maybe this blog will one day provide some passive income, but right now, I think I should just focus on the writing.
One thing I did do was upload some photographs to a stock photo website. I’ve got a digital camera and I come across interesting scenes all the time. They only accept one or two photos out of the eight or nine that I submit each time, but that is more motivating than discouraging. I treat this like a hobby. I am under no illusion that I will be able to quit my job and do it full time. It’s a numbers game. They’ve got millions of photos and a handful of customers. Add to that, I’ve got to have a significant number of photos in my portfolio to increase my odds that even one of them will get chosen.
The interesting thing is that the other day, I got a notification that I had sold one of the pictures. When I read the notification that it had happened, I was really surprised at how good I felt. I am still bouncing about it. I am not sure why it gave me such joy, but it did. It is definitely a Perfect Moment. Somebody paid me for something I created. The amount of money is negligible, and it will probably be years before I hit a payment threshold, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I felt really good about it.
It has given me inspiration to submit more photos obviously. If I double the size of my portfolio, I might sell two pictures a year. It has also give me inspiration to start writing fiction again. If selling a photo of a coffee cup can make me feel good, imagine what selling a story could do for me.
Are there books on your bookshelf that you meant to read but just haven’t gotten around to? Don’t worry. You are not alone. I have a large number of books that I haven’t gotten to yet. There’s no way that I am going to pledge to read them this month, because I know that won’t happen. I am also not going to give up on the books because I will read them someday. However, I would like to tell you the stories behind some of the books.
I came up with the idea for this post after reading a post by Jinjer over at the Intrepid Arkansawyer, though I wouldn’t want you to blame her if this post doesn’t amuse you. Please check out her blog and consider becoming a follower. She had listed some books that she had on her to read list and I believe she has made a plan to read them. As you will see, my story is a little different.
Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima
When I was in university, I took a Japanese history course. I was an English Literature major at the time, but I had a curiosity fascination with Japan that still exists to this day. Being a literature major, I opted to learn about some writers when given assignments on historical figures. I got to learn about Soseki, Mishima, Oe, Murakami, Yoshimoto, and others.
During the course, we watched the movie Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, which is a fictional account of the life of Yukio Mishima that incorporates some elements from his books. The final chapter is called Runaway Horses, which incorporates elements of that novel. It was the most intersting part of the movie for me, so when I saw this book in the university’s used book collection, I quickly scooped it up. The cost was 8 dollars and who could beat that for a Vintage International edition?
I have started reading the book several times. I have taken it to the east coast of Canada on a train journey, but didn’t get beyond page 20 or so. I have taken it to Japan, and didn’t even crack the spine. The bookmark, a late admittance slip for a student, which is still in the book indicates that I got to page 72. In addition to this, there is also a notice from the bus dated 2008, and a gas receipt for 2005. I am unsure why I was unable to finish the book. I don’t remember finding it difficult to read…..
To Have or To Be by Erich Fromm
I was given this book by a perceptive student. She sensed that I was going through a difficult time in my life and thought the book would help me a lot. Since I haven’t read it, I can’t say that the book helped me. However, the title has helped me a lot. I might be interpreting a lot from the title, but upon thinking about it, I started to put much more value on experiences. I have travelled more, I have enjoyed carousing nights out with friends more, and I have enjoyed my food more. I was never that materialistic, but I was probably too preoccupied with measuring my life progress with others. I was probably wondering why my life didn’t fit that traditional pattern.
As I think about it now, the title of the book might very well have been one component in the creation of this blog. It still affects me when I think about what I am saving my money for. I still want to see more of this world on two wheels.
I have cracked the book open a few times, but never managed to penetrate it. Maybe it is too dense for me. I like to think that I will read it when I am ready to read it. Sounds like a bit of a copout, but I think some books need to be read at a particular time in life. I see it as less about maturity and more about timing.
Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow
I spent my childhood seeing this book on the shelf in the family home. Over the years, people said that it was a good book. I also know that the book won the Pulitzer prize. When my mother moved house, I decided to take the book along with a couple of others that I had lived with but never read. I have always wanted to write fiction, and felt that I should read the book even though I never have.
I should also note that I was planning on reading all the Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, and Giller Prize winning novels at one point. While I might do this some time in the future, I suspect that I will have to start with some of the older novels. Looking at the Pulitzer list, I have managed to read four of the novels. I have only managed to read one of the Man Booker prize winners. My record for Giller Prize winners is only slightly better at two–though I really want to read this year’s winner.
The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham
Growing up I had a coffee mug to mark my birth sign; Aquarius. In fact, my whole family had them. On the back, they listed famous people like Farrah Fawcett, James Joyce, and Somerset Maugham as being Aquarians like myself. When I heard the name of one of his novels was called the Razor’s Edge, I was attracted to it. The title was so interesting to me.
In addition to not having read the book, I haven’t seen either movie adaptation of it either. This is surprising since I have seen almost every Bill Murray movie ever made. I expect that one day I will find it on a streaming service and watch it.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend about terrible book fonts. She, if I remember correctly, postulated that if she didn’t like the book font, would reject the book itself. I am certain that I disagree with her. I know I favour certain editions of books over others (Oxford World Classics, for example, are a favourite of mine), but I don’t give much thought to fonts. However, since I have only made it to page 27 as the 2006 bus ticket used as a bookmark seems to suggest, I might dislike the font and desity of text enough to see it as an obstacle to completion.
I definitely bought this book used. The book has lots of pink highlighter scrawl, but surprisingly few margin notes. I either didn’t check the book over when I purchased it or got such a good deal that I felt I could contend with the markings. With an original price take of 7 dollars, I probably only paid one or two for it.
What books are you holding onto that you haven’t read? What’s stopping you from reading them?
A couple of years ago, a student complained that I had accepted him as a follower on my Instagram account, but hadn’t followed him back. He explained to me (in decent enough English that I was impressed at his debating skills) that when he “followed me” I was under a social contract to follow him back. I didn’t quite agree, and still don’t, but to get back to talking about the present perfect, I followed him back.
I only bring this up because of my current circumstances. This morning, my phone alerted me that I got a bunch of new subscribers while I slept. This was great news. I am always hoping some of my more positive messages, or hopefully interesting turns of phrase, will catch more people’s attention. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that having lots of followers might be an indicator of this, or might at least spread my message to the people who are likely to read it, somehow benefit from it, and feel like commenting.
I usually gain about 2 new readers a month. I probably lose 2 readers a month as well, but they don’t delete me. They probably don’t read what I write, but they still appear as followers. However, getting four or five in a day seems rather strange. If I had appeared on “Freshly Pressed” or some other promotional vehicle, I would understand it, but this was unprecedented so far.
Sadly, after taking a look at these new followers, they don’t appear to be bloggers, but some kind of advertising. I did not bend to my student’s argument that I am somehow obligated to follow them back. I definitely am not.
For the few who are genuine followers. Thank you. I appreciate any sliver of time you spend reading what I write. This is an important outlet for me and I am really glad I can share it.
I cannot recall a warmer start to a November. The last couple of days have been gorgeous. My only regret is not getting out on my bike. My tube needs replacing and not surprisingly, supplies are rather limited. In a couple of days it will be a moot point anyway.
This morning, at around 10, I found myself with a couple of free hours between classes. Often, I would fritter away this time eating brunch, drinking coffee, watching YouTube, or focusing on some other waste of time. Today, with the weather this good, and too many projects to tackle, I decided to take care of some outdoor tasks.
Yes, those pesky leaves have fallen and they need raking. It was so nice to be outside working in a t-shirt and bare hands. In years past, I am sure I would have had on a work sweater and work gloves (and maybe a toque) and still probably felt cold as icy water remained in the leaves. This time it was so different. It was still a task, but not one that bothered me very much.
Sadly, I couldn’t spend all my time outside. There is more to do as some stubborn trees are clinging to their leaves rather than letting them go. I will need to go out again and I doubt the weather will be as hospitable. At the appointed time, I returned to class, but at least I already knew what Today’s Perfect Moment was.
There can be no Perfect Moment when we must pause to mourn the passing of Alex Trebek. Like all others who’ve been given a living death sentence, we have watched them carefully for signs that they were improving or sliding. We rallied behind their tenacity, but secretly worried that they weren’t telling us what was really happening.
I had fully expected to meet the man one day. I have applied to be on Jeopardy a number of times. While I never got a response, I still felt optimistic at my chances–especially on days when I got so many questions right–those were the days when geography and US history were not topics on the board. Those were the days when literature, hockey, comic books and Japan occupied the category lists. I felt invincible on those days.
Being Canadian, I remember his days on Pitfall. I remember when he made it to Network television. Also being Canadian, we all loved that there was usually at least one Canadian question on the Jeopardy game board. We secretly hoped that Alex was smirking inside when unsuspecting American contestants did not know the answer was Saint-Louis-du Ha! Ha!
Perhaps best of all, he was a classy host and a classy human being. The Final Jeopardy clue, this TV gameshow host who hosted the most episodes of any gameshow in TV history, will be missed.