Category Archives: Diatribes

I Will Refrain from Too Much Profanity

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I’ve held this in long enough, but today, I have to get it off my chest, and I’m voicing it publicly because I want the whole world to hear my side of the story.

You and your obese slob of a husband like to pretend that you hold the moral ground because you live in your little cul-de-sac, and you love to project that I am some kind of low-life deadbeat because of my financial struggles.  Well, let’s examine a few facts:

First, how about the years, yes years, the two of you sneaked around behind my back with your phone calls, emails, text messages, cards, and gifts.  You left behind quite the pile of evidence after you left.  Doesn’t your bible have something to say about coveting another man’s wife?  Or did my simple mind miss some clause exempting you two?  For years, you lied to me about your involvement with him, swearing he was just a friend, and me, in my sincerest naivety not wanting to be the kind of insecure man who refused his wife male friends, believed your lies.  Doesn’t your bible say something about uttering untruths?  Or again, did my simple mind miss something?  Perhaps, just perhaps, you two aren’t as moral as you like to pretend.  Knowing what I know now, if I were your husband today, I would keep a close eye on your online interactions and be quite wary of who you call a friend.

And how about the pretty little lies you told me at the beginning of our divorce?  Do you remember assuring me you would never ask for child support?  Do remember your smugness in saying that he had plenty of money and didn’t need any of mine?  Oh yes, you said that.  And from that lie, I agreed to certain provisions in the decree in exchange for your guarantee that I wouldn’t have to pay child support.  Of course, the moment the divorce was finalized, any chance of annulment or revision gone, you and fat boy went back on that guarantee.  And while I was at my lowest, most desperate moments, you slapped me with contempt of court papers.  At a time when I was living off peanut butter and little else, you and your slothful troll in your country club home hounded me for money.

You two love to paint me as some kind of scumbag because I struggle financially every month.  I would love to introduce you to a few mothers who deal with true deadbeat fathers to their children, men who not only don’t pay child support but have nothing to do with them.  You have been paid early every month for five consecutive years and are current for six years, and you cannot even begin to conceive the sacrifices I have to make in my daily life to ensure that money is paid.  You and the hefty gnome could not survive on what I have left over after paying for the children’s insurance and support, but I make do the best I can, so go fuck your self-righteous judgmental bullshit.  I have six years worth of phone records proving my involvement with my children, and they look forward to their time with me.  They know me, and I’m a permanent part of their lives.  If you attempt to restrict that time any more than it already is, we will pursue a new parenting plan that is far more equitable.

You love to throw out the time the boys got into poison ivy and the one time Collin picked up pink eye and whatever virus or bacteria that was, as if I intentionally made him sick.  How about all the times they’ve gotten sick with you?  Fat ass bringing home viruses from airplane flights, Collin missing 30+ days of school for strep, them coming up here this last trip so sick they could barely function.  I’ve never thrown that in your face because I understand that people get sick, especially kids and even more especially kids who aren’t exposed enough to the world at large.  The vast majority of the time the boys are with me they return to Florida safe, happy, and healthy, so how fucking dare you pretend like I don’t take excellent care of my children.

Now, you and that fat sack of cowardly shit hide behind a web of laws that cripple me at every turn.  Your lies and deceits pushed me into an imbalanced, unjust system that punishes fathers.  I’m sure in your diseased minds you believe your own self-righteous bullshit, but you cannot honestly say with a straight face that there is any justice or equality in what the two of you have done to me, leaving me to scratch out an existence on less than $400 a week.  But hear me and hear me well, your pathetic little apology was far too little far too late.  I had tried to let go of the hatred for you and that slothful, self-righteous sack of useless blubber, but this time was the final straw.  You provoked me.  Your greed and selfishness brought all my hatred and disdain for both of you back to the surface.  Now, you had best prepare for the gathering storm.

I Do Not Apologize

DSC_0968mcI’m a creative person — a free-spirited, independent-minded, compassionate man who has spent my entire adult life attempting to carve out an existence in a society that rewards the seven deadly sins and punishes virtue.  And I am fed up.

I do not apologize for rejecting corporate fascism.  On fundamental levels, I disagree with the stifling, homogenous, shallow materialism espoused by the corporate infrastructure.  I do not believe in the exploiting of cheap labor, the pillaging of natural resources, and the shirking of civic responsibility that too many companies embrace.  I do not agree with the rigging of markets, the undermining of democratic processes, and the eroding of personal liberties pushed by these monoliths.  I will not serve such a system and do not apologize for it.

I do not apologize for pursuing my creative ambitions.  I am a writer, a storyteller.  That’s who I am.  I will not tolerate any human being disparaging my efforts because I haven’t yet seen financial success from them.  If your life is so shallow that you can only measure a life’s quality in monetary terms, then I pity your profound lack of humanity.  I pity your misfortune at always having to chase more and more and more because that path has no bottom, no fulfillment, no nourishment, no sustainability.  The path to self-contentment lies not in how much shiny, useless stuff you can accumulate, but in what you do for others.  That wisdom was discovered long before me, and time and history have proven it right more than once.  I will remain true to myself, to whatever end, and I will not apologize for it.

I do not apologize for the way I work.  You will never see 99% of what I do because all of that takes place between my ears.  When I seem completely detached from the world, lost in a dream, distracted from the daily chores around me, that’s when I’m working my hardest because my mind is crafting something new.  I refuse to allow anyone to criticize my processes because the proof is in what I’ve created.  My reviews speak for themselves; my readers have reinforced my convictions.  Just because you cannot see the gears moving does not mean they are not in motion.  I work damned hard at what I do, and I do not apologize for how I do it.

I do not apologize for attempting to give back to my community.  Yes, at this point, I am frustrated beyond words with the educational system.  Yes, I am leaving the profession for good because I can no longer endure the encroaching corporate takeover.  But I do not apologize for sharing my knowledge with others, for attempting to improve and enrich other people’s lives, for living a life that has been dedicated to more than just my own selfish interests.  At the end of the day, I have helped fellow human beings achieve their goals, not lined the pockets of greedy billionaires, and I damn sure do not apologize for it.

I am fed up with people and a society so blinded by greed and selfishness that they are tearing down the greatest beacon of liberty ever to shine on this earth.  I am fed up with those who have more than they need looking down their noses and criticizing those of us who don’t, not because we don’t try but because our efforts are not duly rewarded.  I am fed up with self-righteous, elitist assholes with a staggering sense of entitlement believing as long as something is legal it is also moral.  You better believe, that house cards is about to come crashing down.  I am far from perfect, but I am a decent human being who works hard, sacrifices more than you will ever know for his children, and lives life on my own terms, and I do not apologize for any of it.

Sunday Evening Ramblings

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Here’s what I would teach your children if I were still allowed:  You aren’t special just for showing up.  If you want to be special, you have to DO something.  We don’t all get to be astronauts, and life won’t give you a trophy for half-assed mediocrity.  We live in a competitive world, and the only way you won’t fail a few times is if you don’t try to do anything.  Instead of worrying about always being perfect, you should focus on learning from your mistakes and growing as a person.  Life is tough; you have to be tougher.

Always question authority.  Don’t blindly follow a party, a teacher, a media outlet, a corporation, or any other entity that frowns upon you questioning them.  If you want to live in a free society, you have to be able to think for yourself.  Otherwise, someone will always dupe you into following policies and procedures that erode your individual liberties or rob your earnings or put you in a box.  If you aren’t smart enough to think for yourself, you will voluntarily slap the shackles on your wrists and accept a life of servitude.

Stop being such a wimp.  Real confidence and real self-esteem are earned from getting your teeth knocked out and falling on your face and having your ego bruised.  If you have to hear what a special little snowflake you are or else you’ll crumble into a quivering puddle of doubt, life is going to steamroll you before you even get started.  Suck it up, cupcake.  You have a lot more strength inside you than you realize, but you have to get knocked on your ass a few times to find it.  Bullies are real, yes.  So are wolves.  And thieves.  And dictators.  They all prey on weakness, so stop sniveling and learn how to overcome obstacles.  Otherwise, you’ll always see yourself as a victim.

You and you alone are responsible for your failures.  Not your teachers, not your parents, not Obama, not Bush, not the Chinese, no one except you.  Education is hard work, not entertainment.  Work is boring and tedious 99% of the time (hence the name work, instead of fun).  If you are bored by a teacher or a job, that’s your fault, not theirs.  You will either accept this basic truth or spend a lifetime making excuses for why you haven’t succeeded, but the world will not change to suit you.  You have to adapt to your environment and create opportunities from the challenges you face, and that always has been and always will be your responsibility.

Those are the lessons I would still teach if I were still a teacher instead of a customer service representative.

Sunday Evening Ramblings

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I don’t want to feel bitter and angry, but at every turn, I feel betrayed.  Stay in school, they said.  Get an education, they droned.  I did, to the tune of $50,000 of debt.  After 15 years of teaching, I’ve watched that debt mushroom to $70,000 with zero hope of ever paying it off.  It has single-handedly ruined my credit and on a daily basis keeps me mired in terrible financial straits.  In every conceivable way, I would have been better off financially to have skipped college — especially graduate school — altogether and worked at some kind of personal business.  Instead, I listened to those in authority and am ruined financially because of it.  So yeah, I feel angry and bitter.

I work 60 hours a week, at least.  In the fall semester especially, I run ragged from the time I wake up Monday morning until I finish grading sometime Sunday evening.  There is no break.  There is no rest.  There is only teach, rush to the high school, battle the high school nonsense, rush back to campus, teach, grade, repeat.  For my efforts, I’m paid less than the average fast food manager.  Of what I make, I get to keep and live off 51% thanks to child support, insurance, and taxes.  My actual take home wages are well below the poverty line.  So yeah, I’m angry and bitter.

Despite having given everything I am to my profession and having a mountain of feedback that insists I’m really fucking good at my job, every single day I’m made to feel as if I don’t give enough and don’t work hard enough and don’t exhaust myself quite enough.  Just Thursday, I received an email from my boss questioning why I hadn’t submitted faculty feedback on a class that had only started on Monday.  Let me repeat that.  I was questioned for not supplying feedback on students who had only been in class for four days.  They haven’t even submitted a fucking formal essay yet.  That should tell you just about everything you need to know about the current state of education. So yeah, I feel angry and bitter.

I’ve written four pretty good books.  I’ll put my series against 99% of the shit that passes for entertainment these days, especially the drivel on TV, but I can’t make a dent in anyone’s consciousness because I don’t fit tidily into a pretty little marketing category.  And Facebook now makes you pay to show your links.  And Google+ sucks.  And Twitter is madness unleashed.  And I was born in the wrong era.  So yeah, I’m angry and bitter because my two greatest skills and greatest passions, writing and the teaching of writing, have zero worth in this chapter of American history.  I’m a dinosaur, and I’m just about fed up with it all.

Wednesday Night Ramblings

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The zombie apocalypse has already occurred; it just wasn’t how Hollywood had envisioned it.  Instead of decaying corpses feasting on human brains, we have cat memes, sports fanaticism run amok, celebrity worship, and puppet show political “debates.”  Meanwhile, our infrastructure is quite literally crumbling around us and our civil liberties are disappearing almost as fast as species are going extinct, but the masses are so distracted by the bright and shiny locomotive, they refuse to acknowledge the approaching ravine.  It sickens and frustrates me.  I feel like Plato’s prisoner, trying to explain the sun while the cave dwellers measure shadows cast on the wall by firelight.

I write about our imploding educational system, one or two people notice.  Someone posts a video of cat attacking paper, two million views.  Our elected officials refuse to negotiate or compromise for the betterment of our entire economy, people shrug.  A football player goes through a slump, fans go to his home to berate him.  Our priorities are askew.  We deserve the impending corporate shackles soon bound to our ankles.  We deserve this Huxleyan nightmare we’ve built and all the soma that comes with it.  I’ll catalog a few more of the failings of our system, just to fulfill my goal of illustrating to the outside world that some of us fought against it, but I’ve given up hope of enough people in this country noticing or giving a damn.

Education as Business Ramblings

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Two days ago, I asked former students to share their assessments of the value of my educational processes.  The respondents ranged from adults who had been out of school for several years to traditional college students to high school seniors in dual enrollment, and while the sample is relatively small — 24 total comments as of this writing — their feedback consistently states that after taking my classes they have a better understanding of how to convey their thoughts in an organized manner.  In part, I needed to hear some positive feedback because of how beaten down by the system I feel, but more importantly, I wanted to illustrate in a tangible way what I already know in my heart: I know how to teach writing in an effective manner that reaches a broad range of people.

Before I launch into the main point of this post, I want to make one thing exceptionally clear.  Most people who work in administrative and staff roles in education are just as dedicated and hard-working people as teachers.  Many of those I work with I consider friends.  This is not an attack on them personally, and I do recognize that many of the decisions and pressures being placed on educators come from sources higher than those who oversee day-to-day operations.  My umbrage is more with the system, more specifically the focus of the system, which has become more about profitability than academics and long-term sustainability.

I’m making this point to illustrate a fundamental flaw in the path education is currently taking.  Decisions about classroom effectiveness are being decided by high level administrators more interested in the bottom line than in educational quality, and faculty input is dismissed from the discussion.  Please, pay attention to that last point: faculty input is dismissed from the discussion.  As a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Memphis, I had more classroom autonomy than I have today after 15 years as a highly effective educator.  Today, decisions about how my class should operate are being made by people who have never taught one section of composition — and possibly may have never taught any class period — yet they supposedly know more about how to teach writing than I do.  This phenomenon is not limited to English, and no matter how loudly we as teachers scream that our classes are overcrowded, that too much of our time is being taken up with menial tasks, that standardized testing does not work, that homogenized curriculum stifles critical thinking, our pleas are consistently ignored in favor of policies that improve bottom line efficiency.

Here’s one example.  For five years, I personally have begged the college where I currently teach to change the broken system of dual enrollment.  As it functions now, we compress two semesters into one, go to the high school, and teach five days a week, following the high school format.  The purpose of this entry is not to record the multitude of problems that arise from this system; I’ll commit an entire post to that topic.  My purpose here is to state that the five day, in-the-high-school format takes an undo toll on faculty, and despite a plethora of proof to this point, including excessive turnover of faculty charged with this role, both the Sevier County Board of Education and the college refuse to compromise or budge on this issue because of money.  The Board of Education is in effect one of the college’s largest customers, and by outsourcing their teaching to the college, the Board saves thousands of dollars by not having to pay its own faculty.

What angers me is the callousness both the Board of Education and administration show toward faculty on this issue.  We plead with them; they claim they’ll look into it but make no changes.  Faculty quit in frustration; they hire new folks, burn them out, and repeat.  We compile clearly stated, well-reasoned, empirical arguments for why the format doesn’t work; they dismiss our input with a pat on the head.  I cannot fully express in words the anger and frustration I feel at being really good at something, knowing the right way to do it, and having a deeply-rooted passion for doing it well, only to be treated like a disposable commodity over money.  Both the college and the Board of Education prefer to lose good teachers than change the current format due to its financial efficiency.

As I’ve stated, faculty are left feeling as if administration does not listen.  We are merely peons in the process despite being an important component.  Good teachers are experts in our chosen disciplines, and we have a passion for and dedication to sharing our knowledge with others, which is the only reason the whole system hasn’t imploded already.  However, we are being crushed by the demands of this system that wants to speed up the process, maximize efficiency, and focus on the bottom line.  The only way this direction will change is with outrage from the public.  Until civic and business leaders recognize that administrators are weakening the quality of education and producing an inferior product, students incapable for the most part of competing in this new global economy, our voices will continue to fall on deaf ears, and administration will continue to pat each other on the backs for their financial acumen, while educators burn out from the relentless pressures of more, more, more.

Venting Ramblings

This post will be highly personal, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, stop reading and find some cat memes.  There’s a high probability that I’ll use a considerable amount of profanity, too.  Just so we’re clear, this post won’t be optimistic or upbeat; it won’t be about my children or my books or education.  No this post is a diatribe directed at the women who have done me wrong, and I don’t care if they ever read it.  There are just a few things I need to get off my chest.  Anyone who disagrees with any of the facts as I state them is free to start their own blog and write whatever version they believe to be true.  However, for this post, I will delete any bullshit comments that I don’t want to see.

I’ll start with what I see as my biggest flaws as a man and partner.  I have a temper.  I can keep my cool really well up to a point, but once you cross that line, I will explode, and yes, I can be quite frightening when I snap.  For clarity’s sake, let me also interject that I’ve never ever struck a woman, so please, don’t get the wrong impression of me.  When I’m tired, I become withdrawn and distant.  When I’m stressed, I become even more so.  I can take this to some pretty far extremes, so I know that can make me a difficult man to live with.  I’m possibly one of the most stubborn assholes you’ll ever meet.  Don’t believe me?  Piss me off or tell me I can’t accomplish something.  I’m also a creative scatter brain and quite messy.  I recognize these flaws in myself and accept that they can make living with me a challenge.

But I still believe my positives as a man and human being far outweigh my negatives.  First and foremost, if I’ve ever told you that you were the only woman in my life, I fucking meant it.  You never had to wonder where I was or who I was with, ever.  I went to work and came home to you.  If I hadn’t wanted the commitment, I would’ve remained single.  If you had doubts about that, those were your own insecurities coming out, not anything I intentionally did.  If my fidelity wasn’t valuable to you, I don’t know what to tell you.  You had men before me who were unfaithful, so you should’ve known what it was worth.

Okay, so I’m not romantic.  I get that you want that unrealistic, Hollywood version of the man who never forgets flowers and always knows the perfect thing to say, but guess what?  That’s fucking make believe.  I expressed my love by doing the dishes, putting up the laundry, mowing the yard, holding your hand, touching you tenderly, and sharing the deepest parts of myself with you.  I don’t know how how else to show my feelings without it seeming phony to me.  Maybe I didn’t do enough in your eyes, but I know I tried my best.  I tried to comfort you when you were distressed, give you a shoulder to lean on when you wanted it, and listen when you needed to rant.  Unless you pushed me beyond my limit, I was kind, considerate, and gentle (if you made my temper flare, you saw a side not so kind and considerate).  I treated you as my equal, not my servant or nurse or personal chef.  I rarely ever asked you specifically to do something for me, and I often returned the favor if I did, whether it be stopping at the store or grabbing something from the fridge.  I know that’s not romance, but god damn isn’t being treated decently worth anything?

I stood by you through difficulties, like infertility or your teenage son running away for a fucking month.  I held you to sleep on nights when you cried.  I gave you something strong and stable to lean on, and if I ever ran away, it was because you made me feel like all that I am and all that I gave was not appreciated or respected.  I only turned my back on you because you made me feel unwanted, and I’m too proud and too stubborn to stay any place where I’m not wanted.  However, my loyalty for standing by you through your lowest was never repaid, at least not in full.  You can argue that if you like, but I know it in my heart.

I can accept when a relationship ends.  I can accept that people grow apart or realize things aren’t working.  I can move on.  I can allow feelings to dissolve over time.  What gets to me is cruelty.  Whether it was leaving me on Christmas Day, cheating on me, sending me insulting messages, spreading rumors about me that simply aren’t true, or finding ways to twist the knife just one more time, it bothers me because I know I fucking deserve better.  I’ve never in this life done anything to deserve some of cruel things you did to me.  You’ve tried to twist it around to somehow make me the bad guy, but I know I didn’t hide an affair behind your back for eleven years or misplace anger that should’ve been directed at your sons.  I tried everything I could not to start fights and avoid them, but I will admit my fault of allowing you to push me beyond my limit and then getting ugly.

I admit that working in education has made me financially strapped.  I admit I can’t afford nice things, especially now with child support.  I live humbly and don’t really mind.  You claimed you wanted a simple life.  You claimed you didn’t want or need me to support you, but whenever things got rough, you made damn sure to throw in my face that I can’t give you all the materialistic bullshit.  You made damn sure to tell me about those who could.  In the end, it really was all about the money.  Deny it all you want, but I’m fairly certain my good qualities would’ve been more than enough if Brotherhood had roared up the charts.  If you’re reading this, yes, you.  You can say whatever, but actions speak louder.

I have no idea what my future holds.  I have no idea if I’ll ever have another relationship or if I’ll grow old and feeble alone.  I’m trying my damnedest not to grow cold and bitter, but when I think about unappreciated I’ve been, it’s not easy.  You didn’t appreciate the person I am, the kindness and decency and simple goodness.  You didn’t accept my faults.  You may say you did, but you always found a way to criticize me in some way.  If you’re reading this, yes, you.  I’m not willing to allow another woman ever to disrespect the decency I offer again.  I’m far from perfect, but I fucking damn sure deserve better than what you gave me, and I won’t ever allow anyone to treat me as a doormat ever again.  Deny it if you want, but I know how you made me feel, and I didn’t deserve that.  Time will be my test.  I hope to live long enough to see what one day after the other reveals, and if it reveals that I’m completely wrong, I’ll swallow my pride and reexamine myself.  Until that day, I will try to keep love and decency in my heart and push back against the creeping bitterness.