Archive for April, 2004

Apr

28

I’m a Buffy Scholar!

10:12 pm · category: Uncategorized

Two days ago, I underwent the oral defense for my thesis, which is entitled “She Saved the World a Lot: Buffy Summers as Christ-Figure.” It was scary as all get out, because I was the first person in the history of the program at the seminary to complete a thesis; consequently, neither I nor the professors really knew what to expect. Moreover, I was terrified that I was going to face a lot of BS because the topic had such an emphasis on culture and media.

I guess I worried needlessly, because I totally kicked ass! Turns out that I actually know what I’m talking about and have some pretty solid research and writing skills. Way to go, me!

Apr

23

Sugar and Spice

11:36 pm · category: Uncategorized

Something is wrong with me.

I started the evening by giving myself a pedicure. After all, it’s sandal season; you never know who’s going to be examining my feet and looking for cracked heels or hangnails on my toes.

Then, I started working on a new afghan. The colors? Pink and yellow. And not just pink and yellow. Nope. The official names are “baby pink” and “pale yellow.”

I just fixed myself some tea. And not the kind that’s full of sugar and poured over ice. No sir, I made a cup of hot tea.

It’s like I’ve turned into a girl or something. I swear, if I start lighting candles, the whole evening’s going to go up in flames.

Apr

17

The Kids Are All Right

Tonight I went to a concert performed by one of my former students. Now, usually when I go to a student’s concert, it means I have to sit through four or five concert band pieces. But tonight was a wee bit different, as My Kid was in a band that didn’t have a conductor and actually utilized instruments outside of the orchestral spectrum.

It turns out that My Kid, Jordan, is in a band that’s really pretty good. Poor thing, though. He lost his voice this morning and was really sweating the concert. Everything went great, though, and he made me right proud. Such is always good news, as I can count the times My Kids disappointed me on one hand, whereas I can count the times they went above and beyond my fairly high standards on my…. Well, God will have to invent a new body part for me to count that high without including parts you’d rather I not enumerate.

Besides, Jordan and his band, AKA, performed a benefit concert for Camp Quality, a camp for kids with cancer that has a local campsite. Jordan has volunteered at the camp for several years, and he managed to get all the members of his band down from Iowa to do the benefit concert. Ultimately, the group raised enough money to pay for two more campers to attend Camp Quality this summer.

And while I’m always extra-super proud of Jordan regardless of the measure of success he achieves, I must admit that he managed to touch my heart without even speaking to me. I ended up purchasing the band’s CD, and when I read the liner notes I found myself referenced in the “thank you” section.

I almost cried.

Good teachers teach because they can’t do anything else. I don’t mean that they have no other use or outstanding qualities or marketable skills; rather, I mean that they teach because they’re committed to drawing out of their students those things that are not necessarily treasured in public education but are nevertheless valued in the real world. You know: stuff like passion and perseverance and integrity. (Unfortunately, such educators are few and far between.) And good teachers work their asses off to foster those qualities in their students, fully aware that the payoff is usually nothing more than the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing that you did what you could and that your students might someday rise to the occassion when circumstances most demand it.

And you remember that sometimes those kids made you smile bigger than anything because they lived up to all that potential you saw in them in a moment when you were actually seeing them — not for what they might become, but for who they were then.

I must be the luckiest has-been teacher on the planet, because My Kids let me see them all the time. They call me from their stereotypical dorm rooms and their mundane, bare apartments, and their non-descript-yet-functional cars. I might be removed by hundreds of miles and monstrous long-distance charges, but they share their successes and disappointments, their future dreams and failed hopes, their incalculable and undefeatable love and enthusiasm. And despite all those people who think I have nothing to show for my life beyond a mountain of theoretical education, I know I have something real and tangible: I have My Kids.

And sometimes those kids surprise you.

Apr

16

Quack! Quack! Waddle, waddle, waddle

11:13 pm · category: Body of Mine, Kids Are All Right, The

I spent the last two days at the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association annual convention. What could possibly make me spend two days in a hotel with 800 kids? Ummm, probably the free room at the Peabody Hotel. And even that’s not such a big deal, except that the soap in the bathroom and the butter at the banquet table are made out of little Peabody duck molds. Decapitating a duck at the dinner table — there’s something I thought my grandma and I would never have in common.

I have to admit that I went to the ASPA convention as a volunteer. The teacher in me is dying a slow death, and I like to be around young people. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find teens who have a determination and passion that hasn’t been subdued by the reality of rejection, and that’s always a comforting and inspiring thing for me. That’s why I still moderate high school quiz bowl tournaments and work with the church youth group. Also, sometimes there are free cookies and soft drinks. But I’ll admit that I didn’t miss having to do room checks at curfew, nor was I burdened by worrying about whether or not my kids were being polite and using their manners or were drunk or high or getting naked in a stairwell with a member of the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, some idiot managed to pull a hotel fire alarm a little after 11:00 p.m., at which point I had already removed my swiftly drying contacts and shucked my clothes. I was lying in bed naked, eating the chocolates the housekeeping staff had left on my pillow and watching reruns of That 70′s Show while I pretended like I was part of some privileged, elite group. (Hey, I’d had my car valet parked. I was feeling pretty superior!) This sucked immensely, because I had to get dressed and then hang out in the corridor with a bunch of sugar-riddled teens while we waited for the all-clear to be given. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I’d forgotten to pack my glasses and was sans contacts. It turns out that I had managed to wrongly button my hastily donned shirt, and my eyes were totally bloodshot. I was slowly making my way down the hallway a la Helen Keller, running my fingers along the wall trying to find the stairwell. I guess I looked like I’d been toking hard in the privacy of my hotel room, because a teacher I knew found me and made me stay with her until we were allowed back in the rooms. Can you believe it? Seven years of taking kids all over the country, and I was put under the watchful eye of a former fellow educator because I appeared to be stoned. Reality bites, and irony often births humility.

Apr

13

I Wish There Was a Chocolate Jesus

7:46 pm · category: Uncategorized

Today my proposal for an Independent Study Project for seminary was approved. The title is “Give Me That Roadside Religion: Curbside Christian Culture in the American South.” I plan to travel the South and visit roadside attractions of a religious nature, photographing the sites, collecting their pamphlets and other literature, and interviewing the owners/administrators. The focus is on the theological impetus and significance of the attractions. Then I’ll compile everything into… something. I guess it’ll be like a Zagat’s Guide for wacky Christian adventurists.

When I say “roadside attractions,” I don’t just mean the huge sites everybody already knows about like the several Holy Land replicas throughout the country and the Christ of the Ozarks with the giant cement Jesus where they show the Passion Play in Arkansas or that enormous Ten Commandments replica in North Carolina. Nope, I mean all that obscure, weird stuff — from Alabama’s Ave Maria Grotto to Kentucky’s huge crucifix to Tennessee’s Christus Gardens, where the eyes of the Jesus statue seem to follow visitors. (What’s the deal with Pigeon Forge, anyway? Is it some kind of kitsch capital? Because half the stuff I’ve found is located there… which is kind of scary.)

Apr

12

Brave New World

12:02 am · category: Uncategorized

Today is Easter, and what with the Resurrection and the egg imagery and the sense of renewal, I thought it might be a nice time for a little something new in my life. Hence, the blog. Let’s hope this goes well.

Today, before church services started, my pastor did his usual pre-service greeting bit and stopped by to shake my hand. As he did, he said, “Your hair’s all out of place. Didn’t you brush it this morning?” Temporarily taken aback by his brazen rudeness, I nevertheless managed to respond, “Ummm, no, I didn’t. I don’t ever brush my hair because it’s curly.” He sort of eyed me and then said, “Well, you should look at it. It’s really messed up.” I was totally pissed off at first, but I ultimately decided that Jesus must like my hair, what with my being made in God’s image and all.