May 31, 2007

Pardon My Disappearance

So I started work at the library one year ago today. That was the minimum amount of time I wanted to be here. It's good work, and I am content to continue, but I need to be on the lookout for new opportunities nonetheless. Being a librarian won't pay for a LeTourneau education (well, not before 2027, anyway). I'll be taking the THEA later this month, I think, and then I'll see about taking the scaryleap into the ESC Region VII teacher certification program.

Well, is it that it's scary . . . or just distasteful? Perhaps I'd best not think too much about that. It's a means to an end that will provide some valuable experience along the way, if all goes well. That's the most I can expect. Meanwhile, my personal endeavours remain a meaningful focus, as you've no doubt noticed in the RSS feed to the right (I was so proud that I figured that out all by myself . . . pathetic).

Right now one of my greatest sources of gratification is a return to recreational reading. Having moved just a bit farther away from work than before, and with Rachel working most days, I have started staying at work during my lunch hour. That's at least another book and change a week than I had before. Truth to tell, my recreational reading had dropped off scandalously since . . . well, probably at least Christmas of my senior year (about 18 months ago). I read a lot, certainly, but it consisted of skimming chapters or online essays . . . nothing concrete and measurable that I could put on my booklist. Since the move I've gone through the following:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

This is all part of the zombie kick I've mentioned in passing once or twice. This was a fantastic book on so many levels, a real page-turner. I guess it's hard to explain the appeal if it is not immediately apparent from the title, but this was a very well-written, thorough vision of the ultimate apocalyptic global event.

The Moviegoer

Yeah, I picked it up and read it. Figured I'd better since I kind of named a blog after it. Great piece of Southern literature here, but also a deep exploration of what life is all about. Walker Percy was a Christian existentialist, so yeah . . . this was pretty interesting. It was also entertaining, full of great little quotes, occasionally humorous, and pleasantly thin.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu

This delightful anthology is a sort of companion volume to the magnificent Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The stories are set in a wide range of time periods, from the time of John Uskglass to the setting of the original book, and each mimics the literary style of the period in which it was "written." This alone is a fascinating exercise, but the stories themselves are also full of the wit and imagination that readers of the original book will expect from this author. I just hope she is far from done with her alternate history of England and Faerie.

The Children of Hurin

I'm actually just over halfway through with this one, but I'm loving it. The first several pages are very tough going (cf. the first chapter of The Silmarillion), but then things clear up quite well. If you've ever liked Tolkien, this is certainly a must-read. I love me a good epic tragedy.

Madame Bovary

This is another one I'm in the midst of working on . . . I'm about 2/3 of the way through it. It was rather dull at first, but I'm beginning to understand the acclaim a bit. Once I finish it, I really need to return to Reading Lolita in Tehran. I first read that book in 2005, before I'd read most of the works it discussed. Now that I've read all of them, it's time for another visit.

And speaking of things that need to be read, next up in my queue is Children of Men, and then maybe Wicked. After that . . . well, we'll see. No shortage of books to be read, and that long hiatus did nothing to shorten my reading list.

Meanwhile, I've read a few books to Rachel, using that as an excuse to work my way back through some old favorites that I haven't read in years. We finished The Phantom Tollbooth a few weeks ago and now we're working on Watership Down (a great book which is no way about submarines).

Well, this didn't start out as a reading update, but I suppose that's as good a thing for it to be as anything else. This is shaping up to be a good summer, and I'm sure there will be some actual eventfulness to write about before too long.

Posted by Jared at 04:36 PM | TrackBack

May 14, 2007

Moving On

A disquieting thought came to me the other day. With 5 years of virtually continuous residence on the LeTourneau University campus, I have spent over 20% of my life here. LeTourneau has occupied, for better or worse, a very special place in my life, and I've been here a long time (at least for me). I experienced a lot of firsts at LeTourneau, most significantly "First Home-Away-from-Home."

But all things must come to an end, and yesterday I drove off of campus as a resident for the last time. All of my friends are already gone, so there isn't much left . . . that helps. There are so many memories here. This was my home. Still, it's awfully nice to know that I'm only leaving a place behind. All of the people associated with that place (well, except for a few professors) are still part of my life (thanks, in part, to the internet).

I spent two years on the second floor of Pennsylvania Hall. Then, the summer after my sophomore year (2004), I moved into the Ice Cave (apartment 12A) with roommates that I got to choose (for once). I lived there until I got married last year, and spent my final year in Apartment 1D . . . with another roommate that I chose.

The new place is a rather smaller apartment in Towne Oaks (about halfway to Wal-mart on Eastman, for those familiar with the lay of the land). The door of the apartment opens into a horizontal entry space with a closet to the right and the rest of the apartment to the left. The first room you enter is the living room/dining room extravaganza . . . by far our largest room. If you turn left you will be in our living room area, with its 3 couches, recliner and TV tucked into the corner. If you turn right you will walk by the designated office space, with 2 computer desks and 3 bookcases.

As you walk by my desk towards the back, an immediate right will take you into another closet . . . oh, wait, that's our kitchen. Moving on, you'll walk straight into a hallway. On the left is the closet with the hot water heater and fuse box. On the right is the bathroom, which is larger than the kitchen (even if you took out the refrigerator, stove, and cabinets). And, of course, straight ahead is the bedroom, which has two rather large closets. I'd probably have more details, but obviously things are still in a bit of a mess so I don't know what the final product will look like. I might put up some pictures someday, but don't hold your breath.

We've rented a 5X10 storage unit to help out with the clutter effect, so I'll be moving stuff in there for the next few days. And speaking of moving, many thanks to Gallagher and the Scholls for that very long Saturday, without which relocation from point A to point B would not have been even remotely possible. I spent Friday packing and cleaning, Saturday moving, and Sunday unpacking and cleaning. Monday was reserved for various and sundry errands and more unpacking. My computer is currently on the fritz and I won't have internet until (supposedly) Wednesday. We'll see how that works out. Meanwhile, I need to go crash or something.

Posted by Jared at 12:26 PM | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

Sheer Madness

What a crazy week. I knew things were gonna be nuts when it started, with everyone but me having more free time and all of us very aware that they'd be gone in a few days. Doug, Barbour, Randy and I struggled to catch up on Heroes before they left. Oh, and I stayed up way too late at least twice watching zombie movies with Randy (hopefully more on that on Moviegoings sometime soon). In this case, that meant getting done with all that stuff by Thursday, but only I knew that the real reason for that deadline was a surprise visitor.

As I recall, Martinez first floated the idea of visiting on graduation weekend about a year ago. By fall he had officially decided to come, and I was the only one who knew about it. With each passing month . . . then week . . . then day, it became more difficult not to say anything. Of course, I finally clued Rachel in well in advance, and that was where the dam almost broke. But she narrowly managed to keep it quiet until the moment arrived at long last.

I tried to arrange for as many people as possible to be in our apartment when he walked in, which worked fairly well. What didn't work so well was the almost 2 hour delay in the flight from Dallas due to "weather problems." I was reluctantly preparing myself for a drive to Dallas when he finally got to lift off. What was so silly was that the rain was never coming down harder than a drizzle in Longview, and by the time Martinez landed there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining and most of the water had already dried up. I even had groceries in the back of my truck.

Anyway, festivities lasted far into the evening, and then Rachel and I watched Idiocracy for, like, the 3rd time with Martinez and Barbour. Naturally, we went to bed quite late . . . only to be up before 9:00 the next morning. Martinez had an 8:30 appointment with Dr. C, and Rachel and I joined him a bit late so we could say hello. Then we wandered through the faculty offices and greeted Dr. Watson before Rachel and Paige headed for the Senior breakfast.

With that done, we headed over to the Ice Cave and spent most of Friday socializing amidst packing and moving and whatnot. Lunch transpired at Double Dave's, followed by the purchase of no fewer than 18 tickets for a later showing of Spider-man 3 (the usual crowd was augmented by the Barbours and the Sharptons).

Friday night, of course, was the Senior banquet, where we were joined by everyone (Gullmans, friends, etc.) . . . except Uncle Doug. It seemed longer than last year . . . probably because I didn't have anything to do. I think everyone I knew that was there went up at least once. Rachel got a medal for graduating cum laude, and was very pleased and proud.

After the banquet finally ended, we futzed around a bit, changed into more comfortable clothing, and headed out to get to the theater a bit early. We arrived 30 minutes before it started, and the line to the door had already stretched to the exit, wrapped around on itself and crawled halfway back up the hall. As it turned out, though, we arrived at the perfect time. The line began to move seconds after we joined it, flowed directly into the theater, and left open a large section of seating . . . which was still a bit too small for everyone to be together. But we did save about a dozen seats in a pretty good spot.

I didn't think about it at the time, but the experience was very similar to one I had almost exactly 5 years ago: Sitting in a theater in Honduras watching Spider-man with a group of people I knew I probably wouldn't see again for a very long time (if ever). In a nutshell, the friends were older, but the movie wasn't as good (review up on Moviegoings).

There was, however, one truly iconic moment. At the climax, as Spidey enters the final cataclysmic battle, he lands in a dead run directly in front of an enormous CGI American flag. I can't remember now whether the movie stopped for a moment, or went into slow motion, or simply moved at normal speed . . . but the image of exploitative jingoism is seared into my brain. As fast as the image was interpreted, my reflexes cranked my head directly to the right, where Randy was sitting on the other side of Rachel. He was choking and gagging rather violently, having unwisely taken a sip of his drink just before the image appeared. It was priceless.

Anyway, after the movie, Martinez, Doug, Barbour and I played Super Smash Bros. in the Ice Cave until almost three in the morning and then turned in. I got up to drive Rachel to graduation prep at about 8:15 and then crashed again until Becca and Gallagher dropped by at about 9:45. Graduation started on schedule and proceeded as usual. It turned out to be more about Dr. Austin than it was about the graduates. Oh, well. They all got their degrees.

Bud's big speech was interrupted by a medical emergency . . . someone collapsed and the crowd seemed rather rattled. Before the ambulance showed up they called for a glaucometer (sp?) and I ran MoM Gullman's over. They already had one by the time I got there, and the subject inquestion looked to me like he needed a priest more than a glaucometer. There were people crying and lots of grim looks. An ambulance showed up, but it left awhile later without its sirens going. There were rumors of dehydration floating around, and I assume the guy was okay.

Everyone was quite punctual to our traditional post-ceremony gathering . . . except for Uncle Doug. He had forgotten his ID and couldn't pick his diploma up without it. So he ran to the Ice Cave on the opposite corner of campus. When he got there, of course, he was feeling a bit icky, so he took a quick shower and changed into more comfortable clothes before running back . . . only to discover that he had left the receipt for turning in his robe in his other pants. Foolish, foolish Uncle Doug.

After the after-parties I went to look at houses with Rachel and her dad, then we helped Jon move out of his dorm room. Then we packed Rachel and her mother off to dinner and I spent the evening playing Super Smash Bros. with Barbour, Martinez, Doug and Randy. I had expected to be up rather late, but my eyes wouldn't stay open anymore by 10:30, so I crashed. We saw Gallagher and the Gullmans off the next morning, and then Martinez and I watched an MST3K, for old times' sake The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy!).

And then, as the day wound down, the good-byes began in earnest. Rachel and I saw Martinez to his plane, and Doug pulled out of town a few hours later. Barbour, after a brief detour, popped in momentarily on Monday evening before taking off. By Tuesday morning, it was back down to the Wheelers and the Scholls. Randy will be back from New York this weekend, and Gallagher will be coming to help us move.

Oh, yeah . . . there's that. No time to mope about how empty it is, we're moving to a new apartment off-campus. Things will continue to be crazy until almost June. Time to get packing.

Posted by Jared at 11:41 AM | TrackBack

May 01, 2007


I got this letter from a book I read today: Life's Little Annoyances by Ian Urbina. It's a fun little collection of passive-aggressive responses to things that drive us all up the wall. It is a rejection letter to send people who send you rejection letters. It made me chuckle.

Dear __________,

Thank you for your letter rejecting my application for employment with your firm.

I have received rejections from an unusually large number of well qualified organizations. With such a varied and promising spectrum of rejections from which to select, it is impossible for me to consider them all. After careful deliberation, then, and because a number of firms have found me more unsuitable, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your rejection.

Despite your company's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my requirements at this time. As a result, I will be starting employment with your firm on the first of the month.

Circumstances change and one can never know when new demands for rejection arise. Accordingly, I will keep your letter on file in case my requirements for rejection change.

Please do not regard this letter as a criticism of your qualifications in attempting to refuse me employment. I wish you the best of luck in rejecting future candidates.



Posted by Jared at 08:50 PM | TrackBack