Jan 26, 2007
These 10 questions originally came from a French series, "Bouillon de Culture" hosted by Bernard Pivot. It is probably more familiar to many as the question James Lipton asks at the end of "Inside the Actor's Studio."It's amazing what the simple answers to these questions reveal about a person's thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
01. What is your favorite word? Joy
02. What is your least favorite word?
03. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
04. What turns you off?
05. What is your favorite curse word?
06. What sound or noise do you love?
white noise (I find it hard to sleep in total silence. At home it's the air conditioner. Camping it's the wind and the waves.)
07. What sound or noise do you hate? anything scratching on metal
08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
09. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I'm so glad you're here.
Jan 20, 2007
There have been big changes going on in my life though I don't know that they are the type of changes you can really photograph. I've had a major paradigm shift in the way I view my life. A few weeks ago, for reasons I still can't quite put my finger on, I suddenly I realized that I have a great life! I live on a gorgeous tropical island. I have deeply rewarding work teaching at probably the best school in the world to teach at. I've got a faith that gives me hope and inspiration and gives meaning and purpose to my life. I've got a wonderful wife--a woman who I realized I couldn't imagine living without and with whom I always enjoy being around. I just feel really blessed. I mean I've known all this, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I started thinking about this consciously every day and it has revolutionized my life, literally. Normally, with the amount busy-ness and stress in my life for the past week I'd be a grumpy, irritable, dissatisfied crank just living for the weekend. But instead, my jampacked schedule has been endurable and I just feel lucky everyday. I mean obviously I'd prefer to be less busy and whenever I can I'm taking steps to relieve my schedule, but on par I've CHOSEN to be happy and it's really working, so far anyway.
I've also been really making an effort to go to bed early every night and to make sure I'm in bed before I go to sleep so that I can read for awhile and just unwind (tonight is the first night in awhile that I haven't done that because I knew I wouldn't be able to write this entry). I just finished The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. A beautifully written novel, but portrays a heaven I would never want to go to. I think I'd rather just be dead dead then live like that. I realize how important it is to me that God will be in heaven. He makes no appearance whatsoever in Bones and heaven isn't much without Him, in my opinion.
I've also been accepting when the day is just too full to do things I like to do to relax, rather than trying to force it and getting all stressed when I can't make it fit. (Another reason I haven't written in so long). There are a couple of other little tricks that seem to make my days feel so much more manageable. For example, I picked this one up from Grant, who got it from some book. I try to look at the horizon. Grant was telling me how most people live their entire lives within this fifteen foot radius of themselves, and how important it is to look out and beyond to the literal "bigger picture." I'm finding it really does make a big difference. Especially when you live in Saipan where "there's so much beauty around us but just two eyes to see, but I'm looking" (from "Here in America" by Rich Mullins).
I've also been trying to take time to do little things, like stop and actually put my shoes on when I leave my classroom to go to the officer or other parts of the school (my students and I have these little slippers that we wear inside so as preserve my carpet), rather than just shoving my feet into my shoes, crushing the shoe heels, and hobbling frantically about campus as I used to do.
I've also been trying to make sure I don't try to do too much, and I'm deliberately not trying to do things I know I don't have time to do. This has been good for my peace of mind. Perhaps not always so good for my schedule or sense of accomplishment. Some things I DIDN'T get done this past week: folding the laundry--it sat crumpled up in the laundry baskets in the kitchen all week long, reviewing the music and script for the upcoming Easter musical the church is going to put on, my dayplan (I've gone through several days this week with my plan for the day only half written and the rest in my mind. Very unusual for me). Grading. Lesson Plans (that caught up with me on Thursday when I came to Geography class and realized I'd run out of stalling assignments and I had no idea what to do next for class. So we had study hall).
I have been writing faithfully in my novel though and it is coming along. There have been some days when it's been a total chore and I only write because I want to post on Interference (I made a pact with myself that I wouldn't post on my favorite discussion forum, Interference.com, unless I'd first written at least 30 minutes in my novel that day) and other days (like the past few) where things are just popping and I'm excited about it. I'm just glad to be making progress and I can't wait to see where it will go. It's so cool to see it taking shape, going in directions I wouldn't have predicted.
I've started working out regularly. I guess I'm doing "Body for Life" the popular 12 week regimen. Babs and I did it together about five years ago and she lost almost 30 pounds and I gained about 13 in 12 weeks! Sadly when I weighed myself last week I found I'd lost 10 of those pounds and am now down to 123. Me and a bunch of the other teachers at my school are working out together and it's really fun and rewarding. Though it's another thing that is taking up my time since we go to the gym to weight train three days a week, and I'm doing cardio three days a week in the morning with Babs.
Another thing that's been added to my busy schedule is that I'm tutoring for an hour after school five days a week. I charge a lot--$15 an hour--but I have to for it tobe worth the time it costs me. It really hurts to lose so much time every single day, but the kids (they're all Korean learning English as a second language) and their parents really want it and they are more than willing to pay. I've got three students so far, and I'll end up taking home $360 a month extra home every month (that's after the school takes it's cut and I pay tithe. (One of the students even paid me IN ADVANCE for the rest of the school year!! I'm opening a savings account so I don't blow it all at once). In general with my tutoring money I use it as just "fun money." If I just plunged it into extra on the credit card payments or something like that, I think I'd feel like I wasn't making any money at all, and that good feeling of having extra pocket money is REALLY valuable to balance the added demands on my precious free time. (To give perspective, normally, we budget just $30 for the entire month for me to have in discretionary "spending money." That's my (and Barbara's "allowance"--less than a lot of kids get). Well now it's $120 monthly and the difference is huge! I feel rich, man!
So I guess those are all the big changes in my life.
Here's a fairly typical day for me (This was actually my schedule for this past Thursday).
Up at 6 a.m. Personal devotions and prayer time.
prep peach cobbler ingredients for 8th grade class hot lunch tomorrow and maybe wash some dishes.
7:05 A.M. leave for school
7:10 A.M. Supervise early arriving students at the school.
7:30 A.M. Finish planning my teaching day.
7:55 A.M. Homeroom kids come in.
8:00 A.M. School day offically starts. I teach Algebra I, 7/8 Math, English I, and 7/8 Geography. Lunch is at 11:30 and YAY I don't have lunch supervision. I eat in my classroom and check into Interference to see the new posts.
12:10 P.M. Back to teaching. 5/6 Math, World History, and freshman Bible class. Schools out at 3:00 P.M. I have after school supervison duty until 3:30. I cancel my tutoring and leave to go work out.
5:00 P.M. I meet my actor friend Dan and we hastily plan our presentation on acting for the mock trial team and a private parochial high school. (I'm doing it as a favor to an attorney friend of mine who is coaching their team).
5:45 P.M. teach mock trial acting class.
7:45 P.M. Class ends, and I go home. I get here around 8:15 P.M. or so.
I make some phone calls, eat a late supper, work on my menu for next weeks meals a little bit, and get into bed a little after 9:30, going to sleep by a little after 10.
That's my life! And I'm okay with it.
And below some pictures!
The First Annual 5K Freedom Run
My 8th grade class's sole major fundraiser for the year was a 5K run which we held on Martin Luther King Day--January 15, 2007. We had about 60 people show up and we made over $800. It was fun, and easy to plan and implement. I just wish I'd been able to run myself, but I was too busy managing the run. Barbara and I should be taking 3 8th graders and 3 9th graders on a trip to Singapore in March.
The Beautiful People: Our teachers plus Bev just before the race began. From L to R: Layla, Missy, Bev, Mai, Britni, and Grant. Bev ended up finishing third in the women's category AND she won a door prize too!
The runners at the starting line!
REAL Christian Theater on The Road Again.
On Friday, January 19, we went on our second schools tour doing five shows at four schools that day. It was a very successful tour, our performances went great, and Grant did a fantastic job of em-ceeing the show, thus freeing me up to take pictures. We also used our new sound equipment purchased with funds raised by our wonderfully generous supporters at the Centerville SDA Church in Centerville, Ohio. It was so nice to have our own sound and the lapel mikes were marvelous. It was so nice for the kids to finally have their hands free while they performed.
Our first show of two at Hopwood Junior High School: "Harry", "the Gentleman", and "Bono Girl"perform a funny sketch entitled "Screamers" that satirizes scary movies and deals with the issue of being trustworthy and loyal to your friends.
Grant firing up the crowd. He is the consumate frontman: funny and with an incredible depth of amazing analogies and pithy truths always at the ready. I don't know how he does it!
Requisite Kimo Pictures
Kimo in the lap of luxury, reclining on the bed in the guest bedroom. We love how she used the pillow, something we'd never seen her do.
Jan 6, 2007
The Official 2006 Christmas Day Portrait. At the Pierson's House for Christmas Lunch.
The Maycock Cookie Factory a.k.a our kitchen.
Here's a short video clip of the end of our church Christmas party on December 25, 2006.
For years I'd heard people talk about how busy and often stressful the holidays can be. But until this year, I'd never been able to relate. Christmas time was always relaxing for me--listening to nostalgic tunes, eating delicious holiday foods, buying and receiving gifts, spending time with good friends, plenty of movies to watch and books and magazines to read. What's to be stressed about? Well, Christmas 2006 had all of the above and a lot more. This past Christmas turned out to be one of the busiest we've ever had. Still amidst all the rushing around we managed to have a lot of fun and make some wonderful memories.
Here's our living room all gussied up for the Christmas season.
Our friend John Moreno and Tali Paez at the Paez Christmas party on Christmas Eve.
Ken Pierson lost one of the games we played that night and was forced to sing some Christmas song will standing on one foot and sticking out his tongue. Here's the moment captured for posterity!
Things got a bit boring with no power on Christmas morning so I took the opportunity to experiment with some avant garde photography. This artsy photo was taken by aiming the camera lense through the tube of a roll of wrapping paper. Pretty cool, huh!
By the time the power came back on, we'd already called the Pierson's and asked if we could prepare our food at their house, and we were hastily getting ready to go, because we had a stop to make on the way. We had a cookie delivery for our dear friends Rex and Clarie Kosack. We hadn't talked to them in about five months, and yet somehow we foolishly thought we'd be able to just drop off our cookies and run. What were we thinking?!? We had lots of catching up to do and ended up chatting with them for awhile. We wish we could have stayed longer but as it was we were about 45 minutes late--AGAIN--for lunch at the Pierson's! Fortunately, the Kosacks were very gracious about us rushing off, and the Pierson's very gracious about our lateness.
Christmas lunch at the Pierson's was wonderful. Crystal Pierson, in that seemingly effortless way that only Crystal can, had put together a sumptious holiday feast--a fake turkey (pastry rapped around a vegemeat turkey roll with stuffing inside), mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the rest. Barbara contributed some steamed greens and also our traditional Christmas salad--Mandarin Orange Salad. Joining us were Mai Rhea Odiyar, our 3/4 teacher and her boyfriend Jere, and also our good freind Bev. We ended up spending the afternoon at the Pierson's chatting and watching their DVD of their recent trip to Palau.
I know it's a bit blurry but I really like this picture. . .I'm not sure why. Maybe it's Bev flashing the gangsta signs! By coincidence Jere, Bev, and I all wore the same outfit--white shirts and blue jeans so of couse we had to have a picture. Jere is holding the (veggie) wine.
Bev. We couldn't keep her away from the Martinellis!
Barbara and I
The highlight of the evening though was the Gift Exchange Game. The way it works is everyone brings an inexpensive, wrapped gift, and places it on a table in the center of the room. Each person is randomly assigned a number. Then, in order, each person gets to choose a gift. Person #1 must choose from the table but after that you have two choices--you can either choose another gift from the table, or you can "steal" (perhaps it would be better to say you appropriate in the most kind and Christian manner, with an apologetic smile on your face) a gift from someone else who has already gotten a gift and opened it. In true Christian fashion--this is a church party after all--the last shall be first. The higher number you have the more options you have of gifts you can take. And the best person to be is the last one, because you can take any gift you want including gifts that are "dead." (A gift is "dead" after three steals. No one else can steal after that, except for the last person). Ironically this game is most fun if you're not too materialistic, take an easy come, easy go attitude, and focus on the fun rather than the presents. We've always had a lot of fun with this game and this year was no exception. Below the anatomy of a steal:
One of the members opened up their gift and found a very nice kitchen knife. When my turn came around, I went for the steal. Here I am returning to my seat with the knife. Once I sat down, I realized my greed had blinded me. This was really a cleaver, not a knife, ideal for hewing great slabs of meat. Since I don't cook meat, I wasn't going to be able to use it very much. I started hoping someone would steal it from me. Fortunately, I was in luck!
Here's Frank back at his seat with the purloined cleaver. Fellow board member and clinic employee Malou Bautista is on the left, Crystal Pierson sits on the right.
Joel Lopez and his wife Lovely study the field, plotting their next move.
When this picture was taken, Matthew had just been headed off on an ill-advised steal. His parents called him over just in time and , now here they've sent him after a different item instead. Another victory for the Lopez family!
At the end of the Gift Exchange Game, this is what Barbara and I took home: a glass casserole dish for Barabara (which she brought herself! Can you believe she took her own present! She took it straight from the table, and no one ever stole it from her) and a wok for me. The wok will be great once we get our gas stove. Not a bad catch for an evening's work!
Farewell to Wylie
At the airport with Wylie. From L to R: Babs, Fredo Paez, Noah Paez, Wylie, Natalia "Tali" Paez, and Carol Paez. (Not pictured: Keisha Paez. She was at work. She actually took Wylie's old job at the Marianas Resort Eco-Camp).
The Requisite Kimo Pictures
Here's Kimo begging, which she does by staring intensely at you while you're eating. Note Babs studiously ignoring her.
"Abstract Kimo" Kimo through the tube
One of Kimo's many fascinating sleep postures--this one with eyes open and tongue sticking out.
Only in Saipan: Zorries as Standard Footwear