School’s Back for Fall

This time of year is one that creates a mixture of emotions within me. My summer is over, and I’m back at work, getting my classes ready for the upcoming semester, and generally recalibrating my mind and other parts of me to what I’d grown accustomed to over the past few months.

Teaching at a college, I got out of school in mid-May, leaving me a week or two on my own until little L got done with her school and E’s year also came to a close within the next few weeks. Hence why it’s only August 11 and I’m already days into the end of summer and staring the beginning of classes in the eye.

But like I said, this brings with it a veritable cocktail of emotions. It’s great to see my colleagues and work friends, most of whom I haven’t seen since school let out, and even those I have, it’s only been in passing. I’m fortunate to work with people that I really like, and many of whom I’d count as friends, making my working environment that much better during the school year. But there’s also the fact that the rest of my family are still at home, enjoying the reminder of their respective summers, both of which are close to ending, but not over like mine.

On top of that, my daily decisions are no longer solely mine, at least not to the extent they have been over the summer, leaving less time for much of anything else, forcing me to be much smarter with my time than the summer forces me to be.

And while I’m happy to be back in my classes and look forward to meeting new students and teaching again, that comes with the requisite work.

So yes, I know: teacher problems, right? But I’m not here to debate about the merits of summers off or to hear about how everyone else has to work all year long, the fact of the matter is that this is part of my career, and so this transition is one I face all the time.

All this to say: if I seem distant or off over the next few weeks, I do entreat you to know it isn’t you. It’s just the changes.

A few more things of note to close things out here.

First, I’ll be playing an event on September 14 called SteveFest. It’s put on by a former teacher colleague of mine, and ticket proceeds are going to help Classroom Central, an organization in Charlotte that helps out low income families and their teachers with school supplies. You can buy tickets through the link on their Facebook page, which is linked above.

Second, I’m really taking it upon myself to get into a better place health-wise. While things like CrossFit have helped a great deal over the years, I’ve been up and down with it in the past, so I finally caved and bought a Planet Fitness membership. It’s not as intense as CrossFit, but I think it’s something I can make myself do on the way home from work or later in the day. So I’m slowly hoping to see signs of change, as I’m also looking more at my food consumption and other things I take into my body. I just want to get to a place I can maintain and feel comfortable.

Third, I might soon be getting myself into a dual podcasting gig. Myself and another Niner Noise writer are going through the early stages of working on a Niner Noise podcast, so I’ll be sure to pass that on once it actually exists. In the mean time, I’ll still be doing Things That Matter (To Me), although the frequency is to be determined at the time.

I’m looking forward to another school year and all that entails. Yes, it’s going to take more focus on my part, but honestly, I could do with a little more of that these days.

Recapping 2018

Goodness me, 2019 is here, and it feels like it came swiftly, hence the delay in getting some final thoughts together for the end of last year. The holidays went off mostly without a hitch, although my threshold for human interaction did hit me right in between Christmas and New Year’s, and there was a mild attempt on my part to disappear for a little while. I also learned why I shouldn’t consume too many Trenta, quad shot iced coffees in my life, as they can lead to my brain literally going haywire in the middle of a shopping trip to IKEA and causing a little bit of a nervous breakdown in the middle of the furniture bins. All in all, however, I’d say that I more than survived the holiday season of 2018 and smoothly transitioned into 2019, planting myself more or less unscathed back at work and ready to take on a new semester.

As I’ve mentioned here several times before, that move back into “normalcy” is a strange one in my house. Everyone just about starts to get used to not have to go anywhere everyday and that’s about the time the break is over and it’s time to go back to work. Add to that the fact that there are no breaks on the horizon for neither E nor myself (we both pretty much have school from here until Spring Break, which falls in between Palm Sunday and Easter this year, a cool 13 or so weeks away), and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster. But I’m proud to say we’ve gotten back into the swing of things rather well, a bit of a first for us, and I’d like to think that feeling settled into the new house and it really beginning to feel familiar and like home is helping, or at least it is for me. There’s still work to be done, and I get this constant feeling that we always have something we could be doing, but overall, things are feeling content for the first time in a while.

I will say, however, that all the happenings of this year–and really of our life–don’t allow as much time for media consumption as I’d like, especially in terms of time to take in as many movies as I have in recent years. We watch the Golden Globes on Sunday, and I really didn’t have much to say about much of the field due to my not having seen as many of the nominees as I usually do. There just isn’t enough time in the day. I should figure out a way to get the studios to send me Academy screeners. That would help a bunch.

All that said, I’ve done a fair amount of listening to things (169 albums this year with at least one listen all the way through, and countless podcast episodes), as a good amount of time in the car coupled with lots of hours in my office has granted me the opportunity to take in a lot of good stuff. One thing I’ve not done nearly as much of this year is reading books, however–partially because I spend a lot of my work time reading student papers and other writing–so I think I want to make that a bigger priority this year, even if it means doing more of that over the summer. Anyway, as a means of recapping 2018, I’ll leave you with my top albums, movies, podcasts and some good things I read, and wrap it up with some things I hope to accomplish in 2019. Happy new year!

TOP 5 ALBUMS of 2018

  1. mewithoutYou – [Untitled]
  2. Dearest – Sonder
  3. Household – Everything A River Should Be
  4. Emery – Eve
  5. Foxing – Nearer My God

The rest, in no particular order:

Mae – Multisensory Aesthetic Experience

Thrice – Palms

Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today

Wild Pink – Yolk in the Fur

Crowder – I Know A Ghost

Justin Hurwitz – First Man OST

Basement – Beside Myself

Author – lifoiic

Underoath – Erase Me

Cory Asbury – Reckless Love

Pianos Become the Teeth – Wait for Love

Weathered – Stranger Here

It Looks Sad. – Sky Lake

Biggest disappointments in music: Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows; Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino; Saves the Day – 9

TOP 10 FILMS of 2018

Like I said, seeing new movies was harder this year than it has been. My total this year was less than 25, so narrowing this down wasn’t as difficult as it has been in recent years. I’ve also included my “need to see” list so you can see just how much this list could have changed.

  1. First Man
  2. A Quiet Place
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. A Star is Born
  6. Annihilation
  7. Incredibles 2
  8. Isle of Dogs
  9. Vice
  10. Black Panther

Definitely not the best picture of 2018 (drama, musical, comedy or otherwise): Bohemian Rhapsody

Other things I liked: Ocean’s 8, Ready Player One, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Venom

Disappointing or just plain no good: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Deadpool 2, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald (Middle movie goes nowhere syndrome), and the aforementioned Bohemian Rhapsody

Everything else (or movies I saw because I live with a 4-year old): Peter Rabbit, The Grinch and Solo: A Star Wars Story (which I’m still unsure about, but think I like more than most)

Finally, a long list of movies I didn’t see but wanted to (and may still yet): Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Death of Stalin, You Were Never Really Here, Tully, Leave No Trace, Eighth Grade, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Christopher Robin, BlacKkKlansman, First Reformed, Wildlife, Widows, Roma, The Favourite, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Mule, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Welcome to Marwen

TOP 5 PODCASTS of 2018

  1. Happy Rant Podcast
  2. Labeled: The Stories, Rumors and Legends of Tooth & Nail Records
  3. Niners Nation Better Rivals Podcast
  4. The Ringer NFL Show
  5. School of Science Radio

TOP THINGS I READ IN 2018

(Note: Obviously little of this was new in 2018, but it’s simply what I read this year)

  1. Feverland – Alex Lemon
  2. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse – Tom Verducci
  3. Basketball (And Other Things) – Shea Serrano
  4. Authority – Jeff Vandermeer
  5. Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix
  6. Acceptance – Jeff Vandermeer
  7. The Dark Tower series, books 1-4 – Stephen King

TOP THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH/DO MORE OF IN 2019

(Just don’t call them resolutions)

  1. Finish this pesky manuscript I’ve been working on for well over a year and a half now.
  2. Stick to my read the Bible in 365 days plan (I’m already 7 days behind because I thought of it too late!).
  3. Commit to a 3-day-a-week exercise plan and make better overall health choices.
  4. Having said that, ironically I want to brew at least one beer per quarter/season.
  5. Golf with some frequency (quarterly, at least, I’d say).
  6. Record some music, possible an entire new album.
  7. Write more on the blog, but also produce more material like more poems and maybe even some stories and essays.
  8. Remember it’s okay to make time to do things I love to do, and that doing those things doesn’t always mean I’m selfish or not giving my family what they need. So I can see more movies, go to shows and take time to accomplish these goals; in the end, this time can mean I’m taking care of myself, which can be better for everyone.