Well, yes, it has been a dreadfully long time since I last posted… but, like many of my students, I have a good excuse. I was too busy. No, seriously, I mean it. Things shifted into full gear during spring term. Not only did football morning weights start back up but I also agreed to teach PRIDE after school. PRIDE is a credit recovery option for students who are credit defeciant. I taught two sessions, from 3:30 until 5:00. So most days, I was at the school by 6:45 in the morning for weights, taught from 8:10 until 3:00, and then taught Pride until 5:00. Needless to say, by the time I did find my way home, I had just enough energy to make dinner, have minimal interaction with Jess and in bed, all of the bonds between the atoms of my body evaporated for at least eight hours.
As tiring as it was to have such an extended schedule, there were definitely some rewards (not just the pay, but hopefully the extra cash will put a deck onto the back of our house). The aim of my PRIDE class was that each student created a story for an elementary school reader… namely, Jess’s students. I have to admit, some of the stories were surprisingly good. My two favorites were Giftless and Underella. The first was a story about one kid realizing how lucky they are to be as well off, for example, being given an amazing bike for Christmas. By realizing that his life was so rife with privileged, he discovered that his best friends was not well off. Eventually, the main character appreciates how happy his friend is without a mass amount of ‘stuff’ that he gives up this amazing bike. Eventually, the kindness is returned to him in another way. I know this sounds a little pedantic, but the way it was written really made it a good read.
The second book, Underella, was a reverse Cinderella story where a princess who has everything she wants, immaculate beauty, and much more ends up losing all of it because of her conceit and dispise of those who aren’t like her. Once again, it seems a little too focused on an obvious moral but it was realy inspired. As this was their only assignment over a six week period, I was asking for at least eight pages, double spaced (I know, I’m harsh). Surprisingly, most student got this done and done well. I believe I only had one or two students not turn in a story but considering that these are traditionally students that fail language art classes, having twenty kids turn in eight or more pages of their own writing was impressive.
But all the glory shouldn’t reside with the student. I was informed by those same students that it was unfair of me to expect them to write that much if I wasn’t writing anything at all. So I took their challenge and I started writing. My first day I wrote eleven pages, plus another four after I got home. It is still a work in progress but I up to thirty-five pages… about 20,000 words so far. I really don’t feel like delving into the premise, but I thought that I would put some up for a quick read from the beginning. So, if you don’t feel like reading the extra stuff, stop reading right here:
On the ledge of a New York City’s Empire State building, The Crumpler squatted peering down on to the busy city. The Crumpler was wearing his famous muscle-showing black disguise, with the dark green stripes running down his sides. A massive, yellow letter “C” adorned his chest and a utility belt across his waist. His real trademarks were his massive hands, they weren’t any regular hands but they were metallic gloves that were at least three times the size of a normal person’s hands. Made from titanium, they made steel turn into putty in his hands, easily twisted. They glistened in the moonlight, waiting for a reason to be used.
He watches the city for evil doers, those criminals and thieves that prey on the ordinary, hard-working citizens of New York City. The Crumpler enjoys the nighttime the most, when he blends into his surroundings, he feels the most alive and awake when most people are sleeping. But he knows that that most of the people that are awake at this time are usually up to no good. Scanning down the long avenue he spots a black sedan racing down the street, with two people hanging out the windows.
“This will be fun,” The Crumpler whispers to himself.
Within a second, he has leaps from the ledge of the Empire State Building. Diving straight down, splitting the air at terminal velocity, he grabbed a hold of the side of the building, digging into the stone as smoke and sparks jumped from his hands. He crashed to the ground with a booming crunch, the sidewalk split beneath him.
He was perfectly placed to intercept the black car. The dark hero walks to the crosswalk, the sign flips to “Do not cross,” but he steps into the street anyways. The roaring of the sedan’s engine is getting louder and louder. The Crumpler takes his place at the middle of the street so the dotted line passes right between his legs; he lowers his dark goggles over his eyes and smiles. He’s been looking forward to this all day. The headlights of the speeding car fall on to his face, shinning off of his bright white teeth. The driver of the car sees the masked man and guns the engine and starts to laugh as the gas pedal smacks the floor of the car.
As the car nears The Crumpler, kicking light off of his crest, he cracks his knucks as he thinks, “let’s do this.” Sticking his right hand out, just as the car gets within two feet of him, he puts his hand out, fingers perfectly straight. As the sedan crashes into his hand, the metal tears apart, splitting perfectly down the middle. Like tinfoil, the car is split into two equal halves, each half rolling on its two tires for two hundred feet until they fall onto their sides. The masked hero wipes the engine grease and antifreeze from his goggles, turns and heads to the two parts of the sedan. He struts slowly to the two hulking pieces of split car, now smoking from its long slide down the avenue.
“Evening, Gentlemen,” The Crumpler said as he lifts his goggles off his eyes.
“Whaa, whaa, what did you do?” asked the driver from his half of the car, still buckled into his sideways seat.
“License and registration?” the masked hero calmly asks.
“Hey man, get me out of this thing!” a voice screamed from what used to be the back of the car, “My leg is caught, please get me out.”
“Uno momento, por favor,” The Crumpler said in his poor Spanish accent as he turns back to the driver, “License and registration, please,” he requested a little less calm this time. The stunned driver pulls out his wallet and hands it to the masked man. With style, he flips open the wallet and shakes it out onto the ground, money and cards rustle against the scratched pavement. He picks up the man’s license and looks it over.
“Mr. Smith,” he says with a cough, “it seems you’re driving on an expired license and at such a high rate of speed. This isn’t good, my friend.”
“Yeah, I… I… I know, I was just going to go get a new one,” the driver stammered. The screeching of multiple sets of tires squeal behind the scene in the middle of the street, blue and red lights dance off of the two parts of the car and the masked man.
“You sure did a number on this one, Crumpler,” a voice yelled as doors slammed. It was the chief of police, Chief Taylor, “We’ve been chasing these guys for the last hour, they just robbed three banks in two hours.” As all of the policemen surround the two parts of the vehicle surrounded, The Crumpler holds one finger up as to ask the chief to wait one second, he lends down and clears his voice.
“Well fellas, it seems like you’re in a bit of a pickle… and I believe this pickle comes with a big helping of jail time,” the masked man chuckles. The same voice as before yelled from the backset of the driver’s half of the car, “Help! Please, help me!”
The Crumpler put his thumb and forefinger on his chin and said, “I think I’m forgetting something. Oh yeah, I remember now.”
As quick as the blink of an eye, he grabbed both ends of the car and bent them both toward him, splitting the roof in half and spilling both men from the car.
“Chief, I believe you were looking for these,” the crime fighter says and points across the other side of the street, “and you’ll find the other half over there. Look for the car missing it’s left half.”
The Crumpler laughed to himself.
“Jeffery!” a voice yelled.
The Crumpler stopped laughing.
“Jeffery, what are you doing?” the voice questioned.
The Crumpler blinked a couple of times and realized who the voice was.
“Uh, nothing,” The Crumpler responded.
“Jeffery Crumplebeck, I have to say you daydream more than any other third grader,” his teacher, Ms. Turnt scolded.
The Crumpler was no longer there, it was just Jeffery standing atop his seat with two broken ends of a ruler in each hand. Each kid in the classroom had their eyes on him, they were each holding their giggles in their mouths with two hands but Jeffery could see that they were about to explode.
As he sat back down in his chair, the class erupted. Fingers were pointed at him, kids roared over his robust laughter and even tried to guess why he had just snapped a ruler in half right in the middle of Ms. Turnt’s lesson about fractions. Slowly, Jeffery slid his two halves of ruler into his desk drawer and looked down at his paper, he had one question done. He glanced over at his neighbor’s paper and dropped his head when he saw that everyone else was on question number sixteen. This was not going to be a good day for Jeffery, and it was only ten-thirty in the morning.
He picked up his pencil and started on question number two. As soon as he finished writing the number two, his pencil broke. Jeffery sighed and thought to himself, “I bet The Crumpler never had to do stupid fractions.”
…start reading now. Eventually, Jeffery will realize to be a superhero it goes beyond just doing what you’re told to do or what is expected of you. I guess it would be a story about character and pushing one’s self to be better than just average. Just bear in mind it is written for third graders. I have actually had a lot of fun writing this and I look forward to writing more. I am aiming for near 40,000 words, which is about the average elementary-age kid’s book. A couple of people have expressed interest in illustrating the book which would be really interesting. I’d like to see where this goes, but I will not be holding my breath with any expectations.
On other fronts, Jess and I had an interesting experience last night. On our way home from Eugene, we came upon an accident that looked like it had happened only minutes before we got there. There weren’t any emergency vehicles on scene yet. What I learned from the Register Guard today is that an RV going northbound on I-5 crossed the median and hit a southbound car, killing a a passenger in both the RV and the car, with another person flown to a nearby hospital. You could see the carved out tracks of the RV as it had crossed the median, the reminents all of the vehicles were on the right hand side of the freeway with many people stopped to help. The RV was so obliterated that I didn’t know what kind of vehicle it was as it burned on the side of the road.
As sad as the accident is, it got me thinking. Jess and I had been in Eugene to have an early celebration of her birthday with dinner. After dinner, we hit up one store and did a little bit of shopping. I had mentioned earlier in the evening that I was kind of worried about spending a whole lot of money. Later on, I brought up the idea of stopping to get some icecream to drag out the celebration. Jess said that she wanted to help us not spend money but I convienced her that it was her ‘birthday’ and she should get dessert on her birthday. So we got our icecream which was tasty. After that we headed home and came upon the crash.
Two things came to mind. The first was that the things that happen in life, especially of the most life changing, exist in between seconds. What would happen if we hadn’t stopped for ice cream or I drove a little faster? I shudder to think that we could have been in the same situation as that car. But that’s not the thing I have chosen to fixate on. The second thing was that it is important to take time and enjoy ourselves. Maybe I should eat ice cream more. This isn’t to say that I should be concerned or worried about the things that didn’t happen or things that could of happened; that would cause me to miss out on the good moments. Just something to think about.
As you may or may not have noticed, the school year stealthily left the room while no one was watching. Of course, as with every year, the graduating seniors feel it is the duty to pull a prank. A traditional prank is filling the principal’s office with balloons or something of that manner. This year, it was a twofold prank. When I got to school around 6:45 in the morning on June third, the day in question, I got a call from my buddy Ricky who said that I should get to my room as soon as I could because there was a lot of work that was going to be needed for my classroom. And here’s why:
For as bad as it looks, it only took about twenty minutes to get everything back. There were about fifty chairs in the back of my room from the neighboring classrooms. Throughout the hallways of the school, desks were piled and stacked in the hallways. I guess I got off lucky, seeing as all of my desks were still in my room.
The second prank was ingenious and funny in my opinion. Throughout Cottage Grove and around the school were giant signs saying, “HUGE USED CAR SALE AT CGHS!!!” and upon all of the teacher’s cars, the seniors had tied balloons and put prices on all of the car windshields. An Audi was going for $300 but a late 90’s civic was topping out their inventory at $3000. My car just said for sale, I guess it was a o.b.o. type of sale. I thought that it was a well thought out prank, no destruction of property, not much as for clean up and it was original. I like that.
Other than that, the next time I write, we’ll probably be on a different continent. I’m desperately waiting for the vacation. It will be nice to just get to a different place for a while. Pictures and retelling of all of our great adventures in Europeland.