Showing posts with label School Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label School Stuff. Show all posts

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finally.

Good Lord I'm a dork. 
 I've wondered about the title of this blog for four years. As it turns out, I didn't even have to think of it. This morning, while I was getting a glass of water from the refrigerator, my son walked in and said, "Yay! Daddy's graduating today!" 

My daughter looked up at me, smiled, and said, "Finally." 

***

Thursday night was bad. 

I kept having dreams where I died. I'd drift off to sleep, and wake up gasping, having just crashed an airplane, fallen off a cliff, or having been pushed in front of a bus. 

I cried Friday morning when I was watching the news before class. Someone paid off someone else's layaway, and I got all weepy. 

So of course I texted my wife and told her what was going on, and she was very succinct with her reply: "You need to calm down." 

I didn't believe I would make it. I really didn't. When I started college four years ago, I honestly thought I'd quit again. I mean I'd tried it twice before, and I left both times. I don't mean I dropped out, I just left. My grade point average was abysmal. 

But I started again. 

And I slugged along. I took some classes I really thought I'd like at first, just to pick up the momentum. I took elementary algebra four times, and I took intermediate algebra four times. I won't tell you how I got through college algebra. 

I fell in love with literature. I decided against a journalism degree, then decided against a computer science degree, and finally settled on English Education. Teaching. Geez. 

I quit my job after my second semester. I burned an enormous bridge at Connors State College, simply because their math department (certain faculty, really) is the biggest bunch of idiots God ever put on earth. 

We got a couple of kids. Then we got another kid. We went through a really rough patch in our marriage, and I genuinely thought it was all over. Then I learned how to ask, "How can I help?" 

I've worked 16-hour days for an entire semester now. I've gained an enormous amount of respect for high-school teachers, and not only them, but the students as well. I fell in love with those kids (totally not in a weird way), and I'm sad I only have one more week with them. 

I interrupted the semester with a trip to Washington, D.C. for an amazing reason. I had a wreck my second day of my internship. I got sick for like the second time in my entire life. I yelled at my daughter for making a C when I was struggling to keep up a C in a class myself. 

"You're a Sloat. Sloats don't make Cs. Sloats don't make Bs. Sloats make As." - Brian (and now Travis) Sloat

I ran out of gas halfway through the semester, then got an email from my wife that changed everything. 

And, while we're on the subject, can we just take a moment to enter my wife in the "Best Wife of the 2010s" contest. The woman is amazing. While I've been slugging away at my internship, then working nights at the paper, she's been raising three kids essentially by herself, and, not only that, actually tried to sleep with me a few times too. 

You know I still remember the first day I actually noticed her. I don't remember much, I truly think I'll have dementia in about a week, but I remember noticing Alicia for the first time. I can tell you exactly where I was, and exactly where she was, and almost exactly what she had on. 

God, in His amazing and infinite wisdom, completely changed my life when He let her fall in love with me. She is a rock, and I am fully prepared to spend the rest of my life trying to thank her for these last four years in particular. I love you, Alicia. 

***

I woke up at 7 a.m. 

I rolled out of bed to get in the shower, and Alicia asked me, "What time are you leaving?" I replied, "I need to leave in about 45 minutes." 

"What? You told me it started at 9:30!" 

"Yeah, but I have to be there an hour early." 

She made some sort of noise, and then I honest to goodness didn't see her the rest of the morning. Somehow, she got all three kids ready, herself ready, and ironed my clothes in 45 minutes. Did I mention she's amazing?

Just before we left, I remembered something. In my sock drawer, there's an armband with some initials on it. B.R.S. Brian Ronald Sloat. I had it made for basketball after he died. I grabbed it, and slid it on under my shirt sleeve. It just seemed right dad should be there with me. 

We made it to the event center. We didn't die. 

The separated us at the door, and ushered me around the building where I had a moment of sheer, unadulterated panic when the lady in charge of the cards with our names on them couldn't find mine. It wound up being the only one in the pack stuck to the back of another one, and if that right there doesn't prove to you that The Lord has a sense of humor (a sick one, sometimes), then I don't know what will. 

I met my friends, Krista and Katelynn, who have been with me through this whole thing, and don't seem to find it weird that they have attached themselves to a 32-year-old man who has a penchant for being inappropriate. 

I freaking love you guys. 
We teamed up with Bret, another fellow English major, and we lined up. 

I didn't die. I didn't trip. But I was sweating bullets. 

My mom sent me a text. You see, she got married today in what was the biggest scheduling SNAFU of 2014, and couldn't be at the graduation. I'm okay with that, because I like the guy she married. I think, for the first time in 14 years, I'm cool with finally calling someone my step-dad. 

"Congrats on your graduation today! Sorry I'm not there to see it, just know that I'm SO proud of you! Your dad would say, 'Good job, son.' Love you." 

And now, typing that out, I'm crying for the first time today. I'm honestly surprised it didn't happen sooner. 

My dad would be proud of me, just like the rest of my family is. But I honestly think he'd laugh a little, and smile at me the way he used to, the way I can see so perfectly in my mind right now, and he'd say:

"Finally." 

***

I walked in that gym, and I had my chest out and my head high. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I waved to my friends and family. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I sat through a commencement speech that I can't even come close to remembering now. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I stood up when my row was ready. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I walked to the stage. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I heard my name: "Travis Gene Sloat." I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I shook the hands of two people and got my degree holder. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

I walked out of the gym and into life as a college graduate. I didn't trip, I didn't die. 

***

I found a professor I've really grown attached to and I shook his hand. "Thank you." That's all I could say. 

I found some friends and hugged their necks and shook their hands. They congratulated me, and I thanked them, looking all the while for my family. 

I finally got a text message from Alicia. "We're at the truck." 

You know, I didn't even pause. I just started walking that way. I completely missed Krista and Katelynn, and missed a couple of other professors I wanted to thank, but I didn't care. I just wanted to be with my family. 

We got in the truck, and we went out for a celebratory lunch. Mexican food, because what else? 

I looked at them, gathered around the table. Aven, who was of course distracted by everything; Akeeli, who is just about the cutest little girl on the face of the planet; The youngest, who we're hoping to finally have a chance to adopt in a few short weeks; and, finally, Alicia. 

I smiled and took a drink of my beer, completely satisfied with my life at that point. 

"Finally." 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Break from Regular Programming...

I'm taking a summer class called "Advanced Composition for Teachers," and I just wrote my first Literacy Essay. I picked a topic near and dear to my heart, blogging, and more specifically how I got started.

I know this won't mean much to y'all, and I'm completely okay with that. But there might be someone out there who is scared to death to take the first step and create a blog. Or maybe you've started a blog, but it hasn't gone anywhere. Either way, maybe, just maybe, this post will help push you over the edge and get you started (again).

And it might seem weird, but to Rob and Johnny, you guys completely changed my life. You inspired me. I don't think I could ever thank you enough for that.


I guess you could say it all started with boredom. I can remember sitting at work on a slow day, hot, the middle of June, customers trickling in like molasses, and only for the temporary respite of our air conditioning. I went to the back computer, the one you couldn’t see in the cameras, and I decided to Google a new term I’d overheard from a coworker: “blog.”
            I didn’t know blog was short for weblog, and I didn’t know what one looked like. I’d happened to hear a conversation, the details of which are fuzzy, but I remember thinking, “I like to laugh, I’m going to put the word ‘funny’ in front of it and see what comes up.” The top two results were a site called “Mattress Police” by Rob Kroese, and “15 Minute Lunch,” run by a guy named Johnny Virgil.
            The crazy thing is, four years and hundreds of blog posts later, I can honestly tell you I feel like I’m friends with both of those guys. Rob lives in California, Johnny in New York, and I’ve never met either. Some may laugh at that fact, but I’ve shared several poignant moments with both over the Internet, and I feel like I would be absolutely comfortable stopping by their houses and having coffee and discussing the finer points of the blog world. In addition, both of those guys have wound up writing books, and both have enjoyed success as authors.
            Let’s go back to that computer screen at a cell phone store in mid-June. I laughed. Oh how I laughed. I read Rob’s stories about growing up in Florida and his parents running a cheap hotel. I read Johnny’s stories about growing up in the 70s and his posts about The Snitch, Houdini, and The Slug, and how they almost killed a guy, not once, but several times. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face and my stomach muscles were sore from the workout they received.
            And at the same time, it wasn’t just the laughter. In reading the archives of these two guys, I felt something else, a deeper emotional connection. It was as if they let me into their lives for a brief moment, gave me a glimpse of what it was like for them growing up and how their lives were now. They weren’t just being hilarious; they were providing something more for the reader than just a temporary feel good experience and a hyperlink click away to the next post full of jokes.
            Then, somewhere in the midst of it all, either down there in my sore gut or up in my dopamine-filled brain, I got an idea. “I have stories,” I said. “I love to tell people those stories, and I could write them well. I think I should start a blog.” I had no training in writing, and to be honest I was just an average English student in high school who had dropped out of college twice since then. I had written a few long-winded diatribes on Myspace, back when I was a youth minister at my local church, full of vim and vigor about changing the world, but nothing of any real substance.
            I had not yet grasped the importance of “your and you’re,” and “there, their and they’re” to the Internet, and I didn’t even really have an idea of what stories I’d want to tell or in what order. I had no clue about posting frequency and how important it was. I didn’t know about search engine optimization (SEO) or “spiders” or how comments should not be your driving motivation for posting. I thought long and hard about my nicknames for my friends and family, dubbing my wife “The Missus,” my best friend “Kid Funk,” and my brothers “The Groom,” “The Liar,” and “The Youngest.”
            Then I hit the biggest roadblock of all. I had gone to Google’s Blogger website, and I had created my account, but it asked a very important question. “What is the title of your blog?” I thought long and hard. The title had to be something that reflected my personality, but also told people what to expect. It had to convey the message of the entire site, yet at the same time be a draw to get traffic. I wanted people to see the title and think, “Yeah, that sounds like Travis, aka “tstyles77.” But I could not for the life of me figure out what it should be called. I cannot recall now the names I tossed around, but I do remember asking myself the question that lead to the name I settled on. “What do I like to do?” The list was simple. I like to play basketball, I like to eat, I like to fish, and I like to spend time with my wife.
            One thing on the list caught my eye. I like to fish. The words reverberated through my skull, clanging around like a klaxon. Was this it? It conveyed what I like to do in my spare time. It was completely random, much like I expected the content of the blog to be. It summed up me as a person, because I am a fisherman at heart. I entered the title in the text box, and I remember staring at it for a long time. Finally, I clicked the “OK” button, and there it was. “I Like To Fish.” Those of you who have any experience in the English field will undoubtedly notice the typo immediately in the title. I didn’t.
            “Alright. Lets get this awkward blog outta the way. The first one probably won't make anyone laugh, and it's more of a history of myself and why I am blogging. Here goes. My name is Travis, and I'm a 26 year old (at this time) guy who's married to the most wonderful woman in the world. I'm a fat guy, and I want to lose weight, but I refuse diet and excersice. Consequently, if anyone knows a good cocaine dealer, holla. I love to fish and play and watch basketball. I'm a TV fanatic, kind of, and some of my favorite programs are; The Office, King of the Hill, M*A*S*H, and Family Guy. I have a bunch of very funny friends, and they say lots of very funny things, most of the time on a daily basis. I work for a cell phone company (presently) and I won't say which one, b/c I don't want people bitching about our service. An unfortunate consequence of my job is that people are always asking me questions about their cell phones. My mothers ex husband for example, would always ask me questions about his IPhone. I mean, EVERY time I saw the man, he would ask me about it. Here's the deal though. I DON'T work for AT&T. At all. Or an agent for them. I don't personally like the IPhone, I'm a BlackBerry man. So our conversations would go somethin like this...”
            That was part of my first post. Riddled with spelling and grammar errors, and nothing of any substance to read. I essentially built a biography about me, but I didn’t bother explaining that my father died when I was 17, causing a 5-year jag of bitterness in my life. I said I had a lot of friends, which was honestly a bit of a lie. I mentioned I hated the iPhone, and here I am 4 years later with an iPhone. I had no clue about form or function, and how to use paragraphs. It was, in a word, terrible.
            Fast-forward to today. As of June 10, 2013, I Like to Fish is 4-years old. My current page views are at roughly 118,000. I’ve had exactly two blog posts that enjoyed enormous success, and for some reason my blog is incredibly popular in Russia. I wrote a eulogy for a 17-year old girl in my community who died in a car accident that was seen over 7000 times in over 100 countries and was shared just over 500 times on Facebook.
            One day last summer, I decided to write a fake news article about a mother who was arrested in Florida for using the phrase “You’re so cute I could eat your face,” in reference to her baby. The “article” was based on a real-life experience with the phrase while I was on vacation in Florida just a week before the crazed gentleman actually ate the face off of another man. The post gathered steam, and was briefly featured on Reddit before being yanked because it wasn’t “news.” It caught the attention of a local woman who decided to start a charity for bail money for the mom in question, before she realized the “article” was fake.
            And then, in an incredible twist of fate, the post caught the eye of the editor for the Fort Gibson newspaper. She left a comment on it saying how funny and well written it was. So I replied, and said if she liked it so much, she should hire me. To make a long story short, she hired me, and to sum up five pages and 1500 words, the course of my life has been completely changed, all because I Googled two words: “funny blog.” 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two Plus Two Equals....Oh Man, It Equals Me Getting Fired, Doesn't It.

I had one of those days at work. You know, one of those days. The kind in which you'd like to strangle most of the people that come across your path. A Limp Bizkit "Break Stuff" kind of day.

It started by my helper, met5200 not being there due to some sort of conference. So she says. I wound up giving her directions to Ted's before the day was over, and I don't think that was part of it. Just sayin.

Anywhat, I'm doing my thing, making some copies, (Makin COPies.) and just generally trying to get over the fact that a good portion of the kids where I work are not mentally capable of handling a copy machine. Which, by the way, is a KYOCERA. Yeah. The crappiest of any electronic device. I know, I know. You've had your Kyocera phone for 10 years and it's treated you well. That's because you've used it TWICE.

Enter Lady Potty Mouth. "Is the principal in?"
Me: "Yes, he is, but he's with someone. I'm not sure how long it will be."
LPM: "I don't care. I've got all damn day."
Me: "Ma'am, can you please not cuss in here? There are kids in this room."
LPM: "Yeah, and they say lots worse, too."
Me: "Ma'am, that's not the point. They don't need to hear it."
LPM: "I don't care, I'll say what I want."
Me: "Okay, then you can leave."

So yeah... I kicked her smooth out....into the hallway. Where she waited. Cursing. The principal finally came out of the meeting he was in, after I'd called the superintendent, the elementary principal, the office ladies, and the elementary office. NO ONE answered their phone. No one. Apparently, I was the only person on potty mouth clean up patrol. No, I didn't get that memo.

After she left, I talked with the principal and he basically told me that I did the right thing. That's a good thing, right?

A couple hours later, I was subbing for a class. The kids had finished a test, and they were doing some controlled talking. Controlled talking is where they talk, and if they get too loud, I control them by yelling at them. It can be fun. We were also having a problem with staying seated. "We" is a teacher word that I've picked up on. It doesn't actually mean "we," it means "them." So anyway, they weren't staying seated.

To tell you the rest of this story, I need to tell you another story. I don't always know the kids names, so often times I just give them nicknames based on what they are wearing and/or what they are doing to annoy me at the time. Example: Today I said to a young lady, "HEY! Turquoise! Shut it!" So yeah. There was a young lady in my class that would not stay seated because of something to do with her pants. She'd get up, fix her pants, and then sit back down. So of course, I nicknamed her, "Pants."

Some of you may know where this is going. You were probably in the class.

So a kid stands up, and I've kind of had it, so I yell at him. It was a joking yell, everyone was laughing, and I didn't actually MIND that he was standing up, but kids are like cattle. If you let them get away with one thing, the next thing you know, you have another school district calling and complaining that yours have gotten onto their land. I yelled, "Nathan! Down!" I also slapped the table in between words. Then, Pants stood up.

"PANTS! DOWN!"

Oh no.

Yup. I did it. I just told a teenage girl to take her pants off in a class full of witnesses. I can't make this stuff up, folks. But here's the great bit. This is the bees knees. This is the wasps nipples. (Like the Douglas reference?) The kid that I yelled that to?

It was the daughter of the lady I had kicked out of the office that morning.

Yup. FML. Big time.

The whole class erupted in laughter, even the girl I yelled it to. No offense was taken at all. None. It was hilarious. I even climbed under my desk for a minute to get a few more laughs. I told the principal and superintendent what I did, and they both laughed it off. Everyone knows I would never intentionally do something like that, and I am relieved. Greatly.

However, I'm almost positive I'm gonna get a visit from momma tomorrow.

You guys got my back?

Update: Yes, she did come back first thing the next morning. She was like a kitten. Didn't even speak to me. I, on the other hand, had a very firm grip on my chair, and it had nothing to do with my hands. I was also very aware of all the exits in the room, and what could legally be used as a weapon on the desk.