28 Sep

Oh my God, Eileen is good at this.

So, my students have been commenting on the poem. They kinda like it. Though they’re also giving some good feedback, which is moreso the purpose. Eileen told me that she should be the one to write the next bad poem cuz I don’t do a good enough job. So I challenged her to come up with something right this minute and she did. Here’s hers:

Her eyes
bored, searching, wanting
Her eyes
tell me a story
Theyre brown
She has nice eyes
Her eyes sigh like the wind
on a lazy summer day
I look into them with wonderment
and think about what might have been.

Wow! Now that’s bad. Almost too bad.

26 Sep


I just spent the past five minutes typing up a poem to show to my Creative Writing class. It’s a bad poem; I’m using it as fodder for a discussion on editing and grading. High schoolers are a little put off by the evaluation of their creative work, and understandably so. It’s very personal: a lot of them are genuinely trying to get their hormonally-imbalanced emotions down on paper. So we need to practice critiquing poetry in a humane way. And we also need to talk about grading creative writing. Many of them have this idea that you can’t label poetry as good or bad. So, I wrote the following poem, which I hope they’ll recognize as bad.


I dreamt last night
Of a woman named September.
She arrived in a bikini and stood with folded arms.
When I said hi,
she didn’t reply
but stared down at the ground.

The wind and rain outside awoke me,
and I rose to close the window.
But I paused at the sill,
took a breath of the cool, earthy air;
smelled the wet grass, thirsty from the past month’s heat,
and went back to sleep.

Incidentally, it’s a lot of fun writing bad poetry. It’s not quite as rewarding as writing something that’s good — the pleased feeling only lasts for a couple minutes — but it’s a blast. And actually, the above poem is not my best work — meaning it’s not the worst I’ve written.

25 Sep

Ironman Narcissistic Fantasies

A few weeks ago, the Ironman Triathlon took place here in Madison just as it has done for the past three years. I’ve been secretly wanting to do one ever since the Ironman circuit first came to Madison in 2002. Every year that I’ve been in town, I’ve gone down to the finish line to watch the first place finishers come in. They always look surprisingly energetic. This year’s champion, for example, ran into the final strech and then jumped up on a platform and hugged the Ford Explorer displayed there.

I imagine myself coming across the line. Probably not in first place, but perhaps in a surprisingly high-place finish. Maybe then I’d get interviewed by the local papers and TV stations. Maybe I would show such promise that I’d get sponsored and become professional.

When I signed up for next year’s Ironman, I wasn’t put off by the fact that I can barely swim one 50-meter length of the pool before stopping to catch my breath. Nor was I put off by the fact that I don’t yet own and have never owned a road bike. And I certainly wasn’t put off by that stress fracture I got back in high school, or by the memory of the doctor telling me I simply couldn’t log that many training miles per week due to my foot structure.

Instead, I let my narcissistic fantasies fly free.

The first, which I’ve already hinted at, involves my being interviewed after the race as the “local man” who “exceeds everyone’s expectations, including his own.” The quotes in that sentence would be the headline, of course. The story would suck the readers in by explaining how I barely knew how to swim a year prior to competing in this years’ Ironman Triathlon. And it would go on to explain how I’d placed 12th overall, first among Madison area competitors, and third amongst amateur athletes. All this from a man who had never so much as completed one triathlon in his life until three months ago!

On TV, I’d surprise my interviewers by explaining that “No, actually, it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” I haven’t quite figured out how I’d respond to the obvioius follow-up question, but I have a few options in mind, one of which is “living through a presidential coup in Ecuador,” even though that was not at all difficult but was, in fact, quite fun.

At one point on the bike ride, I will have talked with a few of the other competitors riding the same pace. They’ll have been shocked to find out that this was my first Triathlon. Two of them will warn me to take it easy; I’ll go on to beat those two guys in the marathon.

I’ll have my own “support team” like so many Madison-area competitors. Their shirts will be bright blue and the slogan will be “Storm’s A Comin.” Local News will latch onto the story because the whole day will have threatened the athletes with “potentially race-cancelling” showers and thunderstorms. The members of the support team will include relatives and all of the friends I make between now and then.

As I finally cross the finish line, the announcer will say, “And here comes Madison’s own Tim Storm!” And they’ll play “Everyone Deserves Music” by Michael Franti.

I’ll get offers for sponsorship immediately afterwards from such companies as Apple Computers, XBox, and REI.

I’ll accept.

And I’ll quit teaching.

16 Sep


A while ago, I bookmarked this site ( 3hive) cuz it looked interesting, but I hadn’t really looked much at it until just now. I spent the past hour and a half downloading 85 of its free music offerings and the majority of them are really good!

15 Sep

Breaking in

Out of the blue the other day, Eileen asked me how many of the places I’ve lived in did I ever have to break into. I was surprised when, upon thinking it over, I discovered that I’ve broken into almost all of the places I’ve lived. Working backwards: this house, yeah, I think; Ecuador, yep; Princeton dorm, I think so; Oakland Ave., not possible, really; Knickerbocker St., yeah; Seattle, I don’t remember; Gorham St., definitely; Jefferson St., definitely; Madison St., I’m pretty sure; UW dorm, yep; Cornell dorm, no; parents’ house, yes.

I had a reoccurring dream when I was staying in Fort Collins back when I was training for Olympic trials in 2000. We were in a pretty suburban area, and I began dreaming of the neighborhood, which was a lot like any other sub-division in the US. It was certainly similar to many Mequon sub-divisions: Lac du Cour, Ville du Parc, etc.

In the dreams, I would enter a random house. I think the first night I dreamt about it, all I did was go into the stanger’s house momentarily and then leave. But of course, there was this emotion that went along with it — a sort of thrill since there was a risk of being caught. Well then, my dreaming mind caught onto that feeling and took it to the next level. I began walking through the homes. Most times, I’d sneak behind people watching TV or some such thing. I’d wake up absolutely exhilirated by these dreams — I mean, to the point where I actually considered doing it for real. I thought, “you could always just apologize and run if you got caught.” I’m sure I would have been safe. Most people don’t take a weapon with them to the couch. And chances are I wouldn’t have walked in on a guy cleaning a gun or something. But I never really got the courage to do it.