Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You've got readers

Pin It “I like to start my notes to you as if we're already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we're the oldest and dearest friends — as opposed to what we actually are, people who [probably] don't know each other's names and met [through blogging which be both claimed we’d never done] before.”

I love “You’ve got Mail.”

This is an entertaining movie...which I’ve watched numerous times. Tonight, a friend of mine and I were chatting online, and I began to wonder about those out there who come to this blog on a regular basis…some of you who leave comments, and others who do not. Some of you I’ve met, while others remain safely anonymous.

You clearly have me at a disadvantage.

In fact, yesterday I encountered someone who began to talk to me about a few items which I knew we hadn’t discussed before. I was a bit taken aback and began to go through this mental process…trying to figure out just how this person knew all of these elaborate details about events in my life. Finally, I found myself defeated and had to inquire, “Look, how do you know this about me? After all, I’m pretty sure that we’ve never told you about these things.”

To this the person replied, “I read your blog.”

Very powerful words.

Do you realize just what that statement means? I do. I, in essence, was being told that my blog, my site, my random thoughts and what-nots, were worth the contemplation and time of another. In other words, I was readworthy.

I do not take this lightly. In fact, I found myself flattered that someone else takes the time to read my words on a regular basis…kind of like those junkies who TIVO episodes of American Idol or LOST.

So, then comes the question…why? Would I read my blog if I were somebody else? Interesting…very interesting.

I guess I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void.

(Just as a side note, there are several references and lines from You’ve Got Mail contained in this post. Let it be known that no copyright, fraud, or plagiarism was intended…thanks for not suing me Nora).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The silence

Pin It The screen was before me; it was blank.

I rested my fingertips on the keyboard, like a masterful pianist awaiting inspiration. I closed my eyes and listened for the muses to whisper into my eagerly awaiting ears…listening for the songs of things so sweet their words had yet never been uttered before.

There came nothing.

The keyboard was abandoned, a fruit shake was created, and email was checked. Yet soon again, the blinding expanse of whiteness lay before me. Like a traveler through a white winter storm, I sought solace in my destination…the bottom of the page. Would I reach it this evening?

Probably not…the muses are strangely silent tonight.

Let them sleep, thought I. And I will follow suit.

And it’s only 9:15.

Monday, April 28, 2008

When a site dies

Pin It Webpages have been around for years now. It’s hard to imagine our lives without our favorites…some of these are pages are sites like: YouTube, Making Fiends, absolutely amazing photography sites, or even Blogger. Many of these have become cherished friends—or archenemies—dependant upon the amounts of time we spend in their presence.

I have a web friend.

I’ve blogged about my friend before. That was the time it was taken from the web and looked something like this:

I’ve had my site for two years now…two long years. It’s come a long way too. There have been a few different versions, and these have all been works in progress. However, today I had a student come to me and say, “Mr. Z, the website doesn’t work anymore and I really needed it this weekend.”

It doesn’t work?

After a bit of investigative research I came to discover that my site, classroomofchaos, had finally run its course and expired. Removed from the web, it was joining many of it’s kind in website heaven—or in…well, never mind.

I thought about renewing the site and I even made a call to the company running the server. Excuse me? How much was that going to be? On second thought, perhaps it would be better to simply let it go, and save my pocketbook a three-digit sum (not including the decimal).

I sat at my computer several times at work today and hit the “home” button. It took me to a page to which I was unfamiliar. A page without my helpful links and fun banners (which, consequently, was much more fun previous to the site’s overhaul…however, that would be a blog for another day).

Site thenner:

Site then:

Site now:

I tried to remember the sites contained on my website.

Curses! There were far too many links I had bookmarked on it…but that much? Was it even worth it?

I would think about it.

Well, did I really need a website? After a lot of the most recent changes were made it became only half the site it once was. Did anyone ever use the thing anyway? When was the last time I’d updated the thing anyhow? Besides, what kind of name is Classroom of Chaos in any case?

I shut down the computer.

I told myself that being webless was a blessing. No longer would updating the thing play a part in my timelife!

I was free.

Or so I was…before a three-digit sum.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why I haven’t written a blog today?

Pin It Good question, I am glad you asked...To answer this as briefly as possible, let me just say that I’ve spent numerous hours in working on people’s photos over the past few weeks; so many in fact, that other areas in my life have suffered greatly as a consequence (sleep mostly). So as a brilliant alternative in lieu taking another half-hour (or longer) of my much-needed rest, I thought I’d post a few items worth a few thousand…

And these are only a few of them...

Goodnight bloggers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Pin It I hate being “tagged” and then having to do stuff like this…therefore, I have decided to alter this tagging to the following. I have chosen to be interviewed by singer/songwriter, John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting.

Mr. Zimmerman and Ondrasik sat in the studio in comfortable high-backed chairs chatting about a large variety of topics. The following are transcripts from their interview.

John: So, Jason. Tell me a little about yourself.

Jason: Well, what is it that you want to know?

John: How about a few things that most people may not know about you?

Jason: Well, for starters, I can juggle butcher knives.

John: You’re kidding! How did you manage to do that?

Jason: Actually, I learned while living in Missouri. I could juggle balls, but when I had a few roommates who could juggle, I started to pick up a few new tricks.

John: That’s amazing. Have you ever cut yourself?

Jason: (small laugh) More times than I’d like to admit.

John: So what would you say is one of the most “outgoing” or “amazing” moments you’ve had in your life?

Jason: Hmmm. Well, I’d have to say the time I met Howard Jones ranks up there as being something kind of gutsy.

John: Tell me about it.

Jason: Well, all during the concert Howard had made comments about people getting up to dance if they wanted, and nobody would do it. Finally, I turned to my friend, Mary Ellen, and said, “He really wants people to get up and dance…let’s go.” She admitted that she didn’t know the songs he was playing as they were from his new album…but she ended up going up with me.

John: What happened?

Jason: (laughing) I turned to the audience once I got up front and started to clap my hands over my head with the music and shouted, “C’mon everybody!”

John: How did they react?

Jason: Well, they just sat there and did nothing. To tell you the truth, it was a pretty lame audience up to this point.

John: Did you stay up there, in front?

Jason: Yeah. My friend and I started dancing and my sister and her husband came up to the front too…we were a group of four.

John: Was it that way for the whole concert?

Jason: No, it only took a couple of more songs and people started to trickle up to the front. Before long, there was a big crowd all up there dancing along with us. Howard even started to play some of his well-known songs from the beginning of the concert which he’d already played. Nobody seemed to mind though.

John: Well, that is a fun experience!

Jason: Oh, there’s more to it than that. You see, we’d stopped off before the concert and bought lighters. We were the only four people there with them either. I was so surprised…we lit them up on his song, “Hide and Seek.”

John: Now, you said earlier that you actually met Howard Jones?

Jason: Yeah. You see, we were…well, what’s the word? I guess you could say we were pretty “into it” at the concert, and once it had ended this lady came through the crowd and introduced herself as Howard’s tour manager. She asked us to stay after the show because Howard wanted to meet us.

John: He wanted to meet you?

Jason: Yeah, his tour manager said, “Howard wants you to stay after because he’d like to talk to you. He said that you must be his biggest fans in Spokane, Washington.”

John: So, did you stay?

Jason: Yes, we did. We waited around and he finally came out. We lit up our lighters so he would know who we were. He remembered. He came up to us and thanked us for making the show so memorable. I was totally blown away. He was a really nice guy, he even gave us his address and said we could write if we wanted to.

John: Did you ever?

Jason: Well, I was pretty young and didn’t really ever follow through, but I did think about it a few times. We did get a photo taken with him.

John: Ah, the jeans jacket.

Jason: (nervous smile) Yeah, I’m not too proud of the fact that I once wore that, or that awful hairstyle, but you know, it was the 90’s.

John: Indeed it was. Now, you mentioned earlier that you’ve been on the radio before? What happened to bring that about?

Jason: I was working at ComedySportz when this guy heard me doing my announcing. He liked my voice and asked if I’d record a couple of radio spots for his company.

John: What was the name of the company?

Jason: Inspecials. Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. We ended up recording five commercials which played on the radio during the summer of 2001.

John: I’ll bet that was fun.

Jason: Yeah, it was…I’d never been in a recording studio before, and there were several times we had to keep recording the commercial segments over and over again because we’d make a mistake. It was a lot of fun though.

John: So, have you always been interested in radio?

Jason: I have. I thought about being a radio announcer before, or maybe a movie director.

John: But not a teacher?

Jason: No, actually, that was the last thing I wanted to do…well, maybe not the last, but it wasn’t something I’d put much thought into.

John: What other professions did you consider?

Jason: Well, I wanted to be an actor. But when I got a bit older I decided I wanted to be an author.

John: Have you ever written anything?

Jason: Well, I blog.

John: (laughing) I’ve been there a few times. You’ve got a quote of mine on your header.

Jason: What can I say? You have a way with words.

John: Thanks. I noticed you had a few posts awhile back about experiences in your childhood. They’re pretty funny.

Jason: The past is always more funny once it becomes the past. While it was the present, all of those experiences were pretty awful, to tell you the truth.

John: Have you ever thought about writing a book about them?

Jason: Yeah. I’ve actually got a lot of other experiences I need to write about before I die. Some of them are funny, like the time Kenny Monzingo was in the outhouse and…well, I’ll just have to finish that one first.

John: You seem to have a good memory for things in your past.

Jason: Well, some of those times were a lot more memorable than others, you know? Some made a greater impact. I mean, I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast most mornings, but I can remember some of the “headline events.”

John: Have you ever written anything else?

Jason: Yeah. I’ve got a lot of unfinished stories…I do have a few which are done…or near enough anyhow. I’ve been stuck on my most current book for a few years.

John: What’s keeping you stuck?

Jason: Mostly the fact that I am lazy. I just don’t set aside the time I should to work on it.

John: Why not?

Jason: Lack of motivation I guess. But when I go to a bookstore and see some of the lame stories they have for sale, I know that what I’ve written would do better than some of that junk.

(director, off-camera): Two minutes remaining.

John: Well, we only have another minute or so of time left…I wanted to ask you a question about your cookie recipe.

Jason: Chunk-A-Poos?

John: Where in the world did that name come from?

Jason: Actually, they were named by a boy I used to mentor by the name of Alejandro.

John: Why did he name them what he did?

Jason: Well, actually, we were coming up with gross names for ice cream. We’d come up with stuff like catsup, liver, snot, and a bunch of other interesting flavors when Alejandro belted out, “CHUNK-A-POO!” I guess it just stuck.

John: But why a name like that for something as good as those cookies?

Jason: Probably because the middle of the cookie has a Rolo in it…in a sense that IS the “chunk” in the middle.

John: Do people ever question you about it?

Jason: Yeah, they say they are going to call them something else, but the name always seems to stick. It’s funny, my friend, Karen, and I will talk about them and how we “need some Poo.” I always wonder what other people would say if they overheard our conversation and that particular line.

John: Probably would be pretty grossed-out.

Jason: Probably. But I guess one of the perks about creating something is the fact that you get to name it.

John: (laughing) I guess it would be. Now, before our time is up, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Jason: Well, I actually wanted to thank you, really. I also wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your music.

John: Thanks. Any song in particular you like?

Jason: I’d have to say that “The Riddle” is my favorite right now.

John: That’s a good one.

Jason: I love the message you share with it. That’s why I picked a part of the song for my header…I just love the lines: “There are secrets that we still have left to find. There have been mysteries from the beginning of time. There are answers we're not wise enough to see…”

John: There are still some mysteries out there…some of those mysteries are still about you, Jason.

Jason: I think we all need a little mystery in our lives, it’s what keeps us interesting.

John: Well said. (looking at watch) And that’s all the time we have today. Join us next week with an interview on another blog. Thanks for coming in today, Jason.

Jason: My pleasure, it was good meeting you.

John: And you too.

End of program.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Pin It “I hate to spread rumors, but what else can one do with them?”
- Amanda Lear

Aren’t rumors a terrible thing? They’ve been around for centuries, and have nearly always either ruined lives or been the means of spreading partial-truths, oftentimes doing no good whatsoever. In fact, I can remember hearing a rumor when I was a growing up about a friend of mine…this vicious rumor, passed around like a soccer ball in a championship game, was soon spread throughout the entire school, nearly everybody thinking that it were true. Well, in a nutshell, the rumor was NOT true, however, it was already too late and the damage was done. Unfortunately for my friend, there was nothing he could do to change the popular belief now shared amongst much of the student body.

There was a rumor today at work…

You can imagine the feeling of surprise I had when one of my students asked: “Mr. Z, is it really true that you aren’t going to teach anymore after this school year is over?”

“What?” I responded, taken aback somewhat.

“I heard that you decided to quit because the kids at this school don’t turn in their homework.”

I gazed at this boy. “Really?” I said, with the vaguest hint of a smile. “I hate to break the bad news to you, but I plan on being a teacher next year.”

He paused as I called my reading group to the front of the room.

“Mr. Z?”


“Is it true that you are leaving SSV because you hate it here?”

Whoa…just what was going on here? There is usually one rumor each year that I am leaving SSV, however, this was the first time I’d heard this little version.

“Who’d you hear this from?” I asked.

“From Joey.”

“Ah, I see…” I scanned the room, and Joey just happened to be nearby. “Joey, may I have a word please?”

Joey ambled to the front of the room as I quietly asked, “Where’d you hear the rumor that I hate my job?”

Joey began to list a string of names from whence his information sprang. Unfortunately, I cannot remember all of the names as the complexity of the line of individuals involved were much too long and detailed to be logged into the short-term memory by any stretch of the imagination. However, I believe that it went something like this;

“Well, I heard it from Mark when we were playing soccer at recess. One of the girls, Lisa, was telling her friends about it. She said she heard it from her older brother who’d heard it from his friend in at the high school. The friend’s dad was a co-worker on a movie set with Harrison Ford and they were discussing it during a coffee break. I guess Mr. Ford had been talking to his director, Steven (Speilberg), between takes and he said he’d heard it from his wife’s sister who knows this lady with a psychic hotline. She’d received the information while in a trance—I guess she was channeling the transmigrating soul of John Denver…it was him who first knew about it.”

Well, you can imagine my surprise at just how many individuals were keeping up with Lifestyles of Z, and were making it a point to discuss the various and sundry details of my life. I was further surprised when, with a little digging, I soon discovered that there were four other versions of said story which involved everything from being terminated by the district for giving action slips to students for gum chewing, to quitting because of lazy kids who wouldn’t complete their homework.

This is a rumor-filled society and if people want to sit around and talk about whom I’ve dated, then I’d say they have a lot of spare time and should consider other topics...
- Johnny Depp

I set him straight. In fact, I set my whole class straight.

However, as I left school I found myself wondering just why rumors have a tendency to come into existence, and, more often than not, why they are always so cataclysmically overblown? Just what is it about rumors that get us excited to spread the news to others? Of course, if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve taken part in my fair share of rumormongering from time to time.

But it feels different when the rumors are about you.

Well, it’s kind of cool, really. After all…if there are rumors about you, then you are worthy topic of discussion to the masses, and are therefore interesting conversation. I guess there is something to say about that, and it could be worn as a badge of honor. However, it can be quite disconcerting when one finds out just how many diverging versions of the truth are really out there. Just where do all of these different adaptations come from? What is it that motivates a person to spread a fairy-tale with a mixture of truth as being unequivocated gospel fact, when said information has not been accurately checked back at the source?

I guess it’s probably because the truth is not nearly as fun, interesting, or juicy as what one is able to spread with the aid of cell phones, text messaging, and backyard neighborhood fences.

To quell the rumor and set it all straight: I AM transferring schools. I will be teaching 5th grade next year. I am doing this because the reasons I had for staying at my present school are no longer there. I have never kept it a secret that I would stay at SSV only so long as Mrs. Wright, Mr. Firmage, Mrs. Bliss, and Expedition Red Rock were still there too. They are all now notably absent, therefore, so shall I be.

On a final note…it was Alyson Hannigan, the actress from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, once said, “There was a rumor that I was dead. I happened to be off work that day and I had a beeper and the batteries had died so I was just shopping and looking round bookstores. People were frantically trying to get in touch with me, and people were calling hospitals and the news people were calling my agent trying to see if it was true, and I got home and my voice mail was filled with people going, ‘Call me if you’re ok’ - and I was completely oblivious.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What to do, what to do…

Pin It As I was readying myself to compose a blog this evening complete with tales of adventure and intrigue, I decided first to check my email. As usual, there are the various and sundry forwarded items which, at best, get a quick glance before being dumped into the “trash” bin, the letters from friends letting me know that Saturday just won’t work out for them, but they hope the event is a success nonetheless, and emails from a student or two begging for more time for their literature responses.

As I was answering these varied emails, I noticed that I had one from Chase.” Perhaps you remember this boy…he was the student who threw down the gauntlet over a month ago and challenged me to wear a button-up shirt and tie each day at school. Well, he sent me an email with the subject line of: shirt and tie.

The email read thus:

Mr. Z,

It's your dream come true. It's Christmas, only the presents are all yours. I, “Chase,” am calling off the bet. Well really my parents made me stop, but all the same DON'T WEAR A SUIT OR TIE.

As I read over this email I have to admit, I felt two contrasting emotions at the same time. One emotion, relief, was cheering at the top of it’s lungs at the prospect of not having to be stuffed into those uncomfortable clothes each and every day. The other emotion, disappointment, hung it’s head and patted me on the back, “Well, it’s over now.” It seemed to say. “When you walk into the classroom tomorrow you’ll be the only one dressed up from now on.”

I guess I didn’t realize just how accustomed I’d become to Chase dressing up each day. A part of me is really going to miss that. So now comes the question:

Do I stop wearing the tie each day, just because Chase will not be doing it any longer? OR should I keep on “dressing up” each day, despite the fact that the challenge has been rescinded? I find myself at a loss this evening, caught between professionalism and comfort. Which of these two paths would be the better to follow?

What to do, what to do?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Winning is NOT everything

Pin It There was once this person. Let’s call him “Teachinfourth.”

Teachinfourth had always wanted to win something on the radio.

He had phoned, trying to be the 10th caller to the stations. He had sent in emails. He even tried other various and sundry things in order to win. However, to his great dismay, he just couldn’t ever seem to win the tickets to James Taylor or Sting concerts, the Caribbean cruise, or the thousand dollar jackpot.

Alas, it seemed he would never win.

He sent in a photo this morning for FM 100’s win-tickets-to-see-the-live-performance-of-“High School Musical” up at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake. (See #3)

He won.

The moral of this story, you ask?

Sometimes winning is NOT everything.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The icing on the cake

Pin It

There is a lot that I need to blog about, however, tonight is not really the night.

I listen to audio books...I read blogs.

I have subscribed to several of them.

Like the reading favorite novels, these blogs have become a ritualistic reading for me each week. Some of these blogs are comedies, which make me laugh out loud…literally. Others are adventures which leave me on the edge of my seat, wondering just what the characters are planning to do next. But mostly, these blogs are dramas, taking me on a journey into the lives of characters I’ve come to know and love…people I’ve come to regard as friends.

Like new episodes of my favorite TV shows, I look forward to new seasons with the characters, finding out how their individual stories are panning out, as well as finding out what new twists are being added into the various and sundry plots—known as their lives.

I do have one blog in particular, one which I always save for last. Like saving the sugar-wafer cookies which always came in the banana splits from Jay-Rob's Pizza, it has become the proverbial icing which really makes me feel like I’ve enjoyed a full-course blogging feast...

Those who read this blog (who’ve made at least one comment so I know you are a reader), just know that I read your blog as well.

Yours is probably my favorite.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 3 - Taking out the Trash

Pin It We all have to do that at one time or another, don’t we? Well, what about the “trashy 80’s” music we’ve all grown to love so much?

My friend’s daughter was headed off to eighth grade for her “80’s Day” today and had completely decked herself out. Well, I took a few photos and then decided to make a front and back sleeve for the 80’s music compilation for which her photos would undoubtedly be used for at some time in the future…

Also, my friend, Brian, thought it would be funny to “borrow” my camera and then take a few snapshots of himself, unbeknownst to me. I decided to put them to good use.

Going through my computer is always fun, and it’s also fun to go through and recycle some of that trash. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 2

Pin It

Ever been asked to take photos of somebody and had them turn out really good? Well, that was a major part of today. My friend, Michelle, wanted me to take some senior photos of her oldest girl. Well, that was my main thing today and though it took some time, it was fun to see how excited her family became upon seeing the images.

Some days we don’t do what we really feel like, but still have fun anyhow…

By the way, you can see some of the photos here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 1

Pin It I am currently in Hurricane, Utah. I am here at my friends’ house where I currently have access to the Internet. To tell you the truth, I had no idea where I was going to end up…because I had this gigantic bout of indecision, I decided that it would be best if I came down to the St. George area first and take care of my friend’s daughter’s senior pictures. While down here I would do a little more research as to just where else I would like to go.

So, I promptly packed my hiking and camping gear, hopped in my car, and made the four-hour drive southward, arriving around four this afternoon.

I love being here at my friend’s house. They are so truly amazing. I also called up my cousin and aunt tonight and have plans to visit with them during the week sometime.

I am thinking of heading off to Grand Staircase – Escalante while being down here and checking out some of the sights. Not sure just yet, but undoubtedly, there will be something amazing around here for me to see...something like this:

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Pin It I will be gone.

I decided this a few days ago. I am going to southern Utah.

When am I coming back? I don't know.

Where exactly am I going? Well, to be honest, I haven’t fully decided. There are those “familiar haunts” which I really enjoy being at, however, I am feeling the need for someplace new…you know, a place I haven’t seen before; a new adventure eagerly awaiting my eyes.

All I know is that I am going.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Pin It I had a decision to make.

This was not your average, everyday decision of something like: “What shall I have for breakfast today?” or even the “Which tie should I wear to work?” This was one of those more life-altering questions which seem to demand an answer far sooner than one usually wants to give it.

However, ready or not, I made the decision. Now, all that remains is the follow through at this point.

I can almost hear the rustle of excitement as people rush to their mailboxes to check for wedding announcements…all I can say is don’t hold your breath on that one.

And my sister is currently in Disneyland


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The tale of a Blog & a found family

Pin It Once there was a blog…

The writer of this blog got a comment on his site…somebody named Danielle. Who the heck was Danielle? The blog’s author quickly checked out her profile. The photo did not look familiar…who was this woman anyway? The blogster was completely bewildered, however, since his blog was open to the public, she was probably just a passer-by, one who stopped in for but a moment and then was gone.

Soon the blogster noticed yet another comment, this time from a “Josh & Jaylee.” Okay, now who were these people? Yet again the blogster was at a loss for who these people were, however, after checking out a few photos on their site, came to realize that it was a set of cousins from a particular branch of the family tree the blogster had thought had been cut away and forgotten.

Soon yet another comment was put onto the blogsters blogsite—a comment on a blogging about something-or-other and what-nots; various and sundry items to be sure. This comment was from Kris…wait, could it be the blogsters Aunt Kris? The one he hadn’t seen or had any contact with in twenty or so years?

Indeed it was…and hence lays a story.

Now, this story is too detailed and in-depth to fully explain, so I will instead sum up…

I haven’t seen some of my relatives in a long time…it’s been nearly 20 years. Why haven’t I kept in contact with them? I thought I established that when I said that I was a cat….

Well, this past weekend I was able to reconnect with two of my cousins, an uncle, and my aunt. I have to be honest; I was a bit leery about seeing them all again after so much time had gone by. What would they be like? Would we get along? What if we all have absolutely nothing in common? What if this is just courting disaster?

Well, I drove down to St. George to take photos at my cousin, Danni’s, wedding on Saturday as was the request of my aunt, the one I hadn’t seen in so many years. As I drove the monotonous miles southward, my mind was a torrent of thought. I was wondering just what to expect from it all…

I wasn’t too thrilled to be honest.

So, what happened?

Well, I saw family members whom I hadn’t seen in years, and I discovered that I liked them still…even more surprising is when I found out that they still liked me too. We had some great laughs together and we talked about a lot of things. We connected with common stories of grandparents now long gone, and experiences we’d had back when we were all a little bit younger.

As we were sitting at lunch one day we rehashed a certain story where my cousin, Josh, had leapt from the stairwell (after being warned that I was not going to catch him) and he ended up splitting his head open when he hit the wall. I had felt terrible about this incident still but in talking about it—and laughing about it—came to realize that it was pretty funny. But the most touching part about this was my cousin, Josh, looked at me and said something to the effect of, “Did you ever know that you were my favorite cousin?”

I hadn’t known this.

I sat there as the conversation changed, as it did I wondered why I hadn’t kept in contact with Josh, Danni, and Kris over the years. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to reconnect with this certain branch of the family tree I hadn’t been around for so long.

And the blogger lived happily, ever after…

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Dollar

Pin It I used to be a PE teacher.

Of course, this was several years ago, back when I was going to BYU.

During that time I made friends with a family whom I’ve kept in contact with for the past decade of my life. I’ve been over to their house for the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and even had them over to my house for dinner. I took Robbie’s senior pictures and family photos as well. They’ve come to see me perform at ComedySportz too. In short, they are some very close friends of mine.

Well, the years have flown since Robbie was a fifth grader in one of my PE classes, and he has since left for The Netherlands to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Recently, I was writing Robbie a letter. As I did, I felt compelled to slip a dollar bill in the envelope and added a quick P.S. which said, Everyone needs a dollar. I then sent the letter, giving no more thought to it, or the dollar bill.

Robbie’s mom called me two days ago and told me that Robbie had written to her. In his letter he said the following:

Mr. Z sent me a package a little bit ago and at the end of the letter, he wrote, “P.S. Everyone needs a dollar” and gave me a dollar. Ever since I was like 11 or 12, I have carried a dollar with me in my scriptures, because he told me that he always carried one around too. What is funny is that a month ago, we were tracting and we met this Iraqi family, and this little kid was asking me all these different things about America like, “Have you met Arnold Schwarzenegger?” “Have you been to Hollywood?” etc. Anyway, he was really into it, so I gave him my American Dollar, only to have it replaced by Mr. Z…

Isn’t it amazing, that something we may tell a child in their youth may be the thing which sticks with them throughout their life? Like this simple dollar, the example we set before them each day may have a greater impact than we can ever fully realize.

I’m glad I sent the dollar…

Was it coincidence?

Probably not.

It's not even 5:30...

Pin It I am awake.

The reason I am awake so early on a Tuesday morning is that I had a dream.

Well, not so much a dream as a nightmare. Have you ever had a nightmare that was so real and vivid that you were positive it was genuine? That no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t speak? You try to scream to get someone’s attention, yet it only sounds like a quiet moaning gasp? Your feet are rooted into place and terror, sheer waves of terror pulsate up your spine and freezes your blood in your veins? And then, when you wake, it is so set in your mind that you remember every sordid detail with astonishing accuracy? You find yourself lying there, trying to convince yourself that what you experienced was not real at all, but instead some twisted mixture of firing neurons and REM sleep. As you look about your darkened room, you find yourself on the threshold of terror, each heartbeat in your chest is evident, and you find yourself distinctly aware of it…

Welcome to my morning…

At one time, nightmares were thought to be the work of demons, hags, or even the spirits of the dead which sat upon the chests of sleepers during the night.


I did a little bit of research this morning from the 21st century, and found out some common reasons for nightmares:

1. Taking medicine before bed when you’re sick. (Yes)
2. Watching or reading scary things before bed. (No)
3. Eating or exercising before bed. (No)
4. Not having a healthy sleep routine. (Yes)
5. Stressful things during the day before. (Yes)
6. Death of sickness of a loved one. (Yes)

During my early-morning research, I was amazed to discover that Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” got the idea for her story from a lucid nightmare she once had.

Some common ways I found to combat a nightmare are:

  1. Avoid the items in the list above.
  2. Draw a picture of the thing which scared you and tear it up.
  3. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  4. “Rewrite” your dream on paper and give it a happier ending.
  5. Blog about nightmares and then get ready for school…

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pin It If I but had wings
I’d soar amongst the clouds
The ground far below me
The skies close above
I’d fly to the stars
And try not to fall…

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cat, or Dog?

Pin It I am a cat.

I say this not because I really am a cat, after all, I am actually allergic to them (plus the fact that I hate them too). I say this because I used to be a dog…in fact, some days I am a dog, while other times, I find myself being a cat.

Let me explain…

A dog is an animal that just seems to love you, no matter what. He goes out of his way to be around you too. A simple scratch behind the ears completely makes his day. He comes when you call, and always wants to play. No matter how many times you throw the ball or want to run in the park, he is there. If it’s raining, and you are going out in the rain, the dog usually wants to go with you…he just doesn’t care what the weather is.

Not so for a cat. A cat is a solitary creature; it wants nothing more than to do what it wants, when it wants. If you call it, it does not come. In fact, the more you try to get it to do what you want, the more it tries to stay away. If you give it an order to stay, or to go, it usually does not. When it rains, the cat stays inside, and just lazes around, staying where it is warm and cozy. Maybe if the weather is nice, the cat would oblige to go outside…maybe.

It seems that all of us, at different times or other in our lives have been either a cat or a dog.

Today, I am a cat.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Juvenile detention

Pin It I went to juvenile detention tonight.

A friend of mine invited me to a dinner and program being held at Slate Canyon Detention Center for the “inmates” tonight. I was buzzed in through the first set of bullet-proof security doors. As they closed behind me, locking me into an “airlock” before the inner set of doors opened, I drew in a deep breath and felt my heartbeat quicken.

I had only been into a prison twice before, and that was while serving as a missionary in the Jefferson City, Missouri area. We’d gone in at Christmastime to put on a small program for the prisoners there. This place strangely felt the same.

The feeling intensified as my friend met me and we went into the bowels of the detention center, past small glass “rooms” where family members were visiting their children who’d been brought here, consequences for the choices they’d made in their short lives. A blond-haired boy looked up at me as we passed by; he must have only been about twelve years old. The same age as the kids I teach.

As the banquet was starting I looked around the decorated “gym.” My eyes met those with a boy I remembered…only he had been a lot younger the last time I’d seen him. He was now sixteen or seventeen years old, the last time I’d seen him was when he was a third grader. He walked up to me and smiled. I talked to this young man for a few minutes, and as I did I thought of the choices he’d made which brought him to this place in time. I wondered if there might have been something I could have said or done when I was his PE teacher which might have made a difference, something which might have changed the course of his life.

After a bit he moved away and I found myself alone with my thoughts. Across the room I saw another student who’d once gone to my school, and though this boy had never been in my class, he had walked the hallways with some of his peers which were.

Seeing these boys bothered me.

What also bothered me was what I heard on the news this morning about the third grade students who had plotted to stab their teacher. As I had driven to school this morning it was all I could think of.

It affected me a lot.

It was on my mind all day.

As I walked into my own classroom and looked out at the faces of the students before me I wondered about these kids. Would any of them ever end up making choices like those kids at Center Elementary School had? Did they realize what the consequences could be of their actions? Just what their actions could do to their life?

I don’t know.

As I left Slate Canyon Detention Center tonight and was buzzed out the glass doors, I was free to leave. As I climbed into my car and drove away I couldn’t help but still think about the kids who were still up there.

It bothers me still.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why do I do it?

Pin It People have asked me that many times.

Why do I spend hour upon hour making videos for the school I work at? Most people don’t know that a video such as the one I create for the sixth grade graduation usually takes me between 15 and 20 hours to put together. But why? Why would I want to spend that many hours of my life on something like that?

I’ll tell you.

Tonight I received yet another reminder of why creating something like this is so important…

I had come home from work a bit later than usual, grabbed a quick bite, and then had planned to leave when there came a knock at the door. Thinking it was my friend, Gregg, or perhaps my sister, I opened it and instead found myself facing two high school-aged boys, both about seventeen years old.

“Hey guys, what can I do for you?”

The first boy started to talk. “We’re wondering if you’d be interested in trying out the Daily Herald for a month—free.”

I really wasn’t interested in this, but I was trying to be polite. “Well, to tell you the truth, I usually read the news online, or listen to the radio in the morning when I am getting ready.”

One of the boys looked hard at me and asked, “Mr. Z?”

I looked at him…I had no idea who this kid was.

“It’s me, Ryan…I went to SSV!” I strained my memory to remember just who this kid was…he didn’t look familiar to me at all. I mentally tried to peel away the years from his face; trying to see the sixth grade boy there. Then I saw him.

This boy hadn’t been in my class, he’d been with one of the other sixth grade teachers. The other boy added, “I’m Coby.” Once-again, I tried to mentally turn back the effects of time from the young man’s face; trying to see the student who’d once walked the hallways of my school. He was harder to place, but as both boys talked, I began to remember.

As these young men stood on my front steps, they both began to reminisce about the “good old days” when they were both elementary-aged kids, and spoke of the programs we’d had for them: the all-night read-a-thon, the BYU Mentor Program, MountainQuest, Red Rock, Phase, and on went the list with both of them interjecting comments about their fond memories about elementary school.

One of them said, “I never did want the MountainQuest DVD when I was a kid…I just didn’t care. I really regret that now because I want to remember it all better.”

I mentioned that I’d made the DVD and had the master copy. “Do you want a copy of it?” I asked. A few of my friends and I were getting ready to watch a movie, but we turned on the MountainQuest DVD instead. All I can say is I received yet another reminder of why I do this. To watch their expressions and how they would both say, “Do you remember so-and-so?”

“Boy, they’ve changed so much!”

“I was so little back then!”

This was so rewarding.

It wasn’t long before these two former students left, however, I couldn’t help but find myself deep in thought long after the boys had gone. I thought about the many hours I’ve put into these videos and realized that it was all worth it in the end. Not only did it help me to remember, it was also a vehicle which helped both of these boys look back through the conduit of time, and more easily remember how it once was for them.

At the end of the MountainQuest video I’d put the phrase, “Childhood is brief, but memories last a lifetime.” I now see the truth in that simple, little statement I’d written nearly six years ago.

Oh, and by the way, I will be getting the Daily Herald for a month…

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