Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30: New Poem, Holy Grail, Turkey Pot Pie

I don't have a lot of time this evening.  I just ate a late lunch of turkey pot pie, and pretty soon I have to get to choir practice.  It's going to be a long evening.

However, I think I have a new poem for you.  Actually, I have a new poem for you, but I'm not sure how good it is.  You will have to judge whether it was worth the wait or not.  It's sort of about my difficulties in the last couple weeks with finding the words for a new poem.

Saint Marty is on a quest for...

The Holy Grail

I've been looking for it three weeks.  In closet and cupboard.  I climbed attic stairs, rifled boxes of Christmas decorations.  Hand-made by my wife's dead mother, delicate lace and painted wood.  I sifted through piles of journals.  Found the formula for the blond girl in sophomore chemistry, her atomic number heavy in the periodic table of my teenage body.  I reviewed video tapes, saw my daughter sprout fast-forward from bulb to shoot to bud to blossom, white and full of apple and cherry.  I didn't find it in my dresser among socks and boxers and the garter of my senior prom date, pink and soft as thigh.  I never found it.  The cup.  Cracked and worn smooth by so many lips.  Whitman and Blake.  Plath and Wordsworth, too.  They all sipped, tasted blood on their tongues, opened their mouths.  Spoke in line and word.  Daffodils dancing in a field.  Horse breath in a snowy wood.  A fly at death's window.  I'm Perceval this November night, searching for eternity.  Perhaps I'll find it in the headlights of a car on the way home, in the fog on a winter lake.  Or maybe I'll find it in the icicle on the eave outside my son's bedroom window.  The way it holds the light in its cold finger.  As if it will shine until rapture.

The holy grail

November 30: I Got Nothin'

When I teach writing workshops, which is not very often these days, I have the participants write many journal entries.  I provide topics for some of these journal entries, but, for many of them, I leave it open.  If anyone in the workshop says, "I don't know what to write about," I usually tell the person to write about not having anything to write about. 

This morning, I got nothin', folks.  After last afternoon's little post about worries, I feel a little cleaned out.  Not in a good, cathartic way, though.  More in a what-else-can-I-say way.  It's terrible to be plagued by worries all day.  I'm not sure if my constant worry is a symptom of something more serious, something that needs serious medication.  However, it is a constant drain on my energy.

Now, I hear the ghost voice of Wonder Twin in my head, telling me that my blog is becoming too negative.  Lighten up, I hear her saying.  So I will tell you one of my favorite jokes:  So this dyslexic walks into a bra...

Trying to lighten things up...
That's the best I can do this morning.

Saint Marty needs to find his happy place.  Soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29: Worries, Trust, and Faith

Me and my crap
 For the last few weeks, I've been struggling with some worries.  They're the kind of worries that keep me up at night and immediately pop into my head when I wake up.  I carry them around like some horrible second head or invisible child.  I feed them all day, a constant supply of "what ifs" and "why nots."  The worries gobble these snacks right up, and then they come back even hungrier.

I really don't want to get into details.  Many of these worries have to do with financial stresses, which have become very acute over the last few months.  Some of them have to do with one of my jobs.  And some of them have to do with being tired all the time.

I wish I could see an end to these worries.  I know, as a Christian, I should somehow trust that God is looking out for me and my family.  I know, when a bill is coming due and I don't have the money to pay it, that I should believe in the goodness of God.  I've heard enough stories of surprise checks and forgotten stashes of twenty dollar bills miraculously appearing to save the day.

However, my faith fails me at times like this.  I give into the worries, let them plague me like a bad case of impetigo.  Right now, I feel like I'm one weeping sore.  I'm sick.  I'm tired.  I'm cranky.  And I'm worried.  Sorry this post isn't more uplifting. 

This is Saint Marty, warts and all. 

November 29: The Burning Question, Still Sick, New Job

I know a lot of my faithful disciples have a burning question that I've been avoiding for the last couple of weeks.  It's generally not my style to avoid any subject in this blog.  I pretty much confront issues head-on.  This particular issue, however, has been dogging me ever since I finished my Christmas essay a week or so ago.

So, no more dodging reporters and paparazzi.  I will now answer the question that has been plaguing all of my cyber fans for weeks now.  Go ahead and ask it:  When are you going to write another friggin' poem?

Time to come clean

Now, if you will just get those cameras out of my face and pull all those mics back a little, I would like to make an official statement:

Saint Marty realizes that he has been remiss in his duties as official blog poet.  He apologizes for any harm this absence may have caused any of his loyal disciples.  He would like to assure his fans that he has not abandoned poetry.  It still remains his first love.  However, Saint Marty has had to take some time to deal with other, personal issues.  He hopes, in the next day or so, to be back at his journal, writing a new poem.  He thanks all of his followers for their patience and kindness during this difficult time.  And now, Saint Marty will take some questions.  You, down in the front.

Is it true that you've been battling some kind of illness?

Yes, I have been sick these last few weeks.  As you can tell by my voice, I'm still sick.  I'm hoping that I've turned a corner and will start mending soon, but that has been a contributing factor to my absence from poetry.  Next question, please.

Reports state that your wife has started a new job.  Has that also been keeping you away from writing poetry?

It is true that my wife has just started substitute teaching for a local Headstart program.  However, she just began this employment, so its effects on my writing are still up in the air.  But I'm excited for my wife and family.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  Are there any more questions?

Do you have any idea what your next poem will be about when you get back to work?

That's a really good question.  I make it a policy to not talk too much about a project that's in the process of being written.  However, I can tell you that I have been thinking about my annual Christmas poem and a few other poems.  But, right now, it's just too early to go into details.  I have time for one more question.

Is it true that you still harbor bad feelings about not being chosen as the recipient of this year's Nobel Prize in Literature?

While I was disappointed at the Swedish Academy's decision to not honor my work, I have tried to move past this setback.  Again, I'm dealing with many issues (illness and teaching and financial difficulty and chocolate shortages).  The Nobel Prize in Literature is just one of many pots on my burners.  Thanks you all for coming to my press conference.  Please, become one of my official disciples before you leave the blog.

With that brief statement and press conference, Saint Marty retreats from the spotlight once more, with promises to his legions of fans that he is still working on poetry.  We wish him well.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28: Not Having All the Answers, Saint James of the March

My wife just called to tell me that my daughter phoned her from school to tell her that her ear is hurting her.  That means my daughter posibbly has an ear infection, which she gets frequently.  My wife wanted to know if she should make a doctor's appointment for my daughter.

I've had students e-mailing me all day with questions.  My cousin is calling me with questions about a paper she's working on for a class.  I've got a friend who's putting together a Christmas benefit concert for this weekend, and she's calling with questions.  My pastor is e-mailing me questions about the Sunday School Christmas program.

Questions.  Questions.  Questions.

I'm a little tired of questions right now.  I'm not tired of people.  I'm just tired of questions.  It's a little early in the Christmas season to feel this overwhelmed.  Usually, I don't get to this point until about December 11th or 12th.  I'm trying to maintain my good humor, but I'm struggling.

Today's patron saint, James of the March, knew a little about overwhelming responsibility.  Born in 1391 in Italy, James became a Franciscan friar.  During his life, he dealt with a lot of people's questions.  One story tells of how, with one sermon, he converted 50,000 heretics and "countless sinners."  He also "traveled all over Europe as the ambassador of Popes and rulers, sleeping little and praying much."

My book doesn't say anything about James of the March's sense of humor, but I have to believe it was pretty good to deal with all that crap.  About the only thing I have in common with him is the "sleeping little" part.

If my faith was as strong as James' faith, I would have told my wife to take my daughter to the doctor's office.  I would have e-mailed all of my students back.  I would have gone through my cousins's paper line-by-line, pointing out each comma splice, fragment, and run-on.  I would volunteer to put together the program for my friend's Christmas benefit.  And I would work on the Sunday School Christmas program bulletin for my pastor tonight.

But I'm not Saint James of the March.

I'm Saint Marty of the curl up in a fetal position and cry.

Where's Clarence when you need him?

November 28: Still Voiceless, Still Behind, Still Hungry

First morning back at work after the Black Friday Chocolate Potluck.  I still have a ton of really good chocolate leftover, and it's calling to me right now.  There's a chocolate orange that has my name on it.  Yes, I'm still hungry after this weekend of feasting.  In fact, I'm getting to the point of being famished right now.

I'm also still practically voiceless.  If I can get my volume above a whisper, I'm doing good right now.  Don't know how I'm going to teach this afternoon.  Unless some weird Carol Brady miracle happens to me (you know The Brady Bunch episode where Mrs. Brady gets laryngitis at Christmas and can't sing her solo--Cindy gets Santa to work a little miracle for Florence Henderson), it's going to be a very quiet class today.

Ever have one of those hydra days?
And I'm still behind in everything I have to accomplish for teaching and every other aspect of my life.  It seems like as soon as I check a task off my list, three more items take its place.  It's like trying to kill some kind of hydra of work.  It never ends.  Yes, I'm whining at the moment.  I'm not feeling great, and right now I'm looking at a whole day of busy, tiring labors.  (Are you catching my Heracles allusions?  Guess teaching that mythology class is paying off a little bit.)

Well, Saint Marty is going to break into his chocolate stash.  Perhaps some Godiva or Lindt truffles.  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27: Lost Voice, Book Club, New Cartoon

So, I lost my voice last night.  I wasn't able to sing any of the music I was supposed to sing at the Hanging of the Greens service this morning.  It really sucked.  There were a couple of numbers I really wanted to be a part of.  It just didn't work out that way.  I had to stand mute by my keyboard the entire worship service.  If you can't tell, I'm not a person who stays quiet very often.  I kind of like to be involved and vocal.  Other people who know me would say I have a big mouth.

My voice is still gone, and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to teach tomorrow.  In a little over an hour, my Book Club is showing up at my house for our monthly meeting.  This month, we read John Irving's Saving Piggy Sneed.  I've read it before, a long time ago.  I just had a little time to review some of my favorite essays.  However, I just have to say that John Irving is, like, a freakin' genius.  I've loved him since his Garp days.  I just hope I'm able to throw in my two cents' worth tonight, or at least a cent. 

I do have a new cartoon for you today.  Yesterday, I received my first Christmas card of the holiday season.  I wish I was that organized, but I'm not.  Anyway, I need to get home to get my house in shape for my Book Club guests.

Saint Marty wishes you a silent night.  That's all he can do.  He doesn't have any voice, remember?

Confessions of Saint Marty

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26: Hanging the Greens, Rain, and New Cartoon

I've spent most of the day at church, getting ready for tomorrow's Hanging of the Greens service.  For my Catholic readers, hanging of the greens is the time in Protestant denominations when the church family gets together and decorates the church for the Christmas season.  Since I became the Catholic worship team leader at my wife's Methodist church, I've been pretty much in charge of hanging those greens.

As the years have gone by, fewer and fewer people have shown up on the Saturday following Thanksgiving to deck them halls.  Therefore, this year, I decided to make the First Sunday of Advent a Hanging of the Greens service.  I figure that if people won't show up for the decorating, the decorating will show up for them.  Of course, the service has turned into a lot more work than I expected, including my five hours at the church today.  We'll see how it goes over tomorrow morning.

It has been raining in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since I woke up this morning.  It's still coming down hard and fast.  I'll take rain over snow any day.  However, this kind of dreary weather makes my mood a little dark.  I was quite frustrated yesterday with many aspects of my life, and I'm still feeling that today.  I've been trying to change my attitude, but it isn't working too well for me.  The weather is not helping.  And I still have to go play the organ for Mass at my church.  God help anybody who gets in my way.

I do have a new cartoon for you this evening, in keeping with the season.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25: Fountained Out, Visitors, Friday Black

The chocolate fountain has been running since about eight o'clock this morning.  We have had the usual suspects showing up to partake in the chocolate Yuletidiness.  My two sisters, my daughter, the co-founder of the Black Friday chocolate potluck, and my coworker in the business office.  The counter is splattered with chocolate drippings.  The fruit is turning a little brown, and the fountain is really warm from almost three hours of operation.  It's been a good morning, as my daughter said.

Marshmallows are her favorite
This afternoon, I have to go grocery shopping.  Then, I have to clean my house.  My book club is coming over on Sunday afternoon, and the living room and bathroom are kind of a wreck.  I can usually tell when the house is in dire need of a cleaning when the bottom of the bathroom mirror is splattered with toothpaste spit.  I will be doing some mirror scrubbing today.

This Black Friday wasn't quite as exciting as previous Black Fridays.  The stores, because they opened so early (Walmart threw its doors open at 10 p.m. last night), were fairly empty at 5 a.m.  Plus, none of the restaurants seemed that busy, either.  I'm going to be interested to know if retailers ended up in the black today, or if they made a huge mistake opening on Thanksgiving night.

My son is headed to the doctor this afternoon.  He sounds a lot better, but we're still going to get him checked out to see if he's got bronchitis.  My wife wasn't going to make an appointment, but I didn't want to take the chance that we would have to bring him to the E.R. over the weekend.  My son and wife showed up for the chocolate potluck, too.  He had some serious bed-head going on, but he was as happy as a bear at the town dump.

Well, I hope everyone had as good a Black Friday as I have had.  Chocolate always makes things better.  It makes bad situations good, and it makes good situations even better.

He never thought he'd say it, but Saint Marty thinks he's had enough chocolate today.

Saint Marty and his daughter

November 25: Chocolate Potluck, Black Friday, Sick Son

I'm probably one of the few people in the United States who looks forward to working the day after Thanksgiving.  There is one reason for this aberration in my psyche:  chocolate.  A lot of chocolate.

You see, about ten years ago, a coworker and I came up with the idea of having a chocolate potluck the day after Thanksgiving.  It seemed an appropriate way to lessen the sting of working on Black Friday, and it gave us an excuse to buy tons of our favorite chocolate morsels in which to indulge all day long.  It has grown steadily since that first time a decade ago.

Today, in honor of our tenth anniversary, I have brought in my chocolate fondue fountain and tons of delicacies to dip:  pineapple, apples, grapes, oranges, strawberries, pretzel rods, marshmallows, and candy orange slices.  In addition to the fountain, we have some Godiva, some Dove, some Hershey, some white fudge-covered Oreos (a personal favorite), and Holly Nog to wash it all down.  If your mouth isn't watering yet, you are not a human being and don't deserve to be reading this blog post.

Usually, we get our coworkers stopping in during the morning to sample our wares.  They hit the stores, and then they drop in to rejuvenate and re energize.  We have invited a few more people than usual, since it is such a special occasion.  Usually, at the end of the morning, there is still enough chocolate left to last well into February.  Thus, it's a win-win all 'round.

Behind me, at the moment, is an entire counter filled with chocolate.  As soon as I'm done typing this, I will be partaking in something brown and rich and sweet.

My three-year-old son is sick for about the third time this winter.  He was barking like a seal all last night.  I told my wife we need to take him to the doctor today.  He sounded a little hoarse all Thanksgiving.  Last night, he sounded like an 80-year-old smoker.

Well, chocolate awaits.  If you're in the neighborhood, stop by.

If you're not, Saint Marty will eat a white fudge-covered Oreo in your honor.

You know you're jealous

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24: Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving night.

For all of my readers who may not know about or understand the American holiday of Thanksgiving, let me give you a brief explanation.

Basically, it always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, and it, supposedly, commemorates a meal that the first pilgrims to this New World had with Native Americans, celebrating harvest and home and friends.  Of course, this image of the first Thanksgiving is largely a crock of shit. 

Nowadays, Thanksgiving is a day to get together with loved ones, eat a huge turkey dinner with all the fixings (mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and pecan pies), and give thanks for all of the blessings in your life.

In keeping with the spirit of this holiday, I'm going to make a list of things I'm thankful for:

  1. My family (wife, daughter, and son)
  2. My extended family (mother, father, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, in-laws)
  3. My friends (that includes Wonder Twin, my partner at the Turkey Trot this morning)
  4. My home (even if it's too small and has only one bathroom)
  5. My health and the health of my loved ones
  6. My jobs that allow me to pay my bills
  7. My writing
  8. My faith in God (as flawed as it is)
  9. My wife's good mental health and recovery from addiction
  10. My future iPad2 (yes, I had to go there)
In truth, I could go on forever about all of the things I'm thankful for.  I didn't even touch my favorite kinds of chocolate, which could be its very own blog.  Each breath I take is a gift.  Each moment of each day (both good and bad) is a gift to be celebrated.

Lastly, Saint Marty gives thanks for you, whoever you are, reading these words right now.  May God bless you as He has blessed Saint Marty so abundantly.

Norman Rockwell got it right, less the family dysfunction

November 24: Turkey Trot, Candy Corn Hat, Thanksgiving Morning

I participated in my usual Thanksgiving morning tradition today.  No, I didn't watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  No, I didn't get up at four o'clock this morning to stuff bread up a turkey's ass.  I got up this morning and ran a 10K race at a local high school.

I've been doing this race (called the Turkey Trot) for about five years.  It's a great way to get exercise, see people I haven't seen in a while, and not feel guilty about how much food I'm going to eat later in the day.  Each year, I've ran with one of my best friends, Wonder Twin.  She joined me again this morning.

Now, every year that I've run the Turkey Trot, the weather has been hideous.  Ice storms.  Icy rain storms.  Snowstorms.  And arctic temperatures and winds.  This year, it was clear skies, sun, and temperatures in the forties.  We didn't have to dodge or scale any snow banks.  I didn't step in any dog shit.  And running along Lake Superior was not an exercise in torture.

Of course, Wonder Twin and I were one of the last runners to cross the finish line.  The last quarter mile of the race is all uphill, and it nearly kills me every year.  However, I managed to end without feeling like a cast member of The Walking Dead.  When I was leaving the school after I finished, I saw a lady carrying a candy corn hat.  It was homemade and beautiful.

"I really like your hat," I called from behind her.

She looked at me and said, "You really do?"

"Yup," I said.  "That is one of the coolest hats I've seen in a while."

She handed me the hat.  "Here," she said.  "Happy Thanksgiving."

I was astonished and humbled by her generosity.  It was my first blessing of the day.  Well, that and my friend, Wonder Twin, who kept me running for 6.2 miles.

Saint Marty had a great morning.

Saint Marty wearing his blessing

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23: Prayer Needed, Christmas Letters, Christmas Lists

Well, the Christmas decorating is done, and my Christmas letter is written and printed out.  I included a Christmas essay I wrote last year.  It seemed like an appropriate piece.  I think it turned out really well, and it's another item I can check off my holiday to-do list.

In addition, I typed up my Christmas wish list, as well.  Actually, I took my 2011 birthday list and revised/updated it.  Of course, right at the top of the list sits an iPad2.  I will continue to keep that at number one until I receive it or until the iPad3 comes out.  I'm not very hopeful that Santa will actually stuff an iPad into my stocking, but a guy's gotta hope.

Tonight, I have about three pecan pies to make for tomorrow's festivities.  I'm looking forward to having the day off.  However, I will be running a 10K race at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving.  I feel fairly confident I'll be able to complete it with little trouble.  After that, I plan to eat a great deal.

Now, I want to ask anyone who reads this post to say a few prayers for my friend's daughter.  This girl, "Lilly," is a single mother of two small children.  She recently went to a Christian-based treatment program for alchohol and drug addiction and did wonderfully.  My friend told me one day, "She's finally found the Lord."

This morning, Lilly had surgery.  They discovered a mass in her lung a little while ago.  It was pressing on her heart.  Initially, the doctors thought it might be sarcoidosis or pulmonary fibrosis.  Then they thought it was a fungal infection.  Yesterday, they determined that it wasn't a fungal infection.  At around 8 a.m. today, a surgeon cracked open Lilly's chest to remove the mass and do biopsies.  Lilly is in ICU right now, and my friend and her family are headed for a really tough Thanksgiving.  They are awaiting the results of the pathologies.

Pray for Lilly and Lilly's children and family.  They've been through many trials in the last few years.  They deserve some goodness in their lives.

As a prospective saint, Marty wishes he could wave a hand over Lilly and cure whatever affliction she has.  He can't do that.  But he think good thoughts and be thankful for the blessings in his life.

Because Saint Marty really is a blessed man.

Lilly's in need of a little of this

November 23: Thanksgiving Eve, Decorating Again, Daughter's Dinners

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except Daddy dragging his ass to work...

Yes, it was a little difficult getting up this morning.  I'm in need of about a gallon of something cold and caffeinated.  I stayed up way too late last night to catch the finale of Dancing With the Stars, and now I'm truly paying for it.  I don't know why I bothered watching.  I've been saying since about the second week that J. R. Martinez was going to win, and (surprise, surprise) J. R. Martinez won last night.  I could have gone to bed about two hours earlier and not have missed anything.  (For those of my disciples who think I'm a loser for watching this television show, I have only one thing to say:  you're right.)

On the docket at work today is completing the Christmas decorating.  I have one more area to deck the halls in, and then I can sit back and enjoy the Yuletide ambiance.  Of course, it's the area that takes the most time and effort.  However, I don't have to teach today, so I have the whole day in which to get my Christmas on.

Yesterday, my daughter made dinner for the second night in a row.  On Monday, it was mashed potatoes for the main dish, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream with whipped topping for dessert.  Last night, she prepared a lovely bowl of brown rice with a banana smoothie for dessert.  She proudly told me that she used up the last of her ice cream for the smoothie.  Plus, she did the dishes, dried them, and put them away.  Tonight, I'm going to teach her to make scrambled eggs.  Allow a father to gush a little bit.  I have the most beautiful and considerate daughter in the entire universe.

And she makes a mean bowl of potatoes to boot...
Well, Christmas decorations await.

Saint Marty wishes you all a happy Thanksgiving Eve.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22: The Trojan War, War Horse, Ice Ice Baby

I have been reviewing chapters on the Trojan War all day long in preparation for teaching mythology today.  Hector and Paris and Helen and Priam and Achilles and that son-of-a-bitch Agamemnon.  I still have to come up with a lesson plan, and I still don't feel quite comfortable with the material. 

This cloud of inadequacy hangs over me every time I teach a class for the first time.  For instance, the first time I taught Good Books, I totally screwed it up.  However, now, I think I'm pretty damn good at teaching Good Books.  I need to develop the same confidence for mythology.

It's a matter of becoming an old war horse.  I think of myself as an old war horse of Good Books.  I've taught it enough that I feel totally comfortable with the class.  Some days, I don't even need a lesson plan to teach.  I can just walk into the classroom and fly by the seat of my pants.  In fact, those are some of the best Good Books classes I teach.

I'm not quite there with mythology yet.  I probably won't be there for at least a few more semesters.  Instead, I feel like I'm standing up in front of my students, dancing to "Ice Ice Baby" like some middle-aged idiot.  I may not look quite that foolish, by that's my perception at the moment.  It ain't very fun.

Saint Marty needs to make up a lesson plan now.

November 22: Giving Thanks for Caffeine, Lots-O-Work, Advice

This morning, I'm doing much better.  My wife went to McDonald's last night when she took our daughter to her dance class.  She bought a large Diet Coke for herself and brought the refill home for me.  So, right now, I'm sucking down 32 ounces of dark, liquid energy and am feeling so much better than I was yesterday.  I give thanks for caffeine.

It's going to be quite the day.  Huge patient load at the surgery center I work at, and I have to teach the Trojan War to mythology this afternoon.  Busy, busy, busy.  I'm going to be so grateful at around 5 p.m. when I know I'm free for a few days. 

Speaking of mythology, I got some advice from a friend of mine about textbook choices for next semester (if I end up teaching mythology, which is a very good possibility).  He suggested using two primary texts.  In the past, as I said in a previous post, he taught Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey.  In his e-mail, he suggested using Ovid's Metamorphoses and Grimm's fairy tales.  All about transformation, baby.  I'm so glad I communicated with him because I really wasn't looking forward to another semester of mythology with my current text.

I don't know if it's the caffeine or a change in the weather or a change in the moon, but I have so much more energy than I did yesterday.  It's a stunning metamorphosis.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Saint Marty feels like a new saint this morning.

Thank God for caffeine!

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21:

My ass is really dragging right now.  I don't know where that saying originated, but it's a pretty apt description of my state at the moment.  I fell asleep last night correcting quizzes, and I've been walking through concrete for most of today.  My day isn't going to be over any time soon, either.  I have meetings at church tonight, so I won't be getting a break until about 9 p.m. tonight.  This is Monday to the tenth power.  Thank God it's a short week, or I might be a pile of plasma and goo by Wednesday night.

The problem with being in this caffeine-less state is that my mind is working about as fast as my laptop.  Not very fast folks.  It keeps freezing up, getting stuck on a letter.  There's this long pause, and then the words that I've typed come tumbling onto the screen like a volcanic eruption.  It's bad.  I feel like I'm stuttering with my fingers.

Not a legitimate excuse to cancel a meeting
The thing that bothers me the most about tonight is that I'm going to miss the finals of Dancing With the Stars.  I tried to call people to reschedule the meetings, but nobody bought my Dancing With the Stars excuse.  Some of them didn't even know what Dancing With the Stars is.

Well, I suppose I should try to correct some quizzes, get ready for teaching tomorrow.  One more class to go before vacation begins.  I have to talk about the Trojan War in mythology tomorrow.  I'm betting that not too many people are going to be showing up for the story of the big wooden horse.

Saint Marty...needs...Diet....Mountain...Dew...

November 21: The Run, Getting Ready, Giving to Caesar

Well, I went for a four-and-a-half to five-mile run yesterday evening.  I didn't feel like I was going to die by the end of it, so I think I'll be able to run that 10K on Thanksgiving without a problem.  I'll be slow, but I'll be able to finish, which is always my goal.  That and going to Burger King afterwards for breakfast.

Leaving the shepherds in my dust!
I've already spent a good half hour this morning dealing with Advent and Christmas worship issues, and I haven't even gotten to work yet.  That's what happens when you head up the worship team at a church.  I actually love dealing with worship issues, but now I'm running behind on some other things I need to get done.  Getting ready for the Christmas season always seems like a really long race.  It's the closest I will ever come to running a marathon.  This particular race (let's call it the Manger Meltdown Marathon 2011) won't be over until about noon on Christmas morning.

There's so much to get done in most people's lives at this time of year.  Christmas cards to mail.  Christmas letters to write.  Christmas presents to buy.  Christmas cookies to bake.  Christmas decorations to bring down from the attic and put up.

Yesterday, I had a little moment of panic reviewing of my list of things I need to accomplish before December 24.  It's my annual Christmas meltdown, and I haven't even reached Thanksgiving yet.  I've been listening to Christmas music since about the beginning of October, trying to get myself in the mood.

Jesus said something that always brings me up short when I'm in the middle of my holiday panic.  "Give to Caesar what belongs to him.  But everything that belongs to God must be given to God," He instructed us in the book of Matthew.  Those are words to live by at this time of year.  I should have them tattooed across my forehead.

All the tinsel and sugar cookies and shopping, these things belong to Caesar.  Jesus doesn't care if the light string you bought last year for the tree is burnt out.  That's Caesar's concern.  Jesus doesn't care if you burn two dozen oatmeal butterscotchies.  Caesar again.  Jesus doesn't care if you forget to send a card to Cousin Zach in Salt Lake.  Caesar, Caesar, Caesar.

What Jesus wants is for us to meet the shepherds and magi at the manger.  We don't need to bring a turkey or pecan pie.  We don't need an iPad or Nintendo DS to get there.  Give to Caesar what belongs to him.  But give to Jesus what belongs to Jesus:  our minds, our hearts, our lives.

That's what Saint Marty needs to remind himself every day in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20: Holy Crap, Music, New Cartoon

All I can say right now is, Holy Crap!  I have 285 pageviews today, and I don't understand why.  We did have a snowstorm last night, which usually drives people to their computers, but Holy Crap! that's a lot of really bored people. I'm not complaining.  Not at all.  It's just so odd.  Maybe it was just one person logging on a whole lot of times.  It really doesn't matter.  Today is officially the most popular day ever for Saint Marty.

By the way, I did go to the musical last night.  It was cute.  A nice little piece of musical fluff.

I've spent most of today working with music.  Rehearsing, playing, rehearsing more.  Then I took took my daughter to church to let her practice for her piano lesson.  You know, the house down the street that I'd love to buy (it's spacious with a huge kitchen) has a piano in it.  It would be so nice to have a house big enough for a piano.  I get so tired of having to go to church to practice different pieces.  Yes, I'm whining at the moment.  It's just difficult being a musician without an instrument of my own to practice on.

I need to go for a run today.  On Thanksgiving, I'm running in the Turkey Trot 10K.  If I don't run today, I'm not going to have any other day to run before the race.  That would really suck.  Plus, I'm not so sure I'm ready for a 10K.  That's what I want to see this afternoon.

I have a new cartoon for my disciples.  It's inspiration is obvious.  You can never have too many turkey jokes around this time of year.

Saint Marty needs to get his running shoes on and hit the road before it gets too dark.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19: Brother, To Play or Not to Play?, New Cartoon

I saw my oldest brother this morning.  He came up from Pennsylvania for rifle deer season.  He and his wife stayed at my dad's camp all week and hunted.  Not my idea of a vacation.  Outhouse and no running water and surrounded by, well, nothing but trees.  Anyway, they were leaving for home this morning, and they stopped by McDonald's where we were having breakfast.

It was really good to see them both.  They haven't been up our way for close to four or five years.  My brother's wife is one of the few in-laws I have who is actually normal.  I wish we'd had more time to visit, but it just didn't work out that way.  They wanted to kill deer, and I was working and trying to survive another week of teaching.  We all have our priorities.

There's supposed to be a huge snowstorm blowing in this afternoon and evening.  Another foot of snow, according to some reports.  My wife and I are supposed to go see a musical tonight at the university--A Year with Frog and Toad.  We have a babysitter lined up and everything.  (That's quite a feat these days for us.)  Now, we're wondering if we should risk the trip.  By the time the show lets out, the storm will be in full swing.  Perhaps we should just stay home in our PJs and watch the Thanksgiving episode of The Lawrence Welk Show.  We called our babysitter, and she said to just give her a call later if we decide not to go.  So the question is, to play or not to play?

I have a new cartoon for you this afternoon.  Yes, I'm getting in the Christmas spirit.  I put up my tree last night and watched the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol.  One of my traditions at the beginning of the holiday season is compiling a huge, unwieldy Christmas list for myself.  That is the inspiration for today's installment of Confessions of Saint Marty.  By the way, once I compile my list, I will be posting it, in case any of my disciples are at a loss for what to get me for Christmas.

Saint Marty needs to go check the weather now.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18: Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Feeling Tired and Old

Don't let the title of this post fool you.  It has been a good day for me.

I went to the radio station and recorded my Christmas essay.  The announcer who helped me out is an acquaintance.  A really nice guy.  After I was done reading my piece, he hit the stop button and sat there for a few moments in silence.  I thought for sure he was going to say something like, "We can't air that during the holiday reading series."  What he said after a second or so was, "I don't think the word 'profound' really describes that essay."  He was deeply moved by it, and we spent several minutes in the booth discussing issues of mental illness.  He's definitely going to air the essay.  He even gave me the date it will be broadcast:  December 21, the winter solstice.

After leaving the radio station, I went back to work and finished the Christmas decorating I had started.  So far, two of the three areas I need to decorate are complete.  I'm right on schedule, or shedule, as the Brits say.

It's been a busy afternoon.  I went grocery shopping, as usual.  Then my sister treated me to lunch at Red Lobster.  It was a nice surprise.  I also read her my essay, and she was in tears by the end of it.  (I know, you're all thinking, "What in the hell did he write in this essay?!"  You'regoing to have to wait until Christmas Eve to find out.)  My sister said it's the best thing I've ever written, which is very flattering.  I'm not sure I agree with her.  However, I think it has a raw power that may be lacking in other things I compose.

Right now, I'm waiting to pick up my daughter from her dance class, I'm feeling a little tired and old.  I've been at it a long time today.  When I was five or six years younger, I could run all day like this without so much as yawning.  Now, however, I could take about a three hour nap and probably still not regain my energy.  And I still have to finish cleaning the house when I get home.  Plus, we're planning to put up the Christmas tree tonight.  It's going to be a long, long evening.

This woman puts me to shame
Today's patron saint kind of inspires me.  Rose Philippine Duchesne didn't join her religious order until she was 49 years old.  Most people these days are thinking about retirement at that age.  Not Rose.  She was sent from her homeland of Germany to the United States in 1818.  At the age of 71 (that's right, folks, 71!), she began a school for Native Americans.  She died at the age of 84.  She never retired.  Never slowed down.  The Native Americans she served called her "the woman who is always praying."  Not a bad reputation to have.

Rose makes me feel a little ashamed of complaining about my tiredness.  For God sakes, she was older than me when she became a nun.  Talk about a late bloomer.  Therefore, I'm going to end this post with not another complaint.

It really has been a good day.  Saint Marty gives thanks for that.

November 18: Radio Station, More Decorating, Not Freaking

This morning, I have to go the our local Public Radio station to record my Christmas essay.  That's right.  I received an e-mail and a phone call yesterday/last night to confirm my time.  At 9 a.m., I will be sitting in a sound-proof booth, reading my little piece.  I've practiced it a few times and think I can get through it without a problem.  It's a difficult essay for me.  A little painful and dark.  However, I think it's a side of Christmas not too many people know.  That's why I wrote it.

Saint Marty , on the air
This morning, at work, I also have to do some more Christmas decorating, if I'm going to remain on schedule.  It shouldn't take me too long.  The hardest part of the whole process is taking down the old decorations and dragging out the boxes of Christmas finery.  That will take me a while.  After that's done, I'll be able to throw things together fairly quickly.  But it's a lot of work.  My whole goal with decorating at work is to have it all finished by the day before Thanksgiving.  That way, when I show up for work on Black Friday, I can just sit back and bask in the Christmas glow.  And eat a lot of chocolate.

I was cataloging all of things I have to accomplish by next weekend.  Grading.  Reading.  Decorating.  Writing.  Organizing a church service.  Rehearsing music.  I'm trying not to freak out.  However, freaking out is one of my specialities.  I need to keep myself in check.  With my personality, that's kind of tough.

Wish Saint Marty luck at the radio station this morning.  He needs to be in fine voice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17: Classes, Disappointed, More Mythology

Well, I spoke to the English Department Head this morning.  He offered my two Good Books classes.  Unfortunately, they were both in mid- to late-morning.  Now that I don't have a coworker to cover for me in the morning, I can't take those classes.  So, it looks like I'm going to be teaching two afternoon sections of mythology next winter semester.  Obviously, it isn't my first choice.  It's not a schedule I can get really excited about right now, partly because  I don't think my mythology class is really working as well as I thought it would this semester.

Thus, I'm a little disappointed this afternoon.  I'm happy that I'm getting two courses to teach.  If I were only teaching one class next winter, I don't think I would have been able to pay my bills.  I should be grateful to God for those two classes.

I think the reason I'm struggling right now with mythology is the amount of history and geography in the textbook I'm using.  I've never been a great student of either of those subjects.  I know of one mythology professor who simply taught The Odyssey  for half a semester and the The Iliad for the other half.  It's a decent way of approaching Greek mythology since much of what we know comes from those two works.  I just don't know how much enthusiasm I can work up for an entire semester of Homer.

Perhaps, having only to concentrate on mythology will be easier.  I can hope.  I'm not sure what else I can do to make the class better.

Saint Marty needs some good news soon.

Don't know if I can take a whole semester of this guy!

November 17: Locked Out, Good Books, Devotions

I'm a little ticked off right now.  I just tried to log into my e-mail account at the university, several times.  I made sure I was using the correct username and password, and yet it just didn't work.  Now, as you can probably surmise, because of my multiple login attempts, I am currently locked out of my account.  I have to contact the Help Desk after 8 a.m. to rectify the problem.  Needless to say, this development has put me in a pretty pissy mood.

Last night, while I was at choir practice at church, I missed a phone call from the head of the English Department.  He's working on next semester's class schedules and wanted to talk about my assignments.  My wife spoke with him, and he mentioned trying to get me two of the same class (either Good Books or Mythology).  That would mean only one class prep for semester.  If I could have my ideal semester, I would choose two sections of Good Books.  I like teaching this class, and I think I'm pretty good at it.  I have to call the Department Head this morning to talk turkey.  (Please excuse the Thanksgiving metaphor.  I still have yesterday's potluck on my brain, I guess.)

My other concern this morning involves the Advent Devotional I'm trying to get assembled at church.  I currently have three people who have not turned in their devotions.  That means I have to get three more devotions written by tomorrow.  The pastor and his wife have volunteered to write another devotion for me.  That leaves one for me to write. 

OK.  I can do that.  It annoys the crap out of me, but I can do it, along with organizing the Hanging of the Greens service for the First Sunday of Advent, rehearsing the Christmas Sunday School Program for the Third Sunday of Advent, and helping to put together a benefit Christmas Concert for Toys for Tots and the local food bank.

Is it me, or do I have too many kettles on the burner at the moment?

He said it yesterday, and he's going to say it again:  Saint Marty needs a vacation.
Pretty much says it all

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16: Mmmmmmmm....Turkey, Parent Teacher Conference

Well, the turkey wasn't done cooking by the time I had to leave for class this morning.  I did get a sampling of the stuffing and sweet potatoe casserole, both excellent and filling.  When I got back from teaching, I had some of the turkey.  White meat, of course.  It was still warm, even though it was in the fridge.  Moist and delicious.  I washed it down with some home-made egg nog.  We're talking paradise.

Tonight, my wife and I have to go to a parent/teacher conference for our daughter.  I never really stress about these conferences.  My daughter has been a dream student her whole life.  These are the kinds of things I'm used to hearing from her teachers:  advanced reader; self-motivated; considerate of her classmates; a pleasure to have in classroom; doing great.  Perhaps I've been lulled into a false sense of security.  Maybe this conference will be the one where I find our she's been trading her Pixy Stix at lunch for Ritalin.  But until I have hard evidence, I will continue my existence of denial.

I still haven't heard back from the radio station about my Christmas essay.  I've been waiting for a phone call or e-mail all day long.  I'm going to give them until tomorrow to contact me, and then I'll try to contact them.  It's not that I think the radio station doesn't like my essay.  It's just my insecure, Sylvia Plath-side coming out.

The trytophan is kicking in.  Saint Marty needs a nap.

Not going to the oven yet, Sylvia

November 16: Thanksgiving Potluck, Pecan Pie, Poetry

Today at work, we are having our annual Thanksgiving potluck.  That means that we prepare a full turkey dinner with all the fixings.  A turkey will be broasting in the break room all morning long, filling the entire floor of the building with scents to make your mouth and eyes water with joy.  It's one of my favorite days of the year.

My contribution to this little feast is a home-made pecan pie.  That's right.  Yours truly made a pie last night.  Pecan is my specialty, and, I must say, my pie turned out great.  It's so perfect that it will almost be a crime to slice into it.  The fluting of the crust is beautiful, and the pecans baked to a perfect, sugary brown.  This pie is enough to make Christopher Hitchens believe in God.

Aside from the potluck, my other focus today is getting a poem written.  I have been working on that Christmas essay for so long, I think my poetic muscles have atrophied.  I will flex them today to see what shows up.  Hopefully, I'll have something decent for my disciples this afternoon.  If not today, definitely tomorrow.

Yes, Saint Marty is back in the game, folks.  And he's hungry for mashed potatoes.

A gift from God

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15: Ding, Dong, the Essay's Done

I finally finished the Christmas essay.  I e-mailed it to the radio station this morning.  Now, I just have to wait to hear back from them about a time to come in and record it.  That, of course, depends on whether they really want to air it.  It's a little darker than my previous contributions to their holiday broadcasts.  We'll see.  I haven't heard back from them yet, which may indicate they are trying to compose a carefully worded response to me that basically says, "Uh, thanks, but no thanks."

Just getting ready to head out to teach mythology this afternoon.  The myths of Crete today--Minos and Theseus and Daedalus and Icarus.  It ought to be a blast.  And then on to The Bell Jar for tomorrow.  The hits just keep on coming.

I'm trying to keep my head above water, but, sometimes, I start sinking.  I don't think I'm sinking, yet.  Although I did have a dream last night that I was on the Titanic as it was going under.  I wonder if that's significant?

As Dory says in Finding Nemo, Saint Marty's motto right now is "Just keep swimming."

One of my heroes

November 15: Holy Day, Dead Bambis, Not Done

Today is one of the holiest days of the year in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  On this morning, men put on their sacred garments, get in their cars/trucks, and drive to the woods.  They trek into the darkness, to places where they meditate until the rise of the sun.  Then, they load their rifles and wait to blast the hell out of a whitetail deer.

Yes, it is the opening day of rifle deer season.  For the next 15 days, nothing with antlers is going to be safe in the Big North Woods.  I, personally, have never gone deer hunting.  Don't like being cold.  Don't like shooting guns.  Don't like killing things.  Don't like the taste of venison.  That's a lot of "don'ts" against me joining the excitement of deer season.  Please understand, though.  I'm not against hunting or hunters.  It's simply not something that lights a fire in my furnace.  I'd rather go to work, and that's saying a lot.

Needless to say, I will be seeing many dead Bambis in the next couple of weeks.  It's always a pleasant walking out of a grocery store and seeing a gutted carcass on top of a car.  Nothing says Season's Greeting more.

I am not done with my Christmas essay yet, but I will be later this morning.  I can almost envision the ending of the piece now, which is good.  I just have to sit down and write the damn thing.  I'm trying not to be cranky or impatient this morning.  Not sure if I'm going to be successful.  Maybe I should just avoid human interaction until it's complete.

Saint Marty needs a vacation, but not in the woods with a rifle in his hands.

My view while I'm driving for the next 15 days

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14: Almost Done, Getting Grouchy, Christmas Essay

I'm almost done writing the Christmas essay I've been working on for the last week and a half.  I can tell I'm almost done because I getting really impatient with the material.  I just worked on it for another hour or so a little while ago, and nothing I wrote really seemed good enough.  When I reach this point in the process, the end has to be in sight.  I just wish I could see what the ending is going to be.

I just spoke with my wife on the phone.  She's not feeling well and has lost most of her voice.  I have to pick up a prescription for her on the way home.  I kind of cut her short because I'm so preoccupied with this essay.  Even though I'm working on other stuff, I'm still writing in my head.  I can't stop it.  I'm going to have to apologize when I get home for getting grouchy.

I really hate myself like this.  I hate being a neurotic writer, self-centered and obsessive.  It's no wonder most really successful authors are alcoholic or mentally ill or divorced.  I don't even like being around myself right now.  Hopefully, this project will be completed by tomorrow morning.  If it isn't, I pity the people I have to be around.  I feel like I should wear a sign around my neck:

Beware:  Saint Marty at work!

Don't come knocking on my trashcan tonight!

November 14: Productive Morning, God's Work, Doing My Best

I got up early this morning to get some work done that I didn't finish last night.  So far, I've had a really productive day.  I typed up and e-mailed an assignment to my Good Books class.  I typed up devotions for our church's Advent devotional and e-mailed those, as well.  I've said my prayers, read my devotions, and have my to-do list compiled for the day.  I'm way ahead of the game.  It's all downhill from here, I'm sure.

In books about leading a Christian life, I've read how everything you do during the day should further God's work on this planet.  I'm sure I don't follow this rubric all the time.  I once tried to pray for every patient I registered for surgery.  That lasted about three patients, and then a cranky, old bastard sat in my chair and proceeded to share his particular brand of venom with me.  Of course, I sat there and smiled and maintained my professionalism.  When I was done registering him, however, I said to myself, "That son of a bitch can pray for himself."  Not very Christian, I know.

The work I do every day is of a very secular nature.  In my medical office, there is a Gideon Bible sitting on one of the end tables.  I always make sure it's in a noticeable place, but people rarely pick it up to read.  They let their kids play with it.  I also teach at a public university.  Any mention of God or Jesus or a higher power in the classroom must be framed in a proper academic discussion.  The first time I taught Good Books, I chose works by challenging writers of a Christian bent.  Flannery O'Connor.  Kathleen Norris.  Toni Morrison.  That semester, I received the worst student evaluations I've ever had in my teaching career.  My department head told me, "More sex, drugs, and rock and roll next semester."

Flannery O'Connor = Bad Evaluations
Trying to live a Christian life is not easy today, but Jesus never said it was going to be.  I mean, they crucified Him for talking about love and respect and forgiveness.  Me, I get rotten student reviews and hostile patients.  But I'm not going to give up on trying to spread a little goodness around the world.  That's why I chose books about mental illness for my Good Books class this semester:  to educate and foster understanding and compassion.  Without once mentioning His name, I think Jesus is with me every day.  (He may not be too happy with my language at times, but it's all for the greater good.)

That's the extent of my wisdom today.  I'm just doing my best.  That's all I can do, every day.

Saint Marty, leader of a quiet Christian rebellion.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13: Run, Gray Day, New Cartoons

I went for about a three-mile run this morning, and it felt great.  I haven't been for a run that long since I got sick a few weeks ago.  I couldn't.  Every time I tried to exert myself, I coughed up lung tissue.  It wasn't pretty.  I felt like Anton Chekhov on a bad day at the spa.  Today, however, I didn't feel like I was going to die when I finished running.  I may actually be able to run that 10K on Thanksgiving morning.  We'll see.

It has been a gray, rainy day.  Practically all of the snow on my front lawn is gone.  That doesn't hurt my feelings at all.  I wasn't quite ready for full-time winter, anyhow.  One of the results of this weather is a general lack of energy.  Pretty much, all anyone feels like doing on days like today is crawling into the nearest recliner and taking  a four hour nap, including me. 

I fought that urge this afternoon.  My son was asleep.  My wife was asleep.  My daughter was at grandma's house.  The house was cold and quiet.  Perfect for nice snooze.  Instead, I drew a new cartoon and worked on a writing project.  I got two things accomplished from my to-do list for today.  I generally have about 12 to 15 items on this list every day, so I felt pretty productive.  I never actually complete everything on my daily lists, but I wouldn't be able to survive without my trusty list.  It's a sickness, I know.

My sister is kicking me off the computer now, so I just have enough time to upload this weekends new cartoons.  Two new episodes of the Confessions of Saint Marty.  Enjoy.

Saint Marty has to go check his list to see what to do next.

Confessions of Saint Marty

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12: Internet, Christmas Dance, Stag Night

First, I want to let you know that I do have a new installment of Confessions of Saint Marty done.  However, I do not have ready access to a scanner.  I usually got to my sister's house to use her scanner.  Her Internet connection has been down since the snowstorm on Thursday.  Therefore, there may be no new cartoons this weekend.  I will still draw them to amuse myself, but they probably won't be posted until next week some time.  Not my fault.  Blame the weather.

Second, I just dropped my daughter off at dance class.  She's supposed to be doing a liturgical dance at the Christmas Eve service at church this year.  She went to the dance studio loaded with Christmas CDs.  I have the song I would love to see her dance to, titled "Winter Snow" by Chris Tomlin, who is one of my favorite writers of contemporary Christian music.  The song is sung by Audrey Assad, and it will literally bring you to your knees.  It's that beautiful.  If you don't believe me, just listen...

Told you so.  I really hope that my daughter chooses this song.  I'd love to see her dancing to it.  If she doesn't choose it, I'll survive.  But I may tell her I'm heartbroken.  See if I can change her mind.

Third, I'm going to be home with my son alone tonight.  My wife is going to a musical with a friend (a high school production of Le Miserables.)  That's right, it's a stag night.  Maybe my son and I will rent a couple of dirty movies, kick back, and drink beer.  Or I might just read some work for school, write a little on my Christmas essay, and watch The Lawrence Welk Show on PBS.  We'll see what my three-year-old wants to do.  He does walk on the wild side at times.

Again, sorry there's no cartoon today.  I can tell you that the cartoon I drew is friggin' hysterical.  You'll just have to wait and see.

Saint Marty has to pick up his daughter now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11: Superstition, Broken Vaccum, Veteran's Day

Well, the whole superstition about 11-11-11 being a lucky day is a crock of shit.  As I was cleaning my house this afternoon, my vacuum cleaner decided to die.  I changed the bag; put my lips to the hose and blew to clear it out (inhaling a whole bunch of dust and sand and Christmas tree needles); and picked it up and dropped it a few times for good measure.  It's still dead, and now I have to pay to get it fixed.  Lucky day my ass.

I went to a Veteran's Day program at my daughter's school this afternoon.  She was singing with her chorus.  At points, I actually found myself quite moved.  There was a PowerPoint created by fifth grade students.  It showed pictures of kids from the school and their relatives who were/are veterans or currently in the armed forces.  A few of the students had fathers over in Afghanistan.  Thank God the lights were turned off, because I was pretty much in the weeds by the second or third slide.
A grateful Saint Marty thanks you

If there are any veterans reading this blog right now, or if you have family members who are veterans, please thank them for Saint Marty tonight.  Give them a hug,  Buy them a pizza.  Say a prayer for them.  They know what real sacrifice is.

November 11: Lucky Day, Decorating Again, Recovering

Welcome to 11-11-11.  For some reason, people are making a big deal out of this configuration of digits.  I suppose it doesn't happen very often.  The next time will be 12-12-12, next year.  Then everybody's pretty much screwed for ninety years or so.  I don't plan to do anything to take advantage of the supposed good luck this day is supposed to bring.  I try not be very superstitious.  However, if I find out today that I won a poetry contest I entered, I may think differently.  The chances of that happening are fairly slim, so I will maintain my skepticism.

After yesterday afternoon's posted confession, I felt pretty horrible about myself for most of the night.  I was sort of hoping that airing my dirty underwear in public might dissipate its rankness.  Didn't quite work out that way.  It was even worse when I woke up this morning.  I'm still recovering from those 24 hours of negative thoughts and wishes.  For those of my disciples who haven't read yesterday afternoon's post, prepare yourselves before clicking on it.  It ain't pretty.
Just call me mossy

Today is new day.  I am going to try to avoid that swamp of thought today.  I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to do that, since I have to work a good portion of the day.  I'm planning to put up some Christmas decorations in the office this morning.  That may help.  I'll just put some Christmas carols on my iPod and try to forget the messes of my life for a while.

Wish Saint Marty luck.

UPDATE:  Some of you may remember a post of a month or so ago where I asked you to pray for a friend who'd been out of work for close to two and a half years.  Good news.  She landed a job on Tuesday in her field of specialty.  She has a salary, health insurance, and peace of mind.  Just some evidence that prayer does work.  Good job, disciples.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10: A Confession

I have a confession this afternoon.  I've been having really negative thoughts all day, wishing bad things for a person who really doesn't deserve bad things.

I really cherish the friendship of my coworker, you know, the one who just got a new job.  However, I've been hoping that she's absolutely miserable in this new position she's taken.  I know that casts me in a pretty nasty light, and I'm prepared to accept that.  I've always been pretty honest about all of my shortcomings since I started Saint Marty.  This admission is really difficult for me.

I've even been imagining scenarios where my coworker loses her new job through downsizing or outright closure of her new department.  At the very least, in my mind, I want her to miss important things in her children's lives:  first day of school, costume parades at Halloween.  The kinds of things you just can't get back once they're over.  I feel like a really terrible person right now.

I'm hoping to shake off these thoughts, but they keep cropping up in my head as I'm going about my business.  Don't send me angry comments on this post.  I'm punishing myself, believe me.

Saint Marty ain't feeling very saint-like today.

Father, forgive me...

November 10: Ice, Charlie Chaplin, Change

Well, the snow came down but good last night.  I left work a little early, and the drive that usually takes me about twenty minutes lasted over an hour.  At one point, I thought I was going to be stuck in an unending traffic jam.  My gas gauge was at less than a quarter tank, so I was looking at running out of fuel on an icy hill with five thousand angry drivers behind me.  However, I made it home safely.  My wife and children made it home safely,  as well.  I was truly thankful to God for my life and my family's lives.  For the rest of the evening, we just holed up, had dinner, and got on each other's nerves.  It was great.

Having said that, I'm still in a pretty crappy mood this morning.  I was speaking with a coworker recently (a person who has many more reasons than I to be in a crappy mood), and she told me that if she gave in to negativity, she wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I'm trying to keep that piece of wisdom in mind.
Just call me Charlie

I went for a walk this morning before work.  The storm has blown away, and now the world is covered in snow and ice.  There's a lot of beauty in the early morning after a big snow.  The quiet is physical, like gauze in your ears.  When I drive to work on mornings like this, it feels like I'm Charlie Chaplin in a silent movie.  The trees move.  Cars glide by.  But it's all in silence.  In my mind, I actually imagine somebody sitting at a pipe organ, accompanying the scene.  It's really peaceful.  The walk helped to calm the barking wolves in my mind.

I'm still anxious/pissed about the departure of my coworker in December.  However, it's something I can't change.  (There's that stupid word again.  C-H-A-N-G-E.  It should be banished from the world.  Some changes are good--a baby, a marriage, a book deal, a Pulitzer Prize, a Nobel Prize in Literature.  For the most part, change sucks.  Let me put it in mathematical terms for you:  CHANGE = SUCK.)  Therefore, getting back to my original statement, I know I can't do anything about the change about to take place in my work situation.  I'm going to be losing a good friend in the office.  I'm going to be losing a great work partner.  I'm going to be losing a lot a freedom in my hectic life.  It's going to happen.  I can either accept it and move on, or I can wallow in self pity.

Saint Marty's choosing self pity at the moment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9: Bad Weather, Bad News, Good Attitude

The weather has turned miserable.  Walking to teach class this afternoon, I got drenched.  Not just drenched.  It was like I'd been sitting in a dunk tank in my L. L. Bean winter jacket, and one of my students hit the bull's eye with the baseball.  My jacket and pants were dripping.  I spoke to my wife earlier this morning, and she told me it was snowing like a bitch at home.  I don't think I'm going to be able to avoid the snow today.  In fact, considering the moistness of my outer garments, I would say the probability of me not seeing snow tonight is about, oh, nil.  Unless I drive home with my eyes closed.

Got some bad news this afternoon.  My coworker in the medical office was offered another job, and she accepted the position.  It's great news for her.  More money, which she needs.  More hours, which she also needs.  I'm happy for her, but I'm also thinking about how much more difficult my life and job situation are going to be in about six weeks' time.  My ability to teach more flexible hours is gone.  My ability to take time off for whatever reason is in the shitter.  And my ability to get a variety of tasks completed during a workday is fucked.  It isn't the kind of news I wanted to hear today.

Now, I know what I should be thinking.  I should be thinking more positively.  I should try to imagine this change as an opportunity, not a prison sentence.  It's all about attitude.  See the glass as half-full.  If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  The grass is greener where somebody takes a shit.  I know all that good attitude bullcrap.  As you can tell, I'm not really buying it right now.  Talk to me in a couple of days.  Better make that a couple of weeks.  Actually, let's shoot for a couple of months.

Saint Marty needs a drink right now.

Won't be getting this any time soon

November 9: Got To Be Kidding, Best Drink, Snowstorm

I just looked at the latest Blog of Note (BON).  It's another artist blog.  Looks like the artist/blogger just finished illustrating some kind of book.  My reaction when I looked at his blog:  you have got to be kidding.  Really, it seems like strong written content doesn't mean a hill of beans to the people of Blogger.  It's about art and food and fashion and baby pictures.  Don't worry about being a good writer.  The thing that bothered me the most about the latest BON was that there was no gushy post from the  said blogger about how excited and surprised he was.  No welcome to all his new followers.  No thanks to the people of Blogger for giving him the honor.  Nothing.  Now, I know that being named a BON isn't exactly like winning an Oscar or a Pulitzer Prize, but I want to see some kind of reaction.  Anyway, I was just a little torqued this morning.

My wife and I went out on a date last night.  We traveled to a local micro-brewery, even though we're not beer drinkers.  I ordered a peppermint patty, which is a hot chocolate spiked with a healthy dose of peppermint schnapps.  Quite good.  We also ordered a heaping plate of every deep-fried appetizer on the menu:  waffle fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, mushrooms, and chicken fingers.  It was delicious, but I was paying for it for the rest of the evening and into the night, gastro-intestinally speaking.

There is a winter storm warning in effect for my little area of the world today.  Depending upon which weather report you believe, we could be in for anywhere from three to eleven inches of thick, white, heavy rain.  I was really hoping this little winter event was going to blow past us, either to the west or east.  No such luck.  I guess I better drag out the old snow boots.

Saint Marty is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weather day.

Not quite ready for this shit!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8: Myth-taken Identity, Workin' My Fingers to the Bone

Grading, grading, grading.  At the moment, that pretty much describes my existence.  It is my life at the moment--I am Myth Grader.  I hope I haven't made too many myth-takes since I started.  I don't think I've mythed up too many things.  I did myth-take one student for another a little earlier, but I corrected that error of myth-taken identity.  (Have you had enough yet?  Say uncle.)

Yes, I've been working my fingers to the bone in the last couple of days.  As the old country western song goes, "Work you fingers to the bone and what do you get?  Bony fingers!  Boooooooony fingers!"  You know I'm tired  and punchy if I'm quoting a Hoyt Axton lyric.  That pretty much sums it all up today, though.  I've got bony fingers.  Bony eyes.  Bony voice.  Bony mind.  Pretty soon, I have to head out and do some bony teaching.

Marty is a bony saint today.

Dem bones, dem bones