what, Er

Decade Retrospective

I had a friend of mine reading my old LiveJournal bullshit today so I took a look at it for the first time in a decade and I realized I don't agree with a lot of what I said back then.  I mean that's normal, things have changed.  I was an atheist of five years then, now I'm going on 15 so there's a lot of religious angst still pretty fresh in there, but these days I don't particularly care too much about religion.  It's only something that concerns me insofar as it concerns, well, everyone else.

I don't hate Stephanie Meyer like I did then?  I think I was being really performative, so much so that I just turned that entry off.  Like she's a shitty writer but I don't hate the woman.  

Should I bother writing here?  I don't think anyone's going to read it, I mean no one did in 10 years but, well who knows.

what, Er

Then Questions Every Atheist Must Answer, Answered


1. If there is no God, why is there anything at all?
Well now, that's making a huge ass assumption that, you know, somehow, God must exist. That's not how scientific inquiry works, a problem you seem to have fairly often, actually, just reading ahead.
2. Where is the evidence that life could have begun without intelligent interference?
Remember, what I was just saying, that you don't understand how scientific inquiry works? Yeah, here's something you may not know. You do NOT enter into an experiment with assumptions. You don't assume that intelligence must have created everything.
Also, I have a second objection. Even if you were right, where does that intelligence come from? I'd argue something has to create any intelligence, including your god, and it's maddeningly unhelpful to assume that anything needs intelligence to exist. Assemble, perhaps, but not exist.
3. How can evolution explain features of irreducible complexity apart from intelligent intervention?
Well, there aren't any. Seriously. Where were you during Dover v. Kitzmiller? The eye isn't irreducibly complex, flagella aren't irreducably complex, mouse traps aren't irreducably complex. They all used features that already existed in novel ways. You probably think there's a gay gene too.
4. How can the evolutionary model be true since the fossil record clearly shows most major groups emerging at the same time?
I'm not a paleontologist, and I'd wager you aren't either. So, you know what? I'm going to call your bullshit. What do you mean by "Groups"? I mean I think it's generally understood that most Phyla appeared during the Cambrian or before, but look, that's a huge ass group of organisms today. You're basically saying how can the evolutionary model be true since the fossil record clearly shows chordates, and molluscs and arthropods all emerging at the same time.
5. If there is no objective standard of right or wrong, how can anything be wrong?
Nothing is objectively wrong. It's that simple. Right and wrong are sociological concepts based, loosely, on how positively or negatively things affect people and whether or not people want them to. Euthanasia of a willing individual? I'd say moral. Prolysthetizing someone who'd rather not be preached at? Immoral.
6. So which is the logically defensible position?—that matter eternally existed (or came into existence by itself for no reason), and then by itself arranged itself into extraordinarily complex living systems including not only mechanisms but huge amounts of information needed for life to function against everything observed in real science? Or that an eternal self existing being with infinite intelligence, created life and the information systems necessary for life to exist, agreeing with real science?
Leading question. Common sense rarely factors into science. It doesn't matter what we think is most likely. If the evidence shows something to be true based on the scientific method and empirical evidence, it's true.
7.How can natural selection produce something that is a prerequisite for natural selection to operate?
I don't understand the question? It's like it was worded by a six year old. No, wait, that's an insult to six year olds. Natural selection is a mechanism, not something that guides the world. It works in language, it works in sociology, and it works in biology. You might as well ask how math works. Math is an emergent phenomenon of the universe, and so is evolution.
8. If scientists almost totally accept that a signal from outer space containing information that could be interpreted as a string of prime numbers would be proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, why would they not accept that the information coding in the nucleus of the simplest cells dna which is equivalent to the information in a full set of encyclopedia Britannica was the result of intelligence?
Apples and oranges. The information in the DNA of a simple cell isn't intelligible without observing what it does. It's essentially random static (though that comparison is rather inadequate. DNA isn't random entirely, though it does figure into it). You're basically comparing an intentioned string of data with an easily discernable meaning to the random changing genome of the domain Archea.
9. What if God is real as described in the bible and you have to stand before him and give an account for your life? Do you have a list of reasons for why you never accepted Him? Under close scrutiny, will those reasons betray the fact that you dont want to believe and will stick with anything that sounds good rather than look into it too seriously.
i absolutely have a list of reasons I don't believe in god, but none of them are because I don't want to believe. Desire doesn't enter into it. If it'd been up to me I'd never have stopped being a Christian, but it was hypocritical of me to be scientific about every other claim and not God. Maybe he existed, I thought, but there's no sense in being a hypocrite when I know that, really, there isn't any evidence. And really, you'd think God could be a little more clear. Something a bit more than 66 books that were misinterpreted and editted over the years. I mean, if God's one criteria for saving and damning people is gullibility, I'll gladly jump the turnstyle into Hell. I mean, REALLY? This is the guy in charge?! 98 billion cubic lightyears and he's concerned that one asshole on one planet believes the exists? What kind of intelligent being, as you describe him, would make this his sole criteria? A good, just, moral, and intelligent god would make intelligence virtues and blind faith a vice. He'd make works necessary for redemption and asking him, instead of those who were wronged, for forgiveness a cosmic misdemeanor.
10. If I answered all your objections to your satisfaction, would you submit your life to Jesus or recognize God as your creator?
No. Absolutely not. I might recognize that God as my creator, but I'm not going to submit to him. I'll be on the frontlines of the fight against his amoral tyranny. This God of yours is not benevolent. He's malevolent, stupid, childish. I won't submit to someone I find morally and intellectually inferior to myself. If your God exists, then he's the enemy. I'd be figuring out how to join the rest of God's enemies in order to fight this force of evil.
what, Er

I hate popular things, because I'm cool.

Hey you! Yeah you, over there enjoying that popular thing. KNOCK IT OFF. Some of us have things to hate. You're not helping the situation by liking something other people like. I mean, what's with you? I know you're not cool, but you're just being a sheep.

So stop it. Stop enjoying something for its intrinsic values. You need to start hating everything because it's cool to hate everything. What do you mean my argument lacks internal consistency?

Look, if you don't hate your favorite TV Show/song/band/album/movie/book/video game, then I guess I'll have to do it for you. I'll stalk you everywhere you go; hunt you down and yell at you for liking something that is popular.
what, Er

Romeo & Juliet, part I

The students are now reading Romeo & Juliet. For the most part they don't understand the language, don't believe me when I explain how the jokes are bawdy and sexual, and demand to see the 90s remake, Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo Di Caprio. However, they do seem to be thinking and learning.

Our essay question today was, "Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?" The answers were, for the most part, surprisingly grown up and reasonable. Answers are reprinted exactly as were written, spelling errors and poor understanding of grammar all.

"No, I really don't because you need to get to know someone before you go and try to kiss them, but if they are into you then I suggest you go at it."
--W. H.

"No, because I believe you have to get to know the person first because not everybody in the world is normal and safe."
--J.T. M.
(It's hard to believe he's met normal people. I've been looking for 23 years.)

"NO, Yes, it hasn't every happened to me, but some people are destin for each other. when a person's eye catches antho's and that little spark goes off; then you have incounted loves at first sight."
--S. D.
(S. D. has dyslexia or some other unidentified learning disability. He's still in the gifted class)

"I do not believe in love at first sight because I think that to love someone you have to know that person. I think that at first sight you can think somebody is handsome but I do not think you can actually love her or him right when you see him or her.

Because looks are not everything needed to love someone, I think love is something that needs time to be made. =) =P"
--G. M.

Yes and No. I think love at first sight is a stupid thing to believe but I believe it to Romantic and true."
-- K. F.

"I am very debatable about this. I feel like there is a thing as love at first sight, but I am not a hundred percent sure if it is real. I think it is more of "seeing it to believe it" incident."
--A. J.

"No I don't believe in love at first sight. I don't believe in love at first sight because I think if I did then I wouldn't be able to explore other options."
--D. K.

"No I dont think it is true. Because I have saw alot of hot women out there but never have I ever fell in love right at the first sight."
--J. C.

"I Do believe in love at first sight because it happened to me. When you have found the right person, a lot of times you will know immediately when you see them. Sometimes you don't like them and you end up with them. I also believe in it because it has happened to a lot of people I know and they are happily married."
--J. G.

And now for new words my students have coined. Definitions are approximated, as are spellings when not given.

"hyperbowl" - the greatest sport in this or any universe
"personfixion":- to nail a cross to a person
"femynym" - the feminine version of a masculine word
"interchorus" - what the stage directions are telling the chorus to do.
"bonous" - full of bones
"incounted" - to be counted in on a scheme
"destin" - to be a city in Florida
"antho's" - that which belongs to an antho
"deheaded" - to take someone's head

Also, if someone would let me know where Ginger (xlifeinscrubsx) is, I haven't seen her in forever and want to know if she's okay.
what, Er

Students give the damnedest answers.

This semester marks the beginning of my student teaching. A big part of that is grading the assessments I give. Most students hate to give a thought out answer on essay questions, others, however, deliver too much information.

"What do you think Shakespeare did during his 12 lost years?"

K.M.: I think he wanted to get away from everyone and everything around him. . . . He probably went to a place where he'd never been before and no one would find him. Sometimes I want to run away, and if I did, that's what I'd do. (Don't worry, I won't actually run away)

"If you had a chance to preform in a Shakespearean play, would you be in a comedy, tragedy, or history and why?"

T.C.: I would want to be in a tragedy because, for some reason, I really like to cry.

J.E.: I would say tragedy. I don't really know why but it's probably because of the people dying off, killing themselves. I guess I just kind of relate to those in some way.

It was hell getting those written down, the papers graded, and getting out at 11:15 for a ½ School Day due to freezing rain yesterday. I hope you people enjoyed it.
what, Er

Death of a Titan

Dr. Thaddeus Recrum had destroyed the Queen City Water Plant. The evidence made itself known from the lack of drinkable tap water throughout the city. The powers that be busily flittered about and stomped madly down halls. The QCPD, the National Guard, and the Acclimated Society of Superheroes had joined forces to coordinate a stealthy and tactical assault on Recrum Inc., in an effort to reduce the risk of life to civilian and non-civilians alike. This prospect was rather dangerous as the sixty-six floor tower, shaped like a spine and topped with a skull, could crash down upon the surrounding city, causing great loss of life and damage to property. Opinions varied as to which was more important.

This went over well with most people involved, except Toadman. He'd nearly stopped the destruction of the water treatment facility himself. His only failure had been a lack of foresight. “Of course the supervillain used a big laser gun. ...Should have seen that one coming...” he mumbled to himself. On the whole, Toadman's mood was made worse by the asses at the A.S.S. refusing to rush headlong into danger. Therefore, he saw it as his sole responsibility to nearly ensure his own death.

Aqualia, his partner, begged Toadman not to go, naturally. Likely, her reaction had only been a preliminary request to create some kind of childish plausible deniability. She didn't honestly expect him to listen to her request and she likely really wanted to go with him, as that's exactly what she did. Infra Red, her father and the leader of the Society, flew into a rage at the news, forcing him to enact his plans prematurely.

Erne Eagleman, since he'd come back to town a year ago, had been assigned as a senior partner for the two. At that time, his track record didn't look very good. To be fair, the harpie was nearly insane and if he didn't take medication every single day, he'd speak in incomprehensible jargon and word salads. Ever since Erne had set up shop in town, the tensions between him and Infra Red glowed as vibrantly as the sun at solar maxima. Erne volunteered his help. This was convenient, since Infra Red was going to make Erne come along anyway.

To avoid the immediate notice of the National Guard, the two took Erne's Eaglewing. The Eaglewing looked like the bastard offspring of a helicopter and an eagle. Apparently thematics were more important to Erne than either usefulness or attractiveness. Erne took the pilots seat, while Infra Red slunk into the gunner's seat. Infra Red put on his reading glasses, as the targeting screen was much harder to read than the last time he sat in that seat, roughly thirty years ago. Curiously, Erne's mind had wandered to that era as well. He might have been completing his preflight check, but in his mind, he remembered clearly the first day he met Infra Red.

In this remembered world, Microwave paced in front of the new sidekicks, as though they'd all committed some great atrocity and were here to stand trial for it. His voice boomed above the background noise of the street. "Ultraboy, you're with Engine Joe. Obeast, you're with General Payne. Infra Red, you're with Toad Titan. Ultra Violet, you're with Modest Woman," he closed his book loudly. "And that's it, good luck to all of you in your... sidekickery."

Erne ran through the newly milling crowd. His name had not been called and he was on the verge of crying like the child he was. He ran up to Microwave shouting, “Sir, sir!”

“What is it child?” he asked, half annoyed and half concerned. He had to be a little concerned; after all, it was kind of his job.

“You forgot me sir! You didn't give me a partner.”

Microwave sighed and put his reading glasses in a home tailored pocket, “If you name wasn't on the list, you aren't getting a partner. I suggest you try applying next spring.”

Erne wouldn't be swayed. This was his dream and life's ambition. To come this far and be turned away was not an option. Microwave tried his best to grapple with a combination of bemusement and annoyance, “Listen, kid, I'd like to help you if I could, but there's just nothing I can do. Really.”

Which was when he came over. He spoke as loudly as he was big, “Maybe I can be of some assistance.” He bent down and gave Erne the once over. When he patted his back, he nearly fell over, “Boy needs a partner, right? I can handle two sidekicks, easy.”

Microwave didn't want trouble, and was glad to have a problem placed in the hands of someone else, “Well,” he paused, “there's not a rule against it, but... well.” He paused again, hoping that this time he'd find the right words to remove any personal responsibility he might have had, “Alright, Titan. If you think you can handle it.”

“Ah! Erne Eagleman, is that right?” I nodded. He paused and thought for a second before calling over his sidekick, Infra Red. “Alright, Erne, Red, you two are going to work out splendidly, I think. Before you know it, you'll have sidekicks of your own.”

Erne's mind came back to the real world. He just realized how he'd been dodging bogeys, freshly incoming from Recrum Inc. By now he could see the helipad, inside the skull's retractable dome. There was one problem, something he noticed as soon as bogeys stopped taking off from the helipad, the dome was closing. The Eaglewing was moving too fast to avoid crashing into it. Only one option remained open, abandoning ship. The Eaglewing had no parachutes; it didn't need parachutes.

Erne Eagleman and Infra Red locked arms, and decended to the ground on the wings of an eagle-man. As they landed, grunts surrounded the two. Hand to hand combat ensued. Erne spent several minutes trying to figure out how to say what he wanted to. He worried it sounded too self serving. His second revision seemed to not address the problem quite as much as he'd like. Finally, he said, “Red. I'm sorry about what happened in the past. Let's try to not let it happen again.”

Red looked thoughtful. Maybe he just looked angry. Beating on robots doesn't generally allow one much time to reflect. Yet, Infra Red could multitask. “We won't.”

Toadman and Related Characters © Alan White and Toby Barrett 2005-2009
what, Er

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Second-Rate, Second Grade Teacher

To be entirely honest, there's no one bright spot or dark spot to my childhood. I imagine, like most children, I had my share of emotional and social troubles. Despite that, like how one part of the cosmic background radiation is cooler than all the rest, there is one part of my childhood worse than any other part. Students will humiliate and pick on one another; this is a fact of life. Teachers, however, should never take on the same role as antagonist.

Mrs. Barnett was not a nice woman to begin with. She was as big as a truck, mean as a rattlesnake, and her skin had the texture of Frito Corn Chips. Although I did not like her, I did respect her. She didn't demand authority as most teachers did. She sucked up authority osmoticly like a porous paper towel. Whether or not she was an effective teacher, I cannot recall. I did do fairly poorly my first nine weeks of school that year, although my parents decided the root cause was, ultimately, pressure. I would, however, hazard a tentative “no”, in lieu of convenient access to a time machine. I reason that she was not based on the egregious amounts of busywork we were given.

Before I continue any further, it is important to introduce a secondary character to my worst school experience in my childhood. Her name was Ashley Mitchell. Ashley Mitchell is what most kids call a “tattletale”. Tattletales are children who desire attention to such a great degree, they will gladly sacrifice popularity for it. No one liked Ashley Mitchell. We once read a book called Mitchell is Moving, and the entire class broke out in a chorus of cheers and applause. Honestly, I cannot blame Ashley Mitchell for her role in this story. She was, after all, a child.

One day, six weeks before the end of school, Ashley Mitchell shouted, “Meeeyus Barnett! Alan didn't do his work!”

Mrs. Barnett stamped over like an elephant or a rhinoceros. She bent down and started pulling sheets of busywork out of my desk. Unfinished crossword puzzles and word finds flew through the air and into a pile two inches thick. I protested the entire time, “Mrs. Barnett, those are just busy work. You told us we didn't have to finish them!” Mrs. Barnett refused to listen to reason. When she was finished, she straitened up the pile and stapled them, with some degree of difficulty.

“Alan! Why didn't you do this work? If you don't finish this before the end of the year, you'll have to repeat the second grade! No more recess until you get this done!” She yelled at me.

Now, when something like this happens, I usually took it up with mom or dad. I could not, however, as mom and dad were on vacation. I no longer remember what happened to the end of school. Somehow, I made it through the day despite being depressed physically and mentally. As soon as I arrived at Mamaw and Papaw's house, I immediately began to do the word finds, as they were much more difficult for me. I must have worked on it for four strait hours. I would have worked on it until my bedtime at 9 o'clock, if Papaw hadn't had us go with him to pick up Mamaw from the hospital, who had been released following a severe hip injury. As I awaited Mamaw's car, my spirit sank. Every passing minute seemed to be an eternity.

When she finally arrived, I explained my predicament. Mamaw freaked out and gave mom and dad a call in their hotel. I worked nonstop until 8 PM, having finished a grand total of two word finds. My Mamaw insisted that I stop working and enjoy the last hour of my day. She assured me everything would be alright. I woke up the next morning, in my own bed in my own house. I found mom and told her about the previous day. She said she'd already heard, and that I shouldn't worry. On the kitchen table, a poorly arranged pile of busy work had magically completed itself in the night.

In reflection, this was both a terrible and great school experience because, despite my emotional trauma, my family really came through for me when no one else could.
what, Er

Grandma's Ghost Stories Suck

Tunica was bustling one Independence Day afternoon, for reasons not related to gullible people and an amazing scam. Above the tree line, fireworks burst in a rainbow of colors and lights and briefly illuminated the world below. A thirty minute parade of crimson, cerulean, viridian, and vermilion danced before my ten year old eyes. I was awestruck for mere minutes after it ended and the parade of lights turned into a parade of taillights, all returning home as slowly as possible. Ten year olds are not known for their patience and I and my brothers were no exception.

My Mamaw and mother talked with one another until it became apparent that we were not at all happy with the entertainment accommodations in the 1992 Buick LeSabre. My mamaw turned around in her seat and said, “So you're bored huh, boys?. How about a ghost story?”

“Yeah!” we said in unison, more or less.

The world around me blurred out, as my grandmother's story filled my ears. “My grandfather—that's your great-great-grandfather, was a doctor. He serviced the entire area of North Mississippi, and consequently, traveled long days and nights on dusty or muddy roads throughout the entire area. He'd receive a telegram and my father would drive the team of horses for him.”

“What kind of doctor was he?” asked my younger brother.

“Lots of kinds, Aaron. This was a long time ago. He had to do a lot of different kinds of doctoring. My grandfather was riding through Mt. Olivet. Do you know where that is?” We all shook our heads, “Well it's kind of...”

“Voncile!” said Mom, a woman often tasked with keeping her mother-in-law on track.

“Right, well, that night, it started to pour rain. My father turned up the flame on his lantern, to find a place to pull over, lest his team become trapped in the mud. Fortunately on his path was a church, his church. This time something was strange, though. A light was on, in the west wing of the building.”

“Yeah, so someone left a light on in the building; big whoop,” said Austin, my youngest brother.

“This was 1880. We didn't have electricity in the area,” Mamaw noted.

“Sounds like a personal problem,” my brother remarked.

“...Yes... well, my father pulled the team over to the church, er, or however it is horses stop going places.”

“Not a fan of horses?” I ask.

“No, I was born in 1934. I'm not that old,” Mamaw shot back.

“Could have fooled me.”

“Hey wait a minute!” Mom shot Mamaw a glance begging her to let the comment go, “Anyway, he entered the west wing of the building, where the light was coming from. The door was unlocked,” then she added to preempt further questions, “there was no need to lock doors at this time.” I had a really witty come back for this, but she shut me out again, “As he opened the door, the light vanished into the main building. So he left that wing and walked back to the front. Light from the windows illuminated his path and the falling rain.”

Mamaw took a breather to, apparently, create suspense. It created a chorus of, “Get on with it.”

“He and my father approached the door to the main hall, but as soon as the doors were opened, the light disappeared.”

“This was a lot scarier in your childhood, huh?” I asked. A few minutes of awkward silence passed.

“Hey, I've got one!” said Aaron.

“Really?” asked Mamaw.

“When I was littler, one night, I decided to sleep on the couch. At midnight, I heard a spooky,” he italicized 'spooky', “roar! I got up to see what it was. I approached the end of the hall, a Tyrannosaurus rex ghost started chasing me!”

The awkward silence became quieter and more awkward. Mom decided to break the ice this time. “Let's play 'I Spy'. I'll start. I spy with my little eye something... white.”

“Is it a star?” asked Austin.

“Oh, yeah...”
what, Er

Reading Painbow.

I don't remember much about my childhood, except my reading ability. Apparently, I could read from quite an early age. This ability was thanks in no small part to my mother, who read to me every night from the ages of zero to eight. My night stand contained every conceivable children's book published and republished from 1986 to 1994. One would think I'd grow up with a healthy appreciation for books and reading in general. That impersonal person would be wrong.

I'm not exactly sure where the disconnect came in at, but sometime around the time that mom stopped reading to me, her mother got it in her head that I was stagnating literaturally. Reflecting now, perhaps this wasn't an unjustified position. To be fair, it wasn't that I didn't enjoy reading or anything, but honestly, giving an eight year old a choice at the library between a book and a VHS tape, containing some cheaply made and easily forgotten cartoon, on them isn't a hard choice for the child.

One weekend, I came back from my grandmothers with four books my granny expected me to read completely. They were hardcover, 100 pages each, certainly longer than anything I'd read before. They were also the most boring, vapid, and patronizing books I'd ever read. Their infamy is legend. Those who have not read the Fun with Dick and Jane series are missing a vital element in their childhoods, the element where they give up on reading once and for all.

I've had diseases I'd prefer to have all over again than to read another sentence of that garbage. No children were fooled. These books were not written to improve our reading abilities, indeed far from it. These books had been written by the demons of illiteracy, an ancient secret society who wants to make everyone as poorly educated as Kanye West. When I was done, my dear grandmother, a woman with obviously lower standards than myself, decided I should read a more advanced book.

On her shelf at her home were a complete collection of the greatest works of 19th century literature, designed specifically for gullible old people. I think I was around ten, this time, and she wanted me to read one book off of the shelf, then another, until they'd all been read at least once. This is where I talk about how these great classics inspired an interest in learning that lasted with me until my adulthood, except that this didn't happen. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, while a great book in its own right, is not a book my ten year old self honestly could understand or comprehend. Thusly, when I explained to my grandmother that I didn't read it all, didn't understand what I did read, and didn't really want to read anymore, she finally gave up.

This is where my story ends, never mind that I'm an English Education major, or that I'm trying to write a book as well. I listen to the silence come back from my ghost reader. Oh, very well, truth is, this is only the midpoint of my story.

Despite my grandmother's failure, I couldn't stay away from the literature bug. A few things in life are more important than one's past aversion to an entire art form, but love is a very powerful emotion, that can twist perspective 180°. My best friend and girl of my dreams at the time was Erin Walker, she loved happiness and sunshine and rainbows and... Harry Potter. I'm not exactly sure why I thought this would do much for me, but I figured, “What the hell. I'll read the book to get in her good graces.”

I found the subject material, frankly, absurd, to be honest, but I couldn't stop. Not because I didn't think my goal worth reading to attain, but because something was happening. When I read, I saw pictures in my mind. I knew the characters' faces, and could see them interacting, and their setting. Keep in mind there was no movie at this time, I was just using my imagination. I realized, whether I admitted it to myself or not, that this was more than an adolescent Get Kissed Quick scheme, this was something much bigger.

That didn't mean I enjoyed reading, not for a while, but the seeds had been sewn. The gardener who nurtured them was Mrs. Garvin. Mrs Garvin had a reputation as being the least fun teacher in the school; but somehow, that didn't stop her from making quite a difference in my life. While I can't point to anything in particular that she did to ease me on, it was at the end of the year, when we read Great Expectations, that I came to truly appreciate what Mrs. Garvin had done. So, when I found out she'd be retiring after that year, at the academic banquet, I approached her after everything was said and done. “Mrs. Garvin,” I said, “You might not be aware, but I can't thank you enough for what you've given me. I actually like reading now.” Mrs. Garvin's eyes lit up, and the crooked teeth of her mouth shown in the stadium lighting of the cafeteria. She thanked me for my words, and told me that was what made her job worthwhile.

While it would be many years before I had a well developed appreciation for literature, that's how I started. In no small part, my experiences in my youth contributed to my becoming a teacher in the first place. If I were worried about literacy, I might recommend Fun with Dick and Jane. Since I'm more concerned of an appreciation for literature, I hope I can emulate Mrs. Garvin as much as possible. Maybe, if I'm lucky, when my time comes to retire or move on and become a famous movie-producing, skydiving, book-writing extraordinaire, one of my students will tell me that I've given them something new, exciting, and life changing.
what, Er

Letters to the Best of Them

Earlier this month, all five schools in Union County held a meeting before classes started. I, by way of my mother, came to know that one Erin Walker was a new English teacher for East Union Attendance Center. Of all the people I’ve not talked to in years, Erin is, by and large, the one I should have written to by now the most.

There are, I think, two people I’ve ever been madly in love with, and Erin was one of them. In fairness, I should confess that while I was madly in love with her, I was also a child, and a particularly lonely one. I clearly remember the alienation wrought by my peers from the second grade to the seventh. Every year, I experienced more loneliness than, I hope, many experience in their entire lives. I had no interests, neither intrinsic nor extrinsic, and the grades to prove it. To this end, I also had no friends.

That’s a lie; I did have one friend, and she was Erin Walker. I understand, by some confusing memories that, at one point early on, we were playground romantically involved, but I only really remember the person who was my best friend, and played with me, and shared with me a love of reading, a love I possess to this day. I still have that old tattered copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the mantle of my fireplace.

After some time, I fell in love with her, but when I moved and confessed to my feelings, she told me she did not reciprocate them. This would be the start of a long period of isolation with no best friend, but newly developed interests that I can tie directly to my friend Erin.

When I met her again many years later, I was too shy to say anything, even though we shared many classes. I never told her the impact she had made on my life, both in the past and long after my personal feelings had withered at died. Although I was aware of my silence, I had not the gumption to change my actions. I still severely regret this terrible inaction.
Today, I have a friend much like Erin in Megan Milton. I shan’t repeat the mistakes of the past with her. Although I know not what the future holds, nor where I’ll go nor what happens to us, I shall assuredly write her letters, or some other, more convenient form of communication, instead of allowing our prosperous friendship to wilt and die.