The Aisle

It takes courage to walk across the aisle
To make the best out of what you work with.
We often complain that it’s not our style;
It might change the character of our pith.
But we should not buy that superstition;
Instead, look into the fear that we hold
Because we will always avoid that migration
Because we do not wish to be so bold.
When we make that walk something great happens
That benefits more than just our ego,
Instead we get to see the grateful grins
On the ones who we’re supposed to help grow.
Why did you start this job in the first place?
Was it so you could see their smiling face?

The Land of the Midnight Sun

As the sun finishes another lap
In the northern sky, I watch the shimmer
Of its light glimmer on the ocean’s sap.
I know the night will only get dimmer,
So I can sit out here a bit longer,
And from my well deserved drink, take a sip.
As a distant brewing storm gets stronger,
And threatens to give the air a sharp nip,
I will breathe in deeply this last moment
As I wait for its coming arrival.
For the sun in the sky has not been spent;
I will bear witness to its survival.
What else can I do on this grassy shore,
But enjoy the scene that’s been laid before?

Getting Wet

What harm can come from walking in the rain?
Most folks I know would rather stay inside
As if getting wet causes severe pain,
Holding on to the safety of their pride.
I enjoy the world without company,
Pretending I own all the puddled streets.
I think it funny, they need it sunny
As my footsteps complete the splashing beats.
An umbrella will provide no shelter
As I walk on such a beautiful day,
For it washes away all the clutter
Of what it means to experience play.
So let the clouds continue with their tears,
For the city is mine until it clears.

Raindrop on a Bench

The drops of last night’s rain cling to the bench,
Hanging on to a fear of letting go.
Ever since they fell from the sky, they clench
To the only rail that they ever knew,
Beading into an individual
Bubble that appears like all of the rest.
They know that if they lose their grip and fall
Originality found in the nest
Will be lost upon reaching the puddle.
All those little things that made them distinct
Will be gone, gathered within the huddle,
When to the bench, he is no longer linked.
To continue to clutch on or to fall,
The choice that determines the fate of all.

Antique Clock in a Storage Unit

For years, my springs have not been tight enough,
And I have been lying around dormant,
Sitting amongst all this forgotten stuff,
Given no one to deliver my rant.
One day that sliding door opened to light,
So I could run my hands across my face.
My innards wanted to put up a fight
To let you know that I was in this space.
You moved on to browse the other junk,
And I wanted to make my voice be heard,
So with the rhythm of a ticking punk,
I shouted out my only chiming word.
I did not know it would give you unease
To hear from rarely given vocal tease.

One Long Summer

It has been a long time since I have seen this view, the city of Amman from my back porch. I spend a lot of my time during the school year looking over this perch, and it has been almost ten weeks since I have been back. When I was younger, this was a normal amount of time for summer break, but the schools have slimmed them down a bit. There are numerous reasons for this. Schools wish to have more breaks during the school year to help reduce the pressure that many students feel at certain points of the schedule. Districts also wish to reduce the summer slide when students put the books down and pick up the game console controllers. It is also a long time to be a way from work, and by the end of it, people are bored, no longer being productive about anything in their lives. This is the reality for many schools around the world, but for me this year, it was not the case. There were a couple of complications with the way the holidays landed this year that complicated things, and extended the summer. The school I work for now also does not believe in the smaller breaks, following the work hard, play hard philosophy. Because of these things, I have had a long summer to explore the world.

When I first thought about what this prospect of a long summer meant for me, I started to think about how I would spend my time. Most of the time, I head back to the United States and visit with family and friends, but there is a limit you can stay at a place before you wear out your welcome. I prefer to have my time spent with these people to be quality time, and not just passing the time. Also considering that the last couple of years had made travel difficult and I now had an opportunity to see a part of the world I never had before, we made arrangements to spend the first part of the summer in Iceland.

Iceland seemed lie the perfect place to go in a world still getting over its post-Covid hangover. The danger of the disease still lurked around every corner even though right before we boarded the plane to start on our travels, the United States followed suit with a lot of the other countries in the world, and decided to no longer make having a negative PCR test part of flying into the country. Everything was coming together to make for a great summer of travel. Still, it was going to be nice to be in a country without many people in it and the main attractions that tourist go and see being outside. We didn’t even need to worry about catching the disease in hotel rooms because we spent our time traveling around the island in a camper van and rarely did we have contact with other people.

Still, this did not make our travels easy in Iceland. We ran into rain and cold weather during most of our three weeks we were there. The people we did interact with told us time and time again that Iceland was experiencing the coldest June in thirty years. It created some challenges along the way, and there were many nights that we were huddled up in our van staying warm in our sleeping bags while waiting out the rain and blowing wind that was beating itself against the side of our vehicle.

Still, there were plenty of moments where the sun came out and we took advantage of those times to gaze upon the beauty of Iceland. It was the perfect way to start this long summer. I was able to let go of all the stress and pressure that comes with the school year, and concentrate on something else. I didn’t have a lot of down time that usually comes from vacation, but it was okay because I had plenty of time later on to take advantage of that. I also did not experience a lot of heat, but I knew I would eventually run into it when I made it to the second part of my trip Oregon in the United States.

But the Pacific Northwest can be a fickle place as well. My father-in-law is always telling me that he never expects it to get warm in Oregon until after the Fourth of July, and not to get mad if it doesn’t happen until after the fifteenth of the same month. Well, this summer put that saying to the test. I would like to say that I had made it all the way to the 24th without experiencing a day over 90, but that was not the case.

There were two days early on in the month where we traveled down to Tucson, Arizona to attend the wedding of a couple of friends from both Korea, and Jordan. We ran into day over 100 degrees there, but if they weren’t that hot in mid-July there, I would have been worried. The wedding wasn’t an actual wedding either. The happy couple had gotten married the previous summer to allow them to move to Jordan without any trouble. The problem with that first ceremony was that it only involved a handful of people due to the speed in which it happened and the fact that the world was still in lockdown during the summer of 2021. This time around was a celebration of a marriage that had already happened, but it was with all of the people they would have invited if it wasn’t for those strange circumstances surrounding their first ceremony. It was more than just a celebration of love because a lot of the people invited to the ceremony were also people I had worked with in Seoul, and had not seen since I had left that country. It became a reunion as well from people who live all over the world now. The world had moved on from Covid and was willing to get back together again. All of these things were expressed in that tiny ceremony, and it was one of the highlights of this summer, right around the halfway point of my time off as well.

I did not get to enjoy the heat for long though because it was back to the Pacific Northwest, and though I got a couple of days in the high 80s in Central Oregon, we left that behind to go up to the Puget Sound of Washington. Being so close to the ocean so far north meant cooler days, and nights where we actually built a fire to enjoy the evening outside. It was around this time that I was hearing about the heat that the rest of the country was experiencing and I felt really lucky that I kept avoiding it. I was even able to dodge that bullet when those temperatures finally hit the Pacific Northwest by making the jump to another part of the country, but I knew that I had a long way to go this summer, and there was no way I could avoid it forever.

But I wasn’t that far north to enjoy the weather. It was for another celebration that was put on hold because of, once again, Covid. My in-laws had been planning a little getaway for their whole family to celebrate one of them hitting a significant milestone in age, and both of them celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. This trip had been scheduled early in 2020 before Covid became a worldwide pandemic. I remember many conversations from that year about whether the trip should be canceled or not. It is funny looking back and thinking that it would have been a possibility in 2020, but I am sure many people had the same kinds of conversations. I am just happy that we were able to eventually get to celebrating these moments, even if they were a couple of years later; they were still important, and still needed to be recognized. I am sure that there were a lot of people around the world who also wished to make up these lost moments for the last two years, and that was probably the reason that travel was so crazy this summer.

It wasn’t just the visiting of family and friends that returned to a sense of normalcy this summer. Business was also getting back to the way that it once was. Some considered this a good thing; whereas, others thought that something could have been learned about the way we conduct business from the last couple of years. As a teacher, I am required to take class to keep on top of the latest developments in education, and they have been annoying the last couple of years. I have had to sit in front of a computer, and watch a tiny screen as some trainer babbled on about what I should know. This is not a good form of education. It is easy to get distracted, and all of the teachers I had in this kind of experience, rambled on about nothing for way too long. I get a lot more out of the experience if I show up and have face to face conversations with my colleagues, and interaction with the person running the training. This summer, I was able to enjoy that kind of experience again. During the end of July, I flew to Wisconsin to have some training on English Language Learning with the WIDA Institute. It was a great trip, and I got a lot out of the experience, and am looking forward to more like it.

Though I appreciated the in-person conference, I understand why things have changed for companies all over the world. A lot of money has been spent on office space over the years, and they have learned that this is not necessarily needed. They are beginning to see that their employees will get their work done from their homes, and there is no need for somebody to watch over them to make sure they are doing their work. These companies are starting to recognize that they do not need to spend a lot of money on office space, and have their employees commute into work every day. They can have happy and productive employees and allow them to make their homes their workspace. This rethinking of the way we do things is one of the effects of the last couple of years. Both the old and the new ways have advantages and disadvantages to them, and it is interesting to see how the world makes the changes because of the adjustments that needed to happen the last couple of years.

Of course, as anybody living in the United States over the summer can testify, it was impossible to escape the heat that gripped a lot of the country. It was only a matter of time before I ran into that heatwave in my home state of Colorado. I enjoyed it at first, but of course, heat is always oppressive and I found that spending my time indoors was more comfortable than being outside in the heat. Still, it was nice to make it back home and have the chance to visit with family and friends. The time always seems so short for this, and I try not to fill it up with too many other things that would take up my time.

But of course, you can’t head back to the place where you used to live and that has a part of your life still at it, and not have some business that you need to attend to. For me this time around, it was with my storage unit. It had been getting to be a mess from years of just rummaging through it without me giving much thought to how well I organized it after I had left. The company I was renting from was also raising the price, and it was getting to be a little ridiculous with how much I was paying per month. So I spent a couple of days going through all of the stuff I had left behind, so I could move it to a new storage space that was more reasonably priced. There were moments with it that had a nostalgic feel to it. I was looking at stuff I had not seen in over seven years and it brought back some great memories. Of course, there was a bunch of other stuff that I went through and wondered why I had kept it for so long. When it was all said and done, it was great that I had gone through it all, and my stuff was a little more organized.

It was a great and busy summer, and it was a great time to make up a little bit of what was lost over the last couple of years, and I feel that a lot of people had the same idea with their summer. I was lucky to avoid the heat that many other people had run into on their summers, but in the end, we were all able to form some great memories with the adventures we had. It is back to the grind, and based on the adventures I had, I am ready to take on that challenge to build up to that next time I get to go out and have another adventure. Until then, keep on

The Happy Camper

The kitchen is over in the corner,
And the water comes from pumping by hand.
The dining room table is a loner;
It wobbles when you wish for it to stand.
Across the way is the room for living
Which is really nothing more than a couch.
Underneath it you can keep your clothing,
What we call our convenient storage pouch.
At night, it turns into a single bed
Where two of you can cuddle together.
The back door id where you will rest your head,
Safe against the cold, Icelandic weather.
In here, across the island, you’ll scamper,
Ready to become a Happy Camper.

Missing My Puppy

Don’t get me wrong, being a teacher and getting a long break during the summer is great. Being a teacher in an international setting, it is a necessity of life. It is a time for us to recharge our batteries, and travel back to our home countries so we can see our families. I really enjoy this time off for these reasons, but it is not always as easy as it seems. There are a couple of drawbacks. We spend a couple of months every year living out of a suitcase, and leaving behind the lives we have built in those faraway places. Sometimes, there are others that we have left behind that we really start to miss as we continue on our long trips. It is about the time that we are supposed to be getting back to those lives that those people we left behind start to be thought about a lot. In my case, it is my puppy that I miss the most, and can’t wait to see again soon.

We got Zoey in late January of this year, and she is a little bit of a handful. She was a rescue dog who got picked up off the side of the road in Amman when she was tiny. We met her a few months later when they believed that she was about a year old. She was playful and knew how to use that to her advantage. We instantly fell in love with her, and a week later, she was living in our home. Even though she looked like a full grown dog, what we did not know at the time was she had a lot of puppy still in her. She still had a lot of energy that took some time to work out of her, and when we had to go to work, she would have separation anxiety. It caused some moments that made living with her difficult, but that is what it means to have to train a puppy to come to an agreement where we can all be happy with each other.

Zoey had a bunch of stinker moments as well. She knows that she shouldn’t be on the bed, but every morning when she believes that it is time to get up, she will hop on the bed, and try to cuddle with us. It is adorable, but at that same time, I know that I cannot let it continue; otherwise, she will start to think that she can do it whenever she wants. It forces me to get up and get her needs taken care of, even if I have another hour of sleep that I can get that morning.

She is also a little destructive. We are constantly looking for new toys for her that she won’t be able to destroy, and when she does not get her way, she will rip up her blankets, or bed. We even had an incident with a couch, and will have to buy a new one when we move out of our house. This has made Zoey a more expensive dog than we intended.

So, why am I excited to get back to her if she is such a stinker? Despite all of her drawbacks that we have with her, she is still has a charm that draws you to her. We get to go on long walks with her where her infinite curiosity allows me to explore the neighborhood I live in, and her desire to be friends with everybody has introduced me to new people in our neighborhood. We do go out in our backyard from time to time, and I will kick a soccer ball around that she loves to chase after and carry in her mouth, and if she isn’t into that at the time, she still loves to play her own version of keep away in our yard.

Zoey also will calm down eventually, and when she does, she turns into the cuddliest of canines. She will lay down on me while I am watching television, and give me a kiss from time to time to remind me that I am there. She also will pat her paws while she sleeps and when she is having a good dream. And the best part comes when I come home everyday. People who own dogs know what this moment is like. The expression of unconditional love that happens as the dog rushes to greet you is unforgettable. They are all paws and wagging tails as they wish to show you how excited they are that you are back home. No matter how long you are gone for, eight hours or fifteen minutes, they will always greet you in this way. It is that love that can turn a terrible day into a great one.

This is the greeting I am looking forward to when I get back home. I know that she can be a stinker at times, but I am looking forward to seeing Zoey again. It is just an indication that I am ready for summer to wrap up so I can get to a life that I left behind a couple of months ago. It has been great to have this break, and I have enjoyed seeing all of the people I have gotten to revisit with during this time, but I am looking forward to getting back to the folks in my other life, especially my puppy.

The Purge, The Best Thing about Moving

There are many things that you can learn while attending college, but the most important one come when a friend asks you what you are doing the next day. You always tell them you are busy even if you are not. This goes double if you are the proud owner of a truck. The reason for this is because nine times out of ten, that friend of yours is looking for your help to move them. This is never a fun experience, and the only reward you usually get for all of your time spent might be a slice of pizza and a Keystone Light. Never think that they will be around to help you when it is your turn to move because they already played the mental chess game of asking you what you are doing the next day, and where that will lead them.

I know that moving is never a pleasant experience. It is even worse if you are only moving from one storage unit location to another. When that happens, you don’t get the joy of actually putting your new place together and getting to feel what it is like living there. During this experience you are just looking through your stuff that you haven’t seen for awhile, and putting it some place else where you won’t look at it again for another long time. Even though this is the case, there is something to take out of the experience.

The reason we got a storage unit in the first place was because there was a lot of our stuff that we wanted to hold on to, so when we wrapped up living overseas and moved back to the United States, we could have that stuff to start over again. What we didn’t realize was that we would soon forget all of the stuff we packed into that tiny space, and what was not really worth holding on to in the first place. This opportunity of going through that stuff again allowed us to rethink what we were saving. In other words, it was a great time to purge and reduce our possessions down to the think that really held value to us. Too often, when we are living in a space, we collect stuff, and have a belief that this stuff is important because it is what we can see and hold on to on a daily basis. But as soon as you pack that stuff up and move it to a place out of sight, it quickly moves itself out of your mind.

But that’s the thing. If it is out of mind, how important is that thing really for you. This was the standard that we created for ourselves as we went through our storage unit. We had to do this. We went from a 10 by 15 foot unit to a 10 by 10 unit, and not all of our stuff would fit in the new space. So if the item wasn’t unique or special to us, or we would have to buy it again when we moved back, it went into a pile that went to Goodwill. There were some tough decisions made along the way, but in the end, we were able to organize ourselves, and load up the storage unit with just the stuff that was really important to us.

Most people would think that this kind of purge would leave them feeling deflated, like the years of living ends up in a pile on the donation site at a Goodwill store. It can feel that way, but if you are being honest, there is a lot of stuff that we collect over our lifetimes, and we need to purge it from our lives. These stores that collect the stuff that you no longer need know ways to repurpose it. There are plenty of people out there that would love to have that stuff in their lives for a reasonable price as well. and when you look at the clean and clear space that is left behind, you will feel better about your lives because you will no longer have that clutter hanging over your head. So, yes, the two days I spent moving from one storage unit to another, and the various trips I took to Goodwill to purge some of this stuff was exhausting, but in the end, I feel a lot better for having accomplished the task. I feel like I have simplified my life, and what I have now own, I truly appreciate.

I will close the door on my new space as I get ready to move back overseas for another year of teaching, and I am sure I will forget about all of the stuff that I have collected in that space. Who knows, maybe in another seven years, I will have the opportunity to purge again, and bring it down to exactly what I need, but I am not sure if I can simplify it more than I already have. Then again, in seven years, I may wonder why kept all of this stuff and feel the joy of bring it down to an even smaller unit that will be the essence of my life.

The Heirloom

Right before I moved overseas, I was given this old clock. It used to belong to my father’s uncle who had just passed away, and it was given to my as a family heirloom. It no longer worked, but I was told that if I invested a little time, energy, and money that I could get it working again. At the time, I didn’t have any of those things to offer, but I thought that it was a cool looking old clock. I knew that one day I would look into getting it fixed, but until then I needed to store it some place. We had just sold our house at that time, and we were moving most of our worldly possessions to a storage unit. Obviously, the clock was going to be one of these things that went into the storage unit, and as I started on my adventures overseas, I soon forgot about the clock.

This was until recently. The price of our storage unit kept on rising over the seven years we were overseas, and we noticed that if we moved to a new storage unit, we could lower our price by almost a quarter of what we were paying. It seemed like a no-brainer, except for the fact that we were going to have to go through all of our old stuff, get rid of some of it because we were moving to a smaller unit, and go through the toil of moving it from one place to another. While we were in the process of moving, I came across the old clock again. I recalled the vow I had made to get it up and working again some day, and I knew that it was small enough that I could find a place in the new storage unit that I would be able to get it fixed when I moved back to the United States. So there it sat as I worked on moving stuff from unit to another.

Once again, I put the clock in the back of my mind. That was until, I started to hear it tick. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The clock was supposed to be broken and badly in need of repair, so I moved closer to it to see if what I was hearing was accurate. It was working now not only because of the ticking, but the minute hand had advanced seven minutes from when I first pulled it out of the storage unit. This would have been a creepy enough thing even if it wasn’t for the fact that I had just watched the fourth season of Stranger Things a couple of weeks earlier. I looked around to see if Vecna was going to pop out and take me away to the upsidedown. I did not see him, but I did see my wife walked back to our original storage unit.

Of course, I beckoned her over to see if she would hear and see the same thing that I was at that moment. I pointed out how the clock was ticking away, and I started to take a picture of it with my phone. She agreed that she could hear it too, and when I finally snapped that picture, the clock let out a gong that made both of us jump back. It only took a couple of minutes after that when the clock returned to its usual state of not doing anything, but my heart was still pumping away from just having gone through the experience.

For those of you who were worried, first, thank you for your concern. Second, I am sure that it was a freak occurrence that had something do with me triggering the clock to get it started up again, and Vecna is not going to come out of the woodwork to take me away. Despite all of this, it made what would have been a dreary day of moving into something a little more fun, and lively. Plus, now I know what this clock will sound like the day that I get it up and running again. At least it will not be out of my mind until the next time I run across it because it is too good of a story to tell to forget about it now. I guess that is what makes it a true heirloom.