Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sometimes, Doing Nothing Is A Good Thing

As I sit on the bus back to boston, I have to reflect on my time passed at man-camp. Man-camp is when a group of guys, friends and family, all get together on the top of this mountain at a little wooden cabin in the woods. I guess the question always asked is 'What do you do at man-camp?" The answer is "nothing." And that's the whole point.

Man-camp isn't about being 'manly', not really. I mean, we are out in the woods, using a woodfire, an outhouse, and having no electricity, but mancamp isn't about being manly. Its about...Well, I guess its about whatever you want it to be. You can do anything. You can do nothing.

There's not alot of times in your life when you can simply do nothing and feel good about. There's always pressures in the back of your mind. 'Oh I should do this' or 'I need to do this' so when you actually sit and do nothing, you feel guilty. Because you're not improving yourself or doing anything 'productive'. You're not watching the next new exciting tv show or playing the super cool video game with peers. You're not even consuming entertainment or the media, you're not even watching the news, or reading a book. You're doing nothing, and doing nothing makes you feel guilty.

But doing nothing is important. We all have our ways of 'doing nothing' whether its reality tv, vegetative video games, or putting on a sports game and falling asleep. When we do nothing, we can relax. With these little methods, we can tell ourselves we're doing something so that we don't feel guilty for doing absolutely nothing. Again, doing nothing is important. You can relax. You can not worry about everything for a little while. You can just sit and think, veg out. Sit back and nothing.

And man-camp is all about that. It's a weekend where you do nothing. You may 'shoot the shit' with your buddies or even shoot guns in the distance, or maybe improve the cabin a little bit but essentially you're doing nothing. Because thats the point. It's a place where you can go and do nothing for two days and feel good about it. You can sit on the porch and look at the landscape. You can take a nap an hour after you get up in the morning and that's fine. You can read an old magazine or an old book, you can listen to the radio in the background, not caring what's playing, you can sit in front of the fire with your feet up, drinking coffee or beer and not even know what time it is.

You can forget about emails or calls, there's no service up there. You can forget about meetings and future deals and problems and situations you need to figure out. You can put everything aside for a few days and just do nothing. And after two days of doing nothing, you usually feel pretty good about everything, even if there's trouble or problems you know are coming. You can deal with them. Why? Because you got to do nothing, you had a bit of time to not worry about anything and suddenly, things don't seem so bad as they were, you get that feeling problems will be solved, they always are, you just have to work on them.

It's nice to be disconnected. From society. From the internet, the social networks. It's nice to be on your own out in the middle of nowhere, not worrying about who might be texting you or sending you an email. You realize all that shit can wait, at least for a night or two because that shit doesn't really matter. What matters is who you spend your time with, not who you chat with on facebook.

On the ride back to civilization, I turned on my phone and immediately I felt connected again. Plugged in. Emails popped up. Texts came in. Missed calls. Voicemails. I immediately felt like I was back into the whole web of things. Which isn't a bad thing. Being connected with others is a good thing. I just think it is nice to go off by yourself or with a few others once in awhile and just talk or relax or watch the fire or the landscape or what it all is. It's nice to feel free from pressure for a little while. But only for a little while. Only as a break. You need those pressures, those problems to arise because you need to move forward, you need to solve those problems, you need to figure out what you're going to do, you need all those things to improve yourself but giving yourself a break for a short time is never a bad thing. We all need breaks. It's what I tell my students all the time. If things are overwhelming, if you're getting frustrated about something, just take a break. Take a short walk, grab a drink of water and cool off. Sometimes you just need to get your mind off the math problems, take a quick refresher and then dive back into it.

It's like when we used to go camping. I love going camping up in the woods, no electricity. You spend your time eating, relaxing by the fire, maybe taking a walk or a swim, just enjoying the scenery. You don't have to worry about bills or money, you can just enjoy doing nothing.

But now I'm back. My break is over. It seemed like it went by really fast. It's amazing how fast time flies when you're not doing anything. So now, like I said, I have to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life.

It seems I have to get a graduate's degree earlier than I thought. I'd been hoping to get a full-time teaching job for a couple years, save up some money and then get it but it seems awfully hard to get a job without one. In the programs I'm looking at, I'll be getting an initial licensure rather than the 'preliminary' one I have now, which I think would also give me a better chance. It would be more advanced.

Here's the thing, there's three programs I'm looking at. Master's in Secondary Education would mean teaching English 9-12. I would like that but another program would be Master's in Middle School Education which would be grades 5-8 and I think I would like that better, at least at first, because I think the middle grades might be easier than the older grades, so maybe I would work up to the older grades later in my career or I might end up completely happy teaching middle school english. One thing about middle school is it varies so much school to school. In some schools, middle school teachers teach every subject, others two subjects and others, just one subject. I need to look into the program more but most likely I would get licensed to only teach english 5-8, which may or may not limit my job opportunities.

THe third option is Master's in Special Education: MOderate Disabilities. I do like my job now, working in special education. I know it is alot of paperwork and I know it is alot of hard work. I could see myself as a special ed. teacher and I do see more special ed teacher openings than english teacher openings so it would likely make it easier getting a full-time teaching position.

Now, there's also the fact I'd have to be taking classes while working and I'd be adding to my debt, but it seems like something I have to do. The priority deadline for applying to UMASS Boston, which is one of the colleges I'm currently looking at is March 1st so I do need to 'get my shit together', as the saying goes. It's just hard. Hard knowing that as I barely pay the bills with my low-paying job, I'm going to be adding to my debt and will be sacrificing free time during the week and weekends towards more schooling.

Anyways, that's all for now.

P.S. My brother Morgan was right and I was wrong. I made a silly bet so I had to put this here. End of story.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Writing Like A Madman

I've done something foolish. Crazy. Insane. Committed myself to something I can't honestly hope to succeed. 2500 words a day in February. That's almost 1000 more words a day than I wrote in November and November is my most (if not only) productive month of the year. I can really churn out the words in November because I throw myself into it, writing every spare second I have, and barely make the quota as it is. Now, well, now I'll just have to try harder, writing writing writing. Writing anything and everything that I can. See, that's the only good part about this deal. What I write can be anything. Doesn't have to be one continuous novel, doesn't have to be the sequel I worked on last November, it can be anything. Blog posts, short stories, new novels...hell, it could be essays on the contemporary novels of America if I wanted. I can do anything.

Which is great. I've never really tried to use the Nanowrimo system of writing for anything other than novel-writing but it seems like a good idea to really get me cooking, if you know what I mean. It will force me to churn out words to such a degree that maybe I'll actually finish the story ideas I have in my head. Like the cyberpunk concious-swapping secret agent story, or the couple-in-a-new-house horror idea that's been lurking in my brainpan for awhile. I can do anything. And churning out 2500 words? I'm going to be writing stories, finishing them like crazy and working on new stories. The best part? I can write blog posts about the whole experieince and those words will count too. Hey, maybe I can actually beat Nate for once. We'll see.

So I'm going to write like a madman for a month and see what happens. I guess one hard part will be decided what to work on first. I'll just have to pick something and run with it because I don't have time to dillydally or argue with myself. Just get up and go. Sometimes, that's a really good attitude to have. Sometimes, you just have to try the impossible to see how close you can come to achieving it. We'll see how much of my sanity remains in tact on March 1st.

Good luck and good writing. (PS. 398 words down so far)