Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ever feel like you're in a bad live-action Disney movie?

For the last week or so, I've been battling a pest that has been harrassing me day and night. Somehow, a mouse found his way up to my bedroom on the third floor and cannot seem to find a way to get his mammalian bum back down to the mainfloor. I don't know why he came up here. There is no food beyond the smudges of peanut butter on the mousetraps I set in the 7 corners of my room (yes, there are 7 corners, feel free to come visit and count them if you're skeptical about this heptagonal-shaped room of mine). He certainly isn't up here for the company, unless he gets somes sort of sick satisfaction out of waking me in the middle of the night with his mousy little scratching sounds against the carboards boxes that used to be stacked in one corner (I've since burned the boxes so my mouse has nothing to play with). I thought about trying to befriend the little guy, but he's a rough city mouse, not the well-mannered country mouse that might make an alright friend. No, this mouse has an attitude and needs to go live in someone else's house.

I've tried poison, sticky traps, voodoo curses, psychological warfare, and the time tested dress-a-stick-of-dynamite-up-like-an-attractive-female-mouse* tactics, but nothing seems to work.

*NOTE: the last one is an obvious exaggeration. If you believed me, then you've never tried to rent an apartment in a large city. Apparently there's some sort of standard lease provision against possessing dynamite for the purpose of extermination in a residence that you do not own.

If anyone can think of a way I can rid myself of my mouse, please don't hesitate to throw a comment up on the 'comment' page.

I should be doing work right now, so this post ends here. Sorry crazed fans, you'll have to wait until I have more time to make up stories about Baltimore to cover for the fact that I"m actually living in the garage at my parents' house. I MEAN...damnit.*

*NOTE: I really do live in Baltimore. If you don't believe me, buy a ticket, fly out here, call me, and I'll pick you up at the airport. We'll go out for a dinner of assorted shellfish if that's your thing, or perhaps just find a greasy Pizza joint then you'll get a tour of the 7 cornered room before I send you back on your merry way. I'd invite you to stay but there's no telling what that angry little House Mouse will do when his date doesn't end with the right sort of bang.

Shout outs and Hellos:
M.: I'll take middle spoon if that option is still available.

J Bo: I want to record a song but I cannot play guitar. Wanna be my band?

Elise: Honeydogs. You'll understand what that means soon...

Tom: Yes, that was a very good song.

Jennifer: Operation Hoopoe Bird?

Koelbl: Aw Deesch

Chanti: Send me a photo

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Alright, alright already!

I recently received my first ever threatening letter in my fan mail bag. Fearing that I may soon be facing a very John Lennon-esque fate, I’ve decided to give in to the demands of this sufferer of de Clerambault's syndrome (Check Wikipedia, it’s real. OR, read Ian McEwan’s book Enduring Love, it’s fantastic), and put fingertips to the keyboard once again.

Who are you and what have you done with PaulStorm?
I signed up for a 5K next weekend. Yeah. Me. Running. And not because I’m being chased by savage dogs, octopus police, or crazed fans. I will submit to DNA testing if it becomes necessary to confirm that I am not an imposter. To the sci-fi conspiracy theorists I seem to attract, cloning is not perfected enough yet to make a brainwashed version of PaulStorm. Besides, who would waste the money on making another me when there’s only one Gwen Steffani out there. We will wed one day!

Georgia on my Mind
With the arrival of November also comes my favorite late autumn celebration. It’s a time that brings people together for a singular purpose; we gather, get our fill, disperse, and then sneak back for a little more. Yes, I’m talking about that proud American Tradition, the political protest. On November 18, I boarded a bus leaving from Loyola College headed for Columbus, GA for the annual SOA/WHINSEC Protest. Cost of the bus ride? Zero. Cost of the Marriott Hotel I stayed in? Zero. Cost of the drinks at the bar in the Marriott Hotel? Zero. All thanks to some generous Jesuits and a guy named Frank. And of course, Eric LeCompte (SJU ’98). How did this all come about? Well, after being a part of the protest for 2 years at SJU, I decided I really wanted to go again. A phone call to Eric and a Google maps print-out later, I was heading south.

I saw a few beautifully familiar faces (Chanti, Dan, Kyra, Hannah, and Daven, you’re all included in that title…well, maybe not Dan. Kidding!) and made some new friends (Geoff, Katie, Megan, Genna, Jack, Frank, you’re all in that lot). I got to go inside the SOA facility and see the genesis of so many Latin American atrocities (the buses reeked of coconut and blared Uber-Conservative Christian Radio. Apparently, I’m going to hell for more things than I realized. I was NOT arrested (maybe next year). I played drums with hippies, paraded the streets of GA with other young protesters, explored Columbus’ nightlife with one of the bartenders I and my Loyola crew befriended, stumbled into Alabama by mistake, and even got hassled by some VERY large Columbus, GA police officers.

Really, the only item in there that needs any elaboration is the little tiff I got into with Columbus’ finest. So there I was, laying on the grass outside of an elementary school, along with Megan and Genna, waiting for the bus full of Loyolans to pick us up for our tour of the WHINSEC. I had one apple, and a Nalgene of water. “Hey, what do you kids think you’re doing?” The voice wasn’t particularly aggressive, but it definitely was not about to follow that sentence up with “if you’re going to sit in our grass, you might as well enjoy a hot dog with us and maybe some lemonade.” Nope, this guy wanted us gone. When I turned around to take a look at who was getting ready to kick us off the lawn, I saw- not one- but seven extremely musculated (made that word up, don’t worry people, it’s not real…yet.) officers with guns strapped to their thighs, biceps (which were as big as my thighs), and torsos. Why does anyone need more guns than appendages? If these were octopus police officers, I could understand the six guns thing, but then I’d be really concerned about why an octopus was wearing a badge and talking to me so rudely. Silly octopi, you can’t talk. Or survive out of water long enough to kick me off the lawn. Anyway, we were forced to get up and go stand on the median in the middle of a busy street. Yeah, the guys who are supposed to keep people SAFE moved us from the lawn of a school to the little strip of concrete separating the lanes of whizzing-fast traffic. WHAT?! I mean, sure, we’re protestors, but come on guys, what kind of trouble am I going to cause with an apple?

Planes Trains and Automobiles
Ok, well there wasn’t a train involved (there could have been though!), but I trekked back to the Midwest for that OTHER November treat, Thanksgiving. The potatoes were mashed with a few lumps (the way I love them), the gravy was thick, the turkey perfectly cooked and stuffed, Jennifer’s pumpkin pie TASTED like pumpkin pie (good job buddy, way to avoid that whole salty brownie fiasco. You’re still not forgiven for putting AN ENTIRE CUP OF SALT into the brownie mix instead of sugar. NO EXCUSES!!), and beautiful Elise made a trip all the way to Fargo to see little old me. Ok, ok, so she really just came for Fargo’s exciting *cough* nightlife, but she let me tag along. When a neighbor cam over to take photos of the family, Grandma hid her face behind a placemat from the table. No kidding, I’ve got the proof. She later called me a sissy for having long hair. Dad’s monster truck now has 6 sets (that’s 12 bulbs) of flood lights on the front, a new cattle guard he welded himself, AND all sorts of toggle switches that may or may not have once been used in a 1960’s NASA shuttle. Those of you who don’t know, my dad built himself a monster truck. It was a 1986 Suburban. Now it’s an 8 foot tall destroyer of all things midsize, coupe, and sedan. Oversize tires, 300 pounds of wrought-iron bumper, more fiberglass than the NHL, and one classy paint job. Yep, everything’s totally normal in the Storm household.

Oh yeah, Baltimore
I’ve come to like the city a bit more now that I’m exploring it a bit. There’s always something going on. I’m usually not at whatever event is taking place, but I hear about it. My students are doing better recently. They bring paper and pencils now. Sometimes they even take notes. No one’s been seriously injured recently. They did, for the most part, fail my last test. BUT, I did have a couple of students who normally do very poorly, pass my test. So hopefully, they’ll continue to work hard.

Since the human attention span is always shrinking and I haven’t done the best job of producing first rate material, we’ll call this the end of today’s update. I hope you found a giggle somewhere. If you found two, put one back so someone else can enjoy it. Don’t be selfish. Besides, I don't want to go back and edit this for quality or content. Yes, this is a first draft, so if the spelling is wrong anywherhe, twoo bod!

Miss you all,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Usual with a side of mashed potatoes piled high with extra salt ;)

It’s been much too long since my last blog, so I put in an order for a flux capacitor from a website that promises to ship one to me once they’ve been invented (sometime in the future that they assured me isn’t too far away) via their trusty fleet of Dolorean delivery vehicles. Once I get it, I’ll go back and add a blog before this one full of nifty and incredible predictions. Good thing I mentioned that now, or this blog would be REALLY confusing to you in the future (aka present right now). Although, you probably won’t be reading this in the future (present) because we’ll all be in a different present (future). Follow me?

I think the flux capacitor will also be helpful because it will give me a chance to go back to the day I was in Boston and decided to go see a psychic. I’ll save myself $20 and won’t have to hear her tell me how bad I am with money. Yes, this was the best investment I’ve ever made (will ever make?).

Ok, ok, I know you’re not reading this for insight into the future, you want to hear about the past and the present. And that means an ENTIRELY different set of verb conjugations. So goodbye will + verb and hello were, was, am, and are! If a there is a William reading this, I have to refer to you as Bill or William. No exceptions.

Exploding Readership!
According to the latest fan mail, I have 6 readers! PaulStorm publications considers this a wild success and looks forward to its 7th subscriber. Could it be you? To those who loyally take time off from playing Snood, minesweeper, solitaire, and/or mahjong (those mahjong players are odd folk, but PaulStorm publications does not discriminate…too much) at work to read the products of my fingertips’ little fox trot over the keys of this laptop (you can’t see it, but I assure it is a very nice and fancy laptop, the kind that demands fox trots and waltzes. Not so fancy shoes would be required, however. That would be just plain silly. Little shoes on fingers; who thinks of that?).

Pagoda on her head
On Saturday, Patterson Park (The large park near my home, check out google maps for a better idea of what it is. I don’t feel like describing it.) held its annual Halloween Lantern Parade. I had no idea this was an annual event or even an event. So when I saw little ghosties and ghoulies marching past my door carrying lanterns on sticks I assumed what any rational person would: the apocalypse was upon us and I had not qualified for the rapture (some people think that at the end of the world all the good and holy people will be whisked away to heaven via some sort of Star Trekkie teleportation. Why they chose the word “rapture” I don’t know.). So, being the rational person I am, believing that Satan’s hordes were assembling in the park, I decided to take a gander. Turns out it was a parade of little kids in their costumes accompanied by their parents who were either the WAY too excited about Halloween variety (my favorites) or the I’m-too-cool-for-this-but-my-wife-made-me-put-on-these-stupid-cat-ears-by-threatening-to-cut-me-off-from-you-know-what (coverage of the World Series. What were you thinking? Pervert.) species.

While I was watching the crowd of lantern-laden lads and lasses (alliteration!), a woman with a lantern in the shape of a pagoda on her head (yes, a hat lantern) struck up a conversation with me

“Excuse me, sir, you need to either join the parade or step off the sidewalk and observe from the grass.” Her name was Susan and she was one of the coordinators for the event. I talked to her for a little while and she figured out I wasn’t from Baltimore pretty quickly. I assume she heard my Midwestern accent when I answered “Sorry, I’m not from around here.”

The parade ended with a shadow puppet music video about three brothers who try to steal the moon for financial gain only to accidentally awake the dead when one of the brothers’ greed leads him to bury himself alive with the moon in his coffin. I’m not sure if this is the actual story line, but since there was no dialogue, that’s the best deduction I’ve been able to make. At some point a small bird takes the moon in its beak (the moon in the story was not to scale) and flies it back up into space. Presumably the bird exploded once it left the atmosphere. Not the most uplifting story to show children just before their bedtime.

Party at the Bisco. Yes, I said Bisco!
Some of you (Tom Johnson) may know the group the Disco Biscuits. If you don’t they’re a jam band that seems to be between phish and an generic techno group. I enjoyed the energy of the show and the many drug-filled “Bisco-nauts” (my own term, patent pending), but I think they only played 2 songs. 2 hour and a half long songs. That seems to be the way of jam band though; they forget what comes after the bridge so they just keep playing the bridge over and over, trying to find their way to the next verse. Silly Bisco, bring the sheet music next time.

Improvements in the Life of Paul
I’m still working out and I’ve developed what the jocks refer to as “biceps.” It’s a strange swelling of the upper arm that is (apparently) desirable. So I will continue to lift heavy things so I can get better at lifting heavy things.

Meditation and yoga are two things I’ve always wanted to be able to say that I do (without lying). So I finally started. I checked out a yoga place this weekend, touched my toes a few times, breathed some yoga-y breaths, and tried to find my center which is surprisingly NOT my belly button but some sort of metaphysical, floaty spirit place a lot like Happy Gilmore’s Happy Place. Except no midgets, Kiss masks, golfers, or tricycles.

The beard is gone! I grew a sturdy, full, and masculine beard for about a month. Those who saw it can attest to its Jesus-like majesty (Jesus’ beard, not the Son of God majesty. I don’t have that. For those of you who are still uncomfortable with the image, think of Liam Sperl’s beard. Ok, now make it red. Yes, red.), but I felt it was time to let it go. My students panicked when they saw my chin, but they’ve since gotten used to my face. I haven’t decided if I want to re-grow it, but now that I know I have no patchy spots, it’s a tempting thing to do.

Shout outs and love
Tehle- You’ll never read this since you don’t have Facebook, BUT I needed to hear your voice yesterday. Thank you for remembering an old friend.

Elise- I enjoy the way our minds helix around each other once upon a time in a kingdom happily ever after.

J-Bo- The hyphens around your Bo are my heterosexual lifemate bear hug. I miss you bud.

McKeever- You’re still one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. If you understand that, then you know why I’ll always consider you one of my closest friends.

Morgan- Let’s talk about Tehle’s proposition. Maybe this is the jump we need to take. Maybe there’s something else we’re supposed to do.

Lil Buddy- just checking to see if you’ve been exploring my profile. Infinity plus 7.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Home is where the Heartland is

Hey dear friends,

Thank you for making my blog a wild success. According to the fan mail, I now have a following of 5 devoted readers. I may need to offer some advertising space on my blog to some major corporations to capitalize on my audience. This is America after all... Don't worry, I promise I won't succumb to the allure of fame and sell out...too much. To those of you not reading: it's alright, I forgive you. You'll never know I was angry with you (or that I benevolently forgave you), but I just had to make sure my conscience was clear.

This posting is a house salad of emotions, drizzled in two different kinds of metaphorical dressing (For the sake of the image, we’ll say Thousand Island and French. I have no idea what the metaphor is, however, so if you come up with something, become an English major and write a thesis about it. I look forward to your many paragraphs about Stormian food imagery in contemporary internet literature.).

As usual, the humor is mostly in between the parenthesis; although, it will occasionally attempted to slip itself into the “actual content” of the paragraphs. If you don’t laugh, that’s ok. That’s why the “funny parts” are caged between punctuation marks. For your protection. In the event you make remarks like “that’s not funny at all. Paul, you’re really dropping the ball this time around.” You won’t have to worry about angering the text, and becoming the victim of a word crime.

A hard day’s night
Since returning from my beautiful weekend home at St. John’s, I’ve had a very hard time being out here in Baltimore. Over the last 5 months, (yeah, I've been involved in TfA for 5 months now!!) I haven’t found much time for reflection. Now that I'm in baltimore, most days are spent scrambling to be ready for the next day. When I’m not at school, I’m thinking about what needs to happen at school. When I’m not thinking about school, I’m at school.

Since leaving St. John’s, the time I’ve looked forward to most is the time I spend asleep. Dreams are the one place I don’t feel frustrated. Sleep is the one place I feel some sense of peace. That admission, that reality, is neither healthy nor uplifting. On the flight back to Washington (I saved myself $100 by flying out of DC!…Only to spend that $100 on parking and gas. Irony?) I spent a lot of time thinking about how different my life is now. I found myself looking at a really terrible conclusion: I haven’t felt genuinely happy about my choice to move to Baltimore. Some of you remember my deep belly-laugh; the one that people could identify me by from several hundred miles away (ok, ok, so I was just loud enough to be heard on the fourth floor from the second floor.). I haven’t been able to laugh like that out here. I forgot what it felt like to laugh like that. Until I came back home, and found myself in the company of John Howard, JEtten/mom, J-Bo, Elise, Kelsy, Chanti, Natalia, and a dozen other wonderful old friends.

So what am I supposed to make of that? Well, at first it really brought me down. REALLY brought me down. Monday and Tuesday were the hardest days I’ve had out here. I told my school I needed some time off to just think about where I am and what I’m doing (Mike, Reuby, J-Bo, Elise, you all know what I mean by ‘told’). My principal, the incredible woman that she is, told me to take the rest of the week to reflect on my reasons for being here. She went to my class and told them that Mr. Storm had submitted his letter of resignation to the school. Did I do that? Not yet. Just to clarify, my school has issues. While I’ve been there:
One student was gunned down in his neighborhood
One student’s arm was broken by a group of kids who wanted his cell phone
One student was jumped before school and beaten very badly
One student was stabbed in the chest in a stairwell
Several fights have broken out
AND a random weapons search turned up about 40 knives, a few bricks, and various
blunt objects
So yeah, stressful environment. Combine that with the lack of order and effort in the classroom and you’ve got one tough place to go everyday. I’m not sure how likely it is that I complete my second year of TfA. There is too much about home that I see myself losing if I stay here. There is too much about myself that will evaporate if I stay under the heat and pressure of this place.

Something on the lighter side
Me. Since coming out to Baltimore, I’ve dropped a few of the lbs. that aren’t so nice to carry around. The love handles are smaller (sorry ladies, there’s less of me to go around), the belly doesn’t hang quite like it used to. So go ahead and start fantasizing about a lean, cut, athletic Paul Storm…it’s not as ridiculously unrealistic of a dream as it used to be. Still a little far-fetched, but sort of plausible.

That's all I have for now. I miss you, beautiful people.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

First Words From Baltimore

Welcome to Paul Storm's blog!

Yes, I've finally done it: I've taken my ramblings and nonsensicals to the internet. Here you will find all sorts of tidbits about where I've been, what I'm doing, what I'm NOT doing, and how I feel about the post-collegiate world. Those of you who were unfortunate enough to find my terribly jagged and incomplete emails from South Africa in your email have a good idea of how I will format posts on this page. Those who don't:
1. I break things up by topic so you don't have to read stuff that doesn't appeal to you. I jazz up the titles to my topic sections sometimes in the hopes of tricking you into reading something not so interesting. Don't worry, you can always stop and go to a different section.
2. I'm blunt.
3. Having a couple Oreos, some peanut butter to dip them in, and a glass of milk is ALWAYS recomended. Unless of course you're alergic to peanut butter, in which case you should NOT have peanut butter near you.

Well, let's just get to it:
Piano Man
They played the song at a bar here. Yes, I did. No, no one else did. Yes, I was asked to put my pants back on.

Pirates of the Chesapeake!
The area I live in is home to a very healthy pirate culture (apparently). There is a Pirate Festival in March. So I'm praticing my swash-buckle now. Don't be surprised if I use it on you in the near future. I'll be home OCT 5-7. So watch out land lubbers!

Freedom Writers
I work for Teach for America as a 10th grade US Government teacher in Baltimore, MD. Those of you who have seen The Wire, this place is VERY similar. Watch season 4. That's my life. No, really, that's my life.

People who haven't seen The Wire, my students (14-16 yrs old) have reading levels anywhere from first grade to eighth grade. My school has a very large gang culture. In my time here, one student has been gunned down, another was stabbed in a stairwell, another was jumped, still another has not been heard from for a few days, another was arrested for assaulting his mother, and I don't even know about half of the things that have happened so far this year. 70% of my students will miss 20 days of school or more; a significant number of students have already missed 10 days. School began at the end of August.

But I do think this struggle is worth the time. Why?
1. When I was growing up, I was behind my peers in school. I could not read after 1st grade.
2. The PaulStorm you know is the product of amazing teachers who never let me quit
3. Gary Snyder (sweet poet, look him up) says that we must find our place in the world, dig in, and take responsibility from there.
4. This is the United States. We should not have problems like the ones I've witnessed. Our educations should NOT be so poor, regardless of what city and street we call home.
5. College was a very selfish time; 4 years that were about me and what I wanted to do. I need to be sure I dedicate some time to the betterment of other people.

My home
3 stories
3 bedrooms
2.5 baths
Hardwood floors throughout
Exposed brick
150 years old
recently renovated
3 houses down from a 2001 SJU/CSB couple!!
Next door to a guy from Wiliston, ND!!
Overlooks the entire city of Baltimore (I'm at the highest geographic point in the city)
10 minutes from an excellent bar scene, waterfront, and rows of novelty shops

My roommates:
2 frat guys from Pitt

Adam: wants to be a surgeon someday; plays a mean game of darts, cribbage, and soccer; looks like the actor that played Rudy and Samwise Gamgee; made eagle scout; loves cigars

Jared: wants a life in politics; knows how to find a bargain; obsessed with London and all its Englishness; does NOT play a mean game of anything, but sure has a good time doing whatever; knows how to drive in a city

They're pretty good guys. We're all very different people. Apparently I'm the hippie. Something about long hair, a beard, being barefoot whenever possible, wearing bandanas and linen pants, liking the woods, having a lot of music, and reading lots of books apparently makes one a hippie. Huh.

North Dakota der dontcha know?
The ND license plate causes a lot of heads to turn and a lot of cameras to appear from purses and back pockets. I've been stopped a few times by people unconvinced that I'm really NoDakian. When they see my ID, they still wonder, but ask for a photo of me by my car. Apparently we ND folk don't get out much.

Early one Friday morning, I was putting my garbage out when I saw a very strange little dog near my neighbors bag of trash. He was trying to tear his way into the bag. The responsible citizen that I am, I tried to shoo the dog away so there wasn't a mess for the garbage man to clean up. Turns out, it was not a dog. It was a HUGE RAT!!! Seriously, thos things are as big as wombats (I assume wombats are large animals)! Not nearly as wonderful though.

Parallel What?
Parallel Parking. It sucks. I"m down to a 234 point parallel park. Apparently it's possible to do in 3 points. I think that's hogwash.

this post is dedicated to:
Jolene because she has a blog already and it inspired me
McKeever because we're terrible at being long distance friends and I miss his Grand Rapids-ness
Chanti because it's fun to dedicate things to peace