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