Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2004

New Bio for the New Layout, posted at 9:21 p.m.

Epiphany in Baltimore has moved to epiphanyinbaltimore.blogspot.com

Thanks for visiting and reading this. A bit of background - I've been keeping this online journal since April of 2000, and this is entry #1131. With the new layout (which features Robert McClintock illustrations of Thirsty Dog, my favorite bar in Baltimore, and the lit monument, one of my favorite sites in Baltimore), I decided to write a long rambling bio again introducing new readers to this site, or reminding old readers what has happened. My life's peaks and valleys over the last four years are spread all across this site, and a perusal of them will reveal the following facts:

When I began this journal, I was a 310-pound 5th year senior at Michigan State University. I had a depressed year that year, living in Akers Hall in a job and in clothes I had outgrown. I was working at a now-defunct coffeeshop (Cuppa Java) just off of Hagadorn Road, and finally starting to work out at Gold's Gym next door. I started to get a little happier as that year ended, and interned at Lansing Eastern High School the following year. The regular schedule and rewards of teaching agreed with me and, in a way, saved my life. Upon the end of the program, though, I was ready to leave Michigan and all that I knew behind. The song of that summer was "Movin On" by The Rentals. Does anyone else love that song?

I job-searched throughout that summer (of '01), a search documented on this site. I knew I wanted to head to the south, and head to a big city to teach in an urban environment. I ended up pretty much throwing a dart in a map and ending up in Baltimore, enjoying the trip when I visited and the people even more.

Four years later, I remain in Baltimore and think I'm in it for the long haul. My first year was harried - the first year of teaching always is - but overall pretty good after the massive first semester struggles and lost-in-a-big-city feelings ended. My second year, when I hit the 110-lb weight loss milestone and felt svelte and happy in nearly every way, was one of the highlights of my life. My third year, last year, I crashed pretty hard, when the following happened:

1. An old friend I fell in love with broke my heart into a thousand pieces.

2. I became so broke over the summer (when we do not have the option of getting paid) because of bad debts and lack of savings that I was begging for food from Trader Joe's samplers.

3. I found out I had naturally occurring retinal detachment in both eyes and had to have emergency eye surgery before the detachments had inflicted more damage than they already had. As it is, I have 20:80 vision in my right eye and had to give up my major league career dreams.

4. I got sued by a lying garbageman who said my dog bit him (lie) when he trespassed on my yard. Even though he went to the doctor right afterwards and there were no puncture wounds, he claimed he had head injuries and sued me for $10,000.

5. I came within inches of getting laid off by the school system because of a horrible budget crisis, and came within a day of getting my car repo'd at around the same time.

I recovered, though, just donning an eye patch and making like Perry Mason in court, winning the case against the asshole garbage man, coming back from the financial difficulty by working at a local restaurant in addition to teaching, and I don't even think about my eyes any more.

This year, 2004, has been pretty good so far. I was named baseball coach at my school in the spring and that was a blast. The school year ended well. Friends in Baltimore are great ones and I enjoy how things are going, for the most part.

Still, I cannot wrest myself away from feelings of loneliness that creep in - often - with my busy schedule, which often sees me working 4-5 shifts a week at the restaurant in addition to teaching full time with a student load greater than I or most other teachers have ever seen (170) and two new preps. I'd like to settle down sometime soon, as the fact that I'm creeping closer to 30 without any prospects for a family sometimes travels through my brain with neon lights and bells. But, I think I know that this will come along eventually if I can ever slow down for a moment, so my hope is that the slowing down can occur soon.

So, my day to day entries involve a lot of restaurant tipping stories and classroom and kids stories. I teach 9th and 11th grade English and work at a sort of fancy Slavic restaurant. I work hard, play hard, and try to work out hard, but I've gained 15 pounds since my fittest days and I'm completely obsessed with that. I also host house concerts in my living room and own 1200 CDs, and spend hours of my time on baseball sites, as I'm a huge fan of my Detroit Tigers and am even thinking about getting a tattoo.

By the way, the title of this journal comes from an obscure masterpiece of an album, Brenda Kahn's Epiphany in Brooklyn. It partly is there as an homage to the album, which features Dylanesque character sketches and poetic lyrics set to edgy folk-punk. But its meaning is more than that. Seeing a kid in my classroom have an epiphany - one that is in a moment or an eye flicker, or a slower one, across a semester or a school year - is one of the reasons I most enjoy my job. And that word placed in front of the phrase "in Baltimore" captures my feelings about this city. This is the city where I became a man - where I had my highest highs, my lowest lows, my first falling in love, my first heartache, my first one night stand, my first fear of job loss, my first realization that I'm good at what I do, my first health scare, my first time relying completely on people who were not my family, my first time far away from my family. This journal documents the ever widening epiphany I've had in this city that I've adopted, and I hope it continues to do so.

Also, this is not a blog - it's a journal. I didn't know the word blog when I started this and am not sure it even really existed. I'm old school. I write so much about myself that I'm probably a victim of paralysis through overanalysis, but that's what I do here. You'll see, on occasion, posts about music or movies or politics, but usually I'm (too much) drawn into my own little world and need to write about it. (It's also not a diary. That's girly. And, yeah, I know that the diaryland website is lavender.) I keep this anonymous, but many astute readers probably can figure out where I teach/live/work. I hope that never matters. Most of the contents of this journal is safe for all consumption, but there are enough here that I wouldn't want it read by the wrong people. I used to keep weight loss before/after pictures on here. Not anymore. I like my job too much. So, if you find me and don't think you should be reading, just turn away and pretend it never happened. The rest of you, feel free to browse the archives or link to one of those blogs on the right.