Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why The Hell Am I Watching Below Deck?

Below Deck is a show on Bravo that my wife and I watch together. I've been asking myself why I watch this show. I think I have answers. For one, it's about money and social class. Rich people chart a yacht for leisure and luxury. It's a variation on the theme of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. For whatever reason, it's interesting to watch rich people hang out on a boat and be served upscale food. Maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I picture myself having the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to vacation like this in my next lifetime. I do like when the crew makes fun of the guests behind their backs.

Another factor is sexual intrigue. There is sexual tension on the yacht and sexual tension makes for good television. The most recent episode I watched included a liaison in the laundry room between two crew members. One of the participants, named Rocky, is a feisty and funny woman who in earlier episodes seemed close to a sexual encounter with Emile, a young man who seemed all too eager for sexual shenanigans. Rocky seems like a breakout star in the making. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets her own reality show after this season or at least is cast in a more high-profile show.

It's not all about sex. There's general fighting and bickering that occurs between crew members. Kate, the serious and always on her game crew member, is constantly busting the chops of chef Leon and accusing him of not trying hard enough to please the guests. Leon defends his culinary skills and tells Kate he doesn't like her, and usually does just enough in the kitchen to make the guests happy. I guess it's fun to watch people fight at work.

One more thing. There is drinking. Lots of drinking. The guests party. The crew parties. A deck hand named Dane showed up for a few episodes but was kicked off the yacht for excessive drinking. He was let go by Captain Lee, the cranky leader who demands high-level performance from his crew. The steady Captain displays a soft side in providing compliments and positive reinforcement at just the right times. He also distributes tip money to the crew that guests leave when they depart, usually in the $15,000 range. 15 large, baby!

So there you have it. Money. Rich people. Good-looking crew. Sex. Drinking. Arguing. Some of your basic ingredients in a 21st century reality show. Get your popcorn ready! And then get back to your normal life, buddy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When Your Day Starts With Crying

Some days are harder than others.

It's not always a smooth operation getting out the door. I get our 7-year-old on the bus and then drive 50 minutes to work. My wife takes our 4-year-old to preschool on the way to her 15 minute ride to work. There are fundamental things to remember: are the lunches in their backpacks? Have they brushed their teeth? Does our 7-year-old have clothes for gym? My wife might ask me "How do these shoes look?" and I might ask her "Does this shirt look stupid?"

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we try to do a twenty minute workout in our basement before we make sure the kids are ready for school. It's twenty minutes with Denise Austin or Jillian Michaels. It's a good feeling to get a workout in and everybody out the door without incident.

Today was not a smooth morning. Our 4-year-old was crying before school. Some days he's cool about going to school. But there are days he cries, and this day he cried a lot. It's horrible to wipe tears off the face of your 4-year-old before he leaves for school. It's not even 8:00 in the morning and there are tears. Lots of them. What's the rest of the day going to be like? How can you concentrate at work knowing your child was so upset before the day even really began? You know there are days like this because you had the same kind of days when your 7-year-old was a 4-year-old. But it doesn't make days like this any easier.

There have been many times when my wife has said she doesn't feel great at work or at home. It's a day like this when we both feel that way. You're torn between work and home. You're not fully "present" at either place. Your priority is your children but there are bills to pay. No shit, Sherlock, right? I have no self-help message to peddle or sage advice to offer. I'm just expressing the reality of a lousy day and the challenge of going on with your business as if your day didn't start in such a shitty way. My wife will manage to be the best social worker she can be today. I'll head into the classroom in twenty minutes and try to teach three good classes today. But on a day like this, we just want to get home, have our family together, and see our kids smiling.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bad Habits. This is No Way to Grade.

I just finished grading a large pile of essay exams. It feels good, except I've been grading since 4:30 this morning and I have three classes to teach today. I told myself to spread out my grading. I didn't. I I graded all day yesterday and finished grading this morning. The process would have been smoother had I graded throughout the weekend but my preference and choice was to do other things during the weekend, like remembering I have two children and that it might be nice to go outside. Much of Saturday was spent with the kids at soccer, and Sunday involved a little bit of football and time spent with relatives.

The habit of working in the early hours of the morning goes back to college. I would spend normal hours studying in the library but run out of time and mental gas and shut it down to toss and turn in bed and have a pitiful night of sleep, only to get back up before the sun and resume studying. I was rewarded for doing so in the form of good grades and academic success. So, in a way, it works. But what a lousy habit. Surely there has to be some other way to find proper hours in the day to get done what needs to get done. Or maybe not.

I'll end this now that I'm probably in the realm of self-pity but really it's just a journal entry in the form of a blog that says to myself, "Get your shit together." I need to develop better habits because my habits around grading are in desperate need of improvement. Okay, I'm off to teach my three classes and they'll probably be good ones because I'm happy that the grading is done and I'll probably be loose in the classroom and manage to find my A or A minus game. Should that happen, it will further reinforce how I tend to go about my work.