Cliff Gardner

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Taking it off!

The day finally came. After months of oppressing my man boobs under layers of clothing, it was finally warm enough today to justify me running without a shirt on and boy was it liberating. A slight breeze and Kanye on my Shuffle made my run so awesome that I pounded out ten miles, or more than a Shamrock Run’s worth of exercise, without even realizing it. Now I just have to hope I don't have a headphone cord shaped sunburn across my chest. Still, summer running is so freaking rad!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Complete Idiot's Guide to Destroying My Life!

Want to destroy my life? I thought so! In spite of the love and support of friends and family, my life is basically only tenuously held together by three items:

--My cell phone. Since I’m rarely home, I’ve been using this as my contact number for lots of places, including the Peace Corps. Plus, this is also the only number several friends (read: emotional safety nets) have of mine so if it were to fall into a lake or something I would be screwed.

--My running shoes. The best and most frequently used way I relieve stress is by pounding out a few miles, and while that’s possible without my new iPod, it’s not possible without my beat-to-hell running shoes. Without them, I would be about as stressed as the average 1L during finals.

--My glasses. Holy shit I am so incredibly dependant on my glasses it’s not even funny. Just to give you some idea of how blind I am, without my glasses I am vaguely aware that there is a computer in front of me right now.

Take these three items away and I would be reduced to a stressed out moron walking in circles in the middle of an Arizona desert and babbling about how there’s never any reception in Antarctica while holding a cactus to me ear.

Ten things, Volume Two

Again, stolen from Marie and continue from here.

Ten things that make me happy:

10) Acting in Jess’ play, even though my character is “Mr. Coffee.”

9) Eating a bunch of chocolate chip cookies my mom made me.

8) Minor league baseball.

7) Playing racquetball with Sam.

6) Downloading new music and putting it on my iPod.

5) The idea that I’ll be teaching soon.

4) Running for a long time and not even realizing it.

3) Playing kickball with friends.

2) The NBA Playoffs.

1) Staying in bed and reading after I wake up.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A post about apathy

Last night Jess, AshAttack, Chelsea, Ashley J. and I decided that we don’t understand people who are comfortable doing nothing. It is perfectly understandable to not know what you want to do with your life at 22. That’s fine. However, if you’re not sure what you want to do, just do something that helps the world while you figure things out. Join Americorps like Kristen, or Teach for America like Zayne and Dre, or (hopefully!) the Peace Corps like me. Volunteer at an elementary school or a soup kitchen or library. It should be noted that these “nice to the world” things I just mentioned are, for many people, ends in and of themselves instead of transition activities, which is totally awesome. If you don’t know what you want to be, just be a good person and the rest will take care of itself.

The animal kingdom must have read my last post

I nearly ran over a dog and into a bird while driving home tonight and when I finally did get to my house, a black cat ran into my garage and hid under some boxes before I could close the garage door, forcing me to spend ten minutes finding it and putting it outside. So, let me just say for the record that I love all animals.

There. Now maybe they'll leave me alone.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The worst job in the world

Continuing with my recent theme of employment, I’ve decided that while the jobs I’ve had are sort of interesting, they’re not really that bad. In my opinion, the worst jobs are those are start off being sort of fun but over time become a soul-sucking drain that make you want to grab a rifle and climb a bell tower. After careful reflection of bad jobs that I think meet that criteria (flight attendant, tollbooth operator, dental hygienist, etc), one position stood out above all the others:


Now I know what you’re thinking—working with animals would be fun! Yea, probably. At first I’m sure you would enjoy it. However, after a few months in the hot sun shoveling rhino shit into a bag and looking over your shoulder to avoid being eaten by a lion, the novelty would probably wear off. The final straw would be having the following stolen Simpson’s conversation seventy-five times a day:

Kid: Zookeeper, zookeeper! Those two monkey’s are killing each other!

You: They’re having sex.

All I’m saying is that it would take a special sort of person to put up with this sort of grief and still love life.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And I didn't even get lost on the way there!

Amy is so freaking rad! Here’s what I’ve decided after several hours of awesome conversation with one of my best friends:

--being emotionally giving isn’t a vice

--technology might improve the breadth of our connections but those relationships are often shallow

--the burgers in the restaurant under the Wonder Ballroom in NE Portland kick ass

--doctor assisted suicide might be bad in widespread practice but if we’re infirmed than we’ll just kill each other and save the government the trouble

--never settle—there’s no such thing as “good enough” when it comes to love

Pearls of wisdom…use them wisely, CG readers.

Music...makes the people...come together........

I was planning on going to the Pretty Girls Make Graves CD release concert in Portland with Amy tonight and was really excited about it for several reasons. First, I’ve never been to a concert in my life and was looking forward to breaking my streak of lameness even though I had never hear of PGMG until Amy mentioned them. Second, I rarely get to see Amy, a super good friend of mine, and was looking forward to hanging out with her. Third, I have this fear of getting horribly lost in Portland and it’s frankly time for me to put on my big boy pants and get over it.

So ANYWAY, they cancelled the concert, but Amy and I are going to hang out anyway and it's going to rock!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I think I'll watch "Secretary" to celebrate

Tomorrow is National Administrative Professionals’ Day. Don’t worry Sam, I didn’t get you anything either.

I work hard for the money!

I’ve had, by my count, seven different jobs in my life. As I start my eighth in a little over a month as a teacher, I thought I would pay tribute to some of the interesting and often hilarious jobs I had before:

Job # 1: Goodwill Store Donation Attendant.

Advantages: The hours and hours of down time where I read romance novels that were donated and threw things into the broken glass box.
Disadvantages: The random busy hours where people would leave a weather-worn couch in the drive through that I would have to haul 50 yards to the end of the warehouse and put on a truck.

Quirky habit of boss: Only showing up during the times when I was actually working so it looked like I was the best employee ever.

Reason it ended: Yea, cause I was doing that job for a career. I went back to college when the summer(s) ended!

Job # 2: Willamette Store Cashier

Advantages: Got to sit in the convenient store, listen to the radio and eat numerous cans of free Pringles.

Disadvantages: I never learned how to fold a sweatshirt properly so I was really slow when I was in the actual store.

Quirky habit of boss: Shouting “GOD! Just FOLD IT already!”

Reason it ended: They didn’t hire me back. Oh well.

Job # 3: Young Musicians and Artists Security Guard

Advantages: The money.

Disadvantages: Being stared at by high school girls as I patrolled the area. I had new sympathy for Hooters waitresses after that summer.

Quirky habit of boss: Pretending that I worked for him when I wasn’t on the clock. He would call me over all the time during the day and ask me to fix his water cooler.

Reason it ended: They finally left campus after a month. Thank God.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm not gonna lie, my life is pretty sweet

Remember when I whored myself out to high school forensics? Well in the past 48 hours I’ve blown all of the $200 I earned listening to pseudo racist neo-con teens on batting cages, two new pairs of jeans that make my ass look hot, beverages for a barbeque and some songs off of iTunes to play on my shiny new iPod Shuffle. Yup, I’m pretty much a whirlwind of consumerism/fun/debt/awesomeness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat chocolate chip cookies until I feel like I’m going to puke and then watch my new favorite show, "What About Brian."

Rockin' Robins

When I came home from Florida I discovered that I had some new neighbors. Right outside my second-floor office at Pacific, a family of Robins had built a nest against the glass in the corner where my two windows connected. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. However, when I came into the office today, I noticed three little, light blue eggs in the nest! Awww! This is just about the cutest thing ever and I’ve got a bird’s eye view, pun intended!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Best Inventions EVER!

For my money, the best inventions ever are, in reverse order:

5) Charcoal. Barbeques everywhere have this flaming rock to thank.

4) Batting Cages. My life goal is to have one in my back yard one day.

3) Timers. Debating and running would suck without them.

2) Fabric softener. I loves me some soft boxer shorts and sheets!

1) The internet. Thank you, Al Gore. Thank you so much.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What movie are you? What movie am I?

I have my favorite movies. #1 is "American Beauty," and "Traffic" and "Heat" are tied for #2 with "Road to Perdition" right behind them at #3. While it’s easy for me to rattle off movies that I love, when I think about what movie best embodies me, I draw a blank.

Ashley is probably "Jerry McGuire." Jess seems to fit with "Junebug." Sam seems like a "Love Actually" kind of guy, and Mark is "Election." I think "The Rainmaker" is a good fit for Dre. I like "Primary Colors" for Ian and "Saved" for Caroline. Brendo probably gets "Major League" and Marie gets "Ghost World" or "Garden State." Haylie is "Life is Beautiful."

What movie am I?


Last week I was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of Forest Grove. Basically an LSA is the local leadership of the Faith in a given community, although a much more detailed explanation given by Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi is here.

Given that I’ve only been a Baha’i for a few months and have only been investigating the Faith for a few months before that, this is very surprising and humbling. I feel like I am surrounded by God’s love all the time and knowing that there are many people in the world who feel the same way is very comforting. Allah'u'Abha!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I bet Sam is a criss-cross-applesauce kind of guy

Some people have told me that I sit in a peculiar fashion. I honestly don't get why everyone doesn't enjoy pulling both knees up to their chest and leaning forward in a chair on their heels, often not even realizing that they're doing it. In the second grade, this got me in trouble when my teacher thought I was going to fall out of my chair at lunch time and hurt myself. To be fair, she was half right as I had fallen a few times that year already without doing any serious harm. However, when she told me to “sit normally,” my mom went to bat for me and told everyone to back off. I remember her saying, “If he’s comfy sitting that way just let him do it! He’s not hurting anyone!” Thanks mom! Fifteen years later, I’ve fallen asleep on planes and buses, watched movies, flowed debate rounds and eaten countless meals all sitting in this familiar fashion.

I believe that how a person sits can tell you a lot about them. In my case, I’m comfortable with who I am. That, and I’m small enough to curl up in a little ball wherever I am. How do you sit?

State Debate!

A few days ago I got a call from a local speech coach. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Coach: Hi Thomas! I really need someone to judge at the state tournament on Thursday and Friday, are you interested?

Me, thinking: Lord, NO! Do you know how much I hate high school forensics in Oregon? Do you have any idea how much I detest the reactionary, backwater yokels who coach in this state?! Readers note: this mental outburst just translated into a long, awkward silence over the phone.

Coach: I’ll pay you 100 dollars a day!

Me: I’LL DO IT! Thinking: I’m such a prostitute.

So anyway, I judged yesterday and am going back today with the promise of being appointed parliamentarian for a student congress session. That means I get to sit around and read a lot. The top three moments from yesterday are:

3. Me overhearing a policy debater saying, in total seriousness, “Look, if we run the U.S. politics disad AND the statism critique, there’s NO WAY we’re losing this round.” What could go wrong?

2. A girl arguing in a public "debate" round, in total seriousness, that “racial profiling makes sense because ‘they’ don’t know how to drive.” Wow. To be fair, she was speaking through a Klan hat so I might have misheard her.

1. Me returning home to find my "Old School" DVD that I ordered off of Amazon waiting for me. Will Farrell heals all wounds. YOU MY BOY, BLUE!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let me see your grill

One of the more dramatic experiences of my childhood was when my grandmother took her dentures out at the table during Thanksgiving dinner and plopped them in her water glass. My seven year old brain hadn’t grasped the concept of dentures at the time so it was quite traumatizing. It’s silly, I know, but I still have nightmares even today.

Flash forward sixteen years.

Tonight, for some reason, my mother took her false tooth/retainer out and left it sitting on a napkin that she rested on the computer keyboard, forgetting about it completely as she went to run errands. This presented a pretty serious and conflicting problem for me. My compulsive need to check my e-mail and blog was confronted with my equally irrational fear of false teeth.

Closing my eyes, I gently lifted the napkin up and carried the dental parcel into the kitchen, leaving it on the counter.

Me: 1, Emotionally Scaring Childhood Fear: 500. Hey, I’m starting to catch up!

May I have your attention please?!

When I was in Florida, David, Kristen and I went shopping for a clever FSU shirt for me (I settled on an "FSU Dad" shirt). While we were in a store, the emergency broadcast system was activated on all the televisions. Then, the most amazing thing happened: everyone stopped what they were doing and walked closer to the TV’s, listening intently to the announcement/warning. That's probably the biggest difference between Florida and Oregon. See, back in Fo Gro, no one really pays attention to the rare emergency broadcast announcements, assuming they’re just a test and complaining loudly that "Cooking with the Stars" just got interrupted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Roll out!

This morning my dad and I went to get Yucca DEQ certified. I will say this: driving with my dad is a terrifying experience. AT MOST, he has one hand on the wheel, traffic laws are routinely and leisurely ignored, and he is never within ten miles of the speed limit, from the 85 on the highway to the 15 in residential areas. Now you all know where I get it from.

You’ll all be happy to know that Yucca passed her DEQ inspection with flying colors, although I’m sure some of you find it ironic that a car I named after a place to dump nuclear waste turned out to be environmentally friendly.

Oh, and it turns out that the little d surrounded by a big O on my dashboard represents a new and much more efficient gear that I have been ignoring since I have been a car owner called “overdrive.” I’m told Yucca will get much better gas mileage if I use this magical gear, so now I have no excuse to not take a road trip this summer to see some friends!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Professor T-Mac!

This afternoon I accepted a position teaching a “fundamentals of speaking” class during the summer session at Pacific. This is a real, honest-to-God college course that I will be teaching and I’m super excited about it! Here’s the course description:

Fundamentals of Speaking- 3 Credits

The study of communication theory and the preparation and delivery of speeches. Students are expected to give a number of relatively short speeches in front of the class. Emphasis is on the development of speaking skills before an audience. Class will meet June 26--August 4, M - F, 9:00 am--10:30 am.

So ya, basically it is everything I’ve been doing for the past nine years in forensics, but still, I can’t help but be a little nervous—I’ve never really taught before! Still, this is going to be really fun! Yay!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sometimes I love living at home!

My mom made me, her 23 year old son, a HUGE Easter basket complete with dozens of mini Reeses peanut butter cups, M & M’s, and a very large chocolate basketball. Choo Choo! Next stop my thighs! Choo Choo! :-)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

AshAttack is just waiting to make fun of me over this one

At NPDA, my friend Bridget and I judged a double-octo-final round together and got to chatting and I remembered why she is such a rockstar. At one point during our hilarious and helpful conversation, she suggested that I try online dating. Although I didn’t take her suggestion seriously at the time, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t think of a good reason not to at least check it out. Tonight I did, through the popular site, Here’s what I learned though my “compatibility reports” the site spitted out:

--I'll “be most fulfilled by the kind of woman who believes sex is an important part of a great relationship - but not the only part. She is looking for physical chemistry with a man, the kind of spark that comes from genuine romantic attraction. However, she also appreciates that there is more to a ‘real relationship’ than sex.” So you're telling me that I should date Annie Hall? Good to know, thanks eHarmony.

--I “may be rather emotional; that is, one will generally know how you are feeling, whether good or bad, because you let others know your moods easily.” Fair enough, I’m already planning on crying during the West Wing tomorrow.

--I am “a dependable and caring partner.” Aww, thanks eHarmony! Way to take my answers to questions and tell me what I think of myself in the form of a really sweet compliment!

The site also produced five “matches” in the Portland area who, I’m told, would love to meet me. However, in order to contact them, it will cost me $60. Now that's just cruel.

Cliff Gardner by the numbers

742: Number of days I’ve had a blog

246: number of days I’ve been posting on CG

254: number of posts on CG

1.03: average number of posts per day on CG

1164: number of comments on CG

4.58: average number of comments per post on CG

Clearly, blogging is important to me, and I thought I would use this post to explain why. For me, blogging is more than a hobby—it is a forum for discussion, a way to stay in touch with friends, a method of persuasion, an avenue to vent about emotional issues, an excuse to keep writing and, above all, something fun—for both me and those who read my blog. I love blogging and would continue to do so even if no one read CG. It is my hope that those who stop by CG get as much out of reading it as I do writing it.

People read CG for different reasons. Some folks only comment when I post something political that they can disagree with, while others contribute rarely but with genuine heart when they do. I know many readers and “commenters” in real life but I’ve also never met an equally large portion of them. As I’ve learned recently, lots of people read CG frequently and never comment, which is fine by me—they obviously keep reading it for some reason, so whatever they’re looking for on CG, I hope they find it.

I just want to say thanks to those who read CG--blogging for this long has been really fun and I appreciate all of the support.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It was a sales call anyway

So there I was yesterday, in the shower (naked!), and the phone rang. Now I hate jumping out of the shower to answer the phone in general because it’s just awkward wrapping myself in a towel and waddling across the room, and because I’m always afraid my wet head is going to short the phone out or electrocute me or something. Yesterday however, I was saved this misery because I knew that both my mom and my sister were home. I stuck my head out of the shower and heard the following:



Mom: Are you gonna get that?

Katie: Why don’t you?


Mom: KATHERINE MICHELLE! Get the phone, I’m cooking dinner!


Katie: But there’s a phone right next to you, why don’t YOU answer it?!

Mom: You have the cordless phone, just ans—

--Ring, answering machine picks up, saying “Hi, you’ve reached the McCloskey’s at…”--

Katie: Well there’s no sense arguing about it now.

I laughed a lot and then rinsed out my hair. :-)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Congratulations Zayne!!!!!!!!!

I’ve always firmly believed that good things happen to good people and a few minutes ago that idea was reaffirmed like never before. ZAYNE GOT IN TO TEACH FOR AMERICA! She gets to go to rural Louisiana! This is just such an amazing opportunity and wonderful experience (as I’m sure other TFA veterans can attest) and I’m so proud of her that my head is about to fly off! I’ve blogged before about what an amazing person Zayne is and it really is true—you will have a very hard time finding someone who is funnier, nicer, awesomer and who has a bigger heart than Zayne, and her getting in to TFA just proves that good things really do happen to good people.

Ten things

I’m totally stealing this concept from Marie, but I’m in a super good mood and don’t care too much about being original at the moment.

Ten things that make me happy:

1) Watching old West Wing episodes and remembering why Aaron Sorkin is a genius.

2) Buying a previously viewed copy of “Old School” off Amazon for $4.75.

3) Running for the first time in two weeks and feeling the familiar and oddly comforting pain of a side ache.

4) Seeing Jess act in a short play over lunch and being reminded of how amazingly talented she is.

5) Realizing that no matter what, next year is going to be awesome.

6) Being Baha’i. I love my religion—learning about Baha’u’llah and knowing that there are people in the world who live only to love everyone else gives me such peace.

7) Watching my favorite episode of The Office, “The Dundies,” tonight with friends.

8) Eating an entire container of Oreos in two days.

9) Going to a hunger banquet with AshAttack and getting to eat the delicious lasagna at the “privileged” table.

10) Owning an “FSU Dad” shirt.

I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!

Disneyworld kills people. This is the same ride that Jared, Josh, Tiffanie, Mark and Akbar got sick on two weeks ago while the rest of us were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and hanging out at the beach. Way to survive your trip to Disneyworld, folks! You win!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I should thank the Barely Legal boys

I’ve decided that I probably won’t be going to law school next year. My reason for this is simple: at this point, I’m not sure I want to be a lawyer, and not knowing what you want to do with your life is, in my opinion, the worst reason ever to go to law school. I suppose I might end up there eventually, but my fear is that if I go to one of the schools I’ve been accepted by, I would end up working in some Joe Versus the Volcano job that would suck the life out of me. Thanks to all of the people who helped me through the application process, particularly Andrea Saenz, who is an absolute rockstar.

If you’re wondering what I’ll be doing instead of law school next year, uh…me too. I should know more in a week or so.

Your Cliff Gardner Horoscope!

Aries: When people say, “wow, you’ve clearly been doing most of your shopping out of the Sky Mall catalogue,” they don’t mean it as a compliment.

Taurus: Just because you love the movie “The Mighty Ducks” doesn’t mean you should continue to drink and drive in the hope that after your eventual arrest, the judge will assign you to coach a local pee-wee hockey team as community service.

Gemini: The longer you wear that confederate flag shirt with the wolf ripping through it, the sexier you become.

Cancer: On the plus side, your autobiography “My Adventures with the Meningococcal Virus” will be a best seller.

Leo: “IT RUBS THE LOTION ON ITS SKIN!” isn’t as good of a pickup line at bars as you think it is.

Virgo: You take the phrase “screwed the pooch” to a new and probably illegal level.

Libra: “Get-er-done” is a perfectly valid thesis and your economics professor was wrong to tell you otherwise.

Scorpio: People will forever look at you like the Amish look at a space shuttle launch.

Sagittarius: I don’t think I’ve ever known someone who got planters warts on their eye lids. Congratulations?

Capricorn: The good news, if you can call it that, is that your new porn name is “Kip Avalanche.” The bad news is that the casts don’t come off for another six weeks.

Aquarius: Newspapers will say that you’ve been hunting Olympic Gold Medalist Keri Strug like inspector Javert pursued Jean Valjean.

Pisces: You are right that the heavy snow in the northeast is just God’s way of punishing the ancestors of the laziest pilgrims who gave up on manifest destiny right out of the gate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Guess my height and weight!

Which of the following options best describes me?

A) 5’9’’ and 135 pounds

B) 5’7’’ and 120 pounds

C) 5’6’’ and 117 pounds

D) 5’6’’ and 132 pounds

If you selected A, I am flattered. One day, Baha'ullah willing, one last growth spurt will put me there.

If you chose B, you must not have seen me since I ran the Portland Marathon in 2004. A lot’s happened to me since then; we should get together and catch up. Do you play racquetball? I’m free most Fridays.

If you picked C, you must think that my dynamic personality and charm is just my way of compensating for me being the size of a cabbage patch doll…sooo, thanks?

If you picked D, you’re right! After two weeks eating fast food in Florida and not running at all, I’ve ballooned up to a personal high of 132 pounds. This might not seem like a lot, but given that I’ve been between 115 and 120 for the last four years, it is sort of a big deal, pun intended, to me. Don’t worry, though, the Portland Dualathon (5K run, 25K bike, 5K run) that AshAttack and Jess and I are doing together is just around the corner so I’ll be back to my thin little self in no time!


So, I broke my straight edge while in Florida. And by straight edge I mean my abstinence from caffeine. I had been off the wagon (or on the wagon, whatever) for eight months or so, but when I was staying with my brother in Tampa, my finicky eating habits caught up with me. See, the last time Sandy, Matt’s wife, had seen me, I was a Pepsi fiend, drinking about four cans a day, so to be a nice host, she went out and bought a bunch. I chose being a good houseguest over avoiding the charms of the dragon and drank a lot of it. Now, whenever I see Pepsi, I really want it. Oh well.

Still, it could be worse. My eccentric aunt Fabian has a different take on addiction—it is hilarious! Case in point: her dog muffin. Rather than giving her a treat when she does something good, she gives her a cigarette butt to chew on. The nicotine in them has Muffin so messed up that she gets really pissed off am chews up the furniture without at least three butts a day. So, since I have yet to chew on the kitchen table, I'm considering my addiction minor.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Election Day, Part Two

I won't spoil it because it doesn't air on the west coast for a few more hours, but I will say this: it was worth flying to Florida just so I could see this West Wing episode three hours early. Even if you're not a West Wing fan, watch it tonight.

Dancing with death

The day before they murdered 3,000 people, the 9/11 hijackers indulged in very carnal pleasures they claimed were the clearest examples of how evil America was--they went to a strip club in Manhattan and got several lapdances each while drinking lots of alcohol. While I'll never understand what drives someone to such an extreme degree of religious fanaticism, what I've wondered about more than the mental state of the hijackers is the mindset of the strippers since the attack. What must it feel like to have grinded against the men who killed your friends and family? Do they get some sense of celebrity out of it, like going to high school with a kid who ended up being a serial killer? At least Eva Braun new what she was getting in to. That's not a perfect analogy, but you get what I mean.

Sorry, this isn't really a fun or entertaining post, just something I've thought about before that I thought I would share. Today I starred in a movie at David's film school and am really looking forward to West Wing tonight. Tomorrow David is driving me to Orlando (a 6 hour trip, he's a trooper) so I can catch my flight back to PDX. This trip has been awesome!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It had three rings and everything!

Florida State University is one of three colleges in the country that offer circus classes for undergraduates. Next to the film school, a giant tent is erected year-round, and for a few weeks each spring, they sell tickets to student performances which fund their activities. Tonight, David, Kristen, a bunch of other film school folks and I went to the show and had a FREAKING AWESOME time! As we were leaving, the following exchange ensued:

Me: Man, I wish I was in the circus, that would rock!

David: In many ways, Thomas, you already are.

It's like that show "#1 Single," except with exploitation!

If you're reading this then you know that I am recently single. If you didn't know that, then HI! Welcome to CliffGardner! At this point the good days vastly outnumber the bad days and I really believe that splitting up with Mandy will be, in the long run, one of the best things that could have happened to me--to both of us, really. In spite of that, however, being single can be hard sometimes.

So, when I was flipping through GQ (aka Maxim for people with jobs) yesterday and saw an article on mail-order brides, I was intrigued. I had thought that this practice had ended shortly after people read Sarah, Plain and Tall and realized how boring it really was, but I was wrong! The article directed me to, and upon checking it out, I realized that this industry is booming! For only a few hundred dollars, I could meet up with an attractive, spicy latin lady who would take my single-hood out behind the barn and shoot it with a hunting rifle! She would cook and clean for me, screw me all the time, and worship the ground I walk on! The sad thing is, I'm not joking.

Although there are dozens of things wrong with this industy, the one's that stand out to me the most are:

--the exploitative nature of the business. The men in these relationships have ALL the power; citizenship, money, knowing the culture and language, etc. That means that these poor women are often abused, both sexually and otherwise, and have no recourse. Even if the marriage works out and both parties are nice, there is no way to avoid this really messed up power dynamic from the very start, and that makes even good relationships much more difficult.

--the overt racism, classism and sexism. The site, and others like it, claim that these foreign (read:latino) women know how to treat men, and will cook, clean, and have sex with men whenever they want. And hey, if they don't, just send them back to their impoverished countries! This perpetuates a stereotype that I didn't even know existed--that latin women aren't strong, won't stand up for themselves in destructive relationships, and exist only to please men. While this depiction focused on any race would make me sick, since some of the strongest women I know (Ashley, Dre, my sister-in-law Sandy) are latino, this characterization of latin women is particularly nauseating.

I may be single and that may sometimes suck a little, but the idea that there is an entire industry designed to use my loneliness to exploit women in Latin America is just terrible.


Last night I went to one of David's film school classes. The highlights include:

--pretty much everyone in his 25 person class being a badass. You would expect that when thousands apply every year and only 25 get in. Still, though, they're all pretty cool, which explains why David is willing to basically live his life like an ER doctor for two years. By that I mean that he might get a call right now, on his day off, demanding that he come into school and work for 20 straight hours. This wouldn't be at all uncommon and has happened repeatedly before. Still, when surrounded by cool folks, that sort of instability would suck a lot less.

--me sitting through a fairly esoteric but awesome lecture on camera angles. It was like my awesome explanation of counterplans--to debate newbies, it would be a very helpful goldmine, but to folks who aren't debaters, it wouldn't really matter.

--me realizing that the university center at Florida State is literally surrounding the football stadium. Seriously, the communications classrooms, the film school, and the university center where students pick up mail, discuss class schedules with the registrar and where the President's office is, are all build in the same very big structure that surrounds the football stadium. When we snuck in to look at the field, I was impressed--it was really amazing.

--me watching a short film called "Six Shooter" that was really funny and depressing with Sophia, one of David's really awesome classmates.

I think the plan for today is to lay around for a while and then go to some diners so David can do research for a screenplay he's writing. In short--just what I had in mind. This trip is awesome!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Only Duece Bigelow understands him

There a lots of billboards in Florida--way more than in Oregon--and being entertained by them was my chief hobby while on bus rides across the state. My favorite billboard, in addition to the dozens of "We Bare ALL" signs and the tons of giant advertisements for personal injury lawyers, was a sixty-foot sign that enthusiastically exclaimed, "Aquarium Superstore: The Largest Selection of Fish in the State! THIS EXIT!"

This got me wondering--is there really a market for an aquarium store, much less a SUPER store? I've never met anyone who got serious about their pet fish for more than the time it took to bring Nemo home from the county fair and watch his unstable ass die and float to the top of the makeshift plastic bowl fourteen hours later.

Who are these fish people? I could be way off base here, but I'm envisioning some guy who got pink-eye from a bad sexual experience as a teenager and was so burnt out by the ordeal that he just walked around bending spoons of forks at restaurants for weeks at a time before deciding that it would probably be best to work from home. And by decide I mean court-ordered. Now he just leaves his damp, dimly lit apartment once a week to buy another copy of St. Elmo's Fire at Blockbuster and get more gourmet fish food for his pet fighting fish Thich Nhat Hanh Esquire at the Aquarium Superstore. Thank God for that informative billboard lighting his way.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


On the road again

I'm really great at big picture ideas and really bad at specific details. For example, at the Writing Center, I was great at getting a good thesis statement out of some burnt out frat boy, but piss-poor about spelling and punctuation, often urging said meat head to "let the magical red lines of Microsoft Word be your guide." Normally this isn't a problem, but sometimes it really catches up with me. This road trip throughout Florida is a good example.

I discovered Sunday evening that while I planned on spending Tuesday and Wednesday with my brother and his family in Tampa and Thursday through Sunday with David and Kristen in Tallahassee before flying out of Orlando on Monday evening, I had absolutely no idea how I was going to criss-cross the state several times over in a week. But, thanks for Truax consulting, my Greyhound bus adventure was born.

I should say first that I really like riding the bus but hardly ever do it since I have a car. Seriously, though, busses rock. As Kristen told me today, "every ride has a story." Very true. For example, during the two-hour ride from Orlando to Tampa, the man sitting next to me was smoking a spliff the size of my forearm, and used my cell phone to call whomever was picking him up from the station and demand that they bring "two baggies" to meet him. Fun times. On the six-hour trek from Tampa to Tallahassee today, I sat across from someone whom Ashley Pinedo would conservatively call the biggest chode-monger alive. TWO popped collars, a backwards hat, neatly trimmed red mustache and a gold necklace with a number on the end. Classic. Anyway, my point is that riding on busses, especially when you do so as rarely as I do, is a really good way to interact with different people whom you wouldn't normally. While I make fun of these people in this post, I'm really glad I got to talk with them, if only for a short while. Three cheers for public transportation and their detail-oriented approach to getting my skinny ass around Florida!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can your inner child come out and play?!

That sound you're hearing coming from the direction of Florida is my biological clock ticking loudly. After a really fun speech nationals that I will discuss in a later post, I am hanging out in Florida for a few days visiting friends and family. The first stop is in Tampa, where my brother Mathew, his wife Sandy and their two amazing children, Romina and Michael, live.

Today I went to Romina's preschool. Since she's 4 1/2, she's just learning to read, so I got her a book about Easter and we read it together in class. She made me a card to say thank you, but since she doesn't really know a lot of words yet, she just wrote all the words she is familiar with, and the card consequently reads "LOVE THOMAS, PAPA MAMA ROMINA HORSE!" She's seriously the cutest little kid in the world!

Her little 15 month old brother Michael (whom we call Mikey) is just as precious. I got him a little Florida Gators football and it was a big hit. I mean that literally because he threw it and hit me in the face both before and after giving me repeated hugs and yelling "Tio Tom!" Oh, this is probably also a good time to mention that since Sandy is from Ecuador, both Romina and Mikey are already more bilingual than I am.

The plans for the evening include playing baseball and running with Mathew and kissing my niece and nephew good night. My life is really awesome. As Romina told me today, "I LOVE YOU! Hugs are fun and so is Jesus and so is mama and papa and so are you!" :-)