Monday, March 7, 2011


Well, things are going well for Luke and I. Superior Dream slideshow presentations to give here and there are going great. The next big one coming up is in Portland a bit outside the reach for most of us midwesterners, but if you got friends in the area shoot 'em a line.

Reed College Expedition Presentation
Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 6:30pm
Reed Campus, Psychology Rm 105
Portland, OR

Yessir, things are going smooth. Turns out some of the 75 hours of Superior Dream footage caught the eye of J.J. Kelley, an associate producer at National Geographic. So J.J. asked to sign on as our Executive Producer last week. Luke and I are ecstatic to have our friend and someone who knows that part of the industry on board. It also feels pretty good to have validation that the stuff you pointed the camera at all summer wasn't all that bad!

Luke's holding down the fort at Lutsen Resort as the Director of Activities and Recreation, being so kind as to offer me summer employment. (I wonder if he'll call 'bullshit' on some of the information on my resume.) He and Tischer--the ever faithful sidekick-pup of his, have a one-room cabin right on the very shores of the lake they love.

I've been keeping out of trouble by taking a job at my old high school as a lunch room and study hall monitor, as well as a paraprofessional. It's been a trip going back to school. I found my old high school lock (with the combination wisely taped to it) and have commandeered a locker of my own. It has provided a bit of reflection on my part.

So I thought I'd share....

Shadows 1/20/11 gp journal

I never thought I’d be here. In fact, I remember specifically saying to myself after watching some form of teenage abuse that “I’d never do that job.” Low and behold, a decade later, my phone rings--after months of fruitless job searching and an escalating credit card debt--I find myself eagerly saying yes to the job offer of being the lunchroom monitor and study hall supervisor for my old alma mater. After hanging up, I rake my memory for anything I remember about high school lunch.

I remember a person we called Corky. I wish I could say we affectionately called her Corky. Alas, I cannot. I assumed it was a bad nickname. I suppose Corky could have been her real name, although I never put much thought into it. She was a middle-aged woman, stout in stature with dark, short mullet-esque hairstyle. While the harshest thing she ever did to me was kick me off the third floor during my lunchtime, she was not listened to or respected by the majority of the student body. Thus, Lunchroom Monitor and Study Hall Supervisor were placed at the top of my “Thankless Jobs List” along with Janitor and Dog Food Taster.

Needless to say, here I am. Watching kids scarf down a pretty amazing food menu. Due to new management, I hear that no longer are the pizza slices in rectangular form and cardboard in texture and taste. There are options for yogurt and fruit that I've seen kids actually eat. Things like the greasy ¼ lbs. burger overflowing with melted cheese, swimming in a combination lake of ranch and ketchup have been replaced with healthier options. (Though the burger still makes an appearance, it’s not daily anymore.) Carrots replaced the fries and make for a much better missile than the grease soaked strip of potato. I’m not going to lie to you. I was only for a fraction of a moment sad to see the fries go. They were so goldenly good and I looked forward to being able to buy multiple bags of them again. Oh, well…

The most interesting parts about this job aren’t so much the things that have changed. I remember that a jukebox once occupied a corner of the lunchroom, and we could play music during lunch. Now, cell phones and other hand-held gaming systems occupy otherwise rambunctious students. No, the most interesting parts are subtler, mere shadows really.

Returning to the ambiance of the school cafeteria, with all the noises, smells and worn memories, I see a history of classmates, good friends, and troublemakers. Maybe the hot spot to sit and eat lunch has changed, but those who choose to sit there have not.

A couple of times I had to stop myself from calling out old friends names, or shake off past negative thoughts and feelings about someone from my past. Most of the time I see my friends again. Only out of the corner of my eye of course, and for the briefest flash of a second, but it’s them—their shadows at least.

I like to think that wherever we go, we leave a part of us there. Not a substantial part, barely noticeable by anybody except by those who are looking. Most of the time it’s not noticeable at all. A part of us does stay, however. A shadow left behind as a way of saying, “I was here.” I existed in this space for a spell, and it was what it was and I have moved on.

It’s the end of my second week as a Lunchroom Monitor and Study Hall Supervisor and it only took a week to learn that I too, have earned a nickname: Special Greg. I like to think it’s because they realize I am one of a kind, but I know high schoolers. I’ve been there. I’m thinking they hate it when I ask them be quiet during study hall, ask them do homework instead of hanging out with friends, and kick them back down to the first floor during their lunch. That’s ok with me.

I’m starting to really dig seeing my old friends again and making some new ones along my trip down memory lane. Sometimes you have to reflect on life. For me, I open a beer and smile at the twists, turns, and in this case, circles that my path provides me. I never thought I’d be here, but after reflection I am surprised to find that I am happy to be.


Hope all is well!

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