I Got Triggered Today

“Weekend Tom” returned to “Weekday Tom” at school today. One kid struggled with recursive sequences. Another kept falling asleep learning about dear sweet Pythagoras and his most beloved theorem. Yet another needed my step-by-step guidance, only to fizzle out of patience by hour’s end. It wasn’t the flashiest of mornings. No inspirational artist studio visits or personal hand at graffiti art. Just a job and a desk and formulas and lingering frustrations that one day life will feel epic again. […]

And the Message is Fun

The last two days, I’ve taken our students to the River Arts District here in Asheville to visit with local artists in their studios and even do some painting on canvases and walls alike. It’s rare that I get to go out with the students, as I usually aid them with math or writing in the classroom throughout the school week. To become “Weekend Tom” every now and then is good for my soul. I think it’s good for the […]

Make November Tolerable

Back when I launched this blog in 2011, I blogged all the time. I was like a kid on Christmas, every day, waking up so jazzed to have his own fancy domain with pages and pictures and posts aplenty. I probably blogged 5-6 times a week for those first few weeks. And they felt like real posts, too. No filler content. But then life happens. Work. Relationships. Other side-projects. Blogging tends to take a backseat to paying for rent or […]

Wandering Wednesday #18: Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

You guys. When on earth was the last time I wandered on a Wednesday with y’all? I can’t even tell you. (I mean, I could just look it up on YouTube — it’s right there — but that’d defeat the purpose of such a hyperbolic statement.) A lot has transpired since I last wandered on a Wednesday! Like my getting on Snapchat, because that’s where all the cool kids are hanging out. My username is thomasmarkz. Please add me and […]

Four Seasons Later

I wore a sweater to work the other day. I climbed half-naked out of bed with a shiver and noted the morning temperature a brisk 49 degrees. So, I grabbed a light sweater from my closet — the first time I’ve worn one since March or April. Since I first moved to Asheville. Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn. I’ve now called the Blue Ridge home for all four seasons. I remember sitting in training for my job as snowflakes fell outside the […]

When the New Man Looks Like the Old Man

“If anyone needs prayer, I invite you to speak with someone at the back of the room before you leave our service today. We’d love to pray with you.” I do need prayer, I think to myself from the back row. I need prayer very much. I need freedom from passivity. I need courage. I need strength to take initiative and step forward again. But therein lies the problem: I need someone to pray for my impulse to move because I […]

All We Like Butterflies…

We’ve been raising monarch caterpillars at work for the last month. A woman we affectionately dubbed “The Butterfly Lady” came in with an aquarium full of milkweed and caterpillars the length of your pinky nail — dozens of them. You’d have never noticed them from afar. Most of those poor things died. It wasn’t our fault. Apparently the milkweed had pesticide. The Butterfly Lady apologized profusely. For all the fallen caterpillars, three survived. And once we got them healthy milkweed to eat, they ate to their little […]

Tradition Doesn’t Have to Suck

Before moving to Asheville six months ago, I ventured into an independent bookstore here with a friend. Malaprop’s, the place is called — a play on “malapropism,” a term for a comedic way of misspeaking. Think Michael Scott of The Office. Said the well-meaning Dunder-Mifflin manager: “I am not one to be truffled with.” Anyway, I’d visited Malaprop’s numerous times prior. I once worked a summer at nearby Camp Ridgecrest, and I’ve passed through Asheville in the years since. It’s one of my […]