Friday, November 13, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Twenty-One): My horoscope and if I think it fits me

I'm not big on the horoscopes. I don't put too much stock in astrology, and I was raised to basically act like it doesn't exist.

After thirty-three years of life though, I can finally look at one and not get the shakes and hear my mom's voice in the back of my head yelling that it's evil.

I'm a Scorpio, I don't know if that makes me compatible with any of you guys, but if it does, hit me up, we'll do Scorpio stuff together and wage a war on Libras, because Libra sounds like liberal and we don't like liberals.

Side not, this is when I was a Scorpio Scorpion, there's some irony there, I can appreciate that. 
That said, I'm playing along with this prompt if for no other reason than to complete my thirty days and get this challenge over with.

You should feel emotionally stable today, but you may feel a bit unsure of yourself when it comes to data. Someone is challenging your way of thinking and demanding that you take a step farther out on the fragile limb. You're happy on the part of the branch that's much thicker and more stable. Feel free to stay there if you don't feel comfortable taking a chance now.

So there you have it, there's my horoscope for today. So does it fit me? Let's break it down.

I should feel emotionally stable today — Well, I think I feel pretty stable most days, thanks to an antidepressant and a healthy mental exercise where I stand in front of a mirror and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

I feel unsure about data — Not true. I love Data. Data was one of my favorite characters on Star Trek.

Someone is challenging...step farther out on the fragile limb — I don't feel like a lot of folks challenge the way I think, but if you do, I wish you'd say something. I have a particular person in my life right now who is trying to make me miserable, but I'm just gonna SHAKE IT OFF, SHAKE IT OFF, OOOOOOO OOOO OHHHH!

You're happy on the part of the branch that's thicker — Uh...duh. I weigh 325 pounds. If I get out on a branch, it's gonna be a thick one. More supportive. Speaking of, I'm going to try to go deer hunting this next week, and we're going to see if I can't climb a tree. I'll let you know. Or not, depending on if the branch snaps.

Feel free to stay there if you don't feel comfortable taking a chance now — Thank you, horoscope. Thank you for giving me permission TO LIVE MY OWN EFFING LIFE. I think I will stay where I'm at, because it feels good. This branch is thick, it's leafy and deciduous*, it has a coffee pot and good books, and I can bring my Xbox up here and plug it in to the built in television with wi-fi. So yeah, thanks, but I'm good.

*literally the only word I know in relation to trees, I think it means leafy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An open letter to the Gentleman who befriended my daughter in a Rib Crib

To the Gentleman who talked to my daughter at the Rib Crib:

Thank you.

I know my children are cute, but I often forget how cute until someone else tells me. When my daughter sat down next to you on the bench where patrons wait for tables, I honestly thought she'd get in your way. I was moving in to make sure she didn't bother you and I quickly realized that wouldn't be necessary. Instead, you turned to her and spoke to her like she was a grown up, and I don't know if you noticed, but she loves being talked to like a grown up.

Thank you.

In today's world, there's nothing simpler while waiting for a table than to pull out a cell phone and hop on Facebook or Twitter, or send a text to a friend. You showed my daughter that it's okay to meet new people, to joke with strangers as long as mom and dad are around, or to pass the time without a screen in your face. You held her attention by telling her stories and asking her questions about her favorite subject—her—and she giggled as she had to practically yell her answers back to you.

Thank you.

Because in a world where it's hard to trust new people, you showed us that there are still those out there who aren't evil. You complimented her purse and her blond hair. Your wife asked how our youngest child got his red hair, and my wife explained that it came from my side of the family. Truth be told, we adopted our children, and they don't take anything from our genes. We didn't want to bother you with that, besides, they aren't adopted to us, they're our kids.

Thank you.

Because I heard you tell her that I was a gentleman. All I did was get up when a woman walked in with a walker, and I really hope that anyone would have done the same. It's nice to be recognized for our actions once in a while though, and I want my daughter to look up to me, and I think what you told her will carry a lot of weight. Sometimes she needs to hear a stranger say her old man is all right.

Thank you.

Because you married a woman just as nice as you are. Because she asked us questions, told us how cute our kids are, and was just an all-around pleasant person to talk to. I'd love to hear the story about how you two met, and how you fell in love. I'm sure that she was attracted to your kindness and to your toughness. I'd like to know how many years you've had together. What you've been through. How many kids you have. I hope you two have many more years of visiting Rib Crib.

Thank you.

Because, somehow, we left the restaurant at the same time and you asked me, "Where's my little girl?" And then you stood and held the door open for my daughter and told her goodbye. You showed her you're a gentleman yourself, and you're also another person who was kind to her. If you knew the life she came from, you'd know how much that means to her.

Thank you.

Because on the way to the truck, my daughter looked at me and laughed, and talked about how you were from Boston, and how you kept saying your "cah was in the pahking lot." She said you told her your wife fought in the Civil War, and she thought that was hilarious. She said you were funny, and nice, and all the things young people are looking for in older people.

So thank you, gentleman we met while waiting for a table at Rib Crib. I didn't get your name, I don't know where you live, and I wish I had a little more time to talk to you. Maybe one day I'll see you again and I'll get to thank you personally. Maybe I won't. And just in case I don't, I want the world to know how much your small gesture of kindness meant to me, the father of the little girl whose heart you won.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Nineteen): Five fears I have

Some of you are going to get a kick out of these, and some of you are going to think I'm an idiot. I have some pretty irrational fears, and I don't usually like discussing them with people, lest they, you know, think I'm an idiot.

Here we go though, in no particular order, five of my deepest fears.

One day I'll wake up and none of this will be real — I've worked hard to get where I am today, and I've been extremely blessed by God to get here as well. I am scared to death that none of it is real. This life, my wife, kids, my job, my degree, my moderate level of success, my family...none of it exists, I'm in some sort of fugue state, or, even worse, I was mentally incapacitated many years ago, and I've created my environment. I won't go so far as to say I'm scared I'm in "The Matrix" or anything that unrealistic, but I am terrified that nothing I have is real.

That I'll outlive my wife, my kids, or my brothers — No one wants to outlive their kids, I understand that. However, I'm petrified of outliving my wife or my brothers as well. I do not want to grieve the loss of any of these people. If something happened to Alicia, it would mean that I'd be responsible for not only me, but for three children. It would also mean that half of me—half of my identity, half of my sanity, half of my soul—would be missing. I have no idea how I'd cope. I watched my mom grieve for my dad, and I want no part of it. And in that same vein, I want to be the first to die of my brothers. I don't want to go through what my dad did, watching two of his brothers die before he did. When I really sit down and explore this, it boils down to selfishness, and I won't deny that I am a selfish person.

That I'll die in my sleep — I don't want to die in my sleep. I want to go out guns blazing, or pushing a kid out of the way of a speeding bus, or saving one of my students from something evil. I want to give my life for someone else. I don't want to go peacefully in the night, and have my family discover my cold body the next morning. I want to see it coming. I want to stare into the gun barrel, the fire, or the headlights and make a final stand, say something incredibly cool, and go meet my Savior. Dying in my sleep sounds like such a cop out. I have no idea why this is a fear of mine. No idea. But it is.

I'm scared of raising children who will one day return to their biological parents — When my children turn eighteen, they'll be legal adults who are allowed to live their own lives. Since we've adopted them, and since they have biological parents who are still alive, one day they'll be faced with a choice of whether or not they want to see them again, and then if that meeting goes well, they'll want to move in, or back to that town, or see them more and more. I'm so scared of sinking fifteen years of parenting and love into a child only to hear them say, "I'm moving out," and watch them walk away, knowing there is nothing I can do to stop them. This is something I pray about. This is something that sticks in the back of my head, and I'm sure Alicia thinks about it as well. It's one of the downsides to adopting, and there's nothing I can do about it. I think that's what bothers me the most, is that I'm not in control. I hate not being in control. Kids, if you're reading this before I get to show it to you, just know that I will never keep you from your bio parents, and I love you.

Canned biscuits — We've gone pretty deep in my psyche here, and I think I need to lighten the mood, so I'm giving you a genuine fear of mine that is genuinely ridiculous. I hate opening biscuits. I cannot press a spoon into the seam because the pop scares me. I'm scared to even peel the wrapping paper off of them because I think it's going to pop prematurely. When I peel the wrapper, I throw the can on the counter to pop it open, because then I'm in control of what happens. I also hate popping balloons, and will leave a room if too many of them are being popped. I hate things like that, they scare me, and I don't do being scared. It's why I don't do horror movies. Jump cuts make my heart skip.

Monday, November 9, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Eighteen): My favorite color and why

My favorite color is orange.

I like it because it's bright, like my personality and my future.

That's it for today, can't go too far with this one.

Love you guys.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Seventeen): A quote I try to live by

Happy Sunday evening to you people, I hope your weekend was pleasant.

Mine certainly was, because I got to pull my baby out and wrap my big strong hands around him.

I'm talking of course about Liam Beaston, my beautiful Desert Eagle .50.

He's gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous and I love him. 
But tonight's assignment doesn't call for talking about my guns. Tonight's assignment is a quote that I try to live by. 

Go ahead and get ready to laugh, because everyone does when I tell them where the quote comes from. 

The quote is by Albus Dumbledore, wise and wizened old headmaster of that glorious fictional learning institution, Hogwarts. 

Let me know when you're done laughing. 

Finished? Okay, here we go. Here's the quote. 

"Youth can not know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it is like to be young." 

I gave my principal this quote sometime last week, and told him it was a crucial part of my educational philosophy. I never want to forget what it was like to be a teenager, how I felt when a teacher captured my attention, how I felt when I was given homework, how my life outside the school affected my behavior in it. 

Just a few days after sharing this with Mark, I experienced a great deal of disappointment with some of my students. Mark talked me down off the ledge, so to speak, and I was grateful. After our talk, he looked at me and said, "Remember that quote you told me the other day? Don't forget what it was like to be a teenager." 

I think it's easier as I get older to talk about how "kids these days" act. Old men have been doing this for centuries, millennia. 

"Kids these days don't appreciate anything." 

"Kids these days don't have any respect for anything." 

"Kids these days need to be spanked more." 

I will admit that sometimes I am guilty of speaking ill of "kids these days." But I was a kid once, and I was an idiot. I was disrespectful when I could get away with it, and you were too. I slacked off when the pressure wasn't on, and you did too. I let my parents down, I let my teachers down, and I may have let you down, if you're a reader who was involved in my formative years. 

I cannot forget what it was like to be young, lest I be guilty of robbing my charges of their youth. I cannot expect my students and my children to think like me, or else I am guilty of adding yet again more weight to the already bursting-at-the-seams backpack of adolescence. 

So that's it, there's my quote. Laugh if you want, I'll understand. Love you guys. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Sixteen): Bullet your entire day

I'm not going to lie, this has probably been my favorite one so far. There's not much in the way of introducing this, so here you go, my day.

  • Woke up at 6:45. Way too early. Time change has me twisted
  • Pooped
  • Fixed toilet for children. Told wife we needed new innards for toilet
  • Put a customized shotgun on three gun sale sites
  • Got ready for Keeli's soccer game. Still haven't had coffee
  • Got told my shotgun had a "redneck paint job"
  • Aven found fourteen eggs in the coop
  • Tried to get Siri to remind me to bullet every fifteen minutes, prompting my daughter to ask what bulleting meant
  • Watched Akeeli and Drake do the "Watch me whip, watch me waddle" dance
  • Took meds at 8 a.m., one bottle was empty, and I made a behind the back toss into the trash can with it while no one was watching, I've still got it
  • Got breakfast at McDonald's
  • Went to soccer game. Ugh 
  • During halftime of the game, came across this quote: "If actions speak louder than words, then writing speaks louder than both - for writing is the action by which words are manifested." - Jake Weidmann
  • Left soccer game. Only lost by one point. 
  • Went to the hardware store, got stuff for a new chicken feeder. Also got bones for the dogs 
  • Came home and Aven and I successfully built a new chicken feeder, first try, I'm still blown away. First thing Aven and I have done in a while that we haven't fought about. 
  • While I was building the coop, I had a hater on Instagram throw some shade and try to start some beef. I sat for a while deciding on how to verbally eviscerate her, then deleted and blocked her from all social networks (probably the thing I'm most proud of today)
  • Rested for a minute then showered 
  • Got out of the shower, dressed, then Drake decided to hit me with some sort of fabric whip thing, so I chased him down and hit him back. He learned a valuable lesson. 
  • Left the house to go to my brother's, had a fight with Alicia on the way about guns and money
  • Got to my brother's house early. 
  • Poured my grandfather and I a couple fingers of Jameson
  • Griped about eating for the next two hours
  • Texted Kinman for a while, and I was thankful for that
  • Family finally all arrived and I got to eat! 
  • Played catch up with a cousin I haven't seen in a couple of years
  • Watched OSU beat the brakes off TCU
  • Watched mom set up "Minute to win it" games on the deck
  • Watched a few family members play with a cutie on my lap
Miss Hensley Grace
  • Participated in the games, only won one, you stacked pencils on the back of your hand then caught them, proud to say I've still got it
  • Left too early, but had to get home and study my lesson for tomorrow
  • Got home
  • Studied for my lesson and watched a gun deal fall through, so I changed clothes
  • Found the ASL video for Adele's "Hello" which led me to watch that video no less than twenty times
  • Finally picked up my laptop and blogged
  • Told the kids goodnight whilst blogging, you're taking time from them now, feel good about yourself? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Fifteen): Three pet peeves

I have a lot of pet peeves.

Listing three of them is going to be tough, but here we go.

I have a touch of the road rage. But only for idiots.
1. Slow drivers — As you can tell from this blog about me having road rage against my grandparents, I can't stand those who drive under the speed limit. There's something about following someone driving 55 in a 65 that makes me want to follow them home, beat them with a garden rake, find their kitten/puppy, take that kitten/puppy and throw it into a ceiling fan. I'd apologize afterwards of course, and buy them a new kitten/puppy, and maybe put a band-aid on their raked face, but the damage would already be done I guess. I feel like I've said a lot of things here so we're just going to move on.

I hate this band more than I hate the University of North Carolina.
2. Listening to anything by Rascal Flatts — Look, I don't care if God Blessed the Broken Road, What Hurts the Most is that you're actually listening to this crap. My Wish when I hear one of their songs is that shortly after Here Comes the Goodbye, or I'll Riot and then I'm Movin' On. I know that Life is a Highway, but I Won't Let Go of my desire to Rewind every single song I've ever heard of theirs and pretend like it never entered my ears. If you like Rascal Flatts, you're basically a Winner at a Losin' Game and Me and My Gang will bite you on the throat and I Won't Let Go, so Just Let it Hurt. I Like the Sound of That.

This has to be the worst sight in the world outside of catching your wife in the arms of Edward from Twilight.
3. Running out of toilet paper — Okay, this has happened like twice in the last two days. I finish up in the restroom, finish reading your Facebook or Twitter posts, reach for the toilet paper, and boom goes the dynamite, it's not there. Open the cabinet, nothing. Look around the entire bathroom, nothing. Just sitting there, unclean and sad, wishing I had a soft animal or a power washer. Trust me, it's a little humiliating to yell at your three year old to bring you a roll from their bathroom.

So there you have it, my three pet peeves. Tomorrow I get to bullet point my entire day, and since tomorrow is the Sloat Family Thanksgiving Dinner, it should be a heck of a time. Love you guys.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Fourteen): My life in seven years

Look at us, we're almost halfway through this thing.

Today's prompt might be tough for you to read, but it's not tough for me to write, so don't worry.

Here's the thing. Sloat men have a bad habit of dying by their 40th birthday. Here's a list:

Uncle dead at nine.
Uncle dead at twenty.
Grandpa dead at forty.
Father dead at forty.

In seven years I'll be 39.

Maybe I'll live that long, maybe I won't. Family history says no, but God does big things.

In seven years, Alicia and I will have been married for almost twenty years. Akeeli will be seventeen, Aven will be fifteen, and Drake will be ten. Maybe there's a fourth Sloat child by that point, who knows?

I'll have been a teacher at Okay Public Schools for eight years. I hope to have at least written one novel, maybe a trilogy, those seem to be pretty successful.

I want to have gotten the Teacher of the Year award from my school, the state, and be working on National Teacher of the Year.

My seventh grade class will be graduating in seven years. I want them to come up to me on their graduation day and tell me that I made some sort of impact. Anything.

Hopefully I'll have a few years of being a head coach under my belt, and I want to be leading a team to a state tournament. Then I want to win it. I want the ring I never got in high school.

I really want to lose some weight. I do. I'd like to lose 150 pounds in the next seven years, and I know that's completely reasonable, and I'm in charge of my own journey, and all I have to do is put my mind to it, and blah, blah, blah. I just have to buckle down and do it. That's it. That's like, twenty-one pounds a year. Totally doable.

I don't necessarily want a "better" life in 2022, I just want to be a better person. I happen to like my life right now, and don't want a whole lot to change, except internally. I want to be Travis 2.0. I want to be closer to my children, closer to my wife, and closer to my God.

That's me in seven years. Love you guys.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Thirteen): My commute to and from work/school

Some of these prompts are nuts, others are nuts and I can still write about them. This prompt is one of the latter.

I love my drive to school in the morning. And since school is my work, I'm killing two prompts with one pen here, or however that works in literary terms.

There are two ways for me to get to school. I call one the low road, and one the high road. The low road is officially about thirteen seconds shorter than the high road, and on days where that thirteen seconds matters (there are those days, trust me), I take the low road. It's boring. They're building a new bridge on it, and there are lots of big trucks doing irresponsible things and tearing the road up, so it's gotten a bit more exciting recently, but I still hate it.

The high road though, man. It's better. It's way better. You see, on the high road, I get to cross Fort Gibson Dam.

Some of you may not know what that is, and that's okay. It's just a big concrete wall keeping water out of one side, and keeping it in on the other. There are gates that let the water know what a dam is.

Here's why I love it though.

To me, it's the perfect meshing together of man's work and God's creation. The power of water and the strength of steel and concrete. The antiseptic and practical look of retention, and the beauty of tree-laden "mountains" surrounding it.

Right now, the leaves are turning. So when I drive on to the dam, I'm given a panoramic view of a cacophony of color, birds of prey (dead or living), and the thrill of driving across something that, if it broke, thousands would be crushed under the weight of the water.

I took a video the other day to blog about in a different context, but I think it works here. It's of the best part of my drive — the part where I drive from darkness into light.

No, it's not that dramatic. But I love it. About halfway across the dam, you drive out of the shadow of a mountain, and the world lights up around you. I squint—I always squint—and smile as I feel the sudden rush of warm light on my face. Little things happen. The interior equipment in my truck, the radio, the gauges, light up a little brighter automatically. Stark contrasts are formed.

It's beautiful. But, I'll let you determine that for yourself.

There you have it. Might be nothing to you, but it's something to me. In fact, it's the reason why I add thirteen seconds to my drive every morning.

Love you guys.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Twelve): Two words/phrases that make me laugh

Many of you have figured this out already, but in case you haven't, I like to make people laugh.

I had the sweetest post on my Facebook Sunday. A woman posted a picture where I'm in a group of people, and everyone in the group was laughing. It never really occurred to me how much I enjoyed making people laugh until I saw that picture. Maybe it's a ministry. Maybe Tim Hawkins should snatch me up on his next tour.

Naturally, if I like to make people laugh, then I love to laugh myself. I love listening to stand-up comedy, funny podcasts, and watching comedians on Netflix. I prefer sit-coms over dramas, and I like being around funny people.

That said, half of today's prompt is difficult for me.

You see, I have a favorite phrase that makes me laugh all the time. That phrase is:

"Pump the brakes" will make me laugh about 99 times out of 100. 

But the second phrase that makes me laugh, that's a thinker. So that's what I did. I thought about it. 

And after thinking about it for nigh an hour, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have a second phrase that makes me laugh every time I hear it. What I do have though, is a thinker. 

The following is a quote from Philip K. Dick, and it's from his book, VALIS. This quote is one of my favorites, and in fact, I rocked it as my desktop background on my computer for a while. 

“There exists, for everyone, a sentence - a series of words - that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you're lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”

That quote rocks my world. Every single time I read it, I'm stuck wondering what my sentences are.  They have to exist, so what are they? I don't think I've been destroyed by a sentence, but hearing, "Your dad has died," was pretty rough.

What are your sentences? Have you gotten them yet?

Love you guys.

Monday, November 2, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Eleven): My current relationship

I really kind of gave this one away the other day when I blogged about someone who fascinates me, which is my wife.

So figured I'd talk to you this morning about another relationship I'm in. One that I am very passionate about. One that I think about constantly, catching myself thinking about it at random times during the day, especially closer to 5 p.m.

It's a give/take relationship, one where I take and the other party gives. And boy do they give. They just keep giving, and giving, and just when I think they can't give anymore, I find myself again being the recipient of their creamy, gooey love.

The relationship I'm talking about?

There is no pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin so sweet as Velveeta cheese.
That's right. Velveeta cheese. I love it so much. 

I only eat it one way, really, and that's mixed with Ro-tel and a little bit of milk, then spread over tortilla chips with taco meat of some kind slathered on top like a hat on a gorgeous woman. 

I had a Twitter argument once with a gal who insisted I could make a better cheese sauce with flour and butter and cheddar and some chiles. I gave it a shot, knowing in the back of my mind that I was cheating on Velveeta, praying she didn't find out, and I put that nasty cheese sauce on my chips, took one bite, threw it out, and ran to my kitchen confessing my sins to Velveeta and swearing on my life I'd never cheat on her again. 

Look, I know it's not cheese, per se. I know that if a couple of the molecules were mixed around it would technically be plastic and not a food product. I know that eventually, when diabetes takes my leg, and then my other leg, that I'll have to put the blame on someone, and that someone will probably be...NEVER VELVEETA. 

My relationship with Velveeta started when I was a kid. I can fondly remember "nacho nights" at the Sloat home, wherein my mom (bless her less than three) would melt down the Velveeta, mix in the Ro-tel, and set out a few scraps of lettuce under the guise that it would make the dish "better for you." 

I've carried that love until now, and I plan to carry it for the next ten or so years, until my "cheese"-engorged heart beats its sallow, soggy last beat and I'm carried into heaven in a river of unnatural yellow goo on a nacho chip boat whilst taco meat trees shake their fruits gently into the river. 

Excuse me guys I just drooled on myself. 

Now it's time for me to tell you about an imposter in this relationship. 

An evil succubus doing her best to destroy the relationship between so many and the Yellow Gold. 

Not the actual product, they make a block cheese too.
That's right, the So-Cheezy. 

Like I said in the caption, they make a block-style cheese just like Velveeta, and it is terrible. Just awful stuff, grainy, doesn't melt the same, an imposter all the way around. Don't you dare buy So-Cheezy and tell me, "It's the same stuff." That's worse than setting a kiwi in front of me. I might hit you. 

There's only one Yellow Gold. There's only one Velveeta. And she has my heart. 

Love you guys.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Ten): A fruit I dislike and why

Before we get started, yeah I skipped yesterday, big deal, let's just call this thing what it is, an "I'll write when I feel like it but don't judge me if I miss a day" challenge.

Today's topic is a fruit I dislike and why, and it's an easy one with a blanket answer.

I hate any fruit with fuzz on it.

Peaches, kiwis, and anything else that might exist where you have to shave it before you eat it.

Hair has a place. That place is not on fruit.
Don't think the double-entendre is lost on me, in fact I have a funny story about that.

Several years ago, I was in Sunday School class when the mayor of Muskogee walked up to me and asked me if I liked peaches.

"Travis, do you like peaches?"

"No Bob, I don't."

"Why not?"

"Bob I don't eat anything with hair on it."

Pretty much Mayor Bob, if Mayor Bob was black. And short. 
I'd like to tell you that this is the most awkward thing I've ever said in church, but if you've known me for more than five minutes, you'd know that's a lie. 

Back to the fruit though, it's a sensation thing. If I want a piece of fruit, I want something smooth and easy to eat. I can't do bananas because the texture makes me gag. I'll eat every banana Laffy Taffy you ever set in front of me though. 

Kiwis are definitely worse than peaches. I'd eat a peach if someone cut it up and did the dirty work for me, but if you set a kiwi in front of me we'll just stop talking. I won't even say bye, I'm just going to walk away and say, "Hey Siri, delete **** from my contacts." If you aren't in my contacts, I'm going to find one of your friends, ask them for your number so I can apologize later, then block your number. I hate kiwi that much. 

Fruits I do like? Well, apples, oranges, watermelons, grapes, melons of all kinds (heh), berries, and tomatoes, because I'm that guy that will tell you tomatoes are really fruit even though everyone knows that already and no one cares. 

Also, I quick aside, I turned 33 today, and I started No-Shave November, and my birthday is technically 25 hours long* which is awesome. Just don't get me fruit as a present. Love you guys. 

*I have no idea if the math is right and I don't care

Friday, October 30, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Nine): My feelings on ageism

I think if you're over the age of 65, you should have to retake the driving portion of your license test every year. I'd gladly pay the taxes to fund it.

That's it really, I have no idea why this was even a prompt.

Love you guys.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Eight): A book you love and one you didn't

Out of all the topics in this bad boy, I think I like this one the most, simply because it's the easiest.

Many of you know my favorite author is Dean Koontz. If you didn't, you know now.

So a book that I loved is my all-time favorite of his, "Watchers."

Immediately, one of the things this book has going for it is the protagonist's first name is Travis. Of course that appeals to me, because that's what this is all about, right? 

But I think the story is excellent, with just enough twists and turns to keep you turning pages until you're done, instead of quitting at your bed time. I've read this book several times, and will read it several more as well. 

However, because I'm a book guy, I wouldn't feel right without including a few more books I love. 

1. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
2. "Rascal" by Sterling North
3. "The Trumpet of the Swan" by E.B. White
4. The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
5. "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster
6. The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin
7. "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green
8. "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
9. "The Visitation" by Frank Peretti (also has a protagonist named Travis)

And now for a book I didn't love. This is also pretty easy, because there are several. 

The one that sticks out the most though is "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 


"Travis how could you not like that? It's a classic! You call yourself a literary man and you don't like Gatsby? You sir are a fraud! A fraud sir!" 

Shut up. 

That book is worthless. It's 200 pages of parties and people wanting to have sex with other people but can't because they're pansies, more parties, some high society, and Gatsby dies in the end, along with some old lady who is standing in the road like an idiot when inconsolable women are driving fancy cars. 

That's it. That's my review. 

This is the last line of The Great Gatsby. I have no idea what it means. You have no idea what it means. No. You don't. Shut up. It's stupid. 
It took me six months to read that book out of the obligation that I'm an English major and apparently if you haven't read it it's worse than if you have and don't like it. 

For the record, I hated the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well, so suck on that. That's right. I said it. 

I mentioned that in a Lit class in college once, and I was almost drug into the hallway and beaten with sticks while they chanted in Elvish. 

So there you have it, a book I loved and one I didn't. 

Love you guys. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Seven): What tattoos I have and if they have meaning

I am a tattoo fan.

I like looking at pictures of interesting tattoos, I like getting tattoos, and I like coming up with complex tattoos that have a deeper meaning than they display.

I have only three though, the most recent being my kids' names on my calf that I got on Sunday.

I have a philosophy behind tattoos that I think might anger a few people, but here goes:

I'm not going to put anything on my body that I wouldn't be able to stand before the Lord and at least try to defend. That's been my rule of thumb for all three tattoos, and I've had imaginary conversations with Jesus before getting each of them.

"Okay Jesus, this one is of each of my brothers, and I know it's got cards, but it's a play on words see, four of a kind, Sloats. That's it, it's family, I think You think family is pretty important, not more important than You, but still pretty important, so I just want You to know that that's why I got this thing."

"Travis, shut up for a second."

"Yessir, Lord."

"Have you accepted my gift of salvation?"

"Yessir, Lord."

"You're in. Come on."

Now let's move past this digression and get on to the show, which is my tattoos and their meaning.

Tattoo Number One
Art by Brad Sloat, Ink work done by Spaded and Jaded
This is the tattoo I was referencing in my hypothetical conversation with the Lord. It's a riff on the four of a kind hand in poker, and since there are four Sloat brothers, we thought it would work, and I think it does. Here's the thing though. We came up with this tattoo while we were in Florida in 2008. Three of us were old enough to get tattoos, and we had Brad come up with the drawing. He did really well I think. 

But here's the kicker (heh). All of us swore we would get the tattoo. "Yeah Travis, we'll get it. Let's all get it, it'll be awesome." Josh was like fourteen at the time, and he was pressuring mom to sign for him to get it, like that could even happen, but we were in Florida and just assumed U.S. Law was no good there. 

So we get back to Oklahoma, and I got mine done. I think it looks good. I love what it stands for. 


Do me a favor the next time you see one of my brothers and ask them to show you this tattoo. Just do it. Just ask. 


Tattoo Number Two (and my breast, sorry)
Art by Thomas Blackshear II, Ink work by Squiggy at Just Another Hole
This tattoo really has a special meaning for me. 

It's of a painting called "Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear II. The painting depicts Christ holding a man who is holding a hammer and a nail, which is obviously a representation of man putting Christ on the cross. 

Underneath, I added the words, "The Beauty of Grace is that it Makes Life not Fair." These are lyrics from Relient K, in their song "Be My Escape." 

I love that quote, and there is a story behind the image as well. You see, I first saw that painting in Mardell's in Tulsa. I walked in to the store, was browsing through something or other, and I saw this painting. To date, it is the only work of art to make me cry upon first sight. I broke down. What it represents is powerful. 

I've screwed up a lot. More than I care to admit. More than I will admit. And that image, to me as a Christian, is the allegorical equivalent of driving the nails into my Savior. And to see that He loves me enough to hold me as I do's incredible. 

Tattoo Number Three
Art by my children, Ink work by Caleb at Black Gold
Like I mentioned above, I got my third tattoo this past Sunday at Black Gold in Tulsa. I'd like to say this, out of all my tattoos, this one hurt the most. I'm almost positive there's a metaphor there, as in my children hurt me the most because they're at ages where they make me want to scream. But it seriously felt like Caleb was sawing my leg off. He kept saying things like, "Just breathe, we'll get through this..." 

My initial idea was to have my children draw the tattoo. Then Aven handed me a drawing of four playing cards with the kids' names on them, and I knew I was asking them to do too much. Keeli wanted me to get "Okay Mustangs" and Jeremiah 29:11. That's a heck of a combination. 

So after a bit of deliberation, I decided to create my own design and get their names in it. Then I thought, "What the heck, let's just get their names in their own handwriting." Well, as you can see, with Aven and Akeeli that was fine. Drake on the other hand, well I guess he writes in Hebrew. 

You can't tell in the picture, but I also asked them what color of ink they wanted it done in. Aven picked black, Keeli was blue, and Drake said purple. Surrounding their names is the scripture reference Jeremiah 29:11, which was my dad's favorite bible verse and says this: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope." 

I love that verse. I love that my children are obviously part of God's dynamic plan for my life. I struggle daily to keep my cool with them, and to treat them the way that they need to be treated. I get angry more often than not, I think because I hold them to too high a standard. I need to work on that. 

However, I love them. They are a permanent part of my life now. And if the Lord asks me to defend any of my tattoos, I think I'll have an argument. Not that I'll argue with the Lord. I wouldn't dare. 

Love you guys. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Six): Someone who fascinates me and why

So it's day six over here on the #Write30 Challenge and today I'm presented with a thinker: I have to name someone who fascinates me, and why.

There are lots of candidates, really. My children fascinate me, because they make extraordinarily bad decisions a good portion of the time, yet I still love them. Coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils fascinates me because he's amazing. My mom fascinates me because of her tenacity.

And really, tenacity is the word that turned me on to the person who fascinates me the most, my lovely wife Alicia.

You see, Alicia has been kicked pretty hard more than once. I'm sorry to say that some of those times have been by me, but not all of them have been. Life has thrown her some pretty tough situations, but it seems like whatever she goes through just makes her stronger.

"But Travis, that's what happens. When we go through things, we get stronger."

Untrue. Some break.

Have you all seen the picture of the Nagasaki Arch that's still standing after the atomic bomb, and the tsunami?

Please excuse that slight profanity.
Well, it turns out that picture is a fake, but I think it perfectly encapsulates my wife's tenacity. 

There are days when she falls apart. I've been there for a few of those. But what impresses me the most is that after a few hours, a few tears, and a few hugs, she's back to Alicia, back to raising three children who she made hers, back to babysitting a husband who has a penchant for saying the wrong thing at the right time, back to washing dishes and doing laundry and taking care of her family and grading papers and thinking of others and giving more of herself than she'll ever get back.

So yes, I took the easy way out today by telling you that my wife fascinates me.

But she does. And I love her. She's tough. She's kind. She's mean. She's gorgeous. She's battle-tested and time-worn. She's soft. She's my interpreter. She's my translator. She's probably pissed at me for doing this.

Alicia, you've fascinated me for fifteen years. Hopefully I'll get fifteen more. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Five): A place I would live that I've never visited

Well, today is the day I force my students to join me on this writing adventure.

If you're the parent of a kid in my class, encourage them to show you their work, both as a way to hold them accountable, and as a way for you to encourage their writing.

They'll be starting on the first prompt today, and here's a list of the prompts in case you want to follow along.

However, I'm on day five, and today's prompt is an easy one: Name a place you'd live that you've never visited.

The answer for me is hands down New Zealand.

Image credit
Look at it. Just look at it. Is that not incredible? 

"But Travis, we have sights like that too, right here in the states. And we also have more advanced technology and more than four television stations."*

But here's what we don't have. 

That's Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, otherwise known as Flight of the Conchords. 

If you've never heard these guys, just google them and watch one of their videos. They are hilarious. Match that with the breathtaking scenery, and you've got a combination I'd kill for. 

If someone told me right now they'd sell me a house there for about a hundred bucks and pay for my flight, my family would be Kiwis so fast it would make your head spin. And I'd join right in with them hating Australia because I hate Australia already because everything in Australia is designed to kill you. 

So that's it, this is a short one, but it's in the books. Love you guys. 

*Literally everything I know about New Zealand has been taken from the show Flight of the Conchords. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Four): Ten interesting facts about me

Probably don't have any new readers here, and after checking stats it would appear that no one is reading these anyway, so here goes.

I'm doing a writing challenge where I write on thirty prompts in thirty days. Today is day four, and I'm supposed to list ten interesting facts about myself.

Much like day one, I can't think of any real order to put these in, and as such, they'll be in no particular order.

1. My wife and I have adopted three children — To this day, I have people look at Drake, our youngest, and say, "There is no way you can deny that one!" My wife and I just laugh, and my standard response is, "Well, I wasn't in that part of the state at the time," which is good and confusing, which is ideally what you want, calling into question the lineage of your children.

2. I am from a town called Okay — Seriously, that's where I'm from, and it's where I teach. Every now and again, you'll see one of our school buses pop up on an Internet funny picture site, and they'll say something like, "It's not the best school, but it's an Okay school." I love my hometown, and I love it's interesting name. Side note: the name it held before Okay was Rex.

3. I have been inside the White House and have taken a selfie with President Obama — I'm sure if you looked hard enough, you could find the blog about it, or the newspaper column about it, but the short version is this: My uncle was killed in Vietnam in a very heroic fashion. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, but my grandmother lobbied for him to receive the Medal of Honor, and he was, two years after she died. My family was invited to the White House for the ceremony.

4. I have been on the Tyra Banks Show — Most of you probably know this, but in case you don't, yeah, my wife and I were on the show. Basically we lied about me being a cheapskate, got an all-expense paid trip to NYC, appeared on the show, got snowed in for an extra night on Tyra's dime, and pretty much had one of the more fun experiences of our lives.

5. I have a half-finished novel on my computer — I participated in NaNoWriMo a few years ago, got halfway through (25,000 words), then lost my flash drive. I found it two days later, but had already quit in my heart. It's a sci-fi story where a man falls in love with an alien, but her dad is real angry about her being "trapped" on earth so he launches an interstellar war to get her back. It's terrible, and no you can't read it.

6. I hate macaroni and cheese — I do. I hate it. This one came from my wife, and she included, "You're not an American," as well. That's just a lie, but I do hate elbow macaroni in anything, it doesn't matter how much cheese and butter you put on it. I also hate popcorn, which is something else people can't get a grasp on.

7. I have a Pomeranian named Fabulous and a rabbit named Big Pimpin' — We also have another rabbit named Monica, and a Golden Retriever named Rick. I've had fish named Fatty, Doc, Brooklyn, and Irwin Linker. I like naming my pets unusual names, and it's probably a blessing I've not had any children of my own, lest they be named MacBethenstein or something.

Big Pimpin' and no, he's not dead.
8. I won a dollar from the very first lottery ticket I ever bought — I was in Kentucky, I saw the machine, fed it a dollar, started scratching, and boom, won a dollar. I danced around and laughed and swore I'd never spend the dollar on anything, I'd keep it forever, and then ten seconds later fed it right back into the machine and lost it. As a gambler, I'm the worst. I've also never paid attention to the phrase "quit while you're ahead."

9. I own a Desert Eagle .50 Magnum pistol — I've named it Liam Beaston, and I love it. I've dreamed of owning one for a very long time, and last year I made a little extra money and was able to do it. I was terrified of shooting it the first time because I thought I'd knock myself out, but it went fine, and now I pretty much just like watching other people shoot it.

My actual gun. Isn't he beautiful?
10. I have a signed photograph hanging in the lobby of OG&E — I have four of them, actually. I took a long-exposure picture of their plant one night, and about two years later, a representative got in touch with me and commissioned me to take more pictures, then, get this, they actually paid me actual money. I was both honored and flattered, and didn't manage to screw it all up.

There you have it. Ten interesting things about me. I'll be back tomorrow with another prompt, and until then, I'm just going to focus on getting people to actually read this things. Love you guys.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

#Write30 (Day Three): My first love and my first kiss

I do not have a great memory.

The thing about this writing challenge is that you need to have a good memory in order to complete a lot of the prompts, such as the one I'm writing about tonight, my first love and my first kiss.

I'm going to skip the childhood love thing because it would do nothing but embarrass a lot of friends I have on social media (hi Lacey and Susan!), and skip straight to what I thought my first real love was. And the only reason there is emphasis on the thought is because I don't believe it was love now, I think it was an unhealthy infatuation that taught me a lot about what love isn't.

I was fifteen and a half, and I was visiting another church. I fell for this girl named Sue*. Sue was fantastic. She was pretty, dark hair, brown eyes (I think, sorry Sue), and she was exceptionally nice and tolerant of my egregious acne problem.

So Sue and I started talking on the phone a lot, as young folks did back then (I don't mean texting, you whippersnappers), and then we progressed to "going out." I remember the first time we held hands, I remember the first time we hugged (HUGGING WAS JUST THE BEST), and I remember the first kiss.

We waited a ridiculously long time to kiss because I am a natural coward and am traditionally awful with the women-folk. And I really couldn't tell you who decided to kiss who, although I'm sure she was wondering what was wrong with her that I hadn't tried it already.

I am one hundred percent sure it was the most awkward kiss of all time, but I don't remember (sorry Sue) all the details, and it's probably good I don't. I am still terrible at kissing (sorry Alicia), and to be quite honest, don't do it enough.

So much so, that almost two years ago, I sent Alicia this email:

"For since a kiss is a knitting together both of body and soul, it is to be feared lest the sensual lover will be more inclined to the part of the body than of the soul; but the reasonable lover knows well that although the mouth be a part of the body, yet is it an issue for the words that be the interpreters of the soul, and for the inward breath, which is also called the soul; and therefore hath a delight to join his mouth with the woman's beloved with a kiss, not to stir him to any unhonest desire, but because he feeleth that that bond is the opening of an entry to the souls, which, drawn with a coveting the one of the other, pour themselves by turn the one into the other's body, and be so mingled together that each of them hath two souls, and one alone, so framed of them both, ruleth, in a manner, two bodies. Whereupon a kiss may be said to be rather a coupling together of the soul than of the body, because it hath such force in her that it draweth her unto it, and, as it were, separates her from the body." — Castiglione, "The Courtier"

I know that's a difficult read, but I hope you stuck with it, because I'm very glad I did. It took me reading a section of literature 485 years old to realize something this morning.

I've completely lost focus on how important kissing you is.

In my mind, over the years, I've associated kissing with foreplay, and foreplay with sex, and I've stopped thinking of it as a simple reassurance that I love you and I desire a connection other than sexual. I can remember kissing you every morning when I woke up next to you, and every night before we went to bed, and I can't even remember why or when that stopped.

I've made it my personal goal today to start kissing you more. When you least expect it, when you most expect it, at home, in public, whenever or wherever I get the urge. Not passionate kissing, just a peck on the lips, and hopefully a joining of our souls.

I love you, and I'm sorry for forgetting that a kiss, just a simple kiss, can knit together bodies and souls at the same time.

"What do you want to be married to me for, anyhow?"
"So I can kiss you anytime I want."

You see how I started with a quote from a half-millennium-year-old text and ended with a Reece Witherspoon quote? Yep. My email game is solid.

A couple of things I do remember very well about my time dating Sue is the time she slapped me for saying a curse word when I curbed my car, and then the greatest line I've ever delivered to a person of the opposite sex in all my days.

open scene, two young lovers outside in her driveway, kissing passionately

young woman breaks off the kiss and laughs

"We told my parents we were out here stargazing."

young man looks deep into his girlfriend's eyes, sure that he will capture her heart with his reply

"Baby, I am stargazing."

snorting laughter from female companion

end scene

Kind of what I was hoping would happen. It didn't.
As Sue and I's relationship progressed though, I became a monster. I was controlling, hateful, and condescending towards her. I demanded to know where she was going, and who she was going with. If she didn't call when she said she would, I'd call her house forty-two times, which as you can probably imagine, completely endeared her parents to me (from what I hear, her dad still tells people I wasn't right).

Again, I learned what love isn't, I didn't learn what love was.

We dated for a year and a half and then we broke up over her going through my wallet. Real deep love, eh?

This was the girl that I swore I would marry, that I thought I was madly in love with. In all reality, she was just someone who was able to put up with me for far longer than she should have.

It took being married for at least three years before I was even capable of fully comprehending what love is.

Sue, I'm sorry for wasting your time.

Alicia, I love you.

*Name changed to protect identity (I'm friends with her on Facebook and don't wanna make it real weird).

Friday, October 23, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Two): My earliest memory

Alright, well, I've already missed a day, and not a single one of you reminded, that's on you people.

For those who don't know, I'm doing (poorly) a writing challenge where you complete thirty prompts in thirty days.

Today's (Yesterday's) prompt concerns my earliest memory. Since it's only one memory, this will be a short blog.

My earliest memory was when I was three. I can distinctly remember pedaling my tricycle through the kitchen in our old trailer house while my mother and father where at the hospital having my younger brother, Brad.

My grandmother was watching me, and that's all I remember.

My mom has told me that this can't be my earliest memory because it's too early, and I probably dreamed it, etc. I'm willing to admit that's a possibility, because I don't have many other memories that start until I was at least five or six.

I would say it's entirely possible though, because getting a baby brother would have been something I was jazzed about, and we tend to have good memories of things we're excited for. I'm sure that's scientific, but I can't be bothered to go and look it up or anything, so don't quote me.

Anyway, that's my earliest memory, and that's the end of this blog. Maybe tomorrow's prompt will be more interesting. And maybe I'll get better at doing what I'm supposed to do when I'm supposed to do it.

Love you guys.