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. 


*gasp*

"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. 

But. 

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. 

Douchebags. 

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 that...it'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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thirty Day Writing Challenge (Day One): My five problems with social media

I haven't written anything in a very long time.

One of my Facebook friends, fellow educator, and fellow Duke fan, Deana, issued a challenge of sorts on her Facebook.

The challenge: thirty days of writing with a different prompt each day.

Let's be real honest. It's 8 p.m. and I haven't blogged since the beginning of September. This one is going to suck. But you've read this far, might as well push through. I did.

The first prompt is five problems I have with social media. I can't think of any particular order to rank these in, so I'll just be spitting them out with a number next to them.

1. Different expectations for different networks — I once heard someone say, "Facebook is church on Sunday morning, and Twitter is the strip club you were in on Saturday night." I don't know that I've ever heard anything more accurate. There was a time—before students found me on the Twitter—where I used a foul word every once in a while or I'd retweet a crude picture. I will say this, that has changed since I've started teaching and helping out with the youth group at my church. I want to set a good example for the next group of world leaders, so I've tried to tone things down across all the platforms I'm currently on (Facebook, Twitter, IG, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.). But to this day, if I need to rant, I choose Twitter for the diatribe, mostly because my mom hasn't found Twitter, and neither have most of the school board.

2. Beefs — I don't get Twitter and Facebook beefs. I mean, I understand keyboard warriors and the need to troll, I do that all the time. But to actually get into a real fight with someone over social media? Come on. GUYS YOU AREN'T DOING ANYTHING WHEN YOU DO THAT. All you've managed to do is prove you're an idiot on a network where idiots tend to go viral. I have gotten into a Twitter beef with Tom Arnold once, which devolved into one of his followers insulting my "sodium-induced bloated face," which I'm not gonna lie, cut real deep. Where's the beef? Not where I can see it, folks. Chill out.

3. Creepers — Look. I've dated a few women, I've made some mistakes, I've adopted three kids, and I teach young people. I know y'all are creeping on me. In fact, someone reading this right now is doing nothing but trying to catch me throwing shade so they can try to ruin my life.


I would also like to add that my wife is the creeper champ, but it's out of necessity is what she tells me, so I let it slide. Don't creep, y'all. Especially if you're a teenager reading this, or if you have the maturity level of a teenager, don't creep. Don't do it. You'll make your enemies a whole lot more mad if you aren't typing their name into a search bar somewhere. Of course I could just defer to Wilde here:


4. That I can't WUPHF people yet — 


Seriously scientists, I'm looking at you. Make this happen. 

5. Twitter won't verify me — As you can tell, I'm really reaching deep into the bag here. But in all honesty, here's my argument. I'm a teacher, right? I have students who follow me on Twitter, right? HOW DO THEY KNOW IT'S THE REAL TRAVIS SLOAT? It's a security issue is what it is, we can't have kids following fake educator accounts and being seduced with things like people sliding into their DMs, or offering them money for more followers. Twitter needs to verify me so my students know that I'm the real Mr. Sloat. I've tried tweeting that to them, but to no avail. Maybe you all could help me out? 

There you have it, it's now 8:40 p.m. and I've written my first blog for the writing challenge. If you catch me slipping, I'd appreciate some accountability on your end by WUPHFing me and keeping me on my toes. And if you don't want to read thirty days of this (it will get better I swear), then you should probably just delete me off whatever social media site you pulled this from. I promise I won't mind. 

Follow me on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @tstyles77

Facebook is here.

Go find the LinkedIn yourself, I'm hardly ever on it. Love you.