Tag Archives: University Of North Carolina Wilmington

Zippy The Changing Man

I’ve seen him laughing, crying and howling. I’ve even seen him dead.

Fortunately, he was only playing dead as part of a film project while away at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Today is the day we celebrate every single aspect of the young man known to one and probably that’s all (known to me, of course) as Zippy the Travelin’ Boy.

Yep. It’s another birthday. This time, my middle not-so-little dude is leaving the teens behind and venturing into his 20s. It’s a bit of a shock to see the literal little handful, who had the most amazing head of thick, black hair when he was born, now grown into a young man who towers over his dad.

Zippy the Monkey BoyZippy the Travelin’ Boy has always been the most mutable of our sons. He’s gone through fashion statements (I’ll never forget the violent 180˚ turn he made from surfer punk to cowboy), loves, hates, political perspectives and just about everything else in his life as if he were in a fire sale at a department store and he needed to try on the clothing before it disappeared.

He’s been a bit of a chameleon, is what I’m trying to say. Oddly, considering he took so long to actually speak both understandably and out loud as a child, he’s probably the most verbally accomplished of the three dudes.

By which I mean that he’s always been the type to try out different accents and verbal tics and patterns, sort of like me. I started out early as well. As a young kid, I lived in England and got teased for being an American. So I developed a deep Southern accent, which came in handy when we moved back to Texas. However, as I grew older and started playing football, my teachers assumed I was an idiot because of the accent and the football so they expected nothing from me.

I didn’t like that. So I decided to drop the Southern accent and did, beginning to speak in a bland, newscaster-ish accent. To me, it was easy, but I learned that other people have a hard time doing that. I thought I was unique.

Until Zippy the Travelin’ Boy came into his own. He began copying the various accents I used when I read aloud to the boys and then doing better at them. He started mimicking the unusual voices he heard on television and in the movies, doing a stunningly accurate Bane voice that always cracks me up.

His latest chameleon turn came when he hit college. Since he was 2 and able to mispronounce it relatively consistently, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy (then known as Zippy the Monkey Boy both for his climbing skill and love of animals) wanted to become a marine biologist. Until he hit campus and discovered he would actually have to work and learn to earn that degree.

At which point, he discovered acting and fell in love. Since he wanted to make a living once he graduated, he decided to major in psychology while minoring in both Spanish and theater performance. It’s been fascinating to watch his ambition and skill flower in this new environment.

Whenever we talk about it, his mother and I are smiling like fools.

Which hasn’t always been the case. As he was growing up, I would only have given Zippy the Travelin’ Boy break-even odds that I would let him live to adulthood. He was the most stubborn kid I’d ever met and almost never used those powers for good.

Fortunately for us all, I was able to restrain those homicidal urges and even filled in the suspiciously shallow grave I dug on the sly in the back yard. He’s still stubborn and more than a little of a know-it-all, but he’s learning to actually listen to people with different opinions and has actually been known to listen to the advice from others without disdain.

All of which makes for a great opponent when I want to have an argument or refine my own opinion by seeing how it holds up in combat. His quick wit and merciless attack posture are the ultimate test of survivability.

As much as I enjoyed snuggling with the little dude when he was, in fact, little, I’m finding that I’m enjoying even more being around the young man he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. We love you!

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Time Management, Or The Hour That Got Away

Who knew Breaking Bad was so good?

Okay, sure, fine. Everyone, all right. Everyone knew that Breaking Bad, the award-winning story of a high-school chemistry teacher and his descent/ascent into the life of a big-time meth king was a tremendous show.

I’d heard about it, but never checked it out. Until I decided, one boring weekend afternoon, to give it a try. I was instantly hooked on the characters, the situations and, well, just about everything. Yes, I understand that, for a show revolving around addiction, that statement has a great deal of possibly unintended irony. It still stands.

So I started watching. And watching. And the next thing I knew I was finished with the seven-episode first season and was ready for more. The only problem was that the afternoon was gone and evening had taken a runner. Time, you see, had slipped away while I was watching this.

It’s something I began thinking about again when I was talking to both Zippy the College Boy and Hyper Lad. Both are studying hard at their respective schools, University of North Carolina Wilmington and a Falcon High. Both have time-management needs that must be fulfilled if they’re to do a good job in school.

The difference is that Zippy the College Boy is doing it on his own, while Hyper Lad has help. That is, his parents are likely to come around and thump the back of his head if he’s goofing off and not using his time wisely. Well, perhaps not wisely, but at least well.

Zippy the College Boy is out on his own and, knowing him as I do, is not using his time either wisely or well. He’s a smart kid, who learned well during high school, both his academic lessons as well as the things that his teachers had to say about how best to study. The problem is there are far too many distractions for college students, especially for those with ADD and/or a learning disability.

Time, for people with those disorders, is much different. They, even more than most people, can get involved in something and never notice the passing of time. Even if it’s studying, that’s probably not a good thing, because there is more to study than only one subject or one part of a subject.

Despite my words of encouragement on the subject, Zippy the College Boy still relies on his internal clock and a sense of when things are due for his time-management skills. I understand. I was the same way in college and for most of my life after.

However, I’ve come to understand that I’m a lot more like Zippy the College Boy, Sarcasmo and Hyper Lad than I had thought. I get caught up in things as well, and not just episodes of compelling television like Breaking Bad. I’ll start writing and never even notice four hours go past and I’ve still got work to do other than the writing.

Enter the futurephone. I’ve become somewhat reliant on the thing. I will look at my list of to-do items for the day and decide how much time needs to be devoted to each item. Then, when I’m starting that item, I’ll set the alarm on the futurephone to that number of hours or minutes and work until the alarm goes off. I also use the calendar app to schedule when things are due. I’ll set up a repeating schedule to make sure I’m continuing to work on things with plenty of time left before deadline so I’m not caught in a crunch.

I tried to work on those things with Zippy the College Boy and Sarcasmo, but the whole futurephone thing came along too late for those dudes. Not so with Hyper Lad.

He’s the one on whom I’m really experimenting with using the futurephone for more than games. So far, I think it’s working. We’ve still got work to do, especially considering that he got homework detention for not turning something in during the second week of school. Still, it’s good to have a path laid out ahead of him.

Now we only have to make sure he stays on the path.

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Turning Dracula Into A DayTripper

It was a scheme only a college student could concoct.

Well, one only a college student could concoct and then seriously contemplate following through on.

And, oy, dude, did our latest college student give it a try.

Zippy the College Boy has been home from school for the summer. When he first came home, his mom and I made clear that he was to either get a job or start volunteering at some worthy charity. Which gave him some weeks while he “searched” for a job and tried to “find” a place to volunteer.

Eventually, we grew disgusted enough that we simply went ahead and signed him up to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and it wasn’t even in the construction field. All he had to do was hang out in the ReStore, which is like a Goodwill thrift store, in that it sells donated goods for very low prices.

Not a difficult gig, to be sure.

Which meant that Zippy the College Boy spent most of his time like most college students on vacation do. In other words, he stayed up all night and then slept all day. Seriously.

The young dude would wake up around 4 pm (this is, of course, provided I didn’t grow disgusted with his behavior and “accidentally” wake him up), shuffle into the kitchen, grab something to eat for breakfast, then get his head together, then start trying to get some things done. And he’d complain because there was never anyone in the offices when he called.

It was difficult for him to get through his head that not everyone woke up as the sun went down and then stayed awake until the sun rose once again.

Still, it worked — mostly — for Zippy the College Boy.

Right up until a couple of days ago.

Zippy the College Boy realized that he’d be headed back to University of North Carolina Wilmington in a week or so and he’d have to rearrange his whole sleep-wake cycle to more closely accommodate the vast majority of humans steaming around under the relentless rays of the sun.

So, what did he do? Did he begin going to bed earlier? Begin waking up earlier? In an effort to slowly realign his circadian rhythms to the standard diurnal mode?

Of course not. Don’t be silly.

What he decided to do was to simply stay up all night, like normal, and then continue staying up all day so that when night arrived he’d be ready for bed and back on track.

The first I knew about it was when I got up at 8:30 am to walk Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog, and found Zippy the College Boy already up and moving about. After I got over my shock, I simply took him on face value. Maybe he really did get up early.

During the day, though, he started drooping and I twigged to what was going on. When I confronted him about it, Zippy the College Boy woke right up and started proudly detailing his scheme. I’m pretty sure he thought he was the first person to ever consider this particular pathway.

By around dinner time, though, all his pep done popped. He was pooped out and seemed glued to the couch, with a blanket over his shoulders and his eyes steadily moving into darkness.

He was out. And when I tried to go to bed around midnight, he woke up and smiled brightly at me, thinking it was morning and it had worked.

Not so much.

I was tired, though, so I went to bed. Him? If you believe him, he went to bed, listened to music for an hour or so, and then went to sleep, only to wake early the next morning.

If you believe him.

I’m not so certain. I thought I spotted a certain maniacal gleam in his eyes that was there the first morning he’d stayed up all night. Still, he did manage to stay awake that day and went to bed at a relatively normal hour.

So I guess maybe it worked, but not quite like he planned. It’s one of those things that needs to blind faith in one’s own abilities and a complete ignorance of physical laws to pull off.

In other words, something only a college student could do.

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