For most people a triumph is something in the future. It’s always that next thing that’ll take them to a new point in their career. Maybe it’s that car that they’ve always wanted, but could never quite afford. It’s surviving that next medical treatment, or escaping from the office early enough that their children actually see them before bed time.
The strangest thing about triumphs is that people seem to barely remember them after they’ve made them happen. Every once in a while they stare off into the distance and recall that time when everything felt right and they achieved something they always wanted to, but it’s not constantly in the back of their mind.
I don’t do triumph. I’ve never been a guy to stare back at anything I’ve done in a positive light. There is always something that I could have done better. Some piece of the pie I could have thought of differently and truly done something epic. That is, except for one thing I did roughly fifteen years ago.
It was in the fifth grade. I’d always been a modest student. The thought of an education didn’t just bore me. It made me angry. Here were these people who’d gone off to some magical place outside of my turbulent, violence-ridden neighborhood and come back to educate me in ways I didn’t really care about. They’d semi-adopt you for 8 months and then they’d leave and go back to their cozy lives with nice cars, nice houses and dinner parties. I marveled at these teachers’ lives, their personalities and their mannerisms, but I flat out didn’t give a crap about the knowledge they had to share with me.
To be clear, it wasn’t that education was discouraged in my family. No, I wasn’t being trained for life as a field hand or anything. When you have two kids and you didn’t finish high school, clearly there were other things that came first. Chances are that if you ask any African American who grew up in the areas I lived in – we moved a lot – they’d tell you the same thing.
One day during that fifth grade year I went home and decided I’d play their game. I put down the Power Rangers in Space Red Action-Figure with glowing helmet and got to work. I read my history book all night, and when it was time for bed, I kept reading it despite getting stern warnings from my parents to go to bed or risk having all of my books taken.
Richmond Public Schools always had a love-hate relationship when it came to teachers sticking to text books for instruction and so months went by before I ever got the chance to actually use anything in that history book. In the spring of 1998, when John Glenn was making a return to space and Chicago was just as relevant for its sports team as it is now for people being shot in the ass, my fifth grade teacher handed me a test paper on American history. This wasn’t some lame movie. There were no voice overs declaring “I got this.” Instead, something magical happened. I looked down at the test in and knew the answers. Not just some of them. I knew the answer to every single question. They all came out like a burst of fire, an invisible energy that flowed from the tip of my Ticondegra #2 pencil. I signed it “Travis Pope” and took it to my fifth grade teacher Patricia Jackson.
Pat Jackson was an African American teacher in every sense. Forget cardigan sweaters, this woman had a closet full of garb that must have come in a box with a logo featuring a flat landscape and an African elephant. She wasn’t just stern. She was relentless. Did something wrong and she would serve up a hot tin can of verbal ass whopping like you wouldn’t believe. She was generous with her praise and stingy with her respect. In Pat Jackson’s world you were hers to do with however she pleased.
That day in 1998 I handed her back the test she’d handed to me six minutes before. I stood there frozen. I wanted to see her reaction. Her admiration for me finally showing some promise. Here was tangible proof that I wasn’t an idiot. She looked up at me and down at the paper I’d just handed to her. I saw a red pen appear from out of thin air. Checkmarks were made. First there was one correct answer, then two and twenty. All of them were right. Every single one.
Having also deduced that one of her poorest students had managed a perfect score on a test she hadn’t prepared any of them for, she looked at her watch. Jackson’s eyes poked out from underneath her mass of face and African cloth garments. She shook her head as if she was possibly thinking about the amount of time I’d wasted not participating in class for all these months. Instead of vocalizing her amazement, she called out to Sandra to ask how far along she was on the test. When Sandra replied question seven is when I realized things had gone wrong.
In a flash, my desk had been emptied to make sure there were no books open there. Before I knew it, my pockets were empty too, turn inside out by the beast herself. Pat Jackson forced me to stand there under the gaze of every clique and classmate as she interrogated me about my cheating techniques. “You couldn’t have finished this. She’s less than half done. I go with what I know,” she told me. Quickly it escalated into something else. I was escorted from the wall-less classroom that only had chalkboards dividing it from the classrooms of others. Disciplinary referrals were written and my mother was called to the school because I’d become a distraction in the classroom.
At that moment I felt it. The only time I’ve ever been perfectly satisfied with something that I’ve done. Since then, everything else I’ve achieved has felt minor, like little kick-knacks on a to-do list. I wasn’t satisfied about the test – she’d taken off points because I’d forgotten to write my middle initial between my first and last name and robbed me of my perfect score. I’d forced one of these teachers, these champions of extra reading and peddlers of gold stars to take everyone in the room seriously, not just the ones she expected to flourish. I’d gotten a reaction out of someone with my mind and the truth that I’d put on a sheet of notebook paper. Life doesn’t get more magical than that.
Microsoft’s plans for consumers has changed a lot in the past few years. The Xbox 360 is now old busted hotness, replaced by the Xbox One with its better performance and more accurate Kinect 2 sensor. Windows actually has a built-in store full of entertainment and productivity apps. That’s something we could only dream about just years ago. Xbox Music has finally replaced Zune. It has become the default, cloud-powered way that users get entertainment across all of Microsoft’s different products. But let’s not go talking crazy to Zune purists. They have a point.
“Earlier today comments made by an employee who works for Microsoft indicated that Microsoft had decided not to develop a key feature that would have helped the its Xbox One console stand out from the competition and created a new generation of developers. According to the employee, users shouldn’t have expect to be able to create games using their Xbox One as the company previously announced. According to the employee, users shouldn’t have expected that they’d be able to create games using their Xbox One as the company had previously announced. Don’t fret, Microsoft itself is now insisting that it hasn’t called the feature, but the debacle only further highlights one of the reasons it feels like the Xbox One is behind.”
You can’t be black in America and not have gotten a seminar on Code Switching.
The idea is simple enough to understand. Slang and abbreviations have permeated black culture, so much so that many older African Americans believe that the way their sons and daughters convey their thoughts should be tailored to their audience. Essentially we’re trying to teach an entire generation to have one set of speech patterns on their block and another at the office.
I think it’s a great idea. Of course, I thought it was a great idea when it was included in the basic box of life skills that everyone should have by the time they graduated high school. I suppose treating the symptom of the problem instead of the actual problem is much more satisfying though.
On the strange position Microsoft’s Surface tablets and Windows Phone devices are in.
The iPhone, Windows Phone and Android versions of Xbox Music have about as many exclusive features as Samsung has original ideas.
I make a living as a video game and entertainment reporter. Sometimes — particularly on those days when there are big keynotes and news to cover — I need a way to unwind; an avenue to relax and contemplate life’s mysteries and what it all means. When I’m not doing any of those things I’m reading.
This week I’m reading Daylon Deon’s The Terrific Travels of Timber Timmins. In the interest of full disclosure, he’s a friend. That being said, what he does in Timber Timmins takes me back to my days of reading Harry Potter and other young fiction that inspired me to create content in the first place.
The Terrific Travels of Timber Timmins is available on Kindle right now for $2.99. Users who have an Amazon Prime subscription can pick up the book absolutely free of charge.
Forgive me for being the strange person that I am. Really it’s an affliction. Getting a late start this morning has gotten me thinking deeply about the nature of the tee shirt. More specifically, why are v-necks more popular than they are? They’re casual, yet slightly more sophisticated.
America, buy more v-neck tees.
A few weeks ago I wrecked my car and the accident was my fault. That left me with a decision to make about how to get around. So I picked up this New Beetle and starting customizing.
PlastiDip for the win.
Because clearly, I was going to write about my smartphone platform of choice:
“The Windows Phone 8.1 update, which will begin going out to current Windows Phone users over the next few months and show up on new devices built especially for it in May, isn’t an operating system that re-imagines a single thing. It doesn’t come equipped with some revolutionary feature that almost instantly makes the iPhone and Android devices irrelevant. Instead, it’s an operating system that plugs holes in Windows Phone’s defenses and ensures that Microsoft isn’t behind in terms of overall feature set. It also reveals the reason why some users would be better off purchasing a Windows Phone device over an iPhone or Android device for the first time.“
Read it at GottaBeMobile.