Viewing entries tagged
students

AN ENDING

AN ENDING

It feels almost cool outside.  I’m in cropped sweatpants and a grey Grateful Dead tee that I somehow inherited.  I have no memory of who it was that the shirt belonged to initially anymore, but it’s soft and faded and the perfect shade of charcoal; it’s mine now.  I can no longer sense the scent of the hint of smoking fireworks in the air and the trees are still green and lush and I guess all any of this means is that it doesn’t feel like July anymore but it also doesn’t feel like the September that it’s about to be.

My summer officially ends tomorrow morning and, as a result, I am in mourning.  I am also in denial.  I can see it all happening in my head like a colorful fantasy that’s scored by Disney songs played backwards, but I can’t seem to comprehend for real that tomorrow morning I will be walking my dog in the darkness and making coffee out of need instead of out of want.  The dress I’m wearing tomorrow is hanging up on the back of my door and I’ve even picked out my bra, but the thought of slipping it over my head before six o’clock in the morning is making the dress appear terrifying to me.  I guess everything is really a matter of perception and I’d take a moment to be very excited that I have finally mastered this line of thinking, but I’m just way too stressed to be excited by perception-inspiring knowledge right now.

 

THE WASTELAND

THE WASTELAND

Warning:  the cultural landscape, once lush and fragrant, has been plagued by a terrible and long-lasting drought.  The lush foliage has shrunken into pale patches of grimy moss.  The shards of glorious sunlight have darkened into just a glimmer of shadows.  Rainbows no longer include the colors green and purple.  The sociological touchstones that once served to ground us are often now misunderstood or completely ignored. 

It was only a matter of time really.  I saw most of the signs, even the ones I pretended for a while to ignore.  I would show The Graduate to my students and one of them would always ask, “Is this Simon and Garfunkel?” and I would smile and tell them how Mike Nichols had gotten the duo involved with the soundtrack and I’d see some slight nods of recognition and hear at least two whispers of “My parents like them” and it didn’t matter that the kids themselves weren’t fans; at least they were somewhat aware that a group called Simon and Garfunkel once existed on the planet.

WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS

WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS

You know those months like April where sometimes it snows but usually it doesn’t and then all of a sudden, kind of without warning, a blizzard swoops in and the weather people on the news act like they totally knew it was gonna happen even though their exact words over the last several days always involved expressions like “just a dusting” and you know for sure that a snowy emergency was definitely never declared because there’s still bread on the shelves at the supermarket and, when a storm is threatened, apparently the general public believes that a carbohydrate might be the very thing that can ward off the impending apocalypse?  That’s the environment I found myself in a bunch of years ago on the freezing morning of one of my friend’s engagement parties.

POWER

POWER

Maybe it’s because it’s officially Summer Movie Season and, regardless of what’s actually coming out in theatres in the next few months, I just always expect that when the weather turns warm that I will be seeing commercials for films that involve characters who have some key kind of superpower like the ability to fly or to morph into another object entirely or who can outrun a genetically-engineered dinosaur who has got human spleen on his genetically-engineered brain.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been exercising a lot and I actually feel physically stronger these days.  Maybe it’s that I actually feel pretty okay in my own mind about the actions that I did and didn’t allow myself to take and that I’ve learned that smiling with a shrug is actually a somewhat effective way to move on.  But whatever has caused the thought process – Wonder Twins or running barefoot on a trampoline or the way my shoulders have finally loosened up from all the shrugging I’ve been doing – I do know that recently I have been thinking a great deal about power.

MAY

MAY

About five or six years ago, I presented a workshop during an annual school event to middle school students who were selected to come up to the high school for the day.  As my actual students had written, produced, directed, and edited documentary shorts that the little ones would be watching later (“Is it appropriate for a twelve year old to watch a documentary on piercings that starts with the extreme close-up of a nipple?” I wondered – probably too late.  But then I thought, “Fuck it; it’s a male nipple.  The kids will be fine.”), I did an activity about how to turn a defining moment each kid has experienced into a documentary film.  

I had never taught such little people before, and I was actually terrified.  I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say to them or that I’d make jokes they wouldn’t get or that they would just sit there and stare at me – like some of my actual students do, though after ten minutes, that just feels weird – but the group who toddled up to the high school were kids who had entered and won an essay contest to attend the event.  They wanted to be there.  They liked school.  And they all raised their hands immediately whenever I so much as spoke a sentence that mildly ended with an upwards question-like inflection.

A CHANGE IN IDENTITY

A CHANGE IN IDENTITY

Several long years ago – before I lived where I live now, before I’d very questionably attempted bangs for the first time, before I wondered if that one guy could possibly be worth it – the first day of a new semester arrived and, with it, three brand spanking new classes.  I have long loved what I do for a living – I see it as spreading the slasher and possession film gospel to the masses – but I have never been able to make myself love the day when the Fall semester officially turns into the Spring semester and it’s probably because a freezing day in February feels nothing like the springtime and because what it all really means is that I have to learn the names of eighty-something new students just when I’d finally figured out which kid was Peter and which kid was Steven in one of the classes that is now no longer a part of my daily schedule.

Change is not my favorite constant in the world, but I can usually roll (or at least hop along) with the punches that come with things being different, but the Name Thing has always been an issue for me.  Even when I’m writing fiction, I tend to use the same names over and over again.  It’s not even that I love those names; I just can, for some reason, remember them – and isn’t that what’s most important?  Okay, it’s totally not what’s most important, but at least it’s helpful because otherwise I end up naming every guy character I create Mike.

BUTTERFLIES

BUTTERFLIES

I used to draw butterflies.

The wings on my pretty illustrated insects would be swoopy instead of pointy and my butterflies always came accessorized with eyes and a smiley face – and, when they were especially fancy, my butterflies wore a bow-tie.  Those non-aerodynamic beings lived in a perpetual state of paused flight on the lined notebook paper in my Science binder, sentenced to live out their days protected by a sticky – and unnecessary – reinforcer.

I wrote lots of my notes to my friends while I sat in all of those Science classrooms in high school.  Science was the only subject where I’d choose to sit in the back of the room, hopefully partially hidden by a stack of Bunsen burners.  My seating choice was a silent plea for anonymity; I wanted the teacher to willfully ignore me, and it’s a behavior I see still in my students today, one that fractures my heart a little bit each time I notice it happening.

COLLEGE

COLLEGE

One of my very favorite students flung open the heavy door of my classroom early this stormy morning with a smile on her face and a bouncy spring in her step.  That springy step was immediately noticeable; as a teacher who has over a hundred students, ninety of them seniors, I can tell you with certainty that the first semester of senior year is not the most relaxing and joyful time for a kid who cares about her future.  That said, for the students who don’t think about the future (or tomorrow) and only have a grand total of seven brain cells anyway – though it’s Monday, so they might have whittled that number down this weekend to five – this moment in their lives is pure and uncomplicated bliss.  

Life might be a whole lot easier if you choose to live it as an imbecile.