Wednesday, August 27

Deleting Vanessa

Early this morning while draggng myself awake, the glass coffee carafe slipped in my hands, hit the faucet, and shattered. There was hardly any sound to it at all -- just a dull click before shards started hitting the sink.

For a while all I could do was stand there and look at the broken pieces.

But here's the really strange thing -- once my morning goal had changed from waking up to finding a nearby gas station with fresh coffee to drink -- I was suddenly moving faster, wasting less time, and getting myself in gear. It was like my absolute need for caffeine gave me more energy and motivation than the drug itself ever would have.

          The addiction more important than the fix?
          The desire more pressing that the acheivement?
          The dreams better than the coming true?

What's more, I suddenly found myself noticing everything. Maybe it was the broken routine, or maybe it was the lack of coffee -- I don't know. But whatever the cause, it was like I was actually seeing the world around me instead of just locking in on the lines in the middle of the road.

Fuel prices are insane. People who work at gas stations never seem to smile. Half the toys on the "novelty" shelf are actually good luck troll cigarette lighters with day-glo Don King hair. The German hair metal band Krokus apparently has a greatest hits album out that I can buy for just $5.99. There's a guy in a business suit buying a six pack of beer.

It's 7:45 a.m.

In front of me are 14 different flavors of coffee, each in it's own glass pitcher on it's own individual hot plate. The one marked "regular" is, of course, empty.

After mulling it over for a minute, I picked the one called "French Roast."

I took a quick sip, put the plastic cover on the cup, and paid the lady.

          After that -- I don't really remember all that much.
             ... Weird, eh?

Tuesday, August 26

Hey Ma and Pa, What the Hell is Wrong With Y’all?

There’s this point somewhere each day where it catches up to me. Early in the morning when I’m trying to make it look good, late in the day when I’m documenting how it went. Somewhere during my school day, when the feet stop pumping at the pedals and the bike is coasting down the hill, this little voice comes to me and says…

          “God, you really suck at this…”

It’s little things, little flakes of paint in the corners that don’t quite cover up the construction below. It’s a life’s worth of not wanting to plan too far ahead suddenly catching up with me. Time management nightmares, energy level spikes, and paperwork that just doesn’t want to stop coming.

When I’m in front of the class it sorta sounds like music, but when you look at the notes on the paper it all looks like gibberish.

… And tonight, I get to meet the parents.

          Hello dad, I'm in jail!
          Hi dad, I'm calling you from jail!
          Hi dad, happy birthday, I'm in jail!
          Jail, jail... hi dad

Handshakes and hearty smiles. Reassurances and Overviews. Answering questions about how little Johnny is doing this year, even though I’m still not one hundred percent sure which one little Johnny is yet.

My parents always skipped out on open house night.
“They never tell you anything worth hearing,” they’d use to say.

          All those years, I'm in jail now
          I'm in jail, I like it here
          It's nice, I like it!
          Hello dad, I'm in jail
          Hello, hello dad, Hi, I'm in jail!
          Say hi to mom…. from jail!!

It’s that point. It’s that place. You’re up against it. It’s not easy. There isn’t another way around. You have to get it right. You want to run. You just want to run, run, run, and never look back.

“Hello, my name is Mr. Luft. I’m your child’s Language Arts Teacher.”
“Hello, I'm Mr. Luft. I’m glad you all took the time to come out tonight.”
“My name is Mr. Luft. We’re doing some interesting things in class this year.”

“…Hey, I'm Dan. Your frigging kids are driving me crazy.”

          I'm in jail, I'm gonna stay here
          I like it here
          I like it, yeah, throw away the key!
          I'm in jail
          Hello dad, I'm in jail
          Jail, jail, jail, jail!

                - Was Not Was, “Dad I’m in Jail”

Monday, August 25


The air conditioning keeps going out in my classroom. Once a week there’s a familiar heaviness to the air, turning my room into a pained dance with heat.

Sometimes it’s the sun. Sometimes it’s the kids, the administration, the county. Sweat beading on my forehead, glistening my hair, dripping down my face, soaking me in my own inexperience.

It’s hard to even try to explain all the things that have happened, but rest assured, teaching 8th grade is by far the single most challenging job I’ve ever undertaken. Everything happens fast, everything is on the edge of control, everything is a continual game of push and pull.

Depending on who you ask, I’m either really good at it, or I’ve got a long, long, way to go.

       Hell, they even tried to fire me last Friday.

They call it "surplussing." It means there are not enough kids in the school for all the teachers that have been hired, and as a county employee, you can be moved somewhere else in the district where your services are needed. Our budget hit a crunch, and the school decided to cut junior staff. Or more specifically, when they looked at the junior staff, they decided to cut me.

Just as the air conditioner went out, I got a call to come meet the principal.

       “I’m terribly sorry,”
       “I wish there was another way”
       “Let me know if there’s anything I can do…”

It hit me like a wall. Like an unwanted cotton blanket on a summer day. What’s more, I still had to teach 4 more classes with a smile on my face, acting like nothing had happened.

It was as if someone had picked me up by my feet and shaken all the air out of me. I was floating in dirty water, thinking that if I could just swim I would make shore and get out -- but in all the sweltering heat, with the murky liquid of failure and rejection all around me, all I could seem to say was…

       “So, do you have your homework today?”
       “Um… no, not really.”
       “… Whatever.”

Four hours later, staying late to finish paperwork, the principal showed back up at my door to inform me that the county had vetoed the school’s decision… saving my job.

A moment later the AC kicked back in, and the room began to get very, very cold.

Sunday, August 3

Sessenta Oito

     It's a strange thing... envying a motorcycle.

Saturday, August 2

All You Gotta Do is Say...

It's been one of those days, you know?

Rain-fogged windows, scattered daydreams, aimless websurfing. So many things just over my horizons, so much just on the edge of happening. Hoping for the light to break through my own clouds.

Within a week there will be no turning back, and I will finally know what I've gotten myself into.

     Am I ready?
     ...Will I ever be?

These are the days when I want to cover my arms in the tattoos I always said I was gonna get. These are the days when I want secret desires fulfilled, forbidden questions answered. Sell everything, buy everything. Dye it blonde, paint it black, kiss the frog, turn the key..

Part of me wants to run. Part of me wants to fly. Part of me just wants to be someone else across the way, watching myself as I silently go through the motions of fearing all these things I'm really not afraid of, but instead just don't know for sure.

But for now I just sit here, lazily downloading my shifting moods.

     Killswitch Engage
     Dionne Farris
     Ahmad Jamal

It's like throwing a net into the water and hoping to pull back a fully cooked entree.

Beside me I discover a mug that I'm pretty sure I poured for myself - long gone cold.

       I don't really need new music
       -- but right now the worst
       thing I can think of is
       the same old, same old


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