Saturday, December 21, 2013

Express yourself

"STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON!!"  my radio screamed.   The hooptie was driving north.  I feared it would break down, but was anxious to get to the college graduation.  It was raining.  Gray.  But I felt good.

I have told you about her before, but you might not remember.  I have told you a lot of things.  I can't remember the name I made up for her, for her on the blog.  To respect her privacy.  I met her during my first year of teaching.  I am now in my eighth, which seems impossible.  The first year was horrible.  Except for her.  A quiet girl, from Afghanistan.  In Spanish One, which was ridiculous because she needed to be in ESOL.  The kids made fun of her name, they said it sounded like 'fuck'.  Her last name is Hussain.  'Saddam Hussain' they yelled, if I said her last name.  Idiots.  Stupid ass pieces of shit that didn't know their elbow from their asshole. 

That was back in the day when kids knew who Saddam Hussain was.  Maybe it's good that they don't anymore. 

She was determined.  She came to tutorial everyday, DETERMINED to get a good grade, to learn.  "How do you say 'I cried in the night'" she asked me one day, during tutorial.
"'Lloré por la noche', but... why?"
"I went to school for a year in Afghanistan.  But, it became too dangerous, so my parents kept me home.  One night, there was a terrible fight.  My father and the other men sent us, the women and children, into the house.  We came out in the morning.  My father was dead.  We fled to Pakistan.  My mother took us there.  We worked in a rug factory.  It made my fingers hurt, but we had to get by.  And then, we got visas, we came here.  I always wanted to go to school."

She graduated within the four year framework.  Learned the Roman alphabet, learned to write from right to left, learned English, passed the Georgia High School Writing test and all of the rest of the standardized tests.  She had been to school for ONE year, before coming to the United States.  And still graduated within four years, something that a lot of our native born can't manage to do, with elementary and middle school backing them up. 

And then, she went to college.  Earned a full scholarship at a four year, private liberal arts school.  It was difficult for her to leave her family.  Though they were only two hours away, it was hard for her not to live in the house with them.  Or help support them.  She felt self indulgent for concentrating on her own education.  And, her brother died unexpectedly on her first day of college.  I wish I hadn't been concentrating on my own self during that time.  I could have helped her.  She needed my help and I didn't give it. I was a grown woman and only thought about myself. 

"COMPTON!" my radio screamed.  I knew I could drive fast enough to get there. 

I stared at the kid in class behind me.  Was he really using his phone like, right there, in class? 
"I gotta hit you back," he said into the phone.
Someone resisted.
"No really, I got to hit you back".
"Look, he needs to hit you back!"  I said in a high pitched voice.
"No really, it was 'bout MONEY" my student told me.
"You can't text about money?"
"Callins faster"
"Okay, it appears K-rod has closed up the business shop and we can get on with things." I announced to the class.  I was actually pleased that he had respected my look and hung up the phone. 

I saw her in the graduation line up.  At first, I thought wow, look at my lady in her graduation robe.  And then I saw all her cords.  For honors, for achievements.  And I cried. 

I haven't slept all week.  I have a cold.  People get them.  I was counting the days until the break.  It finally came.  And when I arrived at my house, water was gushing all over the lawn.  The spicket was broken.  My sister and I couldn't turn it off.  Water in Atlanta is expensive.  Like, water the plants and pay fifty dollars more next month.  And this shit had been going on for hours.  I called the city to turn that bitch off.  They said they'd get to it.  Only took four more hours. 

"Shit, we won't have water for days, can't flush the toilet, shower, nothing!" Alec bitched. 
"It's the weekend before Christmas, we are going to pay out the ass".
But, I called Jesus.  And within one hour, we had repaired pipes with water running through them.  I wanted to pay him out the ass, but he wouldn't accept it.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde

"Well, I agree with SOME of the things Nelson Mandela did..." one of my co-workers stated, a matter of hours after his death.  She made it sound like she was really going out on a limb with her generous praise.
Who the fuck has a problem with Nelson Mandela?

"Kids these days!  I fear for our future...." the older, almost grandmotherly substitute teacher said to me in way of greeting.  I had just arrived at the high school.
"Yeah, totally.  They're bad..."
"I mean the things they will say!  My goodness!"
"Yeah, they're pretty bad" I responded staring at my computer.
"Pussy.  They were talking about pussy!" you have my attention....
"Eating pussy!"
Not exactly what I expected coming out of your mouth.....
"And!  I will not use the words THEY used, but another young man spoke of the girl passing gas while he did it!".
Okay, you are really freaking me out now.  Casual discussion of 'eating pussy' with a complete stranger is okay, but the word 'fart' is apparently off the table?
"Bye now!  I SO enjoyed our conversation!" she said, sliding out of the classroom.

Seventh period of the day.  Friday.  LET ME OUT.  The kids were not up to working.  They were pulling out everything, personal questions, the difference between Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish, when did you start wearing glasses?
"Look you guys, I can tell you are not really feeling it today.  Let's just get through this warm up and then I have games for you".
"Why is the first one in the imperfect instead of the preterite?"
"Well Chicho, 'siempre' implies a general time frame instead of a specific one, so go with the imperfect".
"Okay, I got it".
"So, why DO we study Spanish in high school?" another kid asked in an attempt to avoid the warm up. 
"Just lucky"
"So, why does 'se niega' switch to 'se nego' in the preterite?"  Chico asked.

What the fuck was it, opposite day?  The rest of the class was going nuts and Chicho was actually asking good questions, instead of openly talking about jumping people and doing drugs.
"Well, Chicho, lucky for us you don't have to do stem changes in the preterite"

"Oh, okay.  I think I'm getting this" he responded, diligently correcting his work while in the middle of a seventh period, Friday-circus.

It had been that kind of day.