Friday, October 24, 2014

Life on Mars

"Select your insurance carefully!  The State Health Plan has changed and there could be catastrophic difficulties with your finances if you make mistakes with your coverage!"

I heard someone loudly whistling the Kill Bill music while walking through one of the outdoor corridors on my way to class.  I spun around and saw no one. 

"I have to go to the bathroom!" the child who had once faked taking a shit in my class announced, squeezing his legs together in a fake gesture of desperation.
"No, wait until your next break".
"I caaaaan't!" he moaned dramatically.

"Gentlemen, please leave the meeting.  Women, stay".
"About once a year, the head custodian Miss Jane speaks to me about the faculty bathrooms.  Ladies, don't throw a used sanitary napkin in the trash.  Miss Jane has ended up touching one with her bare hands before.  Wrap up used tampons before throwing them in the bin.......".
Oh my.

"I peed myself!" my friend howled artificially.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw him lick his hand, rub it over his crotch, and lick it again.
"He's pretending to pee in the trash can!" another kid howled.

"Think about your retirement!  The Teacher's Retirement System and Social Security are not enough!  You won't be able to live like you do now!"

I walked to my hooptie car, the one with one half flat tire and a door that sounds like it will fall off whenever I open it.
"That was the most depressing meeting I have every attended" I announced to a co-worker.
"I know!  Fuck up your insurance, you're screwed.  Guess what!  Your amazing quality of living is going to go down even more if you try to retire!  And, who ever is screaming at their class right now probably just trashed the bathroom!".

I sat on my sister's front porch, my third Friday beer in hand.  The crazy proud Muslim dude that she had befriended on the sidewalk was sitting beside me, telling us about how ISIS is a made up conspiracy and how Obama killed Qaddafi.
Well, maybe not Qaddafi, but 'my man Momar', to be precise.
"You know," he continued, "I am not into white women.  Your daughter though is very pretty, green hair and all.  But this one," he stated, gestering to me,
"She is black man hot, butt...all...."
"Thanks man, nice to meet you" I said in exit, shaking his hand.

I knew I looked hot.  Fatter than I have ever been in my whole life.  Wearing a T-shirt advertising the elementary school where I work and a pair of pants from Target that have one leg longer than the other because the hem fell out.  Hair pulled back in ugly ponytail and clipped to the sides of my head with hair pins.  Glasses and smeared make-up assembled in the car at seven a.m. My niece's Creepers on my feet with grey socks that are supposed to be white. 

You win some, you lose some.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rainy Monday

I walked through the backyard barefoot, with Lola.  I saw my new neighbors in their backyard and in an attempt to be nice after all of the tensions, walked toward the fence to say hello.  I stumbled awkwardly on the stone stairs and felt one of my toes tangling and twisting.  I halfway wondered how it had managed to not be completely ripped off. 
"Shit that hurts, shit that hurts, shit that hurts...." I mumbled over and over again, hopping away on my other foot, knowing full and well I had broken another bone.
No good deed goes unpunished.

I pushed my cart full of Spanish-English dictionaries through the school, regretting that I had designed such an elaborate, cart-requiring activity on a day when I could hardly walk.  My toe had doubled in size and turned a variety of reds, blues and purples both on top of the toe, under the toe and over the top of my foot.  I was wincing and my lower back was starting to hurt.  A weird sheen of sweat was covering my face and neck.  I worried that I was beginning to smell.

"Jay wrote this," the cranky, anti-social child said, rising up in front of me in the middle of a lesson.  A tiny, folded triangular piece of paper was in his hand.
"Did he give it to you?"
"No.  I asked him if I could read it".
I opened the note.
"Eat my shit" was written clearly and boldly in the middle.

"Here they are," my niece announced, handing me her pair of Creepers.  I had borrowed them the last time I broke my foot and they are actually some of the best shoes around for stabilizing fucked up bones.
"Just wipe that fake blood of the white part" she continued, plopping the shoes into my hands.  

Our school has grown wildly in a short period of time, requiring the construction of an additional building that is attached to the main building by stairways and covered walkways.  Unfortunately, accessing the additional building with a cart requires rolling said cart out of the front door and down the sidewalk in front of the school, re-entering the campus and pushing the beast up a ramp.

A torrential rain storm was occurring.

There was no way I was rolling a cart filled with materials through a lightening storm and instead parked it at the bottom of a covered stairwell.  I entered my class and a couple of boys volunteered to walk down the stairs and each retrieve a box of dictionaries.  I began my class.

As I proceeded, I began to wonder where the boys were.  Ten minutes had passed for a trip that takes maybe two minutes.  I sent a girl to check on them.
"They're not there" she informed me, returning to the classroom.
I sent her to check again and saw her walking with a teacher toward a room that was a flight up from where the boys had gone to get the dictionaries.

Suddenly, the boys came into view, pushing the cart up a ramp through the outdoor walkway, wet papers flying everywhere.
I was speechless.
"How, wha....." I sputtered.
"Why is this here?"
"We thought you wanted it!"
"What....wait, how did you get it here?  Where has the cart been?"
"Well first, we pushed it back into the building.  Then, we rolled past the front desk to the other side of the school and took the elevator upstairs.  Then, we rolled around the second floor....."
"But, how did you get the cart back down to the gym area?"  This cart is no small cart.  The damn thing is like five feet tall and was loaded down with like forty pounds of teaching shit.
"We carried it!"
"Down a flight of stairs?"
"Yeah, and then we pushed it outside, around the building, up the ramp...."
"Why would you think I would ask that of you?"
They stared back at me blankly.
"I, I, I don't know what to say.  You have no idea how to follow directions, but I applaud your problem solving abilities.  Um, thank you for your diligance and determination to get that cart in here".

I looked out through the pouring rain.

How the hell was I going to get it back to the main building?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Alone on a Hill

As I drove behind the high school to pick my niece up, I saw a school bus stop, so I of course stopped.  It was a bus from the school where I work and my students poured out of the bus in front of the Housing Authority. 
"It's weird, Emma.  How can people say that racial disparity doesn't exist anymore?  Every one of the kids that got out at the Housing Authority were of color.  Not a single white kid over there".
"It's bullshit" she responded, as a few of them waved and called my name. I waved fondly to them, happy to be recognized. 

It was dark and I was racing to school, like always.  I roared down Memorial and slowed for the red light.  A car was awkwardly placed at the intersection, halfway through it and partially in the crosswalk.  I saw a dark figure shoot out of the car. 
I lowered my window. 
"Oh my God, oh no, oh my God!" an older African American woman screamed frantically.
I watched speechless as she and another woman dragged a child out of traffic that was screaming and grasping her leg in pain. 
My head was hanging through the window and not a sound came from my mouth.  People started to honk.  I should get out, I thought, they don't understand, there are very few street lights, no reflective things in the road, no crossing guard with reflective vests to cross these kids to the school.  Something bad has happened, they don't know.  The woman continued to wail, over and over again in the early morning darkness, horrified by what she had done. 
It was a guttural sound, "Oh my God, oh my Jesus, no!" true terror, true horror, over and over again.  
I was afraid I would get hit by oncoming traffic if I got out of my car.
 I did nothing.  

The light turned green.  I slowly guided my car around the ill fated car that had attempted to take a left on a green light in the darkness.  I pulled my phone out.

"911 can I help you?"
"A child has been hit by a car..." I said slowly, my voice starting to falter, realizing as I said it what had happened. 
"at the corner of.... of East Lake and Memorial...," my voice was seizing in my throat.  I was crying. 
"East Lake Terrace or East Lake Drive?"
"I'm not the new Drew Charter".
"Hold on a minute".
"By the Y?"
"Yes, by the Y".
"City of Atlanta?"
"Yes, City of Atlanta".
"Okay, we have your location.  Others are calling in about it".

"Thank you".

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Greatest

"Oliver.  You were not in class yesterday.  Where were you?" Jack asked Oliver, flatly.
"Oliver, Jack just asked you a question" a teacher interjected.
"Earl.  You were not in class yesterday. Where were you?" Jack repeated, verbatim.
"I peed myself" Oliver responded, flatly.
"Oh Jack, Oliver just gave you some personal information.  I know that Oliver's grandfather has been very ill and.."
"No," Oliver interjected, "I peed myself".
Jack looked at Oliver, expressionless as the three continued on their way.  

"All of you, raise two fingers" I hollered at the class.
"Repeat after me:  I understand the rules of hot potato.  I understand that if I ignore those rules, Maestra Hilary will be mean, yell at me and take all of the games away and make me do something boring.  She will make it her hobby".
The students repeated and the norteño music began again.
El tío borracharles, siempre anda de fiesta es más que bohemio.  Le encanta la peda siempre anda en la bola, no distingue marcas ni le hace la cruda
They were starting to mimic the words to the song, which would have been impressive if they weren't singing about an alcoholic uncle that would drink any type of liquor in front of him, without ever getting a hangover.

"Okay class, remember, today is pay day.  If I hear Maestra Hilary say 'stop talking' during Spanish, pay day is off".
A little boy sitting behind the teacher's desk looked at me earnestly while I plugged my flashdrive into the desktop.
"Don't say 'stop talking'" he whispered.
"You are the best teacher.  The best Spanish teacher ever.  You're better that Mrs. Warner.  Why, you're better than Mrs. Newman..." he continued, voice low and eyes lowered.

I am the best ever.