Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Don't Look Too Closely

I left the house at 5:45 this morning, had my coffe/bagel order anticipated by the extremely shrill coffee ladies, whose friendliness-burnt-coffee-customer-recognition has recently pulled them ahead of the begrudging-better-prices-spoiled-milk place, as well as the great-coffee-free-philosophy-legally-insane-client place. I drive 55 miles to work, in a haze of sports talk radio, NPR, and punk rock. The 408 is cold, very cold, and that walk from front lot to classroom inevitably sucks. I turn on the lamps, put the Pharcyde on repeat, erase the homework board, write the homework board; erase the starter board, write the starter board; clean the overhead, prepare the overhead; straighten desks, leave graded assignments on desks. I go get the attendance sheets and make the same observations about the copier/sports teams/crap in my mailbox.

Then I teach. I teach vocabulary and spelling and phonics. I teach past tense irregular verbs and persuasive essays and literature. I teach cause and effect and confirming predictions and I encourage higher order thinking regarding a fictional immigrant father's assumption of bus driver authority in the American public school system. I teach how to read questions and eliminate wrong answers, the difference in answering the why when you were supposed to tackle the how. I provide the data necessary to update our reading goal sheets and our big goal sheets, and reward accordingly. I thank two students for arriving on time. I send a student to copy The Reality of School essay after repeated disruptions and tell him to use his homework to write it on becuase he previously demonstrated he did not value it as an instructional tool. I look around at one point and some kids are finishing comprehension questions, some are independently reading, some are prewriting an essay that we'll pick up later, some are taking reading quizzes, some are at the library or in transit, some are quizzing each other on spelling and vocabulary, and it's all fine. I teach myths and introduce the concept of point of view.

There is a basketball game. We underachieve. I get into it with the refs. Players whine about being hurt and I want to repeat to them something a coach once told me, about the difference between injured and hurt, but don't, because under one condition it is still possible to perform a sex act with one's mother, while under the other heading such activities are physically impossible, not just socially frowned upon. I don't offer this insight, beacuse it is not good to talk like that to 12-13 year-olds, even though I was spoken to in a similar vein and even though they will (clearly) remember the distinction many years hence. My losing streak now stands at 22 games and there is nothing funny or ironic about it.

The return journey is also 55 miles.

At home, I walk in the door and immediately shout three facts about Chuck Norris. I eat humos, whole wheat bagels, and Diet Coke and feel like a female undergrad. I grade for 45 minutes. I check email and my email sucks. I need to grade. Two hours of work. There is so much grading to be done. 8:30 until 10:30 and the week will be substantially better. There was two hours last night and it was good. I will blog and then I will work, while the West Wing and my housemate's thrash-core meld in the background.

Tomorrow I will leave my house at 5:45

I used to get these anxiety/ paranoia dreams, c. age 9-12. Maybe a dozen times. Asleep, I had this first person perspective of a landscape -- sometimes autumn leaves, sometimes sand, once something akin to the Windows "pipes" screen savers. The perspective would start to pan back and I would see how immense the view was, how it would never be possible to conceive of how big everything was, how the enormity of the finite built upon itself. There would come a deep escalating beat, like the Tolkien doom-doom from within Moria, and there would be the need to try and quantify what I was seeing, even as it became increasingly clear that this could never be possible. The enormity of the finite. I'd freak the fuck out, wake up panting and sweating and scared, and my limited capacity to explain just made everything that much worse.

I don't remember when they ended, those quasi-attacks, but every once in a while, I start thinking of the way my days lego-click into each other -- this masonry of an ideal -- of old Celtic strongholds, their foundations dripping in the blood of strong men, and of a scattering array of data-point days that stretch without end.


Blogger Johanna said...

Another TFAer with an anxiety disorder! Welcome to our club.

9:12 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

More like existential disorder.

9:23 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

You're definitely the only person I know who as a kid would have had an "existential disorder."

11:56 AM  
Blogger ms. frizzle said...

Beautiful post. I had existential disorder as a kid - and still do, worse than ever right now. And anxiety, too. I think TFA screens in favor of both of these things.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Ms. Sigh Ants said...

this is the first time i've visited and i'm impressed. beautifully written post.

5:46 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I had the paranoid dream that I was the only human on the planet and everything else was a machine/android/facade created just to keep me sated and stupidly content in a "Soylent Green" kind of way.

Then there was the slow wave rolling over me dream.
Now I have the dream where a kkid totally challenges my authority and I feel like I'm drowning. It's been years, no, months, no, weeks since a kid has done this to me, but, still.

I feel like my days are all the same too. I received a slip of paper listing all the leave days I have taken this year, and NOT ONE SICK DAY.

I think I'm due. And so are you, kiddo.

8:56 PM  

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