One minute a day keeps the fantods away.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

So today, then:

There were no good minutes today. I love my job, I enjoy the company of my fellow teachers. 95% of my students are great kids. I feel very comfortable with them at the helm in the future.

The 5% make me reconsider every movement I make. When a kid gets pleasure out of murdering your day...

Anyway, tomorrow can only be better. And I get to see the nephew this weekend.

Monday, January 03, 2005

So today, then:

One good minute.

Goofy ass kid in my late afternoon class. Always looking to be looked at, always making a comment. The type who makes a face for twenty minutes and won't stop until someone notices and laughs.

Today he's late because the bus back from the P.E. at the bowling alley is late. (The state of Physical Education at the Secondary level should be obvious to whoever utters those words.) He rushes in and finds his seat and collapses. He's quiet. Too quiet. But every time I turn around, I can sense he's doing something. I wait until my cheeta-like reflexes will be most unexpected. I catch him in the act of lifting his sweatshirt up to reveal a t-shirt beneath.

The Italian Stalion, it reads.

"Like Rockie!" He shouts, gleeful like a ten-year-0ld girl.

One good minute.

Allow me to recommend:
Anything written, performed, or produced by Will Johnson
John Vanderslice's spring tour diary (if you're in the mood for a touch of melancholy...)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

So today, then:

One good minute.

My goal as a teacher is not to be liked. To put it another way--I want respect, I want positive thought processes, I want enrichment. I'm not out to be anybody's friend, here. And I hate it when people talk about how much their students like/respect them.

That said.

Today, in my first hour Senior Composition class, a student asked a question. Something to the effect of "so what are we doing next semester, Mr. ______?" And I was confused for a moment, because this class is only a semester long. So I said, "K_____, you don't have me next semester. Senior classes are only a semester long."

And there was this genuine shock on his face that doesn't last past 10th grade for most suburban kids, a shock that's half fear and half bewilderment. And he said, "What am I going to do? You're the only teacher who doesn't get mad at me for walking in late."

Another kid piped up: "You're the only teacher who listens to my stupid stories."

K______ dropped his chin to his chest and sighed, a heavy, distressed exhalation. "Well this is just not good."

I'll let you decide if this is a good thing.

One good minute.

Allow me to recommend:
Bloc Party
Tommy Boy
The resurgent sixth season of The West Wing.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

So today, then:

One good minute, in increments:

0:00-0:12: Waking up next to my wife, her rolling over to me. Listening to her heart beat through the palm of her hand.

0:13-0:20: Reading in an article about Ukraine, in The New Yorker, that the state-controlled news channel was broadcasting propaganda, and all the while the deaf interpreter in the corner of the screen kept signing, over and over, "The election is rigged. Do not believe their lies." The beauty of subversion, and of the human spirit.

0:21-045: Listening to an old man arguing with his friend about gay marriage.
Old Man, Rabid Conservative (OMRC): But it comes down to this--I'm just completely against two men being able to get married.
Old Man, Moderate Liberal (OMML): But don't you see? It's no big deal!
OMRC: But the next thing you know, they're letting brothers get married!

0:46-0:50: My realization that these men don't know the only true thing in the world--you can't stop progress. You, you will die a bitter, lonely old man, and no one will remember your world.

0:51-1:00: Listening, for about the fifty-millionth time, to "Bean and Sprout" by Joanna Newsom, and that part where she whispers, so strangely and profoundly, "R y'interested?"

One good minute.

Allow me to recommend:
The Power and the Glory--Graham Greene
The new M83 record
Driving with the wind on the interstate

Monday, December 06, 2004

So today, then:

Teaching, at least at the high school level, is 85% patience and 15% frustration. An example.

I'm talking to my Seniors about persuasion, about how it has become an industry not to be fucked with, called marketing. We watched a PBS special called The Persuaders, and we were discussing the implications of a free-press being taken over by advertising and marketing (a Boston tabloid sold its cover-page to JetBlue, effectively selling whatever soul they had left to sell). Not to toot my own horn, but this shit is interesting and vital to understanding why corporations are not our friends.

A girl in the front row opens a magazine. Not like slyly opens it, trying to avoid my attention and therefore being mildly tolerable. Actually puts it up in the air to crack the spine, makes a big show out of it.

I say, "C_______, what are you doing?"

And she gets all offended and says, "What? I'm just looking for my horoscope!"

One good minute.

Allow me to recommend:
Victory at Sea--Memories Fade
Marilynne Robinson--Gilead
Two cans of Mountain Dew at nine a.m.
High School Cafeteria Pizza

Sunday, November 28, 2004

So today, then:

One good minute, courtesy of Meet the Press***1***. This is about a forty-five second exchange between Al Sharpton (at his best a great mix of James Brown and Howard Dean; at his worst...) and two very hardcore conservative high-profile crazies. The conversation veered between absolute chaos and genuine discussion. Falwell came off as his normal self, but this Land fellow was trying to angle in as the "less-crazy, more palatable" version of a Right-Winger. Sharpton wasn't having it. Land finally crossed the threshold with his comparison of the Right Wing's attempt to outlaw abortion with Martin Luther King's drive for Civil Rights in the American South. Insert your best Sharpton impression when necessary. My favorite line from Falwell is in bold, and should be the soundbite for every breath he makes in public from here on in. Enjoy.

REV. SHARPTON: The right wing was opposed to the civil rights movement.
DR. LAND: Martin Luther King Jr. is a personal hero of mine, Al.
DR. LAND: And he imposed his moral values on Lester Maddox and George Wallace, thank God.
REV. SHARPTON: No, no, what he did was fought against the Southern conservative values of those days.
DR. LAND: No, no. He passed a law that made it illegal.
REV. SHARPTON: Don't rewrite history, sir.
DR. LAND: No. He passed a law that made it illegal.
REV. SHARPTON: He fought the Southern Convention that you represent. Dr. King fought that convention. Let's not rewrite history.
DR. LAND: Al, you know, you want a right wing...
REV. SHARPTON: Are you going to deny that the Southern Baptist Convention was for segregation?
DR. LAND: No. We've apologized for it.
REV. SHARPTON: So don't say that Dr. King...
DR. LAND: And we...
REV. SHARPTON: Don't distort that history.
DR. LAND: Dr. King passed a civil rights law...
REV. SHARPTON: Had to fight your convention to do that.
DR. LAND: He passed a civil rights law.
REV. SHARPTON: And he had to fight your convention to do that.
DR. LAND: All right.
REV. SHARPTON: And I'm fighting your convention to keep people...
MR. RUSSERT: All right. All right.
DR. FALWELL: Give the little babies the right to vote.
MR. RUSSERT: All right. We're gonna take...
REV. SHARPTON: And I want those babies to have a good life, but I don't want them not to have civil liberties.
MR. RUSSERT: We're going to take a break. Peace, peace, peace. We'll be right back.
REV. SHARPTON: How can you say peace with these folks?

***1*** Two programs I don't miss on Sunday mornings: Meet the Press and The McLaughlin Group. Sunday isn't Sunday without some hypocrit politician backpedalling or Eleanor Clift dutifully berating one (or more) pigheaded Conservative blowhard.

Postscript (1)

Hear...Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days
Read...Graham Greene Brighton Rock

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

So today, then.

Pep assembly schedule. Kids get to leave early by class to go to the auditorium. I have 10th graders 8th hour. They're supposed to leave two minutes after the 9th graders. So I say, "Today, you are 9th graders." I was tired; I didn't have the heart to keep them two extra minutes. I nod and raise my eyebrows. "Right?" Most of them get it right away. Then, the others.

One doesn't get it.

A girl--a nice girl, let me insert that, but not a good student--looks at me, quizzed. Her brain is churning. Lightbulb slowly burns. Like a good standup comedian (and that's my metaphor for teaching--it's like doing the same fifty minute set of jokes to the same audience for nine months and getting depressed at the lack of laughter), I wait. I can see this coming a mile away. She's confused, and when confused sometimes kids get snotty.

"We're Sophomores," she says, as if I'm the dumbest of the dumb.

One good minute.

Postscript (1):

I'll do better.

Postscript (2):

I spend my hours: teaching (themes of grief, loneliness and physical self-love in Ordinary People; trying not to snooze through House on Mango Street; doing my own bit of subversion via Super Size Me and selections from No Logo); buying a house (financing 101, saving money for a three hundred dollar TV, worrying about interest rates); spending (limited) time with the wife (going to the DMV, sleeping, watching The Incredibles); reading (Brighton Rock, No Logo, and The Quiet American); listening (The Arcade Fire, still; Gillian Welch; Styrofoam)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?