Friday, May 27, 2011


student 1: (playfully socks student 2 in the shoulder)

student 2: (playfully taps student 1 in the balls)

student 1: (bowls over)

student 2: awww, my bad, dude. did i hurt you?

student 1: (laughing) naw, i'm straight.

me: (to student 2) did you just sock him in the nuts?

student 2: (laughing) hell yeah. the secret to a good ball tap is flicking the wrist, ms. banana.

me: excellent. note to self . . .


sooooooo . . . i've been called back for next year.

no, no exclamation point.

i AM happy, of course.

wait, no, RELIEVED. "happy" definitely is NOT the word.

out of 45 teachers laid off in my district, i'm one of 8 who has been asked to return . . . so far.

approximately 20 more people will get off of the RIF list if/when a "renegotiated contract vote" goes through. after that, another 17 will remain on the list. then, IF governor brown obtains approval for the tax extension, then the rest may be called back at any time thereafter.

for my part, any small modicum of joy i might feel at being able to return to my teaching position next year is substantially subdued by my colleagues' absence.

Friday, May 20, 2011


(1990, sun valley, ca: i'm the tall androgynous-looking kid with the paige-boy haircut . . . president of the future teachers of america club, 6th grade, at roscoe elementary school. oh, and btw, i was a narcissistic asshole back then, so that's why i wrote "me beautiful me" . . . i'm a dick.)

i hermit.

i hermit when things in my life go awry, which is, in recent days, much more often than i'd like. i hermit because it's painful--physically, mentally and emotionally painful--asking for help or for comfort. i prefer squirelling myself away into some dark corner and working things out.


so, i've been hermitting.

several weeks ago, i did, indeed, get RIFed (reduction in force, made redundant . . . canned . . . you get the idea).

i thought i was fine. i made jokes to all my friends about how i'd wash their windows, mow their lawns, clip their toe nails . . . and in a worst case scenario, prostitute my wares to the highest bidder.

well, i'm not ok.

as i face down the real possibility of losing the one thing i've ever really wanted to do, the one thing i've ever done well--teaching--i'm finding i'm definitely NOT OK.

teaching is all i've ever wanted to do.

when i was in 6th grade at roscoe elementary school in sun valley, i was president of the future teachers of america club.

and sure, i also wanted to be a rockette, an astronaut, mary poppins . . . and at my family's not-so-subtle behest, a lawyer . . . i always came back to teaching as my dream.

it was my FIRST CHOICE. yes, FIRST. not second or third. not plan B or C or D. it's what i've always dreamt of doing.


and i believed--mistakenly so--that as long as i worked hard, loved the kids, taught them well, encouraged them, helped them, served as a good role model i'd get to keep on teaching.

but i was wrong.

although tenured, i didn't have sufficient seniority with which to save my faculty position.

and, apparently, what matters most is years of service, not the quality of that service.

it's so fucked. good and truly fucked. sans lube. dry, painful, inexpert, passionless fucked.

y'know, they say that "those who can't do, teach" . . . but some of us who CAN, CHOOSE to teach and teach WELL.

and we teach, yes, but we do so much more besides. we encourage and nurture and counsel and laugh and bring joy and knowledge and perspective and questioning and understanding . . . and if we're lucky, inspiration.

i take it back, peeps. i take it all back.

i don't want to wash your windows or mow your lawns or dole out pedicures or blowjobs.

i don't want to be a rockette or an astronaut or mary poppins or a lawyer.

i don't want to be a textbook editor or an administrator or a substitute.

i want to be what i've always been, what i've always known i'd be and what i always hope to be: a teacher.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


i awoke, only to find my lungs empty
through the night, so it seems i'm not breathing
and now my dreams are nothing like they were meant to be
and i'm breaking down
i think i'm breaking down

and i'm afraid to sleep because of what haunts me
such as living with the uncertainties
that i'll never find the words to say
which would completely explain
just how i'm breaking down

i've become, the simple souvenir of someone's kill
like the sea, i'm constantly changing from calm to ill
madness fills my heart and soul
as if the great divide could swallow me whole
oh, how i'm breaking down

someone come, someone come and save my life
maybe i'll sleep when i am dead
but now it's like the night is taking up sides
with all the worries that occupy the back of my mind
could it be this misery will suffice

--dallas green, city and colour, "sleeping sickness"