Dec 23, 2008

Reunions and Teachers

Reunions and Teachers

   We celebrated the tenth year our class from Mandeville High School graduated and went on to bigger and better things.
Even though a high school reunion is très weird, I actually wallowed in the weirdness. Apart from not recognizing one my friends from school AT ALL (which was very embarrassing) I really had loads of fun. Last year, I had gone to a high school reunion with a friend and it was horrible. Albeit, I got über drunk but that is besides the point.
So, I must admit I had low expectations for this reunion. My friend Melanie convinced me to go (here we are together).
It is like going to a review of your life that you have to own up to people you may not really have desired to supply a status update (or they would be on your twitter).
   I found out some of my classmates are now working for Microsoft; another is a professor; another one is a stand-up comic and one is a urologist. A few unemployed and lots of moms and dads.
   I’m a former-monk-now-school-teacher-cum writer. No matter how you shake it: a reunion is a battle of comparisons. “So, what are you doing now?” is the question rampant in the room.
 At the reunion I spoke to someone who had been following my blog when I was on my road trip this past summer (see previous entries); she told me unsolicitedly she enjoyed reading my stuff. She said she was waiting for my novel. Hmmmm. I want to write a novel but I am afraid of the solitude. Hah. I can only write holed up in coffee houses and in between frequent masturbations.
After that, the writing process, between cups of coffee and some smokes, becomes arduous and I miss flesh and blood people. I figure to give my fictional character life I should enter back into the human circle.
So I have a note to my readers: the novel I have yet to write will not be on the scale of Les Misérables but it won’t be the puny exercises of the Spiderwick Chronicles either (who wants to pony up ten bucks for a cheap pleasure that can just be as easily gotten with a trip to the Public Library?). Although, I loved the movie. So, I think, for now, I will have to consign my dreams to the prison chamber of my mind and satisfy my would-be customers with ephemeral writings with adjacent pictures. This blog does not have a theme. I will need to focus on themeing my blogs in the future but … If I could find a job writing I would quit teaching today. I do not feel like teaching. I know. It is a sin to say such a thing, especially when you are a teacher … but I have to say I put in my resignation the other day. I will not be back at my school come Fall of 2009. I have five months until I am unemployed. I need a job. I need to finish writing my thesis (I know … it is long overdue) I need to pay a traffic fine I incurred in Ozona, Texas ($300 and there is a warrant for my arrest). So, if you send me an email and I do not reply, you can safely assume that I am behind bars writing my novel. My criminal record is the reason I have not given a detention to any of my students in the past five months. If they only knew what was on their teacher’s record. So, for the record, I do not dole out punishments anymore. Although, the quality of mercy was not strained. For, yesterday, the last day of school, a student had his iPhone splayed out on his lap during the final exam. These are juniors, so they know better. Come on. I thought to myself. You do not do that during an exam, especially the final exam. I went up to him and said, “Are you crazy? Give me that.” He obediently gave over the phone. I figured I would return the device after the exam was done. But, then I thought, “what was he doing with the phone? Was he text messaging answers to another student? Jesus.” This is the easiest way for students to cheat:
“what’s the answer to number 9?”. Students love to one up the teacher. Teaching, I have learned, is a battle zone where altruism does not exist. It is a battle of the One versus the many -- and I do not mean that in an ontological way. Or, as a veteran teacher told me, “teaching is like keeping a herd of horses at bay".
   But back to the story: just as I confiscated his phone, the assistant principal walked into the room. I said to her, “Here is a confiscated phone” and she said to the blanched-faced student, “Get it after the holidays.”
After she left the student said, “Why did you do that?!”  The other students were exceptionally jubilant that I had caught him. I am sure in the future, when he is thirty, at his high school reunion, he will still be convinced I scarred him for life.

   The entire class of twenty-seven had bright smiles on their faces -- there was communal satisfaction. When the exam was completed, one of the students gave me a Christmas card. Inside was written a note thanking me for teaching her and that she would miss the class (I get a different bunch of students next semester). Newton comes in handy here: for every action there is an opposite an equal reaction. Applies to physics, but could easily be applied to the classroom.

Café Luna New Orleans, LA

Search This Blog