I love texting! It is the perfect communication because every statement is a kind of command–no questioning looks or frowns or eye-rolls–though they do have emoticons for that now. If someone sends me a text that I don’t want to hear I simply ignore it and it is almost as if it never happened! Lauren texts that she needs my body–well I hear and respond instantly, but then sometimes she texts that she wants “to talk”–and those I don’t always notice. When Charlie the Dog texts that he’s coming over with beer to play ping-pong I’ll clear my schedule, but when he needs to borrow $20.00 for gas I can jump in the car and park around the corner! Texting is great for school, too. Sometimes I’ll project a literature conversation with the entire class onto the large screen–nobody talks, only flurries of deep-thinking texts! Today we discussed Huck Finn:
“hck finnz my dog”
“you da dog”
“wanna co and ‘paint my fence’ fo an apple?”
“dats tom syer, btch”
“$much fo a smokin’ apple?”
“10 a bag fo greenist apples!”
“I’ll paint yr freakin’ fence, fool!”
It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World
I have this reoccurring dream wherein I wake up, prepare for school–dressing nattily in a blue suit with a red tie and a black felt derby, spats–pick-up my antique leather satchel and ebony walking stick and launch through the front door…only to find that I am falling, falling, falling to the street below. Then I am suddenly standing in class in my underwear–no lesson-plan, their cruel laughter and a shrieking school-bell pounding my head. Then I wake, bathed in sweat, kill the alarm, prepare for school–dressing nattily in derby and spats–launching myself into the cold urban twilight without cares or plans–only possibility.
Today is April fool’s Day and so I will–as I do every year–pull a fast one on my freshmen. Last year I hired Doug and Stan to dress as jack-booted thugs from the National Institute of Health and burst into the classroom with the news that an African student who had been absent for a few days (he went to Disneyland with his family) had contracted Ebola and that they would be locking down our classroom and quarantining each of our families in their homes…I really got them with that one! This year we took a political angle: Doug and Stan arrived as Homeland Security officers–full costume with badges, handcuffs, sunglasses and plastic assault rifles was only $39.00 on Amazon!– and proceeded to pull each boy out one at a time and accuse him of consuming pornography on a device that was also used for schoolwork. This was a felonious sex crime and they would spend the next twenty years taking it up the behind in federal prison. You should have seen their faces! Though the funny part was that nobody denied anything!
Fool Me Once
I told my students to make a movie about a heroic figure and offered myself as a subject. They interviewed me and followed me around for a day with cellphones. They recorded me spending 60 minutes worrying over a single essay. I spoke eloquently about my philosophy of teaching (don’t over-plan, stay in the moment, keep the focus on the moment to moment miracle of learning). I walked them through the teacher’s lounge, but we were thrown out because that crowd can’t go for a minute without uttering some disturbed vulgarity. I cried about my ruinous marriage to a Thai transgender beauty queen and then shed a single tear about the small-minded test-obsessed conventionality that passes for education in our public schools. I then tearfully and with rising indignation confessed my fantasy of leading a mob of angry torch-bearing students to the district office to demand a school without walls–a YouTube school– where I, the Super-teacher lectured against a background of spiraling galaxies, broadcast in multiple languages to a billion students world-wide! The movie has been up for three days and already I have 50 hits and 14 Likes on YouTube! The Revolution has begun!
The Show Must Go On
I promised a pizza party today, but a minor miscalculation sent things south. I placed the Take-and-Bake into the classroom microwave while the kids crowded around hoping to snag the first piece. But eight minutes turned out to be too long for a Take-and-Bake because when I pulled it out a hunk of bubbling cheese wrapped around my wrist and I snapped my hand, screaming. The pizza flew across the room and landed on the back of Liam’s neck. Of course he screamed, then fell out of his chair and cried on the floor, while the rest of the kids peeled the pieces off his neck and onto paper plates. So in the end everyone had pizza and things worked out okay.
But No Cigar
I was walking home from school last night when I happened on a small concert in a front yard. The musicians were all geezers playing German polka. I thought: What a waste! All these talented musicians playing polka! I shouted my request: “Louie! Louie!” The band stopped short, the conductor smiled, pulled down his pants and showed me his skinny bare butt. Then all the musicians stood up, turned and did the same! Then together they sat down, flipped through a songbook and settled into a polka version of Maroon 5’s: “If I Never See Your Face Again”.
I danced all the way home.
When my mother was seven she got a dog named Poochie and when I was born she called me “Poochie”, too. When I was thirty, Mother told me that I lived up to my namesake because I never left home, lived off others and farted all day. The day she died Mother told me to find someone to take care of me. So I found Li Xiu on eHarmony, but she didn’t speak English and that didn’t last. Now I go to the park and watch the squirrels with friends. Sometimes the white van comes and brings us sandwiches.
Today I walked the class to the river, leapt on to the picnic table and pontificated with huge, wild gestures about the urgent importance of using the proper pronouns and subject-verb combinations, while the kids huddled around, gazing up as if I were Moses on the mountain. They filmed me with their smart-phones, inspiring me to act even larger, more ridiculous and outrageous: whispering love poetry to the moon and challenging the sun to a death-duel–and the children screamed their joy for grammar…But then I saw the two squirrels on the branch behind my head, fighting over a walnut.
My favorite Blogger is Love Teach, so today I am imitating his style!
10 Things That Happen When You are a Teacher:
1. You get divorced.
2. You become an alcoholic.
3. You lose your house and family.
4. You wake up in the bushes in a bad part of town at 3am having forgotten how you got there.
5. You shovel home the antidepressants.
6. You fall helplessly in love with every woman you see.
7. You watch a lot of Netflix and eat a lot of ice cream.
8. You beg God to reveal your mission in life.
9. You fantasize about blowing things up.
10. You become a superhero who rescues children.
I found some funny mushrooms in my backyard and brought them to class. “These could be deadly or delicious!” I said. “Only Education can guide us…And so it is in Life!” Declan, our German exchange student, recognized them: “Those are…how do you say?…special.” He took them, cut them into chocolate and formed smiley-face balls, which he called ‘German Happy Balls’. The students went crazy, paying $10 per ball! I ate four and later released all of my students from class: “Go home forever!” I yelled. “Make mistakes! Experience life! School is a complete fucking waste!”