With all of my heart, I want to sleep in. On Tuesdays, I do not have a class until 11:20. But, I have this gnawing feeling, always, this gnawing feeling that I will be slipped that little sheet, that little sheet of paper that announces a schedule change. At 7:30, I stir. At 7:35am - bedroom time where the clock is fast, I get out of bed.
Minutes after my head clears the sleep away, I hear a scooter and honking outside. Of course, then I hear the banging on my steel patio gate and my name being called. Yes, my landlord is here unannounced at the worst time possible. I am not even dressed. Hastily, I grab the pair of Pradas that are on my window sill and put them on. From my closet, I grab the pink Chinese horse t and put it on. This is certainly not how I want to start my morning.
Naturally, I am not too pleased by this surprise visit. When I open the door, I try to shoo him away but he does not shoo. He, with his wife in tow, barges into my apartment. This really pisses me off. This part would be comical if I was not so angry. They go into my kitchen and open cupboards and chatter in Chinese. This whole time, I am trying to tell them to leave. I do not know the Chinese words for “Get the Hell Out.” All I can do is shoo and say ‘bye.’ Of course ‘bye’ probably means something completely different in Chinese. I am really pissed off.
In the distance, I hear the music playing on the sports field. The students are doing their morning routine. The landlord is trying to clear away the tray from last night that is by my sofa. I shoo him away. Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye is all I can say as I shoo shoo shoo him. I am really pissed off, really pissed off.
At this point, since I am dressed, I want to get to school. Finally, the landlord gets what I am trying to say. He apologizes, I think. He and his wife leave. Yes, the day has not even started and I am PISSED.
Maybe I should not be so angry but I am angry because I have made it very clear. The landlord is not to intrude upon me in the mornings. This seems like it would be a no brainer. This is as clear as I can make this. When he finally gets out of my hair, I am really angry. Again, part of me thinks ‘Screw it! This is not worth it.’
Later, I get an email from Michael after I had sent Michael an email explaining the situation. The landlord wanted to apologize. When I return the email, I do not write “Oh everything is okay;” I write “Never is it okay to come to my apartment on a school morning.” I have made it very clear that at the moment I am under a lot of pressure at school and I do not need the added pressure of a doddling landlord. He is really a nice guy but he knows I am a teacher at a middle school and that I leave in the morning to go teach. Usually, I let this sort of thing blow over. Unfortunately, I may be suffering from a strange side affect of being sober. In the past year, there is an outside chance that I have become an asshole.
I try to start my day with some sort of perspective but it is hard. My seventh graders, I have given them word exercises. They are to circle the correct word in the sentence. This goes fairly fast for them. I am actually surprised.
Jacky tells me that he has not read much of Harry Potter. The book report is due on the 15th of October. I tell him he needs to get busy reading. Maybe the newness is wearing off, I don’t know. The magic that I felt teaching has seemed to disappear. Is this the darkness before the dawn? At this point, I feel as if I am treading water even though every waking hour I seem to work on lesson plans. This is so disheartening.
Maybe I take it all too seriously. Maybe that is my problem. Maybe I should just slack off a bit. When I slack off, I feel guilty. I do not know what is wrong with me. Maybe I am manic depressive. I find myself saying I need a valium in the middle of class. No one knows what that means fortunately. Sometimes I say I am sorry I stopped drinking.
During class with the sixth grade readers, Kevin points to his side and asks me what is there. I tell him the liver. I think that is where the liver is. I ask him if he has been hitting the bottle, carousing with loose women. He does not understand me. I do this to amuse myself, always.
Back at my desk, Eric comes to talk to Michelle about his English homework. She teaches English to the Chinese students. He tries to open the door that is closest to our desk. He says it is broke. I tell him there are a lot of broken doors around this place. There are not. Later, Kevin comes by and tries the door. I tell him it is broken. He tries the lock. The door opens. I congratulate him. He looks at me with that blank stare, that blank student stare.
The Chinese art teacher that sits on the other side of me at the desk offers me her meat. We are at the cafeteria. She just eats vegetables. I take half of it. Another teacher tells me I am good with chopsticks.
The assignment today in the design class is to design a piece of furniture. The other day we saw 40 minutes worth of slides of sofas, chairs, chaises, and beds. The students look at me perplexed; I ask them to design one of these things, one of these things that we spent 40 minutes viewing a few days ago. The Korean (who may or may not be a mongoloid) draws a video game, the video game which keeps score of your dance moves. This video game is quite popular here.
I drew an enclosed bed which has a flat screen television on the end. I try to explain to the students this is the sort of design I would like from them. Sumran draws a bed which has steps and is imaginative. Vincent is the dark horse. He is the surprise. He draws me a bed much like the enclosed bed I drew but his has a refrigerator and air conditioner. I tell him that is a very good idea.
Laura draws a shelf (which is not a bed, a chair, a chaise or a sofa). Alice draws a desk. Again, this is not a bed, a chair, a chaise or a sofa. At one point, the noise in the room gets to be too much. Again, I try to shush people but no one seems to want to listen. This is when I walk out of the room and get Michelle, the class teacher. The brighter students are more intuitive. When we walk back into the room, Laura (who can be a problem) and the Korean Mongoloid have their heads buried in their desk. Trevor and Sam are not so lucky.
They are both yukking it up when Michelle peaks her head into the room. First, she bombards the whole class with how rude they are behaving. I assume that is what she is doing. Then she seems to direct a barrage of abuse at Trevor and Sam. They have definitely been caught. They are both fairly horrific so they do deserve it. Later she has them apologize to me at my desk. After they apolgize, they stand and stare at me for what seems like five minutes but is probably really 30 seconds.
During Michelles barrage of student abuse, Laura starts calling ‘Teacher, Teacher’ to me as if she is some prize, some favored student. When I go back to see what she wants she sweetly asks me if her drawing is done right. She may grow up to star in noir films, what a femme fatale. I tell her, her drawing is very good. I wonder if she knows that I know the sort of maneuver she is pulling. She is good.
Michelle keeps the barrage coming at the class. After she is done, I go out into the hall and thank her for coming into the class and talking to the students. She is a little embarrassed that I would thank her. I think she is quite maternal toward her class. The class has disappointed her which has embarrassed her.
Will is drawing a computer and a desk from two sides. The drawing is not bad but I am not exactly sure what exactly it has to do with design. At this point, I am a bit at a loss how I am to grade these monkeys. Now I understand how kids get shuffled through the system. Caring, at times, has nothing to do with it. I am just not sure what to do. And with 60 different students and 5 different subjects, I am truly at a loss.
What I do not want, I do not want to discourage anyone from becoming a designer. Even the Korean mongoloid I encourage. I tell her that her dancing video game is really nice. She smiles. I am still wondering if she is a mongoloid.