It has been quite the spell. In a nutshell, I’ve been busy trying to handle the chimera that is online-only schooling while trying to stay upbeat and positive, even as the world seems to be descending into madness.
They gave me Public Speaking again this year, and, as we are beginning our persuasive speeches, I reasoned I would illustrate to my young charges how to deliver an argumentative, persuasive speech. The text is contained below and you can watch the video on my YouTube channel here: BBEG: Delivering an Argument
If I still have a job after this, well, jolly good. If not, well, jolly good.
Well, if you’ve been following the news or you find yourself a captive of the Land of Entrapment, then you’re well aware my state has gone full pants-on-head-retarded over this Coronavirus nonsense. While I will admit that precautions are certainly necessary to prevent a full-blown outbreak of the Angry Flu™, I would also counter that washing your goddamned hands and not fucking sneezing on motherfuckers is an acceptable strategy over complete public shutdown for three weeks.
But because we’re not content being 51st in education, our governor decided – after a few I-40 octogenarian yankees contracted the Angry Flu™ – that, in the interests of public safety and preventing further cases from sprouting up across the state, we’d best cancel school for three weeks. Never mind the virus only afflicts the weak and infirm (a natural process of biology); we must act – in the interests of public safety – to prevent an outbreak!
Never mind that we’re a full five hours from this non-issue virus: public safety!
Never mind that we’re one of the largest states with one of the smallest populations – a relic of the Wild West: public safety!
Never mind that a healthy, young person – like teenagers attending public school – might be miserable for a week but remain unscathed; it is more likely symptoms won’t manifest at all: public safety!
Never mind that the Public Education Department has banned public education: public safety!
Never mind that the War on Terror continues without pause, the War on Drugs continues to suckle billions from the federal teat, that accusations of governmental corruption continue in that fetid swamp of DC, that the Democrats and Republicans are tearing each other apart for yet another go at the coveted Ivory Tower, that the stock market is tanking, that the oilfield is suffering, that people have been whipped into a frenzy via media flagellants, that idiocy reigns supreme over logic and reason: public safety!
Never mind the state of fear bred by elected officials, media personalities, and your tia on Facebook: public fucking safety.
On Thursday evening last, comrades, after the news of our educational demise was announced by those pompous asses in Santa Fe, ah, how I went into a fury: three weeks. Not even the camaraderie of our staff book club and ample pints could dampen my rage. Indeed, I’m still absolutely livid with this Dolchstoss.
Three full goddamned weeks stolen from my charges; ripped, like babes from a pleading mother, by the grotesque hands of barbarians who neither understand their reason for slaughter or its long-term consequences. How – how, comrades! – can this woman in Santa Fe run on an education platform and then gut us so severely this late in the term? Et tu, Lujan?
Yes, yes, I’ve heard it: public safety. Again, certainly, precautions must be taken – that is not in dispute: it is the methodology that irks me. This knee-jerk reaction to the most miniscule of illnesses; have we forgotten how much deadlier the humble flu is than this cheap Chinese knockoff? We have ne’er banned school for three weeks because someone had a cold. You know why?
Because you can wash your goddamned hands and not fucking sneeze on motherfuckers to prevent its spread. Ah ha! Look at that – the simplest solution to the simplest of issues! Where’s my goddamned Nobel Prize for Medicine?
Yes, I understand we needn’t have an outbreak, but I must counter that the blackguards in Santa Fe went about this all wrong. They are burning down the house to kill the rat. Indeed, they have created a lie from nothing in order to do what, exactly? Prevent the spread of the Angry Flu™, a marvel that targets the weakest members of a biological pool (ya know, like literally every other virus, plague, disease, what have you)?
Consider me cold. Consider me callous. You are justified in such sentiment. But have we considered that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Let the weak, the infirm, the elderly try their hand with this overhyped nonsense: we live in the United States, the most powerful nation in the world. The odds, like in the Hunger Games, are in their favor.
What the governor did not consider – the raison d’etre – were the thousands of students who now must suffer the loss of formal schooling for three weeks. These same students who must now watch their parents descend into media-induced barbarism as they scramble for toilet paper because some fuckwit on the television told them to. These same students who are robbed of the chance to pull New Mexico out of the educational cesspit it’s been languishing in for so many decades. These same students, comrades, who now must look agape at what their futures hold given they’ve been forced into this uncomfortable state of fear.
State of fear: that’s what this has done. The shelves at the grocery store are empty – like my classroom – because people are afraid. And people who are afraid are easy to control. The enemy isn’t at the gates, comrades, shouting their bellicosity from afar; no, they hold court in Santa Fe and Washington. And if you disagree, consider this has been hyped up past 11 right when the primaries were heating up. Nothing like a good scare to convince Americans to vote this or that because our leaders promise safety. McCarthy must be grinning in hell.
Certainly, in this 21st century of ours with all the technological know-how and what have you, we can resort to distance learning: put everything on the line and let the kids teach themselves.
Ah, fuck it all; what a dreadful idea. Without human interaction – an encouraging instructor to point out errors and praise success – robots are a poor excuse for education. If it wasn’t, well, there’d be no need for boots on the ground. And yet you cannot replicate the classroom setting on the line in full: you can try, with varying degrees of success, but it will never be the same. Having kids in the classroom is one of the greatest joys of this calling. To believe otherwise is foolish and ignorant (you can probably find a job in the governor’s retinue with those qualifications, however).
Now I will admit I am heated as evidenced by my inflammatory rhetoric (you get the allusion in the title, right?) and my desire to bite my thumb at my so-called superiors. Certainly, I am bellicose and impassioned with ire; how could I not? My calling, comrades, is to teach, and to be neutered in a single swipe of a governor’s pen; it’s maddening.
On Friday – my last full day with my charges – I launched into an epic fury, such was my rage, as I railed against this educational injustice, public safety be damned. Indeed, one of those moments you look back on and think “I might get in trouble for saying this.” And then – in the cold clarity of carefully constructed choler – I came upon the realization that I’ve been given a golden loophole: I can’t teach at school.
But I can teach where’er the fuck I want.
To that end, comrades, I must report with certain satisfaction that the inaugural Corona High’s first session went well-enough. Despite being denied a pre-promised conference room and Mother Nature seeing fit to literally rain upon our parade, we held class and continued our studies as if nothing had occurred. Indeed, it felt far more promising and enriching given the small class sizes and genuine interest of the participants. For all my rage, I did not forget my raison d’etre: my kids. For all these setbacks, those kids didn’t forget their studies.
Comrades, the reasons I take fault with this hyperbole is because it directly affects our students, and thus, by extension, our future. By robbing our kids of valuable school time so late in the semester, we are dropping our low bar even lower. Indeed, it’s no longer a pole vault but a limbo. By allowing kids to see that fear is more valued than logic or reason, we indirectly encourage them to simply go with the flow and not make waves.
But I have faith in my kids – in those kids who are refusing to bow to fear or kowtow to distant disturbances – to carry this beacon forward.
We’ll continue to have class, Corona – and Santa Fe – be damned. Education is far more important than so-called public safety, for indeed, an educated populace is a safe one. An ignorant one, well, go check out your local grocery store to see how they fare.
Class at noon tomorrow, kids. At the park. Bring the goddamned thunder.
In truth, comrades, I have not written much. After the passing of my Grandmother in Switzerland, most of what I write pales in comparison. That piece was directly from the heart – the pained heart of a grandchild robbed from one last visit with his doting Oma – and that is a tough act to follow. Not that I am giving up on writing, for indeed, something has to keep me sane that isn’t nicotine or alcohol.
School started approximately six weeks ago. Tomorrow Today marks the beginning of the sixth week, a full two-thirds into this nine-week term. Difficult to believe, yet time has flown by at such a pace that I have had little recourse or time to catch my breath and pen anything worth publishing. Not that this, comrades, is worth publishing, but it certainly is something.
Consider the following to be fictionalized short stories based upon real-life interactions during the previous two weeks. Whilst on the road attending a couple of Advanced Placement seminars throughout New Mexico, the writing bug took hold – travel does that for me.
Today I stayed at school until a little after 6PM, getting some (much needed) grading done and generally enjoying the solitude an empty classroom affords a weary soul. There is something to be said about a room – once previously filled with abounding energy – now derelict and silent as a still night. Upon switching off my lava lamp and taking final notes in my journal, I sauntered through the grounds to rev up the Green Manalishi (the Jeep for you newcomers) before heading home to some much needed and well-earned respite.
Blaring Sir Elton John with the e’er present cigarette dangling from my parched lips, I casually drove back to my digs to set about my evening rituals. The sun had already set by the time I made it home, a friendly reminder that perhaps I might have been at the school a bit too long. Just shy of 12 hours today.
No matter, I reasoned, for today was a good day. And comrades, any day I wake up is a good day.
Lately I have been feeling as if my calling was misguided; that my brief tenure as a teacher was not the thread of my skein I needed to be following. After all, as I’ve written times afore (nominally whilst on the Way), I am oft unsure of what path I need be pursuing. Indeed, at my age, it is typically frowned upon to be job hopping and taking sabbatical as I am wont to do. Events beyond my control, and a select few wholly of my own doing, attempt to lead me astray from time to time.
But these kids – these magnificent little fuckers – without e’er realizing it, bring me back to grounded reality, coolly reminding me that, yes, my skein has led me here. And, Odin dammit, I am doing good things. They are doing better things.
As I write this from the confines of my meager kitchen, graced by the presence of Soviet propaganda and other curiosities, I am reminded of my charges’ impact upon my well-being.
A poetry book given as a Christmas gift lies atop the table. A new leather journal sits comfortably in my old school bag. Brilliant words and honest thoughts my charges have shared with me – the hallmark of trust – are strewn about my bachelor quarters, ranging from barely legible chicken scratch to assiduously constructed characters. My classroom is adorned in hand-drawn sentiments, gaudy poetry projects, and private letters and keepsakes gifted to me by my goombas. And the words my charges speak to me when greeting one another at the door or passing by in the hall, ah, comrades! Those words shall e’er provide me succor when in my darkest depths of self-pity and loathing.
This morning as I was readying my classroom in a fatigued stupor (a wedding having taken the bulk of my weekend’s productivity), I was greeted at the door by one of my charges who wished to share her creative writing piece in privacy and solitude. As I read her tale of heartbreak and youthful understanding, I asked her why she felt it necessary to share this groundbreaking revelation with me first. She had sought me out afore her friends – even her best friend with whom she’s always chitchatting during class – to seek my input and advice. It appears, comrades, I might have become an adult after all, damndest thing. We talked over her piece and swapped ideas and tales about how best to capture the emotion and really bring the story to Life. A budding writer, a strong one at that, and one who ensured my week was off to an amazing start by seeking my assistance.
Last week I was greeted by one of my Dungeons and Dragons charges (he is an upper classman and not in my direct tutelage) and he juxtaposed himself on the wall I was currently leaning upon. “Sir,” he started, “I have read your Thing We Do Not Speak Of.” It is a running joke amongst my charges that this blog does not exist and has nothing to do with me – deny deny deny. He told me how he read the previous posts, how he read it aloud to his mother, and how the bits about public education made him lament the state of education within New Mexico, but he still got a good laugh out of it. “The stuff you say about us means a lot,” he confided, as I casually shrugged my no-nothing shoulders, a grin emblazoned upon my stupid face. “You’re doing God’s work,” he said in closing, jaunting off to class afore the bell could ring him tardy.
Instances like this, comrades, these passing words and idle chitchats, keep me motivated in my darkest of days. How easy it is to lose sight of the task at hand, to become embroiled in the petty politics and administrative autocracies public education is renowned for, to sink low amidst the refuse and rubbish of standardized tests, misinformation, and power struggles teachers oft find themselves corralled in.
Yet here, in that instant, the manacles of deprivation had been cast off by the kind and honest remarks uttered by a charming goomba, and no amount of adult flak or administrative tyranny could drag me low. Ah, kids, you haven’t any idea what you mean to your “bat shit insane” instructor. And yes, that’s an actual quote from one of my promising writers. The very same from this morning.
I have worn a great many hats throughout my tenure on Earth: salesman, security guard, student, wanderer, farmer, volunteer, journalist. No profession gives me greater joy than being a teacher. Really and truly, comrades, this is my calling. At times it is wholly taxing and I find the effort needed to survive in this trepidatious world to be almost too great; how the kids provide nectar! The pay is terrible, the administration is aloof and out of touch, the state has it out for us, the bulk of the public is unaware, but these little fuckers make it all worth the while.
I’m a teacher. It took me decades to arrive here, but sweet Christ, I’m a teacher.
Now finish your essays (and stop reading my blog).
I started (re)reading On the Road by the infamous beatnik, Jack Kerouac, once again, and I must say – it’s even better a second time around.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve accomplished two Caminos and many travels since I first read it years ago. Or perhaps in my current state of longing for the road it speaks louder to me these days.
More so because it’s a timeless American classic. And, yes, I will fight you if you believe otherwise.
Moving on – it’s a brilliant book and one I think every person capable of reading needs to have a go at. Caused quite a stir when it was first published, what, with all the sex, drugs, and disregard for societal expectations. Young men should be getting jobs and raising families, not chasing their head-in-the-cloud dreams!
No doubt many of you are wondering – my long-time friends, family, and my newer readers – what in blazes I’m getting myself into these days. Forgive the radio silence, family and friends, trying to contact me or waiting for a call. To borrow an iconic line from President Obama, “Aaaaah, let me be clear! (hand waves about needlessly) Change is good!”
Fret not; this post has nothing to do with politics.
No, this post is a recap of my past month; a retelling of the shenanigans and string pulling your erstwhile Monkey has been getting himself into. Machinations, ahoy!