I don’t really know what happened to this week’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—they flew by, proving, again that Einstein is right and time is relative. On Saturday, I played with my writer tribe and was reminded that 2018 was a very, very VERY busy year. That I remember. And today, I will chill and enjoy the snow and cold and not do very much at all. I can see the moon out the West-facing kitchen window—and it’s 8 a.m.—and it’s almost full and so beautiful. There’s a line of grey-pink light below it—the sunrise reflecting off the white of the mountains, I suppose. The noises around me are homey happy noises: the furnace kicking in to thaw the house a bit, the dog licking out every last bit of her breakfast from her bowl, the Ender murmuring to himself as he sets up his computer.
Ender has discovered magic, and is watching magic shows on YouTube. The still-illiterate nine-year-old has also discovered Siri and voice recognition. “Search for How to Magic,” he tells the computer. He’s never going to learn to read, I moan. But. He will. He will.
His elder brother, who didn’t read more than “CAT,” and that, with effort, until he was 11.5, is in Grade 11 and kicking ass in his science classes. Watching YouTube videos to supplement his Physics and Chemistry instructions—because the YouTubers explain things better than his textbooks or his teachers.
Of course, he also plays video games while watching the YouTube videos and while texting with his friends, and I wonder how that can be a thing, but I also realize—technology has rewired this generation. For good or for bad, this is how they are. And I think in some ways, they cope better with this stimulation and interconnectedness than we do…
Sean: Where’s Flora?
Jane: She went out.
Jane: She didn’t say. She said, “I’m going out.” I said, “Where?” She said, “I dunno.”
Sean has a minor Daddy freak out.
Jane: She went in the direction of Rosie’s house. And then they probably went to pick up Morgaine and Estelle, and they’re all hanging out together.
Sean: Why didn’t she just say so?
Because she wants privacy. I try to explain, but Sean is like Ender and never wants to be alone or inaccessible or unfindable. Cinder and Flora are like me. Every once in a while, they need to disappear.
On Monday, I taught the last class of my eight-week course, and one of my students gave me chocolates and another almost cried, and all of them told me sweet things, and I found myself incredibly moved and astounded by how much I enjoyed the experience—and yes, very eager to repeat it. But for now, I will have Monday nights free and I will use them to disappear.
I do wish, by the way, that there were places one could disappear—sit and be and work or play—without having to spend money on drinks and food. Art galleries, yes, but they all close so early, and malls, I suppose, but they are so noisy and full of people focused on either acquiring things they don’t need or wasting time, and the air is so bad, and then there is the outdoors, of course, but this is Viking Hell, and while the outdoors is very beautiful from the vantage point of my couch where I’m swaddled in an electric blanket, I don’t want to get lost in it at night with my notebook or laptop.
And I should smoke less sheesha and I don’t drink coffee at night anyway—and look, this is me, sabotaging my “free” Monday nights before they even happen.
No, on Monday nights, I will smoke sheesha and drink coffee—or tea—or nurse a beer and I will disappear in public places and tend to myself.
Until I teach again. I will teach again.
On Tuesday, I saw Naked Girls Reading perform The Worst Things I Ever Read, and I “met” for the first time The Golden Age and they were amazing, and I laughed, and I refueled.
On Wednesday, I tried not to totally and completely lose my shit with a racist and agist education system the purpose of which is to reinforce not just the status quo but the status past… So I’m tutoring an adult immigrant woman from Cameroon who needs to pass her English 30 equivalency to get into a nursing assistant program. She’s smart, articulate and will be totally excellent at her job. Her English is solid—she can communicate complex ideas easily and she will have no trouble communicating with either patients or doctors. What she is having trouble with is analyzing culturally irrelevant, context-free poetry and memoirs. I think she hires me to teach her grammar and essay structure. That, we cover in the first two sessions—did I mention, she is very smart. What she actually needs me for is to tell her… who Anne Page, Sara Lee, and Laura Secord were, because they’re in a poem that’s she’s being tested on. Except Laura Secord is not there as Laura Secord but as the box of chocolates, and Anne Page was never actually real in the first place, and the English tutoring lesson turns into a cultural history lesson that I’m too young to know myself and need to turn to Google for help, and…
Then there’s the 19th century memoir that’s so fucking racist, I’m ashamed to decode it for her. How is this on the curriculum, in 2018?
But, more to the point, how is suffering through this analysis going to make her do her job better?
It’s not. It’s a hoop she has to jump through if she wants the job. It’s the Social Sorting Hat. And the Social Sorting Hat favours those who… well, first, made the social sorting hat, and next, were raised and educated by those who made the social sorting hat.
Anyway. Sorting Hat. Sean and Flora are going to Harry Potter World in January. They think they’re both Hufflepuffs—I think Sean’s right about himself, but Flora’s probably a Ravenclaw. Ender, I think, is also a Hufflepuff. Rowan’s probably Gryffindor.
They tell me I’m a Slytherin without even a pause or a reflection.
I’m not evil, you know.
I’m just very clear-sighted and unsentimental.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love or I don’t suffer. It just means that when I suffer… I still get all the shit done. And when I love… I don’t lose sight of how wrong for each other we are. 😉
On Thursday, I teach again. And I realize that while I do really love this, it can’t come at the price of writing. But a balance, I will find a balance.
On Friday, I am sentimental. Just for a little bit. And the kids strong-arm me into putting up the Christmas tree.
And on Saturday, I get these socks:
Ender: Mama? I learned a new magic trick. Want to come see?
The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)
Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)
A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)
Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)
The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)
A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)
Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)
Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)
Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)
Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)
Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)
Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)
Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)
The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)
My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)
An introvert’s submission + radical prioritization in action, also pouting (Week 16: Ruthless and Weepy)
It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)
It was a pickle juice waterfall but no bread was really harmed in the process (Week 18: Happy and Sad)
You probably shouldn’t call your teacher bad names, but sometimes, your mother must (Week 19: Excitement and Exhaustion)
Tell me I’m beautiful and feed me cherries (Week 20: Excitement and Exhaustion II)
A very short post about miracles, censorship, change: Week 21 (Transitions and Celebrations)
Time flies, and so does butter (Week 22: Remembering and forgetting)
I love you, I want you, I need you, I can’t find you (Week 23: Work and Rest)
You don’t understand—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way (Week 24: Fathers and Daughters)
The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)
It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)
It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)
On not meditating but meditating anyway, and a cameo from John Keats (Week 28: Busy and Resting)
Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)
In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)
Deadlines and little lies make the world go round (Week 31: Honesty and Compassion)
That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)
And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)
Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)
Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)
I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)
Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)
It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)
Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)
The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)
All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)
Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)
Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)
Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)
Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)
War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)
—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA
nothingbythebook @ gmail.com
Two things struck a chord here: how kids feel after your last lecture with them, at the end of the semester/course, and the search for a place that you can be by yourself without the noise and clamour and inquisitive looks of people. Thank you for this.
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