Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The nights are hot, and Days is crazy
Hope, Patrick, Roman, Gramma and others are trapped on an island, behind a force-field, in an alternate Salem. Also the guy from the Real World never wears a shirt, and they just up and replaced Belle, Aunt Vivian style. If I was casting it would have been Anna, late of the OC. She's not working right now is she?

Day 2
"Fuck You, Mr. Babylon"

This was written across the chalkboard in two-foot high letters, sans punctuation, when I entered the maelstrom of my L3RE class for the second time ever. Students were running around screaming and laughing and smacking each other upside the head with their little flimsy shoestring-satchel Nike bookbags. They all stopped and stared expectantly when I walked in and saw the board.

“Oh shit,” someone said under her breath.

Someone else blurted out something in rapid-fire Spanish, and everyone laughed, some even falling down and kicking and banging furniture and the lockers, Def Comedy Jam style, for hilarious emphasis.

I put my bag down, sighed heavily, and turned around with my best screw-face. The class paused, inhaled, and began to laugh even harder. I began barking orders at the students to sit down and shut up. They barked back in Spanish, or mocking English, but no-one obeyed.

A student walked in late, Dominican guy, with his curly hair died blonde at the tips and an over-sized pink t-shirt on. I had seen him walking out of the class as I arrived. He surveyed the class from the front of the room. Everyone seemed to hush slightly in anticipation. He looked at the board, which in the chaos, I still hadn’t erased.

“Fuck You, Mr. Babylon!” he read gleefully, and turned to me with a smile.

I screwed my face up even further. “Wh-what’s your name? Who are you?” I stammered, stabbing the air with the still unused eraser.

“What? I just reading the board. I reading the assignment!” He explained with a giggle and a wink towards the class.

“We s’posed to read the board, right?”

Monday, July 12, 2004

Like Sands Through the Hourglass
It's summer vacation. I'm smoking heavily, sleeping past noon, and watching Days of Our Lives, but I also plan on going back and filling a bunch of holes in the story so far, things I didn't have time to write up before, updating often. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

First Day, First Hour
I was hired here at this shitty Bronx High School, with remarkably little scrutiny and even less fanfare. It’s just another example of the swamp of disorganization and chaos that is the school system. I spend all summer looking for a job, calling principals, faxing resumes, shaving and getting gussied up in a tie to schlep from table to table at maddening job-fairs, to no avail. Then, two weeks into the year, I walk in, speak for three minutes with Assistant Principal Mrs. S******, a distracted, tiny little old lady with shoulder pads in her jacket and big glasses giving her a tortoise-like appearance, and I’m hired. No interview, no sample lesson, nothing. You’re hired you start tomorrow. You speak Spanish? No? Whatever. Be here by 9:25.

So I showed up the next day, early in fact, sweating nerves and from the fact that my only dress shirt was of the thick blue Oxford type, and it was still in the 90s out, and the school, like the subway stations, has no air conditioning. Also I hadn’t worn a tucked in shirt outside of a funeral or for more than an hour at a time since I started dressing myself, and my khaki pants, purchased hastily at some discount store in Harlem, were just slightly too short, causing me to constantly adjust them by pulling down on my hips, where they wouldn’t stay and, I thought, combined with my billowy, wrinkled, tucked-in shirt, uncomfortably accentuated my general scrawniness in a way my usual hipster attire – which shows off the lean, wiry, hirsute machine that I am – thankfully do not.

I was given a schedule, a Delaney Book (an arcane attendance record device featuring slotted pages and hundreds of cards slightly bigger than 2 postage stamps, corresponding to each student, on which I was to somehow record addresses, phone and identification numbers, and every day of their attendance or lack thereof) and stacks and stacks of paperwork to fill out, and that was it. No curriculum, no instructions, no pep-talk, nothing. I was starting to sense a pattern. I was nervous but not scared. I was, in fact, pretty confidant that these kids would think I was Miles Davis after I came in, as I planned to do, and showed them that writing and reading could be hip and witty and dangerous and relevant. They would write essays about Biggie vs. Tupac, and they would love me. I planned on ignoring every bitter old codger who had told me not to smile until Thanksgiving. I would kill ‘em with kindness. All I had to do was be, you know, real.

I walked into my first class, L3RE (level 3), ready to be a next-millennium Mr. Kotter to my eager Sweathogs. A young woman teacher was already present, standing in the front of the room shuffling papers or writing on the board or doing some such teacherly thing.

I sidled up and informed her that this was my class. She looked confused. I showed her my schedule. She sighed and slammed her Delaney Book closed and hurried out of the room, muttering something about “fucking ridiculous bullshit” as she left. The kids were mine.

Born Again
I, Hombreblanco, am now Mr. Babylon. Why? Because I'm the teacher, and I said so. Now, take out your notebook and copy the "Do-Now."

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