Monday, May 2, 2011

A day in the life.

The substitute in my first period class reads aloud a Bible verse in an attempt to make sense of recent news. She apologizes afterward. The bell that marks the passing of class periods has been turned off for the sake of AP testing and the weather dips into the fifties, which would leave the student population off-kilter on any normal day. This isn't any normal day. Talk crawls up the walls only to drop into our laps, sink its teeth into our delicate flesh and turn us in circles until we are dizzy with constantly regurgitating what we have been told to believe.

"I don't want to glorify death..." "I'm glad he's gone..." "I hear there was..." "Yeah..."

I walk to the next class with an almost-friend. "How are you?" She isn't fine. Family issues, worries. Senior year is more slip n' slide than anything, leaving bruises that will outlast any thrill involved. I wish for words.

In advisory there is a fire drill; I stand shivering at the fringes of John's group until they pity me and I join their penguin-like huddle against the wind.

"What, a gay guy singing you straight love songs? That's normal."

"Yeah," I say, "but you aren't there when I cry afterward because no straight guy would ever do that."

"I'll be straight for two minutes, I swear." He launches into recalling a movie he swears turned him straight for two hours.

Here are some tired words: I want to believe in people. I want to believe that the jokes pertaining to recent news don't exist. Because there are good things, too: as the fire drill ends and I double back to my locker for a sweater, John touches my arm and says "I love you."

"I love you, too."

In Physics we are assigned a research project. I couldn't tell you one thing I've learned in the class this year. With fourteen school days until we are out of this place (I know, I put together the library display), it is difficult for me to muster any enthusiasm for this brand of learning.

"Sir," asks one of my classmates, "when your kids go to college, will you cry?"

"Yes, tears of joy." His voice tells me the departure will be the happy part.

catlovingmathteacher's cat has cancer, which shakes me more than I would wish to admit in mixed company. I give him my condolences as class ends and he tells me more; the cat is fifteen years old and he bought her for seventy-five dollars, which works out to something like one cent per day for as long as he's had her.

"So, worth it?"

"Oh, I don't know." He grins and we part ways.

When I finish my lunch (peanut butter and jelly, an orange) in the covered area attached to the cafeteria I usually occupy, I move away from the unusual (though not shocking) chill to find a space in the uncrowded cafeteria. My sister comes with me in an unnecessary act of chivalry and we sit at an empty table in the back corner of the room, which in years past was the auditorium and lays claim to almost slanted linoleum as a happy result of the change.

My sister laughs as she sketches something. "I'm drawing something really funny, and I find it amusing," she offers as explanation.


The substitute in Sociology laments our education system before playing the documentary on the subject. I bite my lip because, I apologize, but this isn't really my fault. I try, I try, I try and it all seems for nothing. I say something. My palms sweat; he half-agrees with me, but it isn't much consolation.

"The solution to the education problem: guess on whose shoulders it will fall?" cheers the substitute.



I do what is asked of me, and in tinytowntexas this is more than enough, but I am not engaged. There is such a pull for excellence in education, yet I'm clueless. To try my best is to hit a brick wall over and over again as my peers stand back to watch with bemused expressions. And I keep doing it because you're supposed to, but my enthusiasm wanes until -

My skin crawls as the documentary plays, because what can I do besides sit here and press these uncertainties against paper?

As the class ends and I slip out the door, the substitute tells me to have a good day. I fork over my "you too, sir" with as little tension as I can muster.

"Katherine's a sophomore, she's just really smart. We all cheat off of her."

I flash my senior-level ID at eye level for the English substitute to see. "They try."

"You know," says the substitute to the ruffians, "when you come back here, the only ones who will remember you are the ones you tormented."

Ye Old Initials returns from proctoring an AP test and tells us of days of old, of when the school's (then) three wings were separated, there was no air conditioning and racial tension ran rampant. He's been in this classroom for decades.

"Did you ever date one of your students?"

"No comment." Years and years ago he was married to one of them.

"Are we going to talk about Osama?" asks someone in my Government class as attendance is taken.

"Yeah, for a little bit."

"He can kiss my ass, 'cause I aint doing shit," mumbles the girl who sits behind me.

The inevitable interjection: "THEY KILLED OBAMA?"

I didn't sleep well last night; the day hangs on me. I'm tired of hearing what my generation is expected to accomplish. I pick at my hangnails. I have never set my head down in a class, yet now it is more tempting than ever.

"There's a difference between crazy and stupid, never forget that."

All I know is to keep going.


  1. I love this. It's a perfect snapshot and I can feel the place you're at - hanging in the air, waiting for graduation so life can (hopefully) start moving again. It's hard to sit through the high school BS when you know it's no longer relevant, but you've only got 14 days (13, now). You said it: keep going.

    Also I'm going to blip you a song I've been thinking about sending you for a couple of weeks now. It's sappy, but indulge me, K? :)

  2. Wow. Wow. Wow. There is so much in here, but I can't respond to any of it, because I'm too mesmerized by your truly beautiful writing. :)