israel sells drugs.

today, a sub took over for kathryn, who was at a court trial to gain custody over her nephew. i guess her sister is a flake and always disappears. kathryn is like kirsten on the o.c. so anyway, this sub was a little older, pudgy, and he wore a pink shirt. he was also cross-eyed.
He liked that i was an english major and said, "Here, take a look at what I'm reading." He pointed to a Penguin Classics copy of Jane Eyre.
"Oh, yeah. That's a good one. I read that my senior year." It was actually my junior year, but you know, I wanted to keep things interesting.
So we took both first and third periods to the career center so they could work on their resumes. But, as it turns out, it's rather difficult to write a resume when you haven't had any experience. A lot of them listed "playing soccer, also, video games" as their extracirricular activities. I helped Rocio and Veronica with their scholarship essays. They're due tomorrow. Veronica wants to go to college to get a good career like a dental hygienist. Then transfer for CSUS or CSUMB to "keep her options open." Rocio overcame obstacles in high school.

"What kind of obstacles?" I asked her.

"You know, like bad things."

"Well, an obstacle can be anything. I could have a foot infection, and I can't walk. That could be an obstacle."

She laughs. "Oh yeah. Well, I was getting into drugs. And I'd cut class just to sleep in."

"Oh, okay."

When third period rolls around, I get the impulse to ask people what they're going to do after high school. I start with Israel.

"Are you going to Cabrillo?" I ask.

"No."

"Just gonna get a job, then, huh?"

"Uhh, yeah. Something like that." He looks embarassed.

"Well, what are you gonna do?"

"Sell drugs."

"What?" I ask.

"I'm gonna sell drugs."

"Why would you want to do that?"

"I don't know. There's a lot of money in it."

I pause and think, maybe he's right. If money is his only goal, then selling drugs really would help him achieve it. Because it's early, because I'm underpaid and can't think straight, I can't think of any counter-points. Then, it hits me. "But not if you get busted, right?" He shrugs, and I walk away to help other students. I keep thinking about what he said, and why the sub, or the woman who works in the career center who is fixing the printer's paper jam, don't say anything. They obviously heard him. Then I start to think I'm losing my grip on reality. Is selling drugs a viable career option these days? Did I miss something? That's illegal, right?

I walk back to Israel, and ask, "Don't you want to work with kids?"
He shakes his head. "You don't want to travel?" Shakes head. "Don't you want to get out of Watsonville?" Shakes head. And that's when I realize that Israel, the pudgy little Mexican boy who always wears black and finishes his work when's told to, really wants to just sell drugs so that he can buy basketball jersies, a rare pair of Air Jordans, maybe even a car. I have nothing else to say, and I don't offer to help him anymore with his resume. What's a future drug dealer need a resume for? You need references to sell coke? A smarter, more compassionate person would've pushed him further, but I think that sometimes people need to just figure shit out for themselves.
eating shit.

i ate shit yesterday. not literally. i was riding my "gently used" hot pink specialized bike, and didn't notice a pothole on east beach street, right by watsonville high. or maybe i did notice it and just wanted to see if i could somehow just glide over it. either way, my wheel got stuck and i went flying off my bike, saved by my hands. luckily, i only ended up with a small cut on my left hand. the security guard, richard, told cecilia and my roommate all about it. when i saw aimee later on that night, she said she heard about what happened to me. news travels fast.

aimee made us omurice (pronounced "oh-mu-rah-sue") and we watched a j-drama called lunch queen. i liked the japanese girl who works in the grocery store and says random, ditzy things. tomuka, i think, is her name. she's a tall drink of water, like another girl i know.

the sub who took over mr. rhodes' position talked to me today about an apartment she used to live in, located in aptos. apparently, the owner was a misogynist and knew about mold and sewage living in the walls. she developed a lump on her breast, fungus in her lungs, along with many other health problems. i feel bad for her. she told me she was an artist. she likes to paint. she wore an iridescent scarf. "i made this," she said, pointing to it. "see?"
i thought you was dead.

the kids are watching huckleberry finn. april is sitting with her hands folded; two boys whose names i don't know are looking very bored. today they have a sub because kathryn's out, and she asked me to check in with veronica.

"oh, i'm not a student. i'm the americorps volunteer who works with kathryn."

"oh, okay. well, make yourself at home then."

this girl in the back, i don't know her name either, can't seem to stop playing with her hair. i'm pretty sure some of them are supposed to be in room 904, but i'm not going to interrupt. vero's writing something. i think i'll go home for third period.
zanate birds.

mr. rhodes and ms. shafa are gone for six weeks, so now they have a full-time sub named ms. joy. i've only seen her in action for one period and all i can say is that her voice will be gone by wednesday. ms. rosburg's class has shrunk down to about six students for each period. i don't know what i'm going to do with them. i don't know what i'm going to do with myself. there's a girl who walks around campus wearing different hats with tv shows for logos. today it was csi. i think the worst one i've seen her wearing is west wing.

mr. cramer made me grade two papers by yadira and eivette. i gave eivette a B- until i read yadira's and found out they had plagiarized the exact same article. i decided i'm going to help all these poor souls with their writing skills by coming up with a lesson plan called, "Pimp My Page." i'll let y'all know how that turns out.

i just recruited guillermo for our soccer league. aimee and rachel will be pleased.
hips don't lie.

right now, these two girls are practicing a dance routine to a shakira song. it's pretty mesmerizing, like watching two lava lamps. one of the girls, i can't remember her name, is in ms. rosburg's advisory class. i think i even saw her perform at the mello center once. she danced with about a dozen other girls to a medley. my favorite dance move of theirs was when they "scoop, scooped the ground." i'm really interested in taking disco lessons, but i don't know where to look.

in other news, i had to make two trips to pizza mia for my third period students who were having a party to celebrate taking the cahsee for the final time. i love how they celebrate just doing something, regardless of whether or not they passed. it's a christmas quincinera. i was kind of irritated having to drive back to pizza mia the second time, but then i thought i might learn something. so i paid attention. the woman who rung up the pizzas last time began talking to me. she started with:

"they sent you back, huh?"

"yeah, they did," i said.

"where do you work?"

"at watsonville high," i told her.

"okay, your pizzas will be ready in a few minutes."

"sure."

i stand against the wall and look around the little pizza shop. there are bars and christmas lights on the main window, no chairs or tables, and at the very end of the hall, a mini arcade. i wish i had the capacity to work at a place like this. i wonder if the workers have no ambition, if they have settled for this, and think that this is the best life has to offer. i am disappointed that the girls from yesterday weren't working. maybe because i know for them, this is not permanent. instead, there is a tough looking young man with tattooes and a handle bar moustache. the other man wears a cowboy hat and a flannel t-shirt. the woman, the one who is talking to me, wears a maroon shirt and has her hair tied in a bun. she slightly resembles one of the girls from yesterday, and i think for a moment that they are related.

let me backtrack. yesterday, i went to pizza mia for the first time when a boy, oswaldo (pronounced 'os-val-dough') told me that he liked pizza mia better than cassidey's pizza. being a fan of cassidey's, i had to see if he was speaking the truth. meagan and i ordered by the slice. $1.50 for a slice of pepperoni. i left left them a dollar tip.

"what do you do at the school?" the woman asked me today.

"i'm a tutor."

she nods. for a few minutes again, it is silent. two woman enter the restaurant, one is pregnant, and both are holding two potted plants each. they are purple and yellow flowers. i wish i knew what kind they were. the woman who is speaking to me decides that she would like to buy one. she announces this to the crew, and the man with the handle bar moustache asks how much. "fifteen dollars," she says, in english. the man just looks at her. she pays the pregnant woman, then puts the flowers next to the fridge which houses the soda and juices. i think to myself that the window would have been a better place. then i wonder if the man with the moustache is upset with her, or else thinks she is crazy for paying $15 for something that will only last a few days. i am surprised by how the woman pays for it without hesitation, and seemingly without regret. it's evident that she doesn't come from money, working at a joint like pizza mia. maybe she believes in karma, or helping out fellow mexicanos who can't compete with american big business. maybe she just felt like she needed some flowers.

after the women leave, she asks me when spring break is.

"april sixth," i tell her. "until the 13th."

"i should write that down," she says. "it's good to know, you know, because so many students come in during lunch. it'll be good to know when there won't be so many in here around lunch."

i smile and nod.

my pizzas are ready.
marcos.

right now i'm helping marcos write a paper to his imaginary son. he's supposed to give advice to his mijo because it's the first day of school at watsonville high. marcos is having trouble putting sentences together and even spelling simple words like "kill." i tell him, "k," and he says, "like this?" as he types a "c." "no, 'k'," i tell him again. he types an x. i eventually type the letter for him. right now in the library, a small group of professionally-attired mexicanos are testing their soundsystem. i wonder what the presentation will be about. last week it was about abstinence. i feel bad for marcos, busily slamming down on the keys while the surrounding noise and people milling about continually distract him. i feel bad for him because i know how little my patience is. i'd rather be blogging than catching every misspelled word on his essay. that makes me selfish and impatient; furthermore, it makes me unfit for the work i'm supposed to be doing. i'm not ready for this.
jerkob.

our friend jacob once asked my girlfriend and me to join him, tiffany, tiffany's new boyfriend and some of her friends for drinks. we showed up, as expected, a little later than everyone else, and i didn't order. tiffany's new boyfriend was nice: a little old and a lot of white. her friends were also nice: a little too young and even more white. jacob was jew, that made him unique. i didn't know many jews then, and i still don't. aside from him, there was toby, penis ben, and penis ben's girlfriend, a skinny girl with glasses whose name i can't remember. anyway, we sat there, shooting the usual saturday night stink, myself quiet as always, and noticed three men sitting separately, by themselves. it was a bar, it was saturday night, so we thought nothing of it. later, after the drinks, the stink, and the men had all gone, jewish jacob admitted his ruse. he posted on craigslist that he was a woman wearing a red dress with large breasts who wanted to meet some nice, professional men. the three men who sat by themselves had taken the bait. we didn't know who to feel sorry for more: the three lonely men or our jewish friend with his twisted sense of humor.
how was your day in disneyland?

the title of this entry is the question the janitor just posed. i made him repeat it just in case i misheard. i didn't. i told him it was okay and asked how was his? he said it was okay. not bad for a monday.
shhhhh.


the young woman walked in room 55, the way she did everyday, her hair ponytailed tight as a whip, her thick shape bouncing from blue to white tile. "class is starting," she announces with a tint of sluggishness already bleeding. "class is starting," she repeats. but the class doesn't listen. with a wooden phallic figure, she rings the small bowl, a monk's golden bell to beg for rice. she asks for silence. voices fall, but spanish still spurts forth intermittently. to this, she gives the stare. a look all women have perfected. the you-weren't-listening look, the look that is a requirement for all good mothers to perfect. it's a look of disappointment, one that castrates. if the leaders of our world were given that look more often, there wouldn't be so many poor folk eating dirt from foreign shoes. for a moment, her glare works. then she turns to write the schedule on the board, and karen, a cocoa-brown skinned girl with an agile body toned by soccer, is the first to break. she says something in her native tongue that sends all the boys wild. the bell is rung again. rice has run out. "karen. that's inappropriate. you're being very disrespectful." "oh, sorry," she says. her accent masks her insincerity well. it goes on and on like this and like that, until slowly, the hairs on maestra's head begin to break free. one by one, they uncurl and fall, dangling close to her forehead. rosary beads of sweat accumulate underneath her arm, and she's praying, she's begging, for these kids to please just "shhhhh." "what's 'shhhhh'" yara asks with condescending naivete.

soon, she will discover the true meaning of this simple utterance.
pink-scented resume


i took the cset on saturday. the practice test offered only 30 multiple choice questions; in reality, english subtests 1 & 2 boasted 50 multiple choice questions each. that's 70 more questions that i had anticipated. while i finished all of them , i wish that i had more time for the writing sections. all i can say is that there are going to be a lot less english teachers in california. maybe that's a good thing. a small, good thing.

the kids in mr. cramer's 6th period class said they missed me. i was pretty surprised to hear that. 2nd period didn't give a damn that i showed up today.

seniors get their last chance to pass the cahsee test tomorrow. a lot of them aren't close to ready for it. i worry about them. i wish they didn't always think of education as a means to a job. that way, they might be able to enjoy learning for its own sake.

juan perez says he's not going to college. when i asked him what he'd like to do, he told me he was just going to go home, eat, and sleep. i found it difficult trying to convince him otherwise; not because he wouldn't listen, but because deep down, i secretly agreed that that's what we should all be doing. i think it was eliot who once said, "most of the world's problems are caused by people who are trying to be important." we should all just call it a night.
it's reading time. time for reading.

right now it's silent in mr. rhodes' eld class. the kids are taking a quiz on the perfect tense. they're also being quizzed on when to use "for" or "since." yenny just borrowed a pencil from oscar. i was reading a book earlier, called worst year ever. it should've been titled worst story ever. there's hope for me getting published yet, since a lot of the books in this classroom are awful and simplistic. just give me my dr. seuss, shel silverstein and we'll call it even. saddle back publications is the company that gave worst year ever its chance to shine. i ought to look them up.
the most wonderful time of the year


taking the day off work was a big mistake. it created yet another existential crisis. it's always this time of the year when i begin to question what i've done. most people reflect on this around christmas time, but for me, it's now. and so this is march, and what have i done?

i think the only reason people work is to avoid having to ask themselves what they really wish they could be doing. when i ask my kids what they'd rather be doing than studying at school, they always give me really weak responses: "i'd be at home, you know. just relaxing." "i'd be at the beach." "i'd be at the mall." i hate that stupid, pointless jobs exist. i hate even more that i've taken one from the bottom of the barrel. nobody knows what to do with his time anymore. sophisticated individuals would answer: "reading a book, watching a play, playing music, writing a story." but two years of pointless, mind-numbing work have stunted my creativity, and i can't say that i would rather be writing a story. my thinking is no longer clear. i have a hard time focusing on any one thing. if this truly is, as they say, "solidarity with the poor," why don't they just admit that it doesn't work, and actually do something to change it?

i've compromised two years because i didn't think i was good enough for an mfa program, which i really, really wanted. i chose to do americorps because it was the easy way out, and i really hate myself for always taking the easy way out. i don't want to be destined, doomed for complacency. if it costs me $30,000 for a program, so what. if i'm in debt for the rest of my life for education, so what? most of the population only has ps3's, suv's, and hdtv's to show for it. i'll have a lot of useless knowledge about rhetoric and composition. but at least it won't get repossessed when i decide i'm tired of working.

i wish i had more hands


posted above is a picture of the water bottle that i drink from everyday. supposedly, it's healthier to use than a standard nalgene bottle. the latter has plastic layering within that can erode over a period of time. my bottle, the klean kanteen is made from stainless steel from glorious factories overseas in china. we'll see who ends up living longer.

i skipped work today. i woke up around 7:40 and decided the kids don't need me, i'm really of no use to anyone (myself included), and anyway, i still have a minor cold. or allergies. i can't decide yet. but mostly i think it has to do with claire's visit. claire is meagan's friend, and she is currently pursuing an mfa degree from arizona state university. last night she showed me the papers she is currently grading, nothing out of the ordinary: just your typical failed college level poems and decently put-together compositions. but i missed the hell out of it. i missed being in my school's writing center and giving people feedback on their work. my supervisor, other consultants, and some of the students i worked with told me i was good at it. and i believed it. it was the one thing i was good at, and i may have only gotten to do it for a year.

i think about my day to day duties now, helping students who don't know how to use "they're, their, and there"; students who could care less about how mass advertising affects their society; students who don't question their turbo-capitalist society. and i know, it's my obligation to introduce them to these concepts, but they simply aren't ready for them. they can barely scribble down a whole sentence, and it's killing me. i talk and talk and talk, and i ask, "am i making sense? do you get it? intiende (sp?)? do you understand?" and, of course, they nod because they want this filipino gringo to please just shut up, please.

i want to work at the college level because i know i will be surrounded by students who actually want to learn, who want to try. i know silvia, rafa, daisy, miriam, sonia, oscar, karina, orlando, and gabby will be there.

i wish i had more hands so i could give our education system four thumbs down.
what is going on with the world?

today i worked with april, the only sophomore in ms. rosburg's first period cahsee prep class. she's 16 and in the teenage mother's program. i didn't ask her anything about her child. her writing was pretty low and she drew large, dark periods to end her sentences, which were often incorrectly positioned. she had a tattoo of someone's name on her left wrist, and she spoke softly. i tried to explain to her the differences between "they're, their, and there," and i think she was starting to get it. i think the worst part is that she seems really tough on the exterior, like most students at watsonville high, but she talked and acted like she was actually interested in the english lesson. it's a rarity these days.
teach at the beach



after ms. shafa's eld class, jose corona asked steven where his laptop was. steven asked, "laptop?" ms. shafa tried to explain the difference between a computer and a laptop. "you know," she said, "a laptop is one that you can carry around." he looked at me and tried to explain further. "see, they call that one (as i pointed to mr. rhodes pc) a 'desktop' because it goes on the desk. a 'laptop' goes on your lap." i sat on the desk and made myself a lap, then pointed to it. "yes, yes. i understand," he replied. "i know the diff-rans." i felt bad, like i might've been condescending and treated him too childishly in the way i was explaining it.

it's a nice, sunny day and the bell just rang. school shouldn't be required, especially on a day like this one.
i know all these words

i don't know why i'm thinking about becoming a teacher. i obviously don't know how to talk to high school students. hell, i didn't even know how when i was in high school. i tended to avoid them. last period, in mr. cramer's class, i caught juan goofing off during partner reading time. gabby was reading, and he was staring off into space. i asked him where she was, and he pointed to a vague spot on the page. "where exactly?" i demanded. he looked at gabby and said, "i don't know, she's looking kind of over here now." this prompted me to give the "talk" i had been dreaming of giving to the whole class all morning.

and so it began, "juan, you need to start buckling down and getting with the program. i work with seniors who can barely read, alright? they're farther behind you and they're not going to graduate because they've been dicking around and screwing off like you are right now. you have four years to get better than them, and i don't want you to end up like them, okay? so you need to start buckling down and getting with it." i said this while motioning to the page he was supposed to be reading. i felt kind of weird offering advice, so i strolled over to the other side of the classroom. i felt awkward saying "buckling down," especially twice and realized that i had said, "dicking." from the other side of the room, i noticed gabby watching me like i was someone i wasn't; either a hero, or some gringo bringing her race down even more. i still don't know what to make of it.
brenda lives precariously

another monday morning in mr. cramer's class. it's gotten to the point now that i am just reliving old red cross days, stuck at a computer, doing absolutely nothing. the only difference now is that more people can see me being useless. the truth is, i could ask the teachers to make me more useful, but i choose not to. mr. cramer seems to love being the star of his classroom and might feel threatened if i stood in front of the room to offer his students some nuggets about the english language. so here i sit, listening to them take a spelling test. let's listen:

"infallibility. infallibility. due to the pope's infallibility, i believe in all of his doctrine." edgar shouts: "i thought you were mormon!" the rest of the class begins to utter sentences in spanish. some of them could be cheating, but really, what difference does it make?

i think mr. cramer just sensed my feeling of uselessness. he wants me to teach the class mla format tomorrow. i better start looking into it.
i don't want a job


today, steven, probably the only chinese student at watsonville high school, didn't complete his worksheet to interview for a college, job, or housing. the tit (teacher in training), told me to help him out, since i "connected with him better." i helped him answer the questions by using his chinese to english dictionary. after he completed all the questions, i told him it was time for his interview. "intah-vue?" "yes, you're going to answer his questions so you can get a job." he looked worried. "i don't want a job." i laughed a little and told him that it was pretend, that he wasn't really going to get a job. "pwe-tan?" i type in the translation, and he nods. he miraculously gets through all three interviews before class finishes, and i feel like i've finally helped somebody do something.

earlier, in mr. cramer's class, i led a small group of students (7 of them) to the library because they hadn't completed their global warming essays, which was assigned two weeks ago. brenda and jessica, the two girls in the group, hadn't began at all, so i told them to do some research. they opened up the internet and typed "global warming" into the address bar. they were surprised when a blank page appeared. "no, you have to go to google.com first," i told them. jessica typed "google" and nothing happened. i stepped in and finished her .com for her.

at one point, another assistant, ms. juarez, came into the library looking for mr. rhodes. "i haven't seen him," i told her. "i'm working with another class." i could sense all the boys gawking at her, and when she left, they confirmed my suspicion. "dang, james. your girlfriend or what?" sergio asked. "no, she's not my girlfriend." they ignored my denial, and continued to go on about how "good" she was. "daaaang. she was goooood," christian said. when they finally got cracking on their essays, the majority of the boys completed two, maybe three sentences. christian surprised the hell out of me and typed two full paragraphs and inserted an image into his document.

it makes me wonder how often the students here are just "pwe-tanding" they don't know what's going on.
hundred balloons of happiness

today i had four kids read the vignette "salvador" from sandra cisneros' woman hollering creek. three of them paid attention while juan continually interrupted asking questions like, "what's another word for 'nice'?" or "how do you spell 'awful'?" i got short with him for purposely drawing the group's attention away from the story. they didn't connect with it as well as they did with burro genius. probably because there wasn't any swearing or pissing of the pants. i asked them what they thought of the story, and alan replied, "she used a lot of commas." gilbert shrugged, and alejandra kept silent. their apathy stung, and i could only think, if sandra cisneros can't get to you, no one can. i really wanted them to "get it," but, as we read, i didn't think i was comprehending everything, either. why are they making illiterate kids at this school read romeo and juliet when house on mango street is available?
over there you can see their new boat

this morning, kathryn had me take four students, laura, rut, marcos and edgar to the library. the four of them couldn't stop talking, and when i asked them to please be quiet, they insisted that they were helping each other with the work. i didn't believe them for a minute, especially since laura was looking at a flyer advertising some event for seniors. marcos and rut are really behind, and i'm positive they won't be able to graduate, unless they are labeled "special ed," in which case, they would receive a waiver for the cahsee test, which would allow them to graduate and receive their diplomas. i like laura, i really do, but sometimes she can be really defiant and stubborn. today was no exception. even when i moved them to the teacher's lounge, split them up and made them work in individual tables, laura still wouldn't work on her essay. instead, she claimed she would read an excerpt from burro genius, but from what i witnessed, she never got past the first page.

edgar claimed that he didn't need to work, since he was quite sure he already passed the test last month. i later got the idea to challenge him. "edgar, if you can prove to me that you can pass the test by completing this practice test, i'll make sure that you never have to do anymore work." of course i was lying, but at least it worked.

then, while they were working in the teacher's lounge, i read sandra cisnero's vignette, "salvador." i wanted to read it out loud to the four, to tell them, this is what you should be aspiring to do. i wanted to say, "use your creativity and everything you have because when you get to college, or start working, you're going to be surrounded by people who bring you down and make you doubt your abilities." i'm sure they already feel that way with this stupid test looming over their heads. i just hope i'm not contributing to their self-doubt.
an owl flew over the tree an hour ago

right now i'm in a freshman english class and the students are learning when to use "a" vs. "an." it's a sad sight to see, especially since it's taking them a half hour just to get through the lesson. students are barely paying attention, and many are calling out wrong answers. i remember learning article usage back in the third grade. what is wrong with public school systems in california? the book they are using is standard for freshman english classes, but i can't believe how far behind the content is. the book assumes (and is probably right) that these students haven't learned any grammar in elementary school at all.

in my freshman english xl class at jesuit high school, we were asked to write five page essays on classics like to kill a mockingbird, which we took no more than ten days to finish. the students in this classroom took over two months to finish of mice and men. the class had a party when it was over, and they watched the movie, which wasn't the focus of the class period; it was more like a fog machine, something that would provide background noise for their incessant talking. i feel bad for the students here who actually want to learn, but then, at the same time, i have difficulty pointing out who those individuals are. with the entire class talking, goofing off and being on the brink of chaos, i have a hard time believing that anyone here can maintain a serious attitude about learning. in other words, when the problem is usually a rotten apple, or a bad banana, i think this case proves the entire tree is defunct.

i think it's funny when teachers and administration at watsonville high school are amazed by the low scores, the high percentage of students who are flunking. all they would have to do is sit in on one class a week to discover how low some of the teachers' standards are, and how deficient some of the lessons and content are. in this particular class, the students are being asked to learn ten vocabulary words a week. some students, the ones who have been labeled "dumb and dumber" (an actual term mr. cramer has used for a student) aren't even required to provide the definitions. they are only asked to spell them correctly, which they often fail to do. in catholic school, as early as the sixth grade, maybe earlier, i was asked to memorize twenty words a week, along with their definitions. if grades aren't enough motivation to make the "dumb and dumbers" work harder, teachers might as well raise the standards for those who actually want to learn and earn high scores. students who are already behind can't fall anymore behind, but students who are scoring high can learn more.

these are just my thoughts, which won't leave this blog, since no one is willing to listen to an underpaid volunteer.
you don't even know me, pacman

yesterday, while i sat with some students after school, mr. cramer was complaining about some student that was writing on the desk. when one of the boys asked, "who was it, mr. cramer?" mr. cramer said, "i don't know. just some stupid freshman faggot. excuse my french, guys." i could tell he was really embarassed; after all, most teachers would lose their job over a comment like that. it's just sickening to know that a teacher at watsonville high school would actually let something like that slip. i obviously didn't report it; i'm even trying to convince myself that i misheard him.

today i'm going to help ms. rosburg with the after school nutrition program. so far, we've had two women from the district talk to kids about different kinds of fruits and vegetables, and then the kids try fruits and veggies they've never had. then, the high school kids prepare smoothies for them. it's pretty fun, but again, i end up being a big, useless turd.

i dream of being a doctor, a time when people would care whether or not i showed up half an hour late to work, a time when i'd be given more responibility than say, telling kids that "conclusion" is spelled with an "s" and not a "t." americorps really is the lowest common demoninator. even record store punks who work part-time make more than us; even janitors at the school play a more important role than we do. i've recently discovered that our health coverage is shit, and that aetna will only cover $2,000 if i have a medical emergency. how that qualifies as "health insurance" boggles my mind.

i sometimes worry that i'll look back on my two year americorps stint with deep regret. i can't even say that it was a perfect attempt to avoid working for corporations, since i became a bitch barista for three months. and i can't say it was to avoid getting an office job because that's basically all the red cross was.

i can say that i joined because i was idealistic, unmaterialistic, and wanted to, as m.i.a. said, "pull up the people, pull up the poor." but now i see that the government funds americorps because they know what a useless program it is. that the more college graduates americorps recruits, the less flooded the job market will be. it's a good ploy to keep idealistic youth from achieving anything tangible.
30 pages of solid gold

My friend Jacob, a good Jew, once wished to write a song entitled, "The Meanest Gay Guy I Ever Met," about a dude named Hansa we both worked with. Hansa once told me that, in order to get into an mfa program for creative writing, i needed 30 pages of solid gold. it really doesn't seem like much. 2 or 3 short stories. people have written millions of them. okay, maybe not millions, but maybe hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them. well, considering crappy one pagers, i guess it could be in the millions. yes, millions.

all i need is 30 pages of solid gold and my life will once again make sense, have meaning. i dream about how easy it must be. there's this guy and he's starting a new job. it's his first day and he's shaking up a big water bottle, but it's filled with a red-orange liquid. gatorade mix, maybe. or kool-aid. there's a story somewhere in there. there's also my roommate, sitting across the room from me, staring at his computer, looking up god-knows-what. last time it was antiquated german avaiation. he tried to explain his fascination with it as i filled up my klean kanteen. i nodded and probably said, "cool."

two people just walked in, a mother and father, perhaps, and they ask cecilia, "is your name cecilia?" they ask something else, but it's in spanish, so i didn't catch it. i guess i couldn't write a story about that.

the 30 pages of solid gold are within me, or at least within my grasp. they circulate my head, a bizarre halo, and then new ones join the mix everyday. i pick at them, try to swat them down to hold them for a moment, but they are much too quick. it's something simple, like stopping your car in the middle of the freeway just to touch the pavement, to make sure it really exists, but something stops you from doing it. it's just not sane. it just doesn't make sense. and every idea, every thought i ever had, becomes a jumbled mess like my journal, like this blog, and the 30 pages of solid gold degenerate into two or three paragraphs that sit in a folder on my desktop entitled, "stories." the ones that come to life by means of a printer end up in a box entitled, "recycling." hansa really was the meanest gay guy i ever met.
infallibility: inability to make mistakes

it's 11:39 am and i'm in ms. rosburg's class. the students are copying "commonly misspelled words" and writing down the definitions for five of these words. right now, ms. rosburg is speaking with indo, a student who can speak punjabi, some spanish, some english, and some hindi. quadralingual, so. someone was playing eminem really loudly. i don't know what the kids are using. i know they have ipods, but their ipods can't get that loud. maybe they're brining little docking stations in their backpacks, but i thought those had to be plugged into an outlet. some further investigation will reveal the real noisemaker. students are milling around and talking about random things, completely unrelated to the work they're doing. i just heard someone say, "g-string." it doesn't feel like a classroom; it resembles more of a big child's daycare center.

i asked ms. rosburg about memberships fees at the Y. she didn't know the answer, but i'll find out tomorrow. i'd like to start "driving iron." the bell is going to ring in five minutes, and then i'm off to ms. shafa's eld 2 class. she tends to talk a lot and the kids talk back.

today is german's birthday. he's now 17, godding. i can't remember what my 17th birthday was like. i can't believe it was over six years ago. right now ms. rosburg is making german and another student show me the gold stickers underneath the brims of their hats. they keep the stickers on for a reason she and i don't understand. german says that it shows that it's an "original." i don't know any vendors in town that are selling fake white hats. i wonder if that kind of work includes good benefits.

this is gabby's last day. she's transferring to renaissance high, where my roommate's mom teaches. she said she was all set to go, and that's she been thinking about it for the last two weeks, but recently, she's been having second thoughts. i hope she can get the credits she's looking for.

my aunt is trying to get me a state job. most of the positions are looking for people with social work, psychology, library science degrees, and furthermore, they want people with at least six months to a year's experience in the related field. it really makes me question what kind of work you would call what i've been doing for the last two years. a b.a. in creative writing and experience in telling students the difference between a verb and a noun, a gerund and a participle. i'm not even always right. according to mr. cramer, only the pope is infallible.
No News

Today was a simple, warm day in Watsonville. Taking it piece by piece would be boring. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I ended up at the Capitola mall at one point, reading the first few pages of Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. Now there's a writer. None of this useless blogging shit for her. She gets to the point, drives it home, then backs her truck right over you. In other words, she throws down. I read her essay, "Why I Write" in college, and I realized what a true writer was. Anyway, she talks about how a lot of tragedy, a lot of death usually begins with "ordinary" moments. Like how September 11th was a "cloudless day" or how peaceful Pearl Harbor was before the attacks there. I once heard, maybe it was from a priest, that God decides to take you when you're happiest, when you least suspect it. I wonder if I'm Catholic. I don't want to turn this into a religious blog, so I'll leave it at that.

I've always wanted to start a story with, "I always knew it'd be a warm December morning when I'd go," or, "Hairo always knew it'd be a warm December morning when he'd go." I don't know what it means or what it'd be about. It just came to me when I was walking to the post office on a warm December morning one day. It seemed like the perfect time, perfect environment to exit stage left.

The end.

Fatality!

Despite having nothing to report, I am going to blog because that's what bloggers do. They write even when nothing truly important is happening their lives. I've been reading Stanley "Tookie" Williams' autobiography, Blue Redemption, Black Rage (I may have accidentally interchanged the colors), and it is a fairly interesting read. It makes me think more about Colman McCarthy's speech, and how we are never taught peace or how to achieve it. I completely agree, but at the same time, I wonder how I'm supposed to define "peace." If peace is just the opposite of war, and the opposite of violence, then is a state of peace just a period where nothing is accomplished? Tension and conflict result in growth; therefore, does peace lead to anything? I think peace, because I can only define it in terms of what it isn't, is much more complex than war and violence. Or maybe Colman is right: it's only complex and undefinable because we've never had the opportunity to learn it. I always thought people loved violence; wasn't violence the reason I wanted to see Zodiac last night (and enjoyed by the way)? Wasn't it the reason I got addicted to playing games like Street Fighter and Mortal Combat, and then later on, Medal of Honor, Grand Theft Auto, and Conflict: Desert Storm; or why we played with, and watched the Ninja Turtles every afternoon?

If I had learned peace, if it was actually taught in our schools, would we have played cops and robbers? Even in Catholicism, the most memorable part is not the Sermon on the Mount, it's not Jesus' birth, or any miracles he performed. It's crucifixion. The bloodiest, most painful part of Jesus' thirty-three years on earth are what people remember most. Why is violence so memorable? I can't remember what I wore on my 21st birthday, but I can almost perfectly visualize planes exploding in skyscrapers, a senator shooting himself live on TV, Kane ripping out Sonia Blade's heart, an eyeball being squished by a bare foot, etc., etc.

These are all gory, horrible things that I would like to have eternally sunshined out of my mind, but for some reason, they are there, and they are the most vivid. Maybe the constant awareness of death makes us curious about, or even desire ultra-violence. My coworker, Ross, once told me he thought it was great that we have games like Grand Theft Auto where you can "go around shooting people, stealing cars, and blowing stuff up" because it was a "healthy way" of expressing something that's within all of us. I'd like to think that I don't have the capability to perform some of Zodiac's, Dahmer's, Bundy's, Kacyzinski's, Hitler's, Pat Bateman's, Leatherface's deeds, but I know it's in there, not just for me, but for everyone. It's a very unnerving thought.

Sometimes I wish for religious naivete, an ultra-conservative view, or that I could simply just forget that it exists, that these terrible things have happened. On the other hand, I could just turn of the TV, stop focusing on the negative, and remember that 99% of life is just waiting.