guys in bikinis that are chubby.

i was wrong. the new sub's name is miss carissa. she decided at the very beginning that she was going to take roll, even though mr. rhodes has a seating chart that could've shown her right away who was missing.

she calls out, "yovani?"
at this point i walk up to her and say, "if you want, i can just tell you who's not here."
"that's okay, it's more fun this way."
i sit down. a lot of giggling happens, and i sit there, reading breakfast at tiffany's. baudel, giovanni, and cruz are not sitting in their assigned seats. i assume miss carissa doesn't care, so neither do i. when silent reading ends, she asks if i think they were good enough during reading time to go to the library.
"what do you think, james?"
"i don't know," i say. there was a lot of giggling going on."

she calls baudel, irma, and jorge to collect the books. then she reads them viva mexico!, a story about benito juarez, president during the mexican revolution (i know this because of jesus valadez, who, usually good, today was throwing staples that stuck to the ceiling). again, a whole hour of my life wasted, thanks to stupid americorps. whatever; i probably would've wasted it anyway.

at some point during the story, giovanni asks her how old she is. i'm guessing 25, 26. no older than 27. "that's not important," she says, offended. "you know, in some cultures, it's very rude to ask that." giovanni looks embarassed.

at another point in the story, she takes the opportunity to announce that the biggest place she's ever been is china. "lots of bicycles there," she said. "motorcycles?" jose lopez asks. "no, bicycles! bicicleta," jesus answers.

when the bell rings, i head out the door. "james, where are you going?" she asks. i'm surpsised, since i've been so useless the whole period. "i'm going to another class," i say. "could you stay two more minutes?" i agree, and stand next to jesus until they finish the book. then i leave.

i really don't get people sometimes.
i don't believe in jesus. only luck.

mr. rhodes' newest sub is named carol. at least i think that's what she said her name was. another blonde woman, but younger, and less tall than last week's sub, ms. joy. i asked jose corona what happened to ms. joy. "she died," he said. "no, i don't know." "did you guys drive her loco?" i asked.

stephen really had no clue what was going on. they were in the library, looking up information about benito juarez, born in oaxaca, became president of mexico for a few years. i told him to take facts ("what's facts?") and put them in his own ("own?") words. "english, very hard for me," he said. "yes, i know. that's why you have to practice reading and writing everyday." "prah-tis?" "yes, practice," i said. i typed it into his electronic chinese-english dictionary. then, as usual, instead of doing his work, he asked me a bunch of questions. these questions usually range from "would you like to go to the moon?" to "did you hear the news?" today, he asked me if i believed in yey-hu.

"what's yey-hu?" i asked.
"you don't know yey-hu!" he nearly screamed with delight.
"no, i've never heard of yey-hu."
"you know. like this. like this!" and with that, he stretched out his arms and bowed his head to the side. the chinese christ sat before me.
"oh! jesus!" i said. "yes, in english it's jesus." i type it into his dictionary.
"haha. jesus."
"yes, jesus christ."
"do you believe?" steven asks.
"do i believe in jesus?" at this point it feels more like i am asking myself than i am asking him.
"yes, do you believe in yey-hu?"
feeling slightly catholic, i shrug my shoulders and say, "sure." did he mean did i believe that he really existed like the easter bunny or santa claus, or did i believe he died for our sins? i didn't push it.
"i don't believe," he said, eyes narrowed. "i don't believe in yey-hu."
"oh, okay." i said, thinking my weak faith might've upset him.
"i only believe in nuck," he added.
"nuck? you mean God?"
"no," he said. "nuck!" then he types it into his dictionary. it comes up "luck." then, a final time, "i don't believe in yey-hu. only nuck."

dashing running.

cramer's sixth period was really good today. it went a lot smoother than i expected, and the kids were very responsive. and even more surprising, carlos, ana, melanie, and eivette showed up after school. we held a half-hour poetry workshop, talking about melanie's poem "easter sunday." it made me miss college, writing groups, talking about writing like nothing else matters. because, really, nothing does.

these kids helped me remember that good writing and constructive criticism is all about asking questions. funny how we forget simple things like that. i wish i could remember the time when i was fourteen. all that sticks out is dax rossini kicking me in the legs and not stopping until i finally fought back. i didn't know that's what he wanted. or bitching to my parents about how much i hated jesuit, like any place would've been any better. god knows, it might have. i would've been more proud to be a wildcat than a marauder.

carlos asked me if i was good at writing poems. "not really," i said. "could you write one right now?" i said i could, but that it probably wouldn't be very good.

i heard some amazing things earlier when talking about dickinson. janessa said "tell the truth, but go easy." i liked that. and yvonna brought up the fact that it was so quiet that you could hear the fly buzzing in her poem. irvin: "she's got rhythm. like shakespeare." and most troublesome of all, magali, boldly announcing, "i'm not afraid of death. i'm not!" two days ago, cramer told me how she was telling him and other students that she was thinking about suicide. i didn't know how to respond. she was the same girl who wrote about how her father, an alcoholic, chased her around a table one night with a knife. her brother restrained him.

after our workshop, the kids said that they would try to meet every wednesday to talk about poetry. i wish i had more for them, my own writing published even, to show them that it can be done.

but how do you encourage something you can't do yourself?
he kindly stopped for me.

mr. cramer asked me to teach emily dickinson to his second and sixth period classes. so i went in. we started with "tell all the truth but tell it slant," and i used some bad examples. "you know," i said, "let's say i have a fat friend named jenny. i can't just say 'you're fat!' i'd say, "hey maybe we should go to the gym together. we should work out together." really bad example. lisette, a heavier girl, covered her face. i felt really bad after that. then, to add insult to obesity, adrian said, "maybe we should go throw up together." "hey, that's not cool," i said. the class quieted down.

other than that, the rest of the lesson went well. brenda kept smirking through the entire class, as she usually does, and sometimes it feels like she's the sage, judging you, telling you that everything you're doing is wrong, wrong. but she's only 14, all attitude.

gabby is one of my favorites. she sits in front and gets really bright-eyed and excited anytime she gets an insight. she doesn't really like to work with others, and i don't really blame her because few try like she does. she's always raising her hand, full of life and wonder. she once wrote a story about a princess who fought some dragon. quite an imagination, yes.

we ran out of time, so that last group didn't get to say anything. not that they wanted to, either, but i think janessa did. and i think she would've had good things to say. she's another one of the sharper students. at the beginning of the year, kids would call her chola, half-breed, because she looked tough, and she was always late for class. she wrote a story once about how her mom was a drug addict. i hope the other classes are good to her.

then there's osvaldo, in the back, whose only answer is a shrugging of the shoulders. "be confident!" i said. "that's the great thing about literature. you can never be wrong!" christian jokes, says "karina can be wrong." "no," i continue. "as long as you defend your arguments, you can never be wrong." i decide to divulge some college secrets. "when i was in college, some of the dumbest kids would speak articulately. they could express themselves. they had confidence, and so people listened. so even if you don't know what you're talking about, at least be confident in yourself." looking back, the logic is a bit off, and i probably made osvaldo think that i was calling him dumb. hopefully not.

at least i was confident.
i pee diamonds.

Today i went to vinnie hansen's class, since kathryn's cahsee prep class is dwindling. i have to say that i haven't seen a class as well behaved since i was in high school. i also couldn't believe that she was teaching them, and that they were actually learning something. it was difficult knowing that two classrooms down, in room 51, the freshmen there were being subjected to more useless current events and tales of the bible, when these kids were actually learning that alliteration is the repetition of sounds, not letters. shit, even i didn't remember that.

then ms. hansen dove into a lesson on prefixes. she blanked out on examples for the prefix "in," and asked if i could think of any. still recovering from the shock that some kids at watsonville high actually do learn, i couldn't help at all. a group of girls gained the same insight almost instantaneously. "insane!" they called out. oh yeah. god, i feel dumb. then it hit me. "invalid."

ms. hansen is also an author who faces some tough critics. one of three reviews on amazon for her murder-mystery novel murder, honey summed it up in one word: "sucktastic."

needless to say, i look forward to finishing off the year with her and her group of well-behaved, cognizant first period.

the rest of the day was "same old garbage," as rich likes to say. during third period, kathryn decided they would watch a movie. adrian put in final destination 3, which i secretly wanted to watch, too, but kathryn denied us our gore-fest. the kids didn't want to watch pleasantville, so instead they watched redemption, the stanley tookie williams story. again.

kathryn forgot to pick up the vegetables for the nutrition program, so i had to do an albertson's run. getting paid for a shopping run. i'm game. then, at albertson's, i was supposed to pick up 2 zucchinis. i can't really tell the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber, so i had to rely on an old mexican man's expertise. i hold up the green thing. "is this the same as zucchini?" he quietly nods. "thanks."

i was useless in fifth period, since ms. joy just read to them and told them about segregation. "can you imagine," she said, "hanging a little black girl just for being black?" she continued talking about how she was born in 1960 in illinois, but she wasn't racist, and her family wasn't racist. it seemed as if she had to defend herself against some invisible accusation. "we didn't even know any racists when i grew up," she said. i wanted to tell her and everyone that racism wasn't just about hating people for their skin color. it's about privilege, it's about being able to work the system. but, of course, i said nothing. i shot my high horse, left him to die in a pool of his own urine on the corner of madison and 23rd in seattle.

i actually liked doing the nutrition program today. the kids were wild as usual, and the high schoolers quiet as usual. joanna told me she's going to san jose state. "do you know what you want to study?" "yeah," she says. "i'm going to study nursing." she, in her blue five-a-day apron, could easily transition into a white lab coat, stethoscope dangling from her neck.

i, on the other hand, wearing a grey american apparel shirt (size small) and jeans i haven't washed all week, never really imagined myself sporting anything any different. maybe that was the problem. always telling myself that i wanted to be great, but couldn't envision "greatness." couldn't even give it a name. all i hoped for was the ratty pink bathrobe, or else a beady, oversized, seasick green cardigan hunched over a smith-corona somewhere.

but instead, i have my girlfriend's dell laptop. and i get angry with her when she interrupts my blogging, blogging, so that she can check her email. not poetry, not fiction.

inadequate. incapable. insipid.
car service!

today steven came up to me and asked me if i've heard the news.
"news? what news?" i ask.
"you know, the student. he killed."
"oh yeah, the shootings. yes, i heard about that."
"shootings?"
"yes, the guy who killed people."
"yeah. but he was from korea. from asia."
"yes, he was korean."
"do you know why he did?" steven asks me.
"no," i admit.
"i know," steven says.
"oh," i say. why?"
"because there was a girl. his girlfriend. he kill her first."
"oh yeah, i think i heard something. his ex-girlfriend, right?"
"yeah. girlfriend."

steven is smiling during this whole conversation, maybe because of the language barrier that exists between us, or maybe because he finds mass murder hilarious. i'm not sure. i just know the latter isn't completely out of line because at one point, he says, "it's funny." i try to discourage this:

"no. there has to be something wrong with you to do something like that."
"something wrong?" he asks.
"yeah, he had problems in the head." i point to my head to drive the point home.
"problems?"
"yeah, you know," and i circle my finger around my temple.
"oh, crazy. yes, crazy," he says, laughing.

i don't really know how to end a conversation like this, especially to a student who speaks chinese, barely knows english. luckily, ms. joy tells him he needs to complete his essay. i walk away and help the newest student, marcela, who has come to watsonville with her entire family from oaxaca.

in mr. cramer's class somehow putin's name came up, and eli, the only white kid in the class, asked what his first name was. cramer couldn't remember. "vladimir," i offer, my only contribution to the entire period. on wednesday, cramer wants me to teach the class about emily dickinson, who i didn't even really understand in college. i have to admit i did like that she was a recluse, and on the few occasions that she talked, she supposedly spoke with a high-shrilled voice. and all her poetry was published posthumously, of course. always a plus. my kind of girl.


the face of resistance.

right now the eld kids are watching a black n' white video on the little rock 9. earlier, the principal, murray sheckman came in to talk to the kids because they've been giving the sub, ms. joy, a hard time. he spoke mainly in spanish (the kids will listen if an adult speaks fluent spanish in an assertive voice) about how senor rhodes is busy taking care of his baby, and just because he's gone doesn't mean that they don't have to keep learning english. he talked about how he was a white boy growing up in mexico, and how he had to struggle learning spanish. and how beautiful it is to be bilingual. how much richer you will be if you're bilingual. or better yet, trilingual. they listened, and i think, for the most part, it sunk in.


mr. sheckman spoke in a very humble, reserved tone. the kind only old men can master, like sam green, like dr. brown, like father leigh. you know you're doing something right when you command a room's attention with nothing more than whispers.


i started looking for open english teaching positions in northern california, but gave up when valerie getz told me that i shouldn't be looking for positions now. that the recruitment fair will help me find one, and that the location for my classes (sacramento, contra costas, or alameda) will be contingent (yes, she used that word) upon where i can find an open position. i'm just glad i don't have to worry about that yet. i just need to get through today.


in mr. cramer's class today, while i looked for teaching positions, i must've been pretty focused because christian and sergio started laughing at me. "what's so funny?" i asked. "nothing!" then christian whispers something to sergio. he turns back to me. "james, are you looking at porno?" i shake my head, grinning.


these kids and their imagniations.
i have no reason not to believe you.

sunday. randomness of the weekend is what makes it the weekend. meagan said a weekend is like a balloon, completely full on a thursday, then slowly deflating until it's nothing more than a rubber worm on sunday night. here i type, on that rubber worm.

but today we went to point lobos. the first hike i made was with ace and sarah, a little over a month ago. then i took my parents there. the three times that i've gone, we've seen seals. they really like that area. the water's cleaner, bluer, and no people are there to bug them. we can only watch them from a cliff, as they sunbathe and swim through the layers of seaweed. it's a perfect sight for a deflating balloon.

the nuggets beat the spurs. nuggets lead 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs. i decided i was going to try and get back into the playoffs, after not watching them for seven years. playoffs were the second most wonderful time of the year, knowing that school was coming to a close, and it would stay light out until really late. the buzzing of the air conditioner, dad falling asleep at halftime. no one really cared about the games, unless the knicks or sacramento were in them, of course. all that mattered was that people would root, even my mom, root, rooting for something. then i'd challenge byron to some one on one in the backyard. i'd swat him a couple of times and he'd cry and i'd feel bad about it. looking back, i should've let him win every now and then.

meagan is making fried chicken from her mom's recipe. she thinks it will turn out badly, but i'm sure it will be fine. i tell her this.

i wanted to get a haircut today, but i didn't. instead, i got emily bronte's wuthering heights from the library. i felt like getting lost in something today.
yes i do have weapons.

i had some pretty horrible thoughts today. on the way over to my constitution test in santa clara, i really started to hate that police officer who pulled me over two weeks ago. i wanted him to get shot up by surenos. or nortenos. both are capable. i know, it's a terrible thing to think. in those kinds of roles, though, it's hard for me to see them as human.

and then all this stuff about korea feeling "ashamed" that the v-tech killer was korean. aimee said, "it's not like america ever apologizes for anything we've ever done." and then there was an image on the tele of kids gathering to create a "V" and a "T." all i could say was, "oh my god, get over it." i wasn't sure if i was refering to the kids, the people in mourning, or the media who has covered this story nonstop for the past week. i know it's pretty insensitive, just like the thought of the policeman, but those thoughts are there, and sometimes i don't know what to do with them.

i feel more and more desensitized everyday, but i am accomplishing things. i passed that constitution test, one last hoop that california makes its future teachers jump through. the cbest, cset, and constituion weren't very difficult. if these are today's standards for the state, i'd hate to think what they were 10, 20 years ago. you probably just had to wear a tie and you'd be credentialed.

oh, one last horrible thought i had. i knew it was horrible, and i even joked about it. i just went into the living room and said, "haha. a blue angel crashed." "what? what's a blue angel?" rachel asked. "you know, the blue angels. they fly around major cities. they'd always come to seattle, and you'd swear you were going to die because the whole house would shake every time they flew over you." "what are they for?" she asked. "they just perform air shows. and they use taxpayers' dollars for it." meagan said, "did he live?" "no," i said. "that's terrible!" she answered. i know. where do these terrible, insensitive thoughts come from? maybe because i don't really know these people. i've seen them, i've read about them. but i don't know for sure that they exist.

in the prologue to raymond carver's shortcuts, the essayist describes his stories and how they are all interconnected. "a small boy dies," he writes, "and another wins the lottery. they are the same thing."

i met an indian woman at the constitution testing site. she told me she did her undergraduate studies in india. she got her master's in computer engineering at san jose state. now she wanted to get her master's in special education. "why do you want to do that?" i asked. "my son is special ed. and after working with him, i thought i'd like to help others." we talked a little bit more. she said she'd never met an english teacher before. "i've met math, science, and history teachers. not many english teachers, though." then she talked about how lots of students drop out of school because they can't handle, or just don't like, their english classes. or maybe the woman distributing the tests told me that. either way, i started thinking about what my class next year would look like.

the first thing that came to mind were a bunch of laid-back, scrawny kids wearing baggy clothes. what the hell am i going to tell these people? "eschew surplusage?" "use active vs. passive voice?" that's what i tell the kids now. if anything, it's just kind of funny to think about. what also cracked me up today is myself. i thought about how i once asked jose lopez if he's ever had a burro. mr. rhodes has a little wooden burrow tied to a tree stump on top of his computer monitor. i asked jose if he's ever had one. "no," he said. a few of the kids laughed. i wonder what they think of me, asking my random questions, being quiet most of the time and then exploding all over the classroom when it's time to chant read. they probably ask themselves, who is this chinese kid, coming into our class everyday for no good reason? and mentally, all i can answer is, i'm filipino. okay, so my great-grandfather on my dad's side was chinese, but both my parents are filipino. how hard is that to remember? and then i find these internal dialogues pretty funny, and i smile to myself. man, people must think i'm nuts.

there was a store in santa clara called casket outlet. it was sandwiched, i think, between a donut shop and a laundromat. they really sold caskets. and in the window were some heavy, white, 70's looking curtains. a cemetary and mortuary were also in the neighborhood.

the testing facility was this adult school. i forgot the name of it already. it made me think of when my dad tried to go to night school. he didn't finish, said it was too difficult, that he was too old to try and start learning again. i'd like to help him get his GED. where to begin, where to begin? "Eschew surplusage," I'll tell him.




you're not afraid, and i'm not afraid either.

so, three kids are actually hanging out after school. too bad i don't know what the hell to do with them. so instead i'm blogging while yvette, ana, and magali are discussing scenes from disturbia. "i love that movie," ana said. "i was like shaking the whole time, but i loved it." i can't really talk, since i was a scream fan when i was their age. now they're going to the store to buy some candy. i feel like such a babysitter. what can i do? i didn't bring any books because i didn't expect anyone to show up. maybe i'll print out some poems. yeah, that's what i'll do. but when they get back.

last night meagan and i watched two episodes of the wonder years. we agreed that kevin arnold's hooking up with random, pubescent girls have subconsciously made us feel inadequate about not meeting someone until college. in reality, on the episode last night, when kevin turns away from the girl on the beach, thinking (in daniel stern's brilliant voice-over) she's out of my league, the scene would've ended then and there. but it doesn't. television, an escape.

the eld kids were good today. must've been the rain. i call cruz "schoolboy" now. he probably doesn't like it. i also explained when to use "a" vs. "an." a lot of kids complained, we already know that! but i continued anyway. some students still didn't get it. after class ms. joy explained that she might not be in class tomorrow because she'd like to attend a memorial service. her first neighbor's mother fell off a cliff. "driving?" i ask. "no," she said. "she just fell." it happened somewhere in carmel. sea ranch, i think, is what she called it.

jesus valadez told me he cleans the classrooms after school. "for how long?" i asked. "today. two hours." "what do you have to do?" "sweep." "and mop?" i add. i motion with two hands, as if i am mopping. "yes," he said. "mop."

my teaching statement is almost ready. valerie getz, administrative assistant for project pipeline, said that it could be single or double-spaced. whichever i prefer. she also said that last year, 300 applied and less than half met the requirements.

the girls are back. i'd better look for some poetry.
richard mcbeef.
asian english majors have it rough today. mr. cramer let me teach a portion of his class. i did, and it went pretty well. i just need to repeat it for sixth period. at one point i almost didn't know what i was doing. it's always good to print out worksheets in case you run out of things to say. at twenty-four, though, i shouldn't ever have to deal with that problem. i always pick things up with, "back when i was in college..." the glory days. i saw jose corona after class. i think he still resents me for sending him to ocsc that one day. i have to take a constitution test on friday. the last of the last. finish up my one page statement, and it's all in. i might be a teacher. today wasn't so bad. gabby, karina, and adam answered most of my questions. juan is shy. irvin was throwing things. brenda was half asleep. jessica was quiet in the corner. david didn't say much. yvette and yaridra said nothing. is it yaridra? yadira? i should probably know these things by now. i like these kids' names. names i've never really heard before. delsy. yvonne. juanito. osvaldo. irvin. dulce. magali. there's disused tracks yet to be explored. i used "eschew surplus," the mark twain quote, and surprisingly, they picked up on it right away. "don't use so many words," adam said. "try to say as much as you can with as little as you can," gabby said. they were sharp. though no one really picked up the red wheel barrow image. i guess it is kind of tough. we're programmed not to see the obvious. my imagination's kind of dry in the morning. maybe because nothing's happened yet. how do 4 am writers work? imagine possibilities of the day. a girl in the back was silent. i wish i knew her name. bernice? she handed me a card that said her reason for not speaking. it's in solidarity with the silence of oppressed gay, lesbians, and transgenders. i thought it had something to do with virginia tech.
in this country, i think, the flags should fly at half mast everyday.
zinnidad zidane.

didn't blog earlier. didn't go to work until noon. set up an ira account. didn't really know much about it. just trusted the asian woman whose daughter is a teacher on a maternity leave. didn't work on my story. just transferred from print to computer. computerized it. technologized it. let it sit. it's got energy, at least. a voice i haven't really heard or used before. cramer asked me to teach a part of class tomorrow. i haven't prepared much. i'd rather wing it. passed my cset, surprisingly. never took a linguistics class in my life, but i passed it. wonder what that says about california's teaching standards. made lumpia and rice for dinner. meant to bake salmon, didn't know marinading would take an hour, then another to cook. jesus valadez walked into the filing cabinet today. i laughed, then asked if he was okay. he was. yenny couldn't answer simple questions about her spring break. i helped her a little bit, and so did silvia, but then she gave up, started talking with baudel when i walked away. asked erik if he knew who zidane was, but didn't recognize who i was talking about until i pronounced it the right way: "zi-dahn." "yeah, he's a good soccer player." "i watched a movie about him," i said. "oh. have you seen gold?" "no." "it's a good movie. you should watch it." "i will." joanna cut her hand, and i got her two bandaids. people who fund the after school program showed up. kathryn was annoyed with myra for talking on the phone, alex, for being late, not taking initiative. "it's just thousands of dollars we're dealing with here." it's strange to see her annoyed. saw her at nobhill yesterday. she had her daughter sitting in the cart. what do you call the little spot where kids can sit? it was an awkward moment. in those moments i babble like i blog. "i'm just trying out this chicken curry recipe my mom gave me." "oh, so you're making it from scratch?" "yeah. well, i do have this curry powder." i hold it up and show it to her. "well, i'll see you tomorrow," i said.

what is a day. the day, the event is not remembered in 'real time.' it is fragmented, broken in pieces. how did i breathe? did my heart race at any one point? how often did i blink? i remember an itchy eye. trying to get the eyelash out of it, as i often have to do after a shower. i remember killing a mosquito with my black slipper. i read claire's poems on meagan's laptop. i did not understand them. it was hot today. i couldn't take off my sweatshirt because my shirt reads, "everything's dirtier in the south." i'm not very professional. i don't intend to ever be.

i've taken up cooking. i've got my salmon marinading now. marinading over night's gotta be better than an hour, don't you think? i'm experimenting with new voices in my writing. "you're probably just sick of hearing your own voice," meagan explained to me. "yeah. you're right!" i said. the first insight i've had about writing since college. i'm sick of it.
estoy nervioso.
spring break was pretty fun when i wasn't in california. i don't really know why i wanted to come back here. back to complacency, playing ps3 and sleeping in until noon. pretending to play music. family who can't pull themselves up, ones who feel stuck. i do like the warmth, the sense of family when family is being family. not when family is watching tv, sleeping and giving in, sitting on the couch and choosing isolation over community. i liked putting up the fence, feeling like i was doing something worth doing, something i know i could see to the end. i liked hammering, pulling up the planks, feeling like i was worth a damn. for two years i've felt useless. you know you're in bad shape when you look forward to manual labor.

i didn't like getting a "to close" ticket. not even a damn speeding ticket. and why do all cops who ride motorcycles have to look like the stereotypical cop, like the terminator's nemesis? the kind who won't take off his helmet or his silver glasses so that you can look at his face and hate him forever. what kind of a job is that? everytime you come into contact with someone, you ruin his day. i would hate that kind of work. i won't even go into detail about the ticket and how i got it. it's not worth remembering.

some kids got their cahsee scores. olivia and rocio get to graduate. the others wait in suspense. i'm waiting on my cset scores.

funny how we let little pieces of paper determine a portion of our lives.
shine on, you crazy guys.

i skipped out on second period today. i just couldn't handle 2nd and then 4th. too much of a headache. i think that i'm so used to being unnecessary and unappreciated that when i get a real job, it's going to sting, and it's going to sting hard. i used to be punctual and considerate. really, i was.

it occurred to me yesterday, while in the men's room (where all my deepest insights develop), that i've never really worked hard at anything in my life. in high school i slept and watched tv more than i did any actual homework. in college i didn't challenge myself because i wanted to keep my gpa high. meagan tells me to learn from my mistakes. but now i'm just working, and i definitely don't want to work at all. "it's not that i'm lazy. it's just that i don't care."

i'm supposed to be "planting the seeds." it feels more like wasting my time. these kids aren't going to remember me. i obviously can't remember any volunteers who came to my school when i was a kid. as morale sinks lower and lower, my patience falters. i sent my first student, jose corona, to ocsc (on campus suspension center) today. at first, he wouldn't sit in his desk.

"all right, corona. you can sit there, as long as you're following along."

"yeah, okay. i follow."

"if you don't follow along, you have to move back. we have a deal."

"yes."

he actually did follow along. it was a rare sight. then, during pair reading, he wasn't with his partner, samantha. when he finally sat down with her, he still wasn't reading with her.

"no, look, she doesn't want to read."

samantha says something in spanish.

"corona, just read. read this line."

"no, alicia starts."

"no, you do."

"why not alicia?"

"because you weren't sitting where you were supposed to. so, it's your turn. read."

"no, i don't wanna."

this goes on for a little while longer, and so i just give up. i grab his book from him and ask ms. joy to write him a detention slip. he understood what was going on right away, picked up his backpack and turned bright red. he didn't get to leave the room with any dignity.

i think what scares me is that there are worse schools than watsonville high school. much, much worse. i don't know why we have schools. i don't feel like i learned anything until i got to college and i started learning about how awful capitalism is, and how much injustice there is. that's when i wanted to read. no, wait, i was reading even before that. when holden caulfield said everyone was a phony. and i found out salinger didn't like talking to people. books didn't just expand my mind; they helped me disappear.
april fool's boobs.
fifth period was awful today. i think the students somehow know that i'm applying to be a teacher, and they're all acting up to make me change my mind. during the chanting of the woman who outshone the sun, i really let them know that i was pissed. i stopped and stared up at the ceiling. when i realized i was doing this, i knew it was a mistake. they mocked me some more, repeating phrases i was using to enforce silence. they're old enough to know it's wrong.

i'm waiting for quiet. "i'm waiting for quiet." don't repeat that. "don't repeat that." i couldn't do anything but shake my head. i couldn't even finish the lesson because it was so noisy. i just stopped at one point and said, "this is unacceptable." at least no one dared repeat that.

they started being nice again during the pair reading. i think i've earned their respect enough, so when i'm upset, they can sense it and they'll stop acting up. cruz tried to start up a conversation with me.

"mr. james. who found america?"

"what? i don't know. native americans."

"when was it discovered?"

"a long time ago."

"wasn't it christopher columbus?"

"no. native americans were already living here."

"i thought christopher columbus discovered america?"

"well, that would be like if i went over to your house and said i discovered cruz's house."

i think he liked that. he laughed and turned back to his reading partner.

by the end of the period, ms. joy had written at least six students' names on the board to stay after school. i realized cruz, normally a talker, wasn't up there.

"cruz. i can't believe it. you don't have to stay after school!"

"yeah, i know," he said. "i'm going to be a schoolboy so i can become a good businessman."


another unlikely makes the day salvageable again.
ymca.


i don't really talk about what i do in the after school program, mainly because i do nothing. my main supervisor, michael, didn't really tell me anything about what i should be doing. he didn't even give me a real application. i ended up applying at the human resources office after i got the job. but, apparently he said i was qualified to receive the title of "enrichment specialist," which earns $20 an hour, compared to the title "instructional assistant," which is what most students are labeled. they only get $10 an hour.

i work for the nutrition program, and so far, i have done nothing more than peel apples, cut bananas, and make smoothies for kids. i don't really questions it, since, did i mention i'm being paid?

one day, michael asked if i had a minute. "sure," i said. i ended up sitting through an hour long discussion about how some of the students were being accused of talking on their cell phones, making out, and even "inappropriate touching." after the hour long discussion ended, michael said, "come on, we'll talk while we're walking."

"how are things going so far?" he asks with his african accent.

"pretty good."

"mm. are you liking the nutrition program?"

"yeah," i say. "it's okay. but i really thought i was going to be in charge of an after school tutorial. that's what i'd really like to be doing."

"hmm, i see. yes. you have my cell phone number?"

"yes."

"okay, why don't you give me a call and we can discuss your position some time this week."

i hesitate. did i just sit through an hour long meeting just so i could reschedule with him? "okay, i'll do that."

we meet again on a thursday before lunch. he leads me to his van and i get in. i buckle my seatbelt. "oh," he says. "we're not going anywhere."

"okay," and i unbuckle my belt.

"do you have experience other than academia?"

i think about the question. "no, not really."

"no sports? do you swim?"

"no. i played soccer in the sixth grade. and then some basketball."

"hmm," he says.

"i like to ride my bike." this is a lie. while i do enjoy bike riding, i often worry that it will lead to a bout of prostatitis. meagan even got me a special seat.

"oh, good," he says. "would you feel comfortable teaching others how to ride as well?"

"yeah, i think i could do that." i think back to the time i was 14 and my dad finally got around to teaching me how to ride. it ended up with me falling, getting pissed, and throwing my bike into his volkswagon. when we got home, i slammed the door behind me. he followed me into my room and trashed it.

the meeting ends. two weeks later, i'm still surrounded by high school latinas and chicanas, cutting apples and making smoothies.
i read the article on south america.

every now and then, i find a vulgar student writing while others are listening.

from afar, i assume that it's a note she's planning on passing to one of her friends.

i approach, ready to confiscate it, or else tell her to put it away.

on a closer look, i realize she's taking notes from the english book she cannot take home.

they are neat and organized, and she writes some more, even as i look over her shoulder.

it's moments like this that keep me from losing it.
wussyboy.

you know the day isn't going so well when you wonder what a classroom might look like if you were to tie up one of the students by her ankles and use her as a pinata as an example for the rest of the students.

"corona, back in your seat," i command.

"but why?"

"because you can't see the teacher."

"no," he turns his head, "see? i can see."

"corona, don't argue with me. sit in your seat."

"i don't want to."

"corona, how old are you? 14? 15?"

"i am 15," he says proudly.

"then act like it. don't act like a five year old. sit in your seat and don't argue with me."

"no, i am fine here."

at this point the sub yells at a student for spraying some perfume into the air. don't do that! but why, the students ask. some people might have allergies, or they don't like the smell. i am far off to the side, but i smell it. the students are roaring. the classroom is out of control; kids are walking around, no one is doing his work. a perfect opportunity for a bathroom break. the voices fall behind me, and adriana's voice is the last that i hear. "teacher! teacher..."

i return and they are silent. corona is back in his seat and actually doing work. twenty minutes later, the sub realizes most students are working in their grammar book, and not their reading workbook. she tells them to switch, and receives whiny feedback. i don't have it. i didn't bring it. i go around asking, where's your book? i left if at my house. i have nothing to say to that. bring it next time. bring it with you everyday.

worried that the students are going to bust out of the classroom as they do everyday, i find gil, the head security guard, and tell him my predicament.

"just stand in front of the door," he says. "you or the sub. make sure the door is closed, and stand there." in reality, i've tried this before, but they pushed past me, and i know it's against regulations to physically restrain a student.

"all right. i've tried that last time, but it didn't really work."

"well, i'll come around just in case. room 58? no, room 57."

"thanks, gil."

by the end of the period i wait by the door, secretly hoping that karen or yara or adriana will leave before the bell so that gil can pick them up. it was like that time the staff at tower records was watching two teenage female shoplifters. voyeuristic crimespree. unfortunately, the sub threatened them with saturday school, so none of the girls inherited gil's wrath. he's a portly fellow, white hair, ex-marine. turns red when he's really pissed.

i'm a real sadist today.
this is a read 180 classroom!

i got tested for tb today. went to the watsonville clinic and paid $12 for them to stick a little needle in my left arm. i waited for about an hour, then i went to the cashier.

"hi. i went to the bathroom for a little while. is there a way to see if they might've already called my name?"

"let me see." she calls the nurse.

"i've got a tb who's been waiting for a while now." waits a second. "okay, thanks."

"they're going to call your name right now."

they do call my name and then an asian nurse who looks like sandra oh (sidenote: yes, i am a racist and all asian women other than my relatives look like sandra oh) leads me into a little room.

"sorry for the wait. i was looking at my schedule wrong."

i smile and say, "it's okay." i would've been irritated, but since i do nothing at work and nobody ever gives two shits about me being late, it really is no big deal.

"feel a little sting," she says, and the needle goes in. it's less painless than i remember. i used to be afraid of needles; now i fear insurance policies.

"would you like a bandaid?"

"sure," i say.

sandra covers me up and says, "sometimes the adhesive can irritate the skin. take it off in 15 minutes." she also tells me to come back in 2-3 days. i thank her and leave. outside, the waiting room is even more crowded. children, from infants to preteens, are crawling, sitting in chairs, running around, when they should be in school. i wonder if they have to wait at the free clinic everytime someone in the family falls ill.