you can no be.

this morning meagan, rachel, sister liane and i met with tim, katie flatley, and liz stoll. as expected, we, the americorps team, were assumed to be incompetent, unfit to work with incoming freshmen this summer. of course this was never explicitly stated, but the overall sense of ageism/lack of competency was prevalent, most especially when tim asked, "now, do the volunteers understand when you say, 'ZPD'?" under my breath, i said, "zone of proximal development," which i only really knew because i had studied for the cset (yet another ridiculous, useless test that the state of CA enforces to ensure "teacher competency" thanks to bush's No Child Left Behind Act). but that's not the point. i just hate that americorps is always associated with "kids, students, interns" or other youngsters that can't "get things done." we're just volunteers. we're college grads. we can handle pretty much anything, you assholes.

anyway, tim wasn't all that bad of a dude. at one point, he starts talking to me. i ask him where he used to teach. "how far back you wanna go?" he asks. "i don't know. just recently, i guess." he goes on about how he's had teaching jobs at random rural elementary and middle schools. arbuckle, siskiyou, lodi, chico. okay, maybe not all those places, but you get the drift. definitely arbuckle. i remember because when driving up to ashland with meagan over spring break, we passed arbuckle. for some reason, i made a "yayayaya" sound not unlike a stereotypical native american, then i said, "jon arbuckle." so it was like, "yayayaya! jon arbuckle." meagan laughed and called me crazy.

so after tim tells me all the random places he's taught, and i'm half listening, he pauses. "i had a dream last night." this perks my interests. strangers who share dreams with me are always gold in my book. "i was warming up this thermos in the microwave, and it had like, a glass insulation. so then the principal at my school starts talking to me because he needs me to get something done for tomorrow, and i forget that i'm warming up my thermos. and so the glass breaks inside, and i start drinking it, then all the glass shards are cutting up my throat." he shakes his head. imagine this guy, balding with thick, grey curly hair, dark rimmed glasses, tufts of grey hair emerging from underneath his collared shirt. "i'm always dreaming weird things like that. where i'm getting cut up or hurt. it's really strange. must be an anxiety thing, or getting stressed out, i guess." "must be," i offer.

katie flatley, a blonde art teacher at pajarao valley, kept snacking. every time i looked over, it was an apple, a bag of cashews, grapes, some yogurt. she had to keep eating. i once saw on a news segment these two boys who had to keep eating. some disorder they had. they sat in the back of their classroom and kept eating. i didn't get it. if i had to keep stuffing myself with something all day because i could never feel full, i'd be pretty miserable. i don't think that's the case with katie, though. earlier in the morning, when she found out meagan and i went to seattle university, she said, "seattle. i've never been there." awkward silence. "well, it's a cool town," i said. "they've got the rock and roll museum there, right?" "yeah," i said. "have you ever been?" "mm-hmm."

after we loaded some books into liz's green van, the one with the mystery spot sticker attached to the bumper, she had some more boxes for us to load. we put them on a cart. while doing this, a voice called out from an adjacent office. "liz, can i borrow one of your helpers for a little bit? they busy?" great. now i'm not just a volunteer. i'm a "helper." what am i? a fucking elf? luckily, rachel was called to make copies for ten minutes. i might've lost it if meagan or i had to.

when we did make copies, though, meagan thought about stealing the book stapler. she wants a copy machine, a paper cutter, and a book stapler. essential components to create the essential zine. we should've taken them. even the copier. i folded sixty math placement tests while meagan stapled them down the middle. rachel sat on them. i made her sit on them.

at 3:30 sister liane wanted us to play with some 4 year old boy named jason. his english isn't very good, but he talk pretty one day. we didn't really know what to do with him. all sister liane could offer was, "use a lot of english around him." thank god, it's the only language i know. "make sure he knows colors, numbers one through five, and directions, like 'stand, sit, run,' and up and down." like a dog. so we attacked the playground, and he warmed up to us. he looked like a mexican version of danny from the shining. "how do you say, 'redrum' in spanish?" i asked meagan. she didn't know 'rum.' anyway, the kid was a cool kid. he ran up and down the playground, answered every time i asked him what color something was. "what color is the slide?" "blue!" "what color is your shirt?" "green!" i made him shoot a basket on the small basketball court. he airballed. i asked him to try again and he looked really sad and frustrated that i had asked him. i didn't try again. meagan chased him on the playground. "i'm gonna catch you!" she yelled. "you cannot beat!" he repeated. then, when he was out of breath, "you can no be!"

we sat by the flowers when his mom chatted with sister liane. his sister, kathy, and his brother, tino, sat near them. i tried to explain spider webs to him, and i think he understood. "what color are the flowers?" "pink!" i didn't think he'd know that one. he wanted to slide down the handrail. "be careful," i said. "you catch" he said. "catch you?" "yes, you catch." i helped him on the handrail, and he sat on it. "slide down," i said. he just sat there, frozen. he couldn't slide the way he wanted to. i helped him along a little then brought him down. he ran around the flowers some more, and i pointed out a bee to him. "de pico?" he said. i asked kathy what he was saying. "he wants to know if they sting." "oh yes," i said. "de pico."

i wish i had that job. where i could just go around telling kids the names of things. "bee. flower. dogs. health insurance. 401k. life." i could handle that. at least i'll have it part time for the next few weeks.

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