I was at work until 7 pm last night and I’ll be here again tonight grading. I only wish that I could have a quill, some ink in a glass jar, and a kerosine lamp to complete the effect. I’ve got nothing. I’m going to run this entry the way Jason Garrett should be letting Tony Romo run the Dallas offense: no-huddle, audibles all over the place. You’re 5-6, Jason. Make the adjustment. You’re fired, anyway. Win as many games as possible.
I always get nervous when I get a late start like I did this morning. And by late, I mean getting up at 4:55 instead of 4:45. I know what’s going to happen. I’m going to catch just the last 5 minutes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent on Ion, then catch the first 5 minutes of the next episode while I brush my teeth. I will then be sucked into lingering after the credits. I will shave in front of the tv. I will pick out clothing with one eye on the tv. It takes every ounce of willpower I have left – you know, whatever I didn’t spend getting out of bed in the first place – to turn the tv off and get moving. So I’ll leave my house at 5:15/5:20 instead of the usual 5:05. I know this seems minor, but in my head, there are a lot more cars on the road in just that extra 10-15 minutes. So then I’ll arrive in Kalihi a little later. So then I have to ask myself the hard question: “Do I have time for Starbucks this morning?” (The answer is usually “Of course.”) And then my whole pre-school schedule is off. Buuuuuuuut since I was here so late last night, I actually took care of my lessons for today already. You know you’re in trouble when not procrastinating feels more foreign and unsettling than the panic caused by procrastination. They should make support groups for procrastination. Hi. My name is Phil. (Hi, Phil) I’m a procrastinator. This one time in 5th grade, I didn’t do my homework. My teacher yelled at me. But God didn’t smite me. I have been a procrastinator ever since. The thing is though, it’s not just the procrastination in and of itself. It’s the adrenaline kick I get when I finish something right before the deadline. I’m 32. I have a kid. I have a mortgage. It’s the cheapest high I can afford.
We’re covering Heart of Darkness in my AP English class right now, and it’s just one of those things. Every year, I get complaints about how boring the novel is. One year one of my students accused me of lying to them about something and I said “Why would I lie to you guys? I’ve never lied to you guys!” “Yes you did!” the student shot back. I was incredulous. “When did I lie to you?” Without skipping a beat he said “When you told us Heart of Darkness gets better!” Well, then. I grant that it isn’t the kind of action-packed, psychological thriller that’s been all the rage for the last 30 years, but it’s a great novel filled with great technique. But I guess to teenagers, that’s like saying “No, she’s not attractive, but she’s really nice and has really nice handwriting!”
Anyway, my mind always drifts when covering Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. All this talk about the Congo and Africa makes me think of two things:
1. I really miss playing Risk. Two years ago, the senior class was filled with a handful of great strategists and well, the past two years haven’t been as fruitful. Nevermind that I don’t even have a table to play the game on in this classroom, it’s just painful having to explain the game, then never being able to win because three guys want to keep attacking whoever so they spread themselves too thin and are killed off before anyone turns in cards. Oh yeah, the Congo is one of the territories in Risk. So that’s how I got there.
2. I hear things like “It’s going to take a lot to take me away from you” and “There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do” or “I bless the rains down in Af-riiiica” and finally “Gonna take the time to do some things we never have.” (Ooooooh).
I’m on lunch right now, and I have a free period right after it, but I’m not going to eat. I’m saving myself for 3-4 PM where I will eat a lunchish/dinnerish thing from a fast food place that will immediately make me feel like doing nothing but sit in my chair and watch Arrested Development on Netflix as my eyes glaze over while the stack of quizzes I have to grade stare at me from the front desk. There’s a financial aid seminar going on tonight in the cafeteria, so I won’t be alone on campus in the afternoon. That’s always a nice comfort. One of the worst things about staying late is when the school becomes a ghost town and no one’s around. Like Thanksgiving weekends at LMU. But this is worse since none of my friends are around and therefore I will be forced to do work.
I am always hesitant to go off on these rants about grading things because I feel as if it may come across like bitching. It is bitching, I guess, but it’s also one of the two or three constants in my life. If it seems like I’m always writing about it, Instagramming about it, it’s because I really don’t have anything else going on. I love getting home when Madison’s super jacked up to see me and we end up doing stupid things for half-an-hour before she has to go to bed. Last night we put a puzzle together and I played a guessing game with her. She loves those. It’s one of the things that makes me the happiest: she loves to challenge herself with intellectual quizzes. I mean, they aren’t complicated. She’s four. But she still loves doing them. The only thing that concerns me is that she uses the word “tricky” to describe something that she doesn’t immediately pick up.
For example, there are letters of the alphabet that she hasn’t quite nailed down, and whenever we work on them, she’ll try twice. If she doesn’t get it, she’ll stop and say “It’s too tricky.” She’s already making excuses for her failure. This terrifies me. Since I have no point of comparison, I am unable to tell if this is typical toddler behavior or something tied to her own personality. Lynnette and I never let her finish on such a note, however. That’s probably because I have first-hand experience with the consequences of throwing up one’s hands and saying “Kep!” then walking away from some half-finished project/story/pre-fabricated bookshelf. As is customary for me, I might be reading too much into the behavior of a 4-year old, but her personality resembles so much of my own already that I am fearful she will inherit the worst parts of me, too. The parts that are lazy, the parts that settle, the parts that rarely take things seriously.
Ugh, this entry wasn’t supposed to turn into some heavy-handed emotional catharsis, I apologize. I guess it’s just that my life professional life can be summed up by a stack of textbooks and a stack of ungraded papers. My personal life can be summed up by my family and friends, and maybe softball, but that’s about it. I fear that at some point I will want so much for Mad that I will squeeze too tightly because I don’t have anything of my own to hold on to. I fear that this will burden her and pressure her and ruin her. Ugh.
End on a positive note!