Open-Ended

imageI bought ten postcards.  A block from my school, at the post office where I have mailed three packages overnight to Albany (teacher certification nonsense) and the title to my car and my rent check, I bought ten postcard stamps.  I picked the one of Broadway theaters, first.  I know she liked going to the theater.

The ball of my left foot hurts.  I have done this to myself before.  Too long in heels.  It takes a few days.  Put a little gel thing in my shoe.  Walk slowly.  Do everything more slowly.  Long weekend, happily.

I don’t know if Grandma will know who the postcards are from, or what the hell they are about.  In her new place, it seems advisable to let her alone and let her torn-up brain try to make some sense out of things.

In my latest wrestling with bureaucracy here, I went straight from end-of-Friday work to an office building in downtown Brooklyn.  Showed my ID again.  Signed another sheet with another security guard.  Rode another ancient elevator.  The doors opened to a bunch of other unlabeled doors.

When I finally opened a door, there was a gaggle of cubicles and someone to say, “No, that’s across the hall.”  In the correct room, at the correct cubicle, the woman who was helping me had taped this statement to the top of her divider: “Nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.”  She brought me back a check which I was really happy to see.

Walking back to the subway, I bought a Snickers bar at a newssstand, then stopped and sat on the steps of Borough Hall and looked at the trees and the Manhattan Bridge and ate it.

I really didn’t know what to write on the postcards.  It’s sort of like writing to someone who isn’t born yet.  I felt like a dummy, and I was worried about that sticker they put on postcards, the one that often covers up the important thing you wrote.

I did not go see my grandma one time last summer.

On Friday one of my classes decided we would start wandering out of the room when we felt the spirit move us, resulting in me cutting off the bathroom pass and standing next to the door.  You would not believe how much of my career is about arguing with people about if they have an hour’s worth of bladder control.

Another class, I stopped participial phrase practice to have a philosophical discussion with one table of students.  They were concerned about their grades.  The only thing worse than kids freaking out about their grades is kids not freaking out about their grades.  “It’s not fair if they get a good grade because they just have more talent.  We do all the assignments and work hard every day.”  I agreed it was not fair.  Would I be grading the class on consistency and quantity of work, or on quality of the final draft?  I wasn’t sure.  I’ve generally leaned toward rewarding small, consistent work because talent and achievement won’t get you as far, in my experience.  But I don’t know.

Saturday night, when I was buying potatoes and spinach to go home and cook dinner for myself and eat dinner by myself, I felt sorry.  Everyone in New York was laughing and eating and walking with people they loved and admired and treasured and got along perfectly with.  On the subway, where I could see that some people were clearly on their way home from work and tired, I felt better.

When I was sweeping the square kitchen floor tiles this morning, I thought, I live in New York.  I have a job here.  I live here.  I was really happy.  Walking from subway to school in the mornings, I am uncharacteristically happy, too.  (I am never happy in the morning, unless you tell me I can go back to sleep.)  In Manhattan, when you look up the avenue, there is sky between the furthest buildings you can see, like you are at the end of the world.

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