Crowned

Crown, Gilt-copper alloy, enamel and glass cabochons, French
French crown, 19th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles and I don’t appear to have much in common, but as I was driving by the cemetery on the way to work, and thinking about how annoying it is that the Buddha was so right about so many things, life is suffering, Charles was also suffering. Getting ready to appear on international television for hours does not sound fun to me.

It didn’t look like we had much in common when I decided to spend a half hour endlessly climbing and descending six different staircases at school. I was wearing a dress I had ordered on a used clothing site, and boots I bought at a Kansas City, Kansas outlet store. Yet what had Charles done but endlessly climb and descend staircases for seventyish years, being introduced to people, walking slowly?

I thought I had no interest in Charles’ coronation. There was an intriguing article in the New Yorker, though, and then I was hooked. Someone I know so much about, though I don’t really care to. (“The Crown” is a great watch, and “SNL” does what it does.). I know more about how Charles jokes about sex with his girl than I know about any of my friends’ love lives. (By choice, certainly.).

I understand that his kids had a new stepmom, and that was a rough adjustment. It always is. I understand he has a son who has decided that airing his intimate thoughts and pains will disinfect them, though as a writer, I will tell you, sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. I understand that people you love will do things that enrage or humiliate you, and you have to go on.

My students were on a jag of asking me questions that they had known the answers to since at least October. “Where do I find the work we did last week?” The work we did last week is on the website with all the work we do, and it is listed by date. “What day was I gone?” I don’t know what day you were gone. I don’t know where your pencil is, why you got a bad grade on the quiz, or what your grade is on anything.

They always seem alarmed by this. That my memory doesn’t hold the scores they got on every assignment we do, or their overall grade.

Today I took a watering can out to the porch, watered my flowers, and then when I was ready to water the indoor flowers, I searched three rooms three times before I figured out where I had left it.

I don’t know what your grade is.

Such big feelings this time of year. I am angry about things that happened this year, and sad about leaving the school, and heartbroken about leaving my students. I’m confused about how I feel.

I was supposed to go to a meeting about reconfiguring the curriculum for next year.

What I wanted to do was tear into the room like Jesus in the temple and let them know it doesn’t matter this work we could do because the district will tell us what to teach and then pick a test to go with it even though it doesn’t go with it and we have to pass everyone anyway.

One of my biggest frustrations with myself is that I seem incapable of sitting in a meeting and being like, fuck it, whatever. It is easy to hook me with what should happen. I have almost zero patience for conversation that strikes me as time-wasting.

I’m great at wasting time reading, drinking coffee or wine, having long talks, playing Mexican train dominoes.

But suggest to me that if we choose our core values, then we can build our school around those, and steam comes out my ears. YOU DON’T TEACH VALUES BY MAKING LISTS AND POSTERS YOU TEACH THEM BY SHOWING UP AND BEING KIND. I’m infuriated. It feels insane.

The Buddha was right about everything.

I don’t feel like age has mellowed me.

Enough.

There are two types of stairwells at school: the main ones are from high school central casting: two sides, one for up, one for down, wooden handrails, coming together and splitting, windowless, cement. Our school was built for the less affluent of Kansas City, so it has some architectural detail, but not a lot. It’s brick and not stone.

The other ones are side stairwells, half the width, with newer iron handrails.

In the wide stairwells, you will run into gaggles of kids. Sometimes if I have time, I’ll start following them. It’s best to say nothing and just follow them. Sometimes I’ll tell them I am going to walk them to class.

It’s hard to understand, but it’s really easy to skip class.

In the side stairwells, someone might be snuggled up with a phone and headphones. There might be two kids having what seems to be a big talk.

The day that I was enraged and frustrated, I said, “Well, it looks like you’re having a good talk, so….”

Side stairwells sometimes smell like weed.

I was trying to avoid this meeting, so I avoided the stairwell nearest that room. Our school has five floors. There are plenty of stairs.

I ran into a kid I didn’t know. He told me his teacher would not let him in the classroom. I said I would walk him there. He said he had to get a late pass, and he didn’t know where to go. I walked him all the way down to the basement, to the health room. I didn’t even know that room existed.

He knocked. A student opened the door.

Across the room, I said to the teacher, “I found your student! I wanted to deliver him personally!”

“Oh, thank you!” she said, equalling my cheery BS.

“You’re welcome!” I crowed.

Charles, a Richie Rich guy who doesn’t know any better. Charles, someone not everyone likes. Charles, too this and too that and too little. Charles, willing to show up and play his birthright role as prom king of the whole country.

Charles, who is supposed to be more than a man, but obviously is just some guy.

Please note that Princess Anne wore a hat with a high feather that obscured Harry’s face.

Thoughtful.

The ceremony included a lot more action than I expected. There was a lot more gear. That pleased me. Spurs, robes, chairs hats, rings, bracelets, oil, rocks, robes, shirts. A song named for Zadok the priest. (Zadok isn’t a bit of Mormon nonsense, or a heavy metal band!) A portable tent. Undressing and redressing. Multiple vehicles. Horses. Brass instruments.

It was so much like Mardi Gras.

My theory is that we do need kings and queens, but it’s better if they are of the Mardi Gras variety. These people would be replacements for the “First Lady” or (please God) “First Gentleman.”

Like, I think Beyonce should be the queen of the United States. She leads aesthetics. She inspires. She throws parties. She lets other people see, oh, that’s what the United States is like.

That’s the job.

Taylor Swift, princess.

Cardi B, duchesses.

Kanye West, prince.

Tom Hands for king.

The portable tent was the best. What ceremony has a cocoon? What were they doing in there, to him? Did they cut off a tiny piece of his gray hair? Did they slap him once, hard across the face? Did he unwrap a cough drop?

It’s a lot of work to create moments of feeling, of transcendence.

Taylor Swift knows.

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