Small Animals

13625378_10208590462653305_9197893018731847063_nI thought Sardi’s was a tourist trap.  And I thought I could not afford it.  My way of going to see Broadway shows has always been to eat a slice of pizza beforehand, because after paying for a ticket that is all that seems prudent.

I happened to be meeting a friend in Times Square, though, it is halfway between us, and I thought of Sardi’s.  It was lunch, maybe we could swing it for lunch.

The waiters had jackets, the walls were the caricatures, and were the red I think a restaurant should be.  All restaurants should have red walls.  Except Greek restaurants, which should have white ones, and Mexican restaurants, which should be yellow.  The ceiling had acoustic tile, which reminded me this was a real place.

Amazing places are also real, hard to absorb, but true.  The pyramids in Egypt are, I guess, a real place.  I know the Louvre is real.  It was hard for me to believe it, though, when I was there.

We ate and had a good chat.  It was a late lunch, and there were only three tables of us left, the place had cleared out from the Wednesday matinee crowd.

“He’s in the bar area,” our waitress said to the couple next to us.

“Excuse me, who were you asking about?” my friend asked, thank God, because I was trying to figure out how to get them talking.

“Her brother, Arthur Miller,” the man said.

Then I had a heart attack and couldn’t think what to say.

For six years, I taught The Crucible.  “Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer,” I thought, rather than “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another!” which would have been cool.

Every time I taught it, with my five sections of juniors– so that is thirty times I read it– I would stop there and say, “Why does he say that?  Does beer not freeze?”

The kids were in chemistry that same year, and usually there would be one kid who would explain, “Alcohol doesn’t freeze.”  It was a test to see who knew about chemistry, or about liquor, as a junior in high school.  “You can put a bottle of vodka in the freezer,” someone might say, and I would think, Well, that tells me something about you.

I did not know about the freezing point of alcohol when I was a junior in high school because I was a nerd.

I wanted desperately for Arthur Miller’s sister to begin telling us her life story and I would have sat rapt the entire time, but I couldn’t think what to ask because I was stuck on, Arthur Miller was a real person, with a sister, and Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer.

For the record, I don’t think anyone would say my justice would freeze beer.  I would say, the quality of mercy is not strained, it drops as the gentle rain from heaven, another dramatic quote that sticks with me, this one from driving past the words engraved in the sign at the public hospital next to where I worked.

Arthur Miller was a real person, not a saint, wait, saints were real people, too.  Once.

Arthur Miller’s sister is not her name.  What was her favorite play?  I managed to ask.  She is an actress.  “Between jobs,” I said; she chuckled.

Death of A Salesman,” she said.

Well, I would have to read that again.  It had been a long time.

My imagined Broadway in New York is the ’40s and ’50s, those shows, their clothes, good wool and high heels and clothes that gave women shape instead of them being expected to provide it, and small drinks, little wine glasses, little martini glasses, automats.  Everything drier and sleeker and smaller.

This isn’t to say I don’t love being here now, a woman who isn’t married and doesn’t have to be, with current Times Square, much more money, much more diverse, less provincial, less formal.  I love the people dressed in cartoon character costumes, now confined to blue-painted patches of the sidewalk so they don’t get in the way of we civilians.  I love the embarrassing capitalist mess of it.

Joan Copeland is her name, and she was one of the first members of the Actors Studio, along with, you know, Elia Kazan.

I’m glad I didn’t know this while chatting with her, I would have lost my shit even more.

I was conscious of not asking her about her brother, being a sibling to someone so famous must be kind of a drag.  “What was your favorite part?” we asked.

She talked about playing parts in soap operas.  Which reminded me of my favorite old man I ever met in New York, a retired violinist for the Met.  I met him at MoMA, and he told me about hanging out with Rothko (who was also a real person, I know), and when I asked him what his favorite opera was, he said, “The shortest ones.”  Work is work.  And I wasn’t sure how clear her thoughts or memories were, she’s of an age to have so many thoughts and memories they could get crowded and jumbled.

“Has Sardi’s changed?” we asked.

“Oh, no,” she said.  “I used to have that corner table every night,” she said.  “They saved it for me.”

“Wow,” I said.  I could also say that.

“When my brother was blacklisted, you couldn’t go eat in the restaurants if you were thought to be a liberal, you know, they said communist then, but a liberal, really.  Vincent not only let Arthur eat here, he would be out in the street and yell down to him, ‘Welcome, come on in.'”

I asked if I could take my picture with her, would she mind, she said no.  I sat next to her and she asked if she needed lipstick.  I said yes.  She pulled out her beautiful black satin clutch, fooled around in it for the lipstick and applied it to her bottom lip perfectly, looking into her palm as if it had a mirror in it but it did not.  Her fingernails were red, her blouse was just the right shape for her figure, her earrings dangled just below the length of her hair.

Someone mentioned men going bald, and she started singing, “A bald man…. don’t kiss a man/whose name you don’t know….  What song is that?”

We didn’t know.

“I usually think it’s a good idea,” I said, “but not always.”

She was in thirteen shows on Broadway, lots of soaps, and had bit parts on television and in movies.  She was an understudy for Vivien Leigh and Katharine Hepburn.  She knew Marilyn Monroe from the Actors Studio, but did not know Monroe was dating her brother.  (“I’m not much up on gossip,” she reportedly said.)

I walked down subway stairs in love with her, “I am in love with her,” I thought, which made me start singing, in my head, “I’m in love/ I’m in love/I’m in love/I’m in love….”  That is maybe my favorite show.

I would rather, actually, meet Joan Copeland than Arthur Miller.  Most of us artists are small animals, the squirrels and sparrows of the art world, not lions like Arthur Miller.  We’re all related, though, all in that family, and it was lovely to meet a grandmother.

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So Educated

13006659_10207655307715016_836786050096044019_nI read online that Spike Lee was having people over because Prince had died.  I found my way over and there were a bunch of people standing around, slowly closing the street like an artery plaquing.  People had cameras, there were trucks with satellites on them, and one big light.  I had kind of thought we would get to go inside some place.  I had wondered if people would stand around and not dance, which would be awful.  I stood next to a parked car, took out my book, and angled it to read it by streetlight while I waited for something to happen.  Cars stopped trying to come through.

People in New York City, God bless them, will stand around waiting for something to happen almost indefinitely, they will wait in lines that to other people would appear not only offensive but hopeless, there are likely people in many locations in New York City all waiting together for something to happen they have forgotten what it was, but they are waiting and touching their cell phones tap tap like they might be setting their phasers to stun, before they had cell phones they had newspapers and baggies of carrot sticks.

On the platform a woman starting talking loudly, “I’m on the G train platform, and they are harassing me.”  The boys were black and the woman was white.  The boys ran along down the platform.  “Oh, get over it!” one yelled, she said, “They threw something at me!” One of the boys said, “It was just an oatmeal cookie.”

I didn’t know whether to look at the woman sympathetically, or follow the kids and tell them to stop acting the fool, or not on the subway platform, that makes people especially, come on, older white ladies, nervous.  They could have been from my school, but I didn’t know them.

The opposite story the next morning, while I stood at the restaurant window waiting for coffee, a woman walking by screeched with surprise, I looked over, everyone in the restaurant looked over, and she said, “It’s okay, my sister just got engaged!”

 

A kid said, “I hate Jews,” and I spent the rest of the hour drawing cartoons explaining that there were so many kinds of Jewish people he couldn’t possibly hate them all.  “But they’re such bad drivers!” he said.

A kid said, “We used to do work, miss, but we don’t have to, here, it doesn’t matter, we still pass.  They don’t care about us, they just need the graduation rate high enough they get to keep their jobs.”

“Nothing’s gonna change if you don’t do something!” one kid yelled at another, their yelling argument prevented me from showing the documentary on environmental issues, and I was frustrated, I had to breathe deep before the next class came in, they could have had a better discussion and they are so loud.  They watched it the next day instead.

A kid said, “I want a panda.  I feel like pandas never take any damage.”

“What are the three kinds of Jewish people we discussed yesterday?” I asked the next morning.  Hasidic (curls on happy face), orthodox (the little hat on happy face), reform (just a happy face).  

 

I stood by the parked car until music came on.  People cheered and danced.

I wasn’t sure it should all be so joyful, either, when music came on, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today/Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” it felt great to be in Brooklyn at with Brooklyn royalty, he presiding from top of the stoop next to his space, to hear Prince all Biblical, he and I share this eschatological interest: “We could all die any day.”

I hated that there were so many cell phones, up and photographing us all, is it impossible to be anywhere now, I took two photos, and then my phone was dead anyway, so I didn’t have to even wonder if I should be somewhere else.  I would have taken one more, of Mr. Lee dancing a little.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, we could all die any day.

To dance, as much as you can with your bags and your stuff and the room you have between everyone else, to not wonder too hard what is this, dancing and yelling because someone is dead, and the work was great, it made people happy and feel bigger, people leave what they leave, they leave something.  Everyone was beautifully behaved except four kids who push/ran through us and the crowd reprimanded them gently.

A little kid on top of a car, leaning this way and that.  A lady had an umbrella with images of Prince all around.  “Open it!” someone said, someone who didn’t get a photo.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” the version of the song looped again, “Parties weren’t meant to last,” they did not play my favorite, “We will see a plague and a river of blood, there will be a new city with the streets of gold, young so educated they never grow old.”

Today I asked a few students about who died, and one of them said, “I thought it was, you know, Prince,” their classmate by that name.  “Oh, God, no,” I said.

“Spike Lee had a street party,” I said, “Who’s Spike Lee?” a kid said.

“Oh, my God,” I said, but another kid answered, thank God, so I didn’t have to.

 

 

Wolves

DP817868.jpgI have wolves.  I went to the cathedral on this, Dr. King’s day, and the lesson was about caring for your flock, which was the last thing I wanted to hear, as I want to quit my job, I have wolves.

The first half of my career I was told I was a good teacher, so I think I was.  I felt I was getting better and then that I was maintaining a strong and useful program of work, I taught other teachers, I presented at national conferences.

Then I spent most of a year arguing about if I needed the books I ordered in my classroom, if I was losing students’ papers and if I was bullying them by asking them to be quiet so we could start class.

I have been a “bad” teacher because my lessons were not engaging and I could not control my students, these two things being frequently connected.  I never aspired to be entertaining or intimidating, though, I only try to be thoughtful and trustworthy.

Some of us must be “bad” to keep the show going, so we know who to hiss at.

When I was told I was good, I was better.  This is the story of your life as an agreeable white girl, I know, people tell you are good and so you are.

If a kid refusing to sit down, pushing me, throwing things, and using profanity results in leaving class for a good while, I am a good teacher.  I can control my students.

I hate that word, anyway, it should be that kids find it easier to decide to be productive because the environment they are living in makes that the easiest choice.  It should be hard to be bad.

I work hard at putting myself back together.  Still, I haven’t been sleeping more than two hours at a stretch, and I have headaches.

On my way up to the cathedral, I heard the begging-on-the-subway speech five times.  Three times from the same guy, a big guy with a deep, lovely voice.  I changed cars because something was buzzing unbearably in my car, and the beggars change cars, too, so that’s why I heard that guy twice.  The third time, I guess, I took the train so far, probably 3/4 of its route, that was my fault, too: we overlapped again.

I thought, I know I don’t have change, I just did laundry.  And I didn’t want to give any money today.  I don’t want to give anything.  Not a thing.  Not to anyone.

Then I thought: this guy’s job is better than mine.  At least no one was jumping up and yelling at him or calling him names when he asked for what he wanted.  No one was throwing things at him.  Then I thought: goodness, that’s an offensive thought.

If I wasn’t a city teacher, someone people admire for toughness and virtue, who would I be?  Maybe no one would admire me, maybe I would not be likable at all, if, say, I was a person who left urban teaching, like everyone else I know.

Exaggeration: I know one person who has taught in urban schools a long time, and is still teaching in an urban school.  Most of us, almost all of us, get picked off by administrators, our own exhaustion, financial pressure.

How foolish it was for me to borrow thirty grand and then take the lowest-paying jobs in my field, over and over for ten years.  I really did that.  And all the money on my own office supplies and stuff for the kids— notecards, pens and pencils, treats (bribes).  I’m stingier than most teachers, honestly, but it still adds up.

For a long time, I felt I was making up for something, paying back my great public school education, paying back being white, for having a good family, for being loved.

People say, you’ve been on the front lines a long time, it’s okay to fall back.  Maybe nobody should do these hardest jobs, caretaking at our fringes, for a long time.  Maybe it just isn’t healthy, or can’t be healthy, right here, right now.

Friday I packed up all my stuff in front of the kids.  I was that gone. I was telling myself, I’ll protect you.  I won’t let anyone scream at you anymore.  I won’t let them disrespect you.

I must have scared them, by doing that, and by being gone the last two hours of the day.

I’ve spent the weekend thinking in flashes that of course I will go back, I’ll figure it out, as I have many times before, I’ll figure some way to limp forward, if not to march.

Things you would not, could not do, then you do.  Move to New York.  Kiss.

I became a city teacher because my parents divorced at the same time I learned about the civil rights movement in school.  That’s not fair, I thought, and it was all launched, tied up together.  It wasn’t a bad reason.  When I started teaching, though, I promised myself if I felt I was becoming lost, I would quit.  That doing good shouldn’t mean losing yourself.  That I wouldn’t teach somewhere kids threw things or where I felt unsafe.  But I do.  And I haven’t quit.

Along with “That’s not fair” and paying back my good fortune, there is also enjoying the weirdness of teenagers, their openness and fear together, their first shoots of adult life coming up, enjoying being a person they go to for help, and knowing the answers.

I think Dr. King would say, we are all sheep, but there are wolves in us.

I know they are sheep.  My meanest kid sneers, “She’s still here?” but there is a hint of relief mixed with his nastiness.  I hear it.

Image: Wolf, Anonymous, 17th Century, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Where

 

DP278210.jpgThis kid was sitting in my room, I realized it was his lunch time.  “Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?” I said.

New teacher to the school, here is a list of things I didn’t know this morning:

  1. If not going to the cafeteria during lunch is a punishable offense.
  2. How to print anything.
  3. How to make my fancy Prometheus board do anything, up to and including getting fire from the gods.
  4. Where on earth yesterday’s attendance sheets were.
  5. If Baz Luhrmann, bless his heart, was going save my life again with his version of “Romeo & Juliet” that could entrance anyone, anyone.
  6. How many kids were going to show up today without anything to write with.
  7. Really, any of my students’ names.  Well, I might know like five of them.
  8. What I did with the 8th period assignments from yesterday.
  9. How many kids were going to say, “I already read Romeo & Juliet!”
  10. How quickly the kid who was nasty to me in the morning would change to a mild-mannered sort when asked, in the afternoon, what kind of candy she liked best.
  11. That one class finds stickers insultingly “babyish,” and another is quite satisfied with them.
  12. That a pen could get caught under the classroom door, and when a kid and I would try to free it, we would break it instead.
  13. How many kids, when offered the opportunity to ask me anything, would say, “How old are you?”

There were two moments today I really lost it.

The first time, there was another adult in the room, and I walked right over and said, “What do you think I should do?”  I don’t know if that was the right thing, or if that made me look bad, but I’ve wasted enough of my life being too proud to ask for help.

The second time, I walked around the room for a bit, pretending to be checking kids’ work, in reality completely out of hope.  While I was walking, I found a few kids were working and appreciated attention and help.  I went to get the Starbursts– our currency of choice– and handed out a few to those kids.

“Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?”

I bought the big box of golf pencils I knew I would need, and the ocean-scented air freshener, the scent my 7th period class chose, over Flowers or Xmas.  And some of those fancy wipes to clean things to keep us from giving each other the flu, since we’re in, for the winter, where we are, where, let’s say, we’re supposed to be.

Note: Luhrmann came through again.

Image: Hercules or Atlas Supporting the Globe, possibly by Clodion, Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

Patience

temp29552Although I was in a neighborhood that is that supercool Brooklyn, I entered none of the charming places, instead I went into Dunkin Donuts.

Although it was a full sunny day and I had had a perfectly restful and productive morning, I hated everyone and everything, and I had decided the only thing that would make me feel better was a blueberry doughnut.  I walked up to the counter and I said, “I’d like a blueberry doughnut, please.”  I added, “If you have one,” and this jinxed me, as the woman said, “We don’t have any blueberry,” and I thought a beat, about not looking like the kind of person who can only eat one kind of doughnut, or eating a doughnut that was not really what I wanted, if I was going to eat a doughnut, I want to enjoy it like a little pig in mud.

I swept everything off the counter with one foul swept and I said “Yes, you do!  Go get it!”

No, I just said, “Okay, thanks,” and walked out and told this lady who asked me where the subway was where it was and went down the stairs and waited for the train while someone played the banjo and I hated him for playing the banjo, what kind of hipster nonsense was that, the fucking banjo.

I couldn’t wait to get to Manhattan where everyone wasn’t trying so hard, we were just going about our business.

(Right.)

I was reading about the bombing of Berlin, and it should have cheered me either that my city was not being bombed to kingdom come, or that the Nazis were about to be defeated in my book.

I considered going on a hunger strike to prove how angry I was at life, but then I decided I should go to Chipotle like a reasonable human being, and just eat another burrito even though all I ever eat is burritos, half of them from Chipotle, $9 at a time, an outrageous price for beans, rice, and a tortilla that costs the corporation 78 cents.  A guy was standing in front of Chipotle’s door.  “I’m sorry, ma’am, we’re closed.  We’re having trouble with some of our equipment.”

I was denied a blueberry bagel for my heart, and a burrito for my body.

I had taken a cab to my meeting this morning, and the guy drove me through Williamsburg, I was looking at all the Hasidic people who were walking around as if there was God, and I thought, I should really get out of the car and tell them there is no God.

Frequently I find seeing someone who is orthodox or Hasidic gives me a good feeling, like, well, at least someone thinks God (well, G-d) is real and tries to do something about it.  It’s not the something I want to do, but, still.

When I went to church on Saturday, I was walking down the beautifully treed and brownstoned street to church thinking, I don’t want to go.  Which is a rare thing for me, I pretty much always want to go, whether I’m getting off on the spiritual stuff, or hearing great literature, or seeing everybody there are so few of us, I will be missed, or sitting in the beautiful room with the blue and the gold angels and the dark wood, or just carrying out my routine, which I find so soothing.

Usually it’s enough that I want to say I’m a practicing Christian.  I don’t know why I’m practicing, exactly, but I practice.

I believe in commitment, I guess, and practice, I believe in them, I just hate them, too.

I wasn’t mad at God, exactly, that would be cleaner, I was more just so sick of His shit that I was shut down.  I listened, I took communion, because you only have to shut up and take it, and it might improve you.  I got to hear a baby gurgle through the prayers.

I become sane and sober and mature, but it does not follow that my life is happier or easier.  Life always has difficulties and sadnesses.  And that pisses me off.

I miss people, it’s been a long time since I’ve been with my family , I feel exhausted from not knowing what’s going to become of me, and maybe mostly, there’s the fact that it is dark at 4:00 now.  I really don’t wake up until like 3 pm, so this is bad, bad, bad, I already feel like a vampire.

I was back teaching in the afternoon.  Another teacher told me about teaching “Harrison Bergeron” and talking about the Constitution and how fun that was.  One of the kids came by and told me the Royals sucked, which was way delayed conversation from when I gave him shit about the Mets last week.  Another kid asked me how much money I made, and then we talked about taxes and how they work, and then this:

“I’m never gonna be a teacher.”

“That’s okay, you don’t have to be.”

“I could never.  I don’t got the patience.  Teachers got so much patience, man, I would strangle a kid.”

“Well, you’ll probably get more patience as you get older, if you work on it,” I said.

“I don’t know.”

“You will,” I said.

Image: a portion of “Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter,” made in Cologne, around 1315, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Yours

DP143725_CRDToday a kid asked me what my religion was, I used to dodge that question, today I just told him.  I don’t know why.

Episcopalian.  I mean Christian.  Episcopalian.  Did you, like, grow up in the church?  Yeah.  My family’s very religious.  He’s Catholic.  Other kid nodded.  He’s Catholic.  I’m nothing.  I mean, I’m a monotheist.  I believe in one God.  Oh.

I am nervous for a student who is performing in front of a huge crowd next week.  Gave me a ticket.  What is this?  I said.  I’m performing.  I didn’t know you did anything.  I do.  Can you come?  Yeah, I’ll be there. Nervous for my student who lives in a shelter, and gets paid to babysit, and is saving up so her parents can go out to dinner on their birthdays, which are close together.  Nervous for my student who was interviewed, suspicion of child abuse, I don’t know what happened.  Nervous for the student I told to be brave, cowards die a thousand deaths, but brave men, only one.  It’s the opposite, actually, I think.

I won’t know how they are this summer, not that I will want to, really, I will, shortly, fall into the deep and peaceful sleep of summer, and my fingers and toes will tingle with remembering myself.

I’m going to this boot camp thing this summer.  My dad is making me go.  But I want to be a Marine, so it’s good to get used to this stuff.

I want to work at a nursing home.  I wanted to volunteer there before, but I didn’t get to.  My grandpa died of Alzheimer’s while I was in my mom’s stomach still.

Can you put your number on these applications?  You’re my reference.  Wait, you were fired from your summer camp job?  No, it just ended.  Well, then, don’t check that you’ve been dismissed or asked to leave a job.  That means fired.  Oh, okay.

Nervous to leave them, it is always hard to let them go. The first kids I let go were my first class of preschoolers, at that preschool all the classes had names, and they were the Triangles and the Astronauts.  I still think about those kids, J, the dark-haired twin who laughed to screaming when I tickled him or when I told him we were having spiders for snack.  B who made me read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas every day for weeks that summer.  B and his best buddy R, always with their arms around each other, side by side, running to the block center to get some building done.

The kids for whom I made The Coloring Rules, a nonlinguistic guide to marker use in our room.  An uncapped marker with a slash through it.  An arrow showing a marker going back where it lived.

I quit my job at the preschool before I had another because I was so pained by the idea of leaving those kids.  They are so intensely yours, for a while, you are the one they will run to demanding band-aids and how to spell a word, you are so theirs, and then they are not yours at all.

A kid I didn’t know at all happened to be in my room today, and while everyone else was leaving class, I saw he was bending over the trash can.  Everyone else from that class had left already, he was alone there, throwing up.  “You’re okay,” I said.  I got him a chair, some gum, some water, a granola bar, Gatorade.  “Thanks, Ms Schurman,” he said, a bunch of times.  I didn’t know his name.

Image: Returning Home, Shitao, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Raft

IMG_0634I went somewhere I could see the sky, they talk about sky in Montana, I have been there, we have as much.  Sky.

The stairs up, up two stories, metal stairs, open, a little scary, and the High Line once I’m up there makes me a little agoraphobic.  It makes the city zoom up around me.  It gives me a little of the deer-on-savannah feeling.  I like the treed corridors, short as they are, tiny forests.  I like to live tucked-in, mostly, tucked-in and where I can see the vista without it gulping me.

Near the river, a big raft of wood, enough for four or five grown adults to lie peaceful, much better than a bench, I sat on the end nearest the city and lay back.  (Mrs. Winston, 8th grade  English, “green gloves” alliteration in “Evangeline;” lie, lying, lay, lain.)

The sky had room for every cloud, and a sea gull alone.  And one airplane.  And Philip Glass.  And what have I done. and is it really, now, everything that has happened.  And the Empire State Building, straight on, and tucked to the left, north, the Chrysler Building, which is dull without the sun flicking it, the sun did, on and off.  I felt open-hearted, for a minute, and my eyes welled, I wasn’t sure why.

No one else was there, though, just me on the raft, without Huck.  Or without Jim.

The High Line was a full-on railroad line originally, not elevated passenger rail, as I thought.  Then it fell apart.  Then it got fancy.  Someone was repairing a scratch on another bench, and I wondered how long this would be kept up so nicely, how long would people pay for that?  Living in New York in boom times, building times, everyone crowds in times.  When I was first in New York, that was not the time it was.  It will be not this time again, some time. They are building many towers in Manhattan now, and one of them was there, closest, being climbed by one of those cranes that climbs the side as it builds, it makes itself a way up.

I had been to see these nudes that were Manga-faced, classical and assertive and round and magical without being exactly mystical, the more I looked at them, the more I liked them, their commercial taste, the way their genitalia suffered, not quite real, almost dessert, hardly reproductive.  (Mrs. McCue, European History, people are naked, art is nude.)

After standardized testing, I had decided the kids would play Jeopardy.  Instead of me spending an hour asking, begging, bitching, sighing, because they would not work on their essays. They were loud, but that was because they were into it, they believed in my promise of extra credit, though I am known to make extra credit, even in its rarity, mathematically insignificant.  I used to work in research.

One of the questions was what is the name of my cat, and the kids did not know, but afterward they said, oh, you told us that once.  I used to use my cat more in grammar examples.  I go through phases.

Ten years of teaching.  Every one of them has been hard.  In different ways.

I took a quiz to see how much “grit” I have.  I think I scored too high.  I am trying to be smoother.

The sun was on me, that is still one thing to miss here, the sun, the vitamin D full blast sun you must seek out, it won’t happen to you, but there I had it, better because my sleeves were black, they drew the sun deeper into my arms.

Pictured: Kris Martin’s “Altar” on the High Line. The nudes I referred to.