I’m making a little pre-New Years resolution to keep this blog up-to-date. At least I am going to try. Being a high school and college educator as well as a writer and emerging artist can be tough to manage, but my vow over the last year was to maintain a solid work/life balance. It’s time to get back on track. I have been a writer longer than I have been a teacher, friend, or partner. Tunnel vision and isolation may be needed here, but those who count and truly support me will know that I am always here..in body but not always in mind. Enjoy!
“Even though it’s only 3rd period, Misty’s processing abilities are approaching a dense fog. She and the other Pacesetter’s staff were given a mere ten days for summer vacation since the program must run all year. During her time away from Pace, Misty slept late, rarely left her office when she did get out of bed, and rode the waves of 2 am literary epiphanies. Her internal clock will take some time to readjust to early mornings and long afternoons. To the 37 year old English teacher, discussing goals and objectives during the first week of school is striking the iron a bit excessively.
“Ummm, okay. We can do that. Maybe we should hold off until we get a sense of where our kids are at academically. Even with summer school and only two weeks off, they all come back to us like embryos.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I would like to get a jump start on having solid objectives for the year, especially in Math and Language Arts. Testing in the Spring will be here quicker than we think.” Rebecca smiles anxiously and hands Misty a copy of the current goals for English. “I made some preliminary notes. Can you take a look at them and let me know what you think as soon as possible?”
“Sure,” Misty grins and nods, with a tinge of puzzlement shining through her big brown eyes.
“Oh, you’re writing poems today.” Rebecca states matter-of-factly after she examines the white board. “That’s awesome. I have to say that is one of the units I will miss teaching the most. Do you think it’s a little early? I mean, poetry usually doesn’t come up in the curriculum until April.”
“Ms. Chambers, you are asking the wrong person,” laughs Misty. “For me it’s never too early for poetry. That’s like saying it is too early for hot cakes and sausage. We are focusing more on imagery as figurative language anyway.”
“I guess I can’t disagree there. But do you think you’ll be starting a novel with them soon?” This is Rebecca’s subtle way of saying, “You’re supposed to do at least two novels before poetry.”
“Yep, I always wait until it gets closer to Halloween. Then we read something gothic or horror themed.”
Please God, the last thing I need in my life is an overzealous micromanager.
“Misty, I’m done!” yells Moe from across the room. “Want me to read it for the new VP?”
“Take it away, Moe.”
“Shiny pink walls always warm even when it’s cold.
Just one scoop, just one lick, and I’m mothafuckin sold.
Sounds of savoring and laughter fill the air.
I’d hit it any day, any time, anywhere.
Sweet and creamy to the last drop.
I’ll eat it till I pop.
I’ll eat it before dinner, for breakfast, I really don’t care.
If this is sin then it ain’t fuckin fair.”
“Oooh shit, Moe’s got bars. That was tight, my nigga,” Justin shakes hands with Moe who’s sporting a prideful grin.
“It was aite. You still don’t get no ass though,” Ant laughs.
“Shut yo ass up, you pumpkin head looking ass,” Moe quips.
Misty covers her mouth, trying not to laugh at Rebecca’s wide-eye look of shock.
“Wow, that was..um…good. Very creative,” Rebecca assures the student. “Maybe something that could be saved for outside of school..perhaps.” Or for Penthouse, maybe.
“Awesome job Moe,” Misty chimes in. “It may have been a little much for our new VP on the first day. But you got the idea nonetheless.”
“Yeah, you can’t drop rhymes about pussy the first day of school,” Ant declares. He instantly receives a slap on the head with a stack of papers, courtesy of Tracy.
Misty also responds quickly. “Anthony! What is it with you and that mouth? You know that is one of my zero tolerance words. Are you seriously going to make me write a conduct report on day one?”
“What I do?” Ant tries to look innocent.
“Boy, what don’t your dumbass do?” yelled Tracy.
Misty rolls her eyes and lets out a frustrated sigh. Rebecca stands in awe, absolutely speechless.
“Wait, ya’ll thought I was talking about, you know, lady parts? Man, I was rhyming about the ice cream store down the street. That place the shit.” Moe clarifies.
There is silence for a few moments before the room erupts with a mixture of laughter and friendly chiding. Misty and Rebecca look at each other and stifle their own laughter, finding humor in the fact that as adults, they automatically assumed the poem was about a vagina.
“Alright, alright, chill, you guys,” the students eventually turn their attention back to their teacher. “This brings up a good point. When it comes to a lot of imagery in poetry, we often have to be prepared to draw more than one conclusion about the poem’s theme.”
“In other words, think with the bigger head,” declares Justin.
Rebecca says her farewells and exits, feeling like she entered an alternate universe.
“Alright guys, that’s it for the day. Peace out. Stay awesome. Devon, hold up for a minute, please.” The student roles his eyes at Misty and sucks his teeth, pulling his hood over his head. He stands with his hands in his pockets, the extent of his sagging hidden by his large hoodie.
“So, how do you like Pace so far?” She already knows how he’s going to answer, but she wants to hear it anyway.
“It’s aite, I guess,” Devon looks up at the ceiling then down to the floor with impatience dripping from his face.
“What’s up? You late for a meeting?”
He answers with a terse, “no”.
“Well, it’s day one, so I am not going to go nuts. I know it’s hard being in a new place where you have to be on guard because you don’t know or trust anyone, so in my book, you have time to be brooding and menacing,” Misty keeps her voice even and gentle. She smiles at the young man who doesn’t look at her except to give her a scowl. She sees Tracy by the door watching closely and Misty winks at her. Her assistant is loyal, almost to a fault.
“I am sure you know what those words mean; otherwise, you wouldn’t be in this group. But sooner rather than later, you’re going to have to at least pretend that you’re human and that you want to be here.”
“Whatever, lady,” he turns to leave but Misty jumps in, stopping him in his route towards the door.
“It’s Misty, Devon, thank you, and like I said, take the time you need to make a lousy first impression you’ll have to repair later. You have free will. Just know it’s not going to last long. We won’t let it.” As the young man moves closer to her, Misty inadvertently takes a small step back but quickly regains her commanding pose.
“Look, lady. I’m only here cause my PO told me I gotta be here. It’s either this or be stuck in my house all day while some white bitch who thinks she’s Mother Theresa comes to give me some bullshit school work that won’t count for nothin. Don’t expect me to do work. Stay outta my way. I stay outta yours. Then we’re cool, right?” He’s inches from her now and Tracy stands not far behind with her walkie-talkie in hand.
“That’s enough, Wilson. Get to ya next class,” Tracy’s volume is low but her tone austere. Her voice is a solid bass, almost masculine, and the sound matches her broad, feminine stature. When Devon turns to look at her, he looks down and puts his hands back in his pockets.
“It’s nice to meet you, Devon. We’re going to have a great year.” Misty’s enthusiasm is genuine, for the most part, but nobody would miss the ribbons of her signature sarcasm. After one last dirty look from Devon, he makes his way out of the classroom.
“Welcome to Pacesetters!” she adds. Other than a slight pause in his step, he doesn’t acknowledge her.
“He’s quite the little prince, ain’t he?” Tracy collects pencils and basketball erasers from the desks, “You gonna write up that “white bitch” comment, Mist? He was basically calling you the “white bitch”, you know? He got too close to ya. I don’t trust him.”
“Of course. I’ve been here long enough, Trace. I’ll let it go for now. Sometimes the best way to deal with a kid sporting a shitty attitude is to not dump all the lighter fluid on the grill. Then he gets what he wants, and we can’t have our babies getting everything they want, can we?” She wraps her arms around Tracy’s shoulders, hugging her from behind.
“Besides, I have my best sista from another mista who always has my back. What do I need to worry about?”
“You’re too good, girl.”
“Hey, now don’t go around tarring my cast-iron, bad-ass, Tina Fey, bitches-get-stuff-done reputation around here.”
“Never have, never will, baby. We’re free this period. I’m gonna see if there are any bagels left from breakfast. I’m hungry as hell.”
“Gotcha. See you at lunch.”
For what seems like the first time all morning, Misty gets a chance to fall into her cushy desk chair. She’s always had mixed feelings about prep periods. The idea might be to decompress, but when she wants to be over-prepared she has to keep every moment of the day productive – writing to-do lists, reviewing old to-do lists she forgot about, making copies, cutting, sorting, and correcting. Forty five minutes become seconds in the same amount of time it takes to hear a “fuck you” yelled in the hall followed by a door slam.
Misty taps the keyboard and the screen glows with windows of Word documents and Language Arts resources downloaded for five dollars a pop. For a few moments, she focuses on an email, then a lesson plan, then the Yahoo! main page. Rebecca’s hand-written revisions of the English curriculum lies next to her hard drive, covering two copies of Frankenstein. She roles her neck and takes a deep breath before clicking on an article about a woman who claims to have had sex with twenty ghosts and has now found the one she wants to marry.
Wow. Can’t make this shit up.