Archive | December, 2010

Christmas Dreams

28 Dec

The cold wind dances along my skin and wets my eyes. It’s a blissful discomfort. I shiver for a moment.

Derek and I are standing outside our home in beautiful Denton, Texas.

“Jesus, it’s cold.”

“Yes, Derek,” I say. “Give it up to God. Tell Jesus you’re cold.” I smile at Derek a few seconds longer. He looks down on me, eyes ringed in red, cheeks flushed, mouth slightly agape. His stare is cold and not at all Christmas-y. It’s more like Halloween-y or Homicide-y. One time Derek told me “homicide” was a holiday.

“Jesus doesn’t care about how cold I am, Kyle,” Derek says, his eyes leaving mine and affixing themselves on something in the distance or perhaps nothing at all.

How dare you?” I ask incredulously. I try to slap Derek, but I’m drunk on silly egg nog and I swing wide, striking the empty air–nowhere close to Derek’s face.

“I just don’t think Jesus–son of God or not–would care how cold I am. I’d imagine he was much colder in that manger or on that cross.”

Wistfully, I look into the distance. “They don’t make crosses like they used to,” I say.

“Wait, what?” Derek asks.

“Derek,” I say, “I want to find the meaning of Christmas. Will you find it with me?”

Derek had left and gotten in the car. He was motioning frantically for me to join him, twirling his finger in a “hurry up” kind of motion.

I trot over to the car and get inside.

We drive down the highway, Christmas music blaring. It’s hurting my ears. Derek also seems a little uncomfortable. I start to wonder why neither of us have suggested turning it down. I try to ask Derek, but it’s too loud. I reach out to turn the volume knob down, but Derek slaps my hand away.

His mouth moves with speech, but I can’t hear it. His expression is emphatic. With one whip-crack head motion, Derek is looking straight ahead again. I can only assume Derek went back to his old car-stereo-standby:

“Don’t you ever touch a white man’s radio!”

I’m almost positive that’s what he said.

We continue driving until Derek runs out of gas and we crash into the shoulder of the highway going six miles per hour. It’s the least exciting crash I’ve ever been involved in while listening to Christmas music.

“At least we weren’t going a hundred miles an hour,” Derek says.

“Well, yea. That’s obvious. I’m glad the car isn’t made of children. I’m glad the highway isn’t boobie trapped with surprise speed bumps made of babies. I’m glad that the gas we use in our car isn’t from a factory that processes the tears of angels. I’m glad that the internal combustion engine doesn’t utilize biomechanical components built from the contorted bodies of our grandparents. I’m glad.”

“Why you gotta say all that, man?” Derek asks, slapping his leg for emphasis.

“Because, I hate it when people set up hypotheticals like you just did. Like, when I’m at work and a guy says ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if we got paid twenty dollars an hour?’ Well yea, of course it would be, but if we’re going to wish for whatever the hell we want, why not wish to get paid a thousand dollars an hour, or a billion. While you’re at it, why don’t you make it so we don’t have to work at all.”

“Where is all this coming from?”

“My brain. My angry, jaded brain.”

Theres a few seconds of silence interrupted by the dry roar of cars as they pass.

“I’m just angry, that’s all,” I say. “I’m sorry–I’m mad that Christmas seems to be more and more a fleeting day on my calendar. When I was young, it felt like a global event eleven months in the making. It felt like it lasted days–weeks, even. Now it’s just a blip. For the most part, everyone knows that they’re getting for Christmas months in advance, so there’s no surprise–and that joyous season we’re supposed to enjoy before and after is ruined because before Christmas we’re stressed about buying the right gifts, and then after we’re stressed trying to find enough money to stop the bleeding the holidays have stuck us with.”

There is a long pause. A car drives by and honks at us. A guy throws a beer bottle out of the passenger window and it shatters ten or fifteen feet in front of us.

“That’s sad,” Derek says.

“What’s sad?”

“That guy just wanted to give us a beer.” I think Derek is kidding and snort out a short, almost perfunctory, laugh. He turns to me–eyes a bit wet. “And now he’s gone. At least he tried, though.”

I sigh and look out at the cascade of brown glass ahead of us. The truck is long gone. I will most likely never see it again, and if I do, I probably won’t recognize it. Soon I know I’m going to have to get out of the car and make the long walk to get gas for the car. Derek hates carrying fossil fuels. Something about Exxon Valdez. It’s probably horse shit.

 

Teaching Techniques

10 Dec

The kids are so loud. It’s as if their volume increases exponentially as more of them enter the room. It makes no sense to me and I hate them.

“Quiet!” I yell, a bit frightened by how soft my yell seems amid the talking and yelling and singing and screaming of the children. “Quiet!” I yell again, this time louder. The noise softens, but only a little. I take two small objects out of my pocket. “Please be quiet!” I plead. I put the two objects on either side of my mouth and bite down. Fake blood pours out of my mouth and I begin to gargle and strain, my face turning a disturbing shade of purple. I fall to the ground and clutch my chest.

Some of the children begin to cry and call out for help, but none are talking. I open my eyes for a moment and point to the worst of my students and, foamy blood pouring from the corners of my mouth, utter the words “Your fault.” He breaks into violent tears. Slowly I lower my head to the cool tile and close my eyes, my body becoming completely still.

The room is full of soft tears and I can almost hear the children developing trust issues.

Sounds like softness.

Sounds like calm.

I stand up abruptly. Several of the children begin to scream.

“Okay. So, let’s get started on the day’s lesson,” I say, wiping the blood from my mouth.

My supervisor is coming today. I’ve already been docked on my evaluation for how I communicate with the children (I refuse to call a child “buddy” or “sweetheart” when he refuses to stop simulating fellatio in front of the class), so I’m a bit nervous about his observing me.

I’m afraid one of my kids is going to start misbehaving, then when I try to politely ask them to stop they will (as they almost always do) outright ignore me.

I stand before the class as I do every day before we begin. I like to give them a rundown of the schedule so they know what to expect. It just cuts down on instances of the “What are we doing today?” question.

“1,2,3, eyes on me!” I say, holding up my hand. Half of the kids turn and look the other half continue as they were before–talking, laughing, being disrespectful little shits who slowly but surely destroy my spirit every time I see them.

I feel the cold, sticky masses on my stomach and the sensation is like the comforting embrace of an old friend in times of struggle. I lift my shirt, revealing the dozen or so chicken bones peeking out from behind my waist band. The children are baffled and frightened and, most importantly, quieted by the image.

“Okay, class, so this is what we’re going to do today,” I begin. I bend my arms to a right angle, then gyrate a little bit, still holding my shirt up, further upsetting the youths. “We’re going to to a little game to demonstrate what weight and volume are, then we’re going to do some homework.” I turn to Efrain Gomez, one of my worst students. One of the few students who I believe actively seeks to do evil. I pull a photograph from my pocket that I found in his file. I show it to the class, then wad it into a ball and eat it. There are gasps and I hear Efrain ask his friends in Spanish what the gesture means. I continue speaking. “Then finally, we’re going to do a little enrichment activity and go home!”

I pull my shirt down and hear a knock at the door. It’s my supervisor.

“Oh, hello!” I say. The room is completely silent.

“Wow, it’s really quiet in there. Good job,” my supervisor says.

“Yes,” I respond, smiling. “They’re all acting like perfect angels.” I turn so my back faces my supervisor and pat the spot on my stomach where the bones.

A Day at Work

1 Dec

I work at a school for little kids.

“Mr. Kyle!” Juan Surtez says to me. He’s looking up at me, eyes wide. He’s smiling, but his teeth are terrible, so he looks like some sort of rodent, injured, frightened, and in a death-rage.

“Hello, Juan,” I respond. I don’t ever tell the kids about the terrible things I think about them.

Kids are sensitive.

“Mr. Kyle, what are we going to do today?” he asks me in that way that kids ask things, where all they’re really asking is if they’re going to be allowed to outside.

“We’re going to see how many highlighters Carlos can eat,” I say in jest. Overhearing Juan and my conversation, Carlos goes pale and his eyes become wet.

My class and I are in the cafeteria. There are other classes there with us. With the sound and the amount of children the room seems as if it’s about to burst. I pace along the length of the table my class sits at.

They’re all so short.

My supervisor approaches me with a clipboard in hand. She tells me that I need to take attendance of them all and I do.

A girl tells me she was born on 9/11 and I’m no longer positive of what was the worst thing that happened that day.


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