Monday 8th June, 2009:
Let’s start with the positives… well, it’s a funny kind of positive: I have Nio in my room for the whole of my non-contacts between interval and lunch. Truant – of course.
At first I try to suggest he goes to his class, just to raise the mere possibility. “I won’t,” sighs Nio, “Even if I can’t stay here I won’t,” and he shrugs, as if to say he has no choice. I know he’ll be in even more trouble if he’s picked up outside, so I let him stay.
I sip my coffee and talk to him, while I do my marking. He’s as content as can be. At one point he says to me, “You know your Project – you had all the taggers in there, Miss!” He adds, “And all the waggers, too.”
“Yeah, I did…” I say, thinking about it. “But hey – they all showed up!”
And we can’t help laughing.
Nio – the very good Nio. Guess he and I have a lot in common, at heart we’re total refusers.
Today he tells me first about his older brothers, who are the reason why his parents moved the family out here. “Cos my brothers were always in trouble, always being brought home in cop cars,” he says. And then about the tagging he does, the places he goes… I’ve never heard him speak this openly before. Just before lunch he helps tidy up, and says, “Thanks, Miss,” and I say, “No problem.”
Apart from that, my day is stressy.
11 Social. I still hate geography. This school with its ‘integrated’ courses – I wouldn’t have to try teach it anywhere else but here. I can’t make it interesting, I just don’t know how.
I do try, course I do – but I feel like I’m losing them a little bit, even though they don’t see it, really. Dimario and Alexander are peaceful and kind of disinterested today. They do some work, then bomb side by side, with rapt concentration and no attempt to disturb anyone else. But Jack persists with his work most of the time, with a patient, slightly grumpy willingness that touches me very much.
Dimario and Alexander modestly admire their own artwork (the ‘Vesuvius’ wall chart which is on display now). Nio does too, when he’s in earlier. “You know their tags!” Nio marvels. They signed it… and they did the work too.” He says, “I’d do all my work if I was in your class.”
I’m glad he doesn’t see those two later, drawing. Yet it’s such an intelligent choice; I truly believe that. Makes me sound like a bad teacher, huh. I’m not a bad teacher – I’m just a bad liar. Cos my sincerity is all I have, and I sincerely don’t like geography!
But I want to be counted, somehow, to be worth something, or have some ‘authority’ – for what? For what? Not for geo, that’s for sure. But for them; myself.
Tuesday 9th June:
By 5:30 I’m sitting at Mcdeez, eating my Big Mac and fries, and drinking coffee. I feel so quiet there, like I’m floating and dreaming. It soothes me and I feel serene to be watching the big screen TV (on cable sport) and looking out into the darkening world, cars slipping by. I don’t have the money to spare, but I don’t really care. I need to sit and drink my coffee and be somewhere and be calm.
Today my alarm doesn’t go off – I wake up an hour late. And even after I get to Kuli’s the panic just becomes a dull and familiar feeling of stress which lasts all day, the whole way through.
During options, I see Argos and another boy hiding out in a little spot by the cafeteria. As I go past, Argos calls softly, “Miss?”
“Oh, hey,” I say, laughing at their ‘cover’, and the trusting way they assume I’m not gonna tell them to go class.
And they’re right, I’m not. I really think of their choices to wag the stupid options as reasonable, and informed. I don’t know what else to say about it. I’m not saying that I don’t care what happens; I’m just saying that the school as a model of intervention and control is so bankrupt and so hypocritical – in so very many ways.
Nio, the escapee. Argos, evading his option class. Even these two – it’s enough. I don’t understand why it’s enough for me, against the whole weight of school, but somehow it is. I don’t understand, and I’m conscious of all my failings, and I’m conscious of the possibility that I’m wrong, just wrong – but I don’t believe that I’m ‘just’ wrong.
I need to sleep now – I’m very tired of thinking.
Wednesday 10th June:
My head hurts like fuck. I can’t even cook this week, and cooking has (until now) been the thing that I do each day that gets me through; only I haven’t got the heart for it anymore. I stop and get a croissant and a cup of coffee – that’s dinner. I can have some fruit later so I won’t starve; that’s my vitamins or whatever. I don’t actually care, I don’t care – I can’t cook anymore, I don’t even have money to buy groceries so I spend five dollars at a time: lunch, dinner, whatever.
I think I’ve reached the limit; eking out every last bit of food in the house for days and days. Maybe if there was some respite, I could cope, but there’s no end in sight. No reward, no result, nothing for being any good at getting by – just more of it until I can’t stand the relentless pressure. No gas and no food, no money and no groceries, no bills paid, no energy, nothing except slavery at work and the cold at home… and I’m all out of ways to bear it.
It’s laughable because it should be so ordinary for people to eat, have money; to be casual and calm. All the teachers cranking on about ‘achievement’ , ‘learning’, ‘21st century learning’ and ‘learner engagement’, ‘transformation of the world’… and I’m so cold. I only care that Nio had somewhere to go yesterday, and that occasionally I can do something to show I care… and I can’t even care about making dinner. I haven’t got any resilient feelings except that I should eat a kiwi, a banana – it’s my little tiny act of resistance, and to stay warm.
Thursday 11th June:
Just about to go pick up Kuli. More small acts of resistance… of barely resilience; just a thread: eating breakfast, putting fruit in a bag to take to school. It’s the last little bit of hopefulness about this whole seriously fucked situation.
I feel like I’m being bombarded and all I can do is walk from point A to point B. I don’t even know if I’ll get there. My mind is not calm, I need to be calm and concentrate on my movements, make them… what’s the word, sufficient? No, I’m thinking… economical.