Finding what can be done

Monday 30 August, 2010:

The start of another week. As usual, it feels like there’s way too much to do.

I work hard though. Even though my ethics and school’s differ greatly. I try real hard with all the everyday stuff, because I want to be… rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, I guess. So that when the stakes are raised (like with the ‘Chris Hapuru incident’), my accounts have been paid. I have my stockpile of credit, and I’ll use it – oh I’ll use it – without a second’s dilemma. But sometimes it’s tricky playing two hands, and I get tired.


Today, again, I just do really warm to Jesse. He’s like this kind of slightly crazy thinker – I dunno.

“How’s Rasputin?” I ask.

“He’s ok.  He’s… having a break,” Jesse tells me, and then, “How do you spell ‘divinities’?” he asks in the same breath. Later, I see pages of printed out information about Lao Tzu next to his elbow, and on the screen it’s Pope Julius Vl.

He wants to mail me a page, because he’s got no printing credit left. I cast around for a bit of scrap paper to write my email down on, and instead Jesse proffers his forearm.

“Here – you can write it on my arm,” he says.

I say, “I’ll use the back of this…” as I pick up a worksheet.

But Jesse waves it away, presenting me with his arm again, and saying, ‘Please Miss – can you write it on my arm?” He holds it in front of me; kind of tenderly upturned.

I laugh and take my pen and inscribe my email address carefully on Jesse’s smooth and warm skin. The pen has trouble with the dot and the ‘g’ and I have to press quite hard, holding his arm steady with my other hand. As usual, something about the uncomplicated  physical communication just touches my heart.


Later on, Jesse tells me he’s picked 12 Social because he thought I was teaching it.

“Nope,” I say. “I teach 12 History.”

“Oh, no,” he groans.  “I was so sure it was Social…”

“Never mind,” I say. “You can change it next year if you really want to do it.”


I’m trying really hard not to be attached to anyone taking anything. Kids I know come ask me if they can take History, and I say, “Yes, if you have the prereqs -” in a non-committal kind of way. I don’t even try to follow up any paperwork. The only person I’ve really put myself out for is Inia, and that’s partly because he’s lost without someone to help him do this kind of stuff. I’ve already given his form to Marjorie, explaining the deal about 12 History, and how I’m going to waive the prerequisites. She looks at me somewhat dubiously, but defers to my judgement all the same.

The others: well, it’s over to them to sort it out. I don’t – because it hurts me when I miss Nio and Tau.  It still feels raw. And so I learn.


Tuesday 31 August:

One little nice thing about today: Jesse emails me his assessment. Rasputin didn’t make the cut; it ends up being about a Chinese martial arts leader I’ve never heard of – but why shouldn’t it be about this guy? At any rate, it’s a damn miracle.


I also manage to speak to both Inia and Jack about being ‘careful’ with their weed consumption.

“I don’t know which one of you’s worse!” I tell them, exasperated. I don’t want you guys to be kicked out just for not thinking!

But seriously – I’m worried about Jack getting expelled from school over something like this. And as for Inia, he’s even less discreet (if that’s possible). No, maybe it isn’t less ‘discreet’; it’s that he’s even less aware of how he looks. Dazed and confused; that’s Inia – whereas Jack has a slight belligerence that provides a natural (and quite literal) smokescreen for his altered demeanour.

Though Jack is also getting a bit overconfident at times. In History, he rummages around in his bag for his book. He brings it out, and “Phew!” he says, sniffing it deeply and then fanning it furiously. “Smell my book, Miss.”

I give it a good sniff, too. It reeks of weed. “Jack!” I say – and he cracks up laughing, and fishes in his “weed bag” for a pen.

Shanice says, all of a sudden (and just to me), “Miss, your room smells like a ganja factory.“

“I know,” I nod, looking around at the class coming in and mentally assessing the potential for disaster to strike. “Come on Jack,” I say. “Come out to the block and work in the nice fresh air for a while,” and he follows obediently.


Wednesday 1 September:

Sometime in the middle of the night, I wake up and I think everything’s falling apart all over the show. I can feel that tension is beyond normal – and I don’t know if I can call up the qualities that will be necessary for this time. I find it so hard not just to wish it was all different.

I’ve been thinking a lot about school, and teaching, and what I want – and don’t want. I don’t care about being a ‘good teacher’. ‘Good teachers’ are people who believe in the value of what they teach. I believe in that almost none of the time. I do think some things are important, or just interesting – and it’s then I feel that I connect with the ‘teaching’ part more. But more often than not, it doesn’t matter to me what I teach; or even that I teach.

I realise that teaching is (for me) one kind of avenue to do what I wanna do – though sometimes it’s more like feeling bound to it than actually wanting to do it.  And that, I guess, is being part of a thing; part of some kind of big struggle that goes on everywhere and all the time… and no-one tells you it exists; you just have to figure it out for yourself. Then, once you know, you have to decide if you’re part of it. I feel like it intersects a little bit with ‘teaching’ – sometimes yes, sometimes no – because at times the site is important.

I don’t value the idea of myself as an expert; what I value is the alliance and finding what can be done. And I value the few moments where I can speak as one ally to another.

I guess that’s why it hurts, when sometimes solidarity isn’t enough. For when not everyone is who you stand with, you have to play both hands at once. And I get it – there are people who need, for whatever reason, to see ‘a teacher’.

It’s good – I think – to know all this.  But how do you not let that knowledge break you?

Because sometimes I want to let it break me.

Only – isn’t there another way to use it?


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