Holding up

Friday 21 February, 2014:

The alarm wakes me at 6 o’clock, and I put it on snooze a few times before getting up half an hour late. I jump in the shower – I feel quite energetic, despite my broken sleep. Eat some weetbix, make a cuppa tea, and I’m at work before eight.

All I have to do is hook the laptop up to the data projector and I’m ready to go. I actually welcome having something to do and to think about, plus I have a ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe today that makes all the kids very orderly.

But at the same time it all just keeps pushing at my mind.


Saturday 22 February:

I find some random line today which really appeals to me:

The thing most forget while dreamily looking off into the horizon for the ship of their dreams to come into port is that such ships never sail in but are actually built beneath your very feet. (Mike Dooley)

And just so you know, that last part kicks it in even more. I really like ship metaphors. I don’t know why – I always have done. So I have one of those ‘aha’ moments, where words align with images, and resonate quietly in my mind.

Maybe, just maybe… this is the way to proceed. Maybe I’m wrong, thinking all I’m doing is sweeping the floors and securing the doors of the ROR. And you know, I’m not straight wrong, because there’s an element of that too. But what I’m saying is, it could be exactly the right thing to do now. For whatever reason – and I don’t know what it is yet – maybe it’s time to build my ship, from right inside this very citadel.


Sunday 23 February:

I go to school, and start sorting out stuff in my room. Take it real slow, just a couple of things at a time. Documents and papers, to begin with – getting rid of everything that’s out of date, and streamlining all the current stuff in a more accessible way.

I’m not a hoarder by nature – well of course I’m not. Even when I’m travelling, I keep culling my suitcase. So I find this kind of activity quite relaxing.

As I leave to go home, I walk past the other classrooms: piles of paper all over the desks, and things falling out of cupboards, and clutter on the floor, and I think – well if that’s the way you like it.


Monday 24 February:

I try to keep my mental state buoyant today. I’m nice to the babyish year 9’s and don’t take personal offence at the lazy and immature year 13’s. I go to the departmental meeting (a whole hour after school) and actually try to be helpful to Shakira. Then I return to my room and begin my preparation for tomorrow’s classes. By 5:45 I’m at the gym, and I’m home by 7, heating up a nice big bowl of spaghetti.

I really am trying. In a way, it’s as much for Tau as for any other reason. I always remember, I never forget, how Tau’s brave. And so I guess I can be brave too. And please God don’t forget about my Tau.


Tuesday 25 February:

Maybe the Room of Requirement’s meant for me, at the moment. As a place where I can be quiet, and busy, and free of unnecessary paraphernalia. It’s calm and soothing – even without my bro Slade. I feel kind of… economical here. Efficient, but not hurried.

And the thing I’m discovering about work this week, is that it actually does help me to put my heart into not the stupid things, but the important things. Therefore, to realize the stupidity of the educational curriculum doesn’t rule out giving my attention to the kids who have to go through it every bit as much as I do. So every time I feel bored as a motherfucker, I just try to go work with the tables. Not for the doing of the task itself (i.e. not for the ‘learning’) but really, for the sense of not being alone in this clangy old jail. And if there’s a better way to describe school, I don’t know what it is. Especially now the troops have left.


But there’s got to be a reason for me to be here right now. So I like the idea of building that ship right under my feet, and right under the noses of whoever thinks they know what’s good. Because they don’t know. If there’s a way in, there’s a way out. And just like always – if there’s a way, I can find it.

Patience, and activity, and working through my fears: fears of being abandoned, being forgotten, or just not being important to another soul. Those beliefs have got to go. And while I work them out, patiently, I’m going to build that ship from whatever I find, or can take, or stockpile, or create out of bric-a-brac. And when it’s ready, I’m going to go hook up with the troops.

Until then, I won’t refuse the important things. Finding solidarity with others. Treating people like brothers and sisters.


Later, the blog post is posted; this time it gives me a little flip of trepidation to hit ‘Publish’. I’m getting further into this whole story, and I don’t know quite how I’m going to write about the next thing, and the next thing… but I’m not stopping.


Wednesday 26 February:

10 Social, I’m going around the tables and this new little girl from down the line, her name’s Miria – has been tagging on her book cover in black vivid. Big, bold tagging; it reminds me of all the old days with the year 10’s, way back when. So I just note it and say nothing, just sit with her table and help them with their ‘Roman Menu’.

“What’s an entrée?” Lauralee asks, and we talk about it, Meanwhile Miria keeps on admiring her own handiwork, waiting for me to tell her off.

And I just say, “How are you getting on, Miria? How’s your menu going?”

“Look, tagging, Miss,” says Eden, with a smirk.

“Oh yup,” I say. “But I bet you’ve been doing your menu too, aye Miria.”

She glances at me as if to say: What the fuuuck?

And Lauralee says, “Miss likes tagging, aye Miss.”

“Yes, I do,” is all I say, and I just say it in a matter-of-fact way, so Miria can see I’m not trying to labour some point about the difference between graffiti art and tagging’ (as if I ever would – but she doesn’t know me, and so I keep things simple).


Miria says nothing, but about five minutes later she calls me over softly, and says, “Miss? Can you help me with my menu?”

“Oh my gosh!” I scold Lauralee, who’s meant to be the helper for that table, because she’s finished. “Didn’t Lauralee help you like she’s supposed to, girls?”

“No!” they say (Miria and Eden). “She ain’t helping!”

“Come over here and help, Madam!” I tell Lauralee, who gets the giggles with me. And then she goes to help Mia, and I sit down with Miria, and we all just get along with the frickin Roman menu: fruit and cheese and small fish and water and wine.

“Small fish…” says Miria. “Sounds yuck.”

“Must be like sardines, I guess,” I say, thinking about it.

“Ew, yuck – I hate sardines,” Miria shudders. “I like that other stuff better. Tuna.”

“Me too,” I say. “Tuna’s nice – sardines are alright though.”

Then we all discuss the sushi at the café, and how it’s got tuna in it, though Eden says it’s yuck too, and so on and so forth… and I feel so much better and less bored, and I really do like Miria, whose tagging never bothered me, not one whit, I can tell you. And I hope she could sense that.


After work, I coax myself to the gym, and spend fifteen minutes asleep in the car before going in (à la Kepaoa). Yawn my way up the stairs to pump class, set my weights out nicely, and then kind of crash on the floor until the last ten seconds before the class starts. At which point I have a big swig of water and pick up the bar.

I’m fine straight away, once things kick in. On a good day I feel tough, at the gym. It can restore a lot of my energy – and today was like that.

As for Tau, I just hope he’s holding up, that’s as much as I can wish for.


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