Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm Creepy

I guess I've known this for a long time. Or maybe I've been wrestling with having to adopt such a moniker. I mean, who wants to be creepy? Creepy connotes child molesters and masturbating homeless men on public transportation, the eerily quiet girl with the bad hair and church clothes. I am none of the above. I only like to teach (not touch) the children; I do not masturbate in public; and my fashion sense is marvelous! (I must admit to having bad hair for the moment, but I'm working on that.) I am, however, extremely antisocial. What's worse is my seeming inability to change it. I've been at my school for three months and only recently realized that most of my coworkers have possibly formed an unfavorable opinion of me. I was, as I may have mentioned before, a mid-season replacement; I did not start teaching at Creature High* until the second semester. My colleague (don't you just love the fastidiousness of that word?) also started at the semester. We came from the same school. However, she can often be seen in the hallways yukking it up with other teachers or administrators, while I scuttle to and fro, efficient and dependable for sure, but not the most ebullient person. I never go to visit other teachers or stop to chat in the hallways.

Yesterday, after administering the ACT/PSAE to our junior class, some unsuspecting teacher invited me to lunch. I went, and enjoyed the hell out of my Georgia peach and pecan pancakes, but I probably said a total of ten words the entire time, including "please pass the syrup" and "anymore sausage?" I started to notice sideways glances and slightly too easy smiles directed my way; you know, the kind of smiles people give the mentally handicapped and physically impaired. I thought to myself, "Hey, why are they looking at me like that?" Then, "Oh no, they think I'm creepy!" There was nothing to be done folks. I wasn't particularly interested in who I was with nor did I have any pressing questions for my companions. I also felt no need, unlike some annoying blabbermouth at the table, to share my entire life, or even a sliver of it, with complete strangers. So, I shovelled back my food and stared off into space until every one was finished. Needless to say, no one invited me to any lunches today.

Look, I grew up an only child. Despite having three brothers, I spent the majority of my childhood in the house by myself. I'm used to silence and only talking when necessary. I've never really had the chance to practice talking to make people feel more comfortable. A few years back, I had started talking to folks, just talking, to combat the constant indictments of being "cold" or "robot-like" (yes, someone once called me a robot, and they were not trying to be cute or funny). I really thought I had made progress, but alas, I have not. In fact, I think I'm worse now. Old age and a generally disagreeable demeanor plus the added stress of having adult responsibilities has given me a devil-may-care-attitude about pleasing others or making them comfortable. Their comfort is their business, not mine. So, if you see me on the street, I may not speak; and if you sidle up to me hoping to strike up an impromptu conversation, I'll listen, but I won't say much in return. I'm sorry, I'm creepy.

*What the hell

Thursday, April 12, 2007

[He's] Gone c) Hall & Oates

Well, dear readers. I've been lazily avoiding my blog because I've had much better things to do. I mean, 10-week grade reporting is tomorrow, and in true English teacher style, I have a stack of papers to rip through. However, this morning, while slathering that good virgin coconut oil on my legs, I heard the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the annoyingly inevitable ... Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

Yeah, there may be a thin veneer of humor here, of wryness. The trademark atrackbrown witticisms are present, but let me tell you people, I cried. As soon as Ellee Pai Hong or Dick Johnson (I can't remember which) announced the news, I automatically started a snotty, indecently unattractive crying fit that would rival any five year old's.

For years, Monica and I have been rhapsodizing about "it," the eventual death of Kurt Vonnegut. I mean, he was getting old, and had been bucking the odds with his continued cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption for decades. "How does one make it well into their seventies without any sort of psorosising of the liver or cancering of the lung?" we wondered. Plus, he was born in the twenties, and had been at the bombing of Dresden for god sakes. Yeah, he was truly an enigma for still being with us. So we joked, and shook our heads wonderingly at his immortality while knowing all along that Kurt Vonnegut would never die because, well ... because he was Kurt Vonnegut, dammit! The author of such ridiculously side-splitting wonders as Cat's Cradle (perhaps my favorite), Breakfast of Champions (a close second), Welcome to the Monkey House (a delightful collection of brilliant, quirky little tales), and the creator of Kilgore Trout, perhaps the most cantankerous, preposterous figure of all literary time, could not die. No, just like that annoying Bob Hope or George whatever (the dude with the cigar and glasses), Kurt would outlive us all (though, of course, the first two did in fact die, but didn't it seem like they never would?). So yeah, we allayed our fears by knowing that Kurt would continue writing his special brand of crazy and making disturbingly funny speeches at colleges across the US forever.

Yet, somehow, this was not to be. Somehow, someone failed to report that he had suffered a head injury at home and had been hospitalized for some time now. (Though that someone still had time to report on the father of Anna Nicole's baby. Give me a fucking break.) Somehow, Kurt proved to be human.

I guess I shouldn't be a sniffling pansy and should just suck it up. I mean, I've never even met the guy (and I totally had a chance to, but just like the time I passed on a Nina Simone concert, my stupidity saw fit to dissuade me from doing so), and he lived for 84 freaking years. That's a pretty long time. But it doesn't matter, I'm still sad and kind of scared. Kurt stands for so many things. I'm not talking about all his political causes, though I was usually in total agreement with him. No, I'm talking about those personal things that he stands for. I'm reminded of the days when Monica and I were best friends, and she introduced me to the Vonnegut. (Hell, sometimes, I even refer to her as Kurt Monnicut.) I'm reminded of the good ole days with Jason in A.P English when we'd laugh and act like asses and eat peanut M&Ms, for Jason too loved the Vonnegut. I'm reminded of those rare moments freshmen year of undergrad when I didn't quite hate being at the most boring and black peopleless school on earth, and my roommate Anisa borrowed my special edition of Cat's Cradle. And most recently, I'm reminded of my first week as a real adult as I taught "Harrison Bergeron" to a bunch of high school freshmen and smiled inside (yes, assholes, I'm allowed to smile on the inside) as a bunch of snot-nosed know-nothings actually displayed some good taste and ate it up. Yep, Kurt's been here for a long time. It's hard to imagine that he'll be here no more.

Rest in peace there Kurt