Me and Julio, down by different schoolyards

Hey! It’s me! Been awhile, right? Miss me? I missed you, too! The thing is, not all that much has been going on since we last had the chitity chat; I didn’t want to bore you with the everyday blahblahblah that is my life. Then I remembered that to YOU, it’s not blahdittyblah; YOU love lifestyles of the rich and famous! So let’s see…what have I been doing?

Hmmm. A lot of the usual stuff: singing Britney Spears songs (Britty-ditties) to my dog*. Judging people. Gardening. Trying to figure out why if I am wearing a convertible bra, the view doesn’t get any better when I take my top off. Things like that.

I also finished my last class in grad school, and am about to start another. I did well last semester, which is kind of surprising because I’ve never been a  great student, on account of school is boring and I already know everything, but I enjoyed my class, and I met a lot of cool people that I hope to be friends with for a long time to come. We had our last class at a sailing club. We sat at long tables on a dock at the lake and talked about poetry over wine and cheese as the sun slowly sank. Yup. I did that! It was so cool and novel that I decided to be a different person for the evening and referred to myself as Lady Vanity Persimmon-Jones, Esquiress. She sounds snotty, but she’s got an infectious laugh and makes you feel like you’re the only one in the room. You’d love her, and I loved being her. I am going to add her to my alter egos, Doo Doo Brown and The Baby, even though I know they won’t get along.

My next class promises to suck the hoon, whatever that is.

I also managed to finish out the year in my not-so-new job without getting fired, so that’s good.

It’s totally different than my last gig; for one thing, the school is really wealthy. The campus is all green and lush, with fruit trees and a big organic garden with water features and lily pads. There are hummingbirds and stepping stones across a little stream that runs the length of the campus. There is an outdoor amphitheater for plays or songs or poetry reading, and the office buildings and rooms are all glassed in, with picture windows throughout, in order to look with wonder at the splendor that is our school.Giverny 2012 Ok, that picture is from Monet’s garden at Giverny, not really my school. My penchant for hyperbole is once again muted by my unswerving dedication to truth in all areas. But I digress…

At my old school, teachers were treated like the poop on your shoes from a loose-boweled raccoon. They still are.

At my new school, if something comes up, my colleagues, even the principal, will cover my classes. If  you leave the building to get something from your car or go to lunch, nobody cares; they trust you’ll be back when you need to be. The other day, a lady from the office said she had to move my car, so I gave her my keys. In the afternoon I noticed instantly that something about my auto was different; it was gleaming in the sun, having been freshly washed and vacuumed. There was a recyclable, reusable cup in the cup holder with a Starbucks card and a note thanking me for being such a valued member of our school team this year.

At my old school, one day this tall, football player with an ankle bracelet confronted an assistant principal for “getting in my fucking face.” He pushed the AP into the lockers and said, “catch me if you can, cocksucker!” as he ran out the front doors. The next day he was back in freshman World Geography, asleep on a desk, the scared-looking rabbity teacher tiptoeing around him, so as not to wake him up.

At my new school, a fifth grader told a classmate to “shut up, stupid”, and was suspended until his parents could prove he had enrolled in anger management therapy.

Needless to say, I like my new school a lot.

Still and all, I really miss my old students. I loved them, even though they were under-educated, unsophisticated, and chronically “low performing”. Throughout the year, I’ve kept in touch, on and off, with some of them; Sergio called me in tears when Abel got killed; Babraham texted to tell me that maybe he should have considered college instead of becoming a full time bar back; Oscar came by to show me his new baby and introduce me to his new girlfriend; Lily sent me an invitation to her graduation from UT-Austin; Karla wants to go to lunch; Gabi invited me to her kid’s second birthday; Nam rang up my groceries at the store; I saw Humberto and Ramiro at a gas station downtown – they have decided they are going to become dee-jays and work all the quinceneras in town.

And then, last week, Julio texted me to tell me he got a three on the writing portion of his state standardized test. “Missss!” he wrote, “I got the highest score! It was so high and I was so high! I looove Americaaaaa!” I told him congratulations, and that I didn’t understand why he couldn’t have gotten just as high if he was still in Mexico, and we wrote back and forth, talking about this and that, until midnight, when I told him I had to go to bed. “Oh, miss! Don be so oooold! The night just startin!”

Julio’s a gangster. He came by himself from Mexico; his mom saved up all the money she had to send him here, because things were really bad at home. He told me one time about  how sad he was that he couldn’t be there when his grandfather died. “He was a good man, miss. Whenever he had food, he would give me some. He would always make room on the bed for me so I didn’t have to sleep on the floor. I loved him.”

He’s really smart, but he makes bad choices. He is a sophomore this year, but he is at least 19. He was a boxer in Mexico and gets into fights here, which he always wins, but always gets in trouble for. He has been smoking weed since he was eight. He’s a great writer. His stuff is FILLED with grammar errors and misspelled words, but his ideas and their tone – they blow me away. He says he doesn’t like his teachers because “it juss getting worst. Teachers jus dont care mis, i be telling them if you want a kid to change you need to touch his hurt and listen to him, not juss bitch at him every time he wrong… am I rite, misss?” I think he meant ‘touch his heart’, but it works with either word.

I asked him what he wrote about that got him such a high score. Usually the prompts on those standardized test are vague and insipid; “Write about a time you took a trip” or “Write about an important lesson”. I think this time it was “Write about something you did for a friend.” Julio wrote about something that had happened when he was still in Mexico, when he was about ten. He had told me this story a couple of years ago, in broken English and Spanish, when I was his teacher.

His constant companion then was a little brown dog that had showed up in the alley one day, and had just stayed. Julio loved that little dog. They went to the dump and got aluminum to sell for food or candy, or stole copper wire and piping for extra cash. One time the found a dead snake on the highway and took it home for the meat. On Saturdays he took the dog to the park and they played all day. He said that when he was with the dog he “forgot about all my problems. I wasn’t even hungry when we were playing!”

One day his dog got bitten by another dog, and became infected. Julio was furious. He got another guy to shoot the dog that bit his. He said, “I thought I did that for my friend. I had that guy kill that dog for my dog, because he was sick. But then I learned that I didn’t kill the dog for my friend; I did it for me, so I would feel better. It was only later, when my dog was dying that I did something for him, for a good friend. He was suffering too much… it was a good essay, Miss. Really dramatic, if you read it. I know those fuckers who graded it weren’t expecting me to just pull out a baseball bat and kill my only friend on a sunny Saturday, our favorite day of the week!”

Julio was really proud of himself for writing so well, and so was I, and I was honored that he thought about me when he got his good score. I love him, and I think about him often. I like the kids at my new school, too, but it’s not really the same.

Anyway, summer break is almost here and I am happy and looking forward to the future, whatever it is. I’m planning some exciting stuff, so prepare yourself!

Happy End of School to Denichiwa and McAdams!

Congratulations to JR, David and Ben on the birth of Baby Joel! Congratulations to Emmy and Eric and Baby Peri!

This post is brought to you thanks to Dennis and KB, who told me it was HIGH TIME to get off my lazy ass and write a new one!

* Baby, baby, you’re doggin’ me/then again, what else would ya be/doin’ to me?/ YOU ARE A FUZZY DOG!

Face it, bitches-Britney’s back!

BONUS!!!! The only people who read this blog are people who love me. It’s not always that way. Check this out: Also, I’m lucky that people send me stuff like this to remind me about how lucky I am. Thanks chm chm!