Summer is drawing near, bringing with it Floridian vacations with family, cookouts amid 90 degree afternoons, and an opportunity for a little soul-searching. I’m not sure how other teachers begin their summer. Alcohol and long morning naps surely are incorporated in some way. My Aunt Sue often visit us in June and July when we were kids, before she retired after nearly thirty-years teaching science in Arkansas. She would bring large plastic bins — the size of pound-cakes — filled with a powerful concoction of alcohol and fruit-juice for which my mom would ceremoniously clear a place in the family freezer to harden overnight. The next day the two of them, Mom and Aunt Sue, would extract ice cream scoops and dig out the slushie mixture with the same care and joy as a miner unearthing a golden cache. They’d sit out by the pool and while away the day until they’d be too exhausted or drunk to move.
“My summer has begun!” Aunt Sue would shout. “No kids. No grading. This is the life!”
As a student, it always amused me to stumble upon my teachers outside the classroom: at the mall, in the movie theater, or even on the school parking lot. Somehow it seemed strange to discover that our educators had lives and families outside the school property, as if they had apartments in the teacher lounge or — more abstractly — ceased to exist entirely without their class. I would imagine Mrs. Willis and Mr. Phebus melting from the walls at the ringing of the bells, reforming flesh from discarded glitter glue and construction paper like a Terminator villain armed with copious lesson plans and graded algebra tests.
One of the most difficult thing about being a teacher is the fact that I cannot write much about my job. That is to say, I can and — as this post will demonstrate — will, but the repercussions of lawsuits, job loss, and public humiliation always undermine my efforts to write about my life anymore. Other topics such as my siblings, new houses, geek stuff, and adventurous excursions to far off realms may prove fodder for my ‘talents,’ I often fain from ranting of late. It’s not the ‘been there, done that’ feeling per se, the ennui of a former life, but my writing has always centered around my feelings, ponderings, and frustrations about daily living. What is the point of spreading my thoughts across this blank page if — much like a wayward girlfriend — my heart just does not want to commit.
So screw all that. Time to start afresh (which I discovered the other day was one word, not two; the world indeed is awash with wonder, Charlie Brown).
For the sake of my financial independence both present and future, I’ve decided to disguise my students identity with an alias, or a faux nom if you’re feeling fancy or . . . perhaps French. Thus, Students of the Murph, I dub thee . . . Robin. Ta-da. Now, those that know me may assume (which is always a mistake if you wish to avoid the title of ‘ass’ for both you and me) that I choose this appellation due to my obsession with Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, but you, Sir, could not be more wrong. As a matter of fact, Robin serves as the perfect androgynous nom de plume for a school of either boys or girls. Or both! I could teach at either private or public. You never know, because it’s a mystery. I am totally relishing your confusion right now.
So this particular incident occurred the other day during an exam review session after school. Many teachers volunteer their time to review the final test and acclimate their students to information long buried by snow days, proms and the promise of summer.
The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic. Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities. We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading
Mostly it’s the zombies I miss. Running, snarling through the streets of my subconscious, consuming the brains of family and friends through apocalyptic landscapes. After finding myself cornered by a mob of the undead, I would wake in a cold sweat, scanning my body for tell-tale bite marks before rushing to my computer to write it all down. Other dreams would erupt from time to time: dragon-chasing, infiltrating government lab, saving citizens with Batman and Robin. All would lead to different story; a different morning spent drinking coffee and writing. I miss the free time, the absence of anxiety, the stories. But mostly I miss the zombies. Continue reading