Thursday, September 05, 2002

My god, my god, my god. Nothing really prepares you for the first day of school. My school is amazing, the administration is totally committed to us, I've had Uzbekistan training and NY training. Yet I am so exhausted that I'm making noises like my dad as I sit down. My brain is only handling lower functions, my voice is sore, and I now know why old ladies get those varicose thingies. Hell, I know why a lot of teachers smoke.

It will get better, I know this. I'll learn my 100 kids' names, we'll establish a routine, we'll have books. The temperatures will drop, I will stop looking red, I will not develop the rank sweat of a fear-filled herbivore after being chased days by wolves. I will be able to turn a bold roguish child into a quivering heap of juvenile goo with one stare. I just have to make it through tomorrow, and then all the teachers from my school will descend on some happy hour.

Monday, September 02, 2002

It is now obvious to me that most problems in life can be solved by riding around on a scooter. Frank, the master of all cool things in DC, owns two of them. Sunday afternoon and evening were spent breathlessly flying about DC suburbia. I just felt so cool! I wanted to copy Eddie Izzard discussing the Italians, looking swank and saying ‘ciao’ to everyone. My father would probably criticize the automatic transmission, the underpowered and noisy engine, and the flimsiness of construction. I just had a blast.

It’s the urban version of riding my motorcycles in the mountains of New Mexico. I miss those times, the forest trees blurring past the boundaries of my vision, huge meadows swooping into view, the little stomach lurches of jumping rapidly over the cattle guards. Being exposed like that, relying on my unreliable sense of balance, it gives me a rush. I have so many fond memories of going with friends into insanely stupid locations, feeling immortal and crazy.

Frank and I were running around the urban forests, intrepid adventurers with shiny helmets and shrill beeping horns. All I needed was some scarf or something flying out behind me. We showed up to a great barbeque party thrown by some of his friends, listened to amazing music, jumped back on the scooters as the sun set, drank more alcohol, relieved ourselves on the grounds of the Masonic temple. My sense of motorcycle balance improves with alcohol, as does my dancing. I’m less conscious of my body, which dramatically improves my ease of movement. For all the kidsters out there, I don't recommend drinking and driving, but some wine definitely improves a 2am scooter ride.

Jim and I went to go see 24 Hour Party People, the new film about some amazing people that had the peculiar privilege of being in Manchester when punk erupted on the scene. The narrator shows how these 42 people watching the Sex Pistols for the first time ended up changing everything around them. I feel the same way whenever I’m with my friends, wondering how I’ll look back on some casual lunch and think “THAT was when it all started.”

I’m writing this on the bus just as I’m approaching NYC. Tomorrow I start teaching at my school, my life changes yet again. That movie made me wonder about how circumstances and events connect. I see the skyline that everyone knows changed nearly a year ago. Even the bad things in life start new things. When I destroyed my knee in Uzbekistan, I had no idea that it would start a chain of events leading me to this bus, this view of an improbably magical skyline appearing out of the mist, my teaching kids, connections and coincidences and conundrums. Am I going to succeed? Am I going to fail in such a spectacular manner that I’ll be the prime example of disastrous teaching to scores of future teachers? Who knows? I'll have fun one way or the other.