Monday, October 13, 2014

Night school

Carlos collapses in his desk exhausted. Bruised from confronting a male security guard for frisking a female student inappropriately. The only adults in the school are guards and janitors.

Reaching into his bag, Carlos pulls out his goggles so he can see the teacher. She appears in the front of the classroom and waves to him as he's automatically counted present.

Ms. Starbuck is a telework teacher. She worked from home, as all public school teachers do. This was the technical solution for the school system's budgetary shortfall. Only private schools have teachers in house, private schools and colleges.

She teaching a class on business ethics. Carlos doesn't understand how this will get him a job like his classmates, all of whom work. This is a night high school.

"Did everyone message me your homework last night? Let's see... Andrea, you and Carlos are the only missing assignments..." Starbuck turns floating pages in front of her swiping her finger in front of the her goggles.

Andrea, repositions her baby on her lap, so she can finger swap to find that missing assignment. She couldn't afford a babysitter tonight, so she brought the three month old with her to night school.

Ms. Starbuck continues teaching about the nobility of management, how companies are architecting a better society and jobs are citizenship...

Whack! whack! whack! A security guard bangs on the classroom doorframe. "Lunch time shit-heads! Sorry 'Buck, they'll be back in twenty minutes." The guard dons a helmet and visor, he see the teacher floating there, grimacing at him.

The students file into the hallway and are marched to the cafeteria. It's a cold, rectangular room, with metal tables and built in benches. Kids smoke in one corner. Andrea tries to breast feed her baby in another corner, her back to the lusty eyes of the guard. "Hey Andrea, you be sure to save me some. Don't want the baby get'n too fat!"

"Fuck you!" She responds. Carlos mumbles something below his breath.

While the students are on their lunch break, Starbuck reviews last nights home assignments. She has to give them multiple choice and true false assignments for ease of grading. She knows they're being cheated out an education, but what can one teacher do? The whole educational system is designed to produce fast food workers.

Starbuck sees students return to the classroom. One of them is bleeding from his forehead.

"Carlos, what happened to you?"

"He fell." Said the guard, wiping off his billy club. "Now go on and teach Starbuck, for all the good it'll do. I'll see'm on my day job at the prison sooner enough."

Carlos can only half of the teacher now, there's crack in his goggles. Andrea approaches him, once the guard walks away. "Por favor tomar mis gafas. I have to burp the baby."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Brothers talking

There were smoke signals on my phone. A brother, who became a chief, reached out to me from over the hill. He had heard about my troubles.

We talked over an electronic fire. He told me, we're connected by strings and when one person falls, all feel the pull. I said, I was still falling and was divining the reasons why.

"We've been telling you for months, the sparrow and I. You don't dream, you daydream. You could become a chief, if you would but apply yourself." No anger in the chief's voice, just empathy.

He told me stories of his battles, some won, others were lessons. Reminded me of a few battles we fought together. As he talked, I noticed by the light of the fire, silhouettes of disappointment perching on tree branches all around us.

"You gave me every opportunity to succeed in that role." I said, "The missteps were mine. The poor choices were mine, the wisdom to be gleaned is mine also. "

Are you sure you can't stay?

"The tribal elders have set their faces against it. I will go. I will go into the desert and become a medicine man."

Medicine? How will you feed yourself and your family?

"I don't know, but others have done it, so can I."

How will you make this transition?

"With as little pain as possible, I hope."

Just understand brother, you still have the heart of a chief, if you would just apply yourself. Don't give up, if not in this tribe, perhaps another. The fire burned out and I was alone with his words.

Putting those words in my satchel, I rose and faced the desert. If I could take this chief heart's into my medicine journey, it would be worth all the pain. I walked toward the horizon with a cautious smile.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lunch at the Sculpture Garden

Sometimes guys have codenamed for girls. I had lunch with Sculpture the other day. She is truly wine, sweet, a little acerbic and worth every sip. We are both dreamers and dreams and politics are all we talk about.

That’s why I never connected with her. She shares things around herself, but not her, in an essential manner. Maybe she’s trying to see if I’m worthy.

Every wine has pain in its past. She shares very little of that, which is all of her. Her pain, her adventures and joys. I guess I’m looking in a mirror, I don’t share that stuff either. I all want is to do sip and pain isn’t polite dinner conversation.

Sculpture is a few steps closer to the sun. Her figure is young, so are her ideas. She’s one of the few glasses that sing when I pluck it. I’m not aggressive because I’m unsure of myself, not my intentions, they very clear. Don’t know if she wants my lips all around her. Does she want to spill herself all over me?

Then there is her mind. We could talk about the world that is and the world that wants to be. Its just so much sweat, so much delayed gratification involved. Are we, our generation, equal to the task? Should I build house or a boat with so much blood on the horizon?

Our suns are nights and days, our personal hells and heavens. Our hands still have their scent, every success and every failure some how qualifies everything we do. There are no saviors, just nails and judges. Everyone that has risen up, is hammered down or incarcerated. There are flowers in the concrete... maybe the city is the problem.

I will have Sculpture soon. Hope she’ll enjoy it as much as she does in my day-dreams. Hope her sun will over come all the demons of the underworld, hope he learns that Set has a purpose.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Web, cords and strings

The apartment I stay in looks like my mind, cluttered and unfinished. I step over litter. This litter is connected by cords to my brain. I get caught in these intersecting lines, making hard to finish uninteresting tasks.

There's the upright futon I sleep in, half covered by a blanket. At night, my whole night universe is under my pillow. The other place, of noise, cars, jobs and women makes no sense to me. The night never lasts long enough. I'm forever unfinished, like my apartment.

It takes ages for me to get up and dressed. Don't want to go out in the maelstrom. Call it what ever you want, but I'm a citizen of the maladjusted and I'll always reminded of that by some authority figure.

My most precious things are in my messenger bag. It carries books where I trace the shadow of memories. Words are just shadows. I trace them in my note books. Memories like what characters tell me as I write in a story or when kiss my children's hands or watching a lover touch this body I carry around. These shadows scribbled in notebooks or on my iPad have strings too. My whole life is a web that I'm constantly mending.