Some days you’re the dead mouse that’s been flopped back and forth until your eyes bulge out and your insides are jelly.
Today was my second AP Saturday, and, for an extra bit of spice, I brought the little ones… Mate was tied up seeing a friend about a horse (yes, really–not that we’d actually own a horse, but my friend Wendy does, and there was some brouhaha about a trainer and a bill and a $10,000 horse being sold to cover a $250 check…it’s convoluted, as Wendy’s life gets, but she wanted muscle, and got Mate instead. Mate will be good at this though–he has an innate ability to calm people down and make them deal reasonably. It sort of explains how he’s lived with me for twenty years.) However, as much fun as HE may have had, Bryar and I were chasing small children around Round Table while I explained the complexities of the interpretive novel essay to a group of amused but game high school Seniors scarfing pizza. We had a good time, ultimately, and I feel good about the kids going into the test. I wish more had taken it, but the time I should have been pushing them was the time when the weirdness was going on, and I have a small, inexpressible hard kernel of anger in my gullet about how this one nightmare parent and her juggernaut of bad opinion and toxicity was allowed to poison students to the extent that they’d jeopardize their own futures by blowing off something as important as an AP exam, but the upshot is, that a few (14) dedicated souls will be taking the exam, and since I’m pretty sure all but one have a good chance of passing and most of those with a score of a 4 or above, I know that my last year teaching AP will be hard one to live up to. (For the record, the small private school we rival with, just got their first 5 last year–I was surprised at this, because I usually get about two a year.)
And that’s one of the things that’s gnawing at me…I knew going in this year that the head prickweenie was gunning to get me out of the AP program–why he wanted to do this, when, in a school whose regular test scores are so far below the state average this was one of the few places where we actually SURPASSED not just the state average but the national average, I have no idea. Wait. That’s not true. I HAD no idea. But I just had two enlightening conversations with some colleagues of mine, and the consensus (among us) seems to be that Head Prickweenie is simply not happy with those of us that HE DIDN’T HIRE. That’s me. Actually, I’ve got seniority in the entire department (but no MA–I dropped out of that program and wrote books instead.) And so, a few of us have adopted the “Fuck him and his head Prickweenie horse” attitude–and it’s working for me. In fact, I’m a lot happier than I have been–when you can narrow down the focus of your anger and say “fuck you and your head Prickweenie horse,” it is like throwing an emotionally charged firebolt at a dartboard picture or burning a prickweenie effigy… it’s very cathartic, to say the least. But the thing that’s gnawing at me is, talking to these students today–I made a difference with them. I have letters from a host of Advanced Placement students that tell me that I made a difference with them too. I just worry that I won’t get that kind of praise feedback again, that’s all. I seem to be an emotionally fragile creature and in order to do some of the things I do, I need props. I need amazon.com reviews from my readers, sugar kisses from my babies, hugs from my middle-schoolers and “Thanx mizz macs” from my students, and quite frankly (and I’ve heard this from other teachers) this year’s sophomores and juniors wouldn’t thank they guy who dragged them from a burning building, they’d curse at him for scuffing their shoes. How am I going to make it in my self-publishing wasteland when the pool of that sustained my fragile little teaching ego dries up?
Forget I asked. I’m wallowing. I’m wallowing in depression about my horrible Sophomores, my doomed (if amusing) Juniors, and the fact that Prickweenie thinks I’m too cool to teach Seniors. I’m wallowing because I have two agents that haven’t gotten back to me and one that’s sent me the most impersonal rejection I think it’s impossible to get. “I’m sorry I can’t give you better feedback but due the the fact that we’re a huge company and I have too much to do, I can just tell you you’re not what we’re looking for.” That’s actually a nice paraphrase, really.
And what I really need to do is woman up, take a walk, rub some dirt on it, and come back and write. Because BITTER MOON may be the best thing I’ve ever written. In fact EVERY next thing may be the best thing I’ve ever written, and they weren’t joking when they said that it’s 90% persperiation, because grabbing your ovaries in both hands and giving a giant psychic HEAVE is sometimes the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And sometimes, getting up in the morning and facing those indifferent faces and the constant talking pulls ahead in the pain race, just a smidge. Either way, I’m working on my thickened estrogen skin, because it looks like, on both fronts, I’m going to need it.
I’m not the cat today, but I’ll be one tough-assed mouse if I have to.