Tuesday, June 26, 2012

so i'm packing, as they say, getting ready to move to texas in about a month, and in between classes i sometimes stare at my computer, or reach out to papers or books or shelves where things need to be pulled off and sorted. whole files of one particular class might go down all at once, like a file full of writing lessons going back eighteen years, nevertheless haven't used them recently and probably won't. a whole class in the recycle bin. soon comes all the little grading sheets with every single student's name on it. should i keep those? they are full of little numbers and grades for every different activity. i might actually need the names. below you see pictures of places i go; these days i whip out my phone and just take pictures of everything. i'm finding various ways of playing with it when i get home and i haven't even scratched the surface of free apps that my son showed me one day. he's ten and sometimes mumbles about how he lost his data (sounds like dadda), and i remind him he's lucky he didn't lose his daddy. the other one tears around like a maniac on a sugar campaign. my wife has saved another kitty; we're up to four and she readily admits two was our limit. so out there at castle park you see the shrine, first picture below, the father makes it to his son after constructing an entire park in his honor. his son was like sixteen when he got into an accident and slipped from our fingers right near that spot. fathers will always wonder what they did or to be more exact, what they could have done differently. it's possible a kid could have driven too fast with no possible influence from his father whatsoever. but it doesn't matter. the father will wonder forever, build him a park, construct a shrine, get people to erect fantasy statues. at the beach we watch the turtle lazily crossing the buoy line into the people area; then he gets a little look on his face and dives under this time disappearing. the question is really whether he recognizes "people area" and "turtle area" as most of us people do. he is not really interested in biting the people, they don't taste any better than a beach ball, i imagine. he sure gives us a look though. the grass is dry and crackly; the water is still cool; days are clear and hot, too dry already. local fire chief, about a year ago this huge opera house burnt to the ground right downtown in his little town. worst thing was, his son was standing by the main wall when it collapsed and killed him. the father has spent the year developing training programs so that all firemen know when a wall will collapse; the title of these programs has something to do with reading walls; this appeals to me because i am all about reading other stuff, like reading turtles, or reading clouds, but it never occurred to me to read walls. and it occurred to me how many times a day he'd wish he'd taught his son how to read that wall. i can't imagine living with that kind of pain. he is however at least making this world better, by his actions. it shall not be in vain, he figures. this kid is in my office; he has gotten to my level somehow, without anywhere close to the skills to succeed. he really needs to pass, he says. his scholarship will run out; his time is limited. somehow he waited too long to actually learn how to read. some of my students remind me: i'm leaving, i could give them any grade, why does it matter to me. it matters because i don't give people like this a good grade, i just don't. it's a tragedy, though; he's somebody's son, he's a kid, i might in fact be ruining his life or his hope to get where he wants, in the u.s. educational battlefield. my frustration slips out; he has caught me between classes, and now i'm late. not that it matters; i'm leaving. i'm on my last round of classes. i'll be glad to get away from this kind of weight. how did he get here? why is this my problem? i like the guy. but there's not much i can do, it seems. moving him along sure won't solve the problem. at the beach a kid asks me about my favorite animal and i say turtles of course, but that's partly, i realize, because that turtle is right there virtually in earshot. frogs are ok too, we decide, and there are all these other ones i haven't even considered. some kids with a net try to scare these tiny fish into the net, over by the buoys, and some little girl calls that corner over by the turtle area, devil's corner. what makes it that, i wonder, when it's cool at the bottom where it slips into the turtle area, and two lines of buoys come together. the lake is the lake, there isn't that much special about any given part of it at all, maybe. it's all in the mind though. you could be swimming along, head a little above water, and along comes the turtle and pops his head up and looks right at you. that turtle comes straight from the pleistocene, in that he hasn't changed much, unlike us people, who moved right on through the agricultural era into industrial and whence into info from which i now speak to you. and what does the turtle know about all this? maybe one reason he pops his head up is, he figures, those people are up to something, and darned if i'll ever find out what the heck it is.

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