Tuesday, June 12, 2012

today there was another gas leak caused by the construction guys who are digging up in front of our building, and pouring concrete in a rounded wall where there will be a flower garden. they have ruptured a gas main twice and later this afternoon the power went off; it's possible they did that too. i'm not so mad at them; if i were out there jackhammering I'm sure i'd rupture a gas main too. unfortunately I had to teach anyway. some people claimed they could even smell it. i've become sentimental in the last days of my working here as i've been emptying out whole file cabinets, shelves of books, old pictures, etc. and can only do it when i have time, after i've finished preparing my classes but before i actually teach them from 12:40 to 4:45 every day. it's really a grind and always has been, but it's given me a lifetime of memories and stories, close friends, people who admire me from afar. today for example i leaned back, took two pop art photo-booth photos of myself in my own unruly office, and posted them. "likes" poured in from around the world. it was a moment, frozen in time, looking at myself in what is left of my office, even as i tear it apart. i'll put that picture here as soon as i can. i've been somewhat frustrated in the photo department. supposedly google closed picnik so that it could get us all on google plus to use what they had there. ok so i went there, but they no longer have posterize, my favorite function. so there's this free app, you can do it on your own camera, maybe i'll try that. but the camera has been taking very low-quality photos it seems, maybe i don't know how to focus it. i'm such a rube. other friends instagram stuff left and right. i however can't seem to download a single free app without crashing the phone. i've taken to saying that the workers, rather than spending thousands beautifying or focusing on the appearance while teachers aren't being paid, are actually making a skateboard arena where skateboarders can go in circles above the flowers, jumping up and down on the new concrete wall. in this vision the university works with the eternal skateboarders to find the ideal thing for them to ruin, the best concrete corner for them to wear down, the most beautiful site and venue for them to practice their skills. in return they stop menacing people who walk in the breezeway and don't want to be laid upon. in other words everyone works together to make the perfect venue for everyone. but in truth i doubt this will ever happen; instead somebody will get very upset with the skaters as we can only guess, start jumping up there and trying out the new flower bed. i remember my little walk across campus when there were beautifying worker-guys all over the place, and i passed up the chance to scrawl my name in the fresh concrete. in a sense, eighteen years of hard teaching, and i'm still totally quiet. i walk by them, and say hello, and i'm glad i'm not straining my back out there in the southern illinois summer. my office, half torn apart, is comfortable, even when, as they did today, they turn off the aircon to avoid poisoning us. down in our classroom, which is a kind of technological cave, with a beautiful projector and wireless-mouse computer, and a small thin table, the lights went off and stayed off for maybe ten minutes. it was enough for me to cancel class; my students were holding up their phones to see each other. i tried to finish business and gave up. in some of the nearby rooms they were holding class, because they had some daylight to work with, having windows. i had an excuse, and used it to let them go. i'm beginning to let go, myself, toward the end of my last classes. i've always worked hard; i've had them work hard; there's a fever pitch of homework and exercises flying by as i grade whole stacks late at night and try to assign more in the day; it's only that window at lunch hour these days (when i used to swim) that i take a breath, get a cup of coffee, look around, pop art myself maybe, try to grab a piece of what i'm living every day, quick before it's gone. i'll miss it, no doubt about it. texas will be a new and different place, with a new and different routine, hopefully.

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