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Sunday
Apr182010

Finally Understanding Prufrock

 

For I have known them all already, known them all:—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

 

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

 

Hi Adria,

Here it is another Sunday and I’m just now finding time to write. That’s actually a false statement because I have two stacks of exams waiting to be corrected, and I am snubbing them like errant students. I’m almost thankful that it’s cold and cloudy out so I don’t get the urge to be puttering around and actually enjoying myself in the garden. Ah, but here comes the sun.

I have completed the second part of the ‘deed’ and mailed my letter of resignation to the school board. First, one notifies the Teachers’ Pension Plan and secondly, one notifies his/her employer and they notify the principal. I wanted to hold off on this for as long as possible because once the principal knows, word will spread quickly. I did tell him and a few of my closest associates that I want to ’go quietly’ meaning no parties, no celebrations, no gifts. I have always shied away from such events and I do wonder why. Is it just shyness and fear of being uncomfortable? A nun once told me that I suffered from the Sin of Pride. Somehow I was proud of that at the time, thinking that it was better than the Sin of Sloth, or god forbid, the Sin of Lust. Soon there will be the onslaught of questions about what I’ll do next and who my replacement will be. When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall ... the word, retiring, will come up over and over again, and I’ll be just another old teacher freeing up a spot for the bevy of newly hired females being groomed for the top spots. The principal is in his thirties and when he smiles at these twenty-something girls, they smile back and when he says, I need someone to do this or that, their hands go up immediately, I’ll do it. Granted they are all seeking permanent employment. And yes, they are all good looking.

So this brings me to Chloe. In reviewing the movie in my mind, although I know we did touch upon this in our discussion, there was not one ordinary, let alone homely looking person in it. The doctor’s patients were all pretty, the doctor’s friends were all good looking, the doctor’s secretary was attractive, as well as, all the women at the recitals, restaurants and clubs. Of course, the doctor’s husband’s students were all stunning. Thinking about it now, I would consider it somewhat of a porno flick and there was a level of discomfort. If Atom Egoyan was trying to explain one facet of aging and fidelity, especially to his female audience, I think he failed. There were no new insights or revelations. But to be fair, what new insights could there possibly be on this subject? Ironically, I’m sure men love the film: hell who cares about insight when you have all these shots of tits.
 
The new and last quad of the year (and my career) starts tomorrow. 52 days left. The usual tension is building up in me as Monday looms near. The starting over again with two new sets of students is stressful. We do this four times a year at Franklin. While I should be rejoicing, I seem to be more anxious than ever. I think it’s all this retirement stuff: the paper work, the decisions for the future, the wrapping up. So I tell myself to take deep breaths and count backwards from 52.  

 I hope you were able to get some relief from the arthritis.  Did you clean more closets?  Have you started working on the assignment for tomorrow?
 
 Brutal-Movie-Reviewer Sarah

 

P.S. Quoting from Prufrock reminded me of an incident at one of my first schools, here in Toronto. I recorded it in my journal, but strangely, I used my name (3rd person) instead of 1st person. I guess I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be fiction or memoir or creative non-fiction. Anyhow I’d have to change that if I want it to be memoir. Here is a very short excerpt as it is. 

 

Sarah escaped up the back staircase, running right into Father Kumar, the School Chaplain. 

  “So?  AlittletroubleSarah?”  Father asked, in his usual rapid-fire style. 

“It seems I’ve been in trouble in school for most of my life,” she answered, staring at the greasy ring around his Roman collar. 

“The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,” said Father in his other voice, the one reserved for poetry, the one that did not seem entirely his own.  It was a slow, melodious singsong Indian voice. 

“When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,” Sarah offered. 

“Then how,“ Father was ready with all the lines.  If it took all day to save one soul from perdition, he had the time. All he had to do was access his selectively sharp memory, the one that forgot appointments and papers, but remembered at least ten jokes for every occasion and numerous lengthy poems.  He specialized in T.S. Eliot.  Sarah had tested him on Prufrock and Father had recited, the whole thing, not making a single error.  Sometimes he would even recite Dante’s introduction in Italian.  S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse.  A persona che mai…. 

“How does a Goan priest know Italian?” she asked.  “That’salongstory,” he had

answered.  Then with great zeal he had launched into the tale, but Sarah excused herself, as on that day, a student had been waiting for her for private tutoring.  And following that, Sarah, unlike Father Kumar, had a class of thirty-five edgy teenagers waiting for her.  “I have to go,” she said. “Sorry Father.” 

Father put his hand on her arm.  

“Consider going seriously, Sarah, even though you’ve been here such a short time and are doing a great job.”  He took a step closer to her, and Sarah could smell traces of garlic on his breath.  “Being here, may not suit your karma,” he whispered, laughing.  “Not a word to use lightly in a Catholic milieu.” 

 

 

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