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Monday
May242010

Of Gardens and Gospels/ Tears and Tantrums

Greetings Friend,

I guess I could ask the same thing. Where have I been since I last made contact? (Other than our brief telephone chats).

Yes, you should see a doctor if you still feel sick on Tuesday. But it does take two to three weeks to get over this. Flu? Virus? Not sure what it is. It will be two weeks for me on Tuesday and although I am much better, my head still does not feel right and everything still seems to require more energy than I have to spare. The most annoying part is that May is such a special time of year to be wide awake and focused, but fighting off allergies and a flu left me soporific much of the time. Now that I’m ready to get back into action, I need to attack all areas of my life (note the battle motif): mental, physical and spiritual.  

I did get to finish the front garden on Saturday – as much as I wanted to get done. Usually I do both for several consecutive hours on this May 24 weekend, but this time I felt secretly happy to see the rain so that I could put off the back garden. I’m finally admitting that while I like gardening, I dislike planting. So what kind of gardener does that make me?

Well what a class I missed! Eddy did write also and it’s interesting to hear a male’s take on the evening. Again he seems so restrained or maybe he’s just so detached or even unobservant, opaque, dense, obscure. I’m being plain mean. Actually, I like the fact that he doesn’t wallow in gossip. He is just not a detail man, I guess, and he is not a note-taker. 

You, on the other hand, are a Writer, an Observer, a Storyteller and Super Note-Taker. I’m sure you have the name of every story mentioned that evening and all the sex-related details and innuendoes. So what was the point of her lesson? Of mentioning all the gay-prize-winning-writers? Was there a theme to the lesson? A raison d’être? Or just shock value? Sensationalism?

Go Sherry Go!  It’s amazing how we are revolted, yet excited, by such outbursts (unless you are on the receiving end), a modern day catharsis, a mini-Greek tragedy in a Monday Night Writing Class in Toronto. Tears and tantrums and no control. I see it in students every day. Do you think that all this acting out will make them better adjusted adults than we are?  

If people aren’t showing up, it may have to do with several factors, including erratic behaviour in class, rather than non-commitment. Drama is not what people pay for, and while you seem forgiving of F’s excesses, I think others simply want to learn how to write without having to worry about someone else’s issues. Being aware of the audience, and their sensitivities, at all times, is one of the hardest tasks teachers face. 

On a more personal note, school is tragic in so many ways. And according to the administration, it seems that I’m already gone. The body is already cold. And this is a Catholic system, where, I repeat, the mission statement includes Living the Gospel.

Has the VP Witch-Bitch ever said congratulations or what are your plans? NO! Although she usually pays little attention to individuals on staff, unless she’s hounding us, she now makes a point of totally ignoring the teachers who are leaving. One person returned from sick leave (surgery) on Friday and was prepping her classes when Miss WB went in to see her. Did she say, how are you? Good to have you back. Just relax and do your work. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to help in future. NO! Instead she told her that she had to go on the Fieldtrip to Centre Island - pronto. The teacher refused. She then ordered her to help with the cleanup in the cafeteria after the kids had left it in a mess. The teacher said, no. So we all know what’s coming, Good Old-Fashioned Catholic Vengeance. Miss WB will banish this teacher to a campus miles away, where she will inherit a series of courses she has never taught before. Miss Witch Bitch’s take on Living the Gospel is by way of Visiting Hell. 

I am also hearing about back room politics, which make my skin crawl, but at the same time I have to keep some distance, some calm, so I don’t leave on a total downer. Why would I want a general farewell gift/speech from the administration? Just let me go in peace. (Note again the funereal motif.)

I told you I have to revamp every area of my life, starting NOW. Hopefully, as soon as I get out into the garden, and see my neighbour’s latest crop of poppies and my clematis about to bloom, things will fall into place in the grand scheme. With the help of Mother Nature, I will be functioning on a higher plane soon.

Since there is no class this evening, maybe we can meet during the week. But first, let’s see how you’re feeling. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sarah

How is it that memories and experiences of Catholic schools from the time of my youth until now cause me such Disillusionment? Tears? Tantrums? And swear words? Check out this piece that I want to bring to class, some day. Still using 3rd person.

 

On this first morning of her last year of high school Sarah raced along the corridor, holding a pile of artwork she had completed over the summer. 

“Sarah, stop running,” commanded Sister Isabella, who, as usual, had appeared out of nowhere, on soft, silent-soled shoes.  “Won’t you ever change?” 

I hope not, thought Sarah.  “I’m looking for Sister Leonard.” 

Sighing, Sister Isabella grasped the large, silver cross resting on her black chest. It seemed to Sarah that if Jesus were not already dead, he would be after that crushing squeeze. 

     “She has gone somewhere else.”

“Where?”

“Don’t be so impertinent, Sarah.  It is none of your business.”

“She’s supposed to be here.” 

“Oh, is she now?”

“She’s to be my homeroom teacher,” mumbled Sarah, disappointment already rising in her.  “Could I at least have her address?”  

Without warning Sister Isabella walked into the closest class, the art room.  The sun was streaming in the open windows, hitting Sister’s black, flowing robe and black pointed headpiece.  Sarah followed the dark figure into the bright room still vaguely uncomfortable whenever she was alone with her. 

“You certainly may not.”

“But we’re friends.”

“What Sister Leonard needs is more faith and less friends.  Now go to class,” said Sister, her white-knuckled grip on the cross. 

Sarah, eyes fixed and challenging, stared at the old nun.  The merciless sun illuminated Sister’s hideous, flat face, squashed over the years, by the brutal headpiece. 

“Sarah, go to class,” Sister repeated. 

This should have been her last day instead of her first.  Maybe, then, she would have been brave enough to smack the cross out of the nun’s bony stronghold. 

“ Go.  To.  Class.”

Sarah swung around to leave, her back to the dark figure. 

“Bitch.”   For a long second, Sarah wondered if she had said it aloud or only thought it.  Either way she waited for the full weight of he Body of Christ to come down on her head. 

“NOW. Sarah.”  

Hurrying out of the room, Sarah kept her shoulders hunched against the anticipated blow from the Body of Christ.  She banged the door so hard that the small window rattled.   

 

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