Today is the first day I've been happy enough this week to blog. That seems incongruous to me, too, as I definitely know that I often whine on this here slab of internet. But it was getting kind of old writing the same post over and over again, so I decided just not to write it. In fact, I didn't do much on the Internet at all the last few days, unless you count watching baseball games on MLBTV (and I don't, since I'm not even at the computer for them). It's nice to get away sometimes. E-mails are backed up and blogs unvisited for a few days.
Today, I feel good. At this moment, I do, at least. We played a good game tonight against a great team. We still lost, unfortunately, but playing well made me feel good. The rest of this snap-back-to-reality week has been woeful though. All I could think about the last two days was leaving this city and getting a fresh start somewhere. I've thought about leaving Baltimore before, but it seems palpable right now. Or, at least it did until tonight, and now tonight Baltimore feels right again. I'm feeling a lot of dissonance about the place right now. I went through a stage like this in October, and then I started having a great year, but now April has reared its ugly head. Maybe two bad months in a year are a sign. I dunno.
It's stress. After I sent the kids on the Outward Bound trip, which it looks like I'll be paying for out of pocket unless the kids can come up with another $30 each because the funding I thought I had secured has fallen through, I was asked how I was feeling. "I'm not feeling stressed. Right now." I didn't mean to emphasize the right now, but I did, and she picked up on it. Stress keeps finding me this months and not letting go.
See, I'm not someone who usually feels stress. I mean, sure, I feel it, but I consider myself as cool and calm as a cucumber. I let stuff roll off my back and just soldier through. That's one of the characteristics about myself that I like, that I can get sued for ten grand and just go into court representing myself with the faith that the truth will win. That I can get a rare eye condition (well, rare for 26-year olds) that require back-to-back emergency surgeries on them and suffer some permanent vision loss, but only miss three days of school. I just freaking throw on some shades and come in and teach.
But whatever it is I'm going through right now, I'm having a hard time shaking it off. I'm trying to put a finger on it, and I think I'm coming up with a picture:
1. The conflict I had at school with administration, despite being pretty much over, has left me weary and upset. I have never handled conflict that well and tend to avoid it whenever possible. This has served me well on occasion, and this experience reminded me that avoiding conflict is sometimes the best option to take. Conflict sucks. Particularly conflict with people who are your bosses, and particularly when I have done nothing wrong and am being made into a scapegoat. I say they can't really do anything to me, and they can't, say, outright fire me. But they can do other stuff. There's nothing in my contract that guarantees a classroom, for example. There's nothing in my contract that guarantees a minimal amount of preps. There's nothing that guarantees, heck, a parking spot. They could really fuck me over if they want to.
2. I don't like people not liking me. Without sounding too much like Willy Loman, I like to be liked. I'm a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guy, and usually people appreciate that. It's not being appreciated now. Not only has my job been threatened, but I'm being openly criticized by siblings and parents at baseball games. It sucks. For some reason, a friend sitting in the stands felt the need to tell me what they have been saying about me, and it's still wearing on my mind. Now some things make sense.
3. I'm not being that great of a coach this year. For some reason, something with the team isn't clicking. It's not just the losses - we're now 3-5 - because we've actually played the game very well the last two matchups against the best teams in the city. Today, we just lost to an undefeated team - but we had them up all game and only lost on a bloop single in the last inning. That happens. It sucks, but it happens. But things seem askew with the team. I've let some behavior get away from me, things like tardiness and carrying equipment. I'm trying to get my reins on these things, but the season seems to have started on a bad note on the day of the incident, and it hasn't quite come back yet. And because we're not winning (we just lost our 5th game, and we lost only 5 games all of last year), I think my coaching job might be on the line.
Teaching is still going fine. I go into the classroom and just coach the kids along with Romeo and Juliet. They love it, I love it. We read it, we discuss it, we write about it, we complete grammar activities using sentences from it. Today, we went outside and acted out Act III, Scene 1 on the grass in the beautiful weather. I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, I just got to spend a half hour in the sun on some fresh cut grass, acting out Shakespeare with a group of bright, excited 14-year old kids in the middle of Baltimore City." It made me want to pinch myself. So I still have some great moments. It's all the other shit that I'm tiring of, and that other shit's stench seems to be hanging on me wherever I go lately.
Tonight, I have to write five vignettes in the style of Sandra Cisneros because I decided it would be noble of me to complete the assignment that I gave my kids. A pastiche of House on Mango Street. I've already got writer's block.
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