Saturday, December 27, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
So I'm in an odd situation, running back and forth between coasts. I'm relying on reruns to keep the blog rolling, and so, here goes an old standard, a tale of rodents and death and pants...
I fell in love with brushed-cotton pants in college. Let me say right off the bat, I am not a ‘clothes’ person. Those who know me will attest to this fact. I am happy to wear the same T-shirt for days, even weeks in a row, providing no telling stains occur (wasn’t that spaghetti sauce there last Thursday?). I also feel the need, being as I’m bearing my wardrobe soul, that I am not a disgusting slob. I bathe two, sometimes three times a day. I even wash behind my ears occasionally. It’s just that I’ve worked out this system of organization that requires a knowledge of :
A) Where my pants are, and
B) What they contain AT ALL TIMES(i.e. keys, wallet, breath freshener, pencil eraser, quarters for laundry, pennies for fountains, get-out-of-jail-free card, etc., etc.)
This is a serious commitment. I know few people that have the kind of bond that I do with my pants. I have even bought equipment to accentuate my pant habit. I have a pant key-ring, a pant belt, even a specific pant hook, where I hang my pants everyday. I can’t go to sleep at night unless I know that my pants for the ‘morrow are prepared for what the good lord sees fit to send my way. I keep my lunch in my pants, a wilderness survival kit in my pants, and an extra pair of pants in my pants.
I was not always this concerned about my trousers. I used to have less responsibilities, less commitments, less keys, and, in general, less experience in life, not knowing that is always prudent to be prepared, and that, to be prepared for life, you must have all your necessary accessories and accoutrements firmly secured to your pants. I had procured the brushed cotton pants I was wearing the day of the Incident at my catering job in college. We often left out clothes at work, and just changed when we got there. Eventually, because of rampant pant-theft, we moved over to a systematic-pant placement system. One guy, about 6 inches taller and 10 inches wider than me had left his pants there some weeks ago, and then decided the food service industry wasn’t doing it for him. These were the pre-pants system days, and so I was always on the lookout for a good pair. Granted, I had to roll up the cuffs several times and wear a belt, and I always felt slightly naked as the pants in question floated around my chicken legs in roughly the same proportions as the walls of the Carlsbad caverns around float around a spelunking cable, but they were quality trousers nonetheless, and, being a broke college student, who was I to say no to a posh pair of free pants? I kept them and wore them often. The fact that I wore them often is central to this story; however my affinity for pants is not. In essence, I told you that story so that I could tell you this one.
I was wearing these very pants on the Day, a late afternoon in early April. I had an early schedule. Teachers are expected to do five classes a day, with three off-periods, one for planning, one for conferences, and one for lunch, although no one I know adheres to these guidelines. We have nine periods in the day, and I finished my last class seventh period. Meredith, another biology teacher, had the room for eighth period, so I usually left her to her devices and Xeroxed the materials I needed for the following day.
The copying room is one floor below me, on the mezzanine level. It’s called the mezzanine level because it is technically illegal to conduct class in the basement of a public school building. See, semantics are your friends! The science copy room is right next to Bruscato’s Grotto. Bruscotto is the AP English teacher and probably one of the most sarcastic people I’ve ever met. Her door is the last on the hallway, and she loves to make fun of me whenever I try and borrow a pencil or use the English department’s scantron machine. Considering the abuse she hurls at me, I’ve learned that it’s easier to just go back upstairs and borrow an eraser from someone who doesn’t delight in humiliating me. I’ll grant you, it is kind of funny, albeit mostly for her, and I usually just roll with it, but some days I just don’t want to deal, and this was one of them.
I unlocked the door to the copy room, let myself in, and let the door slam shut behind me. I wasn’t in there more than 10 seconds before I heard a frantic ‘blam blam blam!” on the window. It’s art deco glass, difficult to see through, but I could still identify Bruscotto’s silhouette. I figured she was bored and looking to antagonize me, so I ignored her.
“Shumit! Come on, you have to help me!”
She was panicked and something was amiss. I opened the door.
“ There’s a mouse in my room.”
She pronounced the word mouse with clenched teeth, sort of like a ventriloquist, but without any masking of lip motion.
“What do you want me to do about it?” I asked.
“Well, you’re the biology teacher.”
Notice how ‘biology teacher’ is used as a thin cover-up for ‘exterminator’. I guess the logic is, you work with animals, you must actually like them, right? Therefore I can ask you to pull some pied-piper maneuver and dance your fellow ‘people’ right out of my classroom. I think people assume that because you study the mechanics of existence that you have a ‘respect for all life’ and are willing to put ‘greasy little vermin’ in a cage and make some sort of ‘leaning situation’ out of it. I understand that some scientists choose a particular species and make a career out of studying them in minute detail, but we’re high school teachers. That’s like breeding mosquitoes; no fun and a dumb idea.
I went into her room and she pointed out the hole from whence the mouse had come, and its trajectory along the floor. The hole was cartoon-perfect: it was bored out through the baseboard, a Tom-and-Jerry half-circle, with gnaw-marks around the edge.
“Well, aren’t you gonna go get it?”, she said.
I think she expected me to pull out my “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” machine, the pocket version that all good biology teachers carry, grab a sharpened toothpick, now the size of a spear in my shrunken hands, and get in there and slay the evil dragon-mouse in it’s lair. I looked at her blankly. She blinked a few times. During this silent negotiation, the mouse chose to stick its furry little whiskers out of the hole, and Bruscotto saw it. She screamed and bolted out of the room, just like a 50’s sitcom.
Exit English teacher #1.
Lacking any better ideas, I grabbed a roll of masking tape from her desk and taped up the hole. I fished her out of the hallway and assured her that the mouse no longer had access to her room, or method of recourse. She begrudgingly accepted this, and I finished my copies and headed back up to my room, just as the kids were leaving for the day.
We liked to bitch and complain, Meredith and I, as we were new teachers feeling our way around the system. As we were in the same place at the same time, just after her last class, and as the room was void of children, we unofficially reserved this slot to do just that. She cleaned up detritus from her lab, and I organized my labs for the next day, all the while blowing off steam. It was a ritual, one that I had become accustomed to and fond of. We also parlayed with other teachers, and this day Faraj, another English teacher, came by. She wanted to borrow a video from me, an ocean documentary with Marlins in it, as she was teaching ‘the old man and the sea.”
Now at the time, I kept all my files and videos on the floor so that we had more counter space to do labs. I don’t do this anymore for reasons that will become painfully clear, but at this point in my career, there they were, so I hunkered down to my milk crate to try and find the item she was asking for. I was in the corner of the room, and my brushed cotton pants had relaxed the rolled up cuff that I had put in it at the beginning of the day, hitting the ground and just barely tucking itself under the sole of my shoe. While flipping through my files, I felt a disturbance in the force around my ankle, one with slightly furry undertones. It was a peculiar sensation, one of trespassing coupled with fuzzy cuteness. I probingly touched my ankle, over the top of my pants and I swear I felt the odd and singular sensation of a life form just underneath brushed cotton, yet pressed up against my stylish tube-socks. Despite the uniqueness of this sensation, I was unconvinced that the evidence could support an event so ludicrous. But given the data, I had to consider this as a possibility.
“Hey Guys?” I said. “I think I might have a mouse in my pants.”
It’s worrisome to watch people’s eyes bulge in disbelief, especially when you are the subject. I grabbed my pants just under the pleats, as if I was just about to curtsy to the queen, and started shaking them vigorously, while jumping and dancing around in circles, trying desperately to dislodge the potential mouse. Like quantum physics, it was still potential at this point- I didn’t have enough solid evidence to claim that the existence of the mouse was a plausible theorem, rather than merely hypothetical at this point. At any rate, it must have looked ridiculous, and the soundtrack was of me screaming “OK! OK! OK!” in a desperate attempt to placate my self, to convince myself that everything was OK, that I didn’t really have a rodent in my trousers, and that the image of my colleagues staring at me in wide-eyed incredulousness was only a bad dream that I would laugh about in the morning. The mouse didn’t fall out, I was still confused as to whether this was really happening, and then…
Everybody has had a visit from the plumber, the cable guy, any mechanical specialist that actually makes more money than an educator. Being self-employed, I guess you can wear what you want, but I guess the old stereotype is true. We’ve all spent some time in the kitchen with the fix-it man, and wondered why, given all the options, they would choose pants that exposed parts of their flesh that is considered taboo. I want you to do something for me. Take your hand right now, reach around to your backside, and gently place it at the top of this unnamed anatomical feature.
Now guess where I found the mouse.
As I can’t show my derriere at work, and you are familiar with my penchant for belts, gizmos, and securely fitted pants, the mouse was still below the boundaries of my waist, unreachable by conventional means. Now I had proof though, It was on, I surely was rodent-infected and my worst suspicions were confirmed, I think it was evident on my face, as both Meredith and Faraj’s eyelids peeled even further back into their skulls.
“OKOKOKOK!” I shouted. “I think I have to take off my pants!”
Exit English teacher #2.
Meredith stood by me, though. Well, near me. She stayed in the room, at any rate. I undid my belt, stripped off the pants, held them by the waist and shook. A little brown mouse tumbled out, rolling end over end on the tiled floor of the classroom. I think that when I reached back towards my backside, I must have, in my panic, hit the mouse pretty hard, because it was clearly wrecked; it’s ribcage smashed, only able to breathe in thin, painful sheets. It’s legs were clearly useless- after the momentum of the tumble, after gravity had settled it, it wasn’t going to skitter off anywhere. I would imagine that if my students were in the room that they would gingerly pick up the mouse with a spatula, gently place it in an aquarium lined with soft bedding, and place a nourishing carrot next to it, in the hopes that their effort would somehow inspire the little guy to find the strength to heal itself. Meredith and I both knew the truth, though. This mouse was going to die. It was unexpected, this kinship I suddenly felt for the mouse. We had shared a pair of pants, after all. This is considered grounds for marriage amongst your own species. We shared trauma, me and this creature, probably the most bonding event between two organisms. And, thinking about this, and my role as a professional biology guy, and the look that Meredith gave me, I knew what had to be done. I grabbed the thickest textbook I could find, held it parallel and aloft over the wheezing mouse, and released. I don’t know if it makes me a better, more sensitive human being, but I did at least flinch at the sound of the thump. I left my room, punched out in the main office, and let the maintenance staff know that there was a dead mouse underneath the textbook on the floor of the room, and went home.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This, admittedly, has nothing to do with Yoga, but it's so timely that I had to put it up. It was from my old teacher blog, about the day I inadvertently went jogging with Mr. Blagojevich...
I bike to work in the mornings, and I’m fond of stopping at different places to get breakfast. At the bakery the other morning, the woman in front of me asked me if I wanted to go ahead of me, as she was getting a slew of food, and I merely wanted the three-cheese bacon soufflé and a cup of earl grey, as I am wont to do. I recognized her, she was a parent of one of my students. I remembered her face, I think she may even be the parent of a student I have currently. I could picture her in my classroom, talking animatedly at parent/teacher conferences, but I couldn’t connect her with her kid, and, even stranger, I couldn’t recall the emotional direction of the conversation, only the timber. It was intense, but was it bad intense or good intense? Did she think I was a great teacher, or was she distraught at her kid’s performance? Even worse, did she blame me? I didn’t say anything.
This happens a lot. The first year I taught, on the south side, there wasn’t any real danger of running into any of my students, as it was a neighborhood school and I didn’t live there. I was a first-year teacher as well, so I just hadn’t accumulated a lot of former students. Things are different now, though. At the school I’m at, kids come from all quarters of the city, so really, nowhere is safe. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, too, which compounds things. Parents are even tougher, as, if you even meet them ever, it’s only once or twice a year.
Last summer, near the end when my mind was as far away from school as possible, I was dawdling in the Public Library near my house. A friend of mine had mentioned that he had never read The Phantom Tollbooth, and so I decided to get it for him. I headed over to the Young Adult section, and started perusing from the titles. From the librarians desk I hear, clearly directed at me,
“Wow, so are you looking for a good teen read?”
OK, it’s one thing for some chowder heads in pick-up truck to yell at me as I ride around town on my bike. It’s expected, no surprise. I wondered, though if I must’ve emblazoned a big fat “L” for loser on my forehead for the Children’s Librarian to feel compelled to take potshots at me. Of course, it was a parent, but it’s always momentarily surprising to be taken to task when my mind is elsewhere.
So today I went running. I have to say, I hate running, but I have recently been persuaded to run a duatholon, basically run/bike/run. I went with Roy, my housemate. He’s got a bum knee, so he only made it a mile or so before he had to stop and walk. I went ahead, hit the turn around point, and started back. I switched over to the asphalt, as I’m told it’s better for your legs. Another guy was jogging down the sidewalk, dressed in a black tracksuit. He was bobbing and weaving, but without the grace of a prizefighter. He was gesticulating wildly, like someone in the last leg of a marathon who concurrently has a swarm of bees flying around his head. He was being followed by an older man who looked perturbed, and clearly was following him. I decided that the Tracksuit must be retarded, or perhaps had some condition, which made him loose motor skills, and that the old man was following him to make sure he didn’t run into a tree or something. This, however, was not the case.
About a minute later, Roy was coming toward me waving his arms and yelling something.
“DID YOU SEE RON?”, he yelled.
“NOT RON, ROD!”
It turns out that that Mr. Gesticulation was none other than our infamous governor, Rod “the Bod” Blagojevich, out maintaining his chiseled physique. As for the old guy, well, apparently Roy was strolling down the street, when he caught sight of the Bod, and this old guy runs up out of nowhere and starts screaming
“MY PENSION, MY PENSION, YOU BASTARD, WHAT ABOUT MY PENSION!?!”
The Bod’s reply was
“Hey, It’s all right, everything will work out”, and kept on running.
I don’t know if this was the same guy who was following him when I saw him, but Roy really wasn’t too far away. I also don’t know if this flustered the Bod enough to adopt the jogging style he was flaunting when he got up to me, but If I get to pick, I’m surely going to believe that it’s true.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Incident Number - 08-38417
Location - 200 S. Main Street
Date & Time - 12/01/2008 1000 hours
Crime - Embarrassment of Law Enforcement Official
Suspect - Actual name unknown. Goes by the street name of "Mimi". Female, White. Age approx 75 years old. 5'02'' 130 lbs. Grey hair, blue eyes.
Setting - Northville Michigan, otherwise known as "Yuppieville, USA". Upper-middle class town (think entry level executive management in what used to be a Big 3 company type dads with career minded moms) with a slightly pretentious twist (ie the Historical District with huge, modernly renovated Victorian style homes).
Witnesses - Approximately 4 Mom-looking women in their 30's, about 4 women who appeared to be from their mid 40's to their early 50's (very serious yoga type ladies, for sure) and an elderly couple in their 80's (which I was glad for, there was one other dude in the class).
Details - Upon entry, the victim (herewith referenced to as "I") was greeted by "Mimi". She appeared to be a nice lady, but I wasn't fooled. I could see that little gleam of amusement in her eye as she sized me up. When I told her I had done some jogging recently to try to get in shape she could hardly stifle a laugh. It was clear to me that this Mimi was going to be trouble.
I knew I would be getting all physical and stuff, so I asked her where I could safely store my super-tactical .45 autoloader, my backup snubbie .38, my folding pocket blade and my Taser. All I got in return was a blank stare (What was up with that? I left my 5.56mm Colt M-4 carbine in the car, it's not like I am a gun nut or anything). I took that to mean I should probably go back out to my car and leave them there, so I did. Mostly. I held on to one the Taser, you know, just in case things got too out of hand.
Class began and Mimi turned down the lights, and wait... She is LOCKING US IN!!! I think I shoulda worn my special thunder-wear holster and kept the .38 on me.
Okay we are sitting cross legged on the floor and I am having a hard time doing this properly. I am a sloucher. The tops of my legs hurt from just sitting down. This is going to be a long class.
Now we are into the table pose, not too bad, my arms are only slightly shaking. Now comes cat-stretching thing and a dog-stretching thing, moving our hips forward and backward while in the table pose. Did Mimi just say "anus"? The one arm, one leg table got me all fatigued, right quick. This would be a highly effective form of torture on suspects. Now the downward dog pose. My goodness, my academy days of doing 50 pushups at a time have certainly left me. Not 10 minutes into it, I am now sweating, and this isn't even Bikram yoga.
The child pose. We are supposed to rest here? I can't get my heels within 10 inches of my butt. I have had surgeries on both my knees, so this is more like me having half my weight on my forehead, like some sort of weird butt-in-the-air tripod. This can't be right.
On to a standing pose (this is a pose?) Mimi just defined what our perineum is. I happen to know that one, being a father and the most attentive dad in the pre-childbirth classes. It sounds weird to hear Mimi tell me that I need to tighten up my "taint" ('taint the ass nor balls), or what some dudes call the "ABC" (ass ball connector). Some good stretching from this pose, nothing too terribly twisty, I am starting to think I will survive with most of my dignity intact, even though Mimi had said the word "anus" far too many times for my comfort.
Lunge-type poses. Here is where my first laughing fit started. I was able to contain it, but I seem to think this part would be much more enjoyable if I could have done this with a bunch of the dudes I work with. The imaginative cursing and farting would have been hugely appropriate and hilarious at this point. I almost fell over when instructed to wrap my arm all the way around my leg. Pressing my knee into my shoulder was laughable as well. I did hear a few chuckles from the old guy across the room when we were instructed to bend certain ways. This guy was a trooper though. That was about all I heard out of him. I was afraid to look at him though, looking at a person less flexible than me would have been too much funny for me to handle. If this place had mirrors, I woulda been a goner.
Now we do a lotus pose? Anyways, we are flat on our bellies and start lifting arms and legs again. I like how we rest between doing each side, it makes me feel more balanced. Wait a minute, that sounds a little weird, maybe even fancy. Taser still in place? Check. Plan on how to knock the locked door down as an emergency exit? Check. There, I feel better.
Next we are asked to lay on our backs, and start pulling our knees into our chests. We are also instructed to put our knees and ankles together (?!?), and let them fall to the floor on one side while keeping our opposite shoulder on the floor. I called this the twister pose. Can a person who happens to have testicles even do this? I suppose so, there are some dudes who can sit and cross their legs like women can, but I am not one of them. I am an ankle-on-knee leg crosser. I almost compressed my little buddies into flat discs attempting this madness. Mimi saw me struggling, so she put a blanket between my knees, which made me certain that this was the pose I would now call the FAIL pose.
Now I think we are doing what I have heard referred to as "repose". This is nice. My body feels aligned, and although I am on a thin mat on a hard floor, I am strangely comfortable. Then Mimi comes around and places a blanket on me, and some kind of sandbags on my ankles and wrists. She is also using a fan to waft some pleasantly smelling breezes my way. This part I like.
But then I start thinking, and almost break out into laughter again. Damn that Bananasana and his funny yoga blog with his funky door cartoon porn stories. Try to not think about that while in repose the next time you do yoga, I dare you.
When Mimi speaks again, although she is speaking in low tones, I hear her clearly and strongly. Heightened senses I suppose.
Aftermath - It is about two hours post-yoga as I write this. I feel better than I thought I would, the serious muscle pain probably won't arrive until tomorrow. Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I plan on going back, some of what went on was too much to absorb in the first class.
Case Status - I will obtain a warrant for Mimi, she seems dangerous, but I will hold off on serving it until after I give this a few more tries.
Officer Chuck Garbanzo