Sunday, August 21, 2005

What's that smell?

My brother, lucasjackson7, made a comment on my blog recently in response to my beginning the school year. It brought to mind some harsh realities that I deal with everyday.

Body Odor!!! Teaching at an all-boys high school prepatory in hot muggy New Orleans is tough, not only in the academics department but also in the physical odor department. Boys are just as self-relaint on image as girls. Which means that when it comes to physical education the boys are really worried about their self-image amongst the other boys.

This makes for a very unpleasant smell when the boys come into your classroom right after p.e. class. No one has taken a shower, much less changed their clothing underneath the uniform. I was talking to one of the p.e. coaches the other day about the boys and how it is so uncool to shower after p.e. class. Not one of the students takes a shower after running around outside in the nice warm Louisiana sun. The new and latest version of a cleaning routine is to bombard oneself with tons of deoderant.

I remember the awkward moments that I went through on my first shower experience in high school. It was probably the fastest shower in human record. I don't even remember the water hitting me. Neither did my eyes stray from my own body. To this day, I can remember all of us trudging ungratefully into the showers, cursing under our breathes with cruelty the unwillingness to shower as the coach sat in his warden like stance waiting for each of us to exit wet with towels draped around our waists. The first year was so unflattering as we crowded the shower stalls with our skinny boney bodies intermingling with the older boys more developed hairy bodies. It was like a cast of extras from the movie Teen Wolf.

Although, as the years went by it became easier, and a more willingful task to jump into the showers after class. My senior year, I can recall our coach harassing us about taking showers. Throwing down the proverbail gaunlet of the unforgettable "F" in p.e. if you don't shower. Eveyone one of tooks showers and never regretted the experience. Looking back on it I am grateful for that experience, because it made me more self-assured in my own body. Today most people frown when I tell them this story claiming that it was wrong to force us to shower after class. The connotations can be seen as it being a gay experience. Boys showering with other boys. Obviously it didn't affect my father, or my grandfather too much to shower with others. I don't think it's as bad as everyone makes it out to be, plus it really brought about the importance of hygiene at an early age. Today, hygiene is spraying oneself with AXE until everyone in the room turns blue for the oxidants contaminating the air like a Chernoble experiment. As our modern world changes everyday I question some of the importance we place on hygiene and self-image. This is something that most see as trivial, but as a teacher I have to deal with it on an everyday basis.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hey Shakesbeer for everyone!!!

"In the school I went to, they asked a kid to prove the law of gravity and he threw the teacher out of the window." - Rodney Dangerfield, Back to School

It's that time of the year again, when students are pounded with books upon books there first day. The wander the halls aimlessly looking for the English class room on the second floor. Then they scan the room for friends they haven't seen in two months in order to feel more comfortable on the first day.

Yes, it's school time again. I remember my days as a high school punk walking the halls wishing school to be over. Now I am here everyday, teaching young kids about the value of a good education. This school year is already starting off in full gear. I am switching departments and switching extracurricular clubs. I can't say enough about the first week of school. Especially that first day. The impact you make on the first day can last the entire year. As I watch all the new students walk through the door, and watch the older ones grow beyond my height it makes me cherish the memories of my school days. On my first day as an eight grader at my high school, I remember being so nervous that I almost became sick. What calmed me down, maybe it was the fact that the day flew by so fast or it was friends who were also nervous looking for someone to ease their fears. Still, I walked trembling to my first class. It was Algebra. As I entered the classroom a teacher was there to great me with a smile. The room had this weird feeling like the walls were closing in as I sat in a seat. Then before I couldn't even think the class was over and on to the next class. When the carpool van picked us up to take us home, the car was filled with teacher gossip. The gossip spilled over to eventually reality that we would have to do this all over again tomorrow. Although, tomorrow won't be as bad because I knew that this is where I needed to be. There is no question that the first few steps on that first day were wobbly, but as the years moved on those steps were forgotten and replaced with firmer strides that reassured me of my place at a place that I now call my second home.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Two turn-tables and a microphone

Sorry I haven't been writing too much lately as I have been getting in gear for the school year. What a summer this has been. It's funny how it has come and gone. I got a great story if you got the time.

I had a very truly ultimate buying experience the other day. It all dates back a couple of years ago when I started to collect some new albums to play with my new stereo receiver. Upon moving back home, I asked my brother for a record player he wasn't using at the time. At least I don't think he was using it. Last time I checked he didn't have his room set up like DJ Jazzy Jeff with turn-tables and big quadrophonic speakers blaring 2 Live Crew.

So he gave me the record player and it only took me a year to getting around to seeing if it works. Actually, it was my brother who got it fixed, but we're like Rick and T.A. from Magnum P.I. We don't thank each other much, even though there is an unspoken acknowledgement that the other did a huge favor. Needless to say after it was all said and done my new receiver wouldn't amplify the record player. It was very frustrating and comical as my brother and I stood over the receiver constantly putting plugs into various ports on the back of the receiver and then checking to see if we heard anything coming out the speakers. We must have looked like two guys who came to fix the plumbing in my bathroom. As one was under the house the other was in the bathroom standing over the toilet, they began to scream at high pitches through the floorboards commands. "Flush it now!" "I'm flushin' it." "Jiggle the handle!" "Christ almighty, what else you want me to do, scrub the bowl?" "I can't see anything." "It's a good thing shit flows downstream."

Still I was resolved to fix this record player. I then inquired Mrs. Veritas to ask her mother for her old 1960's stereo receiver. Which she was willingfully ready to depart with, but my brother-in-law called and said he had put his claims on it already. Someone actually staked out a 1960's stereo receiver and said that's mine? My brother-in-law trying to be a good man offered a trick to make the record player work without acquiring a new receiver. After spending 10 bucks and an entire afternoon of trying to make the record player work I gave up and decided to buy another receiver. If my pops was around to watch me struggle with the player he would have exclaimed, "you look like a monkey trying to screw a football, give it here."

Finally, I got up and went to the Thrift Store determine to buy an old cheapie. Sad thing is nowadays the Thrift Store isn't a place to buy junk at cheap prices. Instead it's the retro place to buy junk at sometimes ridiculous prices. Intermingling with other late 20 and 30 year olds at the Thrift store I knew that as my buddy Burke would say, "they're on to the game, man." I left the thrift store defeated but not out. A good friend of mine does a lot of purchasing on ebay so I decided to try that avenue. Bingo!! Ebay is crack for the spontaneous compulsive shoppers out there. I can't even describe what it's like if you're competitive like myself. I didn't want to lose out to nobody named buffboy12 or nancigrl23. I had to coax myself out of raising the bid on myself a couple of times because I felt like the bid was too low and I would get beat out at the last second. I can now see why so many people shop on ebay. 5 hours later I won my first bid and in a week will continue in my quest to hear RUN DMC pumping out my 45's in my living room. Peace out, my brothers.