Another family Christmas letter, supposed to show you, show me really, I do have it all
But it’s January 5, 2012, and I can’t finish grading those compositions—
Fell behind my usual end of semester’s behindness,
Caught a cold day after Thanksgiving, never caught up, but not a “Comp-Slave”
I can shop– a little– go to meetings—a meeting– help bake Christmas bread,
Coach son on college application essays, and spend whole day portfolio scoring
Last sad horse loping in at end of race.
Can have a party in reading class w/ hot spaghetti from Carmen’s mom,
Photos that get me “friended” by Peggy Zhang,
So I get to hear what my students eat for Christmas, and who gets sick
Grade the 1A research papers, to return at final exam on
Genome ethics for the 13 students left in the one-time 31 student class
But relief that classes do end! Drive my mom to the doctor for a patch up,
Diana’s mom slows down to anemic crawl
Pick myself up again to proctor more finals, get up and crawl, if not getupandgo
Can’t OCCUPY, too preoccupied with launching
Number one Son into “the one percent”
Learning FAFSA and tax-sheltered annuity
Figure out where to move the paychecks, I mean the debt, to
Spare change? Hippie-hating Son wants to getupandgo
To ivy-covered brick buildings where he will learn
How to say hello, make eye contact, learn to trust, ask for help, when to flush.
Postpone grading the mini-research essays on Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity mural
Best assignment so far, I do like my job!
Like the papers about mural that makes students unfurl and flap in the breeze,
Taking them by the hand listen to artist, listen to critics, listen to themselves
Makes me want to duck out of important meetings.
Not too much plagiarism. And relief that exams do end!
Not just Comp-Slave! Have new cats, creatures for kids to lavish with love–
Not beaten out of them by High School callousness classes!
Number one Daughter newly inspired
Escapee from Mom’s Home-Schooling Academy
Now enjoying real school, guys copying her answers (Advanced Biology),
Seniors tossing eggs at freshmen, Brother who won’t say hi in the hallway
Screechy brilliant teacher who wants them to learn Beauty of Math—what a weirdo! Now free to lose sleep playing Orchestra zero period,
Free to sit next to boy that made his yogurt stick to the ceiling in Jazz I,
LOOK she plays BOTH tenor sax and bassoon, Son plays trumpet, Diana plays flute
Fulfilling my old fantasy of living in a house of musicians.
More plagiarism than I thought: ambitious ESL students recording the true knowledge, Ghost writing for athletes, Good Ol’ American cheaters losing faith at last minute,
Just duck it, throw them into the special pile
Throw self into Christmas Revels, bread deliveries, visiting old friends.
Who remind me I’ve gotten through recession—hell, this life! pretty much unscathed
Shocked by Son’s college-age tantrum shaking the house,
Shocked by my own push back, own rage from where?
Calmed just in time for their Godmother’s Christmas Eve party,
To my brother’s for Christmas Day
This must be what they call a balanced lifestyle.
Next day finish the Diego Rivera papers, then for relaxation score multiple choice exams
Back to English 1A Finals on ethics of pregnancy termination with testing on genetic disorders—Merry Christmas you lucky 13! Done! Oh here’s this late paper, that unchecked exercise, those unchecked lab hour documents, that late paper never graded,
Fruit flies of composition buzzing around my rotting cabbage head
Can’t call back Carlos for his thank you on the message machine.
Then calendar says we must visit with Claudia and Bill who wine and dine us
Bill beseeching me to let go– “I’ll stamp them all ‘A’ for you!”
Next day I am copying counting correcting grading adding averaging
Diana shepherding Son through last college applications, last essays
Happy New Year! Disco party at Wilma’s, my first in a generation at least
“I’m old but I can still do it!” an ex-lover used to say
Son carousing with buddies, Daughter refuses to go to adult party,
Diana and I rush back home at midnight to ring in new year with her.
New Year’s Day up early to re-read the plagiarism cases: who is misusing sources,
Who is hiring a professional, and who is experiencing an intellectual breakthrough and
When I’ll give up and stamp them all “A.”
Seeking relief, I switch back to the math, counting and averaging
Or read the odd late papers, the problems I pushed off the stack.
High school about to begin again, so family stroll downtown to see Tin Tin
Then back to copying counting sorting
Daughter finally gets her cold,
Son up too late doing vacation homework,
And I am wooing Diana to help me with final grade averaging and judgment calls
Deadline for final grades is here
Christmas cards, thank you notes, family Christmas letters forgotten, along with
Planning next semester, trimming rose bush, uploading photos, folding laundry,
Having that talk, getting that hair cut.
Can’t have it all TILL grades are done, can’t understand why trash bin is stolen,
Why rain doesn’t fall, why children grow strange, why loved ones die,
Why grades aren’t done, why letters don’t get finished