Wells & Buckets

October 23, 2018, 19:40

Friday was a failure. It rained yesterday. Today was literary.

Friday was a failure because grammar is difficult, even more so for English Language Learners who struggle to read, to write, and especially, to speak (“to” + base verb = infinitive). Friday was a failure because his students were tired; Cathy had the courage to tell him so after class. But he has eyes and ears and could tell that the lesson was going nowhere. Why were they so tired? They had some sort of physical exercise exam the day before and had been preparing a debate. At least, that’s what he gathered from Cathy. Sentences, clauses, phrases, independent, dependent—what the hell is he talking about?

ICEY: About last Friday’s class made you unhappy, we feel very sorry. I also asked my classmates after class, maybe because that learned about grammar and it was a little difficult for them, so it was relatively boring. Students will improve in the future. So may I ask you to forget that lesson? Students will certainly improve in the future! I hope you can give our class a chance!

MR. S: Hey, we are learning together. I don’t blame anyone for the failure, do not worry! If it seems like I’m not giving your class a chance, that’s something I need to apologize for. Thank you for your effort and concern, Icey.

ICEY: Ok, fine. I really thank you for your generosity. [Joyful Emoji]

MR. S: [Grin Emoji]

It rained yesterday. He met Dr. Dave Birner, Damien, and Daniel: three gentlemen representing Concordia, Wisconsin. He teaches Literature (sort of) to Rehabilitation Science students who will be going to Concordia for their junior year of college. It rained yesterday, and there was a welcome ceremony for the “family of CUW” in Rihua building, room 177. They were given blue t-shirts to wear to the ceremony. They talked a lot about the t-shirts because it was simple and a gift and something visual in a world of auditory chaos. It rained, yesterday, on students who may or may not even want to be in college, much less have to go to America for school when they’d rather stay comfortable in Shanghai. (What a cynical thought!) How many feel that way, he doesn’t really know.

Today was literary because he made the PowerPoint every Literature teacher makes, the one defining terms. Wells & buckets—what are figures of speech, images, symbols? How do rhyme, rhythm, & repetition work? What about form & style? Or tone & mood? And, most importantly, will he actually talk about them? Or will he just motion to a screen while they take notes using words they don’t know because they’re sitting at an elementary-school level when it comes to their grasp of the English language? Cognitively, he knows they’re there. They are smart, formerly dedicated, searching students. (The girls, especially. The boys… they need to get more rest because they like to close their eyes and nod off when he’s speaking. It’s obnoxious.) Today was literary because he made it so. Because God or coincidence placed him behind the keys and he had to Google search and check the glossary of his borrowed Norton Anthology for definitions to words he knows and uses subconsciously. Draw them out! Make them bend to your will!

Today was literary because last week he listened to Ear Biscuits episode 165, “Do YouTubers Watch YouTube? Part 2” by Rhett & Link. In this episode, they mentioned another podcast called Radiolab by WYNC Studios which he’d heard things about but never considered subscribing to. Then, he did. And today that the gym he listened to “In the No Part 1” and “In the No Part 2.” The producer, at the end of Part 2, said something about Part 3, which would be graphic and mostly uncut. The music playing behind his voice was ominous and rabidly beat-y. Foreshadowing! he thinks.

Beep! Beep! Beep! goes the washing machine. He stands and opens the door to his apartment balcony. Lifting the lid, he shakes and rests his damp clothing onto the hanger. Then moves the clothes inside. He turns off the balcony light, smokes a cigarette, and stares at the moon while wondering if man was made to roll tobacco, sell it, buy it, light it, and stare at the moon. He finishes, goes to the kitchen, swigs a glass of water and cuts open a pomelo, original from China, barcode 6928694868826.

Today was literary.