south florida

“See, Miss, I have a band and I go on tour every weekend”

Oh, teaching! This is the wonderful world I willingly (and enthusiastically) entered and continually hope I don’t lose love for. In the two short months as a college adjunct, I have heard things and I have seen things that have made me laugh uncontrollably, made my jaw drop in horror and was told things I would assume only the crazies say. So, I feel, it is only fitting that I compile the, um, most interesting answers and statements I have heard whithin the four walls of my (super cool) classroom.

And now, I present them to you:

“Wait, so, do we have to memorize the vocabulary?”
-Nursing student, upon being told there would be a quiz on the unit we just completed.

“So that’s how you say that? ¡Dále!”
-Student upon learning how to say ninety-five.

“You write Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James on that board and you walk out this classroom”.
-Quick exercise on the comparatif.

“Oh, is he tall?”
-Student’s first reaction upon seeing a picture of Omar Borkan after an exercise of superlatives.

I don’t know. Maybe he’s like 5’5, or something.

Student [holding up test]: Why did you mark this wrong?
Me [points at incomplete answer]: It was a two-part answer and you left the second half blank.
Sudent: That’s impossible.
Me: [stares].

“Oh, but Miss, I was writing something else when you were explaining that!”
-Student’s defense upon being confronted after the failure of an entire section on a quiz.

“Why would you take off points for accents!? That’s not right! You don’t do that on French 1 or French 2! You do that on French 3! That’s ridiculous!”
-Same student as above. Seems to be an expert in the matter.

Me: Anyone having any issues with the online homework?
[several hands go up]
Student [same one as the other cases]: (proudly) I don’t!
Me: All right, I’m going to speak with tech-support and-
Student without issue [cutting in]: I have been having problems, yeah!
Me: You just said you didn’t. And I already saw your progress report online. You’ve completed all the questions.
Student: No, I don’t have any problems with it.

Mhm.

Me: [After a particularly passionate, though succinct, explanation about the Basque Country and the Basque mouvement for independence].
Student: …so?

Me: [has a small heart attack after nearly misreading the following sentence on an exercise: “Malthide brosse son chat”.]
Francophone student: OH MISS YOU DIRTY!

BECAUSE EDUCATION, MAN.

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The other side of the desk

My first week as a College professor lolwut? has concluded.
It was, to say the least, the weirdest week of my life. I don’t recall booking tickets into the Twilight Zone, but it seems I was the lucky winner for an indefinite trip into a parallel dimension, with a panoramic view of my past.

It all happened my chance- I had grown *very* discouraged in my job search and I applied, for giggles, to a community college (will not disclose the name of it because, well, I don’t feel like it! :D). A week later, on a Friday afternoon, I was driving back from Ikea when I got a phone call from a very nice lady telling me that a French instructor at X Community College had to resign over a family emergency and they were now in serious need for an instructor. I pounced at the opportunity. A few hours later, I was getting bombarded with information, and 48 hours later, I had gotten a security clearance and background check, input into the system and launched into a classroom where I was to teach 21 people beginner French.

Being on the other side of the desk- to be the one with the information- is certainly a very interesting experience. It’s nothing at all like giving a class presentation. It’s serious business. It’s up to you to teach and teach right. Teach correctly, and teach passionately. It’s about infecting others with a desire to learn and to encourage them to not second-guess themselves because hey! if you did it, so can they! (and I must attest to myself as evidence- I picked up French my second year of Community College).

Now, all of this sounds very idealistic. I sound like a noob, like a rookie. And I am! But I also believe in teachers and professors. It’s these people that shaped me and pushed me to broaden my academic spectrum; the ones that pushed me to excel and get out of my comfort zone! It was also the terrible teachers/professors that I had that made me feel like I could make a difference- that anyone that comes under my tutelage will not only be taught, but taught well.
Some of the students I have took the course because, whatever, they needed an elective credit and they chose the first thing that came to mind which was French (again, maybe because we all feel entitled to all things French, as I’ve said in a previous post). Little did they know that learning French is not just about saying “J’adore”- no. It’s about culture, it’s about learning a violent history, about learning how the language they speak (English/Spanish/Creole) has been directly affected and touched by French. But aside all that, even if they don’t choose to continue, they will have been exposed to something else. Something that maybe will escape their logic, but they will remember despite the fact that it was “hard”.
It’s not about teaching a language, it’s about all the aspects that come with learning it. It’s a challenge- and if it doesn’t feel like it, if it never got weird or nonsensical at some point- then it was not done correctly.

All of a sudden I had more priorities and more things to be wary of: Did I word it right? Do they understand? Why didn’t you complete the homework? Can everybody see red on the board? Why are you not making an effort? did the photocopier seriously just jam?
I may blend in with the crowd but I can no longer check a guy out- that’s just creepy, even if there’s only like a two-year difference in age. Also, I have to deal with silly people from IT, who don’t seem to understand anything I tell them:
Me: I need the adapter to plug in my computer to the video projector.
IT: Well, there’s a computer all the way at the bottom of the desk.
Me: Yes, but it’s missing the adapter to plug the cables in. I have a Mac and have my own adapter, but the link between my Mac and the PC is missing.
IT: Well, if you have a Mac you need your own adapter.
Me: *Kicks a puppy*

Then again, this position comes with perks: Staff and faculty parking. Oh, yes. No more third-degree burns from walking in the sun. Only some pre-hypoxia when I jump in my A/C-lacking Ferrari.

So, yeah, there it is. That’s how I can condense some mayor points of my first-week experience. I will, of course, touch up on other things that I’ve observed- some injustices faced by my students, and some little victories and light-hearted anecdotes.

Stay tuned, because I finally may have found some inspiration to write again!

Next move

I’m from nowhere. You can’t ask me to lower an anchor and have me grow roots in a single place. It’s just impossible.

Though I’ve not experienced much, I have had a taste, a delicious morcel, of what hopping from place to place feels like. As disconcerting as it is- as confusing as it leaves you feeling, panting and bewildered in a corner, the thrill is sweet.

Although this year was excruciatingly painful, and little reminders still come crawling from the shadows now and then, I am ready to do it all over again.
You can’t ask me to stay put. You can’t ask me to go get a nice job, melt into the crowd and one day say how I wish I had done something differently. I don’t feel like I was made to stay in one place, to just go along with the flow of things. No. I was made to be awed. I was made to learn. I was made to relish in little everyday miracles. I was not made to ignore the beauty that life has to offer. Nothing for me is trivial. I choose to live my life like there’s magic in every nook and cranny because otherwise, what fun is it?

Mind you, getting an email from BNP Paribas telling me my Parisian account has been overdrafted is not anything magical, but hey! Technology and the fact that I was able to live in France is a little exciting, no?

Today I find myself facing uncertainty.

Last time I found myself here, I remember being very afraid. It was in early 2012- I had recently been unceremoniously fired from a part-time job as a receptionist I held since 2009, without notice and without explanation. A simple “Hi, don’t come back Monday” (to the day I still wonder what it was that I did that was unforgivable). I also found myself in the confusion that is puppy love. Oh, if I would have known what was coming up later that year! At any rate, to make the story short (not my forte, ever), last time I found myself facing nothing but confusion, I ended up being whisked away by the adventure that was Middlebury- the “monastic” life in Vermont and then the chaos that was Paris.

I am to return to Miami tomorrow. The idyllic days of the student life are over. 
People are excited. Oh, yes. I went around for a year from place to place “representing”- carrying with me the name of Miami. I went around carrying my “Miami attitude”; telling stories to anyone who would listen (and even those who would not) about my magical home. But who would have thought that in a few short months, my attitude would change. I seldom use “Miami” now. The “305” sign has been thrown up in pictures less and less. I’m no longer “Miss three-oh-five”, as I used to proudly be nicknamed by friends. Going back to South Florida indefinitely (for now), feels a little wrong. 

I was very close to moving to Puerto Rico. I was being offered what was a great position as a Spanish/French teacher at a private school. The cycle of interviews went great. The offer was made and, as luck would have it, the pay, though competitive for the island, was terrible for a recent graduate facing relocation. Crest-fallen, I had to decline the offer. Though it sounds like a huge contradiction to the whole tone of the post, the responsibilities that would be thrust upon me were far too great for the amount of monetary remuneration. It was a choice made with logic at its apex. The story can be tedious, so I will spare the details for now. After an attempt at negotiation and sugar-coating of conditions from the school, I declined them a second time. Puerto Rico would have been an escape. But only cowards escape. 

So now, I have no job, no prospect of a job, and a thirst to part once more. 

I am currently in Montréal (a last respit before drawing up a plan of action), holding a graduate degree in one hand and the traditional walking cane given to graduates in the other hand. But if it’s analyzed closely, my hands are full. My hands hold my orb and scepter. As regent of my life, I choose what to do now. As protector, I dictate what will be best for me.  I have found patience and serenity in the past and, furthermore, I know I am better prepared, better armed, to face the unknown and throw myself into it. The more I think about it, the more comfortable I grow in the idea that I am fully free to do as I wish right now. All it needs is a little push. And this push will most likely come from life back in Miramar. 

Adventure, for me, is not defined as skydiving out of a plane, nor surfing waves. Nope. That may be part of an adventure. For me the meaning of the word is to simply throw myself, with open arms, to the uncertainty of the future.

I may just never be able to go on a Nepalese excursion, or bathe in the beaches of Bali (damn, that was some nice alliteration!), but I give myself willingly to the future and the fights I will have to put up to not become complacent.

Week 1

(Hear me bemoan my first world problem!)

So, it has been a week since moving back to South Florida (well, tomorrow it will be, but nothing will have change by then) and I have already begun getting anxiety. Woo!

Anyone who knows me knows that whenever I get anxiety, this means depression. Oh, yes!

Hello, old friend. Fan-fucking’-tabulous to have you back.

Now, this breed of anxiety is different from the one I experienced back in France. There’s a sense of urgency tied to this one. A feeling where everything in my body vibrates, my breathing is fast and my thoughts are racing to all the possible ways I can take to get the hell out of here. The funny thing is, I feel lost. I feel like there is no way out and that I am going to get swallowed up by suburbian life, get a boyfriend with a fresh tape and drive a tricked-out ’94 civic to do grocery shopping at Wal*Mart.
(No offense to those who do).

I feel silly for airing my thoughts and for, those who follow, to see that there is simply no pleasing me. I’m here but I want to be somewhere else. And when I’m somewhere else I want to be here. It’s terrible. And I’m very judgemental of myself, so…yeah. Fun all around!

Don’t get me wrong, though! I have gotten a very warm welcome by old friends and family. It was great to see familiar faces again; to hear their voices and watch their quirks in action once more.

I am truly blessed and lucky to come back to people I love.

But then, there’s that nagging thought in the back of my head and that funny feeling in my chest, like I’m drowning.

Nothing feels like it’s mine anymore, which does not help the feeling of being an outsider. I don’t even have my own set of house keys (not that I’ve left the house much these past few days). I forget where stuff goes around the kitchen, I don’t know how to work new things, and I don’t remember TV channels.
Furthermore, none of my old clothes fit me so I’ve cleaned out my closet and replaced the old stuff with whatever I brought with me from France. In a few days will be put into another suitcase that will go with me to Middlebury for 6 weeks.
I guess it’s this in-between and the lack of stability that’s been affecting me. But I feel if I slow down now, I will not gain back my momentum.
And that’s really scary.

Also, these said clothes have been getting me plenty of attention.

I am by no means a fashion victim. I don’t even consider my personal style to be flashy or fabulous and yet, I made a quick trip to the supermarket the other day (where I got hopelessly lost) and I got gawked at more than I want to admit.

Who knew haarem pants would scandalize overweight housewives in tight mom jeans and neon tank tops?

I think one of them in particular would be more surprised at the amount of sugar her Dr. Pepper 24-case had. As a matter of fact, I’m scandalized by your poor eating habits, how you’ve let yourself go, and your sedentary lifestyle. (It’s hard to miss your love handles).

But what can be expected from people in a community where no one leaves? A place where everyone is so comfortable where they’re at that they don’t seek to move, to better themselves?
I am not any better than anyone but how can anyone be so complacent? So “ok” with their monotonous lifestyles? How!?

I wanted to go for a walk today, because I was incredibly bored (another side-effect of suburbia). I figured I’d walk to Target, but then I thought about it better and I suddenly got really depressed because I knew exactly what I was going to run into, so I changed my mind and figured I’d walk around the neighborhood. And then the reality of it all hit me: what for? There’s nothing to see! There’s no place of interest, nothing to look at, nothing to discover.
So now, my walk will probably be just to keep myself active and clear my thoughts and look at the pre-historic wildlife that surrounds me.

It’s hard being back, man.

Every night before going to bed, I have the same feeling I had when I was a kid and slept over someone else’s house. Yeah, I’d sleep and all, but it felt weird. I just wanted to go home, really. And that’s exactly that’s happening to me right now: I want to go home. I want to go back to my little apartment with the shitty shower and no oven. I want my desk; I want my things. I want to open my window and people watch down below. I want to plop on my pullout couch and eat couscous out of the pot.

But I can’t, because I am “home”.

Maybe I wasn’t so wrong when I wanted to leave in the first place. I did outgrow this place a long time ago, and it’s taking me this challenging experience to make me realize it and not (dare) forget it.
Falling back in love with the city I once loved so much and longed to return to is going to take me longer than I thought.
I’m sorry, Miami, but I don’t think this is going to work out for us in the end.