Skip this paragraph and the next one though. Jon and I went out to town today to celebrate the end of our first term as teachers. With the eleventh grade classes, I am not happy and need to improve. XI English has not listened to a single word I said on essay construction or what constitutes good evidence. With XI Math, there have literally been days in which I taught them the same lessons I taught my seventh graders that day. The seventh graders usually understood it better afterwards. The month after break all we are doing in that class is basic algebra and arithmetic. Variables and numbers cannot simply disappear from your equations for no reason. You cannot rewrite a problem because you cannot do it the first way. 3 to the 343rd power is not seven.
On the other hand, the seventh and eighth graders are an amazing success. I went from only one third of them passing my tests at the beginning of the year to only one sixth failing their exam in only one semester. Did I mention we also are ahead of schedule in both classes? I am good with little kids.
So anyway we went into town and went into a nameless McDonald's copycat restaurant hidden away on the second floor of a building we had happened to notice the other night while out on the town, probably the first time in ages we've eaten non-SE Asian food. Jon's veggie burger consisted only of bun, lettuce, tomato and cucumber, but I got the real deal, a burger with meat. It tasted like the US. It tasted like Princeton, New Jersey. It tasted like Grundy, Virginia. It tasted like Hamilton, Texas. It tasted like fireworks at the Grange and it tasted like breakfast in the womb.
This is probably a good/bad time to say this: I'm not coming back for a while. You can get a bottle of supple, spicy, mint-smooth Changta whisky for $1 US over here. It's not the reason though; I don't even think I'm going to stay in Bhutan: I've got a really terrible case of wanderlust/rootlessness; I haven't really had a home since I was nine (except for Terrace but every man must leave his mother sometime) and I don't see the point of starting one up now. Though there is a plan developing involving Chong, Ben Schechet (he doesn't know yet, someone please tell him), giant brass balls and more awesome than Cleveland has fail at the end of a weeks-long roadtrip through the heart of America on my $200 motorcycle, did I mention that June checks got cut today and I'm buying a motorcycle?, so I will probably see you at some point, keep a little faith.
But I don't really see the point of coming back; the economy is still in the shitter, it's even shittier for guys in my age group, and that whole place-you-come-from thing being special has completely worn off of me, if it ever existed - Texas is a place, an environment, a landscape of a particular aesthetic, but I apparently don't need to live there, and America is a particular myth of middle-class existence, a compulsion to consume, a willingness to believe the lies of the man and still carry on, a heedless desire to succeed, a memory of summer days when you are seven and everything is cloud-swept skies and ice cream and ice-water droplets and foggy machinations of the adult world swirling over you leaving nothing but good will and protection, and there is not an iota of these things contained in any parcel of land contained within the border of those 50 states. Did I mention the Pound and the Euro are still much, much stronger than the greenback? And back to that whole wanderlust thing - native-grown pluck and a pioneering/adventuring spirit suit a person much better in a place that actually isn't his home village. I wrestled a Bengali man in a hole-in-the wall bar the other day and after winning celebrated fiercely with his drunk friend, neither of whom spoke English. What's the point of being young if not that?
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