The freedom to fail.

So imagine me.  In my house, floating between my computer and my crocheting (I calculated it yesterday, I think I spend 3.5 hours  a day not sitting in a chair, no wonder my midsection burgeons).  While crocheting I listen to Democracy Now, at the computer I try and figure out what the hell to do with elective class grade two in the morning.  Around 10pm I print out a cloze exercise on fall.  Around 11:30 as I go to bed thinking, I have given up.  I am reduced to the internet and I don’t know what else to do.  I take little real solace in the fact that my first coteacher gave me that website and said “Some days give yourself a break.” I think I haven’t earned a break.

I wax philosophical as I arrange my mosquito net so that the hole is not as gaping and the fuckers won’t get in.  In life, I think to myself, one has the freedom to fail.  As long as one is not a doctor.  Or dentist.  Why then, not try to fail at something more ambitious, more interesting, and less mediocre?

So I went into morning elective conversation class with my cup of lukewarm coffee, because I don’t always get to school early enough to get the water heated in time, I sit on the desk in the front instead of standing behind it, and we talk about fall.

What is the weather like today?  What season is it?  What do you wear in fall?  What are these called that you have on, what do I have on.  Right, yesterday I wore a sweater.  What happens in fall.  Yes, the leaves?  What about the leaves, what happens to them.  I’m feeling them out for the words in the worksheet.  At first I’m talking to maybe three students.  Two have test prep sheets out, two are sort of talking. Then we start listing the things that are being harvested.  Broccoli, pumpkins.  And?  And?  What gets them is trying to explain a chestnut.  “Outside brown.”

“Green on the inside?”

“No, Kiwi.  Inside yellow.”  Her friend hits her for saying yellow.

They describe a sort of jagged outside.  “Is it sweet?”


I begin to draw, at first they say yes, then “No!  Pineapple!”

Then they show me the shape.  I write onion.  “No!”

Finally I break down and look it up.  By then I have their attention.  I give them the print out, that is a little beyond them, but within their reach.  I give them foliage and migrate as freebies, and they try.  Fitfully they try, and not only do they try, but they raise their hands and ask questions.   And I’m like ‘who are you people?’

Then, the next period when I ask during formal class “How is the weather,” one of the morning girls, the one who sometimes answers whatever question I ask her with “no,” says “chilly!”

I never thought that the retention of a single word over a twenty minute period would please me so much.


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