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6:23 p.m. - July 08, 2003
Just leave me alone is what I think, but I smile and walk on water still, only because you're watching
If I did not strive for perfection, I'd have nothing to do. How do I articulate this Life sloth to those who exclaim, You're such a good teacher!, how do I convey that it's less skill and more life support, that unbidden rush before the flatline? Today my class was interrupted four times all within the space of a half hour, though interrupted unwittingly, for they didn't know I begin the course a half hour before scheduled. My dean, a man from Bakersfield, California, a late-add, and an audio-visual technician lugging an immense monitor I didn't request. My dean to observe because she enjoys my lectures; the man from Bakersfield, to observe my teaching methods for a course he's taking; the late-add, because her advisor suggested she take the course now or next summer when I return and avoid the instructors who teach during the year.

Again, I don't register what they claim to see. Perhaps I won't. I don't know. But I feel like a fraud, an imposter who's somehow pulled the wool over their eyes. I don't plan far enough ahead (we're talking a general idea, fleshed out during the morning shower), my expectations are ridiculously high, I become aggravated and impatient with students. Student achievement isn't as solid as I'd like, their questions belying a vague grasp of the concepts and terminology I thought were honed. I scramble in the morning to track down particular video clips of pertinent information, like the one about the aphasic who leaves out the copulas and speaks in a child's voice, or the segments showing CAT and MRI scans of language processing similar to the "Story of Life" conception video from intercourse to birth, all seen from the inside. I desire to set them aflame - students, and metaphorically, of course - and all I see is a faint glow.

And yet my dean raves. Everybody raves. I can do as I please and am never questioned. I hear students talking in the hall during breaks and they say He's so good! This is so fun! and I think, What the hell are you thinking?. I don't see and I want to, I want to be objective, I want impartiality. And I am tired of what isn't an exaggeration to call accolades, I am tired of walking on water, I am tired of Marti telling me how often the dean has told her, I am very impressed with Jason. All these people don't know I dropped out of Stanford because I was afraid of failing, of struggling to focus and worrying that my writing was deteriorating and no longer demonstrated sufficient academic caliber. These people don't know that if I push myself, it's because the certainty of not having anything else to do is far more frightening than seeing what would happen.

That's inaccurate; this year I've pretty much fallen apart and I'm not doing much. Perhaps that's what I do see, I see the yawning chasm that was February and March, borne of inaction's self-pity, and I'll seize upon the only preventative measure I know: Academics, teaching, being the golden boy.

It is hollow, similar to a dead reed in a murky green pond. Rootless, brown, easily broken and never missed.


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