Bar-B-Que-d Lizard

I’m sitting here at my computer, sipping on my second glass of pinot grigio this evening, which I’m only half sorry to say has made me more than half-tipsy. Please don’t let this small caveat color what I have to say this evening, or at least if it does, let it be a soft, yellow glow =).

When I went outside to fire up the grill this afternoon, I was feeling pretty good. It was a balmy 78 degrees, as it usually is around here in the tropics, and I had plans for the night. It’s the last week of classes at Florida International University, which means that projects, papers, etc. are all due. I have a research paper to finish for my TESOL class, and for some reason it’s been hell to actually get it done.

Theoretically, I could have grilled the peppers, have Virginia be my prep cook for the rest of the roasted red pepper soup, reheated Sunday’s delectable polenta, eaten, and then edited my nearly complete paper. Unfortunately, life had other things in store for me. It all started with the lizard.

When I poured the Matchlight charcoal onto our petite grill, a frightened gecko ran out of the bottom, fleeing for his life. A second, slightly smaller and less speedy one poured out of the bag of briquettes onto the rack, confused and clearly disoriented. One could hardly blame our reptilian friend, literally tossed into a foreign and rather hostile environment with little warning. He (and we’ll use the masculine indefinite pronoun here, because I just feel like it) made his way down to the bottom of the steel bowl only to find that the ventilation holes had already been covered. Unbeknownst to me, my lizard friend sat there petrified while flames exploded overhead. As I monitored the growing blaze, I noticed that the lizard I thought had escaped was actually doing terrified laps around the grill, searching in vain for an exit. With my limited knowledge of zoology, I knew that this little guy was unable to regulate his own body temperature, and if he stayed too much longer in the heat, he’d kick the proverbial bucket. But even after I opened the vents, he didn’t get it right away; he kept running. Eventually, he fell a few feet to the ground below the grill and laid exactly where he landed, perfectly still.

Then it came to me, as I watched the pathetic creature heave painfully on the concrete below the grill: I am that lizard. I’m stuck in this ludicrous situation, a burning, dirty mess of flames and charred carbon hanging perilously over my head, just waiting for something to fall and maim me.

At the time, I thought I’d progressed further through my little allegory: I picked up the lizard gently and took him to the shade of my windowsill, where he could cool off in the shade safe from predators. I even gave him a piece of canteloupe to snack on. The REAL Read 180 representative came to my classroom today to observe, and not only did she give me objective, constructive advice as well as encouraging acknowledgement of the things that I was doing well, she offered me a fucking JOB at a museum-based Magnet fucking bilingual elementary school program. I swear to god, if I weren’t contractually bound to Miami Central, I would have booked it faster than that first gecko did out of the grill. We then proceded to have a personal conversation in SPANISH about bilingual education, and the fact that my qualifications were being wasted in my current job. Sigh. [Heart].

She opened up the ventilation holes in my world view of public education: there is not an overwhelming majority of incompetent assholes in the world, there’s just an overwhelming concentration of them where I happen to work. I’m not completely overworked and underappreciated all the time, just 9 days out of 10. She was a person with real authority and real suggestions, not the quasi-Read 180 rep who was just a Zone observer masquerading as support, doling out obfuscated advice that was in reality condemnation and critique. There were real, concrete reasons that I decided to teach this year, and there are real, concrete moments when I love some of the kids I teach, and I feel like I’m giving them access to the tools they need for success. I thought I was at the same place my lizard friend was, lying paralyzed on the concrete, not knowing if I’d just been obliterated by the heat or released from it. If I just gathered my wits, waited a little while and toughed it out, someone would realize that I was lying there and pick me up to cool me off.

With this cutesy optimistic notion in my head, I went back into my apartment to find that our fucking air conditioning had created another goddamn lake in our kitchen, making odd noises to boot. This wouldn’t be an issue if we could OPEN OUR WINDOWS, which have no screens. But don’t worry, they were supposed to be here “two weeks ago. They’re on order.” That was d-place’s November comment. Fuck you, d-place. So I’m stuck in a sweltering apartment with a paper to write, and dinner only half cooked, with the water lapping up to the stove. In my ire, I write a ridiculously sarcastic letter to the design place management, the proceed to storm over there (still in my charcoal-smeared apron; I’d been grilling) and step in a pile of dog shit on the way, thanks to my responsible dog-owning neighbors. Fuck you, dog owners.

Let it suffice to say that after a long, delicious dinner of grilled polenta and roasted red pepper soup, expertly garnished and served with a chilled white wine, I may have vented to Carlos and Virginia, but I still have not written my paper, and am not, shall we say, in a state to be doing said task. Dammit, am I freaking out under the burning hot coals, or have things finally started to cool off?!

…and a postscript. I miss Dave a lot. We saw each other every 2 weeks for the past 2 months and I miss him. I really also wish people would stop asking me if we’re getting married. I don’t even know how I’m going to be earning a paycheck in the next 2 years, let alone know with whom I’m going to spend the rest of my life. I think I should just go to bed.

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