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A Perfectly Good Life

Editor Note: This entry was written originally in 2006.

The movers arrived, depositing a household worth of belongings into our little downsized apartment life. My boyfriend was still happily fluffing about in northern regions, sounding buoyant from his fishing excursion in Alaska. I made it clear to him that he was not welcome back into this crowded abode without fresh Alaskan salmon and ample champagne.

The thing is, I have been lucky. In spite of my occasional grumbling, life has been good to me. Kind, talented, resourceful parents provided me solid educational opportunities. I have lovely friends and have lived in comfortable, safe, secure homes. And yet, some part of my genetic code is askew. I will not point any fingers here and I am not planning to lay blame. I am merely observing that I have, on multiple occasions, left a perfectly good life behind me in order to leap into completely unknown, and frequently insane, territory. Something in my DNA does not appear to permit me to accept comfortable routines for more than a few years.

Monday was the longest day in recent memory. I hated it when it started (just before bed, at midnight last night), and when it recommenced at 5 this a.m. I hated it when a student gave me attitude and I hated it when my mocha grandé with an extra shot didn’t even make my eyes open wide, let alone give me the much-hoped-for tremors. (Must order a triple tomorrow.) Later in the day, I heeded the call to a meeting. I found out that the other new Terrebonne Parish ESL person, a suspect character who has suddenly appeared on the scene from Texas, is no longer to be trusted due to his recent inability to curb his love of alcohol, during the workday especially. So, instead of firing him, which we could be do if we weren’t bound by the nineteen thousand archaic laws of education, the other three of us in the department will be dividing up his schools and doing his work while he watches.

I left a perfectly great position in a reputable district, with wonderful colleagues and progressive administrators, for this? I left a position where I was trusted to do my work in favor of a place where employees must bring every small bit of work to their bosses so it can be assessed right up through the chain of command? Already I understand that this will be the kind of character-building year that I will appreciate solely in hindsight.

I have no one to blame here but myself. I can’t blame My boyfriend; if I had told him that I didn’t want to leave my perfectly good job for this insanity, he would have supported me. Here, in short, I got what I wanted. Exactly what I asked for. Find a damaged piece of the education system and play superhero. And then I started thinking about the drunk guy. Here was my chance. This is what I said I wanted…a job where there was so much to do, and so few people to do it, that I would have a chance to test out some of my ideas and to push myself professionally.

And then the situation intensified. On Thursday night I found out that the only other two ESL teachers in the district are looking at other teaching positions in the district as a result of their frustrations with the drunk guy and the (mal)functioning of the department. Shocking, but, in light of the utter ridiculousness of everything else here, maybe not so surprising. The week had pushed the boundaries of my mental health so far at that point that all I could do was laugh.

I have no idea what will happen with my job here. I know that alcoholics deserve second chances, but even when sober, this one does not appear capable. I know that an ESL department comprised of him and I might be a little more leadership opportunity that I had wanted. I don’t envy my boss’ job of trying to sort out this mess.

People, you are all nuts. When I say to you, “Here’s what I am going to do…”, you must never again say to me, “Sloane, what a wonderful adventure.” Y’all are out of your minds.

Of course, even as I type this final edict, I am wildly distracted by the radio program playing here in my bedroom. This American Life this week about Americans living in Paris and all of the attendant absurdities. Listening to it, I’m already feeling the twitch for the next adventure.

In the meantime, there is salmon in the freezer and bubbly chilling in the fridge while Hurricane Ernesto gathers steam near Haiti.