Friday, October 13, 2006

That Bag Is Bigger Than You!



I can’t remember the first time I carried a gun to class, you know, the particulars, what the weather was or if I saw a carved-in jack-o-lantern on my way to class, you know, the details I’m always stressing to my students -- the abstract doesn’t work! I do, however, remember the student who inspired me to it, an ex-Marine named Karl who had an aura that said things, things like this man is a rapist/serial killer/torturer of animals. I'd just turned twenty-one and had my first class to teach, a freshman comp class that met every Tuesday and Thursday. I'd never so much as been a teacher's aide and the thought of filling an hour and a half already had sent me into thoughts of terror. The night before I was to teach, I did my laundry at rundown place by the university and thought about a lesson plan. A woman started to talk to me about her life in the battered women's shelter. I listened to get my mind off my fear and fixed on the fact that she said that nothing but writing in her journal had allowed her to move on with her life, get out of the abuse. Looking back, I realize she also spent a lot of time talking about fear and intimidation and if I had been more attuned, I would have realized that in addition to the cosmic support she lent me for my chosen profession (writing and teaching others to write), she had also given me a grim warning about what else I was to encounter in my life for the next few years.

Karl left my class after a series of incidents, but my fear didn't. I noticed that the students never sat in the chair that he had occupied, even though there was no formal seating arrangement. I suppose the choices we make ourselves are always more lasting than the ones issued to us. Having taken a gun safety class the year before, I had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, although I never thought I would use it. The gun rested in a side pocket of my backpack for years. It took up room, had weight. I carried it with all the other things I chose to lug around -- books and papers, anxiety like a chronic illness. Like with the late point in most addictions, the gun didn't make me feel any better, but I couldn't do without it. I gave it up eventually, but it wasn't easy. I backed away from my fear as if it were a snake, something beautiful and deadly that I would miss, if only for the room it took up, the weight it had, the power to define the days. I don't carry half of what I used to around anymore, but sometimes I miss the way that my things used to wear me down, the comments people made -- Hey, that bag is bigger than you! and the mark on my shoulder from all the weight I was carrying.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." Buddy Guy

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Burning Hell John Lee Hooker

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Friday the 13th!

13 comments:

Special said...

I was a bagger at Farmer Jack's. Once I did such a good job of stacking all the bags of a huge order in the cart that I got a round of applause from the family buying all the stuff. I took a bow. Later, I was promoted to frozen food, mostly because I didn't mind being outside in the cold bringing in carts. Didn't mind the cold at all. So I was put in frozen food. That's my bag story.

Mack the Knife said...

I've never owned a gun. Box cutter is my weapon of choice. I always carry one.

Short bus said...

That's a very cute Snoopy t-shirt, Michelle. I have a large t-shirt and baseball hat collection. I won most of the hats in the claw machine game at Meijers.

Dr. Irwin Corey said...

I've never used lesson plans for my lectures, nor do I ever contemplate doing so. All of my presentational oral deliveries, without exception, are delivered in an extemporaneous manner. The problem, therefore, is not in filling the time. The problem is in running out of time. I've never had a single confrontational incident and, if I do say so, am off the charts in Ratemyprofessor.com.

Drugstore cowboy said...

Years ago, when I worked at CVS, an associate friend of mine slashed his palm with a box cutter. His wound required eight stitches. This incident happened on Friday the 13th. After cutting himself, my friend asked if I believed in superstitions. I said I did.

Stupid question man said...

Is it just me or is there no "s" sound when John Lee Hooker says, "I'm bad, like Jesse Jame"?

Myth Allbum said...

Go Tigers!! Beat Oakland!! Oakland SUCKS!!!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Carrying a concealed weapon isn't such a bad idea. There's at least one or two creepy fellows in every class I teach, and they try to hang back and talk to me.

Tim said...

I never heard of someone from Detroit not carrying a gun. Don't you get fined if you don't have one? j/k
Happy Friday the 13th!

Sheila said...

I'm not sure if I would ever carry a concealed weapon but I would like to learn how to use one. I would also like to learn self defense and how to use a number of other weapons. The world today is a scary place. Especially for women. I am short cute and have a small frame. That just screams vunerable.

Bonnie said...

Honey, the boys had another day with baseball and all, hope you're sticking wiht what counts -- beauty products (haha)! Kiss kiss, and don't you know it?

Anonymous said...

I hate that our brains remember our torments and torturers more than our friends and pleasures. Even if the incidents are muddy, they have unmeasurable weight.

It sucks you had to carry a gun. It sucks more that you carried it for as log as you did.

r's musings said...

I think I'd feel more fear if I carried a gun than I do now. Avoiding dangerous places seems like a better deal.