The Crisco Classroom

I washed my car at 06h00 today and then again at 06h08. Eight bucks apiece, eight minutes apart. The first one didn’t quite take for reasons I’ll get to shortly.

The Santa Cruz pines were carving up the early morning sun and I had Explosions in the Sky running through my stereo – a wordless band which has transformed even the most unassuming moments into things both eerie and forbodingA band which also provides musical support to everyone’s favorite football drama which hasn’t a hope at a third season. If you’re into that kind of trivia. I didn’t need the help. These days have been plenty eerie on their own.

I didn’t sleep last night. I haven’t shaved in a week or checked my mailbox in double that. Hell with blogging during times like these. It’s this video that done me in, a video due in 2 hours, at which point a lot of unhealthy habits will see their end.

Compounding the weirdness:

At 05h00 this morning, after having worked through the night, I found my car three spaces into a parking lot, lathered in Crisco, flour, peanut butter, and what still smells a lot like vinegar. I won’t pretend for a second I didn’t have this coming.

The details of who did what and whether the retribution was meted out justly aren’t important. This is camp. Imagine I did something annoying to him and he did something proportionately annoying to me.

But he got really, really angry. Lost his cool. I didn’t. Didn’t really matter how imaginative his comeback was after that, did it? He lost.

I incurred those kinds of losses all over my first two years teaching but last year chalked more tricky disciplinary situations into the win column than the loss. Which is to say that in these situations everyone kept his or her dignity, common ground was sought, empathy was had, and if it came to a referral, we loved the sinner but hated the ed code infraction.

I don’t know how to blog that transformation, how to draw a diagram of it, but if I hadn’t been transformed my odds of sticking with this job would be low. I’m only now starting to get an idea why, at this age, I can keep my ego and id tucked into a corner when it matters, when I’m trying to scrub food shortening off the hood of my car before the sun bakes it in. Just for example.

It’s because I like so many things. The things I enjoy – writing, teaching, talking, filming, watching, learning, picture-taking, film-editing – I enjoy so intensely and so often that even the largest nuisance is just a momentary distraction from something really fun. I’ve come to define myself so accurately by the things I like that dislikes (e.g. student misbehavior) have very little staying power.

We all have hobbies, things we enjoy to an irrational point. I just wonder how often we use those to keep our heads level in the middle of a classroom meltdown.

Question’s only hypothetical for a few more days.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I don’t know how you could possibly say Friday Night Lights doesn’t have a shot at a third season when the second hasn’t even started. The mere fact that it got a greenlight after that first season INCREASES the chance for a third season. Artistically crafted but fledgling shows get a standard three seasons from major networks, and the third is the one in which they become shitty and we’re all happy to see them go. Cf. Veronica Mars.

    Also, fuck bitches; DCM 4 life.