Tuesday, November 05, 2013

blog as you are: david "chopper" campbell

Chopper--a former student whose novel I hope I'll see in print someday--truly takes the road less traveled. That road led him to rural Virginia, where he built a house with his bare hands. He's a karate instructor who could kick your ass, but as the peace-lovin' tie-dye below might suggest, he would probably choose not to. Here's how he spent Tuesday, October 29.

Chopper (left) and his band, Kerosene Willy.
4:45 a.m.: Alarm alarms me. I begrudgingly get out of bed to go meet a karate student at 6.

4:50 a.m.: I remind myself that I choose to do this.

4:55 a.m. I drag a toothbrush across my teeth--pick the sleep from my eyes--put on sweats and hoodie--pack clothes for school.

5:00 a.m. Head out the door--start the truck--sit in the truck for a couple minutes. Blast Cat Empire to help sweep out the cobwebs.

5:05 a.m.: Back the truck up and head down the driveway.

5:25 a.m.: arrive at Frank's Food Mart--get Gatorade and iced tea

5:45 a.m.: arrive at Kevin's house to train

5:45-6 a.m.: commiserate with each other about the ridiculous fact that we get up too early to train karate. Joke about "chi" being stronger in the morning, marvel at the fact that this is about the extent of our social lives anymore.

6 a.m.-7 a.m.: Sweat. Punch. Kick. Curse. Bleed. Bruise. Apologize. Hug. Bow. Stretch.

7:05 a.m.: shower--take time to really look in the mirror. Big mistake. realize that some time over the past 10 years, someone replaced my body with one that I barely know and seems to be getting more decrepit each day.

7:15 a.m.: Towel off. Apply deodorant liberally, brush hair, put on "school clothes."

7:25 a.m.: leave for school

7:25-7:45 a.m. Enjoy the only time all day I get to myself (with the exception of bathroom time--and enjoying that too much leads to loose talk and raised eyebrows.)

7:45-8 a.m.: Unpack my mobile office of a briefcase, check email, get set-up for the eager cherubs who will arrive in my classroom at 8:20.

8 a.m.-8:20: Hall duty. Watch out for drug deals, kids making out in the halls, and of course the girls who violate the dress code (which is about everyone.)

8:20-10 a.m.: Impersonate a school teacher. Teach students how to use a midi controller to write an original piece of music. Bust student for being on Facebook during class. Bust student for being on Twitter during class. Bust student for being on Instagram during class. Bust student for being on Tumblr during class. Bust student for being on Vine during class. Bust student for texting during class. Bust student for Snap-chatting during class. Realize that most of class is spent busting students. Wonder when both teaching and learning will get done.

10-10:07 a.m.: Class change. Wander across the hall to co-worker's room. His class is selling candy, chips, and soda as a fund raiser. I internally comment that we can't blame kids for being obese when we push the crap on them.

Stop tweeting and eat some Pringles!
10:07-11:33 a.m.: Class. Not as much illicit social networking, but two girls ask to use the restroom, one after the other. Each is gone for about 10 minutes. I wonder if they both need doctors. After both are back in class, Student Services pages both of them to be checked out of school. I realize I'm being played. They know I realize it. And the three of us know I can't do anything about it.

11:33-12:05 p.m.: Lunch. Usually a half hour of semi-bliss, but today is lunch duty--standing in the cafeteria with 300 freshmen while they try to make sense of their own behavior that is obviously hormonally-driven.

12:05-1:33 p.m.: Newspaper class. My favorite class of the day. Amid the sounds of camera shutters snapping and keypads pounding, students scurry about getting interviews, writing stores, designing pages, and having fun. I am reminded why I teach. This makes up for the other two classes. These guys care. I realize so do I, and I reconcile the morning with the notion that for some of these kids, my class is the best thing they have in their lives--especially at home. I gain both energy and resolve, and I internally vow--again--that I will make my room a place safe for free expression and from the outside world. I remember that I am here to serve.

Safe place for free expression (but NOT ON YOUR PHONE, dammit).
1:33-3:15 p.m.: Planning. I work on a new course proposal for next year--Intro to Radio. I wonder if my FCC license from the old radio days in college is still good. "I don't think I ever got kicked off the air or fined....."

3:15-3:30 p.m.: Bus duty. I marvel at how we can get 2400 kids out the door and off the grounds in 15 minutes. Yellow school buses parade by.

3:45-5 p.m.: Drive to Ferrum--give club tickets and promo posters for upcoming Kerosene Willy Halloween gig. Come back to town for band practice.

5 p.m.-7 p.m.:Band practice. Rehearse for Halloween gig. Decide that reggae version of Werewolves of London would be more cool than cheesy.

7 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Drive home--alternate between NPR and CD of Grateful Dead Great American Music Hall 1975.

When I'm blue, Chopper emails me MP3 files of Dead songs and I feel less dead.
7:30-9:30 p.m.: Greeted at home by seven-year-old son and two new foster daughters--ages 6 and 8. I realize in that instant that nothing I could be doing is any better than that. I decide to quit one of my bands and give up adjunct teaching at the local colleges. I decide that the week of vacation we get at the beach isn't worth the countless nights of not being at home, earning the cash to go to the beach for a week. The math doesn't add up. Spend time with Laissa, the six-year-old. Go over her words with her. She came to us reading only 17 of the 100 words she should know. She tells me no one ever read to her at her house. I try to contain the fact I am deeply saddened. I spend time with Yuilianna--going over her math with her--she's in the low level at school. I go over words with my son, he asks if we can do some "guy" stuff this weekend. I wonder at what age he'll want to do guy stuff with other guys and not his dad. My wife and I read to all three, tuck them in, and head to our room.

Chopper's cutie pies and their cheerful pillows.
9:40 p.m.: I'm asleep.

11:15 p.m.: I wake up and realize I still have on clothes from day before. I undress trying not to open my eyes or exert too much energy, for fear of waking up.

11:17 p.m.: No good. It didn't work. My mind is wandering like a wild geese in the west, as it were. I vow not to look at the clock anymore and close my eyes. At some point sleep overtakes me.


devoya said...

You have some amazing people in your life. If he can get up early for Karate and by the end of the day still have time to read to his babies I need to do better. Like right now!

Cheryl said...

You're one the amazing people in my life, Devoya! I still want to read your post! This experience has been so inspiring and humanizing, despite its simplicity.