Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stinky little bastards

I’ve been bulletin boarding “like a champion” since I got back from winter break. I used to hate the bulletin boards with a sick-fearful passion. I knew the kids didn’t read them. I was wasting paper and ink and time to make them. And they never looked nice..!

So I broke down and returned to what I understand. I papered the boards slowly, one by one (of the four, one remains: I’m waiting til I get the letters from Peter’s Japan club in America), surrounded them with dollar store bordering, and titled them “What’s Up” “Coming Events” and “The Emporium.” I’d take a picture, but today is so humid the walls are sweating and every paper item anywhere in the school is warped and sagging.

“What’s Up” was first. It used to be “Hungry for English,” c/o my predecessor. I was loath to take down the board heading until I could properly hope to replace it. It’s just the general board in the main hall. Right now it sports a changeable days-of-the-week thing, and a weather thing. We had these sorts of things in the elementary classrooms where I was a sub a lot of times.. the kids go through it each day and say “Today is _____. Tomorrow will be ____ and yesterday was _____.” The packet came with all three, but I just put up “today.” And the weather one, I just put up “today” also.

“Coming Events” (formerly the first-year board) is the calendar board which I use to talk about holidays and other such things. My hope was to keep there a bunch of coming events, both in Japan and also American holidays.

“The Emporium” (formerly the second-year board) is where I’m putting information about what the kids can buy with their Emi dollars, which they get for volunteering in class and winning games if we play them.

Anyway, one thing I discovered when I was taking down my previous work or my predecessor’s headings is that stinkbugs like to cluster up and live under paper you put on bulletin boards. I had never had the misfortune of killing one of the little bastards myself until I ran one through with my scissors while trimming bulletin board paper. Someone once told me that they “smell like grass,” and it was actually true. I decided there in the freezing hallway that their pungent grassy smell was preferable to the smell that the heater in the staff room was at that moment making by being turned off and then on again by the tea lady for its refilling.

But I hate stinkbugs on principle. They are terrorists. They operate on a system of deterrence. “Yeah, kill me, go ahead. You’ll be sorry though!” They create a reverence for their lives that is not based on their actual inherent value, but on the fear that we will suffer if we harm them.

Remember that time I had one in my pants? I told you about that, right? How I was in a hurry and threw on some pants on the way to the martial arts festival. And once in the car, rubbing my knee, noticed that I was not alone in my pants. There was something right by the crook of my knee and I knew by its size and shape instantly what it was. It must have gotten in when the laundry was hanging up to dry a few days prior. I tried not to panic.

But dude. If there is a stinkbug in your pants, how do you not just take off all your clothes right then and there? I did not want to freak out because I didn’t want to upset the little bastard: he might stink me. And that would be undesirable. Through a series of events, I lost the thing and hoped it had just fallen out of my pants, but feared it had not.

My fears were right. Instead, it had moved to the other side of my knee and gone back to sleep or whatever a stinkbug does in someone’s pants. When I rediscovered it, I tried to get it out of there, but ended up just chasing it up my leg until we (yes, WE) were able to nick it out of the top and flick it out the window. We sat at the red light watching it sit on the pavement, wondering if it would get run over. The Other Georgian said she hoped it didn’t. I found that I really did not care.

My dust-hockey partner (cleaning time student who was also assigned to the staff room with me) likes to tell me “gaida are very delicious, okay?” quickly adding “summer only!” when I suggest he demonstrate this assertion by eating one himself.

Every time I see a student freak out about having one crawling on the wall or window near their desk, I smile and remember that I have tangled with the beast quite closely. And I do not think I lost.

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