Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not Far From The Tree

Who could have guessed I'd be doing this well? After a month, a short, short month, I am functioning, better than I had before my father got sick. A friend said I found a curious redemption in caring for my father, and I think that's possible. Of the family, I was the one who realized Papa-san was in distress, I was the one who hunted down his doctors (and may have to hunt them down in earnest; see my "Crestorfallen" post in November 2007), and my brother and I did all we could, everything, first to save him, and when we couldn't save him, to help him as he left this world.

So after a lifetime of questioning my judgement, my family relied upon it in a matter of life and death, and knew it to be sound. And now I know.

Initially, I didn't want to achieve anything, ever again, because he'll never know. "So you're not going to accomplish anything, for your father's sake?" my husband said.

Well, when you put it that way---

In my family, the irrational will always give the rational a good run for its money, and rationality usually doesn't finish first. But in this case, I heaved myself to my feet.

Now I have a new job, a learner's permit, and one half-hour's experience bouncing along the Hudson river in my father's little twenty-year-old car, a manual-shift Suzuki Samurai. It looks like a shrunken Jeep, and everyone who sees it refers to it as "the ice cream truck." All of this within the last two weeks.

The job is thanks to George Bush, at whose televised visage my mother has hurled more bad language than she even did at Nixon, and she bought a portable television just for the Watergate hearings especially so she could curse at Nixon in any room of the house.

But because of Bush's No Child Left Behind program, and the relentless testing it mandates, a number of children now need tutors to help them pass these tests, so that their schools don't lose federal funding. And that's what I shall be doing. Drilling poor little kids in how to fill in the right ovals with their #2 pencils.

I say "shall" because I haven't been unloosed on the kids yet; I have to be fingerprinted by the NY Board of Ed ($115 dollars please!), and I can't be fingerprinted until the company employing me sends me a letter to take to the Board of Ed, and the company employing me is just setting up its operation, so they tell me, which is why they are so disorganized.

This I learned the hard way as I called them from the actual Brooklyn offices of the Board of Ed, where I had gone to lay my money down for fingerprinting.

Incidentally, the fingerprinting itself costs sixteen bucks. New York state then charges ninety-nine to store the fingerprints. I could rent a storage locker for a lot less and start a sideline storing fingerprints. This is one of the ways New York keeps taxes off the radar: sticking it to little people in obscure corners like making them pay for fingerprint storage.

Should I ever get this letter (I may just go to their office and pick it up), I will be traveling to these kids' homes to tutor them, one-on-one. They will mostly be in Brooklyn and the Bronx, probably not in the yuppie sections. I just hope not to be felled by a stray bullet. I actually looked into buying Kevlar to line my hat (impractical---it needs to be folded and refolded exactly the right way to do any good--kind of like croissant dough).