Sunday, September 11, 2005

Inner transformation

I once read a Marine's blog on rage. He called it having a machine within himself. I have only felt this kind of cold mechanical rage a few times in my life.

Once, immediately after the birth of my twins. I was strolling them in an old fashioned pram, because they were two sizes too small. As I walked on a beautiful late spring day down my street, a boy chasing another boy came crashing together through the backyard gate, both about 8 years of age, both dressed in home made capes and wearing war paint on their faces. Each carrying a hammer, whooping like Injuns on the warpath. They ran up to the buggy and suddenly stopped. Suddenly, they both fell silent, while holding their hammers aloft, but not meaning any harm, I am sure, just curious to see what was inside. I didn't wait. The machine within turned on. First, I screamed a kind of scream that could only be described as animalistic. They were scared shitless. I was thinking, Hammers, they are going to attack with hammers, and I screamed a wordless, ragefilled scream. They dropped their hammers and ran into the house, frightened to death of me. I picked up their hammers and threw them over the fence, and shaking from the belief that the babies were in imminent danger, I turned around and went home. I thought about my actions all day, and I could only come to this conclusion: Maternal instinct is animal in nature. I have the capacity to kill someone. I had never thought that was possible before.

My next bout of machine rage was watching the trial of the British Nanny in Massachussetts concerning the death of toddler Matthew Eappen. As I watched her lawyer asking her, "Did you kill Matthew Eappen?" She giggled. Nervously, but leaving no doubt in my mind that she did it. She did it and believed she was going to get away with it. She was so meticulously dressed, so well-prepped,and so image-driven, but the actual stain of guilt was present. It was there in her face, in her eyes, and nothing, no media sympathy, no idiotic polls could have erased the bloodstain from her memory. She did it and she knew it, and she. didn't. care. I went ice cold with rage. How I wanted to strangle her. I wanted to enjoy strangling her. I didn't care that strangling someone was illegal. I wanted to do it. To her. Baby killer. Soulless, self-absorbed baby killer. The jury saw what I had seen, too. Despite the best efforts of the press, they had seen it too, and found her guilty.

The press was outraged! So in love with their creation of an "Innocent British school girl caught up in the Nightmare of the American Justice System" that not one of the talking heads could be bothered to ask...maybe? Maybe she is guilty? But how they crucified the mother. What kind of mother goes back to work and leaves the care of her children in the hands of a teenager? A greedy mom, one who hates to stay home and do the right thing and raise the kids at home....just the kind of woman they usually describe as stupid for WANTING to stay home, and NOT WANTING to work outside the home.

I know those media-types. I used to work for the press, and how I remember hearing them tell me how stupid I was for wanting to give up my 'career' when there were so many day care options available to me. THIS IS THE 80s! What kind of wrench was I throwing into the progress of women's right to work outside the home....yada, yada, yada.So I was enraged at the press in their coverage of the Matthew Eappen murder...and the press' conviction of his mother: guilty for having worked outside the home.

And now, September 11. This is a day tailor-made for rage. Constant therapeutic rage. But, thankfully, I do not need to go out and strangle anyone in the press corps for their constant missrepresentations. We now have 'FISKING', brought to you, since September 11, 2001, or shortly thereafter, by the blogosphere. Thank you for the blogosphere. Best. Invention. EVER!!!

It is this day I felt the coldest and most helpless anger of all.
This day which transformed me from
gullible sheep to rage filled sheepdog.
I might be, in the words of the late Mohammad Atta, "but a woman", but now, I am Jauhara. I may be too old to join the army and slaughter the sons of Allah properly - crusade-style, but now I am Jauhara. forever. And in Arabic, Jauhara is not some meek, abaya-clad, doormat, punching bag, toilet daughter of Islam....she is the infidel..al kafirah.

I don't have any weapon, save for the pen, but since that is all I have, I will wield it the way only an infidel can. I will blaspheme and ridicule the sons of Allahu Akbar, and their vile prophet Mohammad. In fact, I will start writing my own Koran. Apparently, ANY 7th century illiterate piece of camel dung can do it. Why can't I? Enough with the tippy-toed
dhimmitude! On this day, I bid you all a long memory, and a nice, cold, rage-filled rant. Let the fisking celebrations continue.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sometimes, people really do suck

Today has been discouraging. After an off and on summer of giving piano lessons to the D. boys, I was fired. Fired after a scant 7 months of trying to teach two youngsters who clearly do not like piano lessons.
I shouldn't be surprised. In fact, I thought this moment would come sooner. The boys just don't have it in 'em. Still, it hurts to be fired. The mother said that maybe she would get them a better teacher. I smiled. I was the second teacher. The one they'd had for 5 years quit.
After 5 years, neither boy could play with both hands at the same time. Neither had studied scales or Hanon. Argpeggios? What were they? Cadences? Huh? Neither boy would listen to the musical assignments. How can you teach classical music to kids when it isn't even listened to in the home. Mom and Dad are clearly more to blame than the kids or me.
Mom screams at them to practise. Every Saturday, they anticipate my coming with paralyzing dread, arguing between them who would be the unlucky boy to go first.
The boys gave up a long time ago. Before I came into the picture. Nothing will inspire them to practice. I gave them assignments and it wasn't good enough for mom. Mom is the problem. Mom is implacable. Mom wants the boys to love music, but how can they love to play when they can never do well enough for mom.
When I took over 7 months ago, I showed the elder boy that he too, could learn to play a piece of Bach. And he did. Prelude in C. A delightfully simple piece that he mastered. And younger brother did a piece of Bach, too, a minuet in G. But it was never enough for mom.
Mom hated the sound of scales, she hated the Hanon, she hated the chords and inversions. Why aren't they making more progress? It was my fault, it was the boys' fault. Mom....it is YOUR fault.
Nothing worthwhile is easy. Nothing. Years and years of repetitive practise is a must. Scales, played slowly, then mastered with the correct fingerings is a MUST. Metronome, Hanon, Music Theory....all very boring, not even flashy.
It can drive any sane person nuts. Mom...you suck.
You suck, because you SCREAM and BELITTLE, and BERATE, and then you have the temerity to wonder WHY the boys hate to practise? You have never encouraged them, you have only told them how you hate hearing the same things over and over and over. Well, on behalf of every teacher, I am warning them of you.
BEWARE THIS DEMANDING, IMPLACABLE PARENT!! If the kids have had more than one piano teacher, the problem isn't the teacher. It isn't the kids, it is YOU! Mom. Dad.
I questioned the parents and kids about whether their prior teacher had given them any technical exercises, and no, nothing like that sort of thing. When I took over the teaching job, I explained to the parents the need for things like technique. How can you expect the kids to play anything but simple sissy music without having them listen to good music, and giving them the ability to play it. Now I think, this teacher may have understood that these boys would never be pianists. They simply won't ever have the capacity to play music.
Each week of fearful playing ensued, certain that mom would never be pleased at all. I can hear their thoughts: Why even bother? It will never be good enough for her.

And in the end, nothing was good enough for her. Not me, not her boys. Nothing. No one will be able to convince her that she was their source of their failure. How sad. How truly sad. I hate to see the spirit of a child crushed. I hate to see the look of triumph as they finally master a difficult piece, only to be erased as mom tells them that they could have done better.
Sad doesn't even begin to describe it.

UPDATE: Well, she called me back...you know, to give me one. more. chance. Heh. I took the bait, hook, line and sinker. What a horrible mistake.
First I modified the lessons, but nothing satisfied her. The final straw what was breaking my back, was when I came in to the lesson, was happily greeted by M, only to have his mother humiliate him in front of me. She later humiliated me when she asked how long M would have to practice the piece of Debussy I assigned him. I said a couple of months, after all, some pieces take longer than others. She rolled her eyes and made childish noises, and it was then and there that I told M I would no longer come to his house to teach. I wrote a letter, firing her, and basically said her home was unsuitable for a good learning environment, due to the stress she causes with all the screaming and fighting.