Who’s Counting? Four

Four Cardinal directions. Four gospels. Four horsemen. Four Beatles. Four Monkees. Four seasons. Four beats in a bar of 4/4. Four more days in the school year. Three days with students and a single work day for teachers, culminating awkwardly on a Tuesday. Four days until I count myself officially a “retiree.”

First up on the turntable: Telekinesis, Effluxion. A solid and sweet dose of power pop to begin the day, every song of which in strict 4/4, the people’s time signature, the official signature of 90.8769% of all rock and roll and pop music. I just made that up. The actual percentage might be a smidge lower than that. Maybe tomorrow we can talk about famous or not so famous rock tunes in 3.

And, after my 5th period final, in which Friar Laurence and Paris both shared their Instagram accounts, a comic version of R&J was set in the wild west, a student’s cat wrote a poem, a collage featured a rat from the Capulet tomb and a sunflower (the anti-suicide plant), Jarmer shared another heartfelt appreciation of his last group of students followed by nearly complete and awkward silence, and after the first and so far only selfie taken with a couple of students, here’s what remains on the to-do list:

Now this list, as always, will require amending. It appears that I have achieved completion of all the “late stuff.” Undoubtedly, there will be other “late stuff” to attend to. It also appears that the only other thing left to do is to grade four periods worth of final exams–but only two groups of these have been turned in. So that item will linger until Friday. The hope is to get all finals graded in the next three days and submit final grades. What’s on the to-do list, then, for Tuesday? OMG. The suspense is killing me. I’m sure you’re asking, but Michael, however will you fill the time?

Ready Steve? Andy? Mick? All right fellas, let’s go. The turntable is spinning Strung Up, a strange kind of compilation of the best of (what I knew incorrectly a long time ago to be) the first three albums by British glam rockers The Sweet, or simply Sweet in America. I am 12 years old again. “Ballroom Blitz” is playing as I type this sentence. I feel sad for the people in the world who heard this song for the first time in the soundtrack to the Wayne’s World film. As a middle school kid, I bought this 45 and left the record support thingy of the automatic turntable in the hifi console all the way to the right so that the needle would return to replay the song over and over again. I’d never heard anything like it in my life.

First period reflections, done. First period Romeo and Juliet projects, done.

From 1975 to 2021: Snail Mail, Valentine. Another one of my favorite contemporary things in rock. And then the super chill, “how-can-I-sing-like-a-girl” champion, Home by Rhye.

Fifth period reflections, done. Fifth period Romeo and Juliet projects, done. I’m tired now.

At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the music selection turns a bit to the dark as I approach the letter N and pull out the most recent studio album from the 80’s new wave genius that was and still is Gary Numan. The album is Intruder. It’s heavy, dark, moody, and pressed on blood red vinyl–but I find, unlike Numan’s early output circa 1979, that it rocks super hard. It’s as if in the 90’s he got a Trent Reznor infusion and it stuck for the next 30 years.

I stumbled across a news article today, an op-ed about the biggest mistake people make after retirement. I’ll save you the trouble: this writer interviewed a bizillion retired people and came to the conclusion that the people who were most unhappy in retirement were people who felt like they had no purpose. As grumpy and sad as Numan makes me in between the absolute grungy rock-out moments, it appears to me that Gary Numan has held onto a purpose. I plan to follow in his footsteps.

So, it comes nearly time to call it a day–almost. I should probably get home a little early, see if I can snag a couple of z’s, try to recharge myself for this evening: the last ever graduation of my own students. In two years, I’ll attend my son’s graduation ceremony, and maybe four years after that, another one. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Suffice it to say that today’s entry in the countdown toward retirement is, as they say in the music and film studios, “in the can.” Not the garbage can or the toilet–but the can in which analog tape or film is stored. I probably didn’t have to explain that. I am tired. Cheers!

Everybody wants a piece of the action.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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