An email I didn’t send

Dear Sir and/or Madam:

I have received your email communication of Jul 27th, and it did indeed find me well, at least for a moment, until the subject of your message sunk in and I found my previous wellness replaced with a bone-deep, nearly painful level of exhaustion. While in principle I do agree that we will be working together this year and that we should discuss such things as the curriculum we will be teaching, I feel compelled to remind you that it remains July for several more days yet, and that furthermore it is also somehow still March, and that at the moment I find myself entirely unable to do anything so civilized as “plan” for any so-called “future.” At the moment I barely even believe tomorrow is happening. Three weeks from now is literally unimaginable, and yes, I know what both of those words mean and I assure you I am using them accurately.

Furthermore, I have stalked you on Facebook and you look like a cop, and while I admit and agree that forming an early impression of someone by such means is manifestly unfair, doing so has not led to the cessation of one single bit of my current level of exhaustion. In addition, your use of “your new partner in math” as the closure to your email is unnecessarily precious when a simple “yours,” or perhaps the somewhat archaic but at least moderately humorous “Your obdt. servant” would have sufficed.

In conclusion, please do not expect a response to your query prior to the 3rd August, and later than that is a strong possibility. Responses to this message will be deleted unread, and I swear to God and baby Jesus that if you email my ass just to say “Okay!” or “Thanks!” I will kill myself on the spot and haunt the dog shit out of you and your descendants unto the 4th generation.

I remain,

L.M. Siler

In which I tell a brief, unpleasant story

I’m pretty sure I have never told anyone this story before– not in print, not in person, it’s not in Searching for Malumba, nothing– and I’m also not exactly sure what chain of thought brought it to mind as I was taking a post-pool shower and shaving my head just now, but now that it’s there I’m gonna talk about it.

It is 2005, and I am either on my last day of student teaching or it is the last day before Spring Break; I don’t remember which. I have three years of actual teaching experience, but I spent them at a Catholic school because I wasn’t certified, and completing my MA and getting my certification means I need to student teach anyway. I have ended up at a massively overcrowded (45+ students in several classes) K-8, primarily Puerto Rican, Spanish-speaking school on Chicago’s north side. I am teaching Language Arts and I have 6th through 8th graders.

My mentor teacher, a woman (this is relevant) tells me we need to talk about something before I go, and something about her tone immediately alarms me. She hands me a folded note. I open it and note that about half of the paper has been cut off, possibly to preserve a handful of student signatures. I am teaching LA in this building, however, so this doesn’t do a ton of good as I recognize the handwriting and I know who the young lady in question’s friends are.

The note says that I have been staring at her and her friends’ butts, and that none of them feel safe around me.

I note that there is a date on the note. It is about exactly two weeks old.

Chances are I paled a bit. This is bad. This is real bad. For a bunch of perfectly obvious reasons, plus the one where if I fail student teaching I’ve basically wasted the large amount of money I’ve borrowed to pay for this degree.

I look up at my mentor teacher, about to start strenuously denying some shit.

“It’s not true,” she says before I can get a word out. “I’ve been watching you for two weeks. You aren’t doing that.” I think about it for a moment, and I also realize that I’ve had this specific girl as well as all of her friends in small group instruction several times since this must have been written, with no inexplicable drama occurring. My mentor teacher has set the groups.

My mentor teacher goes on to explain that she’s not told anyone about the note, and that she wouldn’t have unless she witnessed some sort of untoward behavior herself on my part, so the two of us are the only adults who know about it. She says it’s a product of– and I will never forget hearing her say this– “these kids’ fucked-up lives, and their fucked-up problems,” and that she wanted me to know about it but that I shouldn’t spend any time worrying about it.

(Thinking about it, this must have happened before Spring Break, because I feel like she said “spend your Spring Break” worrying about it.)

And now, fifteen years later, this story pops back into my head, and as I’m thinking about it, I’m trying to decide how I might have handled it, if I were in the same position she was in, and whether I think she did the right thing by not sharing the note with anyone and just observing me herself. I mean, I wasn’t under her direct supervision every time I was with kids; that’s not how student teaching works. It’s conceivable that I might have been saving my creepery for when there weren’t other adults around, yes?

(To be perfectly clear, I wasn’t. But still. She didn’t know me that well.)

I genuinely do not know– I don’t think she told me, as opposed to this being something I’ve forgotten– whether she had a sit-down with whoever signed the note or not. The situation, again, appears to have been forgotten about as soon as the note was written, because surely I’d have heard about it faster if they had kept complaining.

What do y’all think? What’s the move here?

One more thing

I discovered Linktree yesterday, and I’ll find a place to put this on the site somewhere that’s fairly prominent, but for now, here is everywhere you might wish to find me on the Interwebs.


I was in the mood for a movie last night, and I offered three options to my wife: Sanjuro, an Akira Kurosawa samurai movie starring noted badass Toshiro Mifune, Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie we’ve both seen but which I felt could stand a rewatch, and Atomic Blonde.

You may see a theme there, and it’s a sign of just how much of an action star Charlize Theron has become that I’m putting her up with Toshiro Mifune without even thinking about it. She’s an amazing actress and also seems to be an impressively genuine individual; I’ve seen several really good interviews with her and she’s always entertaining as hell. (She did a great interview with Howard Stern a few years ago, but I can’t find that online.)

I had thought from the previews that Atomic Blonde was basically going to be a Black Widow movie without actually having Black Widow in it; that is not entirely accurate. This is a spy movie set in Berlin during the last days of the Berlin Wall– the Wall actually falls toward the end of the movie, so the very last days of the Wall– and Theron plays a British agent sent in to recover a list of active agents being shopped around by a former Russian Stasi agent who is trying to defect. It’s a great example of the genre; other than the bit where it’s starring a woman this movie could have been made in any of the last three decades without any change, and other than needing to see into the future to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall I could totally see it having come out in the 50s or 60s as well. It’s got this timeless classic feel to it that I really liked, and the direction, set lighting, that sort of thing all has this great old-school thing going.

There is no trace of the superhero movie in this, though, is the thing, despite having been based on a comic book.(*) There are some great fight scenes, and one of the things that makes them great is that Theron’s character doesn’t have a single fight anywhere in the film that doesn’t take a toll on her. If she gets punched in the face, she acts like she’s been punched in the face, and the film uses a framing sequence where she’s being debriefed by MI6 where she is covered in bruises and looks absolutely beat to hell. There’s an absolutely amazing sequence toward the end of the film involving several waves of two or three bad guys at a time and several staircases. It’s probably close to ten minutes long and it’s all one shot, and by the end of it Theron has won (spoiler alert, I guess) but can hardly walk and frankly is only barely still alive. It’s one of the best fight sequences I’ve ever seen, and it takes what was already a pretty damn good flick and elevates it to something very close to a must-see for anyone who enjoys action films.

I feel like this movie went under the radar when it came out in 2017, so if you haven’t seen this yet, definitely take a couple of hours and check it out. It’s a $3.99 rental in a couple of different streaming services right now; you won’t regret it.

(*) I know nothing at all about the comic book other than the name, so I can’t really address how well this movie works as an adaptation.

Who am I and what is happening

Guys I’m listening to a Taylor Swift album on purpose right now and if there’s any clearer sign that 2020 is completely out of control I can’t imagine what in the world it could possibly be. That said, Folklore doesn’t sound like anything else she’s ever done. It’s adamantly not a pop album. I … think I like it, but that might be one of the signs of the apocalypse and I haven’t read Revelation in a while so let me hold off on that determination for a minute.

I said on Twitter earlier that this was like Taylor Swift wrote a Fiona Apple album, but even that doesn’t make sense because I didn’t really like Fiona Apple all that much until her quarantine album came out, and nothing in the world makes any sense any longer.

In other news, I am tired of thinking about my vision, which isn’t improving to the degree I want it to, which is juuuuuust starting to edge into alarming territory, and I have to continue vaguebooking about the thing I was vaguebooking about earlier this week for at least a little bit longer. Until next Tuesday, in fact.

“Vaguebooking” is one word, WordPress, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop fixing it for me.

Also, have I always written ridiculously long sentences around here, or this is a new thing? I feel like it may not be new but it’s definitely getting worse, and I need to work on that.