Renegade

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Breaking News….Yesterday at approximately 9:45 a.m. local time, Beeps the Kid shot two people dead in Ommoord. According to witnesses, Beeps aka the Kid pulled her two six shooters, fired, and walked out without comment. A later altercation occurred on the pavement outside the Nijveld building.

Did not take long. I knew things were going bad when I heard ‘rustig’ (relax) one too many times and felt in my bones if I didn’t take a stand, heads were gonna roll.

Me: early, waiting. I’d walked AND taken a shower – about as alert and with it as I’m gonna get on any morning. Them: mumbling, unintelligible. Had to ask the teach to repeat what he said every time even tho he was sitting right next to me. Barely caught a word. Did my best to give voice to my concerns in Dutch, and failed miserably – obviously. Those two looked at me like I was an ape in the zoo, then they put their heads together and pulled out the ‘magic books’ to confer over some grammatical rule, completely shutting me out.

There was actual surprise on the face of other student when I stood to leave. Surprise, like she didn’t hear me the first four times I said ‘dit werkt niet voor me’. I stated my ineffectual sentence again, hoping that the words would sink in, then I wished them well, picked up my stuff, and walked. Couldn’t believe it when, outside, I realized the teacher had followed me to ask if I was coming back next week. Coming back next week? Why would I do that? I asked, this time in English to make SURE my words were correct. All you do is answer questions about reading. There’s no structure. If you asked us to watch the news before coming and then sit and discuss what we saw – trying to converse – that would be different. But you don’t. You give no correction; I’ve heard her speak, and she doesn’t speak well. I don’t need this. I get more out of my computer work than I do here. I’m sorry.

The one thing I did a lot of was apologizing.

And what can I say? I whipped out a small pistol from somewhere: Spreek ik zo slecht (do I speak so badly) in response to being handed several photocopied sheets of basic information I already have. When the reaction came – first a yes, then something in Dutch (maybe a ‘for sure’), eyes downcast, obvious embarrassment at being caught out. This from the other student I feel speaks like some stilted parrot.

Honestly, I still don’t really know what happened since I couldn’t understand more than two words they said. They seemed to say one thing but their actions were the opposite. I went with the message in the actions. Far more aggressive a reaction than a little woman from Turkey and an older Dutch man were ready for, far less aggressive a reaction than I am capable of. I did not raise my voice. I did not cry. I did not resort to name calling or venting all my frustration on them, tho I sorely wanted to. I did my meager best to leave on a good note. On my scale I ranked pretty high. Where my actions would lie on another person’s scale…well, that’s another matter.

Self doubt came crushing in on me about three minutes later. I messed up. I offended them (thought again and found I didn’t much care). I quit too soon – as always, so ready to walk away the moment a little frustration peeps out. Despite listing out everything logically to myself, that I was losing nothing by leaving and gaining an extra hour and a half every Thursday morning to do my OWN studying, I still felt frenzied. I needed some assurance that I wasn’t spinning in circles, cutting off my own nose, and being a dick. I knew it, too. I also knew my brother was at least an hour plus away from coming home from his own language lesson, and for the time being I was on my own.

So I committed to the only action that seemed to be within my control. I wrote a letter to the director of the language program, telling her I wasn’t returning to lessons and I didn’t feel this guy was the right teacher for me. Didn’t want to rake him over the coals, but I did want to include my reasons: I don’t find his voice clear, and there’s no structure. I ended by asking to let me know if there’s another teacher willing to take me on as a student, and assured her in the meantime I’ll continue my computer lessons.

The front door opening was a welcome balm; thank god, thank god, my brother’s home to reassure me. And he did, and it helped as much as I knew it would, soothing me, calming me. So much easier to accept I’m not a bitch when I’ve someone else telling me I’m not. He acknowledged all my grown up behavior in writing that letter, too.

It feels a bit lonely though. Still. There’s a small voice inside me that’s telling me no one wants to teach me, no one would dream of taking on such a volatile and unpredictable student. Every time it speaks up I show it pictures from recent memory: the woman at the chemist gently correcting me on word, the woman at the festival mixing simple Dutch and English so I could understand and feel a part of everything. There are people out there willing to teach me. Maybe not on a weekly basis, but there are people everywhere willing to teach me. People who speak much clearer than that instructor. People who take time from whatever they’re doing to help me with a word or sentence or just to chat a bit.

I’m off, cut loose from the system, a language vigilante let loose. Thoughts of subjective infinitives and separable verbs makes me cringe; it’s too much, I’ll never get it. I ain’t no lady, can’t be schooled, too much a rebel to do it your way. The one thing I have faith in is me. I WILL get it. My way.

Just call me renegade.

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