The honest truth is that I had already decided, the moment I stepped out of the yoga studio door, not to write tonight. I was tired, faced a mile walk home, and had (have) some other things that must be done before I conk out tonight. To tell the truth, I’m a little yoga drunk right at the moment. Caveat lector. I tried to find an internet reference to “yoga drunk”, but only found references about doing yoga while drunk, which is most assuredly not the same thing. My version of yoga drunk is that state of near total relaxation induced by a challenging yoga practice, the kind that pushes you to the edge of your comfort, and then just a smidge beyond that. That’s what the breathing is for – to help maintain your focus when you are uncomfortable. It’s not about stretching or poses or flexibility, though those come along for the ride. Ultimately, it is about breathing and focusing on your breath.
So there I was walking home. I passed a woman who climbed the three steps into her apartment building and I thought, “Man, that seems like a lot of effort.” About ten paces later, I realized I had 187 steps and a half mile between me and bed.
Even before that, though,I knew I was going to write tonight. I had been thinking about what to write all day, but nothing came to mind; hence my decision not to write as I came out of the studio – to come up with a topic and write it seemed like too much. But then, as I wandered toward home in my sozzled state (drunk has a lot of synonyms), I reflected on my day, and thought, “How can I not write about Joe-dy”?
Although I spend only a couple of hours per week in each classroom, in most classrooms there is one or two girls that I have a notable connection with. I one classroom, it’s Sophia, who asked me to adopt her as my daughter about 15 minutes into the first class I visited, right after an ice breaker I failed miserably at. She seemed like a fun kid, so I said yes, so long as I didn’t have to pay college tuition. Now when I go to that class, I get a cheery “Hi, Dad!” and I answer back, “Hi Sophia! How’s it going?”, and we catch up for about 20 seconds, and she heads off back to whatever activity I walked in on.
Though I didn’t know Judy’s name until today, she accepted me into her classroom a little over a week and a half ago. It’s one of those indelible moments. We had just boarded the 7 train on our way back from a field trip to Google, and she put her hand out and gave me “the Italian hand gesture”, which is an inside joke in that class. (“The Italian hand gesture, as it is known in that class (they use that term in many of their coding projects, as in “ x = ‘the Italian hand gesture’ ”), is putting your 5 finger tips together pointing upward and moving your hand slightly upward. I didn’t recognize it at first, so I made my hand into a beak and pecked hers. She simply said, “No. Like this.” and made the movement again. I was in.
Today, I was working on attendance in that classroom, when I heard my name, “Joe!”. The girls call me a whole bunch of different things (Joe, Doc Och, Mr. Ochterski, Doctor Mister Ochterski, Doctor Mister Joe (if they call me “Mister”, I insist on “Doctor Mister”), but mostly Joe, because that’s how the teaching teams refer to me. I looked up, and three girls, Judy in the middle, were waving frantically for me to come over and help with their programming problem. There were six other teachers in the room, and those girls wanted me to help them. That’s a nice feeling.
Later in the day, we were discussing some recipe they saw on the internet, I think it was this: “Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Onion Rings with Avocado Lime Sauce”. I offered an alternative: mix crumbled bacon into the onion ring batter mix, dip them, fry them, and serve them with guacamole. The idea was an immediate hit at that table. Judy said we should go into business together, and that we should call it “Joe-dy”. I think we’ll be hitting the fair circuit this year. I bet we’ll outsell the Bloomin’ Onion people.
It’s moments like these that make the small stresses that come with this job so worthwhile. The girls are bright, energetic, fun and most of all playful, and that is a great thing to be part of.