Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Long 'til Christmas Break?

I am so tired of being depressed at work, but it's just getting worse. I keep thinking that's not possible, but I am continually mistaken. I need to stop thinking about it. Bad things just keep happening.

Jennifer Hudson is a graduate of the high school where I work. So everyone here feels a certain level of kinship with her, and many of our teachers knew her. One of our teachers is related to her, as are several of our students.

Friday we had a teacher professional development day, so the students got the day off. During our general meeting, our principal reminded us that Jennifer had a new movie out, and that the media wanted to talk to our students and staff about it. She told us to be careful of what we say to the press. When Dreamgirls came out, our school did receive a great deal of media attention. Jennifer even came back to our school to meet our students. I was on maternity leave, so I missed out on all this excitement.

But even before my leave started, we had to decorate at least one of our classroom bulletin boards with Jennifer Hudson stuff. It got to be kind of ridiculous, but I understand why we were so elated. Not many of our students go on to much success of any kind, much less the fame and acclaim of Jennifer Hudson. (Although I think it's important to mention that my school has several famous graduates: Lou Rawls, Mr. T, and Bernie Shaw -- the retired CNN newsman.)

Once I got home from school, I heard about the shootings of Jennifer's mother and brother, and that her nephew was missing. It is so sad and awful, and watching the footage of her sister Julia on the news was very upsetting. It's amazing to me that Jennifer was able to even make it out of the Englewood neighborhood. If I were her, I would never come back.

All weekend I think everyone was hoping that her nephew would be ok, but I expected the worst. It took me an hour and a half to get to work on Monday, thanks to two accidents on the Kennedy Expressway. I got to work and was pretty miserable already. Then I found out that Jennifer's nephew Julian had been found dead in her brother's stolen Suburban. Julian was seven years old. He had been shot seven times, including in the face. Who could do such a thing?

This story is receiving so much media attention because Jennifer Hudson is famous. Unfortunately, these sorts of tragedies happen all the time in this city. People wondered why no one called the police when neighbors heard gunshots around 9 a.m. on Friday. People hear gunshots all the time. The police aren't going to respond to that.

I think I'm too sensitive for this job. Then I think -- what the hell am I complaining about? I don't live in Englewood. I don't have to worry about hearing gunshots and ignoring them because the police won't come. I know that my children will get to attend good schools and are being raised in positive surroundings. Why should I get to be upset?

And more significantly, why aren't my students more upset? Why does this sort of tragedy have to be normal for them? I have been to maybe five funerals in my lifetime. My kids go to funerals all the time. You can't turn on the news or read the paper without hearing about another CPS student dying. A fifteen year old was killed in his home this week. It's out of control.

A few of my students have mentioned the Hudson family murders. One of my students is related to Jennifer -- his mother is her cousin. I had read an article in the Chicago Tribune about the murders, and my student's mother was quoted. She is a minister. I asked the student how he was, and he said he was fine. He doesn't talk much. I wonder how a minister deals with a situation like this. How does God let this happen?

According to the Tribune, William Balfour, Julia Hudson's estranged husband and the main suspect in the murders, was supposed to have a parole meeting on Friday. Instead he called his parole officer and said he was babysitting. That makes me want to throw up. I don't understand how you could kill anyone, but least of all a child. How do you kill a child? How can you shoot him seven times? Including in the face? I will never understand that level of depravity.

I'm really trying to find something positive to write about. I've got to stop thinking about this stuff. I wish that these stories would go away, but they aren't. That's one of the tough things about a job like mine. I hear and see this stuff all the time. I am not as tough as my students. I'm not inured to this stuff. I don't want to be. This stuff should affect people. I just wish I knew what to do about it.

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