My fantasy career as a chalga star has been shelved for a while longer. Maybe forever. The project I had intended has become too taxing on my non-existent funds and my energy has been spread as thin as a Bulgarian teenager’s hips. And then to add to the insult–I have developed some nodules or cysts in my throat that make singing (or talking, swallowing, or moving) difficult. I used to always have my health–but it is something that I have not been able to take for granted recently (see “The Bastard of Istanbul is on my leg”). Not that I ever feel like I take anything for granted.
One thing that I do continue to enjoy, though, is my job teaching circus to middle school kids. Aside from the joy it gives me to be surrounded by 11 and 12 year-olds, it is also a very interesting sociological study. The school where I teach is technically part of the New York City public school system, but is a magnet program for Math, Science and Engineering.
On one hand, these kids have reinforced the stereotype that mathematicians make good jugglers. Pretty much all of them have an understanding of juggling patterns. They are also disciplined, as you would expect them to be. And they are at an age where ‘coolness’ is not yet a pressing concern. On the other hand, they defy the stereotype of ‘nerd’
because they are for the most part coordinated enough to act on their understanding of physical concepts. It has been like a dream teaching them, which is why I will do it regardless of the fact that is preventing me from having days off or paying the rent.
There is an additional social issue too, because this program is housed inside P.S. 125–where the ‘normal’ kids attend classes. The antagonism between the schools is palpable, with the my kids being able to analyze and comment on the prejudice verbally, and the P.S. 125 kids only able to yell disgusting things about nerd mothers. I stand in the hallways in awe of how completely different my upbringing was to this and begin to worry about the future. But then I teach another kid to walk on stilts and feel like at least there is always circus to cheer us.