The Mushroom Farmer, Chapter 19

The mf takes his little doggie Blip out for an early morning walk, the sun still so East it shines right through his sunglasses when they go around the block, where the mf puts his leftover weed into the dog poop depository.

He wants a clear head for the start of school in six days. He started teaching school under the influence once; not in the classroom itself but in the crucial planning stages. His fifth graders did sit quietly on that first day listening to the entirety of Van Morrison’s seven-minute “Almost Independence Day.” This was back when school started the day after July 4, which must have played into the mf’s reasoning. That class, after this folk-rock introduction was followed inscrutably by the reading aloud of a picture book about Cesar Chavez, descended rapidly and irretrievably into the maelstrom, offering the mf a live-and-learn opportunity he has for the most part actually learned from.

Let’s give the mf credit for not being a full-time stoner. He did not light up one more time to say goodbye, to gain one last smokey epiphany or boner. He had had his vacation fill of both, so satisfactorily that he not only woke up ready to part with his stash but actually went ahead and took Blip out for a walk right by the poop depository, the mf’s traditional destination when the time has come to part ways with the transfixing smoke he has held deep in his lungs on and off since the age of 17.

Oh, it can be quite the topic of internal debate for the mf. We are not going to litigate the plusses and minuses of smot-poking here, however. We are just going to nod and let the mf continue working out how to respond to food insufficiency in Los Angeles while simultaneously ramping up to teach high school English for the Spring semester, with students whose skin color and poverty have exposed them to the extremes of the COVID-19 pandemic. A clear head feels essential to the grief counseling the mf feels certain will be a major part of his job starting very soon.

Meanwhile, Blip enjoyed the walk. He got to do widespread sniffing of downed palm fronds. He also got sniffed in turn by a neighbor’s basset hound. The sky was festooned with puffy clouds, puff-puff-puff. If the mf feels the urge to smoke anytime between now and his next vacation, he can:

play the drums;

lift weights;

sleeeeeeeeeep;

read;

write;

plant stuff; or

do nothing.

What the mf really wants to do is feel the pain of this pandemic. He has kept it at bay thus far with a big assist from his old friend weed; however, if he is to assist his much-afflicted current high school students in navigating the pandemic, then the buffer has got to go.

What to do with this pain? Go deep with it. That is the mf’s plan. What does going deep with the pain of the pandemic actually mean? That is another thing, like what to do about food insecurity, that the mf feels ready to discover.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky has been writing stories and essays since he was a music snob prodigy in early-1970's San Antonio, Texas. Since then he has written about not only music but also baseball, gardening, teaching, parenting, cycling and the... glory of love. Lit Hub and The Sun have published his work, and so has the Austin Chronicle. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he teaches English to some of the nicest kids in the world at an arts-themed public high school downtown.

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