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Yale Daily News Magazine · Mr. Yerigan

Notes for 3/14                                               

Am I only one who hates strip-mall high-school-rivalry walks-around-the-reservoir suburban lifestyle?

Today Mr. Yerigan (proud, fat history teacher; white sneakers) not in class because he has to go see fifth son’s baby soccer tournament. Read: Mr. Yerigan has five sons. Mr. Yerigan misses school when four-year-old has soccer game.

(Pictures of five sons lined up on edge of Mr. Yerigan’s desk. All blond like Mr. Yerigan, but not fat like Mr. Yerigan. Maybe Mr. Yerigan was once not fat.)

Sub plays video on Spanish-American War, but Billy Harper starts loud conversation with buds about football. Like, hey did you see the Packers game yeah it was really good huh that last pass was a doozy. I say Billy can you not talk about football some of us are trying to learn about origins of US’s complex relationship with Cuba.

Billy laughs, says Shawn are you actually interested in this video, like are you actually interested in the Spanish-American War. I say yes, obviously, crucial turning point in American history. Macie Connors (braces, flashing sneakers) nods in agreement. I groan because Macie agrees with me. A sad day when Macie agrees with you. A very sad day.

Billy rolls his eyes then goes back to loud conversation. Like, intentionally loud. Not even necessary to use so much air when talking with two friends about Packers game.

Then two days back Mr. Yerigan out also because wife falls, sprains ankle. Misses entire day of school to sit with wife as she ices bruised ankle. Am starting to think does not want to be in school. Then too, sub plays video (Mexican-American War this time, slightly less interesting historically speaking), and Billy talks. What about? Jaguars? Panthers? Lions? Some cat.

Billy and Mr. Yerigan are why I hate strip-mall high-school-rivalry walks-around-the-reservoir suburban lifestyle.


Notes for 3/21

Monday I take English test about “Macbeth.” Question about meaning of blood. Like, I don’t know, maybe somebody injured, skin perforated? Clotting factors not sufficient? Teacher (Ms. Ramone: cleft chin, wart) does not give credit. Ignorance rampant in this town. Disbelief beyond words.

In math a blackbird crashes into window, flutters around, dies. Jenna Freeman cries. Like, cries cries. Teacher (Ms. Warner: Body is straight line, like, x equals 0) has to get mop from custodian lounge for tears. Jenna keeps crying. Jenna like, blackbird so innocent, doesn’t understand modern society, deserves better. Then Andy Thayer like, blackbird not conscious. Blackbird is a bird. Jenna screams at Andy. Teacher sends Jenna to office, Jenna doesn’t come back. Next day (Wednesday), Jenna not in school. Andy like, maybe having a funeral for blackbird ha. Goes to office too.

Wednesday Mr. Yerigan gets angry at Macie because she corrects him about date.

Mr. Yerigan says, Abraham Lincoln was president from 1860 to 1865.

Macie says no, actually Abraham Lincoln was president from 1861 to 1865.

Mr. Yerigan says does it fucking matter Macie? Then gets real red, lips tight, still fat though (ha ha). Says sorry, don’t know why I got flustered, you were right, please forgive me. Macie smirks, is all like, not my problem I was right. Mr. Yerigan says don’t be an ass Macie. Then gets real red again. Like, sorry I don’t know what’s gotten into me.

Sad that nothing happens more interesting than dead blackbird and incorrect teacher.

Remember to admit: Know that it seems petty to get so worked up, angry, nervous about little things. Just really don’t like it here. Makes my lungs turn (is that expression?). See what Ms. Solicz says.

Really though, nothing to worry about. Lots of things going on! Is okay to feel out of control. High school is crazy, crazy time, like Dad always says.


Notes for 4/4

Wow! No appointment last week because of flood. Lord Street (between house and center) covered with lots of water from river. Lots of adrenaline, very exciting, thrilling.

More important, though, is that Lord Street is street in town. Is because everyone here (really, everyone here) is Catholic. On Sundays roads fill with big suburban cars with big suburban families and big suburban dogs. Very white, too. (Not roads or dogs! People. Like last year, principal had to invite Black history teachers from out of town to speak at Black History Month program, because none in town.)

Politician introduced motion few years back to rename Lord Street. Outrage, protests, marches. Biggest church in town organized boycott. Wasn’t clear of what, but was boycott of something. Politician apparently buckled under pressure of nothing boycott, because Lord Street still Lord Street.

Anyway, weird to miss appointment. Have been seeing Ms. Solicz for four years, ever since started obsessively documenting all events in life. Felt very anxious last week when couldn’t talk to Ms. Solicz. Wrote down objects in house for two hours straight.

Maybe should mention, although probably won’t, because don’t like sad look Ms. Solicz gets whenever tell her sad things. Like when teachers say not mad, just disappointed. So uncomfortable.

Plus, have plenty of other things to talk about! Blackbird conversation should be enough. (Discussion of blackbird mortality two weeks ago really getting somewhere!)


Notes for 4/11

Good that I talked to Ms. Solicz about dead blackbird! Birds becoming big problem. On Tuesday, second blackbird flies into window during math class! Jenna starts crying again. Ms. Warner groans. Is like, all right, where’s the mop. Andy laughs. Ms. Warner says don’t push it Andy I’ll send you to the office again in a second. Andy is like, oh. All the arguing makes me tense, like wound-up spring. Ow my back is sore.

During homeroom school says is considering solutions to blackbird problem. (Apparently happens in other classrooms too! Widespread issue. Avian pandemic.) In short term, custodians going around outside putting up blue sticky notes? Like blackbirds will see sticky notes and think oh that’s a window? Don’t exactly understand rationale behind scattered blue sticky notes.

Ms. Warner is no longer x equals zero. Now more like x squared over sixteen plus y squared over one equals one. Turning into ellipse.

Hopefully I don’t gain weight.

Maybe talk to Ms. Solicz about gaining weight.

Also, history getting pretty insane. Mr. Yerigan out again! Thursday (yesterday)! No reason this time! Just out! Gone!

Sub says didn’t leave plans, so study hall. Yay except no homework, so waste of precious time. And really annoying because I know day after (today) will have lots of English homework, but can’t start yet.

Billy yesterday like, hey Shawn can you help me with my geometry homework. I say what are you learning? He says circles.

Inner conflict: Want to be moral and stand my ground and not help. But circles really fun! Best part of geometry. So I help.

But not for Billy. I mean, partly for Billy. Billy = attractive. Not that Billy = attractive to me, just that objectively, Billy = attractive.

(Also talk about inner conflict, etc. with Ms. Solicz. Busy appointment!)


Notes for 4/18

Ms. Solicz says Shawn you worry too much. I’m like, yeah duh that’s why I come to these appointments what else is new.

Sometimes feel like appointments are waste of time. But then there are days like Tuesday, when I crouch in stairwell between second, third periods hyperventilating about a math quiz. And Wednesday, when do the same about an English quiz.

Not yesterday, though. Yesterday no hyperventilation. Good!

Yesterday just frantically took notes in bathroom stall out of fear of forgetting day’s events. Is weird, because Ms. Solicz makes me take notes when am in therapy for taking notes. Don’t think Ms. Solicz knows how many notes I take in little therapy notebook she gave me with blue cover and weird flowers. Many things Ms. Solicz doesn’t know.

Talk to Ms. Solicz about appointment doubts? Or no? Have an hour to decide.

Maybe don’t mention for now.

In other news! Blackbird situation getting crazier. Administration has new idea now. Plan to put up big fake birds. Hawks, eagles, owls. Think will scare off blackbirds, stop blackbirds from dying.

Well, administration is stupid. Little birds attack big birds! Emailed principal, said will only attract more birds, will cause more deaths, make people like Jenna cry more, etcetera etcetera.

No response yet.

In English Monday, take final test on Macbeth (!). Extremely important assessment, one fifth of third quarter grade. Forgot to study. Read: Forgot was happening in first place. Still, took test without complaining. One question like, what was Shakespeare’s intention when wrote play? I say to make a good play. To make money. Please audiences. Feel satisfied.

Ms. Ramone marks off again! Says does not “address the essence of the work.” Literally means nothing. Is no essence of the work. What work has essence. Essence isn’t even thing. Essence is like always third word in wine ad in greasy magazines on kitchen counter.

Ms. Ramone’s vocabulary is wine ad in greasy magazines on kitchen counter. And not only essence. Also tang, aftertaste, notes. Like, essay in December: “Shawn, I like the sass and tang of this paper, but it contains notes of aggression and therefore left me with a bitter aftertaste.”

Ms. Ramone thinks writing is wine. Just like Ms. Warner thinks math is exercise. Like, hey hey class let’s do four more reps with the 3D distance formula! Or, hey class we need to improve our form on graphs! Or hey team let’s take a test! Math not football team. Math not Billy’s Sunday night Packers parties with Cheetos and flat beer. Math math.

Tell Ms. Solicz sorry, know it’s a lot. Just long week.

Long, long week.


Notes for 4/25

I was right! Swarms of blackbirds, also sparrows, grackles, cardinals, wrens, warblers! Gathering around big fake birds. So now, thanks to administration’s great idea, not only dead blackbirds — also dead sparrows, grackles, cardinals, wrens, warblers! Jenna trying to organize a protest. Andy like, a protest for birds? Jenna like shut up, Andy. Ms. Warner says hey! Let’s not be rude. After which Jenna starts crying, says nobody understands me, life so difficult, will never find peace.

So now school just six hours of intermittent dull thumps.

Sometimes feel like high school is big waiting room. Like, waiting room to adulthood. Bad television playing and loud, corny music playing. Maybe country music. So ready to get out of here. Especially now that Mr. Yerigan started quietly sobbing at his desk in class Wednesday.

Should probably elaborate for Ms. Solicz. Am sitting in history, taking test. Really hard! One question: Where was the third battle of Civil War fought? Anyway, start hearing weird heaving sound, creaky chair sound too? So turn around, Mr. Yerigan has head down on desk, is moving up and down. Think, maybe just exercising? But no, then raises head, face covered in tears.

We make eye contact, he like oh no, I like oh no, so we both just go back. Me to the test, him to quietly sobbing at desk.

Next period I have to go to nurse because start having a panic attack in the middle of gym. Was only playing wiffle ball! Would think at least maybe running? Weights? Something intense? Kind of sad that panic attack occurs during game of wiffle ball.


Notes for 5/2

Mr. Yerigan out for past four days. Lots of rumors. Like, maybe on impromptu vacation to Cancún? (Mr. Yerigan obsessed with Cancún. Almost every test: weirdly specific extra credit question about Cancún.) Or, maybe just decided, no more teaching? Didn’t even tell administration? Like, ultimate rebellious move for high school history teacher?

Macie says perhaps struggles in the family. Everyone like, shut up Macie.

Am kind of maybe in love with Zach Rodriguez? Like, not love love. More pretend to look around entire choir when in reality am keeping eyes fixed on you as you sing Kumbaya love. Is that love?

Tried to talk to Zach Tuesday. Like, hey how about that test. (Zach is in English class.) Zach like, yeah lol what a whopper.

A little hard to get over Zach’s casual use of word “lol” in one-on-one conversations. Does “lol” even qualify as a word? Is as much of a word as “Uncle Elgar’s Juicy Veggie Hot Dogs” from Whole Foods is word.

Still, though, Zach fine, as youth say these days. Hair on point, as youth say these days.

Talk to Ms. Solicz about fact that use sad little child slang when attempting to minimize importance of feelings being shared. (Like when cat died in sixth grade and all I said was “hella tragic.”)

Also talk to Ms. Solicz about fucking hormones. Like, why men suddenly appealing to me? Before, found lots of girls attractive! Like Amanda! Had cool hair! But don’t tell Ms. Solicz about Zach, because then she might think am gay when am not.

Or at least not sure.

Oh! Jenna holds candlelight memorial for dead birds. Calls it “First Monthly Avian Mourning Club.” Or FMAMC for short. Pronounced “fuhma’amsee.” Am marginally disturbed by fact that Jenna plans to hold monthly mourning ceremonies. Like, does Jenna actually expect large portion of student body to stay interested in memorial for dead songbirds? Jenna deluded.

People only planning to go to first FMAMC because administration not present, so booze A-okay. Also why I will not be going. Have powerful fear of alcoholic beverages. When little, old man in Boston threw half-empty bottle of beer at face. Missed. Still, though, traumatizing. (Also why afraid of raggedy paper bags.)

Am worried about future. What if, when grocery shopping, experience panic attack because of prevalence of paper bags? Or what if have to walk through alcohol section? So much glass waiting to be shattered!

Another thing to talk to Ms. Solicz about. Now am going to make myself close little blue notebook with weird flowers, because feel like am spiraling and soon will be writing about number of tiles in third-floor hallway.


Notes for 5/9


Mentioned therapy to entire math class. Asked about weekend, was casually like, let’s see, did some work, read a book, went to therapy. Then like, “shit.” (Didn’t actually say “shit.” Just thought “shit” very loudly.)

Jenna like, you go to therapy too? What your therapist’s name.

Am like, idk ha ha. Want to bang head on desk like clueless bird into window. Then class continues. Still though, so bad! Social life over? College admissions prospects ruined? Is all a possibility.

Zach expelled. Am sad because now choir and English just rooms full of pimply children with disproportionate features. Like Claude, whose lips literally two feet tall.

Like to think Zach expelled for noble reason. Like, maybe trespassed in order to save baby badger? Or bullied a bully? Like, distributing divine retribution?

Am not religious. Actually, terrified of idea of death. But also equally terrified of idea of eternal life. So Catch-22. Talk to Ms. Solicz about Catch-22.

Should read that book.

Some stupid kids say Zach expelled for bullying little kid with cancer. But are stupid kids, and stupid kids spread stupid rumors. Like last year, when people said math department supervisor was actually alien.

So not giving too much weight to stupid kid rumors.


Notes for 5/16

Was weird week.

Tuesday, birds stop dying. Just stop. No more dull thumps on windows. Administration sends out email citing success of “coordinated ornithological plan.”

Am livid. Only thing coordinated about administration’s plan was color of sticky notes placed on windows by custodians. Also, what is “ornithological plan”? Means nothing! Principal probably just likes big words because is principal and wants people to think highly. Months ago, sent out email about racial justice and used the phrase “anthropological egalitarianism.”

Was like, literally what. And even worse because principal thought was so woke to say “anthropological egalitarianism.” Like, principal sent out email to all-white-but-one student body and smiled to himself about encouraging inclusivity, being harbinger of change and all that.

Principal is epitome of strip-mall high-school-rivalry walks-around-the-reservoir suburban lifestyle. No, principal is strip-mall high-school-rivalry walks-around-the-reservoir suburban lifestyle.

Anyway, Zach still gone. And Mr. Yerigan too! More and more stupid kids saying Zach bullied kid with cancer, called kid “cancer boy”?

My theory: Mr. Yerigan in Cancún, Zach defended kid after kid called “cancer boy” by other kid, signals got crossed in rumor mill. So many signals passing through rumor mill! So easy to cross said signals!

On Friday, image of Mr. Yerigan sobbing at desk pops back into head. Like, why sobbing at desk? Teachers only sob at desk when test grades, like, really bad. But Mr. Yerigan sobbing as we took test! Too early to know quality of test grades!

Besides, got 92 on that test, so grades probably good. (Would have gotten 100, except had to stop in middle of essay question to write down color of every student’s hair. May have forgotten to mention to Ms. Solicz.)

Next week birthday! Don’t get concept of birthday, but try to be happy anyway. So weird that just last year had big crush on Amanda and now not. Was thinking, though: Maybe crush on Amanda was just desire to be friends with Amanda? Like, that girl seems cool? Crush on Zach feels different than crush on Amanda. More like am bird crashing into window, less like that guy seems cool.



Principal sends out email about Mr. Yerigan. Says one of his children just died of brain cancer.

Only seven years old.

Think that will be enough for appointment.

Malia Kuo

Xavier Blackwell-Lipkind is a staff writer for the Yale Daily News Magazine. He previously served as a copy staffer for the News. Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, Xavier is a Davenport sophomore studying comparative literature.