Wednesday, August 8, 2018

KAZECKI: Part 1


* It is difficult to put the emotions I’m feeling right now into words. With the following series, I want to express how the recent events have really left me conflicted, confused, and saddened.*
*With that said, I am NOT defending the actions of Michael Kazecki. To put your hands on someone is bad enough, but to put your hands on someone you love, there is no defense for that.*
*Although I do not defend Kazecki’s actions, I do not believe he is the psychopathic monster everyone believes should burn on a cross. He should face legal justice, yes, but we should not turn him into something he was not for the majority of his life*
*This is NOT a defense piece*



I’ve always found writing to be a therapeutic thing for me. Time and tragedy again, those of us who write, and, more importantly, write for the people, pick up our pens and paper, in an attempt to express what needs to be said, and what needs to be read. However, every so often we hear of something that is so surreal, so unimaginable, that it is difficult to express the emotions of those who bear witness to such events. I was met with this conflict on the night of August 7th. I had just come home from a movie, ready to begin editing a draft for an upcoming post when I saw my phone was flooded with messages and missed calls. I replayed some of the voicemails, and was shocked at what I heard.

“Did you hear about Kazecki??”
“He fucking killed his wife.”
“What a psycho!”
“What is wrong with him!!?”
“He’s a monster”
           
            My initial reaction was disgust. I was angry. I was angry at Michael. How could a man do something like this? Why would a man like him do anything like this? Before continuing, I believe now would be a good time to explain my association with Kazecki.
            Following the death of a teacher during the summer between my seventh and eighth grade year, we were informed we would be receiving a new instructor for language arts and social studies. I’ll admit, upon first glance, I was not very impressed. He seemed too laid back, too casual. At the time, I was an eighth grade kid who was too full of himself to think he “deserved” something less. That all changed within the first month of being in his class. He was eccentric, and he had the tendency to become passionate very quickly, but it was always over something I couldn’t appreciate until recently in my life. When he was not teaching, I remember he spoke of his fondness for classic literature and film, and his distaste for big corporations. Perhaps he was just playing devil’s advocate, going against what we deemed “cool” for the sake of capturing the interest of those unique few who would become intrigued by such things. He also spoke of his son, Roman, and how he was trying to put him through little league football (soccer) and how frustrated he would become whenever he would make a mistake on the field. The comments were made in jest meant to keep his classes intrigued. I even remember his unconventional way of approaching famous works of literature by putting the works into a more contemporary style.
            He coached our school’s academic bowl team, making sure we worked hard day in and day out, while showing us that being intelligent or a “nerd” is nothing to hate about yourself. It isn’t anything to beat yourself up over. He taught me to embrace the gifts and burdens I was given, even if it meant giving up on trying to fit in.
            The most memorable thing about him, however, was the manner to which he treated me. I knew he was someone who had very high expectations for his students and his children, but it’s as if he knew of my potential, and he would tell me he knew that me and my siblings would go on to do great things. I always gained a great deal of confidence whenever he would begin talking about college. “When you get into college”. Not if, when. With the exception of a handful of instructors in the past, no teacher before him ever used the term when, and that meant something to me. It’s one thing to have a family to support what you do, it’s another to have a outsider, someone who doesn’t know you personally, know your potential, and support you in that way. As idiotic as I was in those days, he still held those expectations for me, and I cannot hate the man for that.
            To conclude this part of what I’m planning is going to be a three part project, I will say the following: Prior to his action of killing his wife, I knew Michael Kazecki as Mr. Kazecki, Coach Kazecki, and Mr. K. I enjoyed his class so much. He made my last year of middle school something memorable that even today, when I see an old classmate, or speak with my sister about the old days, we can look back at the good times, and see him. I suppose that’s what makes this so conflicting for me, so surreal, and so depressing. I got to know the man as someone I could confide in. He was someone who believed in me. He was someone who has gone down in my memory, and has impacted my life in a positive way, despite this terrible tragedy.
            I do not pray often, and when I do, I never know what to say, but I know with certainty that I will say something tonight, for his wife, for his children, and for his conscious.

Thank you.
Rodolfo Perez

P.E.N.T.C.I.