Thursday, December 27, 2007


Yes, I'm resurfacing to my little blog after months of wrapping up my job at DREAMS, packing up all of our belongings and moving them to a snowy apartment in Boston where I will start classes in January. Well, I guess the apartment itself isn't snowy! I think we kind of underestimated the efforts it would take to move every fiber we own up four flights of stairs. I mean, I definitely did not anticipate shedding tears over how heavy our mattress was. . .

After throwing the last q-tip box, dining room chair and dishtowel up into the apartment, we fell asleep until it was time to return our 16 foot truck and then drove to Florida, where I sit right now, typing on my new MacBook, drinking coffee with eggnog and admiring my freshly polished toes. Life is easy for a little while.

My mom gave Sumanth an alarm clock with wheels for Christmas. If you don't turn it off after the first ring, it jumps off the nightstand and rolls all over the room. It's name is Clocky and I'm already wondering if I can turn Clocky into one of those robot vaccuums by attaching cleaning pads to it's legs. . . See, how much free time I have?

Here are some pics of the new apartment, taken in October before the snow or our own belongings came. . .

And here is the building at Simmons where my classes will be, as well as the little park across the street.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

animal departure

tomorrow we will be releasing our turtle, jasper, into a nearby pond, so that he'll finally be able to play with other animals and swim in a body of water that's more than 1.5 times his circumference and eat unprocessed foods and hopefully grow proportionally larger. it will be very difficult to have to empty out his little corner of the living room, but he's been debilitatingly sad for the past few months, and so we think it's in his best interest. he must feel so restless in our apartment, without anything to do but wait for feeding time and try to understand what it means when we watch television.

i especially like this blurry photograph of him, in which his tiny turtle head looks like some kind of gem, washing up on a grassy riverbank.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lobster for Lunch and a Signed Lease!

Yesterday I woke up at 5am and got on a plane to join Sumanth in Boston where he has been apartment and job hunting all week. Within about twenty minutes of landing I'd already ordered an $11 lobster with lemon and butter for my lunch and within about forty-five minutes we were already taking my first ride on Boston's Subway, the T, to see an apartment that Sumanth had scoped out earlier in the week. About half an hour later, I was putting my initials under Sumanth's on the "Lead Paint Acknowledgement," that went with our apartment, (probably not too smart seeing as my current skin condition has yet to disappear, but. . . ). The apartment is adorable, and I will post some pictures soon. There are carefully maintained pink roses outside of the building and the wood floors absolutely gleam. It will be smaller than our current, spacey 2br, but from the front door we can take steps to a Thai restaurant, the subway and a very modern Dunkin'Donuts. Right now, we're planning on painting the walls in varying shades of purple.

Today has been a complete whirl of touring the city; maybe it is my medicine, but all I could think was this city sparkles. Between the adrenaline of everything and my still high dose of Prednisone my head is kind of thrumming, but in the most positive kind of way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Important Update. . .

Well, I am under the care of a very good doctor (finally) who isn't particularly baffled by my lil' rash. . . he said that it originated from contact with some chemical (we're thinking it was our landlord's homemade pesticides) and that the weak treatments I had actually made the rash come back stronger. Now I am on a heavy 12 day course of steroids, which Sumanth is waiting to see the results of before he tries (his rash has stayed pretty contained). . . I'm really hoping this is my last prescription for awhile, because when I went to pick this one up the pharmacist said, 'hey,' and didn't even ask if I had questions about the medicine.

In the meantime, the steroid that I'm on has resulted in me sleeping only in small snatches from about 2:30am-5:30am, reacting with extreme poignancy to life's smallest details, and moving faster than rocket fuel. For instance, I was just washing my hair and thinking to myself, 'how can I make this process more productive, more quick?' Last night, during a 6am episode of Gilmore Girls, the Gilmore Girls got termites under their porch and I found myself gasping, "NOOOOOOOOOOO!' and getting a lump in my throat just thinking about how they could never afford the repairs. . . At work, I've been writing down everything that everyone says just so that I have something extra to do with my hands. . . Does anyone need anything cleaned? I can travel.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Sad Truth. . .

Well. . . two sad truths to be be exact. 1) My rash is back in full color and 2) Sumanth has it now too. Last night we vacated our apartment for the Days Inn in case we were allergic to something inside, but that didn't seem to change much. Hopefully the doctor will have a good idea tomorrow; if not I may have to invest in an above ground pool of Calamine Clear Lotion. . .

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Effects of Steroids

. . . Well, it's 6:30 am now, and I've been up for a couple of hours tending to my poor, under-the-skin itching, but at least the steroids I'm taking have let me sleep some this week (Tuesday morning definitely found me at Dunkin' Donuts at opening time (4:30am here,) writing a check for vanilla chai tea and a sesame bagel. They have also deflated my rash in a big way, although the itching is still extreme. I am quite hopeful that I'll get to post my smooth belly picture soon, although the Dr's have warned me that it might all come back when I go off the medicine on Sunday. Iyy Yii Yii. . .

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A very drugged yet hopeful report. . .

I went to three doctors today and the verdict is that I am having some sort of internal reaction to something. I am on four heavy medicines and am eating a lot of Breyer's triple chocolate ice cream (one of the side effects of one of the medicines is overeating-yikes!). . . I can't tell too much yet, but I think that the rash may be starting to deflate. Hopefully, I'll post a real smooth picture soon.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Really hoping it doesn't get worse than this. . .

I'm off to the doctor's office before I even brush my teeth tomorrow!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Poor Bellelly

. . . I guess there was a reason for putting the question mark behind 'On The Mend' in my last post. . .

Friday, September 28, 2007

On the mend?

Well. . . I seem to have had a run-in with a poisonous plant that I do not recall. That was the best answer the dermatologist could give me after she said, "My, my, at least some people wear sunscreen properly." "Umm, yes, maam, I know I'm pale, but could we give a little bit of attention to the raging rash that is eating my belly alive?" . . . Yes, this little condition, which is spreading even as we speak has had me in its grips since Sunday. I have little else to think about or talk about than my itchiness. . .

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Beat Goes On. . .

This is the first weekend without plans that we've had in about a month and it feels pretty perfect. The way the after-rain light is leaning up against everything in our apartment, the temperature of my coffee, the fit of my new corduroy pants. . . Last weekend we ate yummy meals out and visited Airlie Gardens with my Dad and Colleen, and the weekend before that we (and my mom) got to see Sumanth's parents new house in downtown Geneva, Illinois. The weeks in between these weekends have been filled with the gut-wrenching chaos that is the start of classes, but I'm finding myself a little bit more prepared for it every time, (i.e., I have a bigger supply of band-aids, printer cartriges, paper towels, peanut butter and dance pants on hand than in previous semesters.)

Lately I've been touched by how quickly happiness can come to someone who is sad. On the first day of DREAMS classes, I saw one of my tiniest little students standing in the corner of our (unfortunately) unisex bathroom looking very troubled. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, 'Just terrible,' and proceeded to explain that in his guitar class he wasn't able to get even one chord right. About an hour later, in the middle of his multimedia art class, he was standing in the door frame of my office, one paint-splattered leg pointed to his left, exclaiming, 'I'm polka-dotted!'
I was so proud of him, I can't even tell you.

This Thursday I was getting ready to take some students to drum at a United Way benefit and we were without our lead drummer. We couldn't get in touch with him and everyone was getting nervous and practicing their routine by slapping their palms on their thighs. It was time to go and so we packed up the congos and caravaned out to the benefit without him. The entire drive over I kept picturing how pitiful the drummers would sound without their lead and how embarrassing this event was going to be. When we got there, not only was our drummer already there with his Gramma, he was looking for food. I heard him say to one of the kids, "I don't know if it's just something Miss Emily told me to get me out of the house, but she definitely said that there would be food." I think I need to relax more.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jodi was here!

On Friday, Sumanth and I went to pick Jodi up from the airport for a quick weekend during which we mainly ate, laughed, watched Extreme Home Makeover, drank coffee with chocolate raspberry creamer, and took advantage of talking for longer than we can on the phone. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was when we were listening to this shoal diver at the aquarium give a presentation about the ins and outs of salt water and Jodi started talking to me about something completely unrelated. It made me remember high school and how much more fun my life has been because of her.

DREAMS classes start Monday, at which point I will probably be mildly overwhelmed. Currently, I am hovering around almost overwhelmed. One day last week we received a 1400lb donation of supplies from Jerry's Art-O-Rama which, although Wonderful, is yet to be sorted out and is comprised of about 200 boxes blocking every path except for the small one that leads to the only bathroom. DREAMS is the kind of place where when you open a drawer labeled 'Tools,' you usually find some butterscotch chips, packing tape, a comb and some gluesticks, so organizing our new donation might prove a bit difficult;)

Today I had to go to the Dr's for a little swimmer's ear and while I was waiting, I was thinking about work (the only reading materials they have there are issues of The Pause and Men's Digest)and the classes/teachers I still need to schedule and I started to get a little stressed. In my efforts to calm down when the nurse started to take my blood pressure and pulse, the first thing that I thought of was from one of the Blue Planet movies that Sumanth was watching last week, from the episode about the frozen seas. The image was of a large seal swimming in his own pool in the middle of so much ice. The water was very dark and very blue and the only thing moving was the seal. The way it moved seems to combine floating and twirling and reminded me of the way a baby rolls before it crawls. My pulse was lower than it has ever been.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First Anniversary

Here we are at the Seven Sisters Inn in Ocala on our first anniversary. The robes in the pictures are not ours, but I did really wish they were. When I first slipped mine on I truly thought I would buy one, that is how transformed I felt in the combination of silk and thin towel. Soon after I had this thought, I saw the polite notecard on the hanger explaining that we could indeed have them, but it would cost about three times the cost of our luxurious room, or in clearer terms, about two months of groceries. . . as I type I am in my blue cotton Target version.

Although these pictures were taken in the Egypt Room of the inn, Sumanth had chosen the adorable and quite perfect Paris room for us to stay in. Before we had even gotten settled, the owner of the Seven Sisters came by and asked how we liked the room. "Oh," I swooned, "I spent a summer in France and this is just the most charming, lovely room, I absolutely love it." She then explained that the room had been hit by lightening last week and so some of the electronic things didn't work, and since no one else was staying that night, we could either stay in Paris or upgrade to our room of choice. I quickly grabbed my suitcase and said "OK!" and left our perfect french room for the deluxe amenities of Egypt across the hall. I hope this doesn't say bad things about my character. . .

Thursday, August 2, 2007

In Case You Have Some Reading Time. . .

An editor of the online magazine Busted Halo invited me to contribute an essay for this week, and here is the link:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where My Blogging Time Has Gone. . .

Well, I'm trying to think of it less as a mistake and more as a fun way to make extra money, but for the past month I've been spending most of my free time and energy and lunch breaks babysitting. It has taken quite a toll. And although I have had a lot of fun, and learned quite a bit about the inner workings and juggling involved in having young children, I've also learned that 1: I need a lunch break, and 2: Juggling this much babysitting around a job is just too tricky. As far as learning about having young children, I've learn to appreciate things I've hardly even noticed before such as the family changing room at the YMCA swimming pool, and the magician that comes around to kids' tables at Chic-fil-a. His name is Nugget, and I had certainly never noticed him before.

On the fun side, I have gotten to spend many hours making up games on the spot like "Pizzeria" and "Pony City" and then playing them with Peanut Butter Kitty and her slightly older brother. I've also spent hours playing games that they've made up on the spot like, "Rip Eachother's Heads Off," and "Triple Ripple." Triple Ripple is a game that involves all three of us and the trampoline, and I have to give them credit because it has been the source of some very happy afternoons. The best part has been that they also Love to read and be read to and so we've maxed out my library card many times and have spent hours curled up on the oversized green chair in their house, reading books like, Lizzete's Green Sock and Stink: Tales of the Astonishing, Shrinking Boy.

One of the DREAMS donors called on Tuesday of this past week and said that if I could round up enough of our ballet students by the next day, he could donate a limousine to pick them up and take them to watch the Carolina Ballet Company practice and arrange a luncheon for them to eat with some of the ballerinas. Making the calls to the students was one of the best parts of my job so far. One of the kids even called back to make sure that she wasn't dreaming when I had called. "Miss Emily, did you just call and ask if I could go have lunch with ballerinas?" Here is a picture of them in the limo; try to pick out the one who thought she was dreaming.

Friday, July 6, 2007

These days. . .

Elisha came to visit this past week and we had lots of fun doing things like: getting summer haircuts, eating summer desserts (like chocolate sushi) and making wishes with sparklers. Here are a few pictures of our mini-vacation in Wilmington:

Here we are in front of the mural made by DREAMS students this summer.

And here we're carefully navigating our way through the rocky beach.

And here we are post-hair cuts. We found the salon in the yellow pages and were mildly disappointed to find out that the man with whom we had appointments laughed like a wild boar and boasted about things like riding his motorcycle down the busy sidewalks on the fourth of July. He explained that this was an OK thing to do because there are no posted signs telling him not to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My loud voice and other small, incohesive thoughts

I've had some good ideas for blog posts recently, but none of them have quite worked out. One idea was to take some pictures of the darling houses and cornfield that are in our neighborhood and write a small bit about the kind of people I imagine would live in each one. I set off with Sumanth as my photographer, and as we got to the very first house, the owner came out on the porch demanding to know why we were taking pictures of 'HIS PROPERTY' . . . needless to say, that kind of killed the charming post I was planning about how, in that house, I invisioned a research librarian who loved tangerines and playing checkers with her grandchildren.

This morning, as I was directing the morning traffic on our third to last day of summer classes, a teacher came up and told me that I had found my loud voice this summer. He said that my voice was 'suprisingly filling up the whole auditorium.' . . . I think that this has probably helped me survive the summer, but I do hope my quiet voice returns soon.

One tiny student came up to me today and asked if he could have an extra project to do during his lunch hour. I remarked on how well mannered he was and he said, 'Well, I had a very strict teacher last year,' and I nodded and smiled as he went on to say, 'and I have apocalyptic fears.' Oh, boy.

Today a student called in to say that she wouldn't be coming in because she stayed up late and needed to 'get her sleep out.' I'm trying to decide whether I think that is a nice way to put it.

Thursday we are leaving after the summer showcase to celebrate my grandparents' sixtieth anniversary in St. Augustine, which I think is very close to a perfect city. I'm looking forward to showing Sumanth the Bridge of Lions as well as the candy store where I used to buy pralines and the small shore where my dad would pay my brother and I to catch sand crabs. (In years of vacations, we never caught one.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

So sleepy. . .

(Deepak and Corinne. Don't let the small cake fool you--about 400 people came to the wedding. There was a dessert bar on the side.)

As far as all of the things that I said I would do in my free time, I think that the only one I've actually accomplished is the iced-coffee drinking, which has been more like gulping, and has happened only on the seven minute drive to work. And we did go to Sumanth's brother's wedding in Michigan this weekend. Our hotel room had a TV in the bathroom and I got into the fun habit of watching the Food Network while brushing my teeth; my teeth got really, really clean. Sumanth gave a very good toast at the wedding, so good that people we didn't know came up to us in the airport the next day to tell him how much they liked it. The only weird part was that the toast was pretty serious and afterwards everyone told him that he should go into stand-up comedy.

I've never been one to fall asleep easily, but lately I've been falling asleep so, so easily. Today when I came home from work I took a nap with my flip-flops still on. I've also never been one to make lunch for 75 people every day, so maybe that is the connection. The summer program is going well while building my troubleshooting skills exponentially. There have been so many moments when I feel like something is sticking on my leg and I look down to find a tiny little art student, the size of a monkey, wrapped all around my calf, saying something like, 'Miss. Emily, we are out of paper towels--can I dry my hands on you?' I truly love my job.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Free Time

The crunch time of my summer starts at about nine o'clock tomorrow morning when I welcome 85 students into our crumbly building for the next three weeks. I've been trying to think of jokes to tell at the opening assembly but they all seem too lame to post online. Last week presented its share of problems (for example, getting a phone call that one of the 85 students has a severe nut allergy right as I returned from the Food Bank with about eight flats of peanut butter to get us through the three weeks.) It should be a pretty busy few weeks, and hopefully after the first couple of days my nerves will settle down. (Hopefully, also, the actual pinched nerve in my neck will settle down, but that is another story.)

Here is what I plan to do in my off time:

1. Drink iced coffee. Once when I was little, I saw my Aunt Donna make herself iced coffee and the image has really stuck in my mind. I remember that she brewed a small amount of strong black coffee and poured cream into it which swirled into paisley shapes before dissolving. Then she splashed the whole thing over a fat glass of ice cubes. I have been experimenting some with the technique. Iced coffee is definitely my elixir of the summer.

2. Work on my little water color children's book about chairs. I don't know how to paint but it is really fun to pretend I do. I mix colors in my plastic palette and use really expensive paper.

3. Watch Monk. The latest season of our favorite detective show comes out this month, and since we don't have TV but we do have Netflix, we are really looking forward to it.

4. Read more short stories. I just finished Pam Houston's book of short stories, Cowboys are my Weakness which was really, really good. I think I'm in the right frame of mind to read lots and lots of short stories.

5. Travel to weddings. This weekend Sumanth's brother is getting married in Michigan and we are both in the wedding. (I'm a little bit worried about the dress that I'm wearing in the wedding. I read some of the reviews of it online and they really varied--one person said, 'This dress makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn. I just sit in front of the mirror and stare when I'm in it,' and one person said, 'This dress looked great online but the minute it hit my body it looked like cheap garbage. I couldn't stand to keep it on.' . . . I'm not asking to feel like a Hepburn, but I hope it's OK.) In two weeks a good friend from high school is getting married and so we are going to Ocala for that.

6. Swim in the ocean. Or at least go and walk around when it isn't so terribly hot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Two Side-Notes

1. Well, in my post earlier this evening, I alluded to being a little bit tired. To more clearly illustrate this: I was just ironing something that I need for tomorrow and found myself thinking that the iron just didn't work as good as it used to. I kept at it for awhile, until I noticed the plug dangling by my knee.

2. I'm sorry, I know we're in the midst of the slow foods movement/healthy, local foods movement, but I must put in a little plug for Eagle Brand Magic Bar boxed mix. We made it this weekend and it was just about the best thing that has ever, ever come out of a box.

Book Factories

Whoo Boy! Although art supplies and children's summer schedules are nice things to think about, I am completely maxed out. The DREAMS summer program starts Monday and in preparation I have only left my office the last few days to take out the garbage, an outing which provides very minimal fresh air, satisfaction and/or feelings of having been in the outside world. Now, though, I am home from work and have washed my hair with strawberry shampoo and drunk an iced spiced chai latte. Sumanth is at the grocery shopping for things to make tacos and oatmeal cookies and Jasper is swimming and shedding in a way that seems very happy.

In a desperate need to fill my head with other things than summer camp spreadsheets, I've been thinking about some of the stories that I've started writing but haven't finished, and possible ways I might be able to preserve some of the characters within them. One is about a woman who wakes up with her face smelling like something different each day. Another is about a man whose hearing begins to flicker at certain times during the day, allowing him to hear only fragments of conversation or allowing him only to hear certain sounds, like the sound of shoes hitting the ground as people walk. One story is about a baby who eats books instead of food and learns to talk from the words that he eats. One is about a clinic that helps people who are allergic to the absence of things. One is about a town that has a deep well filled with layers of blue paint in many different shades. When people fall into the well, the different blues remind them of things that they've seen during their lives and it helps them to make big decisions. I've started writing all of these stories, and have come very close to finishing a couple of them, but can't quite seem to really wrap any of them up in a way that seems right. I'm thinking that maybe I will combine some of them and see if that helps. Or maybe all of the characters I have can live in the same town with the blue well and the Absence Allergy clinic? I heard that all of the Nancy Drew books were written, not by Carolyn Keene, but in a book factory of sorts where different people were responsible for separate parts of the book. Maybe what I need to do is get a job starting stories in a book factory like that.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Here are two pictures of jasper:

You'll notice that in both pictures, his pose is facing away from the interior of his tank and toward the glass walls. He prefers this position over all others, I believe, because it allows him to look out at the rest of the living room, where he can search for his friend, Barnes & Noble, whom he lost last winter.

Orange-Cheeked Finches and Our Own Pet Turtle

Well, the events of today leave a little bit to be desired as far as pleasant reading material goes. . . I met with a nine year old student and her case worker today to talk about the student attending the DREAMS summer program. When I asked the girl what kinds of art she liked, she simply screamed, 'NO' and when I asked the case worker if there were any issues that I should be aware of he said, 'Oh, yes, she is quite verbally and physically aggressive. Don't worry, though, she'll usually give you a warning before she gets physically aggressive on you.'. . . Hmmm. . . I'll let you know what the warning looks like when I see it. . . Also I think I might have burned my fingerprints off while trying to fix the copy machine at work. What was worse was that when I was telling people in the office about it I kept calling it the copy maker instead of the copier and so everyone thought that I meant the coffeemaker. 'Oh, the coffee maker is a breeze to fix, Emily, let me show you. . .' I fixed mushroom risotto and canteloupe for dinner, and when I was done I thought, 'Now wasn't that easy and cheap and pretty?' Well, two hours later when Sumanth and I were quite hungry again and in the Chic-fil-a drive through lane, I thought, 'easy, cheap and pretty just doesn't pay.'

We also went to the pet store this evening, shopping for food and treats for our little turtle, Jasper. Sumanth is very careful about Jaspy's food and treats while I am the one scanning for a low price and easy dispensing mechanism. The saleslady came and found us looking at the eensy dehydrated shrimps that we usually put in the tank in the morning and said, 'Ohhhh, WHY aren't you giving him frozen shrimp? They are SO much better for him. The dehydration process takes away 90% of the nutrients.' While I am thinking that frozen shrimp might smell more than dehydrated shrimp and so aren't worth further consideration, Sumanth is looking tenderly at a little box labeled 'Turtle Emergency Care Kit,' which contains things like tweezers and tiny turtle eye drops and tiny turtle laxatives.

My favorite sight at the pet store was an Orange-Cheeked Finch, which reminded me of my Grandma Bobby's back porch where her finches lived and where, about twenty years ago, I would drink limeade with my brother and watch my Grandma make linoleum block prints. Usually smells bring back memories for me more than sounds, but tonight when I heard the Orange-Cheeked Finch chirping, I could clearly picture the plastic yellow citrus juicer that we used to make the limeade.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Postcard Painting and Pomegranate Juice

This weekend was very nice and pretty aimless. Because we had no plans we were able to just come and go, taking outings to the bookstore and the smoothie place, coming back to read and take naps.

We went to the Orange Street Arts Festival, and for the first time, purchased an original painting (it is the size of a postcard and it was in the clearance bin and when the artist rung us up she did say, 'my! the deal of the day') but, still, it's very pretty and now sits on our dining table waiting for a frame.

We went to the Wilmington Youth Theater's outdoor presentation of The Tempest, but we never could find the ampitheater, so just ended up exploring a new park while looking for the directory. At least we hadn't pre-bought our tickets.

We went to our favorite grocery and bought edamame dumplings and pomegranate juice and dark chocolate chip cookie dough and olive tapenade and goat cheese.

We went to this salad bar called Sweet Tomatoes, where, for some reason, I just don't know when to stop eating. Generally, I eat about 2/3 of what Sumanth eats, but today was a different story. When he went up to get frozen yogurt, I thought, 'You're kidding--right?? Dessert after only the third course? Have you even tried the eggplant pasta or the cornbread?'

We bought one of those giant bubble tubes that makes bubbles that are three feet long.

Sumanth got his first blurb from Publisher's Weekly, calling him a 'gifted newcomer'. He said that he feels neither gifted nor new.

I started the watercolors for a children's book I'm hoping to write. The problem is that everything I paint turns out looking like a ghost.

Any suggestions? Any illustrators?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

These are the four young artists I've been working alongside the past three afternoons at a local food pantry called Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. We've been making a mosaic to cover the walls of the rather large, cement block trash can in the MH's picnic area. I say trash can, but I think I mean trash can holder, since, for the first two days of our project, a very full, bagless trash can remained inside, chained to the cement. This was unfortunate to put it quite gently. Possibly, if it hadn't been quite so full, I would have spent more time thinking about how nice it was to get to watch kids come into an unfamiliar place and make it more beautiful, but instead, I thought mostly about how terrible everything smelled and how to avoid being stung by a bumblebee dragging garbage on its behind.

Adam, the lone boy in the picture, and the artist behind the 'tree' side of the mosaic, jumped into my car on the first day of the project and said, 'I don't know where we're going, but I really hope it's to do art.' He then asked me what my favorite stuffed animal was out of zebras, hippos, or rhinos. I told him hippos and he said, 'small or large?' I told him that I thought I would like a stuffed hippo of any size and he said he thought that could be arranged. I'll post a picture of it if I get one anytime soon. On Valentines Day, Adam brought in his clarinet to play 'When the Saints Come Marching In' for me. Have you ever heard of a sweeter gesture?

Doria, the girl in the white shirt, led everyone in a rousing round of 'Down by the Banks of the Hanky Pank' while we were all waiting for the grout to firm up. I kind of remember singing some version of that when I was in school but, unlike Doria's version, mine had no references to women's underwear. Doria made the flower with the many colored petals. One of my jobs at DREAMS is to give snacks to the students after school. I think that she is the only kid who hasn't once complained about snacks. Once I accidentally gave her burned popcorn and when I tried to take it back, she said, 'Oh, no, Miss.Emily, this is good. You're good at making popcorn.'

Rachel, in the orange, and I worked on grouting the butterfly today. She picked the stones and tiles for the butterfly so carefully that I think she got a little sad to see all the white go over them. That is one of the steps of the mosaic making process--you coat the whole mosaic with this fudgy, white cement and then quickly wipe away the spots where the tiles are so that they can show through. Rachel started wiping away the grout almost immediately. 'I think I see one of the pink stones on the wings!' . . .and then, 'Oh, good, the eyes are still under here, he can see now!'

Gates, in the navy jumper, gives me daily advice on my wardrobe. For example, 'I wish that brown and purple went together, Miss Emily, because then you would match, but they really don't.' . . or, 'You've worn those shoes four days so far this week, Miss Emily, is it because you really like them, or because you don't have more at home? Because, if you have more at home, you really should wear them.' I've found that she has a very good eye for color but I also think that it's easy for a person that always wears a school uniform to tell other people they don't match. I am touched that anyone pays attention to what is on my feet. Gates made the fruit, although I am responsible for the malnourished looking banana.

Below are pictures of the trash can holder from both sides.

Trash Can Pictures

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Peanut Butter Kitty

About a month ago, I found myself standing next to Sumanth at the food table at an MFA (the degree that Sumanth is studying for in creative writing) end-of-year gathering. We don't tend to have a whole lot of friends at these events, so we always seem to end up akwardly hovering over the food table having a conversation like this one:

'Did you try the hummus?'
'Yeah, it's really good. Did you like it?'
'Yeah. Is it homemade?'
'No, looks like it's from the store. Do you want to get some?'
'Yeah. We should get some. When do you want to go?'
'Tonight, probably. Does that sound good to you?'
'Yeah, let's go tonight. Lowes or Harris Teeter?'
'I don't know. Do you want a drink?'
'No. Do you?'
'Yeah, I'm going to get one.'
'I'll come with you.'

Anyways, a month ago, when I was following Sumanth from the food table to the drink room, I saw two small girls jumping up and down in a side room with their mothers watching. One of the girls had short brown bangs and immediately introduced herself as a peanut butter kitty. Her friend was also a peanut butter kitty, I learned quickly, and if I wanted to, I could be a peanut butter cat. By the time I left that night I learned that peanut butter kitties 1)eat peanut butter, 2)can get stuck in peanut butter, and 3) are made of peanut butter. I also found that while I'm not good at making party talk, I am better than average at being a peanut butter cat. Anyways, the mother of the brown-banged pb kitty asked if I babysat, and so today I spent the morning with Maia, my new four year old kindred spirit.

When I was little, I loved to make beds for fairies to sleep in. I mainly used a combination of leaves and flowers and grass and dirt, and I remember that the most important thing was the thick mattress and having a pillow available, in case the fairy wanted one. Since then, I have tried to pawn my love of fairy beds off on every child I spend time with. "Wouldn't you like to make a nice place for the fairies to sleep tonight?" I've asked on countless occassions. Usually the children are polite, and pretend that they didn't hear me, and remind me that it's time to play with the My Little Ponies or watch Finding Nemo. A couple have seemed interested before, but they usually start looking at me funny when the beds blow away and I tell them that it's just the fairies getting under the covers. Anyways, today was met with Success. Maia took the project on with ferocity. "Let's put down two pillows so that fairies can lay side by side." and then "Let's put flowers all the way around the edges, but leave a space for them to get in." "Yes," I said, "Let's definitely leave a space for them to crawl in. In fact, we can make a night stand out of the bark here for them." I think it was at this point, that Maia saw how into it I really was because she kind of gasped and said, "Oh, are fairies for real for real?"

"That," I said, "Is a very good question, peanut butter kitty."

Monday, May 21, 2007

DREAMS Showcase

Last Thursday marked my first Showcase (semi-annual recital/production) at DREAMS, my first enjoyable workplace (besides Baskin Robbins where most of the enjoyment came from Pistachio Almond and Maui Brownie Madness), and so I thought it would make an ideal subject for my first post on my first blog.

Although I've been working at DREAMS since January, and have experienced many afternoons of earsplitting chaos {"Miss Emily, where are my Cheese-Its? I hid them under your mouse pad and they're not there any more. "Miss Emily, We NEED air freshener over here." (said while spraying lemon pledge furniture polish directly at another student) "Miss Emily, did you know that there is a hole in the wall? It is big enough to put my foot in." (Now it is bigger)}, I have never been through a week as crazed as last week's build up to the Spring Showcase. At one point, someone at work was so busy that she actually came into my office and asked me to flush the toilet for her. (This has resulted in much thought on my part about the time and effort that goes into flushing a toilet. Sumanth said that if I don't start saying no to requests like this, he doesn't know what is wrong with me.) Anyways, it was a very busy time of transforming our small, fairly shabby art school into an art gallery/reception hall/and theater. Thursday was the most fun, putting up vases of tissue paper flowers, hiding the extra drums under pieces of fabric, and making 72 ham sandwiches.

Although I'd been expecting behavior problems, all the students seemed to know exactly what to do. No one ate too much food or tripped over the white lights or cried out for air freshener. I stationed one of my favorite students (an eleven year old boy who wore a shirt and tie to the event and even colored a mustache on his upper lip for added maturity) as the greeter, and he welcomed everyone that came in with such kindness and humility that I got a lump in my throat.

Here are a few pictures of the artwork and the drama.

Pictures from the Showcase