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.