May 31, 2012

I should have been in bed ages ago. But singing and dancing in a rowdy gospel performance for the past 2 hours does not make for bed-readiness. Nor does the afternoon spent at a graduation ceremony. So coming home now, at a late night hour, I find myself needing to write, to process, more than I need my sleep.
Today I watched 26 seniors graduate. I snapped their photos as they received their diplomas, nervously checking for the proper handshake pose and praying that there would be no camera malfunctions as I did so. There were not. And though I was distracted by photographer’s nerves for much of the ceremony, I still couldn’t help but cry a bit. Just a bit. It was an award that did it to me. One of the young men I had nominated for a scholarship was indeed the recipient of that award. And when he stood to accept his honor, I smiled through blurred vision and thought of happy memories I had of traveling with him and the other high schoolers back in the not-too-distant past of winter time.
Just another in those “this is why I’m here” sorts of days, I suppose. There is beauty here. Even here, there is beauty. And today I experienced an abundance of it: too much at once, it seemed.
Before the busy ceremony began, we walked through the gardens, awed by the loveliness of this setting. At one point I blurted out, “It’s so much green!,” and then commented that I supposed we must be green-deprived. Maybe so. But a little deprivation never hurt anyone. Not when beauty lurks just round the bend . . .

can we do it?

May 29, 2012

In conversation with a coworker just now, I realized that it was Memorial Day. This realization struck me as rather ironic really. Considering where I live, what I’ve been working on from yesterday, and what has happened thus far today.
I live in Afgh@nistan. Yes, really. One of the silly poems I wrote in the poem-a-day series had a line that read, “Can we do it? Yes, we can. For we live in Afgh@nistan!” It has a catchy enough rhyme to it that I’ve found myself repeating that line in my head periodically, as things happen that remind me of my surreal reality. Case in point: that “silly” poem was not so silly after all, for it was about our most recent stint of taking shelter from hours of gunfire, bomb blasts, and rocket soundings.
But in the midst of this surreality, we held a grand, celebratory dance recital yesterday. Here, of all places–a celebration of dance! And it was indeed a celebration: a truly beautiful one.
So this morning I was teaching a kindergarten class, in which we discussed jobs. And no, I do not habitually discuss gainful employment with 5-year olds: this stemmed from a reading of the book “Fox on the Job.”
But in our discussion, I asked the children to share what they wanted to be when they grew up, and why. There were the usual responses: doctor, teacher, nurse. But one “usual” answer had an unusual “why” added to it. He wanted to be a policeman. Oh good, I said. And why is that? “Because we have a gun at home. And I want to use a gun.”
After a pause, I said “ok” and hurried on to the next raised hand. Maybe I should have done something more with that response but you know, I just didn’t know what to say. I was more than relieved with the next answer of “teacher.” And then amused by the added “Dance teacher” description. Now there’s a hopeful thought, in the midst of this, whatever this may be, which I dare say I often don’t know . . . Make dance, not war?

a time to dance

May 26, 2012

Recital set-up, take 2. This afternoon we prepared the outdoor stage. Again. We hung 60-some-odd tissue paper flowers from fishing line suspended over a basketball court. And we were feeling awfully proud of ourselves in the process, until the lines began to break. Some combination of the weather hazards we have had lately, the dust, and perhaps even some effect of this country’s harshness, made for a resulting series of downed lines. It felt almost symbolic, considering the difficulties we encounter here on a grander scale than decorative mishaps. Yes, there is much to grieve here, and there is much to be sorrowful over. But there is also a time to hang large numbers of strikingly colorful flowers that we have labored over together. There is a time to lavish time and energy on little ones, for the sake of encouraging them to celebrate life and creativity. A time to dance.

captive audience

May 24, 2012

It’s an all-day affair here today: a day-long preparation for the dance recital tomorrow. While busying about with the decorations and set-up logistics, I had to smile as I captured a few visuals of the cuteness. And I wasn’t the only one enjoying the show: this young couple was clearly captivated :-)


May 22, 2012

A million miles to run today. A mile-long list of things to do. Dashing out the door and on to morning duty. But wait: Freeze!
What beauty. What perfect loveliness–do I have a moment to stop and take a picture? Maybe. Maybe not. But I must.
I mustn’t forget to stop. To “smell the roses.” To notice the moment. In the midst of the madness, to savor this life.

all the people

May 16, 2012

I knew it would happen before it did. Mind you, I’ve had warning lately, with frequent tear-filled-eyes moments–never mind the full fledged crying ones. Just one of those emotional seasons, I suppose. But this evening it was a concert that brought it out in me: one that I think would have brought out the emotion in most people sensitive to life, even if they were not in the midst of an emotional time of life. For one, the soloist in several of the songs happens to be the young woman I have spent the most one-on-one time with out of our high schoolers, and one who gets to my heart in the best of ways. In addition, these young men and women were singing classically popular songs, from Michael Jackson to the Beatles. There’s just something that was too real, too intense, about listening to teens, too experienced in the reality of war, singing their hearts out. Yes, they do “imagine all the people living life in peace . . . sharing all the world.”

do, do, do

May 15, 2012

It was a rather chaotic beginning to the day, with schedule confusion and coordinating issues amongst different classes. But the stress worked positively for me, making for a rather enjoyable assembly this morning: I enjoyed it, at least :-) It is especially fun to hear young ones walking about school singing it to themselves. Reminds me–I better get to work making that recording so that their teachers don’t need to rely on words alone if they want to practice later . . .

wade in the water

May 11, 2012

It was an afternoon of unexpected delight. A gathering of sun-starved, work-weary . . . war-weary souls. The children in my morning Funday School class asked if I was coming to the volleyball tournament afterwards, and I almost said no–I almost gave in to the feeling of needing to get to work, readying for the school week that would begin bright and early tomorrow morning. But a deeper truth spoke to my soul: the truth that a day of rest is a necessity, not a luxury. So I went. Sitting on a picnic blanket with another woman there, we noted that we didn’t even feel the need to socialize all that much. It was enough to just be there, enjoying the company of so many others in a similar sort of lifestyle, with similar sorts of stresses. I bought a carnival ticket for the children’s fundraiser and won prizes for my stellar bean-bag-tossing and water-bobbing skills. I am now the proud owner of a Winnie-the-Pooh sticker and a Beatrix Potter postcard. But the first thing I did this afternoon was join the kiddos in the pool. So maybe I couldn’t do anything remotely like the swimming I’d like to be doing. But I did brazenly hike up my pants and wade in bare feet . . . which of course necessitated a foot photo :-)


May 9, 2012

I said that word to one group of 1st graders this morning, in one of the eight class periods of this one of seven days of the week. And now, the day [and week] done, I find myself musing on how that word encapsulates how I feel about this week in its entirety. How do you make sense of a life when so many pivotal moments happen, one right smack dab after the next?
How do you stop in the middle and hold tight to the meaning of one of those moments when you know that two moments later you will be stressed out with logistics and lost to any sentimentality you may have felt those two moments prior?
At one point, I looked up from the textbook I was reading from to answer a question from one teen? Used to battling the adolescent boys, I was shocked to find my heart so full with delight at his response that I grew literally teary-eyed. If it had been remotely culturally appropriate, I would have hugged him. Instead, I shook my head to dry the tears, nodded demurely, and moved on to the next point.
In another period, I photographed a 6 year old boy as he recited his version of the “I have a dream . . .” speech–so heartbreakingly appropriate for this country at this time that those of us expats in the room sucked in our breath and wondered if we were trespassing some sort of imaginary boundaries.
In another, after-school event, I danced with a room full of young ladies. Heads were uncovered, arms were blatantly bared, sweat rolled down smiling faces . . . and no one cared. The care that so rudely awakens women here was gone, because it was just us in that room. Just us girls. And it was good.

jumping to rhyme

May 7, 2012

In one of the classrooms I use [I don’t have a classroom of my own, so use other teachers’], I have had a habit for some time now of putting a daily drawing on the white board: a bit of a bequeathment to the teacher and students. I’ve had varying themes for this drawing, until the month of April. In honor of poetry month, I began instead to put a daily rhyme. Today I was subbing in that classroom and so it must have just been too much exposure to that tempting whiteboard: even though I had already written of farewell-to-poetry-month poem, I had to write another. One of my students, looking at it, asked when I would finish it. I told her it was done, the confession in question being that of my addiction. This is what is currently on that board:

‘Tis a terrible affliction,
this poetic addiction–
For April is long gone,
Yet my rhyming carries on.
So forgive me this transgression,
As I make one last confession . . .

In other addiction news, I have developed one of the jumping variety. Thanks to a kind neighbor who allows me use of their trampoline, I have happily discovered that a few minutes of jumping can do wonders for work-stress relief. This afternoon I thought I’d try a bit of an experiment and see what kind of photo would result if I were to jump with my camera. Not too bad, I don’t think :-)