August 29, 2012
It has been a struggle to find time lately. Time to do the business of each day is scarce, never mind time to process it. And yet I’ve longed to write, longed for the space to get away and get it out, creatively speaking. That’s what always happens, though, when I’m in the middle of some sort of energy-intensive endeavor. In this case, the endeavor is that of acting as a solo librarian and being responsible for teaching seven different grade levels. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with such a role, but it’s a weighty one, that brings with it plenty of pressure.
And today, I am tired. One full week of school feels like it has been a month already. But more than tiredness, I feel anxious about the lack of in-between time. I fear that all the busy moments of each day will be lost to me because I have not been able to somehow document them.
Each time a conversation strikes me, and I have to run on to the next thing, I worry: is this moment going to lose its meaning because I have not had the time to write it down?
And each time I see a thing of beauty, I worry: will I forget this loveliness because I did not manage to take a photo while the moment was with me?
But the conversation ends. The moment passes. And I am still rushing on to the next task, still being struck by interactions and by beauties.
So now, at the end of a school day, as I ready for the evening activities, I wonder . . .
Could it be that there is a time and a place for activity that does not allow for a moment to process? Is there grace for periods in which you just have to keep moving on to the next thing?
Could it be that my job in this time is to let go of the desire to step back and reflect, and instead just keep living those moments? Could it be that the moments will be meaningful even if I do lose track of them? Even if I do forget them?
Each time lately that I have had an “agenda” for reflection, life just seems to interfere.
I thought, perhaps, that I would take a creative campus photo in between my last class and the faculty meeting. But instead, a birthday party needed photography, and a little boy needed to hand me a piece of super-sized, toppling birthday cake.
And I thought, perhaps, that in between carline duty and my high school aid student, I would write down a few of the day’s moments. But instead, my students from last year, in their P.E. class, requested that I join their jump-rope team . . . how could I not?
We found out this week that all of us on staff were invited to the wedding of a cousin of one of the student families here. It is not the sort of event I particularly enjoy. For one, I like to go to bed at a decent hour, especially on a school night before a high-profile Open House day. Secondly, I do not particularly like fancy festivities. Especially one in which I am going to be a foreign spectacle, expected to sit demurely where I am placed and watch [no joining in allowed ☺] the traditional rituals and dances. But I felt it was important to accept the invitation. And the people that I work with, live with, and love, would be there. So I shut down my computer for the evening, left my camera in its case, and joined the party. It was long; it was, well, interesting; and it was worth it.
One of the things on my to-do list today was photographing all the students who I did not get a headshot of last year. As I leaned in to one new student to try to understand what she was telling me her name was, I noticed how lovely her huge brown eyes were. She looked at me shyly and said the name again. “Spoojmi,” I asked? What an unusual sounding name, I thought. Then I learned the meaning of her name, and smiled at the thought of it. The little girl’s name means “Moon.”
As we came back to our house, around midnight, from the wedding, one of my housemates stopped with an exclamation of “Oh!”
What is it?
“Look at the moon!” she explained.
The three of us stood for a moment, gazing at the hazy cloud-covered full moon, with its eerie loveliness. Then we headed to our bedrooms, made our preparations for the next day of activities, and we slept soundly, if shortly, all under the same bright moon.
August 24, 2012
I think I may need to be careful what I say. Last night one of the new teachers here was commenting on how she hadn’t seen any dust storms. I piped up and said that I remembered them, frequently, last year but that no, we hadn’t seemed to have any so far this year.
This afternoon I was talking to my housemates and abruptly got up and started closing doors and windows. One asked how I knew that there was a dust storm and then stopped in mid-sentence, seeing the swirls as they came in and covered out belongings and ourselves in a fine film of grit.
I decided I wanted to try to capture it, and this is about the best I could do: here you can see the wind-blown trees, the haze covering the horizon, and the lack-of-mountains where normally one would see the line of them.
And yes, in deciding to capture the storm on film, I got myself nicely “filmed” as well :-)
August 22, 2012
At one point today, one of my coworkers texted me to tell me that “my camera” might be interested in what her students were busying themselves with for their recess time. She was right. My camera was very interested. So, incidentally, was I. What they were doing was fixing up a kite that had crashed on our school grounds. Once it was re-fabricated [;-)], they commenced with the flying of it. It was interesting to me after the conversation I had last night. I went for a “walk” around the compound with a few of the new teachers, showing them my favorite spots on the grounds. One of them asked me what the big deal with kites was around here, and commented that she hadn’t even seen many at all. I hadn’t either, actually, and wondered aloud if it had to do with how hot it is at the moment. I also admitted that I didn’t know why kites were so popular of a pastime . . . but noted that we did normally see them more regularly than we had so far.
So it seemed fitting that today, on this first day back in school, kite-flying would come into play, in some small fashion at least . . .
August 20, 2012
When I was in grad school, I took a class called the OPL [One Person Library], in which we learned about the specific role that a librarian plays when she is the only one there to manage the library. I don’t remember any mention of the need to transport 400-some books, by hand, from one building to another. But there are some aspects to life in an international setting that bring a whole new dimension to the One-Person-Library. Then again, I haven’t seemed to land the most ordinary sort of librarian jobs anyway . . . nor would I really want to, I expect. At any rate, I started out today with a single-handed [ok, so I guess I have 2 hands] method, attempting to just tackle the mountain of them with sheer armpower. But thankfully, help arrived in the form of a much more efficient, and much faster, modus operandi. It still was a rather tiring affair but gratifying now to have my library space clear and almost-ready for classes to come in a little over a day now . . .
August 19, 2012
If one ever wanted to venture into a career of Do-It-Yourself, and was looking for an intensive boot camp for preparation, all one would need to do would be to join my coworkers and I right here, right now. With a shortage of funds to spare, and of available manpower [short-staffed with the country’s current holiday], but a little bit of time before the students start [2 days and counting], we are all getting to dabble in it all: moving furniture, building bookshelves, moving books, painting classrooms, and so on, and so on.
So I figured a good foot photo to document my week thus far of being back in my Central Asian home would be this one: the three conquering feet. Painting completed [including the people doing the painting, of course], supplies piled . . . work well done.
August 16, 2012
As a part of our in-service training today, we watched a fabulous documentary in which one quote struck me particularly hard. It seemed fitting to ponder in this post-Olympics period. Educator Geoffrey Canada asserts that “observing a great teacher is like observing a great artist or a great musician, or athlete.” Later today, I thought of this as I worked with one of my super-teacher coworkers in her classroom. It truly is incredibly to watch teachers like her who show such selfless dedication as they work through various hardships. She also made me laugh at one point, as we organized her games. “Would it be horrible if I tossed the outer packaging to some of my book sets?” she asked, trying to figure out how to multiply space in a setting of “making do” with what we have. Absolutely not!, I assured her. A firm believer in consolidating, I am always a fan of getting rid of any extra stuff that may clutter up available space. She smiled and headed for the rubbish bin: “Well if my librarian tells me it’s ok to get rid of it, I believe it!” Not sure if it counts as professionalism or not, but I felt I had done my good librarian deed of the day :-)
August 15, 2012
Reflecting on our respective workdays, my housemate and I spoke of how we planned to spend this evening. She planned to read and email. I told her that I often found blogging to be a way to wind down, but that I didn’t really feel right about talking of my first day back in my library when news had come from my mother about the unexpected death of the family dog. I mentioned that I really felt like writing about how much Kiwi had meant to us all, but that it seemed somehow silly, considering life in this place we live. “Not at all!” my housemate argued, “I don’t think that’s silly at all. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for you to write about the dog.” Then, as I hadn’t told her Kiwi’s name yet, she asked for it. Nodding at the name, she left me to, presumably, write about Kiwi. So here’s to Kiwi . . .
She was “Daddy’s girl,” in many ways. Mom told me that when she first found Kiwi, as a puppy, she had hoped that my stepdad would especially love her. And he did. After returning from work in the evenings, he used to announce, to anyone who happened to be in our always-guest-filled home, that we really must see Kiwi’s fetching prowess. They would launch into a dashing sport in which both Lou and Kiwi wore huge grins of sheer delight. In similar fashion, she brightened the lives of all of us over the years, greeting each new member of the family with pure, doggie love.
We will miss you, Kiwi.
August 14, 2012
It is no secret that I gear up, with some degree of dread, for each journey back to this place. So this morning I had to laugh at the strange—ironic—way in which my fears were somewhat abated. It turns out I had another adventure of sorts. When I arrived in Dubai to check in for my flight, after an overnight flight, I discovered that the airline had no record of my booking. Somehow, I had erred in the completion of my booking, with the result being that I had no flight after all. Either that or the airline booking had some error. It doesn’t really matter now, as the result was the same: I was stuck with no flight and I had to get back today. The airline was overbooked so I had no way of buying a ticket for this flight now. Some quick rethinking, thanks to a coworker there with me who did have a flight, led to heading to another airline I hadn’t flown before to see if they might have room. They did. The only catch being that it was leaving shortly and they only accepted cash. I left my baggage there and made a dash for the nearest ATM. My cards were denied. I dashed to another ATM. It worked.
I ran back to the counter where they quickly issued me a ticket. With the flight so close to departure, I ended up having a personal airline escort through to the gate. As we headed to the tarmac I saw an unusual-looking crowd of passengers and soon discovered that I was traveling with the country’s Taekwondo team, just heading home from the Olympics. So the whole journey was filled with a fair bit of fanfare there as we journeyed in the wee hours of the morning. At one point, during the flight, there was a long series of some announcements on the intercom that I did not understand, but that inspired a good bit of clapping and cheering on the plane, along with waving of the large trophies that some of the uniformed players carted with them.
I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered an encounter with a store clerk in London, only a few days earlier. As I made my purchase, he inquired as to where I was from. I gave a brief rundown and his eyes grew a bit larger. Then he smiled widely and nodded, “Ah—you are a journalist!” he proudly asserted. At the time, I had just carried on with my business, not thinking further of it. But today, I suspect he might have known something I did not: I mean, I did end up basically following our nation’s team from London to here, did I not? ☺
August 12, 2012
An awful lot of journeying thus far. And one last leg to go before I’m back to my home and workplace to start back into life as “usual” . . . hmmm, is that possible? Anyhow, before another flight, I had one last chance to put my feet up and lounge around with family. “Home,” for a night, was here, in this lovely repurposed church building. It was an inspiring place to stay, to be sure: peaceful reflection time, readying for what is to come . . .
August 10, 2012
So I landed in London this morning, taking the train “under the sea,” as it were. And am watching the Olympics at the moment [ok, so the truth is that I’m lounging on the couch in a fuzzy robe while doing so!]. The glorious thing about having the sort of family I have, as my aunt and I were just discussing, is that we assume that all will scatter and be our independent, wandering selves. As a result, we can meet up in random places, at random times, and know that the time will be sweet, even if it is limited. So I soak up the luxury of this family I have. I enjoy the sights of this athletically-consumed region of the country . . . and I had some foot photo fun while doing so, thanks to another international friend with an interest in walking and a patience for foot-photo-posing :-)