April 22: Today I received a compliment from the local preschool where I’ve worked all week. And then I received a request: Could I substitute at the preschool every day for the rest of the school year? Exhausted, I gazed numbly at the principal. (Uh, golly, I’m sure there’s an Honors Physics class I can teach at the high school….)
Bless you, preschool teachers everywhere, for the work you do.
April 23: You know it’s spring when a neighborhood church leads Zumba classes in its parking lot.
Walking along the sidewalk, I passed an elderly lady going in the opposite direction. We both turned to watch the class. I kept walking but soon retraced my steps to grab a fluttering bit of trash. And there stood the lady, on a smidge of grass, putting forward one foot, then another, and then swishing her hips. When I looked again, she had returned to the sidewalk, her morning exercise refreshed with a little salsa.
April 24: Recently our neighborhood’s daily joke sign offered this quip: “Dogs have owners; cats have staff.” True, perhaps, but it was a medium-sized dog I saw who was climbing a hill piggyback on its owner’s shoulders.
April 25: During my break from substituting in the elementary school’s Tech class (me? tech? I know … but at least I can sit down sometimes….), I’m frantically trying to find the computer assignment for the next class. Maybe I’ll find it, maybe I won’t. Happily, however, the computer lesson is about Earth Day.
And that I know something about.
Encouraged by Jeremiah to bring a bit of myself to my substitute gigs, I spent the first two classes engaging the kids on my two favorite subjects: stormwater and poop. Oh, I talked about curbs and gutters and impervious surfaces. I talked about trash polluting our streams and torrents of stormwater scouring our stream beds.
And then, to their horror, I shifted to poop. I talked about urban “sanitation” (buckets, cesspools and street muck) before our cities wisely whisked their residents’ sewage to rivers and harbors. I talked about treating our wastewater and the perils of combining wastewater and stormwater. (That, too, was a good idea at the time.) I talked about . . .
Oh, here come the 4th graders. Gotta go. I’m helping protect our waterbodies, one creek (and one child) at a time.
April 26: I could talk today about sitting on the preschool floor playing with wooden blocks (and finding in our attic the very blocks my sister and I had played with 55 years ago). Or I could talk about a baby forest of elm, oak, locust and maple that I’ve watched grow these five years. Or I could talk about the fragrance of lilacs and mulch.
But instead I’ll talk about watching a salmon sunset over the rim of Nationals Park while I sit serenely in drizzle. Maybe it’s the pristine green field. Maybe it’s the contemplative rhythms of pitch and swing. Maybe it’s the arcane magic of recording plays on my scorecard.
I don’t know. I just love the ballpark, win or lose.
April 27: People lowered their masks to help recognize who they were. People shook my hand. People even hugged me. And we all raised our nostrils in salute to on-site COVID testing.
In a throwback to my old career, I attended an in-person, invitation-only workshop: 48 people from nearly a dozen countries posing sharp questions, sharing inspiration, and eating amazing desserts. I was honored to be part of the sizzle of ideas.
But mostly I cherished the sparkle of the people themselves — in all three (business-casual) dimensions. We had side-conversations, we wandered around the room to network, we exchanged business cards. Of course, we do the same thing in the teachers lounge (sort of).
This introvert is surprisingly happy to be around people again.
(In case you’re wondering, I met people from Israel, Canada, Japan, Ireland, the United Kingdom, India, and Turkey — and wished I had talked to the folks from Mexico, Belgium and France too.)
April 28: Jeremiah implored me to read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I was dubious, but I’m a good Mom, so I scoured our library’s audio collection. I found two versions: the book itself and something called The Scroll. I remembered what Jeremiah had told me, how Kerouac had taped together a ream of typing paper, fashioned the sheets into a scroll, fed the outermost sheet into his typewriter and then, over three weeks, just wrote.
Now I had the chance to read either the final version or the legendary Scroll. I decided (call me crazy) to read both, toggling back and forth between texts at 30-45 minute intervals.
That means I am (1) splashing in double fountains of stunning prose; (2) giggling over the naughty bits expurgated from the 1957 edition; and (3) awestruck by the brilliance of Kerouac’s first draft and the pea-sized revisions he ultimately made.
And so I give to you Jack Kerouac and maybe a bit of myself:
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn . . .”
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