Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Out of Place

This post will be a bit different, since usually on this blog I stick to cute pictures of kids and leave my rants and navel gazing to my other blog 

But Iʻm not sure that what I need to say fits here or there or anywhere... so may as well plunk it down here.

If you held a taser to my kidney and said, "biography of the last year, 30 seconds or less!" it would go something like this:

-Last year crisis of life purpose as parent and adult member of society, began effort to resurrect teaching license, torn between the dichotomous life choices of homeschooling my kids vs. going back to work, then escaping to a semester abroad in Utah to shrink down my life to the size of one dude and our two girls. Then some miserable PRAXIS tests, then a job offer and back to Kauaʻi (home?) I suddenly find myself going from staying home full time with two little kids and a big garden and a bread-baking habit and 30 books out from the library at a time to working full time at the Hawaiian immersion school where Rosie starts Kindergarten, with Maile with a babysitter.

Iʻm both the tortoise and the hare: I'm not sure how I got here from there but it happened so quickly I haven't quite caught up with myself.

I get up at five am every day and put on eye makeup and a teacher uniform and close-toed shoes and try and plan things in advance and drink hot caffeine and pack lunches with too much plastic wrapping and packaged foods and simple carbohydrates and fill my water bottle and coerce RJ into her school t-shirt (BROWN) and kiss Maile goodbye and try to act casual and calm even if she presses her tummy against the window and wails, and then drive through traffic down the hill, across the bridge, through the town flipping radio channels with RJ and sneaking in my homeschooling curriculum (what are the horse colors again? The planets? blue plus yellow makes? What does TH and CH and SH say? If you eat two cookies and I eat one, how many did we start with? Can you match that note? Ask me tricky questions. What rhymes with tickle? etc. etc. like a crazy person but it's fun mommy-kid bonding time and Mattʻs truck radio works even up to 11 and we sometimes dance all the way to school and try and get people in other cars to stare at us and sometimes I just scowl and simmer the whole way and fret about my life choices) then we get to school (down the dirt road, past the taro loʻi and the ʻulu tree) and carry too much stuff into my "classroom" which is just a giant tent with a conference table and two giant whiteboards and a desk and a spongy damp carpet and four bookshelves I filled up from raiding the termite-eaten books at Salvation Army) and I say, "Hello my Lovelies!" to my homeroom kids who are the 8th graders and they are so young and dumb and brilliant and gorgeous and ridiculous and endearing and idiotic, I absolutely adore them.

I walk Rosie to her Kindergarten classroom and we say, "Aloha Kakahiaka!" to everyone we see, and she takes off her shoes and hangs up her paiki (backpack) on the hook with her name on it outside the classroom and hands her homework folder to her young and stern teacher. And then I scramble to pass out fliers, take roll and lunch count, and introduce brainteasers and word games, and then at 8 am I wrangle the kids outside where they are transformed from eye-rolling internet-based lifeforms to Hawaiian Immersion Students. They stand in lines by age and gender and we teachers stand facing them ranked by the date we committed ourselves to Hawaiian language education (which makes my eyes cross) and the elementary teachers scowl and shake their heads at the squirrelly little ones (like the Kindergarteners who like to suck on each others' sleeves and try to surreptitiously take their slippers off) till they stand stiff and then we all turn to face the east and we chant to greet the dawn, and then sing "Hawaiʻi Pōnoʻi" to promising to take up spears for Kamehameha, and then chant about the Waters of Kāne the Hawaiian god of water, and then sing to the father, son and holy ghost. Then the children stand stiffly while all the teachers go down the line and greet and hug and kiss each other-- even the teachers who give each other stink eye, bump jaws together and look into the distance and say "aloha." Some teachers bump foreheads and breathe nose to nose which is intimate and disorienting and very grounding and lovely.

Then itʻs the day and I put my students through their paces, sometimes baffled by what they donʻt know and stumped how to give it to them, sometimes knocked down by their creativity and insight. And I make nice with my bosses and co-workers and try to think about John Gottman and bids and Jay Heinrich and rhetorical goals and not take any of it personally and Rosie waves at me every time she passes my tent to go for recess or lunch and the students eat in my classroom and everybody has the giggles by the end of the day and weʻre all dusty and sweaty and hair is frizzy and makeup is racooned and the chickens come into the tent and knock over the rubbish bins to peck at the banana peels and then Rosie pounds play dough in the after school program and I sit through staff meetings in Hawaiian and bash my brain against the language and try to stay afloat of the eddies and swirls of conversation with my online Hawaiian dictionary open on my laptop.

Then finally I get RJ from after school and carry 15 bags and packages under elbows, hung on pinkies, slung over shoulders, and then get Maile from the babysitter where she has been playing peekaboo with the baby and napping sweatily on the couch, and she leaps into my arms and I want to tie her to myself and just osmose her delicious solid toddler-ness and I can finally relax after all day but then we have to drive home and it always takes an hour, and the girls wail for snacks and I feel like a cat pet backwards and sparking and I guiltily feed the girls insta-food off of guilty paper plates and guiltily let them watch shows on the tiny DVD player and we grind through dinner and bath and stories and bedtime and then it's 4:30 am again and I'm awake and putting the kettle on and fishing my brown t-shirt out of the basket in the living room.

As a stay-at-home mom, I never felt involved in the "Mommy Wars" debates about the relative merits or risks of staying home or working. I wanted to be able to wear my babies and be all attachy with them so I stayed home and worked on the side by tutoring and volunteering at playgroups and setting up summer camps and babysitting but every now I then I was paralyzed with needing responsibility and professional growth and something --ANYTHING-- for my brain to sharpen itself against. And somehow that coalesced into a full-time gig and everything is reshaped because of it.

The tortoise has made it to the finish line-- I am where I am, this is what we are doing-- but the hare is still napping under the tree. My usually lightning judgement hasn't had time to catch up yet.

Bilbo Baggins Moment

Every year we celebrate Bilbo Baggin's Birthday on September 22. This year we were quite anti-social and made a mountain of food and ate it all ourselves. The girls got into the face/body paint and got themselves all wild and gorgeous. 
RJ wears a uniform to school every day and it is physically painful for her to be so conformist. A brown t-shirt everyday on a kid who would rather have leggings on her arms and a sari and a crown and red cape and high heels and bat wings? So on the weekends there's a special joy in wearing whatever mad thing she can think of. 

 While Matt took over the kitchen, the girls and I wandered around the farm-- all the way out to the far end with the coffee trees, the truck graveyard, the wild guavas, and the ohia lehua. 

 This truck! In just a year it has melted into the pine needles. Reminds me of Gollum's riddle...
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
 Wild Child...
 The jury is out on the guavas.
 The Feast! Roast Beast, Challah, chicken pot pie, mushies and bacon, taters, bubble and squeak. Happy Birthday Bilbo!

Smiley Girls Getting Birthday Presents at Someone Elseʻs Birthday

So I should fire my blogger, but since Iʻm not paying her, I guess I should expect this sub-par blogging....  Ah well. Things have been so absolutely high-octane crazy that I feel like time is just crackling past-- sparks on a blanket quick and gorgeous and painful.

Here are some Photos from one of those quick lovely moments: a birthday party at a secluded little beach, elegant delicious food, kids rolling around on driftwood and crunching sand into their scalp-- Rosie and her friend showing off their newly learned Kindergarten Hawaiian and Maile and her friend eyeing each other warily. Rosie and Maile were so lucky to get beautifully matching Hello-Kitty Themed Late Birthday Treasures, because other people (not me) are thoughtful and generous like that. We stayed until it was dark and unfamiliar large bugs were buzzing around and wild cats were circling the parking lot and tourists were firing up BBQs behind their condos and the kids fell asleep in the car.

It was a brief little respite-- like a gasp of air in our otherwise underwater life. Thanks.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunday, July 01, 2012

And... coming home.

And then suddenly, we're back. It was tremendously disorienting-- everything just the way we left it-- actually, much nicer than the way we left it, thanks to KJ and Ivan's loving stewardship-- but I felt like our cat Tako when we moved--- she ran into the new house, ran into every new room and under all the furniture like a mad thing, then hid under the bed for three days. I had to wander around for a couple of weeks just looking in drawers and feeling confused-- Did this faucet always spray? Do we really not have a dryer? But now it's been a little more than a month and we've resettled, more or less. Utah seems like a blip-- a vivid dream, or something that happened a long time ago. The girls almost don't remember it, and have reentered their lives more or less seamlessly, remembering all the backstories to their toys and kid-treasure-detritus... stuff that out-of-sight-out-of-mind for a season and they had forgotten it existed.

Winter in Utah: Gettin Used to Leavin

And before I knew it, we were done. We gave back all the stuff we had begged, borrowed, or stolen, packed up a rental car, and drove to California!

 I surprised myself-- I was REALLY sad to leave. We had settled in so nicely! Rosie's school was so wonderful, and our little simplified life was so cozy and intimate-- just us in our tiny apartment. I wasn't sure what I thought about coming home to a pile of stuff that we don't really need and obligations and connections and responsibilities...

 so rather than go straight home and risk dying from shock, we went on a vacation!
A brief-- but noble! Stop in the sierras

poor little street urchins...
 The Lawrence Hall of Science: where I wish I lived.

It's coming. Any second. I can feeeeel it.

A bunch a bridges

Grandma! And an alluvial flood plain, or somethin'.

Oooooh, I LOVED this. talk about hands-on science.

And --Praise the lord-- Cheeseboard pizza.

And, in some no-name strip mall in a suburb of nowhere, the world's crowdedest, sweatiest, spiciest, most delicious Chinese food on the planet. You know it's good, when I'm the whitest thing in a 3 mile radius.

the damask roses of the world tour...

This was the awesome broken wild animal museum. Those owls, hawks, and eagles? All alive. All somehow defective, but... ALIVE! Awesome, right?

Maile as a red-tailed hawk

Go bears!

Look who we ran in to in the foyer of the Botany building-- Lucy!!!

And a tiny archeopteryx fossil

Ooooh!! the Stamen!

Ooooh, the farmers' market.....

Oooh, the borsht at Sauls...

It left us all a bit... deer in the headlights.