I’m still trying to catch up to the present.
We celebrated Xy’s birthday last Tuesday. Since she was feeling sick and I was run ragged it was a pretty lame birthday, but of course she’s used to such disappointments, as are all children of late December. I tried to recontextualize the Escape as Xy’s birthday present, one day late. We just ignored the part about her totaling the previous vehicle.
The Orleans Avenue bonfire was tamed last year and completely extinguished this year, crushed under bureaucracy and public safety concerns. I think that’s a shame, but it didn’t really affect us, because our daughter’s too young to go anyway. So we did like last year, stayed home and did our own bonfire ritual. We lit an ultra-mini-bonfire — a candle actually — which we placed on the neutral ground in front of our home at midnight. Xy and I each ran around it three times. Since the girl was asleep in her crib at this point, we represented her symbolically with her pink steel-tipped cowgirl boots. Xy took one and I took the other and we made three more circles round the flame. So many neighbors were shooting off fireworks that P was soon awake again, and she joined us for a bowl of Hoppin’ John.
The weekend was spent in preparing Xy’s classroom at her new school. New school? What, did she change jobs? No, actually it’s a top-to-bottom renovation and expansion of the old school on its pre-Katrina site; they were in a temporary location and just moved back to the old/new school over the holiday break. It’s a very nice renovation job indeed, with a great blending of historical details and modern amenities.
Of course, there are some challenges. For one thing, Xy was assigned a consultant to scrutinize her teaching, which nearly drove her to a nervous breakdown, and this guy was observing her in the classroom right up to the last day of school in December. That meant that while all the other teachers were packing, Xy couldn’t, and so moving was quite the headache. Then a bunch of well-meaning volunteers who helped move her stuff “unpacked” all her science kits, creating complete chaos in her new classroom. She’s got a generous amount of storage space in a large closet with lots of shelves, but someone closed the door to the closet and it automatically locked and for a good long while no one could get it open. She had a ton of stuff taking up valuable space in the classroom which needed to go in the closet, as well as a good number of items already in the closet which she needed to get out. But we couldn’t do a damn thing because the door was locked. Neither of the “master keys” held by the principal and the foreman would work. Finally, late Saturday evening, some guy in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt came by and got it open, much to our relief. I immediately taped the latch open so she wouldn’t get locked out again. Little things like that can wreck one’s mental health. Inside the closet we discovered Xy’s missing potted plants, squirreled away by another well-meaning volunteer. They were still alive, luckily. Who puts plants in a closet?
Another gotcha: The new classrooms have these really cool stucco-type walls. Tape won’t adhere to them. Pins won’t stick. Neither will staples. Xy tested a hot glue gun on a discrete patch and discovered the glue pulls off chunks of wall. We ended up using sticky-tack. The next day an edict came down from the principal not to use that either. Too late for Xy’s classroom, but I’m not sure what the other teachers are going to do. Most teachers have an overwhelming compulsion to put stuff on their walls, and the idea of a school with pristine walls that can’t be junked up with thousands of educational posters and student projects is bizarre to me.
All the rooms are equipped with SMART boards, and luckily those seem to be working. Xy got addicted to using such technology in the classroom over the last few years, and getting through the first half of this school year without was difficult.
They are bringing the students back to the new/old school in stages. Today is Xy’s first day with students (seventh graders) while the younger kids will be coming back later in the week.
What else? We gave the girl her first haircut, and her cuteness now surpasses all expectation. She took her first pee in the potty last night and was so excited she reached in with her hand to stir it around.
So I guess that brings us up to the present day. Carnival starts tonight. Mardi Gras is in six short weeks. I sure hope it’s warmer then than it is now. It’s actually colder at this particular moment in New Orleans than it is out in Manzanita, Oregon. And it’s forecast to get colder still for the rest of the week. As I said yesterday morning, “This arctic wind really puts the sub back in subtropical.”
Oh, I guess there is one other thing. My phone’s camera was on the fritz for a while, displaying only a weird solarized version of reality and unable to actually take photos. Following a tip from an online forum, I removed the cover and pushed on the lens a little. Somehow it seemed to make a difference, and thus I was able to retrieve these fabulous photos which don’t really have any connection to what I’ve written here.