Scenes from the week

1. We arrive back in California at 9pm.  It feels like midnight.  The next morning I go out to start Carry Spider and find he’s dead.  I know I need a boost, but it’s not until I call Z that I realize I also need a trip to a garage.  Which means I have to find a garage, make an appointment, track down someone who has time to give me a boost (not to mention follow me there and drive me back), and learn enough garage-speak not to sound like bimbo.  It all gets done, and next day another friend drives me out to pick up the car.  It is my first experience with car repair and, though I lose two days of work, it’s all as smooth as can be.

2. Carless for two days, Eila and I have been walking.  Now she decides it’s a “tradition” and we will walk everywhere.  On shanks’ mares we make our way down to the village for library books, pastries, clay, and a basket and, on the way back, Eila decides we should stop at my office.  There is a spot in the hall where the sun pours in the window.  We sit in it, Eila drawing fairies, and me reading Wind, Sand, and Stars which I’ve snatched from the office shelf.  I am an airman, getting ready for my first flight to Africa with the mails.  Every couple of minutes I am called to praise a fairy’s body part.  The sun is so strong the rivets on my jeans are burning my legs.  I am perfectly happy and never want to do anything else.

3. Two über-competent people have a breakdown. A friend and I have wine at lunch.  The bill comes;  it’s fifty-something.  We each have dollars in various denominations:  my friend has twenties and ones, and I have twenties and fives.  We decide that one of us will put in 40, the other 20,  we’ll get some change and go from there.  The change comes and we start to work it out, but suddenly we can’t remember what we did with the change.  Did we split it?  We assume we did.  My friend says:  you owe me 13, so I pass over a twenty and friend gives me 7 ones.  But wait:  did that 13 include the tip?  We take it back:  friend gives me 20$ and I pass over a five and two ones.  Friend says:  “Let’s start again at the beginning.  I know I had 10 ones,” to which I respond, “but I just gave you a five instead of 5 of your ones.”  We catch each other’s eyes.  We are starting to think about laughing.  I say, “Math was my best subject in high school.”  Friend says, “I was top of my class every year.”

4.  Small town life #1. I go to a new leg waxer.  When I tell her where I work, she tells me she has two other clients who work there too.  She tells me their names, and to my great surprise, both are my very close friends.  I get the impression she is willing to tell me exactly what she does to them and how often, not to mention describing the quality of their leg hair.  I change the subject.

5. Small town life #2. Eila has two playdates on Sunday, one with a new friend from school and one with an old friend from a different school.  During the few minutes they overlap, it turns out that the new friend and the old friend know each other from dance class.

6. I am slated to chair the department next year if I get tenure, so I’m starting to be cc’d on chair business.  I get a message about the budget.  I understand all the words in the message because they’re English but I can’t make head or tail of the thing as whole.  I  have a sinking feeling in my stomach for two days, until an email shows up from our administrative assistant (henceforth to be known on this blog as V-God) who says she doesn’t understand it either.  I am greatly relieved.

7. Eila and I are lying in bed reading bedtime stories.  A giant making a horrendous noise picks the house up, shakes it, and puts it back down.  Eila asks “what was that?”  I tell her and go on reading.  The next day I learn from V-God that, when she was five, her father took drastic action at an earthquake, scooping her up in his big arm, carrying her outside, keeping her home from school the next day.  She was so traumatized, she says, that she didn’t sleep in her own bed for the next five years.  I mention the quake in an email to Z and he reminds me that I’ve been neglecting, since September, to prepare the earthquake kit mandated for all students by the school board.  Must acquire mylar blanket, sweater, peanuts, one photograph.


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