Friday, August 29, 2008

The kids are finishing up their first week of school, and despite that fact, summer is still very much with us, with temperatures hovering near the double/triple digit demarcation line. Like I was doing near the end of last school year, I've been walking the kids to and from school, which at the moment means I'm walking at least three miles a day. The kids have pretty much settled into their new routines, with Alex going to the middle school and the three younger kids all attending elementary school together. They missed all being at the same school by a year. Willow has the same teachers that Nate and Sophie had (two teachers sharing a contract), and since they are good teachers, this is a good thing. Nate has the only male teacher. Someday, somewhere, that will be me, but at the moment I still have two more terms of school before I can get my teaching credential. This term, I'm going to be student teaching in a second grade classroom at a school in Santa Clara - one of the rare public schools where the students have to wear uniforms. I've already been there (yesterday, actually) to meet the students and observe the teacher. She's been teaching for decades, so I should learn a lot of new tricks. That routine doesn't start in earnest for another couple of weeks. I still have another week off work, followed by our in-service week, before all of the pieces fall into place around here.

Speaking of work, I learned some sad news yesterday, but first, an explanation. Our science camp and summer camp programs depend heavily on volunteers (during the summer, they're called counselors, and during the school year, they're known as cabin leaders). Some of our volunteers come back again and again, often appearing every few weeks and being incredibly flexible with their time, so they can jump in when and where they are needed. Occasionally they become staff, which means they actually start getting paid.

One of our most dedicated volunteers, Brett Lazzeri (aka Sea Turtle), was killed in a car crash in Reno on Monday. His girlfriend, Sunny, survived, but was injured - I'm not sure how badly. It's still hard to believe. He touched the lives of many, and I'm sure that there are literally hundreds of kids who would be completely devastated to hear this news. I know I am. My thoughts and energy go out to his family and friends, and I know his spirit will live on in the countless lives he's touched over the years.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My week as site manager/liaison for the symphony camp is over. I helped out with another small group over the weekend as well - a student council from a local catholic school. Bright kids - we played charades around the campfire as the full moon rose through the trees, and they were so good that it was as if a psychic connection existed between members of the group.

As for the symphony group - the California Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, to be precise - their Saturday concert was phenomenal. I can't remember the names or composers of the pieces (it was hard to hear the conductor when he announced them, and there wasn't a program), but all the practice they put in (sometimes waking up before 6 AM, I'm told, which is unheard of for the average teenager) paid off.

The day before, I took a bunch of them over to a nearby park to watch the annual free Shakespeare play. This year there are two different ones, each running for three weekends befores switching. We saw A Comedy of Errors, which I have to admit I hadn't seen (or read) before. The stage design was well done, and it was great just to sit and watch while the sky darkened. Occasionally, a bat would flit down into the light before darting off into the darkness again, making sure that mosquitoes were kept to a minimum. Oh, and the acting - it ranged from competent to excellent, although one of the main actors chose to model his character after Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Too obvious by far, and quite distracting. Other than that, it was a lot of fun. Willow didn't understand a word, of course, and neither did some of the younger symphony members. The spectacle kept them interested though.

I also led a night hike for them, helped out with a dinner in the park, and oversaw their campfire. Willow tagged along for the latter two events (with all four kids hanging out for the campfire), and was overjoyed that there was an elaborate jump house set up in the park. The woman in charge of the symphony camp paid the jump house people some extra money to leave it up a little longer so the symphony kids (along with Willow) could play on it.

This week, soccer practice starts for the kids. Jen has been buying them new soccer gear and back-to-school clothes, and they're all excited. As Dar Williams puts it, it's the end of summer, the end of summer/When you move to another place. Autumn always seems like the time to move ahead. I think having a job tied in with the school year helps divide each year into manageable chunks like that. Summer is a time of relative stagnation, and Fall is a time of regrouping and change.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things are in flux at the moment, on all fronts. We've finished up six weeks of summer camp, and this week the kids are mostly home. Willow got some vaccinations today, and quietly cried about it. I took the girls out for ice cream afterwards, which the happily and messily ate, and then we got a movie at the grocery store, which they sort of quietly watched.

In the time since I last posted anything here, I've been to a wedding (one of my coworkers got married to his long-time girlfriend in a beautiful wedding at our place of employment), a play (Central Work's latest, an updated version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with sound done by my brother - very nice), and saw an old friend I hadn't seen in around 20 years. I've still been digging into my past in a midlife crisis sort of way, so it's nice to reconnect with old friends. This particular old friend is now a professor out in Boston. The last time I saw him, he was singing in an Arizona punk band called Desecration. It's a good feeling to reconnect with people, even if the meetings are brief and far between. We're definitely all grown up now.

I'm due up at camp in a couple of hours to lead a night hike for the symphony camp. They've been coexisting with our day camp this week, with me as the official liaison between the two groups. So far, so good.

Next month, it's back to working nights again. I've got to put in more classroom hours for my teaching credential program as well, but it should be easier with the kids all in school every day. I tried to get a day position with benefits, but failed again. It's just as well, I suppose, because I really should be getting in more classroom practice. I'm going to be asking all of the visiting teachers about how they feel about their schools and districts too. This will give me an idea about where I might like to work after I get my credentials.

Currently listening to: Sacred Blade "demo #1"