i wanted some pictures to go with this post, so i pulled these up from the DFLA archives. i haven't looked at these visual journals in awhile and they inspire me to sit down with a pen and markers and some paint and scissors and scraps of paper and cut loose. so i'm gonna. as soon as i finish my story.
NOT that the pics are remotely connected to the story.
nearly every day for the last couple of months mumu, an elderly chinese woman who walks over from the senior center to help with school breakfast, has been telling me, since she found out my last day was approaching, "no! no! no! you no go! you STAY!"
since my stint began at this school in january of last year, mumu has been a constant source of delight. she went on nearly all of our field trips last year and on many days when i felt the sting of being a complete outsider she was often the only one (aside from my students) i could count on to greet me everyday. she speaks VERY little english and i speak only 3 words of chinese, but somehow i bonded with her. i don't mean to imply that the other staff are rude or unkind, they are not, but there are cultural differences that my social school persona has been unable to penetrate. last year at the end-of-the-year 5th grade beach picnic when i was all aloney on my owny she came and stood next to me on the beach and offered me some of the corn cobs she had brought. we stood there together looking out at the water. giant me and little her. munching our corn under the shade of a giant umbrella i held over us both.
my post in chinatown was due to be up on this coming monday. i had prepped the teacher returning from maternity leave, closed the cums, recorded grades, nearly finished my 5th roald dahl read aloud book, and so on and so forth. i was as good as gone. i even received a sweet farewell letter from the most unlikely source. a shy quirky little character in my class with long black hair that falls over his eyes wrote to tell me he will miss my dramatic read aloud voice. and that he's really sorry he won't get to see my halloween costume. the way he presented me with his letter – sandwiched in between a pile of homework – and the way he snuck glances at me while i read it were so dear.
well…i found out this morning that a most unusual turn of events has caused a position to unexpectedly open at the school!!! i am to stay in my 5th grade class (!!!) and the returning teacher will take the open class. as i felt my advances would be untoward, i resisted the urge to give a bear hug to the administrative bearer of this welcome news. crushing him seemed the wrong way to say thank you. ya know?
just like that, forces in chinatown have conspired for a 3rd time to keep me right where i'm at.
when i arrived back in january i was only supposed to stay until the end of march. march turned into june and that was that, the end of my stint. then august rolled around and i was unexpectedly placed here again to open a class in august. and now…i'll be here until june of 2015. how lucky am i?!
i can't wait to tell my loyal subjects next week that their supreme ruler of the queendom (as i like to refer to my position) is not actually leaving after all to start another queendom in another school far far away.
by the way, picture day was today and i wasn't dressed for the part. i had to apply emergency mascara and lip gloss. (since i'll now be in the class photo!) the lip gloss went over without a hitch, but the mascara wand slipped and ended up under my eye as i applied it without a mirror at my desk with every eye in the room on me. no mirror anywhere in the class, but one kid had his iphone and he said, "miss moss if i don't get in trouble for having my phone on me you can borrow the camera and reverse it to use as a mirror."
to which i replied, "just this once the queen will turn a blind eye to this offense and you will be spared from the gallows. pass me the phone at once!"
and then, just like that, we went to have our pictures taken.
this story is not complete without telling you that i had to borrow one of those little black plastic combs from the picture lady who insisted that SHE fix my hair and before i could say no, she had pushed me onto a stool, aimed her mister at my head, squirted and began to comb my hair. i tried my best to look dignified on the little stool as a sea of school children swarmed around me. i might have been successful. but i doubt it.