After the storm

Good morning, world! I write to you from one of my favorite kinds of days: I call them after-the-storm days in my head, because they’re the type of day that feels to me like taking a deep, restorative breath after a storm of activity. They’re usually accompanied by finally getting enough sleep after a few nights of short-changing sleep in favor of whatever the storm of activity involves. For example, this week has so far featured:

Monday: 6 hours of online teaching (of note, 4 hours of this were all in a row, and what I have learned from this is that 4 hours in a row of sitting in front of my computer and trying to be patient with my students is a lot. I used to teach 4 hours in a row “live” all the time and not love it, but also not particularly suffer from it, so my only guess is that the moving around helped a lot) + 5 hours of translating. Satisfyingly, I also fit in a 30-minute call to my mom and a 1.5 hour call to my dad. (I hadn’t called him in three weeks and it had been weighing on me, so this was extremely satisfying.) While I talked to my dad, I also made a chickpea curry stew, which I managed to present to my boyfriend upon his return from a 13-hour shift at work. Hooray! (He is definitely the default cook in the household, so it’s very gratifying to be able to return the favor every once in a while.)

Tuesday: Woke up with a headache, which I always find extremely dispiriting. Had planned Tuesday as a socializing and studying catch-up day, though: a morning walk (outdoors, socially distanced) with my best friend whom I hadn’t seen since weeks before Christmas (she lives in a different town, and we haven’t been able to cross down borders since before Christmas due to pandemic lockdown trying-not-to-make-Christmas-a-bloodbath restrictions) + time with the boyfriend, who I had been largely ignoring in favor of work for a few days. I had planned to get some studying in here too, but the boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of it being mid-week and lesser restrictions to hammer out some ideas (mostly for budget planning reasons) for the new house. I feel like this was a good call: have you ever been in a mostly empty Ikea? Me either, prior to this. It’s magical, and I think definitely the best possible outcome for a semi-necessary shopping trip during the pandemic.

Wednesday: 7 hours of ambulance volunteering (including carrying an unfortunately very sick, terminally ill gentleman down the stairs in a lifting sheet… the stairs were very narrow, the unfortunate gentleman in addition to the oxygen tank he needed to be hooked up to were rather heavy, and my arms and shoulders are decidedly sore this morning. Also, though… poor soul. I kept trying to crinkle my eyes at him in as kind a manner as possible over my mask, but who knows how much got through. It’s kind of not my job to actually say anything, as a lowly volunteer, once the doctor and nurse have arrived – they rightfully run the show and we are just extra pairs of arms and hands at that point – but sometimes I ache to say something quietly reassuring, or at least explanatory, like “we’re going to roll you over onto a sheet now to go downstairs” or… I mean, what I really want to say is “it’s going to be okay, the doctor is here with you now”, but I think that’s exactly why they don’t like us to talk much – in his case, it was highly unlikely that he was going to end up being any type of okay). Anyway. 7 hours volunteering + 5 hours translating + 1 hour teaching.

Guys. You want to know something crazy? That hour of teaching was with the one pair of little girls I still have on my private student roster (I have mostly given up teaching kids – I love kids, but teaching them ESL is just not my thing) and they have a quiz on how to tell time in English tomorrow. Or today, rather, at this point. So. Italian schools are obsessed with teaching kids to say “quarter past two” and “quarter to four” as opposed to just “two fifteen” and “three forty-five”, which is honestly what I usually say in real life. So I usually teaching this by drawing a clock and coloring the two halves different colors and visually marking the difference between “past” and “to” that way. Did that, tried to explain counting the minutes by fives in two different ways… did a bunch of examples… and they still kept struggling. Weird, because they are two extremely bright little girls (and that’s why I still teach them – because they’re very easy to teach despite being kids). Finally, getting desperate because their hour was almost up and I felt that I hadn’t adequately prepared them for their quiz, I started doing rapid fire examples, just writing the time in numbers instead of drawing the clocks. They got them all. The problem wasn’t knowing the time in English. The problem was that they don’t know how to count the minutes on an actual clock face because I guess 9-year-olds don’t know that skill anymore? One of their classmates actually lives upstairs from me, so I totally want to lure him down here with cookies or something and interview him about how kids tell time these days. I mean, okay, I totally use digital clocks almost exclusively now, too (and by clock I mean my phone), but… they just straight up don’t learn it anymore?!

Anyway. I dropped into my bed exhausted but satisfied yesterday, and sprang back out rest and still satisfied this morning, and now I am delighted to get started with my day! Hooray!

I have big translation due on the 8th and a big exam I could take on the 9th. (I say could because Italian university features a zillion exam date options… story for another day.) What will probably happen? Probably I will do all the work and not take the exam. Fairly disappointed about that, because I had specifically taken the morning off from work to take it (and it required some finagling on my part), but…. make hay while the sun shines to pay for all that Ikea furniture? Guess so. Sigh. Sorry, stats exam. I will… take you eventually, I guess.

** Photo: the famed Emilian fog, which was exceptionally thick this Tuesday morning, dissipating as my best friend and I got higher up on our walk on Tuesday morning.

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