Friday, January 7, 2011

on middle school, the lake district, and yet more homework

In the sixth grade hall of my middle school, now many moons ago, each of the teachers had decorated their classroom door. Some of them were clearly inspirational: 'Hang in there!' with a construction paper monkey hanging from a construction paper tree. Encouraging: 'Have a beary nice day!' With the requisite cuddly teddy with arms outspread. And then there was the door that I never understood. It wasn't inspiring. It wasn't encouraging. It wasn't even explanatory: 'Welcome to the Wonderful World of Math!' No, it was the following: 'With one foot in cold water and one foot in hot water, on the whole, you're average!' I tried to get it, I really did. But to this day its meaning (or perhaps intent is the better word) is lost on me. And because this door confused me, and because I spent every day looking at it in passing and trying to figure it out, it is permanently embedded in my memory. And random things will trigger it. Just the simple act of putting my foot in a bath of hot water now and I hear: 'On the whole, you're average!'

It's really nice.

Almost as nice as this container of extra crunchy Jif from Jenn that I am currently spooning to death. So...gooooood... * insert sound of Homer eating a donut here *

I think I like rain. But only aggressive rain--the sort of rain that streaks the window panes and makes a pattering sound and darkens the sky. This is good rain. Intentional rain. It's doing that right now, and between that and the gentle hum of the washing machine, soothing things are happening.

Though I don't need to be soothed as much as I need to write an entire research log on materials and processes in the woodmill and metal shop. The biggest problem with this task--other than lack of time and interest--is that all my note-taking while in these places happened on whatever nearby writing surface I could find--one of ten notebooks in my purse, on my hand, up the sides of handouts. So now I'm rifling through all these scraps and trying to make sense of things like 'cross-cut against grain, ripping cutting with grain, 40 mm, plinth, chamfered edge.' I don't even know if half of these are actual words.

Did you know that first year marks don't count at my school? I don't know if that's a UK thing or specific to my particular Uni, but I think it's bizarre. Also, unmotivating. Also, wonderful.

This is totally unrelated, but which of these two pictures do you like better?

 

 
I took them a couple months ago in the Lake District. Did I ever post those photos? I don't remember. This dementia is killing me. Just in case:

The best time to love the Lake District is on an early morning walk from the cabin to the village for a hot croissant and coffee at the one cafe that may or may not be open.

* sigh * To be there now. Big hugs, and back to work,
Essss

14 comments:

  1. I like the top picture best! see you guys soon xx

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  2. i remember that walk and the rainbows! top picture best too.

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  3. I like the second photo because it looks surreal with the emerald sky.

    This is one of the most poetic posts I've read by you. Truly lovely. I'm noticing how much your writing voice has matured in the last couple of years. It's really come into its own.

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  4. Thank you, Gwen! Goodness knows I no longer have the manic-squirrel energy of the invisible gifts days. Ah, the wired madness of youth...

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  5. I like the second photo..the colors in the right side of the photo really "pop" to me. (ugh...isn't that word overused?!)

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  6. I also like the second one. The Wizard of Oz kinda feeling to it is awesome!

    I'm glad you never asked me about the meaning of "hot water, cold water, average" thing, my ignorance would've been spewing all over the place!

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  7. Warning meandering thoughts follow.

    Agree with little miss on both points.

    In a recent interview, Jonathan Franzen said his writing Freedom was unsettling for him because it was the first book he didn't couch in satire, and when you're not poking fun at life and yourself a little, you're putting yourself out there more -- which is more vulnerable. It's no surprise why I like that thought, but it's the same reason why I like this post.

    And re: homework notes, Francis Ford Coppola said in a master class: "The first thing you do when you take a piece of paper is always put the date on it, the month, the day, and where it is." And he says many other great and simply profound things in this class/interview.

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  8. second photo for sure. love that quote on the door from childhood school. classic aspirations.

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  9. It rained like that here yesterday. Really agressive rain ping-ping-pinging all over the place. I like it better when I'm not standing in it waiting for a bus.

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  10. I like the top photo the best :) so pretty!

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  11. Hmmm...is the saying suggesting that if you don't move around you will always be "average" (is this a bad thing?), but if you make the 'leap' and move your feet from either the hot water or cold water you will change your life perspective? (Like, man - my feet are really cold :P). But then you could then suffer from the "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome and think "I wish I could move my feet to the hot water"...
    Or maybe it's suggesting that before leaping to a conclusion, you should weigh both sides of the argument - like taking your time in deciding whether you would prefer your feet to be in cold water or hot water...
    Or maybe I'm just over-analysing it!

    I cannot believe I've lived 24 years of my life in this grand old country and never visited the Lake District! The photo with the rainbow is fantastic! (And I kind of prefer the top photo because I love the way the bright light breaking through makes those deep shadows of the buildings and the deep shadows of the thick rain clouds with the hint of clear blue sky above, but that's just me :P).

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  12. Agreed. Misty gray days and barely rains are just annoying. I like a howling wind and a pelting force of rain. It makes the tea taste better, no?

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  13. Okie, I am LOVING this article. And your feedback is always exciting; thank you so much for taking the time to give it.

    Little Wing: HOLY COW YOU'VE DONE IT! I think you're exactly right, that maybe the teacher meant we should pick a standpoint/ideology/etc. and not waver in the middle of life, because that's just average behavior. This is why I need you. To help me close all the 'mystery' files in my head.

    Gina, you've nailed it on the head.

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  14. Oh, Middle School. Those were the days.

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