The past couple of days here in my English class have been outstanding. My students are writing essays about teachers and they’re talking to each other on our class blog about racism and an idea they’ve coined about a “social equilibrium.” A social equilibrium, according to my students, is when everyone in the world treats each other the same way: respecting each other’s beliefs and not being prejudiced against any groups of people like humans have been in the past and continue to be in the present. I gave my 29 English students an assignment last night, which was to leave a comment on our class blog by 11pm. By 10:30, there were 96 comments. 96 comments, people. They were reading each other’s writing and thoughts, taking time to think hard about their opinions, responding to each other with thoughtfulness and respect. It was wonderful for me to see and get to chime in occasionally. I think my students in New Haven would have liked to participate in that conversation; they would certainly bring a number of perspectives to the discussion that were noticeably missing among my 7th grade.
This week has been a little tiring. I am looking forward to this weekend as we have, yet again, a long one. Four days. This time Dennis and I are going to Rio. I’m actually really excited to go considering I haven’t been there since Carnaval, and according to Cathead, it’s totally different when it’s not Carnaval. I’m excited to see if the beaches are as crowded and what the nightlife is like. I’m excited to sit on the beach during the day. All day. We’ll probably go to the Cristo, and up Pão de Açucar…I don’t know. More touristy things that I didn’t bother doing during Carnaval. But whatever the case, I plan on relaxing and sitting on a beach and drinking delicious juices and eating fresh fish. I still can’t believe I’m living in a place where I can just take off to Rio for a weekend.
Dennis, meanwhile, has started his Portuguese language classes. He’s learning really quickly and yesterday surprised his teacher by recognizing words in his new textbook. He feels fairly comfortable here despite the language issue, and that makes me happy that he doesn’t feel the need to rely on me. Last night before falling asleep, we were talking about how exhausted I’m feeling each day. We thought maybe it was because all day long, all I’m doing is thinking and teaching and talking. And that kind of mental exhaustion is enough to totally wipe me out. And so, when we thought about the kinds of relaxation I can do here, like yoga for instance, it’s not calming to me. What’s Portuguese for “downward facing dog”? I would really have to understand the yoga teacher and truthfully I don’t want to have to think during yoga. The point is to clear your head. And if I’m conjugating verbs while I’m supposed to be breathing into my hips, it’s not exactly my idea of relaxation. So today, right now, I’m at school. And I vow to go home and leave all of my work and preparation here so that when I go home I don’t have to be connected to a computer and I don’t have to stare at a screen anymore than I do during the school day. Even though writing is relaxing for me, I am just so mentally wiped out that I can’t do anything else.
Hey, Mom: I was just about to write that I finally talked to you last night after a month of telephone silence because you’d been travelling and hadn’t called me, your only daughter, in a month, even on my birthday, and that it was nice to hear your voice again; but, then I thought better of it because maybe it would sound like I was still upset that even on my 28th birthday–the hottest year of my life–I didn’t hear my own mother’s voice, or that i was somehow trying to guilt trip you into, like, a really big birthday party when I come home this summer on June 21st. So, then I didn’t write about it, so don’t worry.