Today is my son Daniel’s and my BIRTH day. I pushed baby Daniel out of the shoot at 6PM, August 31, 2009. He was birthed, I gave birth. Hence, our BIRTH day. We celebrated (again) on Saturday night with my sisters, brother-in-laws and parents. Since Brother Lucas is away at Camp Del Corazon, Daniel had the stage all to himself. I let him run the games and he loved that. Playing freeze tag, wheelbarrow races, stomping a Bubble Rocket, playing Daniel Bingo and a Question Game were some of the highlights. He specifically requested we play a game where everyone has to answer questions about him. Not one person in my family could remember if Daniel was born at breakfast, lunch or dinner time. Even Daniel did not guess correctly! Answer: Dinner. Only a couple people knew his middle name and I was surprised by that. Answer: Austin. However, most everyone collected a point for knowing that Daniel is entering the third grade and has received 0 speeding tickets. Everyone learned something about the Master of Ceremonies and the Dinner Party was enjoyed by all. Not one thing to complain about there.
Sunday morning at 9:30AM, my girlfriend Allison picked me up and we headed to the UCLA campus to attend a Writer’s Fair. I did not know what to expect, but I am happy that I was open to the adventure as I gleaned a lot of new information from the speakers. There were a total of 24 classes taught by published UCLA writing instructors and you could pick four panels to attend. There was a wide range of topics from Poetry to Screenwriting, Fiction and Non-fiction. Narrowing down my selections proved challenging. My favorite class was one that focused on writing memoirs. My least favorite was about finding your voice, because it was geared toward mostly fiction writing. Not my thing. I did enjoy the people watching in this class as Writers are an interesting group, varying in age, size and eccentricities. Older women with loud flowing garments abounded, as were really, really, really old wrinkled men, young tattooed girls, and regular plain guys and gals at every turn. I really could not give you a description of what the typical writer looked like. One thing we all did share was the love of thinking on paper. I would happily attend again without complaint.
Sunday evening we went to dinner at Yolanda’s Mexican Restaurant and I lapped up a ginormous margarita, blended with salt. It was honestly the biggest margarita I have even seen or slurped. I would guess it was probably the equivalent of two regular sized margaritas…..this drink put the grand in Grande. I was just following my brother–in-laws lead when ordering, trusting he knew what he was doing. He did. The drink was delicious as was the food. Definitely, no complaints.
Today was the first day of third grade for Daniel, my first day back to work with students, Daniels ‘real’ birthday and Lucas’ return from Camp on Catalina Island. We picked up 31 doughnuts on our way to school so all of Daniel’s classmates could have an early morning sugar rush under the guise of his 9th birthday. No third grade complaints, except maybe from the teacher.
Feeling like there’s a lot going on around me, begging for attention, I came straight home from work and immediately sat at the computer, ignoring the obvious housework. Wishing I could afford a personal assistant, I then told myself that it would probably feel invasive to have someone catering to my daily chores and whims. The closest thing I have is a wonderful mother who trekked down to stinky San Pedro to pick up Lucas from the Catalina Island Cruiser Boat. I am so thankful for her extra set of hands and willing heart. I can’t complain.
My first day back in fourth grade felt energized with excitement, but was packed with more children than the small classroom should be allowed to house. Twenty six desks are cozily scrambled everywhere making me feel like I was trapped in a rat maze as I walked around the class assisting with math. The math lesson went well and I really did need a review on number place value. Note to self: Never say “and” when you read back a number unless there is a decimal. The decimal is the ONLY time you can use “and” when reading out a number. For example, the proper way to say 102, is, one hundred two, NOT one hundred AND two. This is something I did not learn in grammar school, at least not until I returned to fourth grade when I was 39 years old. It was the first time these kids had heard this little math rule and it stumped most of them that have been programmed to include “AND” with a number. I enjoyed watching their serious math heads work, but did not enjoy tripping over little shoes and metal legs of chairs as I cruised the maze. Too crowded. Thank goodness for air conditioning because on a hot day like today, the smell of twenty-six children, sweaty and squished together after lunch, could cause my eyebrows to wilt off my face. However there is air conditioning, so I can't complain.
I find the first weeks of the school year interesting because all these children start out as little strangers to me, but by spring, they will be my best buddies. On this first day, most are formal and a little stiff. Then there is my last year’s fourth grade class whom are all big Fifth Graders now. They are running up to me for a hug, or yelling hello from across the campus. Not formal, not stiff, but more like little nieces and nephews I haven’t seen in three months; thankful to be reunited. Boy, it feels good to be loved by children! As busy as these last days have been, I enjoyed them all. And just like our tight fourth grade classroom, I have no room to move around or complain.