By six A.M. the wind and rain has settled down, so much so that when Ellen gets up she doesn’t bother to check the weather report. A T-8 means school is cancelled. T-3 means it’s on or just delayed. It’s still T-8, but Ellen makes the sandwiches anyway, and comes to wake me up. Me, lazy bastard that I am, I get on the computer right away, seeking permission to crawl back into bed and sleep ‘til the crack of noon. I find it, but by then it’s too late: Jamie has woken up, and he and I and Ellen sit in the living room, staring at a dull gray sky so dull and gray I just might drink that Kool-Aid, thank you very much Reverend Jones.
Eventually Will and Lucy get up and we get breakfast. Tuesday and Thursday mornings Ellen usually swims, so I take the kids to school. Today, though, the pool is closed and there’s no school, so we all sit around groggy-headed, thick skulled and dull from the rain and the drop in barometric pressure. My only official business is to meet a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant—there are 16 of them on campus—for coffee, but the “Coffee Corner” (clever name, huh?) is outside, so who knows if this’ll happen or not? There are some files we needed printed off my office computer, though, so I head out into the hall and down toward campus.
If the air last night was “clammy,” today it’s officially “clamped.” Being outside feels like being wrapped in a giant down jacket soaked in Jell-O and lined with wet marshmallows. I don’t so much sweat as condense: perspiration appears on my vast and sloping brow before I’ve even gone down one flight of stairs.
Back on the academic portion of campus, the open-air corridor looks strange. Then I realize it’s because they’ve removed all the chrome tables and wicker chairs that usually reside in the breezeways between buildings, stacking them in the stairwells instead. I walk the length of campus and only meet one person, a security guard wearing a yellow hardhat. He looks strangely happy, and I assume it’s because he has a hard had and I don’t, which is fair enough.
If outside is bad, inside the academic buildings is even worse. The air’s been turned off, and so it’s so stuffy and still I actually open my office window and let the rain pour in. I print off the documents, ring them out, and put them in my backpack before trudging back across campus to our flat.
I e-mail the ETA, suggesting we postpone, but by 10:55 she hasn’t responded, so I rush out the door back into the humid air. By the time I get to Coffee Corner, I look like a human luffa sponge that someone put in the dishwasher and left for three cycles.
The ETA is nice. Her name is Ladaea, and though she went to school in Ohio, she’s originally from New Mexico. The Fulbright ETA program was set up the local Fulbright coordinator in honor of his late wife. It brings 16 newly-minted BAs to campus and puts them in various settings where their language skills might be helpful to the school’s various faculty and students using English. When I’d heard about the program I was excited for any number of reasons, but mainly because it’d been six months since I’d screwed up the life of someone in their twenties with my bad advice. So I went out of my way to make contact with a few of them just to let them know I was on campus. Actually, I made a point of making contact more because I know from experience that even when you’re in a country where you’re loving life, every so often you’ll have a WAM (Weird American Moodswing) Day. And at times like that, being able to go upstairs to 802 SSQ, bang on the door, and go inside to sit on the floor and play Legos with a two-year-old is a pretty good thing.
Anyhow, Ladaea’s a pretty interesting kid who graduate from high school when she was 17 and college when she was twenty and who seems more mature than most faculty I know. We have a nice conversation that got even nicer, when at the very end she mentions that she’d love to babysit for us if ever we needed help.
“Really?” I say, trying not to sound too grateful, much less drool. I definitely don’t remind her that we have three—count ‘em, three kids—one of whom still feels his Fruit-of-the-Looms are the appropriate place for planting a nice stinky pomme de derriere. “Huh. Let me mention it to Ellen, see what she says.”
The rest of the day pretty much sucks. Hot steady rain pours down. I do a few hours mediocre work in my office, trying not to fall asleep while reading various executive summaries (none of which contained even one execution) and trying not to fall asleep while doing some sorry-assed writing that I immediately delete, once I wake up. Then I trudge back to the flat through the rain, thinking at least I can make Ellen’s day by watching the kids so she can catch a swim.
But of course there’s no swimming, because it’s pouring rain.
Enough of this. We all go to bed at 3:15.