Thursday, June 22, 2006

Loose Ends

There are a lot of ends in my life right now, and nearly all of them are loose.


This is the first day in - I literally don't know how long - that I have been home before six on a weekday. Dinner has transformed from a meal often cooked at home to the question, Do I eat out the expensive way or the cheap way? And so, despite the 90 degree, you-can-nearly-swim-it's-so-humid weather, I think I'm going to make homemade pizza tonight. With bell peppers and fontina cheese. Ahhhhh.

I believe that the mind needs space and time to wander, for one's sanity. Time to notice and take in and wonder, time to think morbid thoughts and silly thoughts and worry a little, time to hear the way words sound together and take in the smells and sounds of the street, time to remember and to anticipate. Without that, my mind, at least, becomes forgetful, errands and appointments and commitments overlooked, papers misplaced, phone calls unreturned. And I stay up late because when I do not give it time to wander, my mind seizes that time at the end of long days.

One of the things keeping me up nights has been worry about my work visa. I am allergic to paperwork and bureaucracy. When I have important papers to fill out, everything feels ominous; I am sure that long lines and mean-spirited, beleaguered clerks await me, that I'm missing a crucial piece of information or misread a line of instructions, that I will be rejected for an incorrect digit. In this case, I was certain that my visa would take weeks, that they'd need my passport at the same time that I'd need it in order to go to India, that I'd have to rush around, beg, plead, bribe, that I might be allowed into Turkey but only after promising my first-born. Today, I finally gathered all the necessary information, passport-sized photos, copies of documents, and fees, and rushed downtown to the Turkish Center at the UN Plaza, bracing myself for bad news. The consulate was empty, and air-conditioned, the first two reasons to fall in love with Turkey. The woman found my name on a Fulbright list, took my papers, and twenty minutes later slid my receipt under the glass: Your visa will be ready on June 28th, bring this with you to pick it up. And that was all there was to it! As I waited for my visa, I looked around at all the words that I know how to pronounce but don't understand - which is progress - spotting familiar suffixes and guessing at the meanings. I intended to say Teşekkurler instead of thank you, but shyness (and sheer relief) overcame me at the crucial moment...

So, walking home on the East River promenade, my mind finally had a chance to wander. The city is smelly and hot, oppressively humid, but it's New York, and I wouldn't have it any other way: the industrial waterfront, the diesel smell of the highway, the guys fishing and couples making out, the flowers in curving beds, the bikers whistling a warning as they zip by, the epic bridges, a lone waterbird, construction everywhere, high school students wading among the pilings near 23rd Street.


Contest winners.

Muriel nailed it:
I'll venture a guess, but I won't be very precise with the details. It would have been easier if you had also bought eggs (the famous eggshell experiment).
As you bought both sugar cubes and extra fine sugar, I'm guessing you're going to work on solutions and mixtures. The fact that you bought different liquids might mean that you're going to work with different solvents.
Exp 1 : Use the same solvent (water) to time the dissolution of the same amount of sugar in cubes or fine. This could show that fine sugar dissolve more easily because it has more surface contact with solvent (I'm guessing that's a good enough explanation for middle school).
Exp 2: using the same amount of sugar, time the dissolution in different solvents (water, vinegar, cola, alcohol). This would show that different solvents dissolve the same thing at different rates. I'm not sure how far you would go in the scientific explanation of this.

and Kris made me laugh:
She has been presented with the tremendously difficult task of teaching 7 middle schoolers to work cooperatively. To do so, she challenges them to create an accurate replica of Scooby Doo in less than nine minutes using only the following materials: a box of sugar cubes, a box of super-fine sugar, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a bag of 50 plastic cups, and a box of 50 plastic spoons. Ten minutes later, she is faced with a semi-doglike structure, 7 grinning students and quite a mess from the 'glue' the team created by mixing rubbing alcohol and super-fine sugar. Being environmentally conscientious, she uses an entire bottle of white vinegar to clean up, and sits down to a well deserved meal: one of Annie's brand Indian microwave dinners and 3 bottles of Pepsi (she desperately needs that caffeine).

And so they will each find a cheesy - very cheesy - NYC postcard heading their way in the mail.


Blogger MsMalarkey said...

I know it's not very nice, but I am SOOOOOO glad that I am not the only one who's not paperwork phobic. I always dread being chewed out by some overworked person. Must be a repressed memory of an early trauma at 65 Court St. or wherever the hell I had to go to get my job.

9:00 PM  
Blogger leisuretronic said...

Yeah but on the other hand it's a very nice episode on how bad a strategy it is to always expect the worse case scenario. You get so upset just from imagining how dreadful it's going to be that you can't get no sleep, and when you finally go there you are surprised how well everything works out (sometimes). Not preparing for an exam surely is not the best idea, but going crazy about it 2 months in advance might be worse.

As always, it's the right balance which gets things straight. "Zen and the art of..." what was it that it was called?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Teacher from the UK, not science but hey I remeber that science experiments were one of my favorite lessons ;). Hands on learning is so much better I find.
Thanks for the read

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Blog. Like Science

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeh Budget cuys are a tough way to go.


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Blogger Jonathan Siberry said...

Great blog. i think everyone has loose ends in life and most never get un looses. I admire you being a teacher, i would not do the job.

i have several loose ends at the moments, i have been meaning to cancel my insurance on my TV, renew my car tax, get a football credit card, see my parents, get a new coat..... and the list goes on.

I am also a Manchester united football fan and have been meaning to go to one of their games but life is to busy at the moment. wouldn't it be nice if time simply stopped?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

go with the expensive one,,, dinner will be satisfying...


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