Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Digital Watches are a Pretty Neat Idea

Douglas Adams was born today. In my twenties, I found turns of phrase like “Ford inched up the hall as if he would rather be yarding down it” brilliantly funny. The Hitchhikers Guide series introduced me to smarty humor. In college, a friend and I indulged in the geeky habit of writing random quotes from the books on the note boards on each other’s dorm room doors.

In my thirties, his books became comfort reading, what I pick up when I have trouble sleeping or when I’m sick. I bought the posthumously-released partial book a year or so ago; I was a bit disappointed and have not re-read it. But the others are always there for me.

While my book club-issued desk calendar does note DNA’s birthday, today I had it drawn to my attention by Garrison Keillor’s Writer's Almanac, at o-dark-hundred this morning. I subbed in an elementary school in the far west end today. I signed in at the shiny new school at 6:58 a.m. At last, I found the dedicated, professional school staff. They serve the children of the (mostly) expensive neighborhoods. From the lunch room volunteers who wear aprons full of plastic forks, ketchup packets, and napkins so kids don’t run around looking for these forgotten items; to the janitors quietly sweeping up every dropped fry before it gets stepped on; to what I saw (as a floating teachers’ aide) of the teaching styles – I was impressed.

The classrooms in the post modern building seemed enormous, and are supported by all kinds of special little rooms for a speech teacher, an English as a second language instructor, and the like. Classrooms have wall of built in coat racks, cubbies, and a sink across the back of the room. The counters had a bright confetti design, making me think of those sliced soaps. The entry way had a clinic and display cases on the left, and a glass walled office on the right. The big panes were held together by metal (or miracle plastic?) strips in a way that suggested a greenhouse or the Crystal Palace. The ducts in the hall were painted bright purpley blue.

I have to admit that two “developmentally delayed” boys who were my charges for the morning kept me so busy I couldn’t take in the art room, downstairs. I think it had an arc of windows overlooking playgrounds and woods. I know it had a high ceiling, cool racks for storing partial projects, and what seemed like tons of storage space.

I wish the school well. It took only eight years for Robious Elementary, with its once exciting and cutting edge open plan, pizza hut roof line, orange carpets, media center, and activities room to be overcrowded and out of date. We fourth graders used the activities room as our classroom.

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