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Posts Tagged ‘Sheena and Mike’

The young man in the new blue suit finished arranging the glistening luggage in tight corners of the Pullman compartment. The train had leaped at curves and bounced along straightaways, rendering balance a praiseworthy achievement and a sporadic one; and the young man had pushed and hoisted and tucked and shifted the bags with concentrated care.

Nevertheless, eight minutes for the settling of two suitcases and a hat-box is a long time.

He sat down, leaning back against bristled green plush, in the seat opposite the girl in beige. She looked as new as a peeled egg. Her hat, her fur, her frock, her gloves were glossy and stiff with novelty. On the arc of the thin, slippery sole of one beige shoe was gummed a tiny oblong of white paper, printed with the price set and paid for that slipper and its fellow, and the name of the shop that had dispensed them.

She had been staring raptly out of the windows, drinking in the big weathered signboards that extolled the phenomena of codfish without bones and screens no rust could corrupt. As the young man sat down, she turned politely from the pane, met his eyes, started a smile and got it about half done, and rested her gaze, just above his right shoulder.

“Well!” the young man said.

“Well!” she said.

“Well, here we are,” he said.

“Here we are,” she said. “Aren’t we?”

“I should say we were,” he said. “Eeyop. Here are are”

“Well!” she said.

“Well!” he said.

– Dorothy Parker, “Here we are”

Tom Waits- Long Way Home

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/2-03LongWayHome.mp3?attredirects=0
Since my last post, my vertical leap has increased to where it is now significantly higher than the height of an average American male.

Since my last post, my vertical leap has increased to where it is now significantly higher than the height of an average American male.

So, here we are it seems. Aileen (aka Allen, Lee Lee, Onion, Leen Green, Amber, etc.) has been in Oia for almost two weeks and leaves in two days. Having her here is similar to playing the ukulele for the first time in months (something I have done in the last few days)- it’s seamless, fills a need you weren’t completely sure you had until its been filled, and compiles everything you love about everything else into one small package. Within a few days of Aileen arriving, our long-time friend and Aileen’s current roommate Liz Newton (aka Lizn, Lynx, Liza, Lips, Leonard, etc.) arrived in Santorini. Just yesterday, I overhead Liz say to Aileen, “It’s hard to remember what my life was like before we were here.” From the moment Aileen arrived, and then later with Liz, it has felt this way. Just matter of fact-ly they arrived and it seems like they have always been here. I currently can’t imagine the shop without them.

Aileen takes things very literally, and upon hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," she stood in this position for two days hoping for "the answer."

Aileen takes things very literally, and upon hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," she stood in this position for two days hoping for "the answer."

This is not to say that their time here has been ordinary. In fact, it has been anything but. We have gone from one tip of the island to the other- south to see the lighthouse and stand in awe of the geologists wet dream that is this island, and north to swim and stand in awe of the sunset that the tourists actually CLAP for everyday.

Despite Aileen reading my blog for the last three months, she was still surprised to find the sea here.  Also, if you don't find my captions informative enough, this is the south side of the island by the lighthouse.

Despite Aileen reading my blog for the last three months, she was still surprised to find the sea here. Also, if you don't find my captions informative enough, this is the south side of the island by the lighthouse.

Let’s take a second to break and reflect on the fact that HUGE groups of people clap for the sunset everyday. Now, I love beautiful things. Quite a bit. The sunset in Santorini is extraordinary. One of the highlights of everyday. I also believe strongly in being able to express yourself. But clapping at the sunset has never ceased to amaze me. Why? Some people get upset when others clap at the end of a movie. They say, “The actors aren’t here. They can’t hear you. Why are you clapping?” If you are one of those people, you should never, under any circumstances, watch the sunset within ear shot of the castle in Oia. You will implode. I, on the other hand, have given in and now clap whenever anything that is absolutely supposed to happen goes ahead, does its job, and happens. I started with the sunset (“Bravo”), moved onto to clapping every time my alarm goes off (“Great performance!”), and have ended with clapping when the water heater finally heats the shower water up (“Beautiful!”) . Its the little things, really.

In other news, Maxi got into the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE for some reason) with this exact move.

In other news, Maxi got into the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE for some reason) with this exact move.

Meanwhile, we ate pitas, we counted, priced, alphabetized, and put away 2500 newly received books (!), swam in the sea, and took senior pictures on a cliff overlooking the water. We took a car to Kolombos beach, which was as calm and serene as I have ever seen it. We had competitions to see who could find the best passage in five minutes, the rules changing only when Vlad decided we would play the same game except the passage had to be in Italian. Thanks to Ali‘s strange ability to get attractive, young, interesting, English-speaking women to hang out in the shop, we have met many new wonderful people. Accompanied by one such girl named Tash, we found our way to a beach I had never even heard of on the south side of the island which was quiet, beautiful, and calm. It was there that we found caves that, despite every Baywatch episode I have ever seen that climaxed with a tourist getting stuck in a cave with the tide rising, were begging to be explored. One particular cave, though small, was quite extraordinary and led to the other side of the rock formation, so we turned around and did it again. Aileen bravely leaped off the towering reaches of the Ammoudi church ledge- on numerous occasions.

This is the start of my photographic essay entitled, "Things that happen at the bookshop."

This is the start of my photographic essay entitled, "Things that happen at the bookshop." Picture one is called, "Reading."

"Organizing books"

"Organizing books"

"Hanging out"

"Hanging out"

"Laughing heartily"

"Laughing heartily"

"Being a wooden doll"

"Being a wooden doll"

Later, thanks to a successful busking performance by John, Tash, myself, and Zalina, our band manager, which resulted in 6.99 euros, and following a successful breaking into the local hostel by me and John in order to get Tash to come back out, we bought some whiskey and then sang songs that involved two chords and reading straight out of the books on the shelves. We listened to musicians play in front of the shop. We even had one of the now famous nights in the bookshop where we pretend it is the dead of winter because it is slightly chillier that usual, which this time involved drinking wine, eating glorious stew, listening to Joanna Newsom, and playing cards.

John is a secret ninja.  I am pretending to not have a head.  Both of these things will help us break into the local hostel.

John is a secret ninja. I am pretending to not have a head. Both of these things will help us break into the local hostel.

Speaking of Joanna Newsom,

It should be noted that jumping off of the Ammoudi church ledge is no small feat. Not in my book, anyway. You walk to the swimming area from the port and you see an island immediately in front of you. If you swim out from this point of entry you can look up and see all of Oia dusting the top of the cliffs like Parmesan cheese on top of spaghetti. Delicious. It is from here that you can first see the ledge. There is a church on this island. Having a church in such a place, an island or at the bottom of a gigantic gorge, is not uncommon in Greece, a religious characteristic that, unless I have misconstrued it, is very beautiful to me. Next to the entrance of the church, which faces directly towards the middle of the caldera at the volcano, is a bell and if you walk a bit further on sideways-turned rocks, which are perilous when barefoot, you find yourself at the large semi-circle that is the ledge famous for being the jumping point into the crystal blue water below.

The first time I made this jump, I was with Mike Hurley (mention number 8). I am not afraid to admit that I remember feeling an immense fear, one that starts with “Oh no, you must be kidding me,” and ends with, “Yeah, fucking right.” It is probably 20 to 25 feet to the water, but when you stand at the ledge it seems at least 3 times that. I also remember, when feeling this fear, that I had to jump just then, because if I didn’t, surely this would not bode well for the rest of my journey. Really, it was the fear that pushed me over the edge. I had to jump because I was scared. If you have ever felt such a thing before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I knew I would be safe, and I had nothing to prove to anyone else, but I had to jump because, quite simply, I was afraid of doing just that.

So, I jumped. Just like I had to, and since then I have jumped over and over and over. At least twenty times. Each time, it got a little easier, and each time it felt as if I was able to go deeper than the time before, though always managing to miss the treacherous rocks that line the sea floor, and soon I’m confident I will go so deep that I will be able to actually walk on the bottom.

Liz is a senior in high school.  This is her senior picture.

Liz is a senior in high school. This is her senior picture.

I am a model.  A model who just found a pot of gold.

I am a model. A model who just found a pot of gold.

Aileen is also a model.  A model waiting to be struck by lightening.

Aileen is also a model. A model waiting to be struck by lightening.

This is where I’m at right now. I am at the top of this beautiful ledge next to a beautiful church looking up at the beautiful village that holds my beautiful bookshop. And I have to jump. I have long been pondering what to do after I leave the bookshop, thinking that I would be leaving in mid-November. I’ve let it stress me out and bring me down in ways that are in no way healthy and in no way abide to my goal of being present in a moment. Every idea I’ve had, I found a reason not to go through with it, and I, on some level, attribute this to fear. It could be noted that before I left for London, I was worn down and tired. But that is no longer an excuse because now I feel much better, aided by the presence of my sister, a trip to London, and constant reminders of the wonderfulness of this place.

And here I am. Here we are. Part of me feels new, like an egg or like I’m dressed in all new beige clothing, some of them still with the price tag on. Another part feels like I’m settling in, maybe taking a bit too long, but I’m settling in for something. Either way, here I am, and the tension is very real. It is time for me to jump.

So, here it is (or in more detail here). This is where I’m going for at least two weeks when I leave the shop in mid-November. I have received confirmation from the family who runs it and they are expecting me. Splash.

DSC00580

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People do funny things when they travel. Things they wouldn’t usually do. I am no exception to this rule as I haven’t shaved in almost two months and regularly go without shoes, two basic activities that I would never have done in “real” life. I guess that’s one of the biggest draws of traveling. Being pushed out of your comfort zone. You are meeting new people, trying new things, and seeing new sights. It’s a fairly simple concept, I suppose.

Let's compare. Would I do all these things in the US? Grow my beard that long? Probably not. Write on the celing? Probably not. Smile that ridiculously for a picture? Unfortunately, probably yes. For the records, the names on the ceiling belong to all the people who have worked and lived at the shop.

Let's compare. Would I do all these things in the US? Grow my beard that long? Probably not. Write on the celing? Probably not. Smile that ridiculously for a picture? Unfortunately, probably yes. For the records, the names on the ceiling belong to all the people who have worked and lived at the shop.

Let's play one more round of "Are these things I would do in the US?"  Have a nice beer with dinner?  Yes.  Have that beer be 80 cents?  Probably not.  Sell books to people from around the world?  Unlikely to no.  Be on the computer too much?  Absolutely.

Let's play one more round of "Are these things I would do in the US?" Have a nice beer with dinner? Yes. Have that beer be 80 cents? Probably not. Sell books to people from around the world? Unlikely to no. Be on the computer too much? Absolutely.

As I have mentioned before, Santorini’s economic livelihood is nearly completely dependent upon tourism. Particularly during the “season,” the crowds can be overwhelming and stifling. As Craig (one of the owners of the shop, not my dad) said, the tourists here are like the weather. Sometimes you just gotta wait it out if you want to get anything done. Now, this is touchy territory, because undoubtedly I am a tourist on my own level. Euphemistically, I like to call myself a visitor, but for all intents and purposes, I am a tourist.

Very few of the people who work on the island stay around for the full calendar year. They leave when the season is over, because there is no work to be had here. The bookshop is a special case because people live here year round and stays open for almost that whole time. The island, and in my case Oia, is a dramatically different place come winter. To give you an idea, the bookshop is located on a small street made of marble that houses more than its fair share of touristy places to spend your money, jewelry shops, and overpriced restaurants. But in the winter, this is all closed. There are no cruise boats and most of the town is left deserted until the beginning of the next season.

Hey look!  It's the Greek God of tourism.  The locals call him Michael Hurley (mention 7).

Hey look! It's the Greek God of tourism. The locals call him Michael Hurley (mention 7).

So, understanding the huge number of tourists that pass through this town is important when you begin to think about the out of the ordinary things people do as they travel. Naturally, we are going to be witness to a large number of strange occurrences involving tourists. Of these phenomenons, nothing has struck as the apparent loss of memory that is known to stricken some tourists. Let me be more specific. There are a remarkably high number of stray animals in Santorini, and it seems that upon arriving to the island, people completely forget they have ever seen a live, domesticated animal. Immediately upon the arrival of a stray cat, the streets of Oia are filled with approximately 57 languages saying, “I must take a picture of this strange animal that I have never seen before,” and dozens of people gather and snap pictures. When some people walk in and see our cat asleep on our lap, they say, “Oh my god, a cat! May I hold your cat?” “Yes”/Well, I guess. I mean, its asleep, but I guess/Seriously?

Okay. I’m exaggerating slightly and clearly there is bitterness in my voice. And when I got here, I was similarly taken by the strays. Proof:

Guilty!

Guilty!

Here’s the thing. We have a cat at the bookshop. Her name is Maxi and she likes to do two things. One, sit in the window where all passing traffic can see her, and, two, sleep in the recommended section of the book shop. We regularly just have people peeking into the shop, losing their mind because they have spotted an ever-elusive cat, taking a picture, and moving on. Perhaps you are thinking that I am being a bit hateful, but you are missing out on the most important thing. The noise. The international noise for calling cats. Everyone does it. It’s just this really abrasive, “Psssstt,” over and and over.

Psssst. Pssst. Pssst. (Snap picture) (Snap picture)

All day this is what we hear.

Who really runs this bookshop, Mr. Hamilton?

Who really runs this bookshop, Mr. Hamilton?

Craig and Maxi battled over this spot for the length of his time here.  Craig wanted to put books here.  Maxi wanted to sleep here.  Maxi won.

Craig and Maxi battled over this spot for the length of his time here. Craig wanted to put books here. Maxi wanted to sleep here. Maxi won.

So, Jack and I have obviously become quite tired of this noise. I really never had a problem with the pictures or the talking until the noise became too much. But lets take a break from that for a second.

First, a musical treat. This is one that we sometimes project on the ceiling of the shop.

Jack and I sometimes get up early and take swims at Ammoudi bay early in the morning. Great way to start the day. So, we did this one morning and came back to open the shop.

A crowd of onlookers gather to take a break from having their picture taken and watch Jack swim.

A crowd of onlookers gather to take a break from having their picture taken and watch Jack swim.

Upon our arrival back to the shop, we find…the smallest, feeblest, most delicate, tiniest, and most adorable kitten the world has ever seen. Right on the steps of our shop.

"The Grinch's heart grew 3 sizes that day and he began to see things in a new light."

"The Grinch's heart grew 3 sizes that day and he began to see things in a new light."

It was so feeble, we couldn’t help but give it water. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE. Then we noticed that it was so tiny and malnourished even. So, we gave it some food. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO. Then we just started making incoherent noises and just taking photos, as if…as if we had never seen a cat before.

"What is this strange creature?  I should take a picture."

"What is this strange creature? I should take a picture.

Why can't I stop taking pictures?

Why can't I stop taking pictures?

"Oh my god, a cat!  Can I hold your cat?"

"Oh my god, a cat! Can I hold your cat?"

Maxi didn't know what to make of the whole situation.  She still doesn't.

Maxi didn't know what to make of the whole situation. She still doesn't.

So, the cat begins to feel at home and just walks itself into the bookstore and takes a seat on the books. We are impressed by how brave it is. We name it Rambo, which we later change to Sylvie. We named it. MISTAKE NUMBER THREE. This cat will surely leave, right? No, it goes to the back of the shop and takes a nap.

The kitten continues to stick around. It finds a permanent spot on the lap of whoever is sitting at the till. We feed it again. And then regularly. And then the unthinkable happens. I don’t know where the cat is, and I need to find it. So, I make a noise. Not just any noise, but the international noise of calling a cat.

Pssstt. Pssst.

Embarrassed, I immediately look to Jack in hopes that he didn’t hear the noise I just made. His look is a mixture of disgust and of someone who just had a small piece of them die. And while, we have since promised to never make that noise again. Things have clearly changed at Atlantis Books.

Cat naps.

Cat naps.

Don’t worry. Not everything in Greece has been this traumatic. The other night we hosted a movie night on the terrace. The featured film? E.T. The turnout? Two awesome American girls who are sisters. While the movie was going someone had to be at the till, and while there, Jack met two Spanish women who had their violin and guitar with them. Jack, ingeniously, invited them to play on the terrace. They agreed.

Meanwhile, in traditional Greek time (a feel for time that makes New Orleanians seem like they have the regularity of the sun), all of our friends and guests showed up for the movie- when it was over. This is okay, though, because we suddenly had about twenty party guests and a band. So, we headed up to the terrace and made a fire in the fire pit. What else was there to do?

The two women played, and did so beautifully. Those in attendance were as diverse as the night was incredible. UK, America, Greece, Maritius (small island off of India), France, Canada, Russia, Serbia. I’m sure I’m missing someone, but I’m sure you get the idea. Then the guitar was passed around. It was an amazing night. So amazing, in fact, that it was suddenly four o’clock in the morning- something I would have never done in the US.

Who gave me the guitar?  Seriously.  Good time?  Ruined.

Who gave me the guitar? Seriously. Good time? Ruined.

One of those nights where the whole next day I just keep saying, "Wow, last night was great."

One of those nights where the whole next day I just keep saying, "Wow, last night was great."

So, the story goes. Greece continues to present me with new experiences and I catch myself opening my mind and broadening my horizons. Here’s to hoping thats something I can always do- no matter where I am and for how long.

Sometimes its just best to say yes to new things.  Just ask Maxi.

Sometimes its just best to say yes to new things. Just ask Maxi.

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A song for your listening pleasure. Something that has been hitting the spot.

Jim Cain by Bill Callahan

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/01JimCain.mp3?attredirects=0

It has been almost two weeks since I last posted a “Boot of Spanish Leather,” as my posts could possible one day be known. I wish this was the case, though that is neither here nor there. Much has happened in these two weeks, and many of these things have indirectly kept me from writing. This is not to say that I don’t have time to blog, because Lord knows I do, and I have even tried on many separate occasions to pull something together, but thats what it was- pulling something together. I have been at a loss of words for these last two weeks, but I am back now- with words in tow.

This is the part of the blog where you say, "Are you kidding, James?"  Then you point at this sunset, courtesty of Ms. Sarah Morrison, and say, "That's what you got yourself into!"  Then you flip the screen off.  You are very angry.

This is the part of the blog where you say, "Are you kidding, James?" Then you point at this sunset, courtesty of Ms. Sarah Morrison, and say, "That's what you should have been writing about!" Then you flip the screen off. You are very angry.

If that last part was not really your style, then here is your part.  You are going to say, "Well James, it seems you gotten yourself into some sort of Greek paradise that involves playing cards next to the sea."  Then you are going to mumble some bad words under your breath and vow to stop reading my blog.  You are apparently also angry.

If that last part was not really your style, then here is your part. You are going to say, "Well James, why don't you write about some sort of Greek paradise that involves playing cards next to the sea?" Then you are going to mumble some bad words under your breath. I will not have an answer for this.

CJ once wrote about how fortunate one is to have people in their life that make saying goodbye a rambling, ongoing task. These last few months of my life, chocked full of rambling, ongoing goodbyes, have truly illustrated this principle to me. One of the most difficult of these goodbyes came when Mike and Sheena (mention number six) left two Wednesdays ago. The goodbye was not rambling at the time, as I think it was about five in the morning and I found myself quite resolute that I would not be able to express to them what I wanted, needed, to say.

The thing about the mornings in Santorini is that there are very few people out until about ten or so, and if you are around before this time you can witness the magic of the morning here. It is quiet. Strangely quiet. Beautifully quiet. It always feels like you are in on this big secret that no one else knows about, and the wind is the only sound you hear, as it whispers, “Shhhhh. This is the real Santorini.” And as I walked away from their cab that morning, I knew I had been in on a secret- having shared such a beautiful place with beautiful people I love. “Shhhhh, James. That is the real Santorini.”

Oia!  All pictures in this Boot are thanks to Sarah Morrison, with the exception of one, which was from Sheena.  This is because, for one, they take better pictures than I do, and, two, I can't currently find my camera cord to upload new pictures.

Oia! All pictures in this Boot are thanks to Sarah Morrison, with the exception of one, which was from Sheena. This is because, for one, they take better pictures than I do, and, two, I can't currently find my camera cord to upload new pictures.

And the goodbye has, indeed, been rambling, because since the day they left I have been searching for words to give to Mike and Sheena about how thankful I am for them- for our time- and in my mind I have rambled on and on, unable to construct a proper goodbye. But, I realize how fortunate I am to have people in my life that make saying such a rambling task.

Quick…highlights of Mike and Sheena’s time in Santorini, featuring Sarah Morrison who quickly became one of our best friends and will stay that way forevermore. Ready, go.

This song came on while I was picking these pictures, and it fit wonderfully. So, enjoy.

Don’t be shy– Cat Stevens

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/10Don%27tBeShy.mp3?attredirects=0
Three people playing music.  Three sets of eyes closed.  This is not good for the people around us.  We have gone to another place.

Three people playing music. Three sets of eyes closed. This is not good for the people around us. We have gone to another place.

Mike, Sheena, and Sarah took a boat to another island.  I used my Olympic swimming ability to beat them there.

Mike, Sheena, and Sarah took a boat to another island. I used my Olympic swimming ability to beat them there.

I may not be able to read Greek, but that doesn't stop me from driving a Greek car.  It just means speed-limits don't apply to me.

I may not be able to read Greek, but that doesn't stop me from driving a Greek car. It just means speed-limits don't apply to me.

We probably didn't move from these spot for hours.  No need.

We probably didn't move from these spots for hours. No need.

They probably didn't move from these spots for hours.  Because they couldn't.

They probably didn't move from these spots for hours. Because they couldn't.

Popular things to do at the bookstore: play backgammon, read books, sit awakwardly on igneous rocks.

Popular things to do at the bookstore: play backgammon, read books, sit awakwardly on igneous rocks.

This is where we said goodbye to Sarah.  We are not as happy as Mike's smile and the ouzo make us seem.

This is where we said goodbye to Sarah. We are not as happy as Mike's smile and the ouzo make us seem.

So, Mike, Sheena, and Sarah have all made it back to the United States safely and are back to their lives, and thus started a new chapter in my time in Oia. For a while, it was only me and Craig (one of the owners and one of the people who helped get me here) in the shop. During this time, I stopped going to the beach as much but did some wonderful exploring of other parts of the island, which often involved eating fresh figs and fresh grapes that I found a long the way. I finished some good reading, enjoyed music, great conversation, and some sunsets with Jana (a teacher in the San Francisco area) who is a friend of one of the owners and stayed with us for a few days, and am learning how to cook in the kitchen here because I never once had to make anything while Mike, Sheena, and Sarah were here. This has proven to be quite an adventure, one that has involved burnt oatmeal, flavorless lentils, and empty gas tanks. I promise I am not this bad at cooking when I can read the labels, but simple vegetarian recipes are welcome.

Walk this way to get to where I live.  If a stranger ever tells you this, don't follow them.  But since you know me and this will acutally lead you to where I live, you can listen.

Walk this way to get to where I live. If a stranger ever tells you this, don't follow them. But since you know me and this will acutally lead you to where I live, you can listen.

Tierra Jolly recently posted an article on Facebook, I believe, from the Washington Post entitled, “Why I Left Teaching Behind,” by Sarah Fine. And while I can’t say I completely agree with all of her reasons for leaving teaching, there were a few things that she wrote that resonated with me, particularly her beginning.

“This will be the first time since I trooped off to kindergarten two decades ago that I will not celebrate the new year in September, and I find that hard to imagine. Somebody else will cover the holes in the classroom’s walls with posters… Somebody else will stand at the door and greet the students — my students — on the first day.

As for me, I plan to travel, write and try not to think too much about what I have left behind.”

I am in the midst of a strange time- a sort of identity crisis, in a way. Sophie once wrote a recommendation for me, and said something along the lines of I introduce myself “as a teacher first, and everything else second,” and that I ate, slept, and breathed teaching. And, in large part, this is true. But now I am in a place where I am not a teacher and Wilson has already started school and the rest of Greater New Orleans schools are about to start or have started school. So, how then do I introduce myself? I feel as if I have left quite a significant piece of myself behind and, no matter how much I love the bookshop, have been unable to fill this hole. Time will tell what is real, though, so stay tuned.

Lesson plans?  Curriculum?  Bobbing for apples!!!

Lesson plans? Curriculum? Bobbing for apples!!!

About a week ago, another person arrived into the shop. His name is Jack, he lives in London, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Jalls (Justin Halls). He, coincidentally, did Teach First, which is the UK equivalent of Teach for America and is still a teacher. His presence at the bookshop has been a breath of fresh air and I feel we have immediately struck a balance in the shop. We’re working on a list of things we MUST do before he leaves which I am sure will be featured in a later post, and hopefully started a healthy routine this morning by waking up early and going swimming. Also, we cleaned, reorganized, and ALPHABETIZED the Greek section over the last few days, and it looks better than I have ever seen it.

Yet again, I find myself wowed by the people that the bookshop brings in, which I believe is not coincidentally largely comprised of teachers. There is something to be said for the way teachers often appreciate the power of learning and growing, regardless of age or place. Knowing this, and knowing how difficult teaching can be, it never surprises me when another incredible person who identifies themselves as a teacher walks through the door to leave their mark on this humble bookshop.

So, all in all, things are going well. I constantly miss the places and people I am not with, and at times it can be overwhelming, but I am challenging myself to love this place while I am here. It is far too easy to love a place like this in retrospect. “Oh, those were the days,” and “Oh, that was the place.” But it is a much greater challenge to engage your own sense of place while you are present and love a place for what it truly is, for the ways it makes you feel, and the things it brings out of you. Tonight, a woman walked into the bookstore and said, “I wish I could turn back time and come to a place like this.” And, if nothing else, I will never have this wish or regret. This is why I am exploring the island, continuing to eat a pita a day, learning to cook, enjoying the light of the night in the bookshop which no picture could ever do justice, and meet new people and, at the very least, just ask, “Where are you from?,” and mean it genuinely.

“Shhhhh. This is the real Santorini.

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Today I did my laundry by hand for the first time in my life.  And while I can’t guarantee the cleanliness of these articles of clothing, I can say that I really enjoyed this as a task.  It was both productive and gratifying, which, ideally, all household chores would be.  This is, of course, not the case, but that must be saved for another post.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

I have always had a deep appreciation of things that just make me and/or other people just stop and force us to be present in the moment we are in.  The two examples I regularly use when talking about such events are church and the ferry.  Generally speaking, church is a time when large groups of people stop the rest of their busy lives and just be in one place doing one thing.  Now, the actual enjoyment people derive from church-going is subjective, and I don’t not claim myself as a religious person in the traditional sense by any measure, but I have come to appreciate the power of church in making us slow our lives down for even just an hour.

The ferry I specifically think of is the one that goes from the end of Canal St. to Algiers Point in New Orleans.  Its no more than ten minutes if I remember correctly, but there is something about being put on a boat with nowhere to go for ten minutes at time and being surrounded by a city in every direction and the Mississippi.  At least it always helped me slow down.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers.  But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience.  Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal.  I promise.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers. But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience. Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal. I promise.

This is what doing my laundry, by hand nonetheless, did for me today.  I slowed down.  I felt a little more than I usually let myself feel.  I needed it.  Thank you to the social norms which required me to wash my clothes today.

That being said, I must admit I feel a bit guilty saying I needed time like this.  I am currently in the midst of what many have told me is quite close to their dream job/vacation and I just returned from five days in Crete.  A vacation from a vacation?  It sounds indulgent but its what happened and it felt great.

Crete is an incredibly geographically diverse place.  In the midst of our five days, we saw large cities, small cities, small farms, vineyards, touristy beaches, remote beaches, mountains, gorges, and a vast array of plant life.  Oia is a wonderful place but it is easy to get caught up in the bustle of a place that relies almost solely on tourism to survive.  The population swells so dramatically during tourist season that it is a completely different place.  My taxi driver from when I first arrived said it can grow by up to 10 times, but if you want to see this man’s legitimacy in terms of competence and trustworthiness, you should read the entry from when I first arrived.

While Crete is also very touristy, it provided a change of scenery and a change of pace.  Not to mention, it was probably the last time Mike, Sheena, and I would be able to travel together (Mike and Sheena reference four) away from the bookstore because most of the crowd from the bookstore has now left.

Day 1 was spent traveling from Santorini to Iraklion by ferry and then to Hania (Xania to you Greek speakers, which I am sure I have a loyal following of), where we spent the first night.  Here we walked the streets and found (read: Mike found) an awesome restaurant  where we made friends with the wait staff who brought us an extra bottle of Raki on the house.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)?  Probably not.  But it survived, though not unscathed.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)? Probably not. But it survived, though not unscathed.

The next morning symbolized the start of the best day of our trip.  We caught the first bus from Hania to the Samaria Gorge, which is a remarkable hike of about 16 km (you do the conversion if you are that curious) down a huge gorge and is one of the islands largest tourist attractions.  We missed a huge crowd because we caught the early bus.

The Samaria Gorge.  As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

The Samaria Gorge. As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

Even the water was beautiful.

Even the water was beautiful.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge.  Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist.  You just have to take my word on this one.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge. Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist. You just have to take my word on this one.

Anywho, the hike was perfect and we got to the bottom where we ate some food, jumped in the sea and caught a ferry westward to Paleohora.  Upon arriving at Paleohora we found ourselves a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of town (yes, a vegetarian restaurant) and ate to our heart’s content.  At this point, we were tired but feeling like the day had already been a win, so we decided to be a bit indulgent.  And what is more indulgent that going to find the one cinema in town that just happens to play English-speaking films.  Our expectations were low, as we didn’t know what to expect in terms of venue, language, pricing, etc.

I ordered mango stir fry.  I know...I still don't believe it was real.

I ordered mango stir fry. I know...I still don't believe it was real.

Well, after some wandering, we found it.  Oh, did we ever find it.  It was an open air cinema with stray kittens running all about.  The silence in the movies were filled with the sounds of cicada-like bugs and the wind in the trees around the theater.  Looking up you could see thousands of stars all around.  The movie, to add to the exceptionalness of the evening was Slumdog Millionaire with Greek subtitles.  Life is good, huh?  So good in fact that we found a beach cot on the beach and just slept there, with the sounds of the waves in front of us and the lights of the city behind us.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

The morning after.  Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

The morning after. Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

Even though the next day started with Mike running around going, “Get up, get up!,” it was a perfect way to wake up.  He was doing this because the current suddenly rose to the place we were sleeping but everything was saved, so no worries.  The previous day and night had been so good that we chose to stick around for the whole next day and night.  Can’t get enough of a good thing, right?

This was a wrong assumption.  While the day was nice and relaxing, when we set up and settled into sleep in the same spot from the night before, we were greeted with a life lesson that sometimes it is good to just let good things be.  The night was just one gigantic wind storm that quickly turned into a sand storm.  Poor Mike only had a sheet, which temperature-wise was fine but the wind was much too violent.  At some stressful point in the night, I took more beach cots and built a wall of resistance against the wind, which helped with sleeping but the sand still found its way everywhere.  When I flossed last night there was still sand in my mouth.

We rose early (surprising, right) and started the track back to Iraklion (fifth largest city in Greece, mind you) where we would catch the ferry the next morning.  I will not spend much time telling you about Iraklion.  I never feel comfortable about criticizing a place, considering people live there and most likely many of them proudly call it home, and especially a place where I spent a total of about 18 hours tops.  My experience was, as I’m sure you have guessed, not the best of our journey.  However, we did find our way to a bowling alley and to the entrance of a little fair.

Greek bowling is serious.  These are our game faces.  And, for the record, I won.  Twice.

Greek bowling is serious. These are our game faces. And, for the record, I won. Twice.

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

All in all, an amazing trip.  And lessons learned.  No matter where I am or what I have been doing, its always nice to have something slow you down for a moment- if even just for that moment.  Take time, as they say.

The Books- Take Time

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/08TakeTime.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7crkuRlk29asEkgFZ_3_kRJmkPzm7X23MwSuCejRKBHodg4orOt6ZHt1YvX3LBSZgBseNJpHEQIhckMNU_fGQe1bMce57qqQru1jTEHTsWhBqhi-7BKVSqhW6JPMrky6mI7aFmouQu2dM2IM54FjLdmhI5UyemLtmVXjKQah_PtLGzy_klddr3CjaivchrBnhPA4qepRyDnSb9i16icX-K_I2ZEJLJzojkrC36x1kZbJEDSv1d4%3D

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"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense. Everythings unknown, virgin... After you've lived here, walked these streets, you'll know them inside out. You'll know these people. Once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times... it'll belong to you because you've lived there. That was about to happen to me, but I didn't know it yet." - L'augerge espagnole

"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense. Everythings unknown, virgin... After you've lived here, walked these streets, you'll know them inside out. You'll know these people. Once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times... it'll belong to you because you've lived there. That was about to happen to me, but I didn't know it yet." - L'augerge espagnole

The lesson I am learning is it is important to blog regularly. That avoids what has now happened, which is that I have an incredible amount of things to fill you in on but no idea where to start. The morning after arriving, I quickly became aware that this was an incredibly special place- more so than I ever could have imagined. Everyday has been filled with the richness and beauty that I hoped it would be. I am surrounded by beauty in every direction and the bookstore is full of beautiful people, creations, and art.

Perhaps I should start with a brief tour of the bookstore.

Here is Sheena at the entry to the bookstore.  She is modeling what some tourists do, which is take pictures and peek in without every actually entering.  Good job, Sheena- this is a very accurate depiction.

Here is Sheena at the entry to the bookstore. She is modeling what some tourists do, which is take pictures and peek in without every actually entering. Good job, Sheena- this is a very accurate depiction.

Don't be fooled.  Come night time, this turns into where I sleep.

Don't be fooled. Come night time, this turns into where I sleep.

If you look up in the backroom, you will see Mike and Sheena's bed above it all.  I did not volunteer this bed readily.  They won it in an intense wrestling match with high stakes.  What can I say?  It was 2 vs 1.

If you look up in the backroom, you will see Mike and Sheena's bed above it all. I did not volunteer this bed readily. They won it in an intense wrestling match with high stakes. What can I say? It was 2 vs 1.

These...well, these are the books.  Also, known as the goods.

These...well, these are the books. Also, known as the goods.

Most days are marked with a trip to the beach, falafel in pita for lunch, time spent behind the till talking to tourists and locals, learning the ropes of the bookstore, and sitting on the terrace of the bookstore talking and laughing. Our first week was marked with an incredible 8mm international put on by the bookstore’s very own “Splice girls,” as they became known. It is not without responsibility, though, as learning the ins and outs of a bookstore can be complicated, but is so rewarding to watch it function late into the night and bring so much joy to so many people. This bookstore, as a project and as a location, is something that people truly care about and want to be a part of, and the times we are a part of such things are times to cherish.  The days are full, but not in a way that I have ever experienced before on such a regular basis. They are full in the way that you feel after a perfectly portioned meal with good company- satisfied, not too full, by no means hungry, and reminded that life is good.

This is me behind the till.  This picture also adds to the countries in which I have taken an unflattering picture, which can now be totaled at 10.

This is me behind the till. This picture also adds to the countries in which I have taken an unflattering picture, which can now be totaled at 10.

I believe a large part of the specialness of traveling and particularly of this place is the people. I am fortunate to have Mike and Sheena with me (Mike and Sheena reference number 3). Our time together is something I know I will cherish dearly for the rest of my life and they graciously let me be a third wheel regularly. I have met and played music with people from Germany who are biking to India and spend their days as statues in the main square of Oia. Ani and Justine from Montreal came in and read a whole book in French aloud with Joni Mitchell in the background. Ajay and I play cribbage. Sarah and Madeleine make incredible dinners every night. I sat on the terrace with two eleven year old Greek girls who made an art project for the bookstore, where we listened to pop music and they taught me the Greek alphabet.  Chris and Maria, who live in San Francisco and Cyprus, respectively, were part of the group of people who founded the bookstore, are both teachers, and have a love for this place they have created that inspires me to create things of my own. Not to mention, in the midst of writing this very blog entry, Kira Orange-Jones, who is the Executive Director of Teach for America in New Orleans, just walked into the bookshop. I tell you, there is something about this place. Not even the island so much as the bookshop itself. More on that as I experience it more.

As Sheena and I prove here, it is hard not to take a picture of everything.  Once again, nice job Sheena on depicting my points.

As Sheena and I prove here, it is hard not to take a picture of everything. Once again, nice job Sheena on depicting my points.

There is still a lot to explore and learn.  I will have much more to read as time passes.  Tomorrow, Mike, Sheena, and I are heading to Crete for a few days to hike in the mountains, explore a new place, and experience another part of Greece.  Until then.

I must say, the road ahead is looking good.

I must say, the road ahead is looking good.

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unfortunately

There is this children’s book called “Fortunately, Unfortunately.” It is about the main character Ned’s adventure as he tries to get to a surprise party thousand of miles away.  It tells the story by showing how his luck changes from good to bad over and over as he has goes from adventure to adventure.  Some volunteers once read it to my class in New Orleans.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.  Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.  Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Well, I have arrived in Santorini after a situation very much reminiscent of Ned’s story.  However, it will not suffice to just tell the story this way, as the hours and location must also be included.  It is important for you to know, before reading this, that this trip should have taken twenty total hours from Denver to Santorini.

Hour: 0

Location: Denver, CO

Local Time: 5:00 am

I am dropped off at the airport by my parents where I will begin my journey.

Fortunately, I am on time and the flight will leave on time.

Unfortunately, the woman at the ticketing counter won’t check my bags straight through so I will have to get them in New York after a layover in Charlotte and recheck them and myself.

Hour: 8

Location: In the air, outside of New York, New York

Local time: 3:00 pm

Fortunately, the plane left from Charlotte on time.

Unfortunately, the pilot says we are going to have circle around the airport for up to thirty minutes to avoid the thunder storms (Remember I have to recheck my bags when I land and I only have two and a half hours to do so).

Fortunately, we have been given the okay to land.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), on the descent the pilot decides that is not a good idea and quickly pulls up.  We circle out into the ocean for a while to turn around.

Fortunately, on the next good around the pilot gets us touched down and a moment later the lightening really starts.

Hour: 9

Location: JFK airport

Local time: 4:00 pm

Fortunately, we landed and are inside safely.

Unfortuantely, because of the thunder they are unable to get our luggage inside so I am just waiting.

It is important to note at this time that my flight leaves at 5:45 from JFK and i HAVE to be checked in with AirBerlin at least one hour before the flight.  It’s gonna be close…

Local time: 4:15 pm

Fortunately, the bags finally arrived.

Unfortunately, AirBerlin is located in the next terminal over so I have to catch a tram and…well…run.

Local: 4:40 pm

Forunately, I arrive and check in.

I made it.  There is no unfortunately.

Hour: 10

Location: Gate at JFK

Local time: 5:45 pm

Fortunately, I have made it and am ready to go.

Unfortuantely, the flight has been delayed because the incoming plane had to land in Hartford due the thunder storms.

Hour: 16

Location: At the gate on AirBerlin flight 3551 to Dusseldorf

Local time: 11:15 pm

Fortuantely, we are finally on the plane.

Unfortunately, it was after an epic and mysterious layover where the plane was constantly leaving “momentarily” and it was about to arrive “momentarily” and they were about to board “momentarily.”

Fortunately, I understand airplane talk and know that “momentarily” means we don’t even know what time is let alone when this “plane” will get here.  I put quotes around plane because there were moments when I doubted its existance.

Hour: 17

Location: JFK runway and the air right above it

Local time: 12:45 am

Forunately, we finally take off.

Unfortunately, it is after sitting on the “densely trafficked” runway for one and a half hours

Hour: 24

Location: Dusseldorf Airport (the number one airport in Germany, mind you)

Local time: 1:40 pm

Fortunately, I have arrived in Europe and am happy to be here.

Unfortunately, I have missed my connecting flight to Zurich and, consequently, the connecting flight to Santorini- the only flight from Zurich to Santorini for a week.

Hour: 25

Location: Ticketing booth in Düsseldorf airport

Local time: 2:15 pm

Fortunately, the have booked another flight for me to Santorini leaving from Düsseldorf!!!

Unfortunately, it left five minutes ago.

Fortunately, they promise to get me on the next flight.

Unfortunately, the next flight to Santorini is not for two days and all the other flights to Santorini around the continent were booked.

Fortunately, they find a flight to Thessaloniki, Greece for the next morning at 5:50 am, with a connecting flight to Santorini later that day at 8 pm.  Long layover, but I agree nontheless.  Maybe I can explore the city or something.

Hour: 26

Location: Düsseldorf airport’s baggage claim

Local time: 3:30 pm

Unfortunately, they lost my bag.

There is no fortunately.  I will go on to sit for two more hours only for them to tell me it won’t turn up and they will send it Santorini when it is found.

Hour: 29

Location: AirBerlin check- in

Local time: 6:15 pm

Fortunately, they have put me in a ridiculously nice hotel for free.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf.  Fancy.  Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants.  I wrote old jeans and a hoodie.  Everyone else wore suits.  Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf. Fancy. Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants. I wrote old jeans and a hoodie. Everyone else wore suits. Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Also, fortunately, AirBerlin has this thing called “Late Night Check-in” as opposed to me having to get up even earlier.

Also, fortunately, I just happened to check since I am back at the airport and THEY FOUND MY BAG!!!!  Good news. The best news I’ve had in a while.

Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and there are four lines to choose from.  Each line is about 75 yards long.

Fortunately, it seems I picked the fastest lane.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about that.  My line is the slowest.

Hour: 32

Location: Late Night Check-in line

Local time: 9:15 pm

Fortunately, I finally get my late night bags checked-in.

Unfortunately, people started leaving my line and I ended up being literally the LAST person to get to check my bag in.  The last person of hundreds and hundreds.

Hour: 44

Location: Thessolaniki airport

Local time: 10:00

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made.  According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made. According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

Fortunately, everything went well as far as leaving Düsseldorf.  I have arrived in Greece.

Unfortunately, they won’t let me check in for my next flight early.

Fortunately, getting into the town will be really easy.

Unfortunately, my carry-ons are really heavy and it is not going to be easy getting around with them

Hour: 52

Location: Thessaloniki airpot

Local time: 6:00

Fortunately, Thessaloniki was a cool place and there was a nice place called the “White Tower” which was pretty much a museum and had floor after floor of Thessaloniki history and culture.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the bags were more cumbersome than I had imagined.

Forunately, I will be checking in to finally get to Santorini.

Unfortunately, there is a line comparable to the one for the late-night check-in in Düsseldorf.  Even more unfortunately is the fact that there is no “line” to this line.  It is just people pushing and fighting to get to the front.

Fortunately, I make my way to the front pretty quickly and get checked in.  I can almost taste it.

Hour: 53

Location: Gate at Thessaloniki airport

Local time: 7:30 pm

Fortunately, they are supposed to start boarding the plane any moment, or should I say “momentarily.”

Unfortunately, I can’t find my boarding pass and am nearing a freak out.

Fortunately, I get one again pretty quickly.

Then they delayed the flight and moved the gate.  No fortunately or unfortunately anymore.  This shit is out of control.

Hour: 55

Location: Santorini aiport

Local time: 10:10

Fortunately, I have arrived in Santorini.

Unfortunately, it was after a delay in Thessaloniki and us sitting on the runway for about an hour on what I can only assume is definitely not a “heavily trafficked” runway.

Hour: 56

Location: Ammoudi, Santorini, Greece

Fortunately, I got a taxi for what turned out to be a pretty good price.

Unfortunately, the driver assured me he knew where the bookstore was and dropped me off at the bottom of the a mountain.  After asking a local shop owner where the store is, I find out it is at the top of this mountain.  The only way up is to walk up these epic stairs.  They are kindly numbered.  There are about 250 of them.  Then I have to walk through Oia, or the town at the top of the hill.  You must understand that I had to do this with all my luggage.  I was a sweaty mess.  Pouring sweat.

Hour: 57

Location: Atlantis Book store

Local time: 11:30 pm

I have arrived.  Finally.

I must say it was worth it.  This place is even more beautiful than I could even have imagined.  The people at the bookstore are very nice and tonight there is going to be a 8mm Film Festival put on by some of the people from the bookstore.  I will write more about Santorini and the bookstore and the glory that is both of those things, but let me give you an idea.  I am sitting on the top of our terrace overlooking the Aegan Sea.  Mike (mention number two of Mike) is beside me reading Bob Dylan’s autobiography and Sheena was sunbathing but now went to go walk the town.  This is the life.

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Tomorrow is the last day for students to attend school. Teachers are supposed to stay for Friday and the next Monday in order to get rooms cleaned, finish paperwork, and turn in media resources, but in a rare display of efficiency, I have everything done now- Wednesday. I am writing from my empty classroom with the exception of twelve barren desks in the middle of the room, left for the students who are still coming to school regularly. No homemade motivational posters of Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Muhammad Ali. No schedule written on the board. No ungraded papers, lesson plans, or student work on the wall. Its a stark contrast to the last two years in this room, which were chaotic, cluttered, and altogether the fastest two years of my life.

I have entered into what CJ, my roommate and best friend, called “The Beauty of the Last.” Each day is marked with the lasts- one last Saturday basketball game at KIPP Believe, one last family dinner at our beloved Nirvana, and one last time watching CJ perform at Comedy Lives. Ashley Prevost shared a quote with me recently she had found in The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai- “She had not estimated the imbalance between the finality of goodbye and the briefness of the last moment.” Thats where I am, unable to fully engage with each profound moment, but shocked by its brevity.

Site of countless Sunday Family dinners, including 17 weekends straight spanning from late 2007 to Spring 2008

Site of countless Sunday Family dinners, including 17 weekends straight spanning from late 2007 to Spring 2008

But if there is one thing I cherish, and one thing that New Orleans has taught me, it is the power of celebration. And there is so much to celebrate as I get ready to depart. Almost every night of the last two weeks has been going out for a goodbye dinner. The temptation, of course, is to want to leave and wallow in the night’s goodbye, but this would only end in an unhealthy amount of sadness. And, as CJ also pointed out, there is something about this time that inspires us to live more fervently, to cherish what we have, and to make good on all our promises. So, I’m trying to view every night as a celebration. Something that I share with each respective person or group of people to celebrate what we have- not because it is over, but because its changing and we now officially have a history together. And if I’ve learned anything from my past friendships, they’re never really over and those relationships always resurface just when you need them. Ah, life lessons- they never cease to be just general enough that they sound cheesy.

Last night I had dinner with Sanjana at Theo’s and she surprised me with a book she had made with pictures of me with my class and notes from every one of this year’s students, some of last year’s students, Sanjana and Ms. Segady. Many of the thoughts were incredibly powerful (“I’m sorry for giving you such a hard time and I thank you for getting me ready for the fifth grade”), some adorable (“You were my first best teacher”), and some students couldn’t quite express their thoughts (“What I like about our class is it is clean.” It is important to note that my classroom is infamously NOT clean, so where this came from I have no idea.) These are the presents people should get more often, things that show us we are loved and appreciated and validate all we believe in and have worked to accomplish.

This is what I have taught them- how to not pose for pictures.

This is what I have taught them- how to not pose for pictures.

It is important to note that I will not be going to Greece by myself. I will be joined by my friends Sheena and Mike. I have had the pleasure of working with Sheena this last year and the quality of my personal and professional life has skyrocketed as a result- she’s incredible. And remember Mike, because he has apparently vowed to do anything and everything to get mentioned in this blog (Let’s count- this is the first). I am very lucky to start my adventure in such good company.

And they play harmonicas!

And they play harmonicas!

Here is a song that I have been enjoying quite a bit lately. CJ, Jalls, and I blasted it and sang on our way home from our last dinner before Jalls left for Virginia. I also listened to it on the way home from family dinner last Sunday, only to have CJ pull up next to me with his windows down and he was singing it too. We drove a while next to each other singing to the same song. Then I got too ambitious and tried to throw the CD from my car to his car and it didn’t make it. Don’t worry, I got i back.

Gillian Welch- Black Star (Radiohead cover) http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/01blackstar.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cp3FRpHQpGpFfxlfWR7lp8w9AgmmaIY1-8SfCjdOkXxCipEQnarx5LV3vqphQjhZa2P0NSj3vaxfkSxEYPxzknbnsHw0Ok9sCJX_-5wes0UN6DTXyaLlonsky2QMEtiHI-B7HboMCA6wvOf-wh_EQh-mFvrfQoQQXHj8gG1YM8TN8F2EwFqqFUXfhiL_7BV4m7WG7idOVApgZ9-wdjWbU0RIVYgNFpJqi2tRWPVYlbRyT6OYV8%3D

Download here by right clicking and hitting “Save Link as.”

Now, my friends, I am going to walk downstairs and hand my principal my set of keys to the building. My steps will be weighted with the memory of long nights spent planning and working, years of student reading growth, hours of games and fun with people who taught me more than I could have ever hoped to have taught them, and a undying hope that the best is always yet to come- for me and my students.

Tomorrow I leave for Tennessee immediately after school ends. I need to be in Manchester, TN before Friday at noon where I will meet Danielle and Bryan and partake in the one and only Bonnaroo Music Festival.

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