Saturday, May 19, 2012

What a Week!

It's a sunny day in Zuni land!

To be fair, 95% of the time it is a sunny day in Zuni land. It seems the earth is finally catching up with the skies, for it feels like summer: a street ball tournament at the nearby playground, our little garden growing, the breeze in the 70s, and even a handful of little leggy yellow flowers peering upwards towards our living room window.

I have two weeks left of the school year, which seem as unbelievable as the fact that I still have 9 days left to teach. It's May NINETEENTH, which seems impossibly late in the year. It's hard to figure out what seems more surreal - the fact that a year ago last Wednesday, I was spraying champagne at my fellow class of 2011, dancing on tables and living, for the afternoon, carefree . . . or the fact that last Wednesday, I was celebrating Native American Day at my school, speaking broken Zuni and watching my students perform the deer dance and living, for the day, carefree.

Another bit of cognitive dissonance came with our periodic CC alumni newsletter:
Of course, it's not the CC garden today. . . it's the CC garden almost 2 years ago. I'd like to defend my (anonymous) position in the newsletter, however, to say that if they saw our backyard, they wouldn't be too disappointed: a chicken run for which I dug the posts and strung up the wire, a chicken coop crafted from a dog house, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes (numbering 27 plants total) each planted in their separate waffle plot, a 3-sisters garden in potentia, and the beginnings of a raised bed for potatoes.
But enough about plants.

To the week: 
First off, I had NWEA testing MT-TF this week, so it was the after school schedule largely that was so demanding.

MONDAY: I presented at the School Board Meeting to try to get a drama class / 2 productions approved for the coming year. I was petrified; people make the false assumption that because my major was in the performing arts, and since I corral 100-some kids every day, I would be not nervous in situations like this. Incorrect! That being said, I do believe my presentation went well. I don't remember much, other than that I went into "I-Love-Theatre Dreamland." I remember twining my fingers together and speaking of the cultural relevance and richness to theatre. The board was thrilled, I am happy to report. When I was defining dramaturgy (the course is a semester survey in history, performance, and technical theatre), I used for example a production concept of doing Our Town in 19th century Zuni. They grew agog and smiling at this, trying to find ways to get me funding and help with the course. It was unanimously approved! As was my colleague's forensics course. 
All this, I may add, after the chair of my department opened the school board meeting by not-so-subtly telling the board to NOT approve our courses. She cited finances and the irrelevance of it. Too bad it's cost-neutral and wildly relevant. Needless to say, a big battle this week has been trying to be kind to her.

TUESDAY: Two words: Sports Banquet. Again, fighting the odds, we had another successful evening. They put me at the end of the coach's long table, so I sat next to no one and across from the Ranch dress - no matter! They forgot to print my non-lettering girls' certificates - no matter, I'll take the time for supper to print my own. They put the wrong girl's name on my Most Spirited award - oh, geez, I guess I'll just make a joke to poor L.L. and get it fixed tomorrow. But on the bright side, I made the crowd laugh pretty uproariously when I retold my story of becoming the cheer coach. (". . . and they said, 'Will you please be our cheer coach? and I said, '. . . sure?'") 6-9pm. But there were cheese enchiladas!

WEDNESDAY: As I've mentioned, my Native American Day was a blast. Instead of showcasing my fearsome sunburn, I'll show this:
1-3 periods were my ever-popular Nature walks. I began first with a little blurb about my culture - a tough enough job, in my entitled culture of power / Western European mutts, which I communicated to them. I did, however, wear my mother's feedsack dress that my grandmother had made for her at the end of the 1950s. 1. I look more than a little cute in it and 2. I could say, "it represents a culture that wasted as little as possible and had a deep connection to the earth." These values, I know transfer through to this culture. . . generally, it was a lovely segue into nature + book talk: "in my family's culture, the two most precious things you can give someone are an appreciation for nature and appreciation for the written word as a means to understand and change art and the world."
Then, I gave them the middle handout. I bet you have NEVER handed out a similar sheet. On it, painstakingly searched in a dictionary and run by my savant student En.T., are a list of local plants and critters in Zuni. I set them loose - suffice it to say, by the end of third hour, I knew more of the words than a good deal of the students. My thrilling COMPLETE sentence I can say in Zuni: Ho' k'ets'iłdo t'sana u:lakkya. (I saw a small cricket.)
5th hour we met up with Iralu's class and traipsed to the Eagle Sanctuary. Yes, we have an Eagle Sanctuary full of golden & bald eagles within walking distance. Don't you? The speaker was obsessed with us knowing every facet of these birds - including the coloration of the pinion feathers of the juvenile birds - but was quite knowledgable. Standing in the sweltering in my off-the-shoulders dress (reader, here is where the sunburn enters), I would've preferred more time actually studying the birds. All the same, it's a really cool project - the Zuni traditionally practiced eagle husbandry, and so they're bringing that back with non-releasable birds given to them from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife (as opposed to euthanasia). The rest of the day was watching our students, in full regalia, doing their social dance performances and presenting the Zuni Native Ambassadors for the following school year. If you're interested in what the dance clothing looked like, these aren't my students (obviously), but the costumes are the same: (buffalo dance) and (deer dance)
When the bell rang for the end of the day, they all processed down the hall, the deer dancers moving their heads in the uncanny way of seeming actually animal. In their wake were the drummers and proud parents. I took a picture with my cellphone. If it hadn't been so blurry, I think I would've sent it to a few friends with the message: "how we end every school day in Zuni Pueblo."

THURSDAY: I judged 8 5th-grade portfolios. Enough said. It was delightful! AND we got fed chips + delicious salsa and a GIANT bowl of guacamole. YUM. Of the presentations, most were alternately sweet, impressive, fidgety, moving, and adorable. I got home, again, about 9pm. I sat on the porch steps in the dark, processing that sweet early summer air.

I've already been writing more than I've intended to, so I'll leave off fairly soon. But first, the mandatory book update:
I finished Geography of the Heart. It was my birthday gift from Ms. Lyl, and it was exactly the moving portrait of love and loss I hoped it would be. For a great blurb from NPR: I'm plowing through The (delightful) Hobbit, which my sophomores are ACTUALLY reading and ACTUALLY enjoying. Some fun monomyth / archetype study about heroes! And, as of today (and on the recommendation of my Indiana Read judge father), I'm more than halfway through A Girl Named Zippy. Talk about a delight of reflection, pith, and general Hoosier affection! I heartily recommend it for anyone in need of a laugh, a think, or a reconsideration of small-town, Midwest life. Ina May's Spiritual Midwifery continues to be a nice bedtime read.

On that note, both the prenatal group moderating doctors at the Zuni Hospital are thrilled at the prospect of having a doula  attend / help out / etc. Alllllllll right!

And, to wrap up this monolith of a week, another "you know you live in Zuni when:"
You pet sit for three periods when a student / cheerleader brings you a kitten she found abandoned that morning. Some cute pix to thank you for reading this far:

Over and out ~

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