Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Today's Gift

Today had many gifts, of course--a generous colleague who will mail me a reading I need, children who are full of life and love, a devoted spouse, my very breath. But, one thing in particular stands out today...

Howard and I were out for our weekly coffee when a young-ish man walked up to us. He reminded me that he was in one of my upper-division history classes a few years ago. He told me that he wanted me to know that I--and more precisely my passion in the classroom--am the reason that he is a teacher.

I'm not sure that I deserve such high praise.  He, after all, teaches middle-school kids in a not-very-wealthy district. He does more important work than I ever will do.  But his statement was definitely the greatest gift of my day.

Friday, June 19, 2015

On leaving

(One last trip to the library of the Ministerio de la Cultura, a tea with Ximena, and then back to pack and prepare for the trip home)

It's always so weird to be at the end of a trip to Quito.  As much as I've floundered for focus these two weeks, it's hard to leave without really having gotten to go through more of the newspapers I've been reading. I hate just getting a "taste" of things like this and then letting it go.  I gathered a lot, but there is always so much more to be had. And even though I don't particularly like living in Quito (it's too big for me--and those buses, spewing black smoke and actively trying to run me over--blech), this city, nestled in mountains, does have its grandeur.  And of course I will miss lunches with Ximena.

But I love coming home.  I love home. I love Howard and the kids. I love sleeping in my own bed.  I love cooking in my own kitchen and working in my own office space and taking a bath whenever I want rather than waiting two hours for the water to heat.  And the ocean is just as grand as those mountains.  I love Friday Family Movie Night and listening about the kids' days at dinner each night. I love listening to NPR while I putter around the house. I occasionally even love having the cat around.  And I have a sense of community and purpose at my university that I lack when I work here.

I've sometimes found myself nostalgic on this trip for the days when I came to Quito and could stay a while, on my own.  When I didn't have responsibilities. When I didn't simply "collect" documents to read back home, but actually took close notes while in the archives (even when I took a photocopy).  I miss the days when the Biblioteca Ecuatoriana--set in a lovely old monastery out in Cotocollao--used to have cats roaming all around the building, including into the stacks (though I was warned not to pet them: fleas).  When the Mariscal area of Quito was safe rather than dangerous. 

But my life has moved on from those days. I have responsibilities now, lots of them.  And while the juggle of my varied duties is sometimes overwhelming, I wouldn't trade this richness of life for the freedom of 20 years ago.  

And so goodbye to Quito.  I will, for the present, continue to come and go from here.  But home is in New England, with that crazy family of mine.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Back for a Spell


A pounding headache that woke me at 4:00 a.m. Tall buildings out my living room window with just a touch of mountain green in the background, filthy hands, a dinner with queso fresco and avocados that are beyond heavenly...and a stack of newly bought second-hand books (thus, the filthy hands).  Oh, and llapingachos for lunch. 

Yup, I'm in Quito.  

Missing my family terribly and just hoping for a productive trip that will make the two weeks feel not quite so long.  Not even the best avocados on earth (which these just might be) keep me from missing home and family.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Anya and I played hooky today.  We baked a cake.  We snuggled and talked. We listened to The Unicorn (which was a regular Sunday-morning-after-church thing when I was a kid; this stands in contrast to our kids listening to the Clash in the car as toddlers).  We watched The Princess Bride (which her brother always refuses to watch for Friday Family Movie).  

In short, we did nothing extraordinary...and yet, it was an extraordinary day.  We needed this, my girl and I.  It was a long semester, and now I'm off to Quito on Sunday for a two-week stint in the archives.  A slow, rainy day to hang out and do silly little things was just the right call.  

Sadly, I can't have the same with Sam. He's off for a three-day class trip to NYC tomorrow, then all day Saturday he goes to the state-level science fair competition. I'm happy for him that he has both of these opportunities. I know that I need to get used to being away from him more, now that he is about to enter his high school years...but I'll miss him so much.

But maybe he and I can play hooky when I return. I think there may be Thai food in our future...

Do your soul a little good...play hooky sometime soon.