Category Archives: Random

Last Day of Teaching.

Part I

I woke up bleary eyed. I went to bed last night at 3 am and tried to get up at 7. I had given my students a test over a month ago and today was my last day of teaching. so of course last night at ten o’clock I sat down to the grade the tests. Why would I do it any earlier? On the first test that I graded I left a little personalized note to the student, about three lines. Why? i don’t know. Maybe I overwork myself, or maybe I’m a devoted (albeit last minute) teacher. Either way I just added another hour of work for myself. For the easy students writing a note is easy. For the challenging students it’s challenging. And rewarding. Finding the good in everyone.

Either way this morning I stumbled out of bed and into the shower. Coffee. That’s what I need and everything would be fine. I got dressed and deciding that it took too much energy to pull on my boots, I slipped on my flats. I put the water up to boil. The only thing I could think about was coffee. About ten minutes later as I’m coaxing my contact lenses into my tired eyes I heard the rain pounding against the windows and roof. Great. It’s ploching outside. That’s a Yiddish word but I haven’t found an English word that describes that sort of downpour. Because it’s more than pouring, more than a downpour, it’s ploching. That meant I’d have to put on boots, and a sweater plus a jacket because my jacket doesn’t have hood.

The kettle whistled. I was about to pour the coffee in a cup when i realized there’s no sugar. Great. Last week i tried coffee without sugar and it ended up down the drain. My yearning for coffee intensified. I needed it. That meant that I needed to leave 15 minutes earlier so I could buy a coffee in the central bus station. I smeared on some makeup. Through my half closed eyes it looked decent so I grabbed my bag, mumbled a good day to my apartment mates and headed out the door.

I stopped in the doorway to outside the apartment building. I wished I had a stronger word even than ploching. Deluge. Yeah, I checked it up in the thesaurus. I had no choice. I hurried out into the rain. My boots don’t have good traction. They’re fashion boots, not meant for the rain. I sort of slipped and slid down the block, trying to hurry and glance over my shoulder to ensure the bus wasn’t right behind me, and not fall flat on my face. As the sidewalk slanted downward towards the street so did I. My feet slipped out from under me and I instinctively put my arm out to break the fall. My palm met the wet pavement at the same time as my bag. Splat. Ow. More embarrassed than hurt I continued, watching my every step. I crossed the street and a Chassidish Bochur was standing there. Did he see me fall? Mortifying. Well, even if he did, he was probably more mortified than me so i supposed it’s okay.

I didn’t miss the bus. I moved into the bus stop to protect myself from the driving rain. I stood in a puddle. The whole street is a puddle; there was nowhere else to stand. I waited inevitably for the water to seep into my very nice unprotected boots and soak my toes. More and more people squeezed into the bus stop, anxious to be out of the rain. I could just imagine what the bus will smell like with lots of wet humans on it. And i wondered what was worse; waiting in the cold bus stop with fresh air, or on a warm stuffy bus. The bus pulls up spraying water on the first anxious people to get on. I’m relieved when it shows up. my stomach was growling and still the only coherent thought i could manage is: coffee.

Traffic. The bus inched forward and then it slammed to a stop. Standstill. Repeat. An old man with a white beard, orange knitted kippa, and heavy American accent was cursing out the Israel government for turning Yaffo Street into a train track. A woman tried to respond kindly but he yelled over her. She turned to look out the window. Rain splattered the windows and the inside of the bus was steamy. At long last the bus pulled to a jerky stop and grateful, I carefully jumped off and hurried, head bent, to the entrance.

Part II coming soon…

Pondering at the Window

I gazed out the window, unseeing. What I would have seen if I was looking would be a nondescript Jerusalem street. A tree, leafy green branches waving, a standard apartment building built in the traditional Jerusalem white stone.

I exhaled, leaning my elbows on the windowsill. Either it was me or the world had gone crazy. It had to be one or the other. Why? I don’t know. Was this evidence of my craziness?

An old, grizzled woman was plodding down the street. She was so typical, if I was in the mood for it, I would have laughed out loud. She had feathery gray hair, wore a floral housecoat, and shuffled along in bedroom slippers step by arduous step, her cane beating rhythmically against the pavement.

I felt like everything was wrong. As if someone had fisted my heart, twisted it and wouldn’t let go, squeezing out my energy. I took a deep quivering breath; it did not have the desired effect. The ache in my heart intensified.

A child, somewhere beyond my line of vision, was bouncing a ball. The sound went directly to my head, thudding against my brain. I held my weary head in my hands.

“I really am crazy,” I moaned.

I ambled over to the mirror and studied myself. Wavy brown hair framed a thin face with an olive complexion. Brown, almond shaped eyes, a straight decently sized nose, and full lips. I appeared normal.

Looks can be deceiving, a nasty voice inside my head commented.

I drifted back to the window. Dusk was falling. Everything, the tree, the white stone building across the street, the asphalt road was tinged blue in the fading light.

It was surreal. As if I was the image in the mirror seeing myself stare out the window. The girl at the window stirred, closed the window shades. I was then reunited with myself with a jolt. As if my soul had once more taken up residence.

I sank down at the table, forehead resting on clammy palms. I felt oppressed by an immeasurable heaviness. I felt as old as the woman who had passed by earlier, maybe even older. Maybe I should start wearing flowery housecoats, I thought irrelevantly.

Slowly my eyes began to close and I felt sleep creeping up on me. The pain in my heart gradually receded until  I couldn’t feel it anymore. The throbbing in my head abated as well. I fell into the warm cocoon sleep accorded, grateful for the escape.

Good night, I murmured.