Friday, August 10, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Jenny and Starting a New Job

Most people don't stay on St Maarten forever, so you get kind of used to saying goodbye to people you've come to love, but there is always the comfort of being able to keep in touch; e-mails, phone calls, ridiculous postcards, and blogs remind you that they're still there. It takes the edge off the hurt of not being able to walk down the road and invite them to Ric's Place. If you say goodbye enough times to enough friends you can almost get used to it. Someone else to e-mail. Someone else to skype. You can almost forget that some goodbyes really do last. Despite knowing how sick she was, the thought honestly never occured to me that Jenny might actually die. That someone my age, who went to school with my husband, who was in my wedding, my favorite "j.a.p." , feauxjew as we teased her, wouldn't be there when I came back to Georgia. It never occured to me that the time we went to the mall, drank coffee in Starbucks and played with Meghann's beautiful little boys would be the last day I ever spent with her. Even now, it's hard to understand where in a world where hospitals are full of old people who would love to just sashay right off this planet, someone so young and full of life could die. She fought a good fight, and will probably never know how much her friendship meant to those who knew her. She will always be missed.

In other news, I've finally bit the bullet and quit the bar I was working at. Chloe is still calling me to ask if I can pick up a shift... I'm still not answering her calls.

I know it might sound crazy to trade a job where I can take home $100 in tips at the end of the night, for a job with a salary of $300 a month, but I feel so good about this. We have a good amount saved up again, so I'm honestly not too worried about the financial situation.

I've realized that the most valuable thing we have in life is time. How we spend our time IS our life, and its better to give it away for something worthwhile, than to trade it for money. If you can do something worthwhile and make a little money, well thats even better. Now that I've realized that, I plan on spending the rest of my life working to that end.

The training at The Starlight Ed Center has been really helpful. The MPOs (illegal schools ala Camp Blank) use the Abeka program, which is the same program that most Christian schools in the states use. It is so clearcut- Abeka plans out the entire day for you, that really anybody with a watch and a good attitude could do it.

I've been painting more than ever. I feel so inspired lately! Here is two paintings I finished last week: The top one is of a little mixed media fun with a sea horse and a common sea fan. I LOVED painting the sea horse. It was like I couldn't make a mistake, every stroke was exactly where I wanted it. This second one is of a toucan. I love everything about it, except for the fact that I used cheap tempera paint, and I really wish I hadn't. This is the last time I make that mistake. From now on, I'm buying good paint or no paint!

I guess I"ve just been feeling extra creative lately, because it's been spilling off my canvases and into my notebook. Heres a little poem I composed last week : I fell asleep in the bath/ and dreamt the whole world was an ocean/ and everyone was connected/ moving together in fluid motion./ Everyone who'd ever lived and everyone who / ever would mingled together unaware/ that their past and future / were presently there./ Suddenly I found myself/ tangled up in reef/ and as I lost my last breath/ friends waved goodbye with grief./ I closed my eyes as my heart stopped/ then opened them to find/ that I was quite healthy,/ but completely blind/ to everything that in my dream/ I'd learned I could see;/ Nothing but cold bath water as company./ So I observed my hands/ my wrinkled fingers and toes/ and contemplated life and time/ and how mysteriously she flows.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I Less Than Three Camp

The parents of the kids who go to Camp Blank are all undocumented or illegal, which means most of them work jobs that while being better than what they left behind in their home country, don't come close to supporting what most people would think of as a middle class lifestyle, here on the insanely expensive island of St Maarten. There is no way many of them could afford babysitters or daycare for their kids, so their only real option would be to leave their kids home alone while they go to work... or starve. Luckily, acknowledging this, Camp Blank offers a program to all the students to give them some place to go.

Unfortunately, someplace to be is pretty much all it offers. Aside from a couple of trips to the beach, (where many of the kids swam in their clothes, because as I was shocked to learn, they didn't own swimsuits... on an ISLAND) we couldn't really do much with them. The other volunteers and myself all did our best to keep them busy with organized games, but the school doesn't own any playground equipment or games. The older kids played Cricket with some half rotted boards they found, and a rock, until one of the neighbors altruisticly bought some tennis balls for them to play with. An old freezer that sat on the edge of the school yard was a stage for the little girls to put on shows then became a picnic table at lunch time.

As "camp" came to an end it began to rain for days. All the kids cooped up inside the small dark school building became restless. Fights broke out among the kids at all ages. Things were stolen or "thiefed", as they say, almost every day. I got so tired of hearing "He thief me lunch money!" "No I didn't, tell she go." that I started giving grammar lessons. I don't know if it was just because there was nothing better to do than to sit there and listen, or because I was monopolizing the chalk board, but when I started teaching... they paid attention.

I think the impression I made with my humble grammar lessons must have reached beyond the kids who listened, because a week after "camp" ended I got a call asking if I would stay on and teach elementary kids. I felt really grateful for the job offer, but hesitant, because I have absolutely no education in teaching whatsoever. Fortunately there's a program going on at Starlight Educational Center to get new folks, like me, trained and oriented. I'm so excited- I had so much fun. Even though camp was exhausting and there wasn't any monetary reward, it was so worth it.

I really feel like my prayers are being answered, and that my life is moving back in the right direction. Aside from the new job I also found a church I like. After living amidst casinos, bars and strip clubs for so long, I forgot how spiritually renewing it is to worship in a congregation and just be around like-minded folks.

I painted these sunny yellow flowers this week. I really like how they turned out, but the paper warped a little, where the color is the thickest (that's what I get for using cheap paper). If anyone knows how to correct this, please let me know.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jelly Fish FREAK me out... stingy little water ghosts

Having ended our third semester on the rock, the hubby and I went to Georgia for a week to catch up with the family and to get some much needed R+R. (I would have blogged about it sooner, but the Caribserve guy still hasn't come to set up internet at our new apartment- if island life teaches you anything, its patience). Normally I make Peter go to a lot of places with me and participate in activities when we're on vacation, but in my constant efforts to improve myself as a wife, I decided to let him do whatever he felt like, which was generally not much, while I went out visiting the relatives and stuff.

I did a lot of doodling, but no painting over the break, so all the ideas I got while I was gone are now just bursting to get out. The first project I'm taking on is kind of ambitious, but I think it will be really cool once its finished. It will require nine pieces of paper, each with one jelly fish on it, with the tentacles extending over the edge of the paper, so that when they're hung together they create a kind of ethereal maze.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Flitting Little Reminders of Death

One of Chloe's cats caught a baby sugarbird today. It didn't kill it, but it was really hurt. From what I could see, it's wing was broken, and one of it's feet was nearly taken off. It was such a sad looking little thing. Peter came by and had a look and said it would probably be ok, so I felt a little more cheerful. I took it home and gave it water, and it started getting really interested in a piece of bread I'd soaked and put with it. It hopped in the little thing of water I'd set next to it, and seemed much perkier, flapping his poor little wings, and hopping on it's one foot. I figured he was tired from all the hopping and from surviving the cat attack, because he sat down and closed his eyes. But when I came back in to check on him a few minutes later he was dead. I love the little sugarbirds that are everywhere on St Marten, but now when I see them outside flying around I think of the sad little thing that died in my shoebox.

I tried to paint it, but I couldn't get it right, so I gave up and painted a purple panda instead.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bleu Azur means Blue Blue

If that's what you have in mind then I'm mamamamovin' out! And by "that" I mean being gouged with rent, and having everything in my apartment breaking with nothing ever getting fixed. There is NO WAY I would ever consider renewing my lease for this dump. Bleu Azur is the worst apartment I've ever lived in... That's why I'm loading up the car and moving to Beverly, I mean Beacon, Hill. It's amazing how much higher rent is for all the buildings around the campus than the ones 2 miles away. Double the space for the same price folks... Also, the name doesn't make sense- Blue Blue?
I highly don't recommend this apartment building.
One of the best things about my new apartment is that I have a nice big desk all to myself. It's such a nice place to work, and to commemorate my release from the dark dungeoniness of Blue Azur, I present for your consideration an Azur Koala.
Low season at The Kissing Fish has suddenly gotten especially low, due mostly to the fact that the only real work I've been getting is on Tuesdays, whereas last year at this time of year I could be sure to work every Friday (which is definitely money night). Despite all my hard work over the past year, especially during high season where I'd work weeks at a time with no day off in between, I shouldn't have expected anything better .
Bummed out about the lack of work, and spending too much time around the house, I decided to head over to Dr Atchley's office to see if she had any volunteer projects that needed manning. She had several projects going on, but the state of my transportation made proximity a major factor, so I chose to help out at a place that teaches and takes in kids that are undocumented or illegal; kids that any government sanctioned entity wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. It starts next month. To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how much I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

See Turtles

The further into the semester it gets, the harder it gets to respect the hubby's constant need to study. At first it's like "no problem, we'll hang out next weekend." But eventually you realize next weekend isn't coming. In fact there is no weekend. Ever. Just 52 weeks of Thursdays, each more urgent than the next. Medschool is definitly not for newlyweds, or the faint of heart- double entendre. He's just lucky I am the supremely understanding superwife I am.

I've been keeping busy though. Work is pretty busy right now, so its nice to have a little disposable income. I used a little of said income to buy myself a really nice book of watercolor paper. I didn't realize how much of a difference using good paper would make, but it really is like night and day. My friend Justin asked if I could paint a simple sea turtle design on a blue background to hang in his apartment, and I got a little carried away. I painted about a dozen of them, and gave most of them away. I kept a couple for myself though. I wish I could get a better picture of them- they look much better in real life.I've been experimenting with a lot of different styles of painting lately, trying to find one that fits me. While researching different techniques, I came across some aboriginal paintings that really caught my eye. I tried my hand at creating a few paintings using only dots, but I really didn't like them, and only one was spared from the depths of the dust bin:

Not to sound like a gloomy gus, but I'm becoming pretty unhappy with my job. I really don't like working in a bar... mostly, I supppose, because I don't drink. I've also lost a good bit of respect for some people. When I took the job we were desperate for money, and we really didn't know where our next meal was coming from, because our loan check was late, and our savings had been used up in the moving process. I don't like hanging around drunks, and I definitely don't like working late (since I have to walk home by myself). Mostly, though, I'd like to work in a Christian enviroment. It's difficult to find a decent job though, since my visa requires that I don't seek employment. I guess I should just be thankful to have a job at all. I really need to find a church here. I think that would help a lot.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meet Radar

  • Hi again! I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote a blog. (Actually it hasn't been that long, I just prefer myspace as my blogging outlet.) You haven't missed much... We got a dog...who is perfect. He's a lab retriever, and he is super sweet. We call him Radar. He's a palindrome! He fulfills everything I was looking for in a dog:
  • He's great company.

  • He's a great running partner.

  • He's a good swimmer.

  • He loves Beauregard the cat.

  • He's insanely loving.

  • and last but not least- he's absolutely adorable!

  • I can't believe we got so lucky- getting a new pet is always kind of a gamble- you never know if they're going to be Lassie or Kujo- but Radar is actually perfect. Now that I think about it, the things he doesn't do are almost as important as the things he does do. He doesn't pee inside, he doesn't chew anything that's not a dog toy, he doesn't bark or show ANY aggression. Really his only flaw is that he recently "discovered" himself, and hasn't stopped enjoying it. It's become a pretty constant thing. It's kind of embarrassing sometimes, especially when we have guests: "Hi Guys, thanks for coming, this is my husband Peter. This is my cat Beau. And... um... that's my dog... and his wang. If he stops sometime tonight, I'll show you the tricks we've taught him." I'm told this is a pretty common phase young dogs go through.

  • This is another tutorial painting. I think I've just about learned all I can from them, and now I have a nice little collection of watercolors to work with, so soon I'll start posting some non-tutorial paintings. Yay! This one does look pretty nice in the frame I found by the dumpster.