Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Walk With Beauty

A week or so ago, I attended an open mic on the Education City campus with one of my colleagues. It was being held in a place called "The Black Box" in the student center, and when I walked in it looked like a disco with green laser lights and a booming sound system. I felt a little out of place, especially as most of the crowd appeared to be about half my age, but I was determined to read the poem I had brought with me. As it turns out, there were about five other poets, and I really wasn't as out of place as I thought I might be.

Back on the 23rd of February, before moving to Qatar was real, I went to a poetry reading in San Francisco at the Sacred Grounds Café, which is an old haunt of mine. I lived very close to that café many years back, and met Frank, my former roommate, there. Returning to our old neighborhood brought back many memories. Weirdly, however, I had never had a chance to catch the open mic there when I lived in the neighborhood. Times were different then when I was a student and thought I could fritter away my time. Anyway, I finally made it, and that night one of the poets started chanting. I recorded his performance, and here it is:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Reality of Bedtime

Angela's in bed sick with the flu and Vito's asleep. The apartment is nice and quiet. When I'm done here, I'll go grade some papers so I don't have to do everything on Saturday night. Pretty domestic.

When I was putting Vito to sleep tonight, he said:
     "Daddy, October's taking a long time."
     "Why?" I asked. "What are you waiting for?" I expected him to say December because, earlier in the evening, we had been talking about Christmas as a time when he might get some more toys.
     "May!" he answered without any hesitation.
     "Oh! For your birthday, right?"
     "Yeah!" He rolled over and put his feet on his pillow, contemplating our conversation or coming to grips with the reality of bedtime. "I'm hot."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eight Legs a Week

I got myself too busy, somehow, with activities five days a week. Arabic lessons three days a week after work started it all. Lessons will last until the end of November. Angela's going to start taking some lessons next week at Carnegie Mellon. Perhaps, then, we will be able to help each other and teach Vito, too!

I should be grading papers right now instead of, er, socializing with my blog...

In class tonight, I wrote my name in Arabic, which is a nice milestone in my writing progress, although I don't know why I never thought about doing it before today. Actually, I didn't even think about doing it. My teacher made me do it. I can handle the alphabet and I'm learning to join the letters. I'm far from the best student in the class, but I plug along happily. It didn't help that I switched classes a couple weeks ago, moving from a conversation class to a more formal writing and reading class. I had to switch classes because I started assisting with the ABP Debate Club on Mondays. I've never debated before, and I'm looking forward to learning about it. We also started the ABP Creative Writing Club, too, which meets on Wednesdays. A blog documenting our activities will be available soon.

Sculpture Maman by Louise Bourgeois.
It's good to be so busy. The weather is bearable, finally, and we're meeting people and staying active. The last two weekends were somewhat shortened due to special events. The first one (two weeks ago) was the TESOL: Putting Research into Practice conference at the new Qatar National Convention Center. This is the giant spider sculpture in the center of the building. It was a nice event, and I enjoyed many of the presentations, including one on Cooperative Development by my colleague Magda Rostron. The conference culminated in a Qatar culture party at College of the North Atlantic.

Last Saturday, it was Family Day at the ABP. Everyone had to attend a presentation by the Director and key staff members. Afterwards, we had to speak with the parents and guardians of our students. We were required to be in the office from 10:30AM until 1:00PM, and a lunch buffet was served at the end. It was nice to meet parents, of course, but it cut the weekend short.

Last night, Angela and me went to the Sheraton for an special dinner to celebrate the accreditation of the ABP by The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). We are only one of eight international schools outside the US that have received this distinction, so it was a big deal for the school. While I wasn't directly a part of the process, which spanned more than three years of preparation and scrutiny, it's great to be some small cog in it now.

We bought our Winter break tickets to return to Italy in December. We'll be stopping in Switzerland for a few days before returning to the homeland. More on that, later. I'll try to write more often, but I won't make any promises.