Tuesday, August 7, 2007


"Miss Elkins, can I have your phone number?" sings Wilford. It is fourth period, my one remedial senior English class.

"You have a fine voice, Wilford. Perhaps you could use it with your group to finish the 'Words to Own' worksheet."

"Ah, Miss Elkins is . . . " he looks down at his sheet, ". . . ve-e-e-xed," he sings with a smile.

I shake my head, laughing. He has, indeed, owned his words.

I actually enjoy these "remedial" students the most. They don't expect me to expect much of them, and yet they have so much energy waiting for the right current to sweep them away. Beowulf isn't a bad way to command the attention of almost thirty teenage boys. Blood, guts, et al.

Et al, I have 120 students. This, along with the technical difficulties of powerpoint, speaker systems, and no prep period, slipped through the job description. I practice my sense of humor as my students practice their latin prefixes. I have learned that, in a climate where nothing dries, you don't sit in the car with a wet bikini and expect it to be dry even two days later (as I discovered on the first morning of school last week).

At the market after school, buying sushi tuna caught that morning, we see our kids with their parents or friends. "Hello, Miss," they say.

We drive home each night in the gold four-door now dubbed "Goldilocks Wiglaf." The first name is for the three bears (Ben, Rebecca & I). The surname it got this afternoon, because we decided an automobile needs a bit of Norse warrior blood to make it up the potholed road.

I relish the pre-dawn stretching on the roof, the roosters cawing in the neighbor's yards. I compare skyscapes American and European and wonder what I miss from those places. Each time I hear my new "name," the question arises. What do I miss? I don't even know. And soon, this will be as much home as anywhere has been. And someday if I leave, I will miss it too.