Sunday, December 14, 2008

72 percent fun!

It was a really, really good weekend. When I woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, I had my doubts. I thought to myself, "I get myself up at the crack of dawn every single day. What the hell was I thinking volunteering to take eight kids into the wilderness where we inevitably won't sleep and we'll have to cook meat over a fire?" I was clearly grumpy, so I ate a Pop Tart. Then I felt better.

But I felt even BETTER when we loaded the kids into the car and headed out for Mississippi cranking Lil Wayne like it was our job and identifying all the many brown pelicans along the swamp. Two hours later I started to realize that the students at Rabouin High School -- even a sample size like this one -- are far and away the most energizing and entertaining people I have ever met in my life. While we sat around making Pudgie Pies (these are basically glorified grilled cheese sandwiches, and they are also AWESOME) the students asked with genuine intrigue if it was true that I was really a "veterinarian" (vegetarian). Yes, I was. What did I eat? Vegetables, bread, things like that. Did I eat fish? No. Didn't veterinarians eat fish? No. How was I still alive? I wasn't sure, but I usually didn't question it. Didn't I wonder what turkey tasted like on Thanksgiving? No, I had a Tofurkey. It was lucky I had brought some Tofurkey with me. All the kids decided they wanted to try "just a tiny bit." Only one boy liked it. Everyone else said it was disgusting (with complaints ranging from it tasting like baby food to it being made from mashed up lima beans).

We also went "birding," but that became a problematic endeavor once I saw a tufted titmouse and "titmouse" proved to be too hilarious a word not to dwell on for approximately an hour. And we DID make meat in tinfoil, and it was AWESOME. I wish I could have video taped the whole weekend; I don't think I've ever laughed so hard. Definitely not while camping.

But in some ways it was hard. December 13 this year marks one of those personal anniversaries for me, and I didn't want to be alone. The wilderness is a place where it's difficult to not be alone, even when you're with exuberant teenagers. Probably good, though. I did get to see a really old cemetery, and you all know how deeply thrilled I become over really old cemeteries.

There is one week of school left before I trek back to Portland. The traveling is growing a bit exhausting. But I'm getting that kind of excited feeling in my chest about Christmas. Who in their right mind doesn't love Christmas? Well, I guess a lot of people whose religions don't adhere to it. But the smell of it, and the sweaters, and the things you get to eat, and the music, and the red-and-green jigsaw puzzles. Apparently there is even snow in Portland right now. It's difficult to have an aversion to that stuff, I think. Maybe I'm wrong and I've just been spoiled with really wonderful parents who make Christmas this fabulous, familial time. And if that's the case, you can just come over to my house for Christmas this year. Because chances are, I miss you.

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