You can only go forwards
The corn is gone already? How the hell is the corn gone already? I swear it was just pushing up through the furrows, looking all green and eager and naïve. Now it’s rows of mass-mowed stubs, Winter’s five o’clock shadow, and I never even saw the monster harvesting machine.
Summer left its sun behind though; it’s shining away up there, enthusiastically bright, and we walk around with our eyes squinted. For some reason we squinch our mouths tightly too. But Summer packed up the warmth when it left, like a departing college student who can only fit the speakers in the car and leaves the stereo. So the sun is telling a story about picnics, volleyball and shorts, but it’s a newscaster on a muted TV and we turn away distracted, to find something else to do, like getting the heavy coats out of the attic.
But I can remember that I like Autumn, gall-darnit. It’s warm cup of tea season. Mug of hot chocolate time. Blankets and books and thick slippers. And holy shit, you can’t beat the leaves. Those fresh green ones are a delight to see, but these wizened reds and purples and yellows can hold a better conversation.
This is actually a nice window of time. The cows with their inexplicably muddy posteriors lounge on grass still luxuriously green, while the leaves obligingly take aesthetically pleasing positions around them. Martha Stewart’s a chump next to Mother Nature. (Or anyone else for that matter.)
We danced like grasshoppers (or should I say base-jumping venom-spiting/peeing spiders?) all summer long in the Nepali sunshine, washed in Indian Ocean monsoon drops, but already my legs have forgotten shorts and my feet are accustomed to socks. The tan lines of my sandals are completely gone and my gloves wait by the door for morning departures.
I find myself again in Belgium. Still not quite able to function in the language, still stranded in the boonies, still wondering what the fuck I’m doing here. Still bouncing between admiration and irritation for the local particulars too. They give you tons of free samples in the grocery store! They charge you for a glass of water. Internationally-minded people speaking tons of languages! Who abuse immigrants in all of them. And of course, the great healthcare system that is emphatically NOT bankrupting the country, and where we can get quality medical care nearly at a moment’s notice for a few bucks…but they’re going to take half my paycheck. Once you factor that in, this new job I start tomorrow seems kind of ridiculous.
(Note, if the taxes just went for the social system like healthcare and supporting those in need, it would be easier, but Belgium has an overabundance of governments, and I can’t help but suspect that a lot of those shiny euro’s of not-mine go to bureaucrats and their paperwork. I think the medical system should be amended to not cover paper cuts…)
Teaching English in Nepal was so groovy, I thought hey, why not do it in Belgium? That was my original plan after all. So I spent the last 2-3 weeks following a training course that was really more like boot camp. They broke us down with theories, prohibitions, and critiques until we were all convinced we had made a mistake and were not suited for the job after all, then deployed us throughout Belgium saying “you start tomorrow.”
Most of my students will be adults, but tomorrow my first paid lesson will be with a 7-8? year old. (I find it odd that the company doesn’t seem to know how old he is.) I will teach him, one on one, for an hour and a half, and once you take away the price of my train fare and taxes, for the 4-5 hours of my Saturday it will take, I’ll earn about 7€. Score! That will almost cover lunch!
But I’ll see it as a means to an end. I’m learning more about this teaching shtick, and putting a known brand on my resume, and hell, I still hold out hope that it will be enjoyable. At least for awhile.
But that reminds me, anybody have any advice on Latin America?