Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The deluge and its aftermath

I returned to my apartment Monday night to find the kitchen floor and living room carpet swamped with water. DeKalb was hit with almost five inches of rain in about an hour and my basement apartment got flooded. Luckily, the laptop was not on the floor, as it often is, and the only regrettable damage was my teacher certification portfolio, a large three ring binder full of lesson plans and writing samples. I will most likely have to make copies of the entire thing, about 200 pages, and reformat all the tabs and dividers.

My landlord, Dawn Halverson, appeared personally to check up on her tenants and the maintenance man vacuumed up the standing water and got as much out of the carpet as he could. This morning they shampooed the place and I write this to the sound of two huge fans. One fan blows underneath the carpet, making it undulate in waves. It's very Hunter S. Thompson flashback trippy.

My apartment is in shambles as I had to pile everything on the bed and move as much as I could from the living room into the kitchen. I didn’t realize how much stuff I have cramped into a small space until I had to move it around. I think when I reorganize I am going to assess the necessity of many of these things and put together a couple boxes to put in storage at my parent’s and even put together a pile of things to sell on E-bay.

Then, coming into the Upward Bound office this morning, I reached into my duffel to get a pen and my hand got all covered in ink from an exploded pen. My MP3 player that I found Friday got marked up. Nothing a little rubbing alcohol can’t cure. [I found a Samsung k5 MP3 player Friday evening playing disc golf over at Prairie Park. It has 2 GB memory and is worth more than $150. I went to Wal-mart and bought a power adaptor/USB cable for it. My transformation to what I despise -- disconnected techno-freak -- is complete. It really pays to look where you're going when walking.]

Coincidence of coincidence, I saw my estranged goddaughter, Lauren, this morning. She is at NIU with the Winnebago High School cheerleading squad. We talked for a couple minutes and I showed her a picture of Jonny. She is kind of shy and awkward. It’s cute, but it meant we only talked for a couple minutes. Small world. Too bad I was caught up in the tumult of exploding pens and flooded apartments to appreciate our reuniting. I haven’t seen her since the spring of 2004, when I taught her 6th grade class at West Middle School for 9 weeks. That experience motivated me to return to school and become a teacher.

She is not allowed to see her former stepfather, my best friend from childhood, Steve, who raised her from infancy to age 11, since he and Lauren's mother, Michelle, went through a bitter divorce. When I saw Steve on the Fourth of July, he had a newly-taken family photo hanging in his living room. In it are Steve and Brianna (Steve and Michelle's kids); Lucas (Steve's current wife Xira's son); Steve and Xira's infant daughter, Julianna, and a photo of Lauren. She is not forgotten.

Steve was my best friend growing up. We lived in the same neighborhood and have known each other since third grade. Although we're not super tight any more, we still get along like old times whenever we get together. As a longtime friend, I think Steve being denied contact with Lauren is one of the toughest things he has had to deal with in life. I remember the first time I met Lauren, she was only six weeks old. Now she's in high school and attending cheerleading camps. She's always been a tough, quiet girl, and I worry for her because her mother is flighty and vindictive.

Now it is after 10 a.m., and I am with my small class – four students – Tonisha, Samantha, Christian (f) and Anselmo. We are listening to “Aquarius” by Charles Earland, off his Black Talk album. Good, fast, organ-driven jazz. I’m in total cornholio mode after running around the library the last 90 minutes helping students in my other class track down sources for their research papers. They are not allowed to check out books from the library or use the computer lab (at the library). I worked around that by checking out books on my card and having them e-mail me Internet source materials to print in the lab.

I didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m., staying up to the wee hours watching YouTube clips and checking out places like the Australian Outback, Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, my childhood home, etc. on Google Earth. Many of the images – especially those of desert climes, would make good abstract art. The outback is cut by ridges and looks like the close-up of a scarred face. The deserts have wispy strokes of color, aquamarines, surprisingly, and every shade of tan.

But, man, I’m tired as hell. I’ll take a nap this afternoon if I can clear everything off my bed and get the apartment back to some semblance of normalcy.

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