When my husband came back from work at night, I felt like I was facing a formidable enemy. I put on gloves, wore my mask, carried my two-percent diluted bleach water, and sprayed it on his hands, hat, coat, pants, shoes, lunch bag, etc. And then as he entered the house and went to take a shower, I sprayed everything he could possibly have touched. I alerted my kids to keep a social distance from him. I doubted if it would be okay for him to eat at the table, or if he should just stay in his room without coming out. As time went by, I accepted this new normal. If things happen, they happen. I can’t be like a crazy spinning top, sanitizing all day.
According to my sixth sense, I got a mahjong set before our quarantine. I taught Jason to play; he picked it up quickly. Irene was like a scholar; she asked too many questions to learn. Mahjong is usually played by four people. As my husband was blessed to have shortened his business hours, I asked him to join us last night. He said he wanted to sleep after eating. Jason was watching his screen on the couch. I told Jason that his father was lying; he wanted to lie in bed watching TV and his phone simultaneously. I asked Jason to set up the cushion carpet on the table, and I poured out mahjong cards from a box. I said we would play four games, so each one of us could possibly win once. Three of us sat down and started to stack the cards in front of us. Irene was still on her Apple computer while texting on her phone. Father said she studied hard to get into the Ivy League. I said two Apples would kick her doctor’s degree away. She finally joined us.
Father won the first game. I won the second. Irene won the third game. So we hoped Jason would win the fourth, and everybody could switch back to their own screen time. Father put down his cards and claimed he won again. I examined his cards, and found he had too many twos. According to my knowledge, he didn’t win. But he insisted. I took a picture, and shared it with my friend groups. Immediately, they responded that he didn’t win. We continued the game, and I won. I said we wouldn’t stop the game until Jason could win once. Irene won the fifth game. I asked Jason if he didn’t win because he didn’t get the special card. He said he didn’t. I said we would change the rule for him. We would change the special card until he got one. I drank a little. I joked a lot. I observed I had less self-repression after drinking. I enjoyed the freedom of being half-drunk. Jason said, “You’re high.” I believe all of us will remember this special family time, as I don’t recall many four-people moments in my married life. I wish we could create more love moments in our future.
Every couple years we publish a collection of writing from our Advanced Writing Class taught by NYU Gallatin Professor June Foley. Our latest collection is called Remember, and it’s full of stories and poems about NYC, technology, family, art, and the pandemic. Here’s a sample for you:
Counting Hours Mariana Lemos Duarte
I am not sure why this memory returned. Maybe because of the silence in the street, Or because of the fear dancing in the air, Or because of the sun that insistently invades the floor of my kitchen.
When I was a girl, I used to count the hours.
I used to wake up early just to have more hours to do nothing. I used to sit on the top of my bunk bed just to have a different point of view of things. I used to look out the window to find the Cristo Redentor. I used to stop whatever I was doing just to see the sunset.
Now, I always have an unfinished task on my to-do list. And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way so fast and deep that I lose the joy of doing nothing, And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way so fast and deep that I forget to look at things from a different perspective. And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way so fast and deep that I find myself thinking: Why does the sunset take so long?
Suddenly the time goes so fast that I lose the ability to count it.
Stop! The world has stopped To remind me of those days When I used to count the hours.
Starting on Saturday we will begin student orientation and classes – online! Click on the links below to go to the info you’ll need as a new student at the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program:
We just wrapped up two days of teacher orientation, and there’s proof of it in the screenshot above. We have four new teachers and the rest of them are returning teachers. Our class offerings this year include 12 daytime classes, 5 evening classes, 3 weekend classes plus 2 elective classes. In our orientation we talked about Zoom, Google Classroom, Ventures Presentation Plus, classroom management, lesson planning, and a whole host of other things! I think I speak for all of us when I say that it was both fun and informative.
Well, it’s been one heck of a summer here at the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program. We’ve wrapped up our summer electives classes, which included 5 different Conversation Clubs and a Culture Club – a mosaic of them can be seen above.
Now we’re in the thick of online registration for the 2020-21 school year and our classes are slowly filling up! We’re going to start online but once Mean Old Mr. Covid gets under control we’re going to resume in-person classes.