June 12, 2000
It's an Opera

Monday, Monday, so good to me...
Cycle 8, Day 19
Temp: 97.5
Cervical Mucus: Creamy
Cervix: High, closed, firm


I'm hiding in my office.

Well, technically, I'm not actually hiding, since I'm on my dinner break and everybody knows where I am. I still feel like I'm hiding, though, because it feels so guiltily good to be down here in the relative quiet (the radio is playing jazz), away from the madhouse of children currently ransacking the children's area. It wasn't enough that this is the first day of the summer reading club; it wasn't enough that all the people who didn't come in on Saturday to sign up for summer activities are coming in today and getting angry because the good stuff is all filled up. No, we had to have rain all day as well, which means that everybody who would otherwise have been at the swimming pool or the baseball field decided to come to the library to beat the heat. There are too many people up there! My head hurts.

I was a little flattered when, of all the classes for which we had sign-ups on Saturday, my HTML class was the first one to fill up, and we actually had to create a second class; last year, when a similar course was offered, it wasn't popular at all. My PhotoShop classes were also quite attractive to the kiddies, though the field trip to the planetarium was probably the biggest draw of the day.

We're only one day in, now, and I'm already exhausted. Tomorrow I have to meet with the teenage summer volunteers and teach them how to put the bookshelves in order. Having them around to pick up piles of strewn books will be a huge load off of my back; the shelves are in chaos after only this brief amount of time, and nobody can find anything. Piled high upon every available table surface are books that children drew from the stacks at random. Needless to say, this is no longer an atmosphere conducive to research.


We did, after all, get to go see Peter Grimes this weekend. It was truly marvelous; the man who sang the role of Peter had me on the edge of my seat whenever he was on stage. And to top it all off, due to a ticket mix-up (we pre-paid for balcony seats, but they tried to put us in upper balcony), the theater manager gave us box seats!

For those of you who don't know the story behind the opera, it begins with the trial of Grimes, a fisherman whose apprentice has just dies in mysterious circumstances. The court rules the death to be an accident, but the townspeople condemn Peter, whispering and glaring wherever he goes. His friends, Ellen and Balstrode, believe him to be innocent and work to clear his name; Grimes believes that the only way to clear his name is through money, and he takes another boy apprentice. The plot turns when Ellen discovers that Peter is, indeed, abusive toward the boys. The second boy dies, also by accident, and Peter loses what little remains of his sanity. At the advice of his friends, as the town lynch mob approaches, he sails his boat far out to sea and sinks it. Between each act are the "Sea Interludes," exquisite pieces of music that can, and often do, stand alone as masterworks in and of themselves.

When Peter was singing his last, my eyes were simply flowing with tears. I had been so worried, beforehand, that the opera company wouldn't do justice to the work, but they more than met my hopes. I make it a personal point to never give unwarranted ovations, as too many people are wont to do these days, but when he came out for his curtain call, I couldn't stay in my seat. Brilliant!

Unfortunately, I seemed to be in the minority of people who felt that way. I wasn't surprised; a woman I had met in the parking garage had said offhandedly that many of her friends who had seen previous performances of Grimes had not been thrilled. "Too complicated," they had thought. Translated, this had its usual meaning: "I don't understand new music." I was a bit startled when she referred to this opera as "complicated," and I told her that I found Britten's music positively user-friendly. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing difficult about it. Still, there were many people in the audience who I saw get up and leave before the opera was halfway through. Too bad for them, I suppose.

We got somewhat lost on our way both into and out of Detroit, and I really got to see what Rob meant when he referred to the uglier parts of the city. Eric kept giving me "I told you so" looks, which I suffered in relative silence. After all, he was the one who had found the opera listing in the first place.


Boy, the true "readers" of the community are really coming out of the woodwork. We've set up the traditional library "reading club," wherein each kid writes down the books he's read for the week and gets a stamp and a prize, and though this is only the first day of the club's existence, some of these children have already filled an entire sheet with their summer reads. The kids in fourth through sixth grades get to enter a drawing once for each book they read, and one little girl got to deposit fourteen slips into the box this evening. When I whistled over her list, she blinked at me owlishly from behind her round glasses; "I like to read," she said simply.

I shouldn't be surprised. She is the child that I was. I was the kid who went into the library every other week and walked out with a stack of books swaying precariously in my arms, higher than the top of my head. I was the kid whose mother had to set a limit of no more than fifteen novels per two weeks. I was the kid whose mother had to scold her for reading in bed at night when she needed to be sleeping. I was the kid that the librarians knew by name.

Should I be surprised that there are others like me? Not a bit, I guess. It does seem a bit strange to reward such a devoted bookworm with gift certificates for miniature golf or a baseball game, though.

It's the preschool club that will be the most adorable to maintain, I foresee. Each of their bedtime stories written out on a calendar, they come trotting up to the desk for a stamp on their sheet and a sticker. These little incentives practically send them into transports: "Look, mommy, a spaceship! A spaceship!" They're in ecstasy; I just hope that they somehow manage to mentally link the books with the stickers.

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