Friday, July 25, 2008

Reflections on working with these kids, and living on the river

As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm working with teens this week with Playwrite, Inc. We are working with kids at Camp Caldera, and so basically are working like sub contractors. During this same span of time, there are other arts workshops in subjects like photography, film-making, and fiber arts going on.

The kids that signed up for our workshop are great, intense, and working their tails off. Every day their moods and attitudes change, so you really don't know what to expect next. One day kid X is reticent, and quiet, and goofing off during the exercises; and the next they are excited to get writing, and fully engaged. Today had a particularly good energy about it, and we think it's because all the kids at the camp were allowed to sleep in. At this point in the immersion program, Camp Caldera staff figured out that a good long morning can eliminate a lot of behavior problems.

So I'm finally getting paid to work one on one with kids. It takes a lot out of me, and after only 3 hours I'm ready for a nap. We spend more time back at home base going over the work produced from the day and discussing various strategies that did or didn't work with each young writer.

There already is some impressive material coming out in the character sketches the kids have developed. I'm excited to see the short plays once they've been polished, and then performed (under the direction of the kids) by professional actors at the culmination of the workshop.

Living here on the river has put me into some la-la land. My brain doesn't seem to be firing on all cylinders, I trip up on my words, and I'm taking lots of naps. It is a life out of time -- quite surreal.

I have discovered that I am truly my grandfather's progeny, because I am picking up the game of horseshoes quickly. Grandpa was a handy player himself. I had a hell of a streak a couple days back and was undefeated. The wins have slowed down a bit lately, but my throws are still looking quite classy and artful despite the fact the they aren't always scoring. Who knew.

I'm also discovering that, for blogging, my home desktop sure is an enormous help. I have a real-sized keyboard (trying to type on diminutive laptop keyboards feels like trying to speak through a ball gag), and I have all my handy blog subscriptions to cruise for material to keep the juices flowing. Even if I don't post everything I come across, the process is now part of how I warm up to write and seems to help.

I'm off to stare at the river a bit.

Enjoy unexpected circumstances, and making the best use of them you can,



Anonymous said...


Not bocce? I'd have thought that the Sicilian on you would surely go for that.

I used to go to Wooster Square, which was the old Italian neighborhood in New Have, Ct when I was growing up, with my father's stepfather on Saturdays during the summer, to watch Pop play bocce.

The old Italian gents showed up in white shirts, gabardine slacks, and fedoras, each with a cheroot and a jug of home made red wine.

As the morning heated up, the shirts would come off to expose their undershirts, which were the sleeveless kind now known as wife beaters. By early afternoon much of the wine had been consumed. Interestingly, the more they drank, the better their bocce got.

I learned a lot on those mornings, mostly how to cuss in Italian, as well as some off-colorful English phrases which I still use up until today.

Hmmm, you never know what these blog things are going to do; you post about working with kids and I respond with intoxicated, execrating Italians.

Tate said...

i am curious how you know about ball gags and trying to talk through them... i need to speak to your wife

Kate said...

funny Tate, thats exactly what I was going to ask about....
I also perked up slightly at the fibre arts mention, but of course he didn't elaborate =(

Bpaul said...

Ya'll are relentless LOL.

I'm not talking about the fibre arts Kate because we're in a whole different side of camp, so I don't bump into those folks. I did see a beautiful silk scarf that had been dyed by a camper with home-made dyes that they made themselves. Crushing the bugs, cooking them down, the whole deal. Very cool.

As for Bocce, the ground here makes that quite hard. There is a very cowboy version of crocket going on, with rebar hoops and everything.

Tate said...

wow the hand dying sounds awesome.

Chuck Butcher said...

Have a blast and remember to learn something from the kids

Kate said...

I did see a beautiful silk scarf that had been dyed by a camper with home-made dyes that they made themselves. Crushing the bugs, cooking them down, the whole deal.
I do believe you just described a small piece of my own personal heaven.

Fester (aka Estu) said...

Mmmmmm,,, Crushing the bugs and cooking them down...

Can I have the mash after the dye is made?

Bpaul said...

Tate, it's a really nice piece, you'd never guess a kid did it.

Chuck, just about impossible not to learn something from the kids in this process. They've been through so much, and we get into some pretty gritty spots with them as we write. Definitely a learning experience.

Kate, yep you would be digging the fiber arts part of this place.

Fester -- I'll see if I can dig up some nutritious bug gruel for ya