Jun 21, 2008

A Different Kind of Summer

Another gorgeous summer morning in Saipan. . .
Summer vacation 2008 is turning out to be a very different kind of summer, and not just because Babs and I are staying here in Saipan all summer long this year (something we haven't done since--gasp--we were both in our 20's; the year 1999 to be precise).

Usually summer is about indolence--reading till my head hurts, watching movie after movie, and most importantly, staying up really, really late. An average summer bedtime for me has been around 1 or 2 A.M. with a wake-up around noon.

This summer is proving to be a completely new experience. While the pace is definitely slower and more relaxing, my days are surprisingly full, and they start--and end--much earlier than I would ever imagined possible for summer. Herewith a look at a typical summer day for me in 2008:

I have to begin by talking about how an average day for me ends--because that's what makes the schedule work. I've been going to bed, generally between 9:15 and 9:45 P.M. every night. Now a big part of that is because last week our rolling power outages had our neighborhood scheduled for blackouts from 8 to 10 P.M. every evening. Babs and I would climb into bed right about the time the lights flickered out and watch a movie on her laptop or read with our handy book lamps. Invariably, I'd begin to nod off sometime after nine, and there was no reason not to go ahead and turn in for the night. The end result, of course, is that I wake up, naturally, quite early the next morning, thus setting the tone for the rest of the day.

One Reason You Can Be Glad You DON'T Live in Saipan: Power Outtages. This photo of our bedroom lit by flashlights was taken on Thursday night, June 19. On that night we were without power for about seven hours! Ridiculous. And while, I know this photo makes our bedroom look very romantic and inviting, it got very hot as the hours wore on (and no, I don't mean that in a fun way! I mean hot as uncomfortable, stifling, and sweaty. With not even a fan or even a slight breeze it was pretty close to unbearable).

Due to fuel shortages, antiquated power generators, and general mismanagement, power outtages have become an increasingly normal but no less annoying part of life in Saipan. My friend David Khoram speculates in this brief but insightful entry from his blog that Saipan is teetering on the edge of Third World status. Sadly, I think he's right, and our governemnt leadership for the most part seems unwilling or unable to do much about it.

Usually the newspapers publish the load shedding schedule for the week so you can sort of plan your week around the two hours daily when your area will be without electricty. However, the schedule doesn't apply if the power plants break down--which they do, at least once a week--and that results in unannounced outtages of indefinite length while the intrepid engineers at CUC dig out their baling wire and scotch tape.

This coming week our area is scheduled for power outtages from 10 A.M. to noon, so it will be hot, stuffy classrooms instead of hot, stuffy bedrooms.

A little nighttime reading. This book lamp is actually very powerful. Babs was using it late one night and I woke up and thought morning had come and it was getting light outside. If it weren't for the heat, the power outtages might almost be bearable.

Time for my morning run! This is the view at approximately 6:00 A.M. from the beginning of the Beach Pathway, one of my morning running routes.

The second reason that I get up so early, is because I am running in the morning. The 4Runners may be gone, but this OneRunner soldiers on alone (and on Wednesdays I do still "run" with Mai, sort of. She's in Canada and I'm here, but we run at the same time--6:00 A.M. Wednesday mornings on the Beach Pathway for me and 1:00 P.M. Tuesday afternoons in her Kelowna neighborhood for her). Mondays, I get up extra early and drive out to Marpi to do the Suicide Cliff run. Wednesdays it's the Beach Pathway, Fridays I run either the medium or big loop in our village. It's a great way to the start the day!

My Summer School English Class: These three tenth grade girls are doing extra English work so that their credits will match up with the public high schools they are transferring to next year.

This is the third reason that I end up going to bed early (and getting up earlier). I'm teaching part of the summer high school English class for the first four weeks of the summer. Granted, it's a pretty cushy schedule. I teach from 9:00 A.M. to noon--just three hours, though I usually am in the classroom by 7:30 or 8 to do prep work and work on other school-related tasks. One of my favorite things about the summer is the relaxed pace of the mornings. Due to my early bedtimes, I'll usually wake up refreshed and ready to go, around 5:00 or 5:15 so I'll have my devotions before I go running. After my run, I still have time for a shower, a leisurely breakfast at home, and a quick perusal of the internet betfore I amble off to work.

At school there's never any rush either. I feel like if I don't get a task done, it's no big deal because I can always keep working on it tomorrow. After all, I've got all summer! To feel like you're making progress without feeling hurried is a great way to work!

Class at Spicy Thai. I try to make summer school at least a little fun for the girls too. I try to take them somewhere at least once a week. The first week we went to one of the beaches to explore the tide pools and write descriptive essays about what we saw. This week we walked over to Spicy Thai to enjoy Thai tea while we studied our grammar. I'll think of something fun for next week too!

Lunch with Babs and the soaps.

One of my favorite things about the summer is that Babs and I eat together for almost every meal. We can usually sit down for breakfast together, we always eat lunch together while catching one of Babs's favorite guilty pleasures--the soap operas (though, unfortunately my favorite one, The Young and the Restless, doesn't air until later in the day), and we eat supper together too.

Working on the Novel. The first week of the summer, I went back to the school in the afternoons, to work on getting my grades and other end-of-the-year tasks done, but starting this past week, about three hours every afternoon after lunch have been devoted to working on my novel, tenatively titled Loss of Power. My goal is to finish it in the next six weeks (which essentially is the end of the summer for me. At the end of July, I fly to Hawaii on Barbara's behalf for principal's orientation and teacher orientation. When I return, school will begin a week later). I'm really excited becaues I think I'm really going to do it this time. I divided up the remainder of the novel into six segments, and if I finish one segment each week I'll have a draft finished by the end of the summer! And so far, I'm right on schedule!

SAT Tutoring with "CK Girl"

Around 3:30 in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I drive down to Garapan to tutor one of my former students for her SATs, which she'll be taking this fall. She's fun to work with and the extra money helps me put a little more aside for baby Elijah and also for Babs and me to have some cash for a special date each week this summer.

Me and "CK Girl"

Gold's Gym, baby!

Usually, I go to the gym two or three times a week (Sundays if I'm not diving and Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week). While I like to go in the morning, on Thursdays I'm going in the afternoon after tutoring "CK Girl" since the gym is nearby and I can save gas that way. With gas at $4.80 a gallon, every little bit helps.

And finally after all that, I'm ready for some well-earned downtime. Babs and I will hang out in the evening, have dinner, putter around the house or on the internet, and before you know it, it's lights out--literally-- and another summer day in Saipan is over. It's a different kind of summer to be sure, but it's a really good summer too.

Oh, and the weekends? There's usually some fun outdoor Saipan activity to do. Last weekend I went snorkeling with John Moreno and Megan Perry, our summer school SM. Tomorrow John, Amy, Megan, Carol, Babs, and I are planning to go out to Managaha for a couple of hours. We haven't gotten bored yet!

Judith! This is the real reason I talked you into leaving your fins behind in Saipan. I'm using them! Ahahahahahahahahha! (Actually, I didn't bring my fins last Sabbath when we went snorkeling at Pau Pau and John let me borrow the ones Jude left behind!) :)


Vero in Saipan said...

looks like a fun summer! Oh these pics of Saipan and the kids are just breaking my heart! Missing everyone soooo much!!!

yolland said...

Do a lot of people in Saipan have an early-to-bed,-early-to-rise lifestyle? When we were visiting Joel's relatives in Hilo, I griped to my brother-in-law about the dearth of restaurants serving dinner any later than about 7 PM and he said Oh, that's an Island Time thing, everyone here's in bed by about 9:30 and up by about 4:30 'cause our days are the same length pretty much year-round.

Great job with the progress on your novel! The disciplined schedule will definitely pay off when the baby arrives...not that newborns are respecters of much of any kind of schedule, ;) but at least in my experience, the less addicted you presently are to schlepping lazily through large chunks of your day, the easier it will be to adjust!

Sean said...

^Yolland, I'm not sure whether people tend to go bed earlier here or not. (I know my students don't. . .lol!) But I would tend to think they do because there is very little in terms of restaurants etc that serves food past 9 P.M. and as I think I mentioned in earlier blog only ONE place to eat that is open 24 hours. It's hard to say what the reasons are. . .I found in Australia, at least in Cairns that virtually everything closed by 6 P.M. which I thought was madness.

I'm a big scheduler--have been since I was a kid, so I hope that's good for me.

Whimsy Peddler said...

AHA! I knew it! Well maybe I'll need to come on back and get those bad boys...
Actually I believe your fins are much nicer than mine, but feel free to use them anytime.
Your summer sounds beautiful Sean! I envy it, though I'm very happy to be at camp. It sounds like the perfect balance of structured rest and responsibility. Wish I was there to experience it with you!

Mai said...

Sounds like you're having a nice summer - I'm a little envious! I wish I had even just a few days of leisure-paced-ness, but I guess I'll have to wait until Cali and Florida for that!