August 14, 2006

Mrs. Burroughs

I went to help Mrs. Burroughs last week, mostly to get caught up, and also because I got school service hours. First day, I plugged in computers. The cords were tangled up with themselves and live spider webs... not fun. But, I eventually worked it all out and even got them all prettily organized, rubber banded together, and out of the way of middle schoolers feet. After that I cleaned Cabinets. These are the things I found in Mrs. Burroughs's stuff: Photos from a 1995 pioneer day, boxes of cereal that expired in 2002, empty sugar packets, 20 pairs of headphones that traced their evolution since probably the 80's, and several unopened thank you notes. I made it all very lovely. After that she had me design a board. The theme was imagination, and she asked me if I remembered how to draw fairies and stuff. I did, so I drew one; not the most beautiful piece of work, but sound, and with several creative touches like the folds of her cape opening up to reveal a subtle night sky complete with bats' eyes winking in the darkness. Then, we wanted a quote on imagination. We were having a hard time finding one that suited our fancy... actually went to and typed it in as a keyword. I came across an old friend...

"Love is the Triumph of Imagination over Intelligence.

- H. L. Menken"

Wouldn't you know, she fell in love with that one? We put it up on the board, along with an 'about the artist' section, which she wrote mostly to flatter me. :P Even made me sign it. After that we went to Duffy's... they have a good french dip, amazing burgers (I wouldn't know), and (I would know) one of the best Caesar Salad's I've ever had, second only to The One at Wal-Mart, and The Ones in Curacao, which after all were my first so they might be ineligible.

The roof leaked so bad over the summer there that it's looking like one of the inner city schools shown on Oprah! But, the staff is solid, and the building will recover. The library Carpet may have to be completely redone, though... when working on the roof, some tar fell through in a giant staining explosion. As if that wasn't bad enough, someone stepped in it and tracked dark as stamp footprints through the library; as clear as if they were made to be there. All stains... I said,

"Wouldn't you notice that much tar getting stuck to your foot?"

A laugh. Mrs. Lelonek, the principal; "That's one of your gifted students, isn't it?"

"Yes." Mrs. Burroughs says.

"Who is that?"

"Miss Miranda M-------." A man says; a man I wouldn't have expected to know any of my names. He was the Seventh Grade Principal when I was in Eighth. The first two years, everyone remembers you. After that, no promises. Mrs. Burroughs will likely always remember me, and Mrs. Reenstjerna, and most of the foreign language department should for sometime. But the others? Take Mrs. Burkes, my counsellor all three years. She squinted as she walked past me once, then said,

"Miranda? Is that you?" The second time. Barely knew me, and I went to her more often then the average student. Then Mr. Booger (As Stina called her Principal) knew me... That is the way thing's go...

I've written of Mrs. Burroughs' tree lady before... I heard a great deal about everything at Oxford, including that woman, all over again. Fascinating stuff. Mrs. Burroughs loves it there. She's wondering what she's doing still at West Middle... probably won't be there much longer. Will either teach Theology at the University level, or else be ordained as a priest. (Not a Catholic one, though, she's not that radical.) She's working on yet another higher education degree... and I swear she'll never be out of school. These are the new things I've learned about England: The pepper is awful, even ruins scrambled eggs, Italians touring there are talented at singing "Yellow Submarine," and he hall at Christ Church has famous paintings that you find on Google Image Search in it... the originals. And here are the things I've learned about the Tree Lady herself: She is at least 300 years old (Mrs. Burroughs' own words...), she enjoys eating only ice cream for dinner, and she won't let anyone photograph her. With Mrs. Burrough's having spent the summer in Oxford, and Layla in Harvard, I'm feeling downright uncultured, don't you know it!

She begged me to come back the next day, although I had to babysit at 11 and head out of town afterwards. So I did, especially as the kid got sick and I got out of babysitting. I was there on time, at 8: turned on her lights, tried to call her, poked around, waited for a half hour, had her paged, waited for a half hour, tried to call her again, asked to help Mrs. Meldrum, got redirected to Mrs. Van Winkle, helped her for a while cleaning and reorganizing the Honour Roll Display Case. She was an odd lady but had a neat taste in music. All chanting and etc. She was also obsessed with fonts; had far more than my 700. O.O Wow!

After all that... turns out Mrs. Burroughs was just being lazy and poking around the building. But how can you even get mad? She just says, "I'm glad you're here!" We finished the board and then went for Ice Cream. Maggie Moo's... The best ever. Just like at Duffy's, she wouldn't let me pay. They didn't have Chocolate Raspberry, which I tried last time and loved, so I gave Cinnamon a go... Wow! Also, Mrs. Burroughs got cream flavoured with fresh strawberries mixed in... that was exquisite too...

Then, when I was poking around the school, it was just littered with memories. Some were mine and some preceded us, some followed. The stairway, for instance; some of the panels there were of periods in art, starting with the cavemen and working their way to modern squares and etc. They did a few of those per year, drawn by students, and the year I was there they asked two of my friends; Laura Berrong, and Brooke Weaver (See: Amazing Artist), to paint "Down Staircase" and "Up Staircase" signs, respectively. How familiar they were! I watched them sketched and painted, week by week, in art club, with Mr. Taylor! And what a rich bowl of memories that dips into!

But alas, that was everywhere. It's funny to see the marks of your life and those who lived with you; in the form of younger siblings or in handprints left behind. I got the strange feeling that we were legends, in some small way, for of course we were. Part of us is still there.

And another thing about legends, although maybe this doesn't apply... There's something about living and working with them, too. You don't have to be the legend yourself; in fact, then, you can hardly see yourself living and growing, you know? I may be famous for foreign language, but I am as fond of Brooke's art, and Charles' math (he taught himself Calculus in sixth grade), and Layla's GPA (5.0). I love them... And so I love the Middle School, for all it's imperfections and tar spots, for being a stepping stone in our lives.

And who exemplifies that more than our own Mrs. Burroughs?


J. Archer said...


Tar Aryndil said...

I remember that quote!