Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the tree calligraphic.
I am a bike enthusiast; there's a certain amount of romance to bikes. They're both beautiful and utilitarian.
Because I grew up with this naive expectation of people doing right, I get shocked by every little violation.
The key thing is, even if you only have a couple of hours a month, those two hours shoulder-to-shoulder, next to one student, concentrated attention, shining this beam of light on their work, on their thoughts and their self-expression, is going to be absolutely transformative, because so many of the students have not had that ever before.
It's not that our family has no taste, it's just that our family's taste is inconsistent.
But Saudi Arabia is surprising in a lot of ways. Like any place, or any people, it relentlessly defies easy categorization.
I don't mean to beat a made-in-America drum, but I would be lying if I said it doesn't feel somehow right to be printing books in the U.S.
I can remember exactly where I sat when my teacher first read Roald Dahl's 'James and the Giant Peach'.
Some of these kids just don't plain know how good they are: how smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them. You can shine that light on them, one human interaction at a time.
Three-dimensional results are important to me. I did once spend some time just writing, and floating around, and I lost my mind a little bit. I wasn't so good at that.
So this is the space during tutoring hours. It's very busy. Same principles: one-on-one attention, complete devotion to the students' work and a boundless optimism and sort of a possibility of creativity and ideas.
I think almost every writer in the world would hope that books would be always talked about with respect and civility and depth and seriousness.
I think I'm far too hopeful and trusting. That's something I got from my mum.
But you know, there's something about the kids finishing their homework in a given day, working one-on-one, getting all this attention - they go home, they're finished. They don't stall, they don't do their homework in front of the TV.
I met a lot of great people in Saudi Arabia and I'd like to see them again. And I'd love to spend more time in the desert and in the mountains. I felt really at home there.
I think newspapers shouldn't try to compete directly with the Web, and should do what they can do better, which may be long-form journalism and using photos and art, and making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper.
You can do and use the skills that you have. The schools need you. The teachers need you. Students and parents need you. They need your actual person: your physical personhood and your open minds and open ears and boundless compassion, sitting next to them, listening and nodding and asking questions for hours at a time.
I've never had WiFi at home. I'm too easily distracted, and YouTube is too tempting.
People are strange, but more than that, they're good. They're good first, then strange.
And what we were trying to offer every day was one-on-one attention. The goal was to have a one-to-one ratio with every one of these students.