In Her Shell
The Ever Widening Circle
Please add my wise and witty Aunt Lee, http://www.cronecolumn.blogspot.com/
, to your regular reading lists.
She's a wonderful writer and inspired me for years by sending me poems coinciding with major life events. One of the funniest was about my retainer, which the dentist called an "appliance," sparking silly rhymes about blenders and toasters in my mouth.
I've been pestering her to do this for some time now; drop by her place and make her feel welcome!
One Of My Students
Yesterday she was asking me to buy pies from her for a school fundraiser.
Today she had a brain aneurysm and is still in surgery.
I don't know if I can do this job.
Just To Be Clear
should only be discussed at length if you are going to describe--in detail--its appearance and deliciousness.
Heads up, Those People In The Faculty Room Who Are Always On A Diet!
Tonight at a Chinese restaurant I overheard a father asking, on behalf of his small son, whether the dish he wanted to order was cooked with peanut oil.
"We order from here all the time," he said. "This is the little guy with the peanut allergy."
The manager hurried over to the table. "No no no," she responded, "All the Chinese restaurants use vegetable oil. No one uses peanut oil anymore. Maybe 20 years ago, but not now."
Fourteen years ago this week, my best friend Jenny died after eating part of an egg roll fried in peanut oil. She was fourteen years old.
We asked the server too: was anything we were ordering cooked with peanut products? She went and asked in the kitchen, then said no.
The egg roll was a side dish. At least, that's what they argued in court, later.
Jenny and I were only best friends for a year, but we were intense best friends. Sometimes I wonder idly whether we'd still be friends now, had she lived. Maybe, had that night gone on uneventfully, we'd have drifted apart as friends in high school so often do. Instead, I'm linked to her, to the memory of her, forever.
When I imagine an afterlife I try to wrap my mind around which Jenny will meet me there. If she's still fourteen, what will we possibly have to talk about? If she's watching me from somewhere, does she understand my adult decisions? Or perhaps she's become ageless, drifting in and out of me on the wind.
I haven't had a friendship since that was so unconditional and uncomplicated.
I still miss her.
We had another lockdown this week. Someone wrote "there's a bomb in the school" on the bathroom wall.
What the fuck?
More TAG Than A Middle School Dance
tagged me on yet another cool-seeming game. Let's see how I feel by game's end.
1) Would you bungee jump?
No. I used to lie to myself and say that I totally would
, but no.
2) If you could do anything in the world for a living what would it be?
Teach. In an environment that was progressive without being full of crap. And standardized tests were used as fodder for art projects. Or toilet paper.
3) Your favorite fictional animal?
This question is bizarre. I wish animals could really talk, like in cartoons or Mr. Ed.
4) One person who never fails to make you laugh?http://beyondtheself.blogspot.com/
His blog shows his more serious side, which also kicks ass. He's the one who taught me that nothing is ever closed if you have a hammer.
5) When you were 12 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Normal. Look how well that didn't turn out for me.
6) What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Pay the hooker, then make breakfast.
Actually I douse my eyes with eye drops, then guzzle down half a glass of water. Do you think there is something wrong with me?
7) Have you ever gone to therapy?
No. I've never been brave enough. Well, once I went to one of my parents' marriage counseling sessions. It was awkward.
8) If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Evie on "Out of this World" could freeze time by touching her index fingers together. I'd like to be able to do that.
9) What is your favorite cartoon character?
Brak. He reminds me of college.
10) Do you go to church?
I started going to a Unitarian Church last year, but then I stopped.
11) What is your best childhood memory?
Any of the many times we made each other laugh until we could barely breathe.
12) Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
Outdated? No. Abused? Yes. Especially for political purposes. Fuck those jerks.
13) Do you own a gun?
No. Even staple guns scare me.
14) Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex?
Yes. I smacked around my friend Rihaz on the school bus in middle school, because he put hot curry powder on the apple I was eating when I wasn't looking, and when my lips started to tingle he laughed and said, "Now you will have the runs!"
15) Have you ever sung in front of a large group of people?
In high school and college I did musical theatre, so yes. Since then it's been limited to group renditions of "I Touch Myself" at karaoke nights. Sigh.
16) What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Their eyes, but this question makes me feel cheesy.
17) What is your biggest mistake?
A wise woman I know says regret is a wasted emotion. If I had things to do over, though, I'd try to be more honest with a lot of people. Including myself. It would have been a big time-saver.
18) Say something totally random about yourself.
I am afraid of people dressed up as characters so you can't see their faces (Mickey Mouse, The Easter Bunny, etc). And I dislike the smell of toast.
19) Has anyone ever said that you looked like a celebrity?
When I was younger it was Meryl Streep (I have high cheekbones and was blond).
Later it was Winona Ryder (when she did Edward Scissorhands--
I was still blond).
More recently, as my hair has gotten darker and I've been wearing dark-framed glasses, it's been Tina Fey.
20) What is the most romantic thing someone of the opposite sex has done for you?
This survey is very heterocentric. I had one guy write me a song, and another write me a poem. They're both long gone. This one listens to me--really listens--which is more romantic than anything else I could ask for.
21) Do you actually read these when other people fill them out?
It depends on the person. I am actually boring myself as I write this, so thanks for sticking it out.
So I finally went to court for that ticket I got over the summer
I didn't want to go. I whined and cranked about it all day. After a full day of teaching, then play rehearsal, the last thing I wanted to do was spend three hours in court with weird strangers and the cough I'd been nursing since last Friday.
And three hours I did spend. Two hours and forty-five minutes listening to other people's cases, and fifteen minutes talking to the Prosecutor, appearing in front of the judge saying "Yes," and writing a check to the clerk.
It was an edifying two hours and forty-five minutes. The local courtroom is about the size of one of my classrooms. The judge is white-haired, male, and fairly friendly.
The defendants ranged from two little old ladies who had parked in a handicapped spot, to a guy who had to appear with his brother because the brother had gotten pulled over and given his
name. He ended up posting most of the fine as well.
The judge admonished one woman that "this is the last time I can extend this. You have to finish the program within 60 days."
Another one had to state for the court that she couldn't come up with $100 that night to continue her payment plan, but she most likely could bring it by the end of the month.
One man had violated a restraining order and was being sent, against his will, to anger management counseling. The judge said, kindly, "There isn't one among us who couldn't benefit from some kind of counseling. I see it as a strength, and not a weakness, to seek out help." From where I was sitting, I couldn't see the man's face.
Some youngish boys, awkward in their khakis and button-downs, stood awkwardly next to their parents' attorneys. They agreed to have their driving described as "Unsafe" rather than "Reckless." They agreed to pay the fines.
What struck me was that this humiliation is built into the system: to stand in front of a room of strangers and admit to your substance abuse, your violent tendencies, your poverty, is a part of the punishment. To be reduced to "yes, Judge" and "thank you, Your Honor."
The last fifteen minutes were interesting too. The Prosecutor was a jocund fellow, and unwittingly summarized the entire situation when he mistakenly pulled out someone else's driving record while he was looking for mine. My record is clean. This person's was about five inches long.
The Prosecutor looked at the record, said "Wow," looked up at me in my slacks, blouse, glasses and wool peacoat, and said, "That's not what I was expecting!"
Those three hours left me with more than relief over the deal I eventually got from him (which was pretty sweet). How much of that deal, how much of everything I've garnered (including the original ticket) is a result of what people expect when they look at me?
At least I got most of my grading done.