Wednesday, October 21, 2009


There is a park over where all those cranes are on the waterfront in Oakland. There are a lot of signs along the sand telling you and showing you what is prohibited. Some examples include dogs, alcohol, bikes, cars, and swimming. Many of the garbage receptacles had flyers taped onto them informing citizens not to dispose of anything oily in there. ?????

The view is a beautiful one. I had a Floridian with me. He said you don't get this pink sky over there. It makes the water look sweet, like a candy factory pool. I know, I know - I want to make fun of me too. I'll take a picture of a bullfight or something next, to macho up.

On Tuesday, at our community meeting at school, I was last on the announcement list. I allowed my mild fury at the poor audience behavior to show through my stone cold gaze. The student working the lightboard shone a red light on me. And my audience came back. ("Look! They put her in red like the devil.")

The quarter's over at school. Grades are due. We have to show our grade reports to kids this week and have them assess themselves using these rubrics. They get mad and confused and defiant. They get upset. A few of them are okay. I am going to do this tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Artist, Art, Hybrid

These are from Creativity Explored's Sci-fi opening. I met this one artist who led me around by the hand showing me her pieces and telling me to buy every single one of them because she wants a big check this year. There was a theramin player too, but I'm kind of over the theramin.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I had too much wine to drink while grading yesterday so my head feels kind of tight right now. Or maybe it's because my head is so packed with the responsibilities I bear to make this job work that my brain is crying for me, feels dehydrated and that's the tight feeling.

Anyineedanewjobbeforeifallapartandget5150'd, this picture is for Dan. So was my opening confession. Tomorrow Dan's going back to Madrid, where he becomes, once again, a temporary ex-pat, teaching young Spanish people the subtleties of conversational English and trying to make a go of a business venture in the same vein with my summer host, Ana.

In less interesting news, when I took a break from working for a bit yesterday, I got on the private school jobs website and looked everywhere I could think of for a maternity leave position. I need someone at a privileged school to get knocked up or realize she's knocked up, now. That would mean there's a position at the end of spring and maybe into the fall! Or maybe someone will learn they are having multiples and need time off earlier rather than later for bed rest or something. Then I can save the day in January or something.

Please, encourage your private school teacher friends to do it. I'll make the Marvin Gaye cd to get everyone started. I'll make the dinner reservations too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Well you know his birthday's just around the corner now

Don't do it! Do noooooot do it. Do not write about the "crisp autumn air" or pumpkin cookies or spiced lattes or scarves and tights. Do not - do you hear me? - do not use the word "cozy" or "snuggle". If I read one more lady blog about your "Fall Favorite Things" I'm going to have to go all hood rat on you.

When I read through blogs today I felt like I was trapped in an acid trip designed by Oprah and Martha Stewart. I could smell the lavender linen spray everywhere. When I finally closed my computer, I got up and fluffed a pillow before arranging my books by the color of their spines. Thank god I snapped out of it before I started laying them down horizontally and placing sea anemone shaped tchotchkes on top.

I know it's fall, but please ladies. We've already got the Home & Garden/Food Network All-Stars shoving fake fall leaves in our faces and on our cupcakes. Let us make it through this fall season without too many trips to Michael's. If I throw up in my mouth anymore today I might remove the remnants of tooth enamel that survived the first 50 little pukes.

You know this means gingerbread lattes and red turtlenecks form the Gap are just around the bend. Oh Easter Bunny, where are you when we need you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Mondays are different from your Mondays

So on my Mondays, I work straight from 9:00 to 3:55 with no break. I teach one 100 minute block followed by a 10 minute break to start my morning off. That break is used to mop up the remains of the last class and set up for the next. If I am lucky, I can manage to shove half of one of those heart shaped oat cake things in my mouth before some kid is standing in front of me asking me something like, "Did you get drunk this weekend?" or, a new favorite of some of your country's future, "What clubs do you go to?"

Then I have "lunch". This is a 30 minute piece of my day that happens like this:
"Alright everyone, pack your bags, push your chairs in and show me your planners on your way out the door!" I am trying to smile more, so while I say this, I look like I have some kind of hidden orthodontics in my mouth that make me make this face that shows my teeth - kind of the way a horse might look when people say it is smiling, but everyone knows it's not, really, because it is a horse and not a person. Then I look up and there are 10 minutes before my advisory period. Then maybe - mmmmmmaybe - I eat a yogurt too fast and my stomach feels funny for awhile. My last class is a poor man's version of the first two because I can't remember what I said to which class. My jokes are getting all mixed up and my horse smile looks weird, a little lopsided, like the horse is very very tired, which I am.

Finally everyone goes away and I am left with lots of work to do. People keep coming in and "need" to talk to me. I really "need" some whiskey and a double IPA. I really "need" you to just let me have 42 seconds to myself on my no food no pee days.

And then, when we were driving away to go see some friends who have normal lives and can go out on week nights without accepting zombie-like lives the morning after, there were goats. This lady who did a tarot reading for me, she gave me a card to take home and it had a a goat on it. She said it was playful and that I should try to have more fun in my life. She also said I should sleep around a bit. I said okay.

So there were goats at the bottom of the hill from work. In the city. Near Candlestick. I think they were working.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you for coming ladies and gentlemen

He got married. This is the part where the bride and groom go around and say hi to everyone. There was an open bar with whiskey, any way you like it. I like it in a glass in my hand.

I've been working 500 hours a day. More no say can.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It is what it is

I think I received a negative paycheck. There was so much taken out I wanted to call the President. But no. We're going to call Malu and see if she'll come and explain all of this to us. But I don't think I want to understand it. I want it to stop! Call the President somebody!

Make me pay back student loans while I'm teaching these kids? Call the President! Pay the PG & E bill that goes up and up and up every month? Stop! Call the President! Make me teach a roomful of my Social Security earners on less money a year per pupil than any other state? Call the po-lice!

It'd be great if the mob ran schools. We'd have everything we need and no kid'd ever be out of line.

Eff you, pay me.

(p.s. I don't want to ruin the gangster mood, but the picture is from happy hour last week, before we knew about the money.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is the last email I sent today!


Just kidding - Hi.

I am going to a work "retreat" in Marshall near Point Reyes tomorrow. It's an overnight. Today was my first day back. My room was wrecked, but my meeting left me, as the first meeting of the year often does, cautiously optimistic. Some of my things are missing: my electric sharpener (this is not such a bad thing), some books and my iconic black stool. I went into all the classrooms and looked for the stool. Along the way, I picked up a dia de los muertos rubber stamp, some poetry books - for people who like that, 3 x 5 index cards and a brown stool. All of these things are from the classrooms of teachers who left. A couple of new teachers already put stuff in their rooms, so I couldn't see if there was any good "learning space" carrion. I don't know if these actions are reflective of teacher culture and show the implications of crappy budgets, or if it's just me - I'm a vulture.

Saturday night - busy? I have a plan.

(This photo shows a wall in Granada in the southern part of Spain. It was 40 degrees centigrade that day. I think the figures were melting on the wall. That's why they look that way.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

The real thing

He had just hit his head after falling down - his dad had admonished him for spitting in the fountain. I don't doubt that over the centuries, this was not the first little boy to spit in the beautiful waters of the Alhambra, watching the glob separate and spread out until it rode a ripple to the edge of the small pool. After a smothering hug from his mother and assurances from his father that he was, in fact, just fine, he stood up and saw her.

She saw him at the same time. Naked baby doll in a similar clutch, she stood still and time stood still and they just looked at each other.

The spell was broken when mom and dad started positioning the boys for another photo. He slowly turned to face his father's camera, rubbing his head while he looked up.

Monday, August 3, 2009

This is getting ridiculouser and ridiculouser

"Welcome to JFK International Airport. When you arrive at gate 23, take the escalator towards baggage claim. We hope you have an enjoyable s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-stay here in New York City. If New York City is not your final destination..."

And it went on. And on, and onandonandon. While we stood, suffocating, on the airless tram to gate number nobody knows (the 23 thing was just the available track), that message played on an unforgiving loop complete with track skipping every single play.

People were crying. People were hungry. Delta did not offer vouchers for anything to eat over this 5 hour saga. We were supposed to board for take 2 at the same gate as a flight to Barcelona. Our people were trying to get on that flight. Barcelona people didn't know what was going on. The flight crew didn't know what was going on. THe gate agents were confused as to why there were so many people asking about a middle state.

Shellshock. Short term PTSD. Delta = nemesis

Picture #1: ethereal looking Minneapolis crying girl and dad
Picture #2: pilot - "Are you piloting the flight to Minneapolis?" "I don't know. I think...I don't know."
Picture #3: "This is getting ridiculouser and ridiculouser!" You took the words right out of my mouth, sister.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hey there, hot stuff.

There are just too too many sweet pieces of manliness in these photos from Barcelona. After my first shoe purchase (a pair of Campers I call Lucia), I made my way through the tiny turny streets of old town and ended up about 6 feet from where I started. That spot was in front of some cathedral. After you've seen 9 cathedrals, you've seen them all - the roccocco, baroque and just plain gaudy (hee, hee - gaudi!) all melt into one another and it seems like you're looking at the same cathedral you saw yesterday and last week. Weeping Maria? check. Nekkid angel babies cowering in front of weird Inferno looking creatures? check. Gold nubby accents by the million over the nave? we got that.

But how many cathedrals can boast of having a firemen's bachelor auction right outside their front doors?! Only this one, mis amigos. While I sat on a bench next to another hot piece, I ate my 100th bocadillo of the trip and watched all these people dancing in circles. There was a small band, brass and strings, playing traditional Catalonian music while these people did their slow circle dancing, holding hands the whole time. Just like in the club, all the handbags were in the middle.

This one Japanese kid had been studying the moves for quite awhile before he joined a circle for the song Parc Guell. He looked more like he was doing a Bing Crosby-era style soft shoe, but - I know, I know - props for trying, young man. I just sat there smiling at the whole thing. There was warmness in my heart area. A gang of oldsters smiling and dancing - that's like watching a unicorn take a puppy dog for a walk to the lemonade and candy factory. Too good to be true.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

La Alhambra - during, after

Granada, Spain. Last week. 1,000 degrees centigrade. 800 degrees in the shade and about a cool 15 in the masterfully built, heartbreakingly beautiful palace that me and several hundred of my closest friends went to visit and tour in the midday Spanish (though some would argue Moorish) sun.

Unlike some of the other Euro Disney sights I visited in Spain, the Alhambra only lets in a limited number of people per day, even per section of the day. So sure, there's a crowd, but unlike every last Gaudi site I saw, I found myself with a few moments to myself every now and then to take a more quiet look around.

Yes, it was beautiful. Yes, there were exquisite carvings everywhere. Yup, tile work was lovely. The water, though, the water features were the bomb! The sound of water, the water itself, it followed you everywhere - down the stairs, across the room, into the gardens and across the grounds. If I ever have an estate I figure I should have money to burn, and so then, I will have some of that sweet Alhambra water following me through my privileged day.

At a certain point in your walk through the palace, you decide to sit down. And then maybe you refill your water bottle. And then you think, "Fuck it. I don't care what Generalife is. It's too damn hot. I'm going back to my ho(s)tel." That is what the gentleman in the second photo thought just a few minutes before we sat in quiet regard just a few feet* away from each other, waiting for the air conditioned bus to arrive.

(* .90 meters)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I need a third vacation

After panic attack inducing travel on an airline whose initials are D.E.L.T.A., I headed a bit north up to the first ever Wanderlust festival. This hippie fest was all about yoga and music all day long. Scary looking stilt people who looked like The Nightmare Before Christmas meets the Victorian era were there. Girls in crocheted bikini tops, dirty feet and scary toes, sweat, dust, frozen bananas, oooooohm.

Most of the extremists were gone by the time Andrew Bird made it onstage for the final evening. He sang a song called Sweet Matter that I think he might have said was for me if we'd had a chance to meet. Even more hula hooping fire breathing hippies left by the time the festival closer, Spoon, played. The music was great every show I saw. And all that yoga kept a lot of the bamboo pant wearing bud light drinking dreaded hippies out of the crowd. So essentially, they sponsored my easy front row placement. It was too easy to move all through the crowd.

Weird hippie magic, I think.

Andrew Bird was wearing Chaco's. It got around to everyone, like bird flu used to do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I found love in Madrid

I was waiting in the car with the hazards on. My friend and host was inside Mallorca getting my first ever croquetes. Diosito santo. Es amor. Bechmel sauce with ham, all fried into a crispy little ball. Why didn't anyone ever tell me about these before? They make pants up to size 22 at Old Navy. I could've handled it. It's my life, I can do what I want.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Palate Cleanser

The transition to summer begins. Nevermind the finals that still need to be written, the term papers ungraded. The last class is over. O-ver. Here are some things, God willing, I won't be saying again until late August:

"Please SIT down in your assigned seat."
"Put that phone away."
"Stop touching her."
"Get down from there."
"A decision has been made."
"Can you hold it?"
"If you really have to go. Otherwise, please wait until the presentation is over."
"Well Jimmy crack corn and I don't care."

Happy finals, everyone.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I went to the prom. It was just okay.

They all started in new and uncomfortable shoes. Shoes were abandoned altogether or replaced with flipflops, ballet slippers, sandals or socks within an hour of the dance floor opening up. The best part of the night for me was the coffee and tea bar that opened up after dessert. I took a bunch of the tea bags home in my purse. They're the fancy kind in the silk pouches.

With all the bad kids in trouble at home, suspended or recently expelled, it was kind of a slow night. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

You decide what you need this to be

Years ago, my heart was set to live, oh
But I've been trying hard against unbelievable odds
It gets so hard at times like now to hold on
My guns they're waiting to be stuck by
At my side is God
And there ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
Ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
There's people around who tell you that they know
The places where they send you, and it's easy to go
They'll zip you up and dress you down
Stand you in a row
But you know you don't have to
You can just say no
And there ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
Ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
Ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
Ain't no one gonna turn me 'round
I've been built up and trusted
Broke down and busted
But they'll get theirs and we'll get ours
Just if we can
Just, ah, hold on
Hold on
Hold on
Hold on

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I say

What do you think? Have you considered what you're seeing now? Have you noticed...Dangit. You can't play Questions by yourself. It doesn't work out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Over Your Heads

Who knew all this stuff was just over the hills. When I see the names of the cities in this area on maps, I used to think of mini-malls, newly laid black asphalt and cul de sacs in developments that have names meant to sound triumphant. Highland Vistas. Sunrise Gardens. Now I think of mars, gray water, dead ships and yellow-making factories.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


You don't have to keep yelling. I know it's been a long time.

Well, now that we've got that settled, let me tell you. It was so hot here today I had to leave the planet. Aaron there piloted me and that Italian guy all around the bay. You'd be surprised what's "just in your backyard". It was hard to completely escape the heat, though. At one point it was still 80 degrees in the plane even though earth was just a tiny speck, hardly visible.

We had lunch in Half Moon Bay and then came back. Pilot code is cool. Everything's niner -this and lima-that.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is the last bit we see before turning into that beautiful parking lot where we are greeted with a wave from the security guard who like looking at the ladies' chesticles. This day was especially foggy. I was probably in the last stages of my personal private show I watch in my brain that I like to call 101 Other Things That Would Be Better Than This Right Now. From there I switched to Natural Disaster Day? But then I realized such a thick fog could only symbolize something greater, something more...epic.

"Dude, nothing biblical happens anymore; no seas part or anything."

One of my smartest students was the only to make this incisive observation. But this was the day that would prove him wrong.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Snow Line

I took this picture just yesterday. Now I am back home, in the coldest apartment in the world. I have been colder here in the last twenty hours than I ever was in the winter wonderland of Canadialand.

Goodbye Beautiful British Columbia. Goodbye English muffin sandwiches, and donuts shaped like rocks. Goodbye mutant starfish and America driven entertainment. So long monopoly money and 20 cents more. Goodbye vacation. I cannot bear to name the things I must once again say hello to. Weep for me, America. Weep for me and then send me things. Please send me things.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My camera works again

Okay. I'm back. My camera wasn't working for a couple of months. It would tell me the batteries were dying right after a fresh charge and then shut down on me. Just this week, though, my friend's boyfriend held it in his magic hands, pressed all the buttons and everything has been working fine since. So lay your blood offererings or bowls of fruit or whatever you hookers do to Ben during your usual ritual hour.

This picture was taken a couple of days ago from a Volkswagon Jetta on the way up to Mt. Seymour in Beautiful British Columbia. Just a little ways down the hill, not so much snow. Once you start climbing it's like Santa's Village. I went skiing for the first time ever this day. That shit hurts. I got to learn how to manage all the sticks involved in this popular winter sport in a group with about 10 kids between the ages of 9 and 13. I thought those snow hos might know to separate kid and adult classes, but I think I may have been the only grown up on the mountain that day who didn't come out of the womb with a Burton one-piece and goggles on.

Anysore, my instructor assured me I made excellent progress and gave me props for my improvement over those cold two hours. I can't lie. I had fun. Especially when that pissy little 9-year-old, Curtis, fell on his face when he couldn't hold on to the tow rope anymore. He just lied there in the snow while skiers and snowboarders slid past him. He lied there so long. I was wondering where the polar bears and arctic foxes were. That was some sweet fresh meat right there.

Now I wear the badges of my day's efforts where no one can see. My arms and legs cry every hour on the hour. So send me your epsom salts and wives tales cures (say that 10 times fast).
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