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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Why I Can't Give Up

Amberlicious' comments to me made me ponder for a bit. I made $23k last year...teaching six classes spring, three classes summer, six classes fall, plus working a lot of hours in the Writing Center. No health benefits were included in this unbelievably low slave labor wage (for somebody with a master's degree it's slave wages at least!), even though I teach more classes per term and per year than the full timers do. What a nightmare! I still have no health insurance myself. I broke down and got the medicaid for the kids (side note: my incredibly Republican parents surprised me by pushing me to get it...I was told, "Our family dumps thousands of dollars of tax money into the system every year and has for decades, and NONE of us have used gov't aid....you'd BETTER go do it now so we can get some of our money back...hahaha!) Why do I do it?

So, before I go off to France, I thought I'd share with you the reason why I do it: because I know it's what I'm supposed to do. I never felt that way about any other job, so of course I'm reluctant to abandon this one.

A prime example was today. I had my two final exams to administer before the term officially ended. I have to get grades in by tomorrow morning so I can go on my trip. This day was probably the last day I'll see some of my students. So, what happened?

a) Three individual female students came up and hugged me, describing various items about English and life that they are now convinced they can do despite being told that they couldn't do it previously. Their backgrounds were varied--an older student, a minority, a girl from a devistatingly poor background. The story, however, was the same: I was thinking of dropping out of school or that I'd never be able to get through an English class until you came along, showed me you cared, taught me what I could do, and helped me whenever I needed it. Job satisfaction score=10 plus.

b) One student I had in English 101 manipulated his schedule so he could have me for English 102 this term. He's had a rough week. His grandmother had a stroke, and she didn't even recognize him when he practically was living in the hospital with her. Anyway, after everybody had left (except Alex who came with me to school that day), he handed me a very, very long note which described how much I had 'saved' him by being supportive, helping him, and making him feel like he belonged at school. He then opened up to me about all that was going on his life, even crying a bit because he's just had that crappy of a time lately. I hugged him while Alex smiled. I know I'll see him again.

c) I had another student hand me a lovely hardback book of poems today, say thank you, and scamper out of the room. I read the inscription. It stated that I really helped her improve her English writing skills and that she was thrilled I had convinced her that 21 was too young to be getting married (long story...I didn't debate the issue with her; however, I pointed out to her the possible problems she should consider and stated that if the relationship were meant to last, it would hold out until she could get her college degree and get set up on her own two feet...she definitely had "southern belle paranoia" of "I must get married now because without a man, I am nothing!").

See, and this list was just from ONE day of the four days of exams. There's more. I allow teaching to use all of my strengths: creativity, big heart, intelligence, knowledge of writing and (early Medieval and Renaissance) literature, my sense of humor, and my background in social work. Heck, I even use my cooking skills because I bake 'em all a goody at least once a term...haha! Believe me, at a community college there's a great need for teachers who will set FIRM boundaries and have no problems letting students get the F's they deserve if the students won't get off their asses and learn the material, yet also teachers who encourage and LISTEN to the kids. These students of mine aren't Duke students--and by that I don't mean intellectually. I have some kids whose intellectual capacity matched or surpassed many of the kids from my class there. I mean that your typical Duke student comes from a more priviledged background. They HAD encouragement and some sort of stability in their lives. They KNOW they are smart and can do it. My kids...don't know any such thing. A lot of times they had roadblocks thrown up that other people can't even imagine. They just need somebody, anybody, rooting for them and telling them they can do it. I'm good at that. I regularly talk kids out of quitting school, convince them they CAN complete the degree program, and just damn well listen when they need an ear. I'm not an easy teacher. You have to know the materials when you get out of the class or you fail. In fact, I had three--count 'em THREE--kids in one class this semester who already failed with me before. And guess what? They all requested me again. HAHA! All three of them are going to pass this time around, too. Why? Because I finally got through to them and now they are DOING the work instead of goofing off. I want them to learn because for so many of them, learning to write competently is part of that bigger picture of being able to escape poverty or a bad situation and succeeding at their choice of job. It hurts to have a student I adore make an F...but that's part of being a good teacher too...letting them fail when they need to fail.

Maybe one day I'll get burned out and hate this job. Maybe one day I'll want to earn money like the rest of my family. Maybe I'll find another job somewhere that fulfills me enough. Maybe!

But not today.

Today, I clutch the folder of the letters my students have given me over the last two years and know why I'm here.

Today, when I eventually finish up the grading and manage some sleep, I will rest my head on my pillow and be able to sleep, knowing that what I did made no money but what I did couldn't be done by most other people. I will dream of those students who are now doing so well because they finally had that voice behind them, that teacher who was willing to listen and shout for them, and I will realize: starvation sucks, but the long list of jobs I tried before teaching sucked even more. My kids are happier because I get more time with them than I'd get in other jobs, PLUS Ariana is so proud of me that she is about to explode. Can't beat that! I told her once that the reason why money was tight was that my job choice didn't pay well. She told me that she was thrilled I was a teacher because she loved HER teacher and she just KNEW my students needed me like she needed her teacher! Wow. My little daughter even wrote a snippet that she got to recite on stage about being a college professor one day like mommy...not a lawyer like daddy, but a teacher like mommy who helps so many kids...*sniff*

I just hope I made sense when I explain why I make decisions that seem so senseless! haha! I know that Angie understands what I mean. I know when Amanda doesn't have Stephen Flashbacks, she understands what I mean too...haha!

And yes, Amber, I'll eat some cheese for you. And I'll eat choccy for the rest of ya! Hmmm I should probably bring back some French chocolates and offer them to the first two or three folks who visit me when I get back. That'll get some company over here at Chez Kira! Hmmm should also up the ante with a bottle of French wine too or something...

Ok, folks, I will try to post sometime when I'm over in France, but if I don't, I'll be back late May 14th. YAY!

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I should be grading right now. I need to get two more classes situated before tomorrow so that tomorrow night I just have the exams to mess with and final grades to calculate and put into the computer. I have to have it ALL in by Saturday morning or I'm hosed. Jared, Alex, and I leave for Paris late Saturday afternoon, and the grades have to be in before then.

It's just that point where I'm burned out and I don't CARE to grade. I stare at a paper and sigh and groan and stare at a wall instead. I have one set of research papers left to grade, one set of journals, a cause/effect stack of essays, and a drama essay stack. Alex will be grading the matching, etc. portions of my exams for me tonight so that I can quickly finish up the finals too and put them into the computer. I never had help with grading before now. Coolness!

Ang was so kind to send me the info on the teaching position out there. I admit that I keep having flashbacks to the last one I applied to, at The Upstate's Premere Technical College. It was SUCH a nightmare. I don't want to go through dashed hopes again. Yeah, I should shut up after seeing what Amanda and Angie have gone through in the last year, but...I can't help it.

See, last year this time I was finishing up grades too. I went to France for a week with Alex, and while I was there Amanda got to go from one ring of hell to another ring of hell. Therefore, the Writing Center supervisor position was opened up. "Oh, we can't pay you to do the work this summer," I was told by my former boss. "We can pay you regular pay, but we just need you to RUN the WC for us until we can HIRE you for the job."

My heart clutches up when I remember what I was told. I am a stupid, gullible, trusting idiot. I was informed that all I had to do was wait out the whole process for hiring and the job was mine. "Oh, I hate having to go through these formalities. I'm sorry, Kira! We just can't seem to get the faculty group together to interview you yet, and we HAVE to interview others as per regulations even though we just feel we want to hand it right to you!"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ok. Anything to keep the slave doing it all summer long. May, June, July I ran the fuckin' place. No extra pay. "It's ok, you'll get it in the end...."

At the same time, I was interviewed for a full time teaching position at Tech. I was told I should be "LUCKY" because they decided to interview me. There had been over 80 applicants for the spot. They were only interviewing nine. I had only a year's teaching experience at that time, so they weren't supposed to even interview me, they said. The interview was to take place on Wednesday of the July 4th week that we had off. I told them I had already made plans to head down to Florida with my kids....and they had been PROMISED to get to see grammy and paw paw. I DO NOT break promises to my children. I NEVER have. How else to I teach them to honor their own word? How else do they know they can trust me no matter what? I was told tough shit. Interview on that Wed. or not at all.

So after classes on Friday, I drove half the day and half the night and arrived in Tampa at 3a. We stayed until Tuesday, and I drove all day back. I even had to take my cat on that hellaciously long yet short stayed journey because I couldn't afford to board him and nobody I knew could take care of him. Ug!

The interview went well. Mark had been interviewed too, but he didn't make the teaching demo level even though he had years and years more experience than I did. He was frustrated. And then there were four.

I was told I'd know within a week what the answer was. During that second week of July, I was interviewed for what was supposed to be the formality of getting the supervisor position at the WC. Nobody called me.

Nobody, in fact, found it worthy of their time to EVER tell me about the teaching position. A couple of days before classes started at the end of August, I found out by mail--form letter--I did not get the job. I also found out later on that even though I NEVER wanted nor asked ANY of my former students to put in a good word for me, over TWENTY of them BEGGED the administration to hire me. They pled with them to "keep one of the only good teachers on campus here! Don't let her go somewhere else! We need her!" Some went to deans. Some went to my NEW boss. One former student found out from another student that I had the interview and wasn't enrolled over the summer. He DROVE to school and sat there for an hour describing to her how I basically not only taught him English but saved his life. I was very touched when I found all of that out later on. Didn't do a freakin' load of good, however.

They hired a girl who had four years of teaching experience and four years in a Writing Center (not as a supervisor; just as a tutor) who came from another college. Wofford, if I recall correctly. She had nothing spectacular about her or anything...she just had that minimum three years experience they wanted so badly. They knew I was a good teacher and that my success rate was astounding. They knew I already got along fine with staff and faculty. They knew the students were begging for me to stay. But it didn't matter; they decided to head on for the woman they didn't know who had a couple of years longer teaching. I was a known quantity, and they took the unknown. And then they didn't even bother to call me about it...just...a letter.

Crushed, I cried for a day. I didn't have long to cry before they gave me another reason to cry. My boss called me up and said, "I'm sorry. You know that position you did for free all summer long that you were practically promised by your old boss? The boss who was on the committee to decide who would be the supervisor, along with me and a couple of others? Yes. Well, we gave it to Pat. Sorry!" I sputtered. I couldn't believe it. Pat had told me she only applied for the job because she was certain I'd get a teaching position, so therefore she'd be in danger of having somebody unpleasant run the WC. She didn't even want it, and certainly didn't need it financially. I had been holding off applying for medicaid for my kids because I just wanted to see what I could get, job wise, at the school. Staring at the applications, I realized it was the only way my kids would get health care. I heard the echoing empty words that are always told to the loser, the words the boss says to make HERSELF feel better. "It was a hard choice...we had a rough time deciding...." Yeah, it's always a hard choice. I've heard it before. Tell me something new...a new lie...one that I can believe...

They had trapped me good. I couldn't just up and go to another job. They had me at the bargain basement price they had purchased my slavery for the previous year, and they KNEW the way I was dedicated to the students meant I was limited in job choices. That is, I can't leave my kids in the middle of a semester. THEY KNEW I felt that way, and so it was so cool: save the bad news until three days before school starts so that she can't run and we get to keep her for cheap.

Humiliated, demoralized, I dragged my feet for the first few weeks. Teaching had once been such a joy, but now that I knew what I was really worth at Tech, the enthusiasm had been sucked out of me.

What saddens me the most is that I know for sure that I care more for those students than any teacher on that staff. Somehow, that seems to be a negative. How the hell did THAT happen?

So, now I stare at my resume again. Cover letter? Another teaching job? How shall I be destroyed this time? Will you let me get to the end again so I can see the finish line, only to scream denied and slam the window shut on my fingers? I know that I can't succeed unless I try. I know every single happy good touchy feely positive perky "The sun'll come out tomorrow!" piece of shite that I've been fed by friends and family for the last year. It's the same shite I feed to MY family and friends, too. But you know what? I can't believe it. I can't believe in it again or I really, truly will be completely crushed.

And now to convince myself to submit the forms before I take off on Saturday for France. I can't wait for the vacation. Two weeks with the love of my life and my darling son in one of the most facinating countries in the world...damn, do I ever need the break!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Frenchman Meets Good Ol' Boy

As we all know, Alex is the world's perfect man. I have no idea why I have been blessed with such a patient, smart, funny, hot, kind, delicious man, but I was. One of the ways he showed his wonderfulness this past weekend was how he took care of the kids for me. You see, I have exams this week with school. I MUST finish up all grading so that on Saturday, April 30th, I can go to FRANCE with Alex and my son Jared! Woohoo! Any parent of small children can tell you, however, that grading (which requires concentration) with said small children awake and alert is physically impossible. That's where Alex stepped in. He made paper airplanes with them and took them outside so they could play and I could grade. Yay! I got a lot of work done, and the kids had a blast being outside with Alex on a pretty, sunny, warm but not hot day.

Along their journey around the apartment complex, they ran into a man with his young son. His son was a year younger than Jared, and so he gravitated to Jared and immediately they began to play. This left the father in the position of feeling a need to male bond with Alex. He asked Alex how old his son was (apparently Alex felt no need to explain that Jared was his girlfriend's son), and that began the conversation. Alex has not had extensive conversations with Good Ol' Boys before now, and he was entirely amused by the whole interaction.

First of all, Alex was very clear: the guy was nice and friendly, and so Alex responded favorably to him. However, the guy was also COMPLETELY different culturally from anything he'd ever known. Hence, Alex's amusement and grin as he reported the entire exchange.

The fellow started off by apologizing that he was so hard to understand. He left his dentures out, you see (he later on told Alex he's 33, by the way). Then he felt the need to explain to Alex WHY he wore dentures at such a young age. He was racing. Apparently, he would have won, too, if that damned tree weren't in the way! LOL

He asked Alex where Alex came from...Alex responded France. So, then said man gives Alex plenty of advice on how to stay here in the US. Plus he gave Alex a crash course on Southern Male culture, just so he'd know how to fit in!

His advice: find a good southern girl to marry, one that's lived here all her life (that rules me out, by the way!). He strongly suggested NOT wasting money on a fool wedding. What's the point of blowing money on a ceremony like that when you can do it for near nothin' and save the funds for later! Instead, his recommendation was a cheap wedding in Tennessee. Also on his list: Russian brides. He noted to Alex that you can find Russian brides on the net if you want. I'm still trying to figure out how that'd get Alex to be able to STAY in the states.

Next, he felt obligated to share that men in the South did Real Man Things like hunt, fish, etc. While he elaborated on Southern Male Activities, he even did a 'real man' gesture that involved hunching over his shoulders to look like a Silverback Ape! Coolness!

All in all, I was horridly amused by the retelling. Alex was trying to keep a straight face while he told me all about the fellow, but he failed. Hey, at least the guy was showing the best part about southern life: hospitality and friendliness! I've often been told that in France, nobody opens up like that nor shares personal information at all until they know each other for a while. How's THAT for culture shock? "Hi, how are you, I wear dentures, wanna meet a Russian bride?" LMAO!


I have an addiction to movie trailers. I love watching them. It can even be to a movie I have no desire to see, yet I desperately want to see the trailer. I get upset if I arrive to my movie in the middle of the trailers because I don't want to miss any of them!

That being said, yesterday I watched a slew of them. I'm trying to see if I can grade fast enough to be able to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie (which is released on Friday of this week) before I leave for France. I also checked out the new Batman movie, Fantastic Four, Bewitched, and a few others. One of the movies on the list was Kingdom of Heaven. Kingdom of Heaven takes place during one of the crusades, and it has a section that shows the knighting of the main character (played by Orlando Bloom). In it, he takes the vow of knighthood, and the knight administering the vow smacks him straight across the face right after he takes the vow. The startled Orlando looks up as his father says, "And THAT is so you never forget!"

I was completely amused by this concept. Note, folks, here in the Medieval Period, we've discovered the WAY TO MAKE A MAN REMEMBER!!!! I never could figure it out with the ex. The rule/joke between us was: if I repeat it three times, he remembers. Sometimes we'd go somewhere and he'd say, "I don't remember you telling me that." And my retort would usually be something of the nature of, "that's because I only told you twice. I forgot to do it that third time. I'm sorry honey." I asked some of my girlfriends if they had problems with their menfolk remembering things they said, and all my girlfriends reported an equal dissatisfaction with their abilities to remember what was mentioned. It's what I call "yes dear" syndrome. My brother Ken pulled Rob/my ex aside on my wedding day and asked him solemnly if anybody had ever told Rob about the 'yes dear' way of handling things. That's when the girl babbles at you and you have no desire to listen, so you just say 'yes dear' to shut her up. Rob reported instantly that he was already aquainted with that method! Believe me, Rob had that one down pat since birth. But now I know how to get around it!

Rob was here to get the kids yesterday and I showed him the movie trailer. I mentioned to him how effective that slap seemed to be in promoting memory. Then I looked into his eyes and said seriously, "Remember to take Ari to her girl scout meeting at the Y on Tuesday night," and I play smacked him across the face. He looked startled but then laughed, and said that'd probably help!

So there we go: the memory slap. Gotta remember that one. I'm just glad that Alex doesn't seem to need it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Most Unusual Request by a Student

I always tell my students that if they come to me BEFORE a test is due and tell me that they can't make it that day for ANY reason, I'll let them take the test ahead of time...but not afterwards. Afterwards means a zero.

So, today one of my students took me up on the offer, and I have to admit: his reasoning is unique.

Basically, he scored a bag of weed for the first time in his college life. He wants to try it out, you see, but he also wants to be straight by the time he goes to church tonight....LOL So at 1130a, a student comes up to me, explains the situation, and asks if he can take the test then and leave to go off to get stoned. The test was supposed to be at 230p on the same day. Aw, hell, I let him do it just for originality's sake. Now THAT is honesty!


Both kids had their annual checkups this past week. They are off schedule from their bday months (long story), so now April is the exam month. They are both healthy, which is a good thing.

Ok, so for Ariana: she has always been at the 50 to 60th % of the growth charts. I figured she took after her father (6') instead of me (5'2'). My whole family is short. I'm the tallest member of the females by several inches. My dad is only 5'6" and my brother Ken is 5'3", so the boys aren't much better. However, this last year she barely grew. She's now at the 25th% for height. Aw, who knows where she'll end up? Her weight is proportional for her height...well, maybe a bit on the skinny side. I was pleased that her blood and urine tests came out great. She eats a balanced, if limited, diet.

And then Jared: he has always been on the 0th% of the growth charts. Yes, you read that correctly...he was OFF the charts in the NEGATIVES because he was barely growing. I figured he'd be my height and that the poor baby was taking after my side. Hey, but he had a growth spurt! He was up to the 10th % for height! WOOHOO! Now, here's the part where I got irritated...

The doctor explains to me that if I am unhappy with my son's height, I can make him have a growth hormone shot every single freaking week for YEARS to give him a few other inches. WHAT??? You want me to torture my perfectly healthy and happy little baby boy just so he reaches some sort of societal standard for height??? There are plenty of midget girls such as myself who would be glad to get a smart, handsome, funny boy like my Jared. Sure, he can't date Amanda, but the age difference would have got 'em anyway! I was flabbergasted (note: gotta love that word...it just rolls off the tongue!). I explained to him carefully that as long as my son was happy and healthy, I saw no reason to basically send him to Plastic Surgery Camp for the Young and torture him to get him taller. Then the doctor--who came from a very tall family and apparently feels like the midget at 5'10"--spent the next 15 min backtracking and stating that he wasn't RECOMMENDING it but just letting me know what my options are. God! If you saw how he reacted to his vaccines, you'd understand how that could never be an option! I don't want to rob my son of his good nature. I think I would if I antagonized him weekly like that with shots for years and years. WHY would I want to do that? He's already got the whole rest of the package. If I made him tall too, he'd make the other men go kill themselves because they could NEVER compete.

And then I got to "help" pin him down per the nurse's request while she gave him three shots. He screamed and begged me to get her to stop. I felt like I was abusing my child. Sigh. I know it's for the best, but I really hate vaccines. At least they gave him a train book so he finds consolation in that.

I'm way behind on grading. Exams are next week. I'm screwed.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How to Take Your Man Shopping

by Kira!

Ok, so here's my experience: men hate shopping. If you take a man shopping, he complains...won't let you go into the places you enjoy or WILL let you go but will grump about it...or will make sure you cut the trip short. My ex wouldn't go into a store with me even if it were just to, say, get a bottle of wine or pick up the dry cleaning. When we went out, we were required to only set foot in fun places like restaurants or out hiking or whatnot. MAYBE he'd go to a computer games shop or a bookstore, but that's it.

The only male I knew who would go shopping with me before Alex was Bellybutton. Now, you just have to understand something about Bellybutton: the boy is worse than Marvin the Paranoid Android. For those of you unfamiliar with Marvin, let me say I'm sorry. Marvin is part of one of the funniest series of books ever, The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy , which will be a movie at the end of the month (it's my fondest dream that the movie will do the book justice). Anyway, what IS Marvin like? Here's an example:

"I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself into [the ship]'s external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length, and explained my view of the universe to it, " said Marvin.
"And what happened?" pressed Ford.
"It committed suicide," said Marvin.

Yes. Exactly. So Bellybutton's outlook on life matches Marvin's. Therefore, he goes shopping with me without complaint. Why, you ask? Let me tell you his logic! We were shopping once in the mall with the kids and I pictured that he was in some sort of man hell. I asked him if he could tolerate more shopping and if he were ok, and he replied in the most dry of voices, "Yes, I'm fine. I figure I could be back at the apartment alone, staring at the walls, pondering how shitty life is and how miserable my existence is...or I could just go shopping with you and do the same thing. Doesn't matter either way." HAHA! Honestly, I love Bellybutton to death, but I imagine anybody who had to deal with that day in and day out would....well, see the above about the ship's computer!

Ok, so Bellybutton was, by the time I passed my 30th birthday, the ONLY male who had ever willingly gone shopping with me. Even my dad would plant his ass on a bench when we went to the mall until I managed to be "done." What was I doing wrong? Would I never find a significant other who would enjoy shopping with me?

Then comes Alex. Alex willingly goes shopping with me all the time! He never asks me to cut things short or rushes me, he's patient, and he always carries every last bag. How did I do it? Of course part of it was that Alex was even all right going with me the first time, but after that moment, I made certain decisions that guaranteed he'd be more willing to repeat the moment with a smile on his face. Here are my suggestions!

1) Feed him

There are a few parts of life that every man seems to enjoy, and food is one of them. Make sure your shopping experience NEVER gives him a chance at being hungry. Hungry means grumpy male. Heck, hungry means grumpy KIRA, so that's an easy one for me to remember. Try and pick out a place to eat that he enjoys. It's called positive reinforcement. We'll use that technique quite a lot, trust me! If he likes alcohol, get him a beer or something with lunch, too.

2) Let him pick some of the stores

...and make sure you offer him chances to go into places he loves. With Alex, it's easy: bookstores, computer gaming stores, and maybe a movie store. I try and intersperse these prize shops in-between the clothing stores that kill most men.

3) Take him into the changing room with you

Remember the line of "positive reinforcement?" Yes, well, here you go. Trust me on this one. It's even more fun if one of the stops is Victoria's Secret...just keep in mind that some places have security men watching you, so be careful...haha! Alex loves to help me in and out of clothes and make suggestions and grab a quick grope. Bonus for shopping day!

4) Don't make the trip too long

What you think is too long is not the same as what he thinks is too long. If you make a three hour shopping trip to the mall rather than a six hour all day trip all over town, then you're more likely to get to take him again some other time.

Note that this afforementioned man-shopping technique involves some of the man-favorites here: nudity, groping, food, and alcohol. THAT is the reason for the success of this plan! Go ahead, try it!

A blowjob before or after the shopping trip as a pavlovian response would be good, too. Somewhere in his brain he might start connecting shopping = blowjob! That can ONLY result in sheer man-shopping goodness!

Good luck, ladies!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Speaking Spanish

Well, this last weekend Alex and I went to a Mexican restaurant to eat. When I ordered, I pronounced things correctly, trilled R's and all. It all goes back to what I stated before: even though I never learned Spanish in the house because mom decided not to teach us, and even though she wouldn't let me study it in high school and made me study Latin instead, I've still been exposed to how it sounds a LOT. My mom was oftentimes singing Spanish songs around the house which I can phonetically reproduce, even though I have no idea what I'm saying. Also, I was raised in Florida, so I heard Spanish a lot from other sources. I can hear the differences in tone and emphasis in words, and I probably could learn Spanish easier than any other foreign language if I sat down to try. Too bad Alex isn't Spanish rather than French! Just kidding there, actually. I find spoken French to be ultimately sexy, so I'd rather him speak French!

Ok, so there I am ordering and the waiter fellow who takes the order also happens to be a manager or owner (I'm guessing due to his clothes and his age). He gets excited when I order and decides that if I can say Spanish words that fast with the right inflections, I must speak Spanish. ACK! So periodically he tries to say things to me in Spanish that, of course, I have no clue how to answer because I don't know what the hell he's saying. Weeeee! It's both flattering and nervewracking. Maybe I should learn Spanish...


I think I bought too much food. I don't know if any of you have ever done this, but I think that when I bought and made food recently, I overdid it. I was staring at the refrigerator today and realizing I need to finish off a pasta sauce before it goes bad, eat a hunk of brie and havarti before it goes bad, finish off the hummus before it goes bad, consume the rest of the hard boiled easter eggs before they go bad, eat up the rest of the cream cheese that's been opened before it goes bad, finish off the salad in a bag before it goes bad, etc. If I eat it all before it goes bad, I'll weigh 300 lbs. I believe this situation is what we call "poor planning." Either that or, wow I'm hungry so I'll go to the grocery store and see what happens.

I hate wasting food, so I really DO feel an obligation to eat it all. It comes from the days as a starving student...I learned to value food because it wasn't always there. I even ran out of money to buy anything including food one week. I didn't tell my parents (stubborn pride) or they'd have sent me some money, so all I could do was ration out the remaining ramen noodles and tuna that were on my shelves. In graduate school, I fed Rob and myself off of $35 a week. I used to hit three grocery stores that sat practically in a row, not too far from us. I would go into each store and buy what is quaintly called "the loss leaders." Those items are the ones they publish on the first page of the circulars--the food or non-food products the store sells for less than they bought it for, just to attract you into the store to buy OTHER things too. I had a chart that mapped out which store had which price for basic staples like milk, cheese, eggs, and bread. Therefore, when I was in each store I also bought whichever staple the store had cheaper than the others. A grocery trip experience took close to three hours a week, but I enjoyed it as it was the only time we really could buy things. Anyway, the whole experience of "doing without" made me just cringe and feel awful whenever I have to throw out that banana that went way past its edible date, or toss that dish of leftovers at the back of the fridge that nobody ever found and consumed in quick enough time. I can't stand to waste food.

Because I cut back on food for years and years, I find that now--even broke as I am--I tend to splurge too much on food when I go to the grocery store. It's like I feel as if I held back and was a Good Girl and budgeted the stuff for so long that, no matter how little money I have, I have the right to purchase whatever the hell I want. Therefore, a person who comes to my house and wants to cook or eat would be in heaven. I usually have about 8 varieties of cheese or more on hand, a pile of fresh veggies and fruit, plenty of wine, and plenty of more unique cooking ingredients like sun dried tomatoes and white truffle oil. I have cardamon seeds and vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. Aw, hell, I have over 40 different kinds of spices, plus several spice mixes. No, that's not an exaggeration. I had a friend over at my house once whose father works professionally as a chef, and he stared at my spices in awe: "My god, Kira, you have more than my dad does!" I found out for me that after being so paranoid about having enough food for...let me think now, let's count it from the beginning of going off to school until I felt out of the woods for a chance of starvation....8 years, that I just feel WAY more secure with a ton of food around me.

So now you must understand why I'll be eating my way through the refrigerator for the next couple of days. I can't waste that food! I just can't do it!

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's Monday

Monday is always a crap day for me. Well, I understand that it's a crap day for most people. However, for me there is the added dimension beyond, "Oh god it's time to go to work." Sunday is always the day either Alex leaves to go back to school, or I leave him to return here. By Monday, I'm depressed on some level or another. I haven't gotten used to it yet. I thought I'd be so glad that he wasn't in France and we saw each other once every couple of months, but I've gotten greedy. Weekends aren't enough for me. I need more. And the hard cold fact is: if he gets that internship in Columbia, and then he gets into the last year program at USC, it's two more years of this arrangement. Weekends...holidays...whenever I can escape or he can. But not every day. No, not every day...not for at least two years.

Two years. Is it better than never? Sure. I'll take a two year wait for the man of my dreams over instantly having a jackass or being back in my marriage or even being totally alone. I know I can do it. It's just hard on me, and it gets harder on the kids too as time goes by. They expect him here. They get confused when he has to leave or isn't here when they arrive. I've explained the whole school thing to them, but they don't seem to like it (or rather, Ari doesn't...Jared can deal with it even though he likes Alex because no Alex means he gets to be the only man in my life! Haha! It's the same reason why he seems to prefer his dad being away from me too. Oedipus complex!).

I'm also getting sick of being a "good" girl and smacking Alex onto the sofa when the kids are here to create the right sort of impression or whatnot. I want Alex IN MY BED whenever he is here. But I know the only way around that is to get married....brrr....married...again? *makes small whimpering noises*

One thing that Alex and I do that is so different from any guy I have ever been with is storyweaving. No, it's not likely to ever get published, but Alex and I sometimes talk on the net and create characters for stories...then post back and forth as our characters would act and interact. It entertains us. We get into our characters and eventually the tale ends, sort of like a three book series. We have done fantasy settings and modern settings, and created all sorts of complex people to fill up our worlds. Wow, a guy who WRITES with me! How cool is THAT?


So, Ariana has a program at school this Thursday from 5p until 8p. I had to "make" the ex go by guilt as he would never want to go to this sort of function unless I pointed out to him (rather deliberately) that his daughter would be very hurt if he didn't show up. The family unit has to bring a dish for the potluck before the performance. Of course that means I'm going to do it, as Rob can't do anything beyond grill out stuff or heat frozen meals or pizzas. Since we have to show up as a family unit, this means that I will feel odd giving them a dish for Rob too. Hell, I get a divorce and I'm still doing crap for him. Oh well.

Then Friday I drive back down to Columbia, so I can meet with my friends Maureen and Eric as well as stay with Alex for the weekend. Poor Alex is being thrust under the noses of so many of my friends now. He's almost made the full tour.

The following weekend I probably should start packing for my trip to France. Woohoo! I can't wait to go there with Alex and Jared. I just wish Ari could come too, but she can't miss school. Sigh. Problem: I'm already in my top size of my wardrobe, a size 8. Why is this a problem? I gain weight every time I go to France. I eat my way through the blasted country and gain enough weight for one to two sizes of clothing. Hmmm I have no idea how I'll make it this time as I have NO CLOTHES of a bigger size. I may end up coming back on the plane naked. Surely, though, no one can expect me to not eat cheese and chocolate tarts and drink wine while there? Right? I wish I had Angie's determination with healthier living, though. I wouldn't be in this mess if I could just stay motivated (esp when exercise is concerned!).

Question: should I go into "training" for wine drinking for France? That'd force me to have a glass of wine with every dinner between now and when I leave, just like I'd do there. I did that last visit, and I had more alcohol in one week than I had typically in three months...haha! God I can't wait to go though! Two weeks, and I get to show off my handsome and clever son to his family. They've never gotten to meet Jared!

Monday, April 04, 2005


Today, something a student said to me triggered a very fond memory.

See, you have to understand that somebody who has a straight-from-Mexico grandmother and a straight-from-Hungary/Hungarian Jew grandfather (both long dead, but still...) would have a particular interest in the idea of teaching her children a respect for all folks, no matter what origins or skin color they possess. My mom did a great job of passing that ideal on to me. I remember only becoming aware of racism and the issues with people fearing/hating others from other places when I went to school. Before that point, I used to never notice the difference.

Because I remembered how strongly environment played on my reactions, I became determined to raise my children in a way that they would become "color blind." Since I have friends of various races and since my daughter was raised in a small cabin in the woods, it was easier to do than you'd think. I always wondered, though, if perhaps she picked up messages on TV or books or from relatives that were different. Then came the moment I knew it all worked.

My daughter had just turned 6 years of age, and her class had a lecture on MLK day. The teacher told the children about the issues between blacks and whites and why MLK was so great. When my daughter came home that day, she looked confused. I asked her why. She told me about the whole black/white thing that she learned in school that day, and I asked her then if she had any questions.

"Yes, mommy," she replied.

(get this....LOL)

Then she grabbed my arm and held it up against hers. Mind you, she's as pasty white as one can come, and I am not much better. Studying the arms against each other, she said in all seriousness, "Mommy, I can't figure out which one of us is black."


At first, I found her reaction and question funny. But you know what? Later on, I found it profound. Why, you ask? I found it soul-nurturing to know for a FACT that what I already knew in my heart was true: it's all in the environment. If we can just keep heading towards an understanding of others, we will get there because children who are not told otherwise are already there!

Sure, there are some poor kids being raised by ignorant racists of every shape, color, origin, and size. These kids will have the opposite attitudes of my child, unfortunately. But as long as we make efforts to continue to expose others to the critical idea that there is only one race--the human race--we'll get there. Yes, some cultures will take longer to get to that point. Some people will take longer to come to that conclusion. I know, I know, I know. But do you see it???? DO YOU SEE IT???? We'll get there!


Oh, and before I forget....

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Wait, what do I mean? I ALREADY forgot...too busy uhhh entertaining Alex to post it here. I always wonder how hard that must be: birthday on April Fool's Day. How many lame jokes must she have suffered through due to that one?


Ok, so here's the other admission to make...uhhhmmmm....well, I forgot about the time change *coughs* So Alex was supposed to go to the bus stop around 1015a here (that's when we have to leave to get there on time). The clock said 930a. No worries, right? I go over to the computer, stare at the computer clock and go....

HOLY SHIT IT'S 1035a!!!!!

Ooopsie *looks sheepish* Alex forgot too. See, he was actually WARNED by others before he came over here. I was clueless. I don't have a newspaper subscription, and that used to be how I discovered such important news. Sigh. Alex missed his bus. I couldn't take him to the bus stop on Monday, either, so he had to take a taxi there in the am after I drove off to take the kids and myself to our schools.

Typical Alex...so I come home after school and find the place really clean. He cleaned up the kitchen, living room, and took out my garbage. Gotta love this man! I miss him too much when he's gone. I have no idea how I'll manage the next two years. It looks like he has a good chance of being in Columbia, SC the entire time. Oh well. At least that's just a two hour drive, right? Much better than a nine hour plane ride to and from Paris, plus a four hour train ride to Clermont-Ferrand.