Maracas and Cacti

I now am a gainfully employed adult with a masters degree; hence the long writing hiatus. Occupation had to get got, son! Anyway, I can vaguely describe where I work as a rural middle school. Although it’s a very nice community, the rural-part does have its drawbacks; which I will rant about here.

I was recently approached by a well-meaning co-worker about our Hispanic heritage month display.  She wanted me and the other two Hispanic staff members to write bios to use in the hall decoration.  My immediate reaction was to laugh; but then I realized she was not joking.  And as I struggled to regain my composure, I looked on as my other older Hispanic co-worker enthusiastically agreed to the wall addition. They discussed how they, “Just didn’t want anyone to feel excluded.” Excluded from what? I didn’t feel excluded at all; but now, I’d been singled out.

The wall display in question had already gone up a few days before, complete with ginormous red chili peppers, paper cacti, and maracas because apparently all Hispanics live life like an Old El Paso commercial.

Don't stand so close to cacti!

As someone actually from El Paso, TX , I am aware that there is an irony to that last statement.

I happened to walk by on the day they were setting up the display, and the teachers were festively listening to Latin music to set the mood. Naturally, they stopped me and asked what the song was saying. After listening, I explained that Shakira and Alejandro Sanz were passionately  singing about how much they lamented having to lose someone they love due to infidelity.  To which these full grown adults responded, “Oh wow, that’s a very American problem!”  — Really?! Are you really shocked that people in other countries sing love songs too? Is this the Twilight Zone?

But, I can see how the video might have given the impression that the song was about the perils of cooking in a sexy oil spill or something….

Although, I was upset about the project, I couldn’t really wrap my mind around why it upset me on such a visceral level. It felt racist, but I couldn’t really pinpoint how since the idea to “include” me as a “role model Hispanic” was not meant to be mean or hateful.  So I decided that since everyone else was on board with this nonsense, I would just go along with it. After all, I would like to be hired to a more advanced position next year so it is best to appear to be a team player, right?

So still a bit miffed, I sat down to write my bio. I included that I was born in Germany, named my hometown in Texas, and listed my degrees and accomplishments along with a few hobbies. Simple.  Before printing, I checked in with my co-worker and ask if that is all she needed. To which I was told to try and show more connections to my heritage, “Because the students can’t make those connections for themselves… talk about like your grandfather.” Lady, my grandfather was an American citizen! *Do you want a story about how my people swam across a river? Because, I’m sorry, but that is not my Hispanic narrative! — Is what I should have said. Instead I muttered, “Yup. Connections. I’ll try.” *I don’t know about the other grandfather.

So before returning to my desk and typing a big, “Fuuuuck you,”  I took a breath and remembered that this was going up on a wall to be read by children. So, I simply added a Background section to my bio and briefly explained where El Paso was in relation to Juarez;  and how my father’s job in the US Army  landed us in Germany where I was born. Then I printed it and refused to look at it again.

The whole thing made me think about how layered and complex my identity is as a Mexican woman; American citizen; overseas military brat; educator;  academic; wife; writer and artist.  It’s  frustrating to think that when people see me all they see is the first thing on that list. My heritage is a very big part of who I am; it certainly is not all that I am.

And that’s my story about race and culture in rural Georgia. Hooray!

Next year, I will volunteer to help with the wall décor to avoid promoting social stereotypes in the future.

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Talking on Phones with Boys & other Perils

I recently started to think about my formative dating years.

Not surprisingly, I was awful at talking to boys that interested me. I actually recall talking on the phone with a boy about how different our TV remotes were in comparison to each others. That’s not a euphemism, we seriously discussed the merits of having separate volume up down buttons versus one double ended button (he might have been on drugs, and I was just super naïve).

hang up the phone

 Another boy talked to me for about an hour regarding his favorite beverages. “So you like orange juice, but not orange flavor. That is sooo interesting.”

 Perhaps the problem wasn’t the conversation, but the caliber of boys I was talking too? Now that I think about it, one of them aspired to be a professional wrestler…Not like an Olympic wrestler, but WWF. He was upset that his mom wouldn’t let him buy metallic red pants.

I wasn’t exactly cream of the crop either. In the 8th grade, I body-checked a boy I liked into a door frame. I didn’t mean to hurt him, I just wanted to playfully shove him in order to stop him from entering the bathroom– which he had been running into to get away from me. . . Yep, that sounds awful.  But, he had my sunglasses! I wasn’t going to just let him take those into the restroom. Gross!

I wish I could say that was the only time I physically injured a boy in the name of flirtation. But alas, there are more casualties.

 I was once invited to a cool kids’ party, the kind with girls AND boys in attendance!  The party was supposed to be an end of the year celebration complete with a water fight and bonfire. This guy Kevin was going to be there; freshman year he was a witty short guy, but by the end of sophomore year he was a tall glass of water.

There is no appropriate GIF for that . . . just trust me, he was hot.

Anyway, at the party I realized we might have a little chemistry and I was actually feeling a bit confident and optimistic.  The party-goers started the water fight and things seemed to be getting heated, despite the fact that I wore pants to a water fight (WHO does that?!). At one point Kevin and I were playfully fighting over control of the water hose, with rivulets of water rolling over muscles I didn’t even know existed  — And then it happened, I got competitive and completely forgot I was supposed to be flirting. All I cared about was taking the hose at all costs (please don’t read into that). I finally grabbed it and somehow positioned myself between him and the hose, which he also still had a hold of.  I then thrust myself back in an attempt to dislodge the hose from his hand, while also applying sort of sexy bendy motion — and I successfully thrust him spine-first into an iron gatepost. As I turned in triumph to face him, I was confronted with my folly in the form of a crumpled athletic heap. It was at this point that I realized ole Kevin and I would probably never happen.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that my husband and I were long distance the first few years of our courtship.

Mortified

You know how you have those moments when you realize you have been harboring a misconception. For instance, when you realized the lyrics to Becks “Loser” were, “Soy un perdedor,” and not “someone get the door.” You think, “Gosh, how many people heard me sing that!” Then you feel embarrassed for the next five minutes, before you realize no one cares. (This example is, sadly, a true story. And, I speak Spanish!!)

I had one of these moments today, only the misconception was much bigger and far more embarrassing than song lyrics. I am still deeply ashamed.

It all happened this morning over breakfast. Nick and I were discussing the reasons people might leave MIT, and we got around to discussing the campus. Nick mentioned that it is known for being slightly depressing. At this point, I interrupted, “Wait. Where is MIT? “

Nick looked at me incredulously, “Massachusetts. That’s why it’s called the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

My face must have been bright red, because he asked, “Wait. Where did you think it was?”

“I don’t want to say.”

“Michigan? Montana? Maine?” his voice becoming higher pitched and astonished with each guess.

“Texas,” I squeaked.

“What! TEXAS! HOW? WHY!”

“I don’t know, I just always thought it was someplace in middle-of-nowhere Texas.”

“What did you think  MIT stood for?!”

 “ Math. Institute. Texas.”

“That doesn’t even make sense!”

“ Of Texas. Of! Oh, I don’t know, I just always thought they were in cahoots with the calculator people.”

“You mean Texas Instruments?!”

“Oh GAWWD. I am so, soo stupid.”  I then sunk under the table to eat my waffles in shame.

                To be fair, I didn’t think that the students made the calculators. I just thought it was all done in the same space somewhere in mid-Texas.  –-Nope. I am sorry,  There is no saving this.

                I am disgusted with myself.

Math.Institute.Texas.

To pee or not to pee?

Is it okay to pee in the shower? This topic has been on my mind for a while.  On one side of the argument, it is an environmentally responsible way to save water. On the other hand, it is disgusting. I mean, we already have a whole bowl of water  just made for this purpose.

skeptical-3rd-world-kid-on-toilets

I am not the first to contemplate this argument; below is a clip from Seinfeld where George and Elaine tackle the golden shower debate (I know this is not what “golden shower” means, but it seemed fitting).

I agree with George on this one, at some point “it’s all pipes.”  This is especially true now that it has become more acceptable for cities to reclaim their waste water.(In this case, reclaiming means reusing the poop water.)  Maybe I’m biased since my hometown of El Paso, TX has been doing this for ages. As reported in the NY Times, “The president of El Paso Water Utilities, said in an interview that his city recycled all of its wastewater. Most is used for things like cooling industrial plants or watering playing fields, he said, but ‘it’s been accepted that we’re recharging some of that water into the aquifer” and into the Rio Grande.’” [1]

But does this excuse peeing in the shower? I am still undecided so I created a list of pros and cons.

Pros:

Cons:

Just think of all the water you are saving! (Approximately, 3.5 gal /13 liters per flush.) The amount of water wasted in trying to wash away the shame of your deed may be equal to a flush.
The release of urine combined with a relaxing hot shower can lead to euphoric state of being. The pungent smell of urine mingling with steamy temperatures could quickly kill any feelings of euphoria.
This is your chance to be a first world anarchist. Society can’t tell you what to do, you pee where you want! You can’t really tell anyone about your new form of protest without sounding like a sex pervert (akin to Colin Firth when he talks about baguettes).
You can blog about it! Your blog is perceived as a gross admission that you have nothing else to write about but your own urine.

Don’t judge.

 


[1]Barringer, Felecity. (2012). As ‘yuck factor’ subsides, treated wastewater flows from taps. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/science/earth/despite-yuck-factor-treated-wastewater-used-for-drinking.html?pagewanted=all&_r=
0

Tracking through Space & Time

I checked the tracking on a recent online purchase and  noticed something a bit odd.

ups ship

ENHANCE!

ups ship

Apparently, my order spent two days in 2011. The weird part is UPS used time travel to go to Maine. Why Maine?! Was it to skew the results of the Lake Auburn Road Race of June 4, 2011? Was it worth it for the $50 certificate and the commemorative  polka dot t-shirt given to the winner of said race?  Actually, that sounds like a suspiciously crummy prize for a twelve mile bike race. Maybe UPS sent a time traveler to steal the original cool prize, and replace it with the shitty one…hence, the arrival on the third to meddle with paperwork and change promotions (these  time travelers are the thorough type). Mystery solved!

This is the type of stuff I research when I have three projects due next week. Procrastination is an art.

Fowl Play

When walking towards the dining room today, I saw a flutter of brown move quickly across the room. My brain stalled as I tried to identify what I had seen. Then it flew up and hit a window as the words,”Bird in the house!” escaped my gasping mouth. The bird flew again towards the bay window creating the resounding ding associated with glass on bird contact. I quickly flung the carport door wide open and started trying to get the bird to fly out, instead it flew again towards the window. I realized that the bird would never fly towards the door while I stood near it frantically gesturing towards the exit all the while emitting a high pitch continuous slew of encouragement and panic, “Noo fly OUT, little bird! Oh my gosh, what do I do? Bird in the house! Nick, bird! Bird in the house! Come on little bird, outside!” Meanwhile Nick, responded to the cacophony of noise by shutting doors on the far side of the house (which is actually a good response to a wild animal in the house). Upon realizing that I was probably scaring the bird, I tried to retreat to the corner while still coaxing it outside (at one point I think I was whistling). The bird promptly flew across the room towards the door then hit the mirror about two feet away from the exit. Stunned, it just perched on the coat rack collecting it wits. Then, without much fanfare it flew out. Then, Nick showed up.
It should be noted that just before this incident, I had been boasting about my innate ability to critically assess a situation to find solutions. Yup.

It's a hermit thrush.

“I’m all up in this house, ruining your perspective of self. And possibly, your windows.”

Tiny Tina

I was going to write about something in particular, but when I looked at the scrap of paper I had written down my idea on, all I had written was, “Blog.” Yes. Very helpful, past-me.
Anyhow…
Earlier today, on facebook, I posted a gif from Community, reminding people to “Tina Turner” their clocks back:
The Dean Turners back time .
This, of course, reminded me of the phase I went through in third grade when I wanted to be Tina Turner… or just her legs (it was a very confusing time).

How much of my 8-year-old life was spent staring at those gams?

My friend Eddie also wanted to be Tina Turner. Being a black male, we thought he had the advantage. So whenever we played Tina Turner and the Ikettes, Eddie was Tina and the girls were lowly backup singers. We would spend recess putting together routines to perform for our teacher, Mrs. Mercado – who, by the way, was  completely unappreciative of our musical styling.
What I recall most about Eddie was his fantastic way of somehow making his soffe-shorts shorter to accentuate his legs. Because, Tina is all leg all the time!

Yes. These can get shorter.

After we spent a whole week on the dusty playground perfecting “Proud Mary,” including the raspy voice intro, we performed our choreographed number in front of the class. It was awesome, or would have been, if I hadn’t  ruined it all by trying to turn Eddie’s solo into a duet. In my defense, it was Tina Tragic Fucking Turner and those legs!! I just couldn’t resist.
And thus, my hopes of becoming a backup singer were dashed. Luckily, I moved later that year so the young Ikettes had a chance to flourish in my absence.

Gentlemen Callers

My friend is hosting an all male review tonight at our local theater. And as strange as it will be to have my friends “show me the business” to grindy music, I am not too worried. See I have already been scarred by the events of last weekend, when they called me to star in the trailer promoting the event.
Here is the video:
Keep in mind that my husband was filming.

Parisian Slights

Parisian Trip on Reddit  << Link Here

So this happened: A guy won a trip to Paris because he unjustly shares a name with a travel agency.

I keep thinking what it must be like to be the friend that was invited along for the one week trip. If it was me I would inevitably mention that Paris has a high suicide rate (I read that somewhere). Maybe it’s because there is a lot of pressure to be romantic and happy. After all if you can’t be happy in Paris, then where can you? — Then I imagine  my friend turning to me and asking, “Why did I bring you?” just before shoving me off the Eiffel Tower.

Incidentally, did you know that there is a woman that claims to have a romantic relationship with the Eiffel Tower?

From film: Married to the Eiffel Tower

Middle School Awful

So, I’m not dead. But, I obviously have not updated in a long time.  In order to make up for the lack of entries, I decided to dig deep into my humiliation pile and summon a gem (or some costume jewelry at best).  So put on your wading boots, because we’re headed into the shit heap that was middle school.

Image

Those will do.

                However dumb middle school was, and however much more dumb the politics and dating were, I think we all have been emotionally scarred by it in some way. I recall desperately wanting to be part of the drama, the on- off romances, and to be gossiped about me in the corridors like the popular crowd. Unfortunately, that was not the case  – I know, I was shocked too! Who wouldn’t want to befriend the gangly new girl with unshaven legs. I mean, it’s not as if the hair was off-putting.

Image

“No. No one can tell. You look fine!”

In seriousness, the hair was not that bad since I hadn’t yet reached puberty. What I had on my legs was more like a delicate farm of baby hairs. Being as skinny as I was, I’m surprised nobody mistook it for lanugo (the bevy of hair that grows on fetuses and on anorexics).

[Do yourself a favor: Do NOT Google image search lanugo.]

Eventually, towards the end of the seventh grade year, I was finally allowed to shave my legs. But by then my geek status had solidified in a way no pink disposable razor could alter.  I was still the girl who had walked around with hairy legs for most the year. Plus, to say that my legs were only thing holding me back socially would be a lie. I had a lot of personality flaws as well, I mean I was into inflatable furniture, and I thought Teletubbies and Beanie Babies were cool. Basically, years of exposure to Lisa Frank had strongly influenced my aesthetic taste. I was still very much a child. While the rest of the school had moved on to “macking” and “scamming” (slang for kissing), I was still at home watching Pepperann. To add to all of these elements, I also had developed a stutter. What? Why?! From w-w-where?!! It eventually went away, but only after it had thoroughly played a role in my social demise.

Meanwhile, at home, my parents were getting divorced. Dad had come out of the closet, and mom was not taking it so well (read: she went temporarily bat-shit insane).  In an effort to distance myself from the emotional-storm of home life, I would obsess over boys.  To give you an idea of how limited my perspective was, here is a diary excerpt from middle school  (2/25/2000):

“Today we went to Holocaust Museum. Whoa! It was sad. Guess what? I decided that I don’t like Jake or Paul. Paul was just a crutch for Tom, and Jake is just a friend. So now I like no one.”

Note: We had spent all day at that museum, following a cross-curriculum thematic unit that lasted about three weeks, and all I had to say was, “Whoa!”

I eventually just spawned a crush on an imaginary person. No joke. I gave my journal a name, and pretended I was writing to this long lost boyfriend.  It wasn’t that crazy, I knew he was imaginary –and could even provide some rational for the invention as it prevented me from wasting my affections on the boys at school  — Still, isn’t that what TigerBeat is for?

Yeah, ok.  I think it might be safe to file this under: You might need a shrink if…

Image

Tiger Beat: Fueling preteen delusion since 1965!

              So where am I going with all of this? To be honest, I am not sure. The more I write on this subject, the more I place myself in an emotional head space. While reading my diary, I realized I was reading the writing of a bubbly 13 year old girl who put a lot effort into suppressing all the negativity of home life by focusing positively on school life.  And when school life got to heavy, she retreated into a safe space within herself, where it seemed perfectly logical to have a paper boyfriend. — I want to reach in and hug that girl, and tell her that everything turns out okay. I want to tell her that Mom finds happiness, and Dad finds acceptance, and most of all I want to tell her that she won’t always be alone.