Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Let me start by saying I am really glad I moved to Austin and took a leap of faith. I have not regretted my decision at all. Several things have fallen neatly into place and worked out very nicely making me feel that this was definitely the thing to do. However, I have definitely had some unfortunate things happen in the past few months, but, amazingly, I am finding a lot of good in these bad things. I feel this is a sign of growth and maturity on my part. I have realized you just have to keep things in perspective and laugh because the alternative is to live in a state of fear and distrust, and that certainly does not sound like a good way to live to me.
The first misfortune is that after ten months I still don’t have a full time job. I am a bit in shock that I can’t even get an interview to be an assistant anywhere. I knew a job would not fall into my lap, but I never would have guessed it would take this long to find something. I have remained far more positive than I would have thought possible during this. I’ve had a few moments of panic, but my parents and friends have been so supportive the panic has never lasted long. On the bright side, the schedule for substitute teaching is very flexible. It has also been quite reaffirming to see how God has provided for me every step of the way. After living on substitute teacher pay and buying health insurance out of pocket, I will also never complain about a teaching salary again!
In December I got in a car accident on my way to visit a friend. Most importantly no one was hurt, although I did break a nail. My car was a 2001 and had driven all over the great state Texas resulting in a lot of miles. This being the case the insurance company declared the car a total loss and cut me a check for the value. Initially I freaked because there is no way I can make a car payment on sub pay. The silver lining is that my wonderful parents said I could use their third car as long as I need to. Plus, I think the insurance company was pretty generous and I don’t know that I could have paid the deductible to make repairs to the car without putting myself in a jam financially. Now I have a nice cushion in my savings account and will have a good down payment when I do get a job and am ready for a new car. I should also mention my awesome friends Marisol and Grace who drove almost an hour to where the accident happened and picked me up. Then they brought me Taco Bueno for lunch. Apparently, I’ll do just about anything for some Taco Bueno.
In February the most unsettling event of my life to date occurred. Someone broke into my apartment and robbed me on a Wednesday while I was subbing. They took my laptop and all of my jewelry. I cannot begin to describe how disturbing it is to know a stranger was in my home going through my stuff. Since there were no signs of forced entry I have been really concerned about how they got in, and very disturbed to think it might have been someone who works here and has a key. Even if the robber hadn’t taken anything, just the violation of privacy is so traumatic I would never wish it on my worst enemy. Even though I have had the locks changed and added some further security measures to my home, I still feel a compulsion to do a walkthrough of my place every time I come in to make sure no one is here and that nothing is missing. It was hard to put a positive spin on this experience, but there were some good things:
- Sadie was home and she was not harmed, let out, or taken. Anyone who has met my dog knows she is a one of a kind and was the only thing in the apartment that could not be replaced.
- By some miracle I had backed up all of my documents, music, and pictures the Sunday before the robbery. If it hadn’t been for that this whole thing would have been 100 times more devastating. Since I haven’t actually developed a picture since I got my digital camera all of my photos for the last several years would have been gone forever along with lots of dollars worth of iTunes downloads, all of the files from six years of teaching, and all of the documents pertaining to my current job search. I will never know why I did that back up when I did because it had been on my to do list for a long time, but it was a total blessing that I didn’t lose all that stuff!
- They could have taken a lot more stuff. I think they were in a hurry and maybe on foot since they apparently dumped my jewelry into two of my overnight bags that were also missing from the closet. They also didn’t tear things up. I would have been really pissed if they’d left a mess. I hate cleaning up other peoples’ messes.
- So far no one has used any of the information on my laptop to wreak further havoc on my life in the form of identity theft. As creepy as it is that someone was in my house, it is almost creepier that they could look at all my pictures and documents on my laptop. I now know to keep everything password protected. Why-oh-why did I not do that before?
- I had on my Aggie ring, my favorite cross, the bracelet my sister gave me at her wedding, and the watch my parents gave me when I graduated college so all of that was safe. I am still very sad about a lot of the jewelry that was taken though. I didn’t wear much of it very often, but almost all of it was given to me for special occasions and had great sentimental value. I was saving some of it to pass on if I ever have a daughter. Guess I’ll have to marry rich and get some new stuff to hand down!
- Once again the insurance company was very helpful, quick, and efficient.
- It made me remember stuff is just stuff and it is not what life is about, even though I’d still like to have my stuff back.
- My mom and sister were already scheduled to come that weekend and Jill even came early and drove through snow so I wouldn’t have to spend the night alone in my apartment.
- Again, good friends came to the rescue. They came as soon as I called and waited for the police with me. Then they let me and Sadie stay at their apartment that first night since I was creeped out. They also supplied me with enough alcohol to distract me, at least until the next day.
By this point my bad luck was just becoming a bad joke. When Jill arrived the day after the robbery we went to buy my new laptop. When we came out of the store it was dark and raining…and the car I’m borrowing from my parents wouldn’t start. We just laughed. It was too much. The universe was obviously conspiring against me. I had to call friends to help one more time. They brought jumper cables and we tried that to no avail. Then someone saw a lose cord and hooked it to the battery and the car was fine. (We took it the next day and had to get a new cylinder on the battery to make that cord stay in place and there have not been problems with it since.)
The last month has been catastrophe free; except for a bad haircut. So, I’m optimistic my hair will grow out and things will only get better from this point forward. I believe now more than ever that I can get through anything in life because I have been blessed with an AMAZING support system. Having good insurance doesn’t hurt either (thanks to the good people at Allstate for being incredibly sympathetic and easy to work with BOTH times I’ve had to call you since I moved)! Since we often have no reasonable explanation for why things happen and therefore cannot always avoid bad things, it is good to know we are capable of getting through them when they occur. The best thing about bad luck is that it makes you appreciate all the days that go by without incident, and it makes the days when your luck is good that much sweeter.
There have been many casualties of the recent economic recession. Many have suffered, but the real victims of the recession are the thousands and thousands of hairs upon my head. These hairs are spoiled, I will admit. They are used to good shampoo, regular conditioning, and visits to the salon for cut and color on a regular basis.
For the past three years my hair has been involved in a very serious relationship with a woman named Bonnie. Bonnie took my hair from long and dark to short and blonde, then guided it expertly back to mid-length with a balance of high and low lights that people would stop me at the Wal-Mart to compliment. My hair had such a great relationship with Bonnie that we followed her to three different locations and paid increasing rates as she adjusted prices to the salons where she happened to be working.
Inevitably, you get to know the person involved with your hair, and hopefully you like that person as much as your hair does. While Bonnie and I would probably not have met under other circumstances and we never hung out socially, it was always fun to see her and catch up. I don’t know how many clients she sees, but she always remembered what we’d talked about on my last visit even though it was about three months between appointments. At the beginning of December every year she would call and give me dibs on an appointment to get my “hair did” for the holidays. After I moved to Austin I even made the trip back to Belton for one final appointment with Bonnie…that was the last time my hair looked good.
Since that last visit I have not been back to a salon because I’m still hunting a full time job and substitute teacher pay barely covers rent; it most certainly does not justify extravagant expenditures on one’s hair. Since my hair had previously been colored, the root situation demanded attention a few months after my last trip to Bonnie’s, so I had to improvise. Did you know you can get a box of color for $8.99 at the store? Neither did I. Pair the box color with a trim at a walk-in place and I saved over $100 on just one cut and color treatment!
Be advised, doing your own color and getting a cheap trim has some drawbacks. The first is your hair looks cheap. The second is you miss out on the salon experience. There is no complimentary beverage, no reclining as your hair is washed and your scalp gently massaged under a warm fountain of water, no salon gossip, no intoxicating scent from the high end styling products used by the professionals. Hell, everyone knows having someone else wash your hair for once is the best part of the whole hair modification experience and is almost worth the $120. If I’m ever super rich I’m getting one of those salon sinks and reclining chairs put in my house and hiring someone to wash and style my hair every morning.
Alas, I was making do with the cheap hair lifestyle because, really, I have no other choice. But after the cheap haircut I got recently, I realize how desperate my hair is to start a relationship with a stylist here in Austin.
Over Spring Break I went to the same walk-in haircut place where I’d gotten a perfectly decent trim in the fall, but the girl who cut my hair before wasn’t working. Instead, I got a woman in her forties who, upon learning I work in the education field, told me how upset she was that she learned about “tea parties” in history class but not “coffee parties.” She was also under the false impression that the State of Texas is trying to remove Martin Luther King from history books. According to her that is wrong because, “He had a dream.” I don’t think she knew what the dream was, but at least she knew he had one. Apparently her TV only delivers every third word of the news. Now imagine the haircut that comes from this individual and picture that on my head. Ok, now wipe the look of horror from your face.
I’m in full on hair grow out mode because every time I see Sandra Bullock I have mad hair envy, and she has been in the news a lot lately. (Can you believe that asshole husband of hers?) So, I told this alleged hair professional to, “Cut as little as possible, just clean up the ends.” She heard, “Take off three inches and jack up the front real good.” I assure you I did not have three inches of split ends. I had to do some intervening with the kitchen scissors after I got home, straightened my hair (no styling included at the walk-in place), and saw how bad it was. Thank goodness my hair grows fast.
I am currently in great need of a new car and figured after landing a job my first stop would be the car dealership. I know now that on the way to the dealership I will be stopping at a salon for a proper haircut and highlights. Until employment becomes a reality, I may have to get Jason to pick me up some of the extensions he saw at the gas station in Houston a while back. They’re made of “real hair” and they’re real cheap. I think I have that in my budget.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My adventures with the little people get off to an auspicious start when the principal stops me on my way to the kindergarten classroom and tells me one of the kids in this class has been going to the bathroom and defecating in the trash can. He asked if I would please monitor restroom usage. I must have looked pretty horrified because then he said, "other than that, this is a great group of kids." Yeah right, the "good group of kids" ship sailed at the word defecate. The fun continued with an afternoon of squealing, snot, crying while flailing on the floor (a kid not me, although I was tempted), tattle-telling, and general destruction to the classroom. You saw Kindergarten Cop, right? The only redemption was that it was a half day assignment.
Round Two: Another campus, another kindergarten class, another half day assignment (thank the good Lord). Everything started off great. Then came the Six Crisis followed shortly by the Seven Crisis (luckily in kindergarten they can't count very high or this could have gotten much worse). An adorable little boy, we'll call him Adam, who had been coloring quietly, spontaneously burst into tears. Not just a trickle of tears, but full on sobbing, gasping for breath, snot running, eyes red crying. I thought surely someone must have put a freshly sharpened #2 pencil through his hand. I rush over, scan for blood, find none and ask what is wrong. "I can't write a six. It is impossible," says Adam. Impossible sixes quickly turned into a dislike of having to write his name so often-"on every single paper"-and a hatred of school in general. Being a gifted educator, I had Adam sit on he carpet with me and I asked him to write the letter "C" on his paper and then add a loop on the bottom to create a pretty darn good six. Crisis averted...or not. After looking at his six and comparing it to mine he burst into a fresh round of sobbing because his wasn't good enough. This time there was no consoling him despite my giftedness as an educator. He is becoming a distraction for the entire class and I have to do something to regain control. It is here that the apples come into play.
Whoever came up with the apple system is a genius. There are many variants of the system, I remember airplanes when i was a wee tot, but I'm partial to the apples now that I have witnessed their power first hand. When nothing else would make Adam stop his tantrum, I was forced to utter these words: "If you don't settle down right now, I'm going to have to move your apple." A hush fell over the room, eyes widened to the size of saucers, Adam made a weak attempt at cooperation. Then the reality of a moved apple overwhelmed him, and the fear sent him into a fresh wave of paroxysms. By this time my empathy reserves are depleted and he is no longer adorable, so I move his apple. There was an audible gasp from the class. Adam finally pulled it together and went back to his seat. Now, I have no idea what happens when an apple gets moved, but it must be bad. Once the other kids knew I wasn't afraid to move an apple, I had their total cooperation for the rest of the day. These are some powerful apples. At what age does the apple cease to instill a sense of dread? Can you imagine if our penal system was based on the apple chart?
So I thought after all this it would be an uneventful afternoon. Adam had other ideas. I give out the next math packet which requires me to tell them what shapes to draw. Reading from the directions I say, "Draw seven triangles." this sends Adam into orbit. "Seven! Seven triangles! That's impossible! Who can draw seven triangles?!?" I'm silently thinking, "Everyone in this room but you," but I was very proud of myself for keeping that thought to myself. He goes on to say, "If you had said to draw four triangles I could, but seven is too hard, it's impossible." I'm seeing a tough road ahead for the kid who thinks writing "6" and drawing seven triangles is impossible. Now starts a new snot, tear, sob filled hissy fit that any latte deprived celebrity would envy. Adam is saying, "I hate school. Why does school have to exist?" I'm momentarily distracted from the snot by his excellent vocabulary and sentence structure. "I just want to learn at home. This is too hard and it is only going to get harder. I wish school didn't exist! I want to go home immediately!" Except that last bit sounded like, "I want to go home immediatwy!" I tell him there are just two hours left until he can go home, but he keeps saying "I want to go home immediatwy" over and over and is getting increasingly loud about it. How much air can five year old lungs hold? Every time he says "immediatwy" I get tickled and the more he says it, the more I start to lose it which just makes him more upset. I can sense this spiraling out of control, so I remind myself I am the grown-up in this situation and I rein it in. I finally tell him he doesn't have to draw the seven impossible triangles if he will just sit down, be quiet, and stop crying. Three minutes later he was fine, but I wanted to go home IMMEDIATWY!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Category 1: Sad Reasons
These women have pretty poor prospects for a decent life in Russia and are willing to marry odd, unattractive, American social outcasts. It is sad that their lives are so bad they will leave home and family and come to a place where they do not speak the language (none of the women featured spoke English) and only know one person. This puts them completely at the mercy of these men and does not give them a Plan B should things not work out. (The men pay the travel expenses to get them here and their families would be hard pressed to get them back.) There is at least one known case of a Ukrainian girl being murdered by her American husband. Once she got here, she no longer wanted to have sex with him-for very obvious reasons-and he ended up killing her. How sad that the state of things in Russia is still so bad that this is a viable option for women.
Category 2: Eww Gross Reasons
Seriously, what kind of man does this? There are 300,000,000 people in America, you can find someone here! One man said American women were too independent and he wanted a more traditional subservient wife. He felt that Eastern European women were more appreciative of the life he was offering. For one guy, this was going to be wife number three. Hmm...two failed marriages already, maybe you shouldn't be married, or maybe some counseling is in order. This guy was a total creeper too, and I'll give you a dollar if he isn't a closeted gay. In some cases the age differences were disturbing; 18 year old girls and men over 40. There was one guy who, despite being a bit unfortunate looking, was not bad. He had a good job, was in shape, and didn't seem like he had any bodies buried out back. He seemed very sincere about finding someone who he could really love. I am sure he could find a nice homely American girl, but I sensed the prospect of old fashioned dating and the potential rejection that come with it had this guy terrified. He actually went to Russia to meet the girl he'd been emailing. It seemed promising, they looked about right for each other (I should note these are not Russian beauty queens) and were both really excited. He even brought her a really pretty diamond necklace; shiny gifts do a lot to improve the physical appearance of an ugly guy. Their dates, however, were excruciatingly awkward and painful to watch. She spoke about five words of English and he spoke no Russian. They had a translator (the woman who ran the Russian side of the web site's operations) part of the time which made things even more uncomfortable. The humor did not translate either direction and there were lots of awkward pauses. Now I can, and have, imagined scenarios where not speaking the same language is in no way a deterrent to, and may even enhance, a very successful short term relationship. This however involves copious using of the lips for activities other than talking. In this case, I don't think the guy had ever kissed a girl before, and half the time that pesky translator was there trying to seal the deal between them so she could get a commission. I have a vivid imagination, but I cannot imagine any situation where this type of matchmaking is not strange.
Category 3: Selfish Reasons
Give me a freakin' break. As a single 31 year old woman I cringe at the notion of men from the country in which I live paying big money to buy Russian wives. Now, I should clarify that there is no way in hell I personally would ever have anything to do with any of these men, nor would any other woman I know. BUT, we can't have these guys importing wives. We need them to hook up with the weird and unattractive women of our own country who, because of their unattractive weirdness, are willing to go to great lengths that more attractive less weird women will not in order to snag one of the few decent single men still in the pool. These women are wild cards and they are screwing up the odds! There is also the possibility that men willing to drop some cash on a wife could siphon off a few gold-diggers here and there, further tipping the dating odds in favor of normal women (by normal women I mean me and my single friends).
Just a quick recap: I DON'T THINK AMERICAN MEN SHOULD BUY RUSSIAN WIVES. It is just creepy gross. Man up and go through the pain and humiliation of dating that the rest of us Americans suffer through. Hopefully, it will payoff for all of us someday.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A few weeks ago a guy was talking to me in a bar and it was really all I could do not to laugh right in his face, bless his heart. (I read in a book once that southern women can say incredibly insulting things about people, even right to their faces, and it's OK as as long as they add "bless your/his/her heart" at the end. Of course the book was written by a southern woman who said a lot of insulting things about people.)
To start with, the guy had to be at least 15 years older than me, and seeing as how I'm no spring chicken, he was definitely old enough to know better. This is pure speculation on my part, but I'm betting there is more than one ex-wife in his life. Anyway, I had noticed him much earlier in the evening, but not for any positive reasons. He obviously didn't have a problem being the center of attention. I had gone unnoticed by him until I stood up to change seats after some people left our table, at which point I hear a very loud, "Hey, girl!" which I did a most excellent job of ignoring. Point of note for any gentleman readers: women do not like to be yelled at in bars (or anywhere really). If you meet a girl that likes being called down in this fashion, she is NOT, I repeat NOT a girl you actually want talking to you.
Thinking the crisis has been averted I continue to enjoy the band and talking with my friends when the empty seat next to me is suddenly very much occupied. The guy, let's call him Bill*, introduces himself by kissing my hand which makes it very hard for me not to spew wine out my nose from laughing. Now, I should mention that I am 100% in favor of chivalry and charming gestures including but not limited to the hand kiss, but the guy is buzzed, has been acting a fool most of the evening, and already yelled at me from across the room, so any notion that this is a genuinely chivalrous and charming individual is already out the window.
Bill, staying true to the playbook, offers to buy me a drink which I politely decline much to his chagrin. He proceeds to tell me how he was in marketing for years but got tired of working for "the man" so he became a handyman. He tells me how he's always loved fixing things because he's "good with his hands." When he says "good with his hands" he does the head nod in combination with an eyebrow raise implying the double entendre. Second point of note for any gentleman readers: no woman is going to let you put your hands on her based solely on your own admission that you are "good with your hands" no matter how much head nodding and eyebrow raising accompany the phrase.
So poor Bill is up to bat and the count is 0-2 and the pitcher has just thrown him a curve ball. Translation, my friend has assessed this situation and announced we are leaving because we have to get up early for work the next day (not true on my part as I am still unemployed). So in a last ditch effort to win my fickle affections, Bill decides to pay me a compliment. A simple "you're pretty" was too plebeian for Bill, he--wisely--avoided commenting on my ample bosom, no, he went lower in the anatomy to pay homage to my beauty by saying..."you have the most photogenic knees I have ever seen." Seriously, I'm not making this up, "photogenic knees." I have spent a great deal of my life in shorts and skirts, and no one has ever said squat about my knees. In fact, my knees are the worst things going on south of my hemline, but according to Bill they were beautiful enough to be captured on film for the enjoyment of future generations. This brings me to my third and final point of note for any gentleman readers: when paying a compliment to a woman it is best to stick to the classics like "amazing eyes," "beautiful smile," or my personal favorite "really cute dimples." There are lots of times when innovation is appreciated, but when paying a compliment to a girl you just met and would like to know better, it's best to use proven methods so she doesn't spew wine out of her nose laughing at you, say "bless your heart," and run home to write about the whole incident on the Internet.
*All names have been changed for the protection of the inept.