Saturday, January 31, 2015

Outrageous
So on Fridays I teach two brothers who have a family resemblance and one of the brother's girlfriends. The brother with the girlfriend is one of my favorite people on planet earth. I had prepared a lesson analyzing the lyrics to songs by Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie just for him. When only two people entered my apartment and explained in Italian that one of the brothers couldn't make it because of exams, I had a weird reaction. I kind of blacked out. I decided that the brother with the girlfriend didn't make it because that was so disappointing given the lesson I had prepared specifically for him. Lately I've had to live through a lot of worst case scenarios so I guess I just assume the worst now? Actually both brothers sing and play guitar and love music, but I digress. I referred to my students by name so that they could take turns reading. They looked at me strangely. At the end of the lesson, I told them to send my regards to the brother who took the exam. It turns out that I had mistakenly superimposed the identity and face of the one brother on the other one and had wrongly referred to him the whole time. The brother and his girlfriend looked at each other and then at me before leaving. I can only hope they thought that it was just a name confusion and not full on dementia. Kill me now. What in the world has happened to my brain?


In my defense, I am still poisoned by the burdock tea I drank for a month before I realized I was deathly allergic to it. I still have rashes, nausea, dizziness, and sleep disturbances and I can't wait for this stuff to wear off.

Please enjoy my friend Ian's 3D printing self portrait just because it is AWESOME.
Outrageousness is in the air it seems. While the Cat Lady of all Cat Ladies, who is T's English teacher, was out of the room some kids put one of the tallest boys into the paper recycling bin on a dare; and then when he tried to walk in there, he tipped over flat on his face causing all of the kids to start roaring with laughter.  Two visiting academics were walking by at the time and could be overheard saying, "This school just isn't what it used to be." And they couldn't even see inside the room from where they were!

When the professor finally did commence with the lesson she asked T to read aloud and then proceeded to speak over her as if she could vicariously claim T's native speaker skills. To hear T tell it, it was beyond bizarre. Among other things, she claimed that American English should be learned outside of classroom because the Americans are everywhere, that Scottish people's accents are insane, that the Irish all have last names that begin with Mac or O like the actor "See-an" O'Connery. She also announced that there is a very fun! name for parties in American English which T had to persuade the class was not, in fact, happy hour. She also made some over-generalization about the Welsch which spurred the kid behind T to ask her, ironically, if those were the people who mated with sheep.

The level of misinformation, prejudice, and general ignorance at T's school as regards other cultures can be overwhelming as when at last week's assembly one professor made the one African student with dark brown skin get up in front of everyone so that the teacher could praise her complexion and explain to the others that she had the same blood and bones as everyone else. I suppose she meant well. This was the same meeting in which a Religion professor told all of the students that Muslims have a close minded religion hence, as T put it, calling others closeminded while being close minded about her own closemindedness. Or something like that.


At one point, the English professor talked about a woman named Nellie who she used to speak English with when she was young student herself, but pointed out in her repetetive like the goose from Charlotte's Web kind of way that this woman was dead, dead, dead. And not only that, but her whole family would by dead, dead, dead by now. T was just barely keeping back the laughter when her desk mate Camilla wrote on her desk RIP Nellie. Tears started spraying out of T's eyes from the long witheld giggle attack. The professor noticed T's hilarity and began laughing right along with her. Needless to say, that didn't help matters.

Among the other mortifying moves I have made this week, I wrote to a couple on Homeexchange to see if they wanted to trade us for their lovely home in Corsica this summer and they wrote back to tell me that they lived in Lucca around the corner for us so they weren't really interested. I panicked and went back to the listing to make sure that it wasn't all my fault, but it turns out that they just have a summer house and that I couldn't have known. They also invited us to have a bottle of wine with them at their spectacular apartment. You can't make this stuff up, people.

Monday, January 26, 2015

unpopular rant of the day
I hear there are sixty mile an hour winds in New York today so I decided to share this particular line of thinking to get at least some people heated up under their collars, while hopefully not alienating the few but awesome readers I have left.


I admit it. Even though I think they would look silly on me, I am attracted to these shoes:
To make things worse, they are from Free People.
I went through a whole Tiger Lilly worshipping stage as a young girl who was sheltered and pitifully ignorant about our country's true history and the savage way Native Americans were robbed and murdered. I just wanted Peter Pan to like me and my olive colored skin and I felt like Wendy was about as achieveable a role for me as say Malibu Barbie. Let's face it, my childhood's reference point for Thanksgiving for years and years continued to be that belonging to Snoopy and the gang. When the wake up call of history class finally snapped me out of  my love affair with all things Little House on the Prarie in third grade and made me ashamed of my affinity for all things pilgrim, braids, and a John and Yoko idea of a Thanksgiving dinner party that I came to find out was a real aberration in eating arrangements, it was a massive shock.  
 
And yet, I love these shoes. I have a bohemian-want-to-be element to me probably because I am so wound up and type A and anxiety ridden that even the thought of being the type of person who wears flowy blouses and tons of silver and turquoise rings and just  --goes with the flow-- is inescapably attractive to me. Maybe I just never got over the devil may care attitudes of the popular girls who had voices and therefore a platform and an audience that I would never come close to? My take-away is that if I were less ignorant I would know better than to like this footwear.
 
Furthermore, T's teenage voice of wisdom beyond her years haunts me. Cultural appropriation she would snort at me across the dinner table while rolling her eyes for good measure. To this affront I would meekly back pedal and feel bad about myself for only memorizing my formal education instead of ever bothering to learn almost anything. But now that I think about it, isn't there enough us and them going on in the world right now that if you copy something that you like from another culture it could just be taken as a form of regard? I recognize that it is a super naive point of view. No one in their right mind would advocate a homogenized global united nations of watered down Coca Cola materialism and disregard for our uniqueness as diverse cultures. But is it possible that even the idea of cultural appropriation takes more away from the so-called robbed culture than the actual attempt at imitation in the first place?
 
I mean I am not personally insulted by the fact that everywhere that is not New York thinks that they can make, reproduce, and eat bagels. Go ahead! Bake your round, sometimes hole-less puffy bread and call it a bagel if you want to. I think it's cute. You have no idea what you're doing and you can't do it as well as we do no matter how hard you try because you don't have the right kind of water to boil them in. And, even if you did, you wouldn't ask for them with the right kind of New Yawk accents so the charm would be gone. But I don't knock you for trying. 

Good luck with that, Cleveland.
On a more serious note the battle between Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks about the nature of hip hop really made me re-think a lot of things about appropriation. I appreciated Hot 97's Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg's presentation of the two sides of the story even if a lot of people accuse them of just stirring the pot. I understood Azealia never said that white people shouldn't rap, but that those who do shouldn't have a privileged place in music because of it. A ton of people have condemned the rapper Macklemore as trying to please everyone with his stance on the issue, but what can he really do besides acknowleging the injustice of the fact that white priilege exists and then honoring the culture that isn't his but that inspires him? There is no way to stand totally upright and correct in everyone's eyes but no one who criticizes him ever offers a manual for how he should handle those rough and largely uncharted waters. 
 
Well I'm not going to buy the really un-Italian looking $162 dollar moccasins plus $35 shipping and customs anyway. But if I bought something similar from a more authentic source that went to profit Native Americans, then would it be okay if I said they appealed to me on some level?
 
Stay warm out there.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Communication ISSUES
When you teach English, you have to sometimes live in a state of communication limbo in which neither you or your student can make themselves understood. It comes with the territory, so to speak.

Example A. My eleven year old student is obssessed with a video game called Skylanders. He is so darn smart that sometimes he finishes his English homework too quickly and we have extra time. His attempt at teaching me how to play the actual Wii game included our waking up his little sister from where she was napping on the couch and me using a joystick to follow his little animated magic character around a labyrinth of scary villians and turtle guys who were firing at us. I had no idea which buttons to push when. He said no words in English and almost none in Italian while he tried to get the most points possible and pretty much forgot I was even there. Undaunted, this week I decided to get him to make an English language comic book about his favorite passtime. He decided unequivocally that he had to draw the characters before we wrote the story. Everytime I tried to speak to him, he looked up at me sternly and said, I kid you not, "Shush."

However the few times he did speak, I, in all my stupidity, did not understand him at all. First was what will go down in history as the legendary trousers box incident. Man oh man did he think I was stupid for not knowing that a trousers box is where you keep the buried trousers. Yeah it took me a hot minute (or four) to figure out that he was saying treasure box. He was unphased when I pointed out that trousers are pantaloni in Italian and just looked at me pitifully.

Another thing you have to know is that the Skylanders characters represent seven elements: water, fire, magic, technology, non-dead (you don't want to know what this means, trust me), air, and . . .
well I kept thinking he was saying air and air. So I said, "No, kiddo, you said that one already." Err. Err, Err he told me. "Right, you said that already," I repeated. This continued forever. Then he pointed at his tongue with his index finger while he stuck it out between his teeth and said ttttthhhhh. Err ... .. .tttthhhhhh. Basically, he spit at me.

OH, earth! EARTH!! Sorry, sorry, sorry. Air and earth. I gotcha.

And then there are inexplicable moments of joy, like when my student friend Anna got up out of her chair and did a little improvised happy dance because she was so excited about the English word nonetheless. What the heck/cavolo is that? she asked. I told her it was like nonostante tutto or cio nonostante in Italian. "I get it," she cried out, "It's three words: none-the-less. You Americans are so CUTE!" Not only did this little word sandwich thrill her, but she gave me (personally) all the credit for it. You would have thought I invented Oreos and then fed her one -- it was that sweet.


As for awkwardness, because I put the AWK in awkwardness, there's the fact that I never think I am cool enough for my 20 somethings group. This time I gave them an advanced learners game of taking eight English words and having to tell a story about them. The young man who told us about running over a fox accidentally last time (see last week's post) got back at me by making up a story in which the GLORY OF GOD brought the fox back to life and then waved jauntily to him as he drove off into the sunset. Anyway, after the game was over, they were all shy again and I didn't know what to talk about, so for some reason I went all Wendy Williams on them and taught them all about the Bill Cosby scandal. Yeah, I don't know why either. And then time was up and they paid me. I have a weird job.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

OK America, I'm a little jealous of this
Now you've gone too far:

If Jennifer Lawrence and Richard Pryor had a love child . . .
it would be me this week.


I really have done a couple of fiercely wacky things lately. First of all, in order to get my 20 something students to speak in English more I spent over an hour surfing the web and stealing all of the Table Topics questions I could and made them interview each other. One thought provoking question was, "What is the best thing you ever saw looking out of a car window?" This turned into a conversation about animals on the road.

 It turns out that the two brothers Tommaso and Jacopo had been on a road trip when a fox jumped out of the hills and in front of their car. They thought they had hit a cat. They went back to tell the owners what tragedy had befallen their pet. They are such good Italian boys. Really, the best. Anyway, it turned out that it was a fox and that it was still barely alive. They knew they had to put it out of its misery by running over it again. Before they decided to do that mercy pass, Jacopo, who was driving and therefore felt the most guilty, thought about calling an animal protection hotline to see if they could get the fox emergency care. This is where I went all JL on everyone and started pointing and yelling. I said, "Hey, wait a minute. We're in Italy. Are you talking about one of those famous verde number hotlines? Those never work! You can't fool me. How would you ever have been able to even find out what the number was? You couldn't -- that's how! I mean I can never find one of those. . . If I am lying on the street, bleeding to death, I'd be lucky to get an ambulance to arrive. . . And even . .. even if you did know the number, no human being would ever ever answer you, let alone send out an individual to what -- give mouth to mouth to the fox??? ARE YOU CRAZY??"



Sadly, Jacopo understood that I was a vegetarian who wanted him punished for a foxy hit and run.

So that happened.

Then last night I made T come with us to our quarterly pizza and movie night with Elena and Angelo. T babysits for their daughter Alice so I felt like she should come and not disappoint Alice. Alice had others plans for the evening and she wasn't there, which really really made me look bad. Anyway, there was a lot of email discussion about the choice of film because Elena's dad is a movie pirate of the Internet, but sadly I don't share his taste in films. Anyway I sent F to their house in preparation to figure out once and for all how to hook up a lap top to their TV so that we could bring the film and not be dependant on her Dad's downloading operation. Listen people, we would gladly pay for Netflix and be legitimate if it were not desperate times and we made American level salaries. I found an Italian site that offered the films with subtitles as to Elena's instructions and I convinced them to let us bring the film Boyhood which I then loaded up on to my computer. F told me that we had to use his computer for their television so we loaded it on to his. I tried to think of all possible pitfalls and so we loaded extra versions in case of problems with transmission.


Unfortunately, we got to their house sat down wtih our pizzas and the baggie of peperoncino that I make F put in his pocket because Elena doesn't like spicy food, only to find out that the film had no subtitles afterall. Then we all argued about which language to watch the film in. We wanted Italian for them and they wanted English for us, despite the fact that no one can understand Patricia Arquette in either language. We then wasted fifteen minutes fiddling about trying to find other versions to no avail. Disaster. The film, which we don't understand what all the fuss is about, despite the cool factor of watching the child actors age in front of your eyes since the movie was shot over a span of 12 years, is very long and they made us promise to do it all again next week so that we can see the last hour of it. Sigh.

In other news, I won over my two new twin eleven year old middle school students Alessia and Federica, only to annoy their parents because I spoke to them too much in Italian. The parents were waiting in my livingroom because I had promised the girls a fun video after we got their homework done and I didn't want to break my word. This is the first time I have ever got in trouble because my Italian was too good.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just another day at the paint company
I had my first day of work at the Materis paint company the other day. F has taught English there before so he was supposed to know the drill. Our boss at the English school came up with a brilliant solution for the transportation problem. She arranged for me to teach two courses back to back at a location very near to where F has to teach so that he could give me a ride. He did give me a ride, but as for helpful hints, not so much.

Let's talk about paint!
It's a gorgeous location is you like cement and such.

Go team English! (Actually this is a stock photo and I don't know those people.)

We got there 20 minutes early because I am compulsive and because the boss said to get there at least 15 minutes early the first day so that I could get my entrance and exit badge. We waited and waited while I kept nagging F and telling him that it made no sense for us to get there early if we were just going to wait in the car and not get all of the bureaucratic, annoying things started. After ten minutes I resorted to calling our boss and telling her that I didn't see my coworker from the office and I didn't want to be late to class. It turned out that we were waiting in the overheated car for nothing because I was supposed to go to the reception area. Once in the reception area, I introduced myself to the receptionist and then realized that I knew her from somewhere. She is one of my ex-fitness clients from when I worked at the LIFE gym. She is a virtual living magnet for negativity and bad luck, but I was happy to see a familiar face. Even if it turned out that that face had literally been run over by a car this October and she had barely survived. Anyway, she gave me my badge which is used to get in and out of a revolving door to enter the cement cubes that make up the administrative part of the company. I knew I would get lost just because everything looks like everything else when it comes to cement cubes. And I get bored easily and have no sense of direction.

She said that I was to meet my co-worker there. He is a nice man. Well, he seems like he is secretly a nice man although he is all business and not very big on making pleasant conversation or smiling. Anyway, his entire job entails schlepping his well suited behind over to where I am going to teach and then patiently and calmly explaining how to do things that an intelligent pre-schooler can do. He showed me how to give the class forms to fill out and how to take attendance. This is like the sixth time I have been shown these things. Then he stressed out about whether he should come back in an hour and show me again when the second class came. The representative lady at the paint company assured him she would check in on me to make sure it got done so that he could take off. Is my Italian that bad? I mean do they really want to trust me to teach English if they can't trust me to hand out forms and make people sign things?

That is actually another issue. I am not super proficient in English grammar, although I know more stuff than I did say five months ago. My strength is in exploring the terrifying life of a stand up comic who has been constrained by economic motives to use some English grammar as the source of all her material. I was supposed to have two classes with six students each. There was some convention or other for paint people, though, so I only had these two sweet guys the first hour. All my jokes killed with them. Therefore, I was unprepared for the second hour where I had two men and two women. The women were advanced students and the men were only barely intermediate speakers. One woman in particular gave me the stink eye and never cracked a smile. I can't decide if she hated me on sight or if she has that special blend of Italian botox that makes smiling virtually impossible and yet causes one eyebrow, usually the right one, to remain permanently cocked in what can only be called a skeptical expression.

I was violently nauseous before the class, and this is only in part due to the fact that I had been drinking a "health tea" which turns out to cause violent nausea in some lucky people. I think most of the pain I have suffered in my life has been self-inflicted. My resolution for 2015 is to stand in front of myself with my arms crossed and not let myself make any changes to my daily routine without getting six other people's opinion on it and then having my coworker teach them how to sign forms to that effect.

F asked me what I plan to teach next week. He told me he could lend me some material on the different roles people have at the company and blah blah blah. I said I probably would come up with a different idea. He asked me why and I said something like, "because that's as boring as watching paint dry, dude." Sometimes I feel like I truly am the expat Kathy Griffin.

Paint that, you bureaucratic wackadooodles!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

HIGH SCHOOL CASINO

T stayed up all night on Thursday night because she had tons of homework and an essay to do. None of us slept well because when T asked us if she could go to sleep at a decent hour and stay home to finish the assignments the next day, F and I had said that she couldn't. We said that she needed to meet her deadline even if it meant staying up all night. And then we felt guilty. Guilty and yet fairly certain that it was the right thing. The next day we ended up allowing her to stay home because while she had held up her end of the deal, she was still not satisfied with the writing she had produced and she was exhausted. Mostly we let her stay home because while I am favorably impressed with her two most important professors in terms of their competency in their given subjects, there was still the chance that she would have been "humiliated," as she put it, by having to read the essay aloud knowing that it isn't what she really wanted to say and/or receive a grade that doesn't reflect her knowledge of the subject.


Theoretically, a series of bad grades could lead any of the kids in her class to either have to study all summer under the threat of not being allowed back in school next year or failing out at the end of this year. I believe they lost eight classmates this way from the first year to the second. The professors expect a certain about of strategic game playing from what days the students choose to call in sick to when they opt to use their justifications to get out of being interrogated. The chance of T's not passing is very slim, but she is kind of just at the treading at the water mark in terms of sufficiency for certain subjects as are many of her classmates. Nevertheless, T would like to attend a college preparatory course this summer at an English or American University and her grades do have an impact on whether she can get financial aid or scholarships. The gambling and numbers aspect makes the Liceo Classico di Lucca more similar than not to Atlantic City.





Here's where I get angry. It turned out, predictably, that the professor discovered that the majority of the class not only plagarized the essay, but that they had plagarized the same essay and that the majority of the class turned in identical work apart from T. The prof's response was that while copying is okay, they should only plagarize in pieces so that there is some variety to what she has to grade. REALLY?? I mean if T picked up the habits of her classmates and then went on to an American university, she would be expelled without the shadow of a doubt. And rightfully so.





 That's a different kind of cheating. But it is also mega super popular in Italy.
The level of corruption in Italy is so entrenched that nobody blinked an eye at the professor's statement. It is bad enough that one of the girls in her class puts the homework answers online for the rest of the class to copy. Beyond that, they routinely copy off each other's papers in the classroom and ask each other for help during tests. I feel like T should get two to four points higher for every assignment she does, not because Italian is her second language, but because she is one of the few who actually works for it and is trying to learn the material instead of just working the system. Given all that, how am I supposed to face these professors at the next parent teacher conferences? T said she would hate for me to bring it up as it would help her in no way at all, but it is really hard to just sit idly by and watch this happen.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Sale time in Lucca

I went with Patrizia and Elizabetta for the first day of the sales. For those of you who live in New York, I suggest you sit down. We only get sales here for two weeks a year. Once in January and once in June. That's alright, people, breathe.

What I learned: you are not a real Lucchese (Luccrazy) unless you go straight to Tezenis at 4:00 PM on Monday afternoon and buy four different, but coordinating, tank tops that will cost you about 4,50 each instead of the usual 12,00 which you will then save until summer.

All of these women had one thought: tank tops.

Patrizia told us that she had been courting/corteggiando this one purse/borsa from Desigual for three years. Today she got it ("l'ho conquistata") at 30 % off and Elizabetta said she was so happy that it looked like Patrizia had gained ten kilos, which is some kind of Italian compliment we can't understand, but trust me on this.
 
People looked at me like I must be from New York because I bought a long sleeved black nightshirt for 6 euros instead. Amateur.


Monday, January 05, 2015

3D happiness
Check out the coolest care package anyone has ever gotten ever:


Grand army plaza, the statue of liberty, and Ian!


My dear friend Ian sent me all the way from New York an awesome handmade card with this cool paper cut out calligraphy, a pair of crazy socks that go up to my eyebrows, a henna tattoo kit, and, the coolest part -- 3D sculptural rings he printed himself with his own 3D magic technology.

I don't know how it works exactly, but I think there are little elves involved and some kind of plastics. I won't bore you with my advanced technical explanations because they would surely go over your heads. And also I don't know how it works. I'm never taking them off, though.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 I don't know 
I don't know what you're fun-do-ing for New Year's but I know what I'm fondue-ing.



 F and I are having our own private party while T and her friends do their fun-do upstairs. Later they are going out to watch the fireworks in the freezing cold while I have a second glass of wine. Having teenagers is underrated.



Martha, you rascal, you!

Happy New Year's to you(s) in Brooklyn or wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LIFE

I can't believe I still have this stomach virus.


Maybe that's why I came across this little tidbit of information that I can't help but share with you. This place exists:
Wikipedia has this to say about it: "It is believed that the settlement was founded in the 6th century by Focko, a Bavarian nobleman. The existence of the village was documented for the first time in 1070, and historical records show that some twenty years later, the lord was Adalpertus de Fucingin. The spelling of the name has evolved over the years; it is first recorded in historical sources with the spelling as Vucchingen in 1070, Fukching in 1303,[7] Fugkhing in 1532, and in the modern spelling Fucking in the 18th century,[8] which is pronounced with the vowel oo as in book.[2] The ending -ing is an old Germanic suffix indicating the people belonging to the root word to which it is attached, thus Fucking means "(place of) Focko's people."[9]

Some days I have the sense of humor of a fourth grade boy. Today is one such day.

Speaking of curse words, I watched all of these student made youtube videos about Denmark with my basically fluent High School girl because she is going there at the end of the month on a school trip where English will be the common language between the international students. F was horrified to hear all of the curse words in the videos, but studying with me is never boring. I also talked to her about important guests of Oprah over the years and healing bioenergy. T said it is not clear if she likes me or if she is just terrified of me. I guess time will tell.

And yet as exciting as I am, I can also be a pushover. I had to have a long talk with hip hop boy's mother today about how F has to take over for me because when Andrea fakes fainting spells, spends fifteen minutes doing god knows what in my bathroom and then starts chatting to me in Italian, I never manage to become very stern with him and that is why his English kind of sucks. But I did succeed in the fact that he has great potential and that he thinks English is fun. His mom was cool about it. She said that she understood me when I said that F is the right person to create the grammatical foundation and that when had a good base he could then come and have fun conversations with me. I told her that our marriage works for exactly this division of talents and that got her to laugh. It was a ha ha, I pay you twenty euros an hour and my son is barely passing English, kind of laugh, but it was a joyful sound nonetheless.

 One thing that is disappointing about living in Italy is that internet shopping is all but impossible. We had to order T a new wardrobe because she is now 5'6" and doesn't fit in anything she owns so I got her things from H&M's new website because it seemed like they wouldn't be too hard to return. Most of the things were perfect, but there were the inevitable one or two misses. Of couse this is Italy, so nothing is easy. There was a whole SAT test of multiple choice questions about our personal identifiying financial information to fill out in order to get the delivery service to come pick up the reject items. It is the official sales week here so the stores and streets are teeming with people who only shop twice a year, once in January and once in June because sales don't exist for the most part outside of that.

Hey, I like that sweater. Let's keep it for ourselves.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Social Networking 
 F really played a huge trick on me and T this year. A while back I convinced him that it would be okay if I bought the last jacket in my size that was on sale and that I fell in lust with in Pisa about two months ago. I told him that it could be my Christmas present. Of couse, I didn't mean it. So when T asked him what he had gotten me for Christmas he told her nothing, knowing that she would run and relay the story to me. She convinced him that he got it all wrong and that I was a big baby about Christmas (true) and would be disappointed not to find anything under the tree.  He insisted that we had had an agreement. The evening of my birthday he gave me a knock out present -- this wristlet bag from the Italian artisanal company Campomaggi that I have admired for a long time, and he had a big laugh at how worried we had been. He really got me. And also he gets me.

I asked for homemade Hostess cupcakes. Nailed it.
T and F made this for me with their very own giant hands.
T made a really cool DIY photo project for me. This is the photo that helped us get our visa almost five years ago.



I have had a kind of annoying stomach virus this whole week that has made me slightly nauseous and achey and so I have been trapped in the house. I like hybernating at this time of year, but it has been a lot of indoor time even for me. I got it into my head to look up my whole high school class and some college people on FB and it really blew my mind. Most of them ended up being exactly what they said they wanted to be or what you would have imagined.

This one girl who looks exactly the same as she did back then and loved animals and always said she was going to grow up to be a veterinarian did just that. She is the sole reason I passed a big science project one time so I wish her a world of goodness. Here she is:

This is the really jerky guy that I was a door mat for and who loved Bugs Bunny cartoons. I didn't friend him or anything because even the thought of that makes me ill, but his photos were satisfying enough. He grew up to be a (cough) cartoon character. One photo is a fluke, but two??



Two of the girls in my class who said they were going to be opera singers grew up to be, lo and behold, opera singers, and the actor/dancer girl grew up to be an actor/dancer and even has a photo of herself with Joan Rivers on FB. A bunch of people aged terribly, which I may or may not have taken a little bit of glee in, and some people look great, but not the ones I would have expected. A lot of them who I thought were kind of mean-hearted  have really sweet looking families. I mean some people change, right? I have. On a dare to myself I "friended" a few that I would have been friends with if I had had the slightest inkling of self knowledge and/or a voice. I fantasize about myself in a trashy Drew Barrymore-like comedy role in that kind of film in which you relive everything or go back in time undercover or some such nonsense and could say the things you really were thinking at the time. Things that aren't actually so scary to say, but felt terrifying in the moment. I have no secrets really anymore, as you well know, and I am nothing if not brave, so we'll see if anything comes out of it. I expect the major part of them won't have any idea who I am or why I looked them up.