Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wayback - Cradle Robbing

In 2000, I went to Italy for 12 days. While there, I got a crush on a boy many years younger. This is me explaining to two former readers of this blog. From August 25, 2004.

For Diva and Trillian, a tale of (almost) unrequited love.

He’s just adorable. Amused gray eyes, shy smile, large, strong arms and hands, tall enough to look up at, and smart, but oh, way too young. He came on slowly, just getting under my skin. It could have been the exotic location, or it could be that he’s just adorable. I found myself looking for him everywhere, wanting to know exactly where he stood with relation to me at all times. If I wasn’t looking directly at him, I used my peripheral vision to search for the black hair, the beard or the blue baseball cap.

In the cathedrals and in the ruins, I found myself standing in the back, away from the guide at the front of the crowd, just so I could talk to him and be close to him. He’s so eager to learn, so aware of everything around him, so positive about everything. I wonder if I was ever that young, ever that polite, or ever that enthusiastic.

I started to admire him in Venice, noticed his build, the maleness of his body and the way he moved. He held a beer, a Beck’s, in one hand as he saw me look at him, and managed to look sheepish and unapologetic at the same time. On the long ride to Florence in the bus, I played games with his cousin in the hopes that I could get his attention and talk to him. It took a while, but it seemed to work. We played card games and Uno, and I taught him how to play Gin. He proceeded to kick my ass in Gin almost every time thereafter, but I taught him. Maybe some day I’ll get to ask him his strategy, how he manages to win at least 3 out of 4 games.

In Florence, he mentioned going out at night so we decided to go together. We found the open-air bar recommended by the guidebook, and had a few drinks while listening to, of all things, a Dixie-land jazz band called Dixie Train. Had to go from Texas to Florence to hear that. He talked about music and movies, and was charming and funny. The next night in a Florentine bar called Be Bop, I was nervous that his leg was touching mine under the table as we listened to the cover band. I entertained fantasies about being alone with him, finding the courage to tell him that I found him attractive, or just jumping him in a dark corner of the hotel, but always turned away by the simple fact of age.

Thinking about him now makes me smile more than I have in a long time. Two nights in Rome I went to his room instead of going to bed, ostensibly to play cards and relieve my boredom, but in actuality just to be in his company for a few hours more.

I do wish to be 21 at this moment, more than anything I have wanted before. Does it count that I feel 21, that my heart pounds when I see that he responded to an e-mail, that at this minute I can’t imagine the rest of my life without being able to see his face out of the corner of my eye? (Maybe I can call him, and tell him that I just want to use him for sex. Any 21-year-old would go for that, right? I could call him and tell him that I have a crush on him, and he won’t think that it’s creepy at all. My family would approve, and so would his, especially since his mother liked me. When he moves to Seattle to go to stuntman school, he can just take me with him. That would work.)

I want the courage and conviction to do something about what I am feeling, or for the feeling to go away. I keep telling myself that there is no way that he could like me or be attracted to me. I am too old, overweight, too annoyingly sarcastic, and too passive to be someone that he could love.

Too many people were in the way in Italy, and also just me, embarrassed for what I feel, afraid of what my friends would think of me, terrified that he would not feel the same way about me. And yet, telling myself all the horrible things, all the ways in which it wouldn’t work, inventing flaws, I still feel these things for this boy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wayback - Long vs. Short Hair

Another Wayback, this one from the same month as last week, September 2, 2004.

About 18 months ago I cut my hair. Severely. I still have really short hair now, but my profile photos on the dating sites were old. When I joined my current pay site, I used a recent photo and I haven't had any responses. Yesterday I changed the photo to an older one with shoulder length hair to see if that might be why boys aren't a' callin', and I got 2 "waves" in 12 hours. After none for almost a month.

I am not ugly, with short or long hair. I have been called "cute" more times than I can count, which I hate, by the way. I am not a different person with longer hair. I even act the same as I did then, more or less. Why is hair so important to everyone?

When I cut my hair, everyone assumed something was wrong with me. Even a couple of my closest friends got worried, thinking that it was a symptom of a deep depression or something. One of them even took me out to lunch to try to find out what was the matter. Nothing is wrong, I just always wanted to cut my hair and see what it was like. I even made some art about it.

It was interesting to hear the responses from the different people. I got pretty much a gender-standard response. All the girls had to come up and touch my head. They walked around me and looked at it really closely and said, "What did you DO?" All the boys said, "Hunh. You have a really nice-shaped head."

At work everyone assumed that I was ill with something serious, and I hadn't even thought how much some of my students would worry or assume something was wrong. To me it was just hair, not my identity. Apparently I was looking at this all wrong.

Now I am sure that people assume way too much based on the length of a woman's hair. I must be a lesbian, I must be sick, I must be depressed, there has to be something wrong with me. (Okay, just so I don't get hate mail for this, NO, I don't think that there is anything wrong with being a lesbian but that is how many people look at it, unfortunately for lesbians. Except for almost every man who ever lived, but then the only use they have for lesbians is asking them if they can watch.)

Now I wonder what is the problem with a photo of me with short hair. Do the men assume that I am manly, or in the closet? Do they all have to subscribe to the feminine stereotype of long, flowing locks? Most of them don't qualify in that area. Why should I pull a bait and switch just to get the opportunity to meet a guy? If I start e-mailing someone, should I not tell him that my hair is short until I meet him? Why are boys so dumb?* (Don't answer unless you really want to. Most of these are rhetorical.)

*BTW, I am aware that I lapse too often into stereotypes. I apologize, most profusely. I have grown a lot over the past seven years, but didn't want to edit these to make myself seem a better person than I was at the time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wayback - An Art Teacher

This comes from October 6, 2004. There used to be links that now do't work. There is a blog called "Happiness Squared," but it's not the same one from 2004.

Found a blog the other day from links from others. I love to see what other people read, and almost always check it out to see if I enjoy it as well. I found this one, happiness is. . . when I looked on Metrotronic and I just had to comment on a post. The following was the result.

I'm an art teacher. That still surprises me sometimes. This was not my aspiration, as those of you who have read my "find your bliss" entry know.

What I didn't explain in that entry is my total lack of artistic talent. I didn't have any talent of which to speak. I still don't. I have learned skills that allow me to draw what I can see, that's all. Talent had nothing to do with that.

Now, Bear and any others who have ever seen my drawings are disagreeing with me right now. But. . .I'm right. Talent is the natural ability to do something, usually without formal training. That's not me. Without lots of hard work and learning a new way of thinking, I would not be an art teacher or even much of an artist now. Not that I am denigrating my ability to create realistic representations of things. If anything, I have great confidence in that skill, because it is a skill. I learned it, and am unlikely to unlearn it.

I try to teach this to my students. "Drawing is a skill." Sometimes your creativity can pair with your skill to reach amazing heights. If you want to be an artist, all you have to do is practice. I truly believe this. Hopefully it makes me a better teacher, but that I don't know for certain.

Yes, I believe talent exists. Talent, though, only takes you so far. Drive led me, a non-art person, to become an art teacher. If I had relied on talent, I would not be where I am now, with 650 loving, wonderful and open students willing to take a risk on my say-so. It feels pretty good sometimes to be me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wayback - Trevor

This post is about my little friend Trevor. It originally appeared on September 9, 2004.

Today I was in the hall, delivering some students back to class when Trevor appears and hugs me. He looks up at me with his adorable face and says, "Hi. "

I hug him back for a bit, and then let him know that I have to go. "Trevor honey, there are students in my room and I have to go."
"Okay," he says, "I can come and help you with them."
"Well, not today," I tell him. "We'll have to talk to your teacher and find a really good time for you to come help me. Maybe we can try it when you've had a really good day and have been nice to Mrs. Smith." I hug him again and tell him to be good, and that I will see him later.
I turn to go back to my room, and there he is again.
He looks at me and says, "How much do you love me?"
I put my arms around him, look at him, and without hesitation I say, "I love you a lot."
Trevor turns up his face for a kiss, and although this is not something that I normally do, I kiss my little friend. He smiles at me and goes back to his class.

Monday, December 26, 2011

P. C. Hodgell

My absolute favorite book, other than Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is called Godstalk*  by PC Hodgell. I have no recollection where I got it, but I know that I loaned it to a friend and didn't get it back for at least a year. Mine is a very beat up Berkley edition from 1983. I have no idea how many times I've read it, and I can't believe it's not more well known.

Her world building includes one of the concepts that I remember from tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber, that gods exist because of belief in same, and must have followers to continue. This idea continues most recently in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

I loved that this book had a female protagonist, a girl with no memory. She comes to a city called Tai-Tastigon and gets taken in by an innkeeper. Then she has adventures around the city, which has various organizations that of course include a thieves guild. Magic exists, and gods and other dimensions too. It's all fascinating stuff.

From Chapter 1, Jame (short for Jamethiel) staggers around the city on its most dangerous night:

Her legs betrayed her, and she went down, too spent to remember her bad arm until she tried to break her fall with it. Pain dazed her, spiraled her senses toward darkness. "Don't go," she heard someone cry. "Don't leave me alone, not again!" Yes, it was her voice, but this time no one answered. For a moment she clung to the image of that empty hallway, the last of her old home that she would ever see. Then it too slipped away.

The cobbles beneath her hand were hard and cold, glazed with ice from the bitter rain that had begun to fall. She lifted her face to it. It seemed to wash away everything - icy street, shuttered windows, even, at last, itself. Jame let them all go. Numbly, like a sleepwalker, she rose and stumbled on, beyond guilt and grief at last, moving blindly forward until the night swallowed all.

*Which isn't in print any more, you have to either buy a used copy or as part of an omnibus (also out of print) or reissue.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

February 2010

It's not snowing here, and it almost never does on Christmas. But, it has snowed in DFW in February the last two years in a row, so I posted these as a suitably Christmassy alternative.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, to you and yours, and may you be with those you love for more hours than those you merely tolerate. Here's hoping that you receive warmth, goodwill and love in addition to whatever goodies might be under your tree.*

February, 2011

*Or not, since maybe you don't celebrate Christmas, I don't know. I'm about as religious as my cat (or some suitably atheist person I can't come up with right now) and I still have family time and gifts and crap. I'm not judging. 

Sunday Cat

Calvin on his new favorite pillow, rearranging for more sleep. He doesn't like the flash either.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Frozen Breakfast Smoothie

1 1/2 c. soymilk 
lemon or orange zest
dash salt
4-5 large strawberries, frozen
1/2 c. blueberries, frozen
handful raspberries
1 scoop soy protein
1 banana, frozen

1 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 c. oatmeal
spinach (haven't tried it yet)

Put the soy milk in a large measuring cup. (Mine is a 4 cup Pyrex, and I blend it and then transfer it to my travel mug to drink in the car on the way to work.) Grate the lemon zest in to the soymilk, about four or five times, and add the dash of salt. Add the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. I add the protein before the banana so that it gets covered by fruit and doesn't stick to the blender. Slice the frozen banana with a very sharp knife (I use a ceramic one) and put it in, then blend. When you freeze the bananas, wait until they have a few dark spots on the outside before peeling them and putting them in a container. The frozen bananas make it extra smooth, and there's no need for ice if all the fruit is frozen.  It's sweet enough without adding sugar or other sweeteners.

About two years ago I decided I should do something about my diet. Not to lose weight, though that might be a nice side effect. No, I looked at my food choices and saw a blandness that couldn't be healthy. I generally ate toast with butter for breakfast, a deli meat sandwich with cheese and mayo, no veggies, and chicken and some kind of mashed potatoes or pasta with cheese and tomato sauce for dinner. 

I saw Alton Brown do a smoothie show, and went directly to Amazon to buy a hand blender. This model lasted about a year, and then the gears (?) that attached the motor to the blade wore down and stopped catching. 

I bought the Kitchen Aid one, which is okay, but I'm not sure that I'm cleaning it well enough because of the way the blade assembly works. It's got a plastic disk over it with a sort of loose attachment, and I know food is getting under there that I can't reach. Can you get salmonella from that? Also the Kitchen Aid doesn't gradually speed up, it immediately hits high speed and splashes unless completely submerged, and sometimes even then.

I'd love a Vitamix, but I finally looked those up and I had no idea you could get a blender for the cost of an iPad. I guess $200 is the limit I'd put on blender prices in my head. I used to buy tiny bags of frozen blueberries and fresh strawberries from the grocery store. Now I buy giant bags of frozen strawberries and blueberries from Costco. For a little variety, I bought the giant tropical fruit mix, which had too many strawberries and not enough pineapple for me.

I thought I might tire of them, but I haven't. There are endless possiblities, and even several websites dedicated to smoothie recipes. One of my other favorites is banana, cherries and 2 tablespoons of sweetened cocoa powder.

Now I just have to figure out a way to eat more vegetables, which can be hard when you only like corn, carrots and sweet potatoes. Kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, none of them appeal to me.