Tuesday, February 20, 2007


a sister's hope

For the past month or so I've been tutoring ESL students...only once a week, but I've developed a sort of relationship with two of the students. G and Ed are sister and brother. G has been in the United States since 1981 (as I learned tonight), and Ed arrived in the United States about four weeks ago.

Even though G has been here for 25 years, and Ed has been here for three weeks, they're pretty close to each other in terms of English levels. G is a bit more advanced, but Ed has the potential to surpass her soon, because he's completed college in El Salvador, where he was a computer teacher. I was amazed at how quickly he was picking it all up, and his questions really astounded me - in his third week of English, he was asking me when the vowels were pronounced with a long sound or a short sound - for example, movie vs. mom vs. moment. Crikey.

The first couple of times I worked with G as Ed sat to the side, listening. The third week, G told me that it was her brother's turn, and we worked on his book. I realized that there were some words and concepts that were mutually not known/understood, so I decided to work on those things.

Last week we were going over the parts of the face, and other body parts, and the good ole' standby of "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" came to me. So we stood up, and sang the song, and acted it out. I began the song not remembering how it went, but then "eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose" came back to me. It was really fun, and I left with the great feeling that they were learning English, and that I was doing something useful for them.

This week G showed up alone, and she told me that Ed had gotten a job - cleaning, at night - so he wouldn't be coming to class anymore. She was clearly distraught, and she opened up to me, in her broken English, saying that she was afraid that her brother would keep working, and never learn English, and follow the track of her life. She said that he had the education, and was smart, and if he just stuck with his classes, he'd be able to avoid what she was going through; he'd be able to get a job as a bilingual computer teacher. She said that she only makes $10 an hour (and for as long as she doesn't know English, that's as much as she'll make), and that gives her a little over a $1,000 a month, and rent is $800. Her daughter, who has a daughter, is 23 and has two more semesters of college...she said that her daughter has to finish college, that it was the most important thing that she could ever do for her life.

I don't know what it was that made G sign up for these classes, but I really hope and pray that it gives her the tools to chase and attain her still-living, still-possible American dream.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


taking a shot...at defying convention

Last night I went to the Times with C-note (after a rousing time of line dancing in Virginia), and for a while we were chatting around with some guys that we know, one of whom works at the Times.

He offered a round of shots, and I declined, saying that I was driving. C-note said, thoughtfully, that it was okay if I wanted to drink; we could just leave her car near Union Station, cab or metro back to the apartment, then get the car the next day. I briefly considered it, but then decided against it. It was cold. I enjoyed the warm comfort of C-note's car. Also, I had gone to town on Thursday, and I didn't feel the drive to drink on Saturday as well.

And then the boy - let's call him PJ - said that he had lost all respect for me for refusing a shot of Jameson. I told him that I didn't understand how I could have lost his respect for not drinking a shot. He explained (saying that he was drunk, therefore could not articulate his argument as well as he could if sober) that it was a Saturday night, we didn't have work on Monday, and I should just let go and have a great time.

I countered that I could have a great time without having a drink.

He responded by telling me that me and E are known upstairs (as in, at the upstairs bar) as "the water girls." I responded that that was a pretty accurate assessment. He was like..."What do you guys do here? You don't drink!"

I said that we dance and have a good time...

He then said that the "general opinion" at the bar was that I was too serious and didn't know how to have a good time, and that I don't know how to cut loose.

At this point C-note spoke up and said "You don't know her! She knows how to cut loose!" Then the conversation pretty much ended because he was too drunk to say what he wanted to say, and that he hadn't meant to get into it, and I got the impression that he thought he had pissed me off (he hadn't, by the way).

So, lying in bed last night, I was thinking about it. Why does me not drinking most of the time at the bar bother him (and quite possibly the other bartenders/employees of the bar) so much?

Well, there's the basic fact that when I drink water, they're not making money off me. I'm a lose-lose proposition. I show up, steal their water, use a few plastic cups, take up space on the dance floor, listen to their music, all for free. However, I do tip (and quite nicely, quite frankly) whenever I order a Coke...so it's not as though I always get a free ride.

Then, there's a more subtle aspect at play here. Do they feel threatened by my sobriety? One second, we're all "acting drunk" - dancing around, being flirty, acting like goofballs in general - but then I turn it off as easy as turning on a light. PJ says something stupid and off-hand like "you don't know how to have fun" and "I lose respect for you for not drinking," and I respond in disagreement, and have the head and smarts to back up my statements, while he's shaking his head, wondering what happened to the girl who wasn't a challenge a minute before.


Me. Sober. Take that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Oh no I didn't...

So tonight I went to TJ Maxx with MB to accompany her as she looked for a new bag. After we grabbed a few for her to try out (and by that I mean "awkwardly and secretly stuff her shit into to make sure it all fits"), I made a beeline to the luggage, and finally settled upon this fabulous suitcase (okay, I have suitcases already...but two of them are the LL Bean duffel bags, and those aren't practical for trips shorter than three weeks, and one is my mom's humongous suitcase, and that's a bit too big, and my Building # 19 carry-on just developed a debilitating hole). After much internal debate, I also grabbed a matching carry-on bag to go with the suitcase.

Red. With white hearts. 'Nuff said.

I was a little worried about the image that I would be projecting as I stepped out into the world as a 24-year old. Was it too immature? A little silly? Or cute enough to fly?

As I was paying, I brought it up again to MB, asking her if she was sure that I wouldn't get made fun of by cool jet-setters. She said that, no, my bag looked totally French. The cashier guy made a face.

So I teased him, asking him if he didn't think it looked French. He was all, "Hey, I just made a face, I didn't say anything...like I thought they were ugly or something, or you were making a mistake." Or something. In actuality, he probably didn't say any of that.

I got pretend indignant, and said, "Hey, you're just a cashier!!"

The second it left my mouth. I knew it was bad. Like, super-elitist-snob-biatch bad. And NOT at all what I had meant to say.

I tried to cover my gaffe. I lamely blurted, "You see what everyone buys! You're not supposed to judge!"

He finished ringing me up, and awkwardness pretty much ensued while MB paid for her goods.

I had meant to express, "People buy junk from you all the time. I thought you guys didn't notice. Do you guys actually judge people on their uber-girly and not at all mature luggage?"

Discussing it with C-note after, she said that the word "just" had been what had done me in.

Oh, English.


tomorrow is Valentine's Day!

Okay, so the in vogue thing is to whine about how much you hate Valentine's Day, and how much it either a) sucks to be in a relationship on Valentine's Day or b) sucks to be single on Valentine's Day.

For example...

Why I Hate Valentine's Day

Ever notice that the only people who make a big deal out of Valentine's Day are the ones who complain about it? I mean, honestly. It's no big deal. No one thinks it is. So get off your cross, take the wood and build a bridge to get over it.

Get out there. Sport red. Or pink. Or both! Give people candy!

<3 Love life. Love yourself. Love Valentine's Day. <3

Tuesday, February 06, 2007



I hate it when I log into my bank account, and check the amount, and think "Oh my Gosh! Was I charged twice (or five times) for something? Where did all that money go? Did someone break into my bank account?!"

But then I slide on over to the itemized list, and I realize....shoot. I did just spend money like it's going out of style. And on like, food. Not even cool clothes, or pretty jewelry, or expensive shampoo.

I need to marry a banker, I think.

Oh, and today I received a letter from the apartment management company chastising me for not paying my rent on time. To quote, "Please be reminded that it is Montgomery County law that late fees are not assessed until after the 10th of the month. This does not mean you have until the 10th to pay your rent."

(It's good they clarified, because I was totally going by the fact that they never take the money out of our accounts until the 10th or so. I mean, if they're just going to be sitting on it...)

To continue:

"We are sending out this notice to help you protect your rental history. We have recently received rental verifications asking how many times was rent paid after the 1st."

In addition to the unacceptable wording of that sentence, oh the horror! The embarrassment! I feel like a teacher just yelled at me. I really need to get the word "RENT" tattooed on my hand. Although, that would probably lose its effectiveness after five or six months.

So uh...how do you remember to pay rent?

Monday, February 05, 2007


Hey Caitlin!

So, I was totally wrong. About a year ago I mentioned the "40-Year-Old Virgin" on here...I forget the context, but I think it was in terms of "I can't believe people are spending money on that crap when there are such worthier causes in the world. What a lame movie."

Caitlin commented, saying that the movie had heart.

I pretty much scoffed (yeah, you guys know me...).

Well, I was totally wrong. Caitlin was totally right.

I mean, I wouldn't really opt to see it again, but if someone suggested it, I wouldn't run out of the room in protest, saying "well, you can watch it, but I'm not going to." (like I would for "Anchorman," "Old School," "elf," (sense a pattern?)

But Caitlin was totally right - the movie had heart. His friends didn't laugh at him when he told them that he was a virgin (alright, maybe they did, a bit. But not excessively), they tried to help him find the love/action/whatever that he had been clearly missing and had given up on. He thought he was hopeless - his friends gave him the confidence to soldier on.

And he turned down casual sex in favor of waiting until marriage with his girl. How often does that happen in movies?

So, there it is. I was wrong, and very pleasantly surprised. The "40-Year-Old Virgin" definitely has heart, and I had prematurely judged.

Tans, I totally apologize. P, thanks for forcing the movie on me!

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