Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rich Adjacent

The problem with living in a rich adjacent neighborhood is that sometimes you have to be near rich people. Whether you interact with them or not is usually their choice, but it is a constant risk you should be aware of when looking to buy or rent a home.

I'm pretty good at avoiding them. The skill has come from years of practicing being/looking poor by legitimately being so.

Jaime is a real threat to the system, though, because he might actually be a rich person. I don't mean that in a "has money" sort of way but in a "true essence of spirit" sort of way. We discovered this pretty recently on a trip to Aldi where he didn't want to touch anything because all the products "looked dusty" and all the customers "looked sad."

As a result, he has no rich person radar, so he'll just converse with them willy nilly and then walk away from the interaction wondering why his heart hurts and he feels self conscious about his hair.

I've over-compensated for his lack of awareness by using my class warfare training in deciding where we shop, eat and walk.

That's why it's taken me so long to join a gym.

I wanted to join the community center in our actual community, but it doesn't have a pool or sauna. Of course the community center in the rich adjacent neighborhood has both PLUS a Turkish bath. Goddammit.

We decided to try it before we buy it and spent $14 to swim laps next to six senior citizen ladies doing water aerobics. Because of the class, only one lap lane was open, so we asked the older gentlemen (assuming he was waiting for his wife) if we could share. He agreed and the three of us did our very best.

We returned the next week and begrudgingly paid way too much for a family pass reminding ourselves it was cheaper than diabetes and rascal scooters. The same class was going on, so we slipped into the same lane with the same old guy and started our laps.

A couple in, I noticed the old guy had gotten out to talk to the teenage life guard. He wasn't as old as I'd remembered. They were staring at us, but I kept swimming knowing Jaime had no idea what was going on. Bless him.

The old guy shoved his athletes feet into his flip flops and stomped off while I stopped to talk to the pimply lifeguard. My question was going to be, "Excuse me, what nights are all lanes open to swim?" But I only got out, "Excuse me," before that little shit interrupted me with, "You know, you really should ask before you start circle swimming. It's just common courtesy." Oh lawd, the fire. The way he said it made every hair on my body stand up straight, and I had not shaved before I shoved myself into my bathing suit.

I wondered if the community center would give me back my money if I got kicked out for calling a junior in high school a "power starved, squeaky voiced shrivel dick with scoliosis." They wouldn't.

I ignored him instead and told poor, sweet, ignorant Jaime to keep swimming. Eventually, I noticed a crop of pudgy, white, middle-aged men forming around the hot tub glaring at us and realized they were waiting to swim laps in the one goddamn lane that was open. Not one of them asked us to share which we would have happily done.

I pulled myself out of the pool and slid into the hot tub. Jaime followed me even though he wasn't finished swimming. I explained to him that that bitchy rich guy had told that bitchy rich kid on us and that all these other rich bitches were waiting to use that lane without speaking to each other. His face dropped as he put it all together, "But that's stupid," he said.

I know, baby. I know. But that's what happens when rich people leave their houses and walk into a building with "community" written on it.

We were too sad to use the Turkish bath, but on our way out, we stopped by an artificial tree that had all these tags with anonymous people's needs this holiday season. Most were socks and underwear, so I told Jaime to grab a couple and that I'd pick them up the next day.

The rich bitch who told on us had just come out of the locker room and appeared to be waiting to confront us with a smug look on his face. As Jaime tore one of the tags away, the guy seemed to think better of it and exited the building.

That's right, walk away you scroogy mother fucker cause we're better people than you! You didn't grab any tags you rich bitch, and we just took three! Not one, not two but three! You probably come every damn day and got some tags on those days, but not today, asshole! I just saw you grab exactly none you bloated pig!

I looked down at the tag Jaime selected. This rich bitch chose a blender. In a sea of socks, underwear and gloves, he chose the one tag with a kitchen appliance on it!? Gee whiz, must be nice to just reach into your crotch sack of gold coins and go flinging them around town, Daddy McWarbucks.

I wondered for a minute if I could wrap our blender that we found in the foyer of our first apartment in KC with a note on it that said "free." But it had probably been used to make meth, and I couldn't live with that on my conscience, so I went to the store and bought the second cheapest one.

Who's the rich bitch now?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monty Python: Most Possibly a Somewhat Good Boy

I really can't stand animals. And while that doesn't make me a psychopath, it does make me a very bad person.

Jaime, on the other hand, loves animals more than his family and food, and that does technically make him a sociopath.

We take our self diagnoses very seriously, so we were very happy with our agreement to be childless, petless and selfish forever.

Then Tyson, Jaime's perro in Spain, passed away.

He was devastated, and I felt guilty. But he still didn't insist we get a dog, and all my guilt flittered the fuck away a few months later when a stranger's pit bull decided to white tiger my Roy ass while my husband, Siegfried, could only look on in horror.

I'm fine.

After we moved into our detached house with a fenced yard, Jaime swore to honor our agreement but informed me that he would be volunteering to walk dogs for our local animal shelter. It cut like a knife. How could he expect me to live like that?

But I did what any woman whose marriage was being threatened would do; I tried to make myself more attractive.

I redid my messy bun, pulled on leggings and an old hoodie, wiped the day old eyeliner from under my eyes and went with him to walk a nasty ass dog.

The first dog, Zeus, was fine but stupid. We decided we had time to walk another, and I waited outside for Jaime and the new stupid dog. Before he went in, though, I asked him not to bring out a pit bull because I'm still nervous around them.

He came back out with a pit bull named Ant.

I decided to peace out forever, but he lured me back a few weeks later. He didn't catch the name of this new dog, but we called him Michael because every time he peed, he moonwalked outta there.

Michael, who was renamed Miguel by the time we got back to the shelter, was a dream dog on that walk, and THAT IS HOW THEY GET YOU.

I asked Jaime if he'd be willing to maybe discuss the possibility of considering adopting him, and he agreed to definitely decide to without a doubt keep him until he died then have him cloned and cryogenically frozen.

And that's how we became the third family to adopt a dog with crippling separation anxiety and severe territory aggression whose real name, we learned, is Monty Python.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Jaime and I went for one of our long neighborhood walks yesterday. Our turnaround point is the Salvation Army, and we wandered in because one of us had remembered his wallet for once.

When we moved to Kansas City, Jaime and I decided to continue our habit of buying almost exclusively second hand clothes. It was easier in Barcelona. I'd moved there with one checked bag but quickly pieced together a wardrobe perfectly suited to the absurd and unsustainable life I created there.

My most treasured items came from a suitcase left by a mystery woman in my apartment, the flea markets held along the beach in summer and in the train station in winter, the street and the "B" piles my friends moving to other countries couldn't cram into their bags.

Jaime operated the same way. We looked fucking amazing and cool as shit almost all of the time.

But somehow our lewks don't translate well to the Midwest.

People squint incredulously when Jaime or I explain what he does for a living. They never say what they thought he did based on his appearance, but I imagine it's something to do with wood or raising hippogriffs hither-hind Hogwarts.

I do get a fair amount of compliments, but they're almost always superseded with a version of, "but I could never pull it off." I stop myself from asking if that means I'm pushing it on, but I don't want to know the answer, so I just respond like a humbled valley girl.

Others have been more blatant in their interpretations of our clothing, and I admire their honesty.

When we lived closer to Costco, Jaime had a habit of walking to the warehouse with a large backpack to carry home a bag of bananas and net of avocados. "It's a bulk store!" I wanted to scream. "Take the van and fill it to the ceiling, so I don't have to go grocery shopping every other fucking day!" But I let his European ass do his European ass thing without much protest.

After one trip, he came home excited to tell me about a woman who'd offered him a ride. She'd unknowingly taken pity on a postdoctoral fellow carrying a bag filled with the most expensive fruit with the shortest shelf-life by choice. He was wearing a brown paper boy hat a neighbor had given him, an old rugby pull over, cut off jorts and unrelated socks. He hair was down and uncombed, and his wiry beard matched.

Then there was yesterday. While at the Salvation Army counter buying cropped polyester bell bottoms from the 70s for me but not the scuba goggles Jaime wanted from the same decade (he deemed them too breakable), a woman entered bringing in bags of donations.

She looked us up and down and thrust a black plastic bag in my direction. "It's towels! You should take these towels! It's your last chance to get them for free. If I put them in this pile, you'll have to pay for them!" Our bougie hearts and minds cringed at the thought of wicking water from our bodies with this woman's used towels, and we politely declined. Nevertheless, she persisted because we really did look like we spent our towel money on drugs.

I laughed about it again while I was in the shower this morning. I got out and dried off with a rough towel from a set my parents bought at least three sets ago. Then I wrapped a striped beach towel around my head and sat down to write this blog post.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Oh Goddamnit, Louis.

I'd say my main hobby right now is listening to a podcast called My Favorite Murder. It is about murder.

And what I like about it other than murder is that it reminds me to always be vigilant but also that my vigilance doesn't matter because I'll probably be murdered someday anyway due to my off putting demeanor and attraction to slightly unsafe situations.

Vacations really bring out the loose cannon in me, and even though I travel with a man who could play a Dothraki extra in Game of Thrones, Jaime is a mere mortal human man, and I'm just a little squirt who doesn't intimidate anyone except Jimmy John's employees who are taking too long to make my sandwich.

So I guess I had that old I'm in unfamiliar territory and therefore invincible feeling when I suggested to Jaime, my brother-in-law and his wife that we pick up a stranger in New Mexico.

In my defense, I thought he was a member of the First Nations. He wasn't. I also knew he was sashaying away from his trailer with a gas can in hand towards a vast expanse of desert in August, and the gas station we'd just left was at his back.

He really was a dead man walking, and besides, I was being safe because he had to sit in the backseat of the van next to Alfredo and Rene which was a good 8 ft. behind me and separated from the front by loads of crap. Call me Sister Prejean.

Louis (French pronunciation) acted grateful enough as he slid in next to Alfredo, and Jaime turned the van around.

I couldn't hear what was being said, but I knew it was good stuff because every time I looked back, Rene had a nervous but amused smile on her face. Hurrah! I just couldn't wait to talk to Louis!

We came up on his trailer, and I tried to peer in on his alleged wife, but I somehow couldn't see past the gigantic confederate flag and "Secede now!" painted on the front and side.

Oh goddamnit, Louis.

Jaime of course saw it too, and we passed our silent screams and saucer eyes back and forth all the way to the blessedly close gas station.

I let Goddamn Louis out, much less interested in talking to him now, and escorted him to the pump, as Jaime reluctantly slid his debit card into the machine. Five gallons of gas have never trickled out more slowly than while Goddamn Louis was educating us about pre-Vatican II Catholicism, the government pumping hormones into our veins, secession from the union being the only answer, vinegar and the Lady of Fatima. Also, he was from Illinois but lived in Arizona.

Jaime, who usually drives like a grandfather, sped all the way back to the trailer.

I opened the door for Goddamn Louis the final time and put the gas can in one hand and a gallon of water in his other, so he couldn't stab me and wished him well verbally.

I was told by my traveling companions that he'd also painted "End sodomy!" on the back of his trailer. I have mixed feelings about missing it. Goddamn Louis didn't murder us on that day, but I'm pretty sure he has murdered someone on some day.

Alfredo pulled up the Miracle of Fatima on his phone as we drove away laughing and feeling icky, but as he read, I understood a little of what Goddamn Louis was saying. I mean it really made me think about butt sex and how wrong it is.

I'm just kidding. What a crock of fucking bullshit.

Good luck to you, Louis. I hope none of your dreams come true.

I am sorry...where are Illinois and Arizona?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Vivir Lars Vegars: Chapter 2

The drive to the Canyon was worthy of a movie montage what with the stops at racist outposts and all.

But as we neared Mecca, I couldn't see any sign of it. "How will we know when we're there?" I wondered. Will we just drive into it like Thelma and Louise? I'd always pictured Margaret as my Thelma, not Jaime, but he'd do in a pinch. 

Turns out you can't just accidentally drive into it because you have to pay thirty freaking dollars at the door. 

Anyway, I'm not going to focus on the majesty of it because most of you know, and I'd never be able to do it justice. But what I can do is focus on how cold it was, and the fact the cold prevented me from taking cute photos of myself at one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. 

Anytime we go somewhere new, I am Jaime's unpaid personal photographer. I try to capture him at his best angles during precious hipster moments. He doesn't ask for it, but nor does he return the favor, and it really hurts me. 

What he doesn't realize is that he has hitched his wagon to the least photogenic person in the world. One snap after 5 minutes of pleading does not yield the fruit it would if he were the subject. You have to try and try and try again. He barely tries the first time! 


One thing we like to do to piss people off is walk great distances. We're usually urban hikers, but we can handle being in nature, too. The path along the rim of the Grand Canyon may have been our finest. 

At some point, Jaime mentioned for the bajillionth time how he'd really like to see some giant elk or something. His words were still hanging in the air, as I caught my breath and my eyes locked on a gaggle of gigantic bucks mere feet from the trail. 

He gleefully but sneakily ran towards them while I prepared to watch my husband be hoofed to death. It was cool and all, but his love for animals really turns me off and grosses me out.

One of the best things about traveling with Jaime, and I believe I've mentioned this many times, is that we're ready to call it quits at almost exactly the same time every time. 

The giant fucking hole was no exception, so we got back into the world's most boring car and pulled onto Route 66. 

I forgot to mentioned that this all took place on Thanksgiving day, and finding a place open for dinner was very difficult on such a small highway. We finally found a place that claimed to serve Greek food, but was really just the best kind of shitty diner.

They had about five things on the menu (one was a Greek salad for $15, and that's what made it a Greek place), but nearly everything had meat. 

I apologized to our server for having to work Thanksgiving day. However, she assured me that she wanted to because everyone in her family was working anyway. She tried her best to work with the annoying vegetarians, and I really appreciated it even after she plopped down the chicken and dumplings soup of the day in front of me.   

We smiled at the Indian family next to us who'd left the restaurant after looking at the menu and were back a second time totally defeated but unwilling to let their children starve to death.

We continued to our cute vintage motel and ding-a-linged the bell. Another Indian lady stepped out from the back. 

Vivir Lars Vegars: Chapter 1

When frantically searching for the cheapest tickets to get you the furthest from your jobs in Kansas City over a holiday weekend, you're going to go to Las Vegas. You may not like it. You might even hate it. But it's your only option.

We decided to make it an ironic trip.

Instead of resenting us, my mom suggested we go to the Grand Canyon while we were out there a somewhat sore spot for her because in spite of the dozens of family road trips we took, I'd only ever been there in utero. Jaime couldn't even say that, so I spent time planning. My least favorite thing to do.

We spirited away on that airline with the flight attendant who told us to close our eyes and pretend we were flying Delta while he pretended he was getting a Delta paycheck. We didn't die.

After shaking their exotic coconuts at each other, the Brazilian guy at the car rental place told Jaime we could chose any car we wanted in the economy row! He blew past the cute cornucopia of brightly colored Chevy Sparks to a black sedan.

It reminded me of the time we were at a famous ice cream place ordering a banana split. The woman asked us what three flavors we wanted, and he excitedly blurted out, "Vanilla!"

I wasn't driving nor the one who needed leg room, so I got in the damn car but not before I made note of the group of women ahead of us who'd chosen a yellow convertible.

I hoped they'd noticed how hot my husband is.

Our first stop was Hoover Dam. Actually, our first stop was a place called something like Fidel's Neato Tacos open 24 hours. Fucking amazeballs.

Hoover Dam was pretty cool, too.

This is the best picture we got of it.

We left the dam and started our long journey through the open desert where the landscape morphs every 80 miles into something even more breathtaking than before and ends in a giant fucking hole.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Impossible to Title

I've started this post many times but never finished because I wasn't ready. I finished this time only to tell you that I'm still not ready, but I've started on the path to finish because I'm ready.

I am a white teacher at an urban school where nearly all the students are black, and I can't tell if I'm helping them, hurting them or lying to them and myself every second of every day. It's probably all three.

However, almost a third of the way into the school year, I can finally say that I'm figuring some shit out.  I am also generating a million more questions in my brain the majority of which I know I will never find answers to, and I have to be okay with that.

The first shit I've figured out is that I need to take care of myself. I'm not selfless and never claimed to be, but it became very clear very quickly that I wasn't going to make it through the school year if I continued to let my job consume me.

Walking on the sidewalk a couple of weeks after the first day, an acorn fell on my head. I burst into tears. It felt like every nerve inside of my body had moved to the surface of my skin. I wasn't myself. I didn't want to listen to music anymore because silence had become so precious, and I was really struggling to be Jaime's partner.

Jaime. Oh, god.

I went to a meeting on trauma where after I got some tips on helping my students live through the effects of various trauma they've experienced since birth (which I expected from the meeting), I realized the district psychologist was also treating me for the secondary trauma I experienced at school (didn't see that one coming).

"What kind of a fucked up work place pays me for going to a required meeting to treat me for the secondary trauma it's exposing me to!?," I asked Jaime that night.

"So what you're saying is that I'm experiencing tertiary trauma," was his response. We laughed.

But he was right.

I had to stop dumping on him because it was clear that it was going to start negatively affecting our marriage, and I'll be goddamned if anything as worthless as a job destroys the most precious thing I have.

But the problem is that my job isn't worthless.

So the next thing I had to learn pretty quickly in order to make it was to leave the PC crap at the door with all the metal detectors and bullet proof glass. Side note: No, I don't feel at all in danger at school. To be noted: No, I'm not being sarcastic.

Race has to be talked about at my school.

I needed to be told by the English teacher next door that our students are used to running white teachers off.

I needed to be told by the vice principal that I exaggerated claims of sexual harassment by a student because I'm a white woman.

I needed to be told by the student who "daps" me twice a day that there shouldn't be any white teachers at his school.

I needed to discuss with my co-sponsor if we felt comfortable signing up our students for a statewide student council organization whose postcard featured hundreds of students' faces, and nearly every one was white.

The greatest lesson I've learned so far, though, is that I couldn't just walk into the building and automatically and unconditionally love my students because they're children and none of this is their fault. In fact, I felt like I hated them. Admitting this makes me want to vomit, but it's only okay to say now because I do love them.

But I only love them because I know them. All 189 of my kids and I had to work really hard to build a relationship with one another. They had the harder job of it, too, because they have to trust me when I've given them very little reason to. The majority of them have had their trust broken countless times, and I think it's very brave of them to be open to me.

Now, that's not to say they all love me. Many of them hate me or at least say they do. They think I'm "boosie." Most are ambivalent. It depends on what I do for them that day.

But I have noticed that no matter what happened the previous day...no matter if I screamed at them...no matter if I called security to take them out...no matter if I failed them (which I do a lot because I usually have no idea what I'm doing)...we both come back the next day as if the day before had never happened.

And that is so fucking cool.

If you want to get me something for Christmas: