Saturday, June 18, 2011


Mom: Laura, Mademoiselle isn't going to be coming back to school next year.

Laura: What?? Why?

Mom: I think it's because some kids didn't always do their homework.

Laura: No! I did! I did always do my homework! I swear! [She didn't.]

Mom: Oh, well I guess it must be something else, then.

On Thursday, my school had the 1st grade Field Day. While sipping a lemonade and chatting with several moms, they asked me about next year. Not knowing what else to say, I told them the truth: I'm not coming back, it's not my decision, and I'm not sure why.

Before I had fully gotten the sentences out of my mouth or managed to extricate the lump from my throat, the shit hit the fan. Expletives flew. Next came the text messages; the news spread like wildfire. Soon I was getting BCC'ed on emails to the superintendent and principal, telling them how happy the parents have been with me, that I'm one of the best teachers their kids have had, how they've loved what they've seen in my classroom, etc. Others have made appointments to meet directly with the superintendent. In addition, I received some incredibly thoughtful, touching personal emails:

"Dear Mademoiselle, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since I spoke with you on Thursday. It makes me feel sad and upset to know that I live in a town that treats its teachers this way. Please don't hesitate to ask me for anything."

"It is outrageous that they never asked our opinion when we are the ones who really saw your work through the kids. This REALLY pisses me off."

"I am so sorry about your departure... I really think you were truly awesome! I would not quit that early yet... Maybe they will change their minds..."

All of this, of course, is incredibly affirming and gratifying. At the same time, it makes me feel sad and disheartened to see what a disconnect exists between my parents' opinions of me and the people who make the decisions. And I wonder: will I ever find a school to work for that is not dysfunctional?

Last week, I was scheduled to go in to a school for a demo lesson at 9 a.m. on Friday. At two o'clock the day before, they emailed me to cancel: "At this point, we've decided that we need to continue interviewing candidates before we move on to the next step. It's a really busy time of year. We will keep in touch as we move forward with the process. And would you mind mailing the book we gave you to read to the class back to me?"

No apology, not even a little tiny "Sorry for the inconvenience" or an offer to reimburse me for the cost of mailing the book. I would think that schools, of all places, would be employers who would treat teachers with dignity and respect, to be a positive role model for the kids if for no other reason. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

But, with one and a half days of school left to go, maybe now is the time to stop worrying about it and just enjoy the summer.

Prolonged adolescence

My friend Slinky and I met up last night for some Friday night drinks after a long, hard week. I was a few minutes late and by the time I got there there were no seats left at the bar, so I awkwardly pulled up a stool behind Slinky. Thankfully, a few minutes later a middle aged woman having a cocktail by herself got up to leave. I started pushing my stool back to its original spot to get ready to take over her seat when the woman turned to Slinky.

"I'm leaving, but she can't sit here," she informed Slinky in a firm but pleasant manner.

"Why is that?" asked Slinky.

"Because she's underage," the woman replied, without a hint of doubt in her voice.

"Ummm... she's 32," Slinky informed her.

"Really! I thought you were 14," the woman said, turning and addressing me directly for the first time before disappearing out the door.

I am not actually 32. I have a good solid half-dozen days before my 32nd birthday. Still, even though it has not quite been two decades since I was 14, it has been a while. Four years ago, I went on a trip and ended up sitting in the emergency exit aisle in 3 out of 4 flights, and was asked every time if I was old enough to sit there (you have to be 16). Last year, when I was 30-going-on-31, I was mistaken by a mentally disabled lunch lady for an 8th grader. Now, this. I have to wonder: How long will this continue?? Will I still be asked for ID to get in to R rated movies when I am in my forties? Will it ever at least move on to the point where I'm mistaken for being in my twenties, a mistake that's at least somewhat flattering?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A different kind of Hospice lady

On my way back from a visit to Northampton last weekend for my sister's bachelorette party, I stopped in for visit #2 with my new Hospice lady. We chitchatted about this and that while she chainsmoked and we watched Hoarders, until eventually the subject of the bachelorette party came up.

Tammy: Oh, yeah, a bachelorette? Did you get any strippahs?
Me: Nope, no strippers. But we did have some balls. We asked the waiter to deliver them on my sister's dessert plate. Then we put a purple mustache on them.
Tammy (pokerfaced): That's cute. No strippahs, eh? That's too bad. I suuuuure do like strippahs.

She went on to tell me about a time when she and her friend went out to a stripper bar, leaving her kids alone at home and telling them that they were going to the movies. ("We did see some movies that night, but not the kind my kids THOUGHT we saw!") There were lots of details, and indeed, it does sound like she really likes strippers. Another thing she seems to really enjoy is shocking me.

Gone is the era of the demented old Catholic Hospice ladies. I gotta say, this new era is shaping up to be interesting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finger violation

My little lovebird, Persil, turned one year old recently. He's changed a lot over the past year, from a tiny little antisocial ball of pin feathers to a lovable, friendly parrot. Next week I'll be marking the one year anniversary of the day my previous lovebird, Haricot, flew away. They say pets can't be replaced, but frankly, with lovebirds I haven't found that to be the case. I still feel sad that Haricot's gone, but for the most part it's pretty hard to tell the difference between him and Persil.

Of course, as well as his personality, Persil's sexuality has developed over the past year from a newborn to a young adult, and like any young adult, he's got a high libido. Like Haricot, Persil enjoys occasionally partaking in mating rituals with me -- he regurgitates seeds, for instance, and does a little mating dance that involves making clicky noises with his beak. However, for the actual business of masturbating, Haricot liked to find dirty tissues lying around and mount them. Persil, on the other hand, prefers the more traditional route of masturbating with something alive -- and there's unfortunately only one living thing around: ME. Specifically, he tries to mount my fingers. It's hard to imagine feeling taken advantage of by a creature who weighs a scant 50 grams, but having my fingers raped by him feels very disturbing. And it's harder to put a stop to than you'd think. You can get him off, but as soon as you stop paying attention he's right back in the saddle.

I don't mean to boast, but this isn't the first time an animal has wanted to have sex with me. My pet rabbit used to try to mount me, too, though with less success than Persil. At the time, it seemed less disturbing, probably because I was ten years old and didn't really understand what he was doing.

Sigh. Maybe he'll discover the eyass soon and move on to greener pastures. In the meantime, I really need to go take a shower.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My very own eyass

Dreamy flew back from a quick trip to Mexico last night, and bought me the gift I never thought I could have: my very own baby eaglet (eyass), just exactly like the one on the New York Times Hawk Cam that I've been obsessed with. Well, pretty much the same, anyway. Here's the comparison:
My eyass

Pip from the NYTimes

Hard to tell the difference, right? I'm naming mine Topes, after my favorite Mexican word. It means speed bump. (They love speed bumps in Mexico.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Frocks and Frets

When I was 3 years old, my mom took me to the candy store in our town and told me I could choose one thing. ANY one thing. This store was, like, the Maine version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with gigantic chocolate moose heads galore, delicious, mouth watering chocolate covered blueberries, those gummy coke bottles that now disgust me but seemed so yummy when I was young, saltwater taffy, etc. (I worked there as a teenager so I know their selection pretty well. Lotta accidents involving chocolate dropped on the floor happened while I was their employee.)

When I couldn't decide right away, my mom told me I had two minutes to make up my mind.

At the end of the two minutes, she took me out of the store. I was kicking and screaming, and I did not have any candy. The candy store lady remembers the incident to this day.

I wish I could say my decision-making skills have improved in the past 29 years, but really, I can't say that they have. Most of my life decisions I've made pretty much by playing some version of eeny-meeny-miney-moe, and even minor decisions sometimes paralyze me.

For instance, I've been shopping recently for a dress to wear as bridesmaid at my sister's wedding in August. I'm the only bridesmaid, so I have full authorization to pick whatever dress I want -- any color, style, etc. I went shopping a couple of weeks ago, and found two dresses that I liked: one cost $240 and was on final sale; the other cost $125 and could be returned for a full refund.

I was able to narrow it down to the two dresses, no problem. But that's where I became totally stuck. So, I did the logical thing and took pictures of myself in both dresses, bought the dress that was cheaper and returnable, and then sent the photos to everyone I know to ask their advice.

Turns out that everyone was on pretty much the same page. They all liked the more expensive dress (which I'll call #2), NOT the one pictured to the right that I had bought (#1). My friends Miami Nice and Ms. B both voted for #2. My mentor at school ooohed over the first dress, until she saw the second one and liked it much better. My mom sent the following cryptic email regarding dress #1: "Hi Heathen,
I like this dress so so. It is very short and I think I prefer one color.
Love, Mom."

There was just one exception... MY SISTER. The bride. The one who I'd be wearing the dress for. She liked dress #1, and wasn't crazy about #2. At this point, I should have just asked myself which one *I* liked better, but I was so divorced from my own perceptions that I had no idea. I threw caution to the wind and spent $240 on the second dress, figuring that it would probably look better on me if 99% of my friends preferred it.

Dreamy is moving in in a couple of weeks for the summer, until his September move to New York, another major life decision that I've worried about at times (not as big a decision as what dress to wear to my sister's wedding, of course!). He will be the third boyfriend I've moved in with, if you count my temporary stints at my ex-boyfriend l'Artista's. We have talked a lot about how we both want things to work out between us, but we are also very different, and there are plenty of times that I worry that things won't work out and that I'm being naive by hoping that they will. And then I worry that if I'm worried after 9 months things are definitely doomed. While Dreamy seems very well-adjusted on the surface, underneath he's got some heavy baggage that he doesn't readily show. I made a joke the other night about how he seems like an open book, but actually he's an open book written with invisible ink; Dreamy thought it was very apt. But when I think about my own baggage that Dreamy has been so kind about, and how much I care about him, and how wonderful it is that he's able to talk about his baggage with me, I feel very lucky and hopeful.

Sometimes I wish I had a life coach who would tell me what to do, which dress will make me look best, whether Dreamy is a hopeless cause, what I should do with my career, even what I should eat for breakfast (sometimes I sit and stare at the choices for a good ten minutes). Since I don't have one, I guess I'll just rely on my imperfect instincts and maybe a few rounds of eeny meeny miney moe, hope that I look okay at my sister's wedding, and that the fact that Dreamy really loves me and wants to make things work is enough. Because, as I learned from my mother when I was three, it's better to make a decision than to stay on the fence. People who stay on the fence end up with nothing.