Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Only my sister...

would know what kind of feeling I'm describing when I say, "This feels like a late-night club-sandwich supper at Disney World."

Only I would know what she means when she says, "This gum kinda tastes like Pine-Sol, like Mimi's on a Saturday."

How great to have a relationship with such specific similes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why, yes, I AM a Relating Promoter

So I applied for the job of administrative assistant with the high school ministry at Ingleside, and they had me do a few online assessments, the Keirsey temperament sorter (I'm an Idealist Teacher) and this DISC thing I'd never heard of. On the latter, I didn't like many of the questions or the way it felt like you would look bad no matter what you picked (four choices per question with a choice of which you're most and least like, no in-betweens). After hating almost every question (not sure how many--just a 10-minute test) but trying to be as honest as possible, I got the most spot-on results I have ever gotten from such an assessment. Even if I don't get the job, it was worth applying for this amazing thing. It's long, but I'm gonna post the whole thing:

Leah prefers working for a participative manager. She does her best work in this kind
of environment. She likes feedback from her manager on how she is doing. She is most
likely to be at her best in situations where important things, such as values, judgments,
feelings and emotions are involved. She prides herself on her "intuition." She can be
friendly with others in many situations, but primarily with groups of established friends and
associates. She is sociable and enjoys the uniqueness of each human being. Leah can be
seen as a person of good will. She likes public recognition for her achievements. One of
her motivating factors is recognition and "strokes." She is usually filled with good
intentions, but often lacks the time to fulfill them. Her goal is to have and make many
friends. At work, she is good at maintaining friendly public relations. Leah influences most
people with her warmth. She can combine and balance enthusiasm and patience.

Leah will not be overlooked nor uninvolved. She will consistently try to inspire people
to her point of view. Because of her trust and willing acceptance of people, she may
misjudge the abilities of others. She prefers not disciplining people. She may sidestep
direct disciplinary action because she wants to maintain the friendly relationship. When
she has strong feelings about a particular problem, you should expect to hear these
feelings, and they will probably be expressed in an emotional manner. Leah likes to
participate in decision making. She is good at solving problems that deal with people. She
is good at giving verbal and nonverbal feedback that serves to encourage people to be
open, to trust her and to see her as receptive and helpful. She likes working for managers
who make quick decisions.

Leah judges others by their verbal skills and warmth. She can get emotional about
any subject in which she believes. She has a tendency, which she regards as an ability, to
talk smoothly, readily and at length. She may use her time imprecisely because she likes
to talk to people. Leah is highly excited by what influences her. It is important for Leah to
use her people skills to "facilitate" agreement between people. She tends to look at all the
things the group has in common, rather than key in on the differences. She tends to mask
some of her directness in friendly terms and is usually recognized as a friendly and trusting
person. She is good at negotiating conflict between others. Leah feels that "if everyone
would just talk it out, everything would be okay!"

UPDATE: I interviewed today, and I believe it went well. It was mostly a character assessment with some job stuff thrown in--you know those Baptists! I won't find out whether I'm moving on to Round 2 until the end of next week, though. In the meantime, I hope to be substituting while continuing to look for other leads. I'm supposed to get my sub badge in the next day or so.

Listen, if any of you hear of anything (besides childcare, Heather) that sounds promising, let me know. I'm open to suggestions for where to look next.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More PowerPoint Creations

Several weeks ago, I was trying to come up with some ideas for ads in a few hours. Who knows why I decided to send off a popsicle-stick-and-paste production to a real advertising agency, but I figured they might be impressed with my ingenuity. If I can make interesting things using only Paint and Power Point on a PC (with no real knowledge of computers), surely I could do great things with the proper tools and training. Faulty logic, since advertising jobs are hard to come by and you usually have to have the polish of ad school, but it was fun whipping these up anyway. I created a fictional brand called unREAL that is honest about makeup's inherit dishonesty. They're for real with women about the masks we wear--and they're okay with it. Anyway, there will never be such a company, but if there were, I thought these would be good ads:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking orders

Here's the design I'm going to print on a t-shirt for Aubie soon.

The gal loves her pancakes.

Anybody else want one? A t-shirt, not a pancake. Of course, if it takes off like Pig in a Rose (which went international in June), I'll have to do another Google image search and find out who to get copyright permission from.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Carlos and Tammy

A few weeks ago, the subject of marrying a Mexican immigrant so that he could stay in the U.S. came up amongst some girlfriends--don't ask how; it doesn't matter. Many times I've looked at the couples in the grocery store or the bank, the tiny little Latino guy and the tall, fat white woman with stair-step kids trailing them. This particular coupling was more common in Rome than it is here, the large mills and factories a more attractive landing place for workers looking to stick around. And I've wondered: are any of them ever in love?

Our conversation made me think of a little homework assignment I had done on this very subject. We were supposed to copy the structure of a scene from the book we were reading, and since the book was originally written in Spanish, I chose to thematically relate my scene a tiny bit as well. I am no fiction writer, but I found that setting up a scene the way an author does helped me get the flow of a scene better. In the book I imitated, a scene opens with an announcement of what the two main characters, Irene and Franciso, are going to do, then cuts “back to the future”—what Francisco remembers about a past event, which, in the present action of the book, hasn’t happened yet. Then, the scene that should come next chronologically is jumped. As the scene continues, after the part I’m imitating, the characters tell their experience as a story, which the others discuss when they finish telling it. (I didn't get to that part--it was homework, so I rushed!) The whole situation, dialogue, characters, etc., are mine, I just copied structure.

Something wanted to make me keep going with these people, and not only finish the scene, but write a whole story, because the romantic in me wants to believe that some of those odd pairings at the grocery store are Carlos and Tammy. Misunderstood. But happy.

“Well, we could just get married. I imagine there are chapels in Gatlinburg that are open twenty-four hours. It’s the Vegas of the South as far as weddings go.”

Later, Tammy would laugh when she remembered that sudden dawning of realization in Carlos’s eyes. It was something the pop songs all try to translate into salable lyrics, concise bits of nonsense to describe that moment when the lights come on. She had even fewer words for it that night, when they were young and dumb, ready to get out of Rome and less in love than they were just anxious to do something. For him, it was all mixed up and had something to do with a future, with getting his mama and little sisters safe in Los Estados Unidos, come hell or high water. For her, it was about shocking all her relations and getting a fine hunk of brownness in the process. That real love could dawn so suddenly, well, it was crazy to think about now, and not a process she’d recommend for Rosalita or Greer or James. But that’s all it took—her joke did something in them both, just felt right. And without so much as a toothbrush they were headed the 200 miles north to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

They got back around four in the afternoon on Monday. Carlos had Labor Day off from his job at the mill, but he hadn’t earned any vacation time yet, and with this new situation of theirs, he certainly couldn’t afford to lose it. When they walked into the kitchen, Momma was at the sink rinsing raggedy eggs as she chipped off their shells tiny bits at a time. She always used fresh eggs, against the warnings of the cooking shows, and the egg process was usually like this, ugly and slow. But her potato salad was a staple of holiday meals and church potlucks, loved and attempted by everybody. She gave out her recipe freely, but it never tasted quite the same unless Melba Greer fixed it. That yellow afternoon, chicken sizzled in the bubbling Fry Daddy, and the unmistakable scent of buttermilk biscuits made the kitchen smell like always, like home. Tammy stared at her mother’s round rump, the flour handprint on her black elastic-waist pants that her step-dad Bobby probably put there like an idiot.

The first thing Melba did when she finally turned around and saw them was pour two glasses of sweet tea. She didn’t hate Carlos, and she appreciated his humble respect for her Southern cooking, the way he complimented her biscuits and sweet tea. His first glass had been in her kitchen, and she was sure the one she poured wouldn’t be his last.

Tammy felt for the first time a little bit of what Saturday night’s adventure might mean. This warm kitchen—this kitchen with its memories of milk bubble-blowing contests with J.T.; of learning to make biscuits with Granny Jean; of watching Momma’s back as she fixed and fixed while she and J.T. sat at the table Grandaddy made for Momma’s first wedding, to Daddy; of slumping over math homework—might never again feel as much like home. She’d had a single-wide trailer on Nana’s land in Cartersville for about six months, but it wasn’t home yet, and that dinky kitchen where she made dinner for Carlos and Rio and Mike Sanchez sometimes when they came to visit had no atmosphere, could never be home. Momma would be angry, and she might tell them to stay away. Maybe for good. That afternoon, studying the back of her mother’s curly brown head as she chipped away at the eggs, Tammy felt more love for her than she ever had, and suddenly the weekend’s rebellion seemed a bit childish. But there was Carlos Paez at the kitchen table, sinewy arm crooked, guzzling golden-brown tea. Looking like a man. Like a husband. Like a papa.

“You two look like you been up to no good.” Bobby yawned as he walked into the kitchen, scratching his belly through a white t-shirt.

“We got married Saturday night.” Carlos beamed.

“What the—” Bobby started, jokingly, when a look from Melba told him he’d better not even think about cussing. So he just laughed.

Melba smiled, barely amused. She had noticed something in Tammy’s countenance she didn’t like, and though she thought this elopement most likely a joke, she didn’t want the truth just yet. Bobby would make a scene if it were true. He’d had just enough beer to make him testy.

“Carlos has certainly acquired a sense of humor, hasn’t he?”

“Yes, he has. We really ought to take you on the road, Baby,” Tammy shot him a look.

“A joke? Oh, okay. Tha’s right. Jus’ kidding.”

“Wait a second, Carlos,” said Bobby, looking, maybe for the first time, into his twinkling black eyes. “I’ve never known you to joke, Son…”

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Well, I'm already bored with blogging, so I've been digging through some old stuff to find post material. This little piece is something I wrote back in 2004 for a short homework exercise. I think she just gave us the title, "Seeing." This is what I came up with:

“Y’all know I’m gonna flunk all them,” Dr. Dillard’s shocking statement rang out in Southern twang across the blank white space that was room 209. We had just heard again the shuffle of five or six pairs of feet down the linoleum of the hall, once again noticed the empty chairs where young men had been at the beginning of class. Old Dr. Dillard, more than legally blind in both eyes, with just enough vision to see something on a page if he stuck his face up really close to it with a magnifying glass, could not notice, could not inspect the empty seats. But he knew all the same. He had heard even better than we girls had those shuffles out of class, noted even more than we did the absence of male voices. All semester long, each of the five or so males in English 102 had made his exit long before class ended. At first, they left after the break, but towards the end of the semester they became more brazen, leaving after a few minutes if they chose to come at all. On this particular day they left right after an announcement about end-of-the-semester matters, just into the first few minutes of class. So he shared his plan.

I was always confused when I talked to my friend Traci about my feelings for Dr. Dillard. She had him in another section and absolutely adored him, even choosing to take him the next semester for 201. But I couldn’t stand his class. In fact, one of the most entertaining moments was when he dared those selfsame deserters with a question that was all too a propos: “Well, why don’t you just leave instead of sittin’ here list’nin’ to this lecture that goes on and on in a boring way-ee?”

I hated the way he made his coffee on his desk with those newfangled Folgers Singles, slowly dipping the bag up and down with his Stevie Wonder expression. I hated the way he slowly swept his tongue over his thin lips and lizard teeth. I hated the 68 he gave me on my first paper, even though I did end up with an A in the class. I hated the ugly age spots on his face and hands. But most of all, I hated the silence. He talked, then silence. He talked again, then silence. Nobody contributed anything to class, and that meant more of his boring lectures, more fighting the impulse to fall asleep on a man who couldn’t see it happening.

One day I realized that my hatred wasn’t really about his habits at all (though his teeth were quite ugly, and he licked them every day). It was really about my relationship with him, and even my relationship with his disability. The truth was, I didn’t know how to deal with him. As a freshman, I expected to either love and respect my teachers, or to dislike and be annoyed by them. Dr. Dillard didn’t fit into those neat categories. Instead, I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry that people tried to take advantage of him. I felt sorry that he couldn’t see. I felt sorry that his teeth were so pitiful, that he didn’t know how ugly he was.

And I didn’t know how to answer the question of why his class was so boring. I guess it didn’t occur to me (and even in my discussions with Traci it just didn’t seem possible) that he got a dud class, that even the most lively, spirited, seeing professor might not have inspired those boys who always left, those girls who wouldn’t speak. Instead my pity turned to irritation, and I obsessed over those little idiosyncrasies as if they were a real reason to dislike him, a real reason to write him off as a “bad teacher.”

But on this last day of class before the final, something changed. In his simple declaration to the rest of us of how he was going to have his revenge on those sneaky twerps, I glimpsed for just a moment a vision of the teacher I might’ve had, had his students been the class they should’ve been. My pity melted away, and I saw him for who and what he was. And in that moment of just pride, of joyful vindication, he had something of nobility about him. In that moment, he was almost beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Oh well.

This is sad.

Here goes.

Well, I guess I'd rather be a part of the club than not. I'm really jealous of Heather's list idea (Number Your Paper), so perhaps I'll have a list blog, too. Or a two-sentence-entry blog of random thoughts. Then when I get to 152 posts...SILENCE. I may not even last that long. But we'll see. Writing something every day is bettter than nothing.

I know none of my dear friends will have to ask the reason for the name, but lest any reader not recognize it and think I've suddenly gone Hallmarky, check out the inspiration .