Friday, May 27, 2011

Why I need GPS

You know what's just terrible? Trying to get home and driving 45 miles in the wrong direction. Snapping out of your six-hour driving coma, glancing at the clock and thinking, "Hmm, should be just about home by now..." Then looking slowly around and saying, "...Um, where am I?" Answer? Nowhere near home. Do you know what forty-five miles in one direction plus the exact same forty-five miles in the other direction equals? About a ten-minute string of expletives, for one thing. Followed by another seventy minutes of jaw-grinding and forehead-smacking and full bladder wiggle-dancing. 

I spent four days at my parents' house this week, and some of you may already know how I feel about that. On the plus side, there was deliciously sunny, hot weather, and this!:

("I like it except for the commentary," my sister said after watching it, wrinkling her nose in disgust. Which...ok. It's...not my best work. You may wish to watch the following with the sound off. You have been warned.)

This here is the little guy known as Deuce Magoose.

And this is the vicious Scruffster.

They're alright, when they're not chewing shoes, or the lid of every plastic container I had packed in my bag to bring back with me.

Anyway, I got back to Mythaca eight hours after I left Maryland this morning (grumble mutter), dressed in shorts and sleeveless top and sandals, all of which had been perfectly appropriate for the summery Maryland weather. When I finally I stepped out of the car it was into a cloudy haze with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees.

Sigh. Welcome...home?  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why I wish I had a crystal ball

Now that student teaching is finally over--tests returned, farewells bid, crêpes eaten, armful of roses accepted like a grateful yet particularly haggard Miss America hopeful--I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. The stress of this last semester has been undeniable. At the end of it, gathered in celebration with my peers, several of us actually expressed audible relief to be finished, in the context of, "Whew! Glad we never have to do that again!" And then looking around and breaking into nervous laughter, the reality of it suddenly dawning on us. " will be different when they're my own students. Right? Right?

And though teaching is done, for now, the road is long from over, as over the next month I am required to take an intensive French summer course and write a 30 page research paper, not to mention undertake a massive online job application blitzkrieg that hopefully results in my gainful employment a few months hence. Easy peasy, right? But here comes the sticky part. Because while on the one hand it would be nice to have a job, any job at all that will pay me to teach French, on the other hand, I kind of don't want just any French teaching job. I kind of want the perfect French teaching job. I feel like I have spent enough years of my life being unhappy in my career (or lack thereof) and unhappy with my location, that I just want to start being fucking happy, for once. I realize this is a lot to ask of a job. 

In any case, I've been thinking it over, and these are some of the things that I think might make me happy:
  • I want to live in a city
  • I would prefer to teach in the suburbs
  • I'm kind of through with harsh winters
  • I would like to live near friends and/or family
  • I don't want to prep for four or five different classes every day, though this is becoming increasingly common for French teachers due to low enrollment numbers
  • I want a dog
I realize that any job I am likely to get is never going to fulfill all of these requirements. I'd be willing to sacrifice certain items on the list in exchange for others. It's all sort of a balancing act, isn't it? Now here's where I need your advice.

Let's say, let's just say, that it came down to a choice between these two options: Option A--a very small, private, all-girls boarding school in the middle of nowhere, VA. Downsides--in the middle of nowhere. An hour from DC if there's no traffic. Two if there is. I would be required to live in the dorms. I would be required to prep for at least four classes--French 1 through 4/5. Though class sizes would be small, it still takes just as much time to create a lesson plan for five students as it does to create one for twenty-five students. Perks--living expenses paid (housing, internet, etc.). Though I would be required to live in the dorms, I would only be "on duty" one out of every few weekends. Two week expenses-paid trip to Paris every summer as part of a study abroad program. Students live in homestays during this time, so I would be able to spend some time out and exploring on my own. "Opportunity to build a program."

Option B--American International School in Cairo. Much larger school, with potentially more opportunities to befriend other teachers. Downsides--in Cairo. Far from friends and family. Pollution. The unknown. Danger and potential sketchiness? Two year contract. Salary not great. Parents would freak. (Could also be considered a perk?) Perks--in Cairo. A new country and new continent to explore. Big city. Adventure! Warm to hot weather year-round. No snow! Housing and transportation expenses paid. One free round-trip plane ticket for visit home every year. 

I'm not saying it will definitely come down to these two choices, although, dozens of applications submitted elsewhere notwithstanding, they are the only two schools actively pursuing me at the moment. The two extremes. (What I wouldn't give for a happy medium right now.) 

But, readers, if it were you...what would you do? 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why girlfriends are a girl's best friend

So Blogger fell down, knocking down millions of blog posts in the process, and then it got back up again, and now it swears that it has put everyone's posts back right where it found them, except, hello, not everyone's, Blogger! Not everyone's! No, you haven't! And the version saved in my draft folder was only half the original post, so this is my painstaking recreation of that post. Comments have gone missing, too, even the one in which commenter Erin called me gorgeous, intelligent, and beautiful, and I may never forgive Blogger for this, not ever. 

Any single girl knows the importance of having single girlfriends. Even if they don't live in the same town, or even the same state, they're always just a phone call away to commiserate about the latest heartbreak. They make great travel partners, and they're always willing to lend you the other half of their bed to crash on when you're in town. And I had some awesome single girlfriends. (Note ominous foreshadowing...)

...Then, of course, Molly went to Spain and fell for her Spanish siren.

And then Erin went monogamous.

This all happened a couple years ago, and since then, life and friendships have pretty much continued on as usual. I visited Molly in Spain and New Jersey, and I hang out with Erin in Philly when I can. And though they're no longer single, they are still some pretty rockin' friends.  

And besides, I still had my friend Canaan on my side, and my girls Jamie and Julia. And among their many endearing qualities, I definitely appreciated that these ladies were always up for a trip.

In 2007, Jamie, Jules and I all went to Martha's Vineyard together.

Then Jamie moved to Seattle and Julia moved to Zambia, but nonetheless, we still managed a whirlwind camping trip on Assateague Island last summer.

Then there was the time I spent Thanksgiving with Jamie in Seattle, and then our trip to San Francisco a few months ago.

(We may have tasted some wine there. Me and my purple tongue will never tell.)

And then there's Canaan, who may have single-handedly saved me from loneliness and desperation during a year when I was otherwise all alone in France. By some lucky twist of fate, Canaan was living a few hours train ride away from me that year, and we were able to spend all the major holidays together--I visited her in Grenoble over Thanksgiving (not even a holiday in France! So we made it up!), she was kind enough to invite me along to visit some friends of hers in the north for Christmas, and she and some other friends came to Paris for New Year's.

 Thanksgiving in Grenoble
 Christmas on the beach in Normandy
 NYE in Paris

Then, as if that wasn't enough quality time together, I convinced her to travel to Spain with me in February. 
(Sadly, this is the closest we came to getting both of us in the same picture there.)

Yes, it was a good time for girlfriends. 

But lately, things have been changing, as things tend to do. Chatting with Jamie online, I mentioned that Facebook seemed to imply that Julia was involved with a handsome Zambian man, or at least they were appearing in an awful lot of pictures together. "Yes!" she replied. "She's engaged!" 

"What?" I said. "Wait, what?!"

As it turned out, the rumors were true, I confirmed with the bride-to-be later. Jamie herself is currently smitten with a man she met on Okcupid, to the point of being in L-word (I can't, I just can't bring myself to say it).

And Canaan? Well, I had to laugh when I came across this comment that she left on a blog post about rejection I wrote just eight short months ago:
"I was seriously just thinking today that maybe I should just give up on the whole dating/love/marriage idea and just end the [family] lineage with myself. Or find some random guy to impregnate me at the right time. (Although statistics say it's not great to raise a kid with one parent. But I'm trying!) So I totally hear your rant today. I feel like a kind of alien reject. Come visit me so we can cry woe is us together!"
Do I even have to tell you that Canaan and her boyfriend are moving in together next week?

If there's one thing I have learned from all this it's that being friends with me is great for your love life. Also, all of my future vacations are about to become 100% less interesting. 

Lastly, because it seems appropriate:

All the single ladies? Hello, all the single ladies? Put your hands up, please, I can't see you. Yup, that's what I thought. I guess from here on out, this is going to be me:

(In case I wasn't clear enough, I didn't mean that from now on I am going to be perpetually hazy and out of focus, or Canadian, not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why good fences make good neighbors, but bad neighbors make you jump fences

Filled with a sudden burst of nostalgia (and an insatiable urge to procrastinate), I was inspired to do a Google street view search of my old house in France. And I found it! When I lived at 4 avenue Jéhan de Chelles, this was my entrance gate: 

My house was further back, down a path, and not visible from the street. Which is probably for the best, as the yard was always filled with children's toys, and not very well maintained.

But oh, the memories I have of that gate. Locking it and unlocking it with a delightfully unwieldy skeleton key, and then the time that I got locked inside my own yard, and had to break out. 

That's right, I got locked inside. You see, though the gate did lock with the aforementioned skeleton key, the neighbor in the apartment downstairs, after an incident with a stolen bicycle, insisted on wrapping a thick chain and a padlock around it for an extra layer of protection, and thus ensuring that at least 45 seconds to one minute would be spent every time one wished to go in or out--fumbling for two different keys, unwrapping the chain, unlocking the gate, re-locking the gate, re-wrapping the chain. My attempts at short-cutting the system were met with disapproval from downstairs. I was not fond of the neighbor.

One day, the system broke down. After several days of it becoming increasingly difficult to turn the key in the padlock, it stopped working altogether. Though I tried again and again, the lock would not open. I was trapped. Trapped in my own yard. And it wasn't as if I didn't have places to be. It happened to be my birthday, and I was on my way to my birthday dinner, along with my sister, who happened to be visiting, and thus was able to document the event. The only way out was over, we determined, and so after sussing out the situation, we took a deep breath, and made a break for it. My sister, more appropriately dressed for scaling fences, got out first. I, wearing an inappropriately short dress (as is my habit), and highly rippable tights, was a bit slower about it.

Do you see the spikes? The sharp, metal, criminal-deterring and quite possibly internal organ-impaling spikes?
(I decided to demonstrate my displeasure by mooning the neighbors.)

I hovered there on the top of that fence for quite a few minutes, gone too far to turn back, but too frightened to make my next move. The ground seemed so far away, and the metal spikes so ominous. One false move and I was toast. But I did have a birthday dinner to get to, after all, and I didn't want to spend the night on that fence. And so, I carefully heaved and oofed my way down, and with only one small stocking snag to show for it. 

My sister, continuing her tradition of taking only the most flattering pictures of me, snapped this one milliseconds after I made my final leap to freedom. Here I am windblown, disgruntled, and badly in need of a trim:

When we got home, the chain had been cut open, and lay in a heap next to the gate.  After that, we never had to double-lock the gate again, and lo, there was much rejoicing in all the land. 

But I still hated that neighbor. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why my life is a joke

This video is called Hipster Dating, but really, it works equally well if you take out the hipster and call it Humans Dating, so universal are its themes. Other equally viable titles: Rachel Dating, or, Why Oh Why Am I Still Dating?, or, Oh My God, Someone Made A Cartoon Of My Life; Is There Any Way I Can Get Royalties From This? 
"We have an unbelievable connection and I have a karmic need to see where this is going."
"Ok. Then when do you want to get together?"
"I just met you, and I don't understand why you are inquiring about my schedule."
"You are fucking weird, bro."
 It's funny. Watch it.