Friday, October 27, 2006

Moving On Again...

So we got the apartment--signed for it and all.

The fella then made ME call the current landlord to say we were moving out. (Have I mentioned that I'm afraid of landlords?) But anyway...

I call the landlord, and his wife answers the phone. I ask for him, and she says, warily, that he's not available. I introduce myself, and explain my mission.

"Oh, I can get him for that," she says. "It's just that every Republican organization in California has been calling all day telling him to vote for this candidate and that one..."

So, anyway, we're ready to pack.

Updates to follow.

Today, the school I work at--let's call it St. Colmcille, to keep it semi-anonymous--went on a peace walk through our neighborhood. This was part of Red Ribbon Week, an extravaganza of safety tips, anti-violence exhortations, and general community good spirit. Also jumping rope to raise money for the Heart Association. Kind of confusing, really. But the kids all wore red shirts and hair bows, and made signs, and we streamed through the streets, looking like a bunch of Young Pioneers who made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Oakland. It was cute. How can you not like first graders with little signs that say 'Peace'?

Unfortunately, one of our teachers made the mistake of beginning the march with prayer--silent prayer. She got nervous about the kids all being outside the school, and crossing the street, and earnestly davened that no one should get hurt, and that if there was any danger out there, it should happen to her.

We got two blocks, and she whacked her head on a street sign, opening a bleeding gash on her forehead, and proving either the efficacy of prayer or the urgency of also taking care of yourself when panicking about the children in your custody. Luckily, one of the moms who came along on the walk is a nurse, who took said teacher into custody and walked her back to the school and bandaged her. She says it doesn't need stitches. We're kind of freaked out anyway.

A good Shabbos to all.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Apartment Found?

Looked at an apartment last night. We're applying for it--at least I filled out my application, the fella is in charge of the rest.


Cheaper than current residence
Swimming pool in building
Kitchen big enough to put kitchen table in
Lots of storage space
Nice modern layout
Bathroom big enough to enter without turning sideways
Big patio
Free month's rent, cheap deposit
Two blocks from current residence


RIGHT next to the BART tracks
Motel-like apartment building layout makes me think vaguely of childhood vacations--not bad, but to live in?
Two blocks FARTHER away from the BART station
Coin-op laundry again?

But if we get it, it will be good.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Apartment Hunt

So, we need a new place to live. Basically, we need someplace cheaper to live. The fella is going to school, and this will probably continue for the next four or five years. This means that the fella is about to lose our ongoing argument about whether we need a freestanding house or not.

We can save about four hundred bucks a month by moving from our two-bedroom house with the deck and backyard we aren't using to a two-bedroom apartment.

Unfortunately, this will involve MOVING. No way out. We will need to get all of our stuff out of this house, and moved to another location. And we will need to deal with people who rent apartments. And our current landlord. And all that jazz.

Now, it cannot possibly (kaynehore) possibly be nearly as bad as the last time we moved, summer before last. This will be a kinder, gentler move because:

1. We have a much reduced amount of stuff, having thrown out twelve cubic yards of stuff, and brought a considerable amount of stuff to Goodwill last time. Also there were the contents of the hall closet that we just abandoned. So there's not nearly as much stuff to move.

2. We are planning to move a much shorter distance. In fact, if I get the apartment I'm going to see tomorrow, we'll be moving about two and a half blocks.

3. Our current landlord is not noticeably (kaynehore) insane.

4. We do not have a vehicle to get rid of. Or a couch to get rid of.

5. My machetenim have not left any ancient emergency water in dusty gallon jugs secret locations around the current house. This is a VERY GOOD THING.

The place I'm looking to move into is on Liberty Street. The place is owned by a company that does rentals. I think that this is positive, because in my experience, properties owned by individuals seem to come with weird expectations. Also, they may still be offering a deal whereby you can get a month's rent off. This might provide us with more time with which to move.

It's apparently about 1200 bucks. This will save us $340 off the bat each month, and if the landlord pays water and trash, more. It has a patio or balcony or something. More, I do not know.

Hopefully, it is also dryer in the winter than the present location. The present location is pretty damp during the winter. Last year, my parents were over for Christmas lunch, and about twenty minutes before they arrived, we discovered that the living room was so damp that the floors were getting slick.

Oh, God, can you tell that I don't want to move? I want to have BEEN moved. I want to wake up and discover that I live somewhere lovely with less rent, and that some kind soul has moved all my stuff, set up the furniture in a clever way, and bought a nice new red teakettle for the kitchen.

What are the odds?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fear of Veils

I've been following with some interest the story of the teacher's aide in Britain who's been suspended from work because she wears a face-covering veil in the presence of adult male coworkers for religious reasons.

The official version appears to be that she wasn't able to communicate effectively with the children through the veil, which seems improbable to me. Generations of women wearing face veils have communicated effectively with children. ("Mustafa, get IN this house, and CLEAN your room, and help your grandfather SWEEP the yard before you even THINK about running off to play ball." Kid understood every word.) It's a sheet of fabric, not a diver's helmet.

Somehow, all kinds of people who you wouldn't think would get involved in a dispute between a teacher's aide and her school are getting involved with this one. Jack Straw has weighed in--apparently he doesn't like to meet with veiled women, and pressures Muslim women who meet with him to unveil. And Tony Blair has labeled the veil a 'mark of separation'. (This is bad.) And some other person in government has announced that equal rights for women don't go with the veil, therefore the veil has to go.

In other words, this is not about a 23 year old girl named Aishah who teaches the fourth grade, this is about whether Muslim women in Britain going veiled is GOOD or BAD.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

1. I have long wondered how it would have changed things if the dominant culture which produced second wave feminism had been Zulu rather than Anglo-American. I rather suspect that there would be considerable distress among Zulu feminists over the disturbing cultural phenomenon in which all women, married or not, are expected to keep their breasts covered, or be severely harassed, in the cultures of the West.

2. I wonder what else Jack Straw tries to dictate about how his female visitors are dressed? If their skirts are too long, does he ask that they be rolled up? Shirts unbuttoned to a respectable cleavage? Who the HELL does this man think he is?

3. Basically, this is about insisting on assimilation as being necessary to the functioning of society. I am not entirely convinced that society has a vested interest in my male coworkers getting to see my nose.

4. My ox is standing near the ox that is being gored. I will not cover my hair when I marry, but that is a decision _I_ made. Many Jewish women, of course, decide differently. I still remember how angry I was in college when a friend who studied Christian theology told me a 'funny' story about how a teacher of hers had sat through meetings with an Orthodox woman professor who wears a shaytel. It was, apparently, rip-roaring funny that this woman was sitting there in her dorky wig, totally unaware of how funny and oppressed she looked. And SCRATCHING under the wig! (I have some issues still. And I didn't voice them strongly enough at the time.) Is the shaytel or the tichel a 'mark of separation'? You bet. Is it going to be tolerated? In what settings? Who gets to decide what gets tolerated? Oh, yeah. The dominant culture. I keep forgetting.

5. Be just like us, they whisper. We'll be multiculturalists, and honor the universal parts of your culture if you'll really be just like us. Of course, if you break this unilateral bargain...we may have to deal with you.

6. Why are so many people so obsessed with ladies's headwear? This keeps coming up in Europe, and I don't get it. Of all the things Europe needs to focus on, in terms of interacting with Islam and Muslim populations, this seems so tangential as to be almost surreal. ("The Mongols are on their way! And they are wearing furry boots!" "AAAAAH! FURRY BOOTS!")

Give Aishah her job back, and for heaven's sakes, someone tell Jack Straw to stop being such a lech.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Freedom Press

I bought a press pot for coffee today. These things are often called French presses, hence the title...yes...I still find the whole "freedom fries" thing funny. So sue me.

I bought the press at Target, and bought some actual ground coffee at Giovanni's, and have hopes of using the new addition tomorrow morning. I have now read extensively about how I need a coarse even grind, and this and that, to which I say--oh, for goodness sakes, we'll try it and see how it works. I have used one before. My landlady in London had one.

I just feel the need for a touch of class to start my day. Maybe making coffee that's not instant Nescafe will help. Even I have to admit that the Nescafe is not great.

I'll report back.

I also bought laundry soap, socks, pantyhose, a new purple glass for toothbrushes to replace the one I broke while scrubbing, the 10th anniversary issue of Latina Magazine, and a lint roller. It was an excellent trip to Target.

Flying Stuffed Torahs

Sukkot pretty much went by without my noticing. (This year I have not-done two of my Jewish life goals, sending out yontiff cards and having a backyard sukkah. Better luck next year.) But I did make it out to Simchat Torah last night, with my mom.

When I was a kid, we belonged to a seriously German high-classical-Reform temple where the rabbis wore vestments but no yarmulkes, but for some reason they had maintained a custom of the children following the Simchat Torah hakafot around the sanctuary to collect candy from the congregation. (Trust me, this was strange and exotic old-country stuff by the standard of my day.) I do not actually remember if the hakafot involved the Torah scrolls, or how many hakafot there actually were--but the kids went around with sacks and got miniature candy bars, and Starbursts, and odd European hard candies, and it was incredibly fun. I think this must be a yeky thing--the focus on kinder and candy--since the same thing turns up at the Conservative shul in SF where I attended for years--and my heart still is. But I've only been there at Simchat Torah once. Kids. Candy.

In more recent years, we've gone to the Conservative shul down the block from my parents, not so much on candy, where the grown-ups slug whisky in Dixie cups, and the dancing runs out into the street, and goes on until the rabbi comes out and begs everyone to come back in so they can get another hakafah going. Currently, this place is out of service, since they're completely rebuilding, and the building has been razed to the foundation. They, and another couple of small shuls, had organized a Simchat Torah at another location across the park.

It was great, utterly disorganized, fun. There were a gazillion kids dancing, screaming, and throwing anthropomorphic plush Torah scrolls through the air at each other. USY's presidents got to auction off the scrolls for the first hakafah (a floppy-haired young man wearing a velveteen blazer and tzitzit begging the congregation to "Imagine Jewish teens enjoying Judaism. Then imagine those same Jewish teens running wild in the street.") Some dancing. (The Balabusta managed to get in about five minutes of circling aroung a scroll until her lungs told her it was time to stop this right now.) All the women were called for an aliyah together, then all the men, then the children. We unrolled a scroll around the room, got a lightning commentary on the high points of the Torah going backwards, and then rerolled to Bereshit. We lost a roller--it popped off the threads--I don't know who you call for that. A sofer? A Torah seamstress?

Enjoyed myself.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Flylady says...

"Your house did not get dirty overnight, and it is not going to get clean overnight."

But as the fella has pointed out, Flylady is mistaken. It takes approximately 24 hours for a house to get completely awful. Our house, anyway.

I've been down for the count for over a week. Despite the fella's best attempts to keep the dishes going, etc., the house looks as though teenage (male) mercenaries with fierce Coca-Cola addictions and an interest in collecting scrap paper and trying to cook dinner (but not cleaning up after the attempt) have been squatting in it.

They didn't break any windows, or leave behind unexploded ordinance, so I guess it could have been worse. And luckily, they weren't smokers. Slowly, we have begun to put things back together.

In other news, I note with annoyance that 'skinny' pants seem to be the new look. Since the world does not need any pants in it that aren't bootcut, this seems particularly insane. Look, even Audrey Hepburn would have looked better in bootcut pants. Think how cute.

I'm still coughing, but things are generally much better.

Tomorrow I'm going to try something new--rather than get in to the school around 11 and stay to late afternoon, I'm going to try to get in by eight, and leave at noon, packing in four hours of earnest work, and getting home by early afternoon, to do laundry, hang out w/fella, make a nice dinner, etc.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I Wanna Be Invulnerable

Drora's baby hasn't arrived yet--37.5 weeks, and the wee un's father is apparently having dreams about having to fight off crazy women who want to take his baby at the birthing center. But all is going well, except that Chava's apparently having a pretty rough time of it right now--can't write more than that.

I, on the other hand, have nothing more going on than a slight touch of bronchitis, and am reacting with about the same emotional fortitude as if I were told they wanted to have all my toes removed.

First, there's the practical problems. I've been running a day late and lots of dollars short for weeks, and the thing that kept me going toward the finish line, even when it was clear that I was coughing to death at the parent conferences, and hadn't done anything except keep upright for a week, was that I would get a three day weekend, to do laundry and dishes and read books and such, and that on one of those days, I would go in to work and get everything all set up for the coming week.

Not happen? Not even the vaguest sniff of it? You got it. Weekend consists of me lying flat on my back taking all kinds of stupid drugs, and here it is Monday night of that precious three-day weekend, and NO planning done, NO grading done, NO dishes done, NO NOTHING DONE. Which means another stupid lousy humiliating incredibly rotten week of 'taking care of myself' scrounging every-damn-thing from clean socks to bus fare, and being unprepared for everything, and hating life generally. Oh, not to mention that it was for nothing, because I AM STILL COUGHING. It is almost impossible to put into words how cheated and bitter I feel right now. I don't care that in broad terms this is nothing, emotionally this is enormous. I feel like a little kid that has had a lollipop taken away.

Also, I have a note from my doctor saying that I'm supposed to take off through Thursday. (Stupid doctor.) I honestly don't know what my VP is going to say about that in the morning. I suppose I could organize lessons for the day and then stick around until they get someone in. I feel well enough to teach, or at least well enough to mind the class as well as a sub would, but there's the possibility that I may still be contagious. When do you stop being contagious with bronchitis? When you stop coughing? When you haven't got a fever? When they say you aren't?

I feel vulnerable at work, all the time, and I need, NEED to at least not be obviously, physically, falling apart. This has not been helped by a round of parent conferences in which at least four people mentioned that the children were not 'listening to me'--one mentioned it vitriolically--or by the fact that, well, not so secretly, I think I'm a complete screw-up as a teacher. I have no more give to let out. I have no more secret resources. And I still haven't sent in the kids' Scholastic orders from last month. I kept meaning to find a minute.

I need a car. I need another weekend. I need something to eat that tastes good. I need a new set of lungs. By tomorrow morning, if not sooner.

A Little Sukkot Whine

Shabbos, the fella frog-marched me to Kaiser, where we saw a nice emergency doctor who didn't actually examine me, he just listened to the hideous noises I was making, and informed me that I had a bad chest cold. Then he demanded to know if I'd been going in to work like that. Then he told me to stay home from work for a week. Then I started crying.

This then led to a bad mess where the doctor kept piling on more patent medicines for me to buy, and demanding of the fella "Hey, man, you're on my side, right?"

So, nice bronchitis. I basically spent all of Saturday evening and Saturday night, and all of Sunday and Sunday night doped to the gills on Robitussin, having involved dreams about ancient Israelite goddess imagery, twin children I might have had with people I didn't meet in college, Turks--it got weird.

I have a work note letting me off work through THURSDAY. I have today off in honor of Columbus, but was gonna spend it at the school. Not going in. Resting.

This is not a good time for me to be sick.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hack, wheeze, hack hack hack

Hi everyone. Happy (wheezyhack) New Year.

Monday, you may recall, was yontiff, and I was off work. Sadly, I started to feel the beginnings of a bad cough and virus that day. It wasn't awful--I finished the fast, went home, and went to work the next day.

Tuesday, I was achy and wheezy and hacky and during recess yard duty, an eighth grader kicked a soccer ball high into the air, and it landed SQUARELY on the crown of Mrs. Balabusta's head.

BONGGGGGG! The eighth grader apologized. I assured him that I was OK. But now I had a headache, and sore neck muscles, and every time I coughed---OH the ache.

So, Tuesday night I went home and went to sleep at five thirty in the afternoon. I woke up periodically after that, each time deciding not to regain consciousness permanently. The one exception was four-thirty AM when I noticed that while asleep I had sweated clean through my sheets and a very heavy comforter and was soaking wet. So I got up, found clean blankets in the dark, made a kind of cocoon, and went back to bed.

Got up Wednesday morning at 6:00 AM.

Got up Thursday morning at 6:00 AM.

This is not getting easier. I really hurt.

And today and tomorrow we have parent conference. This evening, I have parent conferences until 6:45, with little breaks here and there.

Poor parents. What kind of plague-ridden hag is teaching their kids?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Now about to:

Go to work...
Put in appearance at parish festival...
Run upstairs and put in a few hours getting things ready for the sub...
Take bus to San Francisco...
Change pants...
Leave for Kol Nidre...

An easy fast to all out there. This year could be we'll find some answers, or at least some better questions.