Monthly Archives: September 2013

Raptor on campus

I drew a picture of a red-tailed hawk as a kid with great pride

I drew a picture of a red-tailed hawk as a kid with great pride

When I was a kid, my dad got his falconer’s license, and I could not have been more excited.  He even built a little shack behind the garage in which to house the bird(s).  It was all very cool, but nothing ever came of it and I’m afraid to ask him about it in case it brings up a sense of regret for not being able to follow through and get a hawk or falcon of some kind.

Dad did a great job of instilling a deep love and respect for birds of prey, especially barn owls, red-tailed hawks and cooper’s hawks; both hawks are native to California, and I see red-tails on a fairly regular basis.  In fact, they go circling around the small dell outside the house above Silver Lake, and cry out spectacularly now and then, which always sends me rushing to an upstairs window.

flawless

flawless

Today, I was walking on campus toward work when a hawk landed right in my path about 30 feet away.  I froze, and it hopped a little closer toward a puddle on the floor.  It took a couple sips before some idiot came blundering up behind me and scared it up into a tree.  I watched it for a while longer as it flew from tree to tree and texted Dad in case he was walking to work then too, and could come by and admire it with me.  I gave him a call just as it swooped not two feet over my head from one side of the parking lot to the other, so cool!  It looked me right in the eye, and I got a really solid look at its bright yellow legs.

Definitely the best start to a work day I’ve had, possibly ever.  Unfortunately, I knew at that moment that my day had peaked, and would only get more dull.  Oh well.  That’s something to add to the stuff I’ll have on my little farm some day: a raptor pen!

seated above me, surveying the puny humans below

seated above me, surveying the puny humans below

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Job security: Gone like a fart in the wind

Yesterday was Wednesday. As it turns out, Wednesdays can be a bit of a roller coaster.

Tuesday I went to work, then physical therapy, then stopped by home for a quick liverwurst sammich (delicious omg) before zooming over to a repair shop Hollywood to pay the bill for Dad’s car and park it on the street nearby before they closed (dad works too late). I went into the office to find a woman verbally abusing one of the employees. I shot her a stern look which she completely missed as she continued on her cuss-filled rant. “I took a fucking day off to come here, y’know what I mean? Why the fuck am I here?” The employee she was harassing could not have been more professional, and frankly I was shocked by them both. I decided that if she raised her voice or did anything remotely signaling a physical demonstration of her totally unjustified fury (throwing a pen, poking him, etc.), I would step in and redirect her wrath away from this poor man.

pretty sure I could've taken her

pretty sure I could’ve taken her

It never reached that point, and after a few minutes of her throwing her little tantrum she walked out while our friend was mid-sentence, recommending another body shop no less.
She blew right past me on her way out the door. I turned to the man and said, “Woah. Woah! I cannot believe she felt comfortable talking to you like that, I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that. Holy crap.” Once again, he was super polite, so I stayed and chatted with him and the other employees in the room about how crazy she was and how they should never have to put up with that kind of attitude. To their credit, they didn’t tear her down at all, and just commiserated that some people are just angry and there’s no fixing it. What an excellent group of people.

I went home to do some reading for school and couldn’t keep my eyes open. I slept for about a half hour on the couch downstairs before Boyfriend woke me up to go to Shinkendo for an hour, during which I screwed everything up and got worn out some more. I got a curry bun with a couple of the guys from the dojo afterward (and a green tea mochi ice cream for free because I made buddies with the guys behind the counter at the mochi spot in Little Tokyo, they’re so nice!). Then it was back home to eat a bit before heading over to my folks’ place to have a sleepover (Boyfriend came too, and drove separately). We sat with Dad and watched a bit of the America’s Cup (which he just loves). He showed us some really cool clips at the start of the previous day’s race (especially the part where the American team was super clever and fucked up the kiwi team. He literally cackled a few times, it was really fun), and relayed how exciting this year’s race was: we were down 6-1 at one point, but had since come back to win seven races in a row to match the kiwis 8-8 in a competition to win 9 races. Wednesday’s race would decide it all! Boyfriend and I went to sleep in the beds Sister and I had slept in as children, which he decided felt like sleeping in a hotel. Overall a fun day.

But Wednesday.

that good feeling where you're feeling solidly employed...

that good feeling where you’re feeling solidly employed…

I woke up at 5 to take Dad and a couple of family friends to the airport across town. He and a friend are going car camping to see some ancient Native American ruins, and I could not be more jealous. I headed back to his place to drop off his SUV and pick up my little Fiat before heading home to make breakfast (hash browns and eggs with Cholula and ketchup, yum). Then it was straight out to work where I was disappointed, twice.

There’s a huge event coming up that we’re having catered, so the caterer set up a tasting of all the food they’ll be serving. I was not invited to this tasting because the office can’t afford to pay me just one extra hour of work (which wouldn’t even be overtime). This was planned weeks ago. It’s not fun to be excluded from something I’m an integral part of planning, especially since I was in charge of getting estimates from a bunch of other catering companies, but my boss went with the most expensive one instead out of convenience and habit (but a single hour of extra work is out of the question).

On Monday, Little Mole Boss emailed me and one other coworker asking for a job description. I kept it vague, not wanting to bore her, and was corrected yesterday: You need to flesh this out, she said. Someone else will be looking at what you write and you need to make yourself sound important and necessary. Why on earth is that, Little Mole Boss?
Well.  Apparently there was a clerical error that made my salary come out of the wrong budget. Now that that mistake has been discovered, the necessity of my position is being called into question by people with whom I have never interacted, and who are so clueless about what my job entails that they need me to map out what I do for them.

[To be fair, very few people at this job know what our office does. It’s not a commonly-understood area, but we provide an awesome set of services that I think are integral to having a solid experience.]

Regardless, I’m having trouble warming up to the idea of someone at some distant desk evaluating the past three years worth of my work and potentially coming to the conclusion that I could just as well have not been there at all. THAT’S demoralizing. I can see why people get depressed after getting fired.

So I went home and made a bunch of pumpkin pancakes and ate them all. Then I attended a makeup class for about an hour (totally pointless) and applied to seven jobs, mostly ESL teacher positions from craigslist. I texted a friend at the dojo and asked if he’ll be at class so we can organize some kind of pity party afterward. He was supportive but wasn’t sure if he could make class, so whatever.

I just need to stay focused and remember that this is not my dream job, and if I leave, all it will do is give me more time to find a teaching position, apply to teach-abroad programs, and load up my coworkers with even more work (unfortunately).

I’m observing an ESL class right now, and it’s great to have my career validated; every time I teach, I remember: This is my natural state. This is where I belong.

Also, I am the greatest earthbender in the world.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome?  I think not.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome? I think not.


Taking the reins… for about ten seconds

I meant to post this Thursday, May 23rd:

As part of my master’s degree, I’ve been sitting in on English language classes every semester. It’s been a very valuable experience, and kinda wild to see all the different styles of teaching. The first instructor was a short, chubby Caucasian man who had a very gentle manner and an excellent rapport with his students. He taught a great deal of pronunciation and asked the students to tell about their personal experiences.

The second instructor was a Filipina woman with a thick accent who spoke almost non-stop during the whole class without giving almost any chance for the students to speak or participate. As a result the class was disruptive, chatted among themselves and often didn’t pay much attention. Regardless, she reminded them constantly that they needed to continue their English classes, and shouldn’t give up on their education.

The third instructor I observed was a Caucasian woman who had married a Mexican man, and could speak fluent Spanish (but almost never did). Her lessons had a very predictable rhythm: speaking, reading, writing, dictating. Everything seemed very carefully planned, which demanded that the students pay attention and respect eachother.

This semester, the instructor is an odd mixture of scattered and organized. He teaches a level 1 class that consists of a large range of academic abilities: some students are barely capable of writing (having never been to school before), while others are fully capable of moving on to the second level by the end of the semester. As a result of this discrepancy, only some students consistently participate, and many of them are incapable of sharing detailed stories about themselves, which seems to cause many of them to lose interest.

I sat in the back and watched, taking notes on my laptop and occasionally circulating around the class to help with an exercise or answer questions. The students who sit in the back near me became accustomed to me, and often turned around to ask questions (sometimes related to the lesson, but often personal: Do you have a boyfriend? Do you cook for him? No? HE cooks? Really?).

vayate, gringa

vayate, gringa

A couple weeks ago, an older man who had not been in class for more than a couple of weeks turned to greet me when I sat down.
“Hola”
“Hi.”
“Como esta?”
“Bien, gracias, y usted?”
“Bien, bien…”
Then the instructor came around and we chatted while the class copied some vocab from the board. When he left, the older man turned and asked if I was from Argentina (So specific! Do I have an Argintinian accent when I speak Spanish? Why would that be?).
I said, “No, soy Americana. Soy de Los Angeles.”
He asked if I was Mexican (ethnicity). I said “No, soy, uh, una gringa.” He and a couple others at his table laughed. He said there is lots of discrimination against gringos, and pronounced gringos with an American accent. He and the people at his table asked several questions about pronunciation throughout the class, and felt free to catch my attention in between activities. One asked my name, and had trouble understanding (I’ve never met a Hispanic woman with my name). I said, “Es una flora,” which was met with “Ahhh” and nodding from the table, as though they understood.

The instructor gives me a chance to teach the class occasionally, which is intimidating but very valuable. The worst part is setting up the first question to the class. After that it’s easy and fun. I’m fascinated to hear what their responses will be. I looked for where we might be misunderstanding each other. I can tell I’ll get better at this with practice.


It’s symbolic of our LOVE

serrano boyfwend is ready to pick

serrano boyfwend is ready to pick

Boyfriend was bummed out about something a few months back (I think he didn’t land a job he really wanted), so I decided to cheer him up by buying a bunch of herbs to plant in the backyard.  We planted them together, and it’s actually been pretty delightful to watch him get excited about tending to them and watching them grow.  A common question I pose to him after we’ve eaten or had tea is, “Wanna go smile at the plants?”

I got him two basil, two rosemary, one cherry tomato, and one serrano chile plant, which he has used in the chilli he makes so adeptly.  Since this batch of gardening has gone so swimmingly, we added five kale plants to the collection, all of which are thriving (we can’t wait to eat them).  So far we’ve eaten something from every plant: Boyfriend eats the basil straight off the vine whenever a tomato ripens, he used the rosemary in a French chicken recipe that I could’ve eaten until I exploded it was AMAZEBALLS, and I use the rosemary and basil for herb butter.  The serrano chile made it into his trademark chilli, and Diminutive Friend’s salsa, which she made from tomatoes from her garden in back yard of the house she bought in the Valley (still so proud of her for that).

Boyfriend turned 30 in August, and Diminutive Friend took the opportunity to buy him any hot pepper plant he wanted (he’s a fan of heat).  We now have a jalapeno plant that’s just sprouted its first flower (or maybe it’s turning into a little pepper now… I’ll have to check today).

Also, he’s out of town on a job (or two) in London for about 10 days and I miss him.  *sigh*  Nothing is as fun without him.


Alaska… maybe not

how did sledding not make the list?  HOW?!

how did sledding not make the list? HOW?!

Diminutive Friend and I have been chatting about doing a vacation together.  At first it was going to be Dublin, but Teacher Friend wants to do that with us (but hasn’t been available because she’s always travelling to amazing places.  It’s a rough life).  So we’ve decided to go somewhere else: Diminutive Friend suggested Costa Rica or Alaska.  Costa Rica would be a great reason to bone up on my Spanish, and I’ve never been.  But Alaska has its hooks in me.  The wilderness!  The wildlife!  The Northern Lights!  The indigenous cultures!  It all sounds amazing, until you Google “stuff to do in Alaska,” at which point that electric, adventurous feeling wears off, and cold, boring reality sets in.  Here’s a “Top Ten” list (written in all seriousness)  that seems to summarize everything you won’t mention to friends upon your return from the dullest vacation ever:

1. Visit the Native Heritage Center (this actually sounds great)
2. See a glacier
3. Visit the knife factory
4. Go outside
5. Visit the other museum
6. Look for wildlife (“remember to wear your bear bells”)
7. Go fishing
8. Fly around
9. Get drunk and eat a reindeer (no, really)
10. Take a train ride

This incredible list is followed by “buy a fleece jacket.”  Yikes.

So… I hear Costa Rica’s nice this time of year…

(seriously though, I still want to visit Alaska somehow)


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