I taught high school and college Spanish for thirty years. For the most part, I really enjoyed my students. The only way to keep teaching is to love your subject and enjoy the age you teach. And to retire before you lose your mind or hurt someone.
Often my students were funny. One October day when I was teaching in Fort Bend County outside Houston, I noticed one of the guys in class had sweat pouring down his face. His hair was wet with perspiration and he was gasping for breath. Concerned, I leaned over his desk and asked what was going on, was he sick? He said, “Mrs. Perrine, may I go to the restroom. It was cold this morning so I put on my long underwear but it’s really hot now.” What I love about people in the South is they don’t understand they never have a reason to wear long underwear.
Another time I was talking to an upper-level Spanish class about Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist who paint a controversial mural of Lenin in Rockefeller Center. I asked, “Does anyone know who Lenin was?” One young lady raised her hand, so excited she waved her arm and said, “I know. I know. He was one of the Beatles.”
I always attempt to be polite and not laugh when a student says something funny. I don’t want to hurt their egos but I did chuckle a little–okay, I chortled- when she said that. They are young and she was sort of close.
One student I taught, Billy, could make me laugh any time. There are some students who believe they are funny but usually aren’t. He didn’t try to be funny. He just was. He’d say seriously in a voice filled with concern, “Mrs. Perrine, I have a lot of trouble with irregular preterit tense verbs.” I know that doesn’t sound funny, but I would laugh so hard I nearly fell off my desk.
Do you have a story about something funny that happened in a classroom? I’d love to read it.
I’ve seen a lot of idiotic commercials on television–the Cialis bath tubs, for example–but a recent commercial makes me worry. Perhaps we shouldn’t allow people who believe they can do whatever is done on television to ever leave their homes. Ever.
The one I’m talking about is an automobile commercial in which the driver zooms up a ramp. The speed and angle of the car allow it to become airborne. It lands on the top of a train. A warning at the bottom of the screen says, “Fantasy. Do not try this.” If that’s not enough, the next warning reads: “Fantasy. Do not try this. Cars cannot land on trains.” Do people really not know this? Again, if they don’t, they should not be allowed out on the street on foot or in any kind of vehicle.
What’s the most absurd commercial you’ve seen? I’d like to know.
Also, as I searched for a picture, I couldn’t find one of a car on top of a train. That lack tells me that, really, people seem to know this is not true. All I could find is a car INSIDE a train (above) which, I’m fairly sure is fantasy as well but it was the best I could do.
When I was a little girl—a Brownie—I had to sell Girl Scout cookies. Back then, we’d go from door to door in our neighborhoods. I couldn’t do it. I was shy and timid—yes, I was!–and the idea of asking someone to buy something from me really frightened me. For that reason, my mother gave a contribution to the troop. I truly believe I would have hidden in a closet if she told me to go out and knock on doors.
Years later a group I belonged to in high school sold donuts for a fund raiser, once or twice a semester. Again, I couldn’t do that. This time, my mother frozen the box of a dozen we had to purchase.
This part of my personality makes book promotion very difficult for me. I have to turn into another person to push myself, to ask people to buy my books. I do but I’m never comfortable. The best example of that distress pops up during book signings.
During some signing, lots of friends show up—and I appreciate those friends greatly. When they don’t, however, I’m left alone at the table in the front of the store , attempting to sell myself and my books. o lure people to my table, I sprinkle chocolate candy across it. People will sidle up to my place, refuse to make eye contact, grab a piece of candy, and dash away. Others run past me so fast that I can’t make a pitch or make eye contact. My table is often mistaken for an information booth and I’m asked where the rest rooms are or where the delivery man should put the boxes he’s delivering.
Then I force myself into my salesperson role, smiling broadly and chirping about the wonderful book I’m signing. One afternoon, I sold eight books to people I’d never met and consider that a great success. More often, I sell none or one and most of the shoppers treat me as if I had a terrible and easily communicable disease or I’m a raving, chirping idiot from whom their children must be protected.
I end this blog with a plea. If you are in a book store and you see an author sitting at a table—all alone—in the front of the store, please don’t run. If you don’t want to buy a book, at least smile at the poor soul. We would all really appreciate it. And we’ll give you candy.
My blog was down for a few days until Cheryl Rae, who does such a great job taking care of technical stuff I can’t figure out, got me back on. This morning, when I sat down to write this blog, I couldn’t get on again. So I restarted. When the screen came back up, there was my WordPress login box and here I am. I guess I’m going to have to restart every time I want to blog which seems unhandy, to say the least. I don’t understand this at all.
However, because I logged on this morning with absolutely no idea what to blog about, I’m thankful for that glitch.
I have an iMac which I like although there are some oddity which still confuse me. That’s why I’m getting another training session this week. As I type this, a large white arrow pointing to the top of the screen flashes on and off with some key strokes. I don’t understand that either. [Wow! I figured it out. That means my cap lock is on! Now I understand something!] There’s also a symbol like a cloverleaf ramp on an interstate that comes on and makes everything go crazy (I know that’s not exact but I can’t explain it any better) and I cannot type. Yet one more thing I do not comprehend.
And my bank. I left our automatic bill pay in the system George set up. Now I need to change some of those. One is $56.89 payment which is deducted every month. The next month I get a check for this exact amount which I deposit. I’ve called the company and they have no record of either receiving the money or sending me the check. Seems like sloppy bookkeeping but I can’t do anything about that. What I CAN do is take that item off the bill pay. But I can’t. Although George is no longer on any accounts, this one keeps running along, paying bills and not letting anyone into it. I’ve used his codes and get an “account closed” message. I’ve spent hours on the phone with the national tech people for the bank. The only suggestion they have was that I set up an account of my own and enter the bills to be paid. This means, of course, that everyone except the $56.89 guy will be paid twice. They offered to make the changes for me but, you know, I think I should be able to get into my account. I don’t understand why a bank cannot delete that but they can’t so I’m going to have to withdraw my funds and go to another bank.
This is why I think it would be easier to dig a hole in the yard and bury all the money there. However, the apartment managers have told me not to do that anymore.
What don’t you understand? I always feel better to know I’m not alone. And if you know what the cloverleaf symbol means, please let me know.
I could not get into WordPress for four days. Today the lovely and talented Cheryl Rae fixed this. I will resume blogging tomorrow. Did you miss me?
But I have a really good excuse.
On July 3rd, I had eye surgery to repair a detached retina. The retina specialist inserted a gas bubble into the eye which helps the retina reattach. To keep the bubble in place, I have to lie on my left side, my rights side, or my stomach. I can also look straight at the floor when I’m sitting up. Needless to say, this has cut down a great deal on my writing, blogging and posting.
With this air bubble, I cannot fly or be placed in a hyperbolic chamber. I wasn’t planning on doing anything hyperbolic but I had planned to fly to the RWA conference in Atlanta on Tuesday. However, I also do not want to lose my vision which could happen if I fly while the gas bubble is still present.
I visited the retina specialist this morning. He says I cannot fly on Tuesday. I see him again Wednesday and he may allow me to fly Thursday or Friday.
Hope to begin blogging soon but, first, I have to go stare at the floor.
The Romance Writers conference is in July. Because I’m a RITA finalist, I have to come up with something to wear. Looking in my closet, I realize my wardrobe consists of jeans and knit tops, many with Cardinals or Power Cats on them. I once had a pretty, flouncy dress. I wore it in 1999 when I was a Golden Heart finalist and in 2004 when I was a presenter during the awards ceremony. This spring as I cleared out closets, I thought, “I’ll never wear this again because ‘fancy’ doesn’t fit my life style.” Some lucky woman bought it at Good Will and I’m out looking to replace it.
The search has been distressing but had it’s moments of fun. I tried on a lovely black sequined dress which did not look like me. As I left the dressing room, I ran into Tracy Wolff–one of my favorite writing friends–and had such a great conversation that people came over and said we sounded as if we were having fun. I’ve been pondering if they really meant, “You’re too loud.” She got some great and very bright clothes. I got a pair of jeans.
A few days later, I went to lunch with the beautiful and talented Katie Graykowski who offered me a couple of her fancy outfits. Thanks, Katie! Katie is gorgeous. She’d look great in red velvet but it’s just not me.
Then I had an idea! I had a black top with black beads around the top in my dresser. I’d never worn it because, yes, it’s fancier than I am. Sadly, that shirt had been ignored for so long that one-third of the beads had fallen off.
How would you describe yourself? Are you fancy or comfortable or do you just not care?
I need your help. please. I’ve got some complaints–not a lot. Stronger than pet peeves but not enough for a protest or a letter to the editor. It dawned on me this is a great place to share my rants and ask for your input but first I need a good name for this occasional series. I’ve thought of Frantic Friday or Friday Freak-outs. I used Rant Friday today because, well, because that’s what I typed. So first request: Can you help me with a name?
Here’s my rant. I’m a careful driver. Okay, that’s not the rant. That’s what we professional writers call “back story”. It’s never interesting but, in this case, it’s necessary. I’ve never caused an accident although several cars have run into the rear of my car because I have a really fast reaction time and because people usually follow too closely. When I back, I check in the rear view mirror, look out the back windows on both sides, put the car in gear, then turn and look over my left shoulder as I back.
And what do I see behind me? A small child tottering along behind my backing car, the car with the reverse lights on, while the mother strolls along a few feet ahead or behind. She is not holding his hand. Usually the mother seems aware of where the child is but does nothing about the fact that a bad driver could kill her child. Why isn’t she?
I think the reason she does this is she really believes that the driver is law abiding and careful. In addition, the law says the driver must NOT run over either her or the child. They’re safe here in this huge asphalt-paved space with cars weighing tons (I’m sorry. I don’t actually know how much a car weighs but it’s a big, heavy metal thing that could smash any fragile human body) moving all around them.
But suppose I’m one of those drivers who doesn’t turn and look behind me? Imagine that I back looking only in my rear veiw mirror and I can’t see that tiny little one behind me. Or maybe I’m sneezing at the moment I should be looking out or maybe the driver is drunk or steps on the gas instead of the brake. In everyone of those situations, the driver is at fault but does that make any difference if a child is gravely injured or dies because Mom didn’t think it would happen? I can’t imagine being that driver and having such a tragic accident happen because I was careless and the child’s mother thought a walk through a parking lot was as safe as a stroll through the park. I don’t think I’d ever get over it. Please, Mom, for your sake and your child’s sake and for me, too, hold his hand.
Does this bother anyone else?
Took the car in today and found out the fact that I cannot read the speedometer because it is hidden in a deep well is a design problem which cannot be fixed because it IS in a deep well with no additional lighting. In September, George bought me a 2003 Mazda which is a really great car but I fear a myriad of speeding tickets lurk in my future. Also, it’s–sigh–white. I’ve decorated with with a Kansas State Power Cat magnet on one side and a University of Louisville Cardinal on the other but I still can’t find it in the parking lot the way I could my yellow car. In fact, I’ve stood next to white cars clicking my remote to unlock the doors and cursing (only in the nicest way) that the battery in the remote must be low. Fortunately it only takes a few minutes before I realize it is not my car and move on to the next white car.
Little by little, I’m checking off tasks. I got the extension of income tax paperwork in to the IRS Wednesday, the health insurance straightened out and in my name, information to Social Security, and many thank you notes written to our dear and generous friends. I’ve worked on my novels a little but am still having trouble getting a read on the love interest in the fourth Butternut Creek novel for which I’m attempting to put together a proposal with a brain low on creativity.
But I’m doing better. For example, George loved olives. The sight of the olive bar at H-E-B only makes me sad not burst out in tears. Those breakdown have been frightening for the ladies at the nearby sushi counter.
I’m also reading the other books that have been nominated for the RITA in my category. They are wonderful. I’m honored to be in that group.
Next Monday, I have two events on this blog. On Monday, I’ll start the day highlighting the cover of Alexa Bourne’s newest novel. Later in the afternoon, I’ll tell you about Kris Fletcher whose first published novel–A Better Father–was available a week ago. Great book! To my delight, Kris will blog here on Tuesday. She’ll be telling us about the changes in her life as a published author with edits and promos at the same time she deals with her twenty or thirty–or maybe five–children. Hope you’ll stop by.
Knowing how much I love University of Louisville basketball and that George and I used to watch every game together, two lovely couples from church each invited me to watch the Louisville/Wichita State game with them on Saturday. I do have wonderful friends and want to express my deep appreciation to Rhonda and Drew, Karen and Bob. However, I turned both couples down.
I’m a terrible person to watch basketball with. Much of this comes from my father who was a huge University of Kansas fan. He took me to nearly every KU basketball and football game from the time I was three or four until I left for college and Kansas State. He was the most pessimistic fan I’ve ever known. When the Jayhawks were thirty points ahead and the opponents hit a basket, he’d say,”Oh, we’re going to lose this one. We’ve blown it.” Heredity or nurture, I don’t know but I’m the same way. I don’t know why I want my Cards to do well because the better they do, the farther they go in a tournament, the more miserable I am during the game. Close games are nerve wracking. There are no leads big enough to calm me. I go outside. I move to another room. I play computer games or do crossword puzzles. I change channels and watch House Hunters International for ten minutes before going back to check the score. And, when Payton steals a ball or Russ drives, I will rewind and replay that, even four or five times so I can see how the play happened.
No one wants to spend a few hours with a person like me. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t want to watch with anyone because then I’d have to behave. When George and I watched together, I did behave. Oh, I still moved around and did crossword puzzles, but he held on the the remote so I couldn’t watch a play over and over . He did NOT allow me to change channels.
So, again, thank you, dear friends. I hope you’ll watch and cheer for Louisville but you truly do not want me around.