Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Dance Needs To Be Over Soon

It's been a while since I've mentioned the fundraising dance we're having on Saturday. That is because I'm too freaked out and am trying to pretend that it isn’t really happening. Here's the thing. About 6 months ago, P.T. (one of the preschool teachers at our school) said that our usual fundraisers are kind of elitist. She wanted to plan an event that would be inexpensive enough that our students and their families could come. They could help us raise a little money for projects and equipment. What about a dance? Maybe ten dollars a ticket? I liked the idea. My students love to dance, and they'd like the idea of an affordable fundraiser that would allow them to make a contribution to the school. So I offered to help. P.T. is Latina and goes out to dances a lot, so she's the provider of the inspiration. I'm the un-cool gringa who last saw the inside of a dance club in 1988; but I’m good at making to-do lists, calling people, following up. I supply the perspiration.

Things that are ready:
1. Fliers are circulating throughout the universe;
2. Tickets are made, cut, and available for sale.
3. The dance hall at the Mexican Civic Center is booked, contracted and paid for ($1,000);
4. The DJ is signed up for 8:00 - 10:00 ($300);
5. The Norteño band is contracted from 10:00 - 12:00 ($400);
6. My one-way ticket to Siberia is waiting, in case we don’t make enough money to cover our expenses.

Things that ware still giving me fits:
1. Drinks (Soft drinks? Lemonade? What kind of lemonade? How much? Sell or give away? Cups? How many?)
2. Since we didn’t get a beer license, people are asking me about spiking the lemonade, bringing 12-packs, tailgating, etc…, causing me to put my fingers in my ears and go, "LALALALA". The little angel sits on my shoulder and says, “What if there were an accident? Huh? Guadalupe could get sued! What if the cops come?” The little devil on my other shoulder says, “Just find out who’s bringing the tequila.”
3. The lead singer for Norteños Valle is sick. He needs to get better, PRONTO.
4. I still don't know how to salsa. Or cumbia. I can sort of do a marengue-type thing.
5. Did I mention that we are almost $2,000 in the red?

Best Case Scenario. Picture this:
The place is dark. Packed. Sweaty. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The DJ is (despite the idiotic moniker "DJ Dan") amazing. People are blowing off a night clubbing at Caramba or Mariposa to come down to the Civic Center for our dance. My feet are killing me. My students are all pestering me for dances. I have to put them off for a minute so I can run to the ladies' room and wash my hands. They are filthy from handling such obscene amounts of money all night. Two volunteers and I are raking it in as fast as we can. I make a trip to the safe every ten minutes or so. Security comes to find me and says that they are going to have to rope off the door, as the hall is at capacity (500). People will have to wait to go in until it empties out a little.

Worst Case Scenario. Picture this:
The empty gymnasium echoes with the endless “oompah, oompah” of one stodgy tune after another. The lead singer of Norteños Valle can barely make a sound. He and his accordion wheeze together. Twenty people are there, but half of them are slumped at tables, picking at stale chips and salsa. People come up to me all evening and say, "Hey, can I give you a little feedback that may be helpful if you guys are ever dumb enough to do this again? Get a beer license! Get a decent band! Get a cool DJ instead of this goof-ball DJ Dan!" My boss appears at my elbow with her eyebrows raised. “How much have we made?” "Uh, about $200." "I see. And how much do you have to make to cover expenses?" "Uh, ten times that much?" Everybody’s getting drunk out in the parking lot, which is more fun than coming into the dance, anyway. Still, there is plenty of puke on the bathroom floor when I drag the mop in there are 1:00 AM.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sky Mall

My original purpose in starting a blog was so that I could post about all the crazy stuff in the Sky Mall catalogues that I peruse while flying. The cat massagers, heated toothbrushes, replicas of the earrings Hermione Granger wore in the Yule Ball scenes of Harry Potter IV… Then I got busy blogging about other stuff, but the Sky Mall catalogues still amuse me. Oh My God! Can you believe it? You can get special liners for your votive candle holders that keep the candle holders clean and play a festive holiday tune!

My absolute favorite, though, is the alarm clock that, when it goes off in the morning, also launches the alarm mechanism into the air. It shoots off across the room, forcing you to wake up sufficiently to find it in order to turn it off.

Last time we flew somewhere (which was to Oregon in August), I took the Sky Mall catalogue from my seat back carrier to amuse the kids on the long car trip that followed. Then, a few weeks ago, a new Sky Mall catalogue appeared in my mail box at work. It took me a second, but then I realized what that MEANT. They’ve found me. How? I didn’t order anything! No way! Ordering something is not what Sky Mall is all about. I mean, there may be people who do order something, but…well…I don’t know who…

So, how did they find me? The only way I can imagine is that the flight attendants have to look through all the seat back carriers after every flight and record which seats no longer have a Sky Mall. Then, they match that information to the seating assignments and put my name on the Sky Mall mailing list! And now I’m going to get Sky Mall catalogues at my…work? Wait! How did they get my WORK address??? It’s all a bit sinister, if you ask me.

Or actually, not. My friend Moira came up to me the other day and asked me if I got the Sky Mall catalogue she put in my box. She had been on a flight the week before and brought it back with her. Oh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Crack Kills

I didn’t see the spider on the ceiling until I was already in the shower and wet. I hate that. It was directly over my head, perfectly positioned to drop right onto me. I had to keep an eye on it, shampooing as quickly as I could. I resent this, as my hot shower at the end of a long day is one of my greatest life pleasures (pathetic, I know).

As the steam rose, the spider sensed trouble and started making its way closer to the wall. Good, 'cause I was seriously compromising my cervical vertebrae; bad, cause it kept losing its footing on the steamy ceiling and almost falling right onto my face. It would crawl, drop and catch itself. Crawl, drop and catch itself. Finally, it made its way toward a corner and I relaxed. I rinsed my hair, and when I turned around to check on it again, it was gone. Empty expanse of spiderless ceiling. My worst spider nightmare come true. Where is the little bass tard? S***! S***s***s***. Maybe it dropped onto the little shelf where the shampoo bottles hang out. I gingerly poked them to the right and left, but no sign of the spider. GASP! What if it’s in my hair??? I slicked my hand across my wet head, horrified. Couldn’t feel anything. BIGGER GASP! It’s on me in an undisclosed location! AH! AH! A frantic search, and…it was clinging to the small of my back. If he thinks he’s going to hide in that crack, he’s got another thing coming.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Read or Not to Read

A reflection on (but not a review of) “What Came Before He Shot Her”, by Elizabeth George. I generally love Elizabeth George’s mystery novels. This book is a departure for her: a novel that explains the background and motives of one of the killers in an earlier book, a twelve year-old boy.

Well, I launched in to this expecting that the characters would be well-developed (which they were) and the plot would be compelling (which it was). But maybe too much so. The book was emotionally draining. I would think about it all the time. I would have nightmares about the characters. I would lie in bed and cry over the young people in the story and the circumstances that were eroding their lives. It was so real to me: the gang activity; the poverty; the distrust of social institutions. Also the mentors and caring, well-intentioned people who tried to help.

Simon told me repeatedly to stop reading the book, and I wanted to; but then I thought, “Well, what's with that? Are you a coward? An elitist soccer mom who can’t face the truth about how children suffer in this world?” On the other hand, is life to short to read a book that is making you miserable? I finished it, and felt like I had put down a cinder block I had been carrying for weeks.

What’s your opinion? What do you do when you’re reading a book that is upsetting you?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tooth Fairy?

If she knew....

Nathan lost one of his front teeth the other day, and told me that he really, really hoped that the Fairy would cough up one of those gold Liberty dollars. She brought one another time, and he loves it. “It’s solid gold!” Wary (and trying to remember what I had in my wallet), I told him that special requests might not get processed as quickly. We could put in our customary call to 1-800-CHOMPER, but it might be too late for her to make a bank run. So, sure enough, the TF didn’t come that night, and Nathan wailed in the morning when he woke up. I reminded him of his special request and the resulting delay. No doubt she would come tonight. He subsided, but a little while later, Sara pulled me aside and told me that Nathan had called the TF “That bitch.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night

I am always at work on Election Night, since it's always on a Tuesday. Tonight, we accessed streaming coverage in the computer lab on FOX, MSNBC and CNN simultaneously. Staff, volunteer tutors and students poured in and out all evening. For many of our students who have just passed their citizenship tests, this was the first election in which they had voted. Many of them stood watching, with their "I voted" stickers on their chests, while their tutors explained the graphics, percentages, results.

We have a lot of people from just about every possible background at our school, so I'm careful about what I say or do.

Everyone's gone, now, though. So, I'm alone in my office, listening to Barak Obama's acceptance speech and wiping my eyes. I have often thought that his much-lauded oratorical skills are a bit overrated, but not tonight. He is right on tonight. So, now I'll go home and raise a glass.

Where were you on election night? At a party? At home? At work? Tell us about it. Reactions?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Candy Stats

Star Wars, Episode III 1/2, in which Obi Wan takes up baseball....

After watching the kids, I have come to the decision that EATING the Halloween candy is not really the point. Acquisition is the goal, rather than consumption. As soon as Nate got his loot in the door, he dumped it all out on the table so he could count and sort it.
Sara carried the covetousness a step further. I found her in the office, where her dad was helping her set up an Excel spreadsheet and pie chart to monitor candy percentages. Tootsie Rolls won: 19 pieces, for a 29% share of total assets.