Peanut Butter and Pickles

Sometimes at night I dream about Whole Foods. I’m gleefully running through the aisles piling food into my cart. The store has everything I need to make a shrimp, watermelon, and goat cheese salad and fish po’boys with tartar slaw and fried sweet potatoes. I wake up smiling and perhaps drooling a little on the pillow. Then I slowly realize where I am. I drag myself out of bed and prepare for the most irritating part of my day: going to the grocery store. Continue reading “Peanut Butter and Pickles”

The Last Day of School

Today was our last language lesson in Buenos Aires. Although we’ve only been taking them for two weeks, those two weeks have proved to be exhausting. Just sitting there for two hours every day trying to think in nothing but Spanish was mentally taxing, but we also had homework every night which was to read three articles in the newspaper, underline and identify the verbs, and then write summaries for each one. I am pleased to report, though, that even for such a short amount of time, my speaking has improved tremendously. At first I was very self-conscious, but then I read something that made me feel so much better. These are the instructions on the box containing a hairdryer that was made in China: Continue reading “The Last Day of School”

Language Lessons

Language lessons. Every time I hear those words I can’t help but hear them in the voice of the Asian kid who talks like Howard Cosell in Better Off Dead. But language lessons is what we have been doing this week—2 hours every day. We managed to find a very inexpensive private tutor who lives right down the street from us. On the day that we consulted with her before the lessons began, she asked us to buy a newspaper, read three articles each, and underline the verbs. When we got to our first lesson she proceeded to take us through some review and then had us read from the articles.

In the classes that I teach, I have always found it particularly taxing to listen to kids read out loud when they are clearly bad at it. This is why we listen to the Shakespeare plays on CD and don’t read them out loud. I find it peculiar that those students who are the worst readers are usually the first volunteers to read out loud. They always want to be the character with the longest speech in the play or want to read long passages from novels without ceding control to anyone else. I will scan the classroom helplessly looking for another volunteer feeling like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Anyone?” I ask, purposely not looking in the direction of the frantically waving hand. “Anyone want to be Creon? Anyone?” Continue reading “Language Lessons”

Bright Christmas

Even though the Bay Area isn’t known for its white Christmases, nonetheless, as children of the Northern hemisphere, we have been conditioned by our holiday songs to expect at least a chill in the air come Christmastime. “Winter Wonderland.” “Frosty the Snowman.” “The Christmas Song.” “Jingle Bells.” “Let it Snow.” What the hell do people in the Southern hemisphere sing? Continue reading “Bright Christmas”