Friday, February 27, 2009

allow me to introduce myself ...

1. i've lived in brooklyn for 6 years now, straight from north carolina.
though i never particularly associated myself with the south, i have cultivated more and more southern pride the longer i've stayed in brooklyn. especially my first full time job in fort greene, i would find myself in lines at at the deli, and hear this wondrous southern accent, and strike up a conversation with the person, directly affiliating myself.

2. the reason i never felt southern was because my family moved there from the new jersey a few years before i was born. though i had a rippin' southern accent as a child, people only distinguish it these days when i'm drunk, or angry, or both. my father is the only one truly from the northeast, yet ironically, he is the only one still living in nc. i now live in the same city and my mother and both sisters. up until a several years ago, i never thought this would be important to me, but now it is one of the first things i tell people about myself.

3. i have my first baby in my life this year, my niece sylvie. she is about 8 months old and lives downstairs from me. i've seen her every day, most days she's been alive. she has been the catalyst for my most serious thought on the human condition. she has always had a big personality, yet is just a little animal at the same time. in my mind, she is the goal. i aspire to be more like her - fresh, forgiving, and connected.

4. my favorite relative is my grandfather bobby, an ex-pilot and cattle farmer from alabama. he was a self-professed atheist, and
though i think he truly was a non-believer (thanks for legitimizing that O), i think he also liked to shock and awe his high society montgomery friends. he never pronounced the word god, but would spell it out, G-O-D.

5. i have been a public school teacher for 5 years now, but switched to the high school level only last year. those of you who stood by me last fall, thank you. it was harder than my first year of high school and my first year teaching combined. thank you G-O-D, i am quite content now. i adore high school literature, and working with intelligent people, and teaching teenagers during their first few years in the country. a friend of mine compared teaching in new york to being in an abusive relationship - it sucks, and tears you apart, and you wonder why you bother, and tell yourself there are a million other settings where you would be more appreciated, and sucks some more, and then there's a moment . . . that is reinvigorating. after 5 years, i feel like i'm out of that dramatic phase and more just enjoying myself. and sometimes we're reading one of my favorite books from when i was a teenager, and i think to myself, i get paid for this?

5. i am a little long-winded, and am trying to be more concise, starting with #5. so simply, i love hello kitty.

6. my favorite jobs have included pasta-maker, bookkeeper, and late night radio dj. all of which i worked alone. i also used to weld.

7. i am an enthusiastic recycler - i especially like to make things out of trash and things i find on the street. i worked at this restaurant for years and years that did not recycle, at least, our city didn't at that time. i began an initiative in which i was the sole member - i would pick up the boxes full of empty wine bottles each night and take them to the recycling plant, down by the river. behind the building were three massive piles of glass - clear, green, and brown, and i would stand there and throw the bottles as hard as i could. it was an amazingly cathartic way to end a day.

8. i used to be an avid reader, but it has wained in the past few years. the only author i've read in full is haruki murakami. and possibly v.c. andrews, when i was a teenager, before they started ghost-writing her shit. and i don't use the word shit casually. went back and reread my sweet audrina at age 20, and it's straight-up trash. but i loved it at the time. i also loved judy blume's wifey (also pornographic- "wifey's sick of chicken on wednesdays and sex on saturdays ..."). my friend jesse took pictures of blume for an article and somehow finagled me a signed copy, on my bookshelf. today, when i read books below my reading level, i get this specific form of reading guilt, probably stemming from these authors.

7. i used to be part of a burlesque troupe, the rebelles, in asheville, nc. it was seventeen women that constructed an elaborate satire of the patriot act during bush's reign of terror. my character was named bombay saphire, and she was an ex-bollywood film star turned assassin. i did a dance of seven veils, and took belly dancing lessons briefly, to prepare.

8. my cat simon is ten years old this year. he is siamese, and big bitch, but i raised him to be particularly needy and loving. we live on the second floor in red hook, brooklyn. he has a carpeted kitty pole out the kitchen window, and comes and goes as he pleases. god knows where, sometimes i picture him at the methadone clinic around the corner.

10. the perfume i prefer is embarrassing enough called cannabis. at the staff christmas party last year, a guy i work with identified the smell of patrouli on me. this is mortifying, since i've spent a lot of my life making fun of hippies, but i still prefer this particular perfume.

11. i always put on about 5 pounds in the winter. this year it's more like 8-10, but whatever, i look fine. However, a few of my female students have made up that i must be pregnant, and have actually expressed excitement. one of my favorites from last year came for a visit and actually patted me on the stomach, "You putting on some weight?" i couldn't correct her at the time because i was in the middle of a class, but now i somehow don't want to disappoint them. my sister recommends i just get pregnant.

12. i have volunteered at the international center for the past year as a conversation partner. i have met weekly with a 25 year old korean filmmaker, and it wasn't until our last few meetings that we got to the really good stuff (his obligatory military service, my burlesque troupe ...) we had our last meeting last week, and he gave me a chopstick set as a gift, but if i see i cheap ticket to korea this year i'm absolutely going.

13. most of my closest friends i've known for years and years. like since elementary school. two of them live in europe, and the past few years we have met in one of their cities for a visit. i take great pride in my ability to maintain relationships and return phone calls.
Utrecht, Netherlands with Karen and Karla

14. the best thing in my apartment is my couch, it was a custom-made hand-me-down worth more than i would ever pay. it wouldn't fit in the door and i had to google furniture dismantlers at 9 PM on a weeknight. 30 minutes later two incredibly adept guys were taking the fabric off and cutting it into pieces to get it into my apartment, then moving it in and reupholstering it. it was amazing, and totally worth the fee plus after-hours add-on. now i'm scared to move.

15. i have been in the dangerous territory of dating for the past 9 months, which i don't enjoy at all. i prefer having a friendly antagonistic conversation cuddled up of the couch. after a couple good dates that didn't work out, i was feeling like i was lacking in some way, til i heard the phrase "a walk in the garden." whatever, we were just taking a walk in the garden, don't mean nothing.

16. i just took my first trip to san francisco and drove the PCH south for ten hours, alone. it was magical. stayed in big sur at a little inn and met a true california crazy who had expatriated to the national forest. he asked me where i was from, and i said new york, and he said, why doesn't that surprise me. i looked around for what gave me away and realized not many people probably order lattes to go at this particular inn.

17. my all time favorite joke is, knock knock. who's there? fuck. fuck who? fuck whom.

18. when i was 21 this guy was courting me and we were sitting on my couch with an electric typewriter. it had a feature where you could type something with no reaction, then when you pressed enter it would type everything all at once. we sat up late one night typing each other sweet messages that way and passing the typewriter back and forth.

19. my last relationship was with a really lovely guy, who unfortunately had voted for bush. twice. i didn't find out til too late, you never would've guessed. this tore me apart but in the end i feel like i really grew from the experience. more dealings with people, other than those who are just like me. as i lamented the situation to a friend, he reduced it to two cliches - "you know, louise, you just gotta choose ... birds of a feather, or variety is the spice of life." the final verdict seems to be birds of feather.

20. i went to a movie alone last week that left in me in the theater crying, even after the credits. i hadn't had that experience with a film since boyz in the hood, when my mom was there to console me. i actually invited her to this film, but she dismissed me, saying, "oh louise, i'm not interested in seeing a Cartoon."

21. speaking of my mother, she's amazing. she retired to new york a few years ago and has become obsessed with the man who is responsible for the schools in new york being as beautiful, architecturally, as they are. she leads walking tours about them, and is writing a book (currently seeking a publisher). coincidentally, both schools i've worked in have been designed by this man, cbj snyder.

22. i lived in italy for a year, and worked for a man whom i've kept in touch with. he called on my birthday this year, and i was actually able to hold my end of a 30 minute conversation in italian. i am very interested in relearning this language, as well as serbo-croatian and portuguese.

23. i'm a fool, because i've had a masters in tesol (passport!) for three years now, and haven't taught abroad.

24. i just applied for a second masters in library sciences, which would qualify me to be a librarian or an archivist (just in case i ever decide to opt out of my board of ed package). i applied on a city employee scholarship program, but there is only one scholarship for this degree available for this program for the entire city! though the scholarship is not much at all, i'm not sure i'll go through with it if it don't get it.

25. and last but not least, (i can't believe i typed this all at once!), i live dead on the buttermilk channel, at the mouth of the east river. i recently learned the name has something to do with taking milking cows over to governor's island to feed, on boats. there is a pedestrian pier where i like to go to watch the toxic sunset over jersey. i could write another 100 random facts about myself that clutter my mind, but when i'm sitting on that bench, i like to let my mind go blank.