Monday, March 19, 2012

Teacher's Pet

We've all known them. We've all hated on them.

Teacher's pets.

Those sniveling kids that have all the answers, know all the random facts, have the teacher's address memorized. (hopefully not...) Those kids that just THRIVE off the attention and approval of the teacher.

I'm not one of those kids. Never have been, never will be. I'll do my best in class, but I don't really care what the professor thinks of me as a human being, one way or the other. I typically sit towards the back and keep to myself, seldom answering questions, never asking them, and just trying to mind my own business.

For some reason, some teachers choose me. I'm not sure why, maybe they see some hidden potential in me, maybe they see me as a younger version of themselves, heck, maybe they do it just because they know I hate the attention. But sometimes, inadvertently, I am the teacher's pet.

This is the case for my Monday night class this semester.
Before I had any real contact with her, she would stare into my eyes during lecture. Not just a casual glance sort of look, I mean really looking into and searching the depths of my soul sort of a look. She reminds me a bit of myself if ever I get older like her. Brown hair, grey eyes, sort of quirky and quiet, quietly analyzing type of a person. Things escalated on the level of teacher's pet when she finally spoke to me directly outside of class. It all started back a few weeks, when I wore a Totoro shirt to class. The prof gently grabbed my arm, stared at my shirt for a second or so, and asked me "You like Totoro?" Completely shocked that she would even have half an idea what or who Totoro even was, I managed a "yes... You know it?" to which she launched off into a long story about her ex husband, and how he had worked for an animation company, and how they had both loved and adored everything Miyazaki has ever done. Even more shocked, I then told her about my recent experience of seeing some Miyazaki movies on the big-screen, to which she expressed both approval and jealousy. I politely invited her to the final showing of "Castle in the Sky" that would be showing at the end of the month and took my seat.
Ever since then, she's asked me my opinions during class, always compliments me on my work, writes really nice things on my papers, etc. She still smiles at me and looks into my soul while teaching, too.

Well, tonight, things got real out of hand. At the beginning of class, she came up to me and asked if I was alright. Apparently i looked kind of... rough around the edges or something. I told her I hadn't gotten much sleep over the weekend, hadn't been feeling well so i hadn't eaten in a long time, etc. She expressed her sympathy, then began class. In class, she assigned us an exercise to write a poem. Most of my classmates were terrified and complaining at the prospect of having to write a poem. Obviously, as you may have figured out by now, I don't really mind writing all that much. So i set about writing a short poem. I finished far before the rest of the class. The prof was going around, silently reading everyone's poems... She read mine, and gave me high praises on it. I thanked her quietly, getting kind of red in the face for the recognition. Meanwhile, a few of the girls across from me were talking about their poems and how clever they were, etc. They were very pleased with themselves, to say the least. Well, the prof went over there and read over their poems, too. Just gave them a simple "very nice" without really meaning it. Well, horror of horrors, we finish the activity and she utters the most terrifying of phrases... "Who would like to read their poem to the class?" Silence. Not even the oh-so-confident teacher's pet wannabes volunteered. Then, the teacher said something even scarier than she had said before. "Well, I really loved Kristin's poem. It was one of, if not, my favorites that i read. It really speaks to me. Kristin, will you please read your poem to the class?" Everyone turned and stared at me... Hesitantly, I said I would. I read the poem to the class, feeling my face become redder and redder. I finished the poem, and the professor stood up and applauded me. The class hesitantly followed. I could feel the hatred of those girls burning through their eyes... Without even trying, I had become both the teacher's pet AND made enemies of half of my classmates. I sunk down into my chair and tried to appear uninterested in both the accolades of my professor and the hateful whispers and glares from my classmates.

Time went on, my cheeks faded back to a normal color again, i tried to forget about the poetry incident. At 8:45pm, the prof made an announcement. "It has come to my attention that some of you have been working very hard on your annotated bibliographies, and a few of you are outright exhausted. So I'm letting you all leave an hour early tonight." As she said all this, she was looking at me the entire time. Again i felt my malnourished, zombie-state face reddening. The class looked around, mildly confused but ecstatic at the prospect of leaving early.  We all turned in our poems that we had written, and left. I thanked my professor for letting us out early, and she smiled and said "you go get some rest now. Take care!" and i went on my way.

I never asked for this. I never tried for it. But it's happening. And if we can get out of class early because of it, I think I can manage, and hopefully my classmates won't judge so harshly. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Identity Crisis

     I was raised irish.
For the first 14 or so years of my life, I assumed I was Irish. I always knew I was adopted, but it never occurred to me that I would be of a different ethnic background than my family. Mom's dad was from Ireland, so her family is very very Irish-ly oriented. St. Patrick's day is second in glory only to Christmas and Easter for us Mulligan-Thompsons. When I was young, I was an Irish dancer (I know, laugh it up haha). I always just figured I was Irish, and I was darn proud of it.

Until one fateful trip to the post-office.

I was about 13-14 years old at that time. I was in the car with my dad; we were going to the post-office. I remember telling him how much I loved being Irish. Then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, even to this day, he told me "but you're not Irish."

Not Irish? What? Of course I was Irish... Everything about me was Irish. There was no other culture (except possibly the French) that I loved more than Irish. Not Irish? This man I called father must have been delusional.

I asked him "what do you mean I'm not Irish?" and he told me "You're French. And Portuguese."


The emotions that ensued from that were of utmost dismay and disappointment, but also of joy. (I was French! a dream come true.) But not Irish? I said to him "No part of me is irish?" and he said "No, you're French-Portuguese. Didn't you already know this?"

Obviously not, judging by the tears streaming down my cheeks at that point. Up until then, I felt like everything I was, everything I did, was a lie; a fake. All those years I had been a dancer I should have been taking French lessons? I should have been taking ceramics instead of traveling to competitions?

My world had been shaken. It took a long time to get over the shock of it all. I didn't want to be stupid Portuguese! I wanted to be Irish! I was mad and confused. I didn't always love being Portuguese. In the beginning, I hated it.

Obviously, as the title of this blog would imply, I now thoroughly embrace being Portuguese (and French), but I realized that I'm still Irish. Even more than being legally Irish, being raised in the Irish culture does something to you. I'm proud to have been raised in that culture, I'm proud that my family is Irish, and mostly I'm proud of my grandfather, who immigrated to America from Ireland in his twenties.

Sadly, I lost my grandfather in 1995, when I was just 5 years old. I really wish he was still here so he could tell us the stories of the old country. I wish he had been there to see me dance. I wish he could see me and my brother grow up. I often spend time at the cemetery, at the grave site. I try to keep the weeds off it, sometimes on special days i bring flowers. I didn't know him too well, but I love hearing the stories of him from my family.

I'll always be Irish in my heart, and I'm thankful for all aspects of my heritage.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and the road downhill all the way to your door.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Activity Report

12:13pm : woke up. proceeded to message Dixie on IM for a while before getting out of bed and actually going to physically talk to her.

1:00pm : drove to school to get friend to drive to Sylmar. While waiting for said friend, sat alone on a bench. Russian girl sat in an awkward proximity to me on said bench, and proceeded to make a call. Overhear Russian girl making appointments, think nothing of it. Russian girl starts talking about rates, alcohol/drug use, and other unsavory things. Conclude that Russian girl is prostitute. Continue waiting for friend, Russian girl continues talking on phone about disgusting and unmentionable things.

1:15pm: girl walks past me, staring at me coldly. I smile at girl, girl disregards gesture of friendliness and scowls harder. Girl runs into hedge. I laugh in amusement and ask if she is alright. She says nothing, scowls, and walks away.

1:30pm: russian girl is off the phone now, sitting awkwardly next to me. Friend arrives. walk to friend's car with friend and drive to Sylmar.

2:10pm : arrive at Sylmar. go into classroom and set up. welcome parents/children with a smile but receive no response (as per usual). Hand out juice and sandwiches.

2:30pm: play Loteria game with families. I win. the prize was a glass piggy bank. having no need for this, i give it to small child in closest proximity to me.

2:40pm: read children's book out loud. accidentally read spanish word in english accent. children all laugh at me. some parents scold their children for it. I apologize and explain that my spanish is not too good.

3:30pm: class over. children/parents leave. small girl runs up and randomly hugs me for a while. sign the log, and proceed to leave with friend.

4:00pm: arrive at CSUN again. get in my car and drive to Chili's to meet other friend.

4:10pm: arrive at chili's, have awkward confrontation with waitress, requesting to just wait for my friend. Waitress demands i go sit at table. I sit at table, somewhat bewildered.

4:15: friend arrives. Randomly, 2 other friends arrive as well. We hug each other, and proceed to sit at our own tables. Coincidences are strange. I tell my friend that Life has not met its quota for giving me weird situations today. Friend laughs and agrees. Proceed to tell friend about events beginning at 12:13pm through 4:10pm. Waitress arrives and takes our order.

4:30pm: food arrives. amusingly, my friend is served a bowl of cheese. We eat our food and talk about boys and school and jabba the hutt professors.

5:00pm : finish eating. wait around forever until waitress brings check+refills. continue joking around about random things.

5:30pm: waitress at last brings check. takes a long time to process our money.

5:45pm: we leave restaurant. bad things happen, so we decide to get ice cream. We decide to meet at northridge mall. get in separate cars and go to mall.

6:00pm: arrive at northridge mall. text friend to see where she is. sit on bench waiting for reply. Group of boys approaches me. One comes up to me, asks if i have money for the bus fare. I reply with "i have no money, not even coins to give you... i'm sorry." guy then tells me that his friend thinks i'm hot and wants to buy me something nice. I look at boy and say no thanks, that's okey. Boy then asks how old i am. I ask "why do you want to know that?" boy asks again, "well, just how old are you? over 18?" I reply with "i'm 21. why?" Boy asks "can you go into that store and buy a pack of smokes for my friend over there?" i say "for your friend? he's underage? nah, dude, i don't do stuff like that... it's illegal..." boy says "aww c'mon... i thought you were cooler than that." i say "nah, man... i don't do stuff like that. you kids shouldn't be smoking, anyways. you'll regret it later on in life." receive text. friend is on other side of mall.  boy says "aww, okey. well, thanks for your time, have a good night!" and i say "ya, have a good night. be good and stay out of trouble! you're too young for cigarettes." he laughs and I get up and go find my friend.

6:10pm: find friend. tell her about events that transpired at 6:00pm. friend is shocked that i could get into so much trouble in just the few minutes she left me alone. many laughs are had.

6:15pm: buy friend gelato. life gets a little bit better. we proceed to walk through mall, making fun of fashions incorporating floral "homeschool/granma" prints while being cut in a slutty manner. I make comment "oh yes, because that's what a guy wants to be thinking about when he sees a hot girl. his grandmother or a socially inept homeschooled kid." friend proceeds to lapse into asthmatic fit of laughter. I begin to become concerned for the well-being of my friend. Friend begins breathing again, still laughing quite hard. we proceed to walk through mall.

6:30pm: we go into vitamin store. girl working there asks us why we're in there. friend buys vitamins. girl working is confused, but rings up my friend for the purchase. says something about rewards club. we ignore her. we leave vitamin world.
6:35pm: wander around mall aimlessly making fun of fashions in forever 21, sidecca, hot topic, those expensive stores that no one can afford, etc. friend goes to bathroom. points out weird stall with two toilets in it. friend takes picture. we laugh heartily over it.

7:00pm go to asian store. muse over all of the awesome things including a pikachu suit. We go up the escalator, planning how to get guys. we decided that the best way to get a guy's number is to crash your car into the guy (in or out of his car) and get his insurance and phone number written down. a great way to meet people.

7:30pm: we get in our cars and leave.

10:45pm: finish writing this blog 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Forgotten Camping Trip

This is a somewhat fictitious account of a camping trip I had a long while back with a dear friend of mine. Some of the things may or may not be entirely or not at all true or false all or none of the time.

    There I sat. Or lay, rather. Couldn't much sit up very well, having to sleep on a shelf. I lay there, planning my escape. Pinned up 5 inches above my nose were the blueprints i had drawn up, amongst other calculations. Blueprints on how to tunnel out of the current bug-infested predicament, and I do mean that literally. Holed up in a trailer, filled with mosquitoes and moths, watching a movie about a boy who thought he was from mars (and fallaciously claimed to taste colours) with my friend and her family. It was frighteningly hot during that time of year. But it wasn't so much the heat as it was the bugs. And the food. All of the food was pork. Sausages, bacon, ham sandwiches, all pork. Heat, bugs, pork; I was melting, being eaten alive, and starved, simultaneously. A torturous occasion, on all accounts, to be certain. We had dined previously in the day at an Italian restaurant. Italian food is akin to pork for my taste; practically intolerable. I managed to smuggle back 3 prawns, which i carefully cut up and rationed out over the next few days. I kept it in the corner of my shelf-bed, hoping no one would notice and deprive me of my food source from the sea. There I lay, smacking at the mosquitoes, in a feeble attempt to stay unscathed by there ever-probing stings and bites. I had planned an escape route, and calculated the time it would take me to either walk home or hitch-hike, if at all possible. I had enough rations for about 9 days, if i allotted one small piece of shrimp for each day of the return journey. I would also try and procure some sort of balm for the bites, as it was almost certain that i would contract malaria or gangrene. Another all too real possibility was the contraction of scurvy, seeing as how i didn't have any good source of vitamin C at the time. At this point, I decided to create my last will and testament. With trembling hand, I bequeathed all of my earthly possessions to my brother, and wrote fondest regards to my mum and dad. I would put into action my plan the next day.

I never got the chance, we ended up at some kind of water park in a current-driven river sort of attraction. We wore ridiculous hats, and I was much ashamed of my existence at that point in time. At least it was a chance to escape from those infernal insects. We returned from this venture, somehow sunburnt despite the large-brimmed hats we adorned out sweaty heads with. Another night spent on the shelf.

I was jolted from sleep in the middle of the night. I couldn't remember where i was. As i sat up rather abruptly, i hit my head quite hard (and rather loudly, i'm afraid) on the ceiling above the shelf. This only added to the disorientation and terror. Not to mention it elicited a concerned question from someone that had been roused from sleep due to the sound produced from my skull smashing against the ceiling. I rubbed my head in confusion, then remembered where I was. An insect infested inferno. 

I never did manage to escape. Instead, we all drove home the very next day. I returned home, only my epidermis and pride ridden with wounds and disease.


this was inspired by a discussion had today with my friend from the story, recounting this camping trip in both amusement and something akin to flashbacks to the horrors of war. :P much love to my friend and her delightful family! it wasn't really all that bad of a time.