August 30, 2002

Name that cat

We have adopted a kitty cat.

We went down this afternoon to the Palo Alto Animal Shelter. They were closed. So, since we had an hour to spare, we went down to the Santa Clara Humane Society. We took a number, visited with as many kitties as possible, met with an adoption counselor, and, three hours and $125 later. . . .

We have a cat.

He is a boy, six months old, and not yet neutered, so he won't come home until next week. He is black with white markings, and he meowed as loudly as he could until somebody came and picked him up.

Now, all he needs is a name.

He did actually come with a name, but it was "Greg," which was the name of Mike's manager and of a flaky cellist I once played with. Current contenders for names, based on his personality, include:

-- Joliet Jake
-- Gonzo
-- Lafayette (the street where we got him)

So, let's hear it, gentle reader. What should we name our new baby cat?

Posted by Meredith at 06:09 PM | Comments (8)

August 29, 2002

Summer Clearance Sales

I went back-to-school shopping today.

Macy's was having a 65% off sale, which was enough to get even me into a department store. I had the usual trouble with clearance racks -- they had things in size 2 and in size 18, whereas I (like many, many, many American women) am the average of these two sizes. The other thing I noticed was how many different Macy's employees tried to help me. First, they would ask me if I needed help with anything. Then, they would ask if they could find a dressing room for me (this, by the way, does not happen at Ross or Marshall's, where I usually shop). Once I came out of the dressing room, they were standing right there to ask me how things had gone. If they saw me holding more than one garment, they asked me if they could hold items at the register for me. And they _always_ introduced themselves. Two or three times.

After looking at a lot of leopard print stuff, I finally found a nice suit and two reasonably priced cardigans. I went to the one saleswoman who asked if I needed help and left me alone. She winked at me on the way out. That was all the attention I needed.

To reward myself for updating my wardrobe, I used my Border's gift certificate to purchase Mary Pipher's "The Middle of Everywhere." In case you didn't follow the hyperlink, Pipher, author of "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Soul of Adolescent Girls," writes about the burgeoning refugee population of her hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska. Obviously, this book is of professional interest, but I'm also trying to read it as a way to explain to someone what it is I do. So far, so good: it's pretty carefully written, mostly telling people's stories (including the author's) without a lot of editorial comment. On a lighter note, the cover photograph is of a group of multicultural children, patriotically holding their hands over their hearts. Innocent enough, yes? On top of the multicultural children, the publisher has added a sticker which reads, "The children on the front of the jacket are not refugees." I figure it's either a truth-in-advertising concession, or somebody's mom got pissed when she went to the library. "They called you a what? I'll show them. . "

Also, there are some birthday blessings I forgot to count. These include:

-- a picnic watching the boats at Shoreline Park while munching party leftovers
-- a "Cordon Bleu" cookbook, from which I prepared my birthday cake
-- a gift basket of different English teas, chocolates, and gourmet popcorn
-- an ink stamp with my name on it!
-- a beautiful, handmade journal
-- a velvet painting of a lady and a leopard

Maybe the last was from a summer clearance sale. I hope to continue the back-to-school shopping with meriko on Monday, so I will keep you posted.

Posted by Meredith at 11:13 PM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2002


I have just turned twenty-seven. I had the birthday that would not end, which is just the way I like them to be. Here are a few things, tangible and intangible, that I got as presents this year:

-- an anthology of prose and poetry about the city of Berkeley
-- a poster for the movie "Muppets Treasure Island"
-- a red cellophane, fortune-telling fish
-- a fully-stocked spice rack, cleverly disguised as a test tube holder
-- a copy of Simon Winchester's "The Map That Changed the World," describing the development of modern geology/paleontology
-- a new root beer, Root 66
-- a familiar favorite root beer, Coastal Fog
-- an evening spent alone with Mike at the Hotel Avante, which provided us with hard candies, free bagels, and a desk full of toys (i.e. Rubiks Cube, Etch-a-Sketch)
-- macaroons
-- an anthology about the Central Valley
-- a "dessert crawl" through San Francisco, where I ate chocolate pudding, lemon tart, raspberry crepes, and s'mores, all in one night
-- a copy of "Bel Canto," which describes what happens when a Japanese businessman and his favorite opera singer are taken hostage by South American guerillas
-- two great DVDs: "Magnolia" and "Moulin Rouge"
-- a bouquet of yellow roses and daisies
-- a conversation with a no-longer-deaf person
-- a package of "Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans," cleverly disguised as Jelly Bellys
-- dinner at "Global Village Cafe," one of my favorite restaurants
-- a partially completed birthday spanking
-- cards from Michigan, Minnesota, and an exchange student from China
-- a carrot ginger cake with twenty-seven flaming candles and one for good luck
-- phone calls from Singapore, Connecticut, and Tennessee
-- a reminder that, while twenty-seven is a cube, twenty-eight is perfect. This means I am now on my way to becoming perfect!
-- the opportunity to welcome new friends into my home
-- a gallon of homemade Cookies and Cream
-- two new classes of ESL students
-- a synthesizer serenade from Westchester
-- a friend singing, "She was BORN in the summer/of her twenty-seventh year. . . "
-- a card that read, "I think you're my best friend" from someone who I think is my best friend, too
-- a card signed by the person whose job it is to mail birthday cards, because when she saw it was to me, she couldn't resist
-- some hilarious English translations in a book called, "English as She is Spoke"
-- a green Sharpie
-- three used CDs of choral music
-- a purple Mylar balloon
-- an antique lace tablecloth
-- a three-year-old asking, "Birthday? Where's the surprise? Who's the surprise? Are you the surprise?"
-- a new cross necklace
-- a pesto pasta salad
-- a bag of _only_ black licorice jellybeans (the kind Mike usually picks out)
-- a joke involving a frog named Kermit Jagger
-- an email consisting mostly of the words "warm fuzzy warm fuzzy warm fuzzy"

I am indeed blessed.

Posted by Meredith at 01:27 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2002

The myth of fingerprints

Hello, gentle readers. Forgive the long absence -- your faithful correspondent has been on vacation in Oregon, as well as celebrating her 27th birthday yesterday. More on those two events later. Today's blog topic will deal with. . . .


Those of you who work in normal jobs probably don't think about fingerprints very often, unless you have lengthy police histories that I don't know about. However, every time you take a new job in the ed biz, it's another round of fingerprints for you. Since I am now teaching at Caņada College for the first time, it is time for another round of ink smudges.

It should be noted that every job I have ever had, as well as several volunteer positions, has required me to be fingerprinted. The City of Palo Alto has my fingerprints. Stanford University has them as well. The City of East Palo, I believe, also has my fingerprints. Santa Clara Unified School District has my fingerprints. DeAzna Community College has my fingerprints.

"Easy," you think. "All of these places are within a 20-minute drive of each other. They can just send your fingerprints to your new job."

O naive reader. How I pity your ignorance.

Fine. So, new job, new county, new set of fingerprints. I call the County Office of Education to set up an appointment -- they are open 1:30 -5:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays. (After all, there are no new teachers being hired in late August, so why work?). They call back. They inform me that they have several available appointments in the next two days, but that I am not allowed to make an appointment. I, foolishly, ask why.

"Because those are the rules."

Fine. I call the business office at the college, and ask them to schedule an appointment. They agree, but tell me I should stop by their office first to pick up a request form.

"No need. I already have one," I reply.

Awkward silence.

Stiffly, barely disguising disgust: "May I ask where you GOT this request form?"

"From my dean's office. Why? Is that a problem?"

"They're not supposed to give it to you. We are."


"Because those are the rules."

Fine. So business office schmo calls back with an appointment for next week so that I can prove for the sixth time in five years that I am definitely NOT a child molester (I hesitate to put that phrase in the blog for fear of the search queries it will generate, but what the hell).

The sad part?

I don't have fingerprints. My hands are so badly scarred from years of eczema that only two fingers have any discernible swirls. And, as always, I will be asked to re-fingerprint at least once more. Why?

Because those are the rules.

Posted by Meredith at 01:44 PM | Comments (3)

August 07, 2002


In between cleaning out closets and partying hearty in San Francisco, I have been offered interviews for no less than four different teaching jobs. Loyal readers will note that this is considerably more than the zero job offers I had before. (Note to disloyal readers: I am not quitting my job at DeAnza, which I love. I am merely trying to supplement my meager income. And to get back to teaching ESL. But I digress).

I'm not entirely sure how people get jobs. I am learning, however, that the Internet is much more useful than the newspaper. For any starving teachers who might be reading, I recommend, and as good starting points. They continue to serve me well.

Random factoid: I was interviewed for my job at DeAnza at 3 p.m. on September 11th. I learned once I was hired that my dean, who was career military, had lost several friends who worked in the Pentagon. He hired me anyway. Check out his website here. The dean's only shortcoming, in my opinion, is his propensity for hearing me sing the Whiffenpoof song. If only more people know about "Antoinette Birby" and "Noah Webster," the Yale community would be much better represented.

Anyway, back to jobs. The other thing I've noticed is that applying for teaching jobs seems to be much more rigorous than applying for jobs in other career fields. This is _not_ to say that applying for jobs is ever fun, but I'm not sure how many other fields require you to submit complete sets of transcripts (undergraduate and graduate), a written evaluation by a supervisor, write multiple essays, take a timed writing test, demonstrate your practice, and answer fifteen pre-scripted questions from a panel which is not allowed, by law, to ask anything else. This seems a bit much.

Even though the process sucks, I am starting to get a feel for what schools are like and where I'd actually enjoy working. Still to come: Meredith's rant on the appaling inequities inflicted upon part-time college faculty.

Posted by Meredith at 10:13 PM | Comments (5)

August 04, 2002

Treasure trove

The cleaning projects continued today. Mike actually took down the sheets from the office window that had been there for THREE YEARS and put up some blinds. They look awesome, but now I know where we got the expression, "You swear like a software engineer."

While Mike increased his word power, I went to work on more closets and bookshelves. Today's finds include:

-- a ceramic bell shaped like an owl
-- photos Mike took with the camera he got for his 12th birthday (note to Dodds: these are the _only_ family pictures we have. Honest. I still say y'all need to talk to Lin about that).
-- The book review I wrote in college of Other People's Children before I started teaching other people's children. I'm still not sure what I think of Lisa Delpit.
-- my planning notebook from my student teaching year at Wilcox
-- the handpainted stone I received from Peninsula Women's Chorus after my first year singing with them
-- additional framed copies of the portrait Mike took for the 1997 directory at church
-- copies of the Gunn High School Oracle, the Yale Daily News, the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and the Fiji Times, all bearing significant dates

And, last but not least,

-- the dessert menu which cleverly disguised a copy of Mike's proposal of marriage

This is why cleaning out closets is my job. Somehow, I don't think Mike had quite as much fun with the blinds. . .

Posted by Meredith at 11:10 PM | Comments (1)

August 02, 2002

Cleaning the office

After a brief respite (for my computer at least, which spent the week in Austin having its monitor repaired), I am back. Mike took the day off today, and we are cleaning the office. To be accurate, he is cleaning the office, and I am cleaning out closets. Both are strangely satisfying. So far, my adventures have turned up:

-- a sweatshirt my mother sewed me when I was ten years old
-- the silk tank top I filched from my evil roommate freshman year
-- Mike's T-shirt that reads "Terminator 2, Visual Effects Crew" (no, it's not a joke!)
-- hundreds of hats, thousands of hats, millions and billions and trillions of hats
-- the full-length mirror Carrie gave me for my birthday that I never got around to hanging up

I'll leave it to you, gentle reader, to determine which things I threw out.

Mike's purging of the office has been equally fruitful. He, so far, has turned up:

-- a charge on our American Express card from the Secretary of State in Austin, Texas
-- his cousin's Christmas letter, with pictures of their baby dressed as a bumblebee
-- a photo of the two of us dressed to the nines. We already had it on our mantle, but if anyone's interested in adding us to theirs, it is ready to send
-- more health insurance claims than you could shake a stick at (and I know you, gentle readers, are quite good at shaking sticks!)

I'll leave it to you to determine which he threw out, which he kept, and on which he instigated legal action

I was reminded of my friend Kathy's work on using artifacts as a way to begin writing. She told me there's a whole magazine devoted to found items

Who knows? From my closet great works of literature may yet spring forth. In the meantime, I need some more garbage bags.

Posted by Meredith at 05:16 PM | Comments (4)