October 30, 2002

my provincial students

For my speaking/listening class in ESL, students have to watch television or listen to the radio and report on what they heard. One student writes:

"This news program talked about an unknown private collector invited a French epigrapher to examine a limestone box with Aramaic inscription "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus.". . . The scientists believe that the box could be a archaeological reference to Jesus of Nazareth, lord of the Catholics."

Perhaps, in addition to a lecture about how Chinese people are not evil, I need to introduce the concept of "Protestant."

Posted by Meredith at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2002

student's view of the sniper

From one of my ESL students:

"The 43-year-old lady has been shot at the Home Teapot Parking Lot."

Remember how sick you got at the spinning teacups at Disneyland? Imagine something the size of Home Teapot!

More soon.

Posted by Meredith at 10:14 AM | Comments (3)

October 18, 2002

things to do when you're sick

(Since a google search turned up nothing on this, I thought I'd do my part to make the Internet as comprehensive as possible. Here goes).

-- watch "The Last Starfighter" and laugh at the special effects
-- teach your cat to play fetch with a featherduster
-- listen to your friends plan their weddings
-- read Stephen King novellas
-- find the latest updates on the Tongan royal family
-- call in sick to work, only to discover that you have called the wrong secretary and your whole class is sitting there, waiting for you to show up
-- drink apple juice by the gallon
-- marvel at the difference in temperature between your two ears
-- watch your muscles atrophy
-- blog

At last check, the temperature was 99.6. Blah.

Posted by Meredith at 05:37 PM | Comments (33)

October 16, 2002


I. Am. Still. Sick.

I woke up this morning (duh DUH duh duh). Put the thermometer in my ear (duh DUH DUH duh duh)

I guess my life isn't actually a blues song. But it should be. For the fifth day in a row, my temperature is around 100 degrees. When I visited my friendly nurse practitioner this morning, she seemed pretty unconcerned. She did say, though, that a persistent low-grade fever could mean a lot of things, from "West Nile virus to lymphoma." Thanks, Janet. I feel better now.

I'm taking the day off from schools today, which always means more work in the long run, but I think it was time. Mike and I went downtown last night to hang out for an hour or so, and I could barely move when we got home, I was so tired. Somehow, the idea of seven straight hours on my feet didn't seem too smart.

Anyway, I'm bored out of my gourd. I tried my version of Jerry Bruckheimer -- stupid romantic comedies. I watched the tail end of "Almost Famous" today, and a fascinating program on conjoined twins last night. I don't know what's left. I also read An Na's "A Step From Heaven," another excellent example of young adult lit that's still relevant to adult audiences. And the boredom remains.

Other suggestions for low-energy activities you can do flat on your back? (get your minds out of the gutter. .. . )

Posted by Meredith at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2002

still sick!

Okay, readers, this is getting ridiculous. I am now on Fever Day #4. Because the fever and headache are my only symptoms, I have continued to teach. (Also, because California has no money, there is no longer any money to pay substitutes). I did cancel Owen's and Ellery's piano lesson this afternoon -- I figured there's a big difference between standing behind a podium and sitting next to an 8-year-old, repositioning their hands.

But what to do? I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning. I'm hoping it's not some kind of mutant infection. In the meantime, my only joy continues to be the ear thermometer. I love it so much. It is so fast. It is so fun. I will write it an ode:


Ear thermometer,
O ear thermometer,
You are so fast,
You have so many cute blue buttons
When I hold you in my hand
You beep and beep
When I hold you in my ear
You confirm my every fear
Ear thermometer

Posted by Meredith at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2002


I am sick.

I think I have the flu. I am achy all over (especially my ribcage), I have no energy to even stack the dishes, and my temperature is consistently one to four degrees above normal. I am chugging Vitamin-C fortified apple juice (not that it helps for flu) and watching Mike do the same with pee-flavored Gatorade. (I think it's supposed to be lemon-lime, but it sure looks like pee to me). If the new ear thermometer says I still have a fever tomorrow, I will call in sick to works. I fear the wrath of power-hungry admins may prevent them from putting a sign on my classroom door saying my class has been cancelled.

The ear thermometer is very cool, though.

I have never watched so much bad TV in my life. If you have ideas of low-energy flu activities, send them in. This sedentary thing is still sort of new for me. . .

Posted by Meredith at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)

October 11, 2002

all brown, all around

As some of you gentle readers know, we have a house cleaner, Sandra, who comes every two weeks. Sandra is a former coworker of Erin who cleans houses on the side of her office job to earn more money. She is originally from El Salvador.

Sandra is trying to find more clients and called recently to say that she gave our name as a reference to a woman who is interested in her services. Here is what the woman asked:

"I'm calling you to learn more about Sandra, who I'm thinking of using as a house cleaner. Basically, I just want to know if she's timely, neat, tidy. Does she take care of the details? Is she healthy, pleasant, honest, those sort of things. . ."

Healthy? I hadn't actually asked. Next time, before I employ somebody to clean my house, I guess I should check their medical records in addition to the extensive fingerprinting we usually do. Also, I should check to make sure they are not brown. (Bonus points if you can identify the source of the blog title. . )

For Sandra's sake, I will call this woman back. But the temptation to say, "Actually, she's a tubercular, HIV-infected child molester wetback" will be difficult to resist.


Posted by Meredith at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2002

More feminism responses

Gentle reader and erstwhile student Emily writes:

"The only "retort" to the feminist/lesbian comment I can think of is a flip-side one: are all masculinists (is that a word? non-feminists? whatever.) gay? And I'm not sure that's culturally sensitive. On a
tangent, though, I read an article about feminism last year for class that made an interesting point: the author explained that she tells people she
"advocates feminism" instead of saying she "is a feminist" because people don't make the same assumptions. In fact, they frequently respond with, "What does that mean?" Which gives her at least a chance to "defend" her position."

Rock on, Third Wavers. (Wait, maybe that's me. Does Fourth Wave feminism exist yet? Generation X is as the grass, and its people as the flower of grass. . . )

In other politically incorrect news, an ESL student actually made her eyes all slanty by pulling them back with her fingers when I pressed her to explain how she knew that the person she was discussing was Chinese. I hadn't seen anyone do that since my second grade class made fun of Andy Yoon, the only Korean kid in the school. Mike had never seen anyone do that. Clearly, homeschoolers don't have to deal with playground taunts, at least, not when they are much bigger than their three younger sibilings. Of course, I also had to explain the concept of "dodgeball" to Mike. Do you suppose he knows how to play four square?

Posted by Meredith at 04:54 PM | Comments (5)

October 07, 2002

R&B/Tongan/Fijian weekend

Good morning, gentle readers. While I pause in my grading, having finished reading journals and about to dive into autobiographical essays, I thought I'd talk a bit about my multicultural weekend. Here goes.

On Saturday, I drove with my friend Mari out to the Concord Pavillion for a KBLX-sponsored concert of several artists, culminating in Chaka Khan (chaka, chaka khan). We were there for seven hours, listening to artists such as Teena Marie, Gap Band, Club Nouveau, and a couple others I can't remember at the moment. I was one of the whitest people in the audience. The concert was pretty fun, but we eventually bailed without ever getting to Chaka Khan. I assume that she is still every woman. It's all in her.

Sunday was World Communion Sunday, which means that church was in English, Tongan, and Fijian all at once. All three choirs sang short anthems, the Palangi (white) and Tongan choirs facing the congregation, the Fijian choir facing the front of the church. The philosophy, I think, is that the music is for God, not a concert for an audience, so looking at the cross while you sing seems like a good idea. The Tongan choir used to do the same thing, but, continuing a disturbing trend toward assimilation, this time, they sang to the congregation. There were a few other modifications to the service in terms of who walked where and how long things took. All in all, we finished church about forty minutes later than usual.

What did I learn from my weekend? That I am more of a stickler for timeliness than I thought. The concert was really fun, but I couldn't figure out why the audience had to wait forty-five minutes between sets. The service was nice, too, but by the end, I, along with the grumpy old woman sitting behind me, was absolutely starving. Remind me to pack more snacks next time I'm doing something crosscultural. . .

Posted by Meredith at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2002

The Laramie Project

We just returned from a production of "The Laramie Project" at the Bus Barn Theatre
in Los Altos. For those who don't know, it's a retelling, through a series of monologues, of the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay university student who, in 1998, was beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming. A theatre group in New York spent several months interviewing the citizens of Laramie and the surrounding community about their reactions to the crime and compiled the best of these interviews into a play. The particular production we saw had the added benefit of starring Thomas, one of my favorite teenagers, in a series of roles, including the boy who found Matthew Shepard's body as he was riding his bike. The play was made this past year into a movie for HBO , which I had seen and enjoyed a lot, but seeing it on stage made it all the more powerful. At the end of the play, we asked Thomas how he was able to do this play three nights a week and walk around and laugh and have fun during the day. His answer was, "Actually, after starting the play, I've actually been laughing more." If you've got a minute, drop by the Bus Barn and catch it. It runs through October 19th, so you've still got plenty of time. Who knows, gentle reader. If you called us once in a while to see how we were doing, we might even go with you to see it again.

Posted by Meredith at 11:55 PM | Comments (1)

October 03, 2002


For some unfathomable reason, I am on the mailing list for the Republican National Committee.

Gentle readers who have spoken with me (or, for that matter, my mother) for more than five minutes will find this a bit odd, as do I. What has put me on such a list? My pro-union rhetoric? My work helping illegal immigrants? Or perhaps my membership in the International Reading Association?

(Actually, I suspect it was my subscription to "U.S. News and World Report." Remind me to order "Utne Reader" next time the Boy Scouts have a magazine sale).

Anyway, since I suspect that few of you gentle readers are also on the RNC mailing list, here's a few excerpts from their latest letter, which is dated (I am not making this up) "Friday morning."

"Dear Friend,

In recognition of your unwavering commitment to President Bush as a Sustaining Member of the Republican National Committee, I am honored to present you with the enclosed . . . personalized photograph of President Bush. . .

Friend, as the vanguard for the President and his compassionate conservative agenda, the support of grassroots leaders like you is vital to our Party's success this November. . .

With no budget, unable to outline priorities, or pass legislation, some Senate democrats, led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle, have obstructed rather than working to solve problems."

And, perhaps my favorite sentence:

". . the support of grassroots leaders like you is vital to our Party's success this November. We cannot win without your help."

Guess we'll have a Democratic majority after all. .

Posted by Meredith at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

Jake speaks againsD? (even in the title)


Posted by Meredith at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2002

why we need language professionals

Loyal reader Al recently sent me the following instructions on how to use chopsticks:

"Welcome to Chinese Restaurant

Please try your nice Chinese Food with Chopsticks
the traditional and typical of Chinese glonous history
and cultual.

Learn how to use your chopsticks

Tuk under thurnb and held firmly

Add second chcostick
hold it as you hold a pencil

Hold tirst chopstick in originai position
move the second' one up and down
Now you can pick up anything:"

I recently saw this same set of instructions at a new Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. Its name is "Tinkling Spring." Business is, shall we say, not quite booming.

As I fixed my tea this morning, I read the following sentence on my box of teabags:

"Black tea, such as the tea contained in this package, and green tea naturally contain flavonoid antioxidnts, which may help protect the body from the damage caused by harmful free radicals."

As Mike and I have our share of long-haired hippie freaks in our family past, this really set my mind at ease. Just think how much tear gas would have been saved if riot police had known about black tea!

Posted by Meredith at 11:33 AM | Comments (4)

October 01, 2002

ah, students

Hello, gentle readers. Some of you have recently expressed dismay at my lack of blogging. The more astute among you, however, will realize that we have just finished September, the month where much of Meredith's time is taken up with typing rosters into her computer. September begins, officially, a new school year, complete with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, shiny new book covers, and ridiculous comments made by students. Here are a few comments I've received lately:

"Um, do we have to do a lot of reading for this Reading class?" (NB: this student did not return for a second day)

"But I don't have money to buy a novel. You mean, the library is free? But I don't know where the library is. Over there? But I don't know HOW to check out books from the library"

My ESL students are more charming than goofy. Yesterday, they asked me to define words like "gee," "to go on a date," "sleeve" and "maternity leave." They asked if "sexist" was the equivalent to "macho," and they were amazed that "lie" down was the exact same word as "lie" to your mother about where you were last night. Somewhat less charmingly, they also informed me that all feminists were lesbians. (If anybody has thought of a culturally sensitive retort to that comment, feel free to let me know).

In one of my classes, I have two brain-injured students, a Sudanese refugee, three dyslexic students and a person with juvenile arthritis and a chronic skin condition. In the same class is a student who has finished "Catcher in the Rye" and is starting on "The Grapes of Wrath" so that she "can have something to say about all the books you study in school."

So, gentle readers, here's a challenge: each of these students has to select an independent fiction book. Can you think of any titles that would suit such people? Send them in. In the meantime, I'll be correcting sentences like, "Stephanie was the Valid Victorian of her class because her grades were so good."

I should write a book.

Posted by Meredith at 10:27 PM | Comments (10)