Friday, September 15, 2006

myths and mopes

I skipped knit night last night, ostensibly to write sub plans (I have a writing workshop training today) which were easily finished, so then tuned into my longtime addiction, "Survivor". It's the controversial "divide 'em by ethnicity" season, and I gotta say, the white folk So-called hot women cozying up to the buff boy. Everybody big, conformatively attractive, hardly noticing their invisible backpack of white privelege they're carrying around. The assumption of success. Too alpha, for want of a better word.

My personal jury's out on whether it was a good idea to divide a cast along these lines, but I do think it gets people talking, and maybe more talking about ethnicity as it relates to justice, prejudice and privelege is what needs to get done. Certainly Justice and Privelege are timely topics in our society today. So if it keeps the topic open and the lines of communication flowing, let's go with it. I think, in our current national Terror Over Terrorism, we have neglected to keep chipping away at the lines that divide us. So we leave it to a tv show to bring it up again, though admittedly, they are doing it in the most heinous fashion, and only for ratings.

Can ya tell I'm lonely for Ann and Coko, and missing our 2 years of grad school camaraderie, in which no stone of white guilt and social analysis was left unturned?

In other news, I had a long chat with Myke, my handyman who inadvertently triggered my current permit ordeal, with his fence-building and flag moving. He has moved off to the mainland, now, but has been supportive of us, in the ensuing firestorm of bureaucratic hassle. I like Myke, and wish him well, though I am well and truly finished with home improvement, after this trial by fire, that I fear may never be resolved. I am definitely finished with attempts to be aimiable with my neighbor, who filed the complaint, though I imagine she didn't consider the possible results of her complaint, either. It's interesting; when I spoke with her about being in a hassle with the city, weeks ago, she responded "I'm just a widow, no one cares for me, I have to look out for myself." She fights with the neighbors out of some bizarre fear that we could possibly be taking advantage of her. Reya referred to the urban permitting process as a weird form of power struggling, and I have to agree. I am rapidly leaving the place inside where I personalize this experience, however, and am starting to view the process as a long slog that may or may not resolve itself, but one in which I have no power. In seeing it as such, however, its power to wreck me with insomnia and weeping and gnashing of teeth diminishes, as well.

When the going gets weird, the weird break out the red wine and nail polish, I say.

I tried on the Purple Koigu sock last night and must say, am not that happy with my effort. More than 2/3 way done with sock #1, running low on ball #1, the love has fled the building. Will I be cursed to rip and re-knit? Like Prometheus, rolling that rock up the hill each day, or was he the guy who had his liver eaten daily by buzzards? Or both? Again, I am not one of the nation's great sock knitters. Maybe it's time to toss in the towel, and claim no knitting progress whatsoever for the past month? meh.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the pedicure is mightier than the sword

After a long and very trying day at the permits office, I am home, moving through the bureaucratic bad mood by scrubbing my shower, and cleaning out the fridge. I'll then proceed to revive my practice of facing my demons with a bitchin' pedicure. I do think this rip-roaring red is just the thing, don't you?

Funny...I don't have a permit. Seems the permits take up to a month to get issued. Good thing the work's already been done, eh? Sheeeee-it. There was some issue with whether one of my fences crosses lines of easement on my own property, and the city doesn't seem to have any real straight answer for me on that, it "requires further research". After the research, they'll draw up a maintenance agreement, giving the city permission to come onto my land to work on water lines, etc. Duh...of course they have my permission. But it's frustrating that they don't know themselves where the lines of easement are; that it's not readily available on public record.

I did get a fair amount of knitting done in the office, though. I am cheered by that, though I'm coming to the conclusion that people who find sock knitting to be a rewarding pursuit are obviously gifted in ways that I am not. Progress on a first sock is not necessarily a cheering thing, as one has the second sock looming ahead.


I took the dogs to Makapuu Flats today for a sunset stroll and swim. In the picture, it's the beach and the whole flat area from the bottom of the picture back toward Koko Head Crater. In reality, it's the whole area between Sandy's surfing beach (too rough and scary for me) and the Makapuu lighthouse area. The beach is very sheltered, a little cove, really, and usually rather deserted. A big culvert lies half-buried in the sand at the tideline. I amused myself by sending both dogs racing through and out into the lagoon. The picture makes the area look much lusher and greener than it really is, this time of year, but I like the aerial view. In reality, now the grass is tall and bleached to a very silvery color. Mesquite and agave plants dot the landscape and it's a bit hilly, with dusty gravel paths running hither and thither. Today we were completely alone out in all that space, an unusual phenomenon, to be so isolated on this busy, buzzing island.

The school district meeting in Waikiki ended up being rather enjoyable, in spite of all my whining yesterday. Amusing company, smart presenters, and sessions on data analysis, which always pleases me. For a woman who doesn't like numbers, I rather enjoy looking at testing data, particularly when it's broken down and dissected, six ways to Sunday. My last session of the day ended early for us non-test-coordinators, and I got to go home at 2:30, ensuring a traffic-free commute! Hence the inspiration to go to the other side of the city for some beach time. There were BIG waves coming over the rocks today. I was walking around on some tidepools, but the dogs were going out on the rocks and I was afraid they'd get washed off and into the current, so I took them inland and then over to the beach, instead.

I spent the evening working on the paperwork to correct our fencing violations with the city, for tomorrow's planned ordeal at the city offices. I'm told the application for a retroactive permit and subsequent paying of fines will take me all damn day, but a tiny corner of my mind keeps hoping that I'll get in and get out with a minimum of bureaucracy. There's always the knitting to keep me company, if it doesn't go well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

my cross to bear

A week zipped by, as we were held hostage by the fabulous cook guest, and the holy terror toddler. I had fun, but let me tell you, this past Friday was a Happy Day, being able to come in from work and have my house back. To once again enter my kitchen, to lay in blissful silence on the sofa, watching mindless television, to keep all bedroom doors open in the house, without fear of dogs destroying children's stuffy dogs and King David (the fiendish 3 year old) did not mix so well, though the exposure was good on both sides. Ella was predatory, slipping around, thieving toys, eating pasta right out of the child's mouth, and expressing her distress at the invader by employing her age-old trick of peeing on her bed. Cricket's roughhousing and rampaging through the house whipped the boy up into a fever pitch, causing Cricket himself to spend a few evenings enjoying the solitude of our bedroom, with a beef rib, while the child was doted on.

It's weird when your party animal friends have children. I'm sure they think it's weird when their party animal friends acquire more animals and pick up strange habits like knitting.

In King David's wake, I realize that my friend Dan and I have parted ways in the cooking department. He has become a better, more enthusiastic, inspired cook, and P and I have remained the same sort of ordinary, survival cooks we always were. We have a few staples, we can make a fair number of things from scratch, but we are not above a bit of Taco Bell and Top Ramen to get us through the week. Ah, well, I do have my standbys, and tonight I made Tandoori chicken on the grill, salad and some yummy pesto potato salad.

The Crown of Thorns plant is blooming: I've always liked its waxy looking leaves and the flowers look rather like lipstick to me. Of course since moving to Hawaii, I hardly know lipstick anymore, relying on a bit of sunburn to make me look colorful, rather than my old stash of Clinique, Cargo and Aveda cosmetics. Still, if I were a glamourous woman, working in the business world, this matte-finish pinky red flower is the color of lipstick I would wear.

Working...I've developed a complete case of dread that starts up around 5pm each Sunday evening, and every morning around 6am, regarding my job. I like the students. I am just sick of feeling like a fish out of water at this school.

Last week, we had a field trip, and kids were strongly urged to wear the school shirts (and buy them if they didn't own them already) and close-toed shoes to go to a play. I am not a kid, and in light of the 85 degree heat, chose to wear a skirt, tank top and some open toed sandals. I caught it from a co-teacher, both about the shoes and later in the day, about my lack of ownership of the school shirt. Baaaahhhhh! Not a real hassle, just a cool "no closed toe shoes?" immediately upon my arrival in the classroom, and later in the day, a t-shirt order form was given to me. As a teacher I would always urge my students to wear sneakers on field trips, too. But as a teacher, I generally wore what I pleased. I realize this may come off as hypocritical to some, but hey, I'm an adult, and generally choose to dress in a way that's practical and comfortable. I DID notice that another teacher opted to wear platform shoes, displaying a stunning pedicure, and so I felt vindicated.

At the theater, it was pointed out that if the place caught on fire, those who were wearing sneakers could make a hasty escape. I guess I'd stay to burn, along with the fashionable other teacher and the odd parent chaperones and nonconformist 3rd graders...

Now this high-schoolishness and chuffing about my job is due to quit any minute now, and I do need to qualify it with the unequivocal statement that there are people I've found at work whom I truly enjoy and respect. They are just not the people I spend most of my days with. I am not necessarily a thin-skinned person, and I assure you I defended my choice of footwear as well as that black tank top with my typical sharp wit, but the damage is done. It remains no lovefest for me in my employment life. I seek my joy in the students, now, and in plying my craft, but I fear the lack of joy here.

Luckily, there's Life After Contract Hour, and it remains enjoyable. I have been self-medicating with the beach, Lanikai, to be specific, and snorkeling, and with grilling and my patio, and the almost frantic anticipation of my visit to Virginia in 3 weeks. P is out of town again, gone off to the Pacific Northwest, and the dogs and I are holding down the fort for a few days.

Tomorrow, in lieu of my teaching day, I have a meeting in Waikiki, which is not as shiny as one might expect, given that it's all about testing and scores and protocols. I'm going to be there with people who have the power to evaluate me, so I can't even knit, even though it's a 7-hour meeting. Still, Purple Koigu is going in my bag, because I can't resist the chance to enjoy the temptation.

The day after tomorrow, I go to City Hall to pay our fencing fees and hopefully, with the Universe's blessing, put this Bad Neighbor issue to rest once and for all. I'm taking a personal day to take care of this, and so won't see actual school until Wednesday, which is a short day. So I really have little to complain about, in the greater scheme of things.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

eating and drinking through September

September already. I am still wondering what happened to June, which flew by in a whirlwind. It feels like fall here, but maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. Still, the hard rain in the night, the yellow grass on Diamond Head and Punchbowl craters and the blue blue skies all shout "autumn!!" to me.

We are buried under houseguests this week, as our old housemate and friend from waaaay back, Dan, is here, with wife and 3 year old son. I'm glad to see them, but find myself wishing for peace, as well. The constant interaction, the vigilance over the toddler, the need to play host and entertain are wearing me down. To compensate for the grueling part, I must mention that Dan is an outstanding cook, and we've eaten like fat hobbits since he's arrived, feasting on grilled aku, steamed crab, and a whole host of other gourmet delights. I've supplemented with cocopuffs from Liliha bakery and my newly-perfected smoothie recipe. So no one's getting thin in our household. Not this week, anyway.

Little knitting has been done. The heel of Purple Koigu Take Two is being formed. A few more rows of the Sophie bag have been knitted. I think I'm moving slowly on that one because I am trying to decide how to embellish it. But I do need it for my trip to the Olde Country, coming up at the end of the month, so I better get a move on!

My job may change at work, it turns out. They are thinking of buying out my contract (that of staff developer and resource teacher) and converting me to a Kindergarten teacher. No problem, says I, putting my new flexible-whatever attitude into practice. I mutter the mantra "my job does not define who I am" and remember that no matter what I end up doing this year, the reality is, I'll be on the chopping block come the end of the school year anyway. So my job, my real job, is to enjoy myself and work hard, in a non-attached (in the best Buddhist sense) way.