Friday, January 30, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I could drive at the speed limit (and sometimes above) in Pigeon Forge today! Crossing traffic wasn't a big deal. Tourist season is over for a few weeks, maybe a couple months at most. I took advantage of the situation.
The esposo and I had lunch at The Blue Moose. I've heard great things about their wings, but the esposo wasn't impressed. My burger was okay, but not the best I've ever had.
Then I went to The Colour Bar and Spa in Walden's Landing to spend my gift certificate (and a little more). They sell Bare Minerals makeup. I love Bare Minerals because it doesn't feel like I've rubbed my face in a mud hole. I'm excited because they've got a new skin care line, but as my luck goes, they had just sold their last pump of moisturizer. The good news is that means another trip for me this week when it comes in.
The Colour Bar also sells Bumble and Bumble hair products. I do sometimes feel a little stingy when I spend more than $10 on shampoo, but it is so worth it. Their thickening spray is a miracle tool for girls with limp locks like mine.
Then I went to Books a Million. It's the only real bookstore in the county. And some days it really doesn't qualify. I picked up the Obamessiah's book,The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Vintage) and a couple of magazines. I also got a wooden puzzle contraption for the esposo. It kept him occupied while I went Belk, but I'm going to have to do some Googling to find out how to put it back together.
My main goal in Belk was to find some new sunglasses since I stepped on mine a few weeks ago. Everything in the store was on sale. Exept sunglasses. And I refuse, no matter how much the economy is depending on me, to spend $40 on cheap sunglasses.
The Belk trip wasn't a total waste. I did find a cute shirt and a pair of pants for less than $35. The pants only cost $11! Walmart pants cost more than that. The only problem is, every pair of black pants I tried on were long enough for 7 foot Amazonians. I'm going to have to learn how to hem because local seamstresses charge a small fortune.
So I'm proud of myself today. I did my patriotic part to help the economy, I stimulated my brain, and I exercised self control in three stores. It was a good day.
Friday, January 23, 2009
My job as a high school Spanish teacher is to prepare my students for college Spanish classes. (According to the state of Tennessee, that will change for current 8th graders.) So I don't really care if Spanish word order makes students mad or if they think Latin American geography is pointless. I present the material in a variety of ways that will help students learn. If students study, my class and those of my colleagues are not that difficult.
I take most of the complaining with a grain of salt. A certain amount of whining is to be expected from teenagers. I didn't love every assignment I was given in high school, and I would complain if I had to take Geometry right now. No one likes to hear this when they're doing something they don't like, but I believe that sometimes you have to do things you don't like is a good piece of advice for the real world. I didn't like college biology or anthropology, but I like that college degree they helped me earn.
I read Tuesday's Knoxville News Sentinel. I usually read it online, but I got a "real" paper on Tuesday. The KNS has recently reformatted the paper. Their weekly teen feature, Text Me, moved to the back of the section where it used to be, and they turned the front page of the section into School Matters. The headline of school matters caught my eye. So it made me curious about what they would run in Text Me to compliment that. (The format of the Text Me section is confusing, but worth a read.)
I'm really not surprised by teenagers much, but their responses shocked me. As a teacher, I am well aware of respect issues between teachers and teens, but I didn't know trust was such an issue.
Do you think teachers/administrators with a proper permit should be allowed to carry a gun to school? Why?
No, it's just doesn't sound safe to me. Some teachers might go crazy or something.
No, they could get mad and do something bad.
Absolutely not. If teachers carry guns, what is to prevent students from bringing them to school? And the fact that a teacher that doesn't like you may be carrying a gun is not a comforting thought.
Is this what students think about their teachers, or is this random sampling full of suspicious people? Do students worry about crazy teachers out to get them? While there are the Erin McLeans out there who disgrace all teachers, is there a reason students have this opinion of the average teacher?
What do real teens think?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The pastas used for sopa come in fun shapes. I prefer the smaller ones like stars and ABCs.
Moderna is the main brand of these. Most grocery stores and Wal-Mart sell these. Mexican stores usually sell them cheaper. In Dalton, GA, where the Mexican population is quite large, they sell them for 25 cents each.
3-4 Roma tomatoes, canned sauce is okay, but fresh tomatoes are best
clove of garlic
piece of onion
2 chicken bullion cubes
Blend tomatoes, garlic, onion, and chicken bullion cubes in blender.
In a small pot, heat small amount of Canola oil and add pasta. Stir until pasta is golden brown. Drain any excess oil.
Add mixture from blender.
Add water, abt 2-3 cups.
Salt as desired.
Bring to boil and let simmer until pasta is tender.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
I have seen so many people on tv and read so many things on-line today about Obama being the answer to all our problems. Sure, he ran on a platform of change, but he's just a man. I hope to be surprised by some of the positive changes he succeeds in making in the next four years. I just don't think it's fair to ourselves or him to expect him to solve all of America's problems. Sure, he's in a Spiderman comic now, but he isn't the superhero so many want to make him out to be.
Call me crazy, but I'm not naive enough to believe that I no longer have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying a mortgage.
Someone who agrees.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I looked up his blog when Obama won the election in November. He had a very nice post about President-elect Obama.
I looked up his blog and added it to my Google Reader when the latest Israel and Gaza trouble began. Rosenberg has been in Israel for the last few weeks. His latest post is worth reading. I find it very interesting for Christians and non-believers alike.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This whole tourist thing is a complex issue. I think I'll deal with it after I read the article.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
- My Family is probably my favorite Latino movie. It's definitely in one of my top 10 faves of all time and genres. It totally encompasses almost all of the issues Mexicans face in the U.S. I love the history it unveils and the way it portrays the side of the story that we gringos aren't used to.
- Edward James Olmos is THE staple Latino actor in Hollywood. The great thing about him is his diversity. I love him as Paco, the narrator of My Family. He was the inspiring teacher in Stand and Deliver. I love to hate him as dictator Rafael Trijillo in In the Time of the Butterflies based on Julia Alvarez's book In the Time of the Butterflies. He was Selena's dad in Selena . He was the hard-core head of a Mexican prison gang (view discretion is advised) in American Me. Most recently I loved his work as Jess, the anti-immigrant, Mexican-American patriarch of the Gonzalez family of East L.A. in the PBS television series American Family - The Complete First Season. (Watch one episode and I promise you won't believe it's from PBS!)
- I recently saw Under the Same Moon. I cried during that movie and movies rarely make me cry. It does a great job of portraying the hopelessness of our current immigration system.
- A Day Without a Mexican is a great movie for poking fun at the U.S.' ridiculous immigration system and the anti-immigrant phobias of the masses.
Have fun viewing and let me know what you think.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I am well aware of the fact that most people consider all Latinos to be "illegal Mexicans from Guatemala and Honduras" as repeated in one of my favorite movies, A Day Without a Mexican.
I guess I really hadn't thought about it, but I learned a new stereotype tonight.
I was in line at a local gas station where I witnessed the following scene:
Clerk: Lays cigarettes down on counter and tells Bubba the total.
Bubba: Wow, 'at's a lot cheaper than them A-rabs.
Clerk: Which A-rabs?
Bubba: Those down the road there.
Clerk: Rolls his eyes and shakes his head. They gotta charge that so they can make money to send home.
Sometimes I just have to keep my mouth shut because a fight, verbal or otherwise, in a gas station is a no-win situation, no matter how correct I am. It wasn't the totally ignorant reference to A-rabs that bothered me so much, or the way that so many people think "furners" come here just to send money home.
Those "A-rabs" aren't really Arabs at all. The owners of the gas station down the road are Indian. I didn't want to explain the difference in Native American Indians and Indians from India, the country. Next time, I'll drive on down the road to them when I need gas.
This is why politicians like Dick Cheney make stupid remarks about Appalachia and big, fancy city folk make tv shows like Outsider's Inn. I live in Sevier County, Tennessee, which prides itself on being a prime tourist destination. If a tourist had been standing in line behind me today, I do not think they would have left with a very positive opinion of Dolly Parton's hometown.
I was in a local bookstore over the weekend and I looked at Ann Coulter's Guilty: Liberal . I don't agree with Ann on much, but I think she hit the nail on the head on one topic. On the book jacket, there is an excerpt in which she states that 7th graders know more about putting a condom on a banana than they do geography. I totally agree.
Monday, January 12, 2009
But I'm gonna miss him. I don't think Obama will be quite as entertaining.
When I'm having a tough day at work, I am going to start finding websites like this one to lighten my mood. I think W can help me survive those tough days with teenagers.
Fitzgerald's story was okay. It was definitely shorter than the movie. This is one of those rare cases where I think the movie is better than the book. There are a lot of things that were changed for the movie, but it would be almost impossible not to change a lot when adapting a short story.
I've also just finished reading Confessions of a Shopaholic (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Sophie Kinsella. The book was okay. I found Rebecca Bloomwood annoying at times. I'll probably read the other books out of curiosity if I find them at McKay's, the best used bookstore in the world.
I've seen the previews for the movie several times now. Judging from the previews, I don't think the movie will be very true to the book. But that might not be a bad thing.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I had a total ah-ha moment a few weeks ago when reading Megan McCafferty's Second Helpings: A Novel. Jessica Darling decides to attend a protest at Columbia Univeristy with Paul Parlipiano and his friends. Paul graduated a year before Jessica and was the object of her obsession for a very long time until she learned that he is gay. Jessica is excited about the protest and a chance to hang out with Paul and his friends.
Jessica gets her bubble busted when she gets there and Paul immediately starts criticizing her GAP jeans and preference for Coke. He is appalled that she doesn't know the inhumane conditions of workers in GAP factories and the corporate imperialism of Coca-Cola. He declares ignorance is not an excuse.
Jessica finally gets enough and responds- Paul and his friends are too busy protesting everything that they don't stand for anything.
Jessica: "I'm entitled to my opinion."
Paul: "Not if your opinion is wrong."
Jessica: "It's my opinion. By definition it can't be wrong."
Paul: "Well, it is."
Second Helpings: A Novel by Megan McCafferty p269-272
I feel like that's the conversation I'm having with the media and liberals who find my opinions not quite sophisticated and enlightened enough. During the presidential election, the media sent the message that if you didn't support Obama and change, your opinion was wrong and didn't matter. It's okay for athiests, LGBTs, and all the special interest groups to voice their opinions, but conservatives are accused of being close-minded bigots if they defend their points of view. When we demand a voice for all, let's not exclude those whose voice is contrary to our own.
10 reasons many people would consider me uncool:
1. I like Sarah Palin. I think this clip gives a pretty accurate portrayl of the situation. I like Sarah Palin because I can more readily identify with her than Joe Biden. As a woman, I have much more in common with Sarah Palin than Hillary Clinton. Palin definitely fits in better in my neck of the woods than Clinton, and apparently others feel the same.
2. I would let Brad Paisley check me for Ticks. Country music isn't considered cool by many people, but I love his songs.
3. I don't like alcohol. I think it tastes the way I imagine motor oil would taste. Plus, I really don't like throwing up and that's definitely not my idea of fun with friends. At the risk of sounding like a public service announcement for youth, I prefer to remember where I've been and what I've done.
4. I have recently had a crush on a 17 year old vampire and a former druggie/male slut turned reformed philosopher. Guys who want relationship pointers should meet Edward Cullen and Marcus Flutie. (I hope I don't need to provide a link to Edward Cullen.)
4. I am a conservative Christian, which has a lot to do with number 1. I agree with Rick Warren's religious views, and I believe he is a good choice to deliver the invocation at the inauguration.
5. I am not a good judge of sexual orientation. I worked retail when I was in high school. I worked with one assistant manager for months and didn't realize he was gay until a co-worker told me. I went to the guy's apartment for a store party and saw a curio cabinet of Precious Moment's figurines and thought it was wierd he was keeping those for his mom. He was upset with the guy who told me. He kept it from me and an older co-worker because I was too young and innocent and she was too staid and respectable to know.
6. I am not convinced that Obama can change the world. I didn't hear him talk specifics too much. Hopefully, he can change at least a small part of our country.
7. I like to listen to George W's speeches. It's better than SNL.
8. I spent 15 minutes in lock-up. When I was working as a court interpreter, I accompanied a child protective services worker, a female who was my age, to the county jail to complete paperwork with a Spanish-speaking mother who had lost custody of her child. There were a lot of official visitors that day and the guards were out of room in the usual meeting spots, so they locked us in the church room with the woman and a walkie-talkie. After about 15 minutes, we had the paperwork complete and started trying to call a guard to let us out. It didn't work. After a panicked few minutes, I finally got a signal on my cell phone and called the jail. There line was busy. I had weak signal issues again. We began waving our arms in front of the security camera. No response. I finally got a signal again and called the court clerks office to tell them to use one of their secret numbers to call the jail and tell them to free the child protective service worker and the interpreter. Five minutes later, a jailer strolled in laughing, saying that a fellow jailer must have given us the radio with low batteries. I didn't do many jail visits after that.
9. I love fast cars. In high school I demonstrated the superior speed of Casper, my white Pontiac Sunfire, over my male friends' cars. A Pontiac Trans Am is my dream car.
10. I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Dream Act. I believe that the current immigrants in this nation are not unlike those of previous generations who come here to seek a better life for themselves and their children. I do not believe that children should be condemned for the actions of their parents.
Am I totally unpopular now? Anyone else want to confess?
Thursday, January 8, 2009
by Megan McCafferty. I had seen these books in bookstores before, but I hadn't had time to check them out. After reading Writer's Digest's February feature on Megan McCafferty, I decided I had to make time to read Sloppy Firsts.
Marcus Flutie is the archetype bad boy who reforms and woos the class brainiac. Over the course of the series, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, and Fourth Comings, Marcus develops as a complex character. Marcus and Jessica, the narrator of the books, develop a relationship junior and senior years of high school, go off to college, get first jobs, and grow up over the course of the series. The final book in the series, Perfect Fifths, will be released in April.
Marcus Flutie is better than Edward Cullen because:
1. he grows up
2. he isn't perfect
3. he doesn't stalk his girlfriend
4. he is a more complex character
5. he doesn't unreasonably raise women's expectations of the real men in their lives
I can't wait for Perfect Fifths to see how this series winds up!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
As I was getting ready to leave for work this morning, my husband came and told me that Tiger, our unplanned pup, had a little problem. My husband said his kennel had fallen down. I figured he really meant that the tarp covering his kennel had fallen from all the rain. He came back a few minutes later and told me to go look outside because Tiger's kennel had really fallen in the rain. Well, he was right.
I thought that was the end of the story. I got home from work this afternoon to find Tiger out in the pouring rain looking at me. The silly dog looked like a drowned rat. I had to let him in the house to dry him off. He was so happy, he decided to climb on my lap while I towel dried him.
He's currently trying to sleep as I type, but he keeps waking up every time my heating unit cuts on. (He's a bit of a 'fraidy cat, but that's okay after his traumatic night.) When the Mr. gets home, we have to go back out in the rain to arrange some kind of temporary shelter.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Don't worry, my marriage isn't in trouble. I'm talking about Mexican restaurants.
For several years now, I've been going to La Carreta Mexican Restaurant. It's kinda like my Cheer's. All the waiters know my name, my dad and brother, and have witnessed a lot of my dates with my husband. We speak Spanish together, complain about my fellow American diners who tell them that they don't serve "real" guacamole, and I give every day business advice. When I call in to-go orders, the waiters always know it's me. The only problem is, their food isn't always delicious these days.
I heard a few weeks ago that there is a new Mexican restaurant in town, El Paso Mexican Restaurant. I was intruiged, but I didn't really want to go at first. It just felt kind wrong. But I broke down and went with the esposo one night. The atmosphere is very cool. It is more chic and classy than corny, stereotypical Mexican. And most of the food I've tried is very good. I normally like something a little more "authentic" than quesadillas, but their quesadillas con pollo are to die for.
So after a 2-3 week absence at La Carreta, I just went to pick up supper. The waiters were asking about my job, Christmas, and asking where my brother is since it's been a while since he was in. And to add to my guilty conscience, supper was so good.
I think I'm going to continue two-timing my fave Mexican restaurant. If I were Catholic, I'd probably have to go to confession over this.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I have come to consider myself an American-Mexican. That’s not a typo. I am intentionally calling myself an American-Mexican instead of a Mexican-American. In the world of hyphenated identities, the first adjective refers to the ethnicity or race a person is born into or most identifies with. The second adjective refers to the new nationality or ethnicity being assumed.
I put the American first because it is my nationality, my birthplace, and my heritage. I spent the first twenty years of my life knowing very little of the world beyond our borders. Sure, I was well read, in college, and aware of current events, but I didn’t really pay attention to the every day lives of those not fortunate enough to have been born in the United States.
When I changed my major from creative writing to Spanish, it was because I wanted to be able to talk to the Latinos moving into East Tennessee. I wanted to enable communication between my fellow Americans and the Latino immigrants moving here. When I realized that real people could understand my Spanish, I didn’t really mind conjugating verbs.
Many people assume I met my husband and then learned Spanish. I was in my last semester of college when I met my husband. I was teaching an English as a Second Language class at my church and his two younger brothers were in my class. (He was in the advanced class.) We dated for a couple years while I worked as a court interpreter and began teaching high school Spanish.
Over the last five years, I have had many experiences that make me feel the need to add the Mexican part at the end of my identity label. I’ve learned how to cook Mexican food from a lady from Michoacán (and it’s hard to get much more Mexican than Michoacán). I am very comfortable with Mexican slang and tend to speak with a Mexico City dialect. I absolutely love Mexican telenovelas (soap operas). I’ve got an iPod full of real Mexican music. As evidenced by my blog at the Knoxville News Sentinel, I can more articulately support comprehensive immigration reform than most Latinos.
So I think I’ll add the subtitle to this blog and let you know a little bit more about a bicultural existence in the hills of East Tennessee.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
We haven't done Christmas Mexican style since 2006, the Christmas that inspired my short story. This year I stuck to a lamb from the grocery store for Christmas, but the brothers-in-law wanted to do an authentic New Year's Eve celebration.
Thankfully, I wasn't as involved in the New Year's mole as I was in the 2006 Christmas lamb. Mole is a special salsa made from several chiles, spices, and chocolate, among other things. (To my gringa eyes, they use everything but the kitchen sink.) This salsa is then used to smother chicken or turkey (hence the animals that were slaughtered).
Over the last few years, I have gotten tougher than I used to be. I didn't flinch when my brother-in-law slit that lamb's throat. I didn't run and squeal when my brother-in-law chased me around the kitchen with the skinned lamb's head. I surpressed my gag reflex when Tiger threw up on me in the car as I drove him home from the vet's office after his "surgery." I didn't flinch as the guys killed the chickens and the turkey for New Year's Eve.
But I after watching the senora wallow the dead animal carcasses all over the kitchen sink, I decided that was one traditional dish I would not be partaking of.